HOLY IMPATIENCE. Yesterday, we buried Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr. One year ago, I read his biography, Holy Impatience, and it gave me what I haven�t gotten from the left in my lifetime -- in the words of Johnny Cash, �gravel in your gut and spit in your eye.� Rev. Coffin challenged those who misused power and that got him into a lot of fights. But they were a lot of fights he relished. As Yale Chaplin, he was one of the first whites to be arrested in the freedom rides during the civil rights movement. Later, he would be a major force in the peace movement during the Vietnam conflict and, later still, a proponent of decreasing our nuclear arms supply. People of all faiths, and those who do not profess one, can all acknowledge that the houses of worship had a huge impact on most of the social movements of the 20th century. For the better.
Friend and mentor Rev. Bert Campbell said in response to Rev. Coffin�s passing: �The world is a little less now and the void waits for someone to step forward and speak truth to power lest the dark side dressed in religion�s finery prevails.� I couldn�t agree more.
Almost two weeks ago, Christians celebrated Palm Sunday. We often consider this something akin to a parade, Jesus entering Jerusalem as a hero. This is partly true. What we fail to remember is that Palm Sunday was more of a revolutionary political event -- a demonstration -- than anything else. �Hosanna� is the imperative demand to �Save us, now!� Politics and religion have always gone hand in hand. It is high time the Democrats got a little holy impatience of their own. With leaders like Coffin and Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg gone, who will pick up their standard? Will a voice emerge from the progressive wilderness? And will we have enough sense to listen?