Thanks to Gregg Wilhelm (CityLit Project) and Deborah Rudacille and John Barry (New Mercury Readings) for inviting me to read from Who Killed Donte Manning? at the Baltimore Book Fest last Sunday.
I shared the podium with 3 other impressive writers: Howell Baum (Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism), Christopher Corbett (The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West), and Christopher White (Skipjack: The Story of America’s Last Sailing Oystermen).
There were about 40 people there in the outdoor tent (thanks Karen, Kevin, Heidi, Emmanuel and Julia for coming out!). We had fun eating kettle corn and watching all the people.
Another historic “first” that hasn’t been too highlighted in the news is that Obama’s victory brings with it Joe Biden as the first Catholic vice president of the United States. Biden is a good representative of most American Catholics. He loves his church. He respects its traditions. He listens carefully to its teachings and to the bishops who are its shepherds. He tries his best to live out his faith in the midst of the world. He forms his own conscience. He tries to act with mercy. He also demands that bishops provide real pastoral answers to contemporary issues, not simply archaic legalism. Sometimes this puts him into creative dissent with some aspects of the Catholic hierarchy.
Oh well. That’s like most of us. We say our prayers and get up the next morning and try to follow Jesus.
I pray that there will be an American bishop who is strong enough and secure enough to engage Joe Biden in an authentic, intellectual, compassionate, public dialogue on the role of the church and the state, the way scripture shapes and guides our values, the centrality of respect for human life and dignity, the role of forgiveness in public life, the way churches and governments can participate in God’s loving vision for the world beyond denominations, creeds, or nationalism. But this needs to be a bishop who respects Biden and his role, not one who is trying to punish him, humiliate him, or use him as a foil for what’s wrong with “liberalism.”.