Generous Orthodoxy  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What to do about refugees? a sermon illustration

The International Rescue Committee gets a lot of good press. Nicholas Kristof, who ought to know, lists it as one of his three particularly trusted charities. In this time of fear (see my post about Marilynn Robinson's essay "Fear"), the easiest position to take concerning refugees is the Trumpian "kick 'em all out" and "build a wall." In the current climate, it's so easy to go that route.

A very different angle is offered in this account of a successful businessman, Sean Wankel of NYC's Wankel Hardware (I've shopped there), who makes a point of hiring refugees and has done so for years. Colored pins on a wall map in the store indicate all the countries they've come from. Two weeks ago Mr. Wankel hired a Nigerian fleeing from the Islamist sect Boko Haram which he (the refugee) says is worst than ISIS. Wankel does not hire at random, though: he trusts the International Rescue Committee and Catholic Charities to do the screening. Here's the link:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

One of the lost in the 11th Arrondissement

The New York Times spends so much money on traditional, in-depth journalism that it is a wonder the newspaper stays afloat at all in this age of 24-hour media. One example among numerous articles by a small army of reporters deployed in Paris since Friday is one by Dan Bilefsky, who (though no doubt pathetically underpaid) spent a good many hours researching the death by terror of a young Frenchman who is representative of the mostly young, vibrant crowd who were slaughtered in the Bataban and in the bistros of the hip northeast section of central Paris.

I was raised in a family of ardent Francophiles on both my mother's and father's sides, so it is irritating to hear glib slurs against the French constantly tossed off by many Americans. Paris is in my blood (although to my mother's dismay I never succeeded in being fluent, or even passable, in French). We were in Paris for 8 days last year and my collection of photos from that visit has been the screen saver on both my laptop and my desktop ever since. This Times article about the irrepressible young people, one waiter in particular, who were out on that Friday evening to savor the fabled Parisian nightlife, conveys so much: the joyful sidewalk culture of the city, the promise of youth, the attractions of the "Onziรจme" and its ethnic diversity, the arbitrary mindlessness of the attacks -- it's all here. Please read all the way to the end; the last three paragraphs are about a presumably secular French family, but they convey a Christian sensibility.

And parenthetically, here is the best explanation/evocation of the unique Parisian experience, especially in the 11th, that I've read in some time: