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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

We take our highway bridges for granted. I know I do. When I got word that pastor Doug Donley and his congregation in Minneapolis are safe from the terrifying bridge collapse there yesterday, I thought again about how quickly so much can be lost. I was able to talk with pastors from New Orleans who a brief two years ago found out that we can't take for granted that our congregations will even be in the same city the next day if a big enough storm and a big enough failure of infrastructure occurs.

As one article I read pointed out, thousands of miles apart along the Mississippi we can see the results of cutting corners and playing the odds with human lives. The levee failures in New Orleans and the bridge failure in Minneapolis had become more and more likely to happen. The game of how much risk can we take for how long seems to be leading to deadly consequences.

I've listened for three decades to the attacks on the public services the national government owes to its people. The attacks get coded by race. Anecdotes of extreme cases get publicized. People of all sorts get demonized as wasters of the taxpayers' hard-earned money. But as the time goes on, the legislators and executives run out of things to cut. But because the momentum of cutting taxes gets them elected, they keep on cutting essential services.

A certain segment of the population feels good about the tax cuts when they don't feel the pinch. If a few people across town have dilapidated housing, no health benefits, and can't afford an education, that seems to be the price of building the economy. But nobody is safe from a levee break. Nobody who needs to cross the Mississippi River can avoid using a bridge. The odds would tell us that if we risk too much too long, we will eventually have to face some losses. But the euphoria of beating down the tax and spend liberals blinds people to the reality of the kind of society they are helping to create.

We must hope and work so that bridge and levee maintenance can be completed in time to avoid more disastrous events such as those in Minneapolis and New Orleans.

May God be with the families who suffer in Minneapolis this week.

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