Faith Leaders in the Aftermath

In the aftermath of the seditious attack on our Capitol on January 6th, faith leaders of many churches, denominations and religious bodies reacted.

I read this article detailing some of those reactions about six days ago. I’m featuring it here, though it’s not “new” news as I’m certain many folks didn’t see it.

As you might imagine, the statements released in the wake of this horrible episode were far from uniform. Some statements — in my view — were pushed in this direction or that by particular beliefs, particular theological points of view. But there were reactions and statements aplenty.

It’s easy to feel exhausted and frightened as we think about what happened on January 6th. It’s made much worse as we come to the realization that this painful and unprecedented incident was almost certainly not a one-off.

Hang on to your faith, your hope. The challenges ahead are great; God’s assurances that he is, indeed, a very present help in time of trouble is our consolation.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

New Year’s Wishes for all

December 31, 2020

I think there is nearly universal agreement, here in the US and everywhere, that 2020 was — on the whole — a very challenging year.

As we sit perched on the threshold of a new year, I am hopeful that 2021 will be better. Much better. It could scarcely be worse.

Exactly how things go from here… well, we just can’t say. If I may be allowed to prognosticate just a bit, I’m thinking that the first half of this nascent year will be rough. Very rough, in all likelihood. And then, it will get better.

How’s that for a prophetic look into our shared future?

Well, Nostradamus I am not. But I am a hopeful human, a hopeful citizen and I stand ready to do what I can to pull in the same direction as my fellows who want to help. To help to get us pointed in a positive direction and to begin to make some progress.

I am hopeful — cautiously hopeful — that we’ll be in a better place 12 months from now as we compose our thoughts about what kind of year 2021 will have been.

And I’m content with being able to say that tonight.

Ben Basile

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

 I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. This piece of mine was originally posted on Christmas Day, 2007 on another site. 

This has been a challenging year for me in a lot of ways, yet I find myself feeling even more than the usual holiday spirit right now as I sit at the keyboard, waiting for Santa to come down my chimney. Wait! I don’t have a chimney! Oh well, I still believe! Well, the part about Santa, who can say? The rest of it, I’m still pretty big on all the good stuff that we think about when the holidays roll around each year. No doubt a lot of you feel the same.

The Christmas story does hold a lot of meaning for me. I’m not quite sure if I still believe all of it, all the nuances and consequences and so on; not quite like one “believes it” when the assembled faithful say the Apostles Creed together at Midnight Mass. Some will be doing exactly that in just a few hours, perhaps some of you.

Yet it doesn’t seem at all “funny” to me that God comes to us whenever it suits his/her purpose. Not entirely sure if “he” did in that particular, historical way. Being raised in a Christian family and having gone part-way through seminary a few years ago, I do lean in that direction. But I’ve come to see some things in a different light now that I’ve spent a little better than a half-century on this planet. This planet where almost a billion people believe that God became incarnate, was born of a young woman who had never “known” her betrothed. And that his coming among us in that way was the beginning of a Divine plan to make it possible for all of his creatures to enjoy unending fellowship with him and with one another! In this life and in the next! Now that’s a story! One we humans have been telling one another for a very long time, and I’m quite sure we’ll be telling it for a long time to come.

I’ve been struggling for so many years now about exactly how much of the story still “works” for me and all of that. But what I’ve never doubted is that God, or the Divine, does come to us and among us all the time. And I’m finally in that phase of life where I’ve learned to look for it, to expect it and to embrace it. And I know that the other really big thing about Christmastime is to get a bit closer to my brothers and sisters who also bear the image of the Divine One in their souls and on their beaming faces. Some of them were raised on the same stories I was; this one about God being born of a virgin, and many others.

Some, of course, have heard and embraced and celebrated different stories. I’m not very inclined to quibble about the particulars at this point in my life. I’m quite sure that God would love to see us move a little closer together at this time of year, and to go on telling those stories; especially that one about God robed in human flesh, living and dying as one of us. And I’m quite sure that the heart of the Divine is pleased when we carry forward “his” mission to strip away that illusion that our sins, imperfections, and much less, our differences, should separate us from one another or from his Divine Heart.

Well, Christmas Eve has progressed, as it will, into Christmas morning as I’m wrapping up this little holiday message. And I’m sitting here, luminous and expectant, like a six year old waiting for Santa to appear. Like Simeon in the temple, waiting to bless the infant Jesus, knowing then that he has seen and embraced, quite literally, the Divine plan to end our sinful and deadly illusions of separateness. I’m expectant, waiting in earnest to see and to embrace the next manifestation of the Divine. In you, in her, in us. Perhaps–and wouldn’t this be a great story–perhaps in and across many countries and cultures, in four billion human hearts at once!

A wish, a dream, a fervent hope… Perhaps that’s all it is. But a hope to hold close to one’s heart on Christmas morning. God bless each of you today and throughout the year to come. May you be blessed to see the image of the Divine, of the Christ-child in yourself–and in one another.

Ben Lawrence Basile
Christmas morning, 2020

© 2007 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

It’s been 18 days, and it’s time

It has, indeed, been 18 days since the elections on November 3rd and it’s time — way past time, actually — for Donald Trump to acknowledge the results of the election and get on with the transition.

The fact that he won’t is not a surprise. But it’s still important for Americans — including those in faith communities — to speak up and say that the delay is self-serving and is harming the Country.

Many have been doing that, of course, but with each day that passes, the need to speak up and stay focused and engaged becomes even greater, even more urgent.

I know as I write this that the situation is not likely to be resolved quickly. There no reason to believe that it will.

But we must keep calling on this lawless President and his allies to do the right thing and help our Nation through this difficult transition.

A situation where our Nation’s Chief Executive refuses to help in this situation would be bad enough. But actively, intentionally trying to sabotage the process?

It’s just one more reason why this President’s legacy will be one of ineptitude, failure and shame.

Ben Basile

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Doing God’s work in New England

There has been no shortage of bad things going on around us in recent years.

Yet it’s also true that many other things are happening that remind us that there are people who care. It’s a good thing to be reminded that people of faith are in the middle of many of those good things.

One of those things involves a campaign by churches in the New England region–in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, specifically–to pay the medical debts of Americans who were buried in mountains of debt because of illnesses or injuries.

The effort was spearheaded by an interfaith agency associated with the United Church of Christ denomination and successfully zeroed out 8.4 Million dollars in medical debt all told.

This is especially helpful, timely and noteworthy as many people have been taking on crushing debt because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We salute what the United Church of Christ has done here. It’s a wonderful display of love and benevolence and a bit of good news that is most welcome, coming at a time when we long to hear good news.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.


On National Clergy Appreciation Day

Today is National Clergy Appreciation Day and I’d bet a Prince’s Ransom that only a very few people of faith are aware of that.

I’ll hasten to add that there may be more preachers, pastors and priests enjoying Sunday dinner as a guest of their congregants as I write this; that’s a good thing.

If you didn’t know that today is that day, it’s not a bad thing if you make note of it. After all, we’re only 354 days away from Clergy Appreciation Day, 2021!

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Leader’s Dark Picture

As the 2020 Elections get closer, we can see conflicts raging in a few of our country’s communities.

In most of our cities, there are no protests marked by violence or any unrest causing serious disturbances.

In a few of our communities–a very few, truth be told–there are serious problems and it’s not certain when the unrest may abate or what a successful strategy for a resolution might look like.

The President is using fear in an attempt to frighten voters into giving him another term to quell the violence that has happened on his watch, the violence which has been worsened by his failure to address long-ignored issues of social justice and of equal treatment for all citizens.

The dark picture of America that he’s trying to paint for his supporters does not reflect the true reality.

The irony is that if he is re-elected, the dark hues we can see around the picture’s edges will intensify, spread and despoil the fragile image.

We must not allow anyone to wield fear as a weapon and convince the American people that the entire nation is wracked by explosive, uncontrolled mob violence from Portland all the way to D.C.. It’s simply not true.

Furthermore, we must reject the proposition that the protests and unrest–in the few communities where there has been actual violence–calls for Federal shock troops outfitted with military-grade weaponry cracking the skulls of citizens who are looking to their elected officials to respond to their grievances.

The unrest will be eased and moved toward better outcomes when all communities believe that our elected leaders and those in law enforcement, in particular, are serious about reform.

Unless and until that happens, there will be tension, unrest and, it must be said, actual violence.

Two things that will never ease, much less resolve, the problem of violence in our streets: first, ignoring the urgent calls to address long-ignored issues of social justice.

And secondly, trying to quell the unrest at the point of a gun.

Brother Ben


© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Mr Falwell is out at Liberty

August has been a really tough month for Jerry Falwell Jr. That’s putting it mildly.

And things got worse in the last 24 hours. Much worse.

He just resigned as the President of Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by his Father.

As you know if you’ve looking around here on this blog lately, I have been following this matter. My time in seminary was at a well-known University which was also led by a charismatic leader who garnered headlines on a daily basis.

Sadly, we often discover that ministers, evangelists and University Presidents in powerful positions lead lives that are not consistent with what they preach.

When that’s the case, they’re rarely successful at keeping the secrets secret.

I don’t wish Mr Falwell ill. But it’s a good thing that the charade is over.

Rev. Falwell has a myriad of tasks ahead of him. It will be a difficult, arduous process. A lot of sorrow, some humiliation, no doubt, and–most of all–a lot of work. That’s true for the University community as well.

I’m hopeful that it will make possible some measure of healing for everyone whose lives are touched by all of this.

I wish him, his family and the University well.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Jerry Falwell scandal, a follow up

In a post two days ago, I laid out a brief accounting of the recent scandal around the conduct of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

It was set off by a photo Rev Falwell posted to his Instagram account. As scandals go, it was a pretty big deal.

I said in that posting that I thought he would escape any serious consequences for what he did.

I was wrong about that. He has now taken an indefinite leave of absence from post. As you probably know, that’s usually what happens just before a high-level leader or CEO gets fired.

The tendency to look the other way when powerful men do something really over-the-top is so common. I was certain that this would be another episode.

It looks like the University has done/is doing the right thing.

Although we can’t be sure about where this may go from here, it appears that I was way off as far as my assessment of how it would all turn out.

Happy to have been wrong about this sad situation.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

What will happen next in the Falwell scandal?

By now you may have seen the photo of Jerry Falwell Jr that has been widely circulated on social media.

It’s certainly not my place to chastise Rev Falwell. I’ll merely say that I fully expect others associated with the University and the ministry on which it was built to give him a pass here.

It brings to mind the scandal that engulfed Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart back in 1991.

Some are leaping to Falwell’s defense. Others–as you might well imagine–believe this is a very big deal and that he should be held to account.

For me, there’s an irony at play here that is a bigger deal than what actually happened.

For many people–and I am one of them–Falwell is now most closely associated with Donald Trump. It’s impossible not to think of how he’s embraced Trump from day one in spite of Trump’s seemingly endless deplorable and cruel actions.

He has failed to call out trump for anything; anything at all.

He said nothing about trump’s outright cruel treatment of brown children whose “crime” was being brought to our southern border by their desperate parents fleeing danger in their homeland.

Falwell stood idly by while Mr Trump sullied his office in a myriad of ways. Sullied it over and over and over again for the last three years and nine months.

Here, I’m sad to say, is where I think this situation stands: unless the University and the ministry possess more discernment and integrity than I think they do, they will enable Falwell and give him the same unmerited kid-glove treatment that their leader has been giving our president.

That’s where I think this is heading. I certainly hope I’m proven wrong.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.