Thankful for Global Child Thrive Act
As a founding member of the San Gabriel Valley chapter of Catholic Relief Services, I want to thank Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Judy Chu for cosponsoring the Global Child Thrive act that was passed at the end of 2020. This act authorizes Congress to fund early childhood development interventions as part of development and humanitarian programs serving vulnerable children and their families.
While thinking of others during this time when so many of us are experiencing hardship can be difficult, this act ensures that children around the world can do more than survive; they can thrive. Clean water and healthy food are critical, but not enough. Truly caring for human life means giving children a strong foundation to build emotional and mental resilience to confront future emergencies and trauma and to reach their full potential.
COVID-19 continues to devastate families and communities everywhere. More than 1 million deaths have been recorded throughout the world since February 2020 due to the novel coronavirus. While needs continue to increase in the United States, we must also be deeply concerned about the impact globally. With Sen. Feinstein’s and Rep. Chu’s support, this act will help prevent the mental and physical harm caused by a lack of adequate nutrition, stimulation, education and nurturing care, or by exposure to toxic stress through violence, conflict and other adverse experiences. Experiencing joy and playfulness builds secure attachment and trust with adults and helps children reach their developmental milestones.
Thank you again, Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Chu for your support!
An epiphany of
hope and justice
Jan. 6 may have been epiphany, but it was dominated by a violent manifestation of American brokenness. May we join in prayer and reflection about our tragic national crisis, some of it perpetrated in the name of Jesus.
We need to hold in grief and sorrow another horrific gash in this nation, ripped open by events at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. It has been over 200 years since such a breach has occurred. Like yours, my feelings about Jan. 6 have been many. I watched the unexplainable delay in appropriate police presence and action at the Capitol.
How could this mob not have been expected? As I asked myself that, I couldn’t help but be grieved by remembering the immediate aggression of some military and police against this summer’s demonstrations protesting racial violence. What do we make of our nation’s ready use of violence against voices for racial justice, while we slowly escort away the white supremacist insurrectionists who storm our nation’s Capitol? What defines danger? For whom? What defines the tolerable? For whom? Why?
What we have experienced has been wrenching and disturbing. The desecration of the Capitol justifiably has the headlines. The still deeper sorrow for me as a Christian leader has been the accompanying desecration of Christian life and speech revealed through fundamentalist and evangelical entanglement with idolatrous nationalism and racism and their attending loyalties.
I hope we will choose not to look away from this shameful violence, or its underlying lies, irrationality and hatred. If we haven’t long since done so, we must face the reality that extremisms of various sorts are not only alive and well in the United States but in our government, and in churches and hearts across the land. On Jan. 6, some extremism landed with violence at the doors and hallways of the Capitol, tragically cheered on by the president.
In extremist and mainstream forms, and for longer than many of us want to admit and confess, Christians have substantially contributed to forms of American injustice across the political landscape. Some expressions of our faith have stoked the past and present fires of resentment, presumption and self-righteousness now so strident and so grievous to the God we worship.
All of us have a stake in the Jan. 6 events. The roots of this drama are deep, tortured and unresolved. We need a peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20, especially since we are a widely varied and polarized electorate. Once we are on the other side of the inauguration, the work of truly addressing the issues and crises of our nation’s life must compel us.
Lord, in this moment and season, may you rebuke us who claim to be your disciples while we primarily pursue what is best for ourselves and for others like us; may you reveal our complicity in speech and action, personally and systemically, with anything that encourages lies, distortions, prejudices and violence; may you break down our walls of hostility and fear; may you grant us the faith and will to live to pursue you and your ways.
Grant us anew your epiphany of hope and justice for the common good—and the love and faith to live it.
God will not be mocked.
Clifford L. Penner
Fuller Theological Seminary