Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Faith Restores Us

Scripture for the Last Sunday after Pentecost includes Jeremiah 23:1-6; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

We’ve just heard the Good Friday Gospel. At the early service this morning, wind shook this place as on the day of Pentecost. But it is November!

And November is a month that slips through our fingers like fine sand. Couldn’t you swear that it was October last week? And all that separates us from Christmas Day is one short month… one long list of hopes and expectations that outpace our resources… and no shortage of stress.

To mark this pivotal point in the calendar—when the approaching holidays bring their mixed promises of jubilation and exhaustion, when the weather swings cold, the days grow short, and the landscape spare—the Church gives us in its calendar this day, Christ the King Sunday, to give perspective on all those claims these next thirty days will place upon us.

The Collect of the day suggests that perspective. That is the role of the Collect of the day, Sunday by Sunday: to invite a way of hearing and seeing the Word that has been chosen for that day, the several portions of holy writings placed before us like steaming cloths at a spa, to open our pores and lose the grime and relax our grip, and emerge… improved!

You could say that the collect of the day asks for what we already have, or, better put, asks for the help we need to more fully become what we receive. That’s right in keeping with the purposes of holy scripture: to bear witness to what God has done for us and given to us, and to whet the appetite to welcome that action and gift of God, and, welcoming it, to internalize that gift so as to learn how to take our part in the great chain of giving that bears the likeness of God.

So today, with almost the brevity of a tweet, the collect acknowledges that the peoples of the earth are divided and enslaved by sin. Then is announced how God responds, freeing and bringing together people, all peoples, under the most gracious rule of Jesus Christ, God’s beloved agent charged with the task of restoring all things in himself.

If you’re a fan of Antiques Roadshow, as I am (though it’s the British version that I enjoy—there’s something too serious and chilly about the American version, little charm to it)—still, either program acquaints us with restoration: it’s the gentle application of tender lovingkindness, best achieved by humble means, like cleaning a painting with human spit, just the right enzymes to clean paint and not dissolve it. It’s expensive because it’s labor-intensive (and how much saliva can a restorer produce at one sitting?), but the value of the creation rises dramatically when restored… there’s the thing. Perspective on what you think you can afford to pay for renewal of that rather lovely but grimey old painting of great-great Uncle Thomas’s landscape along the Hudson needs to take into account how restoration changes a picture’s value, not just its appearance.

What is the mission of the Church? The Prayer Book’s catechism answers, “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” Unlike the restoration of a painting, where appearance is the concern, the restoration of people has unity as its purpose. And, if the analogy holds, our greater unity—with God and with one another-- will enhance our value in the great scheme of things, the role we take in God’s great chain of giving.

I don’t believe that theological language improves with the number of syllables required to make a word, but somehow I find it fits us well to call this human restoration by a slightly longer name: reconciliation.

At the micro level, the Church pursues its mission as any one person is helped to welcome and feel the thoroughgoing forgiveness of God. The Church’s mission begins, says our Book of Common Prayer, with the complete pardon that sets a person free from whatever has separated or bound him or her from God and from other people. Experiencing the sureness of that pardon is the purpose of confession, and the Prayer Book contains a brief service called “The Reconciliation of a Penitent.”

At the macro level, the Church imbedded in the world pursues its mission as it models finer ways of dealing with human divisions, finer than the zero-sum game, finer than sinking in the quicksand of partisan reaction, finer than vengeance and retribution. Think of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s championing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s approach to healing a nation once divided and enslaved by sin. Think of how it took international persuasion, much of it rising from people of faith, to dismantle apartheid.

That the peoples of the earth are to be freed and reconciled in Jesus Christ is meant to be good news. But if there’s an imperial edge to that message, what’s to keep it from becoming bad news? Two thousand years out, and Christianity comes in two thousand denominational flavors now—all capable of competition as well as reconciliation. And more of a quandary when we honestly humbly acknowledge that Christianity is one religion among many on the stage of this fragile earth, and not necessarily one that’s known for praying well with others.

Here is where the apostle’s letter to the Colossians comes to us as special gift on Christ the King Sunday. St. Paul sings a hymn of sheer gratitude for all the reconcilings that he had experienced himself, converted not from one religion to another, but from the ways of violence and zero-sum partisan reaction to the treasuring of an open heart expressing allegiance to the Prince of Peace.

Hear again his effervescent language: “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the image of the invisible God… and in him all things hold together…he is the beginning… for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things… by making peace through the blood of his cross.”

There is all that to be thankful for! And Paul’s witness says to us, “All this is yours! God has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light of Christ. It is for you to become more fully what you receive.”

As Christians committed to work on that lifelong goal, we’ll do well if our witness to the lovingkindess of God in Jesus Christ is expressed in terms of all we are grateful for. Thanksgiving, gratitude, appreciation should smooth the rough edges and still the sharp judgment that may characterize an imperial Christianity that never did fit, and most surely no longer fits a post-imperial world.

It is for the higher values of cooperation and reconciliation that our faith restores us.

As we take our bearings on Christ the King Sunday, we take to heart the call to reconciliation.

As holidays come that came from Christian origins, we’re grateful for how familiar the roots of these holy days are, and welcome this year’s opportunity to pray well with others who may not have inherited that appreciation. May we find ways to let this Advent season prepare us all for celebrating in spirit and truth, and not get steam-rollered by seasonal stress. Let’s celebrate in ways that help reconcile a wealthy nation to its responsibility to feed all its hungry people, and hold accountable to the common good all whom we’ve called to public office.

As we have faced painful memories again in recognizing the passing of fifty years since the assassination of a President who summoned us to ask what we can do for others, hear the call to pray and work towards the reconciling of divisions in this nation now, fifty years later, starting with the most ingrained of them, the fierce resistance to gun control, with its idolizing of antique language in our Constitution, and its refusal to see that new occasions teach new duties.

Christ the King Sunday presents perspective gained from a king who made peace through his perfect practice of non-violence. He laid a foundation for reconciliation in his prayer, pardoning his persecutors because they did not know what they were doing.

In these days of our holiday celebrations, let us know what we are doing, and so celebrate as to reconcile. In this season of deep divisions in our nation, let us pray for grace and courage to know what we are doing as citizens and as people whose faith restores us
for the higher values of cooperation and reconciliation.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obeying God

Scripture for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost includes Haggai 1:15b-2:9; II Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17; Luke 20:27-38

That Gospel is no more about marrying than the Garden of Eden story is about gardening, or Jonah and the whale about fishing.

But, just like those other stories, this one is about obedience. What is required, to obey God? Adam and Eve flunked that quiz— Jonah, too, just couldn’t get the hang of it—both old stories declaring it’s indeed a very old story that we human beings find obedience to God a mighty challenge.

Adam and Eve refused to believe that God would put them in such a lush garden only to tell them that some of that luscious fruit right within their reach wasn’t for them. What kind of God would that be?

Old Jonah refused to believe that God would send him, a bona fide Hebrew prophet, to preach repentance to those heathen in Nineveh—as if God would give a fig for anyone but the chosen people. What kind of God would that be?

So there’s a good question worth asking: What kind of God are we called to obey?

The Gospel writers keep calling out onto center stage the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, religious types straight from the central casting department of established religion. They’re called out to blurt out bad answers, and to tease out good answers, to that question, What kind of God do we have?

A wonderful thing about these characters is this: once you get beyond their first-century religious chatter, their attitudes are easily recognized as timeless and universal. These are Jews, but these are also Episcopalians and Methodists, Eastern Orthodox and Southern Baptists—and while I’m not on firm ground saying this, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are also Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. They represent what people do in response to the call to obey God: We find varying ways to attempt obedience, then we grow so attached to those ways that we take issue with others and with how they attempt obedience. We come apart over it, fracturing the bonds of unity. We wield our diverse viewpoints and practices as if they were weapons of war, not tools to build a kingdom of God.

It’s against a background of religious controversy, denominational rivalry, and sectarian violence that the question becomes urgent: What kind of God are we trying to obey?

In today’s installment from Luke, the spotlight is on the Sadducees. Their position was that there is no resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees, by contrast, affirmed resurrection. Before there was such a belief, Israel believed that one lives on in one’s children and in their memory. That was the old time religion, and that’s what the Sadducees believed.

What they do in their questioning of Jesus is to try to push belief in the resurrection right into the realm of absurdity. They try to make it seem ridiculous.

The thing is, from what little we know about the Sadducees, we see that the writings they held sacred were the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, the Law of Moses. It is into that ancient code that they reach now to ridicule resurrection. They dredge up a provision from the Book of Deuteronomy, directing that if a man were to die without children, his brother was obligated to take the widow as his wife and have children by her. When this cumbersome system worked, it ensured the perpetuation of property within the immediate family and provided security for the brother’s widow. This law expressed the old-time religion’s belief that we live on through our children.

So these Sadducees ridicule their own belief, as they slash and burn the doctrine of their rivals. (This is where the devil loves to get in and work mischief.) There’s something awfully ironic about this, isn’t there? The law on which they base their conundrum was meant to protect widows; instead, their attitude demeans the widow, treating her as property, a pawn on a patriarchal chess board. That all this is triggered by an odd case study in marriage makes the net result feel all the more, well, ironic.

It’s not a bad instinct, to turn to marriage for an answer to the question, What kind of God are we obeying? Read the prophets and see how the relationship between God and Israel is described as a marriage. And if there is one spiritual value that dominates the Hebrew Bible’s vision of God, it is “hesed”, faithful lovingkindness. That is God’s chief attribute, the key to Jewish theology, Jewish ethics, and Jewish tradition. Isn’t that the missing ingredient in the Sadducees case study?

When the officiant in an Episcopal liturgy addresses the congregation gathered to celebrate and bless the marriage of a couple, he or she declares that holy matrimony “signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.” And there’s more: Holy Matrimony is intended by God for the couple’s mutual joy. Other purposes are intended: help and comfort, nurturing of children… but the first is joy. And that is for sure a missing ingredient in our kinky case today. Which makes one wonder if faithful lovingkindess and joy aren’t closely related.

“So that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,” insists the apostle in his letter today; that’s the purpose of obedience, that’s why to “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us.”

The faithful lovingkindness that is God’s “hesed” carries people through crisis. The prophet Haggai reports the promise of God, “For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear… Not even when I shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land, and all the nations…”, yet more proof that the prophets watch the same evening news that you and I watch. And yearn for the same just peace.

Opposing that justice, defiling that peace, breaking faith, destroying trust, fracturing unity, is the attitude that people can belong to anyone other than God. Jesus answers the cynicism of the Sadducees by declaring that no one but God can own this widow. And what does it mean to own? To hold in faithful lovingkindness.

Students of the origin of words tell us that at the root of “obey” is a Latin verb “to hear”. To obey the God of “hesed” is to hear the Spirit who abides among us wherever hesed is practiced, the Spirit that renders fear unnecessary. Freed from fear, we obey by hearing and welcoming God’s claim upon us in faithful lovingkindness, God’s call to consider and do what such love invites, what such love requires, and to delight in what such love gives

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Seeing the Vision, Hearing the Voice

Scripture for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost includes Habakkuk 1:1-4 and 2:1-4; II Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10

Our snapshot of the prophet Habakkuk catches him at his watchpost, on the rampart, the walkway up top of the fortress wall, where a sentinel can keep an eye on approaching enemies.

Our video clip from Luke’s Gospel shows a rich tax collector, Zacchaeus, up in a sycamore tree, perched above the crowd that has gathered to hear the itinerant preacher Jesus deliver his latest parable.

You might say that neither of these fellows has his feet firmly planted on the ground. Each has climbed to gain advantage. Each earnestly, urgently, needs to see what’s next in life. Habakkuk and Zacchaeus are on a mission to reconnoiter the future. Until each man sees and hears the reward for his vigilance, his openness, his courage, he lacks the guidance he needs to put one foot in front of the other.

These are stories of people being honest about their needs, being proactive to meet them, and finding God immediately responsive. These are great readings full of encouragement for all of us who feel drawn to work on our spiritual practice!

I can so easily relate to Habakkuk. Everywhere he looks, his nation is on the skids. They feel stuck in a God-awful paralysis of leadership. Wrongdoing is everywhere. Everything they’ve counted on is shutting down, falling apart, in trouble. Hear his frustration—feel his helplessness: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?”

Habakkuk is the right prophet to have on our ramparts as we in this country anticipate the next bout of partisan tantrums, the next season of threats to pull the plug on government. “Why must we see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before us; stife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails.” It’s as if Habakkuk watches the same evening news you and I watch!

Instantly, God answers the prophet. Well, not quite instantly: first, Habakkuk must climb to the ramparts. Wallowing in the kvetching around the campfire won’t help him: he must choose to gain perspective. Up he goes, and it’s there—and I’m going to say that that watchpost is prayer—there God answers the prophet, honors his honesty, encourages his failing courage.

“Write what you know is true. The vision: make it plain, tap it out on your tablets so everyone sees it: write it as you blog, tweet it to your followers. “For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie.” Imbedded in this universe is the heavenly demand for justice on earth, that God’s will be done here as there, ancient wrongs be set right, the jackasses be held to account for their actions, peace to all through all of good will. Take courage! It’s worth waiting for—it demands working for. And that work starts within each of us: let the righteous live by their faith, let their spirit be right within them.

This vignette from Habakkuk’s experience speaks volumes about God. God is less than a heartbeat away from our struggles. Closer than breath itself, to our longing for vision. Ready to honor honesty, reward patience, encourage climbing to a place of perspective, and there appear and answer. Habakkuk’s story is all about prayer, not prayer as escape but prayer as engagement.

Let’s catch up with Zacchaeus. He too has climbed to a place of perspective. Honesty, patience, and courage describe him, too. We can imagine a verse of our psalm on his lips: “I am small and of little account, yet I do not forget your commandments.”

Of all the personalities, of all the professions, of all the powers-that-be there on the streets of Jericho, Jesus chooses to invite himself to the home of Zacchaeus. Jesus will not be put on display as a token guest at a fancy dinner party in the home of a pious churchman. He will sit at Zacchaeus’s table,maybe just the two of them, the Son of Man and the tax man, or maybe on their way home, they’ll attract a whole tableful of dissident, subversive, open-minded, open-hearted people—the type that won’t hesitate to climb a tree, that will dare go out on a limb, to see and hear, and to speak and do, what is urgently needed.

Jesus chooses well. He knows who he needs (though it’s pretty clear that he needs everyone) and he knows how to call all sorts, from all walks of life, to follow and to lead. In this befriending, Jesus learns what no one else had guessed: despite the stereotype of the tax collector, Zacchaeus stands ready to help people generously. He has little to do with organized religion, but his spirit is right within him, and he’s ready to demonstrate that rightness by bold and gracious sharing of what he has.

This is a great Gospel for a day when we’ll gather-in our pledges to support the life and work of St. John’s in the world. Plus we even have the tree!

Zacchaeus climbing his tree reminds us of Habakkuk climbing to gain perspective, to see the big picture, to recapture the vision; so we might relate to Zacchaeus’s story by recognizing that the tree we’re called to climb is prayer—honest, patient, open-hearted prayer.

And with today’s in-gathering before us, the tree we’re called to climb is also stewardship, the sharing God calls us to do to express the love that answers the love of the answering God. As prayer releases us from our own grip, to receive God’s love, prayer also frees us to practice generosity. It’s worth noticing that the sermon Jesus gives, right on the heels of meeting Zacchaeus, is based on the parable about the nobleman who entrusts some of his wealth to his servants, to invest for profit while he is gone.

If there is one more truly important height from which to gain perspective—in addition to Habakkuk’s rampart and Zacchaeus’s sycamore-- it is Alexander’s precious perch in the arms of his parents, his grandparents, his Godparents, and this church community where he will be baptized in just a few moments. Foundational to his trusting that he is held close to the heart of God is his being held tenderly, firmly, faithfully in the arms of those who are privileged to care for him. Nothing will equip him better to have a place of perspective to climb up to in later life, than being treasured as he is now. Nothing will orient him better to having his feet firmly planted on the ground than his gaining the twin gifts by which the vision of God is seen and the voice of God heard, the gifts of roots and wings, which an old saying insists are the lasting gifts parents can give their children, the lasting gifts their church can give them, as well: roots and wings.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Saying No to Casinos

Scripture for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost includes Joel 2:23-32; II Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

I hear I missed three fine stewardship sermons, last Sunday. That’s what happens when you miss a Sunday here—you miss a lot!

My sermon today is about stewardship of a different kind. I want to talk to you about casino gambling, specifically about a citizens’ initiative petition to repeal the casino deal struck by our legislature and our Governor, a deal that the great majority of Massachusetts voters have not been allowed to vote on.

It is the purpose of the petition to provide that opportunity by a referendum article on our state ballot in November of next year, 2014. To achieve that, 69,000 bona fide signatures need to be gathered and verified, by mid-November of this year.

You may have noticed on your way in, this morning, that our vestibule has been rearranged to provide a place for you to sign this petition, if you are of a mind to do so. I’ll offer some coaching on signing that petition, before we’re done today.

First, a word about motivation. And then a word about our freedom to hold diverse opinions within the Body of Christ.

Motvation. Left to my own devices, I might not have risen to the challenge of tackling this harvesting of signatures here. Even though I was deeply disappointed by the eagerness of our Governor and the compliance of our legislature in sealing the casino deal, I might have been satisfied that the process of situating three regional casinos in the Commonwealth requires each host community to vote up or down the specific proposal for their community.

Or, to put that in Gospel terms today, I might have been quite willing to play the part of the Pharisee, stand by myself here in the Berkshires, and pray thus, “God, I thank you that we are not like the people of Springfield: desperate for jobs, yearning for urban renewal, eager to see good times roll by increased public revenues.”

That attitude, which could have been mine, would not have been worthy of anyone who believes in the concept of a commonwealth. That attitude, isolationist and short-sighted, was not going to go unchallenged by our activist Bishop of Western MA, whose see city, Springfield, is to be one of those three host communities. But over his dead body.

And not Doug Fisher alone. Far from it. In fact, the real firebrand at Diocesan House, on this issue, is our Chief Financial Officer, Steve Abdow. You’ll see that he is one of the ten first signers and sponsors of the petition. They are part of a diverse coalition of public health, municipal, family, and religious leaders who, along with concerned citizens from all walks of life, believe that predatory gambling destroys families, communities, and cultures. There, in a nutshell, is motivation.

And you now know that we are summoned by our Bishop to think not just our own thoughts but to consider what is known about a complex subject. You may not need persuading on this subject. You may hear what I have to say this morning and not be of a mind to sign this petition. Differing opinions and viewpoints are essential to the exercise of democracy. And, of all places, we who live in the Commonwealth of MA should k now (from our own tortured colonial history) that our deepest and truest wealth resides in freedom. Having clergy tell parishioners how to vote ought to be especially unacceptable in this Commonwealth. And that will be worth remembering if the coalition is successful in getting onto the ballot next year a repeal of the casino deal. Then, moral debate will doubtless reveal our diversity, and we will respect that diversity. For now, the question is simpler: Is casino gambling in three regions of Massachusetts a statewide issue that all voters should have the chance to decide?

If you say, as I do, that the answer to that question is Yes, then let’s sign the petition and call it a day.

But that would mean missing a golden opportunity to start considering what casino gambling represents. Carlo Rotella, a faculty member at Boston College, wrote an op ed piece that the Eagle picked up from The Globe. “I will sign the petition… because I’m convinced that casinos are bad for just about any community. It’s in my narrow self-interest to try to stop them even if nobody’s trying to build one in my town—if they’re bad for the state, they’re bad for my family.”

And, for most of our history, illegal. From 1930 to the late 1980s, they were legal only in Nevada and Atlantic City; but starting in the 90;s, they began entering the mainstream of American society, with the full support and sponsorship of the very same state governments that had outlawed them. In the report “Why Casinos Matter”, prepared by the Institute for American Values, the authors report that “Table games catering to high rollers have largely given way to slot machines catering to middle and low rollers. Casino gambling as a once or twice a year vacation has largely given way to casino gambling as a once or twice a month or once or twice a week pattern of life,” as most patrons live within 70 miles of a casino.

This report advances 31 propositions about the casino industry. Five pertain to slot machines, and I want to read just their titles.

1. The new American casino is primarily a facility filled with modern slot machines.
2. A modern slot machine is a sophisticated computer, engineered to create fast, continuous, and repeat betting.
3. Modern slot machines are carefully designed to ensure that the longer you play, the more you lose (“mechanical pickpockets”, Fiorello La Guardia called them).
4. Modern slot machines are highly addictive.
5. Modern slot machines are engineered to make players lose track of time and money.

Which segues easily to a few more propositions:
That casinos depend on problem gamblers for their revenue base, estimates running from 38% to 55% of their take.

That problem gambling is more widespread than many casino industry leaders claim (they estimate 1%; more reputable estimates say 15-20% are in some stage of addiction). And problem gambling affects families and communities as well as individuals.

The industry views young people (21-35) as their future. In some ways, they’re primed for gambling: since childhood, they’ve tapped buttons and tracked images on screens, spent money with a swipe of a debit card, played video games, and lived on social media—a soft target for Internet gambling, the next frontier for legalized gambling.

We need to remember how gambling has become legalized: the other fellow in our Gospel today is the tax collector. Rather than turning to him for an answer to revenue shortfalls, state governments have opted for what some say is a quick and painless fix. But here are four more propositions to consider:

1. The benefits of casinos are short-term and easy to measure, while many of their costs are longer-term and harder to measure.
2. Casinos extract wealth from communities.
3. Casinos typically weaken nearby businesses.
4. Casinos typically hurt property values in host communities.
5. Because of these reasons, state revenues from casinos are a regressive form of taxation paid by residents who are least able to pay it.

Other effects are worth taking into account, especially rises in crime and government corruption. While we were on Martha’s Vineyard last week, a banner headline in The Globe reported that Caesars Entertainment, one of the biggest in the business, will be dropped from a casino venture at Suffolk Downs “due to grave doubts that the international gambling giant would pass its mandatory state background check.” Oops!

What’s stunning about this is that it comes less than three weeks (now two) before voters in East Boston and Revere decide the fate of the casino proposal in their area. Talk about putting the cart before the horse! These communities have been bellying up to the bar with Caesar’s for two years now—and now the bottom falls out.

Closer to home, Springfield’s City Council President has asked the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for advice on how the city can replace MGM if that company fails the state’s background check. Who will match that $800 million project MGM has proposed?

Can anyone tell me: Whatever happened to due diligence up front?

What’s good about these embarrassing developments is that Massachusetts is growing a reputation as the toughest US jurisdiction in which to qualify for a gambling license. What would be better is if we have the courage to just say No, and find more honest ways to deal with our revenue shortfall and our statewide need for more jobs, good jobs. It won’t be just in the licensing process that we’ll need a tough and ready strong arm of the state to protect us: the public will need protection from the very business practices that will generate revenue for the state—and that is a conflict of interest that we’d be smart to avoid.

Enough, already. If you’re a registered voter in Massachusetts, I hope you’ll consider signing the petition. No surprise: there are tight rules to follow. I’ll mention three:

Sign on the clipboard that corresponds to the town you live in (if there’s no clipboard for
your town, we’ll start one
Sign legibly (note to self) in ink, using your name as you think it appears in your town’s
voting list (no need to fill in ward and precinct)
Use the address that matches, no post office boxes allowed

And say a simple prayer of thanksgiving for the freedoms we enjoy in this country, including this one, standing up for ourselves—and one another—against companies and politicians offering us a bad deal.

Carlo Rotella’s op ed piece “Saying No to Casinos” appeared in the September 30, 2013 issue of The Berkshire Eagle.