"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

On reflection, a Merry Christmas

Wreaths on church

If the traffic and consumption madness of the days before Christmas has a positive side, it would be the time of rest and reflection many do take in the day or two that follows. This year, perhaps more than most, we seem to have come to a light pause, in the Northwest and beyond, and this seems a good time for reflection.

Most everyone around the Puget Sound can, at last, turn on working electric lights and ensure their houses will be heated again. The storm of the 14th whacked the region hard, the Seattle area harder than any, and to greater and lesser degrees people suffered from it. The path back was longer than most anyone expected, and the discussion of how to shorten that path in future has now to begin. But for the moment we have, most of us, recovery.

The last few weeks have been helpful to others as well.

The Oregonian‘s David Reinhard posted a fine column today on the apparent settlement of the Portland Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic church with plaintiffs suing it over sexual abuse cases. Without diminishing the seriousness of those charges, Reinhard also got on the ground about the effects the suits have had:

“St. Michael’s bears the literal and figurative marks of the archdiocese’s time in bankruptcy. It’s a beautiful brick building, with the Italianate flourishes of the immigrant community that built it. But it’s old and in need of restoration and a major seismic upgrade. It’s one good earthquake away from being a pile of rubble and a danger to all within. Restoration plans were afoot in 2002. They crashed to a halt amid the uncertainties of the bankruptcy. The upshot can be seen along the north and south interior walls, where in spots the plaster has been scraped down to reveal the exterior bricks. Yes, the restoration would benefit worshippers, but the project also includes updating the basement kitchen, which provides daily meals for downtown poor and homeless people.

“Although you may see no tangible evidence of the bankruptcy’s impact at every parish in the archdiocese, there’s been an impact nonetheless – for parishioners and nonparishioners alike: Projects not undertaken. Funds not raised. Plans put on hold.”

angel on a Christmas treeFor every sign of development positive, of course, you can find a marker of things yet undone, corrections yet to be made. We see it locally, even more dramatically nationally – war, economic distress, social and environmental troubles and conflict. But we should be reminded that in some areas and in some ways, at least, we progress. And after taking a deep breath in the spirit of the season, perhaps we will progress again in the year to come.

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