Friday, December 24, 2010

Channeling Joe McCarthy

In an op-ed piece in Long Island's Newsday news paper this past Sunday, Congressman Peter King wrote an article justifying his intention to hold hearings on Muslims in America and domestic terrorism.In it Rep. King noted an abrupt change in his attitude toward Muslim Americans after 911 based on a remark by an individual Muslim (uttered in the heat of the moment during a contentious discussion) in which this individual indicated, not that the terror attacks were in any way justified, but that they might have been the work of someone other than a Muslim extremist group- a remark Mr. King says, the public record to the contrary notwithstanding, were never properly repudiated by Muslim leaders. In point of fact, it was not only retracted by the individual who made it, but denounced publicly over and over again- a fact to which I can personally attest.

Even if it wasn't, no one has demanded that I or any other Christian leader publicly apologize for the remarks of Terry Fox, the infamous would-be Quran-burner of central Florida and therein lies the crux of the issue. Peter King, is an elected representative of the US government who is sworn to uphold the constitution. That includes the right to be an individual whose patriotism is not subject to congressional hearings because someone else makes a statement that offends- even if it offends your local congressman. It is a sad commentary on Mr. King's own character that his opinion of an entire religion is apparently turned 180 degrees because of one or even a few ill-thought-out remarks, but it is worse when he uses his office to initiate a witch hunt against a group which, also contrary to what he claims, the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as our local police commissioner have lauded for their cooperation with law enforcement in the fight against terror. But facts rarely matter when political opportunism rears its ugly head. Muslims are a vulnerable group, easy to victimize under the guise of concerns about security. A few well publicized incidents of domestic terror recruiting among Muslims in America, provide the excuse and anxiety about Islam and Muslims the fuel for a return to the Joe McCarthy-style congressional witch hunts that cast a shadow over our democracy, ruined countless innocent lives and disgraced our nation in the early 1950's. Is the threat of domestic terrorism real? Of course it is- not only or even primarily from Muslim extremists, but from right wing religious extremists in the mold of Timothy McVeigh, from so-called "sovereign citizens," armed militias and a number of other groups, the majority of which have nothing to do with Islam- extremist or otherwise. But King apparently doesn't see a political pay-off in going after domestic terrorism in general. Instead, he is picking on a vulnerable minority, cynically exploiting the fears of Americans and like his predecessor, Senator McCarthy, bringing shame to this nation, even as his enemies rejoice that America seems to be at war with Islam after all.
Shame on you Congressman King, shame on you!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The War on Christmas Revisited

It's that time of year again, when the Christian celebration of Christmas is upon us and the inevitable complaints about the so-called "War on Christmas" are being aired in many quarters in America. As more and more merchants are changing their "Merry Christmas" greetings to "Happy Holidays," as public schools and institutions are changing their "Christmas" pageants to "Holiday" pageants and Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles and even Star and Crescents are showing up in public places alongside of creches and Christmas trees, the complaints get louder and more urgent. Many of us Christians begin to wonder if indeed there really us a plan out there somewhere among the powers-that-be to erase this most important religious and cultural celebration from our land. Hey, what's wrong with "Merry Christmas" after all?

Not a thing- and as a Christian clergyman, I believe not only that Christmas is one of the two most important celebrations of our faith (Easter is the other), but that those who say that any religious celebration or proclamation has no place in the public square are not only wrong about what our constitution says, but profoundly misguided about the nature of religious belief itself. I believe as well that there is a indeed a kind of "War on Christmas." But that war is not being carried out by some secret cabal of anti-religious zealots, or by the so-called "liberal media" or by any of the other boogey-men (or boogey-women) one hears so much about from cable pundits. Rather, the war on Christmas is an internal affair that began when we Christians started turning the celebration of the birth of our Savior into a commercial buying spree so excessive that it became a cornerstone of our consumer economy and when far too many of us began looking for the "Christmas Spirit" at big box stores and malls, or in religious displays in the Village Square rather than where our faith has always said that spirit would be found. That is, in our houses of worship, among the poor and those whom the consumer economy has left behind and in acts of love and generosity that reflect our understanding of the incredible act of love we celebrate in the birth, the ministry, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christians claim to be disciples of a Messiah who eschewed political and cultural domination, proclaiming instead that his kingdom "is not of this world." We are the followers of one who said that he would be found not among the wealthiest and most fortunate, but among the least and the last, a rabbi who told those who would attain righteousness to "sell all you have and give the money to the poor." When we seek to dominate the public and secular arenas with our symbols at the expense of our neighbors, when we turn his birthday into an orgy of consumption, when we look for the spirit of Christmas in stores, it is we who are waging war on Christmas, not some "liberal" cabal. When we are subjected to skepticism about this day's meaning by others because of those patterns of behavior, that too is a self-inflicted wound and one that should be cause to "look to the plank in our own eye," as Jesus said, and not "the mote in our neighbor's eye."

We have the right as citizens of a free society to proclaim our joy at the celebration of our Messiah's birth and the duty as Christians to put that faith into practice in our public as well as our private lives. But the teachings of Jesus would seem to make it clear that doing so would be more about caring for the least of his brethren, coming together in worship than about demanding merchants say "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays." Our religion calls us to struggle in our Savior's name to live our lives more compassionately and our faith more courageously, and maybe worry a bit less about getting "our" symbol up on the Village Green or our celebrations' name on the local school pageant. If those kinds of concerns are what Christmas is about, then the war is already lost because we've become just one more competing special interest group vying for power. But faith, all religious faith is about much more than that. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, about his love, his grace, his gift of salvation rather than about us. Remembering that and putting it into practice- that's how we'll "win" this one. To my fellow Christians, have a blessed Christmas. To my friends of other faiths, God bless and to all of my fellow human beings of ever faith and no faith, may this year bring you joy and good things!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Rose by any other Name

In very era of America's relatively brief history as a nation, through every crisis, there are those among who insist that THIS TIME is unique, that this time, the crisis we face is so overwhelming, our need so dire that we cannot afford to abide by the foundational principles of our democracy, that we need to bend or break them for the sake of our survival. Whether it is the suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, the Alien and Sedition Acts of the early 20th century, the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II or the suspension of constitutional rights related to the Patriot Act, the internment of "enemy combatants" or the secret torture chambers at Gitmo and in CIA prisons throughout the world, arguments have been well and sincerely raised as to why the rules by which our society is governed, and along with them the principles that gave life to those rules are too lofty to be truly followed in the "real world."

And yet, as fiercely as we might defend these "exceptions" as they occur, so (history has taught us) we will come to regret them with the passage of time, when the heat of the moment is over and the crisis is past. As cooler times give way to cooler heads, we come to recognize that not only have we shamed our nation and our own most cherished beliefs, but that the suspension of our constitutional protections have not helped us to defend ourselves, they have not advanced our cause, they have not helped us surmount the crisis or win the war. Rather, they have demeaned and tarnished the cause in which they were employed and if anything, set it back by painting our most cherished freedoms not as unalienable rights, but rather as "luxuries" only for the best of times in direct opposition to the crucible in which they were first forged, the fight for human liberation that gave birth to this nation.

When we say, yes to civil liberties, but not for suspected terrorists, or for people of nations with which we are at war, or yes to religious liberty, but not for people of minority faiths or faiths which are shared, even if in name only with enemies of our country, we are putting conditions on all liberty. We are then taking what our founders declared as a fundamental human right and reducing it to a privilege of power. Our founders, not so far removed from the ethnic and religious wars of their countries of origin, still suspicious and all to familiar with the abuse of power by majorities over minorities understood that liberty is either for all or for none, that rights are only rights if they cannot be revoked by popular sentiment or national emergency and that freedom could not ever be defended by denying it, not even a little bit. In this current climate of fear, when so many are willing to throw the rights of others "under the bus" in favor of the illusion of security, we would be well advised to take the words of Ben Franklin, one of the architects of our democracy very seriously: "Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for a little bit of security, deserve neither liberty nor security." Indeed, they may find that they do not have it all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Park 51: a Christian response

An acquaintance of mine, irritated and apparently surprised to hear that a Christian minister was a supporter of the Park 51 project to renovate a mosque as a Muslim community center near Ground Zero, called me a "Muslim lover." This person had written an article in which he had outlined some of the atrocities committed by those claiming the Muslim faith, particularly over the past few decades and it was, I have to admit, an impressive list of horrific acts resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocents. No such faith, he opined, could claim to be a religion of peace and no such faith should be practiced just a few blocks from where 19 young men claiming that faith had taken so many lives.
A reasonable argument on the face of it, unless one looks, (as Christ commanded) to the plank in our own eye at the bloody history of those who have claimed the Christian faith: from the greatest genocide in human history, perpetrated by the same nation that not only launched the Protestant Reformation, but gave Christianity so many of our theologians,to the 8000 Muslim men and boys slaughtered at Sebrenica in the mid-1990's by the "Christian" Bosnian Serb militias, to the "troubles" of Northern Ireland, the massacres of Native Americans, the Crusades and so on and so forth going back at least 17 centuries, in which the people who received Christ's commandments to love their neighbors as themselves instead twisted that religion of peace and reconciliation into an excuse for war, conquest and genocide. Jesus called upon the one without sin to cast the first stone and recognize that it is not another faith that is my enemy, but the hatred and self-righteous rage that would hold an entire people or religion or nation responsible for the perceived sins of a few.
I was called a "Muslim-lover" as an insult but in truth the epithet is a challenge and a compliment: a challenge to make it true through obedience to the commandments of my Savior to live his love in the world and a compliment because at least one person seems to think that I am already doing it. Christ's people, according to the New Testament, are commanded by our Lord to be lovers, not only of God, but of all of God's people of every faith and no faith. We are the disciples, after all, of an itinerant Jewish preacher who risked alienating his own disciples in order to reach out and embrace enemies, to offer his hand and his love to infidels, heretics and pagans. We believe that this man of Nazareth was the Logos, the Word of God himself and that his admonition that we love these "strangers" and "enemies" not just in word, "but in truth and action," was not just a moral teaching worth emulating but one of God's two Great Commandments on "which hang all the law and the prophets," and on which our own faithfulness will be judged. That is why I (along with clergy and lay people from nearly every major Christian denomination)support the efforts of my sisters and brothers of the Islamic faith to locate a holy place near ground that is hallowed, not by the deaths of the innocents, but by the efforts of those who work together to build a new and better world from the ashes of that terrible tragedy. That is what the resurrection faith of Jesus Christ tells us is the will and commandment of God and that is what Christians are commanded to do. Imam Rauf has reached out to his fellow Americans and to all people of faith and good will with an opportunity to live the love that as Christians we are commanded by our Savior to live. Islam did not destroy those innocent lives on 911, any more than Christianity built the death camps or commanded the genocidal paramilitaries of Bosnia-Herzegovina- hatred and self-righteous rage did. We do not serve God, our nation or God's people with more of the same. We do that, by recognizing an opportunity for reconciliation and seizing it, together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's Wrong with Prop 8

Marriage is a touchy issue and the debate over marriage equality is one that often generates more light than heat. Partly this is due to the fact that despite our nation's commitment to a separation of church and state, they often intersect and marriage is one of those intersections. Like most clergy, I not only preside over religious marriages, but over the civil institution of marriage as well, when I am called upon to sign marriage licenses and thereby act as an agent of the state. For me, the issue is less complicated because I believe that my Christian faith sanctions all marriages by any and all people committed to live together in fidelity, honor and love, and because I believe that Jesus' message was clear, that family are the people who love you, irrespective of gender or blood.

But for many traditions, marriage is about procreation, a sacrament. For these traditions, the struggle to accept marriage equality is more difficult. Luckily for them, there is a separation of church and state in this country. No law can require them to sanction or perform any marriage they do not approve of. Civil Marriage, is a legal institution, not a religious one. Some clergy and traditions, like me and mine, are happy to perform these marriages because they are, in our understanding valid. But if we did not, no law could make us. That is what is wrong with Prop 8, it takes that choice away for all people and it denies the benefits that go with the institution to people based on who they are. That separation of church and state goes both ways and right now, under current laws, there is no choice for anyone, those GLBT folks who wish to marry or the clergy who wish to transmit God's blessings on them. Equality under the law, freedom of choice, freedom of religion, all of these are being denied under proposition 8. That's not only shameful, it's anti-American. If you don't believe in marriage equality, that's your right, but it is not a license to deny the rights of your fellow Americans.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mosque Controversy Continues

As the politicians of both parties succumb one after the other to the hysteria surrounding plans for a mosque in lower Manhattan, we can see how fragile religious liberty really is in this country and why those of us who care about it need to make our voices heard. Recently, democratic congressman Steve Israel joined the nay-sayers by characterizing the efforts of Imam Feisal and his group to go forward with the project as "insensitive." But it is the opposition that is insensitive. Sensitivity would be demonstrated by a willingness to recognize, as President Bush said, the we are not at war with Islam, but with a small group of extremists who are as likely to persecute the Sufi Muslims who are building this peace center as they are Christians, Jews or any other people they don't agree with. Sensitivity would not demonize this effort at creating a venue for peaceful understanding because it happens to be Muslim-initiated, but would rather see this for what it is: an opportunity to demonstrate that we in the United States practice what we preach, religious liberty for all. Sensitivity would recognize that the whole world is watching to see if we really do embrace moderate Muslims with open arms or if we are against all Muslims, as the extremists claim. Finally, sensitivity would recognize, as New York's mayor and President Obama have, that freedom is either for all, or for none and that if we suspend that freedom for those we do not understand or for anyone, we are not the nation we claim to be. The people of lower Manhattan have voiced their support for this project. The mayor of New York is standing up for New Yorkers of every faith to worship how and where they choose. Clergy of every faith are standing with Imam Feisal because Jews and Christians, as well as Muslims and people of every faith understand that we are called to love the stranger, embrace the outcast and seek peace. To attack this mosque is to attack our constitution, our liberty and more importantly, our faith. Let's hope that Imam Feisal and his group are able to stand fast and move ahead- for all of our sakes.

The Furious Flight Attendant

What do the travails of Mr. Slater, the flight attendant who found instant celebrity with his dramatic exit from his job have to do with the Interfaith Alliance? Well, a lot actually. Because Mr. Slater's temper tantrum and the response to it by so many people is one more indicator of one of our nation's most pressing problems: the loss of civility (and maturity) in our public discourse. Lauded as some kind of folks hero, what this man did was throw a public hissy fit for reasons that remain unclear, curse out the people he had contracted to serve, then endanger public safety as he released an emergency slide, slid down it and ran away. Far from being heroic behavior, his was a selfish and hostile act. The fact that he has been applauded reminds us of the sad reality that we have lost the ability or even the understanding of why we need to exercise self-control and restraint in our public discourse. We see that reflected in the mud-slinging and hate speech that has come to dominate cable TV "news" shows, and, ultimately in the polarization of our society. As we seek to live together in this increasingly complex and multi-cultural society, it becomes more and more important that we be able to disagree civilly, that we are sensitive to one another and that we learn restraint and self-control. Mr. Slater's behavior was the opposite of that. It was infantile and inappropriate, that it is seen as otherwise is not only a shame for all of us, it bodes ill for our society.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Religious Liberty at stake in plans for Downtown Mosque

The recent controversy over plans to develop a Mosque and community center in the "ground zero" area of Manhattan is very poignant reminder of just how far we have yet to go in terms of the protection of religious liberties in this country, but also a proclamation in some ways of how far we have come. On the one hand, we see angry and outraged protesters being egged on by opportunistic politicians seeking to fan the fires of bigotry and fear for their own political gain. The ADL, in a decision that is disappointing to say the least, has unfortunately joined this effort in a move that puts a lie to its own history of defending religious tolerance.

On the other hand, Mayor Bloomberg is standing tall for the principles of liberty and equality before the law for all Americans by standing with the supporters of the project, which include not only the Community Board representing the area in which it is proposed, but responsible religious leaders of every faith and the majority of the people who live in the downtown area.

Religious liberty and the right to worship where and how one wishes is one of the foundational liberties on which this nation is built. The unspeakable acts of September 11, 2001 were an attack on those foundational liberties by a group of terrorists who would deny those rights to anyone who does not think or worship as they do. In addition to the many other of their fellow Americans, about 200 Muslim-Americans died in the World Trade Center attacks. What more fitting tribute to what this nation stands for than a Mosque to be built alongside of the churches and synagogues already in the area. Those who oppose this effort are fighting against those very liberties that the heroes of 911 died to protect. They have missed the point and their actions are un-patriotic, inconsistent with the faith traditions of Christianity and Judaism among others, and misguided and simply wrong. The peace center at the new Mosque will hopefully become another place of dialogue, understanding and hope. It deserves the kind of courageous support that the Mayor and the people of downtown Manhattan are giving it. We all need to support it as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

AZ Hits a New Low

It's hard to believe that the state of Arizona could sink any lower than the recent legislation making it the "show me your papers" state, but the legislature and governor have managed to find a way with the new legislation outlawing ethnic studies programs in public schools and specifically targeting Latino studies programs in the Tucson public schools, programs that teach students about their heritage and highlight the contributions of their ethnic groups and leaders to the American story. 30% of the people of Arizona are of Hispanic heritage, many of those people having resided here long before Arizona was a part of the United States and long before the influx of European-Americans who now seem so hell bent on wiping out their ethnic heritage using the excuse that by knowing who they are and where they come from, non-European individuals will somehow be less interested in being constructive members of the society they live in.

Not only does such an idea violate everything we know about human beings, it is as thinly-veiled an attempt to educationally disenfranchise a whole group of people as the new laws regarding proof of citizenship or residency are an attempt to politically disenfranchise them. Adding further hyperbole to this situation is not helpful, but it is hard not to see this as an attempt at a kind of ethnic cleansing as Arizona is attempting to deprive 30% of its people first their legal rights and now their history. As Americans, we need to see this as what it is, an attack on the constitutional rights of some of us that could just as easily be an attack on the constitutional rights of any or all of us. As people of faith, we cannot help but be outraged by this attempt to deny the equality and value, even the humanity of our fellow human beings because of their ethnic heritage and the first couple of steps on a road that in so many places in the world has led to atrocity. No less than the Jim Crow laws of the past, our fellow human beings are being deprived of their humanity as they are deprived of their rights and their history and we cannot stand by and let it happen. Join me now in letting Governor Brewer know how we feel about this abomination, and in boycotting all things Arizona until sanity and decency are restored.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scapegoating Immigrants in AZ

The tide of anti-immigrant bias and discrimination has reached a new low with the new law in Arizona which criminalizes illegal immigration and provides for police and other law enforcement officials to profile, stop and demand proof of citizenship or legal residency from those they suspect of being in this country illegally. Although the Arizona governor denies that this law will lead to racial profiling, no rational human being can possibly believe that Arizona police will be stopping Celtic looking men and women looking for illegal immigrants from Ireland or any other individuals other than those of obvious Hispanic origin. In short, what this law has done is to create and apartheid system where people of Latino origins will have to carry their "papers" with them at all times to satisfy the demand of police officers who in turn are now expected to add to their duties, acting as immigration agents.In this blatant pandering to the hysteria surrounding the issue of illegal immigration, Arizona has undermined the most basic tenets of our constitution: the right to equality before the law as it quite obviously singles out Latino-Americans for special scrutiny and government harassment.

That is not the only problem with this Jim Crow law for Latino Americans. Besides usurping duties constitutionally assigned to the federal government, it will make Arizonans less safe as those who are hired to protect and serve are burdened with enforcing this policy in a state with a huge Hispanic population, composed at least in part by people who have lived in Arizona long before it became a part of the United States. It will serve to effectively disenfranchise Americans because of their ethnicity and it could blow a serious blow to the economy of a state which is dependent on agricultural workers, many of whom are in this country without documents. But perhaps most importantly, it is blatant persecution of people because of their heritage-an insult to everything this nations stands for. It is an outrage to people of faith as it sets apart a group of human beings as less equal and less worthy than other human beings and it puts bigotry before compassion. The Rev. Al Sharpton is right when he reminds all who will listen that just as too much of our history has been marred by racist laws and customs against African-Americans, the same is true with laws like this for Latino-Americans. It is time for patriotic people of faith and good will to stand up and condemn this racist and anti-American legislation. Shame on you Arizona, like the states of the deep south during the years of Jim Crow, you will not easily live down your bigotry!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Separation of Church and State: Why it's so important today

"It's the economy, stupid." President Clinton's campaign slogan seems even more applicable today than it did when it helped him win the white house 18 years ago. Even as President Obama struggles to reform our broken health care system, as the war in Afghanistan heats up and all the other problems that beset our society continue to plague us, the economy is number one in the concerns of most people. Issues like civil liberties, and particularly religious liberty somehow seem less important when you are worried about your job or about keeping your home. The fact that our current president is much more moderate in his rhetoric and seemingly less determined to push a particular partisan religio-political agenda puts these issues even further on to the back burner for many people. President Obama doesn't subscribe, after all, to the same triumphalist ideology that his predecessor did. We don't worry about his Office of Faith Based Initiatives pushing an "evangelical Christian only agenda," and his more respectful, more inclusive rhetoric raises hope for an America that truly does embrace freedom and respect for all of its people.

Unfortunately, that rhetoric has not been matched with action when it comes to actual policies. Although the Office of Faith Based Initiatives may be less targeted toward one particular group under this adminstration, it is still in operation and it still can operate essentially as the adminstration wills and so the executive is still in a position to support some religious groups and programs over others. In other words, we have a good king perhaps, rather than a bad king, when what our constitution requires is no king at all. The danger of churches and other religious groups functioning as arms of the government has not been mitigated and that is a problem not just for the state, but more importantly for we people of faith who worry about the abridgement of our religious freedom and the stifling of the prophetic moral voice of faith when our purse strings are held by government. Religious minorities in particular, have much to be concerned about. Presidents come and go, popular sentiments can favor one group one year and another the next, the that is why we have legal and constitutional protections for the rights of minorities and that is why we need to fight until they are restored.

The Patriot Act, perhaps the most grevious assault on our constitution in modern history remains largely intact. Though we applaud the President's efforts to close the torture chambers and the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay, we maintain the immoral and illegal fiction that there are human beings who can be classified as outside the rule of law, as well as the threat than Americans as well as others can have their civil and constitutional rights taken from them merely by being classified as "terrorists" or "enemy combatants." When government can take away the liberty and rights to due process of any of us, none of us is safe. That is why we need to continue to fight until the Patriot Act is repealed.

Just as importantly, as people of faith, we need to struggle against the trivialization of our faith by those who claim to be defending it. When a justice of the Supreme Court justifies the placement of a cross on federal land by calling it merely a "marker" of a place of the dead, the most important religious symbol for a fifth of the world's population is being disrespected in a signficant way. The Cross is not just a grave marker, it is a symbol of hope and new life for millions of Americans. When another federal judge justifies the placement of the Ten Commandments in a public place by saying it is a historical symbol he or she is trivializing a core doctrine of the faith of three great relgions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Anytime our religious symbols or language is used in the service of a political or cultural agenda, those symbols and faiths are being diminished and misused. The Interfaith Alliance understands that and it fights to protect the religious and civil liberties that caused so many of our ancestors to come to these shores in search of, if not a promised land, than certainly a land of promise. Join us and help us keep that promise!

Saying Goodbye to an Authentic Hero

This week marked a tragedy, not only for those of us who were privileged enough to know her and work with her, but for all of us and any of us who are truly intrested in creating a more just and compassionate society. Norma Cohen, who passed away this past week was the heart and soul of the Long Island Chapter of The Interfaith Alliance inspiring us all with her keen intellect, her insights, her absolute integrity and her willingness, even as her seemingly boundless energy finally began to fail her, to get down and do whatever it took to defend the religious and civil liberties of her fellows, and to promote peace. Even in the last few months, when it became harder for her to get to our meetings, her spirit loomed large in everything we did as it always will. One of the proudest moments of my life was watching her receive the honor she deserved at the national Interfaith Alliance banquet this past Fall and to be privileged enough to sit with her and her remarkable husband and family at their table.

Norma Cohen was a remarkable woman of many gifts, who understood that we are put on this earth to share what we have for the benefit of all. She was always on the side of right, but she was never self-righteous. She had little patience for hypocrisy or oppression, but she had a lot of patience for people. She and Harvey were an inspiration both in the work that they did and in the way they lived their lives together, in the family they raised, in the big and the small things they did. Like all of us at TIA and in all the various capacities that she served her fellow human beings, I will miss Norma more than I can express. But I will always be proud, very proud to remember that she called me "friend." Hers was a life well lived, a life that mattered.