Thursday, March 21, 2013

In Memoriam: William August Selke

We are saddened by the death of our member, William A. Selke of Lenox, Mass. Bill had been a faithful member of the Club since 1969. Our condolences go to Martha Selke and all members of Bill's family.

A memorial service for Bill is scheduled for Monday, March 25, at 2:00 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 88 Walker Street, Lenox.

The following is Bill's obituary:

William August Selke, of 235 Walker Street in Lenox, died Tuesday morning at The Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, as a result of injuries from a fall on the ice, on Main Street in Lee, on February 25th.

The son of August F. and Catherine MacAree Selke, he was born on June 16, 1922 in Newburgh, N.Y. As a young child he moved to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he lived until going off to college.

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's a crying shame: Reflections on next steps after the Sandy Hook massacre

Illustration by Patrick Feller,
used under Creative Commons License
Presented to the Club by James Lumsden on Monday evening, March 11, 2013


For most of my sixty years I have consciously and intentionally wrestled with what it means to be a patriotic person of peace within our American culture of violence.  As a straight, middle class, white man I know I have benefited from – and been entertained by – my culture’s various violent obsessions.  I have been overtly and covertly wounded and corrupted by them, too.  At times I have protested and railed against some of our more vicious habits, spent time in therapy as a consequence of family rage and experienced in my core the blinding fury that so easily erupts into acts of deadly destruction.  As a husband, father and pastor I have also wept while keeping silent vigil with those who have survived acts of murder and suicide.

“Life is hard – and agony accompanies joy.” That’s how I have sometimes made sense of the sorrow born of our uniquely violent culture.  “Now we see as through a glass darkly,” St. Paul wrote, “later we shall see face to face… for all have sinned and fallen short of the grace of God.”  This is the theological gap between comprehension and mystery I generally accept as another way of enduring the heart ache of real life – always, however, with the caveat that, “when we do get to see face to face, God damn it, I want some answers, Lord because this pain is some-times intolerable.”  As a servant of the Crucified but Risen Christ, I trust that God’s presence is with us all in the agony of living as well as in the sublime pleasures – and I believe by faith that this present darkness will one day be redeemed, too.

But after the massacre of twenty first grade and kindergarten children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut – as well eight other adults including the shooter and his mother – it is clear to me that my grasp of what it means to wait upon the Lord has been too passive.  Now is the time for decisive and sustained action to limit and prohibit the spread of certain semi-automatic weapons in America.  Military-grade hardware and access to massive amounts of ammunition is neither necessary to protect the Second Amendment nor to advance the joy of hunting and sport shooting.  Indeed, I would argue that this is the hour to turn our public conversation away from real or manufactured Constitutional debates and find ways for a broad section of Americans to break bread together in patient and civil explorations of the common good.  To be sure, we don’t have much practice or experience with such gatherings these days – and that is a crying shame.