The Non-Presidential 2020 Debate

This blog will be short. I am embarrassed, dismayed, distressed and concerned with Donald Trump’s uncivil and irrational, and rude performance at the Presidential debate last night. I can’t believe that man is our President. The press asks, “Who won the debate?” There was no debate.

Surely sane Trump supporters are worried about his mental; health. He was like a rabid attack dog, attacking Biden, attacking the interviewer, ignoring the American people except for the white supremacists he would not denounce. From citing Biden’s grades in college to attacking his son, the whole experience was a lesson in how not to behave in civil discourse, especially as President.

This is not a partisan statement, it is a humane one. It is very painful to see a man lose it in front of millions of viewers. There is no excuse. His “handlers” should share in the blame. The Pastoral side of me is very concerned for him. The problem is that he is in a position to do so much damage to our democracy and our people in these extremely difficult times.

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Pandemics Post 2

 Pandemics Day Two

I watched in amazement and gratitude as thousands in peaceful protest against racism in America walked three miles in Boston following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. As the protest ended and night fell, riots began. I watched in sadness and listened in dismay as the media commentators I listen to every night were calling the looting, burning, and destruction of property,  the protests. Almost seamlessly seeing the events of the night as one with the events of the day.

Maybe some of the same people were involved. Maybe there were outside agitators. Time will tell. But it differed in intent and purpose from the march of thousands.

Most surely, the goods in some of the stores being looted are not normally available to people on the financial margins. Economic deprivations have been made worse by the loss of work during the Covid pandemic. And  increasingly with the current administration in the White House, national divisions have been encouraged and magnified. The rioters could have been from the extreme right or left.

When I posted my blog yesterday, protests across the country were followed by disturbances in their aftermath, violence against property. Yesterday I wrote that I saw hope in the protests, in people coming together to express outrage and call for change.

This morning, commentators in the media, while recognizing the violence in Boston last night, were also seeing signs of hope. Police officers joining in the protest, police officers kneeling with the crowd, women joining arms to separate the police from the protestors, Black men surrounding and protecting a white police officer who had been separated from his unit. One Black commentator noting that we are mostly good people.

A segment on how to talk to our children about what is happening, children whose lives have already been turned around by the Corona virus, was helpful and telling. We are all affected.

How we think about these things and how we talk to one another across all divisions matters. I want to face the reality of racism and our need as Americans to address its injustice. I don’t want mothers to fear for the lives of their Black sons every time they go out the door. I want to thank all those who walked in peaceful protest to call for an end to racial injustice and police  brutality. I appreciate all who support the protestors in their hearts.

Yesterday was Pentecost in the Christian tradition. That is the day that the Spirit descended upon the early Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike, to empower them to carry on Jesus’ ministry of moving us toward a New Creation based on love of God, neighbor and self.

I saw the Spirit moving down the streets of Boston yesterday afternoon. I didn’t see the Spirit in the violence of the night. But it may turn out that as we learn more about what was really happening and who was behind it and why, the Spirit may use even those events to bring us to our senses and give us new Wisdom. 

I don’t see the Spirit in the violence of the Corona virus either. But, out of pandemics can come a new awareness that we need to stand together to heal and contain evils that invade our world.

It is time for the Spirit’s goodness to empower us with the breath of life for our time. Today, I still have hope.

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Two Pandemics

Something trumped Covid 19 this week. Racism in America. The video of a white police officer with his knee on a Black man’s neck while he shouted, “I can’t breathe,” until he died, went viral.

Then, while so much of America was social distancing thousands of people came together in streets across America in protest. The protests were against a long-term virus in America, a social pandemic, discrimination against Black Americans. This week it led to the police killing of George Floyd. There were others before him.

We have made progress in America against racism. The Civil Rights Movements of the 50’s and 60’s helped move us forward.  Less we forget. More African Americans have visible roles in the media. We had an African American President. We have Equal Employment laws, etc. Yet, so much racial discrimination still exists and so much economic injustice.  White supremacy simmers beneath the surface in some Americans.

It took an authoritarian regressive white President to give permission to that simmering to boil over.

Maybe backlash against the progress that has been made against racism, and also sexism and homophobia, was bound to erupt. In the midst of this backlash, I want to recognize that it is a reaction to changes that have happened that move us toward justice.

Now past generations and new generations need to join together to advance our democracy toward human rights and peace with justice on all fronts. We cannot lose ground. We must move forward. We need a new Administration.

So many people of all races and genders are horrified by what happened and deeply saddened and angry. Protest is a sign of hope. We long for a nation in which racism is history and all can live in dignity and equality with mutual respect.

There are those of every race and nationality who do not harbor hatred in their hearts, who long for peace. Among them is the family of George Floyd who want to honor him for the peaceful man he was as they seek justice for his murder.

So, now, as we are looking at the problem of crowded beaches during the Covid pandemic, we are also looking at crowds on city streets. Nerves are frayed on all fronts

Both pandemics, the medical virus and the social virus need to be addressed. I would like to say, eliminated, but that is not realistic. Controlled. Controlled by people raising their voices for justice and using their gifts for healing. So many care about others and value kindness.

President, Donald Trump, will not wear a face mask in the midst of the Corona pandemic. It is a vain macho act and a deliberate symbol for his followers of his right and theirs to disregard the human life of many to protects their own interests and image.

Conservatism is better than that. It does not need to be represented in such a deadly form. And most police officers do serve the common good and provide security and safety. Most needs to be all. Otherwise, how can anyone tell the difference? Brutality needs to be prosecuted.

We all have to pursue those things that save life and health and act against against whatever evil forces threaten life.

Let’s all work to acknowledge and correct the inequities in our society and in our hearts even as we work to find a vaccine or effective treatment against the Corona virus..

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God Lessons from the Coronavirus

Let’s be clear, I am in no way saying that some Divine Force sent us the coronavirus and the pandemic that has resulted. This being said, I proceed.

I have had a hard time imagining how a Holy Force could touch each of our lives, given how many of us there are in the world. Yet, if a virus can do it, why not God?

What has happened with the coronavirus has given me an insight into a new way of perceiving God.

 What if God is a Creative Power, pervasive enough to touch lives all across the globe, invisible as a virus? I can imagine the Holy Spirit set free, touching all of the created world, bringing us together, stopping us in our tracks, causing us to pay attention, to listen for guidance, to help each other out, to care for creation,  all for the common good.

In the morning, the silver orb sitting on a table in our window, projects  sunstars on the ceiling. There is a crystal in the window that sends rainbows across the room and sparkling  fragments of light. God is shining like that across our world, in our lives. Holiness shining and sending rays of hope in the midst of fear and depression.

What if we could imagine God showing  up like the sun or a tiny particle? For healing the world and spreading light?

This virus, changing our lives, wreaking havoc with our health, our jobs, our money, causing social isolation, has showed us, in the most incredible ways that we are one world. It has also revealed injustices and environmental issues  needing to be addressed.

If we are in a war against this virus, it is a new kind of warfare. All of our other wars have pitted us against one another. This, so called war, is challenging us to help one another across all boundaries. It has brought out the heroic in so many of us. The creativity too. And, of course, as always, there are some outliers trying to use these confusing times for their own greedy ends.

It is like other wars in that it causes death.

Dealing with this virus is essential business for everyone of us. Finding healing and prevention is up to medical teams and scientists and even the politicians whom we elect. Applying the lessons we learned from this pandemic for the common good is up to each of us.

No, God is not a virus, or like a virus. Or the cause of viruses. God can, however, permeate the world in a universal way. Goodness can spread from person to person. It is contagious. Goodness doesn’t seem to get enough attention though. We often seem fascinated with evil.

Maybe when we can finally take off our protective masks, we can reveal our true selves to one another. We are created in God’s image. We can be creators of a resilient and loving world. Human connections matter. God is with us for good. And in this Easter season we are reminded that death does not have the last word.

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Miranda My Angel My new book!

Miranda, our dear dog, died in September of 2018.  My feelings were so intense and my connection to her so deep, that I began to write about her life and death, and her aging. I have written a book about her first year, “Life Lessons from my Dog,” and my reflections began to turn into a book about the rest of her life, her aging and death, and the bond between us that taught me new lessons about love and God. It became evident that as I was writing about her, I was also writing about myself, for we have aged together.

Of course, she is gone, and I am still here, still typing away.  But me turn will come as it did for here and as it does for all of us. And I am passing on what I learned from her.

So while this book is about a dog, it is about us humans too. It is about our poodle, Miranda, for sure and primarily. As I write though, I discover that through her I have come upon a clearer u8nderstanding of what I value as a human being. I understand goodness and connection better. I come to terms with the pain of loss and grief, and survive because of all the living and loving that makes loss so profound.

I have called Miranda my angel, and if you read the book, I think you’ll see why. Its hard to explain why in a sentence or two. Suffice it to say that she was a gift from the Divine through as one of nature’s blessed creatures.

I jwant to celebrate the completion of my new book, “Miranda my Angel,” as I say a prayer of deepest gratitude for the life she shared with us and all she opened our eyes to. Maybe if you read it, you will catch a glimpse of your own life in it.


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Worship as an Act of Defiance

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Worship as an Act of Defiance


This morning, going to church seemed like an act of defiance.  And an act of solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters whose sacred space was violated by a white supremacist who killed eleven of their fellow worshippers and wounded others.

As I sat in the pew of our Christian Church which is committed to justice, thoughts and images floated through my mind.  I sensed the presence of our dear friend, The Rev. Bill Hervey, a white clergy colleague and father of eight children, who went to Mississippi to help black people register to vote in the fifties at another time of turmoil and struggle in our national life. Earlier in the week, two people had been killed because of the color of their skin. And pipe bombs had been sent to people for their political stance.

As I was praying, another image came to mind of a boil that has come to a head and needs to be lanced until the pus pours out so the wound can heal. Hatred is the pus pouring out of a boil on our national soul. When did a misguided belief that extreme wealth, unrestrained power, blind patriarchy, and bald nationalism become a tolerated rallying cry for people in power to rally support?

Nationalism wherever it exists in the world is a harbinger of violence and discrimination. It is the enemy of patriotism. It is dangerous.

Through the last decades, so many people have broken through oppressive stereotypes and prejudices, at some cost to themselves. They were making this world a better place. It is not the misogynists of the past who will make America shine but these heralds of the future. But we have to be careful. Only peaceful means can bring about peaceful ends.

I want my grandchildren and great grandchild to know that the toxic environment in which we are now living which unleashes hatred and unhealthy division, belongs in the past.  It does not need to be our future. Though the drumroll of violence and viciousness is sounding, there are other sounds in the air that can prevail. The powerful music of love.

The far Right may claim that God is on their side. Not the God I know, though the God I know loves sinners, which we all are. The God I know shows no partiality and calls us to our higher selves. I hear these words echoing from the pages of Micah 6:8 from the Hebrew Bible. (NRSV)

God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In our current President’s world in which relying on armed force is supposed to sustains life, the answer to school violence was to arm teachers. And now, his answer to violence in houses of worship is to have armed guards in them. Those are words that, rather than take guns from killers, advocates spreading them around, letting us all shoot it out. Arms is big business.

!So this morning, I went to church, a church without an armed guard, and refused to be intimidated. I am vulnerable. So are we all with or without weaponry. We all rely on one another’s good will for survival and on society’s ability to function by just laws.

Of course, we need to be wise. I don’t want those I love to take chances that lead them into predictable danger. I want them to live as good people, courageously caring about the welfare of people in their families, down the block,  and around the globe. I want them to go about their lives and keep fear in check. We need living saints not martyrs. And I long for them to experience some transcendent Presence that helps them live confidently even in the face of loss when it comes for some loss is inevitable.

I’m sorry, this reflection is so inadequate. Just know this. The violence that has been let loose will not prevail. The Tree of Life is ours to move toward and claim. I believe it was planted by a Divine Lover of humanity, a creating power with the first and last Word who guides our feet in the way of peace. And whether or not you share this belief, the fruit of the Tree of Life is there to nourish you.



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Thomas Fitch Kepler Celebrates 60 years of Ministry

Thomas Fitch Kepler: 60 Years as an Ordained Christian Minister


On July 13, 2018, Thomas Fitch Kepler celebrated the day he was ordained to Christian Ministry in the United Presbyterian Church, USA, 60 years ago.  In fact, in 2018 those blessed enough to still be living, who graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and other theological schools, and began careers as Ministers in 1958, will all be celebrating 60 years as ordained clergy. Tom was installed as Pastor of the first Presbyterian Church of Englishtown, New Jersey, on the day he was ordained a Minister.

He and his colleagues, entered the Ministry at a time in history when the Civil Rights Movement was on the rise. And he, like his father who was a Minister with a parish in the south, espoused a faith which stood for justice for all, and the equality of all. And, he entered the profession the year after the United Presbyterian Church had voted to ordain women as Ministers for the first time.

Just a note. I write Ministry with a capital “M” when I am referring to the profession. Ministry in a wider sense is the work o all the faithful, the priesthood of all believers.

Tom’s father, Raymond Fitch Kepler and mother, Margaret Blain Kepler, had been missionaries in China as had their parents before them. When they were forced to return to the United States in 1949 when the communists took over China, Margaret was suffering severe depression. As the family, which included four sons, crossed the ocean which they had crossed many times before, they did not know what was ahead for them. Eventually, being a Minister by profession, Raymond transitioned from his work in China to being a Pastor in North Carolina and then Virginia.

Thomas Fitch Kepler, his son, became a Pastor 11 years later. Ministers in those days, lived in manses, church supported housing, (some still do and in the beginning we did) and their pay was poor. We used to joke that Dad Kepler, who served a church in a rural community, was partially paid in tomatoes left at his back door by generous parishioners. I learned from Mother and Dad Kepler what frugality is all about.

When Tom began his work in Englishtown, we were married and I was seven months pregnant with our first son, Thomas Budd Kepler, and had graduated with a ministerial degree from Princeton along with Tom.  During his first years there, we had two more sons, James Blain Kepler, and John Harold Kepler, and I became part-time Pastor of a near-by church, Westminster Presbyterian in Manalapan, New Jersey.  Somehow, we both earned ThM degrees from Princeton during those years.

Under Tom’s leadership, the First Presbyterian Church of Englishtown built a new educational wing and celebrated its Centennial. In spite of, or after these accomplishments, that included educational programming for children through adults, pastoral care, administration of a complex community, and involvement in the wider church and community, Civil Rights advocacy and acting in the local Theater Company, Tom began to question his call. My father and then his father died Tom had been in the parish for eight years. That added to his feeling unsettled and restless and questioning his call to the pastorate. .

Tom decided to try something besides Ministry and teaching seemed an obvious choice. My brother, Harold, was working as Treasurer at Vanguard School in Florida and helped us get teaching positions there. We moved to Florida where we both spent a year teaching children coping with dyslexia.

It wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to stay in Ministry full time, and Tom knew he wanted to continue teaching with the option of engaging in Ministry part time. He never stopped wanting to maintain his ordination. So, for the rest of his  working life, he practiced tentmaking Ministry, employed  full-time in secular work and part-time as a Minister. We often laughed about the fact that when parishioners in an attempt to discredit a Pastor’s ethical perspective would say, “You don’t live in the real world”, “Tom could say that he was, in fact, earning his living in the “real” world.

Tom’s legacy of having clergy as forbears goes back generations on his mother’s side, the Blain/Greer side, back to a time when clergy were the learned men in the community, respected, honored, and sometimes, feared. The equals of doctors.  And Christianity was the de facto religion of the land.

Over time, the profession has been devalued in many sectors of culture. Society is now composed of many faiths and has become increasingly secular. While, people easily understand the need for other professionals, not all people see the need for clergy or understand the functions they play in society. With this shift, mainline denominations such as Methodists, United Church of Christ, Episcopalians, Baptists and others, began to decline in numbers. But not before they had had an impact on society on movements for a more just and humane world.

Now that 60 years have gone by we look back and marvel over how fast they have sped, how many changes we have seen and we ponder the paths we have taken in our careers.

I celebrate with Tom as he marks 60 years of ordination as a Minister. Together we are members of a profession (part or full time) which needs to redefine, reclaim and reassert its place in society. We have served in the institutional church and believe it needs to stand alongside of other institutions in society, speaking truth to power and repenting from its own sins, reformed and reforming. Spirituality is not just a private matter.

In our lifetime, clergy in churches with a liberal bent were on the front-lines of change in race relations, the anti-war movement, the Women’s Movement, and eventually, the LGBT Movement. Tom worked tirelessly for justice over the course of his Ministry, espousing in later years justice for Palestinians.

Now retired, Tom has not lost his passion for pursuing the common good for all as essential to faithfulness. He makes it clear that how we understand God matters and is here to say that the liberal mainline church is not dead in spite of shrinking numbers and the rise of right wing Christianity. It has work to do. He says that his theology is no longer orthodox. Dogma seems irrelevant to him. What Jesus did and stood for is what matters.

As a part-time, interim Pastor, Tom helped close with grace, four Presbyterian Churches. He also served four others that continue to thrive. How many sermons, communion services, weddings, and funerals over the years! How many meetings! How many good people he has worked with! How much change in theological perspective. How much change period! And yet, how much remains the same.

Now retired, he sings songs of praise and occasionally lament with his beautiful voice.







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Take Time to Pause and Appreciate

Take Time to Pause and Appreciate

I have been going through boxes of old files. A tedious job as one of my friends said. A job which, it turns out, has an important life lesson for me. I keep finding interesting papers, some of which I only half read, and some of which I never read and kept because they seemed important enough to be read…some day. I also find the names of people I have met, places I have been, and conferences I have lead or helped lead as part of a team. Conferences I have attended. Places I have preached. And I realize, I was so busy running from one thing to another with my packed schedule and my family responsibilities that I never really stopped to appreciate what I was doing. Or catch up with myself.

If I were to have a message for my younger self, it would b,  pause and take life in. I am not sure if I would give anything I was doing up in order to pause. That’s the problem. What I could have done was make pausing a priority.  I’m lucky that I can finally catch up in retirement.

My father, who ran between teaching at Drexel and practicing law was always on the move too. Drexel was at 32nd Street in Philadelphia and his law office was on 12 th Street. We lived first in West Philadelphia and then in the suburb of Wynnewood. In the summer he travelled to Ocean City, New Herse, from Philadelphia twice a week. Moving, always moving. And yet, somehow, he seemed very present to me. Was he ever really present to himself for reflecting and pausing.

It always seemed to me that he was doing all that he was doing very well. But he never wrote any of it down. Never wrote the book he wanted to write. Did he ever pause?

Seems as if being busy was in our natures. We loved all that we were doing. The trouble is, we missed some of it by not pausing to take it all in, or writing it all down. Not that anyone would read it anyway. But that is not the point. Writing for me is a way of clearing my head and figuring out what I think and what matters most.

The people I was blessed to encounter were very important to me. If I met them and too quickly moved on to the next thing, like a politician does. I apologize. I could have savored knowing you more. At least now that I am cleaning out my files and you pop up on paper and I remember you, and I am grateful. More grateful than I will ever be able to let you know.

And I am impressed by all the things we accomplished together and the passion with which we pursued our faith and feminism. And I think about my sons. What did they make of all that I was doing? Did they know I was there for them as I  knew my father was there for me?

Life does not need to be a blur. It is meant to be savored. I know there is much more to do to save the world than any of us have time for. There are at home needs to be met and money to be made. Still, pausing might enhance all of our enterprises and enrich our lives and relationships.

Pause and appreciate.

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July 4th 2018

July Fourth 2018

I began to reflect on the Fourth of July yesterday, but family celebrations came first, and now it is July Fifth…now Tenth!  I was, and still am remembering, that in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed. In 1876, A Declaration of Sentiments by feminists was drafted and signed, the original document being for propertied white men (we forget!). And then in 1976, The women’s Coalition for the Third Century presented the nation with the Declaration of Interdependence accompanied by the Declaration of Imperatives a outlining the rights women must finally have.

In 1976, women decided to speak on behalf of humanity and declare our need for Interdependence is we are to survive and thrive as individuals and a nation.

I was privileged to be the President of the Women’s Coalition in 1976. Our organization was made up of leaders from many Women’s Organizations across our nation, religious and secular, along with individuals who joined. It was signed by women in the House of Representatives. And, in spite of that fact, try as we did, we got no press. Maybe we should have staged a riot to get attention. And you won’t find anything about our document on the Web. It is included in my book, “Button Reflections”.

As we celebrate in 2018, we have a President in office who represents the most exaggerated definition of Patriarchy possible. He and his administration prove the point that women can be adherents of patriarchy as well as men.  And, if we are ever going to “make America great again,” as Mr. Trump calls us to do, we must return to our movements toward justice and peace, and care enough about our nation to implement the dream of a truly democratic nation where all are respected, welcomed, and treated fairly.  A nation where the power of compassion prevails, violence is not worshipped, peace is sought, the environment is protected, and a nation where economic institutions serve the people and not the interests of the wealthy elite.

Being a firm believer myself in the first commandment of the Hebrew Bible, “You shall have no other God’s before me,” I cannot give my ultimate loyalty to any nation. And I see the terrible danger in merging faith and patriotism, here or anywhere. That having been said, I am a proud citizen of the United States and I am committed to our taking our place as world leaders, with democracy to share and along with our pride that our citizenship is more diverse than any other world-wide. I am patriotic especially when I take a figurative knee.

It is time to dust off our “Declaration of Interdependence” where it is stored in the Smithsonian with historic documents at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliff in Cambridge, MA.

One of the sentences in our “Declaration of Interdependence” stands out as I write this:

“We will no longer endure the corruption of power which risks the world’s future by ignoring the rights and well being of persons and communities.”

So be it.

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Mama Bird

Mama Bird

Mama bird and I have a thing going. She has a nest of baby birds in the rafters of our garage. She hangs out in a near-by tree and watches over them. I come out to see how they are doing every morning, often with my camera. Mama bird chirps at me and tells me to leave them alone!  Some days she comes down on the ground and skirts around quite near me, chattering away. I talk to her and she answers. we are having a conversation! If I move too quickly, she flies away.

Mama bird and I have a lot in common. I am a Mama too. And even though my sons are grown now, I feel myself watching over them and wanting to keep all danger at bay. Mama bird and I are both “worriers.” It is a natural kind of worrying that comes with having offspring and caring about them. I love that Robin who is such a vigilant Mama. Now, I assume the bird that chirps at me is the Mama. For all I know, it could be the Papa. Papa robins care for and feed their young too.

I worry with Mama/Papa bird about the fledglings. There are cats around that could pick them off. They could fall from the nest. I want to protect them along with her. I notice today that one of them is standing up tall. Before they were heads peeking out of the nest with open mouths. Obviously, they have been fed and cared for well. I hope that they will be strong enough to fly away and come back to visit next year with babes of their own.

I have decided that Robins are my birds. My mother’s birds were Cardinals. My friend Wilma’s bird was bright yellow and sang a melodious and bright song from my sister’s tree when Wilma died. It was an “all is well” song.

Even before the baby birds in our rafters, I paid attention to robins. They would come at the end of winter, signaling spring. I could identify them with their red breasts. And I would remember a childhood song I used to sing and play on the piano. “Sing robin from your woodland tree, Sing robin sing a song for me. I love your merry melody. Sing, robin, sing your song.”

Yesterday I made a last check to be sure the nest was empty. It was. And then Mama/Papa bird came and stood right in front of me. This time, not as a warning to be careful but to say, “They are fine. All is well.”

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