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Category: News & Current Events / Topics: Crisis Faith News Politics Religion War

Sitting Scared in Church, Thinking About Evil

by Garrison Keillor

Posted: March 17, 2022

America has been so fascinated with our own circus, we didn’t fully appreciate true evil and now here’s Putin taking his place with Lenin and Stalin…

Pregnant woman being evacuated from Ukrainian hospital attacked by Russians

In church Sunday we stood and sang, asking God to bring to this world of strife His sovereign word of peace that war may haunt the world no more and desolation cease, and what in God’s name we meant by this, I can’t tell you, it’s like waving your hand at the incoming lightning and saying, “Rain, rain, go away,” a children’s rhyme, but in church we acknowledge we are children, we’re not Unitarians, just ordinary Episcopalians. America has been so fascinated with our own circus, we didn’t fully appreciate true evil and now here’s Putin taking his place with Lenin and Stalin, this small grim man who shells hospitals and apartment buildings, driving three million refugees out of Ukraine. The only decent thing about him is that he doesn’t appear in public with his daughters or his girlfriend, he spares them the shame.

Our former president must regret the photograph in which he and Putin lean toward each other, holding hands, and affection shines in the Russian’s eyes, a moment of bonding. Trump is uncomfortable around dogs and children, odd for a politician, and I can’t recall him with his arm around his youngest boy or his grandkids, or petting a dog or holding a cat; he once claimed to enjoy grabbing women but you never see him with his arm around his wife, but he shows real warmth toward Vlad and it’s not to his political benefit, holding hands with a man capable of bombing a maternity hospital.

I worry about my country. I wish my fellow Democrats were not so abysmally naïve about the world as so many of us are. I wish the country were united behind our founding principles, but I don’t know that we are. I have a feeling that if Putin launched missiles that wiped out the blue states, Fox America would be happy to cut a deal with him.

We prayed in church for all nations to be guided in ways of peace and for the right use of natural resources and for all whose lives are linked with ours, including refugees, something I’ve never been, just a mortgagee for a house that was my refuge, but I never left it in a rush not knowing where I’d wind up. I did know Julius and Fannie Schindler, parents of my friend Milton, who fled a Yiddish-speaking shtetl to escape Hitler for the safety of north Minneapolis where their boy soprano sang the prayers at Mikro Kodesh synagogue and made old ladies weep. The Schindlers raised him to be American and he loved baseball and the blues and I knew him as Soupy Schindler, singing and playing euphoric harmonica in a band called the Sorry Muthas. Had the shtetl not been torn to pieces, he might’ve become a good tailor, but instead he was a glorious blues singer and when he sang, “Stealin’, stealin’ — pretty mama don’t you tell on me, I’m stealin’ back to my same old used to be,” it stayed with me.

Hitler and Putin believe they can crush the human spirit, America believes spirit can find the freedom to triumph, and Soupy was the proof of it, and so were other refugees who’ve come here.

But our nation is divided as it was not in 1940. I wish Joe Biden will show mercy to individuals who got caught up in the January 6 riot and without attacking officers simply got carried away and wound up in the wrong place. They went at the behest of their president to stop the electoral count and they failed at that and I think most should be forgiven. Our nation is on the verge of a precipice. Mr. Trump should be pardoned as well. The man acted on pure impulse for four years, never a plan, and his intent can never be proved beyond a doubt. He did what made him feel good. Let him go. We need to save our country.

I got a letter from an ex-Marine who did two hitches in Vietnam and feels he was badly affected by Agent Orange. He supports Trump, believes the 2020 election was stolen, thinks a ruling class runs the country, that we haven’t had consensual government for many years, if ever. This is heartbreaking, a Marine who feels he was a pawn of a regime like Russia’s. We have work to do. Let’s pardon the man and get back to the future. For the sake of the children, let’s be wise.

Garrison Keillor © 03.05.22

America's story teller, known for his heartland wit and wisdom, and for many years as the voice of Prairie Home Companion on NPR. For additional columns and postings, subscribe to

Posted: March 17, 2022   Accessed 186 times

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