Thursday, March 1, 2007

Party politics

Last night, I had the great pleasure to meet Republican presidential contender Sen. Sam Brownback at a fund-raiser at the home of my friend John Budnik of the Cultural Forum, co-hosted by George Sim Johnston. You can see a photo of a sober-yet-very-happy-looking me with the senator on Alarming News (along with the dear friend I mentioned yesterday who noted my curious way of crossing myself).

One of the points Brownback brought up when he spoke to attendees was the urgent need to address the many problems of Africa, including slavery and other forms of human trafficking. He cited the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus as he spoke of our responsibility to do what the rich man did not — to give the suffering Africans at the very least the "crumbs off our table" to help them get out of their dire poverty, illness, and social ills.

In urging action, Brownback wasn't merely speaking of sending federal money to help Africa. He urged those present to see Africa for themselves and personally pitch in. In doing so, he said, we would be rewarded spiritually; "Africa will save us." His concern struck me as genuine and deep.

When I had a chance to speak with the senator, I told him how I'd heard him speak at the Ball for Life and admired his boldness. He said that when he had cancer 11 years ago, it gave him a new perspective on the end of life. As a result, he said, he's no longer afraid to be bold. God bless him, I say.

MORE: Brownback speaks about marriage and the sanctity of life at the Ball for Life: