Ed Spivey Jr. was working as art director of the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday Magazine in 1972 when God called him to join the fledgling Sojourners community and work for its publication, then called the Post-American. The fact that Ed has not heard from God SINCE is not what's important here, because Ed figures God had other things to do, what with making the world a more peaceful place. Why the world is still NOT a more peaceful place is none of Ed's business and he would never think to criticize God for slacking off since, who knows, God could have been sick or something.
But, 36 years later, Ed is still with Sojourners, still the art director, still happy with his life-long dream of working hard for very little money. The only down side is that Ed is beginning to feel his childhood plans of being either a cowboy or an astronaut may not be realized in his lifetime. But such are the sacrifices one makes when one responds to the call of the Lord, even if immediately after that the Lord apparently changed His phone number.
Of a more biographic note, Ed holds an Associate in Arts degree from Vincennes University. He was denied a Bachelor's Degree from Indiana University because of a disagreement with his psychology professor who did not appreciate Ed's refusal to complete his rat experiment. Apparently, Ed's was the only laboratory rat that bit, so Ed insisted on wearing huge motorcycle gloves when handling the animal, which, the professor insisted, skewed the rat's response to stimuli. Ed told the professor what he could do with his stimuli, which unfortunately did not put the professor in the mood to accept Ed's alternative suggestion, which was to study the response of rats being loudly cursed at while simultaneously being flushed down university toilets.
Since his college days he has made a bit of a name for himself, and not just “You, There,” which is the name his mother calls him when she forgets. Ed has won numerous awards for his design of Sojourners Magazine, and his monthly humor column consistently garners top honors from both religious and secular media associations. His recent book, A Hamster is Missing in Washington, D.C. won the top prize in humor at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York City. (Due to scheduling conflicts, Ed was unable to attend the gala tribute and banquet, but had he gone he would have ordered the fish.) Now in its second printing, Ed’s book is available at store.sojo.net and at on-line booksellers near you.
Ed is married and has two daughters, all of whom refuse to walk in public with him, on account of the little whoop-whoop sound he makes when he sees a fire truck.
Posts By This Author
A Visit to the Home of Jerry Falwell Jr.
Jerry Falwell Jr.: Jesus Christ!
Jesus: I’m going to assume that’s not an expletive.
Falwell: No, that would be Jesus H. Christ, which I would never use.
Jesus: Good. He’s a cousin on my mother’s side, and I’m still ticked at my aunt for that.
Falwell: But you’re HERE! In my own house! It’s the Rapture, the Second Coming! And you’re taking me home to my reward! PRAISE THE LORD! Just let me throw a few things in a suitcase and we’ll ...
Jesus: Relax, and put down your shaving kit. This is not the Second Coming. It’s more like a check-in.
Falwell: It’s not the end times?
Jesus: No [looking at his watch], not even close.
Falwell: But it’s so gratifying you’ve chosen to reveal yourself to me! It confirms that my good works have been recognized and recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, where the names of all the righteous are ...
Jesus: Actually, we use Excel now, and if your name is in there, it’s with an asterisk, Mr. Falwell.
Busted: Grassley’s ‘Booze or Women or Movies’ Comments Hit Close to Home
When Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) accused the non-rich of squandering their money on “booze or women or movies,” my progressive friends quickly denounced him, as they should. Sen. Grassley is clearly suffering from the senility of a political dogma long past its freshness date. But me, I kept my mouth shut.
Dog Days (plus cat)
WHEN I WAS a young man, colds were minor annoyances, though less annoying than colleagues responding to every sneeze with an automatic “God bless you,” despite lacking the ecclesial authority to do so. (What, you’re pope now?) Colds were temporary things, easily overcome by the strong immune systems of youth, and I never stayed home from work.
The Nashville Statement
I SPENT THE PAST several weeks worrying about hurricanes—and the maddening way some people keep denying any connection between these storms (aka extreme weather events) and climate change. (I have this mental picture of me throwing these people into a flooded Houston neighborhood and shouting, “Is that science enough for you!?”)
Anyway, as a result, I totally missed the release of The Nashville Statement. After some research, I realized that this important document has been insufficiently ridiculed by an award-winning humorist. But since Dave Chappelle won’t return my calls (or answer my emails, or reply to those notes I left on his bedside table when he was sleeping; he looks so peaceful ...), I’m going to give it a shot.
The statement reaffirms conservative evangelicals’ belief that marriage is between a man and a woman (and presumably their lawyer when, you know, it doesn’t work out half the time), despite the fact that no one was confused about their stance, or needed reminding that this particular limb of the body of Christ makes God blush with embarrassment whenever they come up in conversation. (I heard that God doesn’t even make eye contact on elevators anymore.)
Nor was anyone surprised that the statement came from the Bible Belt, a region known for churchgoers who think Jesus was simply off-message when he preached the Sermon on the Mount. In their view, Jesus should have stuck with the PowerPoint on personal salvation, not that whole thing about “those” people being blessed.
The statement originated in Nashville, but it could just as easily have come from Shreveport, La., or Tallahassee, Fla. I also would have accepted The Dallas-Fort Worth Statement, The Tuscaloosa Statement (Roll Tide!), or The From-My-Cold-Dead-Hands Statement.
The Brooklyn Statement, not so much.
THERE ARE FEW times in life when we experience absolute clarity.
Normally, with the unrelenting rush of time, we live more from a sense of accidental encounter than with a plan, our decisions prompted by necessity instead of resolve. When that pattern is interrupted by an unexpected revelation, we stop and take note.
Recently, I experienced such a moment, a searing flash of certainty that changed the direction of my life: Under no circumstances will I ever walk on a high wire.
This summer’s Folklife Festival in D.C. featured the Flying Wallendas, a family of circus performers with a 200-year-old legacy of defying death high above ground uncluttered by unsightly things, such as nets. They perform in massive arenas, including three-ring circuses (circi?), their legendary mental focus undisturbed by the elephants on their left or zany clown cars to their right.
The Folklife Festival, however, presented more of a challenge to their concentration since, at any given time, no fewer than eight different venues—each with its own blaring sound system—were competing for attention. While Wallenda family members walked across a high wire with no net, an amplified voice from a demonstration in the next tent spoke of culinary techniques for outdoor cooking. The contrast was disturbing.
The President and the Pontiff
Today is the historic meeting between President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, part of the three-nation visit the White House staff has been planning for weeks, following the well-established and delicate protocols that ensure a smooth visit with foreign leaders, before it all goes to crap with an early-morning tweet. (Several White House staffers have reportedly developed numbness in their hands from keeping their fingers crossed for the first hundred days of the Trump administration. And in packing for this trip, those same staffers had to find space for the president’s extra shoes, since another one seems to drop almost every day.)
To Russia, With Love
With yet another revelation of contact between the Trump administration and Russians, Americans are wondering, and I’m paraphrasing here, “What up with dat?” Again and again we have heard of communing between two entities that for generations have held each other in contempt and suspicion. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the latest to deny, then remember that he forgot, then “oh, you mean THAT?” in response to press reports of his contacts with Russian officials, adding his name to a long list of Trump supporters and staff who apparently have Moscow on speed dial.
Let’s Not Do Anything Tonight: A Valentine’s Day For Exhausted Humans in the Trump Era
The point is, we’re less than a month in to the Trump presidency and I can be forgiven if I was distracted. It’s hard to think of what’s trending at the flower shop when I’m hunkered down, binge-watching West Wing, trying to believe it’s real.
The Big Move
AFTER NEARLY 50 years moving from place to place—usually under cover of darkness to stay ahead of colleges claiming we still owed library fines—the Sojourners staff is finally moving to a place of our own.
We’ve been leasing space up to now, paying increasingly higher rents as the nation’s capital has become a hip and happening city. (Which began soon after we arrived in 1975. Coincidence? Not bragging, but vintage clothing stores didn’t become popular in D.C. until we showed up wearing clothing that, unbeknown to us, fit that category.)
Over time, the poor neighborhood that God called us to was overtaken by Starbucks and Target, and our office expenses went up accordingly. To be fair, maybe God wanted chain stores to provide low-cost merchandise to our underserved inner city. But what kind of god would also bring in a Bed, Bath, & Beyond?! In all our years working for justice and tenant rights, we didn’t once yearn for luxury sheets or French-made kitchen utensils. (Although, when you need Brita filters, they keep them just inside the front door. With Target, you have to go upstairs. I’m just sayin’.) When organic food stores started moving in, it was enough to make us nostalgic for buying milk at the corner liquor store. (You had to check carefully the date on the carton, because milk tended to hang around the store longer than did, say, Colt 45, which seemed to be much more in demand.)
SO IN AUGUST we’re moving. We’re calling it Sojexit, like Brexit, but with fewer catastrophic global consequences. After four decades under the thumb of landlords, we will finally be under our own thumbs, all 86 of them, if you count the interns. Our seventh and final move will be to a building we purchased. “We” meaning Sojourners, a Mennonite bank, and hundreds of supportive friends who share our commitment to justice, reconciliation, and having to empty our own trash.
Now for the Real Fireworks
JULY IS the month of our long-awaited political conventions, the final stop in a torturous electoral journey that most assuredly made our Founding Fathers roll over in their graves, throw up in revulsion, then roll back over with a raging headache, severe back spasms, and an irritable bowel. It’s been a tough year.
The Democratic Party will be meeting in Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Love,” and Republicans will gather in Cleveland, “The City That’s Having Second Thoughts,” because there was once talk about delegates bringing in their own firearms. But local officials convinced them to bring in a covered dish instead. (Fortunately, this still comports with the NRA’s noble philosophy: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a casserole is a good guy with a casserole.”)
Delegates from across the nation will be gathering to affirm the choice of their party’s primary voters, the common folk whose wisdom is not always appreciated on Capitol Hill, but whose wishes deserved to be carried out. It’s the very essence of democracy, which this year featured the aerobic benefits of pushing and shoving. Hey, nobody said it would be pretty. But sometimes you have to take the road less traveled—the one paved with good intentions and littered with the signs you ripped out of your neighbor’s yard. But eventually you get back to the main highway of truth so the limousines of hope can ... uhm ... nope. Lost the metaphor. Sorry.
IT’S EASY to imagine the pandemonium that will afflict the conventions this year, and not just at the nearest Starbucks when thousands of impatient delegates with raging headaches, severe back spasms, and irritable bowels line up before the morning speeches. (Tip: Leave room for cream and three shots of vitriol directed at the other party.)