On the Corner

Which Queen Mary do you want to board?

by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief – 

Sometimes I wonder whether or not God has bad days.

I can’t imagine it not happening—his top creation disappoints him so often.

We are very imperfect beings—but I suppose if he wanted us to be perfect, he’d have made us that way. He didn’t.

Unfortunately, right from the very beginning, he gave us the power of choice—and we exercise it regularly—often with significant measures of independence from him.

But…then I remember that imperfect beings create imperfect organizations.

Take the Army, for instance. It’s not perfect.


It’s very human, you see. I’ve heard the Army described with many words, but I’ve never heard anyone say we were “too pious.” We’re Christianity with our sleeves rolled up. We’re “a cup of water” people. We’re that bunch in the tent about 15 yards behind ground zero. We have a century of dedicated experience in the face of natural disasters, and a daily response to its human equivalent. We’re there when it matters—when everything else has failed—when things are going down fast and furious.

We visit the widows, we feed the hungry, we give something to drink to the thirsty, we clothe the naked, we minister to the sick, we visit the imprisoned—we accept the full gamut of responsibility to be identified as part of the flock whose shepherd is Christ.

We are very, very good at one on one.

What does this have to do with God having a bad day?

A few days ago the Queen Mary II pulled into Long Beach Harbor on her maiden voyage and parked alongside her relative, the Queen Mary, now a hotel and museum and permanently located here. They saluted each other with a serenade of whistles while a Salvation Army band serenaded the thousands assembled to compare the largest cruise ship in service with her 75-year-old relative.

They are very, very different in size—except, they both fulfill the same function. They are both ships for passengers.

The Army band was on the original Queen Mary—the one with her keel locked into a foundation of cement. I hope that’s not a metaphor.

I think God is disappointed that his Army of Salvation tends to miss the 21st century boat too often.

I’m convinced that God is very much up-to-speed in every way. He’s contemporary. He knows what’s going on, and his Army has kept pace in many ways with the changes time brings. I believe, however, we could change some things that would give him better days.

For instance, we have the strongest, most positive brand image imaginable. People like us. They use words like “good,” “caring,” and “dedicated” to describe us. We have great moral authority, and the public looks up to us. Why don’t we use it more?

We do a wonderful job in rescuing people at the bottom of life’s many cliffs. We will always need some ambulances at the bottom of these cliffs, but right now, what’s necessary is a fence at the top.

We are too enamored with traditional closed-system reaction strategies and ignore prevention measures. Our current approaches keep us on the “old” Queen Mary. These responses will not remedy the uncaring sin that allows society to make some humans castoffs.

It’s going to take someone in a uniform with an Army in support standing on the steps of the Capitol to trigger a conscience attack within national government leaders and within the hearts of Americans. And when the microphone goes on, that person better have something to say. I hope we can decide who that person should be and what should be said.

We fail to establish systems whereby Army soldiers share their stories with social service clients. In doing so, we limit the client’s relationship to the skills of the professional. We have become excellent delegators.

To do this well, soldiers need to be trained to communicate effectively to this population—in a non-judgmental manner—in love and with continued commitment. Additionally, Army leadership needs to communicate an expectation that this will happen throughout the nation.

We can’t do everything or be all things to all people, but we can speak out and challenge society to examine itself in a different way.
This is only a start—but I think I’d like to take a cruise on the Queen Mary II because her elderly grandmother is stuck fast and not going anywhere.

Wanna join me?



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