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    Jesus, a Stand-Up Comedian

    “If God would stop telling jokes, I might act serious.”– Tukaram (Muslim poet) “My Lord told me a jokeAnd seeing him laugh had done more for methan any scripture I willever read”– Meister Eckhart (Christian mystic) I think Jesus is one of the top comedians of all time. He makes you laugh hard. You are slapping your thighs, jaws unhinged with laughter until you realize the joke is on you. For Jesus’ comedy has a sharp edge to it: It exposes your contradictions, and comedy’s oxygen for laughter is the exposing of contradictions. You can choose to laugh at yourself, which is the beginning of transformation because people who take…

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    America as Idea

    For the first six years in America, we lived as illegals, but I did not know it. My father kept the fear of deportation to himself. His visa was approved by a bureaucratic mistake that he did not bother to correct. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan offered amnesty through the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and we became legal. To mark this freedom from having a pathway to citizenship, we moved out of our roach-infested apartment east of Queens and into a house on Long Island where the American dream awaited us. On Wednesday evening — I still remember, just two weeks in our new place — we returned from…

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    Courage to Compromise

    “Hamilton” is a juggernaut musical currently fetching at least $700 for prime seats. It’s a civic class in hip hop, George Washington’s cabinet argument as rap battle for the future of the fledgling American economy: Jefferson’s rural and agricultural against Hamilton’s urban and commercial. Reason in rhyme with best diss wins, which is not too far from the truth. Jefferson and Hamilton are at the opposite ends and no one wins. So they strike a compromise, both losing to win. A piece in the musical titled “The Room Where it Happens” is a retelling of that compromise over a dinner. Hamilton gets the federal government to assume state debt and…

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    Stories in Midst of Tragedy

    The violent tragedies of the deaths of two black men and the five police officers shattered my heart, as it did many Americans. The tragedy called for words but also made words feel useless. A column can’t dispense any advice worth holding, but I have two tiny stories that have framed the tragedies for me. Perhaps they can be chairs for people to sit and converse. No healing happens without sharing, and no useful action is birthed without conversation. I was watching the Facebook stream of Philando Castile, his white shirt soaking red, body slipping down the passenger chair, his neck arched, ridges of his Adam’s apple pushing through the…