As a resident of Hyannis for many years, Ted Kennedy was a neighbor of mine. I would see his limo around town from time to time. I would also see the limos of dignitaries and presidents en route to the compound-- Bill Clinton and Chris Dodd to name a couple.
My friends rescued him one of the many times he ran Maya aground on the sand bar off Hyannisport. Some of the locals called him the Rum Faced @$#%$. Others sported bumper stickers that said, "He Can't Sail Either." Me, I photographed him in the 80's when he spoke at the NEA conference in Hyannis. I remember thinking about all the pain that he must have suffered with the murder of two brothers, the plane crash in Springfield and the incident at Chappaquiddick.
I was five when brother John was gunned down in Dealey Plaza and I well remember sitting in 4th grade learning of Bobby's murder. I even knew guys in the Coast Guard that searched for John Juniors plane after it crashed in the North Atlantic. Of course there was Kennedy scandal after Kennedy scandal over the decades; even the kids were having trouble. I do have a fond memories as the Terminator was added to the clan.
So what do you make of the life of Ted Kennedy? Personally I voted against him year after year and found his life a bit of a train wreck. But I am not throwing any stones-- just observing. The news is filled with tributes of how he garnered federal funds into the coffers of my state -- the Big Dig fiasco. There are others of how he helped the parents of a missing girl find solace by initiating legislation in hopes of curbing future child abduction tragedies. There are others that said he was spiritual because he prayed, and good because his votes in the Senate affected everyday people. I am sad when people die, it causes me to come to terms with my own mortality? How about you?
I guess what I find unsettling about the Liberal Lion, is this: he was able to do so much for so many, what if he'd had a Biblical premise for all of his Senate votes? In the end, he will be given credit for a being a champion of the poor, the under dogs, and the working man. And in some cases, even a champion of mankind. I also heard it said that he was a friend to many.
If we can take away one thing from the life of Ted Kennedy, it is that his influence changed things in this world -- a big thing. What makes me sad is that is the job of the church to change the world, yet we are mostly caught up in our traditions, our programs and spending time tying to rewrite scripture to be more like the world calling it relevant. Don't you think that it's time we became champions of the poor, of families, woman and of the Gospel? Church, where are our Ted Kennedy's? Being the church means that we are to shape culture, not react to it.
Isn't there someone with influence that is willing to promote the Gospel?