Leaving Washington

August 09, 2013

My time as a "professor-in-residence" at the Mennonite Central Committee - Washington Office ended yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed my three weeks of shadowing staffers, experiencing several religious-political efforts in town, researching through the Office's archives, and holding discussions on issues of religion, politics, and communication. I appreciate the work of MCC's Washington Office, and I am glad Mennonites have maintained an office in the nation's capital for forty-five years. Their presence is needed to offer a prophetic witness to government leaders. And the staff are great, fun people who enriched my time there. Although I have made many trips to Washington, D.C., over the years, this is the most time I have spent here and I saw many parts of the the political process I had not previously experienced. This time here was a bit odd, though, since it seemed much of the city is under renovation. I previously noted the scaffolding and work at the Supreme Court building (here) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (here), but scaffolding also covers a couple of Smithsonian museums, as well as some churches and other buildings near the National Mall. During my time here a few places like the Lincoln Memorial and the National Cathedral briefly shut down for cleaning after being vandalized with green paint. And the Washington Monument remains covered in scaffolding from ground to tip as workers repair damage caused by a 2011 earthquake (the photo is one I took of the Washington Monument). It almost seemed like all of Washington, D.C., is being fixed - except for the politics! Instead of following large corporations, special interests, or partisan hacks, perhaps we should listen more carefully to groups like the MCC - Washington Office to fix a broken political system.