Move over, St. Peter, there’s a new guy in town.
You’ve been in charge of the Pearly Gates as long as I can remember and then some, if I’m to believe what I’m told, and I’ve never heard any complaints about the job you’re doing. Today, though, I’m thinking you must have been in dire need of some help.
Most of us here on Earth have watched the news enough to be aware of the population explosion on our planet. I guess more people living means more people dying, and that must translate into longer lines of souls waiting for you to decide if you’ll let them into Heaven.
I’m not exactly sure what the criteria for entry are these days. I’m guessing the basics are still used as guidelines, like obeying the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule, but I suspect the Powers That Be have eased up on some of the old rules and set the bar higher on others. Possibly, if enough lawyers have made it into Heaven, they’ve convinced you to create another whole set of ordinances to serve as loopholes in case too many of the new arrivals are litigious. It's probably getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all of that.
I’m thinking about all this stuff, thinking maybe you need help, because I can’t think of any other reason why God would have taken Tim Russert from us right in the middle of this important, historical election. He was the one current news journalist I felt I could count on religiously (if you don’t mind my use of the word) to sort through the truths, the half-truths and the full-blown lies. He was unbiased. He was well-prepared, armed with the background knowledge to ask all the right questions of our leaders and those who aspired to lead us. His questions elicited the kind of answers we needed to help us evaluate the subjects of his interviews and make good decisions in the voting booth. If the information we needed was mired in complexities, he whipped out his whiteboard and erasable markers and made it clear for us.
How are we going to get along without him? And how must he feel about being called away at this particular time? As one of his news colleagues shared today, Tim Russert considered election year to be his Super Bowl. Why in the world (or in Heaven?) was journalism's quarterback yanked right before the second half of this high-stakes game?
I was asking myself all those questions, St. Peter, and after a while it dawned on me that there might be an even more important job for Tim Russert to do. He’s uniquely qualified for a job like yours. His fairness, his thoroughness, his ability to separate truth from self-serving rhetoric in the course of an interview -– nowhere are those skills more valuable than right there at the Pearly Gates. If that’s where he is, then I guess I understand, but I still feel really, really sad. And I do wish you could have handled things on your own at least through November.
When you see God, St. Peter, please remind Him that those of us in America have some important decisions to make in the next few months. We’ll need His guidance more than ever now that Tim Russert is gone.