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  • Reverend James Squire

The Right Stuff

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

It was big news! Lori Loughlin and Massimo Giannulli are going to jail. That is important, but what is more important is what Judge Gorton said, “You led a fairy tale life yet you stand before me a convicted felon. And for what? For the inexplicable desire to grasp even more.” Gorton hit on that human trait that is the downfall of many “to give a little and want a lot”. We hate to admit it, but it is in each and every one of us. That is why people with the right stuff stand out as an antidote to this dis-eased state of being.

This description of people first appeared with the novel by Thomas Wolf in 1979 with the title The Right Stuff. His novel was about Project Mercury and the astronauts whose courage made that flight possible. In the novel he gives a portrait of people with the right stuff by using the astronauts as his vehicle. They didn’t like to talk about their accomplishments. Their desire focused not on themselves but on doing something to advance humankind. We like to be around people who have the right stuff. I believe that Jesus embodied this characteristic in living and dying for others. This characteristic reflects the very best in the Judeo-Christian tradition. You never hear a person say, “I have the right stuff!” If they do, you know that they don’t! People who have it possess the attributes of living for others, being grateful, and having respect for all of humankind, being humble, and empathetic.

I believe that Joe Biden has the right stuff. The following story illustrates why. Joe is not transactional. He doesn’t do things and expect something in return. This story only appeared in the Jewish press, and went no further.

Rabbi Beals was new to Delaware and he performed the Mourner’s Kadish for Mrs. Greenhouse. During the service Joe Biden entered the laundry room which was the only room big enough to hold people in this apartment complex. He entered with his head bowed. After the service Beals introduced himself to Biden, and then asked why he was there. “Listen, back in 1972, when I first ran for Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign, because that is what she could afford. And every six years, when I would run for reelection, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”

Joe is a flawed human being who too often suffers from foot inn mouth disease, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I invited him to speak at the Episcopal Academy. He made you feel as though you had his full attention. He has total focus on the people he meets.

The right stuff. As part of his divine nature, Jesus had it! A black man, Mr. Williamson, who taught me the ways of the world when I worked in a steel mill had it. It is why I listened intently to him. You don’t have to be an astronaut to have the right stuff! You just have to know what Loughlin and Gianelli did not.

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