Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I Cannot Run for Public Office

There are many reasons why I would enjoy a run at the school board, a county commissioner seat or city council. Most days I'm certain I would be a better Governor than Pawlenty, especially concerning decisions affecting the poor, civil rights, the critical separation of church and state and of course, reproductive freedom.

And I've been asked. When I lived in Rice County, the local DFL leadership frequently sought me as a candidate against the notorious John Tuma, anti-choice, pro-gun legislator turned lobbyist .

But I had a real life in those days. I had children to raise, sermons to write, a man who was always in the way. There was no time for political posturing.

Now, my children are grown, my church turned Republican, and my former husband is working on his fourth marriage. My real life disappeared long ago. Even so, I cannot run.

The reasons are simple. After almost sixty years of speaking, writing, working for the poor and advocating for women, I have something my mother warned me to never have.

I have a reputation.

I'm known as an outspoken advocate. Google my name, if you don't believe me. I'm flattered that some of my essays have been identified as the "best" on the internet and the "most progressive" of printed media.

My name is not at all "household," and yet, I've been called a "dangerous American" by people who have never met me.

Last week, an executive head-hunter phoned.  He had a client, he said.  A Twin Cities corporation, seeking an experienced writer, editor, copywriter and communications professional.  He asked if I was interested.

I was.  I am.  And so I forwarded my latest work.  The headhunter, bless his heart, is a young, young man.  He looked at my material and gushed with approval.  National Public Radio.  Column in the Star Tribune - surely, he said, the client would be interested.

Seriously?  Interested in a woman who's name makes a conservative corporate officer turn to salt?  I don't think so. 

But last week, once again, I nurtured a vague and rather adorable hope.  This morning the recruiter called me, baffled.  I am, he said, the obvious candidate for this position.  Still, the hiring manager asked for a second person - the next on the list.  He didn't give a reason, the recruiter said, confused and irritated.

I comforted him.  "I don't mind," I said.  It's the truth. I don't. 

But I don't put myself in front of firing squads either.

That's why I'm not running for office.  Momma was right - the only thing a girl has is her reputation.  Me?  In cahoots with the likes of Klobuchar, Pawlenty and the other hooigans who promise one thing and deliver nothing?  Not on your life.

I have a reputation to maintain. 

Who is Kristine and what can she do for me?

Kristine Holmgren is an award-winning communications executive running a sole proprietorship.

She specializes in senior nonprofit administrative leadership, media relations, training for online and face-to-face media engagement, institutional advancement, board development, union negotiations, diversity training and corporate board leadership.

Her former clients include Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Public Radio International, The Center for Victims of Torture, Chrysalis: A Center for Women, Children’s Home Society and Family Services and faith-based communities in places as divergent as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey.

Kristine's practice is client centered. On their behalf she writes speeches, news releases, video programs, political commentary and articles for magazines, newspapers and websites. She is a public spokesperson for a variety of Minnesota nonprofits.

Kristine Holmgren seeks to work with ethical people, dedicated to creating a better world.
She is a Presbyterian pastor and an outspoken, public advocate for Minnesota children and families, and the under served communities where they live. On their behalf, she is a popular keynote speaker throughout the Midwest.

Kristine is a frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Her essays, short stories and columns have appeared in the Star Tribune (where her column was published from 1995 – 2005), Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe and Washington Post.

Her fiction is anthologized in two volumes, T
he Magic of Christmas Miracles (William and Morrow Press), Sacred Strands, (Lone Oak Press) and her biography is featured in the award-winning anthology, ln the Company of Women, Voices from the Women’s Movement, (MHS Press).

Her new work, The Uppity Woman's Guide to Dating After Fifty is in development for publication in 2010.

Kristine's new play PAPER DADDY is available for theatrical production on a stage near you. Click here for more information about PAPER DADDY

A single mother, Kristine raised two successful women into happy, successful, professional lives. Today, she lives in a garden cottage in St. Paul, Minnesota with an opinionated Scottish terrier, Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ignorance of God and Other Tiny Concerns.

If we believe our national leaders, God is partial to the Presidents of the United States.

Jimmy Carter claimed a personal relationship with the Big Fella. So did Ronald Reagan. Dubya was a praying man, who claimed that God alone (with a little help from Laura) kept him off the bottle and walking the straight path to global supremacy.  Under his administration, the United States instituted a way to pay tax dollars to the churches doing the work they should do without the money.

Dubya created a whole new branch of government, and called it good. The Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has a clergy man at the helm, and billions of dollars in its coffers. They fund everything. I mean everything. They fund the presence of religious groups in federal prisons with the clear and certain purpose of converting offenders to the love of Jesus Christ. They fund health initiatives, for heaven's sake - claiming faith-based groups can assist in a pandemic.

Our own dear, darling, blessed Mr. Obama is a faith-based initiative fan as well.  Makes sense.  He's ordained President of the United States.  He sitteth at the right hand. 

So, let me put the record straight, right here and now.

Before I start my rant, rememer, I'm an ordained Presbyterian Pastor.  And clergy around the nation know who and what the church is. Granted, it is many things. It is not, however, a social service agency. Sunday-go-to-meeting protestants are not trained, nor are they equipped to negotiate housing, jobs, child custody and parole for convicted and released sex offenders.

Here in Minnesota, our Governor sends tax dollars down that hole, however. For many years his Commissioner for the Department of Corrections held a contract with Inner Freedom Initiative, a faith-based program instigated by Chuck Colson, former Watergate conspirator. The program cherry picks offenders from the prison population, isolates them in tax funded facilities, teaches them Christian principles and when they are fully "discipled," gives them special privileges while they are incarcerated and promises special benefits when they are released.

One of these freedoms apparently, is the freedom to form a prison "gang;"  a group of righteous offenders, roaming the prison grounds together, professing eternal truths that other offenders may not access because they are not "chosen" into the IFI program.

Other freedoms as well - freedom to access housing in your neighborhood when released. A "mentor" on the outside, and a job.

None of this is available, mind you, if the offender is a Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic or Jew who refused the indoctrination of the program.

In the real world, the Salvation Army offers resources to poor people. Food, shelter, clothing - but first they must submit to a sermon and a little moralizing.

A little tough for some poor folks to take, but they have a choice. If they want the free food, they'll listen to the free message. The Army raises charity funds for these services - there are no other strings attached.

In the prisons, that ain't the case. Imagine yourself incarcerated for ten years. Your family abandons you - your church ignores you - your life, it seems, is over.

You learn through prison gossip, that your whole experience inside the prison will be different if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, give yourself over to the gang of religious thugs running the IFI program, submit to their tenants and relinquish your will.

You learn also that life on the outside will be easier as well.  Do you give up your Catholicism?  Do you turn your back on your Lutheran upbringing?  You're all ready in prison - why not? 

I'll tell you why.  Because faith is not for sale.  No matter what Pawlenty and his commissioners say.  Faith, real faith, does not come to those of us who need it to hide.  Faith is a gift, wrapped in grace.  It is not to be grasped when offered in order to gain creature comfort and false safety.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elizabeth Edwards - stop the lies!

American women are not stupid. We've lived through the Clinton administration, the Gary Hart scandal, the awful truth about John F. Kennedy.

Our mothers told us what happened to Eleanor Roosevelt when she found out about Franklin Delano Roosevelt's affair with Lucy Page Mercer Rutherford.

Heck, even Ike had a dirty little affair with an Army woman. We understand. Political men drop their morals as quickly as they drop their commitment to the American people. As easily as they drop their pants.

And we know that political life is filthy with lies.

What we are learning now, however, is that politicians wives are as good at the game as their no-count men.

I saw Elizabeth Edwards on the Today Show this week and wanted to climb into the set, put my arms around her and tell her to stop, stop, stop. No one should have to go through what she is going through to redeem a political animal like John Edwards.

I hate seeing Elizabeth Edwards reduced to an apologist for adultery. I want Elizabeth to look in the camera and tell me the truth - that she is finished with the scum bag who betrayed her - that she has no time, whatsoever, for a man who dishonors her sacrifice and loyalty.

Her son needs to hear from a woman who hold accountable a man who publicly humiliated his mother. Her daughter needs to see her mother stand tall and reclaim her dignity and power.

Elizabeth is a dying woman - if she writes anything at this stage of her life, I want it to be the truth about the awful and irretrievably foul nature of John Edwards betrayal

She's not doing it, however. Instead, she's selling some schmaltz about the virtue of a long-term marriage, even if the marriage is to a sleaze-ball. The woman, I believe, is not only lying to me. She is lying to herself.

John, she tells us, is a good man. So good, she says, that right now, today, he is in El Salvador, working for needy people, exercising his humanitarianism.

I want her to tell us how she really feels. Doesn't John Edwards have a few needy people living in his home? Isn't his wife dying of cancer? Elizabeth seems nonplussed by her neglected, rejected impending death - her mortality means nothing to John, and apparently even less to herself.

Both are more concerned with a book contract mandating these painful, awful, cruel interviews where Elizabeth is forced to tell the world she still "loves" John - although that love is "complicated."

Damn straight it's complicated. He paid another woman $114,000 in campaign funds to sleep with him on the road. That's complicated love, all right. That's the kind of love that throws itself under a train to entertain the passengers; that jumps out of an airplane without a chute to charm a sadist.

John, wandering through El Salvador . . . is anyone asking him if he still loves Elizabeth? I think not.

So, no more lies, Elizabeth. Please, no more clap-trap about "better or worse" or the "loving look" on the face of the man who screwed you and bamboozled the rest of us.

I don't want your children remembering a mother who hung on a cross to redeem a dead, exploitative and abusive relationship.

I don't want it because I'm an American woman, and I'm not stupid.

I want you to step out of your coached role as "help meet" and "long-suffering" wife. I want you to be the first political wife in American history to write the first political truth about the political powerless of political wifery.

Eleanor Roosevelt couldn't do it. Jackie Kennedy didn't do it. Lee Hart wouldn't. Heck, Lee actually said, "If my husband's infidelity doesn't bother me, why should it bother anyone else?"

Well, there's a good question. And you know what? These adulterous men do bother us. They bother us to our national core.


I think of it this way. Elizabeth Edwards abandoned her personal ambition to support her husband's political career. She lost a child to early death. Her future is robbed by the constant pain of a devouring cancer that is destroying her bones.

None of these things were sought out. Elizabeth Edwards asked only to raise a healthy family in a loving home.

She happened, however, to choose a politican as her partner. Nonetheless, if a man cannot keep the faith with a woman like Elizabeth, what hope is there for the rest of us?

That's the question I Elizabeth Edwards to answer- and tell us the truth.

Her book is titled, "Resilience." You must be kidding, Elizabeth. We're not stupid. Neither are you.

Do it, Elizabeth. Before you die, tell us the real story.

Make history.