Today’s Bush Library Dedication

I believe the decision to house a Presidential Library, any Presidential Library, at a major university is a no-brainer, and a real honor for that university.

Presidential Libraries become those places where the legacies of presidents are finally sorted out. Historians come to comb the record, write the histories, that ultimately help us shape our views of what happened in any specific era.

President Bush believes history will exonerate his policies, specifically with respect to the moral justification of the Iraq War. That has not happened yet. I see no likelihood that it will. But I am glad that SMU will house the library that will allow academics to create that full historical picture.

The policy institute is another matter. The idea that an independent think-tank –with a stated goal of continuing to develop the ideas of the Bush Administration, free from the university’s guidance– should be housed on university property is a horrible error on SMU’s part.

Frankly, I am ashamed of it.

So, I love the library, because presidential libraries are a good thing for a university’s academic legacy.

I hate the institute, or “think-tank,” and it makes me embarrassed for SMU and Methodists everywhere.

The presence of the five living presidents is a good example of why I believe this think-tank is such a bad idea. Three of those are Democrats; spanning three separate decades of modern American history. The only Republicans are members of the same family.

In the past six presidential elections, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of them. More than any other measure, more than any other poll, that popular vote indicates where America has been these past twenty years.

That means, de facto, that the policies that will be studied at this “think thank” are clearly out-of-step with the majority of Americans today. Again, further embarrassment that my university will be tied to something so out-of-step with the nation.

So, congratulations to President Bush on the Library. I really do mean that. It’s a great day, if we just leave it there. A great day for him. A great day for SMU. A great day for Dallas.

But the think tank?

I can’t envision a time when I will ever believe it is a good idea.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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