Twenty years ago, on February 1, 1992, Bishop Maurice Dingman of Des Moines, died.
Bishop Dingman was a champion for the family farm and spoke, wrote, and stood by family farmers, especially as the 1980 farm crisis affected many farmers in Iowa.
He was also an outspoken advocate of peace, speaking out against nuclear weapons and other threats to peace. he even demonstrated against a nearby military base.
In addition, Bishop Dingman had a concern for Central America, during the 1980s when US back wars raged in El Salvador and Nicaragua and a genocidal war continued in Guatemala.
He saw the links between the farm crisis and the inequality and injustice in Central America. I remember that he once spoke of the centralamericanization of agriculture in the US – referring to the concentration of land ownership which still ravages Honduras and other countries in the Americas.
Once he wrote:
“You are to look forward to the future. Make the work of the future your task. It is an immense task, and you do this in three ways: be a spark of light, a center of love, and a leaven in the world in which you live. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. All we really have to do is to open ourselves to these possibilities. I ask you to continue to search for truth. I urge you to continue your lives in a fashion so you can hear the word of God, put it into your own idiom, and then live it out.”
I met him a few times and was impressed by his gentleness. He was a great witness to the love of God for all, especially for the poor, and for God’s Kingdom of justice, love, and peace.
May more of us followers of Christ listen to the wisdom of Bishop Dingman and other like him.