The regular book study group at the Rev. Tim Ahrens’ church in middle America always ends with a prayer — most deeply personal, often about a family or friend’s illness. But after one recent meeting, the members held hands in a circle and turned to something far different.
“All they wanted to pray about is the government … and that cooler heads will prevail,” says Ahrens, pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio. “It speaks to the fact that this is deep in the hearts of the people. There’s just a huge concern about the tenor of who we are and how we conduct the business of the country.”
With the government shutdown in its second week and a possible default just days away, many Americans view this epic political clash with frustration, anger and a stoic, here-we-go-again acceptance: They don’t like what they see, don’t agree on who’s to blame and aren’t sure what would be the best solution. But they hope that someone — anyone — comes up with a way out of the mess.