Saturday, January 21, 2017

WHY ABRAHAM LINCOLN LAUGHED

Why Lincoln Laughed:
Basically a melancholy man, he was not humor's slave, and could therefore bend it to his own uses and make it a vehicle for thought rather than mere clownishness.

This was misunderstood at the time, and once in the dark days of the war, when Lincoln was reprimanded for his unseemly levity, he turned his gaunt face and tragic eyes toward his critic and replied, "I laugh because I must not cry; That's all - that's all."
Since the election and inauguration (which I did not watch) of Donald Trump, I'm slowly making my way out of despair to determination to resist. I can't do a lot, but I will do what I can. There's nothing wrong with having a little fun along the way, and we can count on Stephen Colbert and many others to make us laugh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

IN HONOR OF THE REV MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

For a good part of the day 9yesterday), I'd been struggling to find a way to honor the Rev Martin Luther King, Jr, but, at the end of the day, I can think of no better way to honor him than to use his own eloquent words. His legacy includes a number of fine speeches and sermons. The words quoted below are from his address to the sanitation workers who were on strike in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 18, 1968.

Though there has been progress in civil rights movement, many of the words the Rev King spoke that day were prophetic and are still quite relevant today.
You've been demonstrating something here that needs to be demonstrated all over the country. You are demonstrating that we can stick together. You are demonstrating that we are all tied in a single garment of destiny, and that if one black person suffers, if one black person is down, we are all down.

If you will judge anything here in this struggle, you're commanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the worth and significance of those who are not in professional jobs, or those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight, that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity, and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity, and it has worth. One day our society must come to see this. One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive. For the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician. All labor has worth.
....

Now the problem isn't only unemployment. Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working everyday? They are making wages so low that they can not begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.
....


Now you're doing something else here. You are highlighting the economic issues. You are going beyond purely civil rights to questions of human rights. That is distinct…

Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know now, that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't have enough money to buy a hamburger? What does it profit a man to be able to eat at the swankest integrated restaurant when he doesn't even earn enough money to take his wife out to dine? What does it profit one to have access to the hotels of our cities, and the hotels of our highways, when we don't earn enough money to take our family on a vacation? What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school, when he doesn't earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?
....


So in Memphis we have begun. We are saying, "Now is the time." Get the word across to everybody in power in this town that now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children, now is the time to make the real promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children, now is the time for city hall to take a position for that which is just and honest. Now is the time for justice to roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Now is the time.
I don't think I'd ever read this speech before a couple of days ago when a Facebook friend posted quotes and the link. A few weeks later, the Rev King was back in Memphis to give his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. The evening after the speech, he was assassinated.

Here is the link to full text of the address.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

EVENING PRAYER


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

(From Evening Prayer, Book of Common Prayer)

Just by happenstance, in the World Cycle of Prayer:

We pray for the people of United States.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT


If you have health insurance under the ACA or the Affordable Care Act, which is the same thing, you are covered by Obamacare. If Republicans succeed in repealing Obamacare, you will lose your coverage under the ACA.

Monday, January 9, 2017

MERYL STREEP - MY HERO



It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It -- it kind of broke my heart when I saw it. And I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life. 

 And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. 
Meryl Streep is my hero, and not for the first time.  She said what needed to be said about President-elect Donald Trump in her speech at the Golden Globe Awards.  When Trump mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski's physical disability, he should have been shunned by everyone, including sane members of the GOP, and eliminated from the field of candidates.

When the tape of Trump boasting about assaulting women was released, his candidacy should have been finished, over, done, but that did not happen.

Trump invited his friend Putin to hack Hillary Clinton's email, and I don't recall a GOP outcry at the time.  The vast majority, if not all, Republican members of Congress endorsed Trump in the end. Putin followed through, hacked the Clinton campaign's email server, and interfered with the election.  Now, too little, too late, a few Republican leaders are "concerned".  That Trump is unfit to serve as president is obvious, but where were the sane Republicans who should have been speaking out forcefully against Trump for months and months?

Also, now that the election is over, Democrats are far too quiet about Trump's unfitness to suit me. The Democratic leadership, with some exceptions, seems overly focused on a smooth transition of power, but a smooth transition to what? Maybe the focus should be on the disastrous nightmare that will follow the smooth transition. WTF?

Friday, January 6, 2017

WATCH WHAT THEY DO


Paul Ryan blathers on about Obamacare...we'll repeal it this year, blah, blah, blah...we'll have a plan, blah, blah, blah....  Maybe they will, and maybe they won't, but ask yourself if the continuing conversation about Obamacare is perhaps a distraction from what the members of the GOP are actually doing in the House.  Remember this from early December?
Donald Trump’s transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”  (My emphasis)
And then this from yesterday while Ryan was blathering about Obamacare.
House Republicans this week reinstated a procedural rule created in 1876 that allows lawmakers to cut the pay of individual federal workers down to $1, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Holman Rule allows members of Congress to propose amendments to appropriations bills that target specific government employees or programs in an effort to cut spending.
One wonders if the Trump transition team wanted the present Energy Department to name names and then later Congress will use the old procedural rule from 1876 to cut the salaries of the employees to $1 per year, under cover of cutting spending.  That would be the same as firing them.  Of course, once Trump is inaugurated, he will have access to all the information on the employees and contractors.

Will all efforts to reduce carbon output and lessen effects on the climate from fossil fuels both domestically and internationally come to an end?  The mischief we will see from the present unrestrained GOP Congress will go far beyond repealing Obamacare, which seems to be making its way to the back burner, because there is no plan to replace the ACA, and some Republican members are getting jittery.

As you listen to what Trump and the GOP say, watch what they do, because what they make the most noise about is sometimes no more than a distraction from the mischief the Republican Congress is already making.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters this week that the Holman Rule gives Congress a chance to change how government works, something voters asked for when they voted for Trump.

"This is a big rule change inside there that allows people to get at places they hadn’t before,” he told reporters.
Indeed it is.  To paraphrase Dr Seuss, oh, the places they'll go.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

LORD, WHEN DID WE SEE YOU?

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” 

(Matthew 25:35-40)
The Kingdom of God turns the present powers of the world upside down.  In God's Kingdom, the proud are scattered, the powerful are knocked from their thrones, the poor and powerless are lifted up, and the hungry are fed, as Mary proclaims in the Magnificat.  Mary's prayer is subversive, as is the entire story of Jesus' humble birth, after which the family was forced to flee as refugees to a foreign land to escape from Herod's wrath.  Jesus was born a Jew, and he died a Jew, and his teachings in the Gospel are rooted in the Jewish bible.

The work of building the Kingdom of God is for those of us who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. In this new year 2017 the challenges are great, and we will have plenty of work to do.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

THAT'S HOW I BELIEVE


Collect - Christmas Day
O God, who makest us glad by the yearly remembrance of
the birth of thy only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that as we
joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure
confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge;
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one
God, world without end. Amen.


(Book of Common Prayer)
A favorite passage from one of my favorite books is the quote below from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte, two young Englishmen, meet at Oxford in the period between the two world wars. Charles is not a believer, and Sebastian is from an aristocratic Roman Catholic family. After they've been friends for a while, Sebastian brings up the subject of his faith and Catholicism. What follows is the dialogue between the two:
Sebastian: "Oh dear, it’s very difficult being a Catholic!"

Charles: "Does it make much difference to you?"

Sebastian: "Of course. All the time."

Charles: "Well, I can’t say I’ve noticed it. Are you struggling against temptation? You don’t seem much more virtuous than me."

Sebastian: "I’m very, very much wickeder," said Sebastian indignantly."

Charles: "… I suppose they try to make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?”

Sebastian: “Is it nonsense? I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me."

Charles: “But my dear Sebastian, you can’t seriously believe it all."

Sebastian: "Can’t I?"

Charles: "I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."

Sebastian: "Oh yes. I believe that. It’s a lovely idea."

Charles: "But you can’t believe things because they’re a lovely idea."

Sebastian: "But I do. That’s how I believe."

I love the passage, because Sebastian describes how I believe, too. It's very much the stories, the myths (not myths in the sense of something that's not true - myths in the sense of universal truths) that are a great part of what draw me into Christianity.



A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

Reposted from 12/25/14

Sunday, December 18, 2016

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE



After listening to part and reading the whole of the text of President Obama's final press conference, I came away thinking that his optimism seemed quaint, as if from another time quite different from the present.  I wondered if he truly felt optimistic, or if he stretched the truth a bit about his real feelings to lift the spirits of the people of the country so that we don't lose all hope.  Either way, I completely understand why he spoke as he did, and I admire him for doing so.  Of course, it's quite possible that, through it all, he remains what he's always been, a man of hope.

Obama has taken the duties of the presidency as seriously as any president in my lifetime and has been a steadying hand in the midst of difficult times.  He carried himself always with a dignity and composure that befitted the office of the president, and I admire greatly.  He is a mensch.  I'll surely not see his like in my lifetime.

The president's prepared statement at the beginning of the video, which is approximately eight and a half minutes long, is well worth watching or reading.  His final words:
So even in a season where the incredible blessings that we know as Americans are all around us, even as we enjoy family and friends and are reminded of how lucky we are, we should also be reminded that to be an American involves bearing burdens and meeting obligations to others. American values and American ideals are what will lead the way to a safer and more prosperous 2017, both here and abroad, and, by the way, if you embody those values and ideals like our brave men and women in uniform and their families.

So I just want to close by wishing all of them a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The Washington Post has the entire text of the press conference.