What will our next life teach us? That was the subject of two unrelated side by side cartoons last Saturday. I hope the copyright gods will not go after me for displaying the heavenly coincidence:
What will our next life teach us? That was the subject of two unrelated side by side cartoons last Saturday. I hope the copyright gods will not go after me for displaying the heavenly coincidence:
I caught the end of a BBC broadcast early this morning which I found engrossing and then tuned into On Being while I ironed wrinkly t-shirts brought back from China – all short sleeved.
It was the second time I heard Margaret Meed’s anthropologist daughter Mary Catherine Bateson being interviewed on “On Being.” Claudia was up early and listened too. Bateson is a practicing Christian unlike her parents who did read the Bible but as Atheists/Agnostics. It was a thought provoking interview even the second time through.
Bateson was raised with her Mother’s ethos of participating in life while at the same time being an observer of what is actually happening during that participation. Back in 2015 when I first heard this interview I concluded that this perfectly described how I went through life. Another way of describing this quality is “mindfulness” or even “living in the moment.” Except that, living in the moment suggests not paying attention to the past or the future and that is not me. I think of the past and the future at all times.
I joked ith Claudia that we were like one of Bateson’s cells (nucleus and cell) originally different creatures which back in the primordial past combined and found our synergy to be a survival tactic for our separate selves. Bateson used this as a metaphor for marriage. She also noted that it was easier for a couple in the past to stay together because they mostly didn’t live beyond 35 years and never had a reason to separate after raising children because that was generally the end of their life expectancy.
There were two clarifying interviews on NPR this morning which I thought were helpful in making sense of the Federal Court’s decision which President Trump called “disgraceful.”
In the first Jonah Goldberg commented that he thought it was unfair of the court’s to pay too much attention to Trump’s campaign rhetoric about barring Muslims from America because the President’s hasty executive order did not go as far as his rhetoric. I think that’s a fair critique but I wonder if his Supreme Court nominees would agree. After-all, most of them will be fans of “originalism” which exalts our Founder’s 18th century notions of Constitutional interpretation which, among other things, treated black slaves as 3/4ths of a human being. Wasn’t banning Muslims Trump’s original intention? If so, shouldn’t that be how the court views his executive order?
Also Goldberg commented sensibly that it could be troubling if every time any law is passed or enforced in such a way as to disadvantage a single state that the disadvantaged state could have veto power over a nationally administered law.
Then another guest made another sensible comment in an NPR interview. The second person noted that the courts had not overruled the executive order meaning that it could yet be determined to be legal. What the Appellate Court had done was simply set in motion a means for the courts to analyze whether the rushed Presidential order had overreached.
I wouldn’t have expected such views to be aired on most television news programs which is why I stopped treating television news as particularly helpful about 40 years ago. Of course, the Republicans are always threatening to stop public finance of NPR and PBS. I guess that makes Big Bird a commie although in the new Trump world being an ex KGB agent is no big deal. However, Mitch McConnell has deemed quoting Coretta Scott King on the floor of the US Senate a national disaster.
Here are some more of today’s NPR stories I found heartening and a good reason for me to raise Old Glory over the backs of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia:
Appellate Court doesn’t revoke the lower court order to stay Trump’s executive order to deny entry into the US by travelers from seven predominantly Islamic nations.
Trump lies about being invited to appear on John Oliver’s show.
Trump lies about Gorsuch saying the nominee for the Supreme Court never said that Trump’s anti court rhetoric was disheartening to the third branch of Government.
Utah Republican Congressman Chaffetz is booed back home in conformist Utah when he says Trump is exempt from self dealing as President.
If Donald Trump is ever to become a rational President he will have to be treated as ferociously by his critics as Trump treated them when he campaigned for the Presidency.
I will be raising our family’s American flag on our front porch tomorrow. How come? I’m thrilled that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the lower court decision which shut down President Trump’s executive order for a travel ban aimed largely at Muslims.
Trump’s hysteria over Muslims annoys me. The only person I ever new to be murdered for his religion was my high school roommate. He was a Muslim that I suspect was imprisoned and killed by a Christian regime.
Another charming appointment that President Trump plans to make is an Israel-loving hard liner who wants to give Israel carte blanche. His name is David Friedman. He has called peace workers kapos. Kapos were the Jewish prisoners who did the dirty work at Nazi concentration camps.
I’d like to show our likely new ambassador the photograph I unwittingly took while in Palestine this January and which I only discovered after returning home from my pilgrimage. Its a dead Palestinian lying at the foot of an Israeli soldier.
I offered the story of the photograph to the Duluth Reader. I suggested that it could be the first of a series about my January trip to Israel but its publisher didn’t pick it up. The story is a year old now but I’ll post it here for the new Ambassador’s consideration:
Harry Welty’s Holy Land Haj, Part 1 – Bookends
Most everyone could benefit from a spiritual journey even an agnostic like me. So, when Claudia asked me last summer if I’d like to travel with her Seminary to study Israeli peace-making efforts it only took me a day to agree. Our departure in January would necessitate my absence from the organizational meeting of the Duluth School Board. That would leave me with no say in the new leadership of a Board which had censured me the previous Christmas. It took 24 hours for the quest for peace to take precedence over the quest for influence. I would tell my friends that if I could find peace in the most contested landscape on Earth I’d bring some of it back with me.
Friends shared their fears with me before I left. Piffle. Everywhere I passed I found squads of Israeli soldiers with Uzis at their side or slung over their backs. Some of the pony-tailed warriors packing heat looked like the girls I dated in high school except that they wore khaki’s and berets instead of strapless gowns.
My trip was bookended by two remarkable coincidences. They are a fitting introduction to the installments I mean to share in coming weeks.
On our second night in Israel, outside the walls of Old Jerusalem, Claudia and I had a free night to dine by ourselves. We chose the posh Rooftop restaurant atop the Mamilla Hotel. Our DK guide gave it three dollar signs
We had just returned from a Shabbat service at an orthodox synagogue. The stunning views of Jerusalem in the open terrace had to be viewed through a saran wrap shield that protected us from Israel’s winter chill. We were seated by a voluble American who made stinging comments about the naivety of peace advocates like those we had traveled with to Israel.
A sommelier brought us an excellent Israeli cabernet as two more tables were seated. The first was a party of four who took a long table with empty chairs for late arrivals. They were followed by a young couple who were shown to a table by our side. The pair held hands across the table and gazed dreamily into each other’s eyes.
As we finished our meal an approaching hubbub caught my attention. I calmly told Claudia that the Prime Minister of Israel was headed our way. Claudia told me she didn’t know what he looked like but I recognized him. I’ve been paying close attention to Bibi Netanyahu since the days of the first President Bush. The young man seated next to us turned toward us and explained, “I didn’t vote for him.” His girl friend’s eyes pled with him to please shut up as a guard with a holstered gun under his North Face jacket stood with his back towards the disgruntled voter’s chair. Another guard took position on the far side of the table with the extra chairs. The Prime Minister and his wife had finally arrived. More security fanned out onto the balcony just outside our saran wrap cocoon. I had purchased an identical North Face jacket the night before we flew to Tel Aviv. All I needed was a gun on my hip to join the security detail.
The peace skeptics at the first table scurried over to coo appreciatively for the Prime Minister. They recorded the unexpected meeting with their cell phones. As I reached for mine, Claudia ordered me to stop.
Once seated, Netanyahu engaged in a lively soliloquy his deep bass voice rolling under our table. When I turned around to sneak a peek he had both hands raised above his head much as mine were raised on the front page of the Duluth News Tribune two Decembers ago.
To say that Netanyahu is despised by peace types is putting it mildly. That didn’t stop me from basking in the presence of power. I ordered coffee and desert to linger a little longer. And yet, over the next day I stewed about our close proximity. Claudia had shown me a galling story about Bibi in the Jerusalem Post before we saw him in the flesh. The story had stuck in my craw. The next day I wrote a pointed letter to the Post. It wasn’t published.
Two weeks later, after our return to Duluth, the other bookend jumped out of my computer when I reviewed the thousands of pictures I had taken while in Israel. I’d shot one of them midway through our trip on a drive to the divided city of Hebron.
We had just left a Palestinian family in whose home we had stayed while near Bethlehem. They lived in Beit Sahour where the angels had directed shepherds to visit the manger. We pilgrims had enjoyed an energetic conversation at their breakfast table about war and peace before leaving. The family’s daughter brought it to a close by mentioning that “someone is shot every day.” That may have prompted me to take more pictures than usual of military checkpoints as we drove to the city where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, lay buried under the Ibrahimi Mosque. Like Hebron the Mosque is divided into a Jewish and non Jewish half. No Jews have been admitted to the Muslim side since 1994. That was when an American Jew shot 29 worshipers dead while wounding another 125.
On one side of Hebron live ardent Jewish nationalists. They move into any home left vacant by Palestinians down on their luck on the Palestinian side of the city. Above the souk, or shopping district, wire mesh was strung to catch the garbage poured down on shoppers by Jewish squatters. To discourage mayhem IDF forces command Palestinian rooftops.
We were all delighted by our Palestinian guide. We were to learn near the end of our trip that one of his legs was shorter from an Israeli soldier’s bullet. He was full of mirth and good advice. He encouraged us not to buy goods from the many vendors who pursued us through every shopping district. But on this walk through he had only nice things to say about one such vendor. “He’s a good guy.” He told us. We found out later that the good guy, like our guide, had survived a gunshot during a protest.
At one of the last stalls we passed in the souk a merchant told our group resignedly that another Palestinian had been shot dead that day. We walked soberly under a canopy of trash back to our bus.
What we did not know, and what I would not learn until reviewing a fuzzy picture after my return to Duluth, was that our little band of peacemakers had driven right by that day’s killing. Our bus driver had pulled into a road guarded by Israeli soldiers to turn around. As we paused I snapped a hasty picture of IDF trucks parked by razor wire. In the photo’s lower right corner lay a dead man at the feet of an Israeli soldier. The body was stripped naked and sported angry red welts.
Last night I read the third book of the prophets found in the Protestant Old Testament – Lamentations. In the fat little Bible dictionary I’ve been reading along with the scriptures I learned that the book was originally called the “Lamentations of Jeremiah.”
Jeremiah’s book is the second book of the prophets and like other prophecies contained in such books it has lots of “predictions” that scholars explain were easy to predict because the events had already taken place. As I keep plowing through the Bible the full title will help me remember Lamentation’s placement on the list of Bible books.
Even before the Moral Majority decided that the Republican Party was the Party of God I’d put reading the Bible on my very short bucket list. I felt that since I was treated as a moral monster I ought to read the scriptures that the Republican partisans based their denunciations of me on.
Like earlier American religious revivals the current one is petering out done in by its own excesses, hypocrisies and venalities but not before it helped elect President Pussy Grabber.
A few weeks back I calculated I’ll come close to finishing the Bible after my January trek to the Holy Land. It will require stepping up to three from my current average of two pages a day. I have 139 pages of OT from Ezekial to Malachi to read and 67 pages from Galatians to the beginning of the end – Revelations. (I read that final book ahead of the rapture predicted for the year 2000) My hero, Abe Lincoln, also shared a few laughs at the expense of the end of timers in his lifetime. They were the Millerites and they were an improvement on the current rapture crown. The Millerites kept their religion out of politics.
Speaking of that, I made an interesting personal discovery in my recent trip to Topeka, Kansas. This:
I believe this is the building where my Mother took me to Nursery School for a couple years while she worked in downtown Topeka. Apparently this building was the site (or at least one of them) of the Evangelical movement. If so, it was ahead of the Azuza Street movement by five years. Its a little ironic that the modern evangelism that bedeviled my Republicanism began where I attended nursery school. I might even describe it as lamentable.
I sent an email to the church asking them to confirm my memories, limited as they are. I described one of them in an earlier post about a bus trip to the school. I recall that the women who seemed ran the school were all black. I also remember an auditorium in the building which we kids filled up at Christmas time so that Santa Claus could hand out gifts to us.
I was about to link this post to the DNT story of how Duluth’s Catholic Arch Diocese is investigating the start up of a K-12 school system in Duluth. But when I began linking the first story I found online about the Diocese it was a story about how its attempting to avoid compensating families whose children had been abused by Diocesan authorities.
Here’s the story I was looking for about a rival school system.
Its hard to know quite what to make of the idea of an expanded Catholic school system considering the self-inflicted travails of the Church. It is likely a good faith effort by loyal Catholics to rehabilitate the Church’s reputation. How they will fund such an enterprise as they undergo bankruptcy is hard to fathom. Certainly the self inflicted travails of Duluth’s public schools seems to give the Diocese an opening but its hard for even me to regard the effort as anything other than a little delusional. If they succeeded under these straightened circumstances it would be a sorry testament to the colossal miscalculations of the Red Planners .
I’ll share one personal reflection on the state of Catholicism. My brother married a fervent and loyal Catholic wife. There was no question that any children would be brought up Catholic. For years during their marriage my sister-in-law went to Church and evening masses regularly and by herself. Because my Brother was raised a protestant like me and is as casual in his theology that was no problem.
For a long time it looked like there would be no progeny but then there was a miracle. I was asked to be my surprise niece’s God Father, an idea a little remote from Protestant practice, that came with the expectation I would raise her as a Catholic in the event of her parent’s untimely demise. I stood by my brother’s side at my niece’s christening and again at a ceremony to welcome a five-year old into the Church.
In the last ten years I have heard almost nothing but grim disapproval of the Church’s handling of a growing and infamous scandal and cover-up of institutional pedophilia from my sister-in-law. Its as though the Church is dead to her. But maybe in Duluth that reaction is not so common. Time will tell.
Oh, and here’s a picture from 2005 of my brother and niece after I paid a surprise March 17th visit. Its a leprechaun;
She is heading off today to become a Hoosier at the University of Indiana. She’s joining the swim team as a breast stroker. She’ll have stiff competition. One of her new team mates, Emily King, just took gold in the 100 meter breast stroke.
Folks in Columbia Heights are demanding the resignation of school board member Grant Nichols. I sympathize with their irritation but disagree that having the rest of the school board remove him is the method to express their disapproval.
Evidently Mr. Nichols is accused of saying Muslims have unsanitary bathroom habits on his Facebook Page. He denies it but other Board members say he admitted having put this there himself. First the obvious conclusion I draw from this is whether he did or not he clearly knows now, belatedly, that this was a bad thing to have done. His denying he wrote this confirms it. If he lied about it shame on him but in his defense I’ve seen lots of other school board members too vain to admit their mistakes or apologize. This is hardly a hanging offense. For this sin I think the voters should be relied upon to do what they think best at the next election.
As for the notion that Muslims have unsanitary practices I recall a story from thirty years ago when Westerners were routinely imprisoned in Middle Eastern prisons for attempting to buy drugs. I recall the story of one American who bitterly complained that he was treated like an unclean dog by the Saudi jail inmates who discovered he wiped himself with his right hand. In Saudia Arabia this is the job of the left hand and those who are known not to use that hand are, or were 30 years ago to be unclean. This could be a much bigger deal in a nation with limited water resources for washing your hand several times a day.
Just in case defending Mr. Nichols draws fire I’d like to point to two items in my own defense. First, I had a Muslim roommate over forty years ago for a full school year. Second, As a school board member shortly after 9-11 I began inserting “Allah” into God’s place in the Pledge of Allegiance after I saw a really annoying anti-Muslim bumpersticker. Then I wrote a column for all of Duluth to read about it.
I sent out a request for graphic ideas that suggested miracles. Maybe it was my Mom who sent it to me from the stars although she was more of an agnostic like me. She also got the scare of her life when newly married to my Dad he told her he thought he’d like to be a minister. Today she maybe holding my Grandson’s lost silver star helium balloon.
Still, I mentioned in one of my recent posts about some paper mache doves she made for what I presume were Christmas decorations. Within a couple hours after that post it occurred to me that this was the perfect symbol for my snow sculpture. Furthermore, the rains had not completely melted my little pile of snow and, after dark, it was supposed to go back to freezing. Those would be perfect conditions lasting but one night for me to make a dove.
Its done although its not much to look at. I can’t quite bear to post my night time camera phone pictures of it taken without a flash. Modest as it is the ones I took do it little justice. I got it built before midnight so it was worth a mention in the 2nd Night of Christmas series. I’ll take a picture of it tomorrow if vandals haven’t had their way with it and post it then.
This takes 63 minutes to watch in full. This is why all 50 states will likely soon accept gay marriage. Its the argument that evangelicals will succumb to and that will roll on through all other “conservative” Christian churches.
The attitude under girding this sermon could be applied to some of the Duluth School District’s dysfunction.
More on who this gentleman is here.
On Friday or Saturday I got a curious request from an unidentified person. It asked me to answer an attached questionairre and return it.
Evidently Annie Harala had already answered it and her reply was sent to “reply all” so that I and the other candidates all got her message as well as the unknown sender.
I replied with a request that the sender idenity herself and explain what was attached so that I could be sure it wasn’t a trojan horse or a virus.
A little later on I got a sheepish reply from the sender a person I’ve known for thirty years. By this time Henry Banks had also sent in a reply demanding identification. Knowing the person I promised to answer the mysterious questionairre once I got home and before tomorrow’s primary election.
It was a little different:
So that all my readers can see what I answered I enclose it here along with my replies:
Please respond before election â€“
Thank you in advance for your prompt response
What is your purpose (in life)? To preserve the world and possibly pass it on to future generations better than it was handed to me. This is a pretty tall order.
What is your Mission Statement (for your life). Ditto
What are your Goals (for your life). To live a long fulfilling life, stay interested and pass on my enthusiasm for life to friends and family.
Who do you most admire/emulate, your hero/heroine and state why? There are many worthy candidates but the one that has the most allure for me is Abraham Lincoln.
What resources do you rely on to educate yourself on current issues? Good Histories, honest reporters, Seekers of truth.
Knowing the sender I suspect that a hoped for answer was a five letter word taken from the ancient Greek meaning “book.” That would have been a good answer but it wouldn’t have been mine. I’m an agnostic. That’s ancient Greek for “without wisdom.”
Before sneaking back to the room I decided, on a whim, to see if the Reader Weekly had acknowledged the receipt of my column. Nope. So, as a precaution I checked out my email “sent” file to make sure it had been sent. Nope. So I checked the “drafts” folder. There it was sans attachments (pictures that the publisher requested I include). Dammit!
Its not safe to take things for granted. I put it all together and pushed “send” last Friday. I do have trouble with my internet connections every so often. Maybe they went glitchy last Friday without bothering to tell me that they couldn’t send my email.
Its too early to say “whew!” I’ll be checking my cell phone for emails today from the Reader to see what they say……if anything.
I also checked the Duluth News Tribune to see if there was anything intersting happening in Duluth……..Didn’t look like it although their story on Wisconsin’s protected pedophile priests was depressingly interesting. Andrew Sullivan had already covered it a couple days ago when he beat up Cardinal Dolan who hid the Church’s money from potential plaintiffs. That was prudent if not penitential of him. What was it that Jesus said? Something about suffer the little children. The Catholic Church seems to have a long tradition of this.
…we will keep voting for Republicans who will do nothing to stop him.
That’s my shorthand take of the unsurprising poll of Americans by Newsweek that says 40 percent of us think the world will soon come to an end. And many of these people would vote against any do-gooder environmentalist to tried to stop the oceans from rising to cover the billions of us who live on the coast.
These Christians are a menace to the world. Their God is a menace to the world. Their savior is the lone horseman of the apocalypse.
I find it hard to disagree with this appraisal:
According to a Newsweek poll, 40 percent of people in the United States believe the world will end with a battle between Jesus Christ and the Antichrist. And overwhelmingly, those people also believe that natural disasters and violence are signs of the approach of the glorious battle, so much so that 22 percent of Americans believe the world will end in their lifetime. This would logically mean that concern for the world of their great-great-grandchildren makes no sense at all and should be dismissed from their minds. In fact, a recent study found that belief in the “second coming” reduces support for strong governmental action on climate change by 20 percent.
Apart from the corruption of money, whenever you have 40 percent of Americans believing something stupid, combined with the forces of gerrymandering in the House, disproportionate representation of small states in the Senate, the Senate filibuster, the winner-take-all two-party system that shuts many voices out of the media, out of debates, and off of ballots, and a communications system that mainstreams Republican beliefs, it’s almost guaranteed that the 40-percent view will control the government.
On the other hand I just did a search for the poll to link to and discovered its
over a decade old and was done just before the year 2000 when all sorts of minneniallists thought the Y2K virus or a rapture was imminent.
Still, the GOP’s leaders don’t have the ca-hones to call their rapture prone to account for their fatalism and fanaticism. Not if it would cost them votes. Perhaps that will change as young evangelical voters fall away from their blisteringly self righteous, anti-intellectual, and anti-gay churches.
I haven’t written anything on the blog for ten days. Its not for want of subject matter. The depredations of Boston certainly call for comment but the last post is all I feel compelled to say on the subject. There’s been another story that has caused me deep reflection and its about a much more common crime. Its the news of a young girl named Audrie Pott who committed suicide after several friends raped her when she got drunk. I should add the perfunctory adjective “allegedly.” The details that have been in the news are still being sorted out but they remind me of people I know and have known. Continue reading
North Dakota’s GOP has taken the lead on fighting abortion having made it illegal from six weeks after conception.
That’s one part of their recent legislative action.
The law that really cranked my chain was the one the forbade the abortion of any fetus because of a disability. Its supposed to be a high minded Godly law, proof that the GOP cares about children. Tosh. The GOP doesn’t give a shit about children or their parents. The story I was sent about the state of Minnesota doing its best not to fund special education proves my point.
North Dakota Women carrying disabled babies must now give birth to them but can expect no help from taxpayers to help them raise or educate their disabled children. That’s the GOP today. Its a party of no-nothings, hypocrites and assholes. They’ll spend tax money like Indiana to give well-heeled parents a way to avoid public schools that are stuck teaching the disabled children that Republicans are unwilling to levy taxes to educate. Or like in Nebraska they will refuse to fund neo-natal care if there is the smallest chance some wet back from Mexico might have her fetus examined at public expense.
Don’t worry I haven’t offended by Buddy. He told me he stopped reading my blog because I was so unfair to Republicans.
If I do go to the next GOP precinct caucuses I’ll have a couple questions.
BTW. If I do run for the School Board I hope someone throws my line about no-nothings, hypocrites and assholes at me. Its just the kind of thing I would expect from an asshole.
Oh, and how can I resist mentioning the efforts of the GOP to protect children from their Gay parents. The GOP may no longer want to be tagged with that public stand but there is little doubt the protesters against gay marriage out in front of the Supreme Court today are all Republicans, Senator Portman be damned.
I was rather surprised to bump into this blog about what is happening at the moment in Mali a huge North African nation that is witness to the latest depredations of Al Quaeda.
Much like the video We are the world which was taped with dozens of Western music artists this one shows the following video of Mali’s famous musicians singing against the incursions of the Islamists.
The thing I found interesting is the fact that the verse is being sung in at least four of Mali’s indigenous languages. This unity despite ethnicity reminded me of the message in the book I’ve been reading “Black Sea.” That message is that muti-culutural life can be so easily stamped out. Continue reading
You have this great phrase, you say that creationists are “one of the most recently evolved species” of Christian. What do you mean by this?
Well the creationists have chosen to go back to a literal interpretation of the flood story, using arguments that were recognized and rejected in the 1780s. Throughout that time, there was a whole other tradition of faith in the world around us, a belief that God didn’t create an incomprehensible universe. And they’ve just walked away from that. It’s bad theology dressed as science.
If the Jews are God’s “Chosen People” does that mean Christians are his self selected people? If so that leads to a second thought. Which self selected ones? (are God’s people)
This thought was prompted by a very interesting seven minute interview with the author of The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture on NPR. My twelve recently ordered books are already arriving at my door according to my house sitters so I won’t be ordering this but Claudia thought it would be a good one for her Sunday School study group.
Regarding the Gospel according to Rand – Ryan renounces Rand (or denies her like Peter denied his savior) and stops handing out her scripture. It must be Paul’s road to Damascus moment. I shrug.