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In the past several decades, a major force has entered the American political arena under an explicitly Christian banner. I’m talking about the Christian Right, which has aligned itself with the Republican Party. Has this alliance advanced the values that Jesus taught?
Jesus advocated for the poor and the outcast, and castigated mostly the privileged and the mighty. Today’s vociferous Christian political force supports the party that cuts programs to feed the hungry and to lift up the downtrodden, while protecting the interests of the fabulously wealthy.
life in the wild
The awful thud against the window in the sunroom made Jody jump up and rush outside where she found the small Downy Woodpecker on the deck. As she has done previously, she picked him up gently and held him in her warm hands as he shivered from the collision. At first we didn’t think he was going to make it, but he was able to move his head which told us our little dive bomber had not broken his neck. Living amidst the wooded hills of far eastern West Virginia with the Shenandoah Valley just over the ridge line of the Great North Mountain, we are daily observers of life in the wild.
Following an engineering degree and a stint in the Air Force, I taught high-school mathematics for three years, before eventually becoming a university mathematics professor. Why the change of direction, and why math? Nearly four decades after that sudden tack, a young woman came to my office requesting a letter of recommendation and answered these questions better than I could have. “Why do you want to teach math?” I asked…
off season football
I haven’t exactly been an avid watcher of Super Bowls. But I did make it through some of this year’s, and thought I saw clearly one phase of football giving way to another. Maybe Denver just had a bad game, but those two teams play five times, I don’t like Denver’s chances in any of the five. Peyton Manning, in the right landscape, was a great quarterback. He hasn’t changed, but the landscape has: some new element has come into the game. The athleticism — the pace and nature of the game — have jumped to a higher level, college and pro. Football evolves like everything else.
Fact: Sherman’s middle name came from the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh.
Fun Fact: Initially, Sherman’s mother named him after the Ottawa war chief Pontiac, but then realized it made her son sound too much like an automobile.
Fact: Sherman was mentally ill shortly before the Civil War.
Fun Fact: Sherman was depressed because he didn’t know what to do with his life. The firing on Fort Sumter fixed all that.
My son has gone to England on an extended business trip. His two sons in Virginia keep in touch with him most days by Skype. Jake (8) has a tablet and Connor (11) an iPad. Jake has a 6th grade reading age. His brother Connor is similarly advanced. When we talk we never dumb down vocabulary, although I sometimes check their understanding.
When his father was three, I was reading a book about Paddington Bear to him, his twin and his four year old brother. “ ‘And Paddington’s hat blew off and fell into the river. Paddington was upset because it was a family heirloom.’ Do you know what an heirloom is?” I asked, knowing they didn’t.
stay open, forever
When I recently stumbled onto a scene complete with cap and gown at James Madison University with students practicing for their upcoming graduation ceremony, I thought them all so young and unprepared for the world they will now become more a part of. Despite my inner congratulation to them, I was also reminded of a story from Isaac Bashevis Singer about how the Jews in the Polish shtetls he wrote of rarely admitted good fortune. And if they did, they would quickly add “kinahora”–let the evil eye not see.
I recently got embroiled with a friend over the eternal question of why nations go to war and whether the drive to fight is so embedded in our nature that we cannot avoid war. He shrugged off the question, since he felt it was kind of a silly issue. Of course, mankind will always be at one’s throat for one reason or another. Been that way since cave man days and will go on throughout the future. This response seemed so cavalier to me, a cynic’s view of everyday news…
times are a-changin'
Bob Dylan and The Band kicked off the show like a basketball team on a fast-break. Opening their concert at the Omni with “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine),” Dylan was, in a sense, establishing his game plan for that evening in Atlanta, just as he had in other cities on his heralded comeback tour. Dylan and The Band had the ball in their court, so to speak.
“We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”–The Tempest
In waking from my dreams, I try to think of what our Jungian instructor has told our class about ways to remember them and then to try to make sense of what we have gone through the previous eight hours or so. When I turn off the lights, I find myself anxiously looking forward to the host of characters, known and unknown, current and past, who will come a visiting and who will invariably entertain, hopefully illuminate, possibly frighten, but most of all baffle me.
They were carefully clipped. All the edges neatly cut and then crisply folded along the columns. In the top margin, in that compact, neat handwriting that everyone must have been taught in the 1930s, was written in ballpoint pen “for Nancy” or “Nancy read.” I still remember how my blood would boil whenever I saw those clippings and that script. In my younger days it was stories of caution, teenagers killed in wrecks, maimed beyond recognition or perhaps that teen sex quiz from the always infuriating, holier-than-thou, Ann Landers.
churchill enjoyed the show
Early Easter morning on the running trail, 53 degrees and windy. It’s cool and damp from the previous day’s rain and dogwood petals, leaves to be truthful, fall like snow. Elvis Presley is on my mind. Running through falling dogwood flurries makes for an odd time to be thinking of Elvis but that’s what happens when you’ve just seen an Elvis impersonator. And it’s a strange time to be thinking of Winston Churchill too, unless you’ve just been to the Wilcox Inn in Aiken.
only in america
Around the clock, Channel 354 on Dish TV is devoted to hour long programs for dogs. I stumbled upon this when flicking channels, wondering why plastic balloons were drifting across the screen to no apparent end. It was emptier in content than the billiards my Mother with dementia liked to watch for hours. I read the notes: Dog TV provides “Active Camera Moments, Exciting Animations and Moving Objects to encourage your dogs’ playfulness when home alone.” Further, “It’s relaxing time! Research shows that soothing music and relaxing images help your dog feel calm and relax.”
Politicians from both parties might perform public anguish about the student loan problem but it is painfully obvious that they just don’t get how serious it is. The most recent Congressional legislation tying interest rates on student loans to the several points beyond the interest rates on treasury notes might have looked like an important reform in Washington, where achieving anything bipartisan is hailed a great victory, but not to the 37 million young Americans who are on the hook for more than one trillion dollars in student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. They owe an average of $29,000. In an economy that no longer produces enough decent jobs
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Matthew 6:21.
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. made public his opposition to the Vietnam War, articulated in his iconic “Beyond Vietnam” speech. Presented at Riverside Church in New York City, “Beyond Vietnam” was the most controversial speech King ever delivered. In it, he confronted head-on America’s “triple evils” — racism, economic injustice, and militarism — and called for “a radical revolution of values” to restore our nation’s integrity. Afterwards, many supporters, black and white, abandoned him…
april 25, 26 & 27
The large crowds attending Dahlonega’s Bear on the Square Mountain Festival come each year to the Georgia Mountain foothills town expecting to be entertained by the better known activities, including the constant jamming by visiting and local musicians, the Friday night Auction, and the MainStage Tent musical performances and Artist Marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays.
There are a large number of other less publicized activities during this festival, which will be taking place the fourth weekend of April around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square.
another beach tale
Between 8th and 9th Avenues North, between North Ocean Boulevard and the King’s Highway, there sits a big old empty lot, different from other empty lots only because of the zipline installed in its western end. A smaller, completely empty lot sits across the street between North Ocean Boulevard and the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, which is now made of boards, although for the entire time I knew it, the walk was dirty concrete except for a section in the Pavilion’s courtyard. Didn’t matter to me. I was a hip, cool kid at the age of 3 and even later, when I was a gawky teenager who knew little beyond what I’d learned in books and that the beach was a great vacation spot.
can't teach character
Ever hear of “due diligence?” That’s a term often seen in business stories, particularly when public accountants are working at checking the financial background of companies who might want to buy or sell to one another.
Some people at the University of Georgia apparently don’t understand or use the term “due diligence,” especially when it comes to recruiting football players.
do so with caution
Once again a memory from my boyhood days working at Clifford Goolsby’s store digs its way to the surface. That store was a portal to a sometimes-strange world, and one of the stranger things I heard came out of the mouth of Bill Goolsby, a true character. Bill ran the register at Mr. Clifford’s. He was a good-humored fellow and a prankster who soldered a quarter to a nail and drove it into the wooden floor near the register. How many laughs …
winter without end
“Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write any more.”
So reads the last entry in the diary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. It’s dated 29 March 1912 as he and three companions have made a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to return safely from the South Pole. His team had gotten to the Pole in January only to discover that the Norwegian Roald Amundsen had gotten there first a month earlier.
guns and domestic violence
I’ve argued for some time that, if we are serious about preventing serious crime, then we address behavior at an early stage — i.e. when it’s just abusive and not the cause of serious injury. Now the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has agreed that a proved abuser of another’s rights can be properly deprived of the right to own a tool, whose sole purpose is to perpetrate an assault from a distance. Mr. Castleman of Tennessee is prohibited from owning a gun because over a decade ago he was convicted of having abused a spouse.
I think there should be minimum requirements to being a man. Don’t worry; men are a rather small minded-bunch so the requirements wouldn’t be stringent. But there should be bare minimums. And f you can’t meet the minimum requirements, you’ll be asked to move to Canada or Los Angeles.
The case for bare minimums was recently made when I saw an early-thirties male-like person at Home Depot who asked the woman at the paint counter. “How do you open a can of paint?”
look at me
The first time I realized I was invisible I was 44, arriving at the Spanish border from France. At the age of 20-21 I’d spent 18 months living in Spain. Then I was blonde and foreign, and young Spaniards acted like fruit flies around a ripe peach. It was good for my ego and I got the message that Spaniards like women. I was English and Englishmen look the other way as often as not, out of shyness and ineptitude.
from pompey’s head
From 1954 to 1956 we lived down the street from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two years was about par for course for living anywhere, but I did get to spend my high school years in the vicinity of 161st Street, albeit in three different apartments. By that time, relocating every two years had become one of my maternal parents fixed habits.
It is said that seven moves are equivalent to a house going up in flames.
lap of luxury
What a sumptuous hotel the Ocean Forest was, described by one writer as “the finest hotel between New York and Miami.” From NYC to Myrtle Beach it’s 558 miles. From Miami to Myrtle Beach it’s 554 miles. Slap dab in the middle as we say around these parts. Built in the late 1920s the hotel’s price tag came in around $1 million. The “million-dollar hotel’s” goal was to create an East Coast haven for well-heeled folks in New York and Miami. They built it and the rich they did come. The location and the hotel’s grandeur, many insist, made Myrtle Beach the tourist destination it is today.
challenged separate but equal
Almost 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education school integration decision, a statue will be erected to honor the Charleston judge who steered the nation toward the landmark ruling. It’s long overdue. Quite frankly, we should be embarrassed that it’s taken this long. U.S. District Judge Waties Waring’s courage and conviction in law helped to transform a segregated America into an integrated land of opportunity. At 2 p.m. April 11 in the garden at the Hollings Judicial Center in Charleston, judges and citizens from around the state and nation will honor Waring, the unlikely Southern jurist who became the social outcast who left town for challenging segregation.
atomic paradise sequel
During a recent trip to Savannah River Site I toured the ghost town of Ellenton. Since I wrote “Atomic Paradise” Ellenton, an apparition, haunts me. An entire town … moved. In researching “Atomic Paradise” I examined the unexpected exodus of Ellenton’s residents and two things caught my attention. One involves nature; the other human nature.
Nature first. The afternoon I saw Ellenton brushy undergrowth grew where homes had sat. Where people once slept…
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Dear Soccer: Congratulations! The 2014 World Cup has been truly great. You`ve really outdone yourself this time around. As it turns out, you really ARE a 'beautiful game.' You've had boffo TV ratings and you've inspired a resurgence of U.S. national pride. You've even raised our awareness of geography -- such as the fact that South America is not really "... Alabama, Mississippi and the parts of Georgia that ain't Atlanta" as many Americans previously thought. We learned other things too, such as Buenos Aires is not in Spain, 'buenas noches' is not in Natchez and the Amazon rain forest is not Read on →
The French Impressionists attempted a rendering of what they saw, an "impression" yes, but the interesting aspect is best illustrated by Seurat's Pointillism. Interesting because in the late 1800s there was a shift in emphasis among painters of an adventurous nature, what came to be called the "avant-garde," from the "subject" depicted to the "act" of perception. This shift may have grown out of or been influenced by then current scientific theories of how the eye works, but I believe it was based in an emerging self-awareness. The excitement was not about "how" I see but "that" I see. I Read on →
This past weekend, my wife Jody and I attended a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac performed at the Blackfriar’s Theater in Staunton, Va. Just to hear the language was well worth the one-hundred forty mile round trip. Although I don’t have the skill to read it in the original French, Anthony Burgess’ translation which combines blank verse, prose, and rhyming couplets held our attention for the nearly three-hour performance. He created a contemporary sound for a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand based on an historical seventeenth-century troubadour, dramatist, poet, soldier, and sword-swinging duelist known for his razor-sharp wit and w Read on →
I knew I liked him early on by the way he told a joke. He had timing and delivery and the punch line was not telegraphed. Whenever I get off my mountain, I’m alert to serendipitous opportunities to meet such people and to get a peek into their lives. So on a recent trip to Atlanta for a couple of woodworking classes, I had the pleasure of spending a few nights with a dear friend in Asheville, one of the world’s finest and most civilized of cities. My friend is also a fine lady and like her adopted city, most civ Read on →