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grief and fear
The Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote many years ago in The Second Coming that,
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
First, yeah this is long, but just maybe, it’s time for long, cuz it’s been a long time comin’.
I suppose it all started with Michael Jackson and his desire for a “white” nose, which didn’t turn out so well. Why a really handsome, very talented guy would willingly fuck up his face is truly beyond me. Michael was said to have lightened his skin, while Rachel Dolezal is said to have darkened hers.
time for action
Most South Carolinians don’t know a lot of out-of-the-closet, vociferous racists. They’re probably around, just like they have been since two people who didn’t look like each other first met. But in our society — here and in other states — they generally live on the fringes.
A hundred years ago, racism was institutionalized in the South with Jim Crow laws and separate but equal schools.
people will die
As the American public recognizes, our political system has become dysfunctional. A big component of the problem is that disgraceful political conduct has become acceptable, and is often even rewarded. The rejection of Medicaid expansion by the Republicans in many states in which they have the power is a case in point.
That includes my own state of Virginia, where the Republicans in the General Assembly have steadfastly rejected Medicaid expansion. It is hard – perhaps impossible – to find a way that this rejection is good for Virginia for its people.
racist act of terror
These past few days I have been frantically trying to wrap my brain around the slaughter of nine African-American men and women at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston S.C last Wednesday night.
The crime was heinous, profane and an extreme act of cowardice. It was pre-meditated, mindful and calculated. Above all — it was a racist act of terror.
As I headed to bed Wednesday night, a white gunman shot and killed nine people in an historic black church in the center of town just four blocks from where I used to live. Unaware of the evil, sleep came quickly. But in the wee hours, the ping of a text from an Australian colleague woke me. I didn’t want to read it and tried to go back to sleep. But after tossing and turning, I read the text, only to learn the heart-wrenching news about what was going on a few miles away. I was dazed.
southern life circa 1944
While I, Louie Crew Clay, narrate the story as if fiction, it actually is nonfiction and I have changed only the names. I wrote it to expose to myself as to any readers the arrogance racism taught me. Childhood is not all that “innocent” when the privileged teach our young to devalue and disrespect others. I hope that by my preserving the privileged little boy’s insensitivity, we will see what he saw but with our thinking caps on and our eyes wide open.
I did not personally know the beautiful souls who were massacred while gathered in prayer with a stranger at Mother Emanuel on June 17, 2015, but I can’t stop weeping. In part, my tears are the product of troubled introspection. I am a proud southerner with deep roots. My father has always been puzzled by my “ancestor worship.” My husband and children mock my addiction to ancestry.com with quips like, “did you know Mom is 99.9% Anglo-Saxon and cousin of the Queen?” But I can’t help but feel pride when I find another link on my family tree confirming my forefathers’ presence south of the Mason-Dixon line before secession.
“We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are between stories.” — Father Thomas Berry
I’m not Catholic. Nevertheless, fond of this pope, I’ve eagerly awaited the release of Laudato Si’, Francis’ encyclical on ecology and climate. Immediately after its June 18 release, I paged wildly through it and was blown away. Laudato Si’ is absolutely stunning in sweep, depth, and wisdom. It is exactly the right document, at the right moment, by the right person.
mystery of joy
As the ruffian used force to carry her out of the convent because her family needed her for an arranged marriage that would increase their fortune, this thirteenth-century nun and member of (St.) Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano saved herself and preserved her vows by suddenly and miraculously growing heavier and heavier. In the end, her assailant had to put her down and abandon the abduction. As he said, it was as though she had been eating stones.
environmental paul revere
“You just can’t burn in one night, a million years of buried sunlight, and think you got it all for free.” — from lyrics of Long Has the Earth by Doug Hendren
avatar of the silly people
You’ve noticed it, right? The triumvirate? The Big Three? Come on, try to name one. Yep, you got it: the impossibly adorable golden retriever. Another one? Right again: the acoustic guitar leaning against the wall. Third . . . easiest of all: a yoga class in the background. What do they add up to? Sales. Today’s mad men (and women) have identified these three cultural markers as bankable touchstones of the contemporary zeitgeist, as images of health and happiness that can be counted on to reverberate pleasantly in the shared subconscious of a key demographic — that is, people with money. Trying to sell financial security? Pain-relieving drugs? A new line of active-wear? Throw this shit at ‘em.
this i believe, i think
At the Unitarian Universalist church I attend I was asked to speak on Sunday about My Spiritual Journey. Oh God, I thought. Where to begin? When I was young I supposed that by forty all my opinions – political, religious, ethical – would be decided. At 78 I’m politically consistent but still adrift about a lot of other stuff.
Growing up in a Catholic family in England, the nuns at school told us we were lucky to have been born in the One True Faith; I enjoyed this certainty for a while, but in my teens was already uncomfortable with rigid dogma. Papal Infallibility didn’t fit with the history of the Borgias or the Inquisition. When I was 15…
playing a patient game
Virtually every caricature cartoon has Putin always beating Obama at chess. Stupidparty love to suggest that Obama is playing checkers against a chess grand-master. Odd since chess would be beyond their powers. Perhaps we should revisit this issue.
Not long ago a strapping Russian super hero, overwhelmingly proud of his disturbing mix of a jedi judo six pack physique and chess thumping grand master heritage, was strutting half naked across the world stage seemingly out maneuvering any mortal who got in his way. A Palin with a brain, his task made easy by a disingenuous myopic American administration through 2008 being held in contempt in the court of world opinion…
in need of soothing words
The forsythia has grown so tall and thick with age that it almost obscures the roofline of the gazebo tucked behind it. The key word, of course, is “almost,” since you can still see the wooden shingles from the driveway. Despite the obscuring foliage, you know the gazebo is still in there. And that’s the way it is with my friend who’s still “in there,” although she’s deep into her own self with an illness that is relentless in taking her further and further into a silent and separate world.
Rome, Georgia. Summer 1960
In the summer after my first year of teaching, the headmaster summoned me to his office.
“Louie,” he said, “a parent has complained about the list of six books you require returning juniors to read. He says he knows his son will learn to curse soon enough, but he resents paying good money to have you require him to read cursing.”
it's getting worse
Elder abuse is defined as “harmful acts toward an elderly adult, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.” Financial exploitation comes from the banking industry; neglect emanates from the halls of Congress; and emotions are stirred through the stories of impoverished seniors:
From Laurel, Maryland: I am over 60, and I was pushed out of my job because of my age. My rent, car note, and electricity are all two months behind. I can barely get food. Utilities will be cut off soon.
Though many have virtually already elected Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next president, somehow…..somehow we don’t think she will even get the nomination.
That would be a major shift in what the experts think will happen. It’s to the point that we even heard a stockbroker making stock-buying decisions based on his thinking that Ms. Clinton will in 2017 become the 45th president of the United States. Others who watch politics closely have told us that they don’t feel that Ms. Clinton will be the nominee.
carrie had it
A pack of snarling wolves, a jaw snapping pit bull, a charging bull, a fiercely pecking hissing goose; I have felt like all of the above at one time or another. My dad was the carrier. Perhaps not patient zero but he is as far back as I have personally witnessed. If you were born with the anger gene you know it. You have felt the rage take over. It washes over you like an ocean wave that is hot and blinding. It also reaches inside your head, replacing all rational thought with pure blind rage and the need to inflict serious pain. Those in your inner circle quickly learn to recognize when anger takes control. They back away, fervently battling conflicting feelings. First, hoping they are not the target; second, pity for the actual target; third, a guilt inducing joy upon discovering themselves not to be the target this time.
It was 10:30 am when the old Volkswagen Kombi van arrived at Helmstedt to join a long line of trucks waiting to enter the land corridor to West Berlin. The van had come from near Hannover that morning with a large tent, cooking gear and baggage on the roof, and seven young people inside. The German export license plates and bright reflective tape on the front and back indicated the travelers were not German. As the line of trucks moved slowly towards the Grenzübergang Helmstedt-Marienborn (named Checkpoint Alpha by the Allies) everyone in the van was quiet. They did not have papers to enter East Germany but had been advised to tell the border guards they were visiting British military family in West Berlin…
Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day. These cherished holidays give us a chance to renew vows of love, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection (or, for us pagans, the return of spring), to honor our mothers, to show a little gratitude for our brothers and sisters in the armed forces. Mostly, though, these holidays give us a chance to spend money. I try to resist the impulse to blather on about consumption — about the insatiable beast into whose maw we pour all of our…
call for revolution
“The age of nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the earth.” — Teilhard de Chardin
There’s a new term being bandied about, and it’s high time we paid heed: integral ecology. Whenever the same notion arises synchronously in a number of different contexts — in this case the Catholic Church, the Occupy movement, the climate movement, and the new-economy movement — it’s an idea whose time has arrived.
how far we've come
So this teenager, Greg Wittkamper, saw himself in the lyrics of Bob Dylan. He was a victim of social injustice. He longed to see “the chimes of freedom flashing.” The chiming so long overdue for the “warrior whose strength was not to fight.” But justice would take its time in rolling like a mighty stream in Americus, Georgia, where Greg Wittkamper would keep on pushing — and keep putting his life on the line for what he knew was right…
his blunt directness
After watching the evening news coverage of warfare in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, I turn to other wars to try to understand what is perhaps beyond one’s ability to make sense of conflict. The why and wherefore of all these years of perpetual war for perpetual peace, whatever that means, seems to be getting more vague to me as time goes by. An on-line class I’m currently enrolled in is examining the poetry that came out of our own Civil War. Although not a keen enthusiast of Walt Whitman, I have come to appreciate what he was trying to do when he chose to be “embedded” with Union forces marching into battle early on in the fighting.
Word got out last week that the best barbecue in the nation, says TripAdvisor, is at Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge, Ga. Ironically, TripAdvisor said the second best place for barbecue was at another Joe’s Barbecue, this one was in Kansas City, Kan. The two eateries are not related.
Since we were in the Georgia mountains, why not try out the Blue Ridge place? So we arrived at 11:45 a.m., saw this relatively small restaurant on East First Street, and found there were 33 people in line ahead of us.
out to pasture
You couldn’t wait to retire. Could. Not. Wait.
In the run-up to retirement, you took stock any number of times. Don’t misunderstand, you told your inner-self for a zillionth time, you enjoyed your career. You did. (Well, mostly you did.) You’d survived every economic downturn since the Nixon Administration (there were six of those suckers), two Middle East oil crises (gas lines stretched to the horizon), more company budget cuts than one cared to count, four company down-sizings…
back in the day
Brooklyn was an independent city until 1898 when it was consolidated with New York City but it retained its distinct culture and architecture from the early settlers. Its motto was In Unity There is Strength and sixty-two years later the 2.6 million people in Brooklyn still thought of it as an independent city. They didn’t like the people who lived in Manhattan.
In 1959 I shared a one bedroom apartment on Nostrand Avenue, East Flatbush near the corner of Winthrop Street, one block from Kings County Hospital and a ten minute walk from the abandoned Ebbets Field.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
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To fend off the inevitable criticism from Democrats, liberals and the media that the next GOP Speaker of the House is so delusional he or she must be on drugs, the new Speaker will first have to pass a urine test. “That should settle the matter that they’re not on drugs, even all those guys in the Tea Party Freedom Caucus,” said a GOP insider, who compared the plan to being pulled over by a cop. “So you’re weaving like crazy, and blowing through red lights, and stop signs and you almost ran over a couple of pedestrians and, sure, one of them was Read on →