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Showing posts from 2020

Virginia Woolf & Tulsa Massacre

I had never read A Room of One’s Own. For decades it was on my “someday” list of works to read. Now that I get books from the library only by ordering them, I finally read Virginia Woolf’s famous book, doubting I would find it as groundbreaking as everyone said.  Its emotional effect on me surpassed my expectation, shaped as I am now by the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing fallout. Written in 1928, A Room of One’s Own still applies today, in 2020. 

Woolf wondered why women are so interesting to men. “Have you any notion of how many [books about women] have been written by men?” 
She studied a few learned tomes by men about women:         Alexander Pope wrote, “Most women have no character at all.”         Dr. Samuel Johnson regarded a woman composer “like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.”         Oscar Browning, professor at Cambridge, declared after looking over examination papers that “the best woman was inte…

Catholic history & racism

Guest columnist John Chuchman thought a bit about Catholic Church history.
In the 15th century,  the Catholic Church became the first global institution  to declare that Black lives did not matter.

 In a series of papal bulls  beginning with Pope Nicholas V's Dum Diversas (1452)  and including Pope Alexander VI's Inter Caetera (1493),  the church not only authorized the perpetual enslavement of Africans  and the seizure of non-Christian lands,  but morally sanctioned the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

This trade forcibly transported  at least 12.5 million enslaved African men, women and children  to the Americas and Europe  to enrich European and Catholic coffers. 

It also caused the deaths of tens of millions of Africans and Native Americans over nearly four centuries.

In the land area that became the United States,  the Catholic Church introduced African slavery in the 16th century

George Floyd

I’m running errands, knowing the memorial for George Floyd is happening. When I get back to my car, I hear the announcer’s voice ending and then silence. More silence. Then the announcer saying people are standing for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. Immediately I think, "That’s too long! If I were there I would have to sit down."
I can’t stand for long. When I was a little girl, everything around me turned black during long-standing portions of the Mass. Always I was saved by the congregation shifting positions before I fell in a faint. 
The radio announcer comes on again and explains the silence is how long the cop’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck. Ohhh. Tears of sudden understanding fill my eyes as I drive on. The image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck returns—staying for a long time!
Other moments of sudden tears happened that weekend. At home I studied Chauvin’s face as he knelt on the neck of a Black man. No fear. Rather a look of victory. He looked secure in h…

NOW is the MOMENT

Now is the moment to change the world, writes Rutger Bregmanin Timemagazine. He quotes Milton Friedman: Only a crisis . . . produces real change.Bregman strengthens my hope that this crisis may be a catalyst for changes that help heal the planet and its inhabitants.
The coronavirus pandemic is laying bare grotesque inequities, making a return to the “normal” before it unlikely. Like a forest fire letting sunlight reach the forest floor, it shows the rot of injustice and inequality preventing the whole of society from flourishing.
It exposes the craziness of our economic system. In Bregman’s words, “the more vital your work, the less you are paid, the more insecure your employment and the more risk you are in the fight against the coronavirus.” I add that performers of the least vital work—hedge fund managers, multinational elites, Wall Street financiers—control the most wealth.
Among changes needed, Bregman mentions autocrats “suffocating democracy.” Kim Jong Un, Victor Orban in Hungar…

Grandparents saving the world

Grandparents can be a powerful force for building a stable society. My appreciation for this rose when I watched my sister-in-law Marilyn, a master grandma, at work. She was hosting me for a few days and apologized that she had to babysit her granddaughter. I looked forward to it because I’d already pegged her as a master grandma.

I had heard her telling stories about her grandchildren and enjoying their personalities. She watches them interacting together and vying to get their way. Traits of each are astutely displayed in her accounts—the introverted scholar wearing glasses, the more physical ones, the feisty ones, the ones needing certain types of attention.

Grandma’s love for them is unquestioned, impartial, and immense, but she’s no pushover. Her knowledge of child psychology comes out in stories of adults giving in to child pleading, with the sure result of future trouble.

Aella, nearly two, the youngest and only girl, is not intimidated but establishes her place among her older…

A pet peeve

http://s411101314.onlinehome.us/beyond-parochial-faith
To be honest, the only connection between this writing and spirituality is that I'm confessing a feeling that roils me every time I hear people abuse language, people who should know better—professional writers and speakers. They're the ones who commit this sin. 
I have yet to meet “in terms of” in a sentence that needed it. I wish it had never entered the English language. In most cases, “terms of” is witlessly added to in and should simply be deleted. Almost always it signifies nothing but a lack of precision. 
“This nation faces a crisis in terms of health care.” Cleaned of the meaningless words, it says, “This nation faces a crisis in health care.” “Where will they take the country in terms of foreign policy?” More pleasing, “Where will they take the country in foreign policy?” 
Readers can easily clean up the following: “The government plays a part in terms of education. If it gives less money in terms of grants you have…

Goodness in COVID 19 crisis

The disaster keeps triumphantly surging as states and D.C. struggle to control it. Harvard Professor Ken Rogoffwarns, “We are going to see a recession, at least in the short term, the likes of which we have not seen at least going back to World War II. . . . We're in a war. . . . I would have no problem with the government debt magically going up $5 trillion in the blink of an eye, . . . This is an emergency.”
In addition to the economic war, we have to win the psychological war. COVID 19 can threaten emotional stability, our faith in ourselves and our universe. Still, within every dark moment rest points of light, and I intend to make some known. 
Disasters have a way of inciting extraordinary kindness and courage. A “mysterious, erotic, enveloping sense of possibility and communion” emerges in disasters, says Rebecca Solnit, who was interviewed by Krista Tippett on On Being this morning.
During Hurricane Katrina, mainstream media believed and broadcast vicious, made-up stori…

The good of COVID 19

http://jeanetteblonigenclancy.com/
When faced with an overwhelming concern—now the COVID 19 pandemic—I look for the silver lining. In the face of realistic fears—economic fallout, hospitals overcrowded and short of supplies, health care workers at risk, and, I believe, the less serious fear of dying—here are silver linings I see coming with the COVID 19 pandemic.

I’m not a scientist but it occurred to me that worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases must have dropped drastically, mostly by a drop in air travel. Going online, I learned my guess was right. It’s estimated that China, the worst emitter of carbon, experienced a 25% cut in emissions. The 2008 recession also drove down emissions. Some of this good effect will be offset by increased home energy use.

I’m hoping physical scientists, social scientists, and political scientists will learn some things from this lurch in world affairs, ways to help the world fight climate change and other threats to the planet’s inhabitants.

Another…

Sexploitation

March 8, International Women's Day
and the whole month of March is Women's History Month. In celebration, Time magazine devoted an issue to 100 women of the year with short summaries of each.

Luminaries known are joined by women unknown to me that I feel I should have known about.
Just one—Recy Taylor—helped to shape Rosa Parks, known for her courageous refusal to surrender her seat on a bus, thus sparking the civil rights movement. Years earlier, Recy Taylor was gang-raped by white men and refused to stay silent. Despite death threats and firebombing of her home, she insisted on prosecution. Rosa Parks was sent by the NAACP to investigate. Find the story in Time's stellar issue.

Super Bowl Halftime ShowSexploitation

I never watch the Super Bowl, biased as I am against pro sports, which I hold responsible for many problems in our country. I still can’t say who won because I don’t remember names of teams. They mean nothing to me. But “everybody” was talking about the half t…

How Not to Despair

http://jeanetteblonigenclancy.com/
There is much to despair about—the planet heating up, inundating cities and island nations; humans continuing to aggravate climate change; unprecedented income disparities; nuclear threat; military arms races; forced global migration; corrupt political leaders . . .

I struggle to avoid crippling worry and contempt for some American voters. After the impeachment of Trump, 49 percent approve of his job performance as president.
It floors me.

Did they not pay attention to evidence of his guilt? Or don’t they care that the president of the U.S. tells a foreign power to meddle in our election?

You see, I waste time trying to figure out the minds of voters. I wonder: Why don’t people care about his lies? His sexual assaults? His verbal assaults on desperate asylum seekers, on all people of color, all critics of himself?
Don’t voters care about corruption in his administration? Its withdrawing of protections for consumers, for clean water and air, for stude…

In Memory Of

. . . my high school and college classmate, Hazel Ehrnreiter Howes. Her husband Ron tells the story.

When Hazel was diagnosed with cancer this past Spring, all plans for travel were put away, we moved into the family lake cabin, making those 40 mile one-way trips to see the doctors. Tests and more tests, radiation treatments, a trip to the Mayo Clinic, where three doctors told us thyroid cancer was normally slow-moving, but this one was especially aggressive.

When a CAT-Scan revealed a new mass that wasn't seen in the one taken just a month earlier, Hazel was hospitalized and radiation treatments were to begin again. It was at that point that common sense stepped in, with the medical team admitting they couldn't get ahead of this one, recommending Hazel be transported back to our cabin by ambulance.  
A hospital bed was set-up in the living room with a good view of the lake, and nurses came in to help us attempt to keep her comfortable. I asked the doctor, "how long", a…

Non-Sexist Talk

In a StarTribune article analyzing the New York Times “1619 Project,” Katherine Kersten wrote,
Man’s seemingly boundless capacity for inhumanity to his fellow man  is one of history’s indelible lessons. It is typical male-centered language, using “man” to mean “also women.” For centuries women have been expected to accept this without minding it. I mind it. So I revised it:

Humanity’s seemingly boundless capacity for inhumanity to fellow humans  is one of history’s indelible lessons.
I’m pleased that the StarTribune published my letter with this revision and publishes my other feminist letters. I thank them and other media for helping to correct what I call sexist language.

The following passages come from a book that I find thoughtful and nourishing, but irritatingly full of he-man language. I revised it and challenge men to include themselves in the woman-centered language:

The soul represents that part of womankind  that forms and cushions her living  and brings her extraordinary …