Saturday, January 16, 2021

Insurrection Consequences

 It is imperative that Donald Trump be impeached in order that it be so recorded in history books.  There are some people who seek it for vengeance or retribution; but that is not the central issue; It is a matter of consequences.

 

What we experienced was an insurrection—no greater crime can be committed against an established government.  This cannot be swept away or minimized, it is a sacrilege that puts a dark stamp on our history, and its author must suffer consequences.

 

Trump has lied relentlessly throughout his term of office.  He was fact-checked in the media and it made no difference to him and each time, the news went on to other things.  But his last ‘Big Lie’ of a rigged election that stole the votes from him—a lie he repeated over and over—incited an insurrection.  The Capital was stormed by a raging mob sweeping through it, hunting congressmen, destroying sacred property and inflicting destruction, pain and death.

 

Throughout his presidency Trump had played loose with laws and established order.  He has no respect for truth and made grandiose claims of his superior intellect, exhibited obsessive-compulsive behavior (endless tweets) and is paranoid, claiming that the press and all but his ‘base’ is prejudices against him.  Prejudice is defined as: ‘a perceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience’.  The strong anti-Trump opinions that came to light were not due to prejudice but to his exhibited attitudes and behaviors—that does not constitute prejudice.

 

In his earlier trial for unlawful acts and abuse of power, he was impeached by the House but exonerated by a Republican Senate more concerned with retaining power than doing what was right.

 

What happened January 6, 2021 is too consequential to treat it as ‘another one of Trump’s blunders’.  Our nation’s image was damaged as the whole world watched.  It would be unjust if the perpetrator of such a heinous crime suffered no consequences.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas story, The Gift

 

This is my favorite story of the short stories I have written.  For the past several Christmasses I have it posted here, I do so again as my 2020 Christmas offering.  
It was written as a ‘new myth’.  It had always bothered me that although there are shepherds, angels, and wise men at the stable, nowhere is there any help for Mary at the birth.  Surely Joseph prayed for help; in my story, his prayer was answered and Jesus’ first miracle was for one speaking ‘the Word’ for the first time.


The Gift

            In the time before the star shone over Bethlehem, there lived a shepherd and his wife who had six sons. The husband was very proud to have such a family of sons, but the wife longed for a daughter.   After the fourth boy, she had expressed that wish to her husband.  He scolded her, saying it was sons, not daughters that every good Hebrew should pray for.   Although she dearly loved and cared for each son, she never stopped yearning for a daughter.  After the birth of her sixth boy her heart became heavy, realizing she was passing out of her childbearing years and was not to realize her hope.  But to their surprise, she conceived again, and a year later, she gave birth to a girl!  She immediately declared the child to be God’s blessing, and requested of her husband that the baby be named Johanna, Hebrew for ‘gift of God’.  They so named her.
            The baby was very beautiful, strong and healthy—except for a twisted foot.  Faithfully during the child’s infancy, her mother massaged and molded the foot, which improved from the care, but it was never to be fully cured.  Throughout her life, Johanna was to walk with a limp.  
            The husband—being a good Jew—went frequently to the temple.  As his fellow worshipers became aware of the child’s deformity, some would shake their heads and say this was punishment for his sins.  When he repeated this to his wife—who usually made no retort to his chidings—she scolded him: “Do not question God!  His ways are not our ways . . . this child is a gift; God has plans for her.”  The husband just shook his head and walked away.
            Johanna had a loving nature and sweet disposition, but she did not speak.  At first they thought nothing of it—with six lively and boisterous brothers, there was always commotion to which she was alert, so they simply thought her quiet.  One day a physician said her tongue cleaved to her jaw and she would never speak.  
              “—A curse of God for sure!” said the people.
            As she grew, the girl learned household tasks as befits a Hebrew woman, but she also had a great love of the sheep of her father’s flock and took delight in shepherding them in nearby fields that were not hard to walk to.  Later, as she matured, Johanna took on the task of bedding them at night when they were stabled . . . and she gently soothed the delivering ewes at lambing time.  Several times she saved both ewe and lamb in a difficult labor.  Always she was kind and gentle.  The knowledge of her skill spread through the village and at lambing time all welcomed her.
            As the years went on, each of the brothers in turn took wives . . . but no marriage could be arranged for Johanna.  Only the mean or stupid would accept so flawed a woman for wife, and her parents would not agree to such a match. 
            As her parents grew old, the daughter cared first for her father, then later her mother thru their aged infirmities, always with kindness and a loving disposition.  Her mother never ceased saying Johanna was God’s gift and blessing.
            After the deaths of her parents, Johanna went to live with and assist the elderly devout long-widowed Anna of the tribe of Asher, who spent much time in the temple praying.  In addition to the duties of Anna’s house, Johanna continued to watch over the stables and tend the lambing of the village.
            One December evening, on her rounds of the stables, Johanna came upon a man sitting dejectedly with his head in his hands—at her approach the man leapt to his feet saying, “You are the answer to my prayers . . . Can you help me? I am Joseph; my wife Mary is about to give birth . . .” Johanna gave no response. “I am a carpenter and do not have knowledge of such things.  We came for the census.  I could find no lodgings or midwife for her, but we were given shelter in this stable . . . her time has come.  Now she is napping between her labor pains—and I feel so helpless.  I called upon the Lord God to send help . . . and here you are.  Will you help us?”
            Johanna nodded.  Joseph soon realized she could not speak, but he did not question God.  He thanked God for sending this kind young woman as he handed her the supplies they had carried with them for this need.  She moved with self-assurance and, though not a midwife, all the years of tending the ewes gave her the needed inner confidence.  Her kindness, warmth and gentleness soothed both the travelers.
            At the moment of birth, gently she received the newborn into her hands, cleared the mucus, patted his back to encourage his first breaths of air, wiped him with the linens, and tucked him into Mary’s arms.
            With gratefulness, Mary received the baby and said, “He is to be called, Jesus.”  At that moment the infant’s tiny fingers curled around Johanna’s index finger—she opened her lips and whispered “Welcome, Jesus” . . . 


                                                                      THE END

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Democracy Under Assault

I’m not an expert, just a citizen looking at the condition of America’s democracy.  Throughout my memory, America was looked up to and admired by most of the world . . . but I now see an unrecognizable America.  The man who has occupied the position of president for the past four years had sullied our image.  He entered the office ready to withdraw from world treaties, rescind environmental advances made by his predecessor and self-aggrandize at every opportunity.  He has fulfilled those objectives.  He befriended dictators and alienated allies and in so doing opened the eyes of citizens of other nations—America had lost its shine.  No longer a beacon to the world; it would be the laughing stock were it not so serious a calamity.

 

I ask, “Is there no way to stop the damage he revels in?”  There was an impeachment trial following his attempt to manipulate a newly-minted national leader to ‘dig up dirt’ on the man he thought was to be his opponent in the next election.  The evidence of malicious intent and abuse of power was overwhelming, but Republicans feared a loss of power.  They held the deciding vote—while admitting to impropriety—they insisted that the exact words used to describe his crimes did not match the constitutional words, and thus was he not found guilty.  That emboldened him to commit further egregious abuses.  He continued to fire qualified people in important positions to replace them with his unqualified financial supporters; make choices for the armed forces that were not supported by the military commanders; continually shout that the honest reporting of our free press was manufacturing ‘fake news’ while he himself was doing just that.  For months prior to the 2020 election he repeatedly denigrated our voting system saying it was ‘rigged’, that mail-in ballots were not legal—preparing for himself the means to question the results should he lose.

 

When he lost the election, he refused to acknowledge that Biden won.  Throughout history, even during contentious campaigns and during the worst of times, there has always been a cooperative transfer of power—it is the ‘shining star’ of the democratic process.  Only Trump has refused to accept defeat and will not engage in the required transfer process that includes allowing the president-elect into security briefings and access to the financial funding for future planning.  He thereby handicaps Biden’s ability to prepare to take the reins of office and this endangers our democracy.

 

His most shocking offence was to ignore the life-threatening pandemic.  He refused to listen to scientific evidence, gave no direction and support for combative measures, and in the weeks before the election he went on a blitz of rallies before huge unmasked crowds providing the opportunity for massive hot-spots of infection.  The virus spread explosively. He is indirectly responsible for thousands of Covid deaths.

 

He has blatantly used executive power to try to nullify the election.  He is a megalomaniac, obsessed with his delusion of superiority.  He denies reality, holds the paranoid belief that everyone is prejudice and plotting against him—he can’t recognize that it’s not prejudices, but an awareness that he is unfit for the job.

 

The Founding Fathers could never have imagined a crazy man would one day hold the office of president.  Constitutional scholars should begin exploring ways to withdraw decision-making powers from one who has lost touch with reality to prevent such things ever happening again.  Our precious democracy has been under assault for four years; may such never occur again.  

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 9, 2020

of Serious Thoughts: Fighting for the Soul of America

of Serious Thoughts: Fighting for the Soul of America:   The phrase ‘fighting for the soul of America’ has become part of the political battle of the 2020 election.     ‘Soul of America’ is used ...

Friday, October 23, 2020

Fighting for the Soul of America

 The phrase ‘fighting for the soul of America’ has become part of the political battle of the 2020 election.  ‘Soul of America’ is used in the Biden campaign and by the Lincoln Project—an American political action committee formed by a number of Republicans in 2019, whose goal is to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump.

That phrase is associated with Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address; he concluded with the plea not to yield to hostile instincts but to act upon ‘the better angels of our nature’.  The ‘soul of body politic’ is an ancient philosophical and theological metaphor . . . so with a nod to Lincoln we look at the words more closely.  

 

The soul is where our ‘better angles’ reside.  The soul is the incorporeal (without material form or substance) essence of a living being—the seat of reason, character, feelings, consciousness, perceptions and thinking.  Its main goal is to seek ‘the good’.  In our time we seem to have put a higher value on material things than the essence of the soul—surely Trump does.

 

A Trump campaign ad mocks Biden’s use of ‘the soul of our nation’ with a video showing conflicts between protesters and police with the words ‘save America’s soul’ and a request to text SOUL to make a campaign contribution.  He knows nothing of what is meant by ‘soul’.  Donald  Trump has stoked fear in our nation with endless lies about our institutions—science & health, the free press, CIA & FBI, the voting process, etc.  None of our institutions are perfect but have served us well.   We need to ever work to improve them, not tear them down.  Biden understands this.

 

How have we turned from seeking a leader of moral and ethical character, to one who delights in insulting and disparaging people, who lies constantly, who uses his white house position to amass personal gain?  One who seeks friendship with dictators while turning away from our allies?  One who uses fear and misrepresentation to divert and divide the populace? 

 

Trump is at odds with our nation’s values and its soul is crying out for rescue.

 

I pray:  All of our nation’s noble principles, all of its hopes and dreams, all of the bloodshed and sacrifices . . . cannot be to deliver our nation into the hand of a narcissistic, self-serving megalomaniac.    God, hear our prayer. 


 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

of Serious Thoughts: Complex Issues

of Serious Thoughts: Complex Issues:   I begin with reference to an anonymous comment to my last (August) blog. “You should be shocked….Dems in general and Biden in particular a...

Friday, September 25, 2020

Complex Issues

 I begin with reference to an anonymous comment to my last (August) blog.

“You should be shocked….Dems in general and Biden in particular are viciously supportive of abortion rights….The scandal is that the Bishops should be condemning any political candidate who supports abortion….Wake up and truly be a Catholic.”

 

The first point I want to make is that Biden is not ‘viciously supportive of abortion.’  He is Catholic and personally does not favor abortion.  He is supportive of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Row v Wade because it became the law of the land in 1973 and as an upholder of our nation’s laws he must do so.  What he does firmly support is a woman’s right to control her own body—and that is the central issue in this fight.  This is an infinitely complex issue.  On the one hand abortion is a moral issue; but it was made a legal issue when abortion was decriminalized by the Supreme Court in 1975.  Only women get pregnant so it is a women’s issue.  What may be needed are guidelines for its appropriate use.  I am a woman and a Catholic.  I believe abortion without just cause is morally wrong; but I also believe that as with all moral choices it is that individual’s right to decide.

 

The next point I want to address is the matter of the Catholic Church meddling in secular politics.  These issues are complex and multi-faceted and the Church trains its subjects from childhood to accept its authority without question, and thus when proclaiming a condemnation of a political position that is complex with many nuances it unfairly distorts it for subjects who tend to accept that judgement as they were ‘trained’ to do.  Life is not all just black and white.  Jesus knew that.  He did not order and condemn; he said “Go thy way and sin no more” and       “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  He was not an authoritarian.   

 

Limiting an issue to one black or white answer is both dangerous and destructive. When the Church saw the decline in the number of men entering the priesthood as the population was increasing, thereby needing more priests for its functioning, it allowed pedophile priests to be re-circulated rather than dismissed.  

 

It is narrow minded and unjust to approach voting with only one issue in mind.  Governance of a nation involves multiple issues.  Currently we are faced with the Corona virus pandemic and a Climate crisis.  Also, we are in need of a viable health plan, international cooperation to avoid war, a humane way to manage refugees, a sustainable way to manage our resources . . . to name just a few.  There is a need to struggle long and hard over complex issues; there are no easy answers.

 

I return to the main reason for last month’s blog—the multiple mailings from ‘Catholic Vote’ which is focused mainly on the abortion issue.   Control of that issue, abortion, is in the hands of the Supreme Court, not the Presidency.  ‘Catholic Vote’ is not considered an official arm of the Catholic Church yet I know of no opposition from the Church to  its widespread circulation.  It is a sneaky underhanded way to exert influence on Catholics, by appearing to be ‘The Church’ telling Catholics to vote for Trump without giving consideration to all the reasons NOT to vote for Trump.  First and foremost, he is a danger to democracy—he strives to be a dictator.

 

The most important qualities for the presidency are strength of character, integrity, honesty , willingness to accept responsibility and admit errors in judgement.  It is a fact that Trump insults and libels his enemies (anyone who doesn’t agree with him), he cannot face criticism and responds with crudeness and insults, he is dishonest and takes no responsibility insisting he alone knows all the answers, he is without principles and moral character and an inveterate liar.  He is unfit to lead a democracy. 

 

Two recent deaths, John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are politicians for whom the whole  nation mourned.  They demonstrated the desirable qualities of a leader.