Talking Politics and Religion

A little more about politics before shifting soon over into religion sometime soon, “in a couple weeks” or “in a very short period of time”.

(Preview: Religion.  Jill proposed this blog to Skip and me — note bene: very much not “to Skip and I”; I hereby declare war against all those who are fighting a really stupid war against our language! — while we were together on a walking path high above her home in Boulder, the Front Range of the Rockies yet higher above us.  Spring flowers in the meadow.  Forest beyond.  Snowy mountains beyond and above the forest.  Blue sky and fresh air above it all, a warm sun in the midst of that blue sky.  Three siblings usually separated by distance together at this one place, this one time, a time just after one of those siblings had lost and then celebrated the loss of her life’s love, her love of life undiminished.  All this is a  perfect recipe, of course, for religious sentiment.  Skip’s the one who brought it up, enthused by the place/moment — the word ‘enthused’ is Greek, entheos, divinely inspired, possessed by a god [thank you once again, etymonline.com] — referring to the beauty of the place/moment and then referring that beauty to his god, Skip believing that such beauty can have its source only in that god.  Skip, you see, is a very genuine believer and church-goer.  Jill has tossed us hints that she’s no longer a believer in the same sense but remains, in her self-description, spiritual.  And I’m atheist.  So it was kind of like the old joke: a believer, a spiritualist and an atheist walk into a bar, and the bartender says “What will you have?” and… I know, I just made this ‘old’ joke up, it’s not old at all.  I know the rest of the lines except for the punch line.  The spiritualist says: What spirits you got today?  The atheist says: Oh, I’ll have nothing.  I’m not sure yet what the believer says.  Maybe someone can help me out here.  Back to that mountain path!  Skip looked to me to force a response so, as gingerly as I could think of, I argued a little against a creator god.  That’s when Jill brought up the idea about this blog thing, taking full advantage of the moment to present an already thought-out proposal.  She thought, with some enthusiasm of her own, this very kind of discussion would be great in a blog.  I was saved by the bell, her proposal becoming the object of discussion, relieving me from arguing with both my brother and his god.  Skip though, a bit puckishly, continues to press the issue, gently.  He sent me Christopher Hitchens’ last book, On Mortality, with the note, remember our discussion in Colorado?  Life is amazing, it really, truly is amazing, and this is an example of that.  Just when you think life will throw a fastball at you, it throws a curve.  When you think curve, it throws changeup.  And then comes the knuckleball!  See if you can hit this one, fella!  So, here’s my faithful brother pushing Christopher Hitchens on me, the atheist!  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Well, duty-bound despite never having liked Hitchens, I read the book and will soon, “in a couple of weeks” or “in a very short period of time” write something about that book, within the context of my currently enthusiastic reading in and about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who, at birth, was given the name David Henry but for some reason known only to him changed it to Henry David.  Kind of like my parents changing our brother Steve’s name from Joseph Stephen to Stephen Joseph upon his adoption by our dad.  So, discorso religioso sometime soon.

Now a little fare-thee-well to politics…

Snippet #1:

Only months of President DJT and it’s already come to this…

Dita and I argued a little bit a couple days ago.  Here’s the transcript:

Jim: Yes, you said it, you did!

Dita: No I didn’t.

Jim: Yes you did.

Dita: No.

Jim: You better hope there’re no tapes.

Dita: Lordy, I hope there are!

Then the next day we had another ‘conversation’, which included this:

Dita: You’re just like Trump!  You think you know everything but you know nothing!

Nothing like this ever happened to us during the Obama years.

 

Snippet #2:

Today’s Washington Post has an important article,  “Plan to Relocate 1.6 Million Muscovites Turns Middle-Class Russians into Protesters”.  The link to it online is: http://wapo.st/2rNik4J?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.8da6ea6231e9.

Today’s The Guardian has an equally important op-ed piece by Robert Reich, “Scam Alert: Trump’s $1tn ‘Infrastructure Plan’ is a Giveaway to the Rich”.  The link to it online is: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/10/scam-alert-trumps-1tn-infrastructure-plan?CMP=share_btn_link.

What both these pieces show is that Trump and Putin are truly blood brothers, each giving lip service to the aspirations of the “forgotten middle class” while doing everything possible to help the rich get even richer, at the expense, in so many ways, of the rest of us.  Ignore this, if you wish, but at your own and our own risk.

 

Coward-in-Chief

Jill noted in her introduction at the start of this blog that she, Skip and I had a somewhat lively exchange of thoughts during this past presidential election.  It’s kind of funny.  Both our parents were staunch Republican partisans.  Dad venerated Barry Goldwater.  Skip himself, when still in school, belonged to the Young Republicans and even attended the 1968 Republican Convention in Miami.  I was 18 years old in 1972 so it was the my first chance to vote.  I voted for Nixon.  I have never since then voted for a Republican on the national level.  Jill and Skip, it seems, could say pretty much the same.  Were Mom still alive, she would have agonized a little about voting for Trump but, in the end, would have voted for him, if only because she would not have been able to vote for Clinton.  Dad, were he still alive, would be wearing a Make America Great Again hat, proudly.  Their children disagree.

Since the election, I’ve tried to take Garrison Keillor’s advice and not let current events mess with my head overly much.  In that spirit, I’ve not intended to get ‘political’ in this darn blog thing.  Today is sort of a set-back along that road but, as they say, relapse is part of recovery.  I’ll do my best to climb back up onto the wagon quickly.  But, what the heck, here it goes…

The American Century began, almost exactly one hundred years ago, when the United States of  America entered the fray in World War I.  It ended, more quietly, this past weekend in Taormina, Sicily, with President Donald J. Trump’s cowardice when, asked by the other leaders whether or not he would keep the US in the Paris Accords, he whimpered merely that his view on the agreement was “evolving”.  Either he truly has not yet decided, which would show an astounding level of indecision, or, which is much more likely, he simply lacks the guts to tell the other leaders to their faces that he will pull our country out of the agreement.  Donald J. Trump and everyone who in any way supports him are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘American exceptionalism’.  Many seem to believe the coming decades will become The Chinese Century.  The Russians themselves hope to be major players in the new world order.  I have long hoped that the European nations would sort out centuries of contention and, coalescing, become the center of gravity for the next piece of history.  Angela Merkel’s statement that it is now time for Germany (and, by extension, Europe) to take its fate into its own hands was the kind of declaration of independence which could well become a meaningful marker in history books yet to be written.  Nietzsche aspired to an age of Good Europeans.  That time is at hand, introduced by the indecision and/or cowardice of the last president presiding over the waning American Century.