LENT CAN TRAUMATIZE

Lent can traumatize.

Predictably LENT began with Ash Wednesday – a first day of fasting in Western Christianity. It occurs 46 days (40 fasting days, if the six Sundays, which are not days of fast, are excluded) before Easter.

As most practicing Christians know, Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The irony of this year was Ash Wednesday shared February 14th with non-other than St. Valentine’s Day, a highly commercialize, thinly surfaced, sweet affair.

Although the account AElfrie of Eynsham shows that on about the year 1000 the ashes were “strewn” on the head; the marking of the forehead is the method that now prevails in English-speaking countries. It is the only one envisaged in the Occasional Offices of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea Church of Papua, a publication described as “noticeably Anglo-Catholic in character”.

These some odd 40 days remind worshipers of their sinfulness; clearly, their mortality; and finally – their need to repent in time. Living life authentically connects…”as he breathed the chill night air, he was no longer afraid.”

Our Men’s group at St. Stephens Episcopal Church met these fasting days head on. Some began by positing that Lent was passé – no longer relevant in their personal lives. Others attempted to bring a twenty first century revision (spin) to this outdated period as well.

Some wanted to go directly to Bonnie Ware’s “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” Ware, a palliative care professional, who helps terminal patients facing the last three to 12 weeks of their lives, wrote of their regrets: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” (… when people clearly look back, they discover they have not honored even a half of their dreams)…and I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” (…they missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship). Unfulfillment haunts.

Lent in a way can be seen as a recovery period. The recovering addict is often counseled to take a “spiritual inventory,” which deals with one’s behavior toward another. What do I need to clear up in my personal life?

Alcoholics Anonymous, (AA), has its twelve steps composed in the early I930’s, with the aid of Catholic Nuns in Akron, Ohio; Christianity has its seven (7) sacraments: Baptism…..Eucharist…..Confirmation…..Reconciliation (Confession)…..Anointing of the Sick…..Marriage…..Holy Orders. It is not difficult to conclude that these spiritual steps have direct kindred to the Lenten Season. They make it matter.

Robert Dilday, managing editor of the Religious Herald, fellow parishioner, with his weekly meditation for the Second Sunday in Lent, edged nicely in to Lenten thought. Quoting Parker Palmer about a life led in God’s image, Dilday envisions the task of becoming truly human, is to listen carefully to our deepest self and nurture an environment in which it can flourish. Bringing it to what it was meant to be takes deep commitment and serious work.

Historian Shelby Foote wrote to novelist Walker Percy about life distances from one place to another: “As if across a valley, a valley that I suppose would be called Unbelief – or Belief.” Questions of faith abide. It always comes to THAT.

Easter Day is April 1. Much is to be done in seeking and finding that growing humility, which opens doors for new possibilities. Giving up something for Lent is traditional, and easier. Opening spiritual doors is not for the faint of heart.

Dilday rightly concludes that answering these personal challenges takes patience – probably a lifetime of it. Lent isn’t nearly long enough to see it through. It offers plenty of space to begin …we’ll have to settle for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LIKE THE ONE WE USE TO KNOW

As one ages, even in the Christmas season – with a tendency to exhibit a prickly demeanor – he stands awed by the rapidity of the period. The pace picks up year after year.

When I attempt to adjust to this reality, the old Marx Brothers film, Animal Crackers (1936), comes to mind. There, Groucho Marks sings his famous in-and-out ditty: ”Hello, I must be going, I cannot stay, I’m glad I came, but just the same, I must be going.” Another Christmas passes.

This 2017 holiday season is so different, with its tawdry headlines, when compared to one remembered in 1943. This could have been the year when Christmas music (most of a religious, classical nature) was complicated and inundated with new pop creations.

Christmas, 1943 was complicated for little guys like me. There was Spike Jones & His City Slickers hit, “Der Fueher’s Face”….it was a parody of the Nazi anthem, accompanied with real Bronx cheers. The other pop hit was “White Christmas” sung by the groaner, Bing Crosby – otherwise known as Der Bingle – a nickname created by the Germans. So we had the City Slickers vs Der Bingle that 1943 Christmas time. Not surprisingly Crosby prevailed.

In those early years of mine, my grandparents owned the Customs House overlooking the Rappahannock River and high above the Riverside Hotel across Prince Street, Tappahannock, VA. In those days the Hotel was a beehive of seasonal activity; it was frantic with planned Christmas parties and dinner gatherings – all sharing the festive new contemporary Christmas music. No O come, all ye faithful; Joyful and triumphant there. That was when we were introduced to one Irving Berlin (Israel Baline) and his “White Christmas – a runaway smash hit for World War II holidays, becoming the best-selling record of all time.

Remember, American families were separated by war, distant work, and worried to death about the war’s end. Irving Berlin shared: “Songs make history, and history make songs.” In our river-world we did not long for Christmas snowfalls – we knew them as “snowstorms.” But those careful lyrics were particularly influential on Northeasterner, now uprooted to the non-seasonal, snowless West Coast.

Philip Furia brought huge insight to what was a seamlessly sentimental song – verging on melancholy Christmas celebrations; with vast separations Furia points out how different the structure the song became: “I’m”…with a whole note, then racing over the other syllables before the next whole note “w-h-i-t-e”, Christmas. Simultaneously, lecturer Rob Kapilow notes that the minor chords for “listen” and “glisten” border on simple heart break, and sadness.

I remember thinking exactly that as we sang it in the Douglas Freeman HS Glee Club so long ago. It has been reported that Berlin got his inspiration in his Brooklyn Jewish youth experience, as that of an outsider. Others surmise that loss of an infant son, Irving, Jr., on Christmas Eve, 1928, brought an edge to his sadness. We lost an infant son in 1966; it remains with us until this day.

“White Christmas”, the song benefited with the invention of the “disc jockey” allowing the 78 record to be played endlessly both on radio, and jukeboxes. So it was.

*                             *                             *                               *

Christmas at my grandparents’ home passed nicely. Big fireplace fires brought security and warmth from the cold winds off the Rappahannock River. The tree was decorated with dancing lights – if one blew, all lights failed. It was testimony of one’s limitations when figuring out which festive bulb bummed out. Chasing dead Christmas lights sometimes consumed hours, becoming part of our holiday ritual. That year, we added “White Christmas” to our holiday inventory.

In Tappahannock, In 1943, I can still hear the melodies stream from the Riverside Hotel, across Prince Street, up the bank to that grandparent’s home of long ago – intuitively knowing it was special then….and probably forever.

Is it really Christmas, 2017?

                                                                                                                                 

 

CAVALCADE OF CREEPS

                           CAVALCADE OF CREEPS

Schadenfreude (SHaden, froide): the German noun….defined as a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people – particular those you may dislike – even for total legitimate reasons.

If you have been on the receiving end of such schadenfreude (as I have), one thinks twice before he thrusts such energy in the direction of his worse of enemies – political or otherwise. I am totally watching my schadenfreude as I write this.

Jim Geraghty, The Morning Jolt, has labeled this cultural episode as the “cavalcade of creeps”. The list below, while probably out dated by the time you read this, is going to run its course, and it’ll get worse every day. Revelations in the articles in Variety and the New York Times about former Today host Matt Lauer could make you sick. Lauer confessed that he was “embarrassed” by his actions. Poor baby.

As nasty as Lauer’s story is, he still stands in the shadow of one Harvey Weinstein, chief producer, and deep pockets contributor to the Democratic Party. This film producer is accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment or sexual assaults, including rape. Weinstein denies all allegation of non-consensual sex, but he has apologized for causing “a lot of pain.”

It is hard not to forget the merrymaking of the FNC-haters at the professional demise of Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, even Eric Bolling. Their delight was immeasurable, and all so political. Many on the list below could not celebrate enough over it. Particularly, the Matt Lauer intrusive interview of O’Reilly comes to mind, on the TODAY show only months ago. Talk about karma.

The current Rogues Gallery includes:

Garrison Keillor ( A Prairie Home Companion);  Matt Lauer (TODAY);  Charlie Rose (CBS Morning) ; Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit); Bill O’Reilly (Fox News);  Glenn Thrush (NY Times);  Jeffre Tambor (‘Transparent’); Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.); Russell Simmons, (prolific music and TV producer); Matt Zimmerman, Sr. (VP –NBC News);  Rep. Joe Barton (R – TX);  Andrew Kreisberg, (producer of the CW shows “Arrow,” “Supergirl” Warner Bros.);  Louis C.K. (comedian/public masturbator); Steven Seagal, actor; Ed Westwick, actor; Brett Ratner, Director; Dustin Hoffman, Academy Award actor; Jeremy Piven, actor; Michael Oreskes, (NPR News chief);   Kevin Spacey, actor;  William J. Clinton, perjurer, former president;   Mark Halpern, (NBC, MSNBC); George H.W. Bush, former president; Terry Richardson, celebrity photographer; Leon Wieseltier, (The Atlantic and New Republic); James Toback, veteran Hollywood writer/director; John Besh, Chef (Bread Basket); Bob Weinstein, brother of the granddaddy of harassment: Harvey Weinstein; Oliver Stone, writer/director;  Roy Price, (Director of Amazon Studios); Ben Affleck, actor; Teddy Davis, CNN Producer; John Hockenberry, public radio Icon; Rep. Blake Farenhold (R-TX).

Careful counting yields about 4, maybe 5 Republicans – out of the 35 people listed.

As the solid Brent Bozell recently posted in Townhall: “nowhere is the hypocrisy more notable (and deeper) than at PBS and NPR. These were the entities that made sexual harassment the boiling feminist issue when Anita Hill testified during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing in 1991. Here’s an easy question: Why didn’t this sudden spirit of self-discovery and investigation happen back then? Or in any year since?”

It could have happened when the President Bill Clinton settled with Paula Jones in 1998…or even last year as these networks enjoyed reporting on sexual harassment scandals inside Fox News. One must pose the question: in what way, then, is “public” broadcasting morally superior to corporate broadcasting?  The answer is both PBS and NPR are NOT….and never have been.

The “no snitch” culture is evaporating. Sadly, the allegiances of the media, late-night television, Hollywood, stand-up comedy, professional sports, and universities, continue their leftward homilies. Politically correct vulgarity among celebrities is nothing more than a poor substitute for talent – tied in a knot by sexual harassment scandals and other perversion. Yet, with this nasty cultural cloud, there are positive signs.

The economy is growing. Unemployment is dropping and inflation remains low. Middle class incomes are finally heading up….with expansion of energy production, and a growing security on our southern borders.

For those of us who remain deeply concerned, we must simply hang in there – sans schadenfreude.

WANT To KNOW WHERE The Divide Is?

For:   Professor David Marion, Elliott Emeritus Professor of Government, and director of the James Madison Public Service Program at Hampden-Sydney College.

From: Raymond B. Wallace, Jr.  Class of 1960

Re:    Richmond Times Dispatch Commentary Column, November 5, 2017….Today’s Trust Deficit – A Social Cancer.

Memo:   Dr. Marion, Hooray for H-SC with your piece published last Sunday in the Commentary Section…..Tiger pride continues! With your work and that of Dr. Ron Heinemann’s (Harry Byrd bio) column several weeks ago, we all celebrate the RTD ink of H-SC faculty.

I am fascinated with your theory that the possible “trust deficit” is a serious matter. You are correct of course. More fascinating is your quote: A culture that is rooted in the presumed dignity and equality of all person is a pre-condition for moderate politics. That’s the challenge for certain.

Wonder why we have reached this point in America? I think I have come to know:

  • Many can take credit for this deep divide within the U.S. after 40 years of designed separation:
  • the elites of Hollywood film industry has played a huge role: …..the toney academic culture with their total intolerance.……the elimination of open discourse among college students, which enjoys support of faculties, administrators alike – far more serious than anyone recognizes .
  • An uncontrolled, predominant leftist media: CNN; MSNBC; CBS; NBC; ABC, hourly – plus the ever legit NYT and the LA Times. The massiveness of all this is incomprehensible, shameful, and most of all, DANGEROUS. And the people know now.
  • Politically correct speech…..who has not run into that on college campus and in corporations as well.
  • The United States Government with both houses in knee deep elitism (that is what the Rep. Cantor matter was all about); the horrible elitism of both George W. Bush, and especially Barack Obama, with his surly attitude; do not forget K Street conglomerates- looking after well-healed clients.
  • The outright pornification of advertising with its complicit leadership, and the ads which emerge from their shops, both disgusting and lucrative.
  • And finally ‘HILLBILLY ELEGY ‘, which really makes your point of “culture that is rooted in the resumed dignity and equality” a monstrous joke.
  • Rural America’s deeply rooted cultural traditions, religiosity, music, and history of storytelling, and its belief in the nobility of hard work that includes getting your hands dirty, all make up who we are in this country. They could no care less whose editor of NYT or WaPo….but they pray daily which drive the left to distraction.
  • Those Americans who voted for McCain and Romney never, never, ever…..behaved in such fashion towards President Obama, a soon-to-be-phony, who turned out disappointing for everyone. I will make the point which will place me in the “racist’s camp”: if BHO had simply been white, he would never have been nominated by your political party.
  • And yes, the Clergy….not only elitists, but simply political leftists’, certainly social activist – sadly, my Rector fits the bill.
  • The left’s total support, and outrageous sympathy for undocumented citizens (hell, THERE I go) I mean, illegal immigrants.
  • Antifa, BLM (Pigs In a Blanket / Fry em like bacon); the kneeling at the nation’s anthem, and burning American flags that many of our students fought, and died for; fighting horrible lax immigration enforcement (left by Obama)….then knocked down by lefty Federal judges of everything the current administration is attempting to address.
  • And the final blow: a political and speech correctness which attempts to deny us our solid Constitutional rights.

David, you know what haunts me: I do not see any indication from your people in classroom teaching that they have a clue why 50-60MM is so turned off and distrustful. Now they KNOW.

These prideful Americans (Blue collar white and black) have watched their security robbed by the policies of the U.S. Government. They fully understand where they stand in the left’s scheme of things – these are people most of you have never tripped over in your professional or social lives.

My God….this should be evident to every thinking America, particular professors. I can see, even smell, the 1890s all over again, but with their own media and abilities to reach millions upon millions.

Dangerous business, my man.

Raymond B. Wallace, Jr. ‘ 60.

           

 

 

 

              

 

 

WHY SO FAST?

Once upon a time, Tappahannock, VA’s Essex Court House clock chimed over the town hourly. Audible for many blocks, the strikes seemed reassuring – always reliable.

As a small boy, I thought nothing about time….tomorrow was a given. Now, some 70 years later, I’ve discovered there is nothing predictable about time and what it brings. There are always moments in your life that you will never be prepared for. Once a moment is spent, maybe wasted, it can never be recovered. It took me forever to learn to not throw time away on supercilious people or issues.

With my decade of medical misbegotten, this latest summer episode comes off as duck soup – my season of agony, pain meds, and suffering (herniated discs) brought positives, with self-inventory and reassessment. Is it just possible that I am comfortable with myself….without apologies to those who take offense on views held?

How do we emerge spiritually, politically, and philosophically? It started with my grandfather, Allen Douglas Latane, a small town newspaper editor, and Essex County clerk. I remember clearly his recollection that Essex County remained loyal to Democratic presidential candidate, Governor Al Smith – in the 1928 presidential election – over Herbert Hoover. One could feel his shared pride, enthusiasm.

Then there was a July 4, 1963, trip to Washington D.C. for a National Draft Goldwater Committee Rally at the D.C. Armory – with sunburned friend, fraternity brother, Hugh Edmunds. We met early at Union Station, Richmond Va.

William Lundigan, movie actor; Paul Fannin, Governor of Arizona; Efrem Zimbalist Jr., TV/ Film personality; plus the show-stealing character actor, Chill Wills, appeared with great endorsement…of the then Hamlet – like Barry Goldwater, who had refused to appear.

Yet, my take-home lesson from the Armory began with standing in line beside two newly married Hungarian couples – new citizens – about my age. They assured me that Americans had no idea what they were about to lose, with the massive growth of the U.S. Federal Government, its intrusions in all aspects of our lives; they were quite knowledgeable, and very serious.

The Humanities of Hampden-Sydney College had profoundly exposed me to serious individual thought – even the individual mind where one’s accomplishments can birth. It further occurred to me that man cannot survive except through his mind. He lands on earth totally unarmed….his brain is his only weapon. But his mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain.

The man, who seriously contemplates, must think – then act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be subordinated to needs, opinions, or wishes of others. Most important, it is not an object of sacrifice. In so many words, it is the individual against the collective – remember “inalienable rights”?

Naturally, this took me to Whittaker Chambers, and his published book, Witness, on his life of Communism – then the final escape. Riding back with Hugh Edmunds on that train to Richmond, I could think of little else. Those young couples had been THERE – with government abuse and a widening socialism; they were deeply affected….that’s why they showed up.

It was much later that Marilynne Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize novelist, essayist, made me wince – in agreement – with her observation: we are willing to disparage any one if “the reward is the pleasure of sharing an attitude one knows is socially approved”. It certainly did endorse what I’d observed.

Often we seek approval over truth – that is, a deep desire for human bonding…over truth-seeking.

Remember Erich Segal’s Love Story with the famous take-home-trash quote: ‘love means you never have to say you’re sorry. The latest: popularization of a Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” For me it’s like clanging a stick in a cage. To live in a non-comparison world is to live in one unmeasured….one which refuses to acknowledge goals; discourages accomplishment, and which equalizes everyone into one sloppy category of mindless, dopey weakness.

Then the classic film: The Third Man, 1949, with Orson Wells. The scene was near the Wiener Riesenrad, the large Ferris wheel where Harry Lime uttered: “You know what the fellow said – in Italy. For thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, and murder….but they produced Michelangelo; Da Vinci; and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had 500 years of democracy and peace… and what did that produce: The cuckoo clock.”

The Tappahannock Court House clock still strikes on the hour; and I’ll get up every day until I can’t; if we are wise, we’ll treat time thoughtfully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP AND HIS DETRACTORS

TRUMP AND HIS DETRACTORS

The utter damage accomplished within the last decade to American culture borders between silly and grotesque.

Take a letter to the Chicago Tribune, specifically designated to Clarence Page, a columnist there. As it makes its electronic rounds, the letter slams political correctness regarding the nicknames of sports teams.

Right off, it amusingly calls for the dismissal of such names as Redskins, Chiefs, Braves, Indians….and we probably should rid the culture of Browns for obvious reasons. The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60’s alive – probably because it would be seen as offensive to white folks.

Better yet, don’t forget the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars football players who stood for God Save the Queen while taking a knee for the American anthem and pledge….in a foreign country. Amazing examples of total ignorance, yes?

And yes, the New York Yankees offends the Southern population….I don’t remember a team named for the Confederacy. No doubt, it would be offensive to some for the blatant references to the Catholic religion such as the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels, or the San Diego Padres.

Then what the heck is this business about glorifying criminality: good grief, the Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Pittsburg Pirates. The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity – a growing epidemic. Last, but not least the Milwaukee Brewers promotes the wrong message for our children. Yes?

The letter as distributed on the internet grows a little sketchy at this point so we will exit. It does make a serious point: we are showing signs of losing our minds to blatant stupidity, or worse.

Even more troubling is how, we as a nation, are handling the Trump era. It is clear the country is divided. The Trumpsters are devoted, loyal, and comforted with a genuine hope.

The Hate-Trumpsters seem more vitriolic, dug in – even destructive at any cost. They believe everything to do with Trump is ugly. For them he is the absolute epitome of the American Dream turned into a night mare.

Sadly, it has become very clear that those who no make a living out of attacking the President have started to take on some of that same ugliness themselves…Stephen Colbert (a fellow Hampden-Sydney College graduate), for example, with his sycophantic gang of supporting performers, and his hand-picked audience, screaming their delirious approval of every jibe, however tasteless or feeble. That horrible unfunny image of Kathy Griffin hold the sham severed head of the Hateful One is a concise example.

Could it be that this outpouring of hate inspires the same revulsion. As one recent writer, a Trump non-admirer, reminded us of the mobile-phone footage of Libya’sGaddafi after his capture, broke and bloodied, eventually being sodomized with a bayonet.

You see, those who fight evil with its own weaponry risk turning into the very thing they oppose. If President Trump and what he represents is to be brought down (and I do not think it should), it must be by means that do not damage our faith in democracy, and leave no aftertaste of shame.

We all must be careful – there’s a whole bunch of us….within us.

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, MON AMOUR

 CHARLOTTESVILLE, MON AMOUR      

Saturday, August 12, 2017, delivers deep sadness. Once one experiences life in Charlottesville, the place takes up a special place in one’s education and life. I find her recent defilement unacceptable. Professor Larry Sabato has tweeted the University of Virginia is closed.

Attending the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences there – living on the corner of Madison and University Ave, diagonally across from the majestic Rotunda – was truly idyllic. Sitting in a classroom under Dr. Merrill D. Peterson (The Jeffersonian Image in the American Mind) was no minor academic challenge. Still, The anger on last weekend’s tragedy remains inconsolable.

This charming university town is where young people come to learn, develop, grow-up, and become whole. Now, its tradition and purpose has been violated – thanks to ignorant “racist goons” on both sides (wacko alt-rightist and Black Lives Matter). These unhinged, ugly outsiders purposefully traveled there to bring civil unrest.

With all due respect to the easy surface issues, honest diligence requires deeper consideration. Some leadership there perpetuated growing conflict by giving way to the obscenity of political correctness over the R.E. Lee statue, easily ignoring solid civil rights history.

It was their Democratic party, who, by and large, maintained white supremacy, severe segregation in the first half of Virginia’s 20th century – not the Republicans. Virginians, under Republican Ted Dalton, Radford, Va. made certain it was unacceptable back in 1953. We should never forget that Republicans in Congress salvaged the Civil Rights legislation for the then Democratic president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Where have the editorialists been on that subject?

Maybe it is time for Charlottesville’s leadership and others go back and crack a few solid history books. There is a lot more to all this.

Then there is the local political leadership. With apparent University support – taking over Charlottesville’s political structure, with a group of self-assured, self-centered politicians bringing mockery and depriving Mr. Jefferson’s village of balanced government. By advocating a poisonous political correctness; they engineered a new definition of simple subversion. Realizing or not, this leadership dismissed the traditional culture of community.

Mayor Michael Signer, oozing with condescension and total self-righteousness, exhibited himself for our entire nation to view, evaluate. Signer came to Charlottesville political service from the UVA classroom. Appearing first with Governor McAuliffe in a press conference, then on the ever-inviting CNN, Signer displayed an insufferable moral preening – playing a totally adopted heroic role vs. the irredeemable, with whom he is surrounded. One’s reaction: nothing more than UGH – stick-finger-down-the-throat time.

Additionally, the mayor went so far as to blame the president after Trump’s very clear, solid statement about “all sides responsible”. It wasn’t good enough for him, nor the mainstream media. Surprise! No question we can count on Signer to be one of the Republican/Trump-hating extremist. Irony upon all ironies – David Duke stands with Michael Signer in their criticism of President Trump. These two stoke the “outrage machine” hand-in-hand.

The deaths of Charlottesville native, Heather Heyer, a young paralegal from Greene County, and the Virginia State Policemen: Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, Quinton, Va.; Lt. H. Jay Cullen, Midlothian, Va., was nothing short of obscene, and one must ask – for what?

Now, Emancipation Park will carry its own history as a place where terrorism prevailed despite all the lofty intentions. The Richmond Times Dispatch clearly reported that both sides were militarized in some fashion. They both arrived to war –alt. rights vs. counter protesters.

I cannot help but envision Robert E. Lee saddled up , looking down at the mob below….quietly saying: hey, I’ll leave quietly so you can pursue your lives. He would be heartbroken – simply riding away to separate himself from the academic riff raff.

As a Richmonder, it is required to end with a cautionary note: our Mayor Levar Stoney had better look out for his “fire bell in the night.” It is headed in his direction…the recent meeting at the Virginia Historical Society was ever so propitious.

Charlottesville, mon amour – you deserved so much better from all sides – from all of us.

 

 

 

A BREACH TOO FAR

American citizens aren’t getting along anymore; the political, economic, and ideological animosity has evenly divided us. Remembering the unity, solidarity of growing up during World War II, I find this culture of hostility almost reckless.

Our dangerously-wide separation of people certainly emerged before the final stretch of last year’s presidential race when everybody assumed Hilliary Clinton would win with landslide proportions. Massive shock, awe, unacceptance…followed.

In fact, this writer would place the birth of new “breach” around 1987 – when Federal Judge Robert Bork was nominated for the United States Supreme Court by then President Ronald W. Reagan. An early role by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, with his brief book, Biden Report; was indicative of how excruciatingly political opposition began the downward spiral. It emerged into a surprisingly nasty time.

If readers wish to go all-out academically – even theological – you can find much of this “breach”, or what Frances FitzGerald’s (THE EVANGELICALS –The Struggle to Shape America) signals as “separationism”. Bearing fruit in an all-but-forgotten aspect of the conservative Protestant religious experience, it played out in Dayton, TN, 1925 – a very disagreeable exhibition known as the Scopes trials. Recalling the Stanley Kramer adaption of Inherit the Wind, the more fundamentalist “locals” received an dreadful portrayal.

Historically, one must go back to the post Civil War period (1876-1896) to find the split of the American spirit – thus American culture.

The outright venomous hate today – take the Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show tirade which even social media found appalling – generates cases even within church congregations, clearly those with partisan leadership. Ostensibly, one can view a persuasive geographic breach within mainland America (West Coast plus North Eastern U.S. vs. the South, Southwest, and an impressive portion of the Mid-West). Alone, California gave Ms. Clinton a 3 million plus vote plurality – thus, the majority national vote. Not to mention a significantly uneven geographic distribution of opportunity.

Pouring the syrup of elitism, educational arrogance, academic stridency, and one’s self-referential condescension, plus unflinching intolerance; corroborates a sensible Glen Beck (radio/TV) observation: we’re so cocooned in this country; we are not welcomed in each other’s world (05/01/17) at all.

Recently, a Los Angeles Times piece by Sarah D. Wire cheered on Rep. Maxine Waters for her full frontal attack on the current president. Waters has become an exhilarating “Auntie Maxine” in the Age of Trump. She’d refused to attend the January inauguration (along with a number of Virginia congressmen), advocating early impeachment proceedings. James Comey’s FBI “had no creditability.” “Auntie Maxine” sure does tell it like it is”, whimpered Ms. Wire.

Then, the New York Times published a debut op-ed column by the newly-hired Bret Stephens, which simply requested climate change be evaluated with some additional measurements. Its loyal readership turned furious – in some cases, angrily canceling their NYT subscriptions. Diversity of opinion is now being attacked…at the Times?

In the same newspaper, we discover an observation from W. Kamau Bell, in his new book(The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell):                                                                                                                                                   Whenever I tell people in Berkeley, CA, where I live….that I’m headed to the beach in Alabama, they are shocked….But no one has taken us up on the invitation yet, because of one problematic word: Alabama.                                                                                                                                             ….I have discovered that when your are black, saying ‘ I’m headed to the South’….is like saying I’m headed to my own lynching and I decided to bring the rope just to make it easier on the Klansmen….and if there was ever a time that we all should take a trip to the other parts of American and spend some time to get to know the people there, it is now. So, who wants to come with me to (Alabama)?

Author Bell pegged the distrustful depth, bringing a personalized invitation to address it. My guess is that this is the kind of action that it is going to take….from everyone everywhere.

Individually, we have morphed into a sad, isolated, separated U.S. citizenry, totally taken up with small screens, machines, opinions, surrounding ourselves with those who bring succor to predisposed views. As bonfires of vanities rage on, mercenaries and missionaries share equally.

It has, and will continue to make us socially impaired….haunting any genuine successful attempt for reunion. We’ve created this….and only we can start fixing it.

 

 

 

“EXCLUSIVE” IS ALIVE & WELL

The compelling experience of writing this column is disagreeable, irksome, distressing. It deals with what is so repulsive – a growing exclusivity within church parishes regarding matters of perceived “social justice” – sadly far too ubiquitous around this nation, and in Richmond, VA. Willful blindness prevails.

It concerns a RTD column written by Todd Culbertson (RICHMOND SEEKS TRUTH & RECONCILIATION- March 31, 2017), the senior editor, editorials at The Times Dispatch, which, in my mind, flirted with mendacity; Culbertson is member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA.

This recent column on the documentary film, “13th, was judgmental, reeking of sentimental absolutes. His column did not do Culbertson, or his fellow- St. Stephens Episcopal Church congregates, any favors.

This less-than-objective film about American racism was presented at the “appropriately named Fellowship Hall” with reconciliation intent.  He apparently views the documentary next to the Holy Grail of movie making. “The movie”, he wrote, “depicts the historical truth that is necessary for reconciliation.” No reconciliation found here in his column.

Let’s be clear: Editor Culbertson is a savvy word-guy, with both the talent and honor to compose any piece he pleases for his Richmond Times Dispatch. Yet, in one broad brush, he characterized (unacceptably, I might add) over half of his fellow congregates as non-Pilgrims – no doubt a negative.

In his view, only those members of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, who attended the show were to be accorded “Pilgrim” status.  His reasoning: those of us who didn’t choose to view the church’s screening of “13th, were somehow either insensitive, or unconstructed Richmonders.

Rev. Robert Dibble, with moderate voice, recently shared an almost forgotten television interview by the distinguished CBS journalist, Edward R. Murrow – held at the home of Carl Sandburg, leading poet, in the mountains of North Carolina back in 1954: “Mr. Sandburg, what is the ugliest word in the English language?”

With characteristic playfulness and drama, the wise poet pondered the question at length, seemingly searching for an appropriate answer. With a quizzical expression on his face, he mused, “The ugliest word? The ugliest word?  He finally replied: The ugliest word in the English language is: EXCLUSIVE.

Editor Culbertson went very, very exclusive describing his non-attendees – categorizing us in the worse kind of reverse-racism manner. In my mind, it wobbled between unfair and unacceptable. He goes so far as to equate this film with church liturgy, the Stations of the Cross – all reinforcing faith.

Having a rather extensive friendship with Todd over many years – even his neighbor now for a decade, this writer is not unmindful of his propensity for writing, discoursing, on church/social issues – sharing his perceived view of overt Richmond cultural racism. I have been on the receiving end more than once on his grievances with Southerners –particular Republicans….both Commonwealth and national.

“The Americans who needed exposure to “13’s” verities stayed home. Angry white males who believe Barack Obama was the worse president and person since the previous moderate Democrat have no interest in exposing themselves reality. Really !

About the film, The 13th:                                                      Reviewers split themselves on politically ideological lines; some endorsed, others questioned – many see “13th as a product of a disastrously confused time.  Ava Du Vernay’s (director) nonfiction film interprets the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery. Then she shifts to an extended, jumbled alarum about what’s called the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). The film ignores the W.E.B. DuBois concern – Black American Uplift – for the currently fashionable appeal of “protest,” a term that patronizing news media always preface with “peaceful” – sanctioning it as synonymous with uplift.

Armond White, writer, provocative film critic – in his October 5, 2016 review nails it: “The film rolls through history, drawing quick, superficial parallels between recent racial events (Ferguson, Baltimore) and past civil-rights milestone.” In other words,the more we can mix the original, genuine, justifiable civil rights protest, with the more recent hooligans (try Baltimore as an example), the more legitimate the hooliganism will be accepted. Thus, Du Vernay’s contrived message: Nothing has changed.”

Reflecting on last month’s Culbertson’s column, this writer, plus many congregates, stand aggrieved. Sadly, nothing has change with the continuous left-wing “round em up” mentality….either at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, or in the column of an old-time friend and neighbor.

Exclusivity is alive and well at the corner of Grove Ave. and Three Chopt Road. The Culbertson column wants it that way. And this writer is angrier than seven rattlesnakes in a gunny sack on a July day.