The wicked game of religion, politics, wombs, and the lust for power

From renowned journalist Christiane Amanpour: “Frank Schaeffer once produced propaganda films that helped launch the Christian right [and the anti-abortion political movement]. Now he feels regret for what he calls an ‘anti-family’ movement.”

This is Amanpour’s recent interview of Frank Schaeffer.  20 minutes.


At the moment it has 350,000 views and 5,000 comments since posted on May 4, 2022.  And, from the dozen I looked at, they’re actually reasonable comments, not loony crap like a lot of comments in popular media.  I guess that’s because loonies don’t follow serious journalism.  If you like it, share the link and help reality catch on at least a tiny bit before the November 2022 and 2024 elections.  Thanks.  https://youtu.be/25JyC5Whhvc

Christiane Amanpour’s show, Amanpour & Company, is almost entirely interviews with people who are either subject-matter experts or the subjects themselves.  She just did the first ever interview with the head mucky-muck of the Taliban, wanted by the FBI, never did a TV interview before.  He is a masterful liar.  It was disgusting.  He can pee on your head and politely tell you it’s raining.  But I mention it to show that Christiane can get people to talk on air that others can’t, or she’s the first.  I have great regard for her service to humanity by airing interviews that we really need to hear.  It is a CNN show, but aired also on PBS.  The full show is also available by podcast, and individual interviews on YouTube.  Each show usually has 2 interviews, one by her and one by one of her team, who are also among the best-in-class.


Oh, Red Viburnum in the Meadow – Ukraine’s Second Anthem

For the love of Ukraine.

Слава Україні. Героям слава.
Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava.
Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.

Слава в калині.  Slava v kalyni.  Glory to the kalyna.

Viburnum opulus, red viburnum, Ukrainian: chervona kalyna

This is an “epic length” post, loaded with inspiring pictures and music videos, factual information, a lot of history, and a lot of love.  Take it as a “time-out for Ukraine” for an afternoon, or a little day to day.  Of course, you should always scroll down if you are bored.  There will be something less boring ahead.  I promise.

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Speaking at the 2022 Grammy Awards ceremony by video from a bunker, Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy said:

“The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we’ll never see them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning in bomb shelters. But alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.

“Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway. We defend our freedom to live, to love, to sound on our land. We are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story.

Sunflower, national flower of Ukraine and major crop

“Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence. And then peace will come. To all our cities the war is destroying — Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol and others — they are legends already. But I have a dream of them living and free. Free like you on the Grammy stage.”  — from NY Times April 3, 2022, Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to Grammys audience in a prerecorded video.

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Telling the Times; Carl Sagan and many others warned us of the shining city in a ditch.

Call this scribblement pessimistic if you must, but calling it so does not change anything.  Optimism begins with noticing, not with self-delusion.  It may begin with noticing self-delusion, too.  I want to point out some things we’ve been told about the soul of a nation and democracy in peril.  I want to tell of their telling, and tell of my seeking, and suggest yours.

If, however, a reader wants to use their idea of pessimism as an epithet, read on and enjoy your conviction.  Just give yourself the benefit of the doubt by reading.

Call this scribblement didactic if you want.  That doesn’t change anything either.  Try responding to something in it, optimistically.  Try acting on it, even if only in words.  That would be a change.

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Marvel of Modern Science

TIME OUT FROM COVID FOR CLASSICS

I don’t know why I can’t watch this without laughing, my also being a marvel of modern science.  This is a 20-second clip from a five-minute video:

Link to the video: https://youtu.be/3nE4WngsOrs

Doctor:  Do you think there’s anything wrong with your mind really?
Randall: Not a thing, Doc.  I’m a goddam marvel of modern science.

From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) for which Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched) & Jack Nicholson (R.P. McMurphy) won Oscars.  You knew she had ratcheted up the Academy’s attention by ten clicks with her strangulation face …

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It’s one world NOW, huh?

“Dance” by Henri Matisse, 1909

I never paid much attention to this Matisse painting until recently when I added it to my screen saver collection. I now see that Matisse’s dancers are all women. Good. That’s the stuff of a one-world mind, because men are feudal. Women are the more evolved half of humanity. I’m not kidding.

In a pandemic, everyone is responsible for everyone else in the world. Everyone fights for everyone to win. If they don’t do it together, it cannot be done. The virus will continue to flourish. We walk and stand together or fall down together. Frankly, that’s a scary thought.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T ALL WASH OUR HANDS. Photo: Spencer Tunick Arrow To Washington, NYC, 1995

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WANTED:

Team of international diplomats with advanced expertise to move out of the way all players in the way of getting massive — unprecedented — quantities of humanitarian aid to millions of Syrian people whose standard of living is literally dirt, and to get the incredibly wealthy nations of the world to deliver that aid.

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Normal People Anonymous Support Group

I’m thinking about starting a normal people anonymous support group.

Members have the right to define normal for themselves but not for anyone else in the group.

You’re anonymous to each other, at least at the start of your membership.  If you surrender your anonymity with another member, that’s okay.  You can still attend, together or separately, but it is recommended that you come out of the closet about it, for your own good.

If you have sex with somebody in the group, that’s normal, even if you remain otherwise anonymous to each other.

You do peer-led programs, activities or projects together, such as 12 steps, meditation, yoga, hiking, book study, nature study, photography, joke-telling, litter cleanup, gardening, sailing, canoeing, singing, teaching disenfranchised children how to fish, putting Kahlil Gibran in every hotel room, Christmas caroling in July, picketing industrial cattle and chicken growers, making art together, including music, Amazon forest fire-fighting, skinny-dipping (peer-led), putting on a play about climate change and domestic abuse of males, or what-have-you things that normal people do.

The normality of the activity is as beheld by the peer leader, and you quietly accept it and have fun, perhaps expanding or shattering your notions of normal, and squelching the ferocity of your clinging to them.

The peer-led things, the anonymity, and the group dynamic are good for you.  You affirm this aloud in unison at every meeting and outing, holding hands in a circle, a perfectly normal thing to do with strangers.

The anonymity is to help avoid the stigma of being normal, even more normal than most others are.  In the group, you can enjoy — if possible — a place where you can be non-judgmentally welcomed by similarly frustrated normal people.  You define “non-judgmental” loosely, considering its extremely elusive nature, like unconditional love.

You take it all lightly with good humor because you all know that normal exists only from your perspective in the mirror.  That is the guiding principle.  Take your normality lightly.  You affirm it together in unison, religiously, sorta.

Copyright 2019 TheBalsamean.comOver time, with consistent participation, you may be able to give up excessive notions of your normality, as one might give up excessive drinking, smoking, or gambling, and be freed of the pathetic frustration you inflict upon your deluded self.  Amen.

Take your normality lightly.

The VanWestervelt Declaration and Sacred Texts

Sometimes just saying something does make it so.  Sorta.  For example: The Declaration of Independence.  I have another declaration to suggest we use, as individuals.  It throws the user into an immersive encounter with principles of being an American.

Rus VanWestervelt is an educator and writer in Baltimore (and distinctly, proudly of Baltimore).  You can meet him at thebaltimorewriter.org.

He is also a compassionate, contemplative philosopher (in my view), things he would not say on his resume or business card.  He has good taste in meditative music, too (so sez me).  He put six minutes of Deuter on his Samadhi Sanctuary page.

Yesterday, the Fourth of July, I had the pleasure of reading his beautiful article, A Declaration, where he reflects on patriotism in a personal way from childhood to adulthood, learning along the way that the nation does not always live up to its principles.  In his continued commitment to those principles, he reminds readers of the Emma Lazarus words at the Statue of Liberty …

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she / With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

… and he takes it much farther by doing something I don’t recall ever seeing done in school or in any public celebration or at home: he presents the complete text of the Declaration of Independence, and asks us to “Please read every word. Every single word.”  (copy below)

Then he writes, “On this day of independence, on this day that we celebrate everything that America stands for, I offer a Declaration that is a little less of the grandiose and a little more of the introspective contemplation of what it means to be ‘American.'”

With his permission, I share it here, and embrace it.

  • I declare that, as an American, I respect the rights of my neighbors, regardless of political affiliation.
  • I declare that, as an American, I open my arms to the homeless, the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses. 
  • I declare that, as an American, I embrace the independence and individuality of my neighbors as long as that independence and individuality does not bring harm or injustice to others.
  • I declare that, as an American, I shout my encouraging words, my art, my music, my ideas, my beliefs of what is right for all to the world regardless of the risk of suppression or judgment.
  • I declare that, as an American, I work hard to support my community, to be honorable in my efforts, and to offer good will toward others who contribute to the wellness of our country.
  • I declare that, as an American, I embrace inclusion, not exclusion, and my words and efforts shall carry opportunities instead of consequences. 

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David Brooks on tap

You might enjoy this hour of David Brooks talking at the Commonwealth Club.  His new book (among several) is The Second Mountain; The Joy of Giving Yourself Away.

Recording (an hour):
https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2019-05-01/david-brooks-quest-moral-life
also available in a Commonwealth Club podcast

Brooks is a “moderate conservative” (he discusses this in the recording, saying he is really more of a 19th Century Whig) NY Times columnist, TV and radio pundit/commentator, book author, philosopher, and now director of a social movement called Weave: The Social Fabric Project with the Aspen Institute (weareweavers.org – you’ll like his 2-minute video on this page; find out about the project in the text under the menu bar items).

I’ve been a big fan of Brooks for many years. I once posted a comment on his Twitter page nominating him for Secretary of Reason in the next White House administration. (I don’t use Twitter anymore. Or Facebook.) But I guess it wouldn’t make sense for the government to have a Department of Reason.