Nature Therapy for SCOTUS of the American Soul

I want to share a comment/essay that I originally scribbled on the blog of Nan Yielding, author of the 2012 book, Things I Never Learned in Sunday School: Facts about the Christian faith that will surprise and astound you.  She wrote:

If you’re going to put all your faith into something, you need to thoroughly examine it to make sure your faith is justified.

… Of course, when I was a Christian the Bible was my source of truth. It was the “final word” and beyond it there was no discussion. In fact, anything that was not based on “Biblical truth” was most certainly from Satan!

However, once I got the courage to look beyond the “Holy Book,” I discovered there is a whole world of available information (historical facts) about the Christian faith. What I learned was so fascinating that I felt compelled to share.

Thank you, Nan.  As a former (more than 30 years ago) fundamentalist evangelical with the Christian & Missionary Alliance (I was not an adherent or member of the “Evangelical” political movement or voting block – I was politically inactive), I appreciate what you’ve done for our world.

My philosophy is now generic Naturalist, as a world view, not by affiliation with any organization, and not by adherence to any program or particular school of thought.  I sum up my personal brand of Naturalism as, “I don’t believe in anything supernatural.  Nature is super enough.”  In my comment on Nan’s blog, you’ll see this reflected in my prescription for a world gone mad.

You can learn about a formal treatment of Naturalism at Naturalism.org:

Naturalism as presented here is a comprehensive worldview based in a scientific, empirical understanding of reality. It offers a positive, rational, and fulfilling alternative to faith-based religions and non-empirical worldviews.

This website, Naturalism.Org, serves as a resource for those interested in worldview naturalism, its personal, social and existential implications, and its practical applications.

My comment was on Nan’s post, Can the Supreme Court Be Fixed?  As they always do, her post sparked a lively discussion by people with strong opinions, many of whom are insightful, well-informed, articulate, and fed up.

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CDC Funding for Research on Gun Violence as Public Health Threat Denied for Decades

I have mentioned elsewhere that the CDC was forbidden to conduct research on gun violence as a public health crisis.  It is not quite that, but in the ’90s there was legislation (the 1996 Dickey Amendment) prohibiting CDC from promoting gun control, thus Congress defunded gun violence research by CDC, which the legislation did NOT require.  In other words, the gun lobby got Congress to abuse that legislation as an excuse for defunding research on gun violence as a public health matter.  This is changing lately, but in relatively meager amounts of funding (it has been called “a drop in the bucket” by public health people).  In 2012, Congressman Jay Woodson Dickey, Jr. said that he regretted the outcome of his amendment in blocking CDC funding of gun violence research.

How do you define gun control promotion?  Research showing that lack of gun control is a public health threat?  Does that count as promoting gun control?  To a member of the Autocracy Party?  Whatever Dickey’s conscience may have attained, to a member of today’s Autocracy Party, of course anything showing that guns are a public health threat is deemed gun control promotion.  No wonder a leading Autocracy Party senator was vociferously booed by his own people the other day when he promoted meager new (and useless) measures of gun control in the wake of the Uvalde school shootings.  If you try to do anything to improve gun safety, you are anti-gun-owner, in the minds of the power-addicted party faithful.  That’s not just political power they are addicted to.  It’s their adolescent sensation of phallic power in firing a gun, along with loud exhaust pipes and burning rubber.  “Look at me, I’m powerful.”  Bang bang dipshit.

Content of the NIH article The Dickey Amendment on Federal Funding for Research on Gun Violence: A Legal Dissection (2018 July), Allen Rostron, JD …
 

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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.


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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Historic Public Lands Legislation

This is a follow-up to my earlier post, Renew the EXPIRED Land and Water Conservation Fund #SaveLWCF of .

Congress passed a Public Lands Package (S.47) in nearly unanimous bipartisan fashion.

Source: Historic Public Lands Legislation About to Become Law – American Hiking Society

Every so often Congress overcomes its partisan battles and joins together to enact critical legislation. Today is one of those days! Congress just passed a Public Lands Package (S.47) in nearly unanimous bipartisan fashion (92-8 in the Senate and 363-62 in the House of Representatives). The legislation is far-reaching in scope (read it all here). Among the many provisions it creates new National Monuments honoring civil rights icons and Civil War heroes, provides over 1.3 million acres of new wilderness designations, and prohibits mining near two National Parks. Highlighted below are some of the key provisions for hikers and public land lovers.

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Renew the EXPIRED Land and Water Conservation Fund #SaveLWCF

I feel so stupid about this.

I’ve got to pay more careful attention to what goes on in environmental policy and legislation, so I can act on them BEFORE they get ripped up and the funding given to buying more tanks and bombs.  How many people you know will have known about this before Election Day (among those pitiful few who vote)?

Since the national Land and Water Conservation Fund expired on September 30, 2018, this is the moment-by-moment ticker of funding lost to environmental programs all over the USA (this is a static picture of it, not the real ticker):

You can see the real ticker in action on the website of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Coalition.  Here is what their page says:

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is [was] America’s most important program to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation.

America’s most important conservation and recreation program, which has saved places in every state and nearly every county in the U.S., expired on September 30, 2018.

The time for action is now.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is [was] in its 53rd year of conservation and recreation success. It is because of Teddy Roosevelt’s vision to start protecting our recreational opportunities, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s instinct for conservation action, John F. Kennedy’s commitment to the outdoors, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s creation of LWCF that we as Americans now have the most extensive network of open spaces in the world to hunt, fish, hike, swim, and play.

In order to build momentum towards finding a long-term solution for authorization and funding, the LWCF Coalition launched a year-long awareness initiative counting down to the expiration of our most important conservation and recreation program.

Over the past year leading up to expiration, each week a state or U.S. territory was highlighted showcasing LWCF success stories from the federal, state, and local level, and opportunities that are on the horizon for LWCF to improve recreational access and conservation across America, and places that could be lost forever if Congress does not act by September 30, 2018.  [The state-by-state info in on the web page.]

#SaveLWCF before the places we love are lost forever

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[You know the drill.  Call your people in Congress.  Even if they are not “our” people, sometimes they will act like it, instead of acting like they are attacking the USA and everything it stands for.]
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