Opinion | Why I Wear Five Wedding Rings – by Margaret Renkle – The New York Times

Margret Renkle is not like any other journalist I follow. She writes today mostly about gratitude to her mother and her female ancestors It might be iimpossible to read this and not insert yourself into the story she weaves, with your own losses and loves, and family heros.
She writes,: “I’m the keeper of other family rings: my great-grandmother’s, my grandmother’s, my mother-in-law’s. From time to time I would take them out to ponder for a moment, but I never thought to wear them. Along with my mother, these women are at the very heart of the essay collection that was about to send me out on a book tour, and one day it finally dawned on me that their wedding rings would make the perfect talismans against fear. They would remind me that worry is pointless, that fretting about my own shortcomings as a public speaker would not in any way make me a better public speaker. I took out the wedding rings of all my treasured forebears and put them on.

In what might be another minor miracle, for we are clearly in the realm of magical thinking here, it worked. I stood in front of microphone after microphone, spinning the thin bands around my fingers, and I looked out upon all those strangers, and, lo, I was not afraid.”

Opinion | The Four Lessons of Impeachment – by Susan Rice – The New York Times

Susan Rice has just written what I wanted to say about these brave and articulate Foreign Service officers etc..   She wrote:

“Second, these hearings have amply demonstrated the extraordinary caliber and character of our nonpartisan career Foreign Service officers, civil servants and uniformed military personnel. The intellect, integrity, selflessness and sense of duty displayed by each of the officials who testified — even in the face of harsh personal attacks and efforts at witness intimidation orchestrated by the president — are extraordinary. They reflect the commitment to country that I witnessed every day for 16 years when I was privileged to serve alongside these kinds of apolitical officers.

Yet Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have denigrated and demeaned these public servants, placing them in physical danger — just because they prioritized their duty to the law and the Constitution above slavish devotion to any president. Beyond this disgrace, the president and his acolytes are assassinating the collective character of all career public servants — disparaging them as the “Deep State,” “Never-Trumpers” and un-American.

In rhetoric that recalls the darkest days of McCarthyism, Republican leaders will seemingly stop at nothing to destroy public faith in our public servants. This is the very “deconstruction of the administrative state” that Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, heralded as the administration’s goal. And who wins when the State Department, intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the Pentagon struggle to attract and retain top talent? Not Americans. It serves only our adversaries who want to hollow out our bureaucracy, weaken our national institutions and discredit our democratic model.”

The Weight Meaning, Take a Load off Fanny!? Shmoop.com

The Weight
I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “No” was all he said
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on let’s go downtown”
She said, “I gotta go but my friend can stick around”
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothin’ you can say
It’s just ol’ Luke and Luke’s waitin’ on the Judgment Day
“Well,

“Robertson was intrigued, in particular, by films like Nazarín (1959) and Viridiana (1961), which deal with people who try, but find it impossible, to do good. “The Weight,” Robertson says, explores the same theme. “Someone says, ‘Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say “hello” to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me?’ . . . So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like ‘Holy s–t, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say “hello” for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament.'”

From its very conception, then, “The Weight” taps into both the spiritual and the real. It chronicles the increasingly complex trip of a sainthood-seeking errand boy—a do-gooder pilgrim who finds his progress hindered by a cast of curious characters. But these characters were pulled from the streets of Fayetteville and Turkey Scratch, not from the New Testament. The temptations, complications, and growing burdens of the narrator’s errand were proffered not by visitors from the other side, but from the common-yet-fantastic characters who walk life’s very real streets.

Inspired by Buñuel but populated by Arkansans, the song is most simply about the burdens we all carry. The “weight” is the load that we shoulder when we take on responsibility or when we try to do good. But it’s also the heaviness that presses down on us when we fall into “sin” or wrestle with “temptation.” It’s a song about a universally human dilemma. But, just as the writers drew from their own pasts in fleshing out their cast, it’s conceivable that they also drew from their own experiences in conceptualizing the “weight.” Perhaps the song refers to the very real loads shouldered by Band members, the very real burdens that resulted from the good and the bad in their own lives.”

https://www.shmoop.com/the-band-the-weight/meaning.html

Opinion | I’m a Climate Scientist Who Believes in God. Hear Me Out. – by Katherine Hayhoe – The New York Times

“I’m a climate scientist. I’m also an evangelical Christian.

And I’m Canadian, which is why it took me so long to realize the first two things were supposed to be entirely incompatible.

I grew up in a Christian family with a science-teacher dad who taught us that science is the study of God’s creation. If we truly believe that God created this amazing universe, bringing matter and energy to life out of a formless empty void of nothing, then how could studying his creation ever be in conflict with his written word?”

” . . .  It turns out, it’s not where we go to church (or don’t) that determines our opinion on climate. It’s not even our religious affiliation. Hispanic Catholics are significantly more likely than other Catholics to say the earth is getting warmer, according to a 2015 survey, and they have the same pope. It’s because of the alliance between conservative theology and conservative politics that has been deliberately engineered and fostered over decades of increasingly divisive politics on issues of race, abortion and now climate change, to the point where the best predictor of whether we agree with the science is simply where we fall on the political spectrum.

An important and successful part of that framing has been to cast climate change as an alternate religion. This is sometimes subtle, as the church sign that reads, “On Judgment Day, you’ll meet Father God not Mother Earth.” Other times this point is made much more blatantly, like when Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told Glenn Beck in 2015 that “climate change is not a science, it’s a religion,” or when Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said at a 2014 event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations that “the problem is Al Gore’s turned this thing into a religion.”

Why is this framing so effective? Because some 72 percent of people in the United States already identify with a specific religious label, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. And if you are a Christian, you know what to do when a false prophet comes along preaching a religion that worships the created rather than the Creator: Reject it!”

Opinion | Catholic Bishops Agree: Anything but a Woman – By Sara McDougall – The New York Times

By 

Dr. McDougall is an associate professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.

Credit…Remo Casilli/Reuters

“The modern Catholic Church is beset with serious problems. Among them is that not enough men want to be priests. Over the past three weeks, 184 bishops gathered at a Vatican summit to seek solutions for the Amazon region in particular, singled out because of myriad crises it is facing, including environmental devastation, violence and a shortage of priests to serve the needs of the faithful there.

The bishops’ solution: Do anything other than ordaining women as priests.

On Oct. 26, in a “revolutionary” decision, the bishops gathered at the Vatican voted 128 to 41 to allow an exception to what has essentially been a 1,000-year ban on the ordination of married men as priests. They recommended this change for only certain parts of the Amazon and for only married men already made deacons, meaning men already allowed to perform marriages and baptisms, but not to officiate at mass, which only priests can do. It is now for Pope Francis to decide whether the decision goes forward.

It is surprising in many ways that the bishops made this decision. Allowing a married man to be a priest violates several longstanding rules. They voted as they did despite the tremendous importance of chastity for the Catholic Church and the old idea that sexual activity is a pollutant that cannot be allowed near the holy ritual of the mass. They voted in favor of married priests despite a longstanding fear that for a priest to have a wife and a family would lead to serious conflicts of interest. There is a legend that the word “nepotism” was invented in honor of the grasping nephews of popes who sought and obtained more than they deserved thanks to their powerful uncles (and “nephews” we can sometimes see as a euphemism for “sons”).

These potential conflicts of interest and other dangers that family influence and obligations bring, therefore, are something Catholic authorities have long recognized and have eagerly sought to prevent. They voted as they did despite the symbolic importance, too, of the idea that a priest be united to only one spouse, the Church, just as Jesus Christ was united in an exclusive bond with the Church.”

Amen. Check out the recommended comments for this op-ed:

Papercut61
Nevada
Times Pick

I am a 71-year-old woman who has been a practicing member of the Catholic church since I was baptized at one week old. I don’t know anyone of my generation whose children or grandchildren are church members. I cannot evangelize for a church which discriminates against me while paying out millions of dollars in reparations for, literally, the sins of the fathers. The bright spot is my 75-year-old cousin who left the convent after 25 years and joined the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Of course, she was excommunicated. But she is the future of the Catholic Church, if there is to be one.

3 Replies823 Recommended

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Madeline Conant commented October 30

Madeline Conant
Midwest
Times Pick

The greatest boon to human rights that the Catholic Church could institute would be to help free impoverished women of the 3rd World from the slavery of uninterrupted childbearing. End the ban on artificial contraception.

18 Replies647 Recommended

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R commented October 30

R
Bay Area
Times Pick

Amen to this OpEd. I saw the news on the church allowing married men to be ordained, and my first thought was “still no women.” Unbelievable. I‘ve never understood how so many women give of their time, money, and beliefs for a religious organization that doesn’t support their equality. And now, in this time, to emphasize that fact by again excluding women while opening up the clergy to married men – it’s just tone deaf.

8 Replies611 Recommended

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Frank commented October 30

Frank
Brooklyn
Times Pick

as an ex seminarian, I have seen both extremely decent, compassionate priests and those who literally went through the motions and couldn’t care less about their priestly duties. more importantly, I have seen many women who served as so called secretaries or clerical assistants who were as competent and compassionate as any priest. I think women, who were priests in the church’s early days, would do a wonderful job and solve the clergy shortage problem. the church must move into the modern age.

1 Reply486 Recommended

Opinion | Adam Schiff Is the Congressman Trump Wants You to Hate – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“The paradox of Adam Schiff is this: He is depicted by some Republicans as a fanatical partisan, with President Trump suggesting that he is a “radical left” “lowlife” who should be arrested for treason, yet in real life Schiff is a cerebral and mild-mannered moderate.

But perhaps there’s a logic to Trump’s venom: Schiff’s mild persona conceals a relentless determination. That’s why he’s a marathoner and a triathlon athlete. It’s also how he first received attention, as a dogged young federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who won a conviction — after two failed trials led by other prosecutors — against an F.B.I. agent accused of spying for Russia for sex and money.

Now he’s again investigating alleged Russia-related wrongdoing by a federal employee, only this time the employee is the president.

Trump and his supporters are trying to “Pelosify” Schiff. Representative Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, is calling for a censure of Schiff for pursuing “a witch hunt in a fantasy land.”

All this is bizarre. Schiff has not even come out for impeachment, saying that such decisions should await the investigation, although he is blunt about describing Trump as a danger to the country. Schiff was chosen to lead the impeachment inquiry precisely because of his reputation not as a bomb-thrower but as a reasonable lawyer who will oversee a meticulous inquiry.”

Opinion | God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditGetty Images

“Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation.

Alternatively, Barr could have delivered himself of some innocuous pablum, which is something government officials often do in difficult times.

But no. Barr gave a fiery speech denouncing the threat to America posed by “militant secularists,” whom he accused of conspiring to destroy the “traditional moral order,” blaming them for rising mental illness, drug dependency and violence.”

David Lindsay: Amen.

I am reading Eager to Love, by Richard Rohr, and it is opening my eyes to a form of Christianity, following St. Francis of Asisis, that is open, big tent, humble, focused on good works, and more Unitarian than expected.

I agree with Paul Krugman, and here is one of the many good comments, I heartily recommended.

Tim Doran
Evanston, IL
Times Pick

Speaking as a very religious Christian, I hope and pray that the influence of American evangelicalism disappears as soon as possible. I much prefer that the influence of atheistic secularism increases because generally atheistic secularists do a far better job of following Jesus than does the typical American evangelical. Jesus explicitly condemned those who make a show of praying in public and those who oppress the poor. Trump’s evangelical supporters love to pray loud and long as they push for policies that oppress the poor and immigrants. Secular atheists obviously never pray in public and typically support policies that assist immigrants and the poor. This country would likely more closely follow the teachings of Jesus under the influence of secular atheism than under American evangelicalism.

15 Replies1094 Recommended

Opinion | Are School Debate Competitions Bad for Our Political Discourse? – The New York Times

By Jonathan Ellis and 

Dr. Ellis is a philosophy professor. Ms. Hovagimian is a law student.

CreditCreditRichie Pope

“What do conservative political figures like Ted Cruz, Steve Bannon, Karl Rove and Richard Nixon have in common with liberal politicians like Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Kamala Harris and Bill Clinton? They all honed their skills of rhetoric, reasoning and persuasion on school debate teams.

That’s no surprise. Excelling in school debate opens many academic and professional doors, conferring prestige and signaling exceptional verbal and logical aptitude. Some of those skills will no doubt be on display at the Democratic presidential primary debate on Tuesday.

But while school debate can be good for aspiring politicians, it may not be good for our politics. In particular, it may contribute to the closed-minded, partisan and self-interested nature of so much of today’s public and political dialogue.

Why? Because school debate ultimately strengthens and rewards biased reasoning.

In traditional debate competitions, teams are assigned at random to argue one or the other side of an issue. Each round, one team is assigned the affirmative view — say, “Recreational drug use should be legalized” — and the other team, the negative. That means teams start with a conclusion, whether they endorse it or not, and work backward from there, marshaling the best arguments they can devise to make that conclusion come out on top.

The goal is not to determine the most reasonable or fair-minded approach to an issue, but to defend a given claim at all costs. This is an exercise not in deliberation but in reasoning with an agenda.”

David Lindsay: This essay turned out to be the most challenging piece I read over the weekend.  It also highlights the value of the comments section of the Times, which I have become a fan of  The piece moved me to question the validity of my own daughter’s extraodinary experince on the Hamden High School debate team, where she became the Captain for two years.  I was a judge on two different 8 hour Saturdays, and was deeply moved and humbled by the experience.

The comments take apart the articulate essay above, with a hundred cuts, starting with this most recomended comment:

JT FLORIDA
Venice, FL

As a thirty year speech and debate coach at a public high school and now fifteen years beyond that with university students debating overseas, I disagree with with the conclusions of these authors. Debate is more than a training ground for lawyers and politicians. It is about building critical thinking skills not often taught in a regular school setting. Creating an environment to build confidence as a public person, acquiring research skills, teamwork, appreciation for multiple sides of an argument, putting oneself in the shoes of another by arguing a different perspective than their own are just a few benefits of debate. Debate is an academic sport. I was fortunate to witness one of my all female teams win a state championship in the late 70’s at a time when athletics were slow getting started in schools and debate typically was dominated by males. The authors should also get updated on the several debate styles being practiced in classrooms across the country. They refer to a policy-style team debate but now we have Lincoln Douglas Values debates, Public Forum Debates, parliamentary debates and others. True enough, lots of students become lawyers and politicians but I have seen many students engage in the activity because it has intrinsic value. I would invite them to locate a local high school or look up a high school tournament at a nearby university and volunteer to judge debates. I think it will change their views about school debates.

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Nancy Pelosi’s Last Battle – By Robert Draper – The New York Times

“Four days before the election that would return the Democratic Party to a majority in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi sat in a nearly empty restaurant on San Francisco’s Embarcadero late in the afternoon, drinking green tea and eating a chocolate sundae. “We have to be strategic in whatever we do,” the leader of the House Democrats said, considering the desire some in her party had to zealously investigate the Trump administration.

“In terms of subpoena power, you have to handle it with care,” Pelosi continued. “Yes, on the left there is a Pound of Flesh Club, and they just want to do to them what they did to us.” She shook her head emphatically. “That’s not who we are,” she said. “Go get somebody else if that’s who you want.”

Pelosi is nothing if not purposeful. The following day, rallying with Democratic candidates in a San Francisco park, she would wear an orange pantsuit, explaining to crowds that orange was “the color of gun-violence protection.” This afternoon she had booked a table at Delancey Street, a restaurant that was famous, she said, for employing ex-convicts: “Redemption,” she added emphatically, in case I might have missed the point.”

Famous story of Mayor Pete Buttigieg from Donald Zimmer MD

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage

from a post by Gary Rouillier on Facebook

From Donald Zimmer, an ER doctor in South Bend, which is right across the river from Mayor Pete’s house.

“Here is the story again of how I met Mayor Pete: happy to share if it convinces people to support to his campaign:

The first time I met Mayor Pete I was working in the ER, very shortly after finishing my residency and moving back to South Bend. I was caring for a little Somali boy who had nearly to hanged himself. We had no Arabic translator immediately available that could help me talk with his mother, and we were working on getting one of the phone translation services when a young man in a suit showed up and just started translating. I assumed the hospital had found and sent down an official translator because translators at the hospital where I did my residency training always wore suits. The boy was gravely ill, and I did not bother to ask who the new translator was, but he spent about an hour with the mother and I, just helping me talk with her about his treatment and his prognosis. Then he followed her and her son up to the ICU when the boy was admitted. During the whole event he never mentioned who he was or said anything to take the focus away from caring for this little boy and his family.

About an hour later he came down from the ICU and shook my hand before he left. I asked him how long he had been a translator with the hospital, and he very casually replied, “I don’t work for the hospital, I’m Mayor Pete.” He shook my hand and left without another word He had come and done what he needed to do and was on his way either home or back to work.

I learned later that he had simply heard over the police scanner that we needed an Arabic translator at the hospital for this tragic situation and just wanted to help. In addition to studying at Harvard, being a Rhodes scholar, working as a McKenzie consultant, he speaks fluent Arabic and worked for Navy intelligence in the Middle East. He is a pretty amazing guy, has done incredible work here in South Bend, and will do great things for the country I hope.”

David Lindsay:

From Peggy Bekeny from Trinity Church on the Green on Facebook.
I must confess, I’ve read this story about Pete Buttigieg before, and do not remember if I posted it last year. A critical limitation of Facebook, is that it doesn’t let you categorize and search your posts, like my blog InconvenientNews.net at wordpress does.

I did a search here, on Pete Buttigieg, and found all my posts, but couldn’t tell if this story was stuck in one of them or not. At any rate, its an old story from last year, but a good one.