Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company to Fight Climate Change – The New York Times

Gelles writes about the intersection of climate and the corporate world and has covered Patagonia for nearly a decade.

“A half century after founding the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given the company away.

Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.

The unusual move comes at a moment of growing scrutiny for billionaires and corporations, whose rhetoric about making the world a better place is often overshadowed by their contributions to the very problems they claim to want to solve.

At the same time, Mr. Chouinard’s relinquishment of the family fortune is in keeping with his longstanding disregard for business norms, and his lifelong love for the environment.”

David Brooks | Frederick Buechner – The Man Who Found His Inner Depths – The New York Times

“. . . . . He spent the rest of his life as a border-stalker, too literary for many Christians and too Christian for the literary set. His faith was personal, unpretentious and accessible. “Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward.” It is sensing a presence, not buying an argument.

He described the Gospel as a great fairy tale that happens to be true. The fairy tale has pain and danger, goodness is pitted against evil, people are transformed, and in the end all the characters are revealed for who they really are. To live within this fairy tale is to experience the “joy and beauty and holiness beyond the walls of the world.”

Christians, he wrote in one novel, should get up every morning, read The Times and ask themselves, “Can I believe it all again today?” If you say Yes 10 days out of 10, he wrote, then you probably don’t know what believing means. But on the days you can say Yes, “it should be a Yes that’s choked with confession and tears and … great laughter.”

One of Buechner’s often cited observations is that you find your vocation at the spot where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need. Perhaps like many others, I struggle to experience my inner life in the quiet, patient, deep and old-fashioned way that Buechner experienced his. So much of the world covers over all that — constant media consumption, shallow communication, speed and productivity. Sometimes I think the national obsession with politics has become a way to evade ourselves.

Buechner’s vocation was to show a way to experience the fullness of life. Of death, he wrote, “What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” ” -30-

Mary Peltola, the Democrat Who Could Become the First Alaska Native in Congress – The New York Times

By Jazmine UlloaAug. 17, 2022For 50 years, Alaska’s lone House seat was held by the same larger-than-life Republican — a sharp-edged congressman with a history of incendiary remarks.The woman leading the race to replace Representative Don Young after Tuesday’s electoral contests is in many ways his opposite: a Democrat with a reputation for kindness, even to the Republicans she is trying to beat.On Election Day, Mary Peltola, 48, exchanged well wishes over text with her more famous and more outspoken Republican rival on the ballot, Sarah Palin. The two have been close since they were both expectant mothers working together in Alaska’s Statehouse, Ms. Palin as governor and Ms. Peltola as a lawmaker.

Review: ‘All the Living and the Dead,’ by Hayley Campbell – The New York Times


ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work, by Hayley Campbell

“Conceptually, death is mere tragedy. But in reality, it also comes with a particular pain many people are unequipped for: the scourge of logistics and bureaucracy. There are documents to fill, possessions to ship, professionals to hire, ceremonies to organize. Many of us prefer not to think about the mundane details of death, and entire industries exist to help people in avoiding those procedural needs, waiting out of sight until called upon, then springing into action to help protect the living from encountering the dead.

“By living in this manufactured state of denial, in the borderlands between innocence and ignorance, are we nurturing a fear that reality doesn’t warrant?” Hayley Campbell asks in her new book, “All the Living and the Dead.” “I wanted unromantic, unpoetic, unsanitized visions of death. I wanted the naked, banal reality of this thing that will come to us all.” “

Margaret Renkle | J. Lo and Liz Cheney and Us – The New York Times

“. . . .  A symbol works to telegraph meaning only if everyone agrees on what its meaning is, and I don’t think everyone agrees on anything these days. Maybe it’s always been that way. Human beings are complicated creatures, incapable of being summarized by a single position or reduced to a single idea.

Consider the example of Liz Cheney, a married woman who uses her maiden name and who plays a powerful role in public life. From these facts alone, she looks every bit like a feminist, but she is also a deeply conservative lawmaker who cheered the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Ms. Cheney’s political positions are anathema to me, but during the Jan. 6 hearings she has nevertheless become my hero, defying a party that no longer upholds her conservative values — or, frankly, any values at all.

In systematically uncovering Mr. Trump’s elaborate efforts to subvert an election he knew he had lost, Ms. Cheney put her entire professional life on the line. She has been stripped of her leadership position, and she will most likely lose her seat to a primary challenger — merely for defending American democracy and the rule of law at a time when her Republican colleagues are working to subvert both. Reviled by liberals and shunned by conservatives, she carries on anyway. “I believe this is the most important thing I’ve ever done professionally,” she told The Times’s Peter Baker, “and maybe the most important thing I ever do.”

It is not a coincidence that most of the Jan. 6 rioters were men, and it is not a coincidence that the women who testified in the Jan. 6 hearings have come in for far more right-wing media calumny than the men who testified. Online it’s even worse: These women are enduring savage attacks from men who take profound delight in attacking women, even those who share their politics.

It’s entirely possible to argue that Ms. Cheney and the young White House staff members are only reaping what they have sowed. Their party transparently works to limit female autonomy. Women who support that party shouldn’t be surprised when it unleashes a pack of trolls to frighten them into silence if they step out of line.

The truth is that nobody, right or left, should be subjected to such treatment. More to the point, these women deserve our admiration, and not just because it takes so much more courage for a woman to stand up for truth than it takes for a man to do the same. They deserve our thanks because they might well end up being the force that saves American democracy. This is, in fact, the most important thing Ms. Cheney has ever done.

Bill Russell, Celtics Center Who Transformed Pro Basketball, Dies at 88 – The New York Times

“Even before the opening tipoff at Boston Celtics games, Bill Russell evoked domination. Other players ran onto the court for their introductions, but he walked on, slightly stooped.

“I’d look at everybody disdainfully, like a sleepy dragon who can’t be bothered to scare off another would-be hero,” he recalled. “I wanted my look to say, ‘Hey, the king’s here tonight.’ ”

Russell’s awesome rebounding triggered a Celtic fast break that overwhelmed the rest of the N.B.A. His quickness and his uncanny ability to block shots transformed the center position, once a spot for slow and hulking types, and changed the face of pro basketball.”

Russell, who propelled the Celtics to 11 N.B.A. championships, the final two when he became the first Black head coach in a major American sports league, died on Sunday. He was 88.”

” . . . . He led the Celtics to eight consecutive N.B.A. titles from 1959 to 1966, far eclipsing the Yankees’ five straight World Series victories (1949 to 1953) and the Montreal Canadiens’ five consecutive Stanley Cup championships (1956 to 1960).”

Since I was born at the end of 1952, I was 6 to about 13 during this run, so it’s not surprising I missed this story.  I also missed that he was as a powerful star black athlete,  one of the first, to stick his neck out and join the civil rights movement.

Thank you Richard Goldstein for an excellent and inspiring obituary.

Opinion | Raphael Warnock: I Can Still Hear My Father’s Voice – The New York Times

The Rev. Warnock, a Democratic senator from Georgia, is the author of “A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story,” from which this essay is adapted.

“I can still hear my father’s voice.

“Wake up, son. Get dressed. Get ready. Put your shoes on. There’s something for you to do.” My dad almost never allowed me and my siblings to sleep late. It did not matter whether it was a weekday or a weekend, during the school year or summertime, the admonition was the same.

One sleepy-headed morning, I pushed back: “It’s Saturday. Get ready for what? What do you want me to do?” He paused and then blurted out, “I don’t know yet. Just be ready!” That was my dad. Loving. Gentle. No nonsense. A small giant of a man with a fierce work ethic and a profound sense of duty.

Jonathan Warnock was 52 years old when I was born, the same age I am now. As a young man, Dad was drafted in the U.S. Army during World War II and served about a year, all stateside. He experienced firsthand the indignities of that era’s Black military men, who served their country dutifully at a defining time in its history yet were treated as second-class citizens, particularly in the segregated South.”

Molly Worthen | 400 Years Ago, They Would Be Witches. Today, They Can Be Your Coach. – The New York Times

Dr. Worthen is a historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who writes frequently about America’s religious culture.

Sign up for the Tish Harrison Warren newsletter, for Times subscribers only.  An Anglican priest reflects on matters of faith in private life and public discourse. Get it in your inbox.

“Erica Carrico suspects that if she’d lived 400 years ago, she would have been accused of witchcraft. “Women who were healers, who were connected to the moon cycle and nature, they were considered witches,” she told me. “I love following the moon. I feel divinely guided by my intuition. I’ve done the new moon and the full moon ceremony. I’ve practiced with crystals quite a bit and sage, sweat lodges. I’ve done so many things, just trying to find my way, what feels right.”

Ms. Carrico is “all about the woo,” as her website puts it, but she also trains women to be hard-driving entrepreneurs. She is a spiritual coach, a relatively new occupation that is dominated by women and appears to be growing, although hard numbers are elusive (to further confuse things, some practitioners refer to themselves as business coaches, albeit ones with a generous helping of New Age ritual on the side). At a time when more and more Americans call themselves spiritual but not religious, these coaches give us a glimpse of the allure and the hazards of 21st-century D.I.Y. religion.

Spiritual coaches are a new chapter in the long history of female religious entrepreneurship in America — a tradition that runs from Boston in the 1630s, when Anne Hutchinson’s packed religious meetings outraged Puritan ministers, to today’s evangelical conference circuit, dominated by demure yet forceful female evangelists who are not ordained but whose books and podcasts constitute major media empires. By blending eclectic religious practices with the gospel of entrepreneurship, spiritual coaches pitch their clients (who, like the coaches, are mostly women) the things that religion has always promised. They offer a path to meaning in the midst of suffering and tools to recover a sense of agency in a world that flings us around by our heels.

If we are tempted to dismiss their taste for crystals and energy healing as New Age flimflam, it’s partly because they face up to something that many modern Westerners struggle to admit: Neither total submission to a traditional religious institution nor atheistic materialism feels right. We kind of do want the universe to hold our hand — without bossing us around too much.”

Thomas B. Edsall | The MAGA Formula Is Getting Darker and Darker – The New York Times

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

“The chilling amalgam of Christian nationalism, white replacement theory and conspiratorial zeal — from QAnon to the “stolen” 2020 election — has attracted a substantial constituency in the United States, thanks in large part to the efforts of Donald Trump and his advisers. By some estimates, adherents of these overlapping movements make up as much as a quarter or even a third of the electorate. Whatever the scale, they are determined to restore what they see as the original racial and religious foundation of America.

“While these elements are not new,” Robert Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, wrote by email, “Donald Trump wove them together and brought them out into the open. Indeed, the MAGA formula — the stoking of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment while making nativist appeals to the Christian right — could accurately be described as a white Christian nationalist strategy from the beginning.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Great work, thank you. I like the observation, that these people are diminishing in numbers, hence more dangerous. I’ve been an Episcopalian all my life, and there is lots of data about the number of people going to church regularly is in serious decline, for a long time. I recently returned in my heart to the church, as a Franciscan, or follower of Saint Francis, as his teachings and the teaching of his disciples are described by Richard Rohr, in Eager to Love. Humans are not above all other life forms. All life forms, and even non life forms, are sacred. Scientists report that the overpopulation of humans is crowding out other species, and will make the planet uninhabitable for humans as well. So the good new, if that’s what you need, is that our human caused problems will be self-correcting. We are multiplying like a green algae bloom. Sadly, it is all within our means to fix, and yet we bicker, and delay, and allow obfuscation.

Scott Hershovitz | How to Pray to a God You Don’t Believe In – The New York Times

“Before Rex came along, I struggled to account for my own religious practice. I don’t believe in God, so why do I fast on Yom Kippur and observe Passover? It’s just what we Jews do, I might have said; it keeps me connected to a community that I value.

I’d still say that, I suppose. But when Rex was 4, he reframed my view of religion. One night, I was cooking dinner, and he asked, “Is God real?”

“What do you think?” I asked.

“I think that for real God is pretend and for pretend God is real,” Rex announced.

I was stunned. That’s a big thought for a 4-year-old. It’s a big thought for a 40-year-old. I asked Rex to explain what he meant.

“God isn’t real,” he said. “But when we pretend, he is.”

Philosophers have a name for this sort of view. They call it “fictionalism.” Suppose I say, “Dumbledore teaches at Hogwarts.” If that was a claim about this world, it would be false. Hogwarts doesn’t exist here, and neither does Dumbledore, so he can hardly teach there. But they do exist in a different world — the fictional world that Harry Potter lives in. The sentence “Dumbledore teaches at Hogwarts” is true in that fiction.”