What Drove a Man to Set Himself on Fire in Brooklyn? – By Annie Correal -NYT

It is impossible to know all the reasons a person commits suicide. Mr. Buckel suggested one: He was trying to call attention to pollution and global warming. “My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves,” he wrote in his email.

His suicide is one of the few known cases of political self-immolation in the United States since the 1960s — when demonstrators set themselves on fire to protest the war in Vietnam — and perhaps the first one anywhere in the name of climate change.

But his political message still left Mr. Buckel’s friends and family at a loss: Why would someone in his position resort to such a drastic measure to make his message heard? Why would someone who was committed to the quiet, daily work of making change — and who was notoriously private — stage a dramatic public suicide? He told no one of his plan, not his husband and partner of 34 years, Terry Kaelber, nor the lesbian couple with whom they raised their college-age daughter. He did not say goodbye to them.

via What Drove a Man to Set Himself on Fire in Brooklyn? – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  I am deeply pleased to see this piece about David Buckel, emphasizing, the main reason for his protest suicide: “His suicide is one of the few known cases of political self-immolation . . .  since the 1960s — when [Vietnamese Buddhist] demonstrators set themselves on fire to protest the war in Vietnam — and perhaps the first one anywhere in the name of climate change.”

The first article in the NYT was clumsy, and buried this revelation in the end of what was a sad pondering about whether the man was mentally ill, since he must have been. It completely missed the sad but powerful part of his turning to Buddhism, and becoming an admirer of the Buddhists in Tibet and Vietnam, who used self-immolation, because of their deep desire to communicate their distress over government policies that they despised. As I recall, the Buddhist monks who used self-immolation in Saigon were mostly protesting against how the South Vietnamese government was persecuting members of the the Buddhist community.

Though apparently depressed, David Buckel was more to the point, a saint and a martyr. Saints and martyrs are often people who grow so impatient with their contemporaries, that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for their beliefs.

It would be useful to get a copy of David Buckel’s letter to the press, so we can learn more about his thinking at the time of his sacrifice.

A Francis Effect for a Broken System At its core, the pope’s message in Congress was how to live a life and share a planet. Simple. He didn’t scold, and he didn’t lecture. nytimes.com|By Timothy Egan

At its core, the pope’s message in Congress was how to live a life and share a planet. Simple. He didn’t scold, and he didn’t lecture.
nytimes.com|By Timothy Egan

Dr. Sacks explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” achieving a level of renown… nytimes.com|By Gregory Cowles

” “And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.” ”

Dr. Sacks explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” achieving a level of renown…
nytimes.com|By Gregory Cowles

NYT: Lawyers With Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

As the son of a corporate lawyer on wall street, when a teenager I used to complain that I felt like I had no father.

A study published this week found that prestigious jobs were not linked to more well-being and that public-service work correlated with less alcohol consumption.
well.blogs.nytimes.com|By DOUGLAS QUENQUA

GOD SQUAD: You can thank Aristotle for the concept of the soul’s life after death

The stuff on Aristotle is fascinating. Howerever, GOD SQUAD: You can thank Aristotle for the concept of the soul’s life afterdeath. ends with another question about Heaven, which I loved.

“Q: Something has been irking me for some time, although fortunately it’s not my situation (at least not yet). Here are two scenarios: In the first, Husband A is married to Wife A for 35 years, then Husband A dies. After three years, Wife A meets and marries Husband B. Who does Husband A get to be with in heaven, since Wife A is no longer his spouse? Is he outcast? In the second scenario, Husband A and Wife A get divorced after 35 years. Wife A then marries Husband C, but Husband A never remarries. Now, who does Husband A get to be with in heaven? What happens to any children Husband A and Wife A had when the children pass away? Does Husband A get to be with them? — J., via cyberspace

A: I was never that good at heavenly symbolic logic. I think the answer is, A equals B-C squared. Seriously, I would hope that in heaven the first thing our enlightened and materially unencumbered and purified souls would learn is that there’s always something to love in the people we’ve married.

Since procreation or sex is not an issue in heaven, I believe all souls will have the opportunity to learn the deepest meaning of love while basking in the light of God’s love.”

This gave me a huge laugh. I’ve known about this problem personally, since my mother died in 2004. The nurse pulled me aside, and said, don’t feel bad, I prayed with your mother before she died, and now she is in heaven with all her loved ones. As I walked to my car, I had to see the humor in any idea of a physical heaven. She was not close to her own mother. My parents went through a weird divorce after over 25 years of marriage, and there was a second wife who managed to inherit most of his money. I’m with the Rabbi Marc Gellman on this one.

Q: I’ve always thought that in the last few hundred years of the Old Testament, those of the Jewish faith recognized the resurrection and afterlife of the soul. I can’t refer to…
nhregister.com

David Brooks dares to try and tune up his dim inner light

With “The Moral Bucket List,” David Brooks dares to try and tune up his dim inner light, with painful honesty. This is a eulogy to good listeners and committed activists. It reminds me of Louise Lindsay Read.

What kind of adventures produce goodness, rather than build résumés?
nytimes.com|By David Brooks

Kristof asks, “Is Islam to Blame for the Shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris?”

Thank you Nicholas for another beautiful and thoughtful piece. Your thinking was echoed on NPR today, by Christopher Dickey of the Daily Beast, reporting from Paris that he fears the Charlie killers will get what they wanted, to drive deeper wedges between the Muslims and Christians in France. In humility, I liked your piece, but I also recommended two Comments that criticized it for ignoring the failure of the 1.6 Billion Muslims to stop the 30,000 fanatics. .0002 or .02% Why aren’t they taking down the Wahhabists, the fundamentalist mosques throughout Saudi Arabia behind 911? If the Muslim faith is not to blame, why do so many of their societies look like European ones in the 13th century?

Let’s speak up about terrorism in the Islamic world, but let’s not respond with our own brand of intolerance.
nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof

David Brooks (NYT) on the philosophy of meaningfulness.

David Brooks quotes John Gardner: “You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you; they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.”

Our fuzzy modern idea of “meaning” is a poor substitute for real moral architecture.
nytimes.com|By David Brooks