Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: July 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

Rock for Republicans?

“John Mellencamp is not a Republican. He is a self-avowed liberal—but his is a community-based leftism that distrusts bureaucracy and hates paternalism, yet believes in social assistance for the poor, sick, and hungry, the widows and orphans that the Bible identifies. Mellencamp inhabits common ground with libertarians on social issues, and he is a consistent opponent of war and foreign intervention, but he does not believe that an unfettered free market will solve every social problem.

He has watched the corporate conquest of family farms and sings about it on the angry lament, “Rain on the Scarecrow.” He has witnessed how after decades of politicians relegating poverty relief to an inefficient welfare state or indifferent corporate state, poor men, women, and children have become collateral damage, and he sings about it on the heartbreaking “Jackie Brown,” the story of a desperately impoverished man who commits suicide.

He has seen the wreckage that a market-driven, money-obsessed, and materially measured culture has piled up in place of the small communities he cherishes, and he measures the damage in “Ghost Towns Along the Highway.” The mode of American life that prioritizes mobility above all and instructs the young to conduct themselves in a constant search for the next big thing has created generations whose “love keeps on moving to the nearest faraway place.” In “The West End,” he sings of a dying neighborhood and in a powerful turn of phrase manages to capture and condemn decades of destructive policies from big government and big business: “It sure has changed here since I was a kid / It’s worse now / Look what progress did.”

One of the problems of movement conservatism is a resistance to—and often flat out rejection of—complexity. Too much of the American right is dominated by a mentality that views its country with childlike simplicity and awe. Any invocation of American iconography must be worshipful, and for those who combine Christianity with nationalism to create a civil religion, any sign of the cross must be celebratory of everything American.”

How the GOP misunderstands John Mellencamp’s heartland ethic

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The Virtues of Empire | First Things

I recall a speaker’s comment from my undergrad days that is illustrative of this. I only saw part of it and I don’t remember anything else about it, or who the speaker even was (beyond the fact that he was a historian or political scientist) but his word stuck with me: “The great tragedy of our time is the belief of ‘to every tribe a flag.'”

One often hears about how the Muslim world needs to undergo the Enlightenment and engage modernity, learning the virtues of supposedly modern tolerance. Its an understandable but naïve sentiment. …

Read it all: The Virtues of Empire | First Things

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American Stasi? What’s Wrong with NSA Surveillance | First Things

“The stunning news that the United States may be the most surveilled society in human history has opened a fierce debate on security, privacy, and accountability. It has also brought about an amazing and unpredicted political realignment, at least on this issue. Rand Paul and Al Gore singing from the same hymnal? Dianne Feinstein and Michele Bachmann in agreement on something?”

Angela Merkel, next to the inimitable Margaret Thatcher, is the most consequential elected female leader in European history. Born in Hamburg in 1954, Merkel grew up in East Germany where her father was…

Read it all: American Stasi? What’s Wrong with NSA Surveillance | First Things

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What have I done? Reflections on God and mental illness after ‘Hannah’s Child’ – Opinion –

“Many of the reviews of Hannah’s Child commend the candour they think characterizes the way I have told my story. I hope they are right that I have written honestly about my life, but in truth honesty demands the acknowledgment that any attempt to write truthfully can be misleading. God knows we are subtle creatures who are more than able to use candour to avoid acknowledging our deceptions of others and ourselves.

How would I be able to know, for example, whether I have told the truth about my marriage to Anne? I tried very hard to write sympathetically about her. I wanted those who knew her, as well as those who would know her only through what I had written, to recognize the pain of her life. Part of the terror of being mentally ill is how the very qualifier, “mental,” makes it difficult to recognize that someone suffering from bi-polar illness is in pain. Put differently, “pain” does not seem an adequate description for the kind of suffering those with mental illness must endure. But they do suffer.

At least one aspect of their suffering is the result of our inability to comprehend their suffering. In The Claim of Reason, Stanley Cavell observes, “Part of the difficulty in treating psychotics is the inability one has in appreciating their world, and hence in honouring them as persons; the other part of the difficulty comes in facing how close our world is (at times; in dreams) to theirs.” A remark that reminds us how fragile the world we call “sane” may be. A fragility, moreover, that makes us all the more determined to distance ourselves from those who suffer from mental illness.”


Read it all: What have I done? Reflections on God and mental illness after ‘Hannah’s Child’ –

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