Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Kristin Du Mez's Response to Jay Green on her "Illiberal" Positions: More Nonsense from the "High Priests of White Dude (Increasingly Reactionary) Centrism"

I am glad that Kristin Du Mez has responded con gusto to the charge of Jay Green of Covenant College that she, Jemar Tisby, Shane Claiborne, Danté Stewart, and Beth Allison Barr are illiberal religious thinkers who represent the left-wing equivalent of Rod Dreher, R. R. Reno, Eric Metaxas, Dinesh D'Souza, Charlie Kirk, and the crew at The Daily Wire. She writes,

Conviction of Oath Keepers Militia Leader Stewart Rhodes for Seditious Conspiracy: Commentary

Merriam-Webster dictionary

Significant news in the U.S. yesterday as a federal jury yesterday convicted Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes and one of his subordinates of seditious conspiracy for leading the Oath Keepers in their attack on the capitol in D.C. on 6 January 2021. Alan Feuer and Zach Montague write, "Oath Keepers Leader Convicted of Sedition in Landmark Jan. 6 Case":

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Thanksgiving Dinner with the Forebears: Questions I'd Love to Ask

A wild change of subject from my usual political-religious analysis (some might say rants): I don't want U.S. Thanksgiving to recede too far in the past without sharing some of my obsessions from another aspect of my life, researching my family tree. I offer this first tidbit because it amuses me, and will perhaps offer amusement to others. It shows how precise the focus of DNA research is becoming for those engaged in genealogical study — if, that is, you believe in the validity of this kind of analysis.

As a former U.S. president and now candidate for re-election dines with a white supremacist anti-Semite Holocaust denier: commentary

Right Wing Watch, 25 November 2022

As a former president and now candidate for re-election dines with a white supremacist anti-Semite Holocaust denier, enlightening commentary:

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Post-Thanksgiving Pre-Christmas Baking Commences with Mincemeat Pie and Tarts

A post-Thanksgiving Christmas baking report: yesterday, I began my marathon stint to make mincemeat tarts as Christmas gifts. For a number of weeks, I've had a homemade mincemeat mixture sitting in a crock in the refrigerator to mellow and soak before I do my baking. The mixture consists of peel we candied last winter — orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime — along with raisins, apricots, dates, and prunes, all chopped up, and a mix of pecans and almonds, also chopped. I soaked this in port wine and some pear schnapps we made a few years ago by macerating pears in vodka and adding a bit of sugar, and then added a mix of spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and cardamom. I also grated two large honeycrisp apples into the mix and, yesterday, as I prepared to begin baking a mincemeat pie and mincemeat tarts, I melted a stick of butter and stirred it into the mix along with some almond meal to help absorb moisture as the pie/tarts baked.

Commentary on Respect for Marriage Act and How Religious Groups — Notably, U.S. Catholic Bishops — Are Dealing with This Issue

PRRI, "Support for Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBTQ People, by Religious Affiliation, 2015-2021"

An offering of interrelated articles commenting on the Senate vote to advance the Respect for Marriage Act and how religious groups — notably, the U.S. Catholic bishops — are dealing with this issue:

Good Commentary on Youth Vote and Its Significance for Future U.S. Elections

Good commentary I've just read on the youth vote in the recent U.S. elections and what it may signify for the future:

Friday, November 25, 2022

"White Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection": Episode 3 of Jemar Tisby's "White National Under God Series"

Episode 3 of Jemar Tisby's "White Nation Under God" series commenting on white Christian nationalism is now online. This episode entitled "White Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection" features a conversation between Jemar Tisby and Andrew Seidel, author of American Crusade and director of strategic response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Thomas Zimmer on the Scourge of "Both Sides" Commentary and the "High Priests of White Dude (Increasingly Reactionary) Centrism"

A pictorial commentary on bothsidesism at Merriam-Webster's "Looking at ‘Bothsidesing’"

In a posting today entitled "The Self-Important Arbiters of Reason and the Scourge of 'Both Sides,'" Parker Molloy features a thread that Thomas Zimmer recently posted on Twitter responding to a tweet by Nate Silver defending "both sides" journalism. Every word Zimmer writes in response to Silver, whom he rightly characterizes as "one of the high priests of white dude (increasingly reactionary) centrism," is just so on target and important that it's difficult to choose sections of his thread to highlight. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Christmas Fruitcake and Thanksgiving Baking

Since American Thanksgiving is all about the table and what's on it (or the t.v. tray and what's on it!), and since friends who urge me to keep blogging tell me they welcome my food musings, I thought I'd share this today. 

As Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving, Obligation to Remember Our Real History

Mural replica in Silverton, Oregon, of one of Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms" paintings,  at Wikimedia Commons

It's not Thanksgiving the world over, of course. But for us Americans, who tend to be self-focused, in any case, this is a day on which I suspect many of us think the whole world stops along with us to revel in "memories" of an iconized, mythologized American past that never really existed — at least not in the way we want to recall it. And to the extent to which it did exist, it meant a heap of misery for a lot of people who were mere adjuncts to the main narrative celebrated in our national icons, a narrative of happy native Americans sitting peaceably with grateful colonists, genocide and plunder of land nowhere in the mythological picture. Our iconic picture of American Thanksgiving is an equally fabulous (emphasis on root word "fable") picture of happy (always white, white, white) families, grandparents, parents, children, sitting thankfully and amicably at a long table eating bland foods devoid of herbs, spice, garlic, chili, nary a quarrel or disagreement (or thought?) in sight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Commentary on Breaking Stories re: U.S. Supreme Court: "The current, carefully engineered conservative majority on the court is made up of deeply corrupted individuals"

James Earle Fraser's "Contemplation of Justice" statue, Supreme Court Plaza, photo uploaded by David to Wikimedia Commons

In her latest Letter from an American, Heather Cox Richardson comments on the story I discussed in a posting yesterday noting the report of Jodi Kantor and Jo Becker that Rev. Rob Schenck, formerly leader of an evangelical "pro-life" non-profit engaged in extensive lobbying in D.C., alleges that Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito leaked to friends the ruling in the Hobby Lobby case before that ruling was handed down in 2014. As my posting yesterday noted, Kantor and Becker indicate that Schenck maintains that, through Alito's friends, he himself obtained inside information about the ruling before it came down, and "used that information to prepare a public relations push, records show, and he said that at the last minute he tipped off the president of Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain owned by Christian evangelicals that was the winning party in the case."

More on Catholic Leaders' Loss of Moral and Pastoral Credibility Due to Handling of Abuse Crisis: Protecting Children, Really?!

Frank Schindler of Baltimore writes the Baltimore Sun, "Bishops show lack of interest in pedophile victims":

Monday, November 21, 2022

Another Mass Shooting in an LGBTQ Club: Stochastic Terrorism and Eliminationist Rhetoric

Detail from Rogier van der Weyden's "Descent from the Cross," 15th century, Prado Museum, Madrid, at Wikimedia Commons

Daniel Victor reports ("Drag events across the country have often faced threats in recent years") that Club Q in Colorado Springs, where the mass shooting has just occurred, was scheduled to host a drag lunch on Sunday in commemoration of Transgender Day of Remembrance. He writes, 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Poolboys, Ménages à Trois Involving White Evangelical Leaders, Alleged Supreme Court Corruption, White Christian Nationalism: In the News

The second installment of Jemar Tisby's video series on the topic "White Nation Under God," about which I've posted previously, is now online. In this episode, entitled "How White Christian Nationalism Threatens Democracy," sociologists Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry, authors of The Flag and the Cross, explain how white Christian nationalism threatens democracy by its willingness to "diminish democracy in favor of political rule by a small group of people who use authoritarianism instead of 'the will of the people' to govern."

Salient Warnings Against Celebrating Results of Recent U.S. Elections Prematurely

Gabriela Ruellan, Nine different shades of red to illustrate the look and scope of the color red, at Wikimedia Commons

Two sobering assessments of the results of the recent U.S. elections that call on us who may be tempted to celebrate the vindication of democracy not to do that prematurely:

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion, Contraception: The Political Conundrum for Authoritarian Movements (and the Republican Party)

Gallup Values and Belief poll, May 2021, in Record-High 70% in Justin McCarthy, "U.S. Support Same-Sex Marriage"

Some noteworthy recent commentary on the cross-party move in the U.S. Senate to offer legislative protection to same-sex marriage — though the details of this move are not yet entire clear — and on the political connections between that issue and the abortion issue. Jennifer Rubin, "The Senate’s victory on same-sex marriage should terrify the GOP," notes that for Republicans to go after same-sex marriage when they are still smarting from the political reaction to the highly unpopular Dobbs ruling would be politically unwise, to say the least:

Friday, November 18, 2022

On the Twitterpocalypse

David Ljungdahl illustration in 1910 Swedish edition of Jules Verne's "Captain Grant's Children," from Wikimedia Commons

Things are … happening … at Twitter. As Josh Taylor reports in "Twitter ‘closes offices’ after Elon Musk’s loyalty oath sparks wave of resignations," 

On Media and Trump: "Trump and the Media Are One and the Same"; and on Not Taunting the Alligator

White House photo by Benjamin Applebaum of Trump and press in Oval Office, 21 March 2017, at Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the announcement of the former reality t.v. show host who fomented insurrection in the nation's capital and was twice impeached that he's running for president again, there's continuing good commentary on the role the media have played in putting wind in this man's sails, and what the media could and should do now — though some signs already tell us the media is not learning and does not want to learn, to paraphrase George W. Bush on the nation's children: 

Journalist Michael Gerson, Who Died Yesterday, Writing About One of the "Worst Errors of Moral Judgment" He Made as a Columnist

Michael Gerson, 18 January 2014, photo by AvianMaid, at Wikimedia

Journalist Michael Gerson died yesterday. He was 58 years old and died of kidney cancer. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Lucian K. Truscott on Political Effects of Covid Death Rates: "Difficult lesson to learn for Republicans that dead people don’t vote"

National Bureau of Economic Research study graphic showing excess deaths by political party throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in Marty Schladen, "Study: More Republicans than Democrats likely died of COVID

A few days back, I posted a link to commentary by Jonathan V. Last about how the much higher and empirically proven Covid death rate in heavily Republican counties may be affecting elections (dead voters do not usually vote). Lucian K. Truscott takes a close look at the data regarding this: 

More Recent Commentary on White Christian Nationalism: "What is different now, is that the country is no longer majority white and Christian"

More recent commentary on white Christian nationalism and its strong (political) appeal to many U.S. Christians: in the BBC documentary "Faith on the Frontlines" above, Robert P. Jones of PRRI tells narrator Barbara Usher:

What Trump Has Taught Us: American's Problem is Political and Economic, but Also Spiritual

17th-century mirror, Dutch artist Johannes Hannart (or Jan Hanat), held by Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo uploaded to Wikimedia Commons 

Thoughtful commentary from Jared Yates Sexton in "The Unbearable and Untenable Emptiness" about the face many of us Americans are now forced to see when we look in the sad mirror that is Donald Trump:

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

In the Midst of Global Catholic Crisis, Look at Whom U.S. Catholic Bishops Choose as Their Leaders

James Tissot's "Jésus Pleura," Brooklyn Museum, New York, Wikimedia Commons

The Catholic church globally is facing the biggest crisis it has faced since the Reformation. This is a deep crisis of credibility, in which increasing numbers of the faithful find it impossible to trust, admire, or follow the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church, and, in growing numbers, even to retain any living connection to the Catholic institution. In the midst of this historic crisis, whom do the chief shepherds of the Catholic church in the U.S., its bishops, choose to be leader of their bishops' conference? Here's an exerpt from a report of Brian Fraga at National Catholic Reporter:

In News: Win for Democracy; Role of Media; Kari Lake's Election Denialists; Abortion; Herschel Walker; Russian Genocide in Ukraine

Tim Miller, "Democracy was on the ballot. And attempts to end it were met with universal scorn," insists, pace pundits who want to downplay the role concern about embattled democracy played in the recent U.S. elections, democracy was, indeed, on the ballot — and it performed well: 

Jemar Tisby and Wendell Griffen on White Christian Nationalism: "Uses Christian symbolism to create a permission structure for the acquisition of political power and social control"

Photo by Tyler Merbler from January 6 attempted insurrection

Several days ago, I told readers about a new a new series of videotaped/podcast discussions about white Christian nationalism being offered by historian and religion scholar Jemar Tisby. The series is entitled "White Nation Under God." The first episode in this five-part series was broadcast on Wednesday, 11 November and is now available online. Its thematic focus:

Commentary on Trump's Announcement: "Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, says he is running again"

Washington Post headline, 15 November 2022

NPR headline, 15 November 2022

Guardian headline, 15 November 2022 

Commentary on yesterday evening's announcement by the former reality show t.v. star who fomented insurrection in the White House and was twice impeached that he's running for president — above are headlines about this: 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

More Commentary on Situation in French Catholic Church: "Structural 'Implosion" and Pope Francis's Mixed Record

More commentary on the eye-popping revelation in the French Catholic church that 11 former bishops, some still sitting and others retired, have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, and a French cardinal has admitted abusing a 14-year-old girl in his pastoral care in the past: 

In News: GOP Lackluster Performance and Effects of Covid; Limits of Abortion Extremism; Gerrymandering; Jericho March in Arizona; International Ramifications of U.S. Elections; Clarence Thomas

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan V. Last offers an intriguing reason Republicans are now underperforming politically, one I haven't seen elsewhere: quite simply, their approach to the pandemic killed off a lot of their voters. One reason the Republicans underperformed this election cycle: they killed off a lot of their own voters during Covid. As he says, "Republicans accounted for about 80 percent more of the excess deaths than Democrats."

"Time's Up, DOJ:" Call for Indicting Criminal Former Occupant of White House, Trump, Grows Louder Post-Election

Photo of jail cell, National Museum of Crime and Punishment, by Zaid Hamid at Wikipedia

"Time's up, DOJ," says former U.S. attorney Andrew Weissmann, with Harvard Law School professor emeritus Laurence Tribe echoing him: time to stop the foot-dragging and indict the criminal who formerly occupied the White House, Donald J. Trump. The cry for Merrick Garland to indict Donald Trump is growing louder and louder following the recent elections and Trump's action yesterday failing to appear to testify under subpoena, while indicating he'll announce a presidential run today.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

In News: Democrats Retain Senate Control, Twitter's Apocalypse, Supremes' Savage Credibility Problem, Trump's Racist Attack on Youngkin

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

Kristin Kobes du Mez's tribute to Twitter as the band keeps playing while the ship begins sinking is moving and also sad: such good destroyed by an ill-intentioned egomaniac with way, way too much power solely because he has money. She writes, 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

More Commentary from French Catholics about Abuse Story in French Church: "What we are discovering today – with horror – is a twisted system"

Notre Dame cathedral, Paris, photo by Tom S., Wikimedia Commons

As a follow-up to my two previous postings (here and here) about the shocking revelations now breaking in the French Catholic church, indicating that at least 11 bishops, some retired and some still presiding over dioceses, have been credibly accused of having molested minors, and that a French cardinal admits having abused a 14-year-old girl when he was a parish priest, more reactions from French Catholics:

Robert P. Jones on Recent Elections and Abortion Issue, and My Question Again: Whither U.S. Catholic Leaders Now?

I headed the posting I just made about two valuable upcoming discussions of white Christian nationalism in the U.S. with a video from Joy Ann Reid's MSNBC "ReidOut" program. The video features a discussion between Reid, journalist Tim Miller, and Robert P. Jones of PRRI. In the video, Jones talks about how drastically out of step the Republican party, with its plans for a national ban of abortion, is with the American public, as only 1 in 10 Americans supports such a ban. 

White Christian Nationalism and U.S. Politics: Two Valuable Upcoming Events

As informed commentators are reminding us in the wake of the recent U.S. elections, white Christian nationalism — as a powerful force in the nation's politics — is not going away. For that reason, it behooves us to inform ourselves about this ideology and to notice its many effects on our political life, and its plans for the nation if it gains even more power. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

More Commentary on Youth Vote in Recent Elections: "Republican Party's worst nightmare"

More commentary on the youth vote in this week's elections, and what it may signify for the future:

A Fall-Winter Treat: Fresh Cranberries Made into Cranberry-Orange Relish

When cranberries are in season, we make cranberry orange relish constantly. When I was growing up, it was something always on the Christmas dinner table in a pretty cut-glass dish, one of my grandmother’s contributions. It was an accompaniment to both the turkey and ham that were always served at Christmas dinner in the large family gatherings at my grandmother's house. But that was the only time we ever ate it.

More on Abortion Rights as Motivating Force for Voters and on Trump's Toxicity for GOP

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

More dissection of the results of this week's U.S. elections, with continuing claims that "abortion rights proved a hugely motivating force for voters in Tuesday’s midterms" (Moira Donegan) and an astonishing statement by Trump that he rigged the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election in favor of DeSantis, a claim commented on by Heather Cox Richardson and Aaron Rupar:

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Soup of the Evening, Beautiful Soup

On Monday, I cooked a big pot of pinto beans and baked cornbread, and we ate beans and cornbread (with pickled beets, buttered sautéed cabbage, and broccoli) the last two evenings. Since I had leftover beans and cornbread, today I've done what Southern cooks have long done when those items are left over: I've made a big pot of vegetable soup, to be eaten with what's left of the cornbread.

More Post-Election Commentary: "If they win, I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all"

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

Post-election commentary continues. Here are some pieces I've read that I'd like to recommend:

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Yesterday's Vote and What It Tells Us About Americans and Abortion: Whither U.S. Catholic Leaders Now?

PRRI, 2022 American Values  Survey

As Oriana Gonzalez reports, not only did voters in Michigan, California, and Vermont just vote  for constitutional protections for abortion rights in their states, but voters in the conservative state of Kentucky voted against a proposed amendment stating that a constitutional right to abortion does not exist in Kentucky. The Supreme Court and the Republican party are clearly out of step with where most Americans are when it comes to the issue of abortion rights, but, as Gonzalez also notes, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America (and a Catholic), has stated that if Republicans gain control of either house of Congress, her group's "number one issue" will be to see a national abortion ban enacted.

Reactions of Some Leading French Catholics to New Abuse Revelations in French Church: "Je suis mal"

Graffiti on wall in Lisbon, Portugal, February 2011, showing a priest chasing children, uploaded by Milliped to Wikimedia Commons

I blogged yesterday about the discovery that French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, formerly archbishop of Bordeaux and a member of the influential Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, admits that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl when he was a parish priest. This revelation comes on the heels of other recent revelations showing that a total of eleven former or serving French bishops are now implicated in reports of abuse. All of this comes on the heels of a report published last year which found that sexual abuse of minors by priests and other church workers in France has been widespread.

Election Commentary: The Red Trickle, Youth Vote, Abortion, Trump's Rough Night

Brian Tyler Cohen, "Lauren Boebert’s 'victory party' before and after she started losing to her opponent

Judd Legum:

The much-discussed “red wave” never materialized.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Former President of French Catholic Bishops' Conference, Admits to Abusing Girl in 1980s

From Wiktionary

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard:

“Thirty-five years ago, when I was a parish priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14. My behaviour has inevitably caused serious and lasting consequences for this person.”

Ricard was made archbishop of Bordeaux in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. In 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed Ricard to the influential Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

More from Jemar Tisby on White Christian Nationalism: "Chases power by stripping it from others, all under the banner of a divinely-sanctioned crusade"

More today from historian and scholar of American religion Jemar Tisby on white Christian nationalism, and why those of us concerned about the future of American democracy need to educate ourselves about it:

As Election Day Arrives, Warnings, Predictions, Alarm Bells

Alarm bell mechanism, from "Electric Burglar Alarm," The Popular Science Monthly 18,1 (November 1880), p. 59 

As Joyce Vance says, it has become conventional to say that democracy is on the ballot at when elections are held in the US at this point in history, but this conventional wisdom may be true a fortiori this election cycle: 

Monday, November 7, 2022

White Christian Nationalism on Ballot This Election Cycle

Insightful essays appearing now before the election about how white Christian nationalism is on the ballot this election: Paul Brandeis Raushenbush writes:

When Many Citizens Embrace a Politics of Cruelty and Malice, the Future...

Photo of wounded eagle uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Gillfoto of Juneau, Alaska 

Jamelle Bouie notes that the American system of democratic governance depends on at least the pretense that citizens and leaders care about civic virtue. But one of the nation's two major parties has now given up that pretense, and the Republican party's politics of cruelty and malice is just what many of us applaud and want:

Sunday, November 6, 2022

More on Pre-Election Dread: "There is a sizable movement in this country that seeks to literally vote out democracy"

Greg Olear says a mouthful
when he states, 

This has been a week of profound unease.

And as he notes, the primary source of our anxiety is, for many of us, at least, Tuesday's election.  

As U.S. Elections Near, Charles Pierce Notes: "Every twist and turn in every campaign is wrought by the money power"

Sun parakeet in cage, photo uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by High Contrast

As Perry Bacon Jr. notes, the reason U.S. elections are so close is that the nation is so polarized, with ideological camps that are more or less equally balanced, at least when it comes to those who actually vote.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

There Are American Food Deserts, and Then There Are American Food Deserts

Food deserts are usually thought to be areas in the U.S in which it's difficult to buy fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, and other healthy food items. Large swathes of urban communities whose economic base is marginal, and many rural areas, experience this problem. You're lucky in those areas if you have access — often miles from where you live — to a big superstore like Wal-Mart, which may or may not have a smattering of fresh produce for you to buy. Or you're lucky if you have access to a fried chicken or hamburger chain, an unhealthy fast-food option. 

Arwa Mahdawi on the White Female (Republican) Elephant in the Room as Americans Vote

Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields, The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics (NY: Oxford UP, 2019), p. 9

Arwa Mahdawi comments on polling showing white suburban women trending strongly Republican in these final days before the election:

Commentary on the Grim Situation at Twitter

David Ljungdahl illustration in 1910 Swedish edition of Jules Verne's "Captain Grant's Children," from Wikimedia Commons

As Jessica Pegis says in a comment here yesterday, the situation at Twitter looks grim. Noah Kirsch and Justin Baragona report

Friday, November 4, 2022

Greg Olear and Katherine Stewart on Christian Nationalism: "Its ultimate goal is power"

Katherine Stewart, The Power Worshippers

Greg Olear summarizes a conversation he had yesterday with Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Stewart was Olear's guest on his PREVAIL podcast. The two discussed the dangerous (and underestimated, by many Americans and our media) rise of Christian nationalism. Seven main points, discussed in detail in the article linked at the opening of this paragraph: