A piece I wrote for America about last Wednesday and moving forward: Anxious about the state of our country? Try praying.
Mr. Sweet is a man who dipped his toe in the pool of wild and false conspiracies during the Barack Obama administration and is now up to his neck in it, wallowing in resentment and anger that others can’t see how the elites are scheming to destroy America the way he can. He has become intractably fixated on beliefs so extreme — but widespread — that he is estranged from his elder daughter.
He came to Washington ready to act on them.
. . .
In Mr. Sweet’s world of false conspiracies, financier George Soros is both a Nazi and a Communist who pays leftist activists to burn and loot American cities. QAnon, a conspiracy-theory group that believes Mr. Trump is under assault by devil worshipers, speaks the truth. A Washington pizza parlor serves pies made of children’s blood to Satanists who know to order off-menu. The U.S. military invaded Afghanistan to seize control of the heroin trade. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Pelosi drink children’s blood in a quest for eternal youth.
From a secular perspective, those who benefit most from stoking hatred and violence are actually fairly easy to identify.
The media benefit because they know from studies that angry and fearful people watch more programming that reinforces their anger and fears. When we watch and read more reports that demonize those with whom we disagree, we augment our anger and fear — and drive their ratings up. When their ratings go up, they can charge companies more for advertising. It’s that simple. It’s ultimately all about power and money.
The politicians benefit because they know that both anger and extreme polarization help to create loyalty and motivation. Loyal and motivated supporters reliably donate money and vote for them. Again, it’s all about power and money.
5. Michael & Melissa Wear: A Tragic Day
We have made an idol of our politics, because we have looked to politics to do what God has not, while neglecting the very reason for politics in the first place. We have not been seeking to advance the common good in our politics lately. We have not viewed politics as the means by which we make decisions about how we will live together as a people. Politics, like so much else of our lives, has become a forum for self-expression, a forum which gives our animosities access to tools of coercion and cultural power.
For today’s reader of Exodus, a crucial question cries out from the three-pillared structure of Israel’s founding. Can a people endure and flourish if it lacks a shared national story, accepted law and morals, and an aspiration to something higher than its own comfort and safety? Can a devotion to technological progress, economic prosperity and private pursuits of happiness sustain us when our story is contested (or despised), our morals weakened and our national dedication abandoned?
7. Rod Dreher: Road Out of Nowhere
I did not appreciate how much pro-Trump radicalism corrupted people’s minds. I thought it was just a fringe. I was wrong.
…Women increasingly must fight for our rights with one hand tied behind our backs. For example, efforts to establish recognition for the essential work of bearing children with policies like paid family leave are hampered by the fact that recognizing a woman’s unique role and hardship in human reproduction is considered offensive and must be papered over with the so-called neutral and non-scientific label, “pregnant people.” We now have to be pregnant people and argue we are discriminated against on the basis of sexual biological reality at the same time. This is a task that no doubt would have boggled the minds of the earliest feminists, who found their work hard enough with reason and science on their side.
“I wish our elderly relatives had received the vaccine before me,” said a young employee at Vanderbilt who has no contact with patients and asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.
In Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, both affiliated with Harvard University, have immunized more than 34,000 employees, including those involved in patient care, researchers who may come in contact with coronavirus samples and those engaged in clinical trials, according to Rich Copp, a spokesman for the hospitals.
. . .
At Columbia University, word quickly spread through research labs far removed from patient care: If you showed up at Milstein Hospital, the university’s primary medical center, you could get a vaccination — never mind whether your work had anything to do with patients.
“We really need to get this vaccine out more quickly because this is really our only tool, our only backstop against the spread of these new variants. If we can get a lot of people vaccinated quickly, we might be able to get enough protective immunity into the population that this stops spreading at the rate that it is,” Gottlieb said in an interview with “Face the Nation. “So, we need to acknowledge that it’s not working. We need to hit the reset and adopt a new strategy in trying to get out to patients.”
. . .
“Right now, there’s 40 million doses sitting on a shelf somewhere. So the feds say it’s with the states. The states say it’s with the feds. It really doesn’t matter to the patient who’s not getting access to to the injection,” he reiterated Sunday. “You have 40 million on the shelf. We have 50 million Americans above the age of 65. So, we have supply to push it out to that population more aggressively.”
Speaking to the Chinese CGTN news channel, Marion Koopmans, a team member and Dutch virus expert, explained the point of the WHO mission.
“It starts with a mapping exercise of all the work that’s been done. That’s important because that may already help us direct in a certain direction for follow-up questions. We’ve been asked to discuss with our colleagues in China to work through as an actual scientific tracking expedition.
“What was the origin of the pandemic? … I don’t believe it is about blaming [China],” Koopmans added. “It’s about understanding and learning for the future of our global preparedness.”
While the ACLU has repeatedly locked horns with Mr. Trump and his administration over issues such as the president’s travel ban, the ACLU is worried about the ramifications of tech companies diminishing online speech.
“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” said Kate Ruane, ACLU senior legislative counsel, in a statement. “President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others — like the many Black, Brown, and LGBTQ activists who have been censored by social media companies — will not have that luxury.”
The past half decade has offered near daily examples of people co-opting the gospel for sinful ends. Racism, nationalism, sexism, and host of other sins have found purchase within the evangelical movement in both overt and subtle expressions. Many have been able to dismiss these examples as outliers that did not truly represent the evangelical movement. We have long since exhausted this excuse.
As evangelicals, we have to stop saying this isn’t who we are. This is who we are; these are our besetting sins.
However, this isn’t who we have to be.
. . .
I don’t believe that everyone who voted for Trump was fooled or foolish. And, Trump voters are not Trump. They are not responsible for all of his actions over the last four years. But they are responsible for the ways they responded and for their own hearts.
If the evangelical movement is to flourish in the coming generations, we must face (and even embrace) this reckoning. As leaders and members we must acknowledge our failings but also understand the habits and idols that drew us to Trump in the first place.
Before this, questions had already arisen as to how republicanism could coexist with populism. This goes waaay beyond that question. The disgrace in Congress, even apart from the mobs, severed the connection between Republicans and republicanism in any meaningful American sense. They aren’t republicans now, but instead a radical form of small-D democrats whose only aim is gin up outrage in sufficient quantities to “own the libs.” That’s not just on Donald Trump; it’s now on the entire party and its leadership.
That’s their choice; my choice is very clear. I don’t choose to participate in such a nihilistic political party. I’ll stand on my own as an independent, ready to vote for responsible conservatives but under no obligation to vote for or support anyone else. Until the GOP comes to its senses and returns to true republican and federal principles, I will not be back.
“As an institution, we are committed to understanding how Americans make change,” the museum’s director, Anthea M. Hartig, said in a statement, explaining that “this election season has offered remarkable instances of the pain and possibility involved in that process of reckoning with the past and shaping the future.”
Dr. Hartig added that the objects and stories collected will “help future generations remember and contextualize Jan. 6 and its aftermath.”
. . . While he’s sure all the prayers helped, Father Rocha also likes to imagine Bishop Chikwe’s smile — and his laugh — winning over even the meanest of kidnappers.
“Being who he is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he just convinced them to let him go.”
With no regular public Masses across Wales, and no Sunday obligation to attend Mass, even if churches were to resume Sunday worship in a prepandemic fashion, how does Father Roche-Saunders think things are going to develop in the weeks, months and years ahead? “We’re certainly still in an uncertain time where we can’t plan with much confidence,” he replied. “We’ve been used to a comfortable way of doing things which has been pulled from under our feet. In every parish I’ve heard of, the ‘come-back attendance’ following lockdowns is lower than before the pandemic. This is a moment to ask ourselves who we are as the Church.” He went on to explain, “Either these [the ‘come-back’ numbers] are worrying numbers for a human institution that is now a big step closer to winding down; or this is the impetus to be who we were called to be at the moment of Jesus’ Ascension: those who go out and spread the Good News and those who seek holiness and the holiness of our friends and family. Only one [the second of these possibilities] fills me with hope and makes sense of my calling as a priest of Jesus Christ. It’s also the one that takes me most out of my comfort zone, as we’re called to find new ways of saying, ‘This News is worth hearing.’
Peter Wood makes a convincing case against the 1619 Project’s contention that Lincoln was a racist who was merely opposed to slavery’s cruelty. He acknowledges that Lincoln was a politician and, as such, capable of being quite guarded about his ultimate aims, thus making a definitive argument hard to present. So, while Wood concedes the well-known fact that Lincoln had a meeting with black leaders in 1862 to discuss repatriating freed blacks back to Africa, he points out that the president made the unusual and seemingly calculated gesture of inviting a reporter to attend. This suggests that it was for show, intended to allay concerns among some whites that he sought abolition and racial equality. Yet Wood notes that Lincoln had said that the Declaration of Independence’s phrase “all men are created equal” should actually include all men, and that he publicly and controversially endorsed a constitutional amendment for African-American voting at the end of his life.
The 1619 Project’s other arguments are tissue-thin, and Wood efficiently dispenses with them. In doing so, however, he brings forth additional questions. What is the defining historical event of American history, Hannah-Jones and her supporters ask, if not the landing of black slaves (or perhaps indentured servants) in Virginia in 1619? The book’s title offers Wood’s answer: the Mayflower Compact, which marks the beginning of an American tradition of self-governance that has come to encompass people of all races and both sexes. To that end, Wood includes a tidy and heartening account of the Plymouth landing, and why it merits our thanksgiving.
[Robert P.] George worries that too many younger Americans are “woefully ignorant not only of their national history but also of the principles and institutions of the American constitutional order,” a situation that suggests “a profound failing of civic education at every level.”
George founded the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton to address the problem for college students, “both by providing a superior civic education” and by “offering a model that can be emulated by other colleges and universities.”
. . .
Through reading and classroom discussion, undergraduate fellows will come to understand the citizen character necessary to participate in republican government; the key pillars of constitutionalism, such as federalism, checks and balances, and the separation of powers; the morality that underpins American democratic capitalism; and the importance of religion in American public life.
“Never before have family relationships been seen as so interwoven with the search for personal growth, the pursuit of happiness, and the need to confront and overcome psychological obstacles,” the historian Stephanie Coontz, the director of education and research for the Council on Contemporary Families, told me in an email. “For most of history, family relationships were based on mutual obligations rather than on mutual understanding. Parents or children might reproach the other for failing to honor/acknowledge their duty, but the idea that a relative could be faulted for failing to honor/acknowledge one’s ‘identity’ would have been incomprehensible.”
The historian Steven Mintz, the author of Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood, made a similar observation in an email: “Families in the past fought over tangible resources—land, inheritances, family property. They still do, but all this is aggravated and intensified by a mindset that does seem to be distinctive to our time. Our conflicts are often psychological rather than material—and therefore even harder to resolve.”
Resuming her career after the war, Keleti was set to compete at the 1948 London Olympics but a last-minute ankle injury dashed her hopes. Four years later, she made her Olympic debut at the 1952 Helsinki Games at the age of 31, winning a gold medal in the floor exercise as well as a silver and two bronzes.
Despite her achievements — with six medals she was the most successful athlete at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and she is recognized as one of the most successful Jewish Olympic athletes of all time — the still-vivacious Keleti said she most values her health and the simple fact that she has lived.
“I love life,” she said. “Health is the essence. Without it, there is nothing.”