Saturday, September 16, 2017

Two years

I should post this tomorrow, but I’ll be busy, then tired.

Tomorrow marks two years since Dad died.

The photo above is undated, though I think it was taken in the late 1940s when Dad was in college.

My busyness tomorrow will be going up to Dad’s house and getting the remaining stuff into boxes. I started that process two and a half years ago (about the time I took Dad to the hospital the first time). I’ve carted stacks of magazines to the recycle bin, had a junk truck come twice, hauled stuff to two church rummage sales, and helped a relative or two raid the house for furniture. My sister has moved out and taken her furniture. Even so there is still stuff to be boxed and dealt with.

A carpet cleaning crew came to the house last week. I plan to get enough stuff out that a general cleaning crew can come this week. And then I meet with the realtor. While prospective buyers look the place over I’ll get the last of the furniture out to a resale shop or to Goodwill.

I guess a post like this is supposed to give a sense of my emotional change in the last two years. I miss Dad. I also miss my brother, my sister-in-law, and Mom – all of whom died in these last two years. I’ve spent hundreds of hours and driven dozens of trips to get that house ready to sell, plus more time managing my parent’s affairs. So I guess the big emotion of the moment is relief – I’m almost done. The end is in sight. I can get back to taking care of my own house.

I’ve also been thinking that house enclosed my family for more than half a century. I and my siblings grew up in that house. We all made frequent trips back for various family gatherings – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, and birthdays. Lots of joys and sorrows and simply life. When Dad got a job at Central Michigan University, 80 miles away, Mom said, “This is my house. I’m not moving.” Dad shared an apartment he used twice a week. There are many warm memories of events in this house.

A lot of family history stuff is now in my house. My den (a room I don’t use much) is full of it. I’ve gone through some of it and sorting through all of it will take years. I’ve been digitizing slides – Dad took lots of pictures – and that effort will also continue for a while. I’ve now seen family photos I’d never seen before – Dad’s graduation from college, Mom as president of women’s church groups, my grandparents when they were young, and many family gatherings. I’ve explored and updated the genealogy database my parents started. I’ve seen a part of my parents (and their parents) I hadn’t seen before.

I’ve also had to acknowledge my parents’ shortcomings, such as my Dad keeping stuff long after it was useful, a trait my mother shared and taught to me and my siblings. I’ve been hitting that one as I look at the stuff in my own house.

Even so… Dad, I miss you.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Redemption of whole societies

The nasty guy attended a meeting of white Evangelicals, where the leaders laid hands on hims and prayed for him. A photo of the moment prompted Rev. William Barber to say:
When you can P-R-A-Y for a president and others while they are P-R-E-Y preying on the most vulnerable, you're violating the sacred principles of religion. A text in Amos chapter 2: religious hypocrisy looks like when a nation of political leaders will buy and sell people to do anything to make money, sell the poor for a pair of shoes, grind the penniless into the dirt, and shove the luckless into the ditch. That's an actual text. A text that says when you do not care for sick you are violating the principles of God. We have this extremist Trump Republican agenda that takes health care, transfers wealth to the greedy. That's hypocrisy and sin.

Denise Oliver Velez, writing for Daily Kos noted Barber’s response, then went into a discussion of how the media consistently gets an important detail wrong. They say that a major part of the nasty guy’s base is Evangelicals. But that’s not true. Yes, 81% of white Evangelicals did vote for the nasty guy. But 67% of non-white Evangelicals voted for Clinton. Yeah, the media is saying only whites are visible.

Velez linked to Deborah Jian Lee of Religion Dispatches, who adds:
The fact that 81 percent of white evangelicals supported a candidate who channeled white nationalism is not lost on minority believers. Nor is the unending news of travel bans, appointments of white nationalists, mass deportations and racial hate crimes.

So while white evangelicals captured the election, they may have lost their fellow believers, the very people who could keep their churches, denominations and institutions from the attrition that has many Christian institutions and leaders genuinely worried for the future.
Lee notes that the Evangelical movement tried to engage in issues of racism for 40 years, though with not much success. But the last election prompted lots of black Evangelicals to disengage from discussions of racism, with a feeling all that effort was for nothing.

Velez also liked to Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners, who describes the difference between white and black Evangelicals:
Black evangelicals have a long history of interaction with oppressive systems and structures. When African Americans read the Bible, they see the more than 2,000 passages of Scripture about God’s hatred for poverty and oppression. They see God’s desire for systems and structures to be blessings to all of humanity — not a curse to some and a blessing for others.

And they see Jesus’ own declaration that he had come to preach good news to the poor, which, by the way, is decidedly not a reference to the “spiritually impoverished.” Jesus meant that he had come to preach good news (of liberation, freedom and new life) to people trapped in material poverty.

White evangelicals generally do not experience such systemic oppression. According to Emerson and Smith, most white evangelicals don’t prioritize or even see the thousands of references in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament about structural and systemic injustice.

Accordingly, the Gospel — and by extension their evangelism — is about only one thing: Personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for their sins, and a *personal* relationship with him.

Black evangelicals also have personal faith that Jesus’ death paid for their sins, but their Gospel doesn’t end with personal (and individual) salvation. For Dr. King and Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer and the Rev. John Perkins and Nelson Mandela and for hundreds of thousands of Black Christians around the world and for me, the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were for the redemption of both individual souls and the redemption of whole societies.

Heroes and other news

I’ve really got to clean out some browser tabs. Some of these items will get only a brief mention. I encourage you to follow the links to the original articles for the full discussion.

Edie Windsor is the hero of the case against the Defense of Marriage act that went before the Supremes in 2013 and won. That paved the way for gaining same-sex marriage in 2015. Edie died on Tuesday. She was 88. She will remain an LGBT legend.

Sister Margaret Ann of Miami has become the chainsaw-wielding nun. This isn’t a horror movie. This is something good. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma Sister Margaret Ann was spotted using a chainsaw to clear downed trees while wearing her habit.

Four bakers were trapped in the El Bolillo Bakery while Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. The trapped employees got restless, so turned to baking. They used perhaps 4,400 pounds of flour to make about 4,000 loaves of bread. It was all given to area shelters. The flood waters reached the door of the store, but did not enter.

A healthcare post on Daily Kos from Brainwrap is interesting for two reasons. The first is a chart showing what pays for healthcare across America. The broad categories are employer provided, Medicare, Medicaid/CHIP, Affordable Care Act’s Individual Market, and uninsured. There are lots of subcategories. The chart was created to demonstrate the current complexity and compare it with the simplicity of the single-payer system Bernie Sanders is now pushing.

The second bit of interest is the list of questions that need to be answered as this single-payer system is taken from broad principles to specifics. These questions include: Would the Hyde Amendment (banning the federal government from paying for abortions) be repealed? What provisions would be made for the 2-3 million people currently working in the healthcare insurance industry? What about those who invested in healthcare insurance stocks as part of their retirement portfolio? What about alternative medical services (such as the nutritionist I see)?

Brainwrap amended the post to list answers according to this bill after reading the 3-page summary.

The 35th Congressional District of Texas stretches along I-35 from San Antonio to Austin, more than 80 miles long and at times not much wider than the highway. That shape is a clear sign of gerrymandering. Four lower courts agree, saying the district was intentionally crafted to discriminate against black and Latino voters. New maps were about to be drawn when the case was taken to the Supremes. Alas, the high court now has 5 conservative members hostile to voting rights (for those not white males). Those 5 justices stayed the lower court rulings, meaning the discriminatory maps are still to be used until at least June. Even if the final ruling agrees with the lower courts there may not be time to redraw the maps before the 2018 election.

Susan Grigsby, in a post for Daily Kos, wrote that to eliminate racism we must tackle five false ideologies, one of which I had thought was accepted as debunked decades ago.

1. Racism occurred in the past, but has been resolved.

2. Reverse racism and political correctness are bigger problems today.

3. Races are inherently (even biologically) different.

4. White people are the norm, anyone else is other, exotic, ethnic, and/or inferior.

5. The U.S. is a meritocracy where anyone who works hard can achieve the American Dream.

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville linked to one of her posts from 2012 in which she presents and comments upon the results of a poll of the question:
How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Irish, Italian, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors.
Two thirds – 66% – of whites agreed. Only 15% of blacks did.

Some of McEwan’s comments:
If there is one person born to poverty, one person with disabilities, one person who has survived profound abuse, who can be held up as an example of achievement, then everyone else is failing to thrive.

When you're a non-privileged person, you're as bad as the worst conceivable member of a shared demographic, and only as good as your own personal achievement.

That is the gross underbelly of American Individualism. Its story only really works for privileged people, among whose privileges include being seen as an individual, whether they fail or succeed.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What’s this about being paid too much?

I’ve got dozens of browser tabs with articles I want to share with you. I think I’m not going to get to very many of them. Today I’ll mention a few and let you read the original articles on your own.

Mark Anderson of Daily Kos tackles the GOP talking points against unions. They’re corrupt, they’re not needed, they have idiotic rules, members of public employee unions get paid too much.

You mean like…

* Idiotic rules such as consistently not paying employees for overtime? This is wage theft.

* A school board superintendent of a small district who manipulated the board to pay him $600K a year and also has been charged with a dozen counts of corruption? For every case of union corruption there are a dozen cases of business corruption.

* Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, who was paid $94.6 million?

Yeah, unions are needed.

The *New York Times* has an article about rich people who make sure their staff don’t know how much they spend on such things as bread (as in $6 a loaf). I didn’t read the article, but did read a series of tweets from Melissa McEwan of Shaeksville about the article. The reason why the grocery bill is hidden is the rich don’t believe the staff “deserve” a higher wage. Yet, they’re aware the staff is being underpaid – at least in comparison to the grocery bill.

Egberto Willies of Daily Kos, in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, ponders political malpractice. A drunk driver who kills someone, an engineer whose bridge collapses, a doctor who makes a mistake and a patient dies – none did it on purpose.
Yet every single one of these events is prosecutable as some sort of negligence, and potentially manslaughter or even murder.

One could argue that political malpractice kills many more people. However, there is a difference: The politicians effecting political malpractice do so knowingly. If there are solutions that would have reasonably saved lives but said solutions were not implemented because of corruption or because of dubious rationales, they deserve prosecution—just like any citizen who unwittingly harmed someone.

The intent is not to criminalize politics: It is to ensure that politics aren't criminal.