Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Martyr: Sr. Leonelia Sgorbati

Sr. Leonelia Sgorbati 1940-2006

dt isn't the only leader whose careless words have incited violence.

Pope Benedict XVI was endangering lives long before 45 came onto the scene.

In a speech at the University of Regensburg, Germany, in September 2006, this pope found it necessary to illustrate a lecture on faith and reason with a quotation from Byzantine emperor Michael II Paleologus criticizing Islam. 

The quote that caused the furor followed: “He turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: ‘Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'” the pope said, emphasizing that he was quoting the emperor.

Because Michael II was living in the 14th century, the Crusades were still fresh in everyone's minds.  Anti-Muslim feeling was widespread in Europe.

But Benedict XVI is living in the 21st century.  Words spoken in Germany echo around the world, even to Kenya and Somalia.  

Sister Leonelia Sgorbati and the Muslim bodyguard she was traveling with were killed a few days later as protests to the speech mounted.

Well, this week Pope Francis officially declared Sr. Leonelia to be a martyr.  Thus she passed one of the milestones on the way to gaining full sainthood.

Clearly she was a saint, but getting official recognition as a saint is another matter.  It can take years.

Her driver, Mohamed Osman Mahamud, was a saint too, but the Roman Catholic Church is not likely to recognize him as such any time soon.

Another not-to-be declared martyr this year is Heather Heyer, the woman killed by a car mowing down demonstrators in Charlottesville on August 13.  

In her case, it was the US president whose inflammatory rhetoric egged on her killer.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Transgender Victories

H. Adam Ackley

Congratulations to Danica Roem (VA state legislature) and Althea Garrison (Minneapolis city council), transgender women elected to public office this week. 

Godspeed to all trans pioneers, such as H. Adam Ackley, dismissed from teaching theology at Azusa Pacific U in 2013. 

Since then he has done adjunct teaching at the University of Redlands and UC Irvine.

I've met Adam--a man of courage and faith.…/evangelical-theologian-and-mi…/ 

Heath Adam Ackley, Ph.D. is Director of Training & Curriculum at the U.S.-Canadian peer support non-profit Trans Lifeline and semi-retired professor of Religious Studies and of Gender and Sexuality Studies (University of Redlands, University of California at Irvine, Azusa Pacific University). He is the author of Women, Music and Faith in Central Appalachia (2001) and of chapters in Women of the Mountain South: Identity, Work, & Activism (2015), Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family and Themselves (2014), The Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006), and Creation and The Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World (2000).

Human Flow -- Must See

Today I saw Human Flow, the documentary by Ai Weiwei. 
Hard to say what was more amazing: the photography, personal interviews, 40 refugee camps visited, 30 translators, statistics, or poetry quoted. Music too.
"The right to migrate is a human right," says one person toward the end--in Spanish.  "Derecho migrar es derecho humano."
I expect it to win Best Documentary next year.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Lady Blip--waste of time

What a waste of time: Lady Bird written and directed by Greta Gerwig.

All cliches, no plot. 
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl - photo by Alan Light

The California heroine about 18 yrs. old is dying to leave Sacramento and go away to a prestigious East coast college.  Lo and behold, she finally gets in.  (Not true to life, by the way.)

Her mother is more evil than Cinderella's step-mother--and she's a marriage & family therapist.

The whole boring film screams "of, by, and for millennials."  And it turns out, the writer/director was born in 1983.  The film is largely autobiographical.

No real crisis--a shooting or drug overdose or sexual abuse. No gender surprises.  No critique of the Catholic high school, the main setting.

I had suggested seeing the documentary Human Flow, but my spouse scanned the LA Times and said this piece of crap had the best reviews.

Oh well...

At least we ran into Sheila Kuehl and her friend (partner?) in the Westside Pavillion lobby on the way out.  

I guess she had to see it because of the subplot: heroine hates Sacramento but by the end she loves the burg.  Inspiring.

Another feature:  I was wearing my Hillary sweatpants, and a man at the film was wearing a Trump t-shirt and then a Trump sweatshirt.

Is this the best Hollywood can do?

November 1917 -- 2016 -- 2017...

Women's suffrage march in NYC in 1917  (Wikipedia)

Each day in November 2017 is a painful reminder of the corresponding day in November 2016.

Friday, Oct. 28 -- Comey released letter to Congress saying "OMG, I found emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop!"

Nine days later, Sunday, Nov. 6: "Never mind...."

Forty hours later voting at polling places began on Nov. 8 -- not counting the voting done by mail with that misinformation.

We didn't know the extent of Trump's Russian collusion.

We didn't know about the thousands of Russian bots posting on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube...

The election was stolen.

2017 has been a year of suffering with a deceitful and mentally impaired president.

But on November 3, 2016, women were excited about wearing white--the color of women's suffrage fighters--to go to the polls.

How naive we were.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How Memes Empower Tyrants

Memes are lot of fun--except when they take over our elections and our perceptions about dt, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and others.

Amanda Hess nails it [insert meme here] with her video essay "The Dark Art of Political Memes" in today's New York Times.

Memes replay our candidates' most likeable moments--and most embarrassing moments--endlessly.  Amanda plays countless examples.

But she concludes, "Memes make [insert someone like dt or others] immune to criticism and less accountable to us."

Memes--a new formula for disaster.

Monday, October 23, 2017

To Agree or Disagree--a Question

Disagreeing is a lost art, said Bret Stephens at the Lowy Media Institute Award dinner in Sydney, Australia, on Sept. 23.

But it's more important than ever.

To listen and understand; to question and disagree; to treat no proposition as sacred and no objection as impious; to be willing to entertain unpopular ideas and cultivate the habits of an open mind — this is what I was encouraged to do by my teachers at the University of Chicago.

It’s what used to be called a liberal education.

The University of Chicago showed us something else: that every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.

Some of the great disagree-rs include:

Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky.

May we have the courage to disagree with each other without killing each other or collapsing our democracy.

Read the full speech and enjoy the graphic at: