Category Archives: Passing the Torch(es)

David Corn on the Origins of the Trump Disorder

NBC News, Sept. 18, 2022 – The GOP’s American psychosis didn’t start with Trump. It won’t end with him, either.

A line runs from the 1964 Republican National Convention to Trump’s Jan. 6 riot. It has zigged and zagged over the years. But there is a path.

By David Corn, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Mother Jones
This piece has been adapted from “American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy,” by David Corn:

Nelson Rockefeller stared into a sea of hate.

Standing at the podium of the Republican National Convention of 1964, the 56-year-old patrician politician who symbolized dynastic American power and wealth was enveloped by waves of anger emanating from the party faithful. Delegates and activists assembled in the Cow Palace on the outskirts of San Francisco hurled boos and catcalls at the New York governor.

David Corn

He was the enemy. His crime: representing the liberal Republican establishment that, to the horror of many in the audience, had committed two unpardonable sins. First, in the aftermath of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, these turncoat, weak-kneed Republicans had dared to acknowledge the need for big government programs to address the problems and challenges of an industrialized and urbanized United States. Second, they had accepted the reality that the Cold War of the new nuclear age demanded a nuanced national security policy predicated on a carefully measured combination of confrontation and negotiation.

Rockefeller’s crime: representing the liberal Republican establishment that, to the horror of many in the audience, had committed two unpardonable sins.

Worse, Rockefeller had tried to thwart the hero of the moment: Barry Goldwater, the archconservative senator from Arizona, the libertarian decrier of government, the tough-talking scolder of America’s moral rot, and the hawkish proponent of military might who had advocated the limited use of nuclear arms. Continue reading David Corn on the Origins of the Trump Disorder

Loss of A Landmark: 200 Year-Old Arizona Cactus Collapses

[NOTE: I guess there are no coincidences. Thursday Sept. 1 I took part in a final Zoom call with some friends in Arizona, who are part of an experimental community east of Tucson called Saguaro-Juniper, or S-J for short.  S-J is named after the famous Saguaro cacti that grow around there.

Then this morning, Friday, I read that one of the most iconic, venerable and largest saguaro cacti, aged at least 200 years old, had suddenly collapsed in a state park not far away.

The S-J community was started by Jim and Pat Corbett, remarkable Arizona Quakers who were seeking a way to live more simply and harmoniously with nature in the desert. Thirty-plus years later, their experiment continues in the swirl of punishing climate change and continued social-cultural struggles.

Jim Corbett was truly one of a kind: a Harvard philosophy grad who was also a cowboy with Indian heritage, a Sanctuary activist, a desert wanderer, a cantankerous Quaker mystic, and a writer.

Jim published two books: Goatwalking (1990; 2021), which described his religious journey, desert wanderings, organizing to aid desperate Central American war refugees, and a prophetic understanding of how human eco-damage was careening toward a crisis. He followed it with Sanctuary ofor All Life, which explored many dimensions of  the new S-J experiment, and which he finished on his deathbed in 2001. Jim’s ashes were scattered in the hills of his beloved desert.

It was the books, especially Goatwalking,  which put me in touch with the Arizona group. I was part of a project to bring Goatwalking back into print after 30 years, which we did just over a year ago. Our two-year round of biweekly Zoom calls began amid the republication effort, then continued as some of us explored the two books, which we found appealing in seemingly endless ways.

There’s no end to this exploration, but with the second August, we were ready for a change. S-J itself faces major transition, as a founding generation ages out, the climate crunch Jim Corbett foresaw arrives, and new blood is needed.  So maybe it’s fitting, at least symbolically, that news of the bicentennial saguaro giant’s fall reaches us now. And as this Washington Post report points out, even the decay of the cactus feeds more desert life.]

Washington Post — August 31, 2022
A centuries-old cactus survived everything. Then summer rains came.

Derek Hawkins

A massive saguaro cactus stood for 200 years in Arizona’s Catalina State Park until it collapsed after fierce monsoons. (Arizona State Parks)

The saguaro cactus towered over the hilltop outside Tucson like a massive hand rising out of the earth.
Generations of hikers posed for pictures at the base of the hulking, treelike plant, whose longest arms stretched almost 30 feet into the air above Catalina State Park.

Artists painted it. Scores of animal species relied on it for food and shelter.

Older than Arizona itself by nearly a century, it weathered droughts and monsoons, searing heat and cold snaps, that worsened with climate change. It outlasted the ranchers who grazed cattle and built dwellings near its roots. It survived wildfires and invasive grasses.

But at some point this month, after fierce rains swept through the park, the cactus split at the trunk and toppled to ground, removing one of the area’s most cherished landmarks from the skyline.

The collapse of the iconic plant, estimated to be 200 years old, prompted an outpouring of tributes and remembrances from its many admirers following an announcement from Arizona State Parks and Trails this week.

“It’s sort of like if the Mona Lisa had been impaled somehow,” Neil Myers, a landscape artist who painted a 24-by-30-inch portrait of the cactus in 2007, told The Washington Post. “The way it loomed over you, like an emblem of old creation, was just beautiful.”

The cactus’s death also rekindled concerns about the environmental threats facing saguaros, which are highly valued among some Native American tribes and whose blossom is the Arizona state wildflower.

It’s difficult to blame human-caused climate change for the destruction of any individual plant, particularly one as old and top-heavy as this one. But scientists who study saguaros say extreme weather is a growing menace that could drive down their overall numbers.

Years of drought and inconsistent monsoon rains in the region can starve the cactuses of water, according to biologists from Saguaro National Park outside Tucson. This can threaten the survival of young plants, which because of their significantly smaller size and capacity can’t store water as efficiently as older plants. A 2018 report from the park found that prolonged drought may be increasing the mortality rate of young saguaros and reducing the growth of new ones.

“At the same time, increasingly intense storms can harm even the hardiest cacti,” said Cam Juarez, engagement coordinator at Saguaro National Park. “It’s a double-edged sword.”

In addition to climate-related perils, saguaros face competition from buffelgrass, an invasive species introduced by ranchers to feed cattle. The dense grass grows rapidly across the desert, hogging moisture from the soil that saguaros and other plants need to thrive. It’s also extraordinarily flammable, burning several times hotter than other vegetation, making wildfires more destructive.

The saguaro in Catalina State Park withstood those challenges for many decades.
It sprouted from the desert floor in the early 1800s, long before Arizona became the 48th state in 1912, on the site of an ancient Hohokam settlement. It emerged slowly in the beginning, growing no more than 1.5 inches in its first eight years. In that fragile period, it likely would have been sheltered by a “nurse tree ” — typically a paloverde, ironwood or mesquite — that protected it from animals and harsh weather.

In the mid-1800s, a ranching family, the Romeros, moved into the area and built a compound within feet of the cactus. At this point the plant still would have been small, armless, nondescript. The family grazed cattle in its midst for more than a decade before they moved elsewhere, likely driven out by repeated raids from the Apache tribe that were common in the region at the time. The remains of their settlement are still there, and the trail leading up to the site is now known as the Romero Ruin trail.

At around 50 to 70 years old, the cactus would have started sprouting arms. At 125 years old, it would finally reach what scientists consider saguaro “adulthood.”

Throughout its life span, it provided a habitat for all kinds of desert creatures.

“Many birds, including cactus wren, woodpeckers and owls use saguaros for nesting. Larger birds of prey will use a tall saguaro for a hunting platform,” said Michelle Thompson, a spokesperson for Arizona State Parks and Trails. “Bats may use the pollen and nectar from cactus blooms. Birds, bats, mammals, reptiles and insects can all use the fruits for moisture and nourishment.”

Though the rains are the most likely culprit, it’s not clear what exactly brought down this giant. “It could have been the extremely moist monsoon season,” Thompson said. She noted that the park has experienced higher-than-average rainfall during this season after a historically wet year in 2021 and the second-driest season on record in 2020. It also could have simply been the end of the cactus’s life cycle, she said.

Now splayed across the ground in several pieces, the 200-year-old saguaro at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona, will soon begin rotting. (Arizona State Parks and Trails/AFP) (Handout/Arizona State Parks And Trails/A)

Now splayed across the ground in several pieces, the saguaro will soon begin rotting. Insects will flock to it. That, in turn, will attract birds and small mammals, as well as reptile predators such as snakes and lizards.

“It’s a consolation that this beloved cactus will remain there,” read a post from the Catalina State Park’s Instagram page, “providing habitat and food for many creatures as it decomposes.”

Myers, the landscape artist, said he was inspired to paint saguaros after he relocated to the Southwest and fell in love with the scenery. This one was special, he said, because of the way it rose over the hill where it lived, with the desert sky and Santa Catalina Mountains as a backdrop.

“This one stood atop in that place like a sentinel,” Myers said.
“They’re the most anthropomorphic plants that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I know it’s part of a larger natural process, but I hope that when people see that one laying on the ground that they take some concern for the ones still standing.”

 

Derek Hawkins is a reporter covering national and breaking news.

 

Newest U. S. Catholic Cardinal – A Surprisingly “Progressive” Pick

When San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy received his prestigious red hat at the Vatican on Saturday, he brought to the College of Cardinals a fervent loyalty to Pope Francis that has often put him at odds with the conservative majority in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Robert McElroy, a new Catholic cardinal

McElroy, 68, is the only American among the 21 clerics being installed as cardinals by Francis in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was chosen over numerous higherranking American archbishops, including two from his home state — outspoken conservative Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and José Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. bishops conference.

McElroy has been among the few American bishops who questioned why the conference insists on identifying abortion as its “preeminent” priority. Echoing the pope’s concerns, he has questioned why greater prominence is not given to issues such as poverty, immigration and climate change.

“The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the longterm death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity,” McElroy said in 2020.

The Rev. James Martin, editoratlarge of the Jesuit magazine America, described McElroy as “one of the foremost articulators in the United States not only of Pope Francis’ vision but also the vision of the Second Vatican Council and, more basically, the vision of the Gospel.

“He has been the special champion of people on the margins, both in society and in the church,” Martin said via email. “It’s not surprising that the Holy Father would have singled him out for this honor and that he would want the future Cardinal McElroy present in the conclave that will elect the next pope.”

Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America who has been critical of many Vatican decisions under Francis papacy, said McElroy “often speaks from the ideological margins” and thus would be seen, in this papacy, as an appropriate candidate to be a cardinal.

“But mostly, his elevation reminds me that more senior and substantial prelates like Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Gomez have, once again, been very deliberately passed over,” Pecknold said in an email.

Among his notable stances, McElroy has been one of a minority of U.S. bishops denouncing the campaign to exclude Catholic politicians who support abortion rights from Communion.

“It will bring tremendously destructive consequences,” McElroy wrote last year. “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen.”

Cordileone, in contrast, said earlier this year that he would no longer allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her support for abortion rights.

Last year McElroy was among a small group of bishops signing a statement expressing support for LGBTQ youth and denouncing the bullying often directed at them.

The bishops said LGBTQ youth attempt suicide at much higher rates, are often homeless because of families who reject them and “are the target of violent acts at alarming rates.”

“We stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you,” the statement read. “Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

McElroy received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard in 1975 and a master’s in history from Stanford in 1976.

He studied at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and in 1985 received a theology degree at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. He obtained a doctorate in moral theology at the Gregorian University in Rome the following year and a doctorate in political science at Stanford in 1989.

He was ordained in 1980 and assigned to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he served in a parish before becoming personal secretary to Archbishop John Quinn. Other California parish assignments included Redwood City and San Mateo.

He became an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco in 2010. In 2015, early in Francis’ pontificate, he was named bishop of San Diego. For the past three years, he has served as president of the California bishops conference.

Monsignor Stephen Doktorczyk, vicargeneral for the Diocese of Orange, said McElroys leadership skills have been impressive.

“One thing I respect about him is that while he is confident in the positions he takes, he truly is open to hearing the take of others and engaging in a dialogue with those who have different points of view,” Doktorczyk said.

Allan Figueroa Deck, a distinguished scholar of pastoral theology at Loyola Marymount University, said McElroy’s elevation represents a “clear message” from the pope about the direction the church should move in.

McElroy “understands and takes seriously what Pope Francis means by ‘epochal change’ and the challenge of finding better models, a more effective and inclusive style for the Church to proceed,” Deck said via email. “He approaches hotbutton issues like the pastoral care of LGBTQ persons and the abortion issue with balance and prudence.”

Conservative Catholic activist Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute has been a frequent critic of McElroy, for example condemning his strong support for the Association of United States Catholic Priests. The association is a relatively liberal group whose priorities include expanding the role of women in church leadership and creating “priestless parishes” that potentially could be overseen by laypeople as a way of countering the shortage of priests.

McElroy’s elevation “is a sign of Pope Francis’ desire to marry the Church with the world,” Hichborn said via email. “There can be little doubt that McElroy currently stands as the model for the kind of priest, bishop, and cardinal Pope Francis desires for the future of the Church.”

The Diocese of San Diego runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial counties. It includes 98 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools and, through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego, various social service and family support organizations.

___

More from AP at the Vatican

Of the 20 churchmen named new cardinals in the consistory ceremony, 16 are younger than 80 and thus eligible to participate in a conclave — the ritualshrouded, lockeddoor assembly of cardinals who cast paper ballots to elect a new pontiff.

The 85yearold Francis has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave. The others were appointed by the previous two popes, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis to be elected.

With the eight batches of cardinals Francis has named, prospects are boosted that whoever becomes the next pontiff will share his vision for the future of the church.

Francis reminded the cardinals of their mission, which he said includes “an openness to all peoples, to the horizons of the world, to the peripheries as yet unknown.”

Underlining Francis attention to those on societys margins, among the new cardinals is Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India. The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of Indias caste system, to become a cardinal.

One by one, the newest cardinals, whose red cassocks and headgear symbolizes the blood they must be prepared to shed if necessary in their mission, knelt before Francis, who placed on their head the prestigious biretta, as the threepeaked hat is known.

In choosing San Diego Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, Francis passed over U.S. churchmen leading traditionally more prestigious dioceses, including San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

Among the newest cardinals is Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr from Wa, Ghana, who has spoken out against LGBTQ rights. The African prelate felt ill when he arrived in Rome on Friday and was hospitalized for a heart problem, the pope told the other cardinals, asking them to pray “for this brother who should have been here.”

Asked by The Associated Press about such contrasting views among church leaders, McElroy replied that “there are always cultural differences within the life of the church as there is within in the human family. And different cultures approach these questions in different ways.”

McElroy added: My own view is that we have an obligation in the church to make the LGBT persons feel equally welcome in the life of the church, as everyone else.” . . .

Archbishop Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, became the first cardinal from the Amazon, the vast, environmentallyvulnerable region in South America on the Argentineborn pontiff’s home continent. In remarks to The AP, Steiner expressed concern about increasing violence in the Amazon.

“But this violence was not born there, it came from outside, Steiner, 71, said. ”It is always violence related to money. Concessions, deforestation, also with the mines, also with the fishing.

At 48, the youngest member among the cardinals ranks is an Italian missionary in Mongolia, where Catholics number some 1,300. Francis knows how important it is supporting these little communities, said the new cardinal, Giorgio Marengo.

Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Memo to Florida Gov. DeSantis: DON’T You DARE Read This!

NOTE: “Don’t Say ‘Gay’”? Smacking around Disney’s Mouse?? Bullying teachers??? Squashing Drag Storytime?? Hectoring trans folk???

William Prynne (1600-1669)

Guv, you must have a secret stash of the more colorful works of William Prynne (1600-1669).  Back in The Day, old Willie P. Knew how to put the Pew and the Pure back into Puritanism. Let’s hear a bit more about him . . .]

In 1633, the irascible [but indefatigable] Prynne published Histrio-Mastix, a thousand-page attack on stage plays, actresses, the magistrates who permitted them (plays and women in them ) and the spectators who viewed them.  Women had long been banned from the stage, which evoked much cross-dressing and falsetto flouncing by male actors. But don’t call them the first drag queens, particularly if you’re a teacher in Florida, Texas, or other neo-Puritan jurisdictions: the anonymous tiplines will soon be buzzing with your name and address.

Part of the title page, which goes on and on . . .

Prynne settled for calling females who acted onstage simply “notorious whores.” He also denounced long hair on men as “unseemly and unlawful unto Christians”, while it was “mannish, unnatural, impudent, and unchristian” for women to cut it short.

Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. They were not amused by William Prynne’s condemnation of such abominations as long hair on men, stage plays, women in stage plays, and women in stage plays who actually dared to speak. But while they lacked modern tools such as Twitter, they had other means to express their displeasure at bad reviews, as Prynne learned.

But this polemic about women on stage, among other horrors, earned the royal displeasure from the King (Charles I) who had enjoyed watching his queen (Henrietta Maria) perform at Court. In fact, just about the time Prynne’s doorstop tome appeared in print, the queen herself had starred in an elaborate dramatic masque, “The Shepherd’s Paradise,” along with several of her ladies, who even  <gasp!> broke new ground in public shamelessness by speaking actual lines.

“Paradise” was notorious, all right, and not only because of the women’s speaking. It was also one of many very expensive royal indulgences: it called for elaborate sets, enough for nine scene changes, and lasted for seven to eight hours.  The “plot” was something about a mythical

“pastoral community dedicated to Platonic love
[don’t ask], refuge for unrequited lovers of both genders [do ask: and all orientations?] — “a peaceful receptacle of distressed minds.” The Shepherd’s Paradise is ruled by Bellesa, “beauty,” who was certainly played by Henrietta Maria. . . .” [Wikipedia]

“Paradise” wasn’t a hit, except, it seems, with the royal couple. But the rule then was, “Don’t Say Nay”: and in those days, even without Twitter, the ones in power had ways to make critics rue their effrontery and ill manners, ways that today’s neo-Puritans can only envy and dream about (so far).

For his published insolence Prynne was sent to the Fleet prison [where William Penn was later confined], spent three days shackled in the public pillory, and while in it had both his ears partly cut off.

The pillory. Prynne spent 3 days in it.

Fleet prison also played “host” to “Freeborn John” Lilburne, a “Leveller” agitator for religious and political liberty. He was imprisoned there in 1638 for distributing “unlicensed” [aka censored] publications—not coincidentally, perhaps, one of Prynne’s own—and for which was whipped while being dragged behind an oxcart from the Fleet prison to the pillory at Westminster.

[Lilburne] later thanked God (in defiant verse) for sustaining him through his ordeal:

When from Fleet-bridge to Westminster,
       at Carts Arsse I was whipt,
Then thou with joy my soul upheldst,
       so that I never wept.

Likewise when I on Pillory,
       in Palace-yard did stand,
Then by thy help against my foes,
       I had the upper-hand.”

Prynne was similarly punished but not deterred. He published at least 200 pamphlets & books, upholding presbyterianism and culturally strict Calvinism, and calling for the monarch to rule over all religion in England. He also strongly opposed a plan to permit Jews to return to and settle in England (after being banned since 1290).

In 1654, he took time to issue a blast against a rising new movement, titled, The Quakers Unmasked, and clearly detected to be but the spawn of Romish frogs, Jesuites, and Franciscan fryers; sent from Rome to seduce the intoxicated giddy-headed English nation . . . [yada yada]

It was William Prynne’s fate (and  William Penn’s, ours; and that of Gov. DeSantis) to live in what are called “interesting times.” Prynne passed through years of religious conflict in England, which led to three civil wars, a revolution which overthrew the British monarchy and established church; and a failed attempt to build a “Commonwealth” in its place. The Commonwealth’s collapse was followed by the restoration of the monarchy and the official church. Quakers, among other surviving Dissenters, then faced and, at high cost, survived decades of persecution.

William III giving his Royal Assent to the Toleration Act, 1689.

By 1689, some of the “interesting” trends had begun to simmer down, enough that several generations of continuing religious turmoil finally produced an Act of Toleration. It wasn’t ideal, but opened the door to legal status for dissident groups like Quakers, and ushered in a long period of often “uninteresting” Quietism among them; which ultimately produced more interesting times. But by 1689, Prynne did not object, as he had been dead for twenty years. (William Penn, OTOH, saw the inside of several more prison cells in those last pre-Toleration decades.)

Prynne and Histrio-Mastix are pretty much forgotten today; but some of the penalties he faced, and even practices he supported, seem to be having a kind of revival. His attitudes are also recognizable; he wasn’t exactly a apostle of critical thinking and open inquiry. I see the impact of these echoes in, for instance, the numerous and credible reports of a nationwide teacher shortage. 

Clearly, low pay and respect from officials are big drivers here; but my sense is that the push from culture war zealots and extremists is making it worse. Beyond schools, libraries and other forums for public expression are feeling the pressures. Too many among us show symptoms of being part of what Prynne deemed an “intoxicated giddy-headed English [or American] nation,” drunk on the brew of revenge, race and reaction.

What are the rest of us gonna do?

Well, one thing: keep this article away from DeSantis, and his ilk. It will just give them some new bad ideas; and they’ve got plenty of those already. And otherwise, bring everyone out to vote pro-democracy; then get ready to tough it out, on every front.

 

Thanks to — Andrew Murphy for material adapted from his biography of William Penn, and help from Wikipedia.  

An Icon of Occupy Wall Street Remembered


AP News: Dorli Rainey, symbol of Occupy movement, dies at 95

SEATTLE (AP) — Dorli Rainey, a selfdescribed “old lady in combat boots” who became a symbol of the Occupy protest movement when she was photographed after being peppersprayed by Seattle police, has died. She was 95.

Dorli Rainey, in the days of Occupy Wall Street, in Seattle

The longtime political activist died on Aug. 12, the Seattle Times reported. Her daughter, Gabriele Rainey, told the newspaper her mom was “so active because she loved this country, and she wanted to make sure that the country was good to its people.” Continue reading An Icon of Occupy Wall Street Remembered

Obits: Music & Theology: J. Deotis Roberts & Butch Thompson

J. Deotis Roberts, a pioneer of Black theology, dies at 95

Washington Post — August 16, 2022

By Harrison Smith
August 16, 2022

The night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, the Rev. J. Deotis Roberts was attending a conference at Duke University, listening to German theologian Jürgen Moltmann present a paper on the theology of hope.

Dr. Roberts, a soft-spoken Baptist minister and theology professor at Howard University in Washington, had spent years wrestling with philosophical questions about God, existence and meaning. Now he began to wonder what Moltmann’s theology — what any theology — had to say to “a hopeless people” living in an age of anger and despair.

  1. The Rev. J. Deotis Roberts in 2007 at his home in Bowie, Md. (Charmaine Roberts Parker)

     

The next morning, he asked Moltmann how his approach to Christianity might be applied to Black Americans. The German scholar had no answers.

“It was then,” Dr. Roberts later wrote in an essay, “that the seed of ‘black theology’ began to germinate in my own mind.”

Dr. Roberts went on to help pioneer Black theology, a new perspective on Christianity that evolved in response to the revolutionary spirit of the Black Power movement, with a focus on issues of racial justice and liberation. “I am pleading for a theology of the Black experience which grows out of the soil of our heritage and life,” he wrote in a 1976 article for the Journal of Religious Thought, outlining his vision. “For us faith and ethics must be wed. There can be no separation of the secular and the sacred. Jesus means freedom.”

A first-generation Black theologian, Dr. Roberts rose from an upbringing in the segregated South, where the county prison was within sight of his elementary school, to become the first African American to earn a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh’s divinity school in Scotland. His work emphasized both liberation and reconciliation, drawing from King’s emphasis on nonviolence as well as Malcolm X’s message of Black self-determination. As he saw it, the church had an obligation to address social issues and engage with the daily struggles of marginalized people, including African Americans.

“No theologian of [Christianity] can escape the ethical questions raised by racism,” he wrote in his 1971 book “Liberation and Reconciliation,” “whether white oppression or black response.”

Over the decades, Dr. Roberts’s work became “a touchstone” for generations of Black theologians, according to his former student David Emmanuel Goatley, director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School. Dr. Roberts was 95 when he died July 22 at his home in Clinton, Md. His daughter Charmaine Roberts Parker confirmed the death but did not cite a cause.

For years, Dr. Roberts was engaged in an intellectual dialogue with the Rev. James H. Cone, who effectively launched Black theology as a formal discipline with his 1969 book “Black Theology & Black Power.” While Cone emphasized the need for liberation, Dr. Roberts insisted that reconciliation was just as important. “He did not want to support any notion of freedom, of liberation, that would in any way create separation,” said the Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

“If Cone was more spurred on by a Malcolm and the Black Power movement,” she added in a phone interview, “then Roberts was more like a King,” emphasizing a message of nonviolence and reconciliation while pointing to “Christ’s universal relationship to all humanity,” not just White people, who often depicted Jesus as a blond-haired, light-skinned messiah. “For Roberts,” Douglas continued, “Black people had as much right to see Christ in their likeness as did anybody else.”

Dr. Roberts liked to say that he lived “with one foot in the academy and one foot in the church,” and preached and taught at churches while spending much of his academic career at historically Black institutions. He taught at Howard’s divinity school for 22 years before leaving in 1980 to become president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, a consortium of seminaries in Atlanta. He was later a distinguished professor of philosophical theology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the Philadelphia suburbs, and in 1992 he was elected the first Black president of the American Theological Society, one of the field’s oldest professional associations.

He felt an obligation, he said, to help “overcome the cancer of racism” afflicting seminaries and other religious institutions, in part by bringing more people of color — and more women — into leadership positions. For many years he also taught alongside Latin American theologians at a seminary in Buenos Aires and collaborated with scholars from around the world, focusing in particular on Black theology’s African spiritual heritage.

“Roberts applied himself and his genius to building important bridges between African Americans and Euro Americans; the church and the community; older and younger generations; traditional and contemporary cultured expressions; and between prophetic and praise-based church traditions,” said Adetokunbo Adelekan, a theology and ethics professor at Palmer Theological Seminary, the successor to Eastern Baptist.

“In so doing,” Adelekan continued in an email, “he helped to expand our imagination about the role of the seminary and the church and where the future of the American Church may be.”

The youngest of three children, James Roberts was born in Spindale, N.C., on July 12, 1927. His father was a carpenter, and his mother was a homemaker. According to his daughter, he took the middle name Deotis at the suggestion of his elementary school principal, who said that it meant “learned man” or “scholar.”

He went on to graduate from high school at 16 and studied at historically Black universities, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in 1947 and a bachelor of divinity from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., in 1950. During his studies, he supported himself in part by serving as a pastor.

Dr. Roberts earned a master of sacred theology degree in 1952 from Hartford Seminary (now Hartford International University for Religion and Peace) and received his doctorate in philosophical theology five years later. In part, said Goatley, he completed his education in Scotland because of racial barriers at American divinity schools: “There were exceedingly few opportunities in the United States for an African American to be able to pursue a PhD in theology or philosophy.”

The year after he got his doctorate, Dr. Roberts joined the Howard University faculty. He took a leave of absence in the mid-1970s to serve as dean of the theology school at Virginia Union University in Richmond, and taught at Eastern Baptist from 1984 until 1998, commuting to the campus in Wynnewood, Pa., from his home in Silver Spring, Md. Later he taught for three years at Duke.

Dr. Roberts published more than a dozen books, including the essay collection “Quest for a Black Theology” (1971), which he edited with James J. Gardner; “A Black Political Theology” (1974); and “Bonhoeffer and King: Speaking Truth to Power” (2005), which explored the theological perspectives of King and German minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

His wife of 66 years, Elizabeth Caldwell Roberts, an elementary school teacher, died in 2019. In addition to his daughter Parker of Clinton, Md., survivors include two other daughters, Carlita Roberts Marsh of Washington and Kristina Roberts, a best-selling author who writes under the pseudonym Zane and lives in Atlanta; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. He was predeceased by a son, Deotis.

After he started writing about Black theology, Dr. Roberts appeared at conferences and church gatherings to discuss his views, including at a 1989 conference in New York City where speakers noted some of the problems facing Black Americans, including poverty and violence.

“In some respects, we’ve gone backwards in this decade, and racism itself has become more insidious,” he told the New York Times at the time. “If our people are to survive,” he continued, “it will be largely due to how well the Black church carries out its mission.”

Harrison Smith is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. Since joining the obituaries section in 2015, he has profiled big-game hunters, fallen dictators and Olympic champions. He sometimes covers the living as well, and previously co-founded the South Side Weekly, a community newspaper in Chicago.

https://garrisonkeillor.substack.com/p/butch-thompson-you-will-be-missed

BUTCH THOMPSON – YOU WILL BE MISSED!

Nov 28, 1943 – August 14, 2022

     The most elegant gentleman to come out of Minnesota, Mr. Butch Thompson, 
died yesterday in St. Paul. He picked up the New Orleans spirit listening to Jelly
Roll Morton 78s and carried it through the 20th into the 21st century. He was a pianist and a clarinetist, the piano for the bounce, the clarinet for the blues, and if he could've he would've played both at the same time. We worked together for years, a quiet man, and I never knew him except through his music. God bless the memory, God preserve the music.
GK

Born and raised in Marine-on-St. Croix, a small Minne-river town, Butch Thompson was playing Christmas carols on his mother’s upright piano by age three, and began formal lessons at six. He picked up the clarinet in high school and led his first jazz group, “Shirt Thompson and His Sleeves,” as a senior.

After high school, he joined the Hall Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band of Minneapolis, and at 18 made his first visit to New Orleans, where he became one of the few non-New Orleanians to perform at Preservation Hall during the 1960s and ’70s.

In 1974, he joined the staff as the house pianist of public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. By 1980, the show was nationally syndicated, and the Butch Thompson Trio was the house band, a position the group held for the next six years.

From the early days on APHC, Butch remembers, “It was pretty casual back then. Margaret or somebody would call me and ask if I was busy on Saturday. More than once I remember saying I couldn’t get there by showtime, and being told to show up as soon as I could. Sometimes I’d go onstage without remembering what key something was in. If Garrison was going to sing, I usually couldn’t go wrong with E major.”

By the late ’90s, Thompson was known as a leading authority on early jazz. He served as a development consultant on the 1992 Broadway hit Jelly’s Last Jam, which starred Gregory Hines. He also joined the touring company of the off-Broadway hit Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man, playing several runs with that show in New York and other cities through 1997.

The Village Voice described Butch’s music as “beguiling piano Americana from an interpreter who knows that Bix was more than an impressionist and Fats was more than a buffoon.”

Arizona: Joe Arpaio Not Elected Mayor, again

AP News: Joe Arpaio loses 3rd comeback bid in town mayoral race

BY JACQUES BILLEAUD — Aug 10, 2022

PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Arpaio, the 90yearold former Arizona sheriff who was a once powerful figure in Republican politics but was ousted nearly six years ago amid frustration over his headlinegrabbing tactics and legal troubles, was defeated Wednesday in a race for mayor of the affluent suburb where he has lived for more than two decades.

Joe Arpaio

His defeat in the mayor’s race in Fountain Hills against twoterm incumbent Ginny Dickey marks Arpaio’s third failed comeback bid since his 2016 loss after serving 24 years as the sheriff of Maricopa County.

Even though election officials say all votes in Maricopa County have been counted, Arpaio said Wednesday evening that he wasn’t conceding the race and instead was going to consult with an attorney to explore whether to challenge the results.

“I am not saying I am going to do it,” Arpaio said of a legal challenge. “I’m not a lawyer. I just want a little information. In today’s environment, a large percentage of the people are not happy with the way the (election) system was working.”

Dickey didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The political stakes of running in Fountain Hills, a Republicanheavy town of 24,000, were much lower for Arpaio than when he served as the top law enforcer of a county of over 4 million people.

Arpaio was crushed by a Democratic challenger in 2016 and was convicted the next year of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants, though he was later pardoned by thenPresident Donald Trump.

Arpaio then finished third in a Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018 and second in the GOP primary in a 2020 bid to win back the sheriff’s post.

In his first two comeback attempts, Arpaio lost the vote in Fountain Hills.

Arpaio, a skilled political fundraiser who spent more than $12 million in his 2016 sheriff’s campaign, has shelled out $161,000 in the mayor’s race — six times the amount spent by Dickey.

Before the federal government and the courts stripped away his immigration powers, Arpaio led 20 largescale traffic patrols that targeted immigrants and more than 80 business raids to bust people working in the United States without permission.

While his defiant streak played well with voters for many years, Arpaio faced heavy criticism for taking on policies that he knew were controversial and racking up $147 million in taxpayerfunded legal bills.

Though he billed himself as the toughest sheriff in America, his agency botched the investigations of more than 400 sexcrimes complaints made to his office.

Continue reading Arizona: Joe Arpaio Not Elected Mayor, again

Fly High, Ms. American Pie! Don McLean’s Classic Is 50 & Still Great

The Guardian:‘I said, Don, it’s time for you to reveal’: 50 years later, the truth behind American Pie

In an expansive new documentary, Don McLean talks about the much-discussed meaning of his enduring hit song

Jim Farber 

A long, long time ago – five decades to be exact – America was roiled by wrenching generational showdowns, massive street protests, and a blazing array of social justice movements. Now, half a century later, similar events and dynamics dominate the public conversation. So, perhaps, it’s poetic that precisely five decades have elapsed since a song that captured all that cultural turmoil, American Pie, became a smash hit. “It’s a song that spoke to its time,” said Spencer Proffer, who has produced a comprehensive new documentary about the song, titled The Day the Music Died. “But it’s just as applicable now.”
In fact, American Pie has only gained in fans and expanded in meaning as it has hit successive generations and generated fresh covers. Over the years, it has been interpreted by artists from Madonna (who created a commercially triumphant, if aesthetically limp, take in 2000) to Garth Brooks to Jon Bon Jovi to John Mayer. Throughout the years, journalists have subjected the song to a Talmudic level of scrutiny, while its songwriter, Don McLean, has doled out dribs and drabs of insight into his intent. By contrast, the new documentary offers the first line-by-line deconstruction of the song’s lyrics, as well as the most detailed analysis to date of its musical evolution. “I told Don, ‘It’s time for you to reveal what 50 years of journalists have wanted to know,’” Proffer said. “This film was a concerted effort to raise the curtain.”
In addition, it offers an emotional account of the tragic event that McLean used as his jumping off point for the larger story he wanted to tell.
The event, which McLean dubbed “the day the music died”, shattered the pop world of its day and had a formative effect on the songwriter. On a frigid night in 1959, a small plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson (The Big Bopper) crashed in a corn field in Clear Lake, Iowa, minutes after take-off, killing everyone on board.

Continue reading Fly High, Ms. American Pie! Don McLean’s Classic Is 50 & Still Great

Quotes for Tuesday: supreme hypocrisy, hanging on too long, Gas & (as usual) Guns . . .

New York Times: In its joint dissent [from the supreme court decision to overthrow Roe] in Dobbs, the court’s three-member liberal wing wrote, “Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat. It is one or the other.”
Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s both.

— Harry Litman, Harry Litman, UCLA law professor, former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general

Michelle Goldberg: As a recent New York Times/Siena College poll found, 64 percent of Democrats want a different presidential nominee in 2024. Those Democrats cite Biden’s age more than any other factor, though job performance is close behind. Their concern isn’t surprising. . . .
There’s a problem here that goes beyond a shortage of presidential speeches and media appearances, or even Biden himself. We are ruled by a gerontocracy. Biden is 79. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 82. The House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, is 83. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is 71. Often, it’s not clear if they grasp how broken this country is.

They built their careers in institutions that worked, more or less, and they seem to expect them to start working again. They give every impression of seeing this moment, when the gears of government have seized and one party openly schemes against democracy, as an interregnum rather than a tipping point. . . .

If there’s one consolation in Biden’s age, it’s that he can step aside without conceding failure. There’s no shame in not running for president in your 80s. He emerged from semiretirement to save the country from a second Trump term, and for that we all owe him a great debt. But now we need someone who can stand up to the still-roiling forces of Trumpism.

There are plenty of possibilities: . . . Biden said, during the 2020 campaign, that he wanted to be a “bridge” to a new generation of Democrats. Soon it will be time to cross it.
—- Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

Bloomberg: A year into Russia manipulating European gas supplies, the market is finally convinced that Moscow will continue to do so, and perhaps with greater intensity.

The first test comes in the next two weeks. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the most important gas link between Russia and the European Union, undergoes annual maintenance from July 11 to July 21. Berlin fears that Moscow will find an excuse to keep it closed for good, cutting gas supplies to Germany completely. After all that Moscow has done, the German government is right to be concerned.

Yet, Russia may want to keep some gas flowing to preserve its long-term leverage. From a game-theory point of view, that makes sense. Once Russia stops shipments completely, it can no longer apply pressure. Tactically, Moscow is likely to keep some gas moving, retaining the option of cutting or slowing flows whenever it chooses.

The Guardian: The US president was delivering a speech on the South Lawn on Monday when he was interrupted by Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was among 14 students and three staff members killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

“We have to do more than that!” Oliver shouted, among other remarks, while standing up and wearing dark sunglasses, grey beard and purple jacket.

At first Biden told him, “Sit down, you’ll hear what I have to say,” but then the president relented and said, “Let him talk, let him talk, OK?”

By then, however, security had already stepped in to take Oliver away.

Earlier on Monday, Oliver had made clear that he objected to the event being billed as a celebration in the aftermath of a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on 24 May.

He wrote on Twitter: “The word CELEBRATION has no space in a society that saw 19 kids massacred just a month ago.”

The confrontation underlined simmering frustration with Biden, accused of failing to meet the moment not only on guns but abortion, climate and other issues. . . .

The White House gave Biden an opportunity to respond to the critics by showcasing the first major federal gun safety bill in three decades, which he signed into law last month. He was joined in bright summer sunshine by survivors and family members of those slain during mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe, Uvalde, Buffalo, Highland Park and others. . . .

man in sunglasses points finger
Manuel Oliver interrupts Biden on the White House’s South Lawn. Photograph: Shawn Thew/UPI/Rex/Shutterstock

But the scale of the challenge was laid bare when, just 16 days after the law took effect, a gunman in Highland Park, Illinois, killed seven people and wounded more than 30 others at an Independence Day parade, fueling the discontent of Oliver and other activists who want to see Biden move faster and further.

Biden hailed the law as “real progress” and said “lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this” but acknowledged that “more has to be done”. He said: “It matters, it matters, but it’s not enough and we all know that.”. . . .

“We are living in a country awash in weapons of war,” Biden said with palpable anger. “Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States, more than car accidents, more than cancer.”

He earned applause as he insisted that the second amendment to the federal constitution, which protects the right to bear arms, should not supersede others.

Among the hundreds of guests on the south lawn were a bipartisan group of senators who crafted and supported the legislation, as well as local-level officials including the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, and Highland Park mayor, Nancy Rotering.

But the director of the campaign group Guns Down America, Igor Volsky, wasn’t wholly impressed by the White House’s framing of the gathering.

Volsky told the Associated Press news agency: “There’s simply not much to celebrate here. It’s historic, but it’s also the very bare minimum of what Congress should do.

“And as we were reminded by the shooting on July fourth, and there’s so many other gun deaths that have occurred since then. The crisis of gun violence is just far more urgent.”