Category Archives: Remarkable People

The Hidden Quaker Role in a Famous Catholic Monastery Cookbook “Empire”

How a solitary monk, known for his soup, united a community
[And how a Quaker helped him start]

Washington Post — September 20, 2022

By Kristen Hartke

As dusk began to fall on Jan. 10, 2001, Ray Patchey just wanted to get home to his family for his birthday dinner.

A lineman with Verizon, Patchey had been sent out to repair telephone lines following a snowstorm in rural Dutchess County, N.Y. Chilled to the bone, Patchey and another technician were just packing up to leave when the door to the nearby farmhouse swung open and a voice called out, “Don’t go, I’ve made some soup for you!”

Looking up, Patchey saw a Benedictine monk, clothed in traditional habit and sandals, standing in the doorway, and thought, “How can I say no?”

Little did he know that the monk was a best-selling cookbook author with legions of fans around the world. That bowl of soup, like so many others that Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette has shared with friends and strangers alike over the course of several decades while living mostly alone at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery, was just the beginning.

Now 82, Brother Victor is the author of some 18 books, half of which are cookbooks that have collectively sold in the millions and been translated into multiple languages, including French, Japanese and Dutch. Born in Lées-Athas, a village in southwestern France’s Pyrenees mountains, Brother Victor grew up eating food that was cooked in rhythm with the seasons, saying now: “There is nothing like the French way of cooking, and everyone I knew cooked well — my mother, my grandmother. Everything we ate, vegetables, cheese,
bread, was fresh and local.” Continue reading The Hidden Quaker Role in a Famous Catholic Monastery Cookbook “Empire”

Russia’s top Pop Singer Denounces Ukraine War

[NOTE: two hundred and fifty million pop records, 500+ songs, in a dozen or more languages, over a 50-year career and I never heard one of them. A reminder that I’ve led a very sheltered western life. Now, it sounds like she may be the loudest public voice in Russia against Putin’s war. Will it have impact? Can she do it and stay out of jail?]


Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva speaks out against war in Ukraine

Singer who shot to fame in Soviet era asks to be labelled ‘foreign agent’ after husband denounced conflict

Published: Sunday, 18 September 2022

The Russian singer Alla Pugacheva has spoken out against the war in Ukraine and the “death of our boys for illusory goals”.

The remarks are the first time that the pop star, an icon in Russia, has publicly criticised the conflict.

Her husband, Maxim Galkin, joined journalists, human rights activists and Kremlin opponents in being labelled a “foreign agent” last week for opposing the war.

Addressing the Russian justice ministry, Pugacheva told her 3.4 million Instagram followers: “I am asking you to include me on the foreign agents list of my beloved country.

“Because I stand in solidarity with my husband, who is an honest and ethical person, a true and incorruptible Russian patriot, who only wishes for prosperity, peace and freedom of expression in his motherland.”

Alla Pugacheva, the longtime top popstar singer in Russia-USSR. Cover of her song, “Some Day.”

She said her husband wanted “the end of the deaths of our boys for illusory goals that make our country a pariah and weigh heavily on the lives of its citizens”.

Pugacheva, 73, who has sold more than 250m records, became hugely popular during the Soviet era and has remained so over a career spanning more than 55 years.

Galkin, a TV presenter who now lives abroad, has often criticised the war in Ukraine.

Russian media said Pugacheva left the country after the invasion began in February. She was seen in Moscow at the funeral of the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on 3 September.

Russian authorities have clamped down on any criticism of the war in Ukraine, handing out fines and prison sentences to dissenters. Many Russian artists who denounced the conflict had their shows cancelled.

Pugacheva has met the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, several times, but she has never publicly supported him.

Listen to: “Some Day”:

https://youtu.be/dlLbb-Em6bE ”

 

Garrison Keillor – Autumn is Coming: Prepare to Be Bold

 

She told me out of the blue that she adores me. I was there, in a chair, listening; she was standing by the grandfather clock. She didn’t sing it but she said it clearly. This should answer any remaining questions. But Mister Malaise and Madam Miasma are ever on our trail, skulking in woodlands and meadows, waylaying the vulnerable, requiring us to drink discouragement and despair, and they got me a few days ago, two weeks after mitral valve replacement, walking tall in Transitional Care, transitioning back to normal life when I was hit (in the time it takes to tell it) by abject weakness, dizziness, nausea, and had to be locked up in hospital and tubes put in my arms for blood and antibiotics, and then released in a weakened semi-invalid state. It’s a lousy feeling. I look out at Minneapolis and imagine it’s Odessa, which it is not. I worry the Swiss banks will fail. Water mains will burst. Bacon will be banned, leaving us with vegan substitute

.The body wants to heal and it has felicitous intuitions how to go about doing it but meanwhile I ache and shuffle around like an old grampa and hike the hallways and work at maintaining a cheerful outlook (false). My wife is a worrier and when we promised to love and honor each other 27 years ago, diarrhea and vomiting weren’t mentioned in detail, so I walk carefully. Continue reading Garrison Keillor – Autumn is Coming: Prepare to Be Bold

Viola Davis Stars in new film, “The Woman King”

AP News: ‘Woman King,’ Viola Davis and the culmination of a struggle

TORONTO (AP) — When Viola Davis, sculpted and hardened from months of training, first stood in the full garb of the Agojie warrior women, with her bare feet in the African sand, it was the culmination of not just the yearslong push to make “The Woman King,” but of a lifelong battle.

“It was sort of metaphoric to not just everything I had done to prepare for this role but everything that I had done as a Black woman to prepare for this moment,” Davis says. “Which is to be a warrior.”

“The Woman King,” which opens in theaters Friday, is a $50 million action epic, set in 1820s West Africa, about the allfemale army of the Kingdom of Dahomey. Made largely by women and featuring an almost completely Black cast, it’s powerfully unlike anything Hollywood has ever produced. And just as much as “The Woman King” dramatizes the fierce fighting of the Agojie, the film represents its own struggle.

“Fighting for actors. Fighting for the director. You have to fight for the writer,” Davis, also a producer, said in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Years and years and years go by and you’re still fighting. You’re fighting for the budget. You’re fighting for even the commercial aspects of the story. You’re fighting for your hair. Fight. Fight. Fight.”

“Whenever you’re doing anything new, it requires the warrior spirit,” says Davis. “What I feel now is: It was worth it.”

“The Woman King,” directed by Gina PrinceBythewood (“The Old Guard, “Love & Basketball”), began as an idea seven years ago, after a trip to Africa by Maria Bello, the producer and actor. Enamored by the history of the Agojie, she brought the concept to producer Cathy Schulman, the producer of the Oscarwinning “Crash and the former head of Women in Film.

Schulman knew the film could be a potent portrait of female strength, but she didn’t anticipate that, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it might serve as a rallying cry at a time when many consider women’s rights under siege.

“There couldn’t be a more important time for a movie about female courage, about sisterhood, about the complexity of the female experience, not to mention the physicality of our bodies,” Schulman says.

Viola Davis brought her empowering drama The Woman King to the Toronto International Film Festival for the films world premiere. Davis said the role of an African warrior named Nanisca “feels like my coming out party.” (Sept. 11)

But the producers and Davis, who was attached early on, found it difficult to convince executives and financiers to bankroll “The Woman King” at a budget large enough to provide it the scale it deserved.

“‘Braveheart,’ ‘Gladiator,’ ‘Last of the Mohicans.’ I love those movies,” says PrinceBythewood. “Now, here was our chance to tell our story in this genre.”

“The Woman King,” a rousing emotional wallop that seamlessly fuses interior drama with action spectacle, was met with universal acclaim at its Toronto premiere as a crowdpleaser of another kind. But the Hollywood calculus for what might appeal to a broad audience has traditionally really meant “Will white people watch it?”

“Black people did not have to love ‘Thelma & Louise’ for ‘Thelma & Louise’ to get made,” says Davis. “White people have to love ‘The Woman King’ for ‘The Woman King’ to get made — according to Hollywood.”

A pivotal moment came when “Black Panther” was released. Ryan Coogler’s film featured a fictionalization of the Agojie, the Dora Milaje, and its massive worldwide boxoffice ($1.3 billion) was a wakeup call to the industry.

“We would not have been able to do ‘Woman King’ without ‘Black Panther,’ Davis says. “I’m eternally grateful to ‘Black Panther.’

To ready for the shoot in South Africa, Davis and fellow cast members Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim underwent a grueling monthslong regimen of weight lifting and fight training. The actors later performed their own stunts in the film. Davis, who at 57 refers to herself as “the O.G. warrior” among her younger castmates, says she never felt prouder of her body. “Not just for the way that it looked but for the way it serviced me.”

Lynch, the British actor of “No Time to Die,” would later be astonished watching herself in the film.

“I find it hard to believe that that was really me,” says Lynch. “It really taught me a lot about just what women come with. We have so much to be able to push through pain and birth children and push against the world’s pressures.

“The Woman King,” penned by Dana Stevens, shot by Polly Morgan and edited by Terilyn Shropshir, was crewed by PrinceBythewood with women and people of color in most departmenthead positions.

“It breathes such a more pleasant set,” says Schulman. “Lack of drama. More attitude of the work first. Less hierarchy. I just haven’t seen any job a woman can’t do. That was all a fallacy.”

Lynch, visibly moved by her experience making “Woman King, for the first time witnessed an Africaset action drama staged outside of the white male gaze.

“‘The Woman King’ will be its own blueprint that I hope filmmakers and heads of studios can take as an example,” Lynch says.

Some have been skeptical of how “The Woman King” tackles history. Last month, the 1619 Project author Nikole HannahJones wrote on Twitter that “it will be interesting to see how a movie that seems to glorify the allfemale military unit of the Dahomey deals with the fact that this kingdom derived its wealth from capturing Africans for the transAtlantic slave trade.”

The Agojie were indeed a brutal and bloodthirsty army that participated in slave raids. “The Woman King,” like most historical epics, takes some artistic license. But the slave trade is a central component to its narrative. Schulman says the 1820s were chosen from the 16001904 history of the Dahomey kingdom specifically for the backdrop of conflict with the mightier Oyo empire, along with mounting pressure from European colonizers for captives.

“The Woman King” is hoping to make history of its own by blazing a new path for the film industry. The Sony Pictures release will hope to enliven movie theaters after a prolonged latesummer lull at the box office.

“I feel that the film is eventized,” says Schulman. “My anticipation is that we’re ready for this film. We just don’t know how ready we truly are.”

Davis, for her part, feels like she’s been ready all her life. She has taken to calling “The Woman King” her “magnum opus” because her production company produced it, because she fought so hard for it.

“This was a hardwon battle,” says Davis. “And I won it. I feel like I won the battle.”

It’s an accomplishment that sends Davis back to her initial dreams of show business as a young girl growing up poor in Rhode Island. Before encountering the reality of the film industry, her movie dreams were limitless.

“This movie affirms that it’s possible,” says Davis. “That there are no limitations to my dreams. That, actually, I was right.”

Hunter Biden’s Laptop

From New York Magazine — Sept. 12, 2022

The Sordid Saga of Hunter Biden’s Laptop

The most invasive data breach imaginable is a political scandal Democrats can’t just wish away.


Imagine the entirety of your digital existence
plotted out before you: your accounts and passwords; your avatars; your contacts; every exchange of written dialogue; the full history of your logged interests, banal and forgettable and closely held; the note where you scrawled once-urgent word fragments that now make zero sense to you; the rabbit holes you fell down or the minor obsession or the thing that connected to the thing that led you to decide to do another thing that became a part of a part of a part of who you are, or a part of who you are to some people, or a part of who you are only to yourself, barely recognizable in the light of day. Your selfies. Your sexts. Your emails. Your calendar. Your to-do list. Your playlists. Your tabs.

Now imagine that you are both the son of a man running for president and a lawyer and lobbyist accustomed to mixing with powerful people and doing business overseas premised on your proximity to those powerful people, and that you are in the throes of a divorce and a midlife catastrophe brought on by the early death of your older brother and that, in your distortion field of grief, on a hell-bent drug-and-alcohol binge, you have been making even more horrible choices, taking up with your brother’s widow and, while in considerable financial debt, hiring prostitutes and zoning out with camgirls and staying awake for days at a time on crack cocaine and generally hurting everyone in your life who is trying to help you with your cruel and idiotic behavior.

And imagine that, in the middle of all of this, you lose control of 217 gigabytes of your personal data: videos in which you have sex; videos in which you smoke crack; bleary-eyed selfies; selfies that document your in-progress dental work; your bank statements; your Venmo transactions; your business emails; your toxic rants at family members; analysis from your psychiatrist; your porn searches; your Social Security number; explicit photos of the many women passing through your bedrooms, photos of your kids, of your father, of life and death, despair and boredom.

Imagine revealing this kaleidoscopic archive of all your different selves to anyone else. Now imagine it’s not just anyone but the same political opposition that has already sought to destroy your father’s candidacy by improperly pressuring a foreign leader to offer up dirt about your (sketchy, for sure) business dealings. Imagine, in a country with toxic and broken politics, how explosive this collection of data might appear to your enemies in the days leading up to a presidential election, and how valuable it might become after their defeat, as they seek to overturn and then undermine the results. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call this nebulous cloud of data a “laptop.”

It is hard to think of a single living individual who has experienced as total an annihilation of digital privacy since our devices became extensions of our consciousness. A suite of executives and thousands of employees were victimized by the Sony hack. In the iCloud hack known as “the Fappening,” nude photos of dozens of celebrities ended up on Reddit and 4chan. The 2016 hack of DNC servers and John Podesta’s Gmail exposed the private communications of a major political party. But in terms of the vastness of the data breach, the narrowness of its target, and its capacity to be deployed as a political weapon, none of those compare to the exposure of Hunter Biden’s entire virtual life.

Hidden inside the laptop, according to those (almost exclusively on the right) who have reviewed the data or who trust the word of those who claim they have, is a corruption scandal that implicates not just Hunter but other members of the Biden family, including the president. The laptop details Hunter’s involvement with a Ukrainian natural-gas producer that paid him millions of dollars to serve on its board — the relationship at the center of Donald Trump’s first impeachment. It shows how a Chinese energy company directed millions of dollars in consulting fees to Hunter and his uncle. It reveals White House meetings and slush-fund dinners and wheeling and dealing, from Romania to Monte Carlo to Cafe Milano. Most important, these people claim the laptop contains proof that, despite his denials, Joe Biden — allegedly referred to in emails as “the big guy” — was fully aware of, and looking to profit from, his son’s business activities.

The most serious allegations remain unproved. The White House has whistled past the issue, with ritual “no comments” on the occasions it is questioned about matters related to the laptop. (In response to a request from New York, a White House spokesperson said, “You can say the White House declined to comment for the story.”) Without a counterargument from the White House or the Biden family, and with mainstream political reporters only now trying to catch up to the tabloid coverage and the ideologically motivated actors who have been advancing the story, Democrats in Washington simply don’t know what to say. There has been no penalty for silence while they’ve been in power, just the vague assumption that it does seem like there’s something to the story, if only anyone credible would bother to check it out.

But the present stalemate, in which one side treats the subject with polite indifference while the other side foments and fundraises off it, is unsustainable. Maybe it will be broken by the Justice Department, which is reported to be conducting a wide-ranging criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, examining whether he violated various tax, money-laundering, and lobbying-disclosure laws. In July, CNN reported that the Justice Department had “debated the strength of the case for months,” as it faced an unofficial September deadline to file charges ahead of the midterm election. Biden paid off a large tax liability with the help of a loan from an entertainment attorney (one of at least three lawyers on his team) in an apparent attempt to head off a potential indictment.

Even if the DOJ doesn’t bring charges against Hunter, Republicans may gain control of at least one chamber of Congress — and, with it, subpoena power — in November. If they do, they have vowed to start their own investigations, which would lead to months or years of manufactured drama. (The laptop has already been entered into the Congressional Recordon a motion by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz.)

When you look at it as merely a political object, the laptop may not seem all that remarkable. But the implications of what happened to Hunter Biden go far beyond politics. Whether or not he turns out to be the perpetrator of a crime, he is certainly the victim of a violation — an invasion of privacy that is staggering in its totality. Even the people who are responsible for disseminating the laptop admit that, on a human level, what happened to Hunter is horrifying. “A lot of stuff I do, I don’t feel great about,” says one of them, Steve Bannon. “But we’re in a war.”

[NOTE: there’s about 10,000 more words of this story, much more than would fit here. It detais among otherthe many copies and alterations that have been made to the purported laptop, and the manic marathon of rightwing efforts to get it into the center of public attention. They see it as the keystone of a Trumpist tower of scandal that, some believe, would fall on and bury Joe Biden.
But the chain of custody and the handling of its files are likely to be a nightmare for actual prosecutors (and a billing goldmine for defense attorneys). One evidence specialist said the laptop hard drive was like a crime scene which police had left littered with burger wrappers. Not a good look in a real court.

But meantime, we’ll close with the article’s last glimpse of Hunter, post-rehab, married again, parenting a toddler and keeping busy with a seemingly very profitable business selling his original paintings and other artwork.

Hunter Biden, a hot-selling artist?

Well, why not? Picasso was a dissolute scoundrel too; among other greats who filled up canvases. And Gauguin, as the The New York Times art critic pointed out, was a stockbroker. If you don’t believe Biden’s work is real, join the club . . . .

New York: As for Hunter, the oldest living child of the president now resides in Malibu, at the top of a hill, in a place of sublime beauty. He lives in a sunlit home of modest size and modern style. The Secret Service, ever hovering, has a house next door.

[NOTE: The three paintings here were part of Biden’s one-man show in New York City last year.]

He tries to dodge the paparazzi, not always successfully. He looks different today, at 52, than the man on the laptop. His face is fuller. His teeth, once rotting and crooked, have been restored to gleaming condition by a Manhattan cosmetic dentist (at a cost of $69,977, according to records cited in Laptop From Hell).

He has given up practicing law as he awaits a long-delayed decision from the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, who has continued the probe of his finances. He spends his days making art in his garage. Last year, he had shows in New York and Los Angeles. (Several pieces sold at a reported price of $75,000 each to undisclosed buyers.) He follows the work of the researchers closely. At first he thought Trump’s defeat might provide a definite end point to his troubles, that his father’s adversaries might move on to other obsessions. Like so many Americans, he has since learned his hopes were misguided.

He deals with his violation in his own way. He paints still lifes of flowers; portraits of Catholic martyrs; paintings of birds done in alcohol ink, which creates a ghostly effect.
In one series, according to someone who has seen them, Biden has made a number of self-portraits, based on the photos in the tabloids, the ones that show him in the depths of his despair. . . .

 

Quotes of the Day

Patti Davis, recalling the passing of her father, Ronald Reagan:

“My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side..”

Jamelle Bouie quoting Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “‘A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people,” [Lincoln] said. “Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism.”

“You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government,” Lincoln added, “while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend it.’ ”

SERGE SCHMEMANN: Part of [the Queen’s] appeal was the extravagant — some might say excessive — pomp and ceremony that accompanied her every royal appearance. While Scandinavian countries deliberately decontented their monarchies until their kings and queens could barely be distinguished from normal citizens, Britain proudly maintained the full medieval monty: gilded carriages, bearskin helmets, liveried footmen and volumes of tradition.

It was marketing, to be sure; the royals are central to Britain’s brand and identity. But Queen Elizabeth was prepared to treat it all, from wearing a five-pound crown while reading a canned message in Parliament to feigning delight in some tropical ceremony, as the service to which she dedicated her life. . . .Though democracy left her no real governing power, she was ahead of her time in championing equality and diversity in the Commonwealth and, by most accounts, she made her views discreetly known to successive prime ministers, whom she met weekly.”

Eugene Robinson: “I once had the opportunity to attend an investiture, the palace ceremony at which the queen conferred knighthoods and other honors to the great and the good. It was the first time I had seen her in person, and what struck me was how tiny she was.

This woman who had been a larger-than-life presence on the world stage since before I was born — the first prime minister who served under her was Winston Churchill — was minute, dwarfed by her regal accoutrements and surroundings. Her voice was thin and soft, her words hard to follow.

Yet she did have a presence that dominated the vast room. On reflection, it occurred to me that this aura of authority and command was not emanating from the queen herself. It was being projected upon her by the audience.

And so it is with all the anachronistic stature and privilege the British royal family still enjoys in an egalitarian age. Elizabeth’s character, stamina and skill persuaded her subjects to suspend any possible disbelief in the divine right of a mostly German family to reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Will they have such faith in Charles? In William?

“Après moi, le déluge,” King Louis XV of France is thought to have said, decades before the French Revolution. After Elizabeth, the British monarchy will find itself in rising waters and struggle not to be swept away.”

Seattle: Later that day, the congresswoman [Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington] was driving from her house to an event in Seattle, celebrating the introduction of a trans bill of rights. [Rachel] Berkson, her district director, was behind the wheel. In the passenger seat, Jayapal pulled out her phone and played some of the voice mails she’d received.

A man’s voice filled up the car.

“ … Your f—in’ day is coming. God damn, as soon as the president’s installed, like on Nov. 4 or 5, we’re f—in’ coming after all you motherf—ers. You’re gonna be scrubbing f—in’ floors for the rest of your life, you f—in’ wh—.”

Another man, a trace of a smile in his voice.
“ … Get ready for the worst year of your life. It’s gonna be turmoil every day. This is gonna be fun. This is gonna be fun. Your life is gonna be miserable. And we’re gonna get rid of that corrupt Biden, and that socialist Kamala, and the rest of the group, and you’re going right along with them.”

His voice deepened.
“You stupid f—in’ b—-. Get ready for turmoil. You’re gettin’ it. You’re gonna get exactly what you deserve, b—-. Have a nice day, b—-.”

Then another man.
“ … I’m gonna send you some knee pads, you f—in’ b—-. You worthless f—in’ c—.”
“ … We’re coming. And we’re really pissed off.”
“ … You are an evil b—- and you need to die and I hate you and I will never vote for you again.”

Jayapal stopped the recordings. Berkson, in the front seat, was one of the staffers who screened the messages. She decides what to forward to Capitol Police, and what to bring to Jayapal’s attention. As she drove, she started to cry. “Sorry,” Berkson said. “I honestly don’t think about it that much.”

At home later that night, Jayapal listened again to the threatening voice mails that [Rep. Adam]  Kinzinger and [Eric] Swalwell released this summer. She thought about how violence begins with the ability to dehumanize the subject of that violence. And she spent that evening replaying the voice mails that had been left for her. There was one calling her an animal. “The unleashing of it everywhere creates this space for other people to be unleashed as well,” she said.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington)

She thought about her decision to talk about what happened. What would she and [her husband] Williamson be saying, to themselves, to each other, to their loved ones, if they did?

“I don’t really want to admit that we’re in danger,” Williamson said, “because that’s not a place I want to occupy.”

“But at the same time,” said Jayapal, “it’s important people understand how ubiquitous this is, and how much a part of our psyche it is taking up.”

She thought about why she had never shared the voice mails before.
“Why didn’t I?”

“Is it like, ‘Oh you’re supposed to take it?’”

“Or you’re not tough enough if you release it?”

These were questions the congresswoman couldn’t answer.

Instead, she asked, “Have we somehow conditioned ourselves to think this is what we should expect?”

U. S. Methodist Church Splitting Over LGBTQs & Gay Marriage

Schisms over slavery, women and now, sexuality: A history of fractures among Methodists

Raleigh NC News & Observer

Un-united Methodists

The church has long delayed an anticipated split over LGBTQ issues — until now. It’s not going to be easy. As some in North Carolina look to disaffiliate from UMC for more conservative theology, others must grapple with their own stance on how to move forward.

The clash United Methodists face today over gay weddings and ordination is not the first time the denomination has fractured. The original Methodist church was founded out of a split from the Church of England. Methodism has evolved over the centuries in a series of fractures and mergers.

“It’s not the first time we’ve split. It’s not the first time we’ve reunited,” said the Rev. Jennifer Copeland, executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches and a United Methodist minister.

HISTORY OF SCHISMS

Methodism was founded in the 18th century as a movement by John Wesley to reform the Church of England from within, according to the UMC. The Methodist Episcopal Church split off and established itself as an autonomous church in 1784. Continue reading U. S. Methodist Church Splitting Over LGBTQs & Gay Marriage

Nighttime Drama: A Winged Quaker Home Invasion??

We had been thinking that our cat, Her Excellency Katherine (informally “Kitty”), was slowing down in her work of capture and bringing in prey. She has snagged mice, rats, voles, various birds, and even baby snakes.

Many of these captives have escaped alive, partly because Kitty is a good hunter but a clumsy killer, and often due to the skilled intervention by the Fair Wendy. She has become increasingly expert at steering the creatures out an open door, or snaring them in a red colander, clapping a cloth over it and taking them outside. The maneuvers are perhaps inelegant, but effective. I’ve even snatched up a few wriggling black snake hatchlings & tossed them into the garden.

Monday night though, Kitty burst in with something very much alive, quite eager to resist, bird-sized and winged. As it flapped above and around us, Kitty chased it through the kitchen & living room, and we two-legged residents sprang into action.

Perched on a coat, it was 3-4 inches long, as big as some birds.

Wendy grabbed her magic colander, and I followed, camera in hand.  When the prey landed on a coat hanging on a rack, I got a clear shot: it was a large moth, mostly gray.

Gray and determined. Soon it was back outside, leaving Kitty to wonder how another of the snacks she hoped to parade for us and maybe share, had somehow eluded her grasp. But as she calmed down, my attention turned to identifying the moth, the first such creature she had presented.

The Fair yet dauntless Wendy, magic colander in hand, prepares to make her moth-saving move.

Google helped, as did sites such as preserving-butterflies.org; and Moths of North Carolina. Their photos and taxonomies soon brought both similarity and a plain surprise:

Hello — meet the Quaker Moths.

No, I’m not making this up; and I had no earthly idea. In England, they’re mostly called Common Quakers, which I admit, frankly rubbed me the wrong way. But those are found mainly across the pond. In North America, more, er, common is the Distinct Quaker moth.  Indeed. Here is a list of the Quaker moths confirmed as sighted just in our own Durham County (there are 99 more, counties that is, in North Carolina).

Hmm. Gray Quaker moth? Intractable Quaker moth? If they were reincarnated upright with two legs, I’d say I distinctly recall being   on committees with them, or at least their karmic namesakes.

Was the moth that Kitty brought in one of those?

I’m not entirely sure. Bordered Gothics are another suspect, but they’re evidently not found in the USA.

If any reader is a moth aficionado and can help nail down this ID, we’d be grateful.

Personally, among non-bird flying things, I’m partial to butterflies; moths have often had a spectral, otherworldly aspect. But even with all the flowers in our now wild yard, butterflies have been very scarce this summer. And this particular visitation wasn’t expected by either us, or for that matter, the moth.

Similar, but “Not from ‘round here.”

If I were a fantasy writer, I’d now be spinning a plot about Quakers being snared by some shapeshifter wizard and turned into oversized moths, then conscripted into a bizarre crusade against the Border Gothics, which will turn out badly for all (a sort of Lepidopteral Game of furry Thrones), unless they can be rescued and returned to their normal form as flitting committee-goers.

Hmmmm. Needs some work. But it’s hardly less weird than what the cat dragged in.

Bernie in ‘24?? New Poll Says He’s Got Highest Favorability

The Hill — August 26 2022

CAMPAIGN
Sanders has highest favorability among possible 2024 contenders: poll
BY ZACH SCHONFELD

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) clocked in with the highest favorability rating among a list of 23 potential 2024 presidential contenders, according to a new USA Today-Ipsos poll.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they had at least a somewhat favorable view toward Sanders, while 41 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion.

President Biden had the second-highest favorability rating at 43 percent, although his unfavorability rating was notably higher than Sanders’s, with 52 percent of those surveyed saying they had an unfavorable opinion of the president.

Former President Trump clocked in with the same ratings as Biden.

The three political figures were followed in the poll by other well-known potential candidates, while possible contenders with a smaller national profile were seen as unfamiliar by most voters.

Vice President Harris and former Vice President Mike Pence both received favorable ratings from at least 40 percent of respondents, earning the third- and fourth-highest figures among the candidates, respectively.

Continue reading Bernie in ‘24?? New Poll Says He’s Got Highest Favorability

Arizona’s Unbroken Election Hero: Rusty Bowers Speaks

The Guardian — Sun 21 Aug 2022

Interview
Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’

Ed Pilkington in Mesa, Arizona

Rusty Bowers is headed for the exit. After 18 years as an Arizona lawmaker, the past four as speaker of the state’s house of representatives, he has been unceremoniously shown the door by his own Republican party.

Last month he lost his bid to stay in the Arizona legislature in a primary contest in which his opponent was endorsed by Donald Trump. The rival, David Farnsworth, made an unusual pitch to voters: the 2020 presidential election had not only been stolen from Trump, he said, it was satanically snatched by the “devil himself”.

Bowers was ousted as punishment. The Trump acolytes who over the past two years have gained control of the state’s Republican party wanted revenge for the powerful testimony he gave in June to the January 6 hearings in which he revealed the pressure he was put under to overturn Arizona’s election result.

This is a very Arizonan story. But it is also an American story that carries an ominous warning for the entire nation.

Six hours after the Guardian interviewed Bowers, Liz Cheney was similarly ousted in a primary for her congressional seat in Wyoming. The formerly third most powerful Republican leader in the US Congress had been punished too.

The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism
In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding.

He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an “arcane Arizonan law” – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Continue reading Arizona’s Unbroken Election Hero: Rusty Bowers Speaks