Tag Archives: United States

A Time to Be Silent

I haven’t been able to write an essay for a while. I could call it an extended case of writer’s block, except that doesn’t explain very much. Who knows what blocks a writer? I could say I ran out of things to say, except that isn’t true. Just ask the classes I teach; they endure […]

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Believing Is Seeing

The world is not always as it seems.  We learn to believe particular things, and those beliefs then shape the world that we see and experience.  In ancient times, believing the earth was the center of the universe appeared perfectly reasonable.  If you studied the sky, you could watch the sun rise in the east […]

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Confucius Says

If the leaders desire what is good, the people will become good also.  –Confucius Some people doubt if Confucianism is a religion.  Confucius never talked about a god; he didn’t discuss the afterlife.  His sole interest was establishing what he called The Mandate of Heaven upon the earth.  He envisioned a perfect society, without crime, […]

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A Time For Silence

“It’s all beyond me—how can I reply to you?  I put my hand over my mouth.”  – Job 40: 4 Sometimes nothing can be said.  Not everything can be put into words.  Language often trivializes what we’re trying to express, because our lexicon is completely inadequate to the occasion.  To say the universe is vast […]

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The Death Problem

Death has a PR problem in our culture.  Americans tend to view death in a negative light, as something to escape.  We picture a dark, hooded figure, pointing its crooked finger toward another victim, gathering souls for judgment.  We isolate the dead behind fences, in holding pens for the dearly departed, and turn their disposal […]

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And In This Corner. . .

Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be treated to the Republican and Democratic national conventions.  Political bloviation and professional hypocrisy will reach excruciating heights, and then we’ll elect a president nine weeks later.  Or maybe I should say the Electoral College will select one in December. Whoever chooses the guy, all […]

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Is That A Gun Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

German police fired a total of 85 bullets in 2011.  49 were warning shots.  With the rest, 15 people were wounded and 6 killed by police countrywide for the entire year.  As a contrast, in the U.S. in 2011, 84 shots were fired by police at a single murder suspect in Harlem.  90 rounds were […]

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Ideologically Speaking

We all like to be right.  In my experience, being wrong has never had a big upside.   It’s usually followed by taking the blame for everything from embarrassments to car wrecks, and is why we constantly try to convince people the truth is on our side.  The F was the teacher’s fault. The ways we […]

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God Does Play Dice

Rounding a curve on a two-lane country road, a blue car coming towards me suddenly swerved over the double lines.  I could see a young guy slouched behind the wheel startle to life and jerk the car, tires veering back to his side of the road, and we passed uneventfully.  But it was enough to […]

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The Things We Imagine

Two chimpanzees mauled an American graduate student in South Africa last month.  He was leading a tour of a jungle refuge filled with our closest animal relatives.  Tragically, he stepped inside a restricted zone, violated chimpanzee territory, and they defended themselves.  The young man is missing fingers and toes, one testicle, hunks of arm flesh, […]

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