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summer_in_TX's Journal
summer_in_TX's Journal
July 18, 2023

"It is considered sophisticated and educated to know only the bad

stuff about religion. Of course, that’s ironic because to only know the bad stuff is to not actually be educated."

"Half the time when I’m giving a public presentation, the first question about religion is a negative question. What do you think about Islam and violence? What do you think about the Catholic Church and the pedophilia crisis? Why do so many people of faith hate gay people? Particularly in the areas of America where people have higher levels of education, those are their first questions."


“Our society relies on religious communities to take care of people, to do addiction counseling, to do job training, to do hunger and homelessness work, to do refugee resettlement. We just don’t often tell the story of them doing that work. And I think that that’s a big problem.”


"In America, people build institutions — hospitals, social service agencies, colleges, whatever — out of the inspiration of their own faith identity, but the institution serves people of all identities. That is not a common ethos in human history.

But that’s the story of America. That is American pluralism at its best. That is civic cooperation."

Eboo Patel is an American Muslim who is the founder and president of Interfaith America. He was interviewed by Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest who has a religion column in the NYT as well as Christianity Today.

Behind a paywall unfortunately: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/09/opinion/patel-eboo-organized-religion.html

I once mainly knew the negative things about religion, especially Christianity. At least, if I knew some of the many contributions made by religious people and groups, the negative far outweighed the good in my mind. I was anti- both religion in general and Christianity in particular. This interview does a great job of reminding me of the positive role many faith communities have and still provide us.

April 12, 2023

After Sandy Hook, gun control looked inevitable. What happened?

Public opinion for gun control was very strong after the slaughter of children and teachers.

But the NRA was focus testing messages, I'd guess. The word that turned it around? Freedom. Once they started to talk about the personal freedom issue, things quickly swung away from controlling guns in spite of the horrific killings. Americans across the political spectrum are primed to value freedom. Polling shows freedom ranks 22 points above the value of justice.

Guess which party knows that and which one doesn't? (I knew you could.)

"Freedom" is used as a cover-all issue for Republicans. As they impose on the "freedoms" of the rest of America." (thanks, Kentuck).

They certainly used the message of freedom effectively with masks and the COVID vaccine.

Knowing that, what freedoms can gun control advocates claim? How about the freedom to be safe in our schools, banks, movies, concerts, churches, streets? Freedom to live in a society that is not the Wild Wild West or that is without the rule of law.

Freedom for your children to not be taken away from their families over transgender treatment. Freedom to make medical decisions for your children in the area of transgender care following medical advice. Freedom for transgender children from bullying. Freedom for teachers to refrain from "outing" children who may be LBGTQiA to parents or others.

Better than the justice argument on abortion, how about keeping the freedom to decide what our own lives are going to be like, freedom to decide whether and when to be a parent, freedom not to be forced to carry our rapist's baby, freedom to create the life we dream of?

February 6, 2023

Look, I once shared the prejudice.

Last thing I ever expected to be is a Christian. I despised what I thought was narrow-minded, cold-hearted judgementalism and couldn't conceive that that was the dark distortion only, from the abusers of power, who sought to control and profit.

There's a lot of money and power to gather by those who want to do that. But they can do that from all kinds of platforms, not just religion. Fame, beauty, politics, celebrity, music, propaganda, movie, entertainment, and sports, oratory – all can be turned into platforms for power, control, and profit.

While religion is extremely vulnerable to misuse and abuse and it is constantly being distorted and corrupted by many even now, that's not the sole story.

So many have been motivated by love, a desire for justice, the conviction that we are all brothers and sisters – no fear, no desire to exploit others or grift, nothing self-serving. And that's a trait of religion that is not being misused or abused, any of the great world religions. Like oratory can be used to inspire and uplift of demonize and tear down, the creative arts can do the same, or they can be perverted into a tool for spreading distrust, anger, fear, self-loathing, and self-destructive behaviors. We all know what political abuses occur, but politics can also be used to protect our peoples and our public lands, educate, rebuild, extend liberties, ensure opportunities, and much more. We've seen people who've used their beauty and fame for good as well.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one who risked and ultimately lost his life to work for justice, civil rights, and economic opportunities. He was empowered by his faith in God who the scriptures taught him had a passion for justice and for the poor. Not by fear, but by love.

So many more people of faith would not recognize the idea that fear or ignorance were behind why we believe and why we are then empowered to go out and do for others from love and the courage to believe in the positive power to effect change.

I myself started the journey as many of us do, from failure. But I was very antagonistic to religion. But I met warmth, acceptance, and love in visiting a church my husband was singing in one Sunday, and found no trace of the spiritual arrogance I expected or any attempt to convert me. But I was very resistant, until watching the PBS discussions between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer on the Power of Myth. Campbell said that all myths have in common that they are tackling mystery that is beyond human ability to put into words. Yet all of them have elements of truth that are a real reflection of that cosmic mystery. I wrestled with that idea for awhile and began to figure out what were the true parts. Love, doing for others, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, humility, tenderheartedness, joy, authenticity, getting oneself out of the way.

It's fine to believe differently. I don't believe my beliefs are superior, but for me they've brought great meaning and joy as I'm sure other religious beliefs have brought for others. Our beliefs are positive, good for others, inclusive, seeing the divine in all Creation, not manipulating others, not seeking power for ourselves, seeking to do justice, love mercy, and resist evil. We recognize and wrestle with the temptations to get sidetracked by pride, anger, and other attitudes and behaviors, then are motivated to use tools to restore relationships when we have harmed them. We repent when we hurt others, ourselves, our Higher Power. We're imperfectly human, doing our best, and continuing to work toward doing better. Our faith should not be denigrated, it should be elevated in contrast to the distorted, misbegotten, manipulative, controlling use of fear and ignorance to grift.

Telling the counterfeit from the true is a skill that can only be learned by studying the true. Bank tellers don't study counterfeit bills, they study the genuine ones. Likewise, those being misled by the power-hungry would do very well to find those whose faith is genuine, selfless, loving, and accepting.

November 29, 2020

Trump FCC To Waive Ownership Rules For Murdochs

Chairman Pai has just announced a plan to waive media-ownership rules for Fox and allow the Murdoch family to control even more TV stations and newspapers in the New York City market.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is hellbent on doing as much damage as possible before the Biden administration takes office. And that includes doling out one last favor for Rupert Murdoch.

Fox asked the Trump FCC to permanently waive a restriction that limits Fox’s TV station and newspaper ownership in the New York City market — where the company already owns two local-television stations and one local newspaper. This move would make Fox’s ownership of WWOR, WNYW and the New York Post permanent — despite the agency’s own rules that prohibit one company from controlling this many broadcast stations and newspaper outlets in a given market.

Chairman Pai is trying to quickly push this Fox request through the FCC, allowing for public comment only until Dec. 4.


So while Trump is posturing about how bad FOX News is, in reality he's doing them a BIG favor. What do you think he's going to expect in return? What a platform he will have for that 2024 run of his, as a frequent guest or just for their endless amplification of his every tweet.

FreePress.net put out an alert and petition this last week.

July 12, 2018

Oddly, most Americans have no idea what's going on.

We had our thirty-something son and his wife and their six kiddos visit for a few days last week. They were on their way back home after being on a vacation. When I brought up the children being separated from their parents at the border, they didn't know about it.

I was reminded of myself at that stage of life, busy with work, kids' activities, and paying scant attention to news sources. I was in my forties before I started focusing again. I say again because I was raised in a politically active family and volunteered for various candidates in high school, college, and beyond.

We have a large number of our compatriots who may have heard very little about Trump, Russia, Mueller, and have a long way to go before they'll understand or believe. It's hard to imagine, the way this has captured our attention, but they're pretty clueless. That is not connected at all to level of intelligence. We've got our work cut out for us between now and Election Day, even more than we may have realized.

July 12, 2018

I hope to be in an immigration courtroom by the end of next week.

An attorney (S.) who goes to my Methodist church is working to get assigned to assist immigrants with their court cases. My pastor knows the separation of kids and parents has had me in tears and made it hard to concentrate on much else. He suggests I go with S. and another church member who's planning to go.

I'm not an attorney, but he told me they need witnesses to immigration proceedings, taking notes. I told him I'm very slow as a note-taker and have an unreliable memory, but he encouraged me to go anyway. Having civilian witnesses to the proceedings seems to cause the judges to trend to a little more careful and to better outcomes for the immigrants.

I'm waiting to hear if S. has been able to set things up. We'd go for a couple of days. Not much but something. Too bad we don't live close. If we did, it could be an ongoing effort.

July 10, 2018

Will NATO be the next alliance broken by Trump?

Daniel Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro), former US Ambassador to Israel (2011-2017) and served under Obama on the National Security Council, posted a thread today. Coupled with the news that Trump has tasked a committee to assess the ramifications of pulling our troops out of Germany, this gave me chills! It seems so crazy – and completely likely with tRump.

…I don't think we are fully grappling with the possibility that we could be on the on the cusp of a completely new era, a fundamental reshaping of the international order. And I don't mean over the course of the Trump Administration. I mean by next week.

…Trump clearly wants to pull the US out of NATO. He doesn't believe in the alliance (or any alliances); he thinks our allies take advantage of us; he complains that NATO is worse than NAFTA(whatever that means); he seeks purely transactional relations with our closest partners.

…Our President doesn't know the history or strategy, doesn't listen to experts, personalizes everything & makes it transactional, & loves the drama of the outrageous move that dominates cable TV coverage. For him, pulling out of NATO is all gain, no cost.

June 23, 2018

Pro-life Democrats at Texas State Convention

My husband heard a news story on NPR this afternoon talking with a group of Texas Democrats at the Texas State Democratic Convention going on now in Ft. Worth who are pro-life. They mourned how militant the pro-choice left had gotten on that issue and how hard it was to find room to stay within the Democratic party.

Abortion has been very much on my mind in the last few weeks, after visiting our son and daughter-in-law and our two grandchildren. The last day of our visit, my husband raised the issue of considering voting for a Democratic candidate we consider a very strong candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Col. Kim Olson, a retired combat pilot who served in Iraq.

“I could NEVER vote for anyone who supports abortion,” our son said. The Democratic party platform itself was enough to make him say that. He knows that any Dem no matter what they personally believe has to run on the party platform, which is correct.

We gently tried to point to other issues, but in our love and desire not to damage our relationship, we were fuzzy in what we said. We were sad and quiet during the entire three hour drive home and the rest of the day.

I’ve read the well-written Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions by Randy Alcorn too (in fact, I gave our son one of my two copies). But after much reflection and prayer, I couldn’t escape the understanding that God’s gift of free will was primary. I could not imagine God forcing a woman to carry a baby to term. I was convinced that God’s love was too great to compel someone to do that, no matter how much God loved the life created in her womb. If God wouldn’t, then God’s people shouldn’t either, no matter how much we want to leap to that unborn child’s defense.

There’s a line we should not cross. We can pray, offer support, create safe places where pregnant women could give birth, support economic policies that allow women to prevent unwanted pregnancies more easily, support adoptions, support programs that allow teenage mothers to continue their educations while their children are cared for at school, share our view that life is sacred from creation to death and provide information. However use of guilt would be going too far, and so would using legal or personal coercion. Ultimately I concluded we could not hijack the woman’s body to carry that baby to term because that would violate the free will God gave her - a respect borne of the deep love God has for her, as He does for all of us. He does us the honor of allowing us to make our own decisions, even bad ones, knowing that we will make mistakes but that we will learn and grow.

In wrestling with this issue, I’ve concluded that the God who created the cosmos out of nothing and is omnipotent (while choosing to not use that power to coerce) could be trusted with the immortal souls of those babies whose mothers chose to abort them. Though God had a purpose and plan for that infant’s life, God is able to achieve that purpose even when the original plan was aborted. And I trusted that the Holy Spirit would continue working in the lives of those women who made that choice. In fact, I know at least two women whose journey to God came about because of their abortions.

I asked a dear friend, the person with the most intimate and faithful walk with God I know, a retired nurse who had not been able to conceive and so had adopted a child, what was her belief about abortion. When she was a young nurse, she said, it had upset her when abortions were performed at her hospital, until she talked to a wise mentor. His conversation with her was much like my internal pondering. After that, she too trusted God with the issue.

That’s not to say I think abortions should normally be allowed late in a pregnancy. By the age at which the baby’s movements can be detected, most women will have had time to exercise free will. Even free will has limits. Limitations, however, should have a judicial appeal process that would allow a judge to permit it in rare circumstances such as risk to the life of the mother or to the physical safety of someone whose body isn’t mature enough to safely carry a baby to term, as could be the case of a girl pregnant through incest or molestation.

I honor my son’s desire to protect life. God’s creation is beautiful and praiseworthy, and I understand why he would conclude what he has.

It grieves me that he is appalled that we support a woman’s right to choose. He questioned whether I just had come to a belief that “seemed good to me.” But that sells me short. I genuinely want to want what God wants and to do what God would have me do. He is also mistaken to think that we think abortion is good, or just fine. We don’t. It’s a grievous act, but to disrespect the woman or family’s free will would be worse, in our opinion, because it would not follow God’s way.

That part of the conversation was not the only thing that made us sad, though. In fact, that was a minor thing because as I said we understand and honor his desire to protect life. What we found deeply troubling was realizing that to accomplish that desire, he was willing to completely ignore many moral issues important to us and that we believe scripture indicates are ones that matter to God too.

We assume that he voted for Trump for president from a number of statements he made during the primary season, although we didn’t want to know that he did. His wife couldn’t do it and voted for an independent candidate, and perhaps he did too.

I've read the very fierce remarks some have made here on the absolute necessity of being pro-choice in every aspect of the Democratic party platform, and I'm pro-choice myself obviously. But the tone of the comments doesn't allow for any dialogue or sense of inclusion, and I was saddened by what felt like a very hard rigidity.

My husband's question is how do we include people such as these pro-Life Dems. This election more than any other in our lifetime is about good and evil, and surely the stark immorality of this administration OUGHT to have decent people like our son and his wife voting against every Republican up and down the ticket. It's very hard to bear the thought of our son and his wife not supporting Dems when to me it's such a clear-cut issue of good vs. evil.

June 16, 2018

Tariffs on Canadian paper pose an existential threat to community newspapers ....

Do you rely on your local newspaper to keep up with how your tax dollars are being spent? If so, tell your congressman you don’t want a new tariff to put the paper out of business.

A new study reveals that communities that lose their newspapers see an alarming increase in the cost of local government because there’s no watchdog reporting on how your hard-earned money is spent.

A new “temporary” tariff on Canadian newsprint — the paper used to print 75 percent of American newspaper pages — poses a dire threat if it becomes permanent. Simply put, your hometown paper can’t exist if it costs more to print than it earns in revenue…

Under the arcane and almost unfathomable rules of U.S. trade policy, the newspaper industry isn’t allowed to formally make its case to the administration, which will decide soon whether to make the tariff permanent. Members of Congress, on the other hand, may submit official comments to be considered. Very few have done that.


Our small-town weekly newspaper had this editorial in this week's newspaper. In searching for more info, turns out a whole lot of Texas newspapers had the same editor. They're urging readers to urge their members of Congress to write the Commerce Department and International Trade Association, since only members of Congress have standing to make the case apparently, and newspapers can't even send representatives to make their case to the administration. Apparently only 4 Texas reps have so far.

I missed a couple of earlier DU posts on this tariff including this one: https://upload.democraticunderground.com/10142081919

January 16, 2018

How I Spent My MLK Day

Today's observances took an unexpected (but good) turn.

I live in one of those Southern sundown towns. Though no one still stops carloads of blacks and tells them to keep on passing through and make sure they're out of town before sundown, the legacy of a shamefully racist past lingers in the tiny percentage of blacks living here. So there are no observances locally.

I go to the county seat where the demographics are much different and participate in a march with a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial to Dr. King and civil rights erected at the only intersection of streets named after LBJ and Martin Luther King in the United States. That's usually followed by a pie social and auction that's a fundraiser for the historic black community center there.

This year the community center was under repairs and at first they thought they'd better cancel it. But a local black church in the historically black neighborhood opened their doors to a conversation. It was lovely - from the heart, relaxed, accepting of the minority of whites who were present as well as the agnostics and Muslims in their midst. I was a little late and just listened. After it was over the pastor approached me and just asked for my feedback. We had a wonderful conversation for perhaps a half hour after most of the several dozen people who'd come had left.

There was a different feeling this year, looking for ways to make a difference together. Maybe it was being in a place of worship too. I know when we stood and joined hands for the final prayer, there seemed to be an unusual degree of acceptance for everyone. I'm glad I went - and hope that it will be there again next year. In fact, I wish there were other occasions to come together over the course of the time between.

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About summer_in_TX

@WimberleySusan Good media policy is essential for democracy to thrive. Red Letter follower of Jesus' way of Love. Neighbor. Ally. ALL bear the image of God.

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