Archive for the ‘Political Statements’ Category

Human Dignity   Leave a comment

Above:  A Yard Sign in Athens, Georgia, June 6, 2020

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Celebrant:  Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

People:  I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant:  Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

People:  I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant:  Will you strive for justice and peace among all people , and respect the dignity of every human being?

People:  I will, with God’s help.

–From the Baptismal Covenant, The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 305


Below:  A Yard Sign in Athens, Georgia, June 6, 2020

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Political Empathy and Wisdom (and the Absence Thereof)   2 comments

On the Duty of a President of the United States to Be the Consoler-in-Chief

May we praise those elected officials and candidates for elective office who act wisely and with empathy as we condemn those who act to the contrary.  And, when the time to decide for whom to vote arrives, may we reckon wisdom and empathy as credit to those who possess them, just as we properly lambaste and vote against those who lack them.

I realize that empathy is not a constitutional requirement for Presidents of the United States, but I also argue that voters the right to insist upon it.  Presidents with whom I have generally agreed with with whom I have generally disagreed have mastered the role of Consoler-in-Chief.  In the wake of a hurricane in New Orleans, Louisiana, Lyndon Baines Johnson carried a flash light one night and knocked on doors, to greet his fellow citizens in distress.  Ronald Reagan consoled the nation after the explosion of the Challenger.  He used Peggy Noonan’s words, of course, but he had empathy.  Besides, Presidents have had speech writers for a long time.  Bill Clinton was a fine Consoler-in-Chief after the terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Barack Obama led the congregation in “Amazing Grace” at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, after the racist shooting there.  Excelling as Consoler-in-Chief used to be a standard part of being the President of the United States.

Donald Trump is a self-absorbed and immature little man.  He should think about the country and the world first, not about himself.  The contrast between he and Joseph Biden is stark.  Biden, who has buried his first wife and some of this children, understands grief.  When he says he knows grief, he speaks accurately.  He also speaks with empathy.  Biden looks presidential.  He is already the Consoler-in-Chief.




Grow a Thick Skin   2 comments

One of my favorite scenes comes from Aaron Sorkin‘s The American President (1995).  After environmental lobbyist Syndey Ellen Wade, sitting in the West Wing of the White House, condemns the environmental policies of President Andrew Shepherd as weak, she discovers, to her dismay, that his standing behind her.  Then Shepherd invites Wade into the Oval Office.  She begins to apologize.  Then the President asks her,

Are you under the impression that I’m angry with you?

He is not angry with her.  He has a thick skin.

I have noticed that thin skins seem increasingly commonplace across the spectrum.  One may find thin-skinned people in positions of obscurity, in high offices, and in positions in-between at concentrations either greater or more obvious than in olden times in my memory.

Thin-skinned people have always been with us.  Why not?  Human psychology offers many constant factors.  I have offended people by politely disagreeing with them.  I did so in Sunday School in Sumner, Georgia, in the autumn of 1991, for example.  Those who took offense were to my right.  They probably spent much of their time upset, given their low threshold for taking offense.  I have also offended people to my right by dispassionately reciting facts of ancient comparative religion without offering any subjective content.  Those offended students were listening more to what they thought I was saying, not what I was saying.  On the other hand, years ago, when I went through a similar litany of objectively accurate information about ancient comparative religion in an article I wrote for an online publication considerably to my right, I seemed to have caused no offense.  The editor read what I wrote, after all.  It passed a fact-check.

I have also offended people to my left by using pronouns such as “he,” “his,” “her,” and “she.”  People need to get over taking offense at accurate pronouns.  Besides, I respect the difference between the singular and the plural.  In my lexicon, “they,” “them,” their” and “themselves” are always plural.  One can speak and write inclusively in singular language, as well as in plural language, while respecting the distinction between the singular and the plural.  One can, for example, use “one,” “one’s,”, and “oneself” in the singular.

Topics that expose one’s thin skin need not be political, religious, or gender-related.  All of them are psychological, however.  Some of them pertain to entertainment.  I state without apology that modern Star Trek, beginning with Discovery and extending through Picard, so far, is a steaming pile of garbage.  I make no secret of this opinion on this weblog.  This opinion offends some people.  Why not?  Increasingly, I hear Robert Meyer Burnett (one of my favorite people, with whom I agree frequently and disagree strongly much of the rest of the time) repeat on YouTube that not liking a movie, series, or episode someone else likes is acceptable.  Of course it is.  Why would it not be?  Obviously, many people have thin skins about their entertainment.  Burnett should not have to keep repeating that liking or disliking something is okay.

The following thought is accurate and not original.  Identity is frequently a cause of a thin skin.  To be precise, insecurity in one’s identity is often a cause of a thin skin.  I despise 2017f Star Trek.  This opinion has no bearing on my ego, however.  If John Doe thinks that Star Trek:  Picard is a work of compelling storytelling, he may watch that series all he wants, in my absence.  His opinion has no effect on me.

Life is too short to go through it with a thin skin.



“The Buck Stops Here.”   Leave a comment

Above:  Former President Harry Truman Posing with His Famous Sign

Image in the Public Domain


Who remembers when Presidents of the United States accepted responsibility for the actions of their administrations?



Posted May 18, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2020

Tagged with ,

Blogging Update–May 15, 2020   Leave a comment

Above:  The View from My Desk, May 14, 2020, According to One of My Laptop Computers

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



A consistent theme in my life since 2016 has been being either well-informed or well-adjusted.  I have chosen the latter.  I have reaffirmed my choice since the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic began.  While reckless politicians (many of whom mockingly identify as pro-life) on all levels of government place our lives in danger in the name of the Almighty Dollar (their deity), I opt not to turn into General George C. Patton‘s ideal man, one who can swear consistently for three minutes without repeating a word.  The Almighty God will render a verdict in a court beyond any human jurisdiction.  May voters render the proper verdict in elections and otherwise hold those who risk their lives recklessly accountable, constitutionally.  Regardless of whether voting is a feasible option, may government officials in a position to ensure responsible government for the common good do so.  As the Law of Moses teaches, we are all responsible to and for each other, and we all depend on each other, as well as entirely on God.

I seldom venture out among people.  (I do, however, enjoy walking alone in the nearby woods.)  When I do venture out among people, I wear a mask and stay as far away from them as possible.  I have used a hair trimmer to give myself one buzz cut.  I have decided to do that again, whenever I will need another haircut, indefinitely.  I also feel nervous as I strive to behave in a socially responsible and moral manner.  Just as what I do affects others, what others do affects me.

I have been spending much time blogging.  As of today, I have scheduled 50 posts to publish here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  I have scheduled new posts about saints to publish through June 6.  I have decided to give the saints a rest until after July.  (I do plan, however, to revise the July calendar of saints very soon, create its reset mode, and make a list of people to consider adding for the time I will return to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.)  I have also scheduled the transfer of material from the former PUNS BLOG to continue daily through June 12.  Furthermore, I have written and published lectionary-based devotions for church year 2020-2021 at BLOGA THEOLOGICA, ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, and LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS.  I had already published the first set of these devotions at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS.

The Chronicle Title

Above:  The Title Card of The Chronicle:  News from the Edge

A Screen Capture

I have also decided to begin a new project at this weblog.  The Chronicle:  News from the Edge (2001-2002) was a series the Sci-Fi Channel aired for one season.  I delighted to find all 22 episodes at then to binge-watch the series as I took mental notes.  I have decided to blog my way through the series, episode by episode, and to consider each episode in the context of the other 21 episodes.  The setting of The Chronicle was the World Chronicle, based somewhat on the Weekly World News.  The premise of the series was that the stories were true.  I watched some episodes from 2001 and 2002, but missed many of them at the time.  My memory of the series was vague; I remembered isolated scenes and pieces of dialogue, however.  After watching the series from beginning to end recently, I have concluded that it was a combination of Kolchak:  The Night Stalker, The X Files, and Northern Exposure, tonally.

Writing about The Chronicle should be fun and wonderfully distracting.




Feast of Samuel and Henrietta Barnett (June 17)   3 comments

Above:  Portrait of Samuel and Henrietta Barnett, by Hubert von Herkoner

Image in the Public Domain



Anglican Canon of Westminster, and Social Reformer

husband and partner of


Social Reformer

June 17 is the feast day of the Barnetts in The Church of England.

Even if The Church of England had not paired the Barnetts on a feast day, I would have decided to do so anyway.  The couple was a team from the day they married in 1873 to the day Samuel Barnett died in 1913.  I have established emphasizing relationships and influences as a goal for this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Samuel Augustus Barnett, born in Bristol, England, on February 8, 1844, was a son of Mary Gilmore and iron manufacturer Francis Barnett.  Our saint, an 1867 graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, joined the ranks of Anglican clergymen that year and became the Curate of St. Mary’s, Bryanston Square, Marylebone, London.  He married Henrietta Octavia Weston Rowland in 1873.

Henrietta, born in London, England, on May 4, 1851, was a socially conscious heiress.  Her mother was Henrietta Monca Margaretta Didges.  Our saint’s father was Alexander William Rowland (d. 1869), in the oil business.  Her mother predeceased her father.  Young Henrietta, altruistic from an early age, attended a boarding school in Devon.  Starting in 1869 or so, she worked with Octavia Hill (1838-1912), active in efforts to improve slums in London.

The work in which the Barnetts engaged together, starting in 1873, flowed from their faith and their Christian Socialist ideals.  Samuel served as the Vicar of St. Jude’s, Whitechapel, London, from 1873 to 1894.  He led an congregation in a slum.  He, the founder (1869) of the Charity Organization Society, worked with Henrietta in improving the lives of people in Whitechapel.  The couple addressed housing.  Substandard housing was a major problem.  The Barnetts lobbied for building suitable residences.  They also enriched slum dwellers’ lives with art; the couple founded the Whitechapel Art Gallery.  Urban children needed countryside holidays.  The Barnetts raised funds and arranged for those holidays.  Entertainment was another need the Barnetts worked to provide.  Education was, of course, vital.  The Barnetts founded a night school for adults.  Samuel also served on school committees.  Through Toynbee Hall, of which Samuel was the first warden (1884-1906) and in which Henrietta taught, tutors from Oxford lived and taught in the slum.  Jane Addams (1860-1935) and Ellen Gates Starr (1859-1940) modeled Hull House, Chicago, Illinois, on Toynbee Hall.  Henrietta’s sister, Alice Marion Rowland Hart (1848-1931) also taught at Toynbee Hall.

Above:  Toynbee Hall

Image in the Public Domain

The Barnetts wrote books together.  These included:

  1. Practicable Socialism:  Essays on Social Reform (1888, 1894),
  2. Religion and Progress (1907),
  3. Towards Social Reform (1909),
  4. Religion and Politics (1911),
  5. Worship and Work (1913), and
  6. Vision and Service (1917).

Samuel also wrote Perils of Wealth and Poverty, published posthumously in 1920.

Samuel, a Canon of Westminster (1906-1913), died in London on June 17, 1913.  He was 69 years old.

Henrietta continued in good works until 1936.  She founded Barnett House, Oxford, for the study of social sciences, in Samuel’s honor.  She wrote Canon Barnett:  His Life, Work, and Friends (1918)–Volumes I and II.  She also wrote books on topics ranging from child rearing to working for economic justice.  Our saint had formed the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, which entailed building mixed-income housing, in 1903.  Henrietta, form 1924 a Commander of the British Empire, took up painting during her final years.  She, aged 85 years, died in London on June 10, 1936.

The Barnetts understood the Biblical mandate to help the less fortunate.  They knew that those blessed with privilege have a responsibility to aide those not blessed in that way.  Our saints accepted that the more one has, the more responsibilities one has.  They acted accordingly, for the glory of God and the benefit of many people.  They were faithful partners of God.

The poor will always be with us.  That is a fact.  Increasing numbers of the impoverished can, of course, cease to be poor.  Poverty is a function of various factors, not the least of which is institutionalized artificial scarcity.  Therefore, individual actions help alleviate the problem, but institutional revolution is necessary to make substantial dents in poverty.  The ultimate solution to institutionalized artificial scarcity resides in the purview of God, whose partners we are supposed to be.









Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736


Dr. Fauci, Public Servant   Leave a comment

Dr. Anthony Fauci is a dedicated public servant, an expert in public health, and a teller of the truth.  He is a teller of uncomfortable and inconvenient truths.  He seeks to save as many lives as possible.  Fauci deserves as much support and praise as possible, especially during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald Trump and his lackeys in some media outlets oppose Fauci.  Trump wants Fauci fired.  Rush Limbaugh and others are trying to discredit the good doctor.  Trump would be happiest if only sycophants surrounded him as he evades his responsibility for his decisions.  This tendency works against the common good.

I sympathize with the desire for the pandemic and social distancing to end.  I want many people to be able to get back to work immediately, but safely.  When governments lift necessary disease-related restrictions prematurely, diseases return.  I also want public policy to have its roots in objective reality and to be responsible regarding human lives.  Is that too much to ask?

I hope not.