Archive for the ‘Various Memories and Opinions’ Category

Bloggers Support Bloggers Award   Leave a comment

Image Used with Permission

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I thank Valerie Cullers for nominating me for this award.  Now I pay it forward.

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Rules:

  1. Thank the one who has tagged you for this challenge and link that person’s blogsite.
  2. Add the official photo in your page.
  3. List at least 5 bloggers you like. (Suggestion: You can list up 3 bloggers that you’ve known for a long time and you can also list up 2 newbies or more. It’s up to you though!)
  4. In 5 sentences or above, give a short description about why you love the blogger.
  5. Tag atleast 3 bloggers to do the challenge.
  6. Put #bloggerssupportbloggers in the Tags section so whenever a blogger is looking for new blogs to read, it will be easier to find.

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My Nominees:

Vanishing South Georgia

Brian Brown maintains several photographic weblogs about Georgia.  Given that I grew up mostly in South Georgia, this is one I visit most often, for I recognize more places in it than in Vanishing Coastal Georgia and Vanishing North Georgia.  His photographic posts have enriched my life for years.

Valerie Cullers

Valerie Cullers’s posts invite readers to consider issues from a Christian and thoughtful, positive angle.  She definitely contributes to the volume of positive content on the Internet.

Roses in the Rubble

Virginia offers a variety of wonderful content, from photographs of turtles to lists of excellent movies.  She seeks to inspire beauty and creativity in people, so they will leave the world better than they found it.

Book ‘Em, Jan O

Jan Olandese is a retired Episcopal priest.  The content of her weblog ranges from ghost stories to witty haiku.  She also puns well.

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I tag Brian Brown, Virginia, and Jan Olandese to carry on the Bloggers Support Bloggers Challenge.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

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Posted July 29, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Proper Levels of Sensitivity   2 comments

Above:  A Scene from Blazing Saddles (1974)

A Screen Capture

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Or, Neither Be a Snowflake Nor Excuse and Facilitate Snowflakism in Others

Maintaining the proper level of sensitivity is crucial; hypersensitivity is at least as negative a force as insensitivity.

Certain statements are always beyond the pale.  These statements are those intended to degrade other human beings.  Reasons for degrading others include race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation.  Anyone who crosses that line deserves strong condemnation.  Nobody should ever tolerate such statements.  One might, on occasion, quote them (as in academic work; try writing a biography of a segregationist politician without quoting racial slurs, for example) or mock them (as in Blazing Saddles).

Above:  Men Reluctant to Give Land to the Irish; from Blazing Saddles (1974)

A Screen Capture

Some works of art age better than others based on this standard.  For example, Blazing Saddles (1974) depicts unapologetic racists as fools and idiots.  The movie stands the test of time as a masterpiece that argues against bigotry.  We who watch the movie laugh at those ensnared by their own learned racism.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) is also a classic, but Mickey Rooney’s performance as an Asian man makes me cringe.  On the other hand, the movie does boast Audrey Hepburn and a cat.  How can I dislike a movie with Audrey Hepburn and a cat in it?

Above:  Holly Golightly and Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

A Screen Capture

I am sensitive, but not hypersensitive.  Life is too short (however long it might feel in real time) for me to spend it being hypersensitive, either about what others do and say or what I do or say.  No, I aim for a proper level of sensitivity on both sides of the equation.  I find Birth of a Nation (1915) offensive, for the seminal movie does glorify the first Ku Klux Klan.  The work is inherently racist, but it is also a landmark of cinema and a document of sorts of racial attitudes in much of the United States half a century after the end of the Civil War.  I have no regrets about having watched it from beginning to end once, for historical interest, or in having shown clips in classes, for educational purposes, with context.

The guiding principle for me in these matters is respecting the dignity of every human being, a value built into the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  This principle explains why, for example, I oppose abortion except in extenuating cases (while I argue that changing minds and making alternatives to abortion easier is a more effective, and therefore, better strategy than outlawing the procedure) as well as homophobia and discrimination against homosexuals.  Whether one places the label “left” or the label “right” on a position regarding respecting the dignity of all people does not matter to me.  Respecting the dignity of every human being is a principle that leads me to refrain from dehumanizing those who are different from me in one or more ways.

That does not mean, however, that I can ever get through day without doing something to offend someone, given that some people take offense more easily than others, and often at matters certain others consider inoffensive.

I am, for example, sufficiently pedantic to insist on always using the words “they,” “them,” “their,” and “themselves” in the plural.  One can be inclusive in the present tense, often by writing or speaking in language that makes one sound educated.  “One” and “one’s” are gender-neutral pronouns, after all.  One might also remain in the singular and substitute the definite article (“the”) for a gendered pronoun.  One can, when one sets one’s mind to the task, identify several strategies for being inclusive in the singular without wrecking the English language.  Alternatively, one might use “they,” “them,” “their,” and “themselves” correctly by switching to the plural forms of words.  Or one might accept the tradition of using masculine pronouns as the inclusive default position and go about enjoying one’s day.  All of the above are feasible options.  I refuse to distort the English language, of which I am quite fond, because of the hypersensitivity of others.

Some people take offense at even the most respectful and polite disagreements.  I have experience with this, usually in the context of teaching.

In late 1991, in southern Georgia, U.S.A., I was at a transitional point in my life.  I was a freshman in college.  I was also turning into an Episcopalian.  I was, for the time being, still a United Methodist, though.  My father was the newly-appointed pastor of the Sumner United Methodist Church, Sumner, Georgia.  One Sunday morning I was teaching the adult class.  There were two visitors, a married couple, Independent Baptists from Savannah, Georgia.  One half of that couple was a child of a member at Sumner.  During the course of that Sunday School lesson the visitors decided that my position on a particular theological point was lax.  Courteously I said,

I disagree.

I learned later in the week that I had offended–upset, really–them.  If these individuals were not prepared to take a polite, respectful “I disagree” well, how did they cope with daily life?  Did they associate most days only with people who agreed with them completely?

I have also offended students with the Joe Friday strategy–

Just the facts.

(Watch Dragnet, if you dare.  The acting was consistently and purposefully bad, but the two series were popular culture touchstones.)  In World Civilization I courses, for example, I have recited facts of ancient comparative religion.  This information has disturbed some students, who have mistaken me for one hostile to Judaism and Christianity, and who have taken grave offense at me.  To quote an old saying many of a younger generation might not understand,

Their tapes were running.

Those who took offense at me were not listening to what I was saying.  No, they were listening to what they thought I was saying.  They were reacting not to me, but to others who had criticized Christianity on false grounds.  In contrast, years ago, when I wrote an article I submitted for publication at an online theological journal with a conservative Presbyterian orientation, I recited many of the same facts about ancient comparative religion, but with no negative response or reaction.  The editors checked my facts and published my article.  They read what I wrote.  They also understood I was not hostile to the faith.

At one of the universities I attended there was a professor who specialized in Latin American history.  One day years ago he taught about human rights violations centuries ago that were matters of policy in the Roman Catholic Church.  An offended parent of an offended student called the department chair to complain.  The professor’s material was factually accurate; he cited examples Holy Mother Church has acknowledged frankly and for which it has formally apologized.  The two offended Roman Catholics (student and parent) took offense more easily and quickly than the institution they defended.

No ideological, political, or religious camp has a monopoly on snowflakism.  If one is to criticize snowflakism while remaining intellectually honest, one must criticize it consistently, without regard for left-right distinctions.

I have a strategy for dealing with that which would ruin my day needlessly:  I ignore it.  If I do not want to hear a speaker on the campus where I work, I do not attend the event.  If I do not want to watch a program or a movie, I avoid it.  Life is too short not to enjoy it properly.

I affirm all I have written in this post thus far as I add to it the following statement:  I understand why many people are hypersensitive.  I understand that many people’s formative experiences have included unapologetic, intentional insults, degradation, and contempt from others.  I understand that many people have felt oppressed because they have experienced a degree of oppression.  I understand that experiences have conditioned them.  I accept that one should acknowledge the unjust realities of many people’s lives and make no excuses for the inexcusable.

I also return to my original thought in this post:  Maintaining the proper level of sensitivity is crucial; hypersensitivity is at least as negative a force as insensitivity.  Something I do (or have done) today is offensive to somebody, somewhere.  The same statement applies to you, O reader.  Our duty is to do our best to love our fellow human beings as we love ourselves.  That kind of love seeks to build people up, not to tear them down.  It respects in words and deeds the dignity inherent in them.  So may we act accordingly.  May we neither cause legitimate offense not take offense wrongly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

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My Ninth Anniversary of Blogging   4 comments

Above:  The View from My Computer’s Camera, at Its Regular Station, My Desk, July 20, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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A MESSAGE FIVE DAYS EARLY, BUT THAT IS FINE

On July 27, 2009, when I created this weblog, I had almost no idea what I was doing.  I have, however, learned and improved with practice and the passage of time.  One weblog has spun off seven more, each weblog being a separate, dedicated channel.  I have deleted most of the oldest posts here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS and made plans to replace some others.  I have decided, however, to leave a few intact–perhaps edited also–but intact.

Social media, although useful in many ways, seems especially prone to devolving into a cesspool of ignorance, snap judgments, lies, and Too Much Information (TMI) that will haunt many people in the future.  The Internet does not forget, especially when forgetting and plausible deniability are functions of grace.  Who among us does not have skeletons in his or her closet?  There should be a statute of limitations on the great majority of them.  Besides, whenever we judge others, we also judge ourselves.  One needs to know how to use social media wisely, and how to use it in moderation.  A weblog functions in much the same way and carries the same caveat.  I have many thoughts; I express some of them.  I express few of those online.

Speaking of cesspools, much of the content on the Internet is wretched.  For evidence, look no further than comments sections at many websites.  Human depravity is, for me, not an article of faith.  No, I need no faith to affirm that for which I have a plethora of objective evidence.  One of my goals here and at my other weblogs is to express myself in ways that build up that which is good and noble, and to do so in language that, at worst, carries a rating of PG-13, but usually PG or G.  I seek to avoid contributing to cultural, social, spiritual, and political toxicity, although I am not afraid to express myself in direct terms.  It is just that I refuse to read like a George Carlin routine.

In conclusion, O reader, I express my wish for you during the coming 370 days:  May God’s best for you be your daily reality.  May you recognize that God’s best for you is your daily reality.  According to the standard of God’s best for you, may you be better off on July 27, 2019, than you are today.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 22, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES

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Posted July 22, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Natural Beauty for Its Own Sake   Leave a comment

Above:  Sunset, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, August 16, 2018

Image in the Public Domain

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I am a former news junkie because of events of the last few years.  I choose to be a good person who checks the news occasionally then unplugs rather than one who is perpetually angry.  Trust me, O reader, I have an effective internal editor.  Alone, muttering under my breath, I know how to string together a string of profanities after hearing or reading a news story.  Then I catch myself and regret what I have done.  Therefore I resolve to do better.  This entails avoiding temptation, i.e., the news, most of the time.

Ugliness–literal and otherwise–surrounds us.  I stand in awe of the beauty of nature then notice that someone has dumped garbage.  I pick up some garbage in my neighborhood, but there is always more of it later in the day.  Sometimes I contact the local government about large garbage (such as appliances and a couch) in or near the woods.  Certain local government officials know my name quite well, and are responsive, fortunately.  Much of the content of the Internet is not decent.  Comments sections of websites are notorious for functioning as vehicles of the worst of human nature.  If anyone thinks that come recent elections have been unusually nasty, I point to certain campaign rhetoric of the 1800s, namely in the presidential elections of 1800, 1828, and 1884.  Or one might read Richard Ben Cramer‘s devastating What It Takes, with its memorable final sentence, about the presidential election of 1988.  But yes, I do recall 2015 and 2016 as being worse than what came immediately previously.

I cannot take the ugliness away, but I can choose to offer beauty instead.  So, with this post, I share my most recent photograph, from Saturday evening.  Beauty surrounds us.  If we dare to take the time to notice it, we will benefit greatly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ADOLPHUS NELSON, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRANCK, HEINRICH HELD, AND SIMON DACH, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MASSIE, HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BINGHAM TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Barbara Bush (1925-2018)   Leave a comment

Above:  Barbara Bush Reading to Children, March 7, 1989

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ds-10202

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BARBARA PIERCE BUSH (JUNE 8, 1925-APRIL 17, 2018)

Rest in peace, Barbara Bush; you were a classy lady.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

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Posted April 18, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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A Prayer for 2018   Leave a comment

Above:  My Writing Desk, December 28, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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2017 has been a difficult year in several ways.  Storms, both political and literal, have made it devastating and depressing.  I have continued my retreat into science fiction and books about Lutheran history, for paying too close attention to current events has proven spiritually detrimental.  By “spiritually detrimental” I mean that my frequency (never high) of profanity (in private, with no other mortals present) has increased and I have become more proficient and creative in it.  This has alarmed me.  The less time devoted to learning of the news, the better my spiritual life.  The less news I digest, the cleaner my language.

The fact that this is true is sad.  Nevertheless, there it is.  Distractions ahoy!  How many series can I rewatch and how much can I learn about Lutheran history?  I endeavor to learn the answer to that question.

I pray that, in 2018, the reality of each person’s life will be God’s best for him or her.  I also pray that each of us will take seriously the responsibility to help others along the road to God’s best for them.  Furthermore, I pray that each of us will know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, then do it, as well as when to stay out of God’s way.

May 2018 be a much better year than 2017.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BECKET, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH CONDER, ENGLISH ABOLITIONIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF AUSTIN FARRER, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BURNETT MORRIS, SR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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In Praise of Mere Decency   3 comments

Human depravity is not an article of faith for me.  No, it is a documented and proven reality.  Faith comes into play in the absence of confirmation or contradiction by standard means of human knowledge.  For evidence of human depravity one need to look no further than the comments sections of many websites.  Between those who post incendiary and insulting material for the purpose of stirring the pot, so to speak, and those who mean it I find many reasons for grave concern about human nature.

In contrast I praise mere decency.  One should do x because it is the morally correct course of action, not because one seeks a reward for it.  I praise the simple act of striving to live according to the Golden Rule, regardless of one’s situation and station in life.  The operative status is that of a human being with a pulse.  I extol the virtues of mere decency, regardless of whether one is a neighbor, a teacher, a student, an employee, a coworker, a boss, a private citizen, or a potentate.  I praise decency wherever it is present.  I condemn the absence of decency wherever that is a reality.  This is a matter of principle for me, as I seek, by grace, to be more decent than I am.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/in-praise-of-mere-decency/

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