Archive for the ‘Mark Twain’ Tag

Historical Reality, Collective Denial, Political Inconvenience, and Truth-Telling   3 comments

THE SINS OF THE FATHERS

Today, on the calendar of The Episcopal Church, is Genocide Remembrance.

Today, President Biden called the Armenian Genocide a genocide.  It was a genocide, objectively.  Turkish denial, as old as that genocide, has continued.  Furthermore, the authoritarian government of Turkey has issued its predictable objection of President Biden’s simple act of telling the truth.

Admitting unpleasant truths about national and regional sins can be extremely difficult.  I know.  Witness my country, the United States of America.  We are a country founded partially on slave labor and on the racism that enabled slavery.  Anyone who thinks that the legacy of slavery ended in 1865 is a fool.  And anyone who imagines that racism is dead in the United States of America is willfully oblivious.  Yet much of the U.S. Right Wing seeks to minimize or deny these truths.  

I am also a Southerner, although one may be hard-pressed to detect that, based on my accent.  The Lost Cause of the Confederacy–that slavery was incidental to secession and the Civil War–is, to borrow a term from Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), a “damn lie.”  Documentary evidence from 1860-1861 indicates this.  One may read, for example, the “Cornerstone Speech” of Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens (March 1861), which indicates that race-based slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederate States of America.  One may also notice a change in writings and statements after Confederate defeat, when leading former Confederates minimized the role of slavery.  Yet the Lost Cause of the Confederacy persists.

What is going on in all three cases?  We human beings like to think of ourselves as good people.  We also like to think of our ancestors as good people.  But admitting that our ancestors committed genocide, condoned slavery, or were vile racists and segregationists seems to call our character into question.  God does not visit the sins of the fathers upon members of subsequent generations.  (Ezekiel 18 contradicts Exodus 20:5-6).  We do that ourselves, by not admitting what members of previous generations did, and how those sins have benefited us.  Telling the truth is cleansing.  It sets us free.  First, however, we need to get over our discomfort with the truth.  Only then can reconciliation become possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Anti-Intellectualism and Right-Wing Populism   1 comment

Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Damn Lies

Stephen Colbert, during his years of hosting The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, spoke, in the character of a composite of most of the on-air talent at the FOX News Channel of “truthiness,” defined as

the quality or seeming or feeling true, even when being false.

“Truthiness” is the quality of anti-intellectualism, of the distrust of expertise and reference works.  Objective reality, the character of Stephen Colbert said on October 17, 2005, is

all fact and no heart.

The television persona of Colbert rejected objective reality.

Objectively, surveys revealed that more self-described conservatives than self-described liberals did not get the joke.  More self-described conservatives than self-described liberals failed to realize that Colbert was playing a character.

That which Colbert said in political satire has become the governing strategy of the Trump Administration.  One may recall that, in early 2017, Kellyanne Conway used a now-infamous term:

alternative facts.

Her boss is a proponent and purveyor of alternative facts, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and what Samuel L. Clemens called

damn lies.

Anti-intellectualism is a political and religious tradition in the United States and elsewhere.  (Traditions are, by definition, old, so I choose not to call anti-intellectualism an “old tradition.”)    Related to anti-intellectualism is another tradition, distrust of science.  I trust science and consider myself an intellectual, of course.  Another cousin, so to speak, is the distrust of expertise.  I like experts, people who have read, studied, researched, et cetera.  They are well-informed, by definition.  I do not pretend that they are infallible, but I trust them before I trust an uninformed person on the street.  If that makes me an elitist, so be it.

Right-wing populism embraces truthiness and alternative facts as it rejects intellectualism, expertise, and science.  This tendency is proving deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing should NOT be controversial, but they are.  The Coronavirus will not vanish one day, magically.  No, it will remain with us for a very long time.  The Bubonic Plague still exists, but how often does it become a news story?  COVID-19 will eventually join the ranks of generally contained diseases that break out here and there, now and again, with limited effects.  We will get to that day sooner rather than later by acting responsibly, both collectively and individually, and by trusting that people who study this disease know more about it than people who do not.

Unfortunately, as human psychology proves, ego defense mechanisms are generally impervious to objective reality.  The least effective way to convince one to change one’s mind may be to present objective information, especially if one’s ego is invested in an erroneous belief.  Consider opposition to vaccination, O reader.  I understand why, centuries ago, when vaccination was new, that many people feared it.  However, given that vaccination has proven effective, fear of it is irrational and contrary to objective reality.

Aside:  I report that the worst reaction I had to an immunization was the exception to the rule.  My standard reaction is none, except for momentary discomfort; I despise needles.  I recall, however, that I passed out momentarily once.  On the other hand, I got a piece of chocolate, so I cannot complain.

This pandemic presents people with a choice:  Behave responsibly and reject misinformation or embrace conspiracy theories and racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and objectively false statements and those who peddle them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Blogging and Writing Update   Leave a comment

Above:  My Writing Desk, April 4, 2020

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 AND SHELTERING IN PLACE

Samuel L. Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, said that there are

lies, damn lies, and statistics.

While certain elected government officials have been telling damn lies daily in front of cameras and compounding their errors by denying their previous, documented damn lies, I have been avoiding other human beings almost constantly.  I have been following the advice of people–medical and public health officials, mainly–who refrain from telling damn lies about Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I have spent much of my free time working on hagiographies and lectionary-based devotions.  I have been adding posts about saints here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  I have also been taking notes on saints and drafting posts about them long-hand, in a composition book, as I have been working through my list of “new” saints with feast days in May.  Furthermore, I have drafted 16 of 24 remaining posts for Year C of the Humes lectionary, a four-year reading plan I found online years ago.  I have been publishing posts tied to the Humes lectionary at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS and BLOGA THEOLOGICA most recently.  I have been drafting the newest posts for ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS and BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

What remains in the short-term, for however long shelter-in-place orders remain?

  1. Publishing already-drafted posts for Easter season in Year C of the Humes lectionary,
  2. Drafting eight more posts for Year C of the Humes lectionary,
  3. Publishing all twenty-four remaining posts for the Season after Pentecost in Year C of the Humes lectionary,
  4. Completing and publishing a few more saints with feast days in May,
  5. Beginning work of “new” saints with feast days in June, and
  6. Drafting and posting twenty-seven new posts,to round out Year 1, based on the lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (1948).

Be and remain well, everyone.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT THE AFRICAN, FRANCISCAN FRIAR AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ALFRED C. MARBLE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI THEN ASSISTING BISHOP OF NORTH CAROLINA

THE FEAST OF ERNEST W. SHURTLEFF, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, AND MARTYR, 1968

THE FEAST OF SIDNEY LOVETT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND CHAPLAIN OF YALE UNIVERSITY

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Posted April 4, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Coronavirus/COVID-19

Tagged with ,

Feast of Sts. John Kemble and John Wall (August 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN KEMBLE (1599-AUGUST 22, 1679)

SAINT JOHN WALL (1620-AUGUST 22, 1679)

English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs

Alternative feast day (as two of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales) = October 25

Alternative feast day (as two of the Martyrs of Douai) = October 29

Sts. John Kemble and John Wall died because they insisted on remaining faithful Roman Catholics in England.

Kemble, born in 1599, was a son of John and Anne Kemble.  He studied theology in Douai, France.  Kemble, ordained to the priesthood on February 23, 1625, was back in his homeland as a missioner in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire on June 4, 1625.  For the next 53 years he was a covert priest.

Wall, born in Lancashire, England, in 1620, grew up in a wealthy Roman Catholic family.  He studied theology in Douai, France, then matriculated (as John Marsh) at the Roman College on November 5, 1641.  Wall, ordained to the priesthood on December 3, 1645, joined the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) in Rome, as Joachim of Saint Anne, on January 1, 1651.  He went on to serve as the vicar at Douai and as the novice-master there.  Wall returned to England, on a mission to Worcester, in 1656.

Authorities arrested Kemble and Wall in 1678.  Our two saints were allegedly part of the Titus Oates Plot.  Oates was a man who specialized in peddling what we of 2018 call, in Orwellian language, “alternative facts,” or what Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) referred to as “damn lies.”  (Twain’s other two types of lies were lies and statistics.)  Oates fabricated a Roman Catholic plot to assassinate King Charles II.  Kemble and Wall were supposedly conspirators.  They died, not as conspirators in a fictional plot, but as Roman Catholic priests, thereby officially as traitors.  They died at separate places on the same day–August 22, 1679.  Kemble went to his martyrdom at Hereford.  Respect for him prompted authorities to let him die during the hanging part of hanging, drawing, and quartering.  He was about 80 years old.  Wall died via hanging, drawing, and quartering at Redhill, Corcester.  He was about 59 years old.

Pope Pius XI declared our saints Venerables then Blesseds in 1929.  Pope Pius VI canonized them in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love

in the heart of your holy martyrs Saint John Kemble and Saint John Wall:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph, may profit by their examples;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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