Posts Tagged ‘civility’

Home, home on the Strange

January 23, 2017


Oh, give me a home where Americans roam

where the donkeys and elephants still play,

where seldom is heard, a fake newsy word

and talking heads are nice to each other all day.

How often at night when the talking heads fight

in the light of a flat TV screen

have I sat here so sad, and yes, even mad!

at the downfall of American dreams.

Yes, my Home, home’s way out here;

here in flyover country so dear,

where manipulated stats, and alternative facts

don’t mean diddly-squat all the year.

Oh give me a home, where civility’s not gone

where we still have a song and a prayer

where seldom is heard, a vindictive word

and for alternative facts we have not a care.

Glass half-Full

Symbols that Unite or Divide

November 16, 2016


Here’s a timely excerpt from Glass half-Full, the novel I wrote in 2007:

Marcus opened a can of turpentine. He tipped it slightly so that its upper contents would spill onto a rag that lay on the parking lot next to his car. With the rag partially soaked, he began rubbing on the driver’s-side door. Someone had painted a black swastika on it while he was working late. His cell phone rang.

He opened it, looked at the mini-screen, saw “Grille,” which stood for Jesse James Gang Grille. In the last few days, however, whenever he would see “Grille” displayed as the caller ID, it registered in his mind as “Girl,” meaning Bridget, because she would often call from there.


“Marcus, have you heard about the explosion?”

“No, where?”

“At the Belmont Hotel, about 20 minutes ago.”

The Belmont was just two blocks from the restaurant.

“That’s where the FEF convention is. Aleph told me he would be going there tonight. Has anybody been down there to see what’s happening?”

“Kaneesha left here right after we heard it, but she hasn’t returned. I don’t think anybody’s getting in there for awhile. The police have got the whole block barricaded.”

“I want to find out if anything has happened to Aleph. Don’t you think he would have left there by now?

“The TV News says the police aren’t letting anyone in or out except rescue workers.”

“I’m headed over there in a few minutes, as soon as I get the car-door cleaned up. Someone painted a swastika on it.”


Glass half-Full

An amicable encounter of worldviews

October 3, 2011

Every weekday at noon I take an hour break from work to eat a sandwich and some little carrots. During that time, the availability of  two NPR-affiliate stations affords me a radio choice between two excellent news analysis programs: Boston WBUR’s Robin Young, who hosts Here & Now, or Philly’s WHYY presentation of Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross.
Today I chose to listen to Terry’s interview with evangelical Christian leader C. Peter Wagner,  and I’m glad I did.
I am a Christian who happens to live in the USA, which is a nation that cherishes freedom of speech, and respects a multiplicity of opinions. Although I frequently discern a gulf of difference between Terry Gross’ worldview and mine,  I have often admired the sensitivity and skill with which she conducts interviews. Terry chooses her interviewees from a wide array of philosophically diverse personalities. including some persons who are markedly different from herself. This was one of them.
At no time has Terry’s respectful sensitivity been better demonstrated than it was today in her conversation with Peter Wagner.
Mr. Wagner represents a charismatic Christian subculture with which I have some common history and familiarity. Terry Gross represents a free-thinking secularist intellectual culture that is, in many ways, antithetical to Peter Wagner’s.
The inquistive exchange between their two gentle souls today was an example of civility that is sorely lacking in today’s  cacophany of combative discourse.
I’ll not say much more about their discussion. You can listen on the link above.  I will, however, quote from Mr. Wagner’s final comment to Terry, which was “I really congratulate you for the good research you’ve done.”
In other words, Terry took the time to explore what fundamentalist preacher Wagner really stood for, instead of forming her interview strategy on caricaturized stereotypes or political exaggerations. The result was exquisitely instructive, and an example of the exploratory enquiry that  public media  should aspire to.
As for  Mr. Wagner, this apostle, who was chosen to represent the so-called dominion theology movement of contemporary Christendom… I commend his unique optimism, founded upon a love-centered faith that is rarely seen these days.  At one point he said to Terry: “I think the world is going to get better and better…He (Jesus) will return to a very strong world…reflecting the kingdom of God– not the miserable world we live in today.”
Amen, brother.

Glass half-Full

Toxic shock syndrome

March 26, 2010

I had heard that the Federal Reserve has been buying mortgage-backed securities, many of them the so-called “toxic assets” that poisoned our financial system during the great recession. Now I hear that next week the Fed will quit buying these sketchy securities, and many of us are wondering what effect that will have on the money supply and economic conditions.
I had spent most of my adult life working as a free-lance, uninsured carpenter–although a relatively educated one, since I had earlier been a wandering English major. I had watched the housing industry inflate fairly steadily over twenty-five years or so.  Like many other folks in America, I and my family were direct beneficiaries of that housing bubble, and the “securitized” financial bubble of false prosperity that exponentially inflated it until the whole damned thing burst in 2008. The construction industry was my source of wages during all those years, as well as being the source of economic fodder that fueled our steadily-growing home equity.
When the crash happened in fall of 2008, I was hearing from the free-market gripers that the socialist dems were responsible for the whole mess with their force-fed federal attempts to get unqualified buyers into houses. And I was hearing from the controlled-economy crowd that the unregulated greed of wallstreeters was the main cause of our downfall.
However, it’s obvious to me that the culpability for our financial woes is widely dispersed. In a perfect storm of economic destruction, everybody did their part one way or another–including me, who earned, as a hapless carpenter, steadily-increasing wages during the 25-year filling of that hot-air balloon. When the shit hit the fan, the air was thick with theoretical accusations flying from both directions. The free-market crowd blamed the bleeding heart dems for having laid a sandy foundation of unqualified consumer mortgage debt with their overactive pie-in-the-sky housing policies. The liberals blamed the gaming wallstreeters for having built their derivitized, credit-default-swapped house of cards on that shakily-mortgaged foundation until the weight of it brought the entire structure down.
Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong. Last time I checked, we were all still members of the human race, and that explains a lot about this whole damn situation. Deal with it.
And realize we still have the same problem that our grandparents had back in the ’30s: their ain’t no free lunch.
Anyway, now I’m hearing again about these infamous mortgage-backed securities–the ones that nobody knows how to assign value to. They didn’t just, you know, go away. The tooth fairy didn’t just remove them from beneath our dreamy, media-puffed pillows while we slept. Turns out, ole gentle Ben was quietly buying them, to remove them and their destructive effects from the system, although their toxicity seems  now to have hopelessly polluted our political civility and even, perhaps, the integrity of our republic itself.
It’s nice to know, Ben, that you were out there attempting to clean up our mess. But now what happens?  I suppose we’ll find out after next week.
Fasten your seat belts, folks; we could be in for a rough ride, and our national vehicle is in need of some pretty serious repair. It reminds me–not that I’ve ever seen one, mind ye–of a runaway train.
Or the situation described by C.J. McCall in his old country song hit from back in the day: “…Wolf Creek pass, way up on the great divide, trucking on down…the other side,”
with worn-out brakes.