In the days of long ago,
Ranged where the locomotives sing
And the prairie flowers lie low: -
The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass
Is swept away by the wheat,
Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by
In the spring that still is sweet.
But the flower-fed buffaloes of the spring
Left us, long ago.
They gore no more, they bellow no more,
They trundle around the hills no more: -
With the Blackfeet, lying low,
With the Pawnees, lying low,
"The Flower-Fed Buffaloes" by Vachel Lindsay
Taken this week from our perch at the poor man's penthouse.
Cousin Steve has a spooky theory on these everpresent high-up contrails.
I think this one might be a flight to Minn heading northwest over Waukesha?
LAST WEEK WE GOOFED
We ran the wrong text
of Rev. BB's sermon.
(It was a prior one)
Below is the right one.
Note: It is because
of leadership like this
that the 1838-founded Waukesha First Congegational Church (UCC)
We razed a neighboring house
this week to enlarge our parking lot.
BEFORE, EARLIER IN THE DAY
AFTER, LATER IN THE DAY
As the Raccoon sees it:
The lady is a champ?
If Hillary really wants to hear us, let’s make some noise
By Ann McFeatters
Tribune News Service (TNS)
Finally, thanks to Hillary Clinton, we “average” and “ordinary” Americans are getting our day in the sun.
Folks, this is a big responsibility. The only viable Democrat so far in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes is depending on our telling her what it is we really, really want. We have to get this right.
The first thing she did after issuing her “I am running” video, which did not exactly give us any reason to vote for her but made her look pleasant, was to head in a van dubbed Scooby to Iowa, via Chipotle, to talk to “ordinary” Americans. (Notice she did not go to Garrison Keillor’s hometown where all the men are good-looking, the women are strong and the children are above-average.) She said she wants to begin a conversation with us. OK. (The conversation she had with us in 2008 is so yesterday.) As Howard Fineman of The Huffington Post said, her Iowa trip was a little like the Advanced Placement girl going down to the high school basement to visit the shop class.
But she actually made news right at the beginning of her campaign, suggesting it’s time to get unaccountable money out of politics even if it takes a constitutional amendment (which could not possibly pass in the toxic political climate we live in). Never mind that she would like to raise $2.5 billion to get elected.
The woman who has been front and center in our polarized politics for decades is hoping to reinvent herself as just one of us. Never mind that Wall Street loves her and she is worth millions of dollars. Let’s just say that everything has been said about Hillary but not everyone has said it. Her aides say she wants us “average’ and “ordinary” Americans to really get to know her as a warm and caring person, which is true. She is also political, ambitious and calculating, none of which is bad but which she is less eager to demonstrate for us.
On the other hand, she has had a different hairstyle every day of her life and many, many pantsuits, necklaces and earrings. Reinvention is she.
Hillary says she has four main goals: Building the economy of tomorrow, strengthening families and communities, fixing the political system, and getting unaccountable money out of politics.
So far she has polished her cliches to perfection. “We have to figure out in this country how to get back on track.” “I’ve been fighting for children and families my entire life.” “I want to be the champion who goes to bat for Americans.” “The deck is stacked in favor of the rich.” She needs some new cliches.
We don’t want to be churlish about the first woman with a real chance to be president. But New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio is right: No endorsement until we see what she actually proposes to help struggling Americans. How would she solve the problem of CEOs making 300 times the rest of us and hedge fund managers paying less tax than nurses and truck drivers?
At the least, will she endorse a $15-an-hour wage for fast food workers? Empower unions? Sign new trade deals? Close loopholes in the tax laws? Back universal child care? And how would she get past Republican opposition in Congress?
Hillary’s real political challenge will not be today, tomorrow or even this year. It will come in the general election in the autumn of 2016, when the mammoth GOP field has been weeded out and one Republican emerges. He (there is no she) will be well-financed and will position himself as a change agent. Hillary is essentially running for a third Democratic term in the White House and may be somewhat shopworn by then.
Republicans will chant, as Marco Rubio rather rudely pointed out in announcing his campaign in a slap at both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, “Yesterday is over.”
The November 2016 election is likely to be hard-fought and close. There is no inevitable conclusion. We hope it will be fought over vital national issues, not personal mud.
In the meantime, we of the average and ordinary persuasion must do our best to keep the focus on our needs, shouting to make ourselves heard above the cacophony of cliches.(Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
AS POPE FRANCIS prepares to release his encyclical on climate change, it’s worth remembering exactly how far the conversation on religion and the environment has come in the past quarter-century.
When I wrote The End of Nature back in the late 1980s, there was very little religious environmentalism. Liberal churches believed that ecology was a subject to be addressed once you’d finished with war and poverty; conservative churches viewed it as a way station on the road to paganism. And Christians in general still reeled under the idea, propounded by Lynn White in an influential essay inScience magazine, that the Genesis call for dominion had led directly to the destruction we saw around us.
In those early days, there were a few wayfarers on this path. Thomas Berry, for instance, and even more important a pair of academics—Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim—who picked up his clues and sweated blood to assemble theologians from around the world and search every tradition for the roots of ecological thinking. Episcopal Power and Light—now Interfaith Power and Light—was an early and successful effort at congregational action; Shomrei Adamah (Guardians of the Earth) was an early effort in the Jewish community that has blossomed into many flowers.
More senior figures began to join. Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of 400 million Eastern Christians, became known as the “green patriarch” for his straightforward reckoning that environmental desecration was just that, a sin. Desmond Tutu has called climate change the “human rights challenge of our time.” Now the pope. “It is [humanity] who has slapped nature in the face,” Francis said. “We have in a sense taken over nature.”
There’s pushback still, of course. When the pope made his remarks, a blogger at the conservative journal First Things announced, “Francis serves an environmentalist mindset that, unlike the traditional ethos of conservation, views [humanity] as a parasite.” Oof; them’s fighting words. And from the corporatist, compromised center, there’s the usual dismay at having to take sides. The
on Corporate Responsibility, for instance, has done its best to blunt the growing movement for fossil-fuel divestment, arguing that “companies aren’t the enemy.” Interfaith Center
Happily, though, the momentum is clear. Denominations such as the United Church of Christ and the Unitarians have called for divestment; Methodist colleges and Catholic research universities are joining in. Religious people do understand that there are enemies in this fight—that the companies who melted the
Arcticand then moved to drill for yet more oil in its open waters meet any theological test you could devise for radical irresponsibility.
This movement unites young—who will have to live for decades with a changed planet—and old, who will have to go to their graves knowing that we’ve left a damaged planet behind. It reaches across ideology—the question of how and whether we evolved is less pressing than the fact that we’re now running Genesis in reverse.
There’s a streak of sadness that runs through this movement: Clearly we’ve failed to responsibly exercise dominion (we’re the bad babysitter, who takes the 2-year-old out for a tattoo and some piercings). But there’s also a streak of joy. Unlike secular environmentalists, we’re entitled—if we work as hard as we know how to work—to imagine that some force will meet us halfway. Despair is optional, thank heaven.
Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at
Middlebury Collegein and founder of 350.org . Vermont
downtown at East and Broadway
battered but still standing