Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bigger threat to democracy – climate change or nuclear weapons? The answer is yes.


“The biggest risk to the world, to me – I know President Obama thought it was climate change – to me the biggest risk is nuclear weapons.”  
“The power of weaponry today is the single greatest problem that our world has, and it’s not global warming like our president said.  It’s the power of weapons, in particular nuclear.”
So says our president-elect Donald Trump.

I am no expert.  I’ll leave the evidence (which is ample) to the scientists and the policy to the politicians, but let’s just suppose that we DO have a problem with man-made climate change.  Assume for a moment that it IS a real thing.  Assume that the overwhelming scientific consensus is correct.  Set aside the questions of the role of government, the EPA, the actions of the Obama Administration, etc.  Basically, assume that everything that our president-elect has to say about climate change – through his tweets, speeches, policies, cabinet appointments – is wrong.  This may be extremely easy for you.  Or it may be extremely difficult.

Why is climate change such a grave threat according to those who affirm it’s a real thing?

It’s a threat to the environment itself, sure.  We see images of gaunt polar bills.  We hear reports of disappearing ice.  Bird and fish migrations are affected, etc.

Is that the sum total of it?  Environmental issues external to the well-being of human beings?  No.  This isn’t just about animals and trees, but about the biosphere that keeps humanity alive.

If the scientific consensus is true, then the food shortages, droughts, floods, catastrophes and the poverty, social instability, and resource wars that are likely to ensue are not only A means, but THE means by which nuclear war becomes a reality.  

The bottom line is this.  It’s a mistake to pit climate change and nuclear proliferation against one another.  It's not one or the other.  Climate change doesn’t reduce the threat of nuclear holocaust.  It raises it.  The terrible threat of nuclear war isn’t opposed or minimized by climate change.  Rather, climate change is the means by which it could come about. 

Even now, as a species, we have the ability to destroy our world many times over.  Reflecting upon the creation of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer is reported to have quoted the Bhagavid Gita: 
Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
May his prophecy sober us even as we act to prove it false.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Fundamental Change in Social Discourse



From "Obama Reckons With A Trump Presidency" By David Remnick (The New Yorker)

“Until recently, religious institutions, academia, and media set out the parameters of acceptable discourse, and it ranged from the unthinkable to the radical to the acceptable to policy,” Simas said. “The continuum has changed. Had Donald Trump said the things he said during the campaign eight years ago—about banning Muslims, about Mexicans, about the disabled, about women—his Republican opponents, faith leaders, academia would have denounced him and there would be no way around those voices. Now, through Facebook and Twitter, you can get around them. There is social permission for this kind of discourse. Plus, through the same social media, you can find people who agree with you, who validate these thoughts and opinions. This creates a whole new permission structure, a sense of social affirmation for what was once thought unthinkable. This is a foundational change.”

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"We Live in a Semantic Universe" - Random Thoughts 11/10/2016


We Christians sometimes talk about “obedience”.  If “obedience” is viewed in the abstract and as independent of or superior to faith, hope and love rather than as their manifestation, then “obedience” is a sham, a millstone tied around your neck, a bringer of death and division.

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“Every prayer is an expression of hope.  If you expect nothing from the future, you cannot pray.  Hope is based on the premise that the other gives only what is good.”  (Nouwen)  For what do we hope?  Or rather, to whom do we hope?  Is the “God” that we see one that calls our hearts and minds to that mode of existence that we call “hope”?

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Be aware of “the immense difference that exists between hope and wishfullness.” (Nouwen)

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The fact that the word “great” appears in “Make America Great Again” does not itself make self-evident what the term means.  Be assured that it doesn’t mean to Donald Trump what it means to you.  To understand what Donald Trump means by “great” we need only look at his words, actions, policies, pursuits, and (perhaps most importantly) who or what is sacrificed in the pursuit of “greatness”.

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To those evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who piously hold forth that God “intervened” to give the presidency to Donald Trump I simply ask “Did God’s intervention on behalf of Trump begin before or after the Republican primary?”  If before, you cannot absolve yourself of the ramifications of your support due to him being “the lesser of two evils” or “having no other choice.”

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When I look into the face
Of my enemy
I see my brother
I see my brother
(“Brother” – The Brilliance)


This prayer of faith is pious nonsense unless that which binds and gives life to humanity is eternal; deeper and stronger than those things that separate.  A true vision of our beginning and our end may yet bring a healing and reconciling word to our present, a word that renders the construct of “the enemy” as illusory.  As vapor.
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