Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Environmental Stewardship: One More Time

Last month, I explained that the new pastor at my father's church decided to change the title of Dad's column in their newsletter from "Environmental Stewardship" to "Care of God's Creation." As this month's column shows, Dad is getting a bit frustrated.

I was hesitant to post this column, expecting his pastor to suggest he rethink it. But he forwarded to me an email from her that indicates that she is letting him go ahead with this, and let the chips fall, or not, where they may.

For ten years these columns or essays (I’m never sure which they are) appeared under the heading Environmental Stewardship. For the last six months they have been titled Care of God’s Creation. I haven’t heard a single comment about this change from any member of the congregation other than staff. Does this mean that nobody noticed or that the two phrases have no different connotation?

I can’t remember from whom I may have borrowed the phrase Environmental Stewardship, but for me the Stewardship part was from a paraphrase of the first creation story in Genesis 1:26 in which “dominion” was interpreted as “stewardship.”

The notes in the NRSV, the Lutheran Study Bible, state, “Having dominion is understood as care-giving, not exploitation.” In many other parts of the Bible, stewards are persons who act for the landowners and rulers, often in their absence, and are responsible for keeping things running right. Lutherans are very knowledgeable about stewardship of our money, our time and our talents. Here, I use it to mean stewardship of the air, water, soil, flora and fauna, habitat and everything that is connoted by the environment. It certainly was meant to include Care of all this.

On the other hand, and it may seem petty or limiting, I raise the question whether God’s Creation includes all the ways we have messed up the environment. I accept that God somehow created the entire universe, surely not quite in the ways described in Genesis and probably not by pushing the button for the Big Bang. I also accept the Genesis evaluation that “God saw that it was good.”

What I find very hard to accept is that God created the pollution and mess that we see around us and has been so vividly portrayed in the recent UN report, the sixth Global Environment Outlook. I believe that Environmental Stewards should take Care of God’s Creation and the mess that industrial homo sapiens have made of that creation.

Apparently nobody else worries or cares about the title; the important thing is whether anybody has adopted any of the changes in their lives suggested over the past ten plus years in these essays. If not, then there is no point in taking up this space in the newsletter. The ideas and suggestions are seldom, if ever, mine, but I hope I have brought them to you in a different, interesting and compelling fashion and from a Christian layman’s perspective.

For months, I have had no feedback from any member of the congregation, so I have no way of knowing whether anyone has made changes in their environmental awareness and thoughts, their plans or actions stemming from these essays. You can generally find me standing around during the Sunday coffee fellowship and I would love to hear from you. Or you can email me here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dip In Road

Trump errand boy Devin Nunes (R-CA, and a co-sponsor of the 2017 "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act") has decided to sue Twitter over some users making fun at his expense.
What horrible things did these accounts say about Nunes to warrant the judiciary’s intervention? The account named “Devin Nunes’ Mom” receives the most attention in the complaint. Its owner frequently posted caustic remarks about him and his actions toward the Russia investigation. One tweet said that Nunes was unfit to run the House Intelligence Committee, while another joked that he was “voted ‘Most Likely to Commit Treason’ in high school.” Some tweets are indistinguishable from legitimate political criticism. Others are more puerile, implying that Nunes wanted to commit sexual acts with Trump and other top Republicans.
Twitter had already suspended the "Devin Nunes' Mom" account — for impersonating a real person, not for materially damaging Mr. Nunes. How the congresscritter intends to prove real damage is hard to fathom. He's a public figure, which makes him fair game by any interpretation of the concept of free speech, and he volunteered for the damn job.

Mr. Nunes might want to read up on Hustler Magazine Inc. v. Falwell someday. In the meantime, he's pretty much inviting the rest of us to pile on.

Monday, March 18, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I've got a crowd of Democrats in this week's syndicated cartoon, and some of them aren't even running for president!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Beto Know a Candidate

Installment II of my caricatures of 2020 presidential candidates:

To the best of my knowledge Beto O'Rourke is no relation to the Kennedy clan, but the man looks like he ought to be. I learned the other day that his given name is Robert Francis, exactly the same as Bobby Kennedy, and quickly conceived this parody of Roy Lichtenstein's pop-art portrayal of RFK that appeared on the cover of Time magazine's May 24, 1968 issue.

Lichtenstein's work has been derided as derivative, which makes this caricature doubly so. The large ben-day dots are a leitmotif of Lichtenstein's work, and not here some effort to tie Mr. O'Rourke to the anti-vaxxer movement.

I don't use or have ben-day dot technology, so I had to add each and every one of those blasted dots individually. During the course of which, I had to leave for several hours and returned to find that Photoshop apparently prevents my computer's screen saver and energy saver settings from taking effect.

Happily, I don't have the half-finished drawing burned into my screen.

At any rate, until this week, I had simply assumed that the man's given name was Beto, perhaps being a simplified spelling of a traditional Irish name. The Gaelic spelling would probably have turned out to be Beitgeaughe, but pronounced the same. He was born in 1972, at which time American parents had begun ditching common names like John and Mary in favor of ethnically telling names like Siobhan and Aksel. (If they had WASP heritage, the kids ended up with names like Sunflower and River.)

But I suspect that Beto sharing the name Robert Francis with RFK was no coincidence, and that makes it ethnic enough.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Irish Question

"St. Patrick's Day, 1919" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune,  March 17, 1919
And where would we be afther goin' this glorious Sláinteback Sathairn but the Emerald Isle?

"Give Her a Front Seat!" by Fred Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, ca. Feb., 1919
When we last checked in on century-old events in Ireland, Sinn Féin had just rejected British promises to grant Ireland home rule on Tuesday in return for drafting Irish lads to fight the Bosch today. Riots and repression followed.
"Begorra, I May Have to Break In" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Ledger, ca. March, 1919
Today we jump ahead one year to find the Great War over, Britain and its allies victorious. Sinn Féin won a landslide victory in the Irish general election of December, 1918, save in Ulster, where the Irish Unionist Party won most parliamentary seats. Sinn Féin refused to join the British Parliament, instead declaring Irish independence in January and setting up its own unicameral parliament called the Dáil Éireann.
"May Make Somebody Sick" by Sidney Joseph Greene in New York Evening Telegram, Jan. or Feb., 1919
Along with an official declaration of independence and a constitution, one of the first orders of business for the Dáil was publication of a "Message to the Free Nations" demanding that Ireland be allowed to make its case for independence at the Paris Peace Conference. The British response was to appoint Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, as "master of Ireland" with complete authority over the island's government.
"A Gordian Knot" by Grover Page in Nashville Tennesseean, ca. Feb., 1919
British intransigence was inevitable, given Irish revolutionaries' collusion with Germany, rioting on Armistice Day, and the assassination of two Royal Irish Constabulary policemen in an ambush on the same day that independence was declared. A diplomatic solution was not to be had. Increasing tension and sporadic violence would result in two years of guerrilla warfare with Great Britain (the Cogadh na Saoirse, a.k.a. the Black and Tan War).
"And the Cat Came Back" by Archibald Chapin in St. Louis Republic, ca. Feb. 1919
Given President Woodrow Wilson's proclaimed ideals of "self-determination of all peoples," there was considerable sympathy in the U.S. for Irish independence, as shown in this selection of cartoons. Even the American cartoonists who portray the Irish as unready for self-rule conceded that it should come to pass sooner or later.

"He's Going to Keep On Till He Gets Them" by William Hanny in St. Joseph News-Press, ca. Feb., 1919
It would have been interesting to see how an anti-Irish cartoonist such as Thomas Nast might have depicted the Irish fight for home rule. Nast never had a kind word for Irish-Americans, persistently drawing them as apish, violent louts; he was, moreover, virulently anti-Catholic throughout his career. (Nast's cartooning career essentially ended in 1892, and he died of yellow fever while visiting Ecuador in 1902; if he had survived another sixteen years, he would have had to reconcile his German heritage with growing anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during the Great War.)

The great "Ding" Darling seemed at this point to be rather ambivalent about Irish self-rule. In our last cartoon today, he makes a joke playing off the apparent attraction among urban Irish-Americans to law enforcement as a profession, but doesn't present the gentleman's proposal as either good or bad per se.
"...Before It Is Too Late" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 10, 1919
I just don't think the gentleman is quite dressed for the job.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Q Toon: Malaysian Malaise

Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Mohamaddin bin Ketapi was in Germany last week for the ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse) Berlin tourism fair. Since Malaysian officials have consistently condemned homosexuality, and in January officially barred Israeli delegates to Malaysian sporting and other events, a reporter for Deutsche Welle asked him whether the country was safe for gay and Jewish visitors.
After initially sidestepping the question, the minister was asked again whether gays were welcome and he replied: "I don't think we have anything like that in our country."
Ministers of the southeast Asian country have made other derogatory statements about LGTBI people, including one who told gays they should keep their identities secret.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said homosexuality was part of "Western values." He added: "Don't force it on us."
It is not uncommon for leaders of Islamic countries to claim that, yes, they have no homosexuals. Making a victimless act punishable by flogging, long prison sentences and/or death will tend to make gays and lesbians reluctant to come out to their governmental officials. Those government officials are then free to characterize LGBTQness as a strictly Western phenomenon, like having blond hair or enjoying pumpkin spice lattes.

Sexual variation is well documented in non-white-skinned cultures, not to mention in the animal kingdom, so it's hard to believe that there is a race of humans who for some reason are genetically immune to LGBTQ DNA.

Whispering from behind a curtain in a darkened room while wearing a hoodie, fake nose and glasses, one of Mohamaddin's underlings hastened to correct the impression that LGBTQ and Jewish tourists are unwelcome in the southeast Asian country.
An aide to the minister later told news portal Malaysiakini that the statement was Mr Mohamaddin's personal views although it was in line with the Pakatan Harapan government's stance of not recognising LGBT culture.
Nevertheless, the aide, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "Tourists coming to Malaysia like any other country are welcome regardless of their creed, sexuality, religion or colour.”
Authorities just don't want those Western values rubbing off on the locals.