Thoughts on religion, politics, history, astronomy, sports and mores from a traditionally Lutheran, more or less Center Right curmudgeon who loves history, astronomy, the Blackhawks, the Bears and the Cubs
Folks in the D.C. area are blessed in having two fine, confessional congregations available to them like St. Athanasius and my own former congregation, Immanuel in Alexandria, Va. Prs. Douthwaite and Esget are both wonderful preachers and faithful shepherds.
Like many of my generation, I became politically active in the Eugene McCarthy campaign in 1968. After the convention debacle- I was caught in the middle of Michigan Avenue during the police riot- I became part of what was known a "the Independent Movement" in Chicago politics. Basically, we were liberal anti-Daley, anti-Machine activists who- politics making especially strange bedfellows in Chicago- often made common cause with the only other anti-Machine political force in Chicago, the tiny Cook County Republican Party.
We ran candidates for alterman and the state legislature, usually in gentrified liberal wards on the Lakefront. Bill Singer's successful aldermanic campaign in the 43rd Ward was the first winning campaign I was ever involved in. Later, law student Michael Holewinski took advantage of Illinois' multi-member House districts and cumulative voting to win several consecutive elections even from my own blue-collar Northwest Side 17th Legislative District. Since the Machine ran two candidates in the district, and every voter had three votes, all Mike had to do is to get half the people who voted for the Machine candidates to vote for him, and he was in.
I look back on those days with a great deal of affection. The victories were sweet, the defeats were bitter, but above all I had a real sense of making a difference. But alas, there was never a question of the Independent Movement actually taking power. When Bill Singer ran for mayor against the elder Daley, he was crushed. It wasn't until after "Da Mare's" death that the Blizzard of '79 and the arrogance of those left to make such decisions infuriated the African-American community by closing down the Elevated stations in the black wards and running express trains out to Jefferson Park and the white ones that Jane Byrne- herself a renegade member of the Machine- succeeded in beating it and becoming the first non-Machine mayor of my lifetime.
A great deal has changed since the '70's. Chicago is a different city. The "City that Worked" doesn't anymore. It's deeply in debt. Its once golden bonds are only two steps above junk bond status. After decades of growth for the African-American community, black Chicagoans- as sociologist Ernest Burgess predicted back in 1923 would eventually happen- are moving to the suburbs as the central city gentrifies. All at once, the "Lakefront Liberals-" once dismissed as ineffectual "goo-goo's" (short for "good government") by Machine types- have come into their own among Chicago's shrinking electorate. All of a sudden, the "goo-goo's" have power.In fact, they're the backbone of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's support.
The gay community on the Northwest Side is, and always has been, a key element in the "goo-goo" coalition. The second Mayor Daley strove mightily to bring it and other elements in what was once the only effective opposition to the Machine into the tent, and he largely succeeded. This explains Mayor Emanuel's constitutionally questionable decision to ban Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy from the city for contributing to anti-marriage redefinition organizations a few years ago.
My politics have changed a bit since then, and if I still lived in Chicago I probably wouldn't still be a part of the movement to which I devoted so much time and effort back n the '70's. I am no fan of Rahm Emanuel, believing as I do in the First Amendment. And I am certainly no fan of the even more radical Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, whose victory in the April 7th runoff I both expect and fear. Emanuel, at least, has struggled manfully to save the city from financial disaster, and I don't think Garcia has a clue.
But part of me can't help but feel a little proud of the movement of which I was an active member for so long a time. The "goo-goo's" are finally in the ascendant.
As Harry Carey would have said, "Who'da thunk it?"
I'll probably never get around to writing my book, The Least Generation: How the Baby Boomers Ruined America. But if I did, this post over at Cranach kind of illustrates the problem I have with my generation, and with contemporary Americans generally.
There is, of course, a problem here. It can be summed up in the words, "You shall have no other gods before me." It seems that- at least according to the Barna people- Americans have two such gods before Him: family and country.
Biblical and religious illiteracy is, of course, at an all-time high in America and throughout the Western world. In a way, it's not surprising that we're a nation of idolaters. Martin Luther said that our god is whatever we fear, love and trust the most.
Either Barna is wrong, or we as a nation aren't quite clear about the entire concept of "God."
Thoughtful post from Gene Veith about last Sunday's Old Testament lesion, the shallowness of our reactions to God's dealings with us, and our failure to understand that sometimes what seems mean on His part is actually very, very merciful.
I wish I could say that he's wrong. Chicago is the city in which I was born and raised, and in which I lived about half of my life. It's the city I love. I will always consider myself a Chicagoan at heart no matter how long I live in exile.
But the city I love is I big, big trouble, and the same corrupt and cynical political culture which once enabled Mayor Daley the Elder and his administration to cut corners and make Chicago "the city that worked" now makes it unlikely that it can crawl out of a financial hole directly resulting from decades of pandering to special interests. The candidate of those special interests- Jesus "Chuy" Garcia- will probably win. But even if Mayor Rahm Emanuel manages to pull off a narrow victory on April 7, the political culture and the realities of the politics of greed likely will make it impossible for him to turn things around.
Chicago's motto is Urbs in horto ("City in a Garden"). The late Mike Royko wrote that it really ought to be Ubi est mea ("Where's mine?"). Chicago is tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the politics of selfishness still reign supreme.
It breaks my heart to say it, but Stossel is likely right: Chicago- once a model for large cities all over America despite its shady political culture- has been brought by that culture to the point where it is likely the next Detroit.
Here, from a previous year, is a brief biography of Maewyn Succat, aka St. Patrick.
I've mentioned on previous St. Paddy's Days how the confusion of a pagan symbol of good luck- the Four Leaf Clover- with the shamrock, whose whole significance is that Patrick used it to illustrate the Trinity to the Irish, drives me up a wall.
Actually, there isn't an illustration of the Trinity that really works. Whether the skin, flesh and core of the apple, or water and steam and ice, or- well, the shamrock (God doesn't have three heads!), any attempt to explain this mystery finally ends in heresy. Though some illustrations are better than others, and Patrick's shamrock is one of the better ones, IMO.
BTW, the reference to Voltran shouldn't be pushed. The author was just having fun working that reference into the mix.
There's nothing new about such pro-Democratic and anti-Republican bias, of course. Domestically, study after study reveals that reporters are overwhelmingly liberal in their political philosophy and vote Democratic by a wide margin in election after election.
What's surprising is that there is anyone sufficiently clueless to be surprised.
It has been said that inside every "progressive" is a totalitarian dying to get out.
We've seen Chicago's Mayor Emanuel reveal his inner totalitarian in the Chik-fil-A affair. "Progessives" generally favor denying people's freedom of religion and forcing them to pay for abortifacient drugs despite their belief that it would make them accomplices to murder. The very concept of "hate speech" clearly indicates a failure to share the values of the Founding Fathers as reflected in the First Amendment.
Last night on "The Good Wife," Elisha Florrick told her opponent in the Cook County State's Attorney race that "nobody thinks there's anything wrong with being gay."
Well, there's a sense in which she's right- a sense which the cultural Left is very careful to overlook. Only an idiot would regard being born with a homosexual orientation as a moral failing. What is controversial is not being homosexual. What is controversial is the morality of homosexual behavior. That's why all attempts to portray marriage redefinition or other attempts to mainstream homosexual behavior as civil rights issues are misguided. The issue is not discrimination against people who are of homosexual orientation, but rather the ethics and social impact of acting upon that orientation. Some may regard this as a subtle distinction, but it's really not.
We're talking about behavior, not an ontological condition like race or even a belief system like religion.
Now, the fact is that a large percentage of the American public do regard homosexual behavior as ethically wrong and socially undesirable. Any attempt to penalize such behavior would be inappropriate, an intrusion into matters that are none of anyone else's business, and a clear violation of the rights of people who choose to engage in it. But not so opposition to attempts to sanction or mainstream that behavior.
Confusing the distinction between orientation (a relatively recent concept, btw, and one not even known in biblical times or throughout nearly all of the history of the major American religions) and behavior is a favorite tactic of the cultural Left these days. And statements such as the one Elisha made to Frank Prady in last night's episode are either remarkably unperceptive of that crucial distinction, or- more likely- deliberate attempts to confuse it. Something close to half of the American people regard homosexual behavior as ethically wrong, and whether one agrees with that perception or not, it's less than honest to deliberately misrepresent the issue.
It seems that it's not enough that only one side is allowed to be heard in the debate over homosexuality these days. The cultural Left can't even manage to be honest about what the disagreement is.
I hope he's right. The dominant cultural Left isn't big on tolerance of viewpoints which differ from theirs, and if they're finally figuring out that diversity doesn't mean simply agreeing with them, this can only be to the good.
Is Rahm da bomb, or is Chuy the guy? I think the city would be (somewhat) better served by a second term for Emanuel; after all, even a totalitarian can be competent. And it doesn't sound like Garcia is really clear on what in the world he's going to do if he wins.
I have a hunch that he'll win anyway. Either way, surely Chicago can do better at what may be the most critical juncture in its history than either of these guys.