Sunday, January 7, 2018


photographs from the hill i walk every day--
or turner paintings!?

Maria Popova's weekly column "Brain Pickings" is often thought-provoking and a good source for reading and watching tips.

Here's the link to a lovely article, just out today, entitled "A Gentle Corrective for the Epidemic of Identity Politics That Is Turning Us on Each Other and on Ourselves." 

I couldn't agree more. I have resisted with every fiber of my being the notion of "branding" (vile!)  or even categorizing my life and work. The only reasons to reduce a human person to a brand or a categorized identity are to consume, market, defend or attack.

I've also wondered these few months, Am I the only woman in North America who has not been fondled, groped, harassed, insulted, demeaned, propositioned and raped since the moment of my birth?

Now that we have mindlessly destroyed the careers and publicly excommunicated a whole bunch of sometimes otherwise talented and basically decent men, with no due process, no capacity to shade, differentiate, listen to, weigh the evidence, or reconcile, we are beginning to see the first rays of a  restoration of sanity. I now predict a mass abdication from the latest "identity movement" by the very virtue-signalling, self-proclaimed spokespeople for my glorious gender who first advanced it.

As usual, the deepest issue isn't political, but rather human. Shaming, lording it over, reproaching, insisting on one's superiority and rightness, and shrieking never change anything or anybody one tiny bit. Not the shamees, not the shamers.

What does, and I come back to this again and again, is story.

I just finished a wonderful book: Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo.

From a thumbnail New Yorker review:

"The author, a Harvard-educated child of Taiwanese immigrants, volunteered for Teach for America in a small town in the Arkansas Delta. In this memoir, she recounts arriving determined to empower her students through the study of black American literature and civil-rights politics. Sobered by the challenges she encounters, she leaves the program at the end of her commitment, only to return, guilt-stricken, when a former student, Patrick, is arrested for murder. As he awaits trial, the two resume their lessons"...

Kuo came to the Delta thinking to energize her black students, to educate them to the way their race has been so cruelly bowed down, to rouse them to action. She showed them photos of lynchings, which were passed around in horrified silence until one boy put his head down on his desk (a punishable offense in Kuo's classroom) and mumbled, "Nobody want to see that." She introduced them to Malcolm X--they were bored. Obama also elicited yawns. She shoved at them all manner of scholarly, political and historical material (Patrick at one point ventured that the Civil War--"Was that the one where the slaves freed?"--began in 1940): no discernible effect.

Deciding to try one last time, she introduced Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.

"It was a hit. The angry banter between Walter and Ruth, husband and wife, got laughs. Their complaints about living in a crowded house got nods. Ruth's despair over discovering she's pregnant made the room go silent. And the students universally loved the grandmother. All seemed to know her. Born in Mississippi and religious, she scolded her son for wanting to start a liquor store, slapped her daughter for saying there is no God, and yelled at her daughter-in-law for wanting an abortion.. As I assigned parts, the students clamored to be cast in her role. 'She don't play,' they said admiringly."

I've been out in a cabin in Temecula since Tuesday, in silence and solitude, and when I read that passage, tears sprang to my eyes. One, because to write a story, to be able to write a story, takes everything a person has. All his or her time, energy, heart, muscle, memory. And two, isn't it interesting that the poorest of the poor, the recipients of generations of unspeakable violence, oppression and trauma, still have a truer moral compass than many of us who would now "free" them?

Yesterday I saw an acorn woodpecker on the kindling pile. His head, a splash of blood-red, was like a longed-for love letter.

Let's invite everyone to, or back to, the table. Then and only then will we be able to say, "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last."

farewell. sublime Christmas season, until Advent 2018...
may we all be magi... 

white people can sing spirituals, too! this was the closing hymn at St. Catherine's 8 am Epiphany Mass--


  1. "She don't play"-- marvelous. Also this: "Let's invite everyone to, or back to, the table."

    1. Marianne, I loved that, too--"She don't play"...everyone can spot a phony and everyone respects the person whose house is built on solid rock...


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