Tag Archives: America

The First American

Webner House

I live in Franklin County, Ohio, where the large statue of Benjamin Franklin pictured below is found at the county courthouse, so it makes sense that at some point I would finally turn to reading a biography of the county’s namesake.  I chose The First American, a fine recent biography by H.W. Brands that is well worth reading if you are interested in learning more about the early history of America and one of its foremost founding fathers.

Franklin is a fascinating character for more reasons that you can reasonably count.  During his lifetime, he was easily the most famous American alive, known and lauded in both America and in Europe for his experiments with lightning and electricity, his invention of the Franklin stove and other devices, and his writings, both in Poor Richard’s Almanac and elsewhere.  He was a hard-working capitalist, turning his printers’ shop into a thriving…

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Witness To The End Of Vacation

Jewish Young Professional

Witness To The End Of Vacation
 
 “This traffic is so bad
 you could die in it,” I said
 from my Civic. And then, 
 prophetically, someone did.
 
 I blamed the governments - 
 assigning a single customs officer to man
 all eight border control booths on July 4th – 
 The line to leave Canada constipated
 
 for miles. A well-intentioned tourist
 balled a Niagara Falls souvenir
 sweatshirt under the man’s neck
 as they untangled the man
 
 from his seatbelt and unfolded
 his unconscious body
 onto the center lane. Other drivers
 who weren’t driving anyway
 
 stepped out of their cars to flag
 the wailing ambulance like a parade float, 
 but the man’s heart
 gave up on waiting. There is no protocol for what to do when a man dies of heart attack in the center lane of border patrol traffic, though we in a five car radius turned off our radios and…

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Why Does Denmark Own Greenland?

Teaching History's Slender Threads, Including 'What Ifs', Almosts, Alternatives and Turning Points

History Matters: “Greenland is massive. Denmark is not. Given its size, it’s strategic position and its distance from Denmark? How does Denmark own it and why didn’t anybody take it from them? If you want to find out watch this short and simple animated history documentary.”

The comments section is also informative:

  1. “Britain shelled Copenhagen, finally teaching the Danes how it feels to have a bunch of angry ships turn up at your shore and set things on fire” God I love this channel.
  2. “America in 19th century: ‘Can we buy Greenland?’ Denmark ‘No’. America in 1905 “Can we buy Greenland?” Denmark “No” America in 1945 “Can we buy Greenland?” Denmark “NO.” America in 2019 “Can we buy Greenland?” Denmark “NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”
  3. “Napoleon is in every European story.”
  4. 1:18 this is incorrect. The shelling of Copenhagen happened before Denmark joined Napoleon. Denmark was neutral, but the king of the…

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5 ways America changed God

In the period of our present time system (Gregorian Calendar), the world has done everything to change God.

The majority of America’s churches teach that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. though when they would look at the person many take as their god and the God of the Bible, you would expect them to see that they are totally different entities. One is an Eternal Allknowing Spirit God, not having birth nor death, and having no flesh, bones or blood, and Who can not be seen by man. The other person they take for god, is called the son of God in the Bible, and was born and seen by many people. That man of flesh, bones and blood also had to learn everything and at the end of his life still did not know a lot of things; He even did not know when he would be coming back or when the Last Days would take place, which would be very important and not to be missed moments for all people.

Lots of Christians and certainly lots of Americans do not seem to see those differences between those two Biblical characters. Considering their country’s near-400-year history, can we honestly say that their concepts and perceptions about God haven’t evolved?

In a column for CNN, Matthew Paul Turner wonders if the contemporary American God is the same as in 1629, when the Puritans began organizing a mass exodus toward their “Promised Land”?

He writes:

Is our modern God the same as in 1801, when Christians at a revival in Kentucky became so filled up with God’s spirit that they got down on all-fours and barked and howled like wild dogs?

More recently, is our God the same as in 2000, when born again Republican George W. Bush won (sort of) the presidential election by rallying America’s then thriving evangelical electorate with a Jesus-tinged GOP rhetoric he called “compassionate conservatism.”

The truth is, no. God is likely not exactly the same as God was yesterday, not here in the United States, not among America’s faithful. Here, God changes.

According Matthew Paul Turner  the American’s making God into their own image isn’t a new trend. He recognises that they’ve been changing God since Anglo Saxons first stepped foot onto these shores of the New World. He gives five examples.

1. The Puritans’delusions, who had the idea that God had chosen them and ordained their prosperity before the foundations of the Earth.
2. God creates evangelicals.
One of the biggest influences of the Great Awakening was how God altered the way he interacted with America’s people.
3. America falls in love with Jesus.
Looking at Baptist and Methodist, congregations which boasted a more laid-back approach to worship and faith as opposed to the stuffy religiosity of Congregational and Anglican gatherings. – The simpler approach to Christianity that Methodists and Baptists offered would eventually be tested by the nation’s debate over slavery, a conflict that divided America’s churches long before it divided a nation.
4. America’s apocalyptic obsession
In the decades after the Civil War, America’s Jesus-focused Christianity led to John Nelson Darby’s apocalyptic-heavy theology, dispensationalism. Among evangelicals, dispensationalism also cultivated a culture of fear, defensiveness and carelessness about helping a “doomed world.”
5. The Billy Graham effect
As the country sought healing after World War II, Americans began searching for hope in the God-smorgasbord that Christianity had laid out, from Bible-believing fundamentalism to Holy Ghost-inspired Pentecostalism, from education-minded Roman Catholicism to progressive-leaning high church spiritualism.

He remarks

Today, most Christians can’t distinguish between God and GOD®, which has made America’s deity into a superpower, an almighty deity that can be mixed with just about anything, from enterprise to politics, from hate campaigns to promises of prosperity.

Here in America, God is constantly changing. It’s a divine story that we edit and manipulate—sometimes innocently and sometimes intentionally—into our own narratives.

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Matthew Paul Turner is the author of “Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity.” The views expressed in this column belong to Turner. 

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Evangelicals: For The Love Of Trump

For many Christians in Europe, it is unbelievable how it was possible that Donald Trump got such a liking and followers in the Christian camp.
We are curious how they would now look at that wolf in sheepskin.

The pictures we keep receiving from America let us wonder how it comes that so many Americans who claim to be Christian can still be so racist and are not able to bring forward brotherly love for those who have another opinion and other religion than theirs.

As the writing of this leader of some church networks and charities may insinuate lots of Europeans may have lost their belief in the Land of Freedom and of the Christian spirit racing through the United States of America, once having been a great nation, but now with and after Trump, having lost all credibility.

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To remember

  • not US citizens = bewildered by overwhelming support US Evangelicals > President Donald Trump.
  • sensationalism + rising division within US =/= subsided = Evangelical’s persistent fixation with Trump => growing tension .
  • Am. Evangelicals + Donald Trump = strange bedfellows > Donald Trump = extension of God or = guardian of American Christian Culture =  deeply flawed confidence.
  • Furthermore for them to continue to encourage that notion and put their faith in him, even after Trump losing an authenticated, legal, and fair election is unimaginable but nonetheless foreseeable.
  • Trump regularly warned rally attendees that “Christianity is under siege.” +  suggested > forces “chipping away at Christianity,” + accused Democrats of waging a war on Christmas.
  • US Evangelicals modeled a faith in God that came alongside governments + institutions regardless of party in leadership.
  • showed admirable confidence in public system + prayerfully supported their leaders. > changed = terms Evangelical + Republican = synonymous.
  • declining Christian population within US + subsequent weakening Christian culture  => understated fear amongst white Evangelicals.
  • Trump guaranteed Evangelicals pushback against insurgence of immigration, abortion, and socialism.
  • world viewed Trump = bigot, racist, bully, slanderer, liar, autocrat, narcissist, + swindler, wild Maverick,
  • believing in Trump, Evangelicals > flagrant discrimination, deception, subversion, injustice, intimidation, preferentialism, + irresponsibility on multiple levels.
  • Evangelicals mostly ignored Trump’s dreadful behaviour > US Evangelicals flirting with Christian Nationalism => testimony now joined to Donald Trump’s secular agenda.
  • patriotism + spiritual faith entangled + left unchecked = state religion that coerces religious values through laws = anti-bible.
  • God’s Kingdom =/= need democracy or autocracy to increase + =/= need capitalism, socialism, or communism to survive.  =/= left / right / liberal / conservative / green.
  • Kingdom = richness + flavour of Christ in us > moving forward because of passionate commitment of God, regardless of where we live and what type of government we have.

Through association with Trump, white Evangelicals have been complicit in stoking the fear and sedition that we now see within the USA.  They have enabled him and left him unchecked.  Very few Evangelical leaders have publicly spoken with the courage of the likes of Senator Mitt Romney, Beth Moore and John Piper.

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Find also to read:

Stephen Best

By Stephen Best

I possibly, like others who are not US citizens, am bewildered by the overwhelming support that US Evangelicals have shown President Donald Trump.  Prior to the 2020 presidential election, eighty-two percent of white American evangelicals were prepared to further Trump’s reign.[1]  (See [2])

As a father and grandfather to US citizens, and as a concerned ally for our southerly neighbors, I am both surprised and troubled that the sensationalism and rising division within the US has not subsided. This growing tension is partly due to the Evangelical’s persistent fixation with Trump. In other words Evangelical Christians are partly at fault for the existing turmoil.

Evangelicals and Donald Trump are strange bedfellows. To see Donald Trump as an extension of God or as the guardian of American Christian Culture is a deeply flawed confidence. Furthermore for them to continue to encourage that notion and put their…

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It’ s not me. It’s the monster

Globalization and neoliberalism. They’ve become the explanations du jour for the decimation of industries and the devastation of lives, for falling wages and slashed public spending. And there is, of course, truth to the claim. But capitalism was chewing up and spitting out its victims long before the market was globalised or liberalism became neo’d.

One of the great novels of the Great Depression, of the wretchedness of poverty in 1930s America, was written half a century before those words were invented. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.  It tells the story of one family, the Joads, tenant farmers from Oklahoma, who are forced off their land by the banks, pushed into migrating to the promised land of California, and the even greater wretchedness they find in their Utopia. It is a story of the pitilessness of capitalism, the dignity of work, the horrors of migration, the disintegration of a family. It is in turns angry and tender, polemical and poetic, allegorical and melodramatic. Steinbeck does not ignore the history of the land and how it was acquired (‘Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away’), but he unquestioningly stands with the farmers in their bewilderments and in their battles. There are times, especially in the second half of the book, where the anger seems to overwhelm the writing. But, given the subject, and given what Steinbeck set out to do – to ‘rip a reader’s nerves to rags ‘, as he himself put it – that is, perhaps, both inevitable and necessary.

– Kenan Malik

This is an extract from Chapter 5, that tells of how those responsible for evicting the farmers justified their actions. ‘We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster’. A passage and a book that feels as meaningful and vital today as it did when first published almost a century ago.


From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck,
Chapter 5

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath

The owners of the land came onto the land, or more often a spokesman for the owners came. They came in closed cars, and they felt the dry earth with their fingers, and sometimes they drove big earth augers into the ground for soil tests. The tenants, from their sun-beaten dooryards, watched uneasily when the closed cars drove along the fields. And at last the owner men drove into the dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then squatted on their hams and found sticks with which to mark the dust.

In the open doors the women stood looking out, and behind them the children – corn-headed children, with wide eyes, one bare foot on top of the other bare foot, and the toes working. The women and the children watched their men talking to the owner men. They were silent.

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank – or the Company – needs – wants – insists – must have – as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You’ve scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.

The squatting tenant men nodded and wondered and drew figures in the dust, and yes, they knew, God knows. If the dust only wouldn’t fly. If the top would only stay on the soil, it might not be so bad.

The owner men went on leading to their point: You know the land’s getting poorer. You know what cotton does to the land; robs it, sucks all the blood out of it.

The squatters nodded – they knew, God knew. If they could only rotate the crops they might pump blood back into the land.

Well, it’s too late. And the owner men explained the workings and the thinkings of the monster that was stronger than they were. A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay taxes; he can do that.

Yes, he can do that until his crops fail one day and he has to borrow money from the bank.

But – you see, a bank or a company can’t do that, because those creatures don’t breathe air, don’t eat side-meat. They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don’t get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so. It is just so.

Alexandre Hogue The Crucified Land

The squatting men raised their eyes to understand. Can’t we just hang on? Maybe the next year will be a good year. God knows how much cotton next year. And with all the wars – God knows what price cotton will bring. Don’t they make explosives out of cotton? And uniforms? Get enough wars and cotton’ll hit the ceiling. Next year, maybe. They looked up questioningly.

We can’t depend on it. The bank – the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.

Soft fingers began to tap the sill of the car window, and hard fingers tightened on the restless drawing sticks. In the doorways of the sun-beaten tenant houses, women sighed and then shifted feet so that the one that had been down was now on top, and the toes working. Dogs came sniffing near the owner cars and wetted on all four tires one after another. And chickens lay in the sunny dust and fluffed their feathers to get the cleansing dust down to the skin. In the little sties the pigs grunted inquiringly over the muddy remnants of the slops.

The squatting men looked down again. What do you want us to do? We can’t take less share of the crop – we’re half starved now. The kids are hungry all the time. We got no clothes, torn an’ ragged. If all the neighbors weren’t the same, we’d be ashamed to go to meeting.

And at last the owner men came to the point. The tenant system won’t work any more. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop. We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster.

But you’ll kill the land with cotton.

We know. We’ve got to take cotton quick before the land dies. Then we’ll sell the land. Lots of families in the East would like to own a piece of land.

The tenant men looked up alarmed. But what’ll happen to us? How’ll we eat?

You’ll have to get off the land. The plows’ll go through the dooryard.

Clyfford Styll Gleaners

And now the squatting men stood up angrily. Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here, and he killed weeds and snakes. Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An’ we was born here. There in the door – our children born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised.

We know that – all that. It’s not us, it’s the bank. A bank isn’t like a man. Or an owner with fifty thousand acres, he isn’t like a man either. That’s the monster.

Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.

We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.

Yes, but the bank is only made of men.

No, you’re wrong there – quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.

The tenants cried, Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land. Maybe we can kill banks – they’re worse than Indians and snakes. Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, like Pa and Grampa did.

And now the owner men grew angry. You’ll have to go.

But it’s ours, the tenant men cried. We –

No. The bank, the monster owns it. You’ll have to go.

We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then?

Well – first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants.

But if we go, where’ll we go? How’ll we go? We got no money.

We’re sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can’t be responsible. You’re on land that isn’t yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there? And the owner men started their cars and rolled away.

James Edward Allen Praying for Rain

The tenant men squatted down on their hams again to mark the dust with a stick, to figure, to wonder. Their sunburned faces were dark, and their sun-whipped eyes were light. The women moved cautiously out of the doorways toward their men, and the children crept behind the women, cautiously, ready to run. The bigger boys squatted beside their fathers, because that made them men. After a time the women asked, What did he want?

And the men looked up for a second, and the smolder of pain was in their eyes. We got to get off. A tractor and a superintendent. Like factories.

Where’ll we go? the women asked.

We don’t know. We don’t know.

And the women went quickly, quietly back into the houses and herded the children ahead of them. They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.

After a time perhaps the tenant man looked about – at the pump put in ten years ago, with a goose-neck handle and iron flowers on the spout, at the chopping block where a thousand chickens had been killed, at the hand plow lying in the shed, and the patent crib hanging in the rafters over it.

The children crowded about the women in the houses. What we going to do, Ma? Where we going to go?

The women said, We don’t know, yet. Go out and play. But don’t go near your father. He might whale you if you go near him. And the women went on with the work, but all the time they watched the men squatting in the dust – perplexed and figuring.

Georgia O'Keeffe Bones and Red Hills

The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects. They crawled over the ground, laying the track and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and then settled down to a droning roar.

Snubnosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.

The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat. The thunder of the cylinders sounded through the country, became one with the air and the earth, so that earth and air muttered in sympathetic vibration. The driver could not control it – straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could swerve the cat’, but the driver’s hands could not twitch because the monster that built the tractors, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver’s hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him – goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest. He could not see the land as it was, he could not smell the land as it smelled; his feet did not stamp the clods or feel the warmth and power of the earth. He sat in an iron seat and stepped on iron pedals. He could not cheer or beat or curse or encourage the extension of his power, and because of this he could not cheer or whip or curse or encourage himself. He did not know or own or trust or beseech the land. If a seed dropped did not germinate, it was nothing. If the young thrusting plant withered in drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor.

He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. He could admire the tractor – its machined surfaces, its surge of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades – not plowing but surgery, pushing the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut it and pushed it to the left; slicing blades shining, polished by the cut earth. And pulled behind the disks, the harrows combing with iron teeth so that the little clods broke up and the earth lay smooth. Behind the harrows, the long seeders – twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion. The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

At noon the tractor driver stopped sometimes near a tenant house and opened his lunch: sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, white bread, pickle, cheese, Spam, a piece of pie branded like an engine part. He ate without relish. And tenants not yet moved away came out to see him, looked curiously while the goggles were taken off, and the rubber dust mask, leaving white circles around the eyes and a large white circle around nose and mouth. The exhaust of the tractor puttered on, for fuel is so cheap it is more efficient to leave the engine running than to heat the Diesel nose for a new start. Curious children crowded close, ragged children who ate their fried dough as they watched. They watched hungrily the unwrapping of the sandwiches, and their hunger- sharpened noses smelled the pickle, cheese, and Spam. They didn’t speak to the driver. They watched his hand as it carried food to his mouth. They did not watch him chewing; their eyes followed the hand that held the sandwich. After a while the tenant who could not leave the place came out and squatted in the shade beside the tractor.

Mervin Jules Dispossessed

‘Why, you’re Joe Davis’s boy!’

‘Sure’, the driver said.

‘Well, what you doing this kind of work for – against your own people?’

‘Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner – and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day.’

‘That’s right,’ the tenant said. ‘But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can’t eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right?’

And the driver said, ‘Can’t think of that. Got to think of my own kids. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day. Times are changing, mister, don’t you know? Can’t make a living on the land unless you’ve got two, five, ten thousand acres and a tractor. Crop land isn’t for little guys like us any more. You don’t kick up a howl because you can’t make Fords, or because you’re not the telephone company. Well, crops are like that now. Nothing to do about it. You try to get three dollars a day someplace. That’s the only way.’

The tenant pondered. ‘Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn’t successful he’s big with his property. That is so.’

And the tenant pondered more. ‘But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it – why, then the property is the man. He can’t do what he wants, he can’t think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big—and he’s the servant of his property. That is so, too.’

The driver munched the branded pie and threw the crust away. ‘Times are changed, don’t you know? Thinking about stuff like that don’t feed the kids. Get your three dollars a day, feed your kids. You got no call to worry about anybody’s kids but your own. You get a reputation for talking like that, and you’ll never get three dollars a day. Big shots won’t give you three dollars a day if you worry about anything but your three dollars a day.’

‘Nearly a hundred people on the road for your three dollars. Where will we go?’

‘And that reminds me’, the driver said, ‘you better get out soon. I’m going through the dooryard after dinner.’

‘You filled in the well this morning.’

‘I know. Had to keep the line straight. But I’m going through the dooryard after dinner. Got to keep the lines straight. And – well, you know Joe Davis, my old man, so I’ll tell you this. I got orders wherever there’s a family not moved out – if I have an accident – you know, get too close and cave the house in a little – well, I might get a couple of dollars. And my youngest kid never had no shoes yet.’

Clare Leighton Bread Line

‘I built it with my hands. Straightened old nails to put the sheathing on. Rafters are wired to the stringers with baling wire. It’s mine. I built it. You bump it down—I’ll be in the window with a rifle. You even come too close and I’ll pot you like a rabbit.’

‘It’s not me. There’s nothing I can do. I’ll lose my job if I don’t do it. And look – suppose you kill me? They’ll just hang you, but long before you’re hung there’ll be another guy on the tractor, and he’ll bump the house down. You’re not killing the right guy.’

‘That’s so’, the tenant said. ‘Who gave you orders? I’ll go after him. He’s the one to kill.’

‘You’re wrong. He got his orders from the bank. The bank told him, ‘Clear those people out or it’s your job.’

‘Well, there’s a president of the bank. There’s a board of directors. I’ll fill up the magazine of the rifle and go into the bank.’

The driver said, ‘Fellow was telling me the bank gets orders from the East. The orders were, ‘Make the land show profit or we’ll close you up.’‘

‘But where does it stop? Who can we shoot? I don’t aim to starve to death before I kill the man that’s starving me.’

‘I don’t know. Maybe there’s nobody to shoot. Maybe the thing isn’t men at all. Maybe like you said, the property’s doing it. Anyway I told you my orders.’

‘I got to figure’, the tenant said. ‘We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.’ The tenant sat in his doorway, and the driver thundered his engine and started off, tracks falling and curving, harrows combing, and the phalli of the seeder slipping into the ground. Across the dooryard the tractor cut, and the hard, foot-beaten ground was seeded field, and the tractor cut through again; the uncut space was ten feet wide. And back he came. The iron guard bit into the house-corner, crumbled the wall, and wrenched the little house from its foundation so that it fell sideways, crushed like a bug. And the driver was goggled and a rubber mask covered his nose and mouth. The tractor cut a straight line on, and the air and the ground vibrated with its thunder. The tenant man stared after it, his rifle in his hand. His wife was beside him, and the quiet children behind. And all of them stared after the tractor.

The images are all paintings and etchings from, and of, the Great Depression in America. They are from top down, Maynard Dixon, ‘Shapes of Fear’ (1930-32); Alexandre Hogue, ‘The Crucified Land’ (1939); Clyfford Still, ‘Gleaners’ (1936);  James Allen Lane, ‘Prayer for Rain’ (1938); Georgia O’Keefe, ‘Red Hills and Bones’ (1941); Mervin Jules, ‘Dispossessed’ (1938); Clare Leighton, ‘Bread Line’, (1932).

The image of The Grapes of Wrath is of the first edition in 1939.

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Christian Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Sometimes people have to be confronted by something terribly bad. At regular intervals, certain people come to struggle terribly and have to learn by a hard lesson, being pulled down by an accident or serious disease.

Several people at a certain moment in their life got struck. Suddenly they become confronted by a longer period that they can not do the things they normally do. During that time of not doing anything, they are given time to think about the past but also the future. Then they can take time to meditate and to really start to reevaluate the value of things.

Before they got sick or bounded to the bed by their sickness or paralysation, they can have the film of their life repeated over and over again for days. At that time they have hours and days to think about all those things that kept them busy. Then they also realize that they had and still have so many dreams that they’ve had over the years and projects that they wanted to do.

From people who previously had serious accidents and diseases, we do know several people came in confrontation with the matter of a godhead, and started examining the Scriptures, coming to one conclusion, that there is Only One True Divine God, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah, Who is a loving God and not a cruel Being that would have His children being tortured or being burned forever.
It is then for them the time to recognise how so many churches or denomination lied to their flock and used fear to master them.

The devil, being spoken of in the Bible, is any or every adversary who walks on this planet. For sure there are many adversaries of God too, who would love people not to believe in the Divine Creator or have them keeping to the many false teachings, human traditions and heathen festivals.

But it are the real lovers of God who in such difficult times should show how they know for sure Who is behind everything and Who can be the helping hand in times of problems but also be a Guide in times when everything seems alright.

These days when there is a virus making many victims, those real followers of the son of God, should show the world how God has given the world a saviour and mediator, who paid the ransom for all the faults we as human beings have done.

Now is the time that all real lovers of God can show the world Who That real God is and how we as united lovers of God are not afraid of what comes upon this world but are willing to unite in prayer to protect all those around us, believers and unbelievers.

IMG-20161127-WA0018In the article of Janisha Jacobs, affectionately known as “Keela“,, the greatest hope is expressed that during this crisis more people will be drawn closer to Christ, the son of God. We only can hope and pray that more people shall come to see that in this time of fear there will be no other choice but for our faith to increase and to join hands spiritually. That in this time of not knowing what tomorrow holds we will learn to let God worry about tomorrow and focus on getting through today, with the knowledge that there shall come even worse days and even a more severe battle, with the third World War or Armageddon. Therefore we can look at this pandemic as a rehearsal for what still has to come and to make us stronger to be prepared for what is still to come.
Let us, therefore, pray not to false gods, like some many have taken themselves false gods, but learn also others to pray to the God Jesus also prayed too, namely his heavenly Father (and not himself) the One and Only True God, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

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To remember

  • facing global Pandemic of Covid-19 virus #CoronaVirus.
  • enough news surrounding panic > All across the world right now persons are facing panic, trauma & a lot of uncertainty because of the effects of Covid-19.
  • Persons afraid, lost loved ones, +  wondering if they will be next.
  • China, Italy, America, UK, etc. > unimaginable crisis.
  • biggest question right now =  “when will it end?”
  • for the church = also the question of “how do we react?”
  • to get us to close down churches > building =/= church
  • people = church
  • via Zoom = enjoyable + more intimate than “pulpit and pew”
  • try + prevent spreading virus => stay home
  • response/reaction to world crisis & pandemic = faith, wisdom, compassion, forward thinking, leadership + most importantly prayer.

Keela's Chronicles

As most of you know, we have all been facing the global Pandemic of the Covid-19 virus #CoronaVirus. Initially I had no intentions of blogging about it, figuring that there is enough news surrounding the panic and I didn’t want to be one more person adding fuel on an already blazing fire. But, if you read my latest post you know by now that I decided to change my mind

All across the world right now persons are facing panic, trauma and a lot of uncertainty because of the effects of Covid-19. Persons are afraid, many have lost loved ones, some may not even know if their loved ones are still alive in places like Italy, some persons are sick and many others are wondering if they will be next. And all of these emotions and feelings are completely understandable but so very heartbreaking.


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The near-indestructible giant trees in danger

The miraculous story of the near-indestructible giant trees that millions of Americans tell their children is no longer true.

In America they may be proud of their giant trees, but the inhabitants of that great space of wonders are also helping to destroy what is given to them in loan.

By all the pollution man has created our environment is crying for help.

For the first time in recorded history, tiny bark beetles emboldened by the climate crisis have started to kill giant sequoia trees, according to a joint National Park Service and US Geological Survey study set to be published later this year. Twenty-eight have gone since 2014. The combination of drought stress and fire damage appears to make the largest sequoias susceptible to deadly insect infestations that they would usually withstand.

California’s great drought took already care that lovely trees were enormously damaged. One of the 28 great trees which could not keep up though optimistically named Lazarus, was standing with proud in the Giant Forest in Sequoia national park, surrounded by other sequoias and a handful of cedars and pines that died with it in California’s great drought.

When Dr Christy Brigham, who is responsible for the welfare of the ecosystems in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, saw Lazarus for the first time, all she could do was weep.

“This is a tree that has lived through 2,000 years of fires, other droughts, wet years, dry years, hot years, cold years. It’s been here longer than Europeans have been in this country and it’s dead. And it shouldn’t be dead.
This is not how giant sequoias die. It’s suppose to stand there for another 500 years with all its needles on it, this quirky, persistent, impressive, amazing thing, and then fall over. It’s not supposed to have all of its needles fall off from the top to the bottom and then stand there like that. That’s not how giant sequoias die,”

she says, standing next to the skeletal Lazarus as the occasional tourist wanders past.

2000 year old Lazarus in 2020 a dead monarch sequoia, standing surrounded by a handful of cedars and pines that died in California’s great drought

 

> Read more:

‘This is not how sequoias die. It’s supposed to stand for another 500 years’

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Francis Fukuyama and ‘The End of History?’

image from BloggingHeads.tv podcast

American political scientist, political economist, and author Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama in 2015

The American writer and political theorist Francis Fukuyama wrote

“Human beings never existed in a pre-­social state. The idea that human beings at one time existed as isolated individuals is not correct.”

In his seminal 1989 essay ‘The End of History?’ he also wrote

‘What we may be witnessing is the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.’

Fukuyama trying to convey silent messages through stories about the evolution of democratic societies he continued

‘With the fall of the Soviet Union the struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands.’

The End of History and the Last Man.jpg

The End of History and the Last Man is a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay “The End of History?”, published in the international affairs journal The National Interest.

Fukuyama did not suggest that the end of history meant the end of wars or conflicts, but rather that capitalism and Western-style liberal democracy were the culmination of human political development and would not, and could not, be transcended. He beliefs that the triumph of liberal democracy at the end of the Cold War marked the last ideological stage in the progression of human history. The initial political challenge having to escape beyond tribalism and the “tyranny of cousins”.

For Fukuyama, tribal organisation responds to structural imperatives in social evolution but also blocks the path to further development. The early account of the origins of state-like forms relies heavily on Lawrence Keeley’s military-focused argument in War Before Civilisation (1996) and does not consider the evidence assembled by Keith Otterbein in How War Began (2004): that warfare greatly declined in importance following the hunting to extinction of the larger mammals. Keeley himself grants that early settlement cultures, such as the Natufian,

“furnish no indication of warfare at all”. {Robin BlackburnThe Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution, By Francis Fukuyama}

We can see that in the West the majority prefers a capitalist system and in several industrialised countries people are a lot afraid of what smells social or communist. Fukuyama thinks that all states are going to adopt a form of capitalist liberal democracy. It was an argument contested from almost the moment he finished writing his essay.
The rise of Islamism, the unleashing of ethnic conflicts, the challenge posed by China – a myriad developments, his critics suggested, questioned the presumption of an end of history.

Donald Trump’s Presidential victory was one of the signs how politicians would easily be able to lure people in false ideas, by their words. The last few years we have seen a seemingly unstoppable rise of populist forces throughout Europe.

Many will probably see how in the quarter of a century since Fukuyama wrote his essay, politics, particularly in the West, has indeed shifted away from ‘ideological struggle’ towards

‘the endless solving of technical problems’.

The broad ideological divides that characterized politics for much of the past two hundred years have been eroded. Politics has become less about competing visions of the kinds of society people want than a debate about how best to manage the existing political system, a question more of technocratic management rather than of social transformation.

What might more come to an end is the believe of people in political systems and in politicians. Lots of people are convinced that politicians are not listening to them and are mostly just working for themselves and trying to get the best paid job.
The majority of politicians have lost connection with the ordinary people who want to feel as if they are justly recognised and that their voice can be heard. The last few years they feel more they are mocked at, nobody taking their voice seriously. Politicians should come to know that this desire to experience both personal and collective recognition is inescapable to the modern human condition.

Liberal democratic states that Fukuyama so vigorously defended in “The End of History” have not responded well to the challenges of pluralism.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, few believed in an alternative to capitalism, not seeing that the Soviet Union was not really the best representative of communism, because it had more dictators than real communist leaders. Communist parties crumbled, while social democratic parties remade themselves, cutting ties to their traditional working class constituencies while reorienting themselves as technocratic parties. Trade unions weakened and social justice campaigns eroded.

It seemed that not only in Europe social movements and political organizations eroded,  and the far-right movements gained space. Local people wanted to become recognised and wanted to look upon social change through the lens of their own cultures, identities, goals and ideals.

Many sections of the working class have found themselves politically voiceless at the very time their lives have become more precarious, as jobs have declined, public services savaged, austerity imposed, and inequality risen. Many also came to see all those immigrants as a danger for their own position, their jobs and income as well as being afraid of loosing their culture.

Having their world coming to an end.

Lots of people in charge of the working of society did not see the discontent many their votes expressed.

Prominent alt-rightists were instrumental in organising the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. Here, rally participants carry Confederate battle flags, Gadsden flags and a Nazi flag.

In Europe and America, people have become disaffected with the old order and felt more attraction for those who promised heaven on earth and for them “a great nation” again. Many of the opposition movements that give voice to that disaffection of the labourers, are shaped not by progressive ideals but by sectarian politics, and rooted in religious or ethnic identity. The Islamist AKP in Turkey or the Hindu nationalist BJP in India are the equivalents of the Front National in France or the alt right, far-right, white supremacist, white nationalist, white separatist, anti-immigration and antisemitic movement in America and Europe.

Those growing right-wing and far- or extreme-right-wing groups should make us aware of the severity of the present political situation. We are witnessing a globally disinformation movement which is creating more hatred and racism as well setting up people against others for wrong reasons.

The current tumult is the result of struggles for recognition that remain unshaped by progressive movements, of ideological struggles in a post-ideological world.

Demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. In his new book: Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment Francis Fukuyama looks at the new layers of meaning of the voters or citizen’s identity.

Fukuyama believes that the focus on self separates people from their communities. The demand for identity cannot be transcended and therefore people must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy.
When coming to know the self one can not ignore the connection with religious feelings. One aspect of wisdom is recognizing your need for The One Being outside man.

Christianity succeeds in diminishing family ties when the Church takes a strong stand against practices which enhanced the power of lineages such as cousin marriage, divorce, adoption and marriage to the widows of dead relatives. The looser family pattern favoured by the practices of Latin Christianity have the effect of channelling assets to the Church itself (eg through widows’ bequests). Fukuyama further urges that “contrary to Marx, capitalism was the consequence rather than the cause of a change in social relationships”. Yet he soon acknowledges that

“the most convincing argument for the shift has been given by the social anthropologist Jack Goody“,

an authority whose work could be seen as a distinctive fruit of Cambridge Marxism. {Robin BlackburnThe Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution, By Francis Fukuyama}

Fukuyama has the idea that the individualistic sense of identity comes to the fore during periods of modernisation in which people fled from rural areas into the cities and were confronted with a mass of different dialects or languages, religions and cultures and were aware of a sense of the difference between where they were and where they are now. Today in some way many people seem to be lost or are so much afraid of such confrontation they do hope their politicians can solve that problem of difference between the inhabitants of their villages, cities and countries.

Fukuyama notes the ways in which questions of identity politics have come to be regarded as synonymous with the right. Donald Trump supporters are animated around the removal of Confederate statues and the president’s lack of defence to political correctness is a significant mobilising force on the right.

Intimidation and efforts to control people have become the present day norm for many politicians, who gain a lot of popularity because many fall for their lies. That virus threatening democracy has not only infected the United States but also the European Union. As such we may see that identity politics has become the political form of cultural fragmentation of these days, and is corrosive of some features of an effective democracy – social cohesion, talking with strangers and working across the aisle.

According to me the politicians do have to give an identity to the people again and have to show them that we all have more in common with each other than what divides us.

It is a “we” who are the same, and not a “we” who are strangers dwelling together despite our differences. {Jeff RichIdentity Crisis – some theses on identity politics}

The End of the End of History?

History shall continue and show how man tries to find different political solutions and ways to govern a country. Man shall have to find a way to make it that by the globalisation more and more people would be going to see the richness of a multicultural society, instead of fearing it.

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Read also

  1. Our political systems and juggling with human laws
  2. Declaration of war against Islam and Christianity
  3. Declining commitment to democracy : What’s going on around the world ?
  4. Collision course of socialist and capitalist worlds
  5. Subcutaneous power for humanity 2 1950-2010 Post war generations
  6. The Free Market (and all that) did not bring down the Berlin Wall
  7. Common Goods, people and the Market
  8. Pushing people in a corner danger for indoctrination and loss of democratic values
  9. Populism endangering democracy
  10. An European alliance or a populist alliance
  11. British Parliament hostage its citizens for even more months
  12. American social perception, classes and fear mongering
  13. United in an open society relying not on command and control but on freedom
  14. Capitalism and economic policy and Christian survey

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Further related

  1. The Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution, By Francis Fukuyama
  2. What Do We Mean When We Say Something Is Political? — Recommended Readings
  3. The Sisyphean Task at the Core of Identity Politics
  4. Fukuyama has a new book on identity
  5. Little Theories
  6. The Decline of Liberalism
  7. Identity
  8. Identity Crisis – some theses on identity politics
  9. We’re in This Together Now 
  10. Two Books by Francis Fukuyama
  11. What Fukuyama got right.
  12. From ‘End Of History’ To ‘End Of Democracy’ – Why Fukuyama Now Likes China
  13. “Echoing Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that ‘there is no alternative’ …
  14. Social Psychology and Religious Behavior
  15. Francis Fukuyama and technology
  16. Eurasianism: The Struggle For The Multi-Polar World

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The Weight of History

Europeans wonder how the percentage would be of people liking and disliking the actions and dignity of the 45th president of the U.S.A.

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Preceding

Shall the American again being put to the test

Yup

Odd American idea that giving money to political campaigns is free speech

Eyes of the World

A recent nighttime tour of Washington, DC, brought me to the front of the White House, where I paused to take the picture below. The building itself evokes strong feelings about the enormity of the occupant’s duty to the country and to all around the world affected by US policy.

Which, in turn, evokes feelings of disgust at the behavior of the current occupant. I am, by turns, angry, humiliated, and ashamed that this racist, buffoonish blowhard has the privilege of bearing the title he pretends to deserve. And to perform in such a foolish, reckless, and ignorant fashion only ensures that his will go down as the worst presidency in American history.

This is truly the worst America has to offer.

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