Doors slamming shut in the US

Trump’s war on free everything is raging right along over here. (I apologize for his manners toward Theresa May. He just doesn’t know how to act. That hand-holding thing was gruesome, and we’re all embarrassed about it.) He attacks the free press nearly every day; he attacks freedom to protest, freedom from forced pregnancy, freedom […]

‘Keep your mouth shut!’

On Wednesday The New York Times talked to Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, above, formerly executive chair of the far-right website Breitbart News. What Bannon had to say is startling. “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said during […]

Playing the part

I heard someone on National Public Radio yesterday remark that we’re all obsessing over politics these days. Hmm … not exactly, I thought. We’re all obsessing over Trump, much as one might obsess over an approaching train if one were nailed to the tracks, but that’s not necessarily politics, at least not as commonly understood. […]

The war on thinking

It’s hard to decide what I hate most about Donald Trump, pictured above with UKIP’s Nigel Farage. The lying? The corruption? The bullying and insults? The ignorance coupled with grandiosity? The emptiness? The stupidity? I don’t know; I can never decide. I hate most whichever item I’m currently contemplating. There’s so much to hate about […]

History’s actors

Let’s take a moment to think about free thought, and what sense of ‘free’ is in play. The obligatory first stop is Wikipedia, which says: Freethought or free thought is a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or other dogma. […]

Small car, big heart?

People still talk sentimental drivel about what a nice man the Pope is. It may be that he is a nice man in a personal sense – he may be the kindest, warmest, sweetest guy you’d ever want to meet. We’ve heard that he’s a simple-lifer, preferring a humble little guest house to the gilt […]

The she-demons of Ireland

Last week two women set up a Twitter account, TwoWomenTravel, to document their journey from Ireland to the UK for an abortion. Priest-ridden Ireland of course still bans all abortion except (grudgingly) those absolutely necessary to save the woman’s life. They tweeted a photo of the plane under a lowering sky, of their message of […]

Democracy in America

The US has a long inglorious history of hucksterism and fraud. You’d think it was something we took pride in, along with the Enlightenment ideas in the Declaration of Independence and the hot dog. Think of the meeting of the Duke and the Dauphin in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, for example. “What got you […]

The thin fabric

Well this has been a shock. I don’t know why I wasn’t more prepared for the Brexit win – just a foolish trust in people’s reluctance to vote for unabashed xenophobia, I guess. I thought the UKIP poster, above, that coincided with the murder of Jo Cox last week would be a turn-off, for one […]

The test of spirituality

You know how Karen Armstrong, above, likes to say that compassion is at the heart of every great religion? For a year or two around 2009 she seemed to be saying nothing else. She said it in a lecture to the Unitarian Universalist Association for instance: And yet, each one of the major faiths, I […]