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July 29, 2014
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Peace and Justice Files

Religious freedom, religious fairness

The folks at Hobby Lobby (which apparently is an evangelical ministry disguised as a craft store) took out a full-page ad in the papers recently, touting the notion that the United States was from the outset intended to be a “Christian nation” (whatever that is supposed to mean—but that’s another column). I guess they were reveling in the heady feeling of victory, following the Supreme Court decision that recognized their right to apply their religious beliefs to the benefits package that they offered their employees. Many liberals and progressives were upset by the decision, but not me.  Read more

Flag washing

It was a beautiful August day as we gathered in the town square. Two large tubs, one with soapy water and one with clean water, had been set up in front of the speakers’ podium. A good-sized flag hung from a clothesline behind it, its stars and stripes bright in the sunlight. Two more clotheslines hung on either side, plentifully supplied with clothespins. A table held the dishes that had been brought for what I guessed was a potluck to follow.

Everyone had flags. Small ones, large ones, flags hanging from flagpoles, flags stapled to sticks, flags draped across shoulders.  Read more

Change the rules

I spent my adolescence in North Carolina, during the storied reign of Dean Smith as basketball coach for the UNC “Tar Heels.” An important part of UNC’s strategy during those years was the “Four Corners Offense.” Having established a lead, four Tar Heel players would stake out the corners of the offensive court and use up as much time as possible just passing the ball back and forth.  Read more

Fifty ways (at least) to defuse a world crisis

World events, no matter where, are no longer “remote,” and haven’t been for some time. Moment by moment, we can follow the search for a vanished jetliner over the Indian Ocean, or watch one country take a bite out of another along the Black Sea. Battles and disasters, once just abstract reports, take on specific human forms, with individual names and faces.  Read more

My enemy (in the abstract)

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world.

It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

― L.R. Knost

Every once in a while (as I may have observed here before), something comes across the Internet, amongst all the kitty-cat videos and trivial “Mmmm, nice lunch!” status updates, that make a reader stop dead for a moment.  Read more

The system functions as designed

The System functions as designed
Does just what it’s supposed to do
So you shouldn’t be surprised
From the point of view of those on top
Everything is working fine—
The System functions as designed
  Read more

Game changers

For me, 2013 didn’t go out with a bang; it went out with a cough and a wheeze and a snore. After a year-end barrage of long workdays, a persistent chest bug sent me to bed around 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and I didn’t stir till late the next morning. It was just as well; I was perfectly happy to be done with a year that had brought more than its share of challenges.  Read more

The cold, hard face of power

The recent passing of Nelson Mandela brought my mind back to 1978, and (well, let’s tell it how it was) I was pretty clueless.  Read more

The madness of mobs, the wisdom of crowds and the paradoxes of democracy

The days before the recent elections were filled with interesting, heartfelt, and vociferous debates among my circles of online friends and correspondents—not about any of the candidates, mind you, or any of the particular issues involved, but rather about whether or not we should even bother to vote.  Read more

A devil’s response to Paul Harvey

MEMO

FROM: Screwdisk, Executive Vice-Demon for Sales,

HellCorp North America

TO: Regional Field Agent Scumbucket, Tempter Second Class

RE: “If I Were the Devil,” by Paul Harvey

My dearest nephew,  Read more

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