I want to be near you | via nearness generally | an app “chance” rather than “skill” | determining the tax obligations of the feathers as | one falls into the pixel | on the white water | interlude. A grid is applied to the | field which dissolves into | the screen harmlessly beneath a summer storm. Brace. The silence that precedes an aperture opening | Left hands of right-handed engineers flensed skittish with false lines. These tears or weak areas | in crying fire are lined with a very transparent low weight enamel found in the company (from the Latin
and panis, “bread”) of other expressions | of space before choice under an ornamental plain. Since the location of paradise seems to be roughly that of Japan, a grid is applied | to the image from which the object has been extracted | and begins to spurt. As Emerson says, lyrical, not epical or even tragic | Suspension of certain clauses within the document is permitted when in cases of rebellion or the public safety may require it | The canvas may be folded in on itself 7 times. A sheet of melinex is | laid over the area of loss on the landscape | not the face | dolled by what it would release.
“Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home. Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise.”
Psalm 51:12 MSG – A verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.
David’s optimism is contagious, don’t you think? His energy is palpable. This is how you cultivate a personal relationship with God, your heavenly father — you express yourself honestly; you tell him you need him; you ask him to do for you what you can’t do for yourself; you promise to love him back; you commit to being willing to learn and to change; you praise him to one and all. Are you doing all that and more, gentle reader?
Suppose African-Americans marked their heritage with flags depicting Nat Turner’s rebellion of 1831, in which slaves massacred about 60 whites before the uprising was crushed? The flag wouldn’t be celebrating the murder of whites, of course, but would simply commemorate a factual milestone in black history!
Suppose Mexican-Americans waved a flag depicting the battle of the Alamo? The point would not be to celebrate the slaughter of Texans, but to express pride in Mexican heritage!
Suppose Canadian-Americans displayed a flag showing the burning of the White House in the War of 1812? Nothing against the Yanks, mind you — just a point of Canadian historical pride!
Suppose American women waved flags of Lorena Bobbitt, who reacted to domestic abuse in 1993 by severing her husband’s penis and throwing it into a field? The aim wouldn’t be to approve of sexual mutilation, of course — but Bobbitt’s subsequent acquittal was a landmark in the recognition of domestic violence!
Well, you get the point. That’s how the Confederate battle flag looked to many of us. And at least Nat Turner was fighting for his own freedom, while the Confederate battle flag was the banner of those who fought freedom, defended slavery, clubbed civil rights workers — and, most recently, murdered black churchgoers. And it’s exhilarating to see the same distaste expressed in the Southern mainstream.
Let’s celebrate the drawing down of the Confederate battle flag — and then let’s pivot from symbolic moves to substantial ones.
“The Confederate battle flag was the emblem of Jim Crow defiance to the civil rights movement, of the Dixiecrat opposition to integration, and of the domestic terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan,” noted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention. “White Christians ought to think about what that flag says to our African-American brothers and sisters.”
The last year has brought a far-reaching conversation about race in America. But much of that conversation seemed polarizing more than clarifying, leaving each side more entrenched than ever — so it’s thrilling to see a wave of action now.
South Carolina may finally remove the flag from the State House grounds, Alabama has removed four Confederate flags from its state Capitol grounds, and Mississippi may also take a Confederate battle cross off the state flag. Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland and North Carolina seem poised to keep the Confederate flag off license plates. A bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, is expected to be evicted from the Tennessee State House. Walmart, Sears, Amazon, e-Bay and other retailers will no longer sell Confederate merchandise.
So we’re finally seeing not just conversation but movement.
But the movement is in some ways chimerical. It’s about a symbol — and now the progress on the symbol needs to be matched by progress on racial inequality in daily life.
America’s greatest shame in 2015 is not a piece of cloth. It’s that a black boy has a life expectancy five years shorter than a white boy. It’s that the net worth of the average black household in 2011 was $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to census data.
More consequential than that flag is our flawed system of school finance that perpetuates inequity. Black students in America are much less likely than whites to attend schools offering advanced science and math courses.
The one public system in which America goes out of its way to provide services to African-Americans is prison. Partly because of our disastrous experiment in mass incarceration, black men in their 20s without a high school diploma are more likely to be incarcerated than employed, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
So I’m all for celebrating the drawing down of the Confederate battle flag, but now let’s pivot from symbolic moves to substantial ones.
That means, for example, early childhood programs, which offer the most cost-effective interventions to create a more even starting line. These include home visitation, high-quality preschool and literacy programs.
A Stanford University randomized trial examined a simple, inexpensive program called Ready4K!, which simply sent three text messages a week to parents to encourage them to read to their preschoolers — and it was astonishingly successful. Parents read more to children, who then experienced learning gains — and this was particularly true of black and Hispanic children. And because this was text messaging, the cost was less than $1 a family for the whole school year.
So, sure, good riddance to Confederate flags across the country! And then let’s swivel to address the larger national disgrace: In 2015, so many children still don’t have an equal shot at life because of the color of their skin.
IN THE NUBA MOUNTAINS, Sudan — IF you subscribe to the caricature of devout religious believers as mostly sanctimonious hypocrites, the kind who rake in cash and care about human life only when it is unborn, come visit the doctor here.
Dr. Tom Catena, 51, a Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, N.Y., is the only doctor at the 435-bed Mother of Mercy Hospital nestled in the Nuba Mountains in the far south of Sudan. For that matter, he’s the only doctor permanently based in the Nuba Mountains for a population of more than half a million people.
Just about every day, the Sudanese government drops bombs or shells on civilians in the Nuba Mountains, part of a scorched-earth strategy to defeat an armed rebellion here. The United States and other major powers have averted their eyes, so it is left to “Dr. Tom,” as he is universally known here, to pry out shrapnel from women’s flesh and amputate limbs of children, even as he also delivers babies and removes appendixes.
Given the shortage of resources, Dr. Tom relies disproportionately on makeshift treatments from decades ago.
“This is a Civil War-era treatment,” he said, pointing to a man with a broken leg, which he was treating with a method known as Buck’s traction, using a bag of sand as a weight.
“Sometimes these actually work,” Dr. Tom said. “You use what you have.”
Pope Francis seems to be revitalizing the Vatican and focusing on the needy, and I have a dream — O.K., an implausible one — that he’ll journey to this Catholic hospital in the Nuba Mountains as a way of galvanizing opposition to the evil of Sudan’s bombings.
One reason I’m so impressed by Dr. Tom is that most of the world, including world leaders and humanitarians, have pretty much abandoned the people of the Nuba Mountains. President Obama and other global leaders have been too silent about the reign of terror here, too reluctant to pressure Sudan to ease it.
That’s the context in which Dr. Tom stands out for his principled commitment. Dr. Tom has worked in the Nuba Mountains for eight years, living in the hospital and remaining on call 24/7 (the only exception: when he’s unconscious with malaria, once a year or so).
Dr. Tom acknowledges missing pretzels and ice cream, and, more seriously, a family. He parted from his serious girlfriend when he moved to Africa, and this is not the best place to date (although hospital staff members are plotting to introduce him to eligible Nuban women as a strategy to keep him from ever leaving).
He is driven, he says, by his Catholic faith. “I’ve been given benefits from the day I was born,” he says. “A loving family. A great education. So I see it as an obligation, as a Christian and as a human being, to help.”
There also are many, many secular aid workers doing heroic work. But the people I’ve encountered over the years in the most impossible places — like Nuba, where anyone reasonable has fled — are disproportionately unreasonable because of their faith.
Certainly the Nubans (who include Muslims and Christians alike) seem to revere Dr. Tom.
“People in the Nuba Mountains will never forget his name,” said Lt. Col. Aburass Albino Kuku of the rebel military force. “People are praying that he never dies.”
A Muslim paramount chief named Hussein Nalukuri Cuppi offered an even more unusual tribute.
“He’s Jesus Christ,” he said.
The chief explained that Jesus healed the sick, made the blind see and helped the lame walk — and that is what Dr. Tom does every day.
You needn’t be a conservative Catholic or evangelical Christian to celebrate that kind of selflessness. Just human.