Red Egg Jewelry

Red Egg prayer beads and jewelry

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What being "pro-life" really means

At the end of the vice-presidential debate, when Martha Raddatz asked Vice-President Biden and Mr. Ryan what role their Catholic faith has played in their views on abortion, Debi and I wanted to answer the question ourselves.

It was a golden opportunity to walk Ms. Raddatz (and the rest of us) back from the initial narrow framing of that question to the wider panorama of what being on the side of life really means in the context of the Gospel.

Had one of us been Biden, we’d have answered…

“Martha, here’s what ‘pro-life’ really means. Jesus didn’t say anything explicit about abortion, but I personally accept the Church’s teaching that its view is a logical extension of Jesus’ teaching on the sanctity of all life. But while not saying anything specific about abortion, Jesus unequivocally made clear that we, as a nation, will be judged on how we treat the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned, the stranger. Not only that, but that how we treat ‘the least of my brothers’ will be how we have treated Christ himself. So to single out abortion as the one-and-only religious litmus-test, even though Jesus never talked about it, and then to systematically deny, warp, and ignore how close to Christ the poor are — in contrast to the absolute roadblock Christ says hoarding personal wealth is — to do that is, at best, rank hypocrisy. But what one is really doing then is perpetrating the gravest violence against the Gospel, and as a Christian-Catholic, I won’t stand here silently as that happens.”

Worst of all, by wrapping his politics in a pseudo-gospel that borrows more from Ayn Rand than it respects Christ’s teaching, Mr. Ryan is depriving those fooled by his mis-characterization of the very real benefit that Christ’s actual teachings could give us in these troubled days.


Thomas Friedman also addressed this subject in his NY Times Op-Ed article "Why I Am Pro-Life."


"Cézanne's Seclusion"

Cézanne's atelier at Les Lauves

"I have begun to think," he wrote in a late letter,
"that one cannot help others at all." This
from a man who once called friendship the highest
virtue. And in another he wrote: "Will I ever
attain the end for which I have striven so long?"
His greatest aspiration was certainty
yet his doubts made him blame himself wrongly,
perceiving each painting a disaster. These swings
between boldness and mistrust, intimacy and isolation
led him to stay at home, keep himself concealed,
becoming a sort of hermit, whose passion for the world
directed every brushstroke, changed each creation
into an expression of tenderness, which he dismissed
writing: "a vague sense of apprehension persists."

by Stephen Dobyns

The gardener Vallier, Tate Museum




As we flew home from our ten-month trip around the world, and I looked down upon the vast canyon lands of the American West, I thought...

"This is it. I am home."

Canyon de ChellyI thought that even though I don't know these canyon lands well. And even though I wasn't born here.

Trail to White House, Canyon de ChellyAt that moment of coming back home, I also made a spontaneous vow "to keep my pilgrim self alive."

I knew it wouldn't be easy. And it hasn't been.

Chaco CanyonSo you can imagine how good it felt to be on the road again, this time on a road trip through
Anasazi lands in the Four Corners.

Pueblo Bonito, Chaco CanyonAnaasází is a Navajo word that means "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy." Ancestral Pueblo peoples is the preferred term now because Anaasází suggests a sudden mysterious departure of the old ones and a radical discontinuity between them and the Pueblo people living in the Four Corners today.

Hubbell's Trading Post, GanadoI just heard Robert Harrison say that he writes for the dead. And I understand that.

But we don't only hear the dead through the texts that they have written. Although those texts more than help us.

Mesa VerdeMaybe, in fact, they are portals, shamans' caches, places, as the Celts would say, where the world is thin.

Artist Melissa LoftonAnd so places where we, too, can pass back and forth more readily between our familiar waking worlds

Mesa Verde...and that other realm that we don't quite know how to name.


A full gallery of Debi's Southwest photographs appears here.


The revolution will be televised, after all...

The actions at UC Berkeley and now at UC Davis these past days have been eye-opening. Around the country we are seeing civil disobedience being used effectively again.

Image by Pj Seleska.I've long thought that for real social change the following would be necessary:

1. The left would need to claim higher moral ground.

2. Good street theater would need to occur.

3. The above two points both de facto assume the need for civil disobedience.

4. An insistence upon the honest use of language would need to be successfully re-asserted.

I never had much hope of the above actually happening — but it's happening now. For one thing, I thought the eroded nature of public discourse — given corporate media control — was unlikely to be turned back. I assumed the left would need to keep groveling for crumbs of media attention. I listened with a certain agnosticism to reports of the role social media has played in places like Tahrir Square recently. ("Yes," I thought, "cell phones must be something like handy walkie-talkies in the streets now.")

But now that I see social media in effect near at hand in places like Berkeley and Davis, I'm changing my tune — even if only in this important arena of political action. The "people's mike" and "mike checks" are more than poignant metaphors. Cell phone cameras create "citizen journalists" everywhere.

The revolution will be televised, after all.