A political, social, literary journal,
Ernest Cassara, Editor, with Contributing Editors
John R. Turner & Larry Hamby
19 & 26 December 2005
This is an archive issue of the
19 & 26 December 2005. To access the current issue:
note: This is a double issue of the HSC, thus longer than usual. In addition to
our usual features, we include the striking Nobel Laureate Address of Harold
Pinter, a link to the equally striking address by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the
In this issue
■ “Tyrannosaurus Americanus.” By Sherwood Ross
■ The Fifth Humor: “Christmas.” By Larry Hamby
■ “Art, Truth and Politics.” The Nobel Lecture by Harold Pinter
■ Bishop Spong on Pat Robertson
■ The Speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Sierra Club
■ Letters to the Editor
■ Websites of Our Contributors
By John R. Turner
A couple days ago, in the lobby of a fairly expensive apartment
It wasn’t a startling judgment. Anyone who looks at the bill’s provisions is likely to come to the same conclusion. But what was surprising, for me, was the assumption that this is how government works in America and that nobody can do anything about it. These two gentlemen, at least, appeared to have a near-religious faith in the ineradicable corruption of the American government. I’m sure they are not alone.
I wonder why that’s the case. And I wonder even more what it means.
One conclusion is inescapable. If you believe that government can never be anything other than a tool for privileged groups, you also have to believe that democracy is a farce. When President Bush and other government functionaries speak of “our” duty to spread democracy to all the people of the world, it can be seen only as pure hypocrisy. How might it be that we could spread something that we can’t attain here at home?
Think about it. If everybody knows that bills passed by the Congress and supported by the president are designed not to benefit the country but rather to use public funds and public power to enrich a few well-placed people, then why does everybody give us the Congress and president we have?
Wouldn’t logic call for dismissing everyone who had any role in promoting a bill like the Medicare drug provision?
Logic would. But logic is not the only force that works to construct an effective governmental system. It takes energy and intelligence, also, and these are qualities we don’t believe our fellow citizens possess. And so the argument runs that since few will do anything to right the system, there’s no sense in putting out energy to do anything about it. And this becomes perfect formula for pathological apathy.
Obviously, many are not apathetic. There are thousands of advocacy groups and many of them are possessed of the logic, energy, and intelligence which could make for good government.
Yet, the majority of us don’t think they are enough and since they
aren’t we don't see much sense in worrying our own minds about the nature of
healthy government. If you went out on any street in
This is the vicious cycle of political apathy we’ve got ourselves
I wish I knew what could invigorate public debate in this country. I would like to persuade people to talk as much about what their government is doing as they do about the weather or about what superfluous snack they are going to take to their next holiday gathering. A big part of the problem is that when people get out of the habit of doing a thing they find it very hard to take it up again. Fail to do your pushups for two weeks and you’ll dread the thought of ever doing them again. Fail to pay attention to your government for a month and the vocabulary required to discuss public events will simply drift out of your mind. Go a whole lifetime without thinking about what you expect from government and your political intelligence will be paralyzed.
We can pray for a revolution in intellectual integrity in
The President Obfuscates
It is difficult to keep up with the latest excuses for our
The latest excuse is that we are “fighting terrorists in
Actually, folks hearing this conflating by our leaders of the
President Bush has said on a number of occasions lately that he
will not accept anything but “complete victory” in
You will recall that Senator George Aiken, also the state of
The president has also said that intelligence was “defective,”
thus his decision to go to war was — what? Defective?
Oh, no, he would do the same if he had to do it over again, he says. So, it
really does not matter whether the intelligence was “defective.” Everyone in
the world knows, of course, that he and the neocons
were determined to invade
Of late, my mind has dredged up the figure of Robert A. Taft. (Not
the present Robert Taft, governor of
I’ve been reading Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the
War on Terror, by “Anonymous,” since revealed to be an ex-CIA man, Michael Scheuer. A very sobering account it is of how the
Seems to me that President Bush said some time or other that democracies do not attack other countries. Well, what does that make us?
New bumper sticker advertized:
“Be nice to
Ye Olde Editor would like to wish you “Happy Holidays!” Oops! Strike that. Just in case Jerry Falwell gets to read this, I should say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
But, what about my Jewish friends? Hanukkah, after all,
is not covered by my second greeting, whereas it is by the first. And, then
By Sherwood Ross
Americans like to think of their country as a democracy, not a tyranny, when in fact it has become a tyrant republic. Just because Americans vote in elections and enjoy freedom of speech, press, and worship, does not mean the Bush Administration is not trampling the liberties of other nations, which is what tyrannies do.
America’s current vast expansion of military power under President Bush is not only stunning but likely unrecognized by many Americans for what it is — the ascendance of the “military-industrial complex” President Eisenhower warned us about. Some examples:
# The Pentagon is operating 700 military bases in 130 countries
# President Bush is waging a dishonest war of aggression against
# The CIA, ignominious for its past overthrow of governments in Guatamala, Iran, and Chile, and for teaching torture techniques, operates prisons where captives have no rights and also turns captives over to nations like Egypt that routinely torture.
Do you think this government, trampling the globe like Tyrannosaurus
Americanus, is what
Sherwood Ross is Founder, League for
Nonviolent Solutions, Miami Beach, Florida,
The Fifth Humor
By Larry Hamby
This seems to be a year when we need to be politically correct at Christmas/Chanukah/ Kwanzaa/solstice/whatever/time. Which makes for some good spoofing, so . . . here’s a possible solution to the greetings problem: merging Christmas and Chanukah.
Continuing the current trend of large scale mergers and acquisitions back towards turn-of-the-century monopolies, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Chanukah will merge.
An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for
about 1300 years, ever since the rise of the Muslim Empire. While details were
not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having
twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Chanukah was becoming prohibitive
for both sides. By combining forces, we’re told, the world will be able to
enjoy consistently high quality service during the Fifteen Days of Christmukah, as the new holiday is
being called. Massive layoffs are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit.
As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience. Also, instead of translating to “A great miracle happened there,” the message on the dreydl will be the more generic “Miraculous s--- happens.”
In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa
Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their
gifts. In fact, one of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at
least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could
leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A
breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher. All
happy about this development except for Santa’s dentist.
A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a
He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of “Oy, Come All Ye Faithful.”
In keeping with the ongoing emphasis on security, we find that security forces have done it again!
INFANT DISCOVERED IN BARN, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES LAUNCH PROBE
During the confrontation, a man identified as Joseph, also of
Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to
be wise men from an eastern country. The INS and Homeland Security officials
are seeking information about these who may be in the country illegally. A
source with the INS states that they had no passports, but were in possession
of gold and other possibly illegal substances. They resisted arrest saying that
they had been warned by God to avoid officials in
The owner of the barn is also being held for questioning. The manager of the Bethlehem Inn faces possible revocation of his license for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable. Civil authorities are also investigating the zoning violations involved in maintaining livestock in a commercially-zoned district.
The location of the minor child will not be released, and the
prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful. Asked about when
Jesus would be returned to his mother, a Child Protective
Service spokesperson said, “The father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage. We are checking with officials in
Joseph has admitted taking Mary from her home in
Mary was taken to the
The director of the psychiatric wing said, “I don’t profess to have the right to tell people what to believe, but when their beliefs adversely affect the safety and well-being of others — in this case her child — we must consider her a danger to others. The unidentified drugs at the scene didn’t help her case, but I’m confident that with the proper therapy regimen we can get her back on her feet.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said, “Who knows what was
going through their heads? But regardless, their treatment of the child was
inexcusable, and the involvement of these others frightening. There is much we
don’t know about this case, but for the sake of the child and the public, you
can be assured that we will pursue this matter to the end.”
Now, even Santa Claus has problems:
One particular Christmas season a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip — but there were problems everywhere.
Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.
Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.
When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress.
Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.
So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hid the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor.
He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.
Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.
The angel said, very cheerfully, “Merry Christmas Santa. Isn’t it just a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Isn’t it just a lovely tree? Where would you like me to put it?”
Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.
But, there's good news for all you feminists out there:
REMEMBER THIS AT CHRISTMAS TIME
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring.
Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.
We should’ve known . . . ONLY women would be able to drag a fat-ass man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of essays by editors
and contributors to the
Any Man who Hates Dogs and Children Can’t Be All Bad. The Career of W. C. Fields, by Larry Hamby
Art, Truth and Politics
The Nobel Lecture by Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on
In 1958 I wrote the following:
'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'
I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?
Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.
I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.
Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word or an image. The given word is often shortly followed by the image. I shall give two examples of two lines which came right out of the blue into my head, followed by an image, followed by me.
The plays are The Homecoming and Old Times. The first line of The Homecoming is 'What have you done with the scissors?' The first line of Old Times is 'Dark.'
In each case I had no further information.
In the first case someone was obviously looking for a pair of scissors and was demanding their whereabouts of someone else he suspected had probably stolen them. But I somehow knew that the person addressed didn’t give a damn about the scissors or about the questioner either, for that matter.
'Dark' I took to be a description of someone's hair, the hair of a woman, and was the answer to a question. In each case I found myself compelled to pursue the matter. This happened visually, a very slow fade, through shadow into light.
I always start a play by calling the characters A, B and C.
In the play that became The Homecoming I saw a man enter a stark room and ask his question of a younger man sitting on an ugly sofa reading a racing paper. I somehow suspected that A was a father and that B was his son, but I had no proof. This was however confirmed a short time later when B (later to become Lenny) says to A (later to become Max), 'Dad, do you mind if I change the subject? I want to ask you something. The dinner we had before, what was the name of it? What do you call it? Why don't you buy a dog? You're a dog cook. Honest. You think you're cooking for a lot of dogs.' So since B calls A 'Dad' it seemed to me reasonable to assume that they were father and son. A was also clearly the cook and his cooking did not seem to be held in high regard. Did this mean that there was no mother? I didn't know. But, as I told myself at the time, our beginnings never know our ends.
'Dark.' A large window. Evening sky. A man, A (later to become Deeley), and a woman, B (later to become Kate), sitting with drinks. 'Fat or thin?' the man asks. Who are they talking about? But I then see, standing at the window, a woman, C (later to become Anna), in another condition of light, her back to them, her hair dark.
It's a strange moment, the moment of creating characters who up to that moment have had no existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be an unstoppable avalanche. The author's position is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by the characters. The characters resist him, they are not easy to live with, they are impossible to define. You certainly can't dictate to them. To a certain extent you play a never-ending game with them, cat and mouse, blind man's buff, hide and seek. But finally you find that you have people of flesh and blood on your hands, people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort.
So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time.
But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.
Political theatre presents an entirely different set of problems. Sermonising has to be avoided at all cost. Objectivity is essential. The characters must be allowed to breathe their own air. The author cannot confine and constrict them to satisfy his own taste or disposition or prejudice. He must be prepared to approach them from a variety of angles, from a full and uninhibited range of perspectives, take them by surprise, perhaps, occasionally, but nevertheless give them the freedom to go which way they will. This does not always work. And political satire, of course, adheres to none of these precepts, in fact does precisely the opposite, which is its proper function.
In my play The Birthday Party I think I allow a whole range of options to operate in a dense forest of possibility before finally focussing on an act of subjugation.
pretends to no such range of operation. It remains brutal, short and ugly. But
the soldiers in the play do get some fun out of it. One sometimes forgets that
torturers become easily bored. They need a bit of a laugh to keep their spirits
up. This has been confirmed of course by the events at Abu Ghraib
Ashes to Ashes, on the other hand, seems to me to be taking place under water. A drowning woman, her hand reaching up through the waves, dropping down out of sight, reaching for others, but finding nobody there, either above or under the water, finding only shadows, reflections, floating; the woman a lost figure in a drowning landscape, a woman unable to escape the doom that seemed to belong only to others.
But as they died, she must die too.
Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.
As every single
person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam
Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some
of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We
were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that
The truth is something
entirely different. The truth is to do with how the
But before I come back
to the present I would like to look at the recent past, by which I mean
Everyone knows what
happened in the
But my contention here
is that the
Direct invasion of a sovereign
state has never in fact been
The tragedy of
I was present at a
meeting at the
Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity. 'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.
Innocent people, indeed, always suffer.
Finally somebody said: 'But in this case "innocent people" were the victims of a gruesome atrocity subsidised by your government, one among many. If Congress allows the Contras more money further atrocities of this kind will take place. Is this not the case? Is your government not therefore guilty of supporting acts of murder and destruction upon the citizens of a sovereign state?'
Seitz was imperturbable. 'I don't agree that the facts as presented support your assertions,' he said.
As we were leaving the
I should remind you that at the time President Reagan made the following statement: 'The Contras are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.'
The Sandinistas weren't perfect. They possessed their fair share of arrogance and their political philosophy contained a number of contradictory elements. But they were intelligent, rational and civilised. They set out to establish a stable, decent, pluralistic society. The death penalty was abolished. Hundreds of thousands of poverty-stricken peasants were brought back from the dead. Over 100,000 families were given title to land. Two thousand schools were built. A quite remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy in the country to less than one seventh. Free education was established and a free health service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third. Polio was eradicated.
I spoke earlier about
'a tapestry of lies' which surrounds us. President Reagan commonly described
Six of the most
distinguished Jesuits in the world were viciously murdered at the
But this 'policy' was
by no means restricted to
Hundreds of thousands
of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are
they in all cases attributable to
It never happened.
Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It
didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the
I put to you that the
It's a scintillating
stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the
American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't
need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating
your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This
does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line
and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which
extends across the
What has happened to
our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they
refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our
shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at
The invasion of
We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.
How many people do you
have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war
criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I
would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned
before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever.
He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if
any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock
Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified
the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have
his address if they're interested. It is Number 10,
Death in this context
is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At
least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the
Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.
The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves.
Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda, 'I'm Explaining a Few Things':
And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.
Jackals that the jackals would despise
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate.
Face to face with you I have seen the blood
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives.
see my dead house,
look at broken
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers
from every socket of
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.
And you will ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land.
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets! *
Let me make it quite
clear that in quoting from Neruda's poem I am in no
way comparing Republican
I have said earlier
Many thousands, if not
millions, of people in the
I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.
'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'
A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection - unless you lie - in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.
I have referred to death quite a few times this evening. I shall now quote a poem of my own called 'Death'.
Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?
Who was the dead body?
Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?
Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?
Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?
Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body
When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror - for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.
I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.
*Extract from "I'm Explaining a Few
Things" translated by Nathaniel Tarn, from Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems, published by
(Text from The Guardian,
Bishop Spong on Pat Robertson
Christina, a television producer at Fox News wrote to Bishop John Shelby Spong:
“How do you respond to the Rev. Pat Robertson
when he warns the citizens of
Bishop Spong wrote in reply:
Pat Robertson has said so many silly and
ridiculous things that I wonder why anyone would pay much attention to him on
any subject. He warned
suggested that the CIA should assassinate the duly elected President of
This country treasures the precious gift of free speech and Pat Robertson can obviously say any foolish and ignorant thing he wishes. When he pretends to speak in the name of God, however, I think his fellow believers have a right, indeed a necessity, to speak a word of judgment on his behavior since his words slander the Christian definition of God as Love given to us first by the author of the First Epistle of John and even more important, lived out by Jesus, who called us even to love our enemies.
I want to make only two points about this
issue. First, I wonder who, other than Pat himself, designated Pat Robertson to
be God’s spokesperson? How dare Pat assume that the
God revealed in the Jesus I serve is filled with all of Pat’s peculiar prejudices. Why does he not understand that God is God and
Pat Robertson is not? Why does he not see that when he tells the world with an
unashamed certainty what God thinks and what God will do, he is only revealing
what he thinks and what he would do if he had God’s power? Pat needs to
that he is acting out the very meaning of idolatry. He has confused
God with himself.
Second, some one needs to inform Pat Robertson
that the idea of God sitting on a throne above the clouds manipulating the
weather in order to punish sinners is so primitive and so naïve that it is
staggering to the educated imagination. It is bad enough that his mind cannot
embrace the thought of Charles Darwin from the 19th century, but Pat has yet to
embrace the thought of Copernicus from the 16th century or Galileo from the
17th century. No educated person today believes that the earth is the center of
the universe and that God lives above the sky, playing with low-pressure
systems and planning revenge on those who are not believers in Intelligent
Design. Indeed why would anyone be drawn to the demonic deity who emerges in Pat’s thinking and teaching? It is surely not a God of Love who punishes
the victims of both natural and human disasters to say nothing of their surviving loved ones. I, as a Christian, am embarrassed by the public face that Pat Robertson puts on the religious tradition to which my life is dedicated.
I have known the Robertson family for a long
time. His father was the Democratic Senator in my state of
— John Shelby Spong
(Sent by a reader.)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Sierra Club
Another reader alerted
us to the speech on the environment and politics by Robert
F. Kennedy Jr. at the Sierra
Letters to the Editor
An open forum awaiting your message. Editor’s e-mail: email@example.com
Shortly after I read your good comments about
Aaron Brown, the CNN commentator who was canned by the network, the mail
brought me the Winter issue of The American Scholar,
and found another reference to Brown by the editor, Robert Wilson.
hip-replacement surgeries, lamented the television fare, but had some good things to say about Lou Dobbs and Aaron Brown. Here are his observations on Brown:
My second CNN hero . . . is another unnervingly self-satisfied fellow named Aaron Brown. In addition to his smugness, Brown has a nasally voice and a tendency to betray his feelings through raised eyebrows and other facial expressions, all qualities that make you wonder how this guy got his own television show. But Brown has something as unique on television as Dobbs's sincere passion — he has what can only be called a sensibility. Whatever his deficiencies of delivery, he writes and speaks with a literary flair, and his mind is drawn to subtleties and nuances, and not to the controlling insights of the day that everyone else has drawn from the morning papers. He is of course to good to be true, or least too good for cable news, and it almost goes without saying that he was fired not long ago . . . .
I have always liked Aaron Brown and never noticed his “deficiencies of delivery,” and trust he will reappear somewhere before too long.
Charles Stephen (your only
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19 & 26 December 2005. To access the current issue: