It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, despite the consequential events that have occurred in the world over recent months. The reason for my disappearance is that I’ve been working on a video. I’ll keep this post short because I’m hoping you will watch the video. I also hope you will like, subscribe, and share it. (Assuming of course that you like it, want to see more, and think it’s worth sharing!)
I’ve wanted to get into video for some time because I’ve heard that more people are inclined to watch than read, especially young people. However, I don’t particularly like being in front of a camera, so my art and design will serve as the visual part. I don’t particularly like the sound of my voice either, but there’s not much I can do about that.
…Except maybe, for the narration of my next video, I’m thinking of faking a Scottish accent. Cause…you know…my name is Scott. So even if it’s badly done, no one can accuse me of not being Scottish.
My first video is a response to another video, narrated by actress Alyssa Milano, that came out just days after the Supreme Court decision sending the question of abortion rights back to the states. Milano’s video is called, “The History of Abortion.” Many of the statements made in that video were so egregiously incorrect that I just couldn’t ignore it. I think you’ll find my video response fascinating, and you’ll hear some things you haven’t heard before.
At the same time, I’m hoping that my video won’t come off as an attack. It’s clear to me that God has called us to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation. For some time I’ve felt compelled to be a bridge-builder to whatever extent that is possible. Unfortunately I still see far too little of this in public discourse, and I’m especially bothered by people who call themselves Christians and conservatives behaving like jerks toward people who disagree with them.
Of Course, this is a human tendency, not a Christian or conservative one, but I guess it’s just that I expect more from people who call themselves followers of Jesus. Thanks to all of you who have commented here over the years, for your respectful approach!
I think I will leave it at that for now, and let the video speak for itself. I will need to follow this up soon with a post for my pro-life friends, as I’ve been doing an informal survey and would love to hear your opinions as well. I will leave you hanging as to what my question is, though if you watch the video you might figure it out.
March 25, 2022 – You probably heard about a Disney employee walkout a few days ago. You probably didn’t hear from Disney employees on the other side of the issue. So, I’m going to publish their statement below. I think it’s worth reading as it presents a reasonable solution for corporations experiencing pressure to support an ideological agenda.
The protesters felt that Disney’s CEO is not doing enough on behalf of the LGBTQ cause. According to NBC News, “dozens” of employees staged a walkout in Burbank, and at other locations. Others spoke out in interviews and on social media.
When asked for his opinion on the protest, Disney star Oscar Isaac said, “I guess my comment would be [starts singing] gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gayyyyyy! Yeah, it’s an absolutely ridiculous law. It’s insane. It’s insanity. And I hope that Disney as a company comes out as forcefully as possible against this idea. It’s astounding that it even exists in this country.”
Isaac and the protesters are reacting to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by LGBTQ activists. The bill, recently signed by governor DeSantis, prohibits “classroom instruction” of gender ideology in public schools K thru 3rd grade.
That doesn’t strike me as insane, given how wildly diverse opinions now are around the topic of human sexuality. This diversity of opinion stems from differing worldviews. Parents do indeed have a responsibility to exercise caution around who they trust to influence their children on a topic as fundamental and consequential as sex. It seems right to give small children a few years to learn the alphabet and have a childhood before hitting them with sexual identity issues that many adults apparently can’t figure out.
But what’s a corporation to do?
Maybe it would be good for corporations to stay out of the epistemology business. Can board members be split over whether or not to support a given ideological campaign, or must a corporation be an ideological monolith? Do we now want corporations to publish their statement of beliefs so we can know whether or not to work for them, or buy from them? Should we continue dividing America up into those who agree with us (the sane) and those who don’t (the insane)?
Maybe corporations should simply provide whatever goods or services they offer, without being pressured to participate in partisan politics. I’d like to know that they follow ethical practices and treat their employees fairly, but I don’t want to have to care about their politics. Except I wish they’d stop buckling to extremist ideologues.
At any rate, below is the published letter by another Disney minority:
Disney Employees’ Open Letter in Favor of a Politically Neutral Disney
As employees of the Walt Disney Company, we believe in the dignity of all people. This is why we do what we do. We write stories. We make costumes. We act in parades. We run cruises. We stream movies. We make magic. We do this because our work contributes to a fountain of wonder that inspires joy, awe, and delight in guests and audiences of all ages. We are proud employees of the Walt Disney Company. We love our jobs because we get to share the wonder of life and human experience with millions of people worldwide.
However, over the last few years, one group of cast members has become invisible within the company. The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive. We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership.
The company’s evolving response to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida has left many of us wondering what place we have in a company actively promoting a political agenda so far removed from our own. TWDC leadership frequently communicates its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where cast members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and being their authentic selves at work. That is not our workplace experience.
Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support. We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them.
An internal poll within the company went out a few months ago asking us if we felt accepted in the company. Many of us didn’t complete it because the nature of the questions made us worry that the results of the poll could be used to target us for quietly holding a position that runs against the progressive orthodoxy that Disney seems to promote. TWDC has fostered an environment of fear that any employee who does not toe the line will be exposed and dismissed.
Much has been made of our internal efforts to Reimagine Tomorrow, but as much as diversity and inclusion are promoted, the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company. Left-leaning cast members are free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources. They call their fellow employees “bigots” and pressure TWDC to use corporate influence to further their left-wing legislative goals.
Meanwhile, those of us who don’t align with this vision keep our heads down and do our work without bringing our personal beliefs into the workplace. We’ve done this without complaint because we don’t want to rock the boat, but the boat is being rocked, and our leadership seems compelled to reward those who are rocking it.
Employees who want TWDC to make left-wing political statements are encouraged, while those of us who want the company to remain neutral can say so only in a whisper out of fear of professional retaliation. The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here. This politicization of our corporate culture is damaging morale and causing many of us to feel our days with TWDC might be numbered.
Furthermore, as this politicization makes its way into our content and public messaging, our more conservative customers will feel similarly unwanted. You can only preach at or vilify your audience for so long before they decide to spend their money elsewhere.
Working for The Walt Disney Company is a dream come true. We love being part of creating the magic that so many people around the world enjoy. Our storytelling is second to none. It resonates with people from all walks of life across the political spectrum. Our parks are the source of joy and inspiration that Walt hoped they would become. Every year, millions of guests escape an increasingly divided world to a place where they can relive fond memories of the past and savor the challenge and promise of the future. They do this alongside thousands of other guests that might not have anything in common with them other than a shared love of Disney.
The unique brand of family entertainment that Disney is known for is an objective good in this dark world. It brings people together and provides cultural touchpoints that even the worst enemies can unite over. At the height of COVID lockdowns in the Summer of 2020 when the country was fiercely divided over a range of issues, Hamilton provided us something to collectively celebrate. At the end of an incredibly contentious election year, The Mandalorian was there to soothe a weary nation with non-political entertainment we could all enjoy no matter who you voted for. When Disney takes sides in political debates, they deprive the world of a shared love we all have in common. TWDC is uniquely situated to provide experiences and entertainment that can bridge our national divide and bring us all together.
CEO, Bob Chapek had the right idea in his original statement that he has since walked back. In Chapek’s own words, “As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. … Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.” Disney is far more important and impactful to the world by avoiding politics than it will ever be by embracing a political agenda. By focusing on entertainment that inspires us with stories of universal appeal, we are doing good in the world.
Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism. It’s so much bigger and more important than that. More than ever, the world needs things that we can unite around. That’s the most valuable role The Walt Disney Company could play in the world at this time. It’s a role we’ve played for nearly a century, and it would be a shame to throw all of that away in the face of left-wing political pressure. Please don’t let Disney become just another thing we divide over.
What do you think? Is it possible for corporations to be politically neutral?
On Valentine’s Day weekend in downtown Loveland, Colorado, some 300 local citizens helped create a new community mural. In what has become an annual tradition, each person painted a 9-inch square tile, (usually) following simple guidelines. Anyone able to hold a paintbrush was able to join in, regardless of age or artistic skill.
I have designed the mural-making process to be virtually foolproof. It’s better than paint-by-number because participants are able to creatively express themselves on their tiles. I love to see how people jump in – some restrained, some exuberant; some with a specific vision, some just playing with paint. This is now our sixth community-building-Sweetheart-Festival mural, and I love to see the hundreds of declarations of love that have gone up over the past few years.
This is my intention for this project: community building! I like to hope that in some small way this project is a counter force to the many polarizing forces in our world today.
I conceived the idea for these collaborative murals after the 2016 presidential election. It seemed to me at the time that our world had become dangerously polarized and tribal. At least in my small corner of the world I wanted to do something that would bring the hundreds of local Valentine festival-goers together for something free, fun, creative, and collaborative. As I’ve driven down 4th Street and seen smiling pedestrians enjoying the finished mural throughout each year, I feel that we’ve hit the bull’s-eye.
Unfortunately, six years later, things do not seem much improved on the culture war front. Art can only take us so far. Politicians don’t bring us together. When a presidential administration is aligned with one side or the other it only heightens the division. This past year confirmed that big tech can’t be trusted to be the arbiter of the truth. Nor can any one news source. There is misinformation about misinformation. Fact checkers need to be fact checked.
Trust in institutions seems to be in short supply, and understandably so.
In a climate where people conflate opinion and fact, and where common ground is difficult to find, common ground can only be part of the solution. We may not be able to find much of that. We must re-learn to live together peacefully in respectful disagreement. In my opinion, that can only happen if we talk to each other; if we get to know each other with the aim of understanding one another.
If you’ve had enough of hysterical polarization, would like to become part of the solution, but aren’t sure where to begin, I have a friendly suggestion. Join this group: BraverAngels.org. Or at least check out one of their “Skills Trainings” e-courses. You can join BA for $1 dollar a month. I’ve been a member for well over a year now and hope to see it grow! You can also easily search out some past BA events on Youtube to get a feel for what a BA event looks like.
I think Christmas is perfectly placed on the calendar. Though for me, Christmas really is a season and not just a day. It’s Christmastime. Yet it’s a season that ends with a fabulous holiday, pregnant with meaning.
There’s a lot to love about Christmas. For one thing, I love the contrast with Easter. Christmas is a nighttime holiday, while Easter is a morning holiday. Christmas is observed just after the longest night of the year, celebrating the Light of the World entering the darkened condition of humanity. By contrast, Easter is observed just as the natural world is waking up to renewed life in spring, celebrating the dawning of spiritual rebirth and salvation for humanity.
It is this bringing of rebirth and life to humanity that was always the point of Christ’s coming, but at His birth, the point is still necessarily hidden and wrapped up in mystery. No one had an inkling of the changes that the infant Messiah would someday bring; of the unexpected way He would fulfill both the veiled foreshadowings and the explicit prophesies in the Torah and the prophets. The hard work of reconciling humankind to God was still before Him; the nature of His mission and kingdom still hidden; the full inclusion of all nations not yet understood. Human understanding was still darkened.
The Light had finally come! What would He reveal?
There is much about lighting up the darkness at Christmas: Candles lit. Fires burning. Lights strung. Stars appearing. There is beauty and meaning in lighting up the darkness at Christmastime. These lights symbolize the Light of the World and the light of His Love – the light of the Truth and the light of His Life. The apostle John writes that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness.” In his gospel he writes of Jesus, saying, “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend, or overcome, it” (NASB).
Light draws people in from out of the darkness. His light brings us together. John elaborates, “…if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (NASB). The light of His forgiveness burns away our need to stay isolated in darkness.
Much of the meaning of Christmas is about anticipation. We remember the anticipation of Israel longing to hear from her God again after 400 years of silence from her prophets. We remember the anticipation of that nation awaiting her promised Messiah, and the anticipation, though misguided, around what that Savior would do. We remember the anticipation of a young Jewish woman about to deliver her miraculously conceived firstborn. And then the scriptures speak of the anticipation that God Himself felt in restoring humanity to relational unity with Himself.
The humble arrival of Jesus in human flesh is a gift of love from our heavenly Father, leading to His gift of salvation. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (ESV). How appropriate, then, that gift giving is a part of celebrating Christmas.
This brings us to the date in question. Why December 25th? Every Christmas season, trolls come out to mock Christians for naively celebrating a “pagan holiday.” We “ignorantly” participate in supposedly pagan rituals, like decorating trees. “Skeptics” assert that the winter solstice was celebrated by pagans long before the birth of Jesus. Christmas is supposedly derived from the Roman holiday, Saturnalia, in honor of the agricultural god Saturn.
But this is like mocking a family for buying, renovating, and living in what was formerly a crack house. Who cares what once went on in the house when something better has replaced it? The fact is that for most Christians today, December 25th is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Practically speaking, it matters to no one what pagans may or may not have celebrated a few thousand years ago, or that a pope co-opted a popular winter festival to help get pagans on board with Christianity.
Most Christians are well aware that Jesus was not born on Dec 25th and that no one knows the actual date of His birth. So if one must pick a date on which to celebrate the deeply profound first advent of Jesus, what better date than Dec 25th, for all the reasons mentioned above? Here again there is a contrast with Easter. The resurrection of Jesus is explicitly tied to the spring feasts of Israel, particularly Passover. But the birth of Jesus has no such clear biblical link, so if one wants to celebrate His birth, why not infuse life and hope into the dead of winter?
Furthermore, if anyone cares to look, there is good evidence specifically connecting December 25th to the first advent of Jesus. There is evidence in the field of modern astronomy that the magi made their famous visit to the child Jesus in Bethlehem on December 25th. Of course, according to the scriptures, Jesus would have been a toddler by then, and living in a house rather than lying in a manger. Nonetheless, it’s an extraordinary coincidence that the magi likely brought gifts to Jesus on December 25th, the same day we mark our modern celebration with gift giving.
It’s also significant that the magi were not Jewish. They are the first foreshadowing in the life of Jesus that the Jewish Messiah had come not only for Israel, but also for all nations. In fact, the magi may well have fit the definition of “pagan.” So much, then, for the argument that the church stole December 25th from paganism. One could just as likely argue that the winter solstice was waiting for Jesus to give it a deeper and better meaning than the pagan celebrations gave. After all, if the scriptures are true, then He is the Creator of the winter solstice.
Based on my many conversations with “skeptics,” I suspect that claims of the pagan roots of Christmas are part of the larger effort to de-legitimize Jesus and His Church. The idea is to show that there is nothing unique about Jesus; that Christianity is just one more version of the many man-made religions and invented gods that came before it. The claim is that early paganism contains scores of virgin birth myths, resurrection stories, and other similarities to the Jesus stories of the Bible.
But careful scholarship has shown those claims to be untrue. There is no one else like Jesus, and nothing else like the story of His virgin birth, or the story of His bodily resurrection – at least, nothing that pre-dates the gospel accounts. (Supposed pagan parallels include stories like the god Mithra, who was born from out of a rock; not quite the virgin birth depicted in the bible.)
As for Christmas, the celebration date may have been arbitrarily chosen, but that doesn’t make its roots pagan. The story of Jesus is explicitly rooted in the ancient Jewish scriptures, but its branches have spread around the world. I am always excited to join the worldwide celebration. The Light has come!
You can read about the astronomy surrounding Jesus’s birth and Dec 25th, HERE and HERE. To read my debate with a qualified Star-of-Bethlehem debunker, read the comment section HERE.
About the painting: This piece was a commission for Conception Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in northwest Missouri. The painting was designed to match the Beuronese style of a series of large murals encircling the interior of the basilica, (completed in the1890s.) I was commissioned to paint additional Christmas imagery in this style. I depicted the magi representing the gentile nations. The olive tree in the background is a reference to Romans ch 11 – Paul’s discourse on the “wild” gentile nations being grafted into the “cultivated” Jewish olive tree. I don’t particularly enjoy painting in this meticulous manner, but it was a fun project!
Below I print verbatim America’s first president’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. It is worth reading in view of the challenges that our nation is currently facing. Since this is my blog, I have highlighted my favorite parts. Enjoy and give thanks!
By the President of the United States of America,
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
George Washington and slavery It is common in today’s political climate to denigrate George Washington along with several other American founders because they were slaveholders. Some assert that the founding documents are fundamentally flawed because of this fact. They insist that phrases such as the above “blessing to all the people,” and Jefferson’s “all men are created equal,” were not intended to include women and people of color. While some criticisms of several important American founders are justified, it does not follow that the founding documents are therefore innately and irreparably racist and sexist. What these men wrote laid the groundwork for the eventual abolition of slavery and equal rights for women.
America did in fact fight a war to end slavery within one generation of its founding. The Civil War was fought on principle, at great cost to the nation. The abolitionist movement was almost entirely due to the religious fervor and moral stance of white Christians, along with some Black abolitionists who had escaped bondage. Meanwhile, white enlightenment secularists were missing in action, at best, regarding the issue of slavery.
If it seems duplicitous that some of the key American founders who laid the constitutional groundwork to abolish slavery and inequality continued to hold slaves, that’s because it was duplicitous. The world was coming to grips with the evils of slavery even as America was being born. After the American revolution, in 1777 Vermont became the first sovereign American state to abolish the slave trade. The transatlantic slave trade reached its peak in the 1780s. British abolitionist William Wilberforce was born in 1759.
There is much evidence that slavery gave rise to racism (a belief in the racial inferiority of blacks), and not the reverse. “New world” race relations in the early 1600s generally saw blacks and whites on equal footing. Unfortunately, over the next couple of centuries, bad science, bad theology, and bad public policy increasingly fostered a white supremacist subculture, eventually enshrining slavery as an institution and condoning black slaves as property. By the time America’s independence was won, opinion on slavery was divided and hotly debated.
The most prominent slaveholder founders – namely Washington, Jefferson, and Madison – all made anti-slavery statements even as they held slaves. Washington’s will stipulated that his slaves be freed upon his wife’s death, (which didn’t fully happen). Ben Franklin freed his few slaves and later became president of the Pennsylvanian Abolition Society. Some founders, such as America’s second president John Adams, and the first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay, were anti-slavery from the start. There was never a universally pro-slavery America. America was not “built on slavery.”
Nonetheless, one may rightfully ask how such duplicity could exist in some freedom-minded founders when the full humanity of black individuals was so obvious. My answer is that all human beings are broken, and we are all prone to find ways to justify unjust, even violent, practices to preserve our own interests at the expense of others.
To take a modern example, we have known for over a couple of centuries that a new human life begins at conception. Modern biological science is clear and indisputable on this. Yet, here we are in the 21st century fighting a cold civil war over abortion on demand – a supposed right for “people with uteri.” We live and work, side by side, with people who disagree on this issue. We currently have elected lawmakers fighting to keep late term abortion legal, and others seeking to abolish it altogether. There are otherwise decent people on both sides of the issue.
Saying this in no way minimizes the evil of slavery or justifies the early American slaveholders. The comparison between legal abortion and slavery simply demonstrates how a practice that is seen as an obvious and non-negotiable personal right by one side can be seen as an obviously barbaric and reprehensible practice by the other, even in our “enlightened” era.
If you object to this comparison, and would like to make the case that comparing legal slavery to legal abortion is comparing apples to oranges, I would like to hear your argument in the comment section.
In closing, and in view of our fractured, divided, often hysterical and overly politicized cultural atmosphere, I leave you with one more quote. This one is also from our wise-but-imperfect first president, George Washington, from his farewell address. It is brilliant in its prophetic nature to us today:
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism….In governments purely elective, [a spirit of party is] not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
Amen to that, and a happy thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
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It is September of 2021. The highly contagious Delta variant is “surging.” According to mainstream news media, anger against “the unvaccinated” is growing. The hope of “ending the pandemic” and a “return to normalcy” is being thwarted by the “stubborn refusal” of people like me who have no plans to get vaccinated. The unvaccinated are now a majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The US government and many universities and businesses have implemented, or are planning to implement, compulsory vaccination. Some universities have begun kicking out unvaccinated students.
Some healthcare professionals are beside themselves as they see an already exhausted healthcare workforce now facing a new surge of sick patients who could have easily prevented hospitalization if only they had gotten vaccinated. It’s easy to understand their anger and frustration when the vaccine is widely available, free, and most importantly, “safe and effective.” I can understand how the vaccinated might see the unvaccinated as uncaring, selfish, reckless, misinformed, stubborn, irrational, or just plain stupid.
Coincidentally, as I was writing this, our President gave a speech in which he promised to mandate vaccinations to whatever degree it is in his power to do so. He had this to say to me:
My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is F.D.A. approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.
In the face of a highly contagious COVID variant that is spreading across the world, is there any good reason to refuse a vaccine that has been proven to be effective in preventing COVID hospitalizations and deaths? For me, as of today, the answer is “yes.”
My reasons for coming out as a “refuser” I’m not particularly excited about painting a target on my back, as I expect things will get worse for vaccine refusers. I’m not writing this to change anyone’s mind. I’m writing this in the hope of fostering an atmosphere of mutual understanding. If you’re a COVID vaccine proponent, I think I’ve demonstrated that I understand your position. Now I’d like for you to understand mine.
I can tell you (and our President) exactly what information I need to see in order to change my mind. Unfortunately for us all, the scientific data that people like me need does not yet exist. There is no data on the long-term effects of the new gene-based COVID-19 vaccines.
Exasperated news reports about the unvaccinated often paint our reasons for not getting vaccinated as a mystery. Maybe we simply need our questions answered, or we need our misinformation corrected, or we need to be prodded by role models we trust, or we need stronger incentives. Some are even suggesting we need to be punished.
None of those things address the issue for me.
Right off the bat I can tell you that my reasons have nothing to do with Donald Trump, or Joe Biden, or political partisanship, or fear of my DNA being altered, or being injected with a microchip, or a tracking device, or with becoming magnetic. My reasons have nothing to do with the Chinese origins of COVID-19, zombies, or the mark of the beast. And I am not an anti-vaxxer in general. My reasons are based on scientifically informed opinion from credentialed experts in the fields of virology, immunology, and internal medicine. I’m trying to follow the science.
I invite correction in the comment section if you see any illogic, misinformation, or crazy talk in what follows.
My reasons for refusing the COVID vaccine My reasons are pretty simple. A large number of legit scientists and medical experts share concerns about the new gene-based COVID-19 vaccines. I’m neither a scientist nor a medical professional of any sort, so the best I can do is try to carefully look at all sides of the issue and make an informed decision. I don’t think it’s possible for me (or anyone else) to know who is correct at this point, so I’m choosing to wait until more information is known. I don’t see how that is irresponsible.
There may be only a few actual facts that everyone can agree on at this point. One is that the Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and Europe’s AstraZeneca COVID vaccines are different from any previous vaccines in the history of medicine in that they do not contain attenuated pathogenic particles. Instead they deliver temporary genetic instructions to the recipient’s cells – either via messenger RNA or through a harmless adenovirus. This induces the cells to make spike proteins, which triggers the body’s immune response.
In a nutshell, I am concerned about the long-term effects of these new vaccines.
Many medical experts have expressed a concern: in the development and rollout of gene-based COVID vaccine technology, the possibility has not been excluded that the vaccines will deliver spike proteins to the bloodstream, resulting in damage to the blood vessel lining, and in eventual clotting abnormalities. Spikes will also be distributed widely throughout the body accumulating in organs in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus would not normally appear, such as the liver, spleen, ovaries, and brain. The damaging long-term effects of this could take several years to manifest.
It is a fact that post-vaccine clotting abnormalities have occurred on an international scale, so far in relatively small numbers, but to an extent that several counties stopped their vaccine rollouts for a time. At this point we don’t know if the relatively small number of confirmed vaccine related deaths and clotting abnormalities represent the full extent of vaccine side effects, or if they are a canary in the coalmine portending a future, global medical disaster.
The potential risks described by these doctors are expected to increase with each re-vaccination and with future coronavirus exposures. (See details here.)
I’m not arguing here for the correctness of this position. I don’t know if these guys are right. Honestly, I sincerely hope they are wrong because a lot of people I dearly love have taken the vaccine. But if the long term turns out to prove these docs correct, the result will be a global health crisis potentially far worse than the disease itself. Not only has research not yet ruled out these concerns, according to these doctors recent research confirms their concerns.
So I am left with this. Not getting vaccinated potentially poses a health risk, and getting vaccinated potentially poses a health risk. We are left with weighing the risks with incomplete information. Each person must decide if he or she would rather take their chances with the disease, or with the vaccine. At this point, I would rather take my chances with the disease since I am not at elevated risk.
“But you’re ruining the recovery for everyone else” I recognize that we’re all between a rock and a hard place here. While I understand the disgust that some vaccine proponents might feel towards me, my hesitancy is not unreasonable. If these doctors’ concerns turn out to be valid, we will be hospitalizing the vaccinated, particularly those who’ve received booster shots. Talk of a recovery will become irrelevant.
If this does happen, (and I hope it doesn’t,) the fact that a significant percentage of healthcare workers have remained unvaccinated would then become an upside. (27% unvaccinated as of last month with 15% firmly opposed). Because, practically speaking, if people’s heads start exploding in 2 years, somebody’s gonna have to be around to care for the sick.
“But you’re enabling new and dangerous variants to develop by prolonging the pandemic” Possibly. But I don’t see how that justifies potentially putting the worldwide population at risk by forcing healthy, low-risk people to take an experimental vaccine. Even if it were ethical to do so, it’s debatable if a vaccinated population will keep the virus from mutating as we now know that some countries are seeing a very high percentage of fully vaccinated people infected or hospitalized with COVID. If the virus is replicating even among the vaccinated, then there will be new mutations regardless.
Some even argue that a virus mutating in a vaccinated host is more likely to produce mutations that evade the vaccines. Others disagree. Who is correct? Beats me.
Furthermore, could it be an upside to the Delta surge that the millions of unvaccinated who recover will likely have developed natural immunity? Is natural immunity better and longer lasting than vaccine immunity? Probably, according to a new study from Israel. (Even so, this does not suggest that anyone should seek to get sick with COVID-19.)
But if one does get COVID, it is noteworthy that three new American studies suggest that our immune systems do recognize COVID-19 and its variants, according to the doctors cited above. This is contrary to what we were told early on, when media was reporting that the vaccine would be our only weapon against the “novel coronavirus.”
Finally, there seems to be a general agreement that as viruses mutate to become more transmissible, they tend to become less lethal. So, yay. Unless they don’t. Detractors argue that this is also not a hard and fast rule, as a virus might be just as happy to spread first and then kill you.
As an uneducated layperson, I conclude from all this that nobody knows what is going to happen.
“But it’s not fair for unvaccinated people to burden the system when they’ve chosen to reject the solution” Regarding the gene-based vaccines, I would argue that I at least have a plausible health-based reason for my hesitancy, especially given that I only have impossibly conflicting information to go by. By contrast, most of the leading causes of death in America (of which COVID-19 is now at #7-ish) are largely “lifestyle-related diseases”: Heart disease, cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and stroke to name a few. Americans are notoriously obese, sugar-addicted, sedentary, and drug dependent, and we know better.
Fortunately, we seldom hear calls for refusing to care for people whose poor choices helped to land them in the hospital. But we’re hearing it now with regard to the unvaccinated.
Yet something like 95% of those hospitalized and/or dying with COVID have at least one of these same underlying conditions. True, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are not contagious, but do we want to start down the road of choosing which sick people to care for based on whether or not we agree with their choices? Weighing Risk and Reward I wouldn’t say that folks who have been vaccinated are gullible guinea pigs. I wouldn’t say that folks who choose to wait are reckless hillbillies. I would say none of us has the benefit of 100% certainty with regard to what is true with this pandemic.
We are well into the vaccination campaign and there are still many unanswered questions. How is it that we are just now beginning to take the effects of the vaccine on women’s health seriously? Why shouldn’t natural immunity count as immunity? What can one do for early treatment if one contracts COVID-19? Should we vaccinate children?
I hear that I should trust experts who are smarter and more educated than I am, and I do to a certain extent. But which experts? And regardless, stuff still has to make sense to me on a layman level. I know from experience that even smart people are spectacularly wrong sometimes. The bottom line is that I am responsible for my decisions. If I follow advice that turns out to be wrong, that’s still on me.
We are ultimately left with comparing risk. My personal decision to not get vaccinated does not mean that I think no one should get vaccinated. Further information could change my mind about getting vaccinated. What is best for the people around me must also figure into my equation.
This is true for us all. I have a friend who works with cancer patients. He doesn’t need a mandate from his employer to get vaccinated because he doesn’t want to endanger the lives of his vulnerable patients. So even though he is not at elevated risk, his care for others has compelled him get vaccinated. We should all be so considerate.
Similarly, if you are at elevated risk, the equation is different for you than for a low risk person. Because of the science, If I were 10 years older I would probably get the vaccine. If I were obese, a smoker, asthmatic, diabetic, or otherwise at risk, this would shift the equation in favor of getting myself vaccinated. It makes little sense to wait around for the science regarding long-term effects of gene-based COVID-19 vaccines if it is likely that the disease itself will kill you first.
On that cheery note, thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your respectful thoughts below.
Speaking of the future, you can now view my original children’s storybooks on Instagram, page by page! Follow me @ scottfreeman.books
I won’t make you wait for it. The word is Transhumanism.
This is a revolution that no one is talking about. Where are the news media and where are the “experts” on this? We should be having a national discussion around whether we even want to be on board with the dubious idea of transhumanism, and, for those who do, how they should cautiously proceed. Instead we are barreling down the transhuman highway with the windshield painted fuchsia.
What is Transhumanism? (Abbreviated as H+) Transhumanism is a philosophical movement opining that we can and should overcome the natural biological limitations of humanity by means of science and technology. Some transhumanists envision enhancing human longevity and cognitive abilities to the degree that humans become “posthuman” creatures.
H+ stems from an evolutionary worldview. It is a perfectly reasonable conclusion, if one believes in a mindlessly and accidentally evolved universe, that we should intelligently direct the course of our own evolution now that we have the means to do so.
Here’s an illustrative quote from one transhumanist:
We believe it is our basic human right to be able to upgrade ourselves, and to develop and leverage the fundamental technologies that enable the next phase of evolution. We believe the future of the human race will not only allow us to opt out of nature’s selective processes and choose our own evolutionary paths, but that our very survival as a species depends on it. These beliefs are the cornerstone of Transhumanism. (Amal DT Graffstra).
To clarify, H+ is not the use of science and technology to restore the body’s natural functions or to facilitate healing. That is the role of traditional medical science. Nor is H+ the use of technology to repair disfigurement, or even to enhance one’s physical attractiveness. That is the role plastic/cosmetic surgery. Rather H+ seeks to transcend our natural human limitations and engineer an improved humanity.
The issue here is not science vs anti-science. The issue at hand is around what should be the legitimate role of science and technology.
Transhumanism is already here My guess is that most people don’t recognize the revolution for what it is because, if we’ve thought about it at all, we think of transhumanism as a futuristic, sci-fi fantasy. And it’s true that we aren’t yet capable of brain-machine interfaces, or mastering the aging process. But there is a sub-category of transhumanism that is not waiting for the future. That sub-category is called postgenderism.
Postgenderism seeks to use science and technology to create a world where human beings are free from the “harmful constraints” of the traditional binary concept of gender:
Postgenderism is an extrapolation of ways that technology is eroding the biological, psychological and social role of gender, and an argument for why the erosion of binary gender will be liberatory. Postgenderists argue that gender is an arbitrary and unnecessary limitation on human potential, and foresee the elimination of involuntary biological and psychological gendering in the human species through the application of neurotechnology, biotechnology and reproductive technologies… Assisted reproduction will make it possible for individuals of any sex to reproduce in any combinations they choose, with or without “mothers” and “fathers,” and artificial wombs will make biological wombs unnecessary for reproduction… Postgenderists do not call for the end of all gender traits, or universal androgyny, but rather that those traits become a matter of choice… (Beyond the Gender Binary, Dvorsky and Hughes, 2008).
Notice that like H+, and as a sub-category of H+, postgenderism: 1) is a utopian endeavor, 2) seeks to override or transcend natural human limitations. 3) employs science and technology to carry out its aims
To be charitable, H+ and it offshoot, postgenderism, hope to improve the human condition and relieve human suffering, including “psychic suffering”. But the crucial question is, “Does it, can it, and will it deliver?” I think we have reason to be very concerned about the answer.
From the standpoint of a biblical worldview, the fundamental problems with the human condition are beyond that which science and technology can fix. It is indicative of human arrogance to assume we can improve upon our natural humanity through technological means.
Present day examples of H+/postgenderism If it seems like a stretch to believe that H+/postgenderism is here, think about what is routinely happening today in the field of human sexuality. I should state that I am not a medical professional of any stripe, but as a layman, three current examples with which we are all now familiar come to mind:
1) Abortion-on-demand – Consider this through the lens of postgenderism. Abortion-on-demand is now non-negotiable for modern feminism because, to the feminist mind, human biology renders men and women “unequal.” The possibility of abortion access erases the inequity that nature imposes upon women, thus making gender at least somewhat less relevant. In the feminist mind, without abortion, natural female biology is seen as a form of slavery; a social injustice; a limit on female autonomy. If planning and/or contraception fail, abortion allows women to overcome their biological limitations – thus abortion qualifies as a crude H+ half measure until the development of the artificial womb.
Note that elective abortion falls outside the parameters of healing medicine: pregnancy is not a disease. A developing embryo is not an invasive parasite. A fetus is not a tumor. Elective abortion exists in America for ideological reasons. For the immediate future, the cutting edge of the abortion industry seeks a “safe” abortive chemical solution, making abortion access less dependent on invasive surgical procedures and more widely available.
2) Hormone therapy and puberty blocking drugs – Researchers have learned some of the mechanics of how hormones work, and why males and females develop the way they do. We can now appropriate technology to artificially delay puberty, and to alter the body’s natural processes to create secondary sexual features like facial hair and breasts. Transgender individuals are appropriating this technology to bring their bodies into alignment with their psychical identity.
Whether or not this is a good idea is another conversation. My point here is that it is undeniable that such chemical therapy is now commonplace, and it falls squarely under the agendas of H+/postgenderism – it is the use of science and technology to transcend one’s natural physiology for conceptual reasons.
3) Sex reassignment surgery – Surgically altering healthy, functioning sex organs is an extreme procedure from which there is no going back, practically speaking. Doing so for ideological reasons is a clear example of H+/postgenderist practice.
In my non-expert opinion, I would concede that there are a number of developmental sexual abnormalities for which such therapy and surgeries would arguably constitute a legit medical fix. But for purposes of this discussion it is the H+/postgender vision of a society where gender is considered to be a fluid, non-binary, matter of choice for everyone, including children, that I’m concerned with.
Why does this matter for you? Progressive ideologues are imposing H+/postgenderism onto the culture under the guise of justice and equality. We are told that the changes around gender ideology are simply the next, inevitable stage of the civil rights movement. So compassionate people cannot disagree with what is happening. You want to be a compassionate person, don’t you? This is all about minimizing suffering.
Perhaps this all seems to have come from out of nowhere to you. Like an accidental explosion at the cotton candy factory, sending sticky wisps of rainbow-colored spun sugar down on us all. What I would like the reader to consider is that these societal changes have been inspired by “progressive” political ideology, and they have been in the making for decades. One can map the progress.
I am unequivocally on board with compassion, fairness, equality, and minimizing suffering, but the changes stemming from gender ideology are not some inevitable next stage in social progress based on scientifically informed reason. They are changes stemming from the opinions of ideologically driven activists. No one should feel pressure to get on board.
This is about authority The point of this article is not so much to convince those with whom I disagree of the rightness of my position. My point is to amplify the logical consequences of two differing worldviews in the interest of enabling people to make informed choices.
This is ultimately about authority. Transhumanism and postgenderism stem from a specific set of beliefs about the universe. If one believes that we exist as a result of purposeless, accidental, evolutionary processes, then natural law and human biology carry little weight. They simply exist, for no authoritative reason. We are free to take control of the reigns and to direct our destiny as we see fit. On paper, at least, there is little to prevent us from creating our own reality.
But a lot of ideas sound good on paper. Car alarms and self-flushing toilets, for example. Nevertheless, whether we like it or not, human brokenness always gets in the way of utopia in this present age.
By contrast, followers of Jesus embrace a different set of beliefs about the universe. We believe that objective, divine authority actually exists; that it always has, and it always will. The gospel of Matthew quotes Jesus’s last statement to His disciples:
“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me…”
That’s an extravagantly bold statement coming from a figure who is universally regarded as being a good teacher. Followers of Jesus are bound to believe it. Jesus and His disciples also made definitive statements about gender, marriage, family, the innate value of human life, and the unreliability of the human heart. These statements are simply not compatible with H+/postgenderism.
An “upgrade” for humanity is indeed coming, but according to Jesus and His disciples it will come from the Author of Life, not from our own H+ biohacking. In the meantime, in this age, it seems clear to me that we don’t have all the information, and that therefore, apart from revelation, we often don’t know what’s best for ourselves and for each other.
If you’re a liberal, you might object that your beliefs have nothing to do with an H+/postgenderist agenda. You might argue that you believe in an infinite spectrum of genders for reasons of fairness; that “gender is what’s between your ears” is the more compassionate position; that you believe that “what matters is two loving parents, more so than a biological mom and dad” for reasons of inclusivity; that you support abortion-on-demand in support of “reproductive freedom” for women, and so on.
However, those reasons notwithstanding, one is still embracing T+/postgenderist thinking if one is favorable to the use of technology to transcend our natural human limitations. One is establishing oneself (or humanity) as the ultimate authority in defining and determining enlightenment, morality, and salvation. A line from The Humanist Manifesto ll comes to mind, published in 1973, the year of the Roe v Wade decision:
“No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.”
So how do we live together? This is a fascinating time to be alive. The choices before us couldn’t be more consequential. The consequences of choosing wrongly couldn’t be more perilous, from the standpoint of both worldviews. And yet, it is essential that we all live together peaceably and respectfully. How can we do this, given this extreme disparity of belief?
I contend that as Americans, we can still unite around the practice of pluralism and freedom for all within the constraints of the US Constitution. That includes free speech, a free press, religious liberty, and respecting parents’ rights to raise their own children as they see fit. All sides must be on guard against totalitarian thinking. All sides must be on guard against magical thinking. Amongst those with whom we agree, it would make the world a better place if we would hold each other to a standard of honesty, compassion, and respect for the individual.
I was recently invited to share my thoughts at a Unitarian-Universalist (UU) church service in California, via Zoom. According to my host, it is a very liberal congregation in a liberal geographical bubble. Apparently members of the congregation run the spectrum of social liberalism including LGBTQ folks, and some who were formerly evangelicals. Bruce, my host, considers himself to be an atheist.
Bruce and I connected through a Braver Angelsevent and have since talked weekly over Zoom for some six months. It has been quite an adventure for both of us, and not always a comfortable one. I would say our aim has been to understand each other, with permission to each respectfully challenge the other’s opinions.
At some point Bruce got the idea to share what he was doing with his UU church. Then it occurred to him to have me share as well, I guess just to keep it real. His minister was open to having me as a guest, and so we planned a service, which occurred in April, 2021. Below I’ve linked an edited video of the pertinent parts in case you would like to hear what was said.
To their credit, Bruce and his pastor took a risk in inviting me in. They told me about how they’d wrestled with why it was so difficult to invite me in. They knew they could invite a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or a Rabbi, or an atheist to speak, and everyone would pretty much be fine with it. But for some reason it was daunting to consider inviting a conservative evangelical Christian who voted for Trump twice.
I’m happy to report that the church was very welcoming toward me, and there was a lot of positive feedback afterwards. I did not go into many specifics on triggering issues, even in the Q and A time that followed. My intent was not to trigger people. The point was to inspire people to seek understanding with neighbors or family members who think differently than they do.
I’ll let the video speak for itself. It’s a half hour long but I think you’ll find it interesting. Plus the pastor has a cool Scottish accent. I’d love to hear your feedback.
The Cause of the Divide If you’ve followed this blog for long you know that I consider American society to be toxically divided. I’m concerned about this and I’m not alone. It is now common to hear people bemoan the loss of civility and respectful disagreement in human discourse, especially in political discourse.
How did we get here? Is there something different going on now than in previous generations?
I think there is. At the risk of sounding partisan, I believe that the divide has been created and nurtured by the far Left, and foisted onto the mainstream. It’s a simple worldview issue. Allow me to make my case.
To be specific, in referring to the Left I am not referring to some fuzzy notion of liberal-ish stuff that I happen to dislike. I’m referring specifically to a neo-Marxist worldview – a view that sees the cause of the world’s inequities and injustices through a lens of oppressor vs oppressed. Whether between economic classes, races, genders, or ideological parties, the Left by definition promotes division and, ultimately, a re-structuring of a supposedly oppressive system via revolution.
So for example, if there is a minority group that is suffering oppression, such as a higher rate of poverty, abuse, COVID deaths, unemployment, addiction, imprisonment, or anything else negative, then there must be an oppressor according to a neo-Marxist worldview.
It would be worth discussing with a neo-Marxist whether or not life is quite this simple.
But Marxism is not what’s new. The America Left and Right have always fought and disagreed. There is something new (and worse) going on here. In previous decades I watched the two sides battle it out in the field of ideas. At their best, opponents would cite facts, history, research, and employ rational discourse. But in the past decade the extreme Left has decided to go around the field of intellectual arguments and go straight to the field of subjective feelings. By assigning conservatives the worst of motives and then leveraging peer/mob pressure and emotional manipulation, the Left has enshrined itself as morally superior.
What’s new is that the Left finally has the power to do so.
Having gained control of mainstream media, the entertainment industry, academia, big tech, and mainline church denominations, the Left now has the means to dominate the societal narrative, propagating the message that to dissent from the “progressive” narrative is to take the hurtful, hateful, oppressor position. We are all now familiar with the charge that to dissent from the “progressive” narrative is to be anti-woman, anti-gay, transphobic, racist, white supremacist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, bigoted, hateful, and so on.
Here’s the thing. All of those things truly are immoral and indefensible. If that list of adjectives accurately defined conservatives, then the Left should be exposing and shaming conservatives for the evil oppressors that they are. The problem (for the Left) is that the only way to get those labels to stick to mainstream conservatives is to torture the English language, re-write history, redefine objective reality, and shut down dissent. In my opinion that is what is happening. Plenteous examples provided upon request.
Republicans, for their part have generally not responded to this like adults. Brasher elements have gone into fight mode, which doesn’t win the middle, and allows the “hater” label to stick. They’ve tried to trump the Left with Trump, placing their faith in a man who couldn’t compete in the field of factual ideas. Instead, he responded in kind, specializing in division and bombastic rhetoric, making an already terrible situation worse. I think the saber-rattling, conspiracy crap, and patriot pumping on the part of Republicans is a reaction to the Left’s strategy of unjustly framing them as the great white cause of all the world’s suffering.
Is anyone ready for something better and more honest? Is anyone tired of watching the pendulum-wrecking ball swing back and forth?
The Solution We have to talk to each other. Neither side is going to go away. Neither side is going to allow the other to force its will onto the other. Ask yourself what the outcome will be if both sides continue the strategy of “hitting back harder.”
So what is the answer? Whoever you are, right or left, if you believe you have the facts, evidence, and the truth on your side, then you have nothing to lose by seeking mutual understanding with “the other side.” In all likelihood, you will find facts, evidence, and truth on both sides. If that weren’t the case America wouldn’t be split down the middle. There are legitimate concerns on both sides of every issue.
People of radically differing worldviews will not agree on specific solutions. So then what is the point of talking? The answer is that we can at least get back to respectful disagreement as fellow human beings. Liberals need to get to know conservatives. If that sounds one-sided, that’s because it is. In my experience, conservatives generally understand liberals; we just disagree with them. We recognize that liberals believe they are acting out of a sense of compassion and social justice. But the reverse is not true. A great many liberals really do believe that conservatives are racist, anti-gay, anti-woman, xenophobic, etc.
It may be up to conservatives to take initiative in seeking mutual understanding. The end result will probably not be a changed worldview for anyone. But it is a very realistic goal that we can return to a place of respectful disagreement in political discourse if liberals can recognize that mainstream conservatives are not motivated by hate. That would be a win for everyone. We can communicate without the divisive labeling. The video will give you some ideas on how to get there.
When Donald Trump was elected to the presidency in 2016 I heard numerous accounts of people weeping, going into depression, and cutting ties with friends and family who had voted for Trump. It was during this climate that I conceived of the idea of putting on a giant community art event that would involve hundreds of people coming together to create a unified statement.
Five monumental murals later we have a new president and the nation appears to me to be more divided than ever. Furthermore, any attempts at building community are made more challenging as we can’t see each other’s faces or be in close physical proximity to one another. Both people and events are now frequently cancelled.
In past years all the mural painting has been done over a 3 day period in the midst of Loveland’s annual Valentine’s Day street festival. It’s been fun, but often chaotic and cold!
This year, though the street festival was cancelled, the city still wanted to celebrate the Valentine season by going forward with a new community mural. For subject matter in past years I had parodied a famous painting. This year the city requested that I base the mural on the US Postal Service’s new Forever Stamp.
This year the painting took place over a 3 week period inside the warmer and quieter Beet Center, the Loveland Museum-Gallery’s expanded space. In order to comply with state restrictions around COVID, we had people sign up for 20-minute increments and limit the number of people per room. While I missed the energy of the street festival, I have to admit I enjoyed the slower pace and I was actually able to enjoy extended conversations with several people.
But about this business of unifying the nation…
I’m happy to announce that everyone who participated in painting this year’s mural is now at peace with their neighbor, and has become committed to treating their political opponents with love and respect.
If only it were that easy. During an interview this year I was asked, “How have you seen art bring people together since the start of the pandemic? I replied:
Honestly, it’s been difficult bringing people together for any reason since the pandemic season started. I initially wondered if the pandemic might unite the country, but unfortunately it became politicized and has divided our nation even further. I think it’s important for human beings to continue to create, but the arts can only do so much. I think the only thing that will truly bring people together is if we as individuals do the hard work of getting to know our neighbor again, and seeking to understand those who view things differently than we do. I regularly engage in respectful dialogue with people “on the other side,” and it has been very healing. Politicians can’t fix this.
If that sounds like a buzzkill of an answer to you, I would plead to differ. I think it empowers the individual to care constructively, as opposed to hoping and waiting for politicians to get it right. We may not be like-minded in our opinions, but we can choose to be like-minded in approaching each other with understanding and respect as fellow human beings who bear the image of God.
In future posts I’ll share some of my adventures in reaching out to “the other side.” Until then, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts as to what you believe has caused the polarization in our culture. Please share in the comments below.
Do you need a gift idea for a child in your life? My newest book, The Friendly City, is designed to be a fun tool to help kids navigate a culture that has slipped its moorings. Order your copy HERE.
If you’re wondering if anything good came out of the year 2020, here’s something, (though admittedly it’s not a global event) :
I FINALLY finished my next kids’ book!
Back when I was parenting, my favorite storybooks were engaging for my kids, but also enjoyable for me to read as well (because I had to read them repeatedly!) Hopefully, The Friendly City will be that kind of storybook book for you and your little people. It’s a fun story and also visually captivating.
The Friendly City tells the story of New Burbia, a town that is home to the best and most polite drivers in the world. The New Burbians drive imaginative and fanciful cars that make everyone smile. One day a new mayor who has some well-meaning ideas is elected. Chaos ensues when he implements his new plan to remove all the road signs and traffic lights. (He reasons that the restrictive road signs are unnecessary since New Burbia is home to the best drivers in the world.) Subsequently the city becomes not-so-friendly as the formerly agreed upon rules of the road are disregarded.
In time a small community forms whose members commit to remembering and observing the old rules of the road, and to bringing kindness back to the city. Together they find joy in welcoming others, and helping to make the city a friendlier place again.
I think this is a great story for our current troubled and divided cultural climate.
The story stands alone as an engaging story for kids, even with no explanation. But since you’re all adults, I thought it might be fun to share from the Note to Parentsfrom the Author, at the back of the book:
…The Friendly City illustrates the workings of two spheres of life: that of civics and the Church.
CIVICS America’s founders envisioned a “self-governing” society. In order for such a society to work, we citizens must be people of character and, at least to some extent, be united by a common morality that transcends our subjective feelings. John Adams, America’s second president, famously stated,
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Benjamin Franklin described the path that government will inevitably take when social and sexual mores break down,
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
The removal of the street signs is a metaphor for the rejection of previously agreed upon societal mores. Adams and Franklin make a brief appearance in The Friendly City as this is happening.
THE CHURCH The Caring Drivers Group represents the Church in this story. As such, it does not seek to create a utopia in a broken society, as so many secular “isms” attempt to do. Rather, it seeks to create a life-enhancing, restorative sub-culture that is focused on loving relationship. The focus on love over rule-keeping is meant to be reminiscent of Paul’s pronouncement, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).
So there you have a preview of The Friendly City. You can order your copy, along with my other books, from my online bookstore HERE at BigPicturePublishing.
I frantically tried to get this all put together in time for folks to receive orders by Christmas, and I’m pretty sure I succeeded. I’ve got a crate of hardcover copies due to arrive in a few days. If you place your order now, there’s a high likelihood you’ll have it before Christmas. (Until I run out!)