Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment


. . . and an Opportunity for Transformation

Jim Morin's "Devils' Bargain" (above), depicts House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump making a deal as they shake hands. It's a powerful political cartoon, wouldn't you say?

I'll come back to it in a moment, but first I want to explore the events and actions that inspire it by sharing the words of a writer I greatly respect and trust – my friend and fellow blogger William D. Lindsey.

William (pictured at right) recently shared via Facebook an erudite response to a February 15 Salon article by Heather Digby Parton. In this piece, Parton examines the "unhappy choice" facing congressional Republicans as they and the rest of the country watch as the Trump White House "spirals into crisis."

Writes William:

As Heather Digby Parton rightly suggests, with GOP leaders, it will be their agenda – not their country [that they'll choose]. She writes, "Allowing a president to blow up the world is a small price to pay in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy, am I right?"

With Republicans at present (and for some years now) it is all about – and only about – accountability to their corporate masters, to the 1% and their agenda of destroying government as a check on their rapacity, rolling back taxes, and robbing the rest of society to put more wealth into their already chock-full pockets.

GOP leaders showed us just how much they cared about the country through their relentless, barbaric attacks on the Obama administration for two terms, and their refusal to govern – to be ethically aware adults.

As they engaged in those attacks, they maliciously, deliberately spread lies among the stupidest and meanest segment of the population, people who have no inkling of how they are being used by the 1% as they vote repeatedly against their own economic self-interest in order to score points against the gays, women, immigrants, African Americans, liberals, intellectuals, etc. This deliberate, malicious creation of a culture of outrageous lies disguised as news has brought our democracy into crisis, and it's not apparent it can recover, now that those stupidest and meanest among us have, at the behest of the 1% put the ultimate con-artist-cum-traitor in the White House.

In exploring the dilemma that congressional Republicans are facing, Parton highlights a recent New York Times piece by Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer in which they observe the following.

[T]he Republican-controlled House and Senate seem to have made a collective decision: They will accommodate – not confront – [Trump's] conduct as long as he signs their long-stalled conservative proposals on taxes, regulations and health care into law.

“There’s a widely held view among our members that, yes, he’s going to say things on a daily basis that we’re not going to like,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking Senate Republican, “but that the broad legislative agenda and goals that we have — if we can stay focused on those and try and get that stuff enacted — those would be big wins.”

Which of course bring us back to this post's opening image – "Devils' Bargain" by political cartoonist Jim Morin, an image that serves as a profoundly troubling and tragic indictment of the state of political affairs in the United States in 2017.

And yet . . .

And yet I remain committed and hopeful.

I remain committed to carrying it on; "it" being the passionate embodiment of hope, awareness and love in a world dominated by political and economic systems that far too often heap contempt on such qualities and their embodiment by individuals and communities.

And I remain hopeful in this endeavor, this journey . . . and take heart from many sources – from the music of Buffy Sainte-Marie to my involvement in local justice and peace actions; from the creative endeavors of contemporary visual artists such as Courtney Privett to the ancient words of wisdom and beauty of those who have gone before us on the mystico-prophetic path.

Another source of hope and inspiration for me is Sikh activist and filmmaker Valarie Kaur (right) who believes that the troubling and tragic times we're living through comprise a moment to seize, an opportunity for transformation.

“What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead but a country that is waiting to be born?” Kaur asks.

Miles Kampf-Lassin believes that one month into Donald Trump’s presidency, we may well be witnessing the type of transformation envisioned by Kaur. It's a transformation writes Kampf-Lassin, that is "being made in the streets and among the grassroots of America."

I close by sharing an excerpt from Kampf-Lassin's February 17 In These Times article, "The Mass Protests of the Anti-Trump Resistance Are Starting to Win. Here’s How." May you find it as encouraging, hopeful, and energizing as I do.


The nationwide Women’s March on January 21 was likely the largest demonstration in U.S. history. Since, major cities have been overtaken by daily protests against Trump and the GOP’s agenda.

More mass marches are planned for the coming months, including a March for Science on April 22, the People’s Climate March on April 29 and an Immigrants’ March on May 6. Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, have had their phone lines, emails, offices and town hall meetings flooded by incensed constituents.

Dozens of grassroots political groups have formed, including the fast-growing Indivisible, focused on citizen lobbying of lawmakers, and Swing Left, founded to support progressive candidates running in 2018. Existing left organizations have seen their memberships swell, perhaps most remarkably the Democratic Socialists of America.

Divestment campaigns such as those targeting investors in the Dakota Access Pipeline are gaining steam, using direct economic pressure to influence policy.

Despite the lack of singular leadership, a protest movement has rapidly developed, one unseen in recent history. It’s showing no signs of slowing – and scoring real victories.

. . . [Yet] so far this new protest movement has been primarily oppositional, responding to attacks posed by the new government. Any program to win power must also set out a bold vision of a different kind of society, one focused on the needs of working people that serves as a true alternative to the type of racist and corporate-dominated agenda currently being carried out.

If we are to see a “new birth” of this country, it will require not just a common enemy, but common principles and objectives that will advance equality and freedom, guiding the current upsurge of activism from marching in the streets towards implementing progressive policy that cuts to the heart of a fundamentally unequal economic and political system.

Yet, it is becoming clear that the shock of seeing Trump elected president – and shake the foundations of our democracy – has quickly moved beyond outrage into mass, coordinated protest.

Rather than simply asking, “can he do that?” Americans are more and more starting to ask themselves, “can we do that?” This is the form of inventive thinking, awakened by resistance to a demagogic leader, that can begin to chart a new direction. The next steps are up to us.

– Miles Kampf-Lassin
Excerpted from "The Mass Protests of the
Anti-Trump Resistance Are Starting to Win. Here’s How
In These Times
February 17, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
Out of Darkness, Light – Conor Lynch (Salon, February 18, 2017).
Learning to See in the Dark Amid Catastrophe: An Interview With Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy – Dahr Jamail (TruthOut, February 13, 2017).
Ayahuasca, Meditation and Activism: On Cultivating the Mindful Politics of Love – Adam Szetela (Salon, February 18, 2017).
It’s Bad: The First Month of the Trump Presidency – Michelle Goldberg (Slate, February 17, 2017).
Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A., and the Republican's Bargain with Trump – Amy Davidson (The New Yorker, February 17, 2017).
Republicans, Where’s the Backbone? – Bill Moyers and Michael Winship (, February 20, 2017).
Beyond Cynicism: Why the GOP Made Peace with Trump – William E. Scheuerman (The Daily Beast, February 15, 2017).
Republican Congress Members Face Tide of Protest in Home Districts – Alan Yuhas (The Guardian, February 12, 2017).
Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Their Supporters: Where Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds – Allen Clifton (Forward Progressives, February 19, 2017).
This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are – Dave Johnson (People's Action Blog via Common Dreams, February 18, 2017).
Resistance Is an Act of Love – Katie Painter (Extra Newsfeed, February 14, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Carrying It On
Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action
Called to the Field of Compassion
Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention
In the Wake of Trump's "Catastrophic" Election, Phillip Clark on the Spiritual Truths That Will Carry Us Forward
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
2000+ Take to the Streets of Minneapolis to Express Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
Let's Hope So
"It Is All Connected"
Move Us, Loving God

Opening image: "Devils' Bargain" by Jim Morin.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

2000+ Take to the Streets of Minneapolis to Express Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees

Earlier today my friend Richard and I participated in a solidarity rally and march with and for immigrants and refugees.

Organized by the Twin Cities-based Anti-War Committee and co-sponsored by the No More Deportations Campaign of Minnesota, the event was very inspiring and drew over 2,000 people.

In the lead-up to the march, the Anti-War Committee shared the following via social media.

Join us to demand the end of the Trump administration's racist Muslim ban, to say 'No Wall on the US-Mexico Border,' to demand that Minneapolis and St. Paul remain 'Sanctuary Cities,' and to say 'No New U.S. Wars.' We will rally in Powderhorn Park and then march on Lake Street to send a loud message of solidarity to our immigrant sisters and brothers. We particularly want to show our support to all the families whom are affected by Trump's Muslim ban and by the increasing militarization at the US-Mexico border. . . . No Hate and No Fear! Refugees are Welcome Here!

Following is the report from Minnesota Public Radio News on this afternoon's rally and march.

Supporters of refugees and immigrants marched through Minneapolis this afternoon to protest proposals of President Trump.

The march attracted around 1,000 people, according to Minneapolis Police. It started at Powderhorn Park, and traveled along Lake Street between Chicago Avenue and Bloomington Avenue – closing the street at times, before returning to the park.

Protesters carried signs that read "Resist" and "No More Deportations," and chanted as they marched.

They protested Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico and his proposed temporary ban of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The protest went from 1 p.m. to around 3:30. Minneapolis police report they made no arrests or responded to any calls related to the protest.

Following is Miguel Otárola's Star Tribune news story on today's rally and march.

More than 2,000 people marched from Powderhorn Park along E. Lake Street in Minneapolis and back again Saturday afternoon to show support for immigrants and refugees in the face of President Donald Trump’s views and proposals.

The march, organized by the Anti-War Committee and the No More Deportations Campaign, featured speeches, chants and signs in both English and Spanish. A number of causes were represented, but the most prominent was support for refugees and immigrants.

“We’re trying to keep the pressure up,” said Misty Rowan with the Anti-War Committee. “We’re not going to let this go. We’re not going to forget.”

The group of marchers stretched at least two blocks, diverting traffic as they moved onto Lake Street, where they walked past several businesses run by immigrants. The crowd, which was peaceful and enjoying the sunny day, included many families and children, who were asked to march in front.

Sabry Wazwaz, with the Anti-War Committee, led the chants from the bed of a pickup truck, including, “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Together we stand, together we fall. Together we say, ‘No ban, no wall!’”

The march moved west on Lake Street and turned around after reaching the Midtown Global Market near Chicago Avenue. Minneapolis police helped guide the marchers and redirect traffic.

Community members, passers-by and people working in the Lake Street businesses took video of the march on their smartphones, and many chanted along in support.

Heather Cornwell, who lives in southwest Minneapolis, took her 12-year-old daughter, Wendy, to see the marchers along Lake Street. Cornwell adopted Wendy from Colombia last year, and said she wanted her to see the power of unity.

“It’s exciting to see all the voices coming together,” Cornwell said. “I want her to grow up in a country that is supportive of an immigrant culture.”

The Anti-War Committee helped organize a march on Jan. 31 that drew at least 5,000 people to downtown Minneapolis. The large numbers who came out then led the group to organize Saturday’s march, Rowan said.

“It doesn’t end with protests,” she said. “We want people to help with support work for these families that are being attacked right now.”

Last Saturday, more than 2,000 people marched from downtown Minneapolis to the University of Minnesota in another show of support for immigrants and refugees. Similar demonstrations have taken place across the country since Trump’s inauguration.

Related Off-site Links:
Up to 2,000 Join Minneapolis March to Support Immigrants and Refugees – Miguel Otárola (Star Tribune, February 18, 2017)
Supporters of Refugees and Immigrants March Through Minneapolis – Peter Cox (MPR News, February 18, 2017).
Minnesotans March Against Racist Muslim Ban and Attacks on ImmigrantsFight Back News, February 18, 2017).
Pope Francis to Activists: Stand with Migrants, Do Not Deny Climate Science, There is No Such Thing as "Islamic Terrorism" – Michael J. O'Loughlin (America, February 17, 2017).
ICE Detained Close to 700 Immigrants in a Five-Day Nationwide Raid – Jorge Rivas (Fusion, February 13, 2017).
Eight People Flee U.S. Border Patrol to Seek Asylum in Canada – Christinne Muschi (Reuters, February 18, 2017).
The Mass Protests of the Anti-Trump Resistance Are Starting to Win. Here’s How – Miles Kampf-Lassin (In These Times, February 17, 2017).

UPDATES: New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions – Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon (New York Times, February 21, 2017).
Homeland Security Unveils Sweeping Plan to Deport Undocumented Immigrants – Alan Gomez (USA Today, February 21, 2017).
Trump is Set to Introduce a New "Muslin Ban." This One is Nonsense Too – Greg Sargent (Washington Post, February 21, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Historian: Trump's Immigration Ban is a "Shock Event" Orchestrated by Steve Bannon to Destabilize and Distract
Something to Think About – January 29, 2017
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, James Martin Labels as "Appalling" President Trump's Plan to Demonize Immigrants
"It Is All Connected"
Something to Think About – January 20, 2017
Something to Think About – January 13, 2017
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World
A Prayer for Refugees

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love is My Guide

I honor my integrity and the integrity of others. I am guided by love. I allow myself to feel the love that is guiding others. Like the earth, I enjoy seasons of renewal. I forgive shortcomings and failures, arrogance and shortsightedness. I allow such human foibles to be dissolved in the graceful flow of life ongoing. Life is a river which flows through me, washing me clean of judgment, cleansing me with the waters of compassion. I allow life to be both tender and clear. I choose the longer view of wisdom over the more short-lived satisfaction of being "right."

– Julia Cameron
Excerpted from Heart Steps:
Prayers and Declarations for a Creative Life

p. 102-103

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Choice (and Risk) That is Love
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
Love as "Quest and Daring and Growth"
Quote of the Day – October 5, 2010
Getting It Right
Like a Sure Thing
The Longing for Love: God's Primal Beatitude
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
The Art of Surrender
The Gravity of Love
To Be Held and To Hold
To Know and Be Known
"I Want You to Become a Part of Me – Each to Become a Part of the Other"
In the Garden of Spirituality – James B. Nelson
Passion, Tide and Time
Quote of the Day – September 11, 2012
Love is Love
Love at Love's Brightest
What We Mean by Love

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

He Persists, Too!

Writes Mina Haq in the February 10, 2017 edition of USA Today:

Mitch McConnell had no idea that when he shut down Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren this week, his words would become a rallying cry for women everywhere.

After the Senate majority leader interrupted Warren’s recitation of Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter against Jeff Sessions, he defended himself in terms that promptly flooded social media.

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech," McConnell said. "She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

And so #ShePersisted was born.

. . . Twitter user @CourtneyPrivett incorporated the phrase into a drawing that went viral. She drew a woman facing dozens of all-too-common insults, with the words “Nevertheless, she persisted,” written and underlined at the bottom.

The image garnered more than 1,000 retweets and more than 7,000 likes on Instagram. Twitter users responded to the image with feelings of understanding, frustration and gratitude. . . . After popular demand, Privett drew a male version of the image targeting toxic masculinity.

And in sharing this "male version" of her drawing on Facebook, Courtney Privett (right) said the following.

I was asked to do a male version. My hands are shaking so my lines aren't great. Like in my #ShePersisted drawing, the comments here are said by both men and women, and many of them begin in early childhood. Also like the first one, I ran out of space.

This is for my son, who loves to dance and should never be shamed for that.

Thank you, Courtney, for both of your powerful drawings!

Related Off-site Links:
How #ShePersisted Became a Feminist Social Media Rallying Cry – Mina Haq (USA Today, February 10, 2017)
At the Women’s March, the Men Mattered, Too – Petula Dvorak (The Washington Post, January 22, 2017).
Toxic Masculinity is Killing Men: The Roots of Male Trauma – Kali Holloway (AlterNet via Salon, January 22, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – February 8, 2017
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
Integrating Cernunnos, "Archetype of Sensuality and the Instinctual World"
The Trouble with the Male Dancer
Rockin' with Maxwell
Engelbert Humperdinck: Not That Easy to Forget
A Fresh Take on Masculinity

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Aristotle Papanikolaou on How Being Religious is Like Being a Dancer

Aristotle Papanikolaou has a fascinating and insightful piece in the February 2017 issue of The Christian Century in which he writes about how he teaches theology to his undergraduate students at Fordham University.

Because of my appreciation for dance, I find the following excerpt from Papanikolaou's article of particular interest. Perhaps you will too!

I try to lead students away from overbearing überstructures designed to force people to think a certain way or think they are never doing enough. Instead, I lead them toward an understanding of being religious that has to do with formation of the person to be in a certain way – a being that is in communion with the divine. Being religious is less about agreeing to certain propositions or following certain rules, and more about transforming one’s mode of being in the world. Being religious is very much like being an artist.

Because Fordham has a special BFA program with the Alvin Ailey School, I use dance as an analogy. I ask the students whether someone who has studied dance but has never danced “knows” dance as well as someone who has trained as a dancer. They immediately and instinctively answer that the trained dancer knows more about dance. I then try to lead them to articulate what this knowing entails, if it’s not simply reading books about dance and attending performances. A dancer must submit to a regimen of training that usually begins with basic practices that must be mastered to the point where they are performed without thinking. This training is done under the tutelage of a teacher, who has been through the training. The student of dance then progresses to more advanced practices, still under the guidance of a teacher, struggling to integrate techniques of dance into their very being as a dancer.

All this training is usually done within an institutional setting, where there are clear hierarchies, boards of directors, politics, a community of dancers that don’t all like one another, dancers who are more concerned with their ego than simply dance for the sake of dance. And yet, in the midst of all this ugliness, there is a tradition of formation in dance that is passed on from generation to generation. It is time-tested, and through it one may emerge as a dancer, but it could not have been formed without institutionalization. It’s only by submitting to this tradition that one can lead oneself to a kind of performance where a dancer is not aware of the audience, is not dancing to the audience, but is dancing simply for the sake of dance. This is the kind of performance where the dancer doesn’t control the choreography; rather, the choreography and all that it attempts to express has seized the dancer. Those capable of this kind of performance are usually the saints of the tradition of dance. They don’t attempt to reify the past, but they add to the tradition while always remaining within it. This kind of performance could never be possible without submitting to the training, and it’s only through the practices of the tradition that one can hope to be this kind of dancer.

Being religious, then, is about being in a way that embodies the divine presence, and working toward being available to the divine presence in and through religious practices and tradition. Being religious is not a set of rules one must follow or a bunch of propositions to which one must assent; it is first and foremost an art form, an expression of beauty that is also truth and goodness. The rules and propositions of the tradition – and every tradition has its rules and propositions – aim at the production of the person as a work of art.

– Aristotle Papanikolaou
Excerpted from "How I Teach Theology to Undergrads"
The Christian Century
February 6, 2017

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Soul of a Dancer
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
Yes! And of "Soul Dancers" Too
The Purpose of Art
The Potential of Art and the Limits of Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
Move Us, Loving God
"Then I Shall Leap into Love . . ."
Unique . . . Yes, You!
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
We All Dance
And as We Dance . . .
"I Came Alive with Hope"

Image 1: Alexandre Riabko in John Neumeier's 2000 ballet, Nijinsky. (Photo: Holger Badekow)
Images 2-3: Craig Hall. (Photographer unknown)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Something to Think About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
Senate Republicans Silence Elizabeth Warren Over Coretta Scott King Letter on Jeff Sessions – David Smith (The Guardian, February 7, 2017).
"Nevertheless, She Persisted" Becomes New Battle Cry After McConnell Silences Elizabeth Warren – Amy B Wang (The Washington Post, February 8, 2017).
Read the Letter Coretta Scott King Wrote Opposing Sessions’ 1986 Federal Nomination and That Got Sen. Elizabeth Warren Silenced – Bill Chappell (NPR News, February 8, 2017).
"It Made Me Feel We Were Back in the 1950s": Coretta Scott King Memoirist on the Silencing of Elizabeth WarrenDemocracy Now!, February 9, 2017).
The GOP’s New War on Women: Mitch McConnell, Elizabeth Warren and the Newly Empowered Sexism of the Right – Amanda Marcotte (Salon, February 8, 2017).
 The Silencing of Coretta Scott King is an Act of Systemic Racism – Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (The Nation, February 8, 2017).
Mitch McConnell Inadvertently Coined the Latest Feminist Catchphrase: “She Persisted” – Christina Cauterucci (Slate, February 8, 2017).
Silencing Elizabeth Warren Backfires on Senate GOP – Eric Bradner (CNN, February 8, 2017).
13 Iconic Women Who Nevertheless Persisted – Jenavieve Hatch (The Huffington Post, February 7, 2017).

For previous Wild Reed posts on women who "nevertheless persist," see:
Vanessa Redgrave: Speaking Out
Glenda Jackson on the Oscars, Acting, and Politics
A Third Oscar for Glenda!
A Music Legend Visits the North Country
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
The Inspiring Brigid McDonald
The Inspirational Polly Mann Turns 90
Amy Goodman and the “Sacred Responsibility” of Listening
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Quote of the Day

What makes Milo Yiannopoulos [pictured at left] so vexing to the left and successful among young people on the right is the way he manages to utilize his “deviant” sexuality as a political asset rather than a liability. Milo’s rhetorical and aesthetic strategies are manifold: he adopts the argot of science and history in support of his claims about the supremacy of Western culture, but simultaneously asserts that we live in a “post-fact world.” He mocks the offended sensibilities of leftists who protest his campus appearances, yet uses the language of assault to characterize himself as an embattled champion. He effortlessly pivots from ridiculing his targets (fat people, Muslims, feminists) to asserting that his insults are in fact efforts to save these people from their brainwashing. If all else fails, he whips out a cock joke.

While there are parallels to be found between Milo and historical and contemporary fascist figures interested in homoeroticism, he remains singular: an ultra right-wing pundit with a high-femme persona who is nonetheless largely embraced by a political bloc synonymous with contempt for homosexuals and feminine men. Understanding the sources of his appeal is crucial to developing sophisticated insight into the way alt-right media – now the sanctioned news of the White House – uses spectacle and irony to persuade, bewitch, disrupt, and overwhelm the public.

. . . The problems of Milo’s paradoxical position – sex symbol to a political movement that alternately embraces and repudiates him – remains unresolved, and that is the way he likes it. Milo denies his membership within the alt-right, but is perhaps the movement’s most visible proponent. To maintain his celebrity, Milo has to stay outrageous, desirable, and singular. Though he sells a shirt on his web store with the line “Milo in Training,” for his magic to work there can be nobody else like him on the alt-right. Adopting an identity coherent with his political ideologies would spell the end of his career.

– Daniel Penny
Excerpted from "#Milosexual and the Aesthetics of Fascism"
Boston Review
January 24, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
Meet Milo Yiannopoulos, the Appealing Young Face of the Racist Alt-Right – Jack Hunter (The Daily Beast, May 5, 2016).
The Sad Story of Milo Yiannopoulos: The Trump Troll with Daddy Issues – James Kirchick (Tablet, June 1, 2016).
Milo Yiannopoulos and the Gay Fascist Sophisticate – Park MacDougald (New York Mag, July 21, 2016).
Openly Gay White Nationalist’s Midwest Tour Hits a Few Snags – Andy Birkey (The Column, December 5, 2016).
Everything You Need to Know About Milo and the Alt-Right in BerkeleyIt's Going Down, January 31, 2017).
A Yiannopoulos, Bannon, Trump Plot to Control American Universities? – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, February 5, 2017).
There Must Be Free Speech, Even for Milo Yiannopoulos – Matthew d'Ancona (The Guardian, February 6, 2017).

UPDATES: Larry Wilmore Schools Milo Yiannopoulos: “Go F*ck Yourself” – Marlow Stearn (The Daily Beast, February 18, 2017).
After Underage Sex Comments, Milo Yiannopoulos Loses CPAC Invite and Book Deal – Maquita Peters (NPR News, February 20, 2017).
Milo Yiannopoulos Resigns from Breitbart Amid Underage Sex Comments – Tom Kludt (CNN, February 21, 2017).
Conservatives Shocked to Discover That Milo Yiannopoulos is a Terrible Human Being – Pam Vogel (Media Matters, February 20, 2017).
Here’s What You Need to Know About the Milo Yiannopoulos-Michael Flynn Connection – Michelangelo Signorile (The Huffington Post, February 21, 2017).
Why Conservatives Fell for Milo Yiannopoulos – Matt Lewis (The Daily Beast, February 20, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
"Can the Klan!"
Reclaiming and Re-Queering Pride

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Let's Hope So . . .

Related Off-site Links:
U.S. Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Travel Ban Nationwide – Laura Yuen (MPR News, February 3, 2017).
Why Judge Robart Blocked the Muslim Ban – Mark Joseph Stern (Slate, February 4, 2017).
U.S. Customs Agents Just Gave Airlines the Green Light to Ignore Trump's "Muslim Ban" – Reuters via Mother Jones (February 3, 2017).
Ban Blocked: "No One Is Above the Law – Not Even the President" – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, February 3, 2017).
Though Blocked for Now, Trump's Unconstitutional Muslim Ban Deserves Total Destruction – Marjorie Cohn (Common Dreams, February 4, 2017).
Pence Breaks with Trump: Judge "Certainly" Has Right to Halt Travel Ban – Mallory Shelbourne (The Hill, February 5, 2017).
Trump Wants to Blame Judges for Terror Attacks – Ben Dreyfuss (Mother Jones, February 3, 2017).
The New Yorker's Next Cover Features Lady Liberty with Her Light Snuffed OutMother Jones (February 3, 2017).
 Trump Has Created a Constitutional Crisis – John Nichols (The Nation, January 31, 2017).
Donald Trump, the Anti-Constitutional Authoritarian — Liberty Lovers, Beware – Charles C.W. Cooke (National Review, December 8, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Historian: Trump's Immigration Ban is a "Shock Event" Orchestrated by Steve Bannon to Destabilize and Distract
Something to Think About – January 29, 2017
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, James Martin Labels as "Appalling" President Trump's Plan to Demonize Immigrants
"It Is All Connected"
Something to Think About – January 20, 2017
Something to Think About – January 13, 2017
Quote of the Day – January 11, 2017
Quote of the Day – December 25, 2016
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
A Prayer for Refugees
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Like a Sure Thing

I no longer wish to be loved childishly. I want to be loved with the strength and charm of maturity. I don't want to be smothered by the fear of jealousy and insecurities. I don't want a relationship based solely upon shutting the world out and locking each other in.

I want to be somewhere I can breathe. Where, even in the midst of a million people with a million heartbeats surrounding me, I can still know the sound and nod my head to the rhythm of the One I call "home."

I call you home.

I want you to be fearless with me, to grab my hand and walk through everything with me.

I don't want to be loved like every second you are scared to lose me.

I want to love you hard and rough with enough trust to fold this planet in half. I want you to trust me, and let it magnify. I want to love you in a way that will last, without the weight of the past. I want to be loved in a way that whatever we have is fated, destiny.

I want to love you like a sure thing.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"There's Light in Love, You See"
Love at Love's Brightest
What We Mean by Love
To Know and Be Known
The Art of Surrender
The Choice (and Risk) That Is Love
The Longing for Love: God's Primal Beatitude
Passion, Tide and Time
To Be Held and to Hold
Liberated to Be Together
Love as "Quest and Daring and Growth"
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
Be Just in My Heart
The Gravity of Love

Image: Subjects and photographer unknown.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Prayer for Refugees

Merciful God, we pray to you for all men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life. Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished. May we never forget them, but honor their sacrifice with deeds more than words.

We entrust to you all those who have made a treacherous journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection. In caring for them, may we seek a world where no people are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace.

Merciful God, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centeredness. Inspire us as nations, communities and individuals to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters.

May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.


Note: This prayer was written and published by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

Related Off-site Links:
Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries – Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper (The New York Times, January 27, 2017).
Trump's Immigration Ban Ban Excludes Countries with Direct Links to Terrorism and Where Trump Has Commercial HoldingsThe Real News, January 27, 2017).
Trump's Muslim Ban Triggers Chaos, Heartbreak, and Resistance – Ryan Devereaux, Murtaza Hussain and Alice Speri (The Intercept, January 29, 2017).
Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide Michael D. Shear, Nicholas Kulish and Alan Feuer (The New York Times, January 28, 2017).
Judge Halts Deportations After Protesters Swarm Airports Over Trump’s Order Barring Muslims – Robert Mackey (The Intercept, January 28, 2017).
Donald Trump, the Refugee Ban, and the Triumph of Cruelty – Dylan Matthews (Vox, January 28, 2017).
Donald Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Hours After She Refuses to Defend His Immigration Ban – Leon Neyfakh (Slate, January 30, 2017).
Trump Refugee Ban Clashes With Faith-Based Groups' Religious Missions – Tom Gjelton (NPR News, January 27, 2017).
Pope Francis: You Can’t Defend Christianity by Being “Against Refugees and Other Religions” – Catholic News Service via Catholic Herald (October 13, 2016).
Pope Francis is the Anti-Trump – James Carroll (The New Yorker, February 1, 2017).
USCCB Speaks Out Against Trump’s Immigration Orders – Mary Pezzulo (Patheos, January 25, 2017).
Responding to Trump's Ban, Top Catholic Bishops Pledge Solidarity with Muslim Refugees – Michael O'Loughlin (America, January 30, 2017).
Bishop McElroy: Trump’s Executive Order is Rooted in Xenophobia and Religious PrejudiceMillennial (January 29, 2017)
Chicago's Archbishop Calls President Trump's Immigration Order a “Dark Moment in U.S. History” – Madeline Farber (Time, January 29, 2017).
LGBT Catholics Stand with Immigrants, Refugees, Visitors from Banned Countries – DignityUSA (January 30, 2017).
Twin Cities Clergy Join Protest Against Trump Immigration Ban – Jean Hopfensperger (Star Tribune, January 30, 2017).
A Message from Archbishop Hebda Regarding President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration BanThe Progressive Catholic Voice (January 30, 2017).
550 Attend Mass Outside White House in Solidarity with Refugees – Teresa Donnellan (America, January 30, 2017).
How the Catholic Mood About the Trump Administration Shifted in Just a Week – Michael O'Loughlin (America, January 30, 2017).
Donald Trump's Gospel is Not the Gospel of Jesus – Peter Daly (National Catholic Reporter, February 2, 2017).
It’s Time We Stopped Calling Donald Trump a Christian – John Pavlovitz (, February 2, 2017).

February 2017 Updates:
U.S. Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Travel Ban Nationwide – Laura Yuen (MPR News, February 3, 2017).
U.S. Customs Agents Just Gave Airlines the Green Light to Ignore Trump's "Muslim Ban" – Reuters via Mother Jones (February 3, 2017).
Pence Breaks with Trump: Judge "Certainly" Has Right to Halt Travel Ban – Mallory Shelbourne (The Hill, February 5, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, James Martin Labels as "Appalling" President Trump's Plan to Demonize Immigrants
Something to Think About – January 29, 2017
Fasting, Praying, and Walking for Immigration Reform
May Day 2007
Reflections on Babel and the “Borders Within”
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World
Letting Them Sit By Me

Image: Asylum seekers and migrants descend from a large fishing vessel used to transport them from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. October 11, 2015. (Photo: Zalmaï for Human Rights Watch)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Vanessa!

Today is the 80th birthday of an actor, activist and all-round inspiring human being whom I've long admired – Vanessa Redgrave.

I've shared in a previous post how and why I came to appreciate and admire Vanessa. In this post I celebrate Vanessa's birthday by sharing (with added images and links) an excerpt from The Guardian's Simon Hattenstone's June 13, 2016 interview of Vanessa in which she talks about ageing, religion, human rights, and the "notorious Oscars speech that stalled her Hollywood career." Enjoy!

It’s always been the eyes with Redgrave. You can see through them into her soul. So blue, so weepy, such longing; she was born to play Chekhov. Which of course, she has done beautifully. Twenty-five years ago, she was a heartbreaking Olga (the spinster teacher who tells her youngest sister, Irina, she would have married “any man, even an old man if he had asked”) in Three Sisters, alongside her real-life younger sister, Lynn, and niece, Jemma.

Redgrave might be most garlanded for her stage work, but she also has six Oscar nominations (Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, Isadora, Mary, Queen of Scots, Julia, The Bostonians, Howards End). When she finally won an Oscar in 1978, for playing the eponymous Nazi resistance fighter in Julia, she gave the most notorious acceptance speech in the Academy’s history, thanking it for refusing “to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums”. In the previous year, she had funded a documentary in support of a Palestinian homeland. Effigies of her were burned by the Jewish Defense League, which picketed the Oscars.

Above: As Cleopatra in Tony Richardson’s modern-dress production at the Bankside Globe Playhouse in 1973.(Photograph: Michael Ward/Getty Images)

Right: As Imogen in William Gaskill’s production of Cymbeline, at Stratford in 1962.

Her politics have often attracted more headlines than her acting. She and her brother, Corin, were once leading members of the Workers Revolutionary party. In recent times, she has endured more than her share of tragedy; within the space of 14 months, she lost her oldest daughter, the actor Natasha Richardson (who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a skiing accident at the age of 45), Corin, and in May 2010, [her sister] Lynn (yet another successful Redgrave actor with two Oscar nominations).

. . . Does she still see herself as a revolutionary? “I think every artist is a revolutionary. That’s what Tennessee Williams said, and I think he put it very well.” Why? “The simple answer is you want to help change. Or before you can help change, you want to understand how can change be effected.”

Above: At a social justice rally in 2015. (Photographer unknown)

Left: In the February 15, 1967 issue of Vogue. (Photo: Bert Stern)

You seem such a strange mix of revolutionary and traditionalist, I say.

But she’s not having any of it. “It’s fair for you to say whatever you like, but I’m not going to fall in with it. These labels are so nothing to do with what’s going on today. I think every journalist would do well to drop these outworn, outlived descriptive adjectives. They do not apply to anything, in my view.”

She splutter-hacks again. I ask her if she is OK – she sounds terrible. “I think some dust has caught in my chest.” She smoked all her adult life until the heart attack last year, when she gave up. How is she coping without her cigarettes? “Surprisingly well. I do, now and then, get a withdrawal because I was a big addict.”

Redgrave is dressed in blue top, tracksuit bottoms and blue trainers. She is six foot tall, still an intimidating presence, but there is something frail about her. The heart attack took a lot out of her. Is it true that her lungs are shattered; that she only has 30% capacity? “I’ve no idea,” she says imperiously. “I’ve never said how much of my lungs have been destroyed and I’ve never been told myself, so I don’t know how you know.”

It’s been printed in the newspapers.

“And I’m saying to you, do you believe that?” (The 30% figure is a direct quote from an interview she gave to the London Evening Standard last September, five months after her heart attack.) Did she think she was going to die? “At the time? When I was in hospital I wanted to die,” she says gently. Why? “Because it was just getting too tiring.” Life or being ill?

“Trying to live was getting too tiring. I was with my daughter, and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I just think I’m going to have to give up,’ – knowing she’d be unhappy, of course. And she was wonderful.” How did Joely (yet another successful actor) encourage her to keep living? “By telling me I could. Her saying I could give up released me.”

I have never met somebody who can go from wilfully cantankerous to heartstoppingly tender so quickly; who can make me want to scream with frustration and move me to tears in the same sentence.

“I told her what I thought I had to do . . . just give up. But I had to tell her that because I guess it’s my psychology. I didn’t want to hurt her, but I knew it would hurt her.”

Left: In Tennessee Williams’s Orpheus Descending, directed by Peter Hall, at the Haymarket, London, with Jean-Marc Barr, 1989. (Photograph: Alastair Muir/Rex/Shutterstock)

I know it’s a strange question to ask a Marxist, I say, but do you have faith? She smiles, almost beatifically. “Yes, certainly I do. And the reason why I do is because I don’t consider science and religion two fixed opposites. Human beings have felt the need to explain things that they couldn’t explain, and acknowledge the existence of things they can’t explain but want to.” She is talking so slowly, so deliberately, she could be setting a dictation test.

Above: Vanessa Redgrave and her daughters Joely and Natasha Richardson on the set of Camelot (1967).

So religion and Marxism is another contradiction she is happy to embrace? “Yes, because if you’re not happy to embrace contradictions you’re not going to get very far in understanding anything.”

How does her faith express itself? “By reading, by inquiry, people I have discussions with, sometimes I go to church. It’s a Catholic church, because of the people I know.”

She says she has always had faith; always liked to go to church. As she talks, I can’t help wondering whether she wanted to die because she hoped to be reunited with loved ones that she has lost.

Before the question is out, she cuts me off. “No, don’t go there. Not at all. I just meant physically I felt I couldn’t go on trying to live. Not that life is too painful for me. Not at all. No.”

Right: As Cleopatra in Moving Theatre’s production – which she directed – of Antony and Cleopatra at the Riverside Studios, London, in 1995. (Photograph: Robbie Jack - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Over the past five years, Redgrave has done so much work – in films such as the comedy-drama Song for Marion, alongside Forest Whitaker in The Butler, with Steve Carell in the Oscar-nominated Foxcatcher, and on stage in New York alongside Jesse Eisenberg in The Revisionist and opposite James Earl Jones in the Old Vic’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Mark Rylance.

Above: Vanessa in 2007. (Photograph: Sang Tan/AP)

Does working make things easier? “Easier than what?” she snaps. Well, I say, if you have too much time to think, you can drown in grief. “Ah, well, now it seems to me that you are talking about someone who’s a workaholic, or unable to stop being an actor.”

I didn’t mean that, I say, but it’s interesting you take objection to it. “Well, I do. It’s very unlife-enhancing. Very.” But yes, she says, there have been times she has been addicted to work, just as she was to cigarettes.

“It can happen for any number of reasons,” she says. “One is called paying the rent. Or the mortgage.”

You become a slave to rent?

“No, you’re putting words into my mouth.”

And we’re off again. “I’m not putting words in your mouth,” I say.” ‘I’m asking a question.”

“You just have put words into my mouth.”

“No I haven’t. They are my words, my question. You’re very difficult to interview, aren’t you?”

“I don’t think so. I think I’m illuminating. Hahahaha!” She rocks her head back, laughing.

And she really is heaving with laughter so much that I’m now every bit as worried for this dyspeptic national treasure as I was when she was having her coughing fit. We seem to have reached a new understanding. The war is over.

Left: In The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, based on her memoir, directed by David Hare at the Booth theater, New York, in 2007. (Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe)

I’ve been watching a load of Redgrave films back to back. She started off as a sexy young thing, a symbol of the swinging 60s (in films such as Antonioni’s Blow Up and Morgan: A Suitable Case For Treatment) and gradually moved into ever more miserable territory. So often she seems to die for her politics (Julia) or be punished for her sins (Atonement and Ken Russell’s The Devils) or just be generally angst-ridden (Howards End and The Bostonians). Rarely do we see Redgrave laugh in cinema – and she’s got a lovely laugh.

You have a reputation for being serious, I say. “Well, I am a very serious person.” Has she ever felt she was too serious? “No! And I don’t care how many people in the press have said that. And there have been times when I couldn’t and didn’t laugh, but I think I’ve grown a bit stronger now.”

Has she always wanted her work to have a political purpose? “Not a political purpose. Everybody always jumps to that.” What does she mean? “Well I’ve just noticed, Simon, that people jump to political. Perhaps it’s because they’re talking to me. They know I have been very political. I am also and have been for a long time very not political. It doesn’t mean I don’t have any politics though.”

For a long time, Redgrave has said she is interested in human rights, not politics – and she does have a distinguished record as a human rights campaigner. But I’m not sure that I understand the distinction. She explains, with a devastating simplicity.

“Politics is about divisions. Wherever you come in on the subject there are divisions.” Does she regret the divisions it has caused in her life? “I can’t regret. I can only be thankful for the contribution that it made to my life.”

Is politics a negative word for her now? “It’s not a negative word, it’s negative. Period.”

Above: With Franco Nero in Joshua Logan's 1967 film Camelot.

Right: Franco and Vanessa in 2010.

In 2014 she made a documentary about Bosnian labour rights with her son Carlo Nero, whose father is Redgrave’s long-term partner, the Italian actor Franco Nero. She is now making a new film with him about refugees in Greece and Lebanon.

Human rights, she says, have always been at the heart of her life – politics just sidetracked her. She talks of Hitler’s genocide, and how Chamberlain refused visas for thousands of Jewish refugees right until the end of 1938. “I know this history like it’s my family history, though it’s not, really. But it has obsessed me, because I was a child of the Second World War and I wanted to know if what happened could happen again, how could we stop them.”

Above: Vanessa with her son Carlo in 2015.

How did she feel when she was labelled anti-semitic following The Palestinian? “That was absurd, calling me anti-semitic. Everybody has a right to think whatever they want about anybody, but since I so wasn’t and never have been, what can you do? You think, ‘OK time will pass on that one’.”

But it didn’t. In fact, it damaged her movie career just when she was set to be one of the great Hollywood stars. “Yes,” says Redgrave today, “but that’s not really important. What’s important is what’s crying out in our world for justice – the Israel-Palestine question.”

Looking back, does she wish she had been more careful with her words – that she had not said: “Zionist hoodlums”? “Oh no.” But then she stops and starts again. “Well, I mean I wish I’d written myself a better speech, but that’s not the point, either.” In the end, it comes down to one thing, she says – respect for human rights.

“I am practically at the very end of my life, so it’s a good thing I’m still worried and that I’ve not fallen back into my armchair where the old blues will get me. I’ve still got to do something to help, however tiny it is. I always think of the old Hebrew saying, which is translated roughly into: ‘He who saves one life saves the world’, because it’s pretty ghastly to think of all the people we’re not saving.”

Left: As Queen Margaret with Ralph Fiennes as Richard in Richard III at the Almeida, London, directed by Rupert Goold, in June 2016. "What a voice: low, assured, level. And utterly surprising," wrote Susannah Clapp in The Observer. "She is delivering curses that are usually roared and spat out. Redgrave drops them with deliberation as if she were merely describing the truth." (Photograph: Tristram Kenton for The Guardian)

She has to get back to rehearsals. It has been little more than an hour, but it feels as if we’ve been through a lot together. A lifetime. And that we’ve reached an understanding, of sorts. “I wasn’t looking forward to it, but thank you,” she says. “I don’t like giving interviews when I’m preparing something.”

“Oh, come off it,” I say. “You don’t like giving them, full stop.”

She smiles. “Well, I’m always hopeful, or I used to be always hopeful, that it turned out the journalist was somebody I respected.”

I tell her I’m glad she didn’t give up on life. “Thank you.” She smiles a lovely, warm smile. “Gosh, that’s really sweet of you.”

As she walks off, I ask if she lives in England all the time or part of the year in Italy. She has one last snap for old time’s sake. “In England. But I go to spend time with my husband in Italy, who you didn’t ask me about.”

I apologise, and ask her to tell me about her non-legally-binding marriage to Nero. But she’s halfway out of the door. “I won’t. Thank you, Simon, goodbye.” As she leaves, I shout after her: “Vanessa Redgrave, who is the love of your life?”

With her back to me, she shouts out: “One of the loves of my life is Franco Nero.” And the others? “My children, my relatives, my co-mates who I’m working with. Thank you very much, Simon. Goodbye. Hahaha!”

And now the formidable, forbidding Vanessa Redgrave is laughing like a schoolgirl. “That is the weirdest end to an interview I’ve ever had. Hahahahha!” And she shuts the door, and disappears.

To read Simon Hattenstone's interview with Vanessa Redgrave in its entirety, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
Vanessa Redgrave at 80: A Career on Stage – in PicturesThe Guardian (January 30, 2017).
Vanessa Redgrave Stars in Gucci Cruise 2017 – Mei Jing Goh (Elle, September 20, 2016).
79-Year-Old Vanessa Redgrave is the Face of the Coolest Fashion Brand – Kristine Solomon (Yahoo! Style, September 20, 2016).
Vanessa Redgrave Survives Severe Heart Attack Thanks to Answer Phone Message – Sarah Buchanan (Sunday Express, September 26, 2015).
The Greatest Living Actress: Author Dan Callahan on the Legacy of Vanessa Redgrave – Sheila O'Malley (, June 3, 2014).
A Review of Dan Callahan's Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave – Lloyd Rose (The Washington Post, May 24, 2014).
Vanessa Redgrave: "I Want to Give People the Jolliest Time" – Michael Billington (The Guardian, April 11, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Vanessa Redgrave: "Almost a Kind of Jungian Actress"
Vanessa Redgrave: "She Has Greatness"
Letting Them Sit By Me
Vanessa Redgrave: Speaking Out