Wishes that 2022 will bring you peace, joy, contentment, good health, inspiration, and love,
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
I've been rather down in the dumps lately. More than that, perhaps, even in what might be labeled depression. The state of our nation and the division in our society has affected me as nothing else has since the days of the Viet Nam war and I spent my free time away from classes working with organizations to muster together marches and demonstrations. And at least then I was leading with hope. I'm not even sure I have that now. I have spent uncounted hours reading and watching lots of films - and many of them have been first rate. But, I've been in no mood to write reviews or rave rhapsodic over entertainment. I'll get back to it soon. I need to take a breather from this gloom and doom I've allowed to wash over me. However, this week's message from my newest BFF (who I have never actually met 😉) sums up my current disposition perfectly.
A reader from Australia texted me last night. He’d been watching the news and said he wanted to check on me.
We’re heartbroken to hear what’s going on there. he wrote. Is it really as bad as it looks?
Another sweet friend from England messaged me this morning, with similar concern for me and for our nation based on what she’s been reading and seeing in the media.
Over the past few months I’ve had many kind-hearted people from all over the world make similar inquiries about America, asking if it is as dire and alarming up close as it appears from a distance.
Yes, it is.
In fact, it’s far worse here on the ground, because all the ugliness you can see from thousands of miles away (outside of a few politician’s faces) is probably still rather abstract—a largely undefinable, faceless wave of malice and bigotry, something to be analyzed and studied later.
But here on the ground this malignant sickness has a face, one that is far too familiar:
It’s the face of family members whose newly revealed racism is regularly leveling us around the dinner table.
It’s the face of former church friends, who have completely abandoned the Jesus they claim faith in and chosen the vilest of idols.
It’s the face of once pleasant neighbors who casually regurgitate extremist propaganda in sidewalk conversations.
It’s the face of childhood friends spewing anti-immigrant filth on their social media profiles.
It’s the face of storeowners and hair stylists and restaurant workers, the interactions with whom, have become walks through minefields.
So yes, it’s the staggering cruelty of those holding the power here—but just as much it’s the people we know and live alongside who are so gladly empowering them.
Yes, it’s the complete bastardization of the rule of law and the systems of protections our forebears put in place to avoid putting our nation in such peril—but it’s our coworkers and uncles and classmates who don’t seem to give a damn about that.
Yes, it’s one political party’s sociopathic lack of empathy and their unrepentant viciousness—but it’s the people we’ve shared Thanksgiving dinner with and served on mission trips alongside, who share their venom and boost their signal.
Yes, it’s Republican politicians’ incessant attacks on LGBTQ people and immigrants and Muslims and the sick and the vulnerable—but it’s the once kind-hearted people we love, who have been so poisoned by partisan talking points and perverted Christian theology that they celebrate all of it.
That’s why this is all so bad.
We’re certainly losing the big things here: the integrity of our elections, the stability of our Republic, the faith in our systems, the illusion that our Republican leaders will put anything over power and party.
But we’re losing much more than that.
We’re losing the soft places we called home: our families and our churches and our circle of friends.
We are swiftly and almost hourly seeing the relational fractures that may have always been there beneath the surface, but are now visible and cavernous.
We’re trying to decide whether to fight for relationships we’ve spent our lives nurturing, or whether we need to severe those connections in the name of self-preservation.
These things will never make the news or make a global impact—but they are rocking our personal worlds to the bedrock.
So we’re marching and protesting and working and resisting in the face of this monumental and historically malevolent national political cancer—and while we’re doing that, we’re also trying to preserve our families and our friendships and our workplaces, which are also hanging by a thread.
This is a Constitutional crisis and it’s a family emergency.
We’re wondering what happened to our nation—and to people we once loved and respected; to our parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, and best friends.
Yes, our Democracy is in peril, but our most treasured relationships with people are in tatters too.
We are trying to salvage both and it’s exhausting.
So yes, friends around the world, thank you for caring about us in America.
It is as bad as it looks from where you’re standing.
But it’s far worse, too.
By John Pavlovitz
Thanks for stopping by Enchanted Revelries.
I hope you'll return and I'll be more in the holiday spirit! Have a wonderful weekend.
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
I’m Not Saying Conservative Christianity is Anti-Jesus. Jesus is.
The steady stream of vitriol I receive from professed Christians who identify as MAGA or QAnon or Republican is completely understandable.
As they fire-off threatening texts, furiously tap out expletive-laden emails, and break into violent, performative histrionics on social media, I genuinely feel for them. They’re often getting some really bad second-hand news from me that blows up the story they’ve spent a long time telling themselves and depend on to validate and to justify them.
They’re coming face to face with the sobering reality that they are antithetical to Jesus.
Worse than that, they aren’t hearing that news from me—they’re hearing it from Jesus.
There are few things that confound and infuriate Conservative Christians quite like the simple, clear, unadorned words of Jesus as documented in the Bible they so loudly and frequently claim to love, believe in, and live by. It’s almost miraculous:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
When you’re part of an antagonistic movement built almost exclusively on a self-righteous battle posture: on a theology and politics that require an enemy, an adversary, an encroaching danger, a culture war foe to be defeated—the idea of being a peacemaker really pisses you off. MAGAs don’t like peace. They refuse to coexist with it. They cannot abide it. It’s not a compatible idea.
Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Matthew 25:45
The poor, the outcast, the hurting, the hungry, the homeless, the lonely. Jesus said he literally inhabits the most vulnerable among us, and that the way we treat them is the way we treat Jesus himself. That’s a really disturbing reality, when you spend so much of your time denying people healthcare and cutting social programs and assault voting rights and legislatively attacking people for their sexuality or their nation of origin or their pigmentation. The news that according to Jesus, you devote a great deal of your life treating Jesus like garbage—tends not to be received too well.
For God so loved the world… John 3:16
The world. God loves the world. That includes the planet, the climate around it, the resources within it, the disparate humanity and expansive life upon it. No America First. No “Go back where you came from” nationalistic bluster. No, “Don’t Tread on Me” middle-finger defiance. If you so love the world as God does, you fight for diversity, you welcome immigrants and foreigners, you demand environmental responsibility, you want more people to have voices, not fewer. When America becomes your world—you’re opposing God.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Matthew 26:52
That’s the part of the oft-quoted story that gun-loving Christians never want to read: the part where Jesus reprimands his disciple who uses a weapon to defend him, reminding him and those listening, that his people will not be a people of retributive violence, that they will be those who shun force and turn the other cheek and resist harming others and de-escalate conflict. That is a really hard truth for the NRA, God and Guns, Come and Take It crowd, who really want Jesus to be cool with their instigating, posturing bloodlust—and who have to hear straight from Jesus that he isn’t.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
Loving your neighbor. Jesus says unequivocally that this is the priority and the point, and the way we show our love for God: the way we treat other human beings. When Conservative Christians realize that this includes their Muslim neighbor, their transgender neighbor, their Jewish neighbor, their Liberal neighbor, their uninsured neighbor, their undocumented neighbor, their black neighbor—they usually don’t react very well. When you aren’t able or willing to practically or tangibly extend love to such a vast portion of your neighbors in any meaningful way, that is a difficult theological pill to swallow.
Honestly, I empathize with people who want to be both Christian and MAGA, who think they can be devoted to Jesus and to Donald Trump simultaneously, who labor under the false assumption that their bastardized, territorial, self-centered white nationalist GOP version of Christianity is remotely of God.
And I know that the actual words of Jesus are the most triggering of any they could be faced with, and so the venom these generate aren’t surprising and neither is their scalding rage toward those of us who regularly share those words with them.
MAGA friends, I’m not saying this white Republican theocracy built on power, exclusion, and subjugation that you’re tethered to is anti-Jesus.
Jesus is saying that.
I know you really want to shoot the messenger.
That’s been going on for two-thousand years.
By John Pavlovitz
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North
Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry,
John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and
outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more
compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family,
exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.
The Day Fascism Wins In America
Months from now, when you realize that the terrible things you always dismissed as virtual impossibilities have actually come to pass, how will you feel?
When it becomes sickeningly clear that January 6th, 2021 was not a final and resounding defeat of this malignant ugliness but merely a postponement of its eventual victory, what will run through your mind?
Will you regret not taking it all more seriously?
Will you grieve the loss of the nation you dreamed we could have been?
Will your heart break for your children and grandchildren and for the terrifying future they will now inherit?
Will you lament your silence, your inaction, all the times you abstained from the fight because you were too tired or too lazy—or simply because you never imagined this was even a remote possibility?
Will you desperately pray to rewind the world and have one more chance to do and say and give all that you did not before fascism won?
It will all be somewhat irrelevant, because on the day fascism does win you will have far fewer choices than you do right now. Your voice and your vote and your options will no longer mean what they mean as you read this.
Our Democracy is not guaranteed, our Republic not ensured to survive, the freedoms and systems that we always saw as a given are no longer fixed promises. The sobering truth, regardless of whether we want to believe it or not, is that we are perilously close to losing many of the elemental liberties we assumed could never be taken away.
The good news is that we are not quite yet there.
Fascism has not yet fully won, which means we do not have to grieve all that we did not do or say or give, if we do and say and give it now, if we use today wisely.
We still have this sacred and urgent present moment to engage in the fight and to sacrifice what we can and to leave no work undone—and to call upon our better angels to show up and spend themselves on behalf of the America we wish to see and the future we dream of leaving for those who will follow behind us.
America, we are a hair’s breadth from authoritarianism; from a conservative white theocracy at the hands of a small minority of the absolute worst human beings among us. We are at the precipice of forced submission at the hands of people who fully despise diversity and equity and empathy. This is not hyperbole or sky-is-falling histrionics, it is the sober and clear evaluation of what will be, if the kind and decent human beings of this nation choose to stay silent or procrastinate away our activism or assume that justice will prevail simply because we cannot imagine it failing.
History has shown us the cost and the consequence of good people underestimating hateful people’s capacity for inhumanity. What we have seen over the past five years should be all the evidence we need, that we cannot dismiss this viciousness or rationalize away why it cannot win, or turn away and anesthetize ourselves with social media and streaming binges and pray for the storm to spare us even though we are in its path.
On the day fascism wins here, I hope you will speak and work and fight like hell to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice. We will need the good people here more than ever, then.
But since fascism has not yet won, I hope you will martial all of your energy and the totality of your resources and every bit of passion you have for this nation, the planet, for the people you love, and for those you will never know but care deeply about—and you will empty yourself to make sure that fascism does not win.
Don’t fall asleep.
Don’t turn away.
Don’t let someone else fight for you.
Don’t assume decency’s victory.
Don’t pray, wish, or hope that fascism does not win.
Make sure it doesn’t.
It’s all in your hands.
by John PavlovitzA Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.
What an astonishing book. I started to read it thinking it was going to
be a murder mystery with an historical setting. What a surprise to
discover that it takes place in mid-19th century London, and the
characters are the reknowned Pre-Raphaelite artists Louis Frost, John
Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti and others. And that the principal
character was none other than Elizabeth Siddal, the Pre-Raphaelite
artist who is best remembered today as the model for the very famous
Millais painting of Ophelia drowning in the pond with all the flowers
I found it fascinating that this book - obviously well researched - took these people and completely fictionalized a story around them. Nothing taking place during the time period in the novel is factual. In fact, the novel would lead one to believe that Ms. Siddal was the wife of Louis Frost, when in real life she was actually married to Rosetti.
London itself is a major character in this book - and the events that took place in it. Especially events such as The Great Exhibition of 1851 (the precursor of The World's Fairs) and the venerated Royal Academy curated yearly "On the Line" exhibits by the finest artists in the nation, both of which play large roles in this novel. The author does a marvelous job of bringing the images and sounds and smells of the city fully to life. It's very easy to feel yourself living in the world of the novel while reading it...a special gift to me, as a reader! And she doesn't shy from making the squalid and brutal as tactile as the lush, beautiful and splendid. It was all part of that world and all part of this story.
Courtesy of Jeanie at The Marmelade Gypsy blog, who recommended them, I spent an enchanting weekend in Venice. I didn't get to fly over to Italy (darn it), but I read two terrific novels over the weekend by Donna Leon which take place in Italy. This is the post in which she discusses them.
The Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries are a series about a police detective in Venice and his astute ability to ferret out the evil-doers in that marvelous city. He has a splendid bevy of of cohorts in both the assistant policemen in the constabulary and his family which he heads with his wife, a socially conscious lady of independent means. Another major character in these books - at least the two I read - is the city itself. And Ms. Leon does a splendid job of dredging up all my fond memories of Venice from my college 3-month stay there as an exchange student. She has a way of bringing the unique way of traversing the city (you have two choices - get a boat or walk) fully to life. I was also amused that Commissario Brunetti started his day out with cappuccino and brioche from a sidewalk cafe/bakery every morning; that was just exactly how I started my mornings 50 years ago! Neither of these books took place during the magical event of Carnivale. I was fortunate to have spent my college time there during Carnivale, and I have since returned on holiday for Carnivale. I am hoping that one (or more) of these stories takes place during that fantastic and exotic time; I'm getting the entire boxed set, so I'll know by the end of the year!
The mysteries themselves I found intriguing and original. It was a fluke that the two I picked up happened to have the same sort of theme about them: the murders involved socio/ecological interests. I've read some of the other descriptions of the books and they're filled with more lurid subjects (greed, adultery, sex, dysfunctional families, etc. 😂). I really was rather surprised by the guilty parties - and the standard murder mystery 'chase' scenes in both books were raised a notch with the necessary addition of the Venice canals and boats and unique street layout.
The writing is sharp and clever. The characters are honest and sincere, but they also often have a touch of cynicism and dry humor that livens them up and makes them very urban and real.
These are fun - and quick - reads - and I thank Jeanie for the recommendation. I look forward to more.
Right now I'm in the midst of a most strange and unusual and rather wonderful book, The Perfume Thief, by Timothy Schaffert. I'll let you know about it next week!
Thanks for stopping by Enchanted Revelries. I hope you found something you think would be a good read for you! Be sure to stop by Beverly's Pink Saturday Blog Hop to see what other choice morsels are being offered ... and you might like to check out whatever is new over at Jeanie's Marmelade Gypsy blog!
... now go make something beautiful!
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
All you regular readers know that I periodically - well, three or four times a year - will share a post from John Pavlovitz' Stuff That Needs To Be Said blog. This is one that I feel not only needs to be said, but is said extremely well...
When Your Personal Freedom is Killing People
Freedom is an unearned privilege—and you have it.
If you were born here in America you inherited it.
It came with your breath and your birth certificate.
That freedom actually wasn’t free though—it was quite costly and someone prepaid it on your behalf.
You never met them and you’ll likely never know their names.
They paid for your freedom in filthy, putrid trenches decades ago and half a world away.
They paid it on blackened beachfronts littered with the blood and body parts of strangers.
They paid it cold and alone on frozen countrysides, in places their bodies still remain.
Others paid in churches in Birmingham and on campus squares in Ohio and in streets of Chicago.
Generations of Americans sacrificed family and future and body and breath, so that you could be pulled from the birth canal nestled in the warm embrace of the easy liberty you’ve come to believe you deserve.
Which makes it all the more tragic and shameful how little regard you have for that freedom now, how much you’re squandering it over and over because you’ve decided the simplest of requests are too much for you to bear and constitute an assault on your personal liberty:
Putting a tiny piece of cloth over your nose and mouth while you’re at the grocery store.
Getting a free vaccine that has been carefully researched by people qualified for this very work.
What a stupid, selfish waste of the freedom people paid so dearly for.
What a brazen middle finger to those who gave everything.
What a squandering of the gift that is this nation you claim to so love.
Your courageous, selfless forbears were asked to fight and die on foreign soil in order to save other American lives—and they did.
They braved bombs and bullets to perpetuate this place where liberty resides and you were generously handed.
In times of war, people here went without for years in cause of the soldiers who were preserving the democracy we were born into.
Activists here gave up security and safety for your right to vote and marry and to live unfettered by tyranny.
Today, you’re being asked to simply make the smallest effort to accomplish the same noble task and you can’t manage that. You are interpreting your temporary, tiny, fleeting inconvenience as perpetual and inhumane persecution—that’s how soft and sad we’ve become, how small our battles now are, what we see as worthy causes.
That’s the way freedom works, though. No one gets to tell you how to wield it or what merits your indignation or what is worth your outrage.
But from where I’m standing, you’re making a mockery of the lives of Americans, who in trenches and on beachfronts and countrysides and churches and campuses and street corners, spilled blood and lost limbs and sacrificed life on your behalf. You’re showing stratospheric disregard for other human beings who share this place with you, all in the name of not wanting to be told what to do.
That’s the thing about the “personal freedom” you seem to be missing: it was never supposed to be just about you. It wasn’t purely about independence, it was about interdependence: about loving our neighbor as ourselves, about being our brother’s and sister’s keeper, about caring for one another because we’re all in this together. That’s what the anthems declare and the statues proclaim and the songs ring out.
You’re being asked to wear a mask and get vaccinated, not just for you, but for other Americans:
so that vulnerable people aren’t exposed to a virus their bodies likely cannot overcome.
so that already exhausted healthcare workers will not be overwhelmed by a continual flood of sick people.
so that thousands of unprotected children don’t get sick and disrupt the school year and kill their teachers and bring home a deadly virus to their families.
so that we aren’t hit with another tidal wave of sickness and death that we will be unable to come back from.
But if you feel like that’s asking too much of you, go ahead and scream and complain and protest and threaten and beat your chest like you are defending liberty: that’s what someone sacrificed so you could do.
I’m just not sure your politics and your preferences are hills worth them dying on.
I think you may be wasting your personal freedom.
I think it’s getting people killed.
That may be a you problem.
-- by John Pavlovitz
Just something for you to think about - and perhaps also share with others, if you're so inclined.
...now go make something beautiful!
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
As most everybody who has read my post with any regularity knows, I always credit people whenever it's appropriate. I started blogging almost 20 years ago, and it's just second nature to me.
Today, after almost 3,000 posts, I neglected to do so. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.
Well. Although I usually only receive about 5 or 6 comments on each post, my inbox was FILLED with comments from people letting me know that I hadn't given credit to the original author. And these were not pleasant informative posts; not every single one was nasty - but over half were ugly hateful snide and vicious.
I got so upset (and, admittedly, angry) at the tone of many of these messages (think bitter, lonely, disillusioned, and chip on the shoulder abandoned wives), I just deleted the entire post. I wish they weren't cowards and identify themselves so I could do something that would really make them vent their spleens - like maybe tipping over an outhouse on their front lawn.
So, no post this week.
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
Halfway through a marathon of Ann-Margret movies, I realized she must have worn pink more times on screen than any other actress! I figured she needed some representation on this week's Pink Saturday post!
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
Pink Saturday with a cuppa and a good book! And here are this week's reads in a capsule ... it's been a very good week for choosing books!
I was totally intrigued and engrossed in this triple-era mystery. First
we have the Cadences: wealthy early century bank owners and manor house
owners who have a lot of secrets and skeletons and emotional baggage and
pitfalls. Next we meet the depression-era children, Ella, Victoria and
Clem. They are friends who also have secrets even at their tender age,
and one which they will carry to the end of their lives. And, finally,
we meet Amy - Ella's grown grandaughter - and Jan, Amy's boyfriend.
Although the story travels the world, it centers on The Poisoned Village. The Poisoned Village is Priors Bramley, a village shut off in the 1950s so that the area could be used for chemical weapons-testing during the Cold War. When the village was evacuated and the razor wire and signs surrounded it, a long history of dark secrets was also closed off to the outside world. Now, sixty years later, the village has been declared safe again. And there are people who want the ugly secrets kept hidden in Priors Bramley forever - and there are some who are searching out answers which promise to stir the secrets to the surface.
If you are up for a neo gothic thriller this one should be next on your list! I do wish Hitchcock were still around to film this story ... he might even surpass Vertigo with this material!
and speaking of Vertigo! ...
I can't believe I'm giving this 4 stars. I mean, honestly, this is not
great American theatre repertoire material. Nobody is ever going to
mistake it for a play written by Tennessee Williams or Eugene O'Neill or
Arthur Miller or Edward Albee.
But, it is the laugh out loud, knee-slapping, funniest play I have ever read. I used to think the funniest play ever was Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet. Nope. This is it. Not only funny - but has the most outrageous and mind-blowing twist ending ever. It's not a mystery - but this ending is right up there with the Agatha Christie oh-I-don't-believe-it final curtain!
If you get a chance, read this play. It will only take you about an hour or so to read it. And trust me. I dare you to read the paper bag scene and PICTURE IT in action and not howl with laughter!
This book has a terrific 'hook'...it reads as if written in real time.
It's not - just as films that are supposedly in real time (I'm thinking
Run, Lola Run, Rope, 12 Angry Men, Phone Booth, Dog Day Afternoon
), there are times when there is a quick shift forward which is
almost unnoticeable. But, the intent to present as real time is there -
and it certainly reads that way. It's clever and well-done.
A woman's infant has been kidnapped and she has been given very specific instructions on what is required to get the child returned to her. She and her best friend spend a terrified time trying to, not only follow the demands exactly, but also, determine who is the criminal and why she was targeted.
I can't give any more away - it's too good to spoil the discovery on your own. This was a fast read; not because it's short or simplistic but because it's genuinely suspenseful and tense and I tended to race through it to find out what was going to happen next.
It's a good one. I've never read this author before but I'm going to search out more!
And, if you prefer lounging to sitting while reading on Pink Saturday morning or afternoon, here's a nice comfy chaise lounge that should fit the bill nicely ...
I hope you found something that sounds like a good juicy read to you ... and when you're all inspired from your reading adventures, be sure to check out the other offerings on today's Beverly's Pink Saturday Blog Hop, then go make something beautiful!
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan
Very disappointing to me. I thought this was going to be a mystery thriller. And, it sort of
is ... but it's supernatural and, basically, an excuse for chapter
after chapter of soft porn. I've never been a fan of soft porn. I have
always equated soft porn with real life sex: soft just doesn't get the
job done. Okay - too much information, I know. But, it bored me silly.
One dead ex-lover's spirit inhabits the body of a new lover and makes the life of the main character a living hell. It's a living hell for a bazillion chapters while he has supposedly mind-blowing sex.
Just not my cup of tea. If you like this kind of thing, I suppose it was bizarre enough to keep one reading. I only kept reading because I thought it was going to turn out that somebody was trying to drive the main character crazy or something. Nope. It was what it was.
As much as I disliked the book, I really disliked the publisher's advertising and found it disingenuous and misleading. And that quote from Stephen King on the cover raving about it? - how much did they pay for that?!
Something about UK (and Scandinavian) serial killers is creepier than
our American ones...or, at least the fictional ones. Perhaps I've just
read too many American serial killer novels and watched too many of our
films and television series. But, they do tend to be doggedly similar.
These Brits are really wacky and loonier tunes than I would be able to
come up with LOL.
This novel works on three levels: the serial killer (who 'steals' tattoos - especially full body ones - from his murder victims); the tattoo artist who is avoiding her exhusband, the serial killer, and might have a thing for the detective in charge of the case (even though she's a boho tattoo artist rebel and naturally anti-police); and the police detective who is a jaded, sour fellow who is still grieving his murdered wife and young daughter.
Now doesn't all that sound cheerful? This is one dark, edgy, twisty and twisted noir-ish tale.
It's terrific. I loved it. I read the whole thing in one night ... though it did take me the whole night. It's well written; tight and concise and Ms. Belsham has a knack for describing horrifying murder scenes without being graphic and downright disgusting.
And, if you're of a mind, there are some fab ideas for tattoos!