Sneaking up on Thirty Years

1989. Thirty years ago.

I really, really have trouble accepting that thirty years have passed since Tiananmen Square, Hungary opening its border with Austria, the Berlin Wall opening, Vaclav Havel and the Czechoslovaks peacefully ousting the Communists, and the Romanians not-so-peacefully ousting Ceausescu.

I do remember being absolutely stunned and feeling the entire world reel. Because the very thought of Germany not being divided, of people able to pass easily through Berlin… It wasn’t possible. There had always been a Warsaw Pact and an Iron Curtain, and there always would be. Because that’s just how the world was. Continue reading

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High Trust Coffee

The university coffee shop sells beans, bagged snacks, and cups as well as the usual high-test brews and baked goods. When the shop closes, the displays of nibbles and cups stays out. No one messes with it, no one fingers the goods, unless it is to read the back of the bean-bag for description and then put it back. Because that’s just how it is. The student union is a high-trust environment. And no one wants to mess that up, so the students police themselves. Yes, there are cameras, and security on occasion, and it’s never smart to leave something valuable laying out to tempt the weak (or the gods of spilled liquids), but while I was there all day, no one bothered things that didn’t belong to them. Continue reading

The Sins (?) of Our Fathers

“Mark Twain was racist!”

“Robert Heinlein was sexist!”

“Jane Austin supported the patriarchy!”

“Dickens was a … he’s just boring.”

If all you read of Dickens is Bleak House or Ye Old Curiosity Shop then I’ll grant the last one. But otherwise, demands that people not read certain books because they do not meet the standards of the last five minutes serves as an example of the painful presentism of the modern censors and regulators of moral purity. Continue reading

Remembering and Forgetting

What should a people remember? What should individuals forget? What is the danger of forgetting?

The lectionary text this week was Deuteronomy 8. I freely admit, it has been a very, very long time since I read past Exodus without skipping to Joshua and Judges (typical, dodge all the world-building and background to get to the battle scenes). Continue reading

Self Defense Reading: De Becker, Miller, and Others

During winter break I caught up on some reading that I’d gotten behind on. One was Rory Miller’s Facing Violence, one was a book about avoiding social problems that I quit half-way through, and one was Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. I probably should have read de Becker first. Mostly, I read him because I was curious why so many well-intentioned people tell others not to read him because “he is triggering.” One sentence, as it turns out, is the problem. One sentence in the entire book. Now, I had other problems with him, and not that one sentence. Continue reading