What's Tony Thinking

At the Week’s End, April 12


Bird Notes: There’s lot of activity with two kinds of birds here in San Miguel these days.

First off, there’s a “Great Egret” rookery (nesting site) near us. The big Egrets are pretty amazing. They look as if they are doing ballet in the trees. How the eggs stay in the the nest on a windy day is beyond me. (Photo by Linda Robinson).

The other species that is quite active now are “Snow Birds.” Lots of people who winter in San Miguel are flying back north now. I said goodbye to half-dozen people last Sunday at church. Same the week before.

It’s the Human Story and It Ain’t Pretty. This year we worked through the Passion Story in the Gospel of John, where John pulls no punches in showing the religious authorities/ institutions circling the wagons to protect their own power and self-interest, then moving to blame (and kill) their victim.

In an interview with Russell Moore of Christianity Today, Nancy French describes the exact same dynamic in religious institutions today when faced with their own failures, in particular, sexual abuse of women and children. When asked what she’s learned covering high-profile instances of abuse in church and religious settings, French said:

“I’ve never really seen an institution with whom I’ve been connected respond correctly. I think what happens is these institutions were created for God’s glory in various ways, and then they exchange that purpose for risk aversion [and] brand management.”

” . . . that is idolatry, and idolatry is all throughout the Bible. And when you read about idols in the Old Testament, they frequently demand sacrifice, including women and children. And I think that’s what’s happening now, with all of these organizations. They’re completely fine [with] sacrificing the lives and well-being emotionally of women and children just to survive and it’s quite shocking and it’s horrific.” Nor is it new.

E Tu NPR? The award winning journalist and 25 year veteran of NPR (National Public Radio), Uri Berliner, published an article this week at The Free Press on how NPR had lost the thread — and the public’s trust. Here are a couple excerpts:

Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal. By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal.We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals.

An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.

One more bit that rings true with me, an NPR listener who listens less to NPR than I used to:

There’s an unspoken consensus about the stories we should pursue and how they should be framed. It’s frictionless—one story after another about instances of supposed racism, transphobia, signs of the climate apocalypse, Israel doing something bad, and the dire threat of Republican policies. It’s almost like an assembly line.

The Simple Truth Simply and Beautifully Stated. At Richard Beck’s blog, “Experimental Theology,” he shares a story from the Bible-study he leads at a prison in Texas.

I was recently reminded of an exchange out at the prison that I shared here a few years ago. In our study we were in Mark discussing the healing of Jairus’ daughter.

Casey, one of the inmates, was sharing his observations, and while he was talking he said this:

“Jesus has this effect on dead people.”

Casey was connecting the raising of Jairus’ daughter with the healing of the woman with the issue of blood (which occurs in the midst of the story). Both women are dead, one physically, the other socially and ritually. Jesus comes into contact with each woman, bringing both to life.

As I noted when I first shared this story, Casey’s observation startled me. Stopped me dead in my tracks with its simplicity and truth. So many of us have been brought to life, because Jesus has this effect on dead people.

Sunsets in San Miguel are often magnificent. Here’s another photo of Linda’s of a recent sunset. Our time here is drawing to end. Just over two weeks to go.

At present we are enjoying the visit of our longtime friends, John and Patty Rose.

This Sunday our book group will be discussing Lydia Dugdale’s book, “The Lost Art of Dying,” the next to last in our series on aging and mortality. A great book. Check it out.

Hope you have a lovely weekend wherever you may be. Tony






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