What's Tony Thinking

At Week’s (And Month’s) End


The Nashville school shooting broke our hearts this week. I appreciated what my friend, Jason Micheli, had to say about it as a pastor:

“A society that tolerates the ongoing slaughter of children in the name of “gun rights” is not a free society but an idolatrous one.

“Any definition of freedom at odds with the Good that is God is not freedom but slavery; in fact, the way we talk about freedom is very often the way the Bible describes Sin.”

Also heartbreaking was the fire at an immigrant detention center at the border in which 29 people died. The two — gun violence and immigration — have this in common: there are solutions to both, but politicians with blood on their hands prevent action.

Profiles in Courage. The NYT carried a very interesting article this week about a life-long liberal/ progressive who has allied with conservatives in opposition to race-based Affirmative Action. Richard D. Kahlenberg believes that class is a more important factor to be highlighted in college admissions. Whether he is right or not, it’s a gutsy stand for the Harvard grad and college prof whose lifelong hero is Robert F. Kennedy. Here are the opening paragraphs from the Times article.

“For the college class he teaches on inequality, Richard D. Kahlenberg likes to ask his students about a popular yard sign. ‘In This House We Believe: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, No Human Is Illegal, Science Is Real,’ it says.

His students usually dismiss the sign as performative. But what bothers Mr. Kahlenberg is not the virtue signaling. ‘It says nothing about class,’ he tells them. ‘Nothing about labor rights. Nothing about housing. Nothing that would actually cost upper-middle-class white liberals a dime.'”

Kahlenberg’s alliance with conservatives on this issue has cost him something — a position he has held for 24 years at the liberal Century Foundation.

Good Reads. I recently enjoyed two moving novels by the author, William Kent Krueger. I recommend both. They are This Tender Land and Ordinary Grace. The former, set in the midwest in the 1930’s and 40’s, begins at an Indian Boarding School. Ordinary Grace is set in a small town in Minnesota in the 1950’s, and Native Americans again play a part in the story.

Both books have religious resonances, more explicitly so in Ordinary Grace where the central characters are a Methodist minister and his family. This minister is an admirable human being, which is a refreshing contrast to many portrayals of clergy in literature (but who’s sensitive?)

Kreuger is also the author a a good mystery series, which features a detective named Cork O’Connor who is an Indian. The two novels I read aren’t mysteries, but each has some of the twists and turns, and surprises in their narratives that a good mystery does.

Books On My Stack. Here are some of the books that await my reading. Well, the first here I have read, but will reserve comment on it in this space until my book group meets and discusses it Sunday. It is Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmisim Hurts Us All by Michael Shellenberger. Shellenberger calls himself an “environmental humanist,” and contrasts his stance with those he considers “apocalyptic environmentalists.” More on this book next week.

Here are four more that I am just getting into: Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid: The Fraught and Fascinating Biology of Climate Change by Thor Hanson. Hanson is a PNW guy whose book is next up in our book group’s Climate Change series. 

On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in An Unapologetic World is by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg; Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes by political scientist Aurelian Craiutu; and The Great Passion: An Introduction to Karl Barth’s Theology by Eberhard Busch round out my current list.

I once heard Herbert O. Driscoll, a lovely Irish/ Canadian man and an Anglican priest, say that in his later/ retired years, he read not only for himself, but for others. In particular, he read for clergy who are often too busy to read very much. He then shared book notes, quotes and summaries for his younger colleagues. I would hope that I offer a small bit of the same for some of you.




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