What's Tony Thinking

Some Things That Spoke to Me


Happy Cinco de Mayo. In Mexico Cinco de Mayo isn’t a thing, or so I was told. It’s more of a U.S./ gringo day than it is one in Mexico. Still, enjoy your margarita! Doing a little bit of catching up with magazines and journals that piled up while in Mexico. I came across a couple of things that spoke to me:

“Our adversaries may be dangerous, but no one has the power to destroy our country more than we do ourselves.” Liat Atzili, who was held hostage in Gaza for 54 days before being released by Hamas, in The Christian Century.

“I attended a talk by writer Annie Dillard at Orchestra Hal in Chicago in 1990. Somehow, she was permitted to light a cigarette as she walked up and down the stage, talking to us. During the question-and-answer period someone asked something like, ‘You often mention God in your work. How can someone as educated and intelligent as you are be so certain God exists?’ She shrugged her shoulders, cigarette in hand, and said, ‘We’ve met.’ Then she went on the next question.”

Heidi Haverkamp, “The Wisdom of Not Knowing,” Christian Century, April 2024.

” ‘The world is all grown strange . . . How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’ In J.R.R. Tolkein’s masterpiece The Lord of the Rings, Eomer asks this question of Aragorn when they meet on the plains of Rohan, and he receives this answer: ‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear.'”

Quoted by Susan Grove Eastman in her book Oneself In Another

Novelist Lionel Shriver reviewed Frank Bruni’s new bookThe Age of Grievance in the NYT.

Shriver, who is an equal opportunity critic of the left and the right notes that while Bruni spends a lot of time on the events of January 6, 2020, he says nothing about violence in the summer of 2020. She hunches, as do I, that people on the right look at the violence then (2020) and now (on college campuses) and detect a blind spot among liberals who see on January 6. Here’s Shriver:

“Yet while Jan. 6 appears throughout, a chapter on political violence conspicuously omits that more protracted festival of grievance: the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd. The demonstrations persisted for months, and though the vast majority were peaceful, in more than 200 locations they caused extensive property damage, and led to injuries and deaths. Bruni’s selectivity displays a bizarre neglect of his natural material.”

Personal note: Lionel Shriver’s father, Don Shriver, was President of Union Theological Seminary (NYC), when I was a student there and was my thesis advisor.

I Want Jesus To Walk With Me. “When I served a church in the Bronx, I learned to love singing the African American spiritual, ‘I Want Jesus To Walk With Me.’ I do want that. When I suffer, when I hurt, when my heart is broken, I want Jesus to walk with me. But do I want to walk with Jesus? Jesus’ solidarity with my personal suffering is one thing. The present-day ramifications of his solidarity with collective, systemic suffering under the Roman Empire is something else.

“For a person of privilege, it leads to some very uncomfortable places. Yet systemic oppression is the context that produced the spiritual and that found the disciples hiding out in the Upper Room.”

Heidi Neumark, “Bearing the Scars,” in the Christian Century.

And, a new webinar starts up tomorrow evening, “Adventures with Barth” from the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast team. I’ll be part of the posse for this pod as we discuss small bites of the 20th century’s most influential theologian, Karl Barth. Up first is the “Barmen Declaration,” from 1934, by which the Confessing Church declared, Christologically, its opposition to the National Socialism, Hitler and the so-called German Christian Church, To sign up, see information posted at this site tomorrow.




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