An interesting article by an old blogging buddy. He’s working on publishing some of his fiction writing, and in the process he contemplates the problems in the publishing industry that stem back to problems in our economic system:
I’m not just writing abstract economic musings here. Though I’ve been writing fiction for more than a decade, I’m a newcomer to the writing industry. Now, looking at the business side of things, I’m realizing that the publishing industry exemplifies many of the worst features of contemporary capitalism.
The designers of the product — the writers — are not employees of the manufacturer and distributor — the publishing company. The writers aren’t even paid short-term contractors. They are speculators, doing the work on their own time without compensation.
Really interesting article on the emotional and existential evolution of atheism (and by default religion).
From the article….These are the factors that have led to a more cheery outlook for atheism:
So evolutionary psychology, peace and prosperity, the removal of a glaring embarrassment to atheism’s pretensions and the emergence of new threats that made atheism look more progressive …
One of the things that holds us back from working toward a sustainable world is that it is so much easier to use our current infrastructure than to rebuild, recreate, and reimagine. We’ve also, in America, I’m afraid, become quite unimaginative and uncreative. (The decades of television finally taking their toll?) But what happens if your Midwest town gets leveled by a tornado? Well, if you are the salt-of-the-earth folk of Greensburg, Kansas, you roll up your sleeves, spit, and rebuild a sustainable community that draws in visitors from all over the world. And you do it all without wearing tie dye t-shirts or otherwise converting to Hippiedom.
One of my own (many) gripes against capitalism is that it breeds huge mutant monopoly companies who eat their families. When big industries are deregulated, the powerful tend to use their power to squash competition, or merge with other powerful companies. They then use this new strength to squeeze out even more competition until they remain, alone, at the top of the heap. (Think about the old days when princes would murder their brothers and any other familial rival…Hey, at least they were honest.)
This sad capitalistic story keeps replaying itself in American, and if you want, you can make a bag of popcorn and watch it unfold, as mega-bucks mutant freak corporation Comcast grows bigger and bigger….But be warned, watching it unfold may require shelling out big bucks to Comcast for an internet bundle plan.
A good summary of the opposition to Keystone XL pipeline….From the video….The odds are against us. We are up against the most profitable industry in human history…..This pipeline is a foreign company pumping foreign oil through the heart of the United States, to ship away to foreign buyers….We are caretakers of creation, and there is a responsible alternative to our current dependence on fossil fuels: creating local jobs and investing in alternative, renewable energy sources.
In the last few years, come sometime in mid-winter, I’ve started feeling the itch. The urge to get back to Alaska. It’s about that time now, and the urge is stronger than ever. So, I was intrigued, of course, to come across an article in Orion Magazine (my favorite magazine of all time) on rewilding. It’s a conversation with George Monbiot, a Brit and the author of a book on how we can work to reintroduce and cultivate wild spaces. The book has already lit a fire with many readers, and it is set to be released in a few months in the U.S.
Environmentalists or no, we are all intrigued by the incredible biodiversity of the past, and the large and magnificent predators that used to roam the earth. But, you may be surprised to know that this was widespread. For example, there were once elephants, rhinos, lions, and other large and impressive species in Europe. Says Monbiot, ”Of course, in the Americas it was even more extraordinary. Read more
To confess, I’m becoming increasingly addicted to African novels, ever since Chinua Achebe’s magnificent Things Fall Apart, which is the African novel to top the canonical collection of them all. But Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible has me hooked. Kingsolver is easily one of my favorite novelists. She is a master storyteller, and in The Poisonwood Bible, she weaves the stories of four girls and a mother who are taken to the Congo, in 1959, by their Baptist preacher father, a driven, angry man intent on converting the natives to the salvation of Jesus Christ.
I’m amazed at Kingsolver’s ability to weave the stories of the family together, in the voices of each of the women of the family. The writing entertains, intrigues, then entertains some more. Then, when you are completely submerged in the narrative, Kingsolver nails you in the back of the head with a profound post-colonial insight.
We are a getting the “long rains” early here in East Africa. No worries. In some of the spots in coastal Alaska that I’ve inhabited, this kind of rain never stops. It’s kind of soothing, actually. We have power tonight, so I’ve decided to spend my Valentine’s Day evening finishing up Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless, an adventurous, idealistic, and romantic young American guy in his early twenties who dies in the Alaskan wilderness back in 1992 while attempting to survive a summer on ten pounds of rice and whatever he could hunt and forage. I’ve been reading this book a little bit at a time over the span of about four months, having found it in our Food Water Shelter library, which, though exceedingly small in our number if books is nonetheless dense with intriguing reading material.
Jesus’ “kingdom of god” (or “kingdom of heaven”) was the merger two visions: cultural change and inner transformation. The personal and the political. The prophetic imagination of Jesus was somewhat fantastical. It was an act of faith. For a person to believe that s/he can truly experience a profound transformation – faith. To believe that we can break the iron grip of power that keeps people under control, inflicting deep suffering on the earth – great faith. We know about that today as we face destruction at the hands of the powers-that-be in corporate offices and government administrations. Jesus knew a little bit about this when he faced down the Roman empire.
“The kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” – Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21
All of the old biblical prophets opposed the system of domination and oppression, some used violence, others did not. Elijah and Elisha supported the violent overthrow of Omri, offspring of the notorious Ahab and Jezebel regime, at the hand of Jehu. With the blessing of Elijah and Elisha, Jehu fired an arrow “with all his strength” into Omri’s back as he was fleeing, splitting Omri’s shoulder blades and cutting through his heart. Omri was rushed to the ER but didn’t make it.
“Birth control should be an important topic to those of us who consider ourselves pro-life because the most effective way to curb the abortion rate in this country is to make birth control more affordable and accessible…”
“….those who oppose coverage of birth control based on their religious or pro-life convictions must take into consideration the fact that lack of coverage may actually lead to more abortions. And we must remember that shrugging off birth control as something people should be able to easily pay for on their own betrays some of our own economic privilege in this conversation…”