Skeptical Perspectives on Kavanaugh

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 12, 2018: Protesters showed up at Senator Diane Feinstein’s District Office to protest nomination Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice.

As I write this, Brett Kavanaugh is undergoing ongoing scrutiny for alleged sexual offenses committed against multiple women in his high school and college years. People have lined up along partisan lines for him and against him. Predictable and disappointing – as always.

I fear that that the allegations are true, and we will trample over them insensitively in the rush to achieve political outcomes, both sides using them against the other. I fear that the allegations are false, and we will destroy the name and reputation of a good man and the integrity of our democratic system in the political crossfire.

Due process is intended to prevent hangings, real or political, and to provide a fair, orderly and just way to get to the bottom of factual disputes so that the truth will win out. But that doesn’t always happen. Due process outside of a court of law is more like the wild west, and sometimes the court system doesn’t even get it right. Doe process, even when done right, doesn’t always uncover the real truth.

As the Kavanaugh fiasco teeters and totters forward, Bill Cosby was sentenced for the sexual crimes he committed in 2004. Ironic isn’t it? It’s still hard to accept the verdict that Bill Cosby is a sexual predator.

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School Shootings: Seeking the Why

Depositphotos ID: 87889252 Copyright: creatista (editorial use only)

Another school shooting has occurred, this time in Maryland at the Great Mills High School. (See the CNN report: Armed student dead after he shoots 2 others at Maryland high school, sheriff says). Some people will herald this incident as a vindication of gun rights because the shooter was taken down by an armed resource officer in the school. I will leave that debate to others. I want to focus on why school shootings are happening in the first place.

Yes, we can say school shootings are happening because of guns, but guns are not the whole story. Guns are not the root cause. Guns have been ubiquitously part of the fabric of American life going back to the Revolutionary War and before. Guns were accessible in our country throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s, but there was never an indiscriminate, mass school shooting until 1966 when an engineering student holed up in a tower in Austin, TX and began shooting at passersby on the campus below.

Within months a copycat shooting took place in Mesa, AZ by another individual who spoke about inspiration from the Austin shooter and a serial killer. (See A Brief History of Indiscriminate School Shootings in the US) Copycat inspiration is a likely source of motivation for indiscriminate, mass school shootings, but copycat inspiration doesn’t explain why. Why would anyone be inspired to emulate such an example as a school shooting?

Regardless of whatever we decide as a society to do about guns, we need to ask why!

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The Woody Allen Factor

CANNES, FRANCE- MAY 15 : Director Woody Allen attends the ‘Irrational Man’ photo-call during the 68th Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2015 in Cannes, France. Photography ID: 80414958 Copyright: arp (editorial use only)

An article in the Chicago Tribune, ‘I am ashamed I did this’: Stars reflect on — and rethink — working with Woody Allen, got me thinking about some things I have been chewing on but have been too reticent to explore publicly. Woody Allen, of course, has been the subject of rumors and outright allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior, but he has skated past these allegations like a Teflon President. It seems obvious, doesn’t it, that these allegations should be revisited in light of the recent trend in exposing sexual abuse that have been long hidden in the shadows?

Indeed, the article linked above suggests that time has come. Or should come. But what has taken so long? That seems to be the question of the day as these allegations come tumbling out from all corners.

Woody Allen is famous for his neurotic humor that permeates his acting and directing. He has long been a Hollywood insider, an icon over which the industry has gushed for decades for his innovative, creative and unique style. I never liked it and have never understood the infatuation people have with Woody Allen, and that may color my view of him. More on that later.

Woody Allen is also famous for his marriages to Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow and another, more unusual relationship. Woody Allen began a dating relationship with Soon-Yi Previn while he was also dating her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow. Woody Allen characterized the relationship as a “fling” that turned into more than a fling. (See Woody Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi is creepier than you could imagine)

Previn was 21 when they started their “fling” and Woody Allen was 56. That makes him 35 years her senior for those who are mathematically challenged. (I had to do the math.) They were 26 and 61 when they married in 1997. Allen started the fling when he was already dating Previn’s mother, and the “fling” started with a father/daughter-like relationship!

Woody Allen claims the relationship “worked” because “I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal.” (See the NPR interview in 2015.)

Let the sink in.

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Harvey Weinstein in the Whirlwind

Theatre Photography ID: 151700458 Copyright: SharpShooter

The Harvey Weinstein gale has caused a firestorm on the scale of the natural disasters in California, Montana and Canada, except this is no natural disaster. It is far worse. The dirty little secret is out, but how in the world did this monstrous tornado remain a secret so long?

We get angry with the perpetrators, as we should. We get angry with a culture in which men are emboldened to exploit women and in which those dirty little secrets can be kept dirty little secrets. But there is far more about which we should be angry.

There is a huge disconnect. We cry out for justice when we hear about sexual exploitation and abuse. We rightly condemned it, and we rightly condemn the perpetrators of it, but we have a culture that feeds it. We are the culture that feeds it, because “sex sells”, and we are buying it. We have created a culture that feeds the fire of monsters like Harvey Weinstein.

Our culture is saturated with sex. Continue reading

The Power and Influence of Example

Depositphotos Image ID: 51153561 Copyright: Kruchenkova

We tend to become like the people we choose to associate with. Paul was peaking of this tendency when he warned the Corinthians: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) But it works in reverse as well, and the influence of example is nowhere more important than with leadership.

So Jesus taught that the greatest leader among us is the one who becomes the servant of all. He said, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26) If our leaders were our greatest servants, imagine what their followers would be like?

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Whose Side Are We on?

depositphoto Image ID: 12096314 Copyright: ZouZou

depositphoto Image ID: 12096314 Copyright: ZouZou

I saw this posted on Facebook:

Apartheid was legal,

The Holocaust was legal,

Slavery was legal,

Colonialism was legal.

Legality is a matter of power, not justice.

I am not sure of the point of this meme, but it got me thinking. For one thing, power and injustice don’t always go together, but there is certainly a strong correlation between the powerful and injustice to the powerless.

In that context, think about these words from the most famous sermon given by Jesus:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[1]

Jesus was not talking to the powerful in this sermon. He was preaching good news to the poor.[2] He wasn’t urging the poor, the downcast, the meek to rise up and riot or challenge the power of the powerful. He was telling them they were blessed, for great is their reward in heaven!

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