"Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him."
A Tribute to Greg Rund
Photo: ABC News
My heart goes out to the family of fallen marine Greg Rund. His story caught my eye because he was a survivor of the infamous Columbine High School massacre. He had been a freshman at the time. Yet, that's not what his family would have you remember about their son. "Greg made us so proud, but he never wanted to be recognized for his actions," said the statement from his family. "Neither Columbine nor Iraq was to define him." People who knew him best said that Greg had a "God-given gift" of being able to make people smile and laugh.
It was this depth of feeling, his pastor said, that led him to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps just a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"His passion touched his patriotism on 9/11," said the Rev. Stephen Poos-Benson at the service at Columbine United Church. "His sense of patriotism was offended. Greg felt called to respond."
Hold Rumsfeld Accountable, Regardless of Sentiment
President Bush may believe Donald Rumsfeld is a caring soul with the best heart in the world, but nothing will change the fact that a lot of our troops have died and have been maimed because of his piss-poor ideas.
“Freethinker” isn’t a very fashionable term. The adjective-noun coupling gives it a faintly archaic redolence. Susan Jacoby would like her book to inject new life into this once-venerable but now out-of-favor designation. The first two-thirds of the book is a loving treatment of an assortment of so-called secular humanists. It’s a wildly mixed bag. Jefferson takes top billing, followed by Revolutionary insurrectionist Thomas Paine, firebrand abolitionist William Garrison, emancipator-cum-cipher Abraham Lincoln, Seneca Falls planners Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the “Great Agnostic” Robert Ingersoll. Along the way, Walt Whitman, Clarence Darrow, and Margaret Sanger make brief cameos.
I live just a short drive from Seneca Falls, the home of the alleged real-life setting for "It's A Wonderful Life's" Bedford Falls. A few years ago, I attended a "gala preview" in Seneca Falls with guest speakers Ken Burns and Paul Barnes, who'd just finished preparing their PBS documentary about Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, titled "Not For Ourselves Alone". Elizabeth Cady Stanton's great-great granddaughter (in her 80's) was in attendance, and what I recall best about her was that she stood up and spoke about how much her own grey curls resembled those of her beloved Grandmother's. Having lost none of her Grandmother's determination to keep women independent and disappointed that the 19th amendment had still not come to the fruition of what she imagined her Grandmother's expectation would have been, the contemporary "Cady-Stanton" had never lost the sentiment and Christian-based spirit that tied her to her ancestor through the wisp of those sweet grey curls.
Brendan Boyle's review strikes a chord of harmonious agreement in me when he comments on the decidedly spiritual emptiness of Jacoby's "freethinker" frames:
"Jacoby is embarrassed by the faintest whiff of religion in one of her freethinkers. Susan Anthony somberly mused that, “if it be true that we die like the flower, leaving behind only the fragrance … what a delusion has the race ever been in … what a dream is the life of man.” For this weakness of will, Jacoby bumps her down one notch in the secularist standings and elevates instead Ernestine Rose, Polish emigre and hardened atheist “who unflinchingly and unfailingly rejected the idea that it was possible to communicate with spirits of the dead.” This is the lowest point of the book. To read Jacoby, we might have thought Anthony was leading a séance, conjuring up spirits from the other side. But of course she is doing nothing of the sort. Her existential sounding -- echoed by other freethinkers like Garrison, Lincoln, and Ingersoll -- is not a failure of nerve but expressions of a deeply felt human need to see purpose in the world."
Henry Ward Beecher said: "Faith is spiritualized imagination."
That leads me to a freethinking literary luminary named Anais Nin, who said:"There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do." Transcendence of thought leads to great vision. When selecting those whose thought has been truly "free", we secularists tend to idolize all we de-spiritualize and enthrone those with the steeliest assuredness that God does not come into the equation whatsoever. Oh, how I disagree. "Freethinking" has its place in the spirit as well as in the secular world and I would personally place those who, throughout the course of their lives, examine all thought - mystical and secular - as the most careful, trustworthy, humble, and completely free thinkers of all.
Let Elizabeth Cady Stanton's own words ring loud and true:
"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls."
--Elizabeth Cady Stanton
According to The Revealer, Florida State Senator Daniel Webster said last week that he is "exploring the possibility" of proposing a constitutional amendment to repeal Florida's separation of church and state. The proposal comes in the wake of a November Florida court ruling against using vouchers for religious schools, and Webster said he thought of proposing an amendment after realizing "how clear the constitution seems on the matter" of separation of church and state. The Florida A.C.L.U. translates: "'So if the constitution stands in the way of their radical agenda, don't change the radical agenda -- change the constitution.'
The writers at the Revealer say they can't stand to read yet another story about the battle for Christmas, but if we're convinced that American Christians are victims, or that Christmas is a Christian conspiracy, "here's some fuel for our indignation from The Washington Post's Alan Cooperman. Quote: "There's a push-back by many conservative Christians, perhaps emboldened by the recent election.."
Hardcore Christmas partisans will want to turn to the New York Observer's Nicholas Von Hoffman, who investigates the nasty economic roots of the "suicide season." My favorite line: "The mobs of long ago have become the agitated shoppers of today."
Here's the latest on that Clinton Curis story that you are definitely NOT hearing on CNN or MSNBC or FOX News. (This, my dear readers, is where bloggers are of the greatest service to the people of their country).
According to RAW STORY (and thanks to Brad Blog), we learn that Curtis' former employer (who allegedly asked him to create a vote-rigging prototype) has been caught in an apparent (substantial) lie about hiring an illegal alien which may be related to a case of missile technolgy-based Chinese spying. (The illegal alien had pled guilty to trying to send missile parts to Beijing).
I cannot believe this stuff is happening so far below the mainstream media's detection radar. Perhaps they are afraid to talk about it. Who knows? All I know is that I am thankful for bloggers like John Byrne and Brad Friedman.