My third read of the day is Today’s Edition Newsletter, written by California attorney Robert B. Hubbell. It’s a free email distributed by Substack. This resource was recommended by some guys in my weekly Fullness of Love group shortly after I learned of it through Morning Rounds by blogger Rita Clagett.
Hubbell’s theme is “A reflection on today’s news through the lens of hope.” He’s a tenacious attorney, passionate and partisan, though primarily focused on the US Constitution. He’s a tour de force, providing essential legal background for the day’s news. I think of him as Jamie Raskin on steroids.
Hubbell saves me an enormous amount of time by condensing important news stories with a hopeful tone. A daily dose of Richard Rohr, Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Hubbell puts my day within the context of faith, freedom and hope. Together, they help me stay oriented to life’s greatest theme: love.
Hubbell’s August 30 installment of Today’s Edition Newsletter, “A coward’s bluff” unpacks the legal issues surrounding the current investigations into Donald Trump. Hubbell referenced a new free Substack blog by Joyce Vance, Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance. Hubbell ended this edition with:
As always, we have plenty of reason to be hopeful, but no reason to be complacent.
The guys in my weekly “Fullness of Love” group kept quoting Heather Cox Richardson. I can be slow on the uptake, but when someone, or more than one, repeatedly suggests a resource, I eventually think, “I need to check out that person, website, blog, book, or periodical.”
After Richard Rohr, HCR is my second read of the day. She’s a resource that keeps me grounded in the best traditions of American democracy. Authoritarians, insurrections and wars don’t just happen. They have antecedents. Heather Cox Richardson helps me connect the dots.
Her August 27. 2022 letter began: In a speech Thursday night, President Joe Biden called out today’s MAGA Republicans for threatening “our personal rights and economic security…. They’re a threat to our very democracy.” Then, she provided a history lesson for context, a story I’d never heard, which began:
Biden’s calling out of today’s radical Republicans mirrors the moment on June 21, 1856, when Representative Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts, a member of the newly formed Republican Party, stood up in Congress to announce that northerners were willing to take to the battlefield to defend their way of life against the southerners who were trying to destroy it. …
This week, I’ll share some resources of renewal that I find life-giving. I hope they’re familiar to you, and if this blog has helped make them familiar, I’ll be very happy. We learn from each other. I chose “resource” rather than “source,” because everything I do follows prior work done by someone else.
Resource #1 is Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations, free to your inbox from the Center for Action and Contemplation. Each Sunday’s meditation sets the theme for the week. This week’s theme is “The Parables of Jesus,” and yesterday’s meditation was “The Weeds and the Wheat.” Here’s an excerpt:
Everything is a mixed bag, a combination of good and bad. … We have to … accept and forgive this mixed bag of reality in ourselves and in everybody else. If we don’t, we normally become very angry people. Our world is filled with a lot of angry people because they cannot accept their own weeds.
I saw my four college years at a state school as a gift–from parents, taxpayers and donors. Three years of seminary were made possible by donors, including a scholarship. Congregations I served during those years provided income. At my church-affiliated graduate school, tuition for the new quarter was posted at the student center for the Schools of Dentistry, Law, Medicine and Theology. The theology tuition was considerably less, which someone noted by writing on the announcement, “Jesus saves.”
Kyle Whitmire’s AL.com opinion piece (cited below) was for me further evidence that love is the energy of the universe, often expressed through our collective generosity (or willingness to pay taxes). From a faith perspective, it’s all grace. Our son, who sent me Whitmire’s article, has struggled with a disability for over a decade. He calls beneficence unmerited favor. By whatever name, it’s a gift to be graciously received and “paid forward” so others can enjoy the fruits of generosity.
Whitmire cited comments by some in Alabama’s Congressional delegation who criticized President Biden’s student loan action. Whitmire said in 1980, Alabama student tuition covered 27% of the cost of higher education. Today’s students pay over two-thirds of the cost. Tuition has risen 485%. State appropriations have risen 8%. Whitmire wrote: “Back then, you didn’t have to hope for a bailout on the backend. These guys got their subsidized schooling upfront, and they probably never even knew it.“
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offers insights into our relationship with all people. This is important in our present era, marked by division, polarization and tribalism. A deeper grasp of our relatedness is both counter-cultural and essential for a healthier planet, perhaps for our very survival.
This week, a young man from our local community was charged with illegal acts during the 1/6/21 insurrection at the US Capitol. So far, a “dozen or so” Alabamians have been charged. He reportedly served in the US Marine Corps for five years after graduating from Briarwood Christian High School.
His arrest reminded me of a comment I made as I watched the violence at the Capitol unfold. As the insurrectionists broke into the Capitol and video footage showed them ransacking Senators’ desks and chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” I was horrified and angered. But I was struck by their familiarity.
When I saw a man carrying a large Confederate flag in the Rotunda, I said, “These are my people.” They were (in my opinion) clearly misguided, but they looked like folks in the communities I served during my adult life. I’m still trying to absorb the reality that these insurrectionists came from among us. Literally.
From Teilhard’s The Human Phenomenon (p. 142): Through commerce and the transmission of ideas conductivity from one to another has been increased. Traditions have been organized. A collective memory has developed. However thin and granular this first membrane must have been, from now on the noosphere has begun to close in on itself, encircling the Earth.
The words “a collective memory” reminded me of Carl Jung’s concept of the “collective unconscious,” which was Jung believed is “inherited from the past collective experience of humanity.” He believed, for example, that archetypal images can be passed from one generation to the next just like eye color, hair color, etc. I wondered if Teilhard (1881-1955) and Jung (1875-1961) collaborated.
They never met, but I found this: Carl Jung was reading Teilhard de Chardin during the last days of his life. According to Miguiel Serrano, when he visited Jung on May 10, 1961, “On the small table beside the chair where Jung was sitting, was a book called The Human Phenomenon by Teilhard de Chardin. Serrano said Jung remarked, “It is a great book.” Jung died on June 6, 1961.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was impacted by two world wars. He was cited for bravery as a World War I stretcher-bearer in a colorful, spirited, highly-decorated North African unit of the French Army. He spent much of the World War II era working as a paleontologist in China. He was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, and he spent years dealing with church leaders who opposed much of his writing and teaching. Through it all, Teilhard developed an amazing coherence in his faith, science and philosophy.
Teilhard inspires me to ask whether my worldview and my actions reflect an inner coherence. Is there a seamless connection with all things? Is my faith consistent with my politics? Is there a “gyroscope” of common sense, or particular principles, that inform my faith and my political opinions? Has religious or political fervor created blind spots in my vision? Who helps me spot inconsistencies? Do I become defensive or am I able to change my position, or find a workable compromise?
South Carolina Republican state legislator Neil Collins told the House Judiciary Committee that he no longer supports in its present form the bill he earlier voted for after he learned that the law endangered the health of a 19-year-old. Sometimes there are unintended consequences when we act based on enthusiasm, political ideology or religious dogma. Common sense encourages coherence, connection, and consistency in our attitudes, our relationships and our actions.
Yesterday, I received an ethnicity update from Ancestry.com, showing estimated ethnicity fairly balanced between England, Northwestern Europe, Sweden & Denmark, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The Irish 15% may account for my enjoyment of Celtic music.
Elie Wiesel was once asked why he didn’t hate the SS troops that inflicted suffering on his concentration camp during World War II. He said that in synagogue he learned that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve–therefore we are all brothers and sisters.
From Teilhard’s The Human Phenonenon (pp. 151-152): It was not until well into the nineteenth century…that the light finally began to dawn, revealing the irreversible coherence of everything that exists. Showing the interlinking of life–and soon after, of matter. … That time and space are organically joined together so as to weave together the stuff of the universe.
Teilhard’s gift to us is his grasp of the universe’s coherence and humanity’s connection with the universe: Studied narrowly and apart from everything else by anthropologists and legalistic minds, the human being is a trivial, even insignificant, thing. Human individuality, too pronounced, masks the totality from our sight, so that as we consider the human our minds tend to fragment nature and to forget the depth of its connections and the boundless horizon it has…. (The Human Phenomenon, p. 6).
My friend Ernie, whose love and respect for the universe was a catalyst for these posts about transcendence, immanence, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, said this:
Once one can lift eyes away from the daily news as crafted by our news media and consider our very existence, it is such an exhilarating and glorious gift to be gifted this brief existence of sentient life, a single entity among trillions on the path of steady evolution. It’s just amazing if you stop to ponder it, really.
Here’s tomorrow’s question: Is there coherence, connection and consistency with your worldview, philosophy of life, faith, values and/or politics?
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was ordained a priest in 1911 at age 30. During World War I, he was cited for bravery as a stretcher-bearer in a combat infantry unit. He spent much of his life as a paleontologist on archaeological digs. With the heart of a poet, he wrote about the coherence of faith and science. He submitted to the authority of his Jesuit superiors and to the Vatican. He was “edgy” enough to be eventually told he could neither teach nor publish his writings.
Sarah Appleton-Weber’s “Editor-Translator’s Introduction” to The Human Phenomenon says: “The very nature of Teilhard’s book is to develop a homogeneous and coherent perspective….” Quoting Teilhard, “Truth is the total coherence of the universe in relation to each point of itself…. The truth of the human being is the truth of the universe for the human being….”
Teilhard describes the human/universe coherence: “If we are to see ourselves completely and to survive, it must be as part of humanity, with humanity as part of life, and life as part of the universe.” Teilhard helps me deal with the conflicts I experience within myself, with the stresses of family and community life, and with incoherent voices in politics, religion and international relations.