Remembrance Day

I posted earlier about the quakes and such going on here, and it occurred to me that I really need to put things in perspective. I was talking to a couple of classmates here in Italy who are from the Ukraine, and they basically said they felt safer taking their chances with quakes than going back home to deal with war. And then I remembered my uncle’s letter about nearly being killed in a buzz-bomb attack (two months before he was killed by a German shell). Please read that letter and spare a thought for those who serve and those who served. Remember all those young men and women.

Missed Every Day

Four years ago today, my brother died. I miss him every day and while I don’t want to dwell too much on sadness, I never want to let this day go by without acknowledging what a hole his death left in my life. He was the only member of my family (of origin) with whom I spoke every single day, in some capacity. I miss those talks. I miss the intelligence and the moral compass. I was surfing his first blog (which is still online here) the other day and felt such grief. But — sappy as it sounds — he wouldn’t want that. So I will add that I was so lucky to have him as a brother and friend.

The Earth Shakes

Yes, I am close (anywhere from 55 to 100 km) to the epicentres of several “aftershocks” and/or quakes that have been happening here (central Italy). Yes, one can feel some of these events rather strongly. Yes, I am scared. However, all the locals seem convinced we aren’t in any danger here and that is what I choose to believe. (Positive thoughts, vibes and prayers are most welcome.)

Niall Ferguson: Ingredients for Populist Backlash

The brilliant historian explains that: 1) Trump is not Hitler (of course he isn’t!), and 2) Trump is not new. As Ecclesiastes tells us, there is nothing new under the sun. In fact, I vaguely remember learning about Denis Kearney when I was in high school and university, and also William Jennings Bryan (the latter far better known today than the former).

At any rate, very important to not conflate fascism with populism.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

…is fear itself. Of course, when FDR said that, there was plenty to fear. But that’s neither here nor there. His greater point was a worthy one. I thought of it while reading this nifty sermon. Have no idea what church this is — judging from a number of things, likely a hippy-dippy, new-agey, ‘inclusive’ congregation. Heck, the minister calls herself the ‘Sarcastic Lutheran.’ (My twin?) Nothing wrong with that. And nothing wrong with this message.

See, I think when God and God’s messengers say over and over be not afraid it’s because, people of God, fear just isn’t good for our hearts. If, as Paul says, Perfect love casts out fear, then perhaps we could say that fear is the enemy of love. All I know is that fear steals things – it is a thief of love, and joy and generosity for starters. Fear even takes things away while convincing us that it is actually protecting us. Fear makes me feel less safe and feeling less safe is not the same as protecting me. And fear steals these things because fear convinces us that it is more real that what is actually happening. The only time fear isn’t a liar is when you are actually about to be attacked by a bear or asked to do the chicken dance at a wedding or some other imminent threat.

Take that, fear. You have plagued me so! But I’m onto you and your ways.

September 11

There is a lot I could write about this day and what it means to me — and in coming posts I will — but right now I will leave you with a link to a column that was written only a few days after the attacks, a column that still holds up. Not surprisingly, it was written by Christopher Hitchens. How we miss him.

The link to the whole column is here — money quote below.

But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the West,” to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings–yes, even in the Pentagon.