The Question of Time in the Time of the Plague.

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Still from Angels in America (photo by Brinkoff Moegenburg)

 

The revival of Angels in America has received plenty of notice, this particular review from David Le is thorough, discerning, and often deeply insightful.

As a play, Angels rises above its companions in large part because it helps us grasp the latter: how political and personal disappointment lead us to despair, and how despair gives way to a kind of vertigo, as the projects that once gave our lives orientation come to naught. We are left stunned, breathless to keep up with a life that rushes on unabated. Kushner’s work grapples with the question of what is to be done — what we are to do — in the midst of our collective and individual disorientation, in the absence of progress. He conveys the constitutively human trifecta of responsibility, impotence, and blindness.

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Remember?

Jeff Munroe considers the ways of memory and forgetfulness at The Twelve. Over against our forgetfulness, is God’s remembering. As he concludes:

Our value in this hyper-cognitive world doesn’t come because we remember, but because we are remembered. Certainly we hope in a material way our families remember us as we age. More than that, Christian hope is in God’s memory. The scripture says “God remembered Noah,” “God remembered Abraham,” “God remembered Rachel,” and “God remembered Hannah.” He remembers you and me, too. We are remembered. Therefore, we are.

This leaves me wondering. To nudge Jeff, is this really Christian hope?  After all, when Scripture speaks of God remembering it often comes in response to the fear that somehow God has forgotten, that we are left alone, stuck in our exile, our oppression, or in the prison of of our own bodily weakness. Remembrance comes with an act, God delivers. Christian hope does not lie in the idea that God remembers, but that God has remembered and come to us as Savior (cf. Luke 1.54). In the wake of that, we are called to remember, to make memorial; the sign that God has remembered us is the Feast. And there, no one is forgotten.

Tomorrow Land

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It’s always hard to see the world as it actually happens, to experience in real time. Thirty years ago or so, Joel Garreau did that with Edge City. Not everything he saw about the emergent suburban culture proved accurate, but the overall picture? Yes, it gave us language to describe our time, and yet, time moves on.

Jeff Blumgart gives a solid overview of Edge City, the book the concept, the reality.

Jeff Blumgart, “Return to Edge City”, Citylab.

 

 

Dry land is a privilege

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One of the things that goes unmentioned in many discussions on race is this:  for some of us we can worry or not worry about POC, about the impact of race in our community. I can choose to pay attention or not.

I have a space where the black person is not my neighbor. In that light any talk of BIG SIN is really a talk about perfectionism, because I can escape.

But the question of race strikes me more like the biblical mire, that mix of mud and sewage. One has to escape, but it is not easy to escape, let alone to be clean. But one has to.

Berning down the house

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Bernie Sanders traveled to Mississippi to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. Along the way, he got distracted, turning his attention to the failures of the Democrats and President Obama

“The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,’ said the Vermont Senator.

“People sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But beyond that reality…”

There’s a fundamental question of (lack of ) political intelligence at work here: What we know about 2016 was that voters who voted for Obama ended up for the Orange Man.  Dissing Obama doesn’t help with that basic calculus, if anything it reveals an arrogance about the so-called progressive cause, an arrogance that is altogether too white.

Second, the Bernie comment simply feeds the separation of the progressive left — largely a suburban phenomena — and the urban communities of color. if there is one sure way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, this split is it. In Michigan in particular, the two communities need to work together to take back the key state offices, otherwise we get Gov Schuette.

Holy Saturday

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Deb Rienstra points to the physical practice of getting ready, for this time of dormancy, a non-time if you will. Along with many good liturgical ideas she suggests

If you are a gardener, today is a good day to perform an early spring task that prepares for new life.

Ah gardening

It’s certainly something of a odd paradox, that while Christ is in the tomb, buried in death, we are in the garden stripping dead leaves out, cleaning. And for what? The red knob of the rhubarb knows; the practical first tulip pokes through with a hooded glance as if to say, “soon there will be more;” overhead the robin also sings of days to come. We work through the yard, front to back, raking, scraping, removing, filling bags with the debris and old leaves. All this will be taken away, but for now we can only take off, waiting to see what will be.

Poverty Quicksand

Family formation has often been cited as a principle avenue out of poverty. A recent study from the Brookings Institution indicates that for black women, this may be an illusion, that married black women actually have a higher tendency to stay in poverty than black men, or their white peers. Rather, the path out lies with better economic outcomes for black men. The authors conclude:

This is certainly one of the most important implications of both their study and our own. Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty for black Americans requires a transformation in the economic outcomes for black men, particularly in terms of earnings. One important point here: the relationship between earnings and marriage runs in both directions. Married men tend, other things equal, to earn more: one study of identical twins suggests that being married raises earnings by one-fourth. Married men may feel more responsibility to provide economically for their families, and especially their children. Low marriage rates may therefore have some impact on earnings.

It is also clear that the vast inequalities by race cannot be alleviated by upward mobility alone. Black girls are, relatively speaking, more likely to move out of poverty in terms of their own earnings. However, we should keep in mind the sheer number of black children being raised in low-income households in the first place. Closing the race gaps in upward mobility will require wholesale shifts in economic outcomes, perhaps above all for men’s earnings.

 

 Scott Winship, Richard V. Reeves, and Katherine Guyot 
"The inheritance of black poverty: It’s all about the men". 
Brookings