For over a century, one of the most important salmon runs in the United States has had to contend with historic dams – and now four of them are set to be taken down.
On my own, I don’t know how to believe that I am a child or heir of God. It is being together in our wholeness, with the entire body of Christ, that makes it somehow easier to believe that we are beautiful. We each have our own little part of the beauty, our own gifts of the Spirit, as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul says that the particular way “the Spirit is given to each person is for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Paul’s word for this is a “charism”—a gift that is given to each person not just for themselves, but to build up the community and even society. Since we don’t have the full responsibility of putting it all together as individuals, we can shed the false theology of perfectionism. All we have to do is discover our own gift, even if it is just one thing, and use it for the good of all.
With the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that argument increasingly fed the idea that Black and Brown people were lazy and wanted to receive government handouts rather than work. Businessmen and social traditionalists eager to get rid of the popular New Deal government told voters that government programs to help ordinary Americans were “socialism,” redistributing money from hardworking white people to lazy people of color. They talked of “makers” and “takers.”To purge the nation of socialism, then, and return it to the pre–New Deal government, they set out to limit voting. In 1980, Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation that has designed much of the legislation currently being passed in Republican-dominated states, said “I don’t want everybody to vote….our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
As several reports noted, however, even though the appeals court panel was unanimous, Judge James Ho “issued a reluctant concurring opinion expressing misgivings about the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence,” The New York Times’ Adam Liptak explained. Judge Ho wrote, “Nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution establishes a right to an abortion,” adding, “Rather, what distinguishes abortion from other matters of health care policy in America — and uniquely removes abortion policy from the democratic process established by our Founders — is Supreme Court precedent.” Judge Ho went on to write that he was “deeply troubled by how the district court [Judge Reeves] handled this case. The opinion issued by the district court displays an alarming disrespect for the millions of Americans who believe that babies deserve legal protection during pregnancy as well as after birth, and that abortion is the immoral, tragic, and violent taking of innocent human life.”
Robert Leo Heilman
The first time that I heard the Tea Party anti-taxation slogan, “Taxation is tyranny,” back in 2010, my mind immediately turned to the Holodomor. Ninety years ago and half a world away, during the winter of 1931-1932, the Soviet government brought a famine to Ukraine in which it is estimated that twenty-five percent of the country’s rural population starved to death. Millions of tons of grain were confiscated and sold off to western European countries for the foreign cash that the government needed while millions of people painfully perished from governmental indifference. Tens of thousands of those who spoke out against the government’s cruelty were sent to the Siberian gulag prison camps and were never heard from again, having been worked to death as slave labor.
Gramling [Paul C. Gramling Jr] then turned his attention to the present-day controversy about Confederate monuments—to the people who are “trying to take away our symbols.” In 2019, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were nearly 2,000 Confederate monuments, place names, and other symbols in public spaces across the country. A follow-up report after last summer’s racial-justice protests found that more than 160 of those symbols had been removed or renamed in 2020.Gramling said that this was the work of “the American ISIS.” He looked delighted as the crowd murmured its affirmation. “They are nothing better than ISIS in the Middle East. They are trying to destroy history they don’t like.”I thought about friends of mine who have spent years fighting to have Confederate monuments removed. Many of them are teachers committed to showing their students that we don’t have to accept the status quo. Others are parents who don’t want their kids to grow up in a world where enslavers loom on pedestals. And many are veterans of the civil-rights movement who laid their bodies on the line, fighting against what these statues represented. None of them, I thought as I looked at the smile on Gramling’s face, is a terrorist.