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To the Person Sitting in Darkness

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Mark Twain – To the Person Sitting in Darkness
Servant at Ressentiment tipped me off to this haunting modern rendering of words of Mark Twain from the time of the Spanish-American war by Italian poets/filmmakers at Nuovoviautori.
Servant has here a link to the text as originally written in the New York Times of 1901 (and the NYT’s response), with more explanatory details.

Related posts: Power corrupts: Here’s its antidote
A brief history of Iran-US relations, part 1: Constitution to Khatami
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Written by Monte

May 26, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Power corrupts – here’s its antidote (sermon of May 20)

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Seventh Sunday of Easter; May 20, 2007
Acts 16:16-34 Psalm 97 Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 John 17:20-26
Music: Lord, I Lift Your Name On High; Rejoice, the Lord Is King; Crown Him with Many Crowns; Above All

Paul and Silas are still in Philippi, when things get serious:

Acts 16:16-34
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

Why? Rich guys lost an income source. … Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 21, 2007 at 6:17 pm

A Christ- worshipping agnostic

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Over at the excellent God’s Politics, Ryan Rodrick Beiler quotes recently-deceased Kurt Vonnegut who, for reasons un-explained, gave a sermon on Palm Sunday in 1980. I excerpt the excerpt, touched by his tender heart:

Kurt VonnegutI am enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount. Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far. Perhaps we will get another idea that good by and by – and then we will have two good ideas. …

I read from the Revised Standard Bible rather than the King James, because it is easier for me to understand. Also, I will argue afterward that Jesus was only joking, and it is impossible to joke in King James English. The funniest joke in the world, if told in King James English, is doomed to sound like Charlton Heston… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

April 23, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Art, Bible, Jesus, Poverty, Religion

A tale for every American

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Mark TwainKurt Vonnegut“I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate… We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to … let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way; and so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”

Sound like today’s news? In fact, it is Mark Twain, writing in 1906.

DemocracyNow, in honor of the passing of author Kurt Vonnegut, recently played a recording of Vonnegut reading Twain’s response to President Theodore Roosevelt’s congratulations to the commanding general over the 1906 massacre in the Philippines. Twain is quoted in Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

I wish every American knew the story. We consent with such naiveté when government begs to go to war. Vulnerable through ignorance, we are charmed into faith in a national goodness, then shocked when horror and folly result.

This incident burst upon the world last Friday… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

April 13, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Maher, Plame, Cheney, and Patriotism

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Every now and again, some passionate soul lobs the “America-hater” grenade my way. This leaves me amazed. I’ve always found it baffling – the idea that those of us who ask, “Why do you think so?” or “Haven’t we seen this before?” have, therewith, committed the unforgivable sin.

It was with some relief that I read Bill Maher’s words on it. Maher—often too cynical for my taste—does sometimes say things so thought-provoking that you’re left wondering, “Yeah, why is that?”  Here’s an example, taken from the Scootergate fact set. I excerpt just a bit:

Valerie Plame was the CIA’s operational officer in charge of counter-proliferation. Which means she tracked loose nukes. So, when Bush said, as he once did, that his absolute, number-one priority was preventing terrorists from getting loose nukes, okay, that’s what she worked on. That’s what she devoted her life to … Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 28, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Iraq, Politics