Teetering

During this past winter, such as it was, I wrote this:

Night after night, the fog has descended over Ann Arbor. House by house, my block disappears. Droplets of water cling to cars, jackets, my skin. This is not winter weather, yet it is this winter’s weather, driven by warm, wet air, El Niño air, its grey moisture sucked into materiality by the chill of the ground. It snowed a few weeks ago. The flakes were heavy, fluffy, paradigmatic. My daughter made a giant snowman. My son wrestled in the snow with his friends. And then the weather warmed, and it was gone. None has fallen since.

Many people that I’ve spoken to around town have remarked favorably on the mild weather. “After the past two winters, we’ve earned this,” they say. Yet there is anxiety in their voices. Maybe there is even dread. This weather feels wrong, heavy not just with moisture but also with reminders of climate change, environmental degradation, accelerating extinction. It is confusing weather. It feels important and dangerous. It speaks to our times.

I returned to the draft and read it in the midst of this droughty summer. The other day, rain finally came, but only for a short time, and then the heat returned. Clouds without promise hover in the withholding sky. The air is close and thick. People talk about the drought in anxious voices. The weather is not so confusing as it was over the winter, but it feels no less important and dangerous, and it most certainly speaks to our times. Hot times. Violent times. Racist and xenophobic times. Times that teeter between progress and regress.

We are living in a tinderbox of our own making.

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Rick Santorum, aspiring theocrat

Last I checked, America was not a theocracy. Yes, America is a rather religious nation, and our money says “In God We Trust,” but I think there’s some stuff in the Constitution about the separation of church and state. Yup, I’m actually pretty darn sure about that. In fact, it’s part of the brilliance of the Constitution that the drafters of the Bill of Rights recognized that when the state is involved in religion, religious freedom suffers, so they got the state out of it and explicitly protected religious freedom.

It would be nice if Rick Santorum, Republican primary combatant, blowhard, and nut job, would read the Constitution. While he’s at it, he might want to read up on some science, history, and other useful subjects.

“Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator known for his social conservative policies, said that Obama’s agenda is ‘not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.'”

via Rick Santorum questions Obama’s Christian values – Boston.com.

Rick, it shouldn’t be about theology at all. And if it were, other people – Obama or anyone else – don’t have to share your theology. And they wouldn’t be wrong. They’d just have a different opinion.

The concept of opinion – as opposed to fact – is an important one to keep in mind as we consider these issues, because the conflation of opinion and fact appears to be rampant in Santorum. He obviously believes that his views on religion are right. Just flat out right. Not right for him. Nope. Right for all. Far right. His opinion on the matter is fact to him.

He also has claimed that birth control doesn’t work and that it harms women. What? I mean, Rick, you don’t have to use it if you and your wife don’t want to. That’s not my business – of course, the corollary to that not being my business is that my choices on the subject aren’t your business. But birth control doesn’t work? Really? And it harms women? Really? On what authority do you claim that?

Usually, enough is enough. With this guy, enough is too much.