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Lawrence Fedewa

Race in America: 2018

                                                                                       

by Lawrence J. Fedewa (May 26, 2018)

Just when white America reckoned that the election of a black President had finally signaled that racial equality in America had been achieved, it has become obvious that the distance between the races may be greater than ever, at least for large groups of both races.  There have always been two different channels of communication between the races, the “business” channel and the “personal” channel.

The business channel is used when there are people of all races present, e.g., in business settings, or in public, media, or written communications. This channel for whites traditionally ignored black sensibilities entirely. It seems justified to say that there has been improvement in this channel. As black concerns have become better known to whites, these conversations have become more “politically correct”. Certain terms, such as, “nigger”, and “whitey”, and many others are now rarely used in polite society.     Keep Reading

Response to The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson re: Jonah Goldberg’s “Suicide of the West”

[Author’s Note: This essay is not in my usual sandbox, perhaps too philosophical for some. But I just couldn’t resist!!]

By Lawrence J. Fedewa

John Daniel Davidson’s critique of Jonah Goldberg’s “Suicide of the West” (The Federalist, May 14, 2018) is as thought-provoking as the book he is analyzing. However, there is an alternative view that undermines all the theories of liberal democratic capitalism’s life support – including those of C.S. Lewis and Patrick Deneen. The basic argument of all these theories is that liberal democratic capitalism must have an anchor to maintain its connection to reality.  The anchor might be religion, science, culture, or something else. Without a viable anchor, we are faced with contemplating what a very wise colleague of mine used to say, “The Enlightenment is an interesting experiment; I wonder how it will end.”

The possibility of its death becomes more imminent, it seems, not because of its suicide or of its self-inflicted wounds. Liberal democratic capitalism needs an anchor which is recognizable by the millions of those who are living, consciously or unconsciously, under its spell, i.e. its world view. The reason the anchors of the past do not work for the people of today is that these anchors are put forth in a language that they do not understand.

The scientific patois of the Enlightenment finds it hard to understand a God who is omnipresent but invisible, just as it stumbles when confronting all the choices we must make with no clear scientifically established criteria to rely on. The fundamental dilemma of modernity is that it has produced scientific miracles by rejecting appearances in favor of tangible evidence, but, in the process, it has also eliminated certainty. Yet some level of certainty is necessary in order for us to have confidence in our life decisions. It is here that we reach the limitations of a scientific world view. The scientific method has not produced enough reliable knowledge to guide human ethics. Keep Reading

POPE FRANCIS I’s “REJOICE AND BE GLAD” — an American Catholic Response

 

By Lawrence J. Fedewa, May 12, 2018

Pope Francis I released his third papal letter on April 9, 2018. (dated March 19, 2018). Its cheerful title in English means “Rejoice and be glad”. American reactions have been mixed, more or less along predictable lines. That is, his conservative critics found his view of contemporary holiness too flexible and too elastic; and the “official” Catholics thought it was just great. This reader found it to be too long, too confusing, and, unfortunately, largely irrelevant.

This is unfortunate because religion in general and Christianity as an institution sorely needs an interpretation of its beliefs and its morality which demonstrates not only its relevance but its importance to modern life and to the unavoidable decisions we all must make.

During the early days of his papacy, Francis I appeared to many as the messenger sent from God to help us through these troubled times. His personal charisma, his humble demeanor and his wit and charm were much on display during his historic visit to the United States in 2015 and he gained a great following.

Luckily, few of those millions of admirers will read this 12,000-word exhortation, and the images he created during that visit will remain their view of him. Among the more curious followers of his papacy, however, he has become very controversial. The basis for these reactions tends to be his writings rather than his actions, such as his visits to Israel, Palestine, and many other lands. This document illustrates some of the common objections to his teachings.            Keep Reading

WAS THE CIVIL WAR A MISTAKE?

Could diplomacy have worked?

By Lawrence J. Fedewa, May 4, 2018 — The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrated his life, his death, and his legacy.  The occasion also brought to mind the strategy he embodied in his quest for equal rights, namely, non-violent civil disobedience. He became the conscience of the nation, a beacon of righteousness in the darkness of an evil stain on America’s dogma of “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. And finally, a martyr to the cause of non-violent conflict. Yet, even in death, he accomplished a volcanic shift in America’s understanding of our failings and our need to change.

The civil rights era of the 1960’s occurred 100 years after the last major civil rights conflict, the Civil War. The contrast between the two events could hardly be more profound. The most obvious difference is in the cost of the violent confrontation. It is estimated that there were 650,000 casualties between 1861 and 1865. Between 1960 and 1968 the most notable casualty was Dr. King himself.

What was accomplished?

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SUBURBAN COWBOY: Chapter Three, A Ride in Winter

In Virginia, winter is only occasionally a matter of snow.  Most of the time it is a matter of wet – rain and mud (lots of mud).  There are different kinds of rain, of course:  hard rain, drizzle, light rain, soft rain, freezing rain, sleet and rain, and cold, wind-whipped   rain, but frequent and copious rain.  Because of the wet conditions, we go horseback   riding less frequently   in the winter.  The temperatures    are typically   moderate, in the 40’s   and up.  But we don’t   ride in the   rain for enjoyment — although   horse trainers and others whose livelihood depend on their riding don’t let a little rain stop them.  It takes a lot of rain.

Thus, it was with more than usual enthusiasm that I set out that winter Sunday afternoon for what turned out to be an almost idyllic experience.  The weather had cleared, and a drying breeze was blowing.  I had promised Anya, a young woman from Germany who was visiting us that we could go on a trail ride if the weather permitted.  She was very excited and very determined, since they do not have trails in Germany like we have in Virginia.  Keep Reading

SUBURBAN COWBOY, Chapter Two: The Summer of ’95

The summer of 1995 started at Christmas, 1993. That was when my grown  daughter, Kirsten, announced she was going to learn to ride a horse, and that I was going to teach her. I learned a long time ago to do what women tell me, so I agreed to the project, thinking that it probably would never happen. But she persisted and changed my life.

I had not taught anyone how to ride since I was Riding Master at a boy’s camp during the summers I was in college. My brothers and I had been taught how to ride and how to train young horses by Jim Rooker, at that time a veterinary student at Michigan State College (East Lansing, Michigan). Jim went on to become one of the best-known Arabian breeders and trainers in the country. My Dad had, on the advice of Professor Byron Goode of Michigan State’s School of Veterinary Medicine, bought two Arabian yearlings and an older gelding named Don, who had been used to teach college students how to ride. He also set us up with Jim Rooker.

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Donald J Trump’s Big Gamble

 

Will his actions speak louder than his words?

 

by Lawrence J Fedewa, April 15, 2018

In language, style and actions, Donald J. Trump is commonly described as “a different kind of President”.  His advocates tend to believe that he is “still learning how to be a politician”. He detractors believe that he is now and ever will be an incompetent President. As the great ethicist, H. Richard Niebuhr, used to say, “People are generally correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.” In the case of Mr. Trump, it is true that he is learning, but not how to be a politician. It is true that he is not going to change, but wrong that he is incompetent.

The basic truth about Mr. Trump is that he is deal-maker. What he is learning is not how to become a politician, but how to make deals with politicians. He has publicly scorned the deal-making capabilities of politicians, but he is now in their world, so he has to learn how to make deals with them. A more conventional description of this process is “building a coalition “around each major initiative.

He has learned that the sweet spot of most politicians is their electability at the time of an election. He has already indicated that he intends to have a very active campaign schedule for the 2018 mid-term elections. To the extent that his campaigning is successful, of course, he will build political capital. The opposite is also true. Unlike most of the politicians he interacts with, his core competence is making deals rather than attracting voters. The fact that he has done as well as he has with attracting votes is a tribute to his natural charisma and his experience as a media personality rather than his political know-how.

So, what is different about a deal-maker? The script for Mr. Trump’s approach to dialog is contained in his book, The Art of the Deal.

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The God of Science

The universe pulses the greatness of God.
Utter vastness of worlds and galaxies,
space, light, time in trillions,
suns and millennia and light years
grow and pass and pray their grandeur
and the greater grandeur of their timeless time
there to God alone, playing and praying
for untold eons watched by Him alone
before man’s telescopes and missiles and rockets.
God, more baffling and astounding and vast
than they and their offspring added and multiplied.
O God of space! O Presence!

God in every ion and molecule,
surrounding its infinitesimal, streaking explosions,
planning its patterns, placing its presence
for man to find and gape in awe,
hypnotized by the science of God
unfolding the mixture of things, the folly of senses
– for a paralyzing instant – a numbing flash
of the fantastic Mastermind of the universe!

Suburban Cowboy (Chapter One)

I’m fighting rush-hour traffic in suburban Washington, D.C. on a summer Friday. It’s after 5 o’clock, and I’ve been trying since three to leave the office and go horseback riding. Now I’m working the car phone, waiting for lights, crawling along the parkway, wondering what in the world I think I’m doing. Between calls, the fatigue and frustration of a long day and a long week start to set in. I can’t say I need the exercise — compared to my push-ups, aerobics, racquetball, and occasional jogging, horseback riding seems pretty mild. So much work: grooming, saddling, longeing, schooling. So hot and sweaty. And dangerous, too. Aren’t I old enough to know better? How old do I have to get? When I finally get home, why don’t I just relax with a tall, cold drink and watch the horses from the air-conditioned house? All the
reasons.

I decide to take it one step at a time. After all, I don’t HAVE to go riding, HAVE to groom, HAVE to saddle up. I can stop at any point, right?

Thus do I cajole my tired old bones into changing my clothes and walking out to the stable, I start by looking around at everything, seeing if the workers have left any problems. This activity, of course, is a lot like the office, but the sun feels good on my back, and I notice the breeze on my face. After “fixing” a couple of little things, I decide to go the next step.

I go out to the pasture with a few treats in my pocket. All the horses notice me as soon as I get within range. It’s kind of funny to see how they arrange themselves to approach me. Maia, my beautiful grey Arabian mare, is the Queen of the little herd. She dispatches a friendly old gelding named Speedy (he isn’t) to find out if I have any treats. But before old, slow Speedy gets to me, Sir Prize, a friendly, supremely self- confident four-year-old gelding reaches me and starts begging for a treat, which, of course, he gets. By this time, Speedy has arrived, quite upset that Sir Prize got there first, but he quickly forgets his pique when he too gets a little reward. In fact, instead of reporting back to Maia, he’s hanging around.

I keep walking.

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Democratic socialism versus democratic capitalism in America

Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, entered the Democratic primaries in 2016 as an advocate of “democratic socialism”. Since then, “democratic socialism” has come to describe what is known as the left wing of the Democratic Party.

So, what is democratic socialism?

The classic definition of socialism is “a system of government in which the means of production and distribution of goods are owned, controlled or regulated by the government.”

The most radical form of socialism is communism, where all property is owned and distributed by the government. Less radical forms of socialism are seen in the governments of Western Europe, where private property is recognized but government has the responsibility of acquiring (through taxes) enough wealth to provide for physical well-being of all its citizens, however that may be interpreted at any given time.

As the demands of the population grow, so does the amount of tax revenue needed to provide for these demands. At some point, especially when unemployment is high, the taxes on the companies producing the country’s wealth get so great that those companies cannot keep up, and the entire system fails. If not stopped, people will start to go hungry, and riots will follow – as is happening in Venezuela right now. American examples of this situation are Detroit and Puerto Rico, which have taxed themselves into bankruptcy.  Keep Reading