12 Songs for Christmas: Christmas in Washington

“It’s Christmas time in Washington, and the Democrats rehearse. Getting into gear for [an upcoming] year of things not getting worse. Republicans drink whiskey neat and thank their lucky stars. [Thanks to Senate minority rule, with Wyoming voters weighing 68 times more than Californians] There’ll be no more FDRs.” So said Steve Earle, more or less, … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Christmas in Washington

The Death of My Old Hometown: Sucking Out the Wealth, Filling the Gap with Fecal Pollution

Last summer, on a road trip between Minneapolis to Kansas City, I passed through a small town in Iowa where I lived from age two to five.  Here is a picture I took. I have few personal memories of my early years, and almost all of them are filtered through home movies that I watched … Continue reading The Death of My Old Hometown: Sucking Out the Wealth, Filling the Gap with Fecal Pollution

Don’t Deem a Melting Glacier Irrelevant (Just Because the Rest of the Glacier is Still Cold and You Really Hate Cold Things)

“Many evangelicals are likely to switch their loyalties to the Democrats [in the coming election]—and the exact numbers will depend partly on whether they perceive that mainstream liberals are treating them with nuance and respect, as opposed to stereotypes and contempt.” I said that in 2008, in a context I will discuss shortly. It remains … Continue reading Don’t Deem a Melting Glacier Irrelevant (Just Because the Rest of the Glacier is Still Cold and You Really Hate Cold Things)

The “Least Resistant Personality Profile” and Factory Farms

While studying rural communities that face poverty, shocking rates of cancer, and poisoned fishing waters from industrial pollution, sociologist Arlie Hochschild learned about a disturbing money making scheme. A “waste-to-energy conversion” company wanted to build plants that burn highly toxic and noxious smelling waste—representing “locally undesirable land use.” This corporation paid half a million dollars … Continue reading The “Least Resistant Personality Profile” and Factory Farms

Terrible Jobs (With Thoughts About Race and Remembering)

My aunt Carolyn retired from a college teaching career and moved into our family’s historic farmhouse in northern Wisconsin. When the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked readers to describe “the worst jobs they ever had” for a Labor Day feature, she wrote about working at a local resort with fishing cabins, where she cleaned latrines … Continue reading Terrible Jobs (With Thoughts About Race and Remembering)

Empathy Walls: Thinking about People Who Are Oppressed But Love Trump

There isn’t much point in sending readers from this little blog to the American Academy of Religion’s review portal, Reading Religion—I wish I could send traffic the other way!—but I want to link to a review I recently published there, on Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American … Continue reading Empathy Walls: Thinking about People Who Are Oppressed But Love Trump

“Resisting,” Talking to Republicans, and Recalling Trump’s Actual Mandate—At the Same Time!

When the Mafia-backed entrepreneur and con man Donald Trump captured a majority of electoral college votes—although, of course, not the majority of actual votes, even before we inquire how the count may have been affected by “abnormal” Russian propaganda, “normal” Fox propaganda (overlapping with Russian parts), tampering with voting machines (unproven to my knowledge but … Continue reading “Resisting,” Talking to Republicans, and Recalling Trump’s Actual Mandate—At the Same Time!