Thursday, October 11, 2007


Well, so much for painting today. Or even posting the life drawing exercises from tuesday, or even the little pencil sketch I did after breakfast at La Madeleine with a long-time friend.

Laundry beckoned and sorting and picking up in preparation for brunch here on Sunday. (It's a good thing I entertain once in a while; I might never clean otherwise.) Still have vaccuming and dusting to do, as well as food planning and shopping, and writing a little talk for the gathering. (We're going to talk about I. Yalom's Four Harsh Facts of Life.)

The 9 (!) hours spent trying to get a word document divvied up into an online e-mail template flew by, but left me frustrated, as my newsletter still isn't ready to send. Fortunately the "help" crew is on Eastern time, so I can get up early and call them... and still send it tomorrow. It is about Christopher Columbus (on the real alleged anniversary of his landfall in the Western hemisphere... as opposed to the second Monday in October) and his grit and tenaciousness. Unlike some who are wrong and stubborn, he admitted (most) of his miscalculations. His gubernatorial style was lackluster enough that King Ferdinand jailed him and reneged on his contract, but there were Columbus descendants who kept filing lawsuits for 300 years. I hope they got something for their trouble. (The main gist of the newsletter is about how to cope when you feel overwhelmed, beaten down and beaten down again. Email me if you'd like to be on "the list.")

More heartening was a quote that came to me after the announcement of Doris Lessing's Noble prize:

I'm always astounded at the way we automatically look at what divides and separates us. We never look at what people have in common. If you see it, black and white people, both sides look to see the differences, they don't look at what they have together. Men and women, and old and young, and so on. And this is a disease of the mind, the way I see it. Because in actual fact, men and women have much more in common than they are separated.
Interview with Dwight Garner, "A Notorious Life," (November 11,

All political movements are like this — we are in the right, everyone else is in the wrong. The people on our own side who disagree with us are heretics, and they start becoming enemies. With it comes an absolute conviction of your own moral superiority. There's oversimplification in everything, and a terror of flexibility.

Interview with Dwight Garner, "A Notorious Life," (November 11, 1997)

Which brings me to the other event that made me happy last night.

Jon Stewart talking with Lynne Cheney.

As one blog reported: "Lynne Cheney went to pimp her latest book (no Western lesbian scenes, sorry, folks) on The Daily Show. True to his distaste for the vitriol that passes for news discourse on most American stations, Jon kept it civil, but made his points, albeit while admitting that it was both uncomfortable and unfair to hold the wife responsible for actions of the husband. "

Exactly.Stewart did not gush or fawn or grovel or yield to Ms. Cheney. Granted, she had talking points, but Stewart out maneuvered her and asked about her take on "family values," war, and her husband's reputation as a sort of Darth Vader. Steart's ability to be polite and firm is a rare example we all could learn from.

There is no need to attack individual people just because there is a difference of opinion. In fact, refraining from ad hominem attacks allows for a small but real possibility that understanding, mutual understanding and even peace might break out.

On the other hand Media Matters reports:

During the October 8 edition of CNBC's The
Big Idea, host Donny Deutsch asked right-wing pundit
Ann Coulter: "If you had your way ... and your dreams, which are genuine, came true ... what would this country look
like?" Coulter responded, "It would look like New York City during the
[2004] Republican National Convention. In fact, that's what I think heaven
is going to look like." She described the convention as follows: "People
were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America."

Deutsch then asked, "It would be better if we were all Christian?" to which Coulter responded, "Yes." Later in the discussion, Deutsch said to her: "[Y]ou said we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians," and Coulter again replied, "Yes." When pressed by Deutsch regarding whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want
Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is. We
believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. (sic) You have
to obey laws."

After a commercial break, Deutsch said that "Ann said she wanted to explain her last comment," and asked her, "So you don't think that was offensive?" Coulter responded: "No. I'm sorry. It is not intended to be. I don't think you should take it that way, but that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews. We believe the Old Testament. As you know from the Old Testament, God was constantly getting fed up with humans
for not being able to live up to all the laws. What Christians believe -- this is just a statement of what the New Testament is -- is that that's why Christ came and died for our sins. Christians believe the Old Testament. You don't believe our testament." Coulter later said: "We consider ourselves perfected Christians. For me to say that for you to become a Christian is to become a perfected Christian is not offensive at all."

Media Matters included this differing view:

If you were listening to NPR on October 4 there was a report on Morning Edition about evangelical Christian support for Israel. Gershom Gorenberg, an author and associate scholar at Boston University's Center for Millennial Studies, as saying that many evangelical Christians want Jews to convert to Christianity. "That vision is one in which the Jews eventually disappear," Gorenberg said. "And if you say that at the end of days, in a perfected world there aren't going to be any more Jews, what you're saying is that right now, you don't accept the legitimacy of Judaism."

Reminds me of Mommie, Dearest: "We love you so much, we want you to disappear."

Tomorrow: The vacuum and some paint.


Holly said...

Wow, what a jam packed with goodness post. I'm impressed and thanks for all the great food for thought. Let me just say that I have such respect for Jon Stewart. He is funny and intelligent and so very good at what he does. The Lynn Cheney interview was testament to his skill and restraint. He rocks!

phthaloblu said...

This was a great post! You hit the nail on the head about all the divisiveness and separatism. I call it the football game syndrome. Nobody wants to lose or back the losing candidate. I don't regard voting for the leader of my country as a football game. I vote for the person whose beliefs parallel my own and that way I can sleep at night. Jon Stewart is a libertarian and as such actually LISTENS and gives his guests a chance to speak. So little of that goes on on other shows. People need to remember that just because you don't agree with someone's opinion, doesn't mean you can't learn something from them. I think the media has been working to make this split happen. I can't watch news shows anymore because of the yelling and interrupting and general rudeness that has become the norm. I love the Daily Show because it shows you have to be able to laugh at this stuff or you'll become a wrinkled, bad-tasting, bitter prune! LOL! Thanks for the good stuff!