Needless to say I am not driving. It is a bit ironic that I wrote an earlier entry much like this March of 2014, but I was on my way back from NYC with José, Melissa, and Jordan after seeing Stomp. Today I am going to see The Crucible. Sunday was Easter and that holiday is so different from when I was a parish pastor. Easter might be the most attended service of the year for many churches and it was the finale of a very long week in terms of number of services and energy needed to manage the week. I have to admit there are things I miss and things I do not when it comes to that week. This Easter I had 10 people for dinner (including myself) and spent significant time making paella and a variety of other things for Easter dinner. It turned out pretty well and I worked to accommodate palates and preferences. I have learned that it is pretty easy to be flexible.
By the end of the day I was tired, but content. What I have noticed is that I have begun to be in bed (with relative frequency) by 9:30 or even earlier. I will almost always wake up at some point, often around 2:00-3:00 in the morning, and I am up for some time reading, but I usually go back to sleep. . . . When I was in Ireland a couple weeks ago, I became aware of the approaching Centenntial Celebration of the Easter Uprising. It was hard to not want to be in Iteland to see how they would commemorate this. There were a number of posters and other placards noting a variety of events. For those who are unfamiliar, this uprising is really the beginning of Irish Indepedence. I did not realize that such a significant event was so close to my visit. Ireland is an amazing country. The beauty of its land land and the warmth of its people are hard to describe because of the depth and degree of its reality. The accent is sort of the icing on this emerald cake. I could listen to their speaking everyday and not grow tired of it. I’ll tell us (please re-read the previous lines in your best imagined accent.). Since coming back, not a day has passed that I have not thought of the scant or brief 5 days I was there in Corcaigh. I am wondering how such a significant holiday as Easter, as both religion and independence, would change my perception of that holiday. I was also shocked that Ireland as a Republic was so young (there was the mistaken perception because we were considering a Eurpoean country, independence was something more from the Middle Ages. Perhaps it was because Scotland is such a different situation.
As I moved into Monday, the reality of the week ahead and the fact that the semester is rapidly drawing to a close sort of slapped me square along side my head, much like a sixth grade teacher did to me when I failed to listen to her instructions once upon a time in my life. Today, the teacher would have been in trouble. Back then it was me who was in trouble and any call to a teacher would have been to confirm my impetulance. Things have certainly changed in terms of requiring accountability. I got a phone call early Monday morning and the mother of a college classmate (a bit broadly speaking) passed unexpectedly. What I have been reminded of yet again is the giftedness of the days we are granted. In part because we know not how long we have, but more importantly because we are given so many opportunities to make a difference, but we seldom notice or take the time to do so. While the interaction had been merely beating on each other in Trivia Crack, connecting the dots in the 30 years since Dana has been an unexpected gift. The opportunity to have students attend another performance On/Off Broadway is always a great experience. The students yesterday were mostly honors students, and not surprisingly were attentive, inquisitive, and thoughtful. Seeing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible was quite a remarkable afternoon. The entire Puritan/witch-hunt craziness amazes me, but more importantly it causes be great pause. Stunning how the perception of a few powerful males could turn an entire social order upside down, demonizing women because of ignorance and an unbelievably skewed scriptural hermeneutic. What is more frightening is we have not learned much in 350 years. Arguments made this week by the person, whose name will not be spoken, concerning abortion and a woman’s right to privacy are simply shocking. It is because of the money that gives license to speak such absurdity? Is it because the media continues to salivate, like Pavlak’s dog, waiting for the next profoundly stupid utterance, reporting it wide and far and thereby keeping this imbecile on the front page? While I am probably as aware of the comparisons as some, and perhaps more deeply connected to those comparisons than most, how did the German people react to the vilification of anyone whom Hitler deemed unworthy of being part of his Aryan clan?
When I was in Poland in January, and particularly when we visited the Jewish Quarters or Ghettos, or while standing in the midst of Nazi flags in Schindler’s factory, or even a second spine tingling visit to Auschwitz, it is hard to fathom how the rhetoric used by the Third Reich was so unparalleled in its persuasion. Yet, I listen to what I find to be tremendously vulgar, horrifyingly stupid, and simply bizarre and yet tens of thousands flock to listen, and are seemingly bewitched to blindly strike out in violence and hate. I am sorry, but what is happening is more than anger. I believe, as a white Midwestern male that too much of this reaction is an attempt to return us to a pre-women vote, pre-civil rights era of Good Ol’ Boy political corruption. These battles were fought and significant progress was made when I was in elementary school. Are we, after a mere half century, willing to undo the progress made? Mob mentality vilified the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. A lot of that vilification came from the political power of the time. I too see more parallels in Donald Trump and his goons and the fools who seem to see him as the current Aryan savior. It frightens me beyond anything I have witnessed in my sexteganarian-aged existence. I am hoping that as the seemingly unequalled string of vitriol continues to fall out of his Editwild-haired head, all of the people maligned will gather to prove that we do not have to be a people who are coerced by the lowest common denominator of our humanity.
Today, two years ago, Jennifer, my niece, was visiting and presenting to my classes. About three years ago, Dan Riordan, my mentor and friend, was here to evaluate a program. Last year, I had just come back from visiting my best friend in life for one last time and I remember speaking with two people in Tampa about ALS treatment. Unfortunately, Peter did not live much longer. Facebook’s offering that allows us to look back at what was happening provides an opportunity to see a continuum of events that, when viewed together, create a rather unique, but enormously instructive sense of what we have been doing. It is striking how these kairotic snapshots can provide such a clear block or two of our quilted existence. So today, for those of you who read my blog with any regularity will not be shock that I am flying once again. Right now I am between Detroit and Des Moines (not trying for aliteration, but it is there) at probably 32,000 ft. Going to a funeral where I will see some people I have not seen in 30 years, half my life ago. Perhaps life is not as disjointed as I thought.
Thank you as always for reading.
Michael (aka Dr. Martin)