Recent Reading – January 17, 2023

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Mint the Coin

The House is controlled by a bunch of sociopaths who want to burn everything to the ground.  We’re going to run up against the debt ceiling again in 2023.  As it approaches, they’re going to use the threat of default to try to extort all kinds BS.  The best suggestion for neutralizing the threat I’ve heard so far:  Mint the Coin.  The headline nails it, “The debt ceiling is an absurd problem. Only an absurd solution can save us.”

 

Thought for New Year’s Eve

From Garret Keizer‘s, One Resolution You Might Just Keep:

If resolution makers wanted a patron saint, they could do worse than Samuel Johnson (1709 to 1784), a lifelong resolver and by his own admission a lifelong failure at keeping his resolutions. Reading his diaries, we may sigh in recognition as time after time — at the New Year, at Easter and on his birthday — Johnson renews his intentions to rise early, to be more studious, to be more moderate in his intake of food and drink, and laments his neglect of those same intentions in the year past…

For Johnson, however, the critical question was not whether he’d accomplished great things but whether he’d accomplished them in proportion to his talents and his limited time. He was hyperconscious of mortality — on his watch was engraved “The night cometh, when no man can work” — and painfully frustrated by his seeming inability to keep the simplest promise to himself. Like almost everyone I know, he felt he should be accomplishing much more than he did…

It’s easy to miss the one resolution Johnson did keep, though to my knowledge he never wrote it down: the resolution to continue resolving. You can see that doggedness as an exercise in futility on Johnson’s part, but I prefer to see it as an act of charity toward himself. If Johnson is known for anything besides his literary accomplishments and his quotable remarks, it is his charity.  He housed a motley assortment of needy dependents under his own roof. He pressed pennies into the hands of indigent children sleeping on the London streets. His almsgiving was so well known that he could scarcely leave his lodgings without being accosted by beggars. What was the point? A friend once asked him. “To enable them to beg on,” he said…

Johnson’s personal struggle is worth remembering not only as we form private resolutions to be better people but also as we ponder those collective resolutions repeatedly broken, and in some cases yet to be made, to confront such evils as environmental destruction and systemic racism…

Most of us know that heady sense of reprieve and possibility implicit in the mention of “another year.” I’ve made it this far. I’m not dead yet. I still have a chance — if only to take better care of those for whom “another year” means another term of misery. Johnson seems never to have lost sight of that chance. He saw it all around him, sleeping in the ashes, collapsed in the mire, and he seized it with compassion. How much happier this New Year would be if we resolved to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for Christmas Eve

From Peter Wehner’s “Why Jesus Matters“:

“Our witness is not right doctrine; it is our relational orientation… As friends of Jesus, we love one another — and that includes people different from us. In fact, no one can be an ‘other’, because in Christ we belong to one another.” We are called to love one another, honor one another, welcome one another, encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens…

Jesus says if we are his friends, we will do what he commands, and several times in John 15 he is specific about what that means:  Love each other as I have loved you. There are countless ways to love others, based on our talents and life circumstances, but the command is clear enough. We are not only to experience love; we are to extend it to others.

Going to church helps ‘keep me honest’ when it comes to extending love to others. It can be challenging, as MLK Jr. spoke to in his “Loving Your Enemies” sermon.  It can be challenging but keep at it.

A Hobby!

Some of you know that I picked up a hobby last summer – backyard astronomy.  A couple years ago I came up with an idea for an automated sextant (“celestial navigation system”) using a digital camera, a wide field lens, and little box of electronics – something Raspberry-Pi-like – to process the images.  No takers for my proposal but it got me looking at the sky.  With that as an intro, here are a few images I created using pictures shot from the backyard.

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