Four Articles and a Poem

8:24 AM

Weekly, I share links to four articles that I found significant, accompanied by a poem. Our lives are enriched by seeing better. One article comes from the world of photography, a discipline intent upon shaping how we see. Another article takes up technology, hence seeing something of the future. Another takes up an aspect of our common life, seeing more clearly together. Another article refers to faith, seeing the unseen. Finally, the weekly post concludes with a poem, because poetry is about seeing words whose arrangement allows us to see anew.

This week, we begin by examining the budget-making process of the U.S. Federal government. Do not yawn yet; there are valuable treasures in the article. Then, under science, we see how Nobel laureates look at dollars and the literal death of the middle class. Under the faith heading, we consider the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and in photography we visit Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast. Our poetry as well underscores this beautiful feast.
  1. 'Tis the Season. Congressional budgeting processes rarely get sufficient scrutiny from the media. Veteran house staffer John Lawrence sheds critical insights in this post to understanding how the process gets done, some of the pressures on elected officials to get it done, and some of the areas exploited by lawmakers to get what they (and their moneyed supporters) want. While an often boring subject, it is in the details that major decisions are made. Read this article for a window into this essential part of U.S. political process.
  2. When Inequality Kills. The actual impact of the previous article on the U.S. Federal Budget has repercussions and echoes throughout the U.S. economy. Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz writes in this article about the findings of the current Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Angus Deaton, and Anne Case found in a recent study: Case and Deaton's data show a decline in life expectancy and health for middle-aged white Americans, especially those with a high school education or less, attributed especially to suicide, drugs, and alcoholism.The inequality gap can be measured not just in wages, but also life expectancy. The budget process outlined in the first article has direct consequences manifested in this article. Boring numbers and decisions in Congress have life or death consequences for hundreds of millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the burden is borne disproportionately by all but the 1%.
  3. 10 Suggestions for Interrupting White Privilege. In response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, some have retorted: All lives matter. I saw a "theological" reply to the rejoinder. Jesus, in the Beatitudes, said "Blessed are the poor in spirit," but no one yelled back "Everyone is blessed." With the Beatitudes, Jesus' point, one might say, was to life up those who otherwise are disregarded. Given our sad history where Black lives have NOT mattered, we need to hold them in much more conscious regard. Thomas Bushlack, writing on the Moral Theology blog, offers some very concrete ways that a white person support this critical movement.
  4. USA "Our Lady of Guadalupe." Jay Dunn, a National Geographic award-winning photojournalist, brings us images from the celebration of today's feast in Des Plaines, IL in 2009. My first post was on this feast in 2009. It is a glorious day to accompany the Mexican people with the Patroness of the Americas.
This mid-winter feast of flor y canto, of song and flower, brings together deep aspirations for the dignity of all and the promise of God's special accompaniment of those who suffer. It is a beautiful feast. Let us conclude then with poetry that honors Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe: 1952
by Francis D. Clarke

We have learned to laugh like cannonades
When the corners of our tears rake our faces,
Because the night lurks so broadly in our day
And the trees put up their arms like deprecations.

Can you not hear us, Mary, hear our songs
Trickle down death? We plunge our prayers like swords
Deep in the lifting bosom of your mercy,
And all the world's a lonely Tepeyac
Yearning to kiss your feet.

Come, tease our winter
With your Castilian roses! Where we dance
Wrong measures, come and balance on the moon.
Because we all grow frowsy with our fears,
Wear the blue sun again in casual folds.

All men's faces turn like pitiless mirrors
To show our terror. Take the screaming stars
Back to their happy places on your mantle.

Mary, all the world's a Tepeyac
Bleak for your coming. Paint our shabby prayer,
A rougher tilma, with your saving face.

Spirit Journal, Volume 19, 1952-1953, pages 162-165.

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