My old writing teacher Robert Flynn has a blog. Oddly, the blogging platform he uses (blogster) doesn’t really let you download RSS feeds, (although it has some social community features). I tried to organize the links a little better, but put it off and then lost the links I was going to organize. (Sigh!) Here’s what I had so far.
I have written about war but there are no anti-war novels. I read Johnny Got His Gun, that was intended to be a war novel. I think most young men who read the book felt challenged as I did to endure such loss of everything but thought, and to believe that we could prevail. War is the ultimate human experience because it changes nothing yet changes everything.
Here’s an interview with Robert Flynn.
Garden of the Priest and Scientist (an alternate creation story with a serpent and an eagle). The Curse of the Luddite God (allegory based on the Prometheus theme). Swallow the Dollar (odd encounter with Satan), Sex Life of the Pharisee (pharisee who experiences the most unusual temptation), True Story of Postmodern Job (where Job is a CEO with stock options), Legend of Bob the Good (a man who does good deeds for the wrong reasons).
Slouching Toward Zion: Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4 . Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting at the Baptist Church, John Wayne Must Die, Sister Constant Attention (sketch of an unusual nun), Singing Soprano in the Cowgirl Church of God (amusing story about a Texas cowboy who prays to god for a great singing voice), No Clergy Women (by a backwards-looking man who can’t understand why women would ever want to seek the pulpit):
Man has won his laurels rescuing her from her own folly, from doing things that God never intended she should do and leaving undone her divinely appointed task of serving her husband. Since the days of Adam and Eve woman has offered man an apple and given him a lemon.
Woman has always been the first to kneel at the feet of false gods; she is the slave of custom, the victim of sentiment and the prey of fashion. Does she not seek to intensify the figure God gave her? to augment her beauty? to enhance her charm? There is more power in her smile than in the pulpit. It is she who is at fault for sin in this world. Why does she not arrest the glance of the seductress? retard the saunter of the wanton? neutralize the smile of the harlot? Why does she not save homes from the peril of the male’s wandering eye? Why does she not bring up the child in the way it should go? Why does she not prepare a meal devoid of French cuisine? Let woman solve her own problems before invading the potent pulpit.
Various Essays about Religion and Society: For the Love of Agape or Eros without Error, a religious sex shop,.
Politics and Religion: Deadbeat Patriots , A War Profiteer (George W. and 9/11) , Imaginary Interview with Pastor John Hagee, The Best Known Christian is …? , Christianity and Reason, Call It Appeasement (interesting piece on Bin Laden and Bush), Obama’s Pastor, Weak on Security (a historical look at how the Republican party advances their agenda by accusing liberals of being weak on security—never mind that being strong costs a lot of money and sacrifice). When you read the sequence of right-wing accusations against every administration, you see how powerful this banal “weak on security” accusation is:
Like Eisenhower, Carter saw the danger of the military/industrial complex that co-opted corporations, contractors, small businesses, schools, cities, churches. He inherited Eisenhower’s blunder–overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran and putting the tyrannical Shah in power. During the OPEC oil embargo America got most of its oil from Iran until the Shah was overthrown. Ayatollah Khomeini became the leader, held American hostages and stopped oil sales to the US. Carter kept the US out of war and substantially increased US military spending but was never forgiven for saying that Americans had "an inordinate fear of communism." His attempt to rescue the hostages failed. “Free the hostages” became the slogan for the next election.
The day Reagan was inaugurated the hostages were freed, Reagan released frozen Iranian assets, and lifted the arms embargo for Israel so they could ship weapons to Iranian terrorists. The US replaced the Israeli weapons. The Iranians took more hostages, blew up two US embassies and a barracks killing 241 Marines but nothing stopped the arms sale until Israel sent Iran missiles that didn’t work. Reagan began direct sales to Iran but because he was giving aid and comfort to the enemy, he also sent weapons, intelligence and agents necessary for the production of WMD to assist Saddam Hussein in his war on Iran.
Forget Professor Ayers. Professors are not that scary. I’ve known professors. I’ve been a professor. No one was afraid of me. John McCain is no professor. Sarah Palin had rather bag a professor than bag a moose.
Also, forget Charles Keating. He was just trying to live the American dream of fooling enough fellow citizens to become fabulously rich. That’s what America means. It’s unfortunate that laws and regulations stand in the way or all of us would do it. Fortunately, Keating had a good buddy who palled around with him on free vacations, free plane rides, free baby care. But John McCain was younger then.
What’s frightening about McCain is that he was tied up with people who hated America. They didn’t just sit at an antiaircraft gun, they shot down American planes. They killed Americans. And McCain was no eight-year-old kid. He was a grown man. Married. Children of his own. He was wearing American clothes made in America. (It was a long time ago.) In the heart of that dark place there is a monument and it doesn’t depict Hanoi Jane but Hanoi John.
He had a close personal relationship with lots of people who hated America. For five and a half years he slept in their beds. He ate their food. He listened to anti-America ranting. He listened to Communist propaganda. There are photographs of America-haters with their arms around John McCain.
Here’s a long article by Flynn about whether faith-based communities really consider life to be sacred. This is a damning indictment of the Bush Administration and its lax enforcement of environmental regulations. Some examples:
The US ranks last among industrial nations in avoiding death by preventable disease. (Democracy Now 1-9-08) A twelve-year-old died of a toothache. An $80 tooth extraction might have saved him if his family had not lost its Medicaid. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care at a cost of more than $250,000 the boy died.
Is such neglect of public welfare benign or malignant? EPA has dropped or delayed more than 400 cases of suspected violations of the law such as illegal industrial discharges. (NYTimes 8-18-08) EPA has overstated the purity of the nation’s drinking water for four years leaving millions of people at risk. (Washington Post 3-12-04) At least 46 million Americans are affected by trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, up from 41 million people in six months. Chicago found a cholesterol medication and a nicotine derivative. Many cities found an anti-convulsant. Colorado Springs found five pharmaceuticals, including a tranquilizer and a hormone. Even in extremely diluted concentrations pharmaceutical residues harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species in the wild and impair the workings of human cells in the laboratory. The overwhelming majority of U.S. communities have yet to test drinking water. (AP 9-12-08)
(Here’s another article which enumerates the ways in which the Bush Administration ignored the health and safety concerns of soldiers and civilians in Iraq). These two articles are a year old, but it’s importantly to understand exactly how much happened (or didn’t happen) during the Bush Administration. In a piece examining the “courage” of WH spokesman Scott McClellan, Flynn points out:
Veterans for Common Sense (veteransforcommonsense.org) has discovered that more than 43,000 soldiers declared “medically unfit” for combat by doctors have been sent back to Iraq or Afghanistan. More than 58,300 soldiers are involuntarily enlisted because of stop-loss; 500,000 have been deployed twice or more into combat, which increases the risk of PTSD by 50%. About one half of one percent of Americans have served in Bush’s war on terror, yet, Bush was reelected in 2004 by those who approved of the war. How can you, like Bush and Cheney, support a war and refuse to fight in it or pay for it? No reporter has asked Bush why his family, including his daughters, or the family members of those in his administration and congress and family members of the millions who supported his war on Iraq refuse to serve in it. Is it because he and Cheney are their role models? No reporter has askedwhy the US paid $135 million to soldiers of other nations who either willingly or unwillingly fight the war that not even Bush’s daughters believe is as important as shopping.
I’d like to ask members of the media, especially the corporate moguls who control the media outlets, why do you claim 30,000 US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan when Veterans for Common Sense forced the Pentagon to reveal that there are more than 72,000 casualties, 300,000 have been treated at VA hospitals, 288,000 have filed claims for military-related disabilities? Why do you claim there may be as many as 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq when two years ago a study that the British government reluctantly accepted reported more than 500,0000 and a recent UN survey of Iraqis reported more than a million. Okay, let’s say it’s wrong by 50%, 75% and only 250,000 civilians have been killed. Is that old news?
Did it seem ethical to you that NBC and MSNBC advocated war when their corporate owner, General Electric, is a major defense contractor? Was it patriotism that motivated you to prop up George Bush when you saw his inadequacy, incompetence and inability to act that was a precursor of Katrina? Did you really believe that the heroes who fought in World War II, stood by their guns during the Cold War, and fought the hot wars of Korea and Vietnam were terrified by nineteen hijackers or was it only the chicken vultures in the White House and Pentagon? Did you really believe they were afraid of Saddam Hussein who had no air force, no navy and a degraded army with obsolete equipment or was it only Bush and Cheney and perhaps yourselves.
General Politics and History: Rethinking Vietnam,
Interviews: with historical fiction writer Linda Ballou:
Q-I have heard that to know a place you need to live there a week or a lifetime. In a week you know the differences between this place and "home. In a lifetime you know why there are differences. Do you agree?
A- You can’t know a place in a week like someone who lives there; however, I can capture the essence of a place better than someone who does. I research before arriving, have an eye trained for telling detail, and I am objective about what I see and experience. People living in a place know it at a deeper level but often they can’t see themselves as clearly as an outsider. Travel writers can get a sharp snapshot of a place in a short time, and therefore serve a distinct purpose in society.
Here’s an interview with a noted rabbi:
Q: Did you really say, “Those who advocate abstinence-only sex education have blood on their hands?”
Rabbi Block:Yes.They assure the ignorance of kids who could protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, or unwanted pregnancy, on the disproven theory that, if you don’t teach kids that condoms provide protection, they won’t have sex. Yes, we want all teens to abstain. On the other hand, we know that intended abstinence fails more frequently than any other contraceptive measure. When abstinence fails, the kids who’ve had "abstinence only sex education" have 0% protection against potentially life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, not to mention unplanned pregnancy.
“Deadbeat patriots” wear flags made in China on their lapel, buy gas from countries that support terrorism, and approve any war as long as they and theirs don’t have to to risk death, physical, mental injury, or criminal charges for it. They support dropping bombs on women and children, kicking in doors, invading homes, imprisoning and torturing civilians to give them democracy as long as the cost in blood, treasure and conscience is paid by others.
Clever politicians have learned that they can legally bribe freeloaders by promising them tax cuts. Let someone else pay for it, they say. So far someone else always has. And some of those are caught in stop-loss hell because others think buying a yellow ribbon is all the support troops need. (Deadbeat Patriots )
Photos: Here’s a photo of me with Robert Flynn in 2008.