PBS Newshour: Vermont Nominates Christine Hallquist, First Transgender Candidate for Governor

The past two years have been hard. The current White House administration has done many shocking things that no prior administration has ever done, things that have demoralized good-hearted Americans of all shapes and stripes. This is the closest we have ever come to being ruled by a totalitarian regime, and those who deny this will eventually find themselves on the wrong side of history. But for now at least, here is a shimmer of hope for everyone who has been finding it difficult to leave their house each morning since our current President took office.

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Sermon: Happy Egyptian New Year!

The Egyptian New Year festival (or Wep Ronpet) coincides with the heliacal rise of Sirius, the annual flooding of the Nile River, and the Dog Days of Summer. It technically falls on a different date each year, and its calculation also depends on your geographical location. A heliacal rising occurs when a star that hasn’t been seen in the nighttime sky for a while becomes visible again in the east, just before dawn. Sirius disappears for about 70 days in May, and it reappears toward the end of July and the middle of August. (This is called the “Sothic Cycle.”) The Nile River always floods soon thereafter, just like clockwork. There isn’t much rainfall in Egypt at all, so this annual inundation provided the only means for irrigation in ancient times. And when the Egyptians saw Sirius rising in the east just before dawn in late July, they took it as a sign from the goddess Isis (the ruler of Sirius) that it was time to start planning all their crops for the year. To this very day, the Egyptian people continue to celebrate the annual flooding of the Nile as a two-week civil holiday called Wafaa El-Nil, which begins each year on August 15.

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Susan Bromley (Livingston Daily): Mother Gets Apology After Rebuke for Breastfeeding Inside Brighton Church

“We are not against anyone breastfeeding anywhere in the church. That is not what the problem was. Both breasts were totally exposed… From their perspective, it’s natural, we know, but we felt it inappropriate for boys and men, and we weren’t trying to shame, we were trying to deal with others who were uncomfortable and how they felt. Hurt, embarrassment, and shame was not intended.”

It’s a story I’ve heard time and time again. A mother with a newborn child is in public; her child becomes fussy, and the mother decides it’s feeding time. Then, everyone else around her becomes uncomfortable and decides to shame her for doing what nature intended her to do. “Look at what you’re doing to the boys and the menfolk,” they chide, placing the blame for their embarrassment on the poor mother instead of where it rightly belongs. Note this sentence in particular:

From their perspective, it’s natural, we know, but we felt it inappropriate for boys and men, and we weren’t trying to shame, we were trying to deal with others who were uncomfortable and how they felt.

Here’s an idea. Perhaps instead of blaming our women for society’s embarrassment over breastfeeding, we should be blaming the patriarchy. The mother in this story has not done anything wrong, and the way people feel about her breastfeeding is entirely on them. What’s more—and I can’t repeat this enough—women are NOT responsible for keeping the men and the boys in check. You know who’s responsible for that? The men and the boys. The real problem here has nothing to do with breastfeeding, and everything to do with how males are socialized and taught to think about women from birth.

Do you know what I do when I see a lady breastfeeding her child in public? I just smile and nod at her, and keep walking. That’s it. I don’t become embarrassed or behave as if someone has just shown me a photo of something ugly. I don’t complain to her about her body, or how she is responsible for making me feel lustful. Nor do I stand there and ogle the poor woman like she’s a Playboy centerfold. I just say to myself in my head, “Oh, there’s a nice lady breastfeeding her child,” which is almost immediately followed by a completely unrelated thought (such as, “I wonder which Omen movie Papa Emeritus II likes best?”). And that’s the way it should be.

Long story short: men need to start standing up and taking responsibility for their own emotions and behaviors. We need to stop putting it on women to fix problems like this one, because the problem actually begin with us.

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Sermon: Set’s Sacred Critters

As with most other Egyptian Gods, certain animals are considered sacred to Set. First and foremost is the mysterious creature that the Egyptians called the Sha.

This little fella—which is otherwise known as the “Set Animal” or “Typhonian Beast”—is one of history’s greatest cryptids. It resembles a red-haired greyhound with rabbit ears, a long curved snout, and a forked tail. Egyptologists are divided as to whether this animal actually existed and went extinct, or if it’s just a mythical creature the Egyptians created from bits and pieces of different animals (like a dragon, griffin, or phoenix). Some authors have theorized that it may be a stylized hyena, jackal, aardvark, or fox. It might actually be a fennec fox, which looks like this in real life:

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CNN: A Dad and Son are Accused of Illegally Killing a Family of Bears and Covering It Up. They Didn’t Know a Camera was Running.

There isn’t much I can say about this, except that killing the mother was bad enough. But killing those poor, defenseless cubs? I don’t understand how humans can be so cruel. Sadly, the punishment likely won’t fit the crime; these assholes will probably just have to pay a fine or something, and that’s it. I for one think they should both be forced to do hard manual labor for a group like Appalachian Bear Rescue for at least a year, if not longer!

How can anyone hurt such PRECIOUS BABIES?!?

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From Pixabay.com

CNN: White Anxiety Finds a Home at Fox News

Just when I think there’s been more than enough nonsense for one week, I happen across this. On the Fox News network, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have both been escalating their racist rhetoric lately. Ingraham had this to say just the other day:

“The America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.”

Hey Laura, I have some fantastically bad news for you. The America we know and love never existed. This nation has always been divided between those who are in power and those who are not. And whether anybody likes it or not, most everyone who has ever been in power in this country has been white. While our founding fathers built the greatest democratic republic this planet has ever seen, they built it upon the backs of countless slaves and murdered Native Americans. And despite all the social progress that we have made since then (even with such milestones like Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement), things are still pretty damn awful. Why is there still a wage gap between male and female workers? Why are so many innocent black men being murdered by the police? Why do oil companies with rich white owners always get away with building their pipelines through Native American reservations? Each of these questions has the same answer: because America is indeed a “rigged system,” a system that has always been rigged for the benefit of heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant men, from the very moment that our Constitution was first ratified in 1789.

And by the way, nobody “votes” for demographic changes; these things simply happen, regardless of whether we want them to happen or not. Poisonous talking heads like Ingraham and Tucker would like you to think the entire white population of America is being “attacked” and “subverted” by some nefarious left-wing conspiracy. But sociologists have been predicting that whites would eventually become a minority for decades now. And the only way to truly prevent a demographic shift like this is to get rid of the demographic groups that make you feel threatened, whether by internment, deportation, or extermination. And neither of these options is ethically permissible.

I wish people like Ingraham and Carlson just didn’t know any better, but these people know exactly what they’re doing. They’re purposely stoking the fire to make things worse, to whip up the fear and turn all of their (mostly white) viewers into a wrathful, mindless mob. It’s all part of their attempt to win the next election for Trump, because they care more about winning than they do about doing the right thing.

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Further Suggested Reading: When the Majority Becomes the Minority (2016), by Amy Drew, Scott Sleek, and Anna Mikulak

Shane Claiborne (Religion News Service): Christians are Why the Death Penalty Lives On

Here is an interesting op-ed from the Religion News Service in which the author discusses how the death penalty has survived in America “not in spite of Christians, but because of them.” Mind you, the author identifies as a Christian himself, so this is not an “anti-Christian” piece, but more of a constructive criticism thing. The point here isn’t to make anyone feel guilty, but to communicate the need for change.

For my own part, I too think it’s time we eschewed the death penalty in favor of more humanitarian protocols for our prison systems. Many people are put to death by the government or the states and are later exonerated of their crimes by newly revealed evidence that just wasn’t available when they were sentenced to death. In some cases, even when such evidence is revealed before the prisoners are executed, the state or the government decides to just execute them anyway. (Just look at what happened to Carlos DeLuna; it seems to me that people of color are the ones who are typically victimized in this way.) This is absolutely horrible; how can people just shrug their shoulders whenever that happens? No one who is innocent deserves to die, and I would rather prevent any prisoners from being executed at all, even if it means keeping the ones who are truly dangerous alive.

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