On Paying Attention: Ryan Lochte and Media’s Junk News

Gymnast by IOC Young Reporters

So we are at the end of these Olympic Games. Mammoth undertaking, nearly the entire world enthralled to some degree or other with these contests reflecting intense passion, competitive fire, and, for the most part, a sense of universal brother-and-sisterhood, human solidarity writ large across nations and cultures and even religions of the world, oh my…

All of it reflecting years of effort and training and dreaming for a select few fortunate enough to make it to this pinnacle of the sporting world.

(Yes, I know it also reflects rampant commercialization, politicization, fraud and influence peddling etc.; I’ll get back to you the very moment I find a large human endeavor that is free of those…)

In the midst of it all, a quartet of lunkhead male swimmers, who I’m sure are fine sons and friends and teammates with many scores of good people who can vouch for their essential good character, get too much ...

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In Praise of Mourning: the Assisted Suicide Party of Betsy Davis

Ginkgo Leaves by Andrew Hidas

For many years now I have been both pleased and troubled by the trend of turning funerals and memorial services into “celebrations.”

Pleased because the “celebratory” theme does justice, in a profound way, to the whole of a person’s life and character and resounding impact upon those who still live.

Troubled because I fear it can easily lapse into denial and suppression of the honest, healing emotion of grief.

Case in point: the altogether remarkable tale of Betsy Davis, the 41-year-old woman with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease who took her own life last week, but not before she threw an extravagant two-day party for some 30 close friends and relatives to “celebrate” her life at her home in Ojai.

There was much to admire in Davis’s decision to take charge of her own fate in sovereign possession of her own body, about as fundamental a right as we can or should conjure in any world where freedom is ...

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A Happy Birth Day Adoption Memoir

Dakota Newborn

I’ve had a stack of black book personal journals occupying various spots in back bedrooms for many years now. They are the product of an effort for the first five or so years of my daughter’s life to provide a record, a kind of daily diary, of not only what happened, where we went, what we did and who we saw, but more importantly for two people who came very late to parenthood after long efforts to first prevent pregnancy, then to become pregnant, then to become adoptive parents, to provide a chronicle of the heart, of the vast reservoirs of love and delight and appreciation that suffused our lives when she came into them exactly 18 years ago today.

I wanted to give her a taste, many years down the line when she might take a peek at my scrawlings, of just how much she was cherished, not to mention how much sheer fun we had in profound activities like…watching her sleep…and changing her diapers…and clea...

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Reverend William Barber’s Ancient Progressive Religion of the Heart

Flower by Cassandra Rae

Amidst the many soaring/pointed/Trump-eviscerating speeches that piled atop one another throughout last week’s Democratic National Convention, even the powerful call-out by the Muslim couple who had lost their soldier son in the Afghan War didn’t quite match the moment for me when a hulking African American minister with a congenital spinal condition limped out on stage in his clerical collar and in a sonorous voice intoned:

“Good evening my brothers and sisters. I come before you tonight as a preacher, the son of a preacher. A preacher immersed in the movement at five years old. I don’t come tonight representing any organization, but I come to talk about faith and morality. I’m a preacher and I’m a theologically conservative liberal evangelical biblicist...

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Susan B Anthony

Love, like or loathe her, last night’s vote for Hillary Clinton as the first major party female nominee for president of the United States had all the ghosts of women’s rights throughout history cheering loudly, another milestone finally achieved and behind us all now. Whether that results in yet another milestone come November is now in the hands of voters.

The event had me thinking of my own daughter and daughters everywhere, catapulted yet again upon the shoulders of towering historical figures, lionesses who saw so clearly what needed to be done, and who stood proudly, fiercely and defiantly for the righteousness of their cause. Probably chief among them: Susan B. Anthony.

I am indebted here to a fascinating account of Anthony’s arrest and trial (for the “crime” of voting) by Professor Doug Lindner of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, the complete text of which you can find...

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