Showing posts from November, 2017

Him, Too

Garrison Keillor during a performance with the Seattle Symphony The list continues to grow. Pixar's John Lasseter. NBC's Matt Lauer. And now, just minutes ago, Garrison Keillor. Add them to the shameful snowball of probable sexual harassers whose careers in the media have been endangered, if not ended, by allegations of inappropriate conduct around co-workers and employees. Lauer lost his job with the Today Show yesterday. Last night, I saw Lasseter's name in the credits of a movie that moved and amazed me-- Coco --and found the wonder I'd felt at its craftsmanship and humanity tainted by thoughts about how he'd abused his power to make unwelcome advances. And today, eating lunch in a hospital cafeteria (as I write this, Amy is having bi-lateral knee replacement surgery), the headline about Keillor popped up in my news feed: he'd been fired by Minnesota Public Radio, a powerhouse of thoughtful audio content whose reputation rests almost entirely o


Al Franken. Roy Moore. Donald Trump. Louis CK. Charlie Rose. Harvey Weinstein. Bill Cosby. Jeffrey Tambor. George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton. Clarence Thomas. Dustin Hoffman.  That's just the names that pop into my head at this moment. You know what they've got in common: every one of them has been accused of touching women without their consent. There's a spectrum of misbehavior--some are serial offenders who've broken laws; others playful gropers who got just a little too handsy; still others sick people who need psychiatric help. Some have issued deep apologies. Others have spun stories. Some have threatened to sue. Some are Democrats, some Republicans, some defy partisan labels. But back to the commonalities: they're all men. More specifically, they're middle-aged and older men. They're men with power: actors, prominent comedians, members of Congress, news anchors, judges, Presidents of the United States. Something about the power they had led

Repentance Matters

Is his apology sincere? Does it matter? Before becoming a Senator, Al Franken had a life in entertainment. Wait, it gets worse: he wasn't just an entertainer. He was a comedian. Worse still, much of his career was spent writing for the often disappointingly unfunny Saturday Night Live. In fact, my first and only consistent experience of SNL , during my freshman and sophomore years of college, came as the original cast was falling away, leaving just Franken to carry on. His appearances on camera then were limited to the midnight "Weekend Update" news bit, where he played a comedically exaggerated version of himself doing commentary on the "Me Decade." I loved these moments, which were frequently the only funny bits in an entire 90 minutes of misfires. They were thoughtful and clever, the whole joke hinging on the insertion of his name into a rhetorical question, thus changing its meaning from the general to the specific. He'd summarize a current po

Fragile Idols: Flesh and Blood

Yes, these guys, too. Three thousand years ago, the founders of Judaism had a breakthrough. It concerned a common practice in Bronze Age religion: the use of an item--a carving, sculpture, painting, found object, it didn't really matter what it was, just as long as it was visible and touchable--to enhance the religious experience, granting the worshipper some kind of tangible connection with the deity. The spiritually enlightened understood that these items were simply tools, aids in deepening the believers' experience of the ineffable. Unfortunately, trapped as they were in their tangible bodies, taking in information through the tangible senses that were all they had, humans quickly came to mistake idols for gods. But idols are not gods. Made, as they were, of impermanent materials--wood, clay, stone, forgeable metal, canvas, paint--idols wore out. Drop the idol and it might dent or shatter; bring it too close to a sacrificial flame and it might be consumed; leave

Fragile Idols: Fabric and Paper

I knew I wanted an opening image that combined the American flag with a Bible, but until I googled it, I had no idea something this perfect existed. Yes, this is a thing. It's available on Amazon. It's not just Bible wrapped in a flag cover, mind you: it's the God's Glory Bible , and it's the King James Version (known in Britain as the Authorized Version), so it's all written in the language of the empire the creators of that flag revolted against. And all that irony is, I suspect, completely lost on the people who will plunk down $39.99 to own it. I googled the image because I've had a Trumped-up controversy on my mind. I've already written (was it really just seven weeks ago? Seems much longer...) about the Trumped-up controversy around NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem , and I thought I'd said all I needed to at the time. But then I spent four days in Texas, and it all came flooding back: the three years I spent tread

Active Shooter

Mourners in Sutherland Springs, Texas There is no conference like an Orff conference. When music educators who practice the Orff philosophy gather, we celebrate. We play, sing, dance, laugh, and rejoice in the incredible privilege of sharing our love of music with children. For three days last week, that's what we did, and in every way except one, it was exactly the conference we all needed in this Age of Trump. That one exception, though, was huge: this was the first time I've ever known a conference to begin with the host telling us what to do in the event of an active shooter. The announcement could very well have happened anywhere the conference was held. It came, after all, just weeks after the worst mass shooting in American history--and just days after the second-worst shooting. In each case, a white American used assault weapons to slaughter innocent people who had gathered to celebrate. In the first instance, they were attending a music festival in Las V