Category : America/U.S.A.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day especially–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(FT) Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson–Financial fatalism fuels a gambling gold rush

But why are so many prepared to place high-risk bets when the odds are stacked against them? Pandemic stimulus packages certainly handed many Americans some extra cash, but they could have parked that in a mutual fund account instead.

The explanation may be the fatalistic view many have of markets and the economy. Polls since the global financial crisis have shown a growing cynicism about capitalism, particularly among younger Americans, many of whom doubt that they will be better off than their parents, or that their employer will provide a fair wage and decent pension.

That is fuelling a form of financial nihilism which the investor and former ecommerce executive Mike Effle has christened “finihilism”. In an economy too many see as rigged against them, and with markets showing little connection to underlying value, perhaps a bet on the playoffs or a sociable sally against AMC’s short sellers seems as good a use of your money as any.

It is easy to moralise about the upsurge in speculation. But it is hard to fault people for wanting to get rich quick if they have lost faith in their ability to get rich slow.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Gambling

(NYT front page) No Shots, No Day Care: Parents of Kids Under 5 Stuck in Grueling Limbo

Twice last year, Margaret Schulte and her husband, Jason Abercrombie, traveled 11 hours round-trip to Louisiana from their home in Tulsa, Okla., in the hopes of vaccinating their children, who were 2 and 4, against the coronavirus.

The only way they could get shots for their children — among the more than 19 million Americans under 5 years old who are not yet eligible for vaccinations — was to take part in a clinical trial. So they signed up, hoping a successful vaccine would mean that by now, or at least sometime very soon, a semblance of prepandemic life would be on the horizon.

It has not worked out that way.

The Pfizer trial that their children participated in did not produce promising results, the company said last month. Nor have vaccines emerged from other corners. Moderna has yet to release results of its pediatric trials.

Now Ms. Schulte and Mr. Abercrombie are among the millions of parents stuck in an excruciating limbo during a surge of Omicron cases, forced to wrestle with day care closures and child care crises as the rest of the world appears eager to move on.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Stress, Travel

(Gallup) U.S. Charitable Donations Rebound; Volunteering Still Down

Eighty-one percent of Americans say they donated money to a religious or other charitable organization in the past year, and 56% volunteered time to such an organization. After dipping in April 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic, charitable donations have rebounded and are essentially back to the level measured in 2013 and 2017 surveys.

Volunteer activity also dropped in 2020 but, in contrast to charitable giving, remains lower than it was in pre-pandemic surveys. While lower today than in recent years, the rate of volunteering has been at its current level in the past, most notably during the Great Recession.

The decline in donations was seen among all income groups in 2020, but more so among those in lower- and middle-income households. Charitable donations are back up among those in all income brackets, with upper-income Americans now returning to pre-pandemic rates. Giving rates among lower- and middle-income Americans are only slightly below where they were in 2017.

Volunteer activity is also lower now among all income groups than before the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(NYT Op-ed) America Is Falling Apart at the Seams

In June a statistic floated across my desk that startled me. In 2020, the number of miles Americans drove fell 13 percent because of the pandemic, but the number of traffic deaths rose 7 percent.

I couldn’t figure it out. Why would Americans be driving so much more recklessly during the pandemic? But then in the first half of 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle deaths were up 18.4 percent even over 2020. Contributing factors, according to the agency, included driving under the influence, speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt.

Why are so many Americans driving irresponsibly?

While gloomy numbers like these were rattling around in my brain, a Substack article from Matthew Yglesias hit my inbox this week. It was titled, “All Kinds of Bad Behavior Is on the Rise.” Not only is reckless driving on the rise, Yglesias pointed out, but the number of altercations on airplanes has exploded, the murder rate is surging in cities, drug overdoses are increasing, Americans are drinking more, nurses say patients are getting more abusive, and so on and so on.

Yglesias is right.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A.

(Economist) As violent crime leaps, liberal cities rethink cutting police budgets

In the days after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, protesters took to the streets across America. They urged cities to “defund the police”, and politicians listened. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, called for his department’s budget to be cut by up to $150m. London Breed, San Francisco’s mayor, announced that she would “redirect funding from the sfpd to support the African-American community”. City councils in Oakland and Portland, Oregon, among other cities across America, approved budgets that cut police funding.

That trend has reversed. Portland and Oakland increased police funding to hire more officers. The Los Angeles Police Department’s budget will get a 12% boost. Last month Ms Breed vowed to “take steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement” and “less tolerant of all the bullshit that has destroyed our city”. Why such a stark reversal, and what does it mean for the future of criminal-justice reform?

The first question is easy to answer. Though crime overall did not rise during the pandemic, the type people fear most—murders and shootings—did, and the surge has not abated. Over three decades from 1990, America’s homicide rate fell steeply (see chart). From 2019 to 2020, however, the rate had its highest-ever year-on-year rise, of nearly 30%, followed by a further rise in 2021. More than three-quarters of the murders were committed with guns. In Oakland, 133 people were murdered in 2021, more than in any year since 2006, and almost 600 more were shot but not killed. Portland was one of at least 16 American cities that set all-time homicide records last year.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) Russell Moore–Why Christians should support our government staying out of religious affairs.

We believe in religious freedom not because we believe in freedom on its own terms, but because we believe in the exclusivity of Christ and in the power of the gospel. We believe there is one name under heaven whereby we must be saved—and that name is not “Caesar” or “Ayatollah” or “assistant secretary for civic affairs.”

We believe in religious freedom because we know what Jesus has given us to fight against the kingdom of darkness—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We believe in religious freedom because there’s no civil substitute for the gospel of Christ.

We believe in religious freedom because we want to persuade our neighbors to be reconciled to God—not so they won’t be fined by the earthly government, but so they will find eternal life in the heavenly kingdom. So that they won’t end up in hell.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Gallup) Americans are Reading Fewer Books Than in Past

Americans say they read an average of 12.6 books during the past year, a smaller number than Gallup has measured in any prior survey dating back to 1990. U.S. adults are reading roughly two or three fewer books per year than they did between 2001 and 2016.

The results are based on a Dec. 1-16 Gallup poll, which updated a trend question on book reading. The question asks Americans to say how many books they “read, either all or part of the way through” in the past year. Interviewers are instructed to include all forms of books, including printed books but also electronic books and audiobooks, when entering the respondent’s answer.

The decline in book reading is mostly a function of how many books readers are reading, as opposed to fewer Americans reading any books. The 17% of U.S. adults who say they did not read any books in the past year is similar to the 16% to 18% measured in 2002 to 2016 surveys, though it is higher than in the 1999 to 2001 polls.

The drop is fueled by a decline in the percentage of Americans reading more than 10 books in the past year. Currently, 27% report that they read more than 10 books, down eight percentage points since 2016 and lower than every prior measure by at least four points.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books

George Washington’s January 1 1795 Proclamation

Deeply penetrated with this sentiment I George Washington President of the United States do recommend to all Religious Societies and Denominations and to all persons whomsoever within the United States to set apart and observe thursday the nineteenth day of February next as a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer; and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies, which distinguish our lot as a Nation; particularly for the possession of Constitutions of Government which unite and by their union establish liberty with order, for the preservation of our peace foreign and domestic, for the seasonable controul which has been given to a spirit of disorder in the suppression of the late insurrection, and generally for the prosperous course of our affairs public and private…

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(PRC) About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated

The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing. The latest Pew Research Center survey of the religious composition of the United States finds the religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago.

Christians continue to make up a majority of the U.S. populace, but their share of the adult population is 12 points lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. In addition, the share of U.S. adults who say they pray on a daily basis has been trending downward, as has the share who say religion is “very important” in their lives.

Currently, about three-in-ten U.S. adults (29%) are religious “nones” – people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious identity. Self-identified Christians of all varieties (including Protestants, Catholics, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Orthodox Christians) make up 63% of the adult population. Christians now outnumber religious “nones” by a ratio of a little more than two-to-one. In 2007, when the Center began asking its current question about religious identity, Christians outnumbered “nones” by almost five-to-one (78% vs. 16%).

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Washington Post) ‘Last on the rung’: Africa deals with fallout from a ‘Made in the USA’ supply chain crisis

With U.S. retailers willing to pay almost any price to get their goods to American shores in time for the holidays, ocean carriers have redeployed container ships from the developing world to the more lucrative Asia-to-United States trade lanes, where rates for some shipments this fall were 15 times pre-pandemic levels, according to the Freightos index.

That’s helped fill American store shelves — and carriers’ coffers — but it has battered many African shippers, according to interviews with more than 30 maritime analysts, shippers, freight forwarders and cargo carriers in the United States, Africa and elsewhere.

Already lagging in coronavirus vaccinations, Africa risks becoming collateral damage in the supply wars. The International Monetary Fund says the 45 nations of sub-Saharan Africa are mired in the slowest economic recovery of any region, with supply chain disruptions helping fuel inflation at roughly twice its pre-pandemic level.

“Africa, sadly, I can’t think of any other continent that is last on the rung. Africa will be the last to come out of this,” [Aditya] Awtani said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Kenya

(NYT) Why 1,320 Therapists Are Worried About Mental Health in America Right Now

As Americans head into a third year of pandemic living, therapists around the country are finding themselves on the front lines of a mental health crisis. Social workers, psychologists and counselors from every state say they can’t keep up with an unrelenting demand for their services, and many must turn away patients — including children — who are desperate for support.

“All the therapists I know have experienced a demand for therapy that is like nothing they have experienced before,” said Tom Lachiusa, a licensed clinical social worker in Longmeadow, Mass. “Every available time slot I can offer is filled.”

The New York Times asked 1,320 mental health professionals to tell us how their patients were coping as pandemic restrictions eased. General anxiety and depression are the most common reasons patients seek support, but family and relationship issues also dominate therapy conversations. One in four providers said suicidal thoughts were among the top reasons clients were seeking therapy.

“I regularly wished aloud for a mental health version of Dr. Fauci to give daily briefings,” said Lakeasha Sullivan, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta. “I tried to normalize the wide range of intense emotions people felt; some thought they were truly going crazy.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology

(AP) US faces a double coronavirus surge as omicron advances

The new omicron coronavirus mutant speeding around the world may bring another wave of chaos, threatening to further stretch hospital workers already struggling with a surge of delta cases and upend holiday plans for the second year in a row.

The White House on Wednesday insisted there is no need for a lockdown because vaccines are widely available and appear to offer protection against the worst consequences of the virus. But even if omicron proves milder on the whole than delta, it may disarm some of the life-saving tools available and put immune-compromised and elderly people at particular risk as it begins a rapid assault on the United States.

“Our delta surge is ongoing and, in fact, accelerating. And on top of that, we’re going to add an omicron surge,” said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, who monitors variants for a research collaboration led by Harvard Medical School.

“That’s alarming, because our hospitals are already filling up. Staff are fatigued,” leaving limited capacity for a potential crush of COVID-19 cases “from an omicron wave superimposed on a delta surge.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(FA) Sue Gordon and Eric Rosenbach–America’s Cyber-Reckoning: How to Fix a Failing Strategy

A decade ago, the conventional wisdom held that the world was on the cusp of a new era of cyberconflict in which catastrophic computer-based attacks would wreak havoc on the physical world. News media warned of doomsday scenarios; officials in Washington publicly fretted about a “cyber–Pearl Harbor” that would take lives and destroy critical infrastructure. The most dire predictions, however, did not come to pass. The United States has not been struck by devastating cyberattacks with physical effects; it seems that even if U.S. adversaries wanted to carry out such assaults, traditional forms of deterrence would prevent them from acting.

Behind those mistaken warnings lay an assumption that the only alternative to cyberpeace must be cyberwar. But in the years since, it has become clear that like all realms of conflict, the domain of cyberspace is shaped not by a binary between war and peace but by a spectrum between those two poles—and most cyberattacks fall somewhere in that murky space. The obvious upside of this outcome is that the worst fears of death and destruction have not been realized. There is a downside, however: the complex nature of cyberconflict has made it more difficult for the United States to craft an effective cyberstrategy. And even if lives have not been lost and infrastructure has mostly been spared, it is hardly the case that cyberattacks have been harmless. U.S. adversaries have honed their cyber-skills to inflict damage on U.S. national security, the American economy, and, most worrisome of all, American democracy. Meanwhile, Washington has struggled to move past its initial perception of the problem, clinging to outmoded ideas that have limited its responses. The United States has also demonstrated an unwillingness to consistently confront its adversaries in the cyber-realm and has suffered from serious self-inflicted wounds that have left it in a poor position to advance its national interests in cyberspace.

To do better, the United States must focus on the most pernicious threats of all: cyberattacks aimed at weakening societal trust, the underpinnings of democracy, and the functioning of a globalized economy. The Biden administration seems to recognize the need for a new approach. But to make significant progress, it will need to reform the country’s cyberstrategy, starting with its most fundamental aspect: the way Washington understands the problem.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(Economist Leader) What would America fight for?

Unfortunately, America is tiring of its role as guarantor of the liberal order. The giant has not exactly fallen asleep again, but its resolve is faltering and its enemies are testing it. Vladimir Putin is massing troops on the border with Ukraine and could soon invade. China is buzzing Taiwan’s airspace with fighter jets, using mock-ups of American aircraft-carriers for target practice and trying out hypersonic weapons. Iran has taken such a maximalist stance at nuclear talks that many observers expect them to collapse. Thus, two autocratic powers threaten to seize land currently under democratic control, and a third threatens to violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty by building a nuclear bomb. How far would America go to prevent such reckless acts?

Joe Biden can sound forceful, at times. On December 7th he warned Mr Putin of severe consequences if Russia were to launch another attack on Ukraine. He has maintained sanctions on Iran. And in October he said that America had a “commitment” to defend Taiwan, though aides insisted policy has not changed. (America has long refused to say whether it would send forces to repel a Chinese invasion, so as not to encourage any Taiwanese action that might provoke one.) China was left wondering whether Mr Biden misspoke or was craftily hinting at a more robust stance. On December 7th America’s House of Representatives passed a big boost to the defence budget. Also this week Mr Biden was to hold a “Summit for Democracy”, to encourage countries that respect the rules to club together.

And yet, as our Briefing explains, America has become reluctant to use hard power across much of the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Politics in General

(Nikkei Asia) 80 years since Pearl Harbor: How the attack reshaped Asia

President Franklin Roosevelt’s somber speech to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives the day after “naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet — “a date which will live in infamy,” in his estimation — has indeed never been forgotten.

“It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days, or even weeks ago,” said Roosevelt. He noted that Malaya, Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island and Midway Island were also attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, but neglected to mention that Japanese forces had begun invading Thailand hours earlier, on Dec. 8, across the international date line.

Some scholars have pondered what might have happened if Japan had only moved in Southeast Asia and not attacked Pearl Harbor. Where would the Americans have been? Would Japan have kept its Asian conquests

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Asia, History, Military / Armed Forces

Looking Back 80 years–Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Japan, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

A voice always worth listening to: (NPR)–The NIH director on why Americans aren’t getting healthier, despite medical advances

Selena Simmons-Duffin: After you announced you’d be stepping down from the director role, you told the New York Times that one of your “chief regrets” was the persistence of vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic. How are you thinking about the role NIH could play in understanding this problem?

Francis Collins: I do think we need to understand better how — in the current climate — people make decisions. I don’t think I anticipated the degree to which the tribalism of our current society would actually interfere with abilities to size up medical information and make the kinds of decisions that were going to help people.

To have now 60 million people still holding off of taking advantage of life saving vaccines is pretty unexpected. It does make me, at least, realize, boy, there are things about human behavior that I don’t think we had invested enough into understanding. We basically have seen accurate medical information overtaken, all too often, by the inaccurate conspiracies and false information on social media. It’s a whole other world out there. We used to think that if knowledge was made available from credible sources, it would win the day. That’s not happening now.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(WSJ) China Seeks First Military Base on Africa’s Atlantic Coast, U.S. Intelligence Finds

Classified American intelligence reports suggest China intends to establish its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean in the tiny Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, according to U.S. officials.

The officials declined to describe details of the secret intelligence findings. But they said the reports raise the prospect that Chinese warships would be able to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast of the U.S.—a threat that is setting off alarm bells at the White House and Pentagon.

Principal deputy U.S. national security adviser Jon Finer visited Equatorial Guinea in October on a mission to persuade President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his son and heir apparent, Vice President Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue, to reject China’s overtures.

“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime-security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving [Chinese] activity there would raise national-security concerns,” said a senior Biden administration official.

The great-power skirmishing over a country that rarely draws outside attention reflects the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The two countries are sparring over the status of Taiwan, China’s testing of a hypersonic missile, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, America/U.S.A., China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(Unherd) Mary Harrington–The key is Anthropology, why Public order has been sacrificed on the altar of empathy in America

Are humans naturally good given the right circumstances? Or are we flawed and in need of threats and guidelines to keep us on the straight and narrow? The split is a legacy of radical ideas stretching back to the revolutionary 18th century.

Perhaps the most famous proponent of intrinsic human goodness is Rousseau, who claimed in Emile (1762) that children are born virtuous. As Rousseau sees it, we only need freedom, love and the right environment to spontaneously come to an understanding of what’s right.

When Emile was first published, it stood in stark challenge to the then-dominant view, emerging from the Christian tradition, that humans are tainted by ‘original sin’. From this vantage point, we’re naturally flawed, and must always struggle against our less virtuous instincts. Rousseau’s claim so appalled adherents of this then-dominant view that copies of his book were burned in the street.

Today, though, the boot is on the other foot. The high-status view among contemporary elites is unmistakeably Team Rousseau.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, History, Philosophy

Thursday Morning Encouragement–An unforgettable story about the tremendous impact of one teacher

Listen to it all (just under 6 minutes).


(Hat tip: EH)

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, History, Poetry & Literature

(PRC) Latest Pew Survey Includes American’s Views of the Afterlife

The new survey also asked about views of the afterlife, finding that many Americans believe in an afterlife where suffering either ends entirely or continues in perpetuity.

Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. adults (73%) say they believe in heaven, while a smaller share – but still a majority (62%) – believe in hell. Both figures are similar to what the Center found when it last asked these questions, in 2017. Among Christians, overwhelming majorities of all major subgroups express belief in heaven, but Protestants who belong to the evangelical and historically Black Protestant traditions are more likely than mainline Protestants and Catholics to express belief in hell. Meanwhile, roughly a quarter of U.S. adults say they believe in neither heaven nor hell, including 7% who believe in some other kind of afterlife and 17% who do not believe in any afterlife at all.

Americans who expressed belief in heaven and hell were asked several questions about what they think those places are like. The vast majority of those who believe in heaven – which is most U.S. adults – say they believe heaven is “definitely” or “probably” a place where people are free from suffering, are reunited with loved ones who died previously, can meet God, and have perfectly healthy bodies. And about half of all Americans (i.e., most of those who believe in hell) view hell as a place where people experience psychological and physical suffering and become aware of the suffering they created in the world. A similar share says that people in hell cannot have a relationship with God.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Eschatology, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, Is Dead at 91

Stephen Sondheim, one of Broadway history’s songwriting titans, whose music and lyrics raised and reset the artistic standard for the American stage musical, died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91.

His lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas, announced the death, which he described as sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury, Mr. Pappas said.

An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.

His work melded words and music in a way that enhanced them both. From his earliest successes in the late 1950s, when he wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” through the 1990s, when he wrote the music and lyrics for two audacious musicals, “Assassins,” giving voice to the men and women who killed or tried to kill American presidents, and “Passion,” an operatic probe into the nature of true love, he was a relentlessly innovative theatrical force.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music, Theatre/Drama/Plays

A Thankgiving Menu from 1899

Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, History

(WSJ) Melanie Kirkpatrick–Thanksgiving, 1789

It is hard to imagine America’s favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.

The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to “wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God….”

It fell to a New Englander to stand up in support of Thanksgiving. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman praised Boudinot’s resolution as “a laudable one in itself.” It also was “warranted by a number of precedents” in the Bible, he said, “for instance the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple.”

In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed—the precise vote is not recorded—and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.

The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” He asked Americans to render their “sincere and humble thanks” to God for “his kind care and protection of the People of this Country.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(Local Paper Editorial) Editorial: On this day, we give thanks for our many blessings

Giving thanks is a central part of most religions. Indeed, the American celebration of Thanksgiving that we trace (accurately or not) to 1621, that was first officially declared by George Washington and made permanent by Abraham Lincoln and later enshrined in law by the Congress was conceived as a religious holiday — although with a far different meaning than the traditional period of prayerful fasting that defined the thanksgiving that the Pilgrims brought with them from England.

But thanksgiving is not exclusively religious. The Mayo Clinic (and pretty much any public health expert) tells us that regularly recognizing our blessings increases our happiness, along with our physical health: “In addition to helping you get more sleep, practicing gratitude can boost your immunity and decrease your risk of disease.”

So today, whether we’re religious or secular or somewhere in between, whether we’re able to be with family or friends or not, we give thanks for blessings that we cannot begin to count.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., History

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war — for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

Happy American Thanksgiving to all Blog Readers!

Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, History