I watched the president's speech Thursday night, and while I felt he did a good job, with the nation divided between those who see the existential peril to democracy all too clearly, and those clamoring for disaster to come quickly, I'm not sure what good his words will do. I was glad not to have to comment on it, and gladder that our North Shore Bureau Chief Caren Jeskey took up the challenge.
By Caren Jeskey
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald
My tribe understands what the phrase “separation of church and state” means. We know that all instructional tomes, whether political, religious, or other, need to be revisited regularly, and amended to fit the current times. The Old Testament of the religion I was born into, Christianity, is hilarious. This text is also in the Orthodox Jewish Bible:
“The priest could not marry a prostitute, a defiled woman, a divorced woman, or even a widow. In order for the priestly line to be pure, he could only marry a virgin of his own people.”
“For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach [the altar]: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, or crookback, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken. He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries.”
No wonder generations of people being spoon-fed this stuff have lost their ability to see the intrinsic dignity of all human life and the absurdity of a false sense of supremacy.
An astute client commented that “progress is a pendulum.” As we watch years of growth being ripped away, she helped me remember that solace can be found in the idea that things will right themselves again. Especially with diligent efforts.
Okay, some things make sense. It was my sister’s birthday this week. We sat on the patio of The Fireside Restaurant on Ravenswood, pausing for Metra trains loudly whooshing by. My Grandma Olive and Grandpa Carl were across the street at Rosehill.
I've been thinking a lot about Olive lately. My mother’s mother. My sister and I have a bit of her in us. She got on a train from a boarding house in Wilmington, Delaware and headed to Chicago in 1927 at the age of 14. She was born on November 25, 1913, and lost both of her parents before she was one year old.
Lore has it that Olive’s folks were butchers. Since she left at such a young age with no mementos we lost the story of our ancestors, but they were Irish or Welsh. I perused the Wilmington Gazette and noticed a story from October or 1907 when Olive was not even a glimmer in her parents’ eyes. “Butchers Off to Chester: Members of the ‘Wilmington Butchers’ Association left this city at 1:30 o’clock over the Pennsylvania Railroad, for Chester, where they will be entertained by the butchers of Chester.” I pictured my great grandparents being entertained by men and women wrangling sows in white aprons on that journey.
Joe Biden is often described as a scrappy Irish Catholic (and as you know, raised his family in Olive’s home city). I think his family and mine might have a thing or two in common.
To entertain myself further, I read a bit of the Evening Journal on the day of Olive’s birth. Strange random poems and musings pop up throughout the news of the day, such as oil lamp fires, bike thefts and murders. “The Thirteen Hoodoo: There are thirteen letters in the name Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson was the thirteenth president of Princeton. President Wilson was nominated on the thirteenth of the month. Adding 1, 9, 1, 2, the year in which he was nominated makes 13.”
I’m going to do my best to get my personal pendulum to swing into a simple time where little ditties like Thirteen Hoodoo can drown out the overwhelming amount of conflict and confusion we face in the world today.