To get the year going, some recent insights.
First, i’ve noticed yet another example of the exceptionally high level of public politeness enjoyed here in San Francisco. When local automobile drivers feel a need to double park because they can’t be bothered to hunt for a legal parking place, they invariably pull over into the bike lane so as not to block a vehicle lane and inconvenience fellow motorists. How kind of them although one got rather annoyed at me the other day as i swerved into the vehicle lane around his car and nearly hit him when he went running out in front of me to get back into it.
And second, it has occurred to me that in three years my birth date will be closer to the Civil War than to the current date. Well, math was never my forte, so check me on this, but when i subtract 1865 from 1941 i get 76. And 2018 minus 1941 equals 77. Is that scary or what?
Finally, what’s going on with the Roman Catholic Church? They now have a new Pope who’s dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st century by daring to suggest that the Church might extend a little more kindness to gays rather than fight tooth and nail against them like San Francisco’s archbishop, who argued at length last year in two official letters to the Senate against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with the logic that ending employment discrimination against them would just encourage the beastlie sodomites. A Pope who’s declared that there is something wrong with runaway capitalism that impoverishes the many while enriching the few, getting himself branded a “Marxist” by the American right. A Pope who suggests that global warming poses a real threat to the world, most particularly the millions who live in low lying coastal areas, and thus evoking howls of outrage from conservatives.
What a refreshing change!
Especially for those of us who remember the first half of the last century, when the Church eagerly accommodated fascist regimes like those of Franco and Mussolini and Hitler as epitomized by the Reichskonkordat, drawn up between the German government and the Vatican in 1933, in which the Church threw its support behind the Nazi party in return for Nazi guarantees of Church autonomy. The Reichskonkordat was then used by the Nazis to get the votes of faithful Catholics in the election later that year, thus ensuring Hitler’s rise to power.
Here’s a sample poster from the Nazis’ political campaign. Yes, a little hard to read owing to the old Fraktur typeface, but the first sentence asks, “Why must the Catholics vote for Adolf Hitler’s parliamentary list?” The rest of the poster explains the guarantees provided by the Reichskonkordat. The Volksabstimmung (referendum) at the bottom was about whether Germany should leave the League of Nations. It passed.