The Kingdom And The Powah

February 9, 2022

When I first heard Billy Graham, on the radio, I felt related.  He spoke like my father’s family from the mountains north of Asheville, NC. He would say heah for here. and continya for continue. I never saw him in person, but his full voice and clear phrasing rode the radio waves to my room. I turned away from my high school homework to hear about the choice I must make (but never did).  Those were the prosperous postwar years, and, “With President Eisenhower he (Graham) helped forge a connection between religion and patriotism designed to unite Americans against communism,” […]

The Nature of Pantheism

January 29, 2022

The neo-cons in the George W. Bush administration never documented what they owed to Leo Strauss. All I recall is that they claimed to have been students of philosophy under the brilliant refugee from Nazi Germany.  By mere association with these U.S. politicians he has been “accused,” according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, of being “the intellectual godfather of the neo-conservative political movement” and therefore of the Iraq war (18 years after his death). My speculation is that what rang a bell for neo-con leader Paul Wolfowitz was the Strauss commentary on Spinoza and Maimonides in Persecution And The […]

The Way To Heaven

November 21, 2021

WOOD-FIRED open-air cremation is the way to go in Crestone, Colorado.  I distinctly remember four of these lawful funerals held in a circular sanctuary on a hill on the sandy side of the San Luis Valley, below the highest of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It always begins in the stillness before dawn. Two of the dead were wives of my friends, another had been a generous potter everyone knew and the last was an officious community leader. The husband and three sons of the first woman wore kilts and moved her frail bundle to the pyre with Scot dignity. […]

Spreading The Word

August 1, 2021

    THE MILLENNIUM  began at midnight in Australia with a blazing word on the Sydney harbor bridge: “Eternity” in a flowing script called copperplate. What was it supposed to mean? By then Aussies — but few of the global TV watchers —  knew the story behind it.  There was a writer — Arthur Stace — whose work consisted of one word, written in chalk on the hard surfaces of Sydney for nearly four decades beginning in the 1930’s. The 1994 Telluride Film Festival showed a documentary called “Eternity” that told the story in black and white. I saw it […]

His Holiness In The Villa Of Holy Faith

July 5, 2021

In the golf comedy “Caddyshack” Bill Murray, playing the blundering groundskeeper, brags:  “I caddied for the Dalai Lama.”  Doug Preston, a Santa Fe writer, can say, “I rode a ski lift with the Dalai Lama.”  But it’s no laff line. It’s true.  His reminiscence in Slate releases a flood of links on Google if you search Dalai Lama Santa Fe. It happened at the end of the season at Santa Fe Ski Area, the first week of April 30 years ago. His Holiness broke from a demanding schedule and asked his host driver to turn the rented limo onto a […]

Recognizing The Gentleman From America

April 9, 2021

I RECALL Professor Charles Nilon, teaching a class in modern novels at Boulder, identified Ernest Hemingway as “an American gentleman.” The memory surfaced as I watched the first episode of the Ken Burns documentary on PBS. Like a British noble, Hemingway toured the colonies, hunted trophy animals, behaved well in military combat, was a sportsman and manly drinker and was covered royally by the press. His life spanned the age of magazine photography, and many of those artful pictures illustrate the Burns production. Nilon was the first Black faculty member at the University of Colorado, a status that was celebrated when […]

How To Tell A Fake Human

March 30, 2021

“Klara And The Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro is a tale told by a robot living — if that is the right word — in an AI-governed dystopia  where automatons imitate humans and ambitious parents submit their children to “genetic editing” for success in the vicious meritocracy. She (Klara) is an “AF” (artificial friend) bought like a pet for Josie, a bright teenager suffering from the possibly fatal complications of her “lifting” as the risky gene procedure is called. Klara’s objective narration creates a mood of normalcy about all this. Everyday conversations seem to be normal until the ending of this […]

Getting Jabbed In The County Seat

January 10, 2021

THE VACCINES are federal but the vaccinations are local. I was wondering how the two levels of government were meshing as I began to roll across the San Luis Valley to the community center in Saguache to get the first of my covid jabs, as the Brits call them. (We call them shots, but that word has to be shared with bartenders, photographers and gun-owners.) In Colorado half the jabs are being done by hospitals, but Saguache County has no hospitals, or for that matter, no Walgreens. It was the day after the assault on Congress, so it seemed significant […]

Excoriation Nation

October 14, 2020

Myra Ellen Jenkins would be happy she is not alive now. There is such a thing as living too long. I wrote in the 1980’s about her involvement as New Mexico state historian in the first controversy over the historic obelisk in the center of the Santa Fe Plaza. It was all about a word.  It was no deeper than a word. We are familiar with this simplicity these days. The stone monument erected about a century and a half ago had four sides, each in memory of soldiers who had died in combat, but the main purpose was to […]

A Thick Description Of A Deep Time

October 9, 2020

A UNM UNDERGRADUATE  named Federico Antonio Reade called me in Santa Fe in the fall of 1980 asking to record  my recollections of the Rio Arriba County Court House Raid — a northern New Mexico rebellion that already was fading beneath a wash of scholarly interpretation. I had been the only journalist (and the only visible Anglo) anywhere near that rural court house on June 5, 1967, when Reies Lopez Tijerina and a dozen armed men — in the role of dispossessed heirs to historic land grants — stormed up the wooden stairs. They were there to free their jailed […]

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