Category Archives: Religion

It’s Mourning in America

If you are among those conservative folks who simultaneously believes that abortion—even in the first trimester—is murder, and you also happen to be in favor of the death penalty, I hope you’ll be ready to start executing women and doctors who defy your celebration of today’s US Supreme Court ruling, which overturns Roe v. Wade after fifty years. The conservatives aren’t done yet. One of the concurring justices in today’s decision, the repulsive Clarence Thomas, thinks that today’s decision can very well impact the court’s rulings on contraception, sodomy, and same-sex marriage. (And under the radar today, the Court even eroded Miranda rights.)

It’s mourning in America.*

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* For those who don’t ‘get’ the title of this post, it’s a play on Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign ad—given that the Reagan administration was the first to so embolden the Religious Right and its war on humane, cosmopolitan, liberal values. Well, that war has finally borne rotten fruit.

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Postscript #1

On Facebook, enraged over today’s ruling, I added these points:

I confess that I’m most angry at those ‘libertarians’ who have traditionally sided with Republicans because they favor “less regulation” and “lower taxes”—for them, it’s all about “business”. Gotta oppose the “left wing” and their “woke” agenda, after all! Don’t worry about things like “abortion”, they were saying, because it’s been the law of the land for 50 years. “Nobody is gonna touch that!”

Well, we’re back to the patchwork of state-by-state illegalities that will make it impossible for poor people especially (poor people? who cares about them?!), living in states dominated by the reactionary right, to secure reproductive freedom. Those who supported the GOP for “economic” reasons traded-in people’s personal liberties and the looney-tune right-wingers have finally won out. [And mind you, there’s nothing about the GOP that will ever give you “less regulation” or “lower taxes”, given the GOP’s commitment to both economic nationalism and the military-industrial complex.]

My rage is only outstripped by my fear—that I will never live long enough to see the damage done today, undone.

And with Reason magazine telling us to chill because the “other conservative judges don’t necessarily agree with” Clarence Thomas, all I could add is: “F*^K him, F^%K them, and F&^% all of them who got behind the conservative agenda [of “low taxes” and “less regulation”], such that this could eventuate.”

And by “this“, I mean not only the erosion of reproductive freedoms but the reactionary war on profoundly personal liberties, which will only gain steam in the shadow of today’s obscene Court decision.

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Postscript #2

This New York Times piece tracks which states banned abortion today. And it tells us which states are on the way to a total ban or deep restrictions. This is a blow to human liberty. Those who voted in the SCOTUS majority be damned!

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Postscript #3

Ayn Rand was correct when she cited the moral bankruptcy of conservatism. She understood that the “pro-lifers” were at their core anti-life and anti-liberty. And she also understood the blatant attack on the poor that the denial of reproductive freedom would entail. From the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a “right to life.” A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.

The question of abortion involves much more than the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents. As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility; it is an impossible responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor; particularly if they are intelligent and conscientious enough not to abandon their child on a doorstep nor to surrender it to adoption. For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child’s physical and financial needs. The situation of an unwed mother, abandoned by her lover, is even worse.

Jim Peron’s “City Limits”

Having finished Jim Peron’s novel, City Limits, I sent him this blurb, and hope folks will check out the book! It can be purchased here.

Jim Peron has gifted us City Limits—a novel rich in characterization, adventure, charade, and humor, which takes us from a rural Kansas town to the ever-colorful Castro district of San Francisco. Peron’s laugh-out-loud portrait of a faith-healing evangelist crusade hellbent on keeping folks from embracing their inner truth is offset by a subtle shout-out to Ayn Rand, in her tribute to a “life, undefeated”. Though embedded in the particulars of a time and a place, this book’s poignant depiction of the search for individual authenticity and self-discovery carries with it universal appeal. A must read!

JARS: New July 2022 Issue!

The July 2022 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Volume 22, Number 1) will be making its debut on the Scholarly Publishing Collective soon—and will be on the way to print subscribers thereafter. The issue is dedicated to the memory of Merlin Jetton (1946-2022), who contributed seven essays to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies from 2006 through 2021. He was a valued member of the JARS family.

Our newest issue includes three highly provocative essays, two of which were written by writers (Philippe Chamy and David Tyson) who have never appeared in our pages. Here’s the line-up:

“The Empiricist’s New Clothes: David Hume and the Theft of Philosophy” – Dennis Hardin

“Glimpses of the Mystical Dimension of Ayn Rand’s Thought” – Philippe Chamy

“Should ‘The Metaphysics of Man’ Be a Sixth Branch of Objectivist Philosophy” – David Tyson

Check out the abstracts here and the contributor biographies here.

Postscript (27 June 2022): The July 2022 issue is now available on the Scholarly Publishing Collective.

“Roe, On the Edge”

It’s all over the news this morning. As David Leonhardt tells us in the New York Times:

The Supreme Court has decided to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to outlaw abortion, according to a written draft of the justices’ decision obtained by Politico.

Other publications have not confirmed the authenticity of the draft, and Supreme Court justices sometimes change their minds during the writing of opinions. But many legal observers are treating the draft as authentic and assuming that abortion policy in the U.S. is about to be transformed.

Among the reasons: The tone and style of the draft match those of earlier court decisions. The outcome also matches an outcome that seemed plausible based on the justices’ questions during arguments in December. After Politico published its story last night, the Supreme Court declined to comment.

If the court overturns Roe, many conservative states would likely outlaw nearly all abortions. One estimate suggests that the number of abortions in the U.S. would decline by about 14 percent, The Times’s Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz explain.

I note this here not to get into a debate on the reasoning of Roe v. Wade or to even debate the issue of when life begins. I note this here for one reason and one reason only: If this Court overturns Roe v. Wade, and throws it all back to the states, with many of the most neanderthal states looking to outlaw it completely, it will have annihilated the reproductive rights of women who have fought for a generation to secure them.

If folks thought the “culture war” has been raging out of control, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. A fight must be waged against those who have the audacity to think they can dictate what any woman can or should do with her own body and her own life.

Happy Eastern Orthodox Easter!

A very Happy Easter to all my Eastern Orthodox family and friends!

Easter Eggs Complete!

Easter Egg Surprise!

So we began the process of boiling our Easter Eggs this morning, and I decided to take one out for a rare omelette with my sister’s roasted peppers. Alas, I did not know how rare this would be! Lo and behold … a double yolk! There is a one-in-one thousand chance of this happening, apparently. Yin and Yang right there in a bowl! A Dialectical Sign for sure! Wow!

Holy Week Memories

This date, April 21, has special significance to me. On this date in 1974, I was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn—the same hospital in which I was born—to undergo life-saving intestinal by-pass surgery for Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. I often think of that hospital as the place in which I was born—and re-born.

It was also on this date—in 1995—that my mother, Ann Sciabarra, passed away at the age of 76, after a five-year-long battle with lung cancer. It was in the wee hours of Good Friday morning that she left us. She was one of the eight children of Vasilios P. Michalopoulos, my Papouli, who was the first pastor of the Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn. Her name in Greek was Anastasia. Father Eugene Pappas of that same church remarked at her funeral that it was just like my mother to have died on Good Friday, “only to be resurrected with Christ on Easter, her name day.” “Anastasia” is a derivative of “Anesti”, of the Resurrection, which is why Greeks say to one another on Orthodox Easter: “Christos Anesti” (or “Christ is Risen”).

This year, Good Friday falls on April 22, but it just so happens that today is Holy Thursday on the Greek Orthodox calendar. Which brings me to another one of those classic family memories …

Every year, Mom took my sister Elizabeth and me to Holy Week services. She never forced us to go weekly to Church as children or to attend Sunday school or Greek school (though, in retrospect, I could have used the latter—instead of a year-length course in dreadful statistics—toward a second foreign language requirement in my doctoral studies). But Holy Week was a different story altogether. We received communion, and typically attended services throughout the week, including Palm Sunday, the anointing of the Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday, the Holy Thursday evening procession of the cross, Jesus’s descent from the cross on Good Friday, and both the midnight resurrection service late Saturday night and the multilingual Easter Sunday morning Vespers of Agape. It should be noted that the Greeks go all-out. Those church services certainly helped me to appreciate the beauties of ritual, which speak to a sublime part of the human soul, whatever your religious beliefs.

On the night of Holy Thursday, in keeping with the Jewish tradition that the new day begins at sunset, Greeks begin to commemorate the events of Good Friday, marking the crucifixion, in which the cross is carried around the church, a replica of the body of Jesus often carried behind, only to be symbolically nailed to the cross once the procession makes its way to the front of the altar.

On this Holy Thursday night, back in 1971, when I was 11 years old, my sister and I accompanied my Mom to Three Hierarchs Church. The Twelve Gospel readings pertaining to the Passion were highlighted, in a re-enactment of the crucifixion. After the Fifth Gospel, the church was darkened and the cross was carried around the church in a mournful procession. Atop the cross were three lit candles. I was seated at the end of one of the front pews in the church, with a right aisle up-close view of the cross. The scent of the incense only heightened the sounds and visuals of the moment.

As the cross passed by me, the priest tipped it ever so slightly and hot wax from one of the candles dripped right onto my scalp. I let out an “Ow!” so loud that a few people turned around in obvious shock and contempt. Liz started to giggle, and I lost it. My mother saw what happened and kicked me under the pew. She leaned over and whispered in my ear: “Shhh! You got burned because you don’t go to Church!”

Well. This did not make matters better; my sister and I became convulsed with laughter, trying desperately to hide it. While elderly Greek women and men were moved to tears by the solemnity of the service, the tears were literally rolling down our faces, as we tried to contain our hysterics. Somehow, we made it out of that church without getting struck by lightning.

Safely outside, even Mom could not contain her own laughter, just shaking her head over the events of the night.

Memories, hilarious memories …

Hiromi Shinya Memorial Date

As Notablog readers know, I memorialized the trailblazing Dr. Hiromi Shinya in two previous posts back in December 2021 and January 2022. I was just informed by his daughter, Erica Kim, that a memorial service will be held for her father on Sunday, October 9, from 3:30pm at the Marble Collegiate Church, 1 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend, but I’m very happy that Dr. Shinya will be so honored.

Happy Passover, Western Easter, and Ramadan!

Three holidays converge this weekend, so I’m wishing my Jewish friends a Happy Passover, my Western Christian friends a Happy Easter, and my Islamic friends a Happy Ramadan.

The Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday today… so I’ll delay my Happy Eastern Easter greetings till next week! But a special story about Greek Orthodox Holy Week will be posted this coming Thursday. Stay tuned!

Sciabarra Household Getting Ready for Easter

Western Easter falls on April 17; Eastern Orthodox Easter falls on April 24. But here in the Sciabarra household, we’re getting ready for the holidays!

On Our Front Door
In the Dining Room
Toward the Kitchen
On the Hutch, with the Daffodils
By the Window
Toward the Living Room
And Our Window Display