The climate change issue is a perfect storm for conservative personality and conservative ideology. It is a form of impact science that represents a massive threat to the existing social and economic order, and in so doing, incidentally threatens demographic identity groups invested in the status quo. Solutions will require massive government intervention, the prospect of which is particularly threatening to the especially individualistic, small-government aspects of American conservative ideology.
Excerpt from “Science Denial” (Chapter 2, p.109), The Truth About Denial: Bias and Self-Deception in Science, Politics, and Religion by Adrian Bardon, Oxford University Press, New York, USA, 2020.
DR. ADRIAN BARDON is a professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, where he teaches courses on political philosophy, philosophy of religion, philosophy of space and time, and the history of philosophy. He is the author of A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time (OUP 2013), as well as numerous scholarly articles on time, perception, politics, and the history of philosophy.
My Poetry Corner October 2021 features the poem “My Empire” from the poetry collection Pilgrim Bell: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2021) by Iranian American poet Kaveh Akbar. Born in Tehran to an American mother and Iranian father, Kaveh was two years old when his family migrated to the United States, first settling in Pennsylvania. When Kaveh was five years old, they moved to the Midwest, living in Wisconsin and later Indiana. Since his parents only spoke English at home, the poet speaks little Farsi, his first language.
Akbar earned his MFA at Butler University in Indiana and a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University. He currently teaches at Purdue University (Indiana) and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College (Virginia) and Warren Wilson College (North Carolina). Since September 2020, he also serves as the poetry editor of the progressive magazine, The Nation.
Pilgrim Bell is Akbar’s second poetry following his recovery from alcohol addiction. In “Seven Years Sober,” he writes: Trust God but tie your camel. Trust / God. The bottle by the bed the first / few weeks. Just in case. Trust…. He acknowledges in “Cotton Candy” that his mother wept nightly for eight years / my living / curled its hands around her throat / not choking exactly but like the squeeze / of an outgrown collar…
Based on what Columbus told Peter Martyr, who recorded his voyages, Martyr wrote: “They seeme to live in that golden worlde of the which olde writers speake so much, wherein menne lived simply and innocently without enforcement of lawes, without quarreling, judges and libelles, content onely to satisfie nature, without further vexation for knowledge of things to come.” [As quoted by Edmund S. Morgan in his article “Columbus’ Confusion About the New World”]
Not until his third voyage (1498-1500) did Columbus sight the coastline of Guiana but made no attempt at landing. The Dutch, the first to settle Guiana, referred to this forbidding region of dense tropical rainforest, stretching between the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers on the South American mainland, as “The Wild Coast.” After two centuries of Dutch rule (1600s to 1803) and another century of British rule, the indigenous peoples of then British Guiana, called Amerindians, had lost sovereignty over their territories. Beginning in 1902, the British forced them into reservations.
In Dog Bone Soup: A Boomer’s Journey, Maine author Bette A. Stevens reminds us that being poor should not define who we are as individuals. With determination as well as the helping hand and guidance of those who care, we can become the person we aspire to be. Herself a boomer, Stevens takes us back to America of the 1950s and 1960s. On leaving home to enter the U.S. Army, eighteen-year-old Shawn Daniels looks back on growing up in Lebanon, Maine, where his family was scorned as “nothing but poor white trash.”
Shawn’s narrative contains no mention of the year or his age. Only his school grade records the passing years. His earliest memory is of watching mice scamper across the rafters as he lay in bed at nights. Having one as a pet appealed to him. Their home was a two-room log cabin with two small windows. About four years old at the time, he was too young to understand how harsh conditions were for his mother to raise three kids without electricity and indoor plumbing.
When his mother moved out, taking only his baby sister with her, Shawn’s life and that of his younger brother took a downward turn. Gone were his days of fishing with his dad. For about a year or so, the brothers lived in a foster home with strict rules. They went hungry and were often confined to their room as punishment for misbehavior or bad table manners.
We humans have re-created the surface of our planet in our own image. Then, for control of the masses by a few, we have constructed multiple realities of what it means to be a human. To further manipulate and distort facts and reality, we have entered what some regard as “the post-truth age.” With the aid of algorithms, disinformation whips across social media networks like hurricane force winds, rupturing human interactions within the physical spaces we share. For how much longer can our communities withstand this mounting chaos without implosion?
My Poetry Corner September 2021 features the poem “That Moment an Enormous Tail” (Um Enorme Rabo de Baleia) from the poetry collection Tail of the Whale (Rabo de Baleia) by Brazilian poet Alice Sant’Anna. Born in 1988 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Alice grew up in a very artistic home: Her father was a photographer; her mother was a fashion producer. As a child, she learned to play several musical instruments. Then, at fifteen years old, her artistic future veered toward poetry. Such was the impact after she read the poetry of Brazil’s “marginal generation” poet Ana Cristina César (1952-1983).
During the 1970s the “marginal generation” poets published their books independently, earning the title “marginal.” Following the oral tradition, their poetry used a colloquial and informal style.
Sant’Anna credits her experience of studying abroad in learning “how to be alone, in silence,” critical for her creative process. Her first trip abroad was to New Zealand where she spent a semester as a sixteen-year-old high school student. There, she began writing poetry while adapting to life in a very small town.
As a twenty-year-old undergraduate in journalism at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) of Rio de Janeiro, Sant’Anna published her first book of poetry. In 2009, a year before her graduation, she went to Paris for a semester, providing an impetus for working on her second book, Tail of the Whale (Rabo de Baleia).
In 2013, the year she earned her Masters’ Degree in Literature and Culture at PUC, Sant’Anna’s poetry collection was published to great acclaim, winning the APCA Poetry Prize from the São Paulo Art Critics Association. The collection was published in English in 2016 with translation by Tiffany Higgins, an award-winning American poet and translator.
Breaking free from the Roman Catholic Church did not happen overnight. The fear of Hell, embedded since childhood, is a powerful force. I began questioning the Church’s religious teachings and practices during my seven years in the convent. A beginners’ course in Anthropology, taken as a final year university undergraduate, led me to reconsider the nature of being human and our roles as male and female. I recall having an epiphany about the need to change the rules regarding the Church’s Sacrament of Matrimony that was out of touch with our times.
After leaving the convent, I began exploring other religions and spiritual teachings in search of a more expansive vision of The Divine. Having grown up among Hindus, I was aware that they believe in reincarnation after death. The Buddhists, too, I discovered, also embrace reincarnation. The thought of being born again in what I’ve experienced as a violent and unjust world did not appeal to me.
During the year I worked at the University of Guyana Library, a librarian recommended that I read Reincarnation & Karma by Edgar Cayce (1877-1945). The American psychic struck me as authentic. Instead of condemnation to Hell for eternity, reincarnation gives our soul several chances to make up for mistakes made, wrongs committed. Justice beyond the grave. I began looking at my life and our world with different lenses. Who did I wrong or hurt in past lives?
I was pregnant with our second child when my husband and I joined the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Since receiving my mantra from our certified Guyanese TM teacher, I continue to practice the daily mantra meditation. With varying degrees of success over the years, I have used the technique not only as a form of awareness and stress relief, but also to access a higher state of consciousness.
My break with the Catholic Church occurred about a year and a half after we migrated to Brazil. That’s about ten years after leaving the convent. South America’s largest country and economy also held the top-ranking position as the country with the world’s largest Catholic population. The poverty I witnessed every day on the streets of Fortaleza, capital of the Northeastern State of Ceará, shocked me. Though Guyana was numbered among the poorest countries on the continent, I had never seen hordes of children, including toddlers, roaming the streets in search of food. Where was the Catholic Church? What were they doing to address the poverty and destitution in their midst?
Read Rosaliene Bacchus’ second novel The Twisted Circle when you have a completely free weekend, because you may not be able to put it down. Set in a tropical Guyana, South America, the story based on the country’s history follows a Catholic nun about to take her vows who teaches in a rural school. The […]
While The Twisted Circle is a work of fiction, it has been inspired by real events that occurred during my final year in a Catholic convent in my native land of Guyana. This presented a challenge when creating unique characters who did not mirror the true-life individuals. To distance myself from the protagonist, Sister Barbara Lovell, I made her a dougla—a person of African and East Indian ancestry, the country’s two major racial and ethnic populations. With a family background much different from mine, her journey led to its own resolution for the character.
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1 when readers first meet Sister Barbara:
SISTER BARBARA LOVELL’S life was unraveling like the thread in the hem of her habit. Seated under the mid-morning September sky at the passengers’ waiting area at the Ogle Airstrip, she squeezed her thighs together and adjusted her habit hanging over her knees.
What had she done for Father Andrew Peterson to make his hands fast with her? She was just a plain dougla woman—a mixture of African and East Indian, descendants of slaves and indentured laborers fighting each other for supremacy in Guyana. Their thirteen-year-old independent nation still suffered from the hangover of British colonial rule.
Father Peterson, her parish priest and local-born son of a former British sugar plantation owner, was pale skinned like cow’s milk and tough like cane stalk. Her family had raised her to revere white priests like him.
Her Vow of Chastity was a personal choice. Perhaps, the same was not true for Father Peterson. Catholic Church law dictated that clergymen practice celibacy, yet the law did not stop him from forcing himself on her.
She tucked her sandaled feet beneath the three-seat wooden bench. Beside her on the left, Sister Angela, who had insisted on driving her to Ogle, chatted with a buxom, black woman. From snippets of their conversation, Barbara learned that the woman’s seventeen-year-old daughter had run off with a married man.
In her late forties, the white American nun had been her favorite teacher at St. John’s Catholic High School for girls. Those were the days before the government took over the church-run schools and turned them into co-ed public schools.
As a twelve-year-old in Form One, Barbara had difficulty understanding Sister Angela’s fast-spoken American English, different from British English. In the years that followed, the nun’s firm but kind and generous personality attracted her to joining the Religious Sisters of Christ the Redeemer—an American order with its Provincialate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Though Angela had become her religious mentor and friend, Barbara did not tell Angela what had driven her to move to their isolated sister-convent in Guyana’s North West District. Angela worshipped Father Peterson.
Only Hazel knew.
Seven years ago, in January 1972, she and Hazel, three years older, had entered the convent together. Hazel, too, had grown up in the countryside along the East Coast Demerara where sugarcane and rice lands jostled for sunshine and rain. As a black woman, Hazel understood how intimidating it was for Barbara to confront a white priest—and an older man at that.
Barbara wanted to report the incident to the Bishop; Hazel had disagreed.
“Anybody see him grab you?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Then is his word against yours. And you know, in this country, the white man tongue never lie, much less a priest.”