Showing posts from 2021

Musing about the alternative to vaccination

Persons choosing not to receive a vaccination to protect against Covid-19 need to consider the moral meaning of their choice. If vaccination is a sacramental act (cf. my last Ethical Musings post ), then what is the spiritual or ethical meaning of not being vaccinated? Among the several reasons that may lead a person to refuse vaccination are: Suspicion of rapidly developed and government approved vaccines, seen from the perspective of historically justified distrust of prior government medical experimentation on members of certain racial or ethnic groups without first obtaining a person’s informed consent Membership in a faith community, such as Christian Science, that rejects all medical treatment Having an actual medical condition that makes vaccination against the Covid-19 virus hazardous Believing one or more lies regarding the virus (e.g., Covid-19 is no worse than the flu) or the vaccines (e.g., the vaccine contains a microchip or the vaccine permanently alters the recipient

Vaccination as a sacramental act

  Dr. David C. McDuffie (Senior Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro – cf. his bio at ) has written an excellent article on vaccination as a sacramental act. His article, “ On Life, Grace, and Vaccines: A Sacramental Approach to Public Health ,” is available on the website of the Berkley Center, Georgetown University. One of Lent’s purposes is to remind Christians of their personal mortality. In this pandemic year, being reminded of one’s mortality may feel redundant. Another of Lent’s purposes is to remind Christians of their dependence upon God. And yet a third purpose of Lent is to remind Christians of our interconnectedness with one another and with creation. Being vaccinated, when the vaccine is available and it is one’s turn, is an act of restorative justice, moving one toward being able to rejoin the larger community safely. Being vaccinated, when the vaccine is available and it is one’s

A purpose driven life

In 2002, Rick Warren, pastor of the 30,000 member Saddleback Church, published the bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren’s answer to the title’s question is that everybody shares a single purpose, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. I found his book’s contents boring, predictable and unhelpful. Warren and I have conflicting understandings of the Christian gospel, e.g., his is exclusive and mine inclusive. Apparently, a majority of the people who bought Warren’s book agree with my assessment. Based upon their actions, a majority of purchasers either did not read the book or read and then ignored Warren’s prescriptions. Nevertheless, the title of Warren’s book resonated deeply with me. One of the first sociologists, Emile Durkheim, argued that individuals who commit suicide do so because the person can find no meaning in life. Existentialist philosophes and theologians similarly posit that the search for meaning is life’s central question. R

A new day

My family of origin would spend Christmas one year at home in Maine and the next year with my grandparents who lived in the Carolinas. On our journey home from those visits, we invariably spent a day in Washington, DC. One or more Smithsonian museums was always part of the stopover. As time permitted and competing interests desired, we went to other sites. One year in the mid-1960s (I do not remember the exact year), we visited the U.S. Capitol. There were no entry tickets, security checkpoints or mandatory tours. We simply wandered around the building on our own. I vividly remember that at one point we found ourselves unable to go forward. A guard blocked the entrance to what in retrospect was probably the Senate floor. An intrepid pre-teen, I told my family to follow me and led them to an elevator that took us to the next floor. Only when I exited the elevator did I notice asmall sign by the elevator’s entrance that read “Senators Only.” A new day has dawned. No longer are such a

What to do about Donald Trump - part 2

What legal actions, if any, should the government take with respect to President Donald Trump? As Rep. Liz Cheney (R, WY) later said, “There’s no question the president formed the mob. The president incited the mob. The president addressed the mob. He lit the flame.” Impeachment. Although Congress cannot move with sufficient speed to impeach and convict President Trump before he leaves office on January 20. Congress should impeach and convict Trump. That will disqualify him from holding federal office in the future, making official what his actions have already made unofficial. Indictment and Trial. Legal action against President Trump is pending in more than one non-federal jurisdiction. These actions should proceed. If the President pardons himself, the pardon covers only federal offenses, not state offenses. Given currently available public information, the federal government should not pursue charges against Trump. Federal investigation(s) will send a mixed signal (is the inves

What to do about Donald Trump - part 1

President Donald Trump invited supporters to gather in Washington on January 6, 2021, prior to Congress counting the Electoral College’s votes. Trump encouraged the crowd to walk to Capitol Hill where they should protest because the election results were “an egregious assault” on American democracy. He said, in part, “We are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them – because you will never take back our country with weakness.” Trump’s son, Donald Jr. (“We’re coming for you”), and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani (“trial by combat”), who both spoke before the President did, were more explicit in suggesting violence. How should the preponderance of US citizens who found the actions of the mob that invaded Capitol Hill and temporarily disrupted the certifying of the Electoral College results shocking, abhorrent and reprehensible? First, outrage, excessive passion and exaggeration are un

Predictions for 2021

Last year, I made several predictions for 2020. My 2020 predictions were my most accurate in the twelve years that I’ve been making predictions. Critically, I failed to foresee the “black swan” Covid-19 pandemic. Below, red annotations report the accuracy of each prediction. The Senate will fail to convict Trump; he will finish his first term in office. Accurate. The presidential election will be hard fought. Trump’s base will remain loyal. The Democrats, at this time, lack a charismatic candidate who can easily defeat Trump. The race will turn on a handful of battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida. The outcome of the election will hinge on events that occur between now and November. Accurate. Democrats will hold on to a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives; Republicans will continue to control the Senate in 2021. Accurate with respect to the House. The composition of the Senate was not determined by the end of 2020. The stock market’s decade l