Archive for Ethics – Page 3

Dinner Companions…

James Salter is one of my favorite writers. We had a lot of interests in common–both fighter pilots, skiers, climbers, Francophiles, and food lovers. He wrote elegantly about all of them – The Hunters, Downhill RacerSolo FacesA Sport and a PastimeLife is Meals — and I grieved when he died at age 90 in 2015 .

Yesterday, M and I decided to keep his Life is Meals, a book he wrote with his wife Kay,on our coffee table. Subtitled A Food Lover’s Book of Days, it presents a short entry, maybe a story, an historical anecdote, or a recipe for each day of the year. Today’s entry (June 23rd) is entitled “Dinner Companions” and begins “Epicurus, Montaigne and many others offer the same advice; choose the companions first. Certain people will be better with certain others. read more

Can We Stand Together?

M and I live in an autonomous zone, not the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) you’ve read about – where Black Lives Matter protestors are occupying six city blocks and a park in Seattle – but our own Covid-19 autonomous zone ten miles north of the CHAZ.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines autonomous, an adjective, as meaning:

  1. (Of a country or region) having the freedom to govern itself or control its own affairs (self-governing, independent, sovereign, free, self-ruling, self-sufficient)
  2. The freedom to act independently 
  3. (In Kantian moral philosophy) acting in accordance with one’s moral duty rather than one’s desires.

I’m not being flippant; M and I are locked down in our own “zone” to protect ourselves from the death-dealing virus but equally concerned – not about protests in the CHAZ – but over the mounting crisis in America. What can we do about it? This is about more than Covid-19. This is a global crisis with America is its epicenter. We sit in the throes of a viral pandemic with a surfeit of African-Americans dying at the hands (or knees) of white police officers and a White House willing to use pepper spray, flash bangs, and rubber bullets against peaceful protestors to clear a path for the president to stand awkwardly holding a Bible in front of a church. read more

“I Have No More Words.”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is a man of few words. He is the sometimes boyfriend of Mma Precious Ramotswe, the title character in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mr. Matekoni is a car mechanic in Botswana where the series is set. He is a simple man – wise and laconic – who, when asked to explain something, often responds with “I have no more words.” I use it jokingly when M pushes hard to continue a conversation I’m not comfortable with.

Today, it’s not a joke. It’s exactly how I feel. “I have no more words” to explain what’s currently consuming us – a killer virus, police brutality, racial division, a violent culture, government stalemate – in effect our whole existence on this 2nd of June 2020. read more

The Garden of Eden…(NRSV)

I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ve never understood the creation story in Genesis. Maybe God did create the world in seven days. That’s all fine, but I don’t get the Garden of Eden story.

My problem is that whether it’s literal, mythological, metaphorical or hallucinatory I don’t get the deal about the apple. I’m supposed to believe that God created a garden paradise, then made Adam and placed him in the garden, then fashioned Eve from one of Adam’s ribs to be his companion. So far so good – two perfect, beautiful, naked prototypes in paradise. read more

American Master…

We may all have a case of cabin fever but there is no scarcity of good books, videos, films, and music to keep us occupied while we wait for Covid-19 to be vanquished. On Sunday night M and I watched a beautifully made PBS documentary American Masters:Wyeth, chronicling the life and work of Andrew Wyeth the great American realist painter–who lived most of his life, by choice, in self-isolation. 

While taking an art history class in the 1950s, I became aware of Mr. Wyeth’s work but didn’t understand how to place it in the continuum of American art. Neither did the arts experts; realistic painting seemed old fashioned to them. But, in 1948, Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, purchased what has become Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, for $1800 and that act helped change the art world’s perception of what “might” be modern. At the time abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still and others) was the big thing in modern art and realism was out of favor and assigned to a place in art history.  read more