Tuesday, July 16, 2019

American Judas by Mickey Dubrow

It can’t happen here – or is it?

Ten years after the CHRIST (Christian Households Rising in Support of Truth) Act became law, the USA is at last what the Religious Right has dreamed of – a Christian Nation. The National Church of Christ is the state religion – all others are forbidden and church attendance is mandatory. 

The stars of the flag have been replaced by a cross and NPR in now NCR. (You can guess what the C stands for.) Everyone carries guns – not to do so would look suspicious. Alcohol, pornography, birth control, abortion, homosexuality are all criminalized. 

State-run Savior Camps, with Arbeit Macht Frei Saved Though Faith over the entrance and complete with barbed wire and armed guards, “are not just for lapsed Christians and those afflicted with the disease of homosexuality. They also cure drug addicts, adulterers, Satan worshippers, and Liberals.”

Seth Ginsburg, a non-observant Jew, has converted and pays lip service to the state religion in order to hold on to his job in the office of a US senator. When he receives a package containing his late father’s prayer shawl, he finds himself compelled to reclaim his heritage and join a group of Jews in their hidden worship. 

Meanwhile, his wife Maggie is pressured by their Federal Faith Verification case worker to do her Christian duty and get pregnant. Because Seth is a convert, the case worker is authorized to inspect his home at any time, day or night, “to verify the authenticity” of Seth’s conversion. 

Behind the scenes glimpses at corrupt politicians and faith leaders (nothing new under the sun) heighten the tension and intensify the parallels with present day.

Finally Seth is betrayed as a hidden Jew and the trials he and Maggie endure in attempting to flee to Mexico (oh, the delicious irony) take the reader even deeper into the rotten heart of the theocracy that the US has become.

This fast-moving, compelling story would have seemed over the top a few years ago. Now, alas, even the most outrageous scenes are only a few crucial votes away. At times hilarious, at time terrifying, American Judas is, ultimately, a warning.

As Mickey wrote in my copy of the novel, “Have a blessed day. Or not. It’s still your choice.”

Highly recommended.

Monday, July 15, 2019

There Should Have Been Music

Early morning on the parkway . . . and long shafts of light filter through the fog-bound trees.

I stopped and waited for a  Voice to speak . . . or for music to fill the still air with great, striding chords.

A curtain of light before me . . .

Almost daunting to drive into it . . . is this what the Rapture looks like?

Safely through . . . I'm in no danger of being raptured away.

But then, in a somewhat surreal moment, there they were again, this time coming from my left. 

Such, I reminded myself, are the twists and turns of the Parkway.

Still, there should have been music.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Return from Wildacres

Back from the Magic Mountain to my own home mountain -- which has plenty of its own magic.

It was a terrific week with a great class and lots of inspiring writers, musicians, actors, performers . . . folks at Wildacres writing workshops work hard but they play harder. . . It can be kinda exhausting for someone used to a quiet life.

In the middle of the week, Claui brought Josie up for a visit. Tucked between my dormitory building and the studio where my classes were held was what Josie declared "a perfect little play ground!" She played and then Claui and Josie and I went down the road for lunch at the Little Switzerland cafe.

I regret not getting a picture as Josie was so grown up -- eating her grilled cheese sandwich and being very much one of the "ladies who lunch."  

I was also surprised to learn that, unbeknownst to me, Josie has a number of admirers in the Wildacres crew who know her from this blog. 

I'll be talking in the coming days about some terrific books by Wildacres folks that I read this past week. I always feel so fortunate to be among such talented folks -- sometimes I feel like a bit of an impostor amidst these college professors and MFAs. 

But the lovely thing about the Wildacres Writing Workshop is the absolute equality among writers -- from the rankest beginner to the long time professional. We're all there to share what we know and to learn from one another.  And somehow, it works.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Off to Wildacres

I'm off today for a week of leading a fiction workshop at Wildacres -- where the internet is extremely limited and we are asked not to up- or download stuff. So I'll be back with the  blog Sunday week. . .


Thursday, July 4, 2019

NO, Just NO

I can't do it -- post pictures of flags and fireworks when I know that the individual who has hijacked our country is hijacking the Fourth,  throwing a celebration of himself in our nation's capitol today, complete with tanks and jets and VIPs (big donors) in reserved seats.   

Children snatched from parents, desperate asylum seekers held in disgraceful conditions, big business set free to pollute at will,  homeless vets, corporations reaping the benefits of their contributions in massive tax cuts, long time allies alienated, brutal dictators praised . . . are we great yet? 

Were we ever? But at least, for a long time, we as a nation seemed to be struggling toward equality for all, toward a responsible stewardship of the planet, toward a dream of peace . . .

All this progress has been trampled-- and the supporters of the madman at the helm don't care. They have their judges; they have a good economy, continued growth begun in the Obama era. Little things like human decency are brushed aside.

No flags. No fireworks. Just a great sadness at the direction our country has taken. And a fervent hope that it will change.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The One-Foot Waterfall Garden

I began this post sure that I remembered a haiku to the effect that a one-foot waterfall, though small, gave a pleasing sound and cooled the night air. I even think I used it here some time ago, with a picture of a one-foot waterfall. But I can't find it (I haven't been consistent with tags) and Mr. Google just throws up his hands and shows me pictures of Hawaiian waterfalls.

What I'm getting at though, is the realization that my minuscule garden in pots is giving me a lot of pleasure -- along with some lettuce and tomatoes, as well as various herbs that contribute to fine morning scrambled eggs.

I have also several pots with artichokes -- which I will soon put in the ground because, if they live, they get rather large. I mainly plant them hoping they will bloom -- the big purple thistle is a gorgeous sight.

Eggplant destined for a pasta sauce soon . . .

In the greenhouse, the resident fig is covered with green fruit.

Beneath it --Chinese Pink Celery -- the gift of a friend who had extras. I never heard of pink celery and couldn't resist.

A few radishes -- I had to do some thinning . . .

Bell peppers are growing in pots on the steps.

Like all the plants in pots, in the current heat they must be watered twice a day.

That's okay. In the cool of the morning and evening is the perfect time to enjoy my tiny garden. And the sound and sight of the showering water is almost like a one-foot waterfall.