As a history teacher in the International Baccalaureate program at Valencia High School, I had the privilege of working with a supportive staff, a dynamic curriculum, and an array of students from whom I learned a great deal. One of the main purposes of this site is thus to share some of the things I learned as a teacher over these years. More specifically, though, I wanted to engage new ideas from various books of history and journalism books that I have wanted to read but did not have the time while I was working.
Politics and history have long been my obsessions. They are not healthy obsessions. I had aspired in retirement to a life of travel, gardening, golf, live music, meals with friends, and wine. Then the pandemic hit and revealed in its fullness the utter horror of our political culture. It is difficult to ignore the fact that the next period of our history will either bring about a long-needed constructive change to our political culture or we will fall in to a lengthy period of darkness under the leadership of a single-party state that has no regard for the highest ideals that in an earlier era had made our country an inspiration. Instead, the United States has today become an object of pity and dread for those who aspire to peace, justice, health, community, and faith.
The word etiology has two distinct meanings that both apply to this site. In historical literature, etiologies are poetic explanations of phenomena that rather have more to do with theology than science. In the Bible, for example, a rainbow explains the Lord’s grace in response to the failings of humans to fulfill the highest aspirations of the Creator; a promise not to destroy humanity despite its shortcomings. While the physics of light has its own beauty, this story from the book of Genesis is a humbling reminder of the grandeur of nature and the love of God for creation. The core truth that this site seeks to maintain is one that maintains humility in relation to the grandeur of the universe and its infinite beauty and complexity.
The other meaning of etiology derives from medicine. It describes the work of pathologists to trace the source of an illness. With cancer, for example, it is usually important and often difficult to determine the tissue from which the cancer originated, otherwise treatments might wrongly focus on symptoms or tissues to which the cancer has metastasized. The political and cultural crisis we face today have a complex etiology related to the debilitating role of money in politics. This site will focus on more the historical and ideological sources of our predicament than on the day-to-day events that express the horrors that are unfolding.
There is, nevertheless, a sense of urgency. There is no question that the next election will define the future in a way that no previous election has in the US. The Corona pandemic is a reminder of what can happen when a scientifically ignorant public elects an imposter who revels in their adoration while ignoring the sober assessments of an array of experts. Covid 19 is not a hoax; nor is climate change.
The site will engage three types of writing. The most fundamental will be “Book Interactions” in which I will engage books that I have wanted to read. They will be mostly history books that shed light on subjects of interest such as the relationship between money and politics, race, religion, and the environment. A second category of writing will be “Reflections” of a personal nature. A third category of writing will be “Political Rants” that will consider current event themes. This last category may involve a certain degree of therapy insofar as it is an outlet for a lot of the anger that has been welling inside of me for a long time. It may very well be the case that anger is neither an effective political response nor the basis for compelling writing. The challenge will be, then, how to effectively direct the energy that anger elicits.
This is a public site and I look forward to interacting with any and all who are interested through both the comments and feedback links on this site.
Unless otherwise indicated, all writing and photographs belong to me or any guest contributor invited to the site. Other photos are obtained through creative commons copyright sites. Book cover images are provided by the U.S. publisher website.