Tag Archives: tolerance

Sunday, 2/8/15, Public Square



by | February 8, 2015 · 6:00 am

A man who isn’t afraid to speak

James Baldwin, an American novelist, essayist, playwright and poet

What an interesting man James Baldwin is!

A television interviewer once asked Baldwin to describe the challenges he faced starting his career as “a black, impoverished homosexual,” to which Baldwin laughed and replied: “I thought I’d hit the jackpot.”

This article at NPR tells us some about this fascinating, talented man and gives us a peek into his newest book, ‘The Cross of Redemption,’ which is a collection of several of Baldwin’s essays, speeches and articles.

He’s a man who has much to teach us on the subjects of race, homosexuality, tolerance, communication and observing so we can advance knowledge and reduce hate and fear.

“You give me this advantage,” Baldwin once wrote to his white audience. “Whereas you never had to look at me — because you’ve sealed me away along with sin and hell and death — my life was in your hands and I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me.”

Have any of you read him?  If so, do you have a favorite to recommend?  I haven’t yet read him, but I WILL!



Filed under Book Reviews

Penn Puts Gay Box on Application

The University of Pennsylvania last week became the first school to announce that it will provide a spot on its application for students to indicate their sexual orientation. Is this a good idea? There seem to be some obvious objections—for example, hyper-competitive students will simply lie about their sexual orientations if they think it will give them an edge. But Gabriel Arana raises some more interesting points at the American Prospect: “Students who are out in high school live in communities that are more tolerant. Statistically, these communities are more educated, less religious, wealthier, and whiter. Having grown up in a conservative, largely Hispanic community on the U.S.-Mexico border, I would not have felt comfortable identifying as gay on college applications. So if the intention is to recruit gay students, the effect will be felt only by the subset of gay applicants who, at 18, feel comfortable identifying as such. It really becomes a proxy for other demographic attributes that on the whole are largely indicative of privilege.” Furthermore, Arana points out that elite schools like Penn already have large and active LGBT communities—in general, they don’t face the same problems in attracting gay students than they do with students of racial minorities.


Filed under Diversity, GLBT Rights

President Obama and the abortion debate

obama-catholics_122149739607How will President Obama frame the abortion debate?  In giving the commencement address at Notre Dame he can’t avoid it.  Will he acknowledge what more and more Catholics already know — the GOP never delivered on their anti-abortion promises?

I think he will deliver a message that inspires us all to attack the problems behind abortion — poverty, birth control, education,  concentrating on measures that help reduce the numbers of unwanted pregnancies.  Even mentioning birth control will be controversial at a Catholic University, or will it?  Have most Catholics realized the conundrum of being against abortion and birth control?  I know the Church hasn’t, but have most of the Church’s followers?

I think he will point out our areas of agreement and will highlight that Americans agree on more than they disagree on.  He is more in tune with religious people on his stance about unjust war, harsh interrogations, social justice issues, the environment, protecting family wages, attacking the underlying causes of abortion.

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found 56 percent of Americans think Notre Dame should not rescind its invitation to Obama – among Catholics the number was an even higher 60 percent.

This speech can’t ignore abortion, but also must be about the graduates.  Emphasis on abortion gives too much attention to the protesters who strive to be in the limelight.  They use horrible ways to attract attention to a debate that doesn’t change minds.  Those who concentrate on abortion are increasingly isolated as the debate has moved on to finding solutions.

Will this speech be another that history points to as a turning point?  During his time as a candidate he addressed some difficult issues such as race and made all of us think harder, inspired us to be better.  Will this be another history-making moment?



Filed under abortion, Religion