6 am/5:32, 72/81. Podcast.
Birthday of Helen Keller and Edward Gibbon, who both testified to the power of will to communicate through symbolic representation. "Delta," the Helen Keller phenomenon, Walker Percy called it: the startled, triangulated awareness that words can mean something, can direct action, can be made to alter hearts and minds. "The Delta phenomenon lies at the heart of every event that has ever occurred in which a sentence is uttered or understood, a name is given or received, a painting painted and viewed. What Helen had discovered, had broken through to, was the Delta phenomenon." Cause for optimism.
Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire showed that Delta could reveal the buried past, "the crimes, follies, and misfortune of mankind." And (though Gibbon was no optimist) the occasional triumph.
It's been a triumphant couple of days just past, in American history. The Supremes, in spite of themselves, voted (barely) to do the right thing for the health and happiness of the nation in upholding challenged provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the right of all to marry.
And then the president went to Charleston to deliver a remarkable sermonizing eulogy for the latest high-profile victims of American hatred and violence (we mustn't forget the unsung uncelebrated daily victims). As sermons go, so far as this heathen is competent to judge, it was extraordinary.
But, "the lord works in mysterious ways" - ?!!? The line worked in context, bringing grieving congregants to their feet. It suited the occasion and fit the mood, it was part of the "healing balm" the president meant to administer with his words.
But what an outrageous thought: the allegedly all-powerful and all-knowing creator and sustainer of the cosmos could find no better way to advance the cause of social justice in our time, no better way to lower a stupid old symbol of seditious racism, than through the barrel of yet another gun in the hands of yet another hateful punk, mowing down still more innocent good god-fearing men and women?
Come on, Mr. President. You're so good with words, such a marvelous delta communicator; you don't really mean to communicate the thought that there's ever anything divine in cold-blooded murder. Sapere Aude. You can do better. We can.