THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH
”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
Oh, we’ve had a gorgeous week of fall weather this week in central Indiana after torrential rains last weekend. The temperatures have dropped and we’ve seen some frosty mornings. But during the days, the air has been crisp and clear, the skies blue, and the trees that haven’t lost their leaves yet have been brilliant. It’s my favorite season and my favorite kind of weather. Here are a few shots of Eagle Creek Park on Indy’s northwest side from an afternoon walk this past week. Click on each picture for a larger image.
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From door handles to double-decker buses, Magda Sayeg “yarn bombs” inanimate objects by wrapping them in handmade knitting. She wants her bright, fuzzy artwork to make the world a little friendlier.
Considered to be the mother of yarn bombing, Magda Sayeg transforms urban landscapes into her own playground by decorating everyday objects with colorful knitted and crocheted works.
Her work has evolved from a single knitted stop-sign pole to large-scale installations around the world. She has also been featured at festivals and museums such as South By Southwest and La Museo des Esposizione in Rome.
Here are more examples:
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NOTABLE NEWS BRIEFS
Interspersed with Comics for Carl Sagan’s birthday — Nov. 9, 1934
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A police interrogation of a Kansas City man charged with drug and gun offenses ended prematurely when an investigator was driven from the room by the suspect’s excessive flatulence. A detective reported that when asked for his address, 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. “leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering.” The Kansas City Star reports that Sykes “continued to be flatulent” and the detective was forced to quickly end the interview.
DUNCAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma woman who married her biological mother has pleaded guilty to incest. Court records show 26-year-old Misty Spann of Duncan pleaded guilty Tuesday in Stephens County District Court. Under the deal, she was sentenced to 10 years of probation. Her mother, 44-year-old Patricia Spann, has pleaded not guilty to incest. Prosecutors say the two married in 2016. Court records show the marriage was annulled last month at the request of Misty Spann on the grounds of fraud and illegality. Patricia Spann has said she thought the marriage was legal because she had lost custody of her daughter and two sons years ago and isn’t listed on their birth certificates. Prosecutors say Patricia Spann also married one of her sons. That marriage was annulled in 2010.
AP — Police in Pennsylvania say they’ve arrested a man who showed up to an elementary school intoxicated and hoping to vote — on the wrong day. Authorities charged Douglas Shuttlesworth, 34, with a DUI after they found him at a school in Harrisburg on Monday. Police say Shuttlesworth appeared intoxicated and they later found out he drove to the school thinking it was Election Day. A woman who identified herself over the phone as Shuttlesworth’s mother says her son mistakenly thought it was Tuesday. He was not available to comment on the charge.
NEW YORK, NY — It lasts just a split second, almost imperceptible in a two-hour score. It’s over too quickly to summon the dogs of the Upper West Side or to break any nearby windows. But brief as it is, the A above high C that the soprano Audrey Luna reaches in Thomas Adès’s new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” is so high, it has never been sung in the 137-year history of the Metropolitan Opera.
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ONE LESSON FROM TEXAS
One of the lessons last Sunday’s shooting at the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas should teach us is this: we need to pay more attention to domestic violence. Devin Patrick Kelley, the shooter, was a habitual abuser who “had a lot of demons or hatred inside of him,” his ex-wife said in an interview with CBS News.
Kelley pleaded guilty in 2013 to hitting, choking, kicking and pulling her hair. The then-23-year-old Air Force airman also admitted to fracturing the skull of her young son. On Friday, she described the marriage as filled with abuse, and said she was once threatened over a speeding ticket.
“And he had a gun in his holster right here and he took that gun out, and he put it to my template and he told me, ‘Do you want to die? Do you want to die?'” Brennaman said.
The guilty plea earned Kelley a one-year sentence in a military prison, followed by a bad-conduct discharge.
She said he threatened to kill her and her whole family.
…Investigators have said Sunday’s shooting appeared to stem from a domestic dispute involving Kelley and his mother-in-law, and that he had sent threatening messages to her. The mother-in-law sometimes attended services at the church but was not present on Sunday.
Nancy Nason-Clark at RNS comments:
One angry man arrived at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 5 and began shooting those assembled for worship. His private woes, his access to weapons, and his rage produced a tragedy that is almost unparalleled in terms of the magnitude of suffering that it spawned. This massacre changes forever the congregation and the community of which it is a part. So many grieving families. So much pain. So much heartache. They will never forget. And neither should we.
However, there is a holy hush that permeates church life when it comes to thinking about domestic violence within and beyond congregational life.
Holy hush silences pastors and church leaders. Far too often, they fail to speak out against abuse in intimate relationships, or to highlight the vulnerability of children who witness or experience violence at home. Sometimes they lead themselves or others to believe they do, when they don’t.
Michael Spencer saw this same “holy hush” in the churches in his region and wrote about it several times. Here are a couple of iMonk posts on the subject, and one we published about our friend Ruth Tucker and her book about her own personal experiences:
- Why doesn’t the church talk about domestic abuse?
- Is there a place to repent, or must I make this journey alone?
- Black & White Bible, Black & Blue Wife: Ruth Tucker’s Story
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THE REAL PROBLEM: A CULTURE AWASH IN ANGER
Some have tried to blame mass shootings and a lot of other violence on mental illness in our society. But, according to Laura L. Hayes at Slate, mental illness is not the problem.
Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills.
In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it.
Hayes quotes Paolo del Vecchio of the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration who has said, “Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist.”
She also notes studies that show hat 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall, and that family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Nearly half of domestic murderers have had a restraining order against them at some point in time.
Laura L. Hayes puts her finger on how we are blaming the mentally ill and other factors while ignoring real causes of violence. Her final paragraph (emphasized in bold below) is wisdom worth its weight in gold:
The attribution of violent crime to people diagnosed with mental illness is increasing stigmatization of the mentally ill while virtually no effort is being made to address the much broader cultural problem of anger management. This broader problem encompasses not just mass murders but violence toward children and spouses, rape, road rage, assault, and violent robberies. We are a culture awash in anger.
Uncontrolled anger has become our No. 1 mental health issue. Though we have the understanding and the skills to treat the anger epidemic in this country, as a culture, we have been unwilling to accept the violence problem as one that belongs to each and every one of us. We have sought scapegoats in minority cultures, racial groups, and now the mentally ill. When we are ready to accept that the demon is within us all, we can begin to treat the cycle of anger and suffering.
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HOW ‘BOUT SOME GOOD NEWS ON THE CRIME/VIOLENCE FRONT?
In the quarter century period between the early 1990s and 2015, the homicide rate in America fell by half. So did rates of robbery, assault and theft. In cities like New York, Washington and San Diego, murders dropped by more than 75 percent. Although violence has increased over the last two years in some cities, like Chicago and Baltimore, even those places are safer than they were 25 years ago. Shootings are at a record low in New York, and crime has continued to fall in other cities as well.
The Unsung Role That Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline is a piece by Emily Badger at the New York Times that looks at ground level activism that made a difference in this regard, giving us hope for what ordinary citizens joined together can do to tackle tough issues like crime, violence, and murder and make their communities safer.
Most theories for the great crime decline that swept across nearly every major American city over the last 25 years have focused on the would-be criminals.
Their lives changed in many ways starting in the 1990s: Strict new policing tactics kept closer watch on them. Mass incarceration locked them up in growing numbers. The crack epidemic that ensnared many began to recede. Even the more unorthodox theories — around the rise of abortion, the reduction in lead or the spread of A.D.H.D. medication — have argued that larger shifts in society altered the behavior (and existence) of potential criminals.
But none of these explanations have paid much attention to the communities where violence plummeted the most. New research suggests that people there were working hard, with little credit, to address the problem themselves.
Local nonprofit groups that responded to the violence by cleaning streets, building playgrounds, mentoring children and employing young men had a real effect on the crime rate. That’s what Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, argues in a new study and a forthcoming book. Mr. Sharkey doesn’t contend that community groups alone drove the national decline in crime, but rather that their impact is a major missing piece.
“This was a part that has been completely overlooked and ignored in national debates over the crime drop,” he said. “But I think it’s fundamental to what happened.”
Perhaps it’s time to focus some more attention (and dollars) on the kinds of grass-roots efforts described in this story as viable and proven means of strengthening and supporting community infrastructures that promote safer, more peaceful communities.
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TODAY IN MUSIC
I love their mix of melancholy, melodious sounds, undergirded by restless percussion, that all supports an insightful lyricism.
This song is one of my favorites, from their 2013 album, Lines We Trace.