Let There Be Light

And, then, Notre Dame Cathedral was consumed in flames. The sadness was palpable in the silence that surrounded the church as the spire collapsed and firefighters fought to save the bell towers. It was not just Parisians who mourned this loss but people around the world who have visited Paris or simply admired the cathedral’s age, its architecture, its miraculous survival through countless wars and the French Revolution. After all, it is the place where Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned, and the setting for Victor Hugo’s epic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

And, then, I stumbled upon a Facebook post by a Rabbi and friend, who noted that Notre Dame, like France itself, has a contentious history with its Jewish population. Scenes depicted on the west façade of the cathedral include Jews who wear pointed hats, mandated in the 13th century, to distinguish them from the Christian population. In 1240, Notre Dame was the backdrop for the infamous Disputation of Paris, also known as the Trial of the Talmud.

In nearby Place de Grève, every known copy of the Talmud was confiscated and burned: twenty-four wagonloads containing about 10,000 volumes of Hebrew manuscripts. King Louis IX proclaimed that laymen should plunge a sword into those who speak ill of the Christ. Sixty-six years later, his successor, King Philip IV, expelled all Jews from France.

Darkness and light. It’s complicated - and so much depends on your filters.

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Bettie Denny Comment
Damaged

Has the #Me Too movement left victims of domestic violence behind? Will the NRA manage to overturn an important new provision slated to be added to the Violence Against Women Act up for a vote this week? Are we all damaged in one way or another, and how do we move forward? Musings based on current events as they relate to the novel, Angel Unfolding, along with the author’s favorite Grey’s Anatomy lines.

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A Lament and a Promise

Much to consider as 2018 comes to a roaring conclusion. Much to lament as the world faces a plethora of serious issues and our democracy faces challenges straight from the top. As we postulate whether POTUS can be charged, consider this 1872 story of President Grant and his speeding “ticket.” Cozy up to Leadership by Doris Kearns Goodwin or The Soul of America by Jon Meacham. And take a moment to appreciate the goodness around you - and make sure you do your share to spread kindness.

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Bettie Denny
It’s Almost Time to Vote, Honey-Bun

After this week’s emotional hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice, Bettie Denny takes a look at the strange confluence of women’s rights and alcohol in Oregon in the late nineteenth century, examining the differing strategies of Abigail Scott Duniway and Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy in their work to empower women. It seems we still have a long way to go.

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Bettie Denny
Enemy of the People

Is the press the Enemy of the People? According to Goebbels, Lenin, and Stalin. But does that sort of rhetoric have a place in a democracy? Newspapers around the country collected their voices this week to stand up to President Trump’s accusations of “fake news” and more.

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Bettie Denny
One Little Question: Are You A Citizen?

Census data provides clues to our ancestral searches, but a 1952 rule prevents the release of individual data for 72 years. So why are immigrant communities so uneasy about the Trump administration adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census? You need only look to the internment of the Japanese to find the answer.

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Bettie Denny