All posts by ruth ann scanzillo

About ruth ann scanzillo

Professional 'cellist/pianist, private Suzuki string instructor; ....former public school music teacher/childrens' drama coach; .... [ serious ] avocational writer.........background in graphic design/illustration.....influences: Lance Morrow; Garrison Keillor; Peggy Noonan; Erma Bombeck; James Kavanaugh; Billy Collins; Leonard Cohen; and, Alice Munro. Local eccentric, social loner, overdriven imaginator, speculator, and wisening woman. Thank you for reading. And, thank you, WordPress, for the whole thing.

How the Good Souls Are Taken.

After not one, but two, articles appeared in major newspapers covering so-called “White Christian Nationalists” devotion to the Trump regime, I figured that piece I’d been toying with writing had better hit the page. God’s inspiration should never be ignored, after all. Oh; and, believe me: I mean that, sincerely.

For all practical purposes, I am a voice of the “white Evangelical Christian.” My family was established into the fellowship of the Fundamentalist sect of the Plymouth Brethren by our grandfather, a street preacher who’d migrated from eastern PA to get a job building cranes and raise his children. A couple elders of “the meeting” on East Avenue in Erie met him at the local jail, and invited him to join their assembly. Soon Henry, his wife Mae, and their four daughters Dora Mae, Betty, Frances, and Martha, would be born and raised among them, attending Sunday School, Morning Worship and Gospel Meeting – all on Lord’s Day – plus, Prayer Meeting and Bible Study on Tuesday and Friday.

Aunt Frances, the most liberal thinker among his offspring, would go radical and marry a Baptist minister. The rest raised all of us on the self-same attendance regimen and its accompanying rules for dress and decorum; head coverings for the women, seated silence for all females in the presence of their men.

Pappy, as we grandkids would come to call him, was a closet Republican who came to accept that, like the rest of the Brethren, his citizenship was in Heaven and that God would put into office whom He will – with no need for his actual vote. My parents, and our entire extended family (with the exception of the Baptists) modeled after their patriarch, listening intently to the election results on the radio but refusing to participate in the democratic process.

I accepted Jesus into my heart at age six, but registered to vote at age thirty one, in 1988, the year our grandmother’s soul left her body for the seventh Heaven. The competition for the office of President was Bush/Dukakis and I, torn between Dukakis’ education plan and Bush’s GOP platform of fiscal conservatism and social traditionalism sat, biting my nails until the polls closed – never placing my vote.

The next time being a Christian became relevant in my political world was the year 2000. For some reason, though I’d long since left the constraints of the PBs and church culture in general, I’d found myself in the convocation of our local mega-congregation, curiously named at the time “First Assembly”. Movie screens were mounted to the left and right of the sanctuary, primarily intended to present praise lyrics but, on this occasion, the projectionist was preparing a form of worship from which there would be no escape.

I don’t remember what was said from the lectern, by way of introduction. I just remember the ceiling lights dimming and strains of the Battle Hymn of the Republic wafting from speakers mounted throughout the large, wide church as an authoritative baritone underscored in narrative what we were about to experience.

This was no missionary appeal, with its opening report about life in the Caribbean or African interior. This was a film about George W Bush, designed specifically for the church congregations of all America. There were images of uniformed military, and family photos of the Bush dynasty, splayed out across a metamessage of persuasion as moving as an altar call at the City Mission. I was aghast, astonished; what was politics doing amongst the faithful? Furthermore how, two thousand years after the birth of Christ, did a piece of campaign propaganda ever find its way into the First Assembly of God?

Now, twenty one years hence, I think I know.

Now, I recall my immediate family’s open defense of the President soon to be history. I trace back further, through conversations with my beloved former student, a high ranking military officer of the US Army Air Force and born-again Christian, his ardent support of the George W. whom he actually met filling his eyes with light. Mostly, I call to mind prayer breakfasts for whose keynote speaker politicians were pinned, political rallies populated by entire church contingents, the voice of America’s morally upright finally being heard by a mainstream society clearly in precipitous decay.

Here’s the thing about “true” Christians, the ones who read the Bibles they own and who live for the Christ they call their Saviour. Once they’ve accepted the doctrines which dictate that the Truth is theirs for the delivering, they hear the mandating call to go out and preach that gospel to every tongue, people, and nation. These having spent generations separated from the World and all its fleshly lustings, some shrewd political strategist finally realized that one more call, tactically placed, couched in all the trappings of a real conviction to act, would render an entire demographic literally clamoring for a place in the palm of their hand.

Now, there would be no need for the subliminal strains of an electric organ cued by a pastor’s gentle request for bowed heads. Just a country song, sung by a Christian entertainer, and youth group car washes popped up in every church parking lot in the nation – complete with bumper stickers declaring the candidate of consensus. Just a message, insidious in its power, that the marginalized faithful were important, thrust into the spotlight of the Almighty God’s intention for His people and summoned to a service no true Christian could, in good conscience, refuse.

What nobody calculated was the incredible intractability of the true Christian. To say they are an emboldened fringe is a dangerous oversimplification; this is far beyond extremism. These are both Fundamentalist and Evangelical. This is an entire mentality of infinite scope, with eternal life its branded hallmark. Psychologists would say that theirs is not a dilemma. The path is clear; wavering is not part of their lexicon. They shall not be moved.

Somewhere between the promise of prosperity and sinless perfection, the message these march has the Kingdom of God all over it. Pandora’s box should have been left tightly closed, just like the fellowship of the Plymouth Brethren, exclusive unto itself. But, politics played its ever-greedy hand, and now we all pay the price for that unforgivable sin.

.

.

.

© 1/18/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting authentic original stories.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Power in Not Talking.

I live in a small town.

Oh, it used to be the third largest city in the Commonwealth, but its census has steadily declined. Yet, even at its most vigorously populated, yep; still a small town.

A small town is like a personality – with a problem.

Certain patterns emerge.

First, its people tend to huddle in tribes. This offers at least the belief that those within their chosen group will provide protection — protection from any threat to stability, protection of assets, protection of reputation. Every living thing is prey to predator but, in close proximity, said predator could be just down the street. Self-protection is the whole purpose of tribalism.

Those in positions of leadership over these tribes are especially prone, particularly when it comes to management. Power cannot hide. It can’t just choose to live twenty miles away from prying eyes. Its actions cannot be protected by the anonymity afforded by distance. Why? Even tribes are not governed by proximity; people choose with whom they align, regardless where they might actually reside, and these usually according to common interests. The shop. The extended family. The bowling league.

So, those in power are self-protective, to a fault.

Over time, the desire to maintain self-protective power becomes a primary motivator.

This is how marginalization occurs. Suppose a tribal member rises in rank to a seat in council. Preferential actions are a given. Certain tribes may be relegated according to similarity bias. This is the cloak of politics. Soon, preservation of the control which comes with power can come to supercede even the interests of the greater good.

So, how is such power preserved?

In silence.

Withholding vital information. What is not disclosed acts as a tool, perhaps a weapon; what is known can be used to control.

Enter the coronavirus pandemic.

What do those in power, especially in smaller, tribal communities, know that they keep to themselves? To what might they be privy, which can be used to protect their own? Moreover, how much does maintaining power depend on seizing and holding information, information which might cause a threat to their positional security? Perhaps expectations are overwhelming. Not revealing a lack of readiness is a form of insurance.

But, in the interests of the greater good, such non-disclosure carries the potential for fatal outcome. How many communities are currently flailing, its members acting on the latest byte of allegedly viable information passed down from within a tribe? Which leader is to be trusted to dispense accurate directives? Who instructs the doctors as to their potential patient needs?

I have a dear friend. Living alone in an apartment building, she has been fighting covid since early December. Initially, her doctor diagnosed bronchitis, and prescribed an antibiotic. After her covid test came back positive, did this doctor halt the antibiotic? To what extent was this doctor instructed? To what degree was my friend’s tribe fully informed? Were all local physicians updated from the outset, by those in power? Had those in power sought complete education on the subject, and dispensed their data freely to the entire population?

I wondered then, and I wonder now. I sit here, in the house I call my own, in the town of my birth, and wonder in silence about what I have been told and how much I truly know.

.

.

.

.

© 1/12/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translation without direct sharing to the blog link. Thank you for respecting original written material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Stake of Argument.

In the wake of the violent assault which January 6, 2021 wrought in our United States, does anything beyond acute shock remain?

On the one hand, the divide we already knew as the “two Americas” is intensified. Those who are indirectly implicated by the acts of that day are largely stunned, if momentarily, huddled in regrouping retreat from their otherwise opposing friends on social media. Those who were represented politically by the “other” side are as vociferous as ever, some even emboldened.

But, what of their disparate arguments? Has anything about these changed?

I am a registered Independent. My Republican friends who have ventured into the arena of discussion seem unified in their intent to juxtapose the violent protests and looting of the past summer, largely represented – it is alleged – by the BLM and Antifa movements, against what has been termed the Capitol Insurrection.

But, can these be fairly compared?

What the two scenarios do share cannot be denied. Both drew throngs of people. Both were colored by passionate, emotionally driven behavior. Both resulted in the loss of life, and that at the hands of brutality.

But, what of the reasons? Can the behavior of mobbing humans ever be rationalized?

In both cases, we must give regard to motive. We must first reach some understanding of that which brought each about if we are ever to either define, defend or, ultimately, quell their destructive effects.

Initially, the spread of the coronavirus through communities largely poor or otherwise underprivileged impacted their cultural inclination to gather together. The killing of George Floyd by several law enforcement officers sparked a smoldering, long standing rage among those already prevented from taking to their own neighborhoods during this pandemic; in droves, the disenfranchised black and, further, Latino and LGBTQ communities rallied in defiance of this one, pivotal act of aggression against them which represented an endless number of such abuses. Backlash against being physically restrained took fuel from decades of societal suppression, yielding demonstrations in the streets of a scope rivaling those many of us witnessed during the Vietnam conflict.

Initially, those of either the same mind or who sympathized viewed these demonstrations as acceptable, even peaceful, several locales managing them without incident. But, when reports came down the pike that many had turned aggressive, destroying privately owned storefronts and damaging Federal buildings, those of opposing mind capitalized on the news and featured such footage repeatedly on choice broadcasts until the prevailing interpretation became one fraught with violence, looting and conflagration.

Rumors also entered the fray. The Black Lives Matter movement, dissenters argued, had its roots in aggressive social disruptors; further, subgroups like Antifa, deliberately radical but subversive, had taken cue to mobilize. Defenders of the protests blamed both for the unfolding violence. Those standing in accusation faulted certain politicians and the major news media.

As the Presidential election loomed, and in vivid contrast with the dark, fiery demonstrations, political rallies for Donald Trump increased in frequency and fervor. Those of the opposing party cited a noticeable absence of compliance with pandemic protocol, and worried about a massive surge in cases of the virus. Trumpers, in turn, looked at the demonstrators and called foul. The issue of masks vs no masks took to the mats; which side was more culpable in the coronavirus spread?

But, even as nothing would prove more persistent than Covid-19, the rift between those in favor of social equity and those loyal to Donald Trump widened. If subversion was the fuel, both Q Anon, a conspiracy-led fringe group, and the white supremacist Proud Boys were the armies flanking the President who, himself, would not publicly denounce them. What ensued would prove more pernicious than the now ubiquitous disease.

Many have appeared in print suggesting that the White House knew what was brewing in the pipeline. The demonstrating disenfranchised had made their point; the election results were proof enough. Oh, but wait; now, the validity of the entire vote was in question. Recounts were called, and completed; tabulations were made, round two. Results confirmed a new President had been elected. But, the division among the people had matured to grotesque proportions, leaving no American sure: had their votes meant anything, at all? Which President would be installed on January 20th, 2021? Up to and including the day Congress convened to certify, even the oldest among military veterans was experiencing PTSD in anticipation.

Nearly a week has passed, since the outcome of what began in the halls of the United States legislature and ended in terror. To compare anything which preceded the acts of that day to their ultimate effect on every person still capable of breath is to deny them utterly. Social unrest with historical precedent, however widespread, has its roots in legitimate protest; but, such action does not threaten the very foundation of the government of a civil society.

With the advent of the attack on our Capitol, we’ve moved far beyond the sake of argument. Winning the debate is futile. Our core beliefs about that which constitutes civilized behavior have been cut with shrapnel. Our confidence in the institution which governs our democratic process has been mortally wounded, first by poisonous propaganda and finally by a war waged between mere loyalty and that which is worthy of our trust.

If any common ground remains upon which to place our shaking feet, it is to be sought after with avowed focus and determined effort. Let us put aside grievance, accusation, grudge, and vilification, and put our precious energy into saving the nation into which we were born, bred, or brought. That which divides, conquers; we must be made whole, at last, while we can still call ourselves free.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

© 1/10/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying in whole or part, including translation, permitted. Sharing permitted via blog link, exclusively. Thank you for your respect of original written material.

littlebarefeetblog.com