Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / Bangor Daily News
- Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / Bangor Daily News
May 25, 2021
River Runner is a fun interactive map by Sam Learner. Click anywhere in the contiguous United States to drop some rain and, based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the map shows you where the rain ends up and the path it takes to get there.
This uses USGS NHDPlus data and their NLDI API to visualize the path of a rain droplet from any point in the contiguous United States to its end point (usually the ocean, sometimes the Great Lakes, Canada/Mexico, or another inland water feature). It’ll find the closest river/stream flowline coordinate to a click/search and then animate along that flowline’s downstream path.
From the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
A depiction of the Great Falls at what is now Lewiston-Auburn, about 1695.
Dean Cornwell (American, 1892-1960)
Androscoggin River Falls, study for The Manufacturers National Bank of Lewiston-Auburn, Maine mural, 1960
Pastel and pencil on grey paper
30 x 54-1/2 inches (76.2 x 138.4 cm) (sheet)
Signed and inscribed on accompanying label: Dean Cornwell / 33. W 67th St / This is one of 9 entries I am submitting / Mural Cartoon
Kirkham Cornwell, son of the above, by descent;
Private collection, Illinois.
Lewiston Evening Journal, April 2, 1960, p. 8., completed mural illustrated;
P. J. Broder, Dean Cornwell: Dean of Illustrators, New York, 1978, p. 131, completed mural illustrated.
On the artist’s label that accompanies this lot, Dean Cornwell states that this “mural cartoon” is one of nine that he submitted to the Manufacturers National Bank of Lewiston, Maine. Of these nine, the bank chose two including the present work. According to The Manufacturers National Bank pamphlet titled “About our Murals” that accompanies this piece, the work depicts “the symbolic great Falls of the Androscoggin River about 1695 … the original source of water power for this area from which our industrial progress has been made possible. Observe how the Angroscoggins (for Anasagunicooks), an Indian Tribe of this community belonging to the powerful Abnaki Nation, spear their Maine salmon from thundering, cool clear waters. Indians from miles away fished and hunted this plentiful region and nearby the great Indian Sagamores, Warumbee, maintained his permanent village and fort. What is now Lewiston and Auburn was an important crossroads … a center from which vital trails led to other sections of the settled country. Note how these native hunters replenish their food supply before the long journey onward, and barter with the Canadian Trader who carries such a tempting meal on his gun.”
Today is the start of the confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court Justice.
I do not think she should have been nominated because we are too close to a presidential election. I do not think she should be considered because Donald Trump has shown himself not to be a person who respects the Constitution or the laws of the United States. And I do not think she should have accepted the invitation to be nominated because she must know the president has disqualified himself by his lies and wrongdoings. But in this post I want to address something else.
Does her religious faith disqualify her as a potential supreme court justice? That’s a question being asked and answered by many people. The NYTimes, for example, headlines a front page story today A Conservative Court Nominee Rooted in Faith. (The online edition has it “Rooted in Faith, Amy Coney Barrett Represents a New Conservatism.”)
For starters, I dislike the tendency of many to speak of “faith” as a strong characteristic of an individual only if their “faith” is a more evangelical or fundamentalist variety of religious belief. Barack Obama was a president of faith; so was George W. Bush. (Donald Trump: I don’t think so.) But we didn’t often hear references to the fitness of these two presidents in reference to their faith. How about Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Was she a woman of faith? Perhaps.
Amy Coney Barrett definitely is a woman of “faith.” She is an observant Roman Catholic, and within Roman Catholicism has some distinctive beliefs, practices, and affiliations. How do these bear on the question of her fitness for service on the supreme court? Does the unusualness or the strength of her religious beliefs disqualify her? If so, how and why?
Let’s approach the question this way. I’m a religious person. I’m a Quaker. How does my Quakerism or Quakerness bear on my fitness for public service?
I don’t usually start with the idea that I am a person of “faith.” I find that a tricky, unhelpful word. It can lead people to think that my religiousness is defined by beliefs, and I find “belief” to be a tricky, unhelpful word. I have a commitment to truth-seeking that goes beyond secular ways because I’ve found that secular ways cannot begin to answer some of the most important questions for me — especially questions about how I shall live. I have a religious practice, or a set of practices. That’s how I think of my Quakerness: I worship with others as part of a Quaker Meeting.
My religious practice has led me to some strong commitments about how to live in the world. Quakers call those commitments “testimonies.” In company with other Quakers, for example, I’m very strongly inclined towards seeing human beings as fundamentally equal — equally deserving of our regard and care, none of us more deserving than any other.
Is that belief in or commitment to equality unusual? Maybe not; most people affirm a belief in equality. But when I am with others and matters of equality come up, I wonder about those who do not have a religious practice or set of beliefs. I know how it is that I believe in equality. I believe in human equality because I believe that God loves each and every human being. Whatever differences there may be among humans in terms of intelligence or strength or accomplishment pale before this God’s-eye view. We are all children of God. For me, that’s the basis. If that is not the basis for equality, what is? Those who are not religious may speak of “dignity” or “human rights” but I wonder what “dignity” means if not some pale description of God’s love. Or I wonder what foundation there may be for “human rights” if not some expectation of God? (If the foundation is seen as human power or human agreement, I am certain the foundation is very weak.)
What do I mean by God? I have no very clear idea. I simply have learned from my religious practice that there is a oneness deep down at the center of things, and that oneness radiates truth and goodness. As Quakers say, I know this experimentally.
My commitment to equality is sufficiently common that I do not believe others would see that commitment as disqualifying for public service. They might see a lack of commitment to equality as disqualifying. The basis of my belief in equality is, today perhaps, somewhat more unusual. Because it leads me to a commitment to equality shared by many/most others, however, I don’t think it would be seen as disqualifying.
A second matter. In company with many other Quakers, I’m a pacifist. (Here’s another view of what that means.) I refuse to resort to physical force or violence in nearly all circumstances. I’m committed to working for just and peaceful resolution of conflicts. This too, for me, is a leading that emerges from my religious practice. This is a commitment that I know is not shared by most others. I’ve had to learn to be comfortable with that, not just with people disagreeing, but also with people misunderstanding what it means and with people being angry with me for turning away from violence.
Is this disqualifying? It certainly would make me cautious about accepting certain appointments. Because the United States does not have a foreign policy that foreswears the use of military force, I would not accept any role that would give me responsibility for the deployment or use of military force. My opposition would be too fundamental. How about another role, one that could never involve my being involved in the use of force. I might not be reluctant, but how about others? I can see that they might be. Understanding that I’m a pacifist could lead them to wonder how weird is he? What other strange beliefs or commitments does he have? And no matter how many questions they asked or how clear and full my answers, they might never be comfortable.
Would that be fair — for me to be set aside or rejected because of my religious belief? I think yes. It’s not because I have religious beliefs or commitments. It’s not because they are strong and firmly held. It’s because they are out of step with the predominant views of the citizens of this country. I would love to persuade more people to be pacifists. I try. But I accept the disqualifying nature of my unusual commitment.
I believe I have a right to be religious. I don’t think it would matter if I were told it was ‘illegal’ to be religious. Religious matters are more fundamental to me than civic or political matters. I’d prepared to go to jail rather than give up my religious convictions. But I don’t believe I have a right to carry my religious convictions into civic or political matters. I can’t and shouldn’t force my beliefs on others. We use democratic and constitutional means to decide the basis on which we will live together as a nation. My having religious convictions and practices carries no weight in that. In making appointments or in standing for elections, it’s fair game for people to ask what my views are and how I came to them. If they’re uncomfortable with the content or the basis of those views, it’s OK for them to reject me. Just as it’s OK for me to try to convince others that they should share my convictions.
Back to Amy Coney Barrett. I’ve already said we shouldn’t be considering her for confirmation. Trump shouldn’t have nominated her, she shouldn’t have accepted the nomination, the Senate shouldn’t be engaged in the confirmation proceedings. If we were in legitimate confirmation proceedings, however, the fact of her having strong religious views wouldn’t at all be something I viewed as disqualifying. But the content of her religious views would be a fair concern, just as my pacifism would be. How would her convictions shape her behavior as a jurist? How have they in the past? Are the convictions she would bring with her sufficiently in step with the American citizenry that we should empower her to make make decisions on our behalf? That’s a political decision, not a religious one. In no way does it wound her religious identity to have the rest of us decide she is not a proper person to be a supreme court justice.
God (whoever/whatever God is) may think us wrong, but that’s for another and unworldly court to decide.