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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, April 18, 2003
    I got your phone number written in the back of my bible
      Jack give me some money to pay my bills
      - All the dough I give you Holly
      You been using on pain pills.

      Jack will you call me if you're able?
      - I got your phone number written
      In the back of my bible
    CAP decreed that our Lent Challenge should end today; so, after this afternoon's Hour by the Cross I made my first visit to the new Borders @ Speke, to reduce my Wish List a little, with more than a passing thought, however, for those who, on this traditionally darkest of days, cannot see any light at all because they're so deeply drawn into the debt and exclusion that low-income living brings.

    Meanwhile, stuck on ambivalence about the USA. I'm with Lewis Lapham who in April's Harper's Magazine cites ten causes for dissent against the Bush regime:
      The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
    - he quotes Archibald MacLeish. I won't list all his reasons for dissent, they're familiar (though his essay style rewards close reading). Except the one which most strikes me today - his angry debunking of Bush's statement, "We refuse to live in fear."
      .. of all lies told by the government's faith healers and gun salesmen, I know of none as cowardly. Where else does the Bush Administration ask the American people to live except in fear? ... Ever since [September 11, 2001] no week has passed in which the government has failed to issue warnings of a sequel. ... always it's the same message: suspect your neighbor and watch the sky; buy duct tape, avoid the Washington Monument, hide the children ...
    This message usefully squashes dissent of any kind, Lapham notes. And as "dissent is what rescues the democracy from a slow death behind closed doors", that's fatal.

    But I'm ambivalent because I returned from Borders (a U.S. shop) with a bagfull of life-affirming dissent and dissonance. And it's all American. Lapham's article from a quality liberal monthly, geek critique in Wired, hair-raising sixties psycho-punk from Pebbles, Vol.1, and the cd I've been aching for all Lent, The White Stripes' Elephant.

    Their administration may be arrogant in their power-frenzy, riding on the apathy and sloth of their fellow-citizens (Lapham's analysis) but Jack White and Meg White are rockin' as well as ever. Better, probably. And popping paracetomol won't dull any listener to their swamp-blues onslaught:
      You see the medicine
      You have no faith in medicine
    I've got faith in theirs. And how I'm smiling, with Stripes fans the world over, at their closing threesome with Holly Golightly:
      Jack I think you're pulling my leg
      And I think maybe I'd better ask Meg.
      Meg do you think Jack really loves me?
      - You know, I don't care because Jack really bugs me
    This stuff won't bring the government down. But put Elephant on, and the house ... is in grave danger of collapse.