Daily Archives: March 10, 2021

How poetry has helped a hospital chaplain in the pandemic

An elderly man watches two children play on the outskirts of Mexico City, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 2020.

Credit: Marco Ugarte/AP

The pandemic has changed so much of our lives. It has robbed so many of loved ones, too quickly, and unexpectedly. It’s changed routines and rituals.

For Mark Stobert, the lead chaplain at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge in the UK, poetry has been a way to navigate the challenges. Host Marco Werman speaks with him about his practice and what it means to be one year into the pandemic.


Marco Werman:
The pandemic has also changed many of our rituals. For Mark Stobert, the lead chaplain at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in the UK, poetry has been a way to navigate the challenges. Mark, what has the last year been like for you? I mean, you’ve been a chaplain for more than 20 years. I imagine you’ve seen some things in the last 12 months. You never thought you’d see.

Mark Stobert:
Yeah, I have. What we’ve been experiencing is, that this kind of COVID trauma, if that’s what I want to call it, it’s been experienced across the whole hospital and across great twelves of people and in communities. And there’s kind of no escape from it.

Marco Werman:
So poetry, it’s art via words. Why did you turn to poetry?

Mark Stobert:
I’ve always used poetry in different ways. I think one of the philosophers, the great Heinrich Zimmer said, the greatest things can’t be told. The next best are the thoughts about the great things are what we say about the thoughts, about the great things. I kind of paraphrased that by saying great things can’t be told, the next best exclamations of the great things. For me, poetry lies at the expression, that exclamatory sense of what it is to live in these weird times.

Marco Werman:
So I’m wondering if you could read part of a poem you wrote called “The Slow Questions”?

Mark Stobert:

The slow, slow questions wait In hiding.
They wait until they perceive that Once exposed in the open they Won’t be dropped or damaged.
Even a ‘space (opened) between will suffice Only after delicate testing
Emerging from the shadows
The slow, slow questions search for Somewhere to alight
A bird flying to a perch And sing its song.
Does it matter that the song Is not replied to?
The slow, slow questions Sing as sing they must.
The reply? Ah! The slow, slow, slower answers Reach and embrace the questions,
Not with words
Not in song
But as dance The dance of love.

Marco Werman:
So explain what the slow questions are and why you wrote this.

Mark Stobert:
Slow questions are questions that don’t have fast answers. I was actually in a seminar when I wrote it — when I heard another chaplin speak about how she creates safe space in place so that her patients can ask slow questions. And I was thinking about all those existential questions that people asked by me, ‘who am I?’ — about mortality. And often the questions are asked sometimes in fear of what the answer might be. But there can only be asked when it’s safe to ask. And there’s an invitation. And that’s sort of where my practice is.

Marco Werman:
How does it help us during a pandemic?

Mark Stobert:
Because I think the questions about who we are as human beings and about mortality and about the nature of existence are in our faces constantly. And finding a place to ask the questions is really important. And in the midst of trauma, the sense that the questions will be answered with words is also important. It just creates an opening, a safe, compassionate space in the midst of chaos.

Marco Werman:
So Mark, we’ve been living with this pandemic for a year now. We’ve seen the graphs go up, down, up again and down again. We’ve stayed away from family and friends. We’ve watched as others have downplayed or even denied the pandemic. What does this moment mean now for you? What have you learned?

Mark Stobert:
I think it’s the universality of it. Because none of us get to get away from it. But what I think happens in this moment is, in the midst of trauma, trauma shatters the narratives by which we live by. And what do we do when that happens? Theologically, we replace them possibly with the poetic expression. But also the human touch with what we give to each other in the darkness. But because it’s happened universally, I think individually we may find we’ve got to find a new narrative. But collectively, as a society, we also have to find a new narrative that fits better. That’s what’s made it quite different. And I think we’re going to take a while before we get those sort of narratives. And they won’t come from up there, out there. They’ll come from amongst us as we are able to articulate and express what it is to be human beings living together in compassion.

Marco Werman:
Mark Stobart, lead chaplain at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in the UK, thank you very much for speaking with us and sharing your poetry a year into this pandemic.

Mark Stobert:
You’re welcome. Thank you for the opportunity.

Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation: James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler’s critically acclaimed and best-selling The Long Emergency, originally published in 2005, quickly became a grassroots hit, going into nine printings in hardcover. Kunstler’s shocking vision of our post-oil future caught the attention of environmentalists and business leaders alike, and stimulated widespread discussion about our dependence on fossil fuels and our dysfunctional financial and government institutions. Kunstler has since been profiled in The New Yorker and invited to speak at TED. In Too Much Magic, Kunstler evaluates what has changed in the last seven years and shows us that, in a post-financial-crisis world, his ideas are more relevant than ever.

“Too Much Magic” is what Kunstler sees in the bright visions of a future world dreamed up by optimistic souls who believe technology will solve all our problems. Their visions remind him of the flying cars and robot maids that were the dominant images of the future in the 1950s. Kunstler’s image of the future is much more sober. With vision, clarity of thought, and a pragmatic worldview, Kunstler argues that the time for magical thinking and hoping for miracles is over, and the time to begin preparing for the long emergency has begun.


Praise for Too Much Magic:

“James Howard Kunstler’s new much-publicized critique of humanity, Too Much Magic, predicts peak oil, the death of the automobile and the fall of the global economy as we know it.”—Huffington Post

“In his latest book, Kunstler zeroes in on the central narrative of our time: that we are a highly evolved and technologically sophisticated civilization that will use our ingenuity and engineering expertise to come up with a solution to all the problems we face . . . In Kunstler’s view, this is a childish fantasy. . . . Kunstler believes that we are living on borrowed time—our banking and political systems are corrupt, our fossil fuel reserves are dwindling, the seas are rising—but we’re still partying like it’s 1959.” —Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone

“Kunstler . . . delivers a cold slap to the fantasists who believe technology will save us. . . . A sharp demand to disenthrall ourselves.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[Kunstler’s] views are not a popular or welcomed position in America today. . . But his views about the future appear more and more to be being validated by current events. . . . In his new book, Too Much Magic, Kunstler updates his prior writings on Peak Oil stating how Americans’ long-held, ill-conceived belief that new technologies can always conquer our problems is leading us into a period of great denial and subsequent anger. . . . His new book and his prior works are worth the read. Throughout his work, he offers the surprisingly positive idea an energy limited future might well bring about many of the the things the nation at large claims to crave.”—Examiner.com

“James Howard Kunstler describes himself as an ‘all-purpose writer’, and boy can he write . . . [he makes his subjects] interesting and useful to the reader, without talking down to, or boring us. . . . Too Much Magic, like The Long Emergency, is destined to become a Peak Oil classic.”—Kathy McMahon, Energy Bulletin

“I highly encourage you to read the book, and to check out Kunstler’s other works.”—Urban Times

“Kunstler’s writing is remarkably lucid, readable, incisive, accurate, and telling, making it the absolute non-fiction page turner of 2012 . . . It is a MUST READ! . . . The definitive book for anyone who is done with fairy tales and who is ready to meet the world where it really is.”—Transition Voice

“Kunstler is a big fan of paleo-futurism. In 2001, there was no space odyssey. We are almost to 2015 and it is unlikely there will be any of Doc Brown’s flying cars or hoverboards. The future of 2000 has not lived up to the hype of those imagining the future in 1950.”—Occidental Dissent

“Kunstler delivers a sobering message about what a post-oil society might look like and how we got ourselves into this situation . . . Too Much Magic is both a history lesson and a warning. The warning concerns how we as a society will have to deal with a world where cheap, plentiful oil is a thing of the past. The history lesson is all about how we came to live in such an oil-dependent society bent on expanding its suburbs to infinity . . . [A] rather sobering (and, at times, frightening) book that may keep you up nights . . . If nothing else, reading this book will get you thinking about serious societal issues, and you will likely learn something as well.”—KAZI Book Review

“With characteristic curmudgeonly enthusiasm, Kunstler brilliantly if belligerently shows us what a pickle we’re in and how inept we are at dealing with it.”—Publishers Weekly

“Anyone who has read Kunstler’s previous work will no doubt already be guessing that Too Much Magic is lively, curmudgeonly, and highly readable, as indeed it is.”—The Archdruid Report

“American journalist and novelist James Howard Kunstler has become widely known in urban planning and energy circles for his articulate and acerbic observations on contemporary American society and its sundry addictions, delusions and dysfunctions . . . a sharp critic of energy-sucking, big-box landscapes.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“Whether your comfort beverage of choice is herbal tea or single malt Scotch, you’d be well advised to lay in a large store before settling down with James Howard Kunstler’s disturbing portrait of the U.S.’s impending decline, Too Much Magic. . . . Kunstler methodically skewers what he asserts is the misguided thinking of people like Ray Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near) who reassure us we can somehow craft benign, inexpensive fixes that will permit us to continue in a lifestyle roughly resembling the one we enjoy today. . . . a disturbing picture of the decline of American society, as our current lifestyle collapses in upon itself.”—Shelf Awareness

“Kunstler is refreshingly uninterested in spinning a bad situation. He is willing not only to read the data about resources without illusion but also to assess the state of the culture without the triumphalism so common in the affluent world. . . . He’s not claiming a crystal ball and isn’t interested in specific prediction, nor does he have a tidy list of solutions. Instead, he points out that we can’t expect to tackle problems until we recognize them.”—Media with Conscience

  • ASIN : 080212030X
  • Publisher : Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9780802120304
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0802120304
  • Item Weight : 1 pounds

Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet: Noam Chomsky, Robert Pollin, C. J. Polychronio

In this compelling new book, Noam Chomsky, the world’s leading public intellectual, and Robert Pollin, a renowned progressive economist, map out the catastrophic consequences of unchecked climate change—and present a realistic blueprint for change: the Green New Deal.

Together, Chomsky and Pollin show how the forecasts for a hotter planet strain the imagination: vast stretches of the Earth will become uninhabitable, plagued by extreme weather, drought, rising seas, and crop failure. Arguing against the misplaced fear of economic disaster and unemployment arising from the transition to a green economy, they show how this bogus concern encourages climate denialism.

Humanity must stop burning fossil fuels within the next thirty years and do so in a way that improves living standards and opportunities for working people. This is the goal of the Green New Deal and, as the authors make clear, it is entirely feasible. Climate change is an emergency that cannot be ignored. This book shows how it can be overcome both politically and economically.


“This book is a survival manual for civilization. I want everyone—yes, every person on the planet—to learn its message and to face the challenge it poses: ‘What am I doing to help bring about a global Green New Deal in the early years of this decade?’ For Americans, the first steps are clear: consign all climate deniers to permanent political oblivion and force all other policymakers to match fine words with deeds—i.e. commit to the Pollin–Chomsky global program for climate stabilization, a massive expansion of good jobs, and just transition.”
—Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine

“The project that is the Green New Deal is enriched by the insights of two great minds: those of Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin. Both understand that the GND will fail if it does not protect the jobs and livelihoods of the working class. They explain how a transformation needed to restore the ecosystem can, and will transform the organisations and lives of working people worldwide—for the better.”
—Ann Pettifor, author of The Case for The Green New Deal

“This little book contains a big idea: climate stabilisation that avoids the collapse of organised social life can be achieved, along with more decent jobs, improved living standards and reduced poverty everywhere in the world. Two eminent thinkers present a convincing case for a realistic, feasible Global Green New Deal.”
—Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

“In this compelling read, linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky and progressive economist Robert Pollin present a convincing case for a realistic, feasible Global Green New Deal.”

“[Chomsky and Pollin] argue it is possible to tackle climate collapse over the next 30 years … A capitalist system that fails to respond does not deserve to survive.”
Irish Times

“Emphasises the crisis our planet faces but also says ‘there is a solution at hand.’”
Irish Examiner

“Brisk and lucid.”
—John Freeman, Lit Hub (“Most Anticipated Books of 2020”)

“A thought-provoking and succinct manifesto.”
—Russell Whitehouse, International Policy Digest

About the Authors

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Laureate Professor at the University of Arizona. Author of American Power and the New Mandarins and Manufacturing Consent (with Ed Herman), among many other books, he is a linguist, historian, philosopher, and cognitive scientist who has risen to prominence in the American consciousness as a political activist and the nation’s foremost public intellectual.

Robert Pollin is Professor of Economics and founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Among his many books are The Living Wage (with Stephanie Luce) and the edited volume Transforming the US Financial System (with Gary Dymski and Gerald Epstein). He has worked with the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress and the United Nations Development Program.

  • Publisher : Verso (September 22, 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 178873985X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1788739856
  • Item Weight : 13 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.52 x 0.5 x 8.31 inches

The Magical Thinking of Ecomodernism — Jason Hickel

April 4, 2018

I recently wrote an article for Fast Company explaining why “green growth” is not a thing. I looked at three high-profile studies showing that even aggressive taxes and rapid improvements in technological efficiency will not be enough to cut global resource use as long as we keep growing the world economy. Right now we are consuming about 85 billion tons of material stuff per year, exceeding the sustainable threshold by 70%. According to the UN, our resource use will rise to at least 132 billion tons per year by 2050, and possibly as high as 180 billion tons.

It is on this basis that scientists have concluded that absolute decoupling of GDP from aggregate resource use is not possible. But the ecomodernists at the Breakthrough Institute aren’t convinced. Linus Blomqvist wrote a blog post responding to my article, arguing that focusing on aggregate material flows is “misleading”, and that in reality absolute decoupling “is still a very real possibility.” The stakes are high. After all, decoupling is the central objective of ecomodernism. No decoupling, no ecomodernism.

Blomqvist seems to agree that absolute decoupling of GDP from aggregate material use is not possible; or at least he doesn’t dispute the point. But we needn’t worry about this fact, he says; it doesn’t matter if we keep using more and more resources each year, because aggregate material use is not a meaningful proxy for environmental impact. Industrial and construction materials, for instance, “account for a pretty small portion of environmental impacts like greenhouse gas emissions or land use,” and while biomass use keeps growing, land use has peaked (at least for now).

…(read more).

Noam Chomsky’s Climate Crisis and the Green New Deal takes on capitalism and politics – Vox

A chat about his new book with co-author Robert Pollin.

By David Roberts Sep 21, 2020, 2:50pm EDT

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

Trump Losing 2024 Money Clash With RNC | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC

MSNBC – Mar 9, 2021

Former president Trump is clashing with the GOP over money, attempting to redirect Republican money to himself and sending a cease-and-desist letter to the RNC demanding they stop using his name and likeness. MSNBC’s Ari Melber name-checks hip hop group Three 6 Mafia to discuss the demand and the RNC’s rejection of Trump’s bid with former Vermont governor Howard Dean and Washington Post reporter Libby Casey. Dean asserts Trump “only cares about himself” and that the GOP does “not know what to do about it.” (This interview is from MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber, a news show covering politics, law and culture airing nightly at 6pm ET on MSNBC. http://www.thebeatwithari.com​). Aired on 03/09/2021.

Trump’s ‘Fraud’ Exposed: New Call Evidence Revealed In Criminal Case | The Beat With Ari Melber

MSNBC – Mar 10, 2021

New audio evidence released by the Wall Street Journal reveals former president Trump pressured the lead investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to find proof of voter fraud during an audit of mail-in-ballots in an effort to help him win the election. MSNBC’s Ari Melber reports on the significance of the evidence. (This interview is from MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber, a news show covering politics, law and culture airing nightly at 6pm ET on MSNBC.

After Battling Trump, Billionaire Bezos Breaks With Trump Over Unions | The Beat With Ari Melber

MSNBC– Mar 10, 2021
President Biden has explicitly backed the efforts of Amazon workers trying to unionize in Alabama, despite the company’s attempts to defeat the drive. Meanwhile, the House has approved a sweeping pro-union bill. MSNBC’s Ari Melber reports on the significance of this new bill and the battle workers face as unions have largely receded from Democratic party policies and American life. (This interview is from MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber, a news show covering politics, law and culture airing nightly at 6pm ET on MSNBC. http://www.thebeatwithari.com​). Aired on 03/10/2021.

‘How Dare You Say That We Are Not Interested In Families In The Black Community?’ | Andrea Mitchell

MSNBC – Mar 10, 2021

Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-U.S. Virgin Islands, responded after Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., made a comment suggesting that the Black Lives Matter movement was not interested in “the old fashioned family.” She spoke directly to the congressman calling for his comments to be stricken down, adding “how dare you say that we are not interested in families in the Black community?.” Aired on 3/10/2021.

Trump Card For NY Feds?: Growing Probe Of Citizen Trump’s Money Trail | The Beat With Ari Melber

MSNBC –Mar 10, 2021

Citizen Trump has new legal trouble in New York as the Manhattan D.A. expands his probe into Trump’s business practices. The D.A. has subpoenaed documents from an investment company that loaned the Trump Organization millions of dollars for its Chicago skyscraper. This comes as feds are now probing Trump’s “Seven Springs” estate after his former fixer Michael Cohen said Trump manipulated property values. MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber breaks down the news. (This interview is from MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber, a news show covering politics, law and culture airing nightly at 6pm ET on MSNBC.