Winding up to wind down

CarterScreenIt took a 90-year-old man to breathe some real excitement into the typically staid meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion (SBL/AAR) going on in San Diego.

That happens when the nonagenarian is former president Jimmy Carter. When another speaker said something about being younger than Carter when Carter was a young president, Carter joked that “just about everybody is younger than me.”

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 scholars are in attendance at the joint meetings, which draw to a close on Tuesday, and what appeared to be a majority of them found their way to the big ballroom, even though many (especially on the SBL side) didn’t realize until today that he was speaking. I had planned to attend a section on “Archaeological and Historical Studies in the Deuteronomistic Literature,” but as appealing as it would have been to learn more about Iron Age grain silos and their relationship to Gideon, I bailed to hear the president, and wished that more people would listen to the significant wisdom he has to offer.

Carter had been asked to address issues of climate change and the environment, but it was clear that he was most interested in talking about the related problems of violence against women and the many inequalities women continue to face, issues he addresses in a recent book, A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.

As global warming leads to increased flooding of coastlines and makes life harder for poor folk living near the oceans, or as increased pollution brings problems to underprivileged people in other areas, you can bet that the men will look after themselves, Carter said, while women and girls will suffer disproportionately. Meanwhile, societies in many parts of the world continue to force genital mutilation upon girls and to treat women and girls as inferior to men and boys.

CarterPanelEven more developed societies like the U.S. that claim to promote equality continue to show clear signs of discrimination in the way men and women are treated, Carter said, citing wage disparity and the problem of unreported rapes on college campuses, among other things. Because of its busy airport, he said, Atlanta is a leading city for the trafficking of sex slaves (an estimated 200-300 per month), where brothel owners can “buy” a girl transported across international borders for as little as $1,000.

Carter also spoke to a culture of violence that has America continually at war rather than seeking peace, and the negative attitudes and legislation contributing to America’s increasing prison population. When he was president, he said, one out of 1,000 men were in prison. Today, he said, 7.3 of 1,ooo are incarcerated, more than seven times as many. Legislation claiming to be tough on crime such as the “three strikes” laws have thousands of people serving life sentences who have not committed serious crimes.

Of the 30 articles on listed in the U.N.’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights, signed in 1948, the U.S. is in violation of 10 of them, Carter said.

When asked how he manages to remain optimistic in the face of so much bad news, Carter quoted Bishop Desmond Tutu, who once said “I’m not optimistic . . . I am a prisoner of hope.”

It’s only when we have hope for a better world that we are willing to take action to make it so. May more of us be captured by the power of hope.


  1. Carter was wise not to talk about climate change and the environment, especially in light of the virtual worship of the featured speaker, Al Gore, at his 2008 New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta. Gore and the UN IPCC—on the basis of their own documents by the top UN “scientists”—have been proven to have attempted a monstrous hoax, which is still in force after 17-18 years of no global warming and certainly no man-made warming. Forty years ago, the “scientists” were warning of an immediate, impending ice-age. Data based on garbage-in will produce garbage-out.

    The women are bidding now to take over government, education, the courts and medicine but somehow, their brains haven’t matured to the point that they understand the venality—both male and female—invited by coed dorms with brainless girls inviting their significant others into their rooms and attending fraternity parties on college campuses. Instead, women go partially or mostly unclothed on TV, demand Navy-Seal training, and scream “rape” whenever they get mad at the guy they seduced or allowed to make them drunk/drugged. Actual rapes/assaults do take place but nowhere near the scale insisted upon on campuses (one out of five coeds, unreported mostly) or in the military, 26,000 unreported in both 2012 and 2013. There likely will be 26,000 in 2014 again, even though no one has explained how unreported anything can be counted. Women integrated with men in any military endeavor not only weaken the effort but cause problems affecting everything from morale to actual performance. This is not chauvinism—just the facts, maam.

    • Wow! Monstrous hoax, lack of female brain development, false rape charges, women shouldn’t be in the military–you’re right, this is not chauvinism, this tirade goes way beyond that. I’m not sure why you are so afraid of us. But, I continue to be amazed at the lengths some people will go (dismissing science that doesn’t support uneducated opinion) to feel superior in a world where we were all created equal by a God who also loves us unconditionally–even you, Jim.

      Somehow I don’t think this is why Jimmy Carter chose not to talk about climate change.

      • In January 2013 in my town on the University of Kentucky campus, a coed signed her “friend” into her dorm room at about midnight or a bit later and something happened. She reported a rape and did the necessaries—rape kit, hospital, etc. The trial was a “he said/she said” affair and both were under the influence at the time of the alleged rape. The guy was not convicted but was expelled from UK and the girl committed suicide a few months later. That’s a fact, ma’am…now, you figure out the best way to have prevented that. The prexy of the University of Virginia has just shut down the fraternities and I think that’s great because brainless girls were populating those house-of-the-rising-sun on weekends, getting drunk, drugged and trying hard for the next week to remember what happened. As for God loving me, I sorta had already figured that out, but your kind assurance means a lot.

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