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Out and About (Sort of): Well-Deserved Tribute by Howard Freedlander

For four years, Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) in Cambridge, known for its well-respected scientific study of the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters, has paid homage through its annual Chesapeake Champion Award to individuals dedicated to environmental preservation and stewardship of the Mid-Shore community.

HPL Lab Director Mike Roman presents Chesapeake Champion award to Alice and Jordan

HPL Lab Director Mike Roman presents Chesapeake Champion award to Alice and Jordan. Photo by Ralph Kimes

Last Wednesday, at the old Maryland National Guard Armory in Easton, Jordan and Alice Lloyd, owners of the Bartlett Pear Inn, received the 2016 Chesapeake Champion Award for their laser-like focus on the use of fresh, local food. The farm-to-table experience is personal and professional for Jordan and Alice. It is not a fad. They and their customers like the taste of local food—and the reduced carbon footprint resulting from buying on the Shore.

For full disclosure, my wife Liz, working closely with Mike Roman, HPL director, has organized the Chesapeake Champion Award event.

Previous recipients are Amy Haines, owner of Out of Fire restaurant in Easton; Chip and Sally Akridge, who have created a wildlife preserve on Duvall Farm near Oxford and Albert Pritchett, longtime president of the Waterfowl Festival and Waterfowl Chesapeake.

What I have observed during the past four years has been full appreciation not only of the named individuals but sincere admiration of their stake in, and sincere commitment to community betterment. They care deeply about our way of life in Talbot County and surrounding counties. They have invested time and money.

And, maybe, just maybe, they have inspired others to do the same.

When I looked around the crowd in a space transformed by banners displaying the Lloyds at work and Horn Point Lab projects, I sensed a genuine respect for a young couple who have developed a small business that draws a slew of pleased customers. I also discerned dedication to environmental sensitivity similar in many ways to the 2016 award recipients.

One of the additional highlights of this annual event is meeting the Horn Point graduate students, for whom scholarship funds are raised. Their excitement about their Chesapeake Bay research and passion for knowledge that contributes to a healthy environment comes across clearly.
The next generation of marine scientists will soon open doors to new discoveries and possible solutions to knotty problems.

We live in a special place of the world. We live surrounded by productive farmland. We live surrounded by rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. We also know we can’t live on reputation alone.

Stories abound in the media about our polluted waterways. The health of our scenic rivers and beautiful Bay is precarious. We cannot ignore this stark reality. We have to take action, even in small ways such as the disuse of fertilizers and consumption of local food. We have to be active, concerned and determined stewards.

Jordan's cooking demo of fresh, local vegetables. Photo by Ralph Kimes

Jordan’s cooking demo of fresh, local vegetables. Photo by Ralph Kimes

Though biased by my indirect connection to Horn Point Lab, I believe that the use of scientific data, objectively gathered and analyzed, is critical to understanding our environment and taking rational steps to improve it.

Protection and preservation of our Eastern Shore’s attributes cannot be delegated to the next generation. It cannot be dismissed as the refuge of the do-gooders. It should not fall victim to political squabbles.

Jordon and Alice Lloyd were raised on the Shore. They returned to Easton after spending several years in major cities as Jordan honed his craft as a first-class chef. They want to preserve and upgrade our community for their children.

Good intentions and sound science produce worthy outcomes. That was my takeaway at HPL’s Chesapeake Champion Award presentation.

 

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

The Oaks Receives John Wesley Moore Collection of American Plains Spirituality

The Oaks of Mamre Interfaith Theological Library and Graduate Center has received The John Wesley Moore Collection of American Plains Indian Spirituality in a recent ceremony in Easton which was attended by invited guests, several of Native American descent. The Oaks President Bishop Joel Marcus Johnson presided.

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Pastor John Wesley Moore shows this rare 1962 Wocekiye Wowapi.

The Rev. Moore, the benefactor, is the recently retired pastor of Talbot County’s Riverview Charge of the United Methodist Church.

Pastor Moore, who is of Oglala Lakota and Irish descent from his father, and Kogui Kiowa and Scottish descent from his mother, is a son of The Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota. A lifelong scholar of his Plains Indian heritage, he has collected such memorabilia as rare translations of the Bible, prayer books and hymnals into native tongues, as well as social and political histories, and native artisanal studies. From both his maternal and paternal sides, Pastor Moore is his collective family’s descendant cleric from four generations of the United Methodist and Episcopal churches.

Among the rarest volumes presented in the ceremony was the 1962 Niobrara Service Book, the translation into Dakota of the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, entitled Wocekiye Wowapi, literally translated, “One who cries out for help.” Other rare volumes include the Dakota Episcopal Hymnal of 1949, and historical works of Walker, Rice, and the Deloria family.

In his presentation, Pastor Moore recounted that among the Plains nations were several tribes which had incorporated symbols and rites of Judaism, possibly the result of Spanish Jews banished to the New World in 1492, and who, in the conquistadores push to overtake northern Mexico, may have gone further north and conjoined with these tribes.

To signify the inter-cultural nature of Plains Indian Christianity, the ceremony concluded as Bishop Johnson gave the Hebrew Aaronic blessing from the Book of Numbers, and Pastor Moore singing a native Dakota hymn of blessing.

“This large, momentous collection is of great importance,” said Bishop Johnson, “as it serves to encourage members and scholars of other native tribes and nations also to participate in preserving their spiritual traditions and histories. The Oaks welcomes these good people.”

The Oaks of Mamre was begun this year under the tax exempt auspices of the Mid Shore Community Foundation. Its purpose is to promote peace and harmony among the world’s great religions through academic seminars and symposia. To receive the mission statement and founding narrative, reach Bishop Johnson at oaksofmamre@goeaston.net

Recovery: The Mid-Shore’s New Opioid Treatment Center After Year One

Dr. David Hill has been behind some remarkable businesses on the Mid-Shore, including William Hill Manor and Easton Bank and Trust, but nothing could prepare him for starting the Mid-Shore’s first heroin treatment center in Easton last year.

But with the help of Melissa Bishop, an expert on opioid treatment programs, Dave, along with his son Chad, took an unprecedented risk in investing the unfortunate but very real and growing new market for opioid addiction.

After Chesapeake Treatment Center’s first year of operations, the Spy asked Dr. Hill and Ms. Bishop, now CTC’s director of operations,  to sit down with us to discuss what they have learned about addiction on the Eastern Shore, the more than 500 individuals currently getting help, and the treatment center’s plans to expand to Salisbury and possibly Ocean City in the near future.

This video is approximately six minutes in length

Rigged by Al Sikes

Hope is defining—freedom without hope is illusory. Rigged is the antithesis of hope. Why study or work hard if life is rigged? Why invest if the financial system is corrupt?

Communism was built on a foundation of capitalism being rigged—struggle without hope. It was hard, however, for Communism to survive when open societies thrived. The images brought down the Soviets, and their puppets as communication satellites showed the rewards of freedom. But, freedom paired with democracy is not an easy or sure road.

We have just finished an election contest where Bernie Sanders claimed Wall Street stacks the deck—rigs the system. Hillary Clinton was his target. And now we are in another where Donald Trump keeps shouting that the system is rigged.

I find a billionaire using charges of rigging both ironic and amusing. He claims to understand corruption because he is on the inside. What Trump knows is that if you invest enough in clever lawyers, you can game byzantine tax and bankruptcy codes and delay justice. Fortunately, most people voluntarily obey the law. Trump’s message is corrosive. What Trump doesn’t understand or care about is the consequences of his aggressive effort to undermine the view that America rewards personal efforts and enterprise. He should understand that America has been a magnet for immigrants who will do almost anything to escape rigged systems.

America, while not perfect, has fought domestically and internationally against those who would deny hope. But given our short-term memories and, too frequently, our lack of historical understanding, we are confronted by two candidates who, to Trump’s advantage, are thesis and proof. Trump’s thesis—the system is rigged (and nobody knows that better than me) and Hillary Clinton is proof. How, he invites the public to ask, can a former government official parley her public service into tens of millions of wealth? She, of course, will ask how did Trump escape four bankruptcies largely unscathed?

I am left unsurprised, but nauseous. Washington is filled with former government officials whose main asset is gaining access, and the larger the government gets the more is spent to access those in power. Gaining a prestigious position in Washington is more valuable than a Stanford MBA. And, it is not surprising that aggressive and clever lawyers have served Trump well. If I were a seller and Trump was the buyer, only a cash transaction would be acceptable.

Regardless of humanity’s inability to perfect a system of governance, we should remind ourselves of American progress through our founding documents, and a civil war fought to right a grievous wrong.

We should also remind ourselves that in the broad reach of time, 2020, the next Presidential election year, is not far off. We can begin to correct our current misadventures in 2018 when once again we are given the constitutional privilege of electing a new House of Representatives.

My vote in November will be one of protest while looking forward to leaders who are not proof of rigged systems.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Art Review: Nara Park—“Believe” at Kohl Gallery by Mary McCoy

Paradox is the foundation of Nara Park’s crumbling walls filling the Kohl Gallery. When you first walk in, it feels as if you are entering the disintegrating remains of an extensive sacred temple built of solid blocks of rose-colored marble. Jagged walls rise above human height blocking your view of the mysteries beyond only to tumble down to the floor in a confusion of rubble. The gaps in between offer enticing glimpses of what seems a mysterious labyrinthine structure.

But the coolness and weightiness of stone is absent. There’s none of mineral sparkle of polished marble, only a plasticky gleam. Solid stone is revealed as hollow boxes folded from sheets of plastic printed with a faux marble pattern. Manufactured as decorative packaging boxes, they simulate the beauty and elegance of the marble but have nothing of its weight, solidity and durability.

Park has purposefully conjured the presence of sacred space in this deeply experiential installation only to instantly undermine it. Its title, “I Was Here,” succinctly calls up the deeply human need to make a mark, to commemorate, to create something strong, stable and unchanging, but her materials infer that it’s a hollow wish.

Stone symbolizes stability and permanence. It’s the material of monuments, gravestones and temples of every faith. But while Park’s faux stone temple briefly summons its power, it’s all a charade, a fact underscored by a series of jokes. The brownish faux stone of the fallen rubble doesn’t match the blocks in the wall, and plastic tabs, the final adhesive fold holding each box together, are left visible here and there. As if that weren’t enough, the marble pattern of the blocks repeats over and over so that a darkish spot constantly reappears, making polka dots across entire walls.

“I Was Here,” Nara Park, plastic packaging boxes

“I Was Here,” Nara Park, plastic packaging boxes

Once the impression of weighty stone is left behind, the plastic itself holds a certain delight. Rigid but thin, it’s hollow inside and slightly translucent, so that the light passing through creates a pleasant glow. Thanks to today’s high-definition digital printing, the repeating photographic image of real marble lends the blocks a quality of nuanced natural loveliness. Park’s installation is beautiful but decidedly artificial, and that’s what gives it its dissonant potency.

Simulation is rife in contemporary culture. It has its merits (faux fur saves animals’ lives) and its faults (fake wood paneling can make for some very tacky architecture), but there’s the niggling worry that so much artificiality points to, even encourages, a surface understanding of life and a concurrent loss of insight into reality.

Park toys with this thought in three small wall sculptures made of bits of wood coated with stone-textured paint and layered like stone strata. These are more cerebral than “I Was Here” and seem to function primarily as intriguing studies into the curiously tactile effects of the textured paint and the rhythmic patterns of stone formation and erosion, perhaps in preparation for some future project.

The exhibit’s other smaller sculpture, “Believe,” is more thought provoking. Backed into a tight alcove, it’s a simulation of a wishing well, its sides built of more hollow blocks made from dark, faux stone wallpaper. The traditional round well is compressed into an ellipse and holds black aquarium sand instead of water. Still, there are coins lying in the sand—visitors have made wishes, and you are invited to do so, too.

“Believe,” Nara Park, wallpaper, aquarium sand, coins

“Believe,” Nara Park, wallpaper, aquarium sand, coins

The question arises (as it inevitably does even at real wishing wells) as to whether it really works. The inference is that perhaps it’s not the magic of natural stone and pure water welling up from the depths of the earth that causes wishes to come true, but the focused impulse for good things to happen. It’s an idea that fascinates Park, and she will collect the coins at the end of the show to donate to Easels and Arts, Supporting the Arts in Kent County Schools, effectively making some wishes, at least, come true.

It took Park eight days to install the thousands of blocks in “Believe” and “I Was Here,” and that doesn’t even touch on the amount of time it took for her to fold each box back in her studio in Washington, DC. That someone has gone to so much trouble to create artwork that will prick the visitor with curiosity and wonderings about the several threads of its provenance is noteworthy, in and of itself.

The blatant artifice of stacking plastic boxes to simulate a stone temple not only questions our deeply seated infatuation with our ability to manufacture simulations of nature and experience, it challenges the power of any object of human creation. To build a temple is to commemorate beliefs and culture and ultimately, ourselves. But every memorial will eventually crumble, a truth that Park emphasizes by the ruinous state of hers and the presence of thinner, gray blocks in its lowest strata, a subtle suggestion that the pink temple was a refurbishment of the remains of an earlier version.

The law of impermanence applies to everything in the physical world, from plastic to stone to the human body. Neither synthetic nor organic will ultimately endure. The final paradox is that Park’s hollow boxes aren’t empty—at least of meaning—and her wishing well may indeed be magical.

Informed by the hours of labor it took to create these works, the complex web of ideas she is pondering, and the reactions and understandings awakened in the visitors, it does seem they hold something ineffable. It’s the apprehension that belief itself has power. Just as when we believe we are happy, we will smile at others and spread our happiness, if we believe in power of art to stimulate insight, we are opening a door to let it in.

The exhibit continues through October 23 at the Kohl Gallery, located in Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College. Hours are Wednesday through Friday 1:00 to 6:00 and Saturday and Sunday 11:00 to 4:00.

Mary McCoy is an artist and writer who has the good fortune to live beside an old steamboat wharf on the Chester River. She is a former art critic for the Washington Post and several art publications. She enjoys the kayaking the river and walking her family farm where she collects ideas and materials for the environmental art she creates, often in collaboration with her husband Howard. They have exhibited their work in the U.S., Ireland, Wales and New Zealand.

Out and About (Sort of): Six Months and Still Smitten by Howard Freedlander

It’s been six months since Sandy, our seven-year-old yellow Labrador, arrived in our lives. We continue to be smitten by this sweet, gentle and lovable dog.

This is what we’ve learned about our new family addition. She’s not very exuberant or overactive. She’s not very doggish, with little or no desire to fetch and scant appetite for barking. She reluctantly goes on walks in our Easton neighborhood. She had been a puppy machine who seemingly exercised very little.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-6-00-25-amWhat is wonderful, however, about the strolls around South Easton, is the attention she draws and savors. Few people who meet her can resist in patting her and commenting about her passive personality.

How could we be so lucky to have Sandy in our lives?

She seems dedicated only to pleasing us and being loved. As our world devolves into chaos and strife—and strident discourse—Sandy is oblivious. Of course, she is; she’s just a dog.

As I pet, feed and walk her, I sometimes feel sheltered, ever so briefly, from worldly concerns. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? How can a seven-year-old Labrador Retriever sway your senses and dim your awareness of our topsy-turvy world?

Very easily and effortlessly.

In an ad in the Sunday Star, Fellows, Helfenbein & Newnam Funeral Home announced the upcoming arrival newest member of its corporate family, a female Aussie Doodle, who will be trained as a “grief therapy dog…research has widely shown that the touch of a dog can have an effect on our emotions and well-being.” The ad seeks public input in naming “this sweet girl.”

In an article I found online in Psychology Today, the writer states,” Dogs are extraordinarily attentive and have an uncanny ability to predict what their owners will do, whether getting the dog a meal or preparing to go on a walk…dogs also seem attuned to the emotional state of their masters and express contrition when the owner is annoyed, for example. Otherwise, the capacity to express affection—unconditionally—makes the dog a valued ‘” family member.”’

From my observation, dogs provide a civilizing influence on humans. Though accustomed to caring for, and about our family members, we stretch, but not too much, to impose our same protective and compassionate natures on our four-legged friends. As noted above, we consider dogs part of the family—perhaps loving them with far less complexity than we do our spouses, children, siblings, in-laws and grandchildren.

Not surprisingly, human nature changes around a dog. In recent months, as workmen have come into our house for hours or even days, I’ve been amazed how quickly they devolve into baby talk when finding Sandy in their paths. And she seems to expect that behavior, trusting people to treat her well.

I wasn’t surprised to read the funeral home ad. For years, I’ve known about dogs providing comfort to individuals in nursing homes and hospices. Dogs allow humans to focus on something other than themselves. You can forget your physical and emotional —and maybe your overwhelming grief and loneliness.

When thinking about writing this column, I wondered, in a jestful, wistful way, whether dogs might help alter the current political process. If the members of the U.S. Congress could bring their pets into the legislative chambers during a contentious debate, would the dogs prompt their masters to treat each better and more humanely? Would the outcome be different?

As I wrote six months ago when we acquired Sandy, I’m new to the world of animal adoration. I sometimes question my irrational response to this animal. She’s just a dog, for God’s sake.
But she’s more. She’s a vehicle for goodness. She compels feelings of warmth and caring. She requires relatively little effort; feeding and walking her are pleasurable.

As the Psychology Today writer said, a dog is a treasured family member. It’s sometimes difficult to explain but easy to understand.

Sandy is sitting by my feet as I write this column. I like the feeling of having her in my life. How does she know?

Because she is a dog.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Madam Librarian: Talbot County Free Library’s New Director Dana Newman

The search committee which was tasked to find a new director of the Talbot County Free Library was given a very tall order a few months ago. Former Director Robert Horvath had guided the highly-regarded public library system of Talbot County for many years, as well as being the president of the Norman Rockwell Museum, and a celebrated aviation artist. His tenure had created a very high standard indeed for all who would fall him in the position.

Nonetheless, the committee pressed on, and this summer announced that Dana Newman, who was second in command for all of Anne Arundel County’s public libraries, would be a worthy successor. And for those who have met the new director, it seems like a perfect fit.

In her first interview with the Spy, Dana, a Texas native, talks about the role of Talbot County libraries in the 21st Century, the use of technology, and the extraordinary contributions that are made every day by a small staff and the active support of volunteers to ensure that the TCFL continues to fulfill its responsibilities to the citizens of Talbot County.

This video is approximately five minutes in length 

The Remains of Our Days by George Merrill

As a young assistant priest in a New York City church, I visited many of our parish’s elderly and shut-ins. I liked visiting. Many of my contemporary clergy didn’t. They were impatient with the inclinations of the elderly to balk at change, ruminate about health, talk about who died while fussing about changes in the churches décor or services.

I can say honestly I didn’t feel impatient. I had developed a knack for nudging the conversation in the direction of the “old days,” and how life was for these elderly in the days before my time. It was like history coming alive before me, as if I was back there. Elderly parishioners welcomed my enquiries and many of the tales I heard were spellbinding. It was a win-win.

The wheel of Karma turns. As those folks were then, so I am now. I balk at some changes and am regularly saddened by the people I’ve known who have died. I am, however, as curious about my own past as I had been about those of my parishioners in the city sixty years ago.

The experience of exploring one’s life is exciting in the way rummaging through attics can be, where over the years, all kinds of things were put away to gather dust until circumstances conspired to encourage our return to the attic. There, we rediscover what we’d long forgotten but see it with fresh eyes.

I found an old family photograph, recently. It shows the front parlor and the adjoining room in my grandparents’ home where, during my boyhood, we’d celebrate Thanksgiving. The rooms were small.

The photograph was taken long before I was born, maybe near the turn of the century. It was a grand old house located on Richmond Terrace on Staten Island, a once fashionable residential area along the Kill Van Kull, the water boundary between Staten Island and New Jersey.

I remember the house as always filled with smoke – from my grandfather’s and my uncles’ pipes and cigars – along with the lingering smell of Yardley lavender perfume that my grandmothers and great aunts wore with their holiday finery. The collective aroma became for me a kind of tribal scent by which I knew I was home among my own native kin.

In the room, bric-a-brac, knickknacks, gewgaws, photographs, odds and ends of every description covered the surfaces of mantels, tables, a china cabinet, and even the floor. There, two cuspidors sat prominently on either side of a table in the middle of one room.

The fireplace was black wrought iron. On its mantelpiece, among various vases and statuettes, sat a clock with two horses on top bearing the triumphal figures of what I guessed were conquistadores. The table in the middle of the room was also filled with photographs and I saw the black ivory elephant that had been there when I was a boy. The figurine had an elegantly smooth sheen and I could never pass it by without touching it.

Walls were papered in various floral designs, crown moldings edged the upper walls and on the ceiling in the middle of the sitting room, a chandelier hung from a round plaster floret adorned with sculpted flower buds. The chandelier had three fogged glass shades in which gas flames once burned. I saw the Morris chair I eventually inherited. In this photograph, a lace doily had been draped over the back.

Seeing the picture now, I realize that in my lifetime I witnessed the remains of the Victorian era. I was enchanted with its extravagant décor, its insatiable appetite for collectibles and the intimate spaces in which people, despite limited room, maintained careful distances from each other.

The Victorian code of conduct served to manage family secrets. My widowed great aunt had the “handyman” living with her in her Victorian home next door to my grandmothers. It never occurred to me until I was in my fifties just how in those days certain personal “arrangements,” while considered abhorrent, were nevertheless quietly accommodated, and never discussed.

I adored my Great Uncle John. He was a retired New York City policeman and a bachelor. He was considered “course.” My mother liked him, too, although she occasionally complained how he liked putting his hand on her rump. That Uncle John dated Margaret – an Irish Catholic – with whom he went to bars, shocked his Methodist sisters. It was scandalous enough that Margaret was Catholic, but to add insult to injury she was also Irish. The Methodists of the family were staunchly abstemious, terminally Protestant and defiantly waspish. I never saw Margaret at family affairs, but only occasionally with Uncle John. I liked her. She was salty.

My mother resented Grandma Merrill. Years ago, when having my father’s family for Thanksgiving, Grandma Merrill spent half of Thanksgiving day instructing my mother just how the turkey should be prepared. My mother remained civil, but the invisible walls of distance were erected.

Today, at holiday gatherings, families take a minimalist view of dress codes. Come as you are is in vogue. Flip-flops and tank tops will do. Back then, I recall with fondness that when my relatives arrived for the day, everyone was dressed to the nines. Men donned suits, vests, ties, topcoats, and wore fedoras and the women came in hats, white gloves and flowered dresses. There was an implied respect in the way that even relatives, who were certainly familiar with each other, still chose to meet looking their best. Keeping up appearances is not a bad thing. It lends dignity to an occasion.

Photographs remind us of the people and places that formed our identity. They are formed partly by our sense of place and more particularly by the personalities of the people who occupied those places. In one sense we are formed like onions, less organized by a center than consisting of layers of memories that remain with us until the remains of our days.

Seeing an old yellowed photograph brings them back.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

“Born in the USA, Period.” by George Merrill

On television the other day I viewed a clip with the awe and incredulity that some people feel as they watch boas swallow pigs whole. I was viewing Donald Trump’s announcement delivered authoritatively and with finality; “President Barack Obama was born in the Untied States, period.”

It was the “period” that got me. I felt I was being informed that the world was round and that I would be surprised to learn of it, but could be assured of its authenticity since, after all, Trump said it. The proclamation was delivered with the solemnity of a pontifical encyclical. It was as though Trump had, after years of discernment, discovered the answer to one of life’s ultimate concerns, like life after death, or the nature of justice. He had wrestled with the angels and gained some timeless truths about existence. Trump reached a profound conclusion about our president, which the world, until he spoke it, remained wholly unaware.

He did add, which for me took some of the solemnity from the disclosure, that years ago Hillary Clinton started the whole thing by stating her doubts about our president’s citizenship.

If you are one of the American electorate who would like to see in your president a capacity to discern reality from fantasy, to be thoughtful and deliberate in dealing with the complex political and economic issues of the future that await us, and who would treat the American people respectfully and not as if we were mindless, I want to go on record as saying emphatically, “Trump is not your man.”

I’d prefer that his announcement was a joke, but it was not and this proclamation only underscores how, in my opinion, Trump would not serve the country well as a president. He is dangerous because he exhibits no capacity to discern between what is the truth of a matter and what happens to be on in his mind at any given moment. To make that distinction requires some ability to discern.

What was equally frightening to me was to watch his admirers around him while he made the announcement; they nodded and smiled agreeably with approbation. It terrifies me to think that the day might soon come when there would be no one left in the crowd who is savvy or aware… or worse still, no one who would care enough to say, “Look, the Emperor has no clothes.”

In my book, Trump is one scary guy, period.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Why You Should Be Listening to Hannah Gill

First of all, Hannah Gill is an Easton native, but that is not the only reason you should be listening to her. She possesses this deep, soulful voice that is reminiscent of powerhouse voices (think Amy Winehouse) that came before her.

Not only is she a favorite of The Spy, she is garnering national attention and acclaim from media outlets like The Huffington Post and National Public Radio. She was even featured “live” on the New York Times’ Facebook page.

She is getting ready to embark on a new multi-city tour in September of this year, and will be slinging her unique brand of pop and rock with a bent towards contemporary blues and soul on the Avalon Theatre’s main stage on Friday, September 23.

This homecoming is exciting because she is so clearly poised to reach higher levels of fame and we locals get a chance to glow with pride at our small town girl who’s on her way to making it big. Check her out; you’ll be glad you did.

For more information and to buy tickets for the event click here.