Geist und wurst

Geist und wurst August 2, 2017

• “A cantata was written last year by composer Edward Rushton and lyricist Ulrich Knellwolf, to commemorate what might be considered the most momentous sausage-eating act in all of Christian history. The piece is called … ‘Geist und Wurst.’ Yes: ‘Spirit and Sausage.'”

• Al Aronowitz’s “August Blues“:

August is the month when wars start. It’s when the water dries up and the spirit begins to wither. Insomniacs pull down their shades and lock themselves in their rooms in August. Lifelong friends have fist fights. People feel like they’re going to burst. Sometimes they do.

World War I started in August, or just about. The Austro-Hungarian Army began bombarding Belgrade on July 29, 1914, not quite August, but then August sometimes begins early. …

And here’s another lovely piece of writing from the long tail of the long ’60s, Patti Smith remembers Sam Shepard, “My Buddy.”

• Recently, as happens a lot, a good joke went viral because it was a good joke. And, simultaneously, it went viral because lots of people didn’t get the joke, and took it seriously with the very same kind of alarmist credulity the joke itself was spoofing.

I’m talking about the ridiculous recent Outback Steakhouse Thing, which involved drawing “Satanic” stars — pentagrams! — by connecting the dots between five Outback locations in different cities. The “star” pattern is easy to draw for Outback locations because, like most similar chain restaurants, they’re based more in the suburbs and exurbs than in center cities.

Here, for example, is a similar Satanic pentagram formed from Olive Garden locations around Philadelphia:


The “star” is, of course, an arbitrary way to connect those dots. They’re not really arranged as a pentagram, but as a rough circle — a perimeter or a boundary. The Olive Garden “Satanic symbol” can be drawn because the chain’s locations are literally around Philadelphia — near, but outside, the city itself.

We could do the same thing with a map of the Philly area showing, say, fully funded public schools. Or — at a more granular, neighborhood-level — a map showing bank locations, which surround, but lie outside of, neighborhoods of color served instead by predatory check-cashing outlets. We could draw similar maps with similar “pentagrams” to illustrate the “food deserts” that force many low-income urban residents to pay more for their grocery bills.

These pentagrams, in other words, exist because of the way our communities are structured — because of the economic and legal and institutional structures that place chain restaurants in some locations but not in others. That’s not terribly troubling if we’re talking about Outbacks and Olive Gardens, but when it comes to decent schools and safe affordable housing then, well, we really are looking at something Satanic. It’s a conspiracy straight from Hell.

• Janine Giordano Drake has a guest post at the Anxious Bench asking “Who has the power to recalibrate the ‘Evangelical Paradigm’?”

This had to be a guest post written by a non-evangelical because, for all the reasons she describes, a professor at a white evangelical institution wouldn’t be allowed to write it.

To the extent Christian university administrators make the final decisions over hiring, firing and tenure, those administrators are the real gatekeepers of the “evangelical paradigm.” They are the only folks, barring massive resistance by faculty, with the power to recalibrate that paradigm. I have rarely met an historian at a Christian college who did not respect US social history as a legitimate area of inquiry. Yet, I rarely met a university president who did.

Or, to put it more bluntly, follow the money. The financiers and the segregations are still in charge.


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