Scott Cawelti

About Scott Cawelti -

Scott Cawelti was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 1968-2008, and has written regular opinion columns and reviews for the Waterloo / Cedar Falls Courier since the late 1970s.  He played for years in a folk duo with Robert James Waller and still regularly performs as a singer/guitarist/songwriter. Scott continues to teach as an adjunct instructor at UNI.

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  • Message for The Color Purples

    • Posted on Nov 14, 2004 by Scott Cawelti

    11-14-04

    Last week I congratulated the President’s supporters for their election win and offered condolences to Kerry supporters.  The reds and the blues.

     What about the purples?  I’m speaking of Independents, moderate Republicans and skeptical Democrats. They lean toward their party, but recognize its flaws and are willing to split their tickets. I believe that millions of Americans fit this category, as do I. 

    In fact, we may be more purple than red or blue.

    Some of my best friends, literally, are moderate Republicans, and we still manage to disagree agreeably.  We enjoy each others’ company, and appreciate our differences, even if we annoy each other at times.  They struggle with President Bush, and one of them admitted he would have voted for Clinton (!) if he could have. But they believe that Bush was the better choice, all things considered.

    And I struggled with Kerry, but given the ongoing horrors in Iraq and the President’s insistence on letting our country slide into bottomless debt on its way to becoming a rogue superpower, I could not support Bush.  

    So what about healing these rifts among bright reds, true blues, and mixed purples?   I’d say healing is the wrong word. It’s more like splicing.  Where healing suggests all is well after a period of recuperation, splicing suggests a continuing separation but not a complete split. 

    Three issues reveal a deep divide, and they aren’t open to much compromise. They’re either yea or nay, up or down, making them the most challenging for all of us.

    Consider fundamentalist faith, the first divisive issue. Even though I believe in spiritual mysteries, I don’t believe that anyone has the complete and single right answer to those mysteries because of their interpretation of passages from a multi-translated ancient text. 

    As Andre Gide says, “Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.” 

    If evangelicals can respect openness to many ways of understanding spiritual mysteries, I can respect their willingness to choose one faith, as long as they don’t try to force it on me, either personally or with laws based on their faith.

    Which brings up abortion. I’m pro-choice, and certainly pro-life of the mother, and they’re anti-choice, and some are even anti-life of the mother, though they prefer to be called only “pro-life.”  But outlawing abortion only stops legal abortions, not abortion itself, as has been proven by our own sad history, when unsafe abortions killed thousands of women.  (Read John Irving’s “Cider House Rules” for a hard look at that era.)

    If anti-abortionists don’t like abortion, they shouldn’t have one. But they have no legal or moral right to take away others’ choices.  We will have to continue to disagree about this, but I hope civilly.   

    Finally, gay marriage.  I believe that marriage, with all its benefits, should be available to all couples regardless of their gender.  Most of those who disagree do so because they find support for their belief in their sacred text, the Bible.  

    That same text also was used for decades to justify slavery and racism, and could be used to justify the death penalty anyone who curses their father or mother.  (See Leviticus 20: 9)  It’s simply not an infallible guide to contemporary issues.  For believers to impose it on the whole country amounts to coercion by faith.  

    So I continue to believe that separation of church and state remains one of the glories of America, and without it we will in fact become separate unspliced countries.

    And so divided, we will fall.

     As a splicing purple, I invite agreeable dialog, which may end in agreeable disagreements. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we don’t impose laws based on personal beliefs. 

    Three cheers for the red, the blue, and especially the purple.

                

    Go comment!
    Posted in
    • Hot Button Issues
    • Cedar Valley Chronicles
    • Politics
  • Message for The Color Purples

    • Posted on Nov 14, 2004 by Scott Cawelti

    11-14-04

    Last week I congratulated the President’s supporters for their election win and offered condolences to Kerry supporters.  The reds and the blues.

    What about the purples?  I’m speaking of Independents, moderate Republicans and skeptical Democrats. They lean toward their party, but recognize its flaws and are willing to split their tickets. I believe that millions of Americans fit this category, as do I. 

    In fact, we may be more purple than red or blue.

    Some of my best friends, literally, are moderate Republicans, and we still manage to disagree agreeably.  We enjoy each others’ company, and appreciate our differences, even if we annoy each other at times.  They struggle with President Bush, and one of them admitted he would have voted for Clinton (!) if he could have. But they believe that Bush was the better choice, all things considered.

    And I struggled with Kerry, but given the ongoing horrors in Iraq and the President’s insistence on letting our country slide into bottomless debt on its way to becoming a rogue superpower, I could not support Bush. 

    So what about healing these rifts among bright reds, true blues, and mixed purples?   I’d say healing is the wrong word. It’s more like splicing.  Where healing suggests all is well after a period of recuperation, splicing suggests a continuing separation but not a complete split. 

    Three issues reveal a deep divide, and they aren’t open to much compromise. They’re either yea or nay, up or down, making them the most challenging for all of us.

    Consider fundamentalist faith, the first divisive issue. Even though I believe in spiritual mysteries, I don’t believe that anyone has the complete and single right answer to those mysteries because of their interpretation of passages from a multi-translated ancient text. 

    As Andre Gide says, “Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.” 

    If evangelicals can respect openness to many ways of understanding spiritual mysteries, I can respect their willingness to choose one faith, as long as they don’t try to force it on me, either personally or with laws based on their faith.

    Which brings up abortion. I’m pro-choice, and certainly pro-life of the mother, and they’re anti-choice, and some are even anti-life of the mother, though they prefer to be called only “pro-life.”  But outlawing abortion only stops legal abortions, not abortion itself, as has been proven by our own sad history, when unsafe abortions killed thousands of women.  (Read John Irving’s “Cider House Rules” for a hard look at that era.)

    If anti-abortionists don’t like abortion, they shouldn’t have one. But they have no legal or moral right to take away others’ choices.  We will have to continue to disagree about this, but I hope civilly.  

    Finally, gay marriage.  I believe that marriage, with all its benefits, should be available to all couples regardless of their gender.  Most of those who disagree do so because they find support for their belief in their sacred text, the Bible. 

    That same text also was used for decades to justify slavery and racism, and could be used to justify the death penalty anyone who curses their father or mother.  (See Leviticus 20: 9)  It’s simply not an infallible guide to contemporary issues.  For believers to impose it on the whole country amounts to coercion by faith. 

    So I continue to believe that separation of church and state remains one of the glories of America, and without it we will in fact become separate unspliced countries.

    And so divided, we will fall.

    As a splicing purple, I invite agreeable dialog, which may end in agreeable disagreements. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we don’t impose laws based on personal beliefs. 

    Three cheers for the red, the blue, and especially the purple.

                

    Go comment!
    Posted in
    • Politics
    • Cedar Valley Chronicles
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