"Panflick: The Boston Car Wars" Published by iUniverse

The first of my novels regarding Adam Panflick has been published by iUniverse and is available via the normal Web outlets including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the iUniverse site.

Panflick novels feature weeks in the life of Adam Panflick. This first publication deals with a week during the late 1980s in Boston. where Panflick is moved to attack the automobile.


I believe that this Panflick novel is the first anti-automobile fiction ever. It is essentially a gauntlet thrown in the path of all private vehicles now clogging our public rights of way.

It is funny as well as dark. It is available in a modestly-priced paperback and in a laughably low-priced e book.

abba's way

What Do Jim Wallis, Bill Coffin and Jim Forbes Have in Common?

The following question was raised a few years back, before Bill Coffin’s death. But I feel the theme is relevant now and I am sure Bill will not mind an effort to stimulate discussion and debate.

What Do Jim Wallis, Bill Coffin and Jim Forbes Have in Common?

I lived with Bill Coffin (William Sloane Coffin, Jr.) and his then wife Eva Rubenstein following my resignation from my fraternity at Williams College in 1958. He was the chaplain.

The following year I enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and one of my classmates was Jim Forbes (The Rev. James Forbes) who is currently the minister of Riverside Church in New York City.

During the 1960s I founded and edited Renewal Magazine in Chicago and developed a fundamental understanding of church reform and the relation of church and society which has remained substantially unchanged, though its theological underpinnings are now a good deal more developed. When Renewal tapered off and underwent its terminal permutations in the early 1970s, the emergent radical US Protestant publication was called Sojourners and its editor was Jim Wallis.

No, it is not that I know two out of three of these persons or that they are all US Protestants or that they are, even today, seen as spokespersons for the more liberal-to-radical side of that Protestantism, that explains what they have in common.

What they have in common is a mistaken approach.

All three would say, in possibly similar words, that they want religion to have an impact in the public square. But none of them, to my knowledge, adds that the religion of which they are a part is part of the problem.

They might all argue that how a candidate for President deals with poverty is a religious problem, without adding that religion per se is a problem.

In 1969 some radical Christians gathered to confront the churches in Detroit where the National Council of Churches was holding a major meeting. Though the agendas and understandings of our diverse movement varied, the focus was correct.

Instead of the easy route of suggesting that religion have a voice in the public square, those of us in Detroit chose the harder route of seeking to confront and change and refocus church leadership of the mainline churches, predicting their precipitous decline should they fail to face their structural disunity and lack of true ecumenism.

Most of the people who were in that movement in 1969 are voiceless today — they remain more pertinent than voices that merely seek to be heard over against the typical evangelical and born again voices which continue to dominate American religion.

The most prominent survivor of that doomed effort is probably my longterm colleague and friend Will Campbell, who subsequently eschewed any effort to renew or reform the Church and what passes for an ecumenical movement within it.

Some of us still talk together but we know that vaunted American religion is in little danger as long as Bill Coffin, Jim Forbes and Jim Wallis content themselves with making political points to which the bulk of Christendom pays little mind.

Better they might deal with the sickness within religion itself — its superstition, its slavish caving in to the edicts of patriotism and militarism, its turning of Jesus into a code word for narcissistic personal redemption, its irrelevance when it becomes merely a proof-texting code for anything one wants to advance.

I suppose they could come back with the statement that some leaders like Bishop Spong have tried to speak out, to approximately the same level of disinterest. It may well be there is simply no possibility that the ground liberal, mainline Protestantism has ceded to a new mainline evangelicalism will ever be regained.

The simple message needed to start such an effort is suggested in my CAP pages.
More in-depth reasoning will be found on my pages on creedal messianism and my book Beyond Creed: From Religion to Spiritiuality.

The history of the last fifty years of American Protestantism is the history of a failure to engage, on Biblical grounds, the movement that has won the day in the US. That failure means that our popular religion will continue to be an offense, not the offense of the Cross spoken of Biblically, but an offense against reason and good sense and simple understanding of how things work.

The simple theology of our movement is expressed in Will’s phrase that we are all sons o’ bitches but God loves us anyway. From this understanding, one does not enter the public square as a religious representative or functionary, but just as Jesus did — as a human being with no credentials, teaching the Beatitudinal way.

The most political thing Jesus ever did was not telling the Romans he was on the side of peace, but showing the Temple he was on the side of integrity.

Following the lead of Reinhold Niebuhr, who regarded American religion as trivial,
spokespersons for liberal causes within the church remain a minority. They are no threat at all. They can be safely ignored.

When Jesus confronted the Temple the threat was too serious to ignore. Was our confrontation of the American Temple ignored in 1969?

By and large it was.

But I think time and history is on our side.


Pay Per Productivity

Pay Per Productivity? What might that be?


You work at a desk. No one sees your monitor or if they look you are clever.

You can deal with anything in nanobits of time. Requests. Sales. Calls. Whatever. You can also keep your Fantasy Football, your Textris, your Hold ‘Em, whatever, going and minimoze or zap it at will.

Welcome to the real world.

But what is not new is that some produce and some do not. Therefore people should NOT be monitored for being creative about their time in the workplace. Instead they should be monitored for creativity and resulting productivity.

And it is really simple.

You award yourself productivity points. Others award productivity points. To the extent there is a harmony in the awards, that my 10 for excellent performance is echoed by whoever I performed for, I survive handily.

Hey, I do not know how this is going to play out. When I was in roughly the position noted above, my time was largely my own in the workplace, but I made a point of INSTANT RESPONSE and GOOD RESPONSE.

Therefore I did not count myself among the unproductive.

How many ADD-inclined souls — aka Multitaskers? — produce like mad as long as they can go from thing to thing and break it up with games or personal stuff.

Even if tasks are rote and limited and speed the essence, to the independent speed-demon go the spoils.

I betcha that within a few years paying for productivity will be standard. Because one thing is for sure. Using the Web for one’s own purposes is going to be a wave that cannot be stopped.


Ryder Cup Bans Cell Phones

Are we moving into a sane era where cell phones will not be allowed to hobble public events?

Whether or not the pendulum swings entirely the other way from now, when cell phones can wreck crucial performances, the organizers of September’s Ryder Cup, which will be in Ireland, have made a great move by banning mobile devices at this premier golfing event.

Sports has moved into an ever more central position as the world continues to reckon with the transition it is going through, from necessity to choice. The challenge of an era of widening choice is to create rules that map what is acceptable in relative privacy and what is acceptable in public areas. Particularly areas where performance of any sort is the center of a group’s attentions.

The Ryder Cup is the height of golf in terms of pitting US players against their European counderparts. It is a delight to think that players there will not be tormented, as many of us are, by the ambient behavior of devices which are invasive and bothersome, but which are also prototypes of the way the entire cyberworld is evolving.

Maybe the decision in Ireland will send a few salutary waves around the planet and we will begin to be free of the invasion of the attention-snatchers.

More than likely the future will give us devices which will automatically know when they can and cannot be audible. It will be some time before choice and consideration for others meld.


Was This Plot Implausible?

The potential for rumor and misinformation around the scary scenarios developed in the wake of the arrests in UK and Pakistan is substantial. Here is a welcome debunking of the idea that it would have been easy to do what those arrested are accused of plotting.


Nascar, Cable TV and the Internet

Driving out of NYC up the West Side Highway and back in along Park Avenue and then down 9th Avenue yesterday, we were duly appalled by the Trumparama along the West Side, something the Soviets might have praised, replacing the TRUMP name with appropriate Cyrillic characters.

And coming back on 9th Avenue we remarked that most of the structures that once made 9th a mecca for urban seekers of charming nooks will be gone within a few more years of continuing Trump-like development, the equivalent in skyscrapers of the marauding of the suburbs by gingerbread and other architectural excresences.

My wife and I cooked up the simple expression for what will be left — Nascar, Cable TV and the Internet.

I am not sure any more needs to be said.


Intelligent Vetting at Our Airports

Intelligent vetting at our airports would begin with a way to distinguish between people who would never in a million years propose to do harm while in mid-air and those who just might.

It seems to me that a frequent flier with a valid set of credit cards, licenses and so forth, particularly of a certain age, would not be a likely AR (my instant acronym for Air Risk). The current security mode (the one we had up to yesterday, when draconian began) would be more than adequate to let this person through.

Parents or one parent and child or children would seem to me to pose little danger of AR. Couples or most groups might be similarly downgraded as potential ARs. Similarly people with disabilities.

Intelligent vetting is learning to distinguish risk categories not based on age, gender, race or nationality but on what we can deduce about past and future threats.

We can deduce that future AR candidates would be more than one to a plane and that they would be linked. This would create red flags when two apparently separate passengers from the same city tried to board a plan. Unfortunately, the dominant reality would place a burden on Islamic males and single male travellers in general.

The purpose of intelligent vetting would be to eliminate processes that are deemed needless in the case of many passengers. Intelligent vetting would give unlikely AR candidates the opportunity to carry on baggage. Many older travellers are highly dependent on things like available water, medications and the like. Other travellers want to be able to read.

I personally would have no objection to the wholesale banning of electronic devices, though the very purpose of many such devices relates precisely to being able to use them on planes. Without phones for example the passengers on flight 93 would not have known to act.

The answer to intelligent vetting is applying common sense to the process and perhaps creating a gateway for those willing to sacrifice some privacy for the purpose of being able to pass through check-in with less hassle than seems likely in the wake of current stepped-up fears.