Mary Beth Writes


Last Sunday 25-year-old Air Force serviceman Aaron Bushnell set himself on fire and then died in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. He said he was protesting "what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers." He declared he "will no longer be complicit in genocide."

I don’t even know where to go with this commemoration but this young person seems, to me, familiar and precious so I would like to say something.

He was raised in the cultic ‘Community of Jesus’ which exerted intimidating control over its members and their children. I recognize in Bushnell’s passion some of the craziness I held inside me as a young and idealistic person who had been raised in strict religion. Lessons and stories about the Glories of Self-Sacrifice are served to kids with milk and cookies. As the kid becomes an adult, those internalized structures of selflessness and martyrdom can and generally do become toxic.

From its first century much of the theology of Christianity was built on stories of torture and death. Show me a modern church that hangs a cross in front of the sanctuary but doesn’t preach Jesus’ Beatitudes to its congregants - and I will show you theology which teaches that the moment of death counts for more than a life of love, creativity, and service. Be careful out there.

Just as mind-blowingly true, until these past few months, how much did any of us know about life for Palestinian people? It galls me that we watch, listen to, read so much “news” and yet here we all are, ignorant of what has been the oppressive everyday life among Palestinians since 1948. An entire population of people have lost most of their land before our eyes. And I’m going to say right here that I am not anti-Jewish because we are so nervous about what we are seeing that we all have to keep saying this. We don’t even know how to say we are against two evils at the same time. Apparently most Israeli citizens are trying to say this same thing. Like the meme says, justice isn’t pie. Extending justice to others doesn’t mean there’s less for me.

So here we are. A young guy who seems almost familiar in his wholesomeness, his caring for others, his energy and passion – self-immolated last week. He tried to say with his very life that caring for each other is the point of our lives, not our pastime.

Rest in peace, beautiful young man.

These remembrances of his friends are lovely and thoughtful.

Several months ago I bought this scarf for myself at Goodwill. I planned to give it away but soon realized I couldn’t. It seemed unusually familiar to me, as if someone I knew and loved also had this scarf. I’ve had it on our sofa for months, I wear it when I get chilly reading or watching TV.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you know you love something quite ordinary and you don’t know why?

Well, this morning, while writing about sacrifice, Jewishness, and sorrow, I realized I recognize my scarf from this. I framed this poster of The Praying Jew by Marc Chagall when I was in college and it hung in my various homes nearly 30 years.

Quotes by Chagall:

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.

Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life.

When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it - a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand - as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there's a clash between the two, it's bad art.”

I’ve posted House in Blue River to appear tomorrow morning at

It’s a long story that I wrote twenty years ago but which I still think about often. I even tried to write more about Caddie, Tom, and Jack, but after a month of trying, I gave up.

It’s about what happens when the domineering leader of a family is shown for who they truly are.





Aaron Bushnell. May that young man rest in peace. I like that scarf - it’s plain and homey looking.

Much harm has been done in the name of religion throughout the millennia. Sadly, that applies to followers of ancient religions, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.

Thank you.,

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What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

Swan Story


I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s writing lately and I have decided there is too much to read. Much of it is very good but there is JUST TOO MUCH!

So my goal going forward is to write shorter posts, more often, that might remind you of the glory, power, and goofiness of your life as well as mine.

So, let me say again what’s always very true. Thank you for reading what I write.


About My Memorial Day Story


Today my story ‘Memorial Day’ is posted at Substack. Read it here. 

Courage, Big & Little



I’m writing fiction this week. I started a story in December that, along the way, turned into a Memorial Day story. It will be my Substack story this Saturday.

This morning I looked for an old newspaper column to rerun and found this one about a time when one of our kids needed to have four teeth pulled.

Cholesterol Numbers & Squirrels


Years ago I was out to dinner with friends. We were all just entering our 40’s and thus were all beginning to get the fun medical tests about this and that and cholesterol. I said, to a friend next to me, that I’d started eating oatmeal everyday for breakfast and my cholesterol had dropped …..

The room went silent.

Everyone heard “cholesterol dropped” and stopped speaking. Everyone wanted to hear how much it had dropped – which was about 8 points. In our twenties the conversation stopper was gossip about sex. Now the secret sauce was HDL and LDL

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