Friday, January 28, 2022

Danger or treasure


Afifa Aleiby

I read this poem the first time in about 1975, and have loved it ever since.  It means more as I age:

Question       by May Swenson

Body my house
my horse my hound   
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep   
How will I ride   
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount   
all eager and quick   
How will I know   
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure   
when Body my good   
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door   
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift   
how will I hide?

May Swenson, “Question” from Nature: Poems Old and New. Copyright © 1994 by May Swenson. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

art: Jessica Boehman

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

time telling itself to itself


Artist:  Leonard Koscianski

I love this poem by Jeff Hardin:


EVERLASTING   by Jeff Hardin

Where I live, a deep snow
dreaming the moonlight
back into its corner of sky
descends infrequently, so that,
haunting the woods, it makes
the morning into a dream,
quieter even than silence
knows to be. No one but
me, I lean my head pensively
against a window as if—of
all things—I get to eavesdrop
on time telling itself to itself,
a story gathering everything
all at once and for always.
Then a trinity of deer traipses
through, solemn as monks,
or maybe that’s how I need
to imagine them, my soul
in no hurry, contemplative
like that, over a white expanse,
in route to somewhere else.
I learned early of the everlasting,
and now and then I still say
those words—the everlasting
in the way someone says book
or door jamb or privet hedge,
a thing to reach out for, to hold
in the hand, or to put to use.
If only the snow came more
often. If only the mind’s lone
wondering could see what God
sees, seeing what isn’t there:
the steps we didn’t take that
might have gone anywhere,
anywhere but where they fell.

Don't tell me there is no mystery


I don't remember where I saw this photo, but this door knob fascinates me.

Lately I've been confronted with two other people whose way of thinking is so different from mine that I am flummoxed by it.  I am a big introvert , and have interacted with many extroverts, but even so, these two are really amazing to me.

I have come to realize that I have a different way of thinking, too, and have had for my whole life. I've led a privileged life; have never feared for the necessities of life. I've always known that I matter to some people.  Enough people. I've come to the conclusion that I am what is called a "covert narcissist" --- "arrogant, self-involved, hypersensitive to criticism" and , as some writer has described, "It's hard to form long-lasting relationships if your go-to move is to withdraw from people when angry." I recently read an article , "Self-awareness and self-acceptance in Narcissism" by Sam Vaknin, that described me to myself in ways that no other writer has.  My sense of being an actor and playing a part has been with me since childhood-- being at least one step removed from the immediacy of myself.  I am so removed from myself that it doesn't even scare me.

The two women whose way of thinking so flummoxed me are the opposite: they are both extremely self-aware and self-analytical, replaying conversations in their heads all the time. I only know that because they have spoken about it.

I guess the picture of the hand and the door knob somehow illustrate that mystery to me.

I can't say any more at this time because my mind gets muddled.

Artist:  Afeifa Alaby   

Monday, January 24, 2022

Never be in a hurry


Susan Wheeler - illustration from Foxwood Tales

I like this quote from Saint Francis de Sales, whose feast is today:

"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."

and he is the patron saint of writers!

and another cozy one:

artist:  Terri Windling

Sunday, January 23, 2022

No more armies of postulants


IHM novices  in the 1950s

After a thought-provoking conversation today with a woman who shared my high school experience, I went back and read a talk by Sandra Schneiders, a prominent New Testament theologian and a Catholic Sister in her eighties - which means that she joined her religious community in the 1950s:

"...Rather than annual double-digit entrance classes of teenage high school graduates ready to be trained in and deployed by their respective congregations into its well-institutionalized and highly respected ministries and the majority of whom would persevere, today's entrants are usually lone individuals, at least college graduates (often saddled with debt), and usually closer in age to 40 or even 50 than 20. Only 1% of women religious today is below age 40. Even someone as mathematically challenged as I can see that these indisputable facts seem ominous.

"...These new Religious were slated to live and minister in the Congregation they entered and its institutions for the whole of their lives. And no one, veterans or recruits, thought that there would be any real changes in the life or the Congregation’s ministries (called “apostolates”) any time in the foreseeable future. Today, as we are very aware, the situation is extremely different from anything any of us could have imagined in the 1950’s. We have very few new members, none very young, few coming from solidly, much less exclusively, Catholic backgrounds and usually with, at best, fragmented religious formations if any at all. But they are often professionally quite well formed, credentialed, and to some extent experienced. And the Congregation does not have placements for them even if it did have the luxury of forming them according to its requirements or desires. There are at least two important points to make about this comparative situation if we are not to see it as a description of the beginning of the end of the lifeform we call Religious Life. First, there is nothing normative about the 1950s version of the life. In the history of the Church there have been periods in which large numbers of the faithful entered Religious Life and other periods in which very few did. Different forms of the life have attracted large numbers at certain times and places as other forms have declined or waned or even disappeared, only to experience, in some cases, a sociological re-emergence at another time or in another place. And the numbers have fluctuated greatly geographically, just as is the case today when vocations are multiplying in some parts of the world even as they decline in others. The still widespread, even if unarticulated, idea that Religious Life is healthy when it is numerically huge, financially flush, institutionally established, and approved of by the powers that be, and unhealthy when the numbers are smaller, resources are scarce, and approval is spotty may say more about the extent to which we have internalized the might-makes-right, capitalistic, politically dominant value system of the first world than about the health of Religious Life in our context. Jesus’ movement, especially his chosen itinerant band that made a life choice of total devotion to his project – that is, the biblical precursors of Religious Life as I have suggested elsewhere – was hardly the most sociologically successful operation in first century Palestine. Jesus’ band never seems to have exceeded, at most, a few dozen in his lifetime, and it does not seem to have greatly increased in the immediate aftermath of the Resurrection..."

In some congregations, there were as many as 120 postulants entering  at a time, mostly 17-18 year old high school graduates.  In my own community, there were about 60 postulants in the "band" of 1964.   By the time I entered in 1978, there were 3 of us.

But back to that large number of postulants. How did the sisters in charge of their formation handle them, and form them?   In lock step, I think.  This was quite different from my experience almost 15 years later.   

I am not sure what I am trying to say, except that with so many new entrants, their individual gifts and talents became expendable.  I know sisters who were talented violinists who could never play the violin again.  

I still don't know where these musings are going.  


Friday, January 21, 2022

One year of Biden in the White House


I can't even begin to tell my relief.  

This article in The Atlantic expresses it well:

By Matthew Yglesias

Mr. Yglesias writes extensively about politics, economics and more.


President Biden’s first year in office has been frustrating for many of his supporters. He has disappointed his more leftist supporters by refusing to take aggressive unilateral action in some areas where he has discretion, and he has disappointed his more moderate supporters by choosing to take aggressive action in other areas.


That’s doubly true for the gaggle of youngish, college-educated, city-dwelling liberals who dominate the work force of the media, the progressive nonprofits and much of the Democratic Party itself — people who most likely didn’t back Mr. Biden in the primary and always suspected he wouldn’t deliver enough change for their tastes.


However, these are the banally normal problems of a normal presidency. Even the midterm wipeout that appears to be looming for his party is, by historical standards, a normal course of events.


But if Mr. Biden and his team want to give Democrats a fighting chance and turn his numbers around before electoral disaster strikes, they would do well to keep two slightly paradoxical thoughts in mind. First, Mr. Biden is governing in extraordinary times, but his presidency is still governed by the normal rules of American politics. Second, generating a feeling of normalcy around American politics and daily life — as he promised to do during the campaign — would itself be a transformative change.


The central contradiction of the Biden presidency is that he won the Democratic primary by running to the center, offering electability and normalcy rather than political revolution and big, structural change. But just as he was emerging as the party’s nominee, the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and we started hearing about plans for “an F.D.R.-sized presidency” — that is, big structural change. Had the U.S. economy completely collapsed over the course of 2020 the way it did under Herbert Hoover, that might have been realistic.


But mostly, it didn’t. Timely action from the Federal Reserve and trillions in bipartisan relief appropriations held things together. Not well enough to save Donald Trump’s presidency, but well enough to make the Electoral College race razor-thin and cost Democrats several seats in the House of Representatives.


Yet even when it turned out that the polls were off and his victory was much narrower than expected, Mr. Biden never really let go of the dream of a transformative 1930s-style presidency, though he clearly lacked the large legislative majorities to deliver on a New Deal or Great Society.


The disappointment of this failed effort at transformational policymaking tends to mask the extent to which, in his first year, Mr. Biden was in some ways surprisingly successful in his aspirational promises to restore a climate of bipartisanship to the legislative process.


Many progressives believe that Republicans voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill only as part of a ploy to stymie the Build Back Better agenda. But Republicans never attempted such a move during the Obama years, and the fact that they agreed to anything at all was contrary to some very confidently asserted predictions from journalists (myself included) who cut our teeth on Obama-era policy fights and expected total intransigence.


We’ve also seen bipartisan legislation to expand American science funding and independent supply-chain capacity — the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act — pass the Senate with a substantial bipartisan majority. The House passed similar legislation (in separate bills), and the two chambers are trying to hash out the differences in a conference committee, a venerable legislative institution that has largely fallen into disuse during the recent years of hyper-partisanship.


But alongside these reassuring springs of normalcy, Mr. Biden has had to contend with some unusually challenging situations. It’s extraordinary that his administration has been stalked by the specter of a defeated predecessor who refuses to admit that he lost fair and square. Yet as the political scientist Sam Rosenfeld writes, the most striking feature of American politics in 2021 was the “abiding sturdiness of electoral dynamics.” Swing voters responded to unified Democratic Party governance by swinging right and seeking to counterbalance.


Exacerbating this problem is perhaps the most normal political challenge of all — economic conditions deteriorated in the second half of the year, helping to drive down Mr. Biden’s approval ratings.


The inflation of 2021 is not especially his fault. There is no way to undergo a pandemic without some economic cost, and bearing that cost in the form of inflation is superior to the alternative of stabilizing prices at lower levels of employment and real output.


But the nature of the White House is that even things that are not the president’s fault are the president’s problem. The same goes for the virus. Mr. Biden perhaps set himself up for failure by over-promising (a very normal campaign sin) and implying that he would be able to “shut down the virus” and allow society to return to normal. That was not true when he promised it, and variants have made it even less feasible.


Vaccines greatly reduce the health risk associated with the virus, but they don’t eliminate it. And that makes the trade-off between economic output and virus control harder rather than easier. Because so many Americans are vaccinated, demand for goods and services is now much higher than it was during the Trump presidency. That means quarantine rules and other restrictions on business activity and public institutions do carry real costs. This winter, with the Omicron surge, we have more people who want to fly on airplanes than pilots who are cleared to carry them.


The Biden administration and executive branch have clearly been taking steps toward more prioritization of the economy and less of public health — for example, shortening the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance about isolation time — but the president has been reluctant to explicitly say in public that’s what’s going on, perhaps out of fear of sounding too much like his predecessor. And saying just “follow the science” is not the answer: The scientific method doesn’t answer questions about trade-offs.

When all is said and done, the frustrations of the Biden supporters who want a return to normal are more politically significant than those of the more progressive crowd who yearn for transformation.


That means more focus on the short-term economic situation. The good news on inflation is that the gasoline price spike of 2021 is unlikely to occur a second time, and the Federal Reserve is likely to pivot into inflation-fighting mode as well. But there are risks, too, from economic disruptions in China, and monetary policy efforts to curb inflation could do too much to curb real growth as well.


The fate of Mr. Biden’s presidency — and if you believe the dire warnings of many Democrats and academics, of the republic itself — hinges less on the fate of legacy items like Build Back Better or a renewed voting rights act than it does on the normal procession of macroeconomic events. Unfortunately for Mr. Biden, no president has control over them entirely — but pushing for a final version of the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which contains provisions to strengthen the semiconductor supply chain, could be helpful.


It means more attention to classic Biden themes of patriotism, bipartisanship and normalcy, and fewer headlines dominated by high-profile squeeze plays against moderate senators.


Most of what has happened to Mr. Biden has been very normal. But if Democrats take their own fears about the opposition party seriously, they should be very worried about the consequences of the normal cycle of overreach and backlash, and try harder to surprise the country by doubling down on normalcy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The falcon cannot hear the falconer


My Modernity in Literature class begins today.  I've been teaching this course for about twelve years.

I change it a bit each time, and my students change, too.  

This year, all of them were born in the twenty-first century.  And, of course, the Pandemic has changed everything.

One poem we will read today is Yeats'  "The Second Coming" which he wrote in 1919:

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


   The Second Coming,  (1919)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst

    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;

    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;

    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know

    That twenty centuries of stony sleep

    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?



Monday, January 17, 2022

Full Wolf Moon tonight


and more :

atist:  Maria Luzina

Wolf Moon      by Lois Parker Edstrom

The January moon is ripe. It spills its light
into the dark night, an extrovert needing to be
the center of attention. There is a reason
wolves howl when the moon reveals the fullness
of itself, and although I haven't done so,
I've felt the urge—a longing so ancient and wild
as if in a time past we came from an enchanted place,
a place so beautiful we want only to return.

Now the moon casts its cold white light
onto everything—the fields glitter and the lake
gives itself up to receive the radiance
of that dominating presence.

We may lose ourselves in brilliance,
an attraction that smolders, just waiting to be lit.
No secrets, no dark and quiet corners.
The moon demands clarity.

Come into the light.

Wolf Moon   by Valerie Lawson

The dog noses January night,
swivels ears to listen.
He hears what we cannot.
Answers oo-oow, low at first,
tentative, the opening bars
of an ode to joy.

He builds, stacking oo-oo-ow
on oo-oo-oh, all call now,
half-wild, he pulls the wolf
out of his chest, sets it loose
to bound along the tree line,
where it howls back, the sound
muffle and shattered glass,
becomes a fabulous round
of echoed voices.

The dog closes his eyes,
muzzle pointing to the stars.
Front paws lift off the ground
in ecstasy, he is conductor
and orchestra both
calling his pack home
as he plays a winter song
under the Wolf Moon.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Second snow

 This one doesn't look like much,  but we've had  temps in the teens for days, which means that, when this turns to rain, we will have icy trouble.

Still, I love to watch it snow in the blue hour.

Here's another piece of Roethke's  "The Far Field"  :

All finite things reveal infinitude:

The mountain with its singular bright shade

Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,

The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;

Odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,

A scent beloved of bees;

Silence of water above a sunken tree :

The pure serene of memory in one man, --

A ripple widening from a single stone

Winding around the waters of the world.



art by Laura Wilder

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Star strewn space


I love the lyrics to this song by Bruce Cockburn:

You can't tell me there is no mystery
You can't tell me there is no mystery
It's everywhere I turn

Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Can set my heart to burn

Stood before the shaman, I saw star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Stood before the shaman, I saw star strewn space
Behind the eye holes in his face

Infinity always gives me vertigo
Infinity always gives me vertigo
And fills me up with grace

I was built on a Friday and you can't fix me
You can't fix me
You can't fix me
I was built on a Friday and you can't fix me
Even so I've done okay

So grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Light a toast to yesterday

And don't tell me there is no mystery
And don't tell me there is no mystery
It overflows my cup

This feast of beauty can intoxicate
This feast of beauty can intoxicate
Just like the finest wine

So all you stumblers who believe love rules
Believe love rules
Believe love rules
Come all you stumblers who believe love rules
Stand up and let it shine
Stand up and let it shine

Hannah Willow    Going home for the winter

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

I am slowing down


Almost to mid January, and the snow isn't melting around here much; temperatures in the teens. I tend to hunker down.

Bear going home for the winter     artist: Hannah Willow

Things aren't going well in our country.  The OMICRON variety of COVID is gallopping along.  Some grocery stores have empty shelves, due to truckers and distributers getting sick and unable to work.
lots of inflation, and the evil Republicans blaming the Democrats.  We will destroy our country with this toxic blaming.

Here's a quote I read today that I agree with, as an old fogey:

from Mario of Andrade:

“I counted my years and found that I have less time to live from now on than I have lived until now.

I feel like that kid who won a package of sweets: he ate the first ones with pleasure, but when he realized there were only a few left he started to enjoy them intensely.

I no longer have time for endless meetings where statute, rules, procedures and internal regulations are discussed, knowing nothing will be achieved.

I no longer have time to support absurd people who, despite their age, have not grown up.

My time is too short: I want the essence, my soul is in a hurry. Not many more sweets in the package.

I want to live next to human people, very human, who know how to laugh at their mistakes and who are not inflated by their triumphs and who take on their own responsibilities. This is how you defend your human dignity and move towards truth and honesty

It’s the essentials that make life worth living.

I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch hearts, people to whom the hard blows of life taught to grow with gentle touches of the soul.

Yes, I’m in a hurry, I’m rushing to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.

Not planning on wasting any leftover candy. I'm sure these will be yummy, a lot more than what we've eaten so far.

My goal is to reach the end satisfied and in peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives and the second one starts when you realize you only have one. "

Sunday, January 9, 2022

The windy cliffs of forever


art by Rob Gonsalves

Here is a fragment from Theodore Roethke's marvelous poem "The Far Field"

I learned not to fear infinity,
The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow,
The wheel turning away from itself,
The sprawl of the wave,
The on-coming water.

I have come to a still, but not a deep center,

A point outside the glittering current;

My eyes stare at the bottom of a river,

At the irregular stones, iridescent sandgrains,

My mind moves in more than one place,

In a country half-land, half-water.


I am renewed by death, thought of my death,

The dry scent of a dying garden in September,

The wind fanning the ash of a low fire.

What I love is near at hand,

Always, in earth and air.


art by Rob Gonsalves

Friday, January 7, 2022

Five inches of snow


view from my window

Here are some snow poems:

"From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin.

No lady alive can show such a skin.

I'm bright as an angel, and light as a feather,

But heavy and dark, when you squeeze me together.

Though candor and truth in my aspect I bear,

Yet many poor creatures I help to insnare.

Though so much of Heaven appears in my make,

The foulest impressions I easily take.

My parent and I produce one another,

The mother the daughter, the daughter the mother."

-  James Parton, A Riddle - On Snow


“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

— Lewis Carroll

The Snowfall Is So Silent

 - 1864-1936


translated by Robert Bly

The snowfall is so silent,
so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.



Thursday, January 6, 2022

Christian Nationalism Is One of Trump’s Most Powerful Weapons


On this first anniversary of the storming of the Capitol by hordes of angry right-wing fanatics, I post this essay which appeared on the New York Times page today. I think it is true.

Christian Nationalism Is One of Trump’s Most Powerful Weapons

Jan. 6, 2022

Katherine Stewart

Ms. Stewart has reported on the religious right for more than a decade. She is the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.”

This article is part of a collection on the events of Jan. 6, one year later. 

The most serious attempt to overthrow the American constitutional system since the Civil War would not have been feasible without the influence of America’s Christian nationalist movement. One year later, the movement seems to have learned a lesson: If it tries harder next time, it may well succeed in making the promise of American democracy a relic of the past.

Christian nationalist symbolism was all over the events of Jan. 6, as observers have pointed out. But the movement’s contribution to the effort to overturn the 2020 election and install an unelected president goes much deeper than the activities of a few of its representatives on the day that marks the unsuccessful end (or at least a temporary setback) of an attempted coup.

A critical precondition for Donald Trump’s attempt to retain the presidency against the will of the people was the cultivation of a substantial population of voters prepared to believe his fraudulent claim that the election was stolen — a line of argument Mr. Trump began preparing well before the election, at the first presidential debate.

The role of social and right-wing media in priming the base for the claim that the election was fraudulent is by now well understood. The role of the faith-based messaging sphere is less well appreciated. Pastors, congregations and the religious media are among the most trusted sources of information for many voters. Christian nationalist leaders have established richly funded national organizations and initiatives to exploit this fact. The repeated message that they sought to deliver through these channels is that outside sources of information are simply not credible. The creation of an information bubble, impervious to correction, was the first prerequisite of Mr. Trump’s claim.

The coup attempt also would not have been possible without the unshakable sense of persecution that movement leaders have cultivated among the same base of voters. Christian nationalism today begins with the conviction that conservative Christians are the most oppressed group in American society. Among leaders of the movement, it is a matter of routine to hear talk that they are engaged in a “battle against tyranny,” and that the Bible may soon be outlawed.

A final precondition for the coup attempt was the belief, among the target population, that the legitimacy of the United States government derives from its commitment to a particular religious and cultural heritage, and not from its democratic form. It is astonishing to many that the leaders of the Jan. 6 attack on the constitutional electoral process styled themselves as “patriots.” But it makes a glimmer of sense once you understand that their allegiance is to a belief in blood, earth and religion, rather than to the mere idea of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Given the movement’s role in laying the groundwork for the coup attempt, its leaders faced a quandary when Mr. Trump began to push his repeatedly disproven claims — and that quandary turned into a test of character on Jan. 6. Would they go along with an attempt to overthrow America’s democratic system?

Some attempted to rewrite the facts about Jan. 6. The former Republican Representative Michele Bachmann suggested the riot was the work of “paid rabble rousers,” while the activist and author Lance Wallnau, who has praised Mr. Trump as “God’s chaos candidate,” blamed “the local antifa mob.” Many leaders, like Charlie Kirk, appeared to endorse Mr. Trump’s claims about a fraudulent election. Others, like Michael Farris, president and chief executive of the religious right legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, provided indirect but no less valuable support by concern-trolling about supposed “constitutional irregularities” in battleground states.

None appeared willing to condemn Mr. Trump for organizing an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. On the contrary, the Rev. Franklin Graham, writing on Facebook, condemned “these ten” from Mr. Trump’s “own party” who voted to impeach him and mused, “It makes you wonder what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal.”

At Christian nationalist conferences I have been reporting on, I have heard speakers go out of their way to defend and even lionize the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. At the Road to Majority conference, which was held in Central Florida in June 2021, the author and radio host Eric Metaxas said, “The reason I think we are being so persecuted, why the Jan. 6 folks are being persecuted, when you’re over the target like that, oh my.” At that same conference, the political commentator Dinesh D’Souza, in conversation with the religious right strategist Ralph Reed, said, “The people who are really getting shafted right now are the Jan. 6 protesters,” before adding, “We won’t defend our guys even when they’re good guys.” Mr. Reed nodded in response and replied, “I think Donald Trump taught our movement a lot.”

Movement leaders now appear to be working to prime the base for the next attempt to subvert the electoral process. At dozens of conservative churches in swing states this past year, groups of pastors were treated to presentations by an initiative called Faith Wins. Featuring speakers like David Barton, a key figure in the fabrication of Christian nationalist myths about history, and led by Chad Connelly, a Republican political veteran, Faith Wins serves up elections skepticism while demanding that pastors mobilize their flocks to vote “biblical” values. “Every pastor you know needs to make sure 100 percent of the people in their pews are voting, and voting biblical values,” Mr. Connelly told the assembled pastors at a Faith Wins event in Chantilly, Va. in September.

“The church is not a cruise ship, the church is a battleship,” added Byron Foxx, an evangelist touring with Faith Wins. The Faith Wins team also had at its side Hogan Gidley, a deputy press secretary in the Trump White House, who now runs the Center for Election Integrity, an initiative of the America First Policy Institute, a group led in part by former members of the Trump administration. Mr. Gidley informed the gathering that his group is “nonpartisan” — and then went on to mention that in the last election cycle there were “A lot of rogue secretaries of state, a lot of rogue governors.”

He was presumably referring to Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia who earned the ire of Trumpists by rebuffing the former president’s request to find him an additional 11,780 votes. “You saw the stuff in Arizona, you’re going to see more stuff in Wisconsin, these are significant issues, and we can’t be dismissed out of hand anymore, the facts are too glaring,” Mr. Gidley said. In fact, the Republican-backed audit of votes in Arizona’s largest county confirmed that President Biden won Arizona by more votes than previously thought. But the persecution narrative is too politically useful to discard simply because it’s not true.

Even as movement leaders are preparing for a possible restoration of a Trumpist regime — a period they continue to regard as a golden age in retrospect — they are advancing in parallel on closely related fronts. Among the most important of these has to do with public education.

In the panic arising out of the claim that America’s schools are indoctrinating young children in critical race theory, or C.R.T., it isn’t hard to detect the ritualized workings of the same information bubble, persecution complex and sense of entitlement that powered the coup attempt. Whatever you make of the new efforts in state legislatures to impose new “anti-C.R.T.” restrictions on speech and teaching in public schools, the more important consequence is to extend the religious right’s longstanding program to undermine confidence in public education, an effort that religious right leaders see as essential both for the movement’s long-term funding prospects and for its antidemocratic agenda.

Opposition to public education is part of the DNA of America’s religious right. The movement came together in the 1970s not solely around abortion politics, as later mythmakers would have it, but around the outrage of the I.R.S. threatening to take away the tax-exempt status of church-led “segregation academies.” In 1979, Jerry Falwell said he hoped to see the day when there wouldn’t be “any public schools — the churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them.”

Today, movement leaders have their eye on the approximately $700 billion that federal, state, and local governments spend yearly on education. The case of Carson v. Makin, which is before the Supreme Court this term and involves a challenge, in Maine, to prohibitions on using state tuition aid to attend religious schools, could force taxpayers to fund sectarian schools no matter how discriminatory their policies or fanatical their teachings. The endgame is to get a chunk of this money with the help either of state legislatures or the Supreme Court, which in its current configuration might well be convinced that religious schools have a right to taxpayer funds.

This longstanding anti-public school agenda is the driving force behind the movement’s effort to orchestrate the anti-C.R.T. campaign. The small explosions of hate detonating in public school boards across the nation are not entirely coming from the grass roots up. The Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based Christian right policy group, recently held an online School Board Boot Camp, a four-hour training session providing instruction on how to run for school boards and against C.R.T. and to recruit others to do so. The Bradley Foundation, Heritage Action for America, and The Manhattan Institute are among those providing support for groups on the forefront of the latest public school culture wars.

A decade ago, the radical aims at the ideological core of the Christian nationalist movement were there to see for anybody who looked. Not many bothered to look, and those who did were often dismissed as alarmist. More important, most Republican Party leaders at the time distanced themselves from theocratic extremists. They avoided the rhetoric of Seven Mountains dominionism, an ideology that calls explicitly for the domination of the seven “peaks” of modern civilization (including government and education) by Christians of the correct, supposedly biblical variety.

What a difference a decade makes. National organizations like the Faith & Freedom Coalition and the Ziklag Group, which bring together prominent Republican leaders with donors and religious right activists, feature “Seven Mountains” workshops and panels at their gatherings. Nationalist leaders and their political dependents in the Republican Party now state quite openly what before they whispered to one another over their prayer breakfasts. Whether the public will take notice remains to be seen.

Katherine Stewart (@kathsstewart) is the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.”