Friday, February 12, 2021

Move Over Dr. Zinn, Here Comes Dr. Seuss

Last year, I posted an American Creation blog, A New Book-oath on ‘A People’s History’ Has Come to Town, that reported the April 9th, 2019 swearing-in ceremony of JoBeth Harmon, who had been elected to the office of Oklahoma City Council. What was unusual about this occasion was the use of Howard Zinn’s A People History of the United States as the book upon which the newly elected office holder chose to take her oath.

As it turns out, a couple of months later on August 13th ,  a newly elected St. Louis County councilwoman, Keli Dunaway, made another unusual choice by placing her hand on a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss. Here’s a snippet taken from a Boston Globe article, Why a county councilwoman was sworn into office on a Dr. Seuss book explaining her choice:

It was a choice with personal meaning. Dunaway said her single mom was a coal miner who would say if she believed in herself and worked hard, Dunaway could achieve anything.

‘‘In my experience in life, that’s been true,’’ the graduate of the University of California Los Angeles Law School said.

When Dunaway, a former Barack Obama field organizer, became pregnant with her daughter in 2012, she was looking for books that offered the same inspiration as her mother’s advice. ‘‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’’ was the book.


A few more details are available at the Raw Story website, ‘Places You’ll Go’ for swearing-in ceremony instead of ‘The Bible’, by Sara K. Burris.



Tom Van Dyke said...

Swear or affirm, whatever.

I would say that "oath" as used here is a simulacrum if not a counterfeit. To wit:


a solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness

Leaving the divine out of it, Ray, swearing on Zinn or Seuss just makes a joke of it. It is not solemn. It is juvenile theater.

Ray, great to hear from you again. We've missed you. ;-)

Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes, great to see you Ray and good work as usual. I like it when the blog has regular front page posts from people who are not me.

Ray Soller said...

It's no joke. What's a woman to do when swearing an oath?
The GotQuestons website, Why did oaths involve putting a hand under someone’s thigh (Genesis 24:9)?, explanation isn't too helpful to a woman where it explains:
"The thigh was considered the source of posterity in the ancient world. Or, more properly, the “loins” or the testicles. The phrase “under the thigh” could be a euphemism for 'on the loins.' There are two reasons why someone would take an oath in this manner: 1) Abraham had been promised a 'seed' by God, and this covenantal blessing was passed on to his son and grandson. Abraham made his trusted servant swear “on the seed of Abraham” that he would find a wife for Isaac. 2) Abraham had received circumcision as the sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:10). Our custom is to swear on a Bible; the Hebrew custom was to swear on circumcision, the mark of God’s covenant. The idea of swearing on one’s loins is found in other cultures, as well. The English word testify is directly related to the word testicles."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thanks Ray but I don't think this applies to the Founding let alone Dr. Seuss.

I too take my testicles quite solemnly. This is not that. ;-)

northierthanthou said...

Okay, THIS is an interesting story. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I'm always fascinated by the expectation that religion and politics should be kept separate, not just in the constitutional sense, but in some moral sense. if religion was ever apolitical. Ever!

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