William Jennings Bryan — known as “The Great Commoner” and “Keeper of the Faith” — was a Populist, religious, conundrum. He was for the people. He was against big money. He fought, testified, and prosecuted via the Bible — in utter infamy — during the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial and died five days after the trial ended. Defending his Faith killed him.

William Jennings Bryan was a good son of Nebraska who was nominated three times on the national Democrat ticket — and he lost each time — and his failure to find a national political footing beyond his deeply religious Nebraska grassroots haunted him until his death.

I was able to purchase this fascinating photo of William Jennings Bryan, dated September 18, 1924 — he would be dead 10 months later — the caption reads:


Photo shows William Jennings Bryan pinning a badge of allegiance (David-Bryan campaign stuff) to Rose Minto’s coat lapel. She is a popular motion picture star in Hollywood who is actively interested in politics.

What is most interesting about the photograph is the use of the black editorial pen on the image.  You can see the crop indices, but there are also black ink pen “lines of emphasis” added to Ms. Minto’s hat, Bryan’s lapels and face. You can see the dullness the pen makes when you move the glossy photograph in your hand in and out of reflective light.

At first wink, those added lines look like marks of defamation until you realize, after scanning the photograph for publication here, they must have been an important part of newspaper publishing in 1924 to help the highlights and shadows be more discernable in ink on paper.

We know there is a faux war allegedly being waged against Christmas that those on the far right-wing of the American mindset claim to fight each and every season — but let there be no doubt there is a second, more insidious, religious war being fought against the black cauldron public celebrations of Halloween.

I’ve always enjoyed Halloween.  It’s a universal, dramatic, moment in time where you can be someone else for awhile all while celebrating the changing season and the fun of each other’s imaginations.

Over the past few years or so, though, I’ve seen a dedicated effort by a religious few to remove the pumpkin spectacle from public purview.  Is protesting the wicked witch the way some hope to preserve the baby Jesus?

There’s a lot of righteous arguing on The Internets recently concerning the way religion and science are cleverly being mashed up by fanatical Christian fundamentalists to create a whole new anti-science, anti-reality, anti-educational rhetoric that is being fed to our children as something real and true and factual when it is not.  The monsters behind this religious terrorism of the mind are the same evildoers who invented the “Creation Museum” where they argue that people walked the earth with the dinosaurs even though there is a 65 million year gap between the last dinosaur and the first human.

Although it is always a possibility to become Pope and CEO of one of the world’s largest churches once one enters the Catholic priesthood, I can only imagine the enormity of the tasks that await Pope Francis I, who at the age of 76 and with only one lung is already at a considerable disadvantage compared to some of the younger and fitter Cardinals. I thought it might be interesting on the day of his inauguration to take a look at his “To Do” list.

In America, we have been brewing a Cultural Holy War since 1969 and I have mindfully tried to stick myself, not in the middle of the argument between Conservatives and Liberals, but between the two diametrically opposing ends to shadow the mean sun.  As a child of the Midwest and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln undergraduate, I comprehend the conservative core.  As a graduate of Columbia University in The City of New York, I understand the liberal mentality.  As I have written many times, this Boles Blog is dedicated to preserving common ground where everyone has a safe opportunity to be heard and that we do our best to honor a “liberal mindset with a conservative morality.”