Ever since humans have looked up at the night sky, there have been wild theories about the moon and its power over us. Some — like the idea that it’s made of cheese or that it has canals and alien life — have been thoroughly debunked, while others still have a wide audience. Nearly 20 million Americans think the moon landing of July 1969 was faked by the U.S. government. Here are five myths that maintain a hold on many people’s imaginations.

Amidst the Cold War and competition with the Soviet Union, American pride was clearly evident on July 20, 1969, when the United States won the race to the moon. Perhaps that was one day of unity and particular regard for the American spirit, wrapped neatly in the very picture of accomplishment. The image of the flag of the United States on the moon, a distant heavenly body, is as important in the collective American memory as the flag raised on Iwo Jima in World War II or flying in tattered reserve over ground zero after Sept. 11, 2001. Our flag is often a symbol of American resolve, spirit and strength.

July 20, 1969, marks the 50th anniversary of U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s historic walk on the moon. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong famously said, as an estimated 530 million viewers worldwide watched on their televisions. The landmark moon landing was just one of many events that affected the Space Race, the Cold War competition between the United States and the then Soviet Union in the area of space exploration.

Those “what were they thinking?” headscratcher moments become more frequent the older I get. Take the recent celebration of our nation’s birthday on the National Mall that included a mundane show of military strength through hardware. Granted, it wasn’t the first time our armed forces have been honored along with tanks displayed and so on. Such even occurred under President Obama.

I dreamed of space travel. How could I not after that warm and humid September morning? Our sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Almond, had earlier told our class that we would have a special field trip to Rice Stadium on Wednesday. President Kennedy was coming to town to make an important announcement. Houston, our Houston, would be home to the new Manned Spacecraft Center. And so when the large yellow school buses rumbled up in front of West University Elementary School that Wednesday morning the twelfth, our excitement was unbounded. Field trip. The president. Space!

Thirty months after setting the goal of sending a mission 239,000 miles to the moon, and returning safely, President John Kennedy cited a story the Irish author Frank O’Connor told about his boyhood. Facing the challenge of a high wall, O’Connor and his playmates tossed their caps over it. Said Kennedy, “They had no choice but to follow them. This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space.” Kennedy said this on Nov. 21, 1963, in San Antonio.

Vice President Mike Pence stood before nearly 400 caged men, crowded together inside enclosed fencing, unshowered and kept warm by thermal blankets, some of them jeering. Was it smugness on his face? Or just the realization that this would be hard to spin? He was standing only feet away, looking at the migrants a bit as though they were a part of a species he regarded as similar but not quite the same.

Living in a walkable community has become a privilege afforded to very few people — mostly the wealthy. This reality is unfortunate; as someone who has lived in such a neighborhood in Northwest Washington the last 15 years, I can attest that the benefits of such communities can be enormous — both personally and professionally.

Moving from Waco to Minnesota has involved some adjustments. It’s surprising how many different winter coats one needs here, and there’s the troubling existence of the “walleye fajita” at what passes for Mexican restaurants. Among the benefits, though, is close proximity to a quintessential American process: presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa.

Fifty years ago next Tuesday, at about 9:30 a.m., three astronauts sitting atop a rocket the size of a Navy destroyer packing 7.5 million pounds of thrust took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Roughly a million people had gathered on the ground to watch this historic event, including half of Congress. These three astronauts, as one newspaper back then put it, carried with them “the hopes of the world.”

President Trump’s labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, is under intense pressure to resign over his past role in a soft plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein now that Epstein has been indicted on child sex-trafficking charges. It’s not clear whether Acosta will survive, but Trump does seem to be trying to keep him on board, to see if it’s possible to weather the resulting political storm.

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is no right-wing bomb thrower. Like most New England Republicans, he’s in the center-right: pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and prone to avoiding the hot-button cultural issues regularly featured on talk radio. So it was a surprise when he decided to weigh in on the controversy involving Nike, Colin Kaepernick and the American flag.

Lost in the rancor of what increasingly only passes for a functioning republic, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has not only sounded alarm about our state of the union but offered hope for a way back to what the Framers intended. And while his court opinion specifically addresses justice and liberty for a singularly frowned-upon bunch of Americans — past sex offenders — his words nonetheless serve constitutional notice on Democrats as well as members of his own party, including the president who appointed him and the senators who confirmed him in 2017.

Matthew 25:31-46 exhorts Christians to care for “the least of these.” Certainly under any but the most perverse and self-serving interpretation of the New Testament, this would include immigrant children on the border, some detained in horrific conditions unworthy of American ideals and values, others benefiting from nonprofits clearly overburdened as they seek to address a humanitarian crisis on the border.

Nike has withdrawn a new Independence Day-themed shoe featuring the Revolutionary War-era flag after former NFL quarterback and Nike-endorser Colin Kaepernick complained that the flag was a symbol of the slave era, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nike offered a lame excuse that it had removed the shoe from retailers because “it featured an old version of the American flag.”

The impending death of the Youngstown Vindicator, a newspaper where I worked for 19 years, has something to do with the dire finances that plague much of American journalism and have shuttered or shrunk many newspapers nationwide. But the pain of its demise is grounded in distinctly local recent history: Youngstown, Ohio, and the Mahoning Valley in which it lies have struggled with deindustrialization, population loss, health declines and civic disengagement. The paper was wounded by those trends; its closing will help accelerate some of them, especially the widening gulf between citizens and the public institutions that we need to bind this region together.

People who truly believe in justice and equality owe Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sincere appreciation for his refusal to allow the state of Mississippi to put to death a man whose case was tainted by a senior prosecutor’s strategic and consistent exclusion of nearly all non-whites from juries deciding the accused’s guilt or innocence. The accused, Curtis Flowers, is an African American.

Baylor University, which draws from a rich Baptist tradition and defines itself with justification as a “Christian university,” at present finds itself wrestling with Baptist dilemmas such as God’s preferring the male voice in the pulpit; faith and freedom to interpret the Bible personally; and professors, students, alumni and other Baylor constituencies pressing the university to recognize LGBTQ student groups. Amidst all this, perhaps it’s time for Baylor leaders to recall the words of Pastor George Washington Truett in “Baptists and Religious Liberty,” 1920: “It is the natural and fundamental and indefeasible right of every human being to worship God or not, according to the dictates of his conscience, and, as long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others, he is to be held accountable alone to God for all religious beliefs and practices. Our contention is not for mere toleration but for absolute liberty. There is a wide difference between toleration and liberty.”

Thomas Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of his greatest achievement: authoring the Declaration of Independence. This Fourth of July is the 243rd anniversary of that achievement and 193rd anniversary of Jefferson’s death. John Adams died just five hours after Jefferson on the same day. His last words were about his friend, then adversary, then friend once more. “Thomas Jefferson survives,” he said moments before passing away himself.

A few months ago, the world looked on in collective horror as the Notre-Dame de Paris burned. Numerous people have expressed feelings of loss over the tragedy. Our own President Trump reported he personally called Pope Francis and offered condolences on behalf of the people of the United States. Trump tweeted: “It is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames.”

Imagine dedicating your life, the entirety of your being, to pursuing your passion, using gifts given to you in the utmost way, and giving everything, absolutely everything, to becoming the absolute best in the world at whatever it is you have chosen to dedicate yourself to. Maybe you have worked to become the world’s best teacher, or police officer, or stylist, or drive-thru manager.

The photograph conforms to all the necessary standards for a media image depicting tragedy. It shows a father and his daughter, face down, at the edge of a river, their bodies floating in the muddy water. They can’t be identified and their faces are not visible, which would violate standards of “taste” at many media outlets. But the story of the two people in the photo by Julia Le Duc has been documented.

June 20 marked the end of Trinity Term, the British universities’ version of spring semester. “End of term” also signals summer adjournment of the iconic, 196-year-old Oxford Union debating society. There, on the eve of Trinity Term’s passing into this ancient university’s rich history, I had the privilege of presenting arguments in favor of a provocative resolution: “That President Donald J. Trump should not be impeached.” Happily, no riots erupted. To the contrary, not even voices were raised in anger or outrage. Pointed questions flowed freely, to be sure, but civility reigned supreme.

At Thursday’s Democratic debate, former vice president Joe Biden came under even more fire for bragging about his ability to work with Southern segregationists during his early years in the Senate. Sen. Kamala Harris, the only African-American candidate on the stage with Biden, attacked him in searingly personal terms, explaining, “it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

Gerrymandering is nothing new. It happens when political insiders draw district lines to benefit themselves or their parties, or to squeeze minorities out of power. In the very first congressional election, Patrick Henry drew a misshapen district in a bid to keep James Madison from winning. But lately, with digital technology and partisan ruthlessness, gerrymandering has gotten much worse. Highly precise gerrymanders dilute the voting strength of an emerging nonwhite majority.

There is no shortage of summer camps in Waco for children. Baylor University, the city, the Creative Arts program and local library all offer their versions. And, of course, there are summer camps and Vacation Bible Schools hosted by local churches. Many people say: “There are enough Vacation Bible Schools to keep children busy each and every week of the summer!”

If one wants to understand why our republic is in crisis, consider the embarrassment now unfolding in Washington. Consider four freshmen congresswomen clearly more concerned about satisfying their oversized egos and living up to their press releases than shaping policy and demonstrating leadership. Consider too a narcissistic president who regularly confirms the worst suspicions so many citizens have about him and his party when it comes to racism, lies and balderdash.

Amidst the Cold War and competition with the Soviet Union, American pride was clearly evident on July 20, 1969, when the United States won the race to the moon. Perhaps that was one day of unity and particular regard for the American spirit, wrapped neatly in the very picture of accomplishment. The image of the flag of the United States on the moon, a distant heavenly body, is as important in the collective American memory as the flag raised on Iwo Jima in World War II or flying in tattered reserve over ground zero after Sept. 11, 2001. Our flag is often a symbol of American resolve, spirit and strength.

Ever since humans have looked up at the night sky, there have been wild theories about the moon and its power over us. Some — like the idea that it’s made of cheese or that it has canals and alien life — have been thoroughly debunked, while others still have a wide audience. Nearly 20 million Americans think the moon landing of July 1969 was faked by the U.S. government. Here are five myths that maintain a hold on many people’s imaginations.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

In these days when all the world seems to be imploding, I don’t know what is mine to do. I turn my heart to this and then to that and the next day there is a new insult to humanity and nature. I dizzy myself with the actions around me that I find abhorrent, immoral and unAmerican. Where do I focus when there no longer is a greater vision? I gave up asking “How much worse can it get?” as I did in the early days. Now I know there is no limit to how bad it can get. We witness a freefall of narcissism that builds like a snowball racing downhill, growing ever bigger as it flings protests aside effortlessly.

Eighteen months into his presidency, Donald Trump continues to display near-complete ignorance about how NATO works and why the alliance matters. He tweets that the United States gives 4 percent of its GDP to NATO. (Not so: We spend 4 percent on defense; we actually contribute less than $500 million directly to NATO for its combined civil and military budgets, or less than one-10th of 1 percent of our defense budget.) He sees NATO as a charity project for Europeans rather than a cornerstone of U.S. national security. And, as we learned from his Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, he is willing to call into question Article 5 — the alliance’s mutual defense provision. He appears either unable to comprehend that an ironclad commitment to Article 5 is at the heart of NATO or is purposefully undermining the alliance in the wake of his traitorous performance in Helsinki.