Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend opening words

“We sing now together our song of thanksgiving,
rejoicing in goods which the ages have wrought,
for Life that enfolds us, and helps and heals and holds us,”
goes the hymn.
Buehrer’s lyrics also express gratitude
for “community now in the making, in every far continent, region and land.”

Let us give thanks for *all* of our blessings:
the material goods
and the community of our human cousins.

For the next sixty minutes,
and for the rest of our lives,
may we be aware of the Spirit of Life,
evolving within and among us,
which inspires and connects
and, indeed, helps and heals and holds us.

So may we be.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

it gets better--pixar, trevor

Pixar Studios’ extraordinary “It Gets Better” video is one of the most powerful I’ve seen.

Note that it ends with a link to The Trevor Project, a resource for children and youth with questions about sexuality and gender identity. It includes “Dear Trevor“ – a non-time-sensitive resource; and a confidential, toll-free, 24-hour lifeline, 866.4.U.TREV (866.488.7386).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Voltaire opening words

Today (November 21, 2010) is the 316th anniversary of the birth of Francois-Marie Arouet--better known by his penname, Voltaire.

Voltaire wrote, "We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it: like drunkards who look for their house, knowing dimly that they have one."

Three centuries later, we have learned at least a little more about how to find happiness, and how to create meaning and purpose together. For the next sixty minutes, and for the rest of our lives, may we open ourselves to the power of Life, evolving within and among us.
So may we be.

make them look you in the eye

When choosing how to have your privacy violated (method A, nude x-ray photographs, or method B, invasive “pat-downs”) at the airport, Elusis blogs that we should opt for the pat-downs, while looking the patter-downers in the eye. She compares TSA screenings to Stanley Milgram’s experiments on obedience to authority, and notes that compliance dropped–subjects refused to administer (fake) electric shocks to other people–when they were in the same room, confronted with the humanity of those being shocked.

Elusis also reminds us that “nothing about this is new. Private citizens being arbitrarily singled out for intrusive searches and rough treatment by authority figures because of their appearance, their ‘attitude,’ or just a momentary need for an endorphin rush by a small-minded bureaucrat? Welcome to the lives of people of color, the...

See the rest at my other blog

Thursday, November 18, 2010

church, state, toasterless masses

President Obama's recent Executive Order dissapointed the Left, angered the Right, but most importantly, it delivers aid to the "toasterless masses."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

bless all who serve

I am grateful for all the men and women who have served in the US military, helping to keep my country safe and my ideals alive. I do *not* agree with everything the US military has done (or is currently doing), but I absolutely believe that a strong defense is necessary in this world.

I am also grateful for the sacrifices made by the families of the servicewomen and servicemen. Joseph Marshall III once wrote that it takes bravery to go out and hunt or fight, and it takes an equal amount of courage to stay home and work while one’s loved ones are facing danger. We have many courageous families in our nation.

Please support our veterans by providing them and their families with adequate care, for their physical and psychological health.

Please support our existing troops by sending them a copy of Bless All Who Serve: Sources of Hope, Courage, and Faith for Military Personnel and Their Families, a book of prayers and readings published by Skinner House Books, edited by the Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle.

This same article is posted, with more links, on my other blog, So May We Be.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald sank 35 years ago today. Twenty-nine men died in the wreck, now made famous by Gordon Lightfoot’s song. While we still do not know precisely why ”The Big Fitz” sank, we do know why many other Great Lakes shipwrecks occurred. Human captains and pilots went too fast for the weather conditions, and so appeared rapidly out of the fog; or they would simply not back down, and ram other vessels in a catastrophic game of “chicken,” according to the exhibits at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Maybe that is why we are so intrigued by the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald–for a change, it was nature, not our own human foibles, that caused it.


hieroglyphic stairway

"hieroglyphic stairway" by Drew Dellinger

it's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do

I'm riding home on the Colma train
I've got the voice of the milky way in my dreams

I have teams of scientists
feeding me data daily
and pleading I immediately
turn it into poetry

I want just this consciousness reached
by people in range of secret frequencies
contained in my speech

I am the desirous earth
equidistant to the underworld
and the flesh of the stars
I am everything already lost

the moment the universe turns transparent
and all the light shoots through the cosmos

I use words to instigate silence

I'm a hieroglyphic stairway
in a buried Mayan city
suddenly exposed by a hurricane

a satellite circling earth
finding dinosaur bones
in the Gobi desert
I am telescopes that see back in time

I am the precession of the equinoxes,
the magnetism of the spiraling sea

I'm riding home on the Colma train
with the voice of the milky way in my dreams

I am myths where violets blossom from blood
like dying and rising gods

I'm the boundary of time
soul encountering soul
and tongues of fire

it's 3:23 in the morning
and I can't sleep
because my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the earth was unraveling?

I want just this consciousness reached
by people in range of secret frequencies
contained in my speech

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Oklahoma bans Ten Commandments?

Voters in Oklahoma, trying to ban Sharia (Islamic law), may have banned the Ten Commandments as well. This is a teaching moment in two ways.

Monday, November 01, 2010

too much "sanity"?

Jon Stewart, like most of us on the Left, still does not get it. The "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," which he hosted with Stephen Colbert last Saturday, was well-attended, and funny, and did find a balance with satire and sincerity. Stewart's intent, as reported by Christopher Beam, was "to show that civil discourse and cooperation are possible."

Beam quotes Stewart: "We work together to get things done every day...[Most people are not political animals—they] don't live solely as Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives. Most of them [are] just a little late for something they have to do."

Appealing to our common humanity is something we liberals do frequently, and it does have some validity and power. However, we must also acknowledge our real differences. Peter Beinart writes that Stewart made the mistake of "ridiculing fear. Yes, of course, Fox and friends hype the threat from terrorists, illegal immigrants, Christmas haters etc. But one reason they do so successfully is that there are quite rational reasons, in America today, to be scared out of your wits. Many Americans think that the great recession is not a passing misfortune but the new normal—that they will never regain their old quality of life."

Many of us in the USA are not "just a little late," many of us feel deep anxiety about our socioeconomic status. Conservatives may fan these flames too often and too vigorously, but at least they acknowledge the power of those feelings.

"Liberals often act as if reason is enough to change hearts as well as minds. We act as if our faith and values are born whole from reason instead of informed and shaped by our own experiences as communal, relational, physical, sentient beings," wrote the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, in Tikkun magazine back in 2005. She continued, "anxious hearts need an immediate emotional experience of peace...[Any] liberal alternative also has to start with the anxiety level already present in the American heart."

Thandeka concludes, "We cannot ignore the anxiety-assurance strategy of the Right. While we must continue to probe and uncover the rhetoric the Right uses to raise anxiety, we cannot dismiss such anxiety with rational explanations. We, too, must speak to it. We, too, must use sacred texts. But with one difference: we won't raise anxiety to lower it. We will lower the anxiety already present in the American heart through heart-to-heart work that links immediate personal feelings of emotional and spiritual relief to public policies that actually provide Americans with structural support for a better life on earth through decent schools, jobs, and medical and other social benefits. Whether we're secular or religious, we will only speak effectively to America again when we speak from the heart."

Stewart's humor may help lower the anxiety level of some--mostly those who agree with him. But his appeal to civility underestimates the power of the feelings beneath the discord. Unless we address the real human emotions underneath the words, it will not matter how "polite" or "sane" is our conversation--it will still be ineffective.

(this post is mirrored at my new blog, here)

So May We Be

I've started a new blog. So May We Be is a "more robust online presence," including a blog, a ministerial search packet, and an advertisement for my wedding business. I am excited about writing at SMWB (I have finally figured out tags, for example, which I never used here)--and I am a little uncertain about what to do here. I do not want to abandon The Yes Church; there are many posts here I cherish. It's been five years already. I have been double-posting recently, but I don't think that is sustainable. I may keep this as a more personal blog, and SMWB as my professional voice, but that seems a bit artificial. Antbody have suggestions?