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Patience is an act of compassion

When we sit in silent prayer or meditation, patience is the essence of the activity. It requires patience to sit, and the more we sit, the more patient we become. Whatever is your spiritual practice, whatever keeps you centered and grounded on a daily basis, patience is the key.

We learn patience. This learning of patience, though, is also growth in compassion and love.

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The Disposable Ones

It’s going on seven years now, since I visited the Nazi concentration camps. I’m still processing, as you can imagine. What surprised me in my visit was how viscerally the physical visit to the actual place affected me. Reading about genocide is something of a traumatic experience. (It is possible that one can suffer from what is called “secondary post-traumatic stress syndrome.”) Visiting the concentration camp sites, though, even 70 some odd years after the Holocaust is traumatic in a way that I’ve not quite been able to understand. There’s something about being there, in that place, that resonates in a deep way, in a way that you don’t get when you read about it in a book.
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Hand to the plow

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 9

And perhaps that’s why the kingdom of God is, in a very important sense, not yet upon us. There aren’t many of us who have truly put the hand to the plow and not looked back. But, of course we look back! In this sense, are there any of us who are truly fit for the kingdom of God? Probably not. Still, if you are like me, then you have some sense of what it is like to be captured by the beauty of a vision of a better world, of a more free and peaceful culture.

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On taking the direct approach of Jesus

Recently I’ve been studying quite a bit on that Jesus dude. A prophet, Jesus was. Yet, interestingly, he didn’t use the typical ‘Thus says the Lord,’ or ‘Hear the word of the Lord’ rhetoric that characterizes many prophets in the Jewish tradition. Jesus didn’t appeal to his hearers on the basis of having a direct line to God. He didn’t say, “Yo. Listen to what God told me.” His prophetic approach was to overturn tables or to speak directly to the powerful.

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Recent Articles

22
May

Summer heat

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It’s a very sunny 70 degrees here in McCarthy. That’s about the time we all start talking about how it’s much too hot.

15
May

Don’t Underestimate Bernie Sanders – The Atlantic

Bernie   In the wake of a congressional banking scandal and a congressional pay hike, [Jerry] Brown vowed to “take back America from the confederacy of corruption, careerism, and campaign consulting in Washington.” In an era of escalating globalization, [Pat] Buchanan promised a “conservatism that looks out for the men and women of this country whose jobs have been sacrificed on the altars of trade deals done for the benefit of trans-national corporations who have no loyalty to our country.” In a Democratic Party whose activists felt betrayed by their leaders’ support for the Iraq War, Dean pledged “to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”…. In today’s Democratic Party, the most powerful grievance is the one that brought thousands into Zuccotti Park in 2011, powered Bill De Blasio’s upset victory in New York, and has made Elizabeth Warren a progressive folk hero. It’s the belief that the super-rich have distorted America’s economy and bought its government. It’s a grievance so powerful that it’s seeped not only into Hillary’s rhetoric, but also into Ted Cruz’s. And from the Clinton Foundation scandals to the Republican candidates’ shameless pandering to billionaires, the presidential campaign itself seems poised to inflame that grievance even more….” From Bernie Sanders and the 2016 Presidential Race – The Atlantic.

7
May

to go after it

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6
May

Baltimore’s violent protesters are right: Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy – Salon.com

 A Baltimore Metropolitan Police transport vehicle burns during clashes in Baltimore“When the free market, real estate, the elected government, the legal system have all shown you they are not going to protect you—in fact, that they are the sources of the greatest violence you face—then political action becomes about stopping the machine that is trying to kill you, even if only for a moment, getting the boot off your neck, even if it only allows you a second of air. This is exactly what blocking off streets, disrupting white consumerism, and destroying state property are designed to do…..

“And while I don’t believe that every protester involved in attacking police cars and corporate storefronts had the same philosophy, or did what they did for the same reasons, it cannot be discounted that when there is a larger national outcry in defense of plate-glass windows and car doors than for Black young people, a point is being made. When there is more concern for white sports fans in the vicinity of a riot than the Black people facing off with police, there is mounting justification for the rage and pain of Black communities in this country…..”

Very reasonable and concise thoughts on the strategic use of violence in the struggle for equality and freedom:

Baltimore’s violent protesters are right: Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy – Salon.com.

25
Apr

10 Reasons People Get Married, Even If They Know Better

“….Bystanders often ask the obvious question: If they knew they shouldn’t, and they wished they hadn’t, then why did they? Every situation is slightly different, but there are a few popular reasons…..”

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6985040

22
Apr

Interview: Jon Krakauer. NPR

“I mean, there’s this mythology out there that women lie about being raped. In fact, some women do lie about being raped — between 2 and 10 percent is the best research. Many studies show this. So it’s really a small amount. It’s not too different from other crimes. The difference is in other crimes the victim isn’t assumed to be lying…”

“….the best statistics show that about 97 percent of rapes, you know, the rapist walks away, is never held accountable. That is, to me, really disturbing…”

Jon Krakauer, Author of Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town. NPR

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/19/400185648/jon-krakauer-tells-a-depressingly-typical-story-of-college-town-rapes

19
Apr

A mighty good question

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“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” From Teachings of the Buddha ed. Jack Kornfield and Gil Fronsdal

17
Apr

Five Things Christianity Can Learn From Buddhism – Christian Piatt | Sojourners

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Interesting article written by a Christian whose encounter with Buddhism actually softened him to religion, leading him back to Christianity. That’s a similar story  to my own.

Quote: “The notion of dominionism falsely teaches within some Christian circles that the planet is ours to use as we please. And some even go so far as to suggest that anything we can do to help hasten the end-times gets us that much closer to heralding God’s kingdom on earth.

Buddhism, however, teaches simplicity, humility and intentional care for all of creation. Practices of mindfulness and humility help us loosen our grasp on personal desire and avail ourselves to the excesses and insensitivity of our habits. When we regain a healthier sense of our own places within a much larger, very delicate ecosystem, we not only treat our surroundings with more care; we treat ourselves with greater care as well.”

http://sojo.net/blogs/2015/04/16/five-things-christianity-can-learn-buddhism

Photo is mine, from my recent trip to the Nizina River, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

12
Apr

Winter melt

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The Nizina River runs wild again. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

9
Apr

Come Together

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I’m not quite sure what it is – if it is the fact that a “Martha” came to McCarthy or that we now have a new employee from Liverpool – but a Beatles fevor seems to be taking me over.

8
Apr

Effortless

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Hearing a story should feel effortless.  This is my writing tip of the day,  to myself from myself, as someone who tends to get sidetracked by his own mental constructs.

7
Apr

Out for an evening walk

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Enjoying the serenity.

5
Apr

Liberty and Justice for All

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“A Wall Street bank accused of laundering money for drug cartels only had to pay a fine. Meanwhile, a man caught with a joint in his pocket had to spend 47 days in jail.” This kind of failure has a long history, though it seems to be getting much worse. The bank was fined – there are always fines – but because the crimes of the wealthy are just a matter of dollars and cents, then they can quantify their risks rather than having to fear any personal repercussions.

4
Apr

The Numinous

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“Suppose you were told there was a tiger in the next room: you would know that you were in danger and would probably feel fear. But if you were told ‘There is a ghost in the next room’, and believed it, you would feel, indeed, what is often called fear, but of a different kind. It would not be based on the knowledge of danger, for no one is primarily afraid of what a ghost may do to him, but of the mere fact that it is a ghost. It is ‘uncanny’ rather than dangerous, and the special kind of fear it excites may be called Dread. With the Uncanny one has reached the fringes of the Numinous. Now suppose that you were told simply ‘There is a mighty spirit in the room’, and believed it. Your feelings would then be even less like the mere fear of danger: but the disturbance would be profound. You would feel wonder and a certain shrinking–a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant of prostration before it–an emotion which might be expressed in Shakespeare’s words ‘Under it my genius is rebuked’. This feeling may be described as awe, and the object which excites it as the Numinous….” — C. S. Lewis

3
Apr

American Nations by Colin Woodards

”AmericanAmerican Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It can be baffling and debilitating to try to understand American culture — but perhaps this is because we should be thinking in the plural: cultures. The current political polarization is especially frustrating, and Colin Woodard’s thesis went a long way toward helping me get a better sense of where we are as a culture. There’s more to the story, I think, but tracing the ethno-regional history of big swaths of North America is invaluable. Different cultures within America inherited specific core values, ethics, and ways-of-being that set them against each other in ways that continue to perpetuate conflict. Of particular concern are the “Yankee” culture and the “Deep South.” Many of us are familiar with these differing values, but there are more subtle shades that Woodard explores, as in the “Far West” or “The Left Coast.”….This is one of those Aha! books that sticks with me, that I continue to digest.

View all my reviews

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