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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

25
Nov

Darren Wilson’s grand jury testimony released

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In an unusual case, transcripts of the grand jury proceedings in the Michael Brown killing have been released. The officer on the scene chased after Brown, shooting him six times, firing a total of 12 shots. Witnesses on the scene testify to Brown having his hands in the air before the final and fatal shots were fired. The officer was not indicted.

In justification for his actions, the officer stated, “There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity, it is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.”

Is this the best we can do, as a culture? Continue to fire our guns ala Yosemite Sam style? The reality is that this our only philosophy. We have a long history of meeting violence with violence, and we keep reaping what we sow.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/25/justice/ferguson-grand-jury-documents/

16
Nov

U.S. and China Strike Historic Agreement on Climate Change | Alternet

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Here is a link to an article on the deal between China and the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions. Despite how modest it is, some politicians have found a way to oppose even this small step toward being environmentally responsible. Unreal.

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/us-and-china-strike-historic-agreement-climate-change?akid=12462.1071777.TUY8mt&rd=1&src=newsletter1026962&t=5&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

9
Nov

Let your enemies love you

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From Bishop Spong’s book A New Christianity for a New World.

8
Nov

Before God and with God we live without God

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6
Nov

“Like fire”

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On this blog I call myself a “subversive mystic.” One thing that this means is that I feel very deep compassion for and solidarity with those who suffer. The intensity of these feelings can be difficult to navigate. There is anger at exploitation and abuse by those with power. There can be feelings of depression, desperation, and anxiety. It can be easy to either buckle under their weight or to turn away from them and try to ignore the terrible reality of suffering. As a Christian, I take solace in the prophets. They sought to channel these feelings into a holy fire. They felt God’s word of justice burn. With much inner struggle, they let it lead them into action, activism, protest, and truth telling.

3
Nov

What is Mystical Experience?

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“Mystical experience is generally described as an experience of ecstatic oneness with creation (or with God) and as being characterized by a profound sense of peace and an apparent illumination about the meaning of existence” — Michael Thalbourne, 1991

This evening I was reading the first chapter of a friend’s dissertation. She is researching transliminality. Transliminality refers to people who have a crossover of three intense phenomena: mystical experiences, creative genius (and volatility), and some form of psychosis. It’s quite intriguing to me, and I think her work — and the work of others in this regard — is very important. The above quote from Michael Thalbourne provides some good food for thought for those of us interested in the mystical or spiritual side of life.

28
Oct

From here to there

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I went to sleep in Alaska and woke up in California.

25
Oct

Update — Leaving Alaska

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Soon I will be taking a shower again. On the downside, I can’t step into the bushes to piss anymore. Tradeoffs. I left McCarthy this morning to fly to San Jose for a few months. Entering urban life is a bit of a drag after nearly five months in the splendors of the wilderness, but I am very excited to see family. Some little rug rats are waiting for Uncle Jon. Hopefully Uncle Jon will navigate the cities, avoid getting smushed by traffic, and successfully merge again with civilization……I am looking forward to a few months of writing. I just finished up the first chapters of my book, an exploration of my spiritual journey. I shipped them off to some readers to get early feedback. The writing process has been fun and full of energy. I have much on my mind and heart, so thus far there has been no writer’s block. Not even close. Crossing my fingers and hoping for a productive few months of writing in the Bay. With any luck, I’ll be back up in Alaska early this year — maybe March.

21
Oct

Stimulation

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I don’t view things like meditation and prayer mere “spiritual” activities. They are not abstract, esoteric activities. In the modern world of increasing virtual reality and stimulation, we need to intentionally do things that do not stimulate us. Sitting still and watching my breath opens up a completely new dimension for me precisely because I simply have to deal with one thing: myself. No distractions. Same thing with liturgical prayers or walking a labyrinth or other contemplative exercises. It changes our brains. It breaks us out of the stream of endless stimulation. It centers us in what is, and gives us the ability to simply be. Imagine — your life has no screens, no electronic entertainment of any kind, and yet you are never bored, content only with life as it is.

18
Oct

Patient and mindful

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“Whatever forms of meditation you practice, the most important point is to apply mindfulness continuously, and make a sustained effort. It is unrealistic to expect results from meditation within a short period of time. What is required is continuous sustained effort.”
-Dalai Lama

Mindfulness is simply being aware, being here, now, in the present. It is an effortless form of concentration.

16
Oct

Our humble little magnificent valley

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Last night at the beginning of sunset. Out for a climb up onto the glacier at “the toe.” Overlooking the valley where the town of McCarthy sits.

13
Oct

Daily Bread

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Most days, I use the Lord’s Prayer as a meditation tool. It is a prayer of provision for my well being and the well being of others: Give us this day our daily bread. It is a prayer of compassion and forgiveness: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And it is a prayer to end the cycles of abuse, coercion, and exploitation: Deliver us from evil. Like all meditation tools, it can be used for deeper contemplation into specific things that we feel the need to explore more thoroughly.

11
Oct

Strange Things Happening in the Plains States

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Keep working for change, friends. People know that our country has a lot of problems and that the cliche political answers and typical quick fixes of the major parties haven’t worked.

In the 1880s and 1890s, a prairie wildfire swept through American politics. The generation of pioneers that had taken the risk to head out west and take advantage of Abe Lincoln’s Homestead Act, where our government literally gave away free land to any poor and working class people, had successfully battled terrible weather and intense loneliness. They had worked their butts off to become farmers and ranchers, and made a good life for themselves. But when railroad barons, Wall Street bankers, and oil monopolists began to squeeze them and make it tougher and tougher to make a living farming and ranching, they rose up and started organizing a populist movement that changed American politics and policies. States like the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma rebelled against pro-big business politicians, and much of what they demanded- breaking up the big corporate trusts, tougher financial regulations, easier credit, Social Security, a minimum wage, an 8 hour work day and no child labor, women’s suffrage, stronger labor unions- eventually became incorporated in the reforms of the Progressive era of the early 1900s and the New Deal of the 1930s.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/09/1335447/-Strange-Things-Happening-in-the-Plains-States?detail=email

7
Oct

Solitude and the inner demons

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Prayer, meditation, and other spiritual disciplines are acts of silence and solitude. However, silence and solitude have driven many to insanity. On the other hand, quiet isolation has been the vehicle for many seekers to achieve serenity and greater self awareness. Intentionality is one of the key differences. Forcing someone into a prison of solitary confinement is torture, and it is quite likely to bring the madness. Yet I have read stories of medieval Christian monks who built up four solid walls around themselves — with no doors or windows — so as to devote themselves to prayer, meditation, and a life of contemplation. Here in McCarthy, Alaska, the two dozen or so locals who winter here do so, in large part, because they enjoy the quiet serenity of the winter mountains. Extended time spent in solitude and isolation brings us into contact with some tough internal shit. However, by daily engaging a spiritual practice — gently, intelligently, and at a safe pace — it is possible to confront and move past the inner demons and the difficult parts of our personality that trouble us.

4
Oct

Chekov’s Gun

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My writing quote of the day.

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