Monday, October 16, 2017

In Each Crevice



The sun was written
in each crevice on each leaf
the universe, implied
between the lines

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Forest, Here, is Alive


 The forest, here, is alive


I find myself in the midst
of a massive murmuration *
surrounded by sacred songs
engulfed by black-winged 
gods and goddesses
awaiting flight



fluttering flailing leaves and feathers
falling down around me

* Murmuration: A flock of starlings

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump



"Ask the experts.

In a new book published this week, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," a group of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts warn that “anyone as mentally unstable as this man should not be entrusted with the life-and-death-powers of the presidency.” Seemingly in defiance of the American Psychiatric Association’s "Goldwater rule," which states “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement,” the various and very eminent contributors paint a picture of a president who has “proven himself unfit for duty.”


Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo — of the famous Stanford prison study — suggests the “unbalanced” Trump is a “specific personality type:
an unbridled, or extreme, present hedonist” and
narcissist.”

Psychiatrist Lance Dodes, a former Harvard Medical School professor, says Trump’s
sociopathic characteristics are undeniable
and his speech and behavior show signs of
significant mental derangement.”

Clinical psychologist John Gartner, a 28-year veteran of John Hopkins University Medical School, argues that Trump is a
malignant narcissist” and
evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader.”

For Gartner, the “catastrophe” of a Trump presidency “might have been avoided if we in the mental health community had told the public the truth, instead of allowing ourselves to be gagged by the Goldwater rule.”"

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/07/worried-about-trumps-mental-stability-the-worst-is-yet-to-come/

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sister Sodom



Then, God came to God's Religious Ones and said,

"On the day you were born
your navel cord wasn't cut
you were left covered in slime
you were not tended nor cared for

No eye took even the slightest pity on you
to have compassion for you
for you were
hated
on the day you were born

When I was walking by, I saw you
squirming in your own blood
and I said to you

'LIVE!'

And I made you grow like weeds
and you grew tall and strong

yet still
you were naked and bare

And so, I covered you
clothing you Myself
in My Love for you

And everyone talked about my
Great Love for you and you were
made famous
because of Me.

but you trusted in your reputation
and played the whore, because of your fame

You made yourself wealthy
as maggots
and powerful
in your Many Things,
using this wealth
to buy more Power
and more and more useless Trinkets
and you were not embarrassed
in the least

No, you just wanted more
Power
more
Wealth
more
More

As I live,
your Sister Sodom
was not as Sick as you are
in your wealth and power

Behold,
This is the sin of your Sister Sodom
She and her family
were arrogant, wealthy, lazy-as-shit
but she did not help
the Poor
the Foreigner
the Oppressed

You are Proud, like hell,
and sick, in your Wealth
gorging until you vomit
and then
gorge some more.

Be ashamed,
for your abominations
for your embrace of ignorance
and indifference.

For My sake,
Be ashamed.

Ezekiel 16, in part... my loose paraphrase

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Irrational Shriek



There is nothing whatsoever in the murky dark of the ancient forest at night that is not there in the daylight hours. Reason assures us that this is true.

I know better.

Having explored the local woods all my life, I am well aware that there are noises at night that can not always be identified. An angry snort from somewhere nearby, the rustle in the leaves of something too large to be a squirrel, the wingbeat of a creature that sounds much too leathery and brittle to be a feathered bird. These are sounds that disturb the conscious mind.
Still, in the day, we know the snort is a startled deer. The rustle, just a raccoon. The beating wings from a fleeing owl. In the daytime, we know this.

But at night... Well...

It was dusk and I had settled myself on a convenient tree stump next to a pond in a forgotten woods. The roar of the interstate and lights of the city were blotted out by the trees stretched out overhead and the rolling hills separating the known world from the unknown.

I came to this spot regularly in the autumn, to enjoy the sounds of the leaves falling, the crickets calling, the night coming to life. I came to listen.

This night, as I sat, quietly listening – intent upon separating out this creak from that groan from the other nearby rustle – I first heard the hideous Shriek. Inhuman. Grotesque. Impossible. What in our local woods would make such a disconcerting scream?

The Shriek came from Not Nearby. If I were to guess, I'd say 100 yards or more away. Curiosity – cursed curiosity! – won out over my fear, and I rose from my seat and quietly made my way in the direction of the Shriek. I didn't want to scare away whatever was making the noise.

Twenty steps closer and I heard it again, that soulless Shriek! Could it actually be a human, wounded and in trouble? The Shriek sounded so pitiable this time, and clearly closer. I moved, still quietly, but more quickly, in the direction of the Scream.

Twenty steps more and I paused to listen.

Nothing.

Then, SHRIEK!!

I nearly fell backwards in my fear. It was significantly closer. The Shriek – although human-sounding – was clearly NOT human, I knew this now. It was the sound of a – of a madwoman, nails turned to claws, abandoned in the woods and seeking food. It was the sound of Anger and Hatred.

In the dark of the night, I knew that it was the sound of Evil.

SHRIEK!!

And close.

And maybe on the other side of me.

Between me and my path out.

I waited. I listened. I barely breathed.

No Shriek returned. No sound at all.

The leaves were not falling, the crickets were not calling, no frogs croaked from the nearby pond. I was alone and surrounded by a maddening silence, frozen in fear, unsure of which way to go.

An hour later – or so it seemed – I breathed again. I took a step. I walked back down the path and exited those Awful Woods, to my car and began heading home, but only after checking the back seat of my car.

It was empty.

The next day, the Google told me that foxes shriek when they are at play with one another. Harmless foxes cavorting in the woods. I listened to field recordings of foxes and there it was, the Shriek. But harmless now. In the light of the day.

#inktober

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Is the GOP Embarrassed, Yet?


Ashamed? Disturbed?

What will it take for the GOP to draw back from the ugly, racist, bigoted, hateful, oppressive, ignorant paths they are sending themselves down?

Roy Moore doesn't know who Dreamers are or what DACA is, in this day and season.

http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2017/09/beyond_embarrassing_why_roy_mo.html

He has advocated criminalizing homosexual behavior. He has called it akin to bestiality.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/21/senate-candidate-once-likened-homosexual-conduct-to-bestiality/

He has spewed overtly racist commentary.

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/351194-roy-moore-refers-to-red-and-yellow-americans-in-campaign-speech

He has opposed Muslims being elected.

(Enough with the links, anyone can look them up.)

He holds to anti-American, ugly theocratic ideals.

He is so bigoted, hateful, ignorant and distasteful that even Donald Trump wouldn't endorse him!

Think about that!

Man, what the GOP is tailspinning itself into is an embarrassment to the world and our nation, and frankly, all of humanity.

When will God save those people?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Why Draw the Attention...?


Over at Stan's blog recently, he took on the conservative boob who said the two most important things to him are "the Constitution and Boobs." [Clay Travis, who said to a reporter, who happened to be a woman (not that it really matters), "I believe in only two things completely. The First Amendment, and boobs."] Stan criticized the guy for being in the wrong. Stan said, "She (and I) thought it was rude for him to say it."

Okay, as far as it goes. But, Stan didn't leave it there. He added a BUT. "But," he said, "I do wonder why women who rightly are offended when men are that rude continue to wear outfits clearly intended to accentuate the features men are not supposed to comment on..."

Stan (and his commenters, with him) rightly found Travis in the wrong (although, I'm not sure that merely calling his comment "rude" is the right way to identify his error...), they also shared some blame towards women who dress "wrong..." meaning, of course, wrong, by their measure...

Oh, they assured and reassured us that it was entirely the man who was wrong or, in the case of a rapist "aroused" by women dressing "wrong," the rapist who was wrong... BUT... why would the women dress "that way..."?

Craig put it this way...

"Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [rapists], and be dressed in a way that draws attention?"

Stan clarified it this way (speaking in the voice of those who defend women dressing, you know, how they want)...

"Women should be allowed to ... nay, celebrated for dressing as slutty as they wish..."

So, allow me to try to clarify what seems like it would be obvious...

Craig, consider these questions:

1. Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [rapists], and be dressed in a way that draws attention?

2. Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [robbers], and be dressed in a way that draws attention (i.e., dressing as if you had money)?

3. Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [killer atheists], and be dressed in a way that draws attention (i.e., wearing a cross necklace and carrying a bible, for instance)?

With those extra questions, do you see the problem with your approach?

Let me spell it out for you:

3. Christians wear what they want because it is their choice to do so and they should not be intimidated to wear something else because it might draw the attention of killer atheists.

2. Wealthy people wear what they want because it is their choice to do so and they should not be intimidated to wear something else because it might draw the attention of robbers.

1. Women wear what they want because it is their choice to do so and they should not be intimidated to wear something else because it might draw the attention of rapists.

It's our human liberty to wear what we wish and we are not wrong for wearing that, nor should the reality of bad people who might be "aroused" by what we wear cause people to opt for other clothes. Are you suggesting that Christians should NOT wear things that identify them as Christians to avoid any conflict? Or would you bristle at that suggestion?

You of course don't need to comment here, Craig, but if you choose to reply to this post, please begin with an answer to that question. Thanks.

Stan, I am sure you were truly thinking you were defending women and only attacking this guy, but you sure (and if not you, some of your commenters) didn't sound like you were defending women. You sounded sexist and a bit perverse.

You see, you all are saying, "Yes, it is the MAN who is wrong for saying 'boobs' matter most to him... BUT, why do women..." and "Yes, it is the MAN who is wrong for raping women... BUT, why would women..."

And when pushed on it, you said you "got" it, what the complaint was... you'd encourage women to dress to a degree that you would call "modest," and if they weren't dressed "modestly enough," then they might be sort of asking for it... of course, it's the MAN's fault... BUT...

It's the "BUT" that is getting you off track. The correct answer is, "It's the man's fault for making sexist comments." PERIOD. "It is the MAN's fault for assaulting a woman." PERIOD.

And end it there. Don't pause and then go on to sorta blame the woman just a little bit, too. Because she was "dressed wrong." Or, as you put it, she could be dressed as slutty as she wished. The commenters at this blog kept suggesting that there was a line that is crossed and by crossing that line, women could expect to be abused, maligned and raped. "Not that it's right," you clarify, but still...

I asked you if you agree with the Muslim extremist measure of wearing a burka. You all balked at the comparison. "Well, well, bu... well, NO! No, of course we don't believe in making women wear burkas..." BUT. But they should be dressed modestly, for their own sake, because you're gentlemen, in your minds and you don't want these poor women to be subjected to a possible rapist (which is a crime of power, not sexuality, you should know) or perverse treatment by perverse men.

No, you don't advocate a burka. Not full blown. BUT...

That But is the problem.

It's not that you disagree with Muslim extremists, it's just that you draw the line at some point differently than they do. But you still draw a line, because you know what's best for these women, presumably.

And that's sexist.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Born Anew



From a sermon from my pastor this weekend...

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.
~John 3:1-9

I started to do a search on the internet, but after seeing that the first page of googling didn’t reveal my answer, I gave up. I’m not a very patient googler. It doesn’t really matter, anyway. What I was searching for was, “must be born again craze.” I was wondering when that began. Well, it really began with Jesus, of course, because he’s the one who said it. But when was it that it became such a huge thing in American religious culture? I think it had to do with Jimmy Carter, and that was when I was a teenager. I don’t remember exactly when, but what I do remember is that it was very confusing to me. You must be born again, preachers would say, meaning, you must become someone else. You must become someone else. That’s how I remember them preaching it, anyway. And that was hard for me to integrate, as it probably was for some of you. “Are you a Christian?” Yes… “Have you been born again?” Well, not really. I’m still just me.

And I think that’s why my heart sang when I heard John Philip Newell talk about this passage at Lake Junaluska this summer.

Because he said that Jesus wasn’t saying that we need to become someone else. He said that Jesus, in saying that we must be born again, or anew, was saying that we need to be born into our true selves. We need to be born into our true selves.

He pointed out something that we already knew, which is that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. He wasn’t a Christian, and so he didn’t adhere to the Christian doctrine of original sin.

The idea of original sin, for those of us who might not be familiar with the term, is one that, whether we’re familiar with it our not, pervades our lives. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, after having sinned, all of humanity was put in a state of separation from God, and it’s only through Jesus that we are reconnected. That’s the idea that many of us grew up with. You might remember the little picture that we sometimes used when we were trying to “save” someone. There are two cliffs with a great gulf in-between. God is on one side. Humankind on the other. And then you draw a cross in-between to connect the two? Does anyone remember that? Used to be an evangelical tool that we would use to share the “good news” of Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ didn’t preach that kind of good news. Jesus didn’t preach about how we are disconnected from God. Jesus preached about how God is within us…

The concept of original sin didn’t come from Jesus. 

Newell said that he was on an interfaith panel with some other religious leaders awhile back, and someone asked them to comment on original sin, and the Jewish rabbi on the panel said that when someone Jewish hears the term “original sin,” they are prone to think, now that was really an original sin! In other words, original sin wasn’t, and isn’t a Jewish concept, but rather came around years after Jesus’ death. It was first alluded to in the second century by Iraneus, Bishop of Lyon, and was later developed by St. Augustine. It retained its popularity through church reformers such as John Calvin and Martin Luther, and is very popular to this day. One of the founders of Celtic Christianity, Pelagius, was kicked out of Rome, first, and later, Italy, largely because he refused to accept the concept of original sin, by the way.


We spend a lot of time as Christians, not in this church, maybe not enough in this church, confessing our sin. We are bad, bad, bad. We were born in sin. But as Newell points out, what would it look like if we acted that way in one of our most important relationships? What if we were constantly apologizing and feeling guilty and less than? It would be totally unhealthy. And yet, that’s so often the way that people view their relationship with God. You must be born again. You must become someone else. Because who you are is never good enough...

You must be born again, Jesus says, calling us back to our true selves. You must be born from above. You must be born anew. Born anew into that of you which is the essence of God, the essence of your true self...

Now, I’m not an artist, and I can’t draw it. But I can tell you that I saw a very clear picture of this on Wednesday when our Diane - our homeless/hospitality minister - told me about what had happened at the Hospitality Program the day before. It was a busy day, she said, and in the middle of all of the busi-ness, a man brought in a woman in a bathrobe. He had found her a few blocks away. She was wandering around, lost and confused. She didn’t know her name, and, said the man, she was (made a motion with his finger to indicate craziness). Diane had the woman sit down with Kari, who talked with her and kept her calm while Diane made some phone calls. It took about an hour for the police to get there, and when they did, they confirmed that the woman was on the missing persons list. Her son had been looking for her. She had parked her car and left her keys and her purse and her i.d. somewhere, and they tried to find it, and they contacted her son, and they eventually took her to the hospital, where we are hoping that she received the care she needed.

It’s a sad story, but a precious one. I hate to think what might have happened had that man not have found her. 

And here’s the thing that touched me most deeply about the story: The man who brought her in, said Diane, was drunker than anyone she’d ever seen. And note: this is our homeless minister talking. He was drunker than anyone she’d ever seen! 

And yet, this man, as drunk as he was, was able to connect with the very essence of God within, with the love-longings of God, to share with this woman that there is a place where you can go where they will help you, and not just to share that with her, but to accompany her, stumbling alongside her until he had delivered into Diane’s care.

And in that experience, I believe that that man was born anew, not in the way we used to talk about, becoming someone else, but in that, even in the midst of his brokenness, he reconnected with the very essence of God. You must be born anew, says Jesus.

I am reminded of the voice that we hear in “The Help,” the voice of Abileen, a family maid, who babysits little Mae Mobley. Mae’s mother usually ignores her, and whenever she pays her any attention, she criticizes her. So Abilene sits her down everyday and says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

The heart of God is beating within each of us. May we listen for it, may we hear it, may we be renewed in its rhythm. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Rest of the World Statement


I.
We affirm that people are complex and God is not known, completely.

We deny that some humans are the spokesmouths for God, even though they may act as if they are.

II.
We affirm that love is good and that hate is bad.

We deny that those who'd take away rights and choice and liberty from others are acting in the common good.

III.
We affirm that women, gay folk, transgender folk and, well, folk in general are wonderful, strong, kick ass and live well, if imperfectly.

We deny that seeking to disempower and marginalize people for being who they are is a good thing.

IV.
We affirm that those racists and oppressors who, once upon a time and even in the name of God, sought to say "This person should not marry THAT person. God forbids it!..." that such attitudes have been cast upon the dustbin of history and recognized far and wide as wrong-headed and arrogant. Any who would, today, seek to go back to these devalued and antiquated values (i.e., bad values) would be ignored and rightly so.

Similarly, we affirm that most of us have likewise moved past the days of trying to demonize and marginalize women, gay and transgender folk or deny them their basic human liberties. Those who seek to do this will soon, like the "anti-miscegenists" of old, be summarily dismissed as crackpots and holding on to backwards, immoral and irrational ideas.

We deny that those who would promote anti-women, anti-LGBTQ attitudes speak for God, for the good, or for reason.

======

The "Nashville" types have lost this argument. They just have. It's all over but the fighting.

There will be much kicking and ranting on their part as they increasingly realize that they are the ones viewed as immoral and irrational, but this is just the way it is. They have lost and their numbers will increasingly diminish and their "arguments" (which amount to not much more than, "But I'm telling you, GOD doesn't want it! GOD agrees with me!") increasingly be ignored.

Within a generation or two, churches will continue meeting, lives will continue to be lived and LGBTQ folk and women will live empowered lives. The matter won't be broached any more in 99% of churches - at least in the US, any more than the "anti-miscegenationists" have any serious traction any more. Those who oppose gay marriage will simply be ignored until, by the end of the century, they will be, for all practical purposes, gone.

The few who remain will rant and gnash their teeth, insisting that God's Way is narrow and THEY are the few who remain faithful. They will deny even other Christians but no one will care, any more than we care about what the "anti-miscegenationists" say. The reason? No one cares what irrational, immoral cranks say.

I am at least almost a little sorry that these anti-gay folk, anti-women folk will feel so oppressed and ignored, but not really. They've brought it upon themselves and their arrogance does nothing to help build any bridges worth crossing.

They have been eclipsed by a more rational, more moral and, I think, more Godly way, and ultimately, that is a very good thing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

When I was a God



When I was a God
I could do no wrong and my
humility was supreme

but now

I have been cast down
and I walk with all creatures
alongside the stream

in peace

Friday, August 18, 2017

On Antifa...


There's just so much happening, I didn't want to miss the chance to post this so I'm doing it now while I'm thinking about it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I find Trump and his ardent supporters (in contrast, at least a little, to those who reluctantly tolerate him) to be morally and rationally and societally repulsive. I vomit a bit in my mouth anytime I think about him.

And his defense of "some" nazis and racists ("some were nice guys," or whatever) is atrocious, as is his false moral equivalency of Nazis and racists to the counter protestors. The man is a pig.
That being said, I have problems with the antifa movement. And I'm not the only one (amongst progressive and rational types). I'll post an article that goes into it some more, but in brief, here is my problem:

* They are anarchists, not liberals.

* They place themselves above the law, appointing themselves judge, jury and judgment against those THEY think deserve it. If they THINK you are a Nazi or sympathize too much with Nazis (again, in their head, not necessarily in reality), then they have been known to act against you.

* I hear that they even attacked some in the press this last weekend in their anarchic and self-appointed vigilantism against "the enemy."

I certainly sympathize with the notion of being against fascists and racists, but we do that within some boundaries. It's not every man (and mostly, I believe we are talking about men) for himself, everyone deciding who needs to be punched and who doesn't.

For one thing, it is counterproductive. It gives the idiots and racists like Trump some room for doing just what he has done. It undermines our efforts to stop fascism and racism, rather than supporting it.
But also, it is illiberal. It is not progressive to live outside the laws and make yourself the One True Decider for everyone else.

This is not to say that they are in anyway comparable to the actual fascists, but just to note that they are troubling and need to rein themselves in (and we need to help them rein in).

Read the article. Important stuff...

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/what-trump-gets-wrong-about-antifa/537048/

One excerpt:

"for all of antifa’s supposed anti-authoritarianism, there’s something fundamentally authoritarian about its claim that its activists—who no one elected—can decide whose views are too odious to be publicly expressed. That kind of undemocratic, illegitimate power corrupts. "

"We do not feel safe..."


Just because these stories need to be heard... from a Latino family/friend's Facebook page:

"Last night I had to comfort my youngest who has heard enough about recent events to be terrified that someone may target his father for being Latino.....he no longer wants his father to [go to work] for fear that he will be attacked or arrested. He kept asking me what we will do if his papa doesn't come home one night........and I don't know what to say. I don't know what we will do. I don't want to think about it, and yet, we have to.

Many members of our own family voted for, and still openly defend and support, Trump. My son does not feel safe. He stays awake worrying, crying, begging for all of this to stop.

I am at a loss for how to protect my children when even those who love us cannot see how much hatred is being stoked by the president they voted for, and continue to defend him.

I am not calling out people by names, and my anxiety runs high even as I write this. But if you love us, if you love my children and husband, then now is the time to help us feel loved, safe, and supported. Because even if you do not mean for your politics to be personal or include us, it IS very personal when it means that my kids do not know who they can trust, and that they might be hurt for being Latino, or. even for not fitting the traditional "male" stereotype with their long hair and preferences for artsy or sparkly things.

I am not interested in fighting.....I just want folks to know where we stand, how we feel, and how my heart breaks with this reality. If you need to unfollow me or unfriend me, feel free."

And for those who worry about shit like this, this is a "documented" family. This is how team Trump is making regular citizens of these United States feel, how they're terrorizing children and families. Shit like that's got to make you feel like a Big Man, right?