Enough Already!

I wish it were only caffeine. Here in the meadow, we are used to a certain adversity that is just part and parcel (whatever that quaint phrase means) of living in rurality. I mean it’s not like McDonald’s is a block away; in fact, the nearest one is closer to ten miles away.

So it should come as no surprise (indeed I’ve related a sufficient number of nasty meadow incidents thus far) that another “wrath of God”, shitty luck, fate, clash of the Titans, would occur. This one brought me to the brink of a glimpse of insanity.  I do not jest!

I have concluded that I am good for about three catastrophes in a winter, and then I’m done. Prepare the straight jacket, fluff up the padded room, I have a reservation. Let’s go.

It started Sunday with a thoroughly wild-eyed, this must be a roller coaster, ride in and out, traveling to and from church. The melting had created a deep flow of slush that the bronco could barely traverse without much sliding and twisting. It was pretty much gun and go, and hope for the best, as I sailed over dell and over the farmer perhaps too. Have to wait till spring and look for a body.

By Wednesday, it had frozen up again, and the Contrarian went out to get wood, and then check the lane. The first blow landed as he was working to draw another limb free and over to the splitter. It fell in a way not anticipated, and onto the chain saw, bending the bar. End of cutting wood.

So, logically, the Contrarian proceeded to the hill, hopefully to  smooth down the frozen tundra and make a good path to get out to buy a new bar. Perfect confidence is derailed as he discovers that the lane has blown in for about fifty feet or more. He works with great difficulty to get enough traction to get up, and starts pushing it down this side. After about three times, he figures he’s got a good beginning and will finish in the morning.

After much work, he manages to work his way up the hill by going cross country through the meadow and emerging at the gate. He makes his way to the road, and is thinking that he can approach the drifted area easier from the other side. That works until, a tractor tire goes flat.

Now we are tractorless, sawless, and nearly woodless. I am frankly near hysteria here. Thoughts of freezing slowly to death plant themselves firmly in my cerebellum. I babble, I cry, I rant, I curse the gods of nature and consider offering a cat in sacrifice. We have after all, four. Shrug. . . .  well it was a thought, but I discarded it.

Days go by, Thursday afternoon, Friday morning, and I am getting panicky. We are using our few sticks judiciously, and running space heaters. In all actuality, it was quite warm most of the time. But nobody seemed home, and I became convinced that Troy Mills had been wiped from the map by some mysterious alien abduction. (Take me, take me! Please!)

Finally, contact is made with the outside world, but little in the way of help comes with it. I’m all in favor of calling anybody I can think of. (Call the Troy Store and ask them to put a note on their door: “Snow removal needed immediately! with phone number.) Later the Contrarian confesses that such a thing would never happen. “Why don’t you just prepare a sign that I can wear in town: INCOMPETENT HUSBAND.”

Okay, that maybe was going too far, but I’m a desperate woman. I’m wondering whether the movies about the Donner family are scheduled for broadcast anytime soon, and I think the Contrarian is sizing me up for a good roast, should the situation not improve quickly.

For two days, I spent the better part of the day off line, needing to keep the line open for a call of salvation from winter’s determined intent to kill us all. And my heart sank lower than a belly crawlin’ snake. It was a time of highs and lows, mostly the later, but we managed to buck each other up as needed, to get by.

Finally we get word, last night, that the Calvary has arrived, or at least is in town, and will saddle up in the morning and save us. Joe, has a gigantus tractor, enclosed cab, and the mother of all snow blower attachments. I can hear the sound of trumpets blaring, and I think a distant refrain of God Save the Queen, which I figured was my imagination.

Great plumes of snow sailed twenty feet in the air, and arced over the icy landscape. Superman in the usual winter garb of car-hards and yooper hat,  crested the hill and rolled down. The behemoth shook with pleasure as she spewed her last mouth of snow and snorted a hearty “YOU ARE FREE!”

Manly talk ensued, between the Contrarian and Joe with the usual handshake and highdeeho. Within moments the Contrarian was off to another friend to get a couple of armloads of wood and then off to the big city to secure bars and oil, more gas, and vittles. I guess I will make it to church on time after all.

So that is my tale. Funny how personal crap overcomes all the real tragedy in the world.  Looking back, it doesn’t seem it was all that bad, but it was scary at times. And wood working is going to be much harder now, without the tractor to pull logs. The bronco can fill in for that, given the location of the tree now being dismantled. The tractor can’t be dealt with until it warms up a good deal more, unless an air compressor is located and the leak is a slow one, in which case, he might be able to hobble around with it until Spring.

Such is life in the meadow. Not nearly as convenient as suburbia, but then, I doubt suburban stories can match the sheer drama of our ups or downs. Just know, that all is safe, and well once again. . . .though I must say, I am getting a bit old for all this drama. Town is starting to look good.

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What Do We Need?

It should come as no surprise during this economic downturn, that a good number of politicians are touting their business acumen as a reason to elect them to office. Certainly Mitt Romney tried this tack during the last presidential election cycle.

The last CEO of the WWF, Linda McMahon, is purportedly interested in running for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by CT senator Chris Dodd. One of her arguments, is that she, while having no political experience, is an experienced business woman, something which is particularly useful today.

And I scratch my head and wonder. Is that true? Is that what we need? An “expert” in economic matters?

Common sense might suggest otherwise. It seems quite clear that our present financial woes stem from the unbridled lust and greed of oh too many business types, who were simply in utter error when it came to understanding good versus bad business practices. They over extended their companies assets in pursuit of high risk returns which led to unbelievable and immoral bonuses and profit margins, which no doubt benefited stockholders, but were mostly designed to benefit themselves.

I’m not sure we need more of that in Washington.

In fact, I would argue that what we need in Washington is precisely that which someone like Obama offers: the ability to critically think and to evaluate “expert” opinion. That quality seems in rather short supply, around both Washington and the country at large.

I went to what my parents and the parents of my friends, certainly considered an above average high school. For its size, there were essentially three tracks available to us as students–college prep, business, and blue collar. We had plenty of sports, music, art, wood shop and auto repair, home ec, as well as the usual English lit, history, math, science, and civics classes.

But I can say, that there was little attempt to teach us how to think. Mostly we were expected to memorize dates, places, times, people, processes, formulas, and such. We were not to question our sources. We were to learn them. I suspect this is relatively true in most high schools, most middle schools and so forth, but for the unique and wonderful exception that some of us are blessed to encounter here and there.

College can be little better I suspect, though there is a greater attempt at instilling the skills necessary to critically analyze and evaluate sources. At least in some disciplines. But still, its more an effort at giving information which is to be ingested and regurgitated at testing time, or put into play with various term paper assignments.

It was not until I began studying theology and biblical studies at the graduate level, that I was introduced to the art and discipline of reading critically. It means actually thinking about what one is reading for starts, and asking the question, is this logical? Does this follow? Is this conclusion justified based on the evidence presented?

It continues in evaluating the credentials of the writer, and determining as best one can, what world view he/she is coming from. What assumptions, likes, predispositions, and so forth does the writer start with, and build upon? Do I agree with these? Why or why not?

It also, most importantly, requires one to assess one’s own lens–what assumptions, presumptions, and so forth do I operate from? This is as important, if not more so to discern that where the writer is coming from.

I cannot state more emphatically how important rational dispassionate thinking is. It is what allows us not to miss opportunities to make correct decisions. It is what is so sadly lacking in our basic high school educations, and is, I submit, part of the reason that a segment of our society is prone to beliefs that are illogical and are the product of the mini demagogue.

That is why, you find people linking you to  sites that back up their opinions, and the sites are completely devoid of any basis by which the reader should trust the naked opinion of the writer. It is why we are invited to watch a UTube video as “proof” or a website that is devoted to a very clear point of view.

This is not to say that every site that is passionately devoted to a  “side” is not to be examined, but that it is done so with a modicum of realization that the writer has a “position” on the issue and is not particularly unbiased. Their sourcing becomes critical in determining whether their opinion is worth anything to us. And when we find sites that seem to be based on good critical thinking and research, we offset it to some degree with sites that offer other voices.

While we laugh and chuckle at the silly places people come up with information from, we must realize that to them, this information is correct. It tends to corroborate their inclinations. As I’ve said before, the fact that Stewart, Colbert, Olbermann and others “correct” the blatant lies told by Fox, does nothing when the people who worship at the feet of Fox don’t read or watch anything else. They remain blithely unaware that there is substantial evidence that their conclusions are outrageously wrong.

I am interested in candidates who have the ability to think critically. I am only interested that they are bright and thoughtful enough to know where to look for the experts who can advise them. And I am looking for someone who can evaluate the expert, giving due weight to opinions that are based on solid evidence.

I don’t need in the end, a president who is an economist. I need him or her to be wise enough to find good economists to listen to and be guided by. I guess its probably asking too much to expect future politicians to show me their critical thinking skills. But that’s what we need in Washington, more than anything else.

Just sayin’.

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The Pizza Wars

If you have ever lived in a small town, you know that there are always back stories. Oddities and mysteries that sometimes are passed from generation to generation.

But, large cities are no exception, and this is the tale of the Pizza makers, and how they once ran an important industry in Detroit Michigan.

Yes, you heard that right. You would expect me to say GM or Ford no doubt, but instead I speak of Domino’s Pizza and Little Caesars, and the men who created them, and became entwined in the Motor City.

Domino’s was once the brain child of a man named Tom Monaghan. His early life is compelling. He was placed in an orphanage run by Catholic nuns early in his life. He loved baseball. He had some strange starts and stops. He entered a seminary and was kicked out for disciplinary problems, he entered the Marine Corp, thinking he was entering the Army.

Ultimately he ended up at U of M in Ann Arbor where he started a pizza store in Ypsilanti Michigan. It snowballed and made him ultimately a billionaire.

In those early years of success, he lived lavishly, and purchased the Detroit Tigers. It was a Horatio Alger story par excellence. They won the World Series. Detroit was in love with Tom Monaghan. Until. . . .

He became an ultra conservative Catholic. He has spend most all of his money ever since on creating a conservative enclave for Catholics in Florida. It was transferred there from Domino Farms in Ann Arbor, when local officials refused to change zoning laws to accommodate the 250 foot high crucifix he wanted  to erect over his new Ave Maria University. Retailers in the town are not allowed to sell either contraceptives or pornography.

His law school, Ave Marie Law School, in Ann Arbor has faculty such as Bork, Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. It is dedicated to pursuing “natural law” theology and training “moral” attorneys. (yes I am most aware of the high oxymoronic element.)

I recall reading a piece on him in the local Sunday Parade  section of the Detroit Free Press.  Monaghan, as I recall, was most proud of the fact that he could recite the rosary ( a daily practice for him) in I believe less than  five minutes while shaving. I never quite understood why that was to be applauded.

He sold the Detroit Tigers to Mike Ilitch, when he was convinced that it was sinful to live lavishly. He also sold his holdings on Drummond Island and a house half built. All his money goes into promoting “anti-abortion” efforts as well as other conservative Catholic interests. He presently sits on the  Catholic Advisory Board with the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and Michael Novak.

In the end, Monaghan was considered a bit of a nut case, and the city breathed a sigh of relief when he sold the Tigers to the Ilitch family.

Enter one Mike Ilitch. Ilitch is a home town boy and also a veteran. He opened Little Caesar’s as his first pizza store, and like, Monaghan, never looked back. But he too is something of a Horatio Alger story, since both he and his wife are first generation immigrants from Macedonia.

He amassed a fortune and when he had done so, he purchased the woeful Detroit Red Wings. As anyone who follows hockey, knows, the Wings have have been a major contender and winner of the Stanley Cup most ever since.

Ironically, Ilitch was offered an opportunity to play baseball for the Detroit Tigers in his youth, but declined the offer.

He purchased the Tigers when Monaghan, determined that he must divest himself of the team or risk the wrath of God.

Ilitch has fed more than two million people country wide with his traveling “Little Caesar’s Love Kitchen.” He has been recognized by three former presidents for his efforts to feed the hungry.  He started a veterans program to help returning veterans with business opportunities in their transition from military to civilian life. He has received the “Secretary’s Award”, the highest civilian award granted for his efforts–$1.5 million in financial assistance.

Tens of thousands of youth have learned both hockey and character development at the Little Caesar’s Amateur Hockey Program. Ilitch “Charities for Children” has been expanded to “Ilitch Charities” covering a broad array of problems involving education, health, unemployment, and homelessness.

No mention is made of Ilitch’s religious interests if any.

I wonder, who has more successfully put on the mind of Christ?

Just sayin’.

For more information on both men:

Mike Ilitch

Tom Monaghan

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What I Know About God So Far

Okay, okay, so I’m fudging a bit. I don’t “know” a lot on the subject. More technically, I “believe” certain things. And I’m starting to get what Augustine meant when he said (with my merciful paraphrasing) that what we think we know about who God is, is probably precisely what he is not.

Let me explain.

When I came to faith, and until recently, if you had asked me why I was so passionate about biblical studies and theology, the answer would have been quite simple. “I want to learn everything possible about God.” That seems normal right?

As I have been studying these past few months, mostly centered on the Pentateuch, I’ve been able for the first time, to really put much of the construction of the bible books into a context that relates to the actual history of the people and region. More and more, it reflects, much as the gospel writers did, the individual theology of the writer about God and about how the writer viewed God’s interplay in human history.

I guess, I should have realized the “aha” moment, and as the days go by from my mini epiphany, I more and more go “duh” hasn’t this always been rather obvious? I mean, I have long held that the writers of the various parts of the bible, were attempting to convey their conclusions of how they experienced God in their lives.

It took the catalyst of Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now, mentioned here now several times over the last week, to bring what I was learning in my EFM class to the next level for me. And here is what I have concluded:

The bible and theology don’t teach us about God, they teach us about ourselves.

Hold the firewood and rope, I’m not quite ready to climb the funeral pyre of heresy.

I still contend that the bible is inspired. Of course, much depends on how you define that. One definition claims inspired refers to any writing that can offer advice to every generation–it remains fresh and relevant because the teachings are timeless. I prefer thinking that the writer, radically open to God, allowed the Spirit of God to “teach” them truth, which they then relate.

The truths are not the historical accuracy of battle locations, mountain tops, and the like, but relate rather to those things that are eternally true to a person of faith: God is creator, God is love, God is covenantal, God is faithful, God is merciful, God makes good come from bad. These resonate with the human heart precisely because they conform to our belief in what a God would be like.

But people like Rohr, and frankly many like him, convince me that God is truly known only in the human heart. It is an inward journey and a surrender of ego so that the true self, God’s spirit, may prevail and lead us. It is “us” getting out of the way, and allowing God to enter.

In meditation or contemplation, we still the mind, and we offer God access to our being, we listen. It is an inexplicable thing, and cannot be described except to say that once you have done so, even for only a few seconds, you KNOW. You have touched the Divine, you have felt that unity, you have experienced pure unconditional love. It is transforming and is what many of us believe was the real message of Jesus–how to do this.

Rohr makes a point when he says that fundamentalists are stuck in a very primitive form of spiritual enlightenment. They believe they will understand God through  the bible, much as the original writers dating from the second millennium BCE also believed they could define the Divine. In actuality, the Divine must be experienced.

The fundamentalist insists that the stories are literally true, when even the writers seldom thought that. They were simply easy vehicles, to convey through oral tradition,  the greater truths that are present underneath the “story.” The fundamentalist is locked into dualistic thinking–fundamentalists are not happy with mystery. They want explanation, and torture the text, common sense, and human advancements in learning, to accomplish it.

The bible and man’s attempt to understand the Divine are not God, but they do help me to avoid redoing the same work again and again. I can place my own thinking alongside, compare, contrast, ignore, alter, add, subtract, as I more deeply realize the actual intent of what was written.

Jesus moves from far off “God to be worshiped” and nearing,  slips his hand in mine as human friend who is just a whole lot better at accessing the Divine than I. But if I follow his lead, I can also reach this place–the place prepared for me by the Father.

If it seems that I have reduced the bible and theology to minor roles, it is not true. Human society has always advanced by learning from those who went before. But this journey into full humanity and union with the Divine, is a process. Once upon a time, Jesus and the Buddha perhaps had to learn these things themselves. We have the wonderful benefit of being able to use the tools they offer to find our place in the Eternal Now. This is no small thing, and should never be minimized, ever.

Place things in perspective. You have the tools, but they must be used, and the work is hard and it can be long. But the reward is worth more than the great pearl for which a man sold all he had to own. Blessings be with you this day.

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Rushing to the Abyss

If you regularly peruse a number of blogs, or heaven forbid, watch any of the mainstream media, then you are filled to the gills with explanations of the debacle in the Haaaabor. That’s Massachusetts talk.

There are parodies of all sorts, jugular distorting cries for  revenge, and all manner of “analysis” guaranteed to ‘splain it all to ya.

I think Jon Stewart came closest when he parodied Obama’s interview with George Steph. Fundamentally, the wonder Messiah misunderstood the Merikan folk.

Yes, even those of us who are relatively well educated, of sound mind and having souls, were duped into thinking that the great Obama had the magic to actually accomplish what we knew we all needed. We believed. Oh most of us knew it would not be as easy as we hoped, but we believed it would happen. Now? oh, we have regained our senses such as they were and are.

Talk logically with adult words? This was thought to be such a novel idea that surely it would work. America did not build the greatest house since the one Ruth built with nothing. We must have some basic innate intelligence, while rusted shut by years of neglect, would awaken to the melodious tones of one Barack H. Obama.  We would hear the logic, we would understand the progression of  if this then that. And we would “do the right thing.” And if there were those who had some vested interest in not doing it, well we would shame/threaten/make fun of, all those too.

But no, we were too optimistic, naive?, or just plain not evil enough to see the truth. Merika is NOT logical, intelligent, or even particularly good. It has been corrupted to a degree that may not be recoverable. We, I admit, give like there is no tomorrow in times of tragedy, but that seems to be our salve to our “faith” and then it”s back to lookin’ out for number uno.

Let me enumerate a few “facts.”

  • We watch television shows like “Ax Men” and “Ice Road Truckers”.
  • We spend most of our disposable income on big screen tv’s to watch this swill on, along with game systems and games.
  • We try to exercise by playing virtual tennis in our living room.
  • Close to half the country doesn’t believe in science, unless it be the microwave, said big screen HD tv, or computers, cars, ad nauseum other devices. Nearly half of us believe in creationism and a flat earth.
  • The average person cannot correctly name the three branches of government.
  • We hold with regularity opinions that are directly contradictory to others. Case in point, the teabagger who said “no bank bailouts” and then said “support free markets”. Do you need be Einstein to see the contradiction?
  • People actually vote for a candidate based on who would be the best bud at the bar with ya. Sharing a beer is the best way to evaluate a president, doncha know?
  • Most citizens can’t pass the test given to new prospective citizens.
  • We murder people in the name of “justice” and don’t consider it “cruel and unusual.”
  • We give corporations citizenship “personhood” while we don’t (not that I disagree on this) give it to biological embryos who become human beings.
  • I get more hits on my blog for inserting the names of Johnny Depp or Adam Lambert into it than all the discussions I have regarding health care, evolution, and poverty combined.
  • Fully 1/3 of our youth are obese and given to sedentary pursuits. We are falling far behind in math and science so they can’t be reading science books.
  • We are the most powerful military machine yet assembled, yet we are far behind most of the civilized nations in infant mortality, and services granted automatically to citizenry by their government. Meaning health care, housing, education, and the like.
  • We are the most self-reporting “religious” people, yet we house the world’s largest array of prisoners, execute them with regularity, love our guns, are homophobic, sexist, and ethnically racist to extreme levels.
  • We to a great degree hate intellectuals largely because we are both jealous and don’t understand the big words.
  • We have the attention span of gnats, and demand constant “feeding” lest we shuck it all and go off following the next feel good guru whose name might be Palin, or Hannity.
  • We have a perverted sense of history, gleaned from a lousy primary education which was intended to support our imperialism and keep us as good lambs with “proper patriotism” and basically law abiding proclivities. We are not supposed to “rock the boat.”
  • We suck at the public teat of big business by being the world’s best consumers all the while being gleefully raped by said corporations. A perfect symbiosis of must have product coupled with bull crap rhetoric is eaten up with the chicken wings at a good NASCAR event.

In other words, we reap what we sow, we get what we deserve, we are being called upon to pay the piper. It’s enough to make a sane person insane.

So, my suggestion to Obama. Stop with the adult talk. You gotta get down brother and preach to the masses who are holding a taco in one hand, while wiping the grease from their mouth on their sleeve. Analogize to Jack Bauer, they will GET that. Talk about Jesse James, they will relate. Talk about the sweet joy of drawing a bead on that soft spot behind the shoulder of that buck innocently munching your corn drop while you sit warm and cozy in your blind with the high powered scope aching to be utilized. (Leave the carcass, just take the antler rack for show–it will look mighty fine to the boys on the wall of the “family room.”)

I know you can do it Obama. Just dumb it down. Then we can maybe get it.

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Learning to be Human

As I think I mentioned, I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s, The Naked Now. It was really a foregone conclusion that I would adore his writing, I’d heard enough said about him from a number of bloggers who read him and were praiseworthy. That was plenty of recommendation.

Rohr talks about how to experience the Divine in the way the mystics do, and that essentially is in the practice of “now.” It is a well grounded practice in Eastern faith traditions, and frankly, has a long history in Western faiths as well, just by another name. In the East, the method of practice is meditation, in the West, it is called contemplation.

Both involve letting go of ego and past and future, and centering on the now. This is where we meet God. This is where we listen, open ourselves and wait. This is where we, if we surrender ourselves, find guidance. For all those who have experienced this wonder, whether for a moment or for long periods, it is in some sense indescribable, but pure joy. There is a oneness, a feeling of connectedness to all that is.

As anyone who has practiced either meditation or contemplation can tell you, the effort is hard. There is nothing harder to control than one’s own mind. The ego has a vested interest (it’s own perceived survival) in maintaining control, and keeping things within “known” parameters. To surrender to the Spirit, is to step off the cliff without a parachute. The ego fights mightily, and as anyone who has tried will tell you, the mind fills with one inane and disconnected thought after another, as one, in increasing desperation, tries to “quiet” the mind. But it is never about forcing, it is about letting go.

Living in the now means to be centered in the feelings, and senses fully of what is happening around you. Not thinking of what needs go on the grocery list, not recalling last night’s movie, not rehashing an argument of a week ago. It is smelling the flowers, feeling the sun upon your cheek, hearing the rustle of leaves in the trees, seeing the sparkle of sunlight upon the dew lipped blade of grass. It is being drunk in this moment of time.

While it is a perfect place to be, it cannot be the only place, lest we never get up, never move, and die of hunger and thirst. We must plan at least to shop and clean and it is also valuable to reflect, hoping to stave off repeating mistakes again and again. Still, we strive to be “now” people as much as possible, where we are called to be authentic and to respond authentically and with full attention to the world. As Rohr and others point out, we are Spirit, our job is to become fully human.

One point is made clear, that much of “now” work is non-dualistic. And we in the West, particularly, have a tough time with non duality. We are a right/wrong, up/down, happy/sad type of folk. Nothing brings this closer to home for us than contemplation of the humanity/divinity of Christ.

We by creedal refrain proclaim this belief. We assure anyone that it is true, (at least for most Christians). Yet, in our hearts of hearts, we are nearly incapable of realizing such a situation. How indeed can Jesus be fully human and fully divine at the same time?  We struggle with this, and imagine some switch whereby Jesus turned first one, and then the other on and off. One idling in the background while the other surges to the fore. We imagine, as best we can, but we don’t truly get it.

Yet the bible has a couple of stories that help us see it at least. One is the story of the Syro Phoenician woman. The story was apparently well known, used by both Matthew(15:21-28) and Luke (7:24-30). A Canaanite woman approaches Jesus and asks for help in healing her daughter. Jesus at first refuses, until the woman reminds him that even the “dogs receive the scraps from the table.” Jesus then does as she asks.

The story has always been difficult for me. Who is this Jesus who is so rude and dismissive? He has been traveling afoot for perhaps hours, and he clearly wants some peace, without the crowds demanding of him. When the woman approaches, alerting perhaps others that he is in fact the famous Jesus, he responds with  “it is not fair to share the food for the children with the dogs.”

This is mighty mean stuff. He refers to the woman and her child as being unworthy, dogs in comparison to the Israelites. He is dismissive. He appears tired and angry at the interruption. In a sense, one can think that Jesus was distracted with other thoughts, and reacted to the woman without thinking.

A similar story is told in all of the gospels about the cleansing of the temple, one of which in John, is replete with Jesus fashioning a whip out of cord to accomplish the task. Many people recoil again, at the anger expressed by Christ.

I think that we find in these stories, that perhaps unknowingly, the writer relates a glimpse of the real humanity of Jesus peaking through. Jesus was perhaps the human being who had transcended more than any other into the realm of perfect unity with the Divine, illustrated by living mostly in the Now. Yet, in his very humanness, he too, from time to time, failed and was overcome by ego. He too let gain purchase the too human emotions of frustration, anger, and perhaps physical exhaustion.

These stories, serve to point out to us, that we are in process. Even Jesus was it seems. His humanness in this is something we can relate to and thus we can truly seek to emulate his way of living. He failed here and there. We fail more than we succeed, yet, we are given courage and strength by his slips.

It is said, that without Jesus’ humanity, there is no point for us. If he is not us, then our efforts can come to nothing. These stories feed our need to feel that the effort is worthwhile. It is well we remember this. Tomorrow is another day to get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. Jesus, and the Creator beckon. Will you enter into the Now with them?

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More Questions than Answers

Richard Rohr would suggest that’s a good thing. The more questions than answers thingy. It may be more a matter of not having seen the sun in over a week, or the fact that I don’t have the right size knitting needles, and it’s too far to travel in questionable weather to get them. Or it may be the obscenity of the loss in Massachusetts and the ugly irony of it all. It may be because of how John Edwards managed to lie boldly and regularly for so long with all of us thinking him a great guy.

So I don’t know where it is coming from, but I surely have more questions. I’m trying to relax into the unknowing and be okay with that. It’s not easy I tell you. I’m a product of my Western culture which is answer oriented. But at least I’m convinced that such dualistic thinking is primitive, best left to the fundies who wallow in torturing words into ideas that give them “answers,” that offer the pretense of security they crave.

The Contrarian and I have been engaged in a friendly disagreement about the Democratic Party and politicians in general. I’m leaning toward a complete disengagement, figuring that the great unwashed get what they deserve and blindly yammer for. The Contrarian sees things as more or less the norm, and life goes on. I’m practicing my Hamletic “to be or not to be” weighing of alternatives.

The Contrarian argues quite rightly that poor President Obama has barely completed one fourth of his presidency and it’s grossly unfair to write him off yet. I rely on what is becoming increasingly clear: namely that the attention span of the average dull American is about six months. Fair to produce sufficiently, and they are frenetically off to find a new “savior.” Forget that no human person could accomplish much in our rusty, barely functional government. It’s self fulfilling prophesy if there ever was such a thing.

For those who tout to heaven the importance of “doing what the Founding Fathers intended,” I offer this: they never expected that a two party system would develop. And if it worked a 150 years ago, it sure doesn’t work now. The “umbrella” needs be too large, and thus the platform is meaningless, only reflecting the opinion of some barely 50% of the party faithful. Worse, they never envisioned career politicians and that their first adherence is to whatever will keep them employed.

The two party system is outmoded, and no longer serves any purpose but to those who feed from its trough. They represent only themselves. The Democratic party is chock full of traitorous Dems in name only. Traitorous in the sense that they will vote their re-election before they support the platform of the party they claim to be part of. In fact they are Republicans who for some reason, so far, find it still convenient to call themselves Democrats.

I’m ready to find some purity I guess. I would like to vote for someone who actually believes what I believe. I’m more and more convinced that we’d get better government should the party with the most votes be FORCED to compromise with other parties to form a working majority. We might actually pass a LAW then, instead of passing generic all encompassing crap that hands out pork to buy votes for passage.

I’m appalled at John Edwards. During the lead up to Kerry’s nomination, the Contrarian was a huge supporter of Edwards, and I liked him a lot too. During the last cycle, he continued to push for Edwards and I felt that it was sad there were so many qualified Dems in the field.

His affair was disgusting, not on a personal level so much as that he was willing to derail the road to victory by a scandal of this magnitude. Now we learn even more, how he lied, how he bold face lied, and then admitted the lies, and lied some more. Then admitted them, and lied some more. Now we learn that he tried to bargain his withdrawal from the primaries for either the VP or the AG positions. He paid off a campaign worker to claim a child as his own, when Edwards knew full well it was his. Elizabeth Edwards comes off as no saint either, if you believe the rumors. I might as well, since this kind of behavior seems to go with the territory these days.

I wonder, can I any longer judge character? Is there any character to judge at all when it comes to politicians? Are there new standards I’m unaware of ? Does character have anything to do with the ability to lead? Does truth matter any more? What are values anymore? Is there a correlation between values and good judgment? Can rich people relate to me at all? Have we lost our capacity to be empathetic? Does absolute power corrupt absolutely as they say? Or is it only the type of power that is hard to hold on to that scrambles our brains and makes us tempt the devil to achieve power?

It seems I’m full of wondering. And Richard Rohr says we’ve lost our ability to wonder and live in the mysteries of life. I’m sure wondering, and I find it all a mystery. I guess that means that at least my spiritual life is going strong. Then how come I feel so glum?

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