Ladies, I have added a link to my other journal in the sidebar. I hope you don't mind.
If you would like me to add links to your other journals, let me know... :-]
It was truly amazing how quickly women in Western Oregon shot off letters to the editor regarding the 'Pub's choice of a candidate to run with Bush II. The consensus seems to be "just how dumb do you think we are?"This gal does have one thing in common with Hillary Clinton. They both have two X chromosomes. Other than that? Zip, zilch, zero, nada.
Even my usually Republican voting brother in law was laughing about it. I don't know if that will be enough to get him to vote for Obama or if he'll go with one of the third party candidates, but it was fun while it lasted.
I have been very pointedly and purposefully ignoring the political parade of Election 2008. I know who is getting my vote. And I know why. And I think I know who is eventually going to come out the victor. So I have not intentionally watched any of the DNC coverage.
My husband, however, is caught up in the speechifying and all. He recorded Bill Clinton’s speech and insisted I sit with him and listen. Which I did…while playing solitaire and creating next week’s schedule on my trusty laptop.
I love Bill Clinton. I have missed Bill Clinton. I have pined for the Clinton Administration over these past disastrous eight years. Yet I know that anything that comes out of his mouth, or the mouth of any politician between now and November, is just so much sh…aving cream.
I read somewhere that Bill Clinton writes his own speeches. That no one can write as well as Bill Clinton can talk.
And, tonight, he let loose with one line that hit the bulls-eye. Struck home. Said it all. Choose your cliché. But this is a line to take to heart, to remember, to take with you to the voting booth:
“The world has always been more impressed by the strength of our example than by the example of our strength.”
Beautiful. And SO true.
Thank you, Mr. Clinton.
Black eyed Susans by the bushel. They look like little yellow coneflowers. Lots of little yellow cone flowers. They came through last weekend's scorcher really well. They're almost as neon as the blooms on our pink crepe myrtle.
My only complaint about the myrtle is that those beautiful flowers have no scent. At least nothing that I can pick up. I guess they make up for it with the fantastically pink flowers. They are absolutely hot pink/fuschia neon.
When you start reading the meditations of a monk who was also a clear eyed social critic, you never know where you’ll end up. But, I think it’s going to be a heck of a ride
Psalm 50:18. “When you see a thief you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers.”
The root word for adultery comes from the Latin “to corrupt” and, the usual meaning of adultery is sexual. In fact most of the actions that our society recognizes as “sins” seem to be confined to the sexual. Who’s sleeping with who may be a sin, but that’s the least of our problems.
I’m beginning to believe our social definition of adultery is a little too, shall we say, confining? Marriage is a covenant, a promise. Can we take this past the sexual? What other covenants (promises) do we have as a society? Beyond the if you tell me I’m buying sugar, I better not find salt in the container covenant between seller and buyer? How about this one?
I, insert name here, " do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The wording comes straight from the Constitution.
And my little meditation doesn’t even cover the sweetheart contracts between our elected hired help and corporations that used to be run by some of the hired help. I guess they’re hoping that while we’re distracted by wardrobe malfunctions, the over the top antics of cable comedies, and the potential unions of Molly/Holly and Adam/Steve, we won’t notice that some of the elected hired help have stolen everything that was and wasn’t nailed down. Including the nails.
Adultery in high places anyone?
Has it really been two weeks?
Yeah, I kind of fell off the radar for a bit here. It’s been an “interesting” couple of weeks. The Umatilla teacher sister came over for a short visit weekend before last. It’s the first time since the family moved to eastern Oregon that she made it over all by herself and stayed at our house. Not that staying with the in-laws is a real burden; Rick’s mom lives all of two blocks away.
But, the kids are pretty much grown and miracle of miracles, Rick is healthy this summer. We got to spend some good time together. Just as important, she was able to spend a lot of time with a long time friend who has been going through some tough times and she really needed a shoulder to lean on. Our biggest problems are time and distance. I’m nine years older, a completely different personality and they live half way across the state. It was a good visit, a really good visit.
We no sooner got her on the way home when the universe decided we hadn’t had enough lemonade or something. Thursday before last mom called me at work with three pieces of news: I was only expecting one. My nephew (Portland sister’s oldest) is playing his last year at the U of O this year and his family was coming down that day to watch a practice. That they were at our house was news I was looking forward to. Trouble is Lucky had to go to the vet and mom had just found out the transmission on the van was going out. Replacement cost? Oh, about $3,500.00. On a vehicle less than ten years old with less than 90,000 miles.
The cat is fine. It took a visit to the vet and some blood tests to find out she had an elevated white count, we don’t know from what and here’s a RX for an antibiotic. (sound of teeth grinding) We don’t know what the problem is but drug her anyway. If you can. I figure anything or anybody who can raise the kind of ruckusshe did can’t be that sick. I swear she knows what it sounds like when you’re getting the stuff ready and she definitely knows what towels are for. That cat could put Elvis impersonators to shame when it comes to the shimmy. And the stuff is banana flavored. When’s the last time you saw a cat chowing down on a banana? Not. Oh, hell drug is on Petmeds in pill form. Guess where I’m going if we need it again. I’ll slip it in her tuna.
As for that misbegotten excuse for a Oldsmobile? After careful consideration we traded it in for a 2007 Buick. Mom’s not ready to hang up her keys yet. It’s a good looking, one owner car and we went through the dealer she’s been trusting for about thirty years. So that’s how we spent last Saturday afternoon. Oh joy. I’d spent the morning waiting for the cable guys to show up and get us hooked up under a promo for digital cable. It’ll probably be worth it. Darned if I know yet. We haven’t watched enough TV this week to find out and we have another remote to keep track of.
The weekend wasn’t a total loss. Lisa from Coming to Terms was down for Scandie so we went out before it got busy and got in a good visit. We’ve made plans to go up north over Labor Day with a stop off to check in with dad. We haven’t made it to the cemetery this year. It’s not like he doesn’t know what’s going on but it feels kind of nice to check in with him once in awhile. LOL
It’s been hotter than heck Friday and Saturday. Hot, we expect but this part of the country is not known for staying hot all night. I keep telling myself tomatoes, tomatoes tomatoes as I drip. And it’s supposed to be in the seventies tomorrow. What a change.
Last week, I spent four hours cruising up and down Interstate 5 between home and Eugene. I was able to grab a couple of my old cd’s and rock out to them on the way down. One of them was Dan Fogelberg’s Souvenirs, which came out in 1980. That would be 28 years ago. Good lord, that’s a great collection of music. I sang until I was hoarse. And the following lyrics are either prophetic, or just go to prove that some things have not changed in thirty years…
…They'll take your money
And then take your health
To line their pockets with unequalled wealth
These men are under the power of gold
We won't be safe until we shut them down cold
Face the fire
You can't turn away
The risk grows greater with each passing day
The waiting's over
The moment has come
To kill the fire and turn to the sun
From “Face the Fire” by Dan Fogelberg, 1980
Some of us "got it" thirty years ago. Some of us still haven't figured it out. But it seems to me we all had better get it...andsoon.
A story told by a man of deep, abiding and clear eyed faith.
A seventeenth century rabbi told this story. Two men were traveling through a forest. One sober, the other drunk. They were attacked by thieves who beat them and stole everything they had, including their clothes. When they finally reached the first village outside the forest the villagers asked them what had happened.
The drunken man (apparently still under the influence after all this time, but then this is a parable) answered first. “Everything was fine. Not a thing happened on the trip.” I suspect the villagers looked at him, each other, back to him and one of them shook himself a bit and asked the obvious question. “If nothing happened, why are you bloody, bruised and where in the name of all that’s holy are your clothes?”
The sober man broke in. “Don’t believe a word he says. There are outlaws in the forest. They attacked us. They took everything we had down to the last stitch of clothing. Be careful that what happened to us doesn’t happen to you”
Thomas Merton used this story in the preface of his collection of essays in Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice published in 1967 as the country entered the worst of the violence related to the civil rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests.
The drunken man was so blind drunk that he “slept” through the whole attack and didn’t realize he was naked. (heck I’m surprised he was able to move much less walk if he was that blasted: but this is a parable).
In his essays Merton asked this question. Can faith, religious or political, act as blinders or an anesthetic? Do we see the violence, fear and anger in others while being blind to our own? Do we keep insisting that we must be free to defend ourselves by any and all means available while denying others the right to defend themselves? “Our violence is good, your violence is unacceptable.” Does this sound depressingly familiar?
Trying to figure out where to begin....
The first things that come to mind have to do with:
Faith as encounter with God, not with rules and ethics. Hammurabi and Confucious instituted the foundations of ethical codes -- religion is for something else entirely.
Religion as God's gift of companionship to us, not our invention or creation.
The Catholic church as a vast storehouse and living constituency of art, literature, music, imagination.
The Christian church as the foundational impetus for the civil rights movement, and as the place in which many of us found and continue to find support for our convictions about peace and about the rights of women and gays.
Your criticisms are largely and painfully valid. But a spiritual quest is a gift from God, not a diving platform constructed of rules and dogma.
Second, what you write reminds me of conversations with my adult children and causes me to agree with you on on thing: the influence of the media. My children tend to see the church as a homophobic, war-mongering, rigid, ossified institution inhabited by the political right. I look at them in disbelief and say, "But you know ME! And you know lots of other people engaged with faith, committed to religious institutions, acting in the public arena out of religious conviction. They clearly see us as a lunatic fringe and believe that the real religious America is something I would argue is a media caricature.
I had a feeling my previous post just might wring a comment (or two!) from Robin. She’s been SO busy with her internship and other projects this summer, we haven’t heard a lot from her…but any time I parade my agnosticism around, Robin is sure to have wise words from an opposite viewpoint.
So, of course, I would like to continue the conversation.
Robin’s first comment emanates from her own experience with spirituality and religion. She drew completely opposite conclusions from her spiritual youth than I did from mine. Ultimately, she has gathered up the pieces of her uniquely ecumenical life and made a decision to enter the ministry. She believes in religion. And not just in a "I’m a believer so I’m going to heaven and everyone else will suffer eternal hellfire" way. Robin’s walk has given her deep convictions about Christian spirituality and the expressions thereof.
Do I think she’s misguided, duped, full of crap? Do I think she’s wasting her time investing so much of herself into something in which I do not believe? Absolutely not. A spiritual walk is a deeply personal thing. Each person must follow her own convictions, whatever they may be. Though I understand and honor this, it’s also the thing that opens wide the door for my agnosticism. It’s the very fact that each individual must craft her own perception of and relationship to the spiritual that causes me to reject religion.
First of all, it’s obvious that humans beings have so little factual information (if indeed such information exists…) about the spiritual realm and our relationship to it that we must each, in the end, construct our beliefs out of our own personal experience. If this is the case, how presumptuous it has been of us to concoct these elaborate belief systems, each of which seems to have as a central part of its doctrine that its adherents need to go out into the world and make disciples. It’s not enough that one person finds his way…he has to make sure other people find his way, too. I suppose it could be argued that when someone discovers something they feel is THE Way, they want to share it with everyone. But I don’t believe the bloodthirsty way in which we have historically chosen to "share" our faith with each other has at its core the other guy’s best interests. Any inspiration the ancients felt to magnanimously share the good news was quickly corrupted by other, less attractive human tendencies—like greed, covetousness and the lust for power.
Take an inherently flawed human being, give him the conviction that he has been anointed by the Creator of the Universe, that his every thought or desire emanates from that omnipotent source, and give him the personal charisma to charm the skin off a snake, and you have a recipe for disaster. How many of these disasters has the human race had to suffer through over the course of history? How much hideous damage have they wrought?
Still, I must concede that not everything related to religion is poisonous. Of course there have been those souls whose devotion to the Almighty and things of the spirit combined with genuine compassion for humanity have left a legacy of progress toward true spiritual discovery. Those anointed lives are woven in and out of the fabric of our religions. Modern seekers who discover and follow these paths are blessed indeed. I don’t think they have all the answers either; I’m not convinced they even know the questions. But if their personal spiritual walks ultimately bring them peace, and make them a blessing rather than a curse to others, they can die happy.
I’m also afraid I’ll have to argue the "media caricature" point. Robin believes that the current perception of religion has been created by the media. But I’d like to point out that the Religious Right has intentionally and very purposefully used the media to advance its agenda. If "religion" is all over the media, it was put there on purpose by people who believed it would givethem some kind of advantage, some kind of leg up on the competition (whoever that is…) It is the nature of the bombastic Religious Right to make use of such a tool. On the other hand, it is not natural for contemplative, steadfastly devotional and compassionate typesto blow their own horns with the kind of audacity employed by the Religious Right. Which, in my opinion, is what has led to the image problem the Christian Church—and the Muslim and Jewish faiths, for that matter—is facing today.
I’ve used up all my time for today…as usual, I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. If there’s anyone else who would like to contribute to this discussion, feel free…
Spent some time with the camera yesterday morning. This is one purple coneflower plant and the bees totally adore it. I counted at least three dozen blossoms or buds from this side before I gave up.
The three busy bees. There were more, but these were the ones that sat still long enought to get the shot without using a tripod.
This shot is kind of cheating. My camera is set to create the largest possible picture. Then I can crop out what I want. I can end up with what looks like a true close up shot without having to fool around with my tripod. The blossoms were just loaded with busy little visitors. The details of the petals is just fantastic. I could get lost just looking at the way the colors change.
I’ve written in this space previously about my spiritual agnosticism. I’m not an atheist. I believe there exists a spiritual plane to which we are intimately connected, and about which we know almost nothing. Our chance encounters with the power of that realm have led us to create our pitiful forms of religion—mankind’s weak attempts to put something infinitely too huge for our comprehension into terms that we can understand. And manipulate…
Religious clashes have led to some of the most heinous human behaviors in recorded history. For whatever reason, once a group of modern homo sapiens has crafted a set of beliefs based on its perception of the Source of All Things, it has felt obligated to use those beliefs as a club with which to beat other groups into submission. We’ve gone so far as to weave the concept of "blood sacrifice" into our religious fabric, as a means of sanctifying our primal and uniquely human drive to kill large numbers of our own species. Oceans of blood have soaked the pages of history in the name of "God." The overriding question that comes to my mind in view of all this is, "What the hell is wrong with us???"
Clearly, I am no fan of organized religion. And I’ve often thought that if we could purge religion from modern society, the world would be immeasurably better off. Which is not to say that we could then live in blissful moral anarchy. There need to be rules, need to be codes of ethics in order for human beings to coexist peacefully. Yes, religion has traditionally bade us slit the throat of the guy who doesn’t believe as we do, but it has also passed down admonitions to feed the hungry, care for the indigent, honor our elders, and "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." If we do away with religion, what delivery system are we going to use to express and pass on those codes?
My own recent experience has led me to wonder about this. In the past two years, I’ve had the chance to work with young people of varying religious and social backgrounds. Some of the girls who work for me have had little or no religious training. Others were raised in strictly religious households. And there are marked differences in the way these two groups function.
The non-churched group has real problems with moral ambiguity. Having never been instilled with the codes of behavior that are part and parcel of our human "faith," they’ve been left to their own devices to create the filters through which they view their own behavior and make decisions. They’ve been forced to rely upon something else which permeates every aspect of their lives to form their moral foundations: the media. The media have assumed the role of moral compass. Bounced upon the knee of modern media, these children absorb such credos as "Does it work for me?" "How do I get mine?" and "What’s in it for me?" The idea that their behavior and their choices might have real consequences for other people is entirely secondary, if it’s considered at all.
In contrast, the young people who have been raised in a strict religious atmosphere have been endowed with a completely different set of filters through which they view the world. They were born into a belief system that set forth specific rules of behavior. They were brought up believing that they answered to a higher authority than themselves—higher yet than their parents, teachers or other earthly authorities. They’ve understood almost from infancy that any decision they made needed to be made in the context of that authority. They understand that their actions have implications that go far beyond themselves.
I see this in my own life. I was born and raised Catholic. By the time I reached high school, I had almost entirely rejected the confines of the faith in which I was raised. The bigoted, unimaginative written-in-stone-ness of the dogma drove me away as I grew old enough to chafe at the restrictions of it. But the moral foundation I received as a child of the church—any church—was mine for a lifetime. Catholicism and Judaism have been half-jokingly called religions of guilt. We joke about the knee-jerk guilt we experience whenever we try to color outside the lines of our upbringing. But I’m beginning to think that guilt is not entirely a bad thing. A little guilt—a twinge of understanding that what I do creates ripples that go far beyond myself—can be a healthy and necessary thing.
Those young people I encounter who were given a religious upbringing are now at the age where they are questioning, and in some cases, rejecting, their parents’ religious views. But they will carry the moral imprint with them for the rest of their lives. It will serve them well. It will make them more compassionate, more generous, more respectful and more aware of their duty to others than their unchurched peers. Viewed simply from my own little corner of the world, it certainly has made them better employees!
There are those of my generation who bear some responsibility for the lack of moral upbringing of the youngsters I’m working with now. Our churchy childhoods clashed head-on with the social changes of the sixties and seventies. We had to reject the conservative confines of the faiths in which we had been raised in order to embrace loftier ideals like civil rights, world peace, women’s rights, gay rights… As a result, many of us made the conscious decision NOT to church our children. Let them go on their own voyage of spiritual discovery, we thought, when they reached the age of reason (whatever that is.) It seemed like a logical and fair line of thinking. But in the end, it backfired.
Evidently a spiritual quest is best performed from the platform of having rules in place to accept, reject or build upon. We will seek to change or improve upon the moral code handed us by previous generations; but if we were never given any kind of ethics, we don’t seem inclined to go looking for them. At least, not in the right places. If parents leave the void, it will be filled with whatever pop culture jams into it. So by the time our children reached "the age of reason," they were perfectly satisfied with the self-absorbed me-first lifestyle with which they had been stuffed since they were old enough to watch their first television commercial. They were not inclined to go out looking for a new set of rules.
I have heard young couples say that, though they don’t go to church now, they will start going as soon as they have kids, because "kids need that." And I have thought, "How hypocritical!" But now, I’m not so sure they aren’t correct. Kids DO need that. Some of it, anyway. So how do we go about rejecting the negatives of organized religion while preserving the benefits? How many centuries will it take mankind to come up with some other way to codify positive moral values and pass them on to succeeding generations, while leaving out the mumbo jumbo of blood sacrifice and the admonishment to beat the snot out of those who don’t view the Almighty in exactly the same way?
I don’t think we have that much time.
On the third green, while putting, the view to the next tee box is this water hazzard.
A little closer and the reflection of the grasses on the water begins to come in to view.
As we walk by I noted the serenity of the calm water with mirror-like image.
A martin house.
Bullfrogs in the grasses.