Tuesday, November 8, 2016

PESD? Post-Election Stress Disorder

Image courtesy vox_efx, creative commons

As I write this, the presidential election is still undecided. Which is fine. The Republicans have campaigned for 17 months now...there ought to be a law against that!
When I wake up tomorrow morning, we will have a new President-elect, and frankly I don't care who it is because both the major party candidates nauseated me.
I voted for a small third-party that I was actually excited about, that I believe(d) in, and may try to get involved at the local level at some point. That was important to me--voting for something, rather than against.

If tomorrow morning you wake up in agony at the thought of our new president, ignore it. Better yet, put that energy into your community. Fill blessing bags for the homeless to carry in your car. Go to a parks commission meeting. Tutor a struggling student. Learn the names of the trees in your neighborhood. Know your watershed. Help a neighbor rake leaves. Learn your neighbor's names! Join a civic group. Buy some coffee for the teachers in the nearest school. Volunteer to watch children of the single parent down the street for two hours.

The point is..forget Washington, D.C., they've already forgotten you by Wednesday. Real change is going to happen in homes, churches and synagogues, schools, neighborhood groups, watershed organizations, Boy Scout troops, you name it. Slogans created by a focus group mean nothing. The time and treasure you put in to building your neighborhood are where it's at. It may not be sexy, but so what?

Challenge yourself. In what incremental way can you make your block a better place?  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Worth Quoting

"Science and technology are not sufficient to locate their own significance."
--Allen Verhy, Nature and Altering It

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Worth Quoting

From Robert Nisbet's The Quest for Community:
We may regard totalitarianism as a process of the annihilation of individuality, but, in more fundamental terms, it is the annihilation, first, of those social relationships within which individuality develops. It is not the extermination of individuals that is ultimately desired by totalitarian rulers, for individuals in the largest number are needed by the new order. What is desired is the extermination of those social relationships which, by their autonomous existence, must always constitute a barrier to the achievement of the absolute political community.
The individual alone is powerless. Individual will and memory, apart from the reinforcement of associative tradition, are weak and ephemeral. How well totalitarian rulers know this. Even constitutional guarantees and organic laws dim to popular vision when the social and cultural identities of persons become atomized, when the reality of freedom and order in the small areas of society becomes obscure. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Taking Up a Journey into Hell

And so this is Lent and what have you done?
No Happy Easter, not yet,
the war has just begun.

Aside from some fasting/abstinence I'm reading Dante's Inferno, considered by many to be the greatest poem of the West, greater even than Homer's duo.

I'm three cantos in and loving it.
I came across this today from Canto Two (Anthony Esolen translation):

"What is it, then? Why stand here, why delay?
     Why let such cowardice come take your heart?
     Why are you not afire and bold and free,
Seeing that three such ladies blessed in Heaven
      care for your healing from their court above,
      and what I tell you holds forth so much good?"

The character Dante is hesitating before he begins his journey out of the dark wood with the Pagan poet Virgil. Virgil is urging him on, testifying that the Virgin, Beatrice (a woman that the real Dante fell in love with when very young) and St. Lucy are praying for Dante.

The lesson in this (for me anyway) is that great cloud of witnesses who pray for our success to find our end in God. There is no reason to fear life's absurdities--even if there is plenty to be afraid of.

Here my Lenten journey begins with an exhortation to take heart and be courageous. May you find the same message.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The 11th Hour

If you haven't celebrated Christmas by now, you're not likely to start. Conversely, you don't have to quite let it go yet.

Fight the ahistoricity! It's a feast of twelve days and depending on how you count, this is eleven or Epiphany Eve.

In the Christian East, tonight is the vigil of Theophany.

Theophany/Epiphany are two different sides of the same coin.

East vs. West

The West honors the Magi--who represent all of us goyim--and the miracle at the wedding at Cana (water for wine, anyone?)

The East honors Jesus' baptism, and in more minor ways his circumcision and the Magi, too.

It's all about a manifestation, a revealing, a shining forth. The Trinity is revealed (at the baptism), salvation is revealed to all the world (the Magi), the start of Jesus' public ministry (Cana).

Just as the Incarnation honors all bodies, as the Son suddenly was born with one, so Theophany honors all the Earth's waters.

Paralleling the Jewish Festival of Lights, this perfectly winds down the season of light we call Christmas.

Follow the Theotokos' example and ponder all this in your heart.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Holy Ten Lords-A-Leaping, Batman!

I have yet to complete my multi-year meditations on the twelve days of Christmas (I didn't write any last year--one of the worst years of my life) but here I am with number TEN!

Courtesy Creative Commons

The Christmas decorations may be put away now--at work they are definitely down. There is only the leftover and marked down Christmas branded merchandise at stores.
Corpses of Christmas trees are laid at curbs like rejected sacrifices.

And yet...Christmas isn't done with you yet.

If you'll allow it, you can savor it for two more nights. Forget the artificial deadlines of the culture. Christmas is stronger and more joyous than the Wal-Marts of the world--though at times, admit it, you've thought Christmas has been swallowed by economics.

Think of teachers, especially the good ones, and ask St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to pray for them.

Think of the ranks of your friends and then ruminate on the 70 Apostles--the next concentric ring outside the non-anonymous 12.

Think of St. Phillip tutoring the Ethiopian Eunuch of Queen Candace about how Christ is found in the book of the prophet Isaiah and then Phillip vanished when the lesson was completed (Acts 8).

Think of Apollinaria of Egypt who so desperately wanted to serve God in contemplation that she disguised herself as a man.

Christmas saints? No weirder than the God beyond existence i.e. He who doesn't exist, dressing up in human flesh.

Make Christmas weird!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Family Tourniquets

My mother died this past August.  If any of my extended family reads this they'll instantly accuse me of trying to score pity points for myself.

I'm not.

If you have no sympathy for me over the passing of my mother...so be it.  I'm not going to plead for it.  I'm just stating the fact, that she like Jacob Marley, is as dead as a doornail.

It happens to the best of us.

Anyway, in the course of my mother's rapid decline and passing, I was disowned by two members of my family.

Were we fighting over who gets Mom's treasures?  No.  Were we vicious because we each thought we deserved the lion's share of the inheritance?  Hardly.

No, my family went batshit crazy over the way I processed her death.
Courtesy of Creative Commons

That's it.  No revelations of family secrets.  No bickering over cash, cars, or mansions.

Nope.  It was because of my less-than-polished  bourgeois way of expression.

I was cursed (literally!) and disowned.  I guess I won't get the money I was owed from a sibling then.

We hear stories of families imploding when a matriarch or partiarch dies, but we never think that will happen in our family.  Heh.  I sure didn't.

It seems a cult was constructed around her, and if one wished to draw back the musty curtains to let in a bit of light, well, that was unforgivable.

The part that hurts the most is my children (Yes, K, you are not the only grandchild) weren't allowed an opportunity to say good-bye in a normal fashion.

So when I decided the decent thing to do was to put on a memorial service for my mother, so others--not just me--could pay respects that was attacked as well.

It seemed my mother requested no funerals or such.  OK, but was this a life-long desire or the wish of a woman who spent the last three-and-a-half months in a hospital and was suffering from depression?

I suspect the latter.

Memorials are for the living as a way to reflect upon the deceased.  That's all.  Why would the dead care?

Oh, by the way, cursing some one is a pretty good sign you don't know Jesus.  Your huffy protests notwithstanding.

Lastly, let it be known that I AM interested in bridge construction.  But a bridge has to be built from both sides.