May 18th, 2007

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Good Morning!

This morning I was watching the water swirl down the drain and thinking how exciting that is, and how though I set intention, I miss so much of the thrills going on around me each day.  At Esalen, I heard the clatter of helicopter blades and looked up to see a helicopter dropping a ladder down into the canyon.  At first, I thought it was a rescue but then the helicopter  kept going back and forth with various items carrying them down from the road to a cleft in the canyon.  I learned they were putting in a new filter system, or as others called it, septic system.  I realized how much I take for granted that what is eliminated will flush away but it is quite a project to keep everything running smoothly in an isolated place like Esalen.  Huge fire hoses are everywhere, easy to access.  Clearly, a fire would mean the people there took care of it.  No way could a fire truck get there on those windy roads in any kind of time.  There is something precious about knowing how clearly we are connected and tied in the ways that not only ensure survival but ease our way.  Of course, proper plumbing deals with sanitation and is key.

My son Jeff and his wife bought a house and are now dealing with squirrels that think it is their home too.  They think the squirrels are really cute and now it seems the squirrels think they are really cute too.  The problem is that squirrels are rats with long, fluffy tails and it is now a health issue to get them out.  Jeff is checking all possibilities out on-line, and it is a problem, so there we have it, as Reb Anderson of Green Gulch says, "How do we deal with beings who have agendas other than our own?"

In Jacob Needleman's book, Why Can't We Be Good?,  he says the "way" is to listen to the other, to repeat what the "other" says, until you really experience their point of view.  I think we know the squirrel's point of view and yet they can't be in the house, so there it is, tales and tails of various ways to live. 

And that leads, of course, to Jerry Falwell, of whom it seems, with his death, there is even more to be said.  

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Jerry Falwell!

It seems the discussion with Jerry Falwell's death is whether it is okay to speak poorly of him, or if now we must glorify him because he is dead.  Well, if his beliefs are true, he is being heavily lauded where he is, so perhaps it is okay to speak of him and his legacy.

This web-site compares Falwell to Hitler.

A Live Journal person took some quotes from that and created a test to see if you could choose which quotes are Hitler's and which are Falwell's.  I will place the test here.  It comes from:

Who said the following, Falwell or Hitler?

1. My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.

2. This 'turn the other cheek' business is all well and good but it's not what Jesus fought and died for.

3. Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people.

4. I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!

5. Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction.

6. We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.

7. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press. . .we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess.

8. This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our people. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our people and state, under its firm protection....May God Almighty take our work into his grace, give true form to our will, bless our insight, and endow us with the trust of our people.

9. Remain strong in your faith, as you were in former years. In this faith, in its close-knit unity our people to-day goes straight forward on its way and no power on earth will avail to stop it.

10. We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism ... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today .

Hitler or Falwell answer key below! How many did YOU get right?

1. Hitler
2. Falwell
3. Hitler
4. Falwell
5. Hitler
6. Hitler
7. Hitler
8. Hitler
9. Hitler
10. Falwell

Also, if you want to see Falwell torched, here is Christopher Hitchins.  The last line is worth the whole rant.

I know life needs balance and so we have one side and another, and as Hitchins points out, Falwell has been a business, and so that part is open to attack.  As to his personal life, only his family knows what they share, and yes, their grieving is private and should be respected, and it is important to honor the legacy of each life, and this country is supposed to be about freedom of speech.

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Christopher Hitchens -

In the New Yorker this week, Anthony Gottlieb reviews Christopher Hitchen's new book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

He has this to say about Christopher:

    Hitchens is nothing if not provocative.  Creationists are "yokels," Pascal's theology is "not far short of sordid," the reasoning of the Christian writer C.S. Lewis is "so pathetic as to defy description," Calvin was a "sadist and torturer and killer," Buddhist sayings are "almost too easy to parody," most Eastern spiritual discourse is "not even wrong," Islam is "a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms," Hanukkah is a "vapid and annoying holiday," and the psalmist King David was an "unscrupulous bandit."

    Hitchens is irreverent,  as we see.   Gottlieb goes on:

    It's possible to wonder, indeed, where plain speaking ends and misanthropy begins: Hitchens says that the earth sometimes seems to him to be "a prison colony and lunatic asylum that is employed as a dumping ground by far-off and superior civilizations."

    Gottleib continues from there.  Hitchens also attacks circumcision, which the World Health Organization recently announced helps prevent the spread of AIDS.   Well, who knows what Hitchens really believes.  He, as Falwell did, makes a living with what he says.  The point is to continue to let each speak, and what I saw on Fox news certainly was an argument for that.  Why, if Hitchens is not sorry that Falwell is dead, does he need to say that he is?

    I admit to watching the Sopranos, seeing the hypocrisy of lives where they kiss at a continuing array of memorial services, and then, kill each other in the next scene.  It seems that honesty of feeling is the way to go, and, by the way, it sells books.  If you didn't know of Christopher Hitchens and his book before, you certainly do now, and so there we are.   Marketing Ho!

    Again, if you didn't check it out, or, if you did, check it again.  Whether or not, you agree with what he says, Hitchens is amazingly articulate.  May we all speak as well, though choosing to live with less cynicism and more hope.

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Quote of the day -

Here is the quote of the day from Wikiquote.  Isn't this refreshing after the above or below, depending when you read this? 

Open your heart and breathe.   Let go and receive!

The opposition of instinct and reason is mainly illusory. Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason confirms or confutes; but the confirmation, where it is possible, consists, in the last analysis, of agreement with other beliefs no less instinctive. Reason is a harmonising, controlling force rather than a creative one. Even in the most purely logical realms, it is insight that first arrives at what is new. ~

    Bertrand Russell

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This is from the SF Chronicle today. 

    The mother humpback and her nursing calf have been stalled at the Port of Sacramento since they were spotted Sunday. The channel, which is 30 feet deep and 200 feet wide, has been shutdown to port traffic since the whales arrived.

The following is from an essay by Fatin Abbas in The Nation this week.   He discusses three books: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, Children At War by P. W. Singer and Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War by Jimmie Briggs.

Reading his article, I am reminded of the Children's Crusades.  Who can explain?  It seems that most often, the children join for food and safety.  They are not always abducted, but they do need a family.  Thanks to us and the end of the Cold War, there is a proliferation of  "small arms" or "light weapons," something even a child can carry.  War has lost its perceived ideological or political goal.  Now, it is about making money out of chaos.  Children are easy to manipulate, using indoctrination, violence, and addicting them to drugs.

I choose just one paragraph of this sobering essay by Fatin Abbas.  I can't.  It gives the numbers of child soldiers.  Staggering.  I cannot type it in. 

Maybe I will give this instead.   So, we stop port traffic to save two whales, which I agree with, and there is this:

    "The United States has played a particularly shameful role in blocking almost every international effort aimed at curtailing child soldiering.  Not only is it one of two countries (along with Somalia) that have refused to ratify the CRC - (the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which bans child soldiering); in recent years it has opposed international efforts to limit the illicit trade in small arms, the very trade that's fueling so many of the conflicts in which child soldiers are involved. P.W. Singer points to the 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms as an example.  At the conference, the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied the Bush Administration to oppose any UN measures to make international small arms sales more transparent. How regulations on the international trade in small arms could affect Americans' right to tote guns - the NRA's fixation - is inexplicable."

    "Speaking at Paris at a recent conference on child soldiers, Beah insisted that "no one is born violent. No child in Africa, Latin America or Asia wants to be part of war."

    There are so many causes that it is overwhelming and yet, this one.   Well, read the books.  I have read the book by Ishmael Beah and it is sobering and he himself is the happy ending.  May there be more children for whom this is so, and may we treat all children with the care and encouragment of these two whales,  harbored now in the bay. 


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and so it goes -

I must be feeling better.  I am making my way through the news.  Maybe we all feel better when I don't. 

Editorial from the NY Times.

Appointed Hobblers of Government

Published: May 18, 2007

Across six years, the Bush administration has mocked all standards of conflict of interest by choosing private industry zealots for high regulatory posts — where they worked to roll back hundreds of rules on transportation, workplace and mine safety, the environment and other issues. The latest in this subversive chain must surely take the fox-in-the-henhouse statuette: President Bush has nominated Michael Baroody, lobbyist for the powerful National Association of Manufacturers, to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If approved by the Senate, Mr. Baroody would be in charge of regulating corporate members of his association that have run up millions of dollars in civil fines for violating the commission’s safety rules affecting millions of consumers.

As if the White House’s colossal sellout to business power was not evident enough, Mr. Baroody’s executive friends at N.A.M. are sending him off with a lucrative forget-me-not — a $150,000 severance payment. Compensation experts find this extraordinary for someone supposedly volunteering for government service in behalf of taxpayers.

As a lobbyist for the N.A.M., Mr. Baroody was a key figure in industry’s successful campaign to water down commission standards requiring notice from companies about defective products, from toys to appliances. He has lobbied to limit the liability of asbestos makers in damage suits. He has lobbied against the growing statehouse campaign to require safer burning cigarettes, arguing this is a national issue. Imagine the priority this safety concern would receive from an agency run by Mr. Baroody.

The White House insists its ethical guardians find everything on the up and up. That’s neither surprising nor remotely reassuring. Democrats in the Senate are already trying to block this latest attempt at trashing government from within. If Mr. Bush decides to circumvent Congress with a recess appointment, the nation will see more clearly than ever that this administration puts the interests of corporations over that of citizens.

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Einstein -

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which
differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are
even incapable of forming such opinions."

            -- Albert Einstein.

Let us practice forming opinions and expressing them with equanimity.
It is a noble goal for the day.

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Resting -

"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes."

-- Etty Hillesum

I note that my kittens' morning nap has now extended into their afternoon nap.  They seem to feel no pressure around anything and are both softly tucked.  It is sweet to see and I need a little more stimulation and I appreciate their abilities to just be.   May this day expand in rest and breath!


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It is dark and the stars invite conversation, and I am still to bed, comforted by these words.

No longer was the light the seat of the gods or their heavenly sign - over themselves they drew the veil of Night.  Night became the mighty womb of revelations - the gods drew back into it - and fell asleep, only to go out in new and more splendid forms over the changed world.

    - Novalis