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Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 13:1-9 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.02.28 (Sunday)

The Parable of the Fig Tree

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’
  
He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’ (NJB)

The Church and Power

The gospel of the day is a plain spoken text. It acknowledges the overwhelming reality of suffering in the world. Suffering caused by human beings, suffering caused by the random nature of events in the world; the Roman prelate, Pilate, caused suffering among the people of Palestine, either directly, at his hands for political and religious purposes (which to the Romans were one and the same), or indirectly, because they were forced into servitude.

The message the Jesus has for his people is that they be careful, mindful, watchful of those powers, and of one another unless they two are caught up in the aegis of Pilates authority and subjected to the whims of cruelty. The people who suffered and died under Pilate did not suffer and die because they deserved it more than any others, they were not more guilty of crimes than he, or his followers, but they were careless, and due to their carelessness they were caught up in the grip of Roman power.
Jesus stresses in the parable the power of intention. The farmer is the Roman State, he has the power of life and death over the people, if the people do not fulfill his expectations, he will destroy them.

The man looking after the vineyard is the Church. The Church pleads for mercy on behalf of the people, and through mindfulness, and care; the people are brought along safely into the next year, preserving themselves and their families in the face of the violent Roman State.

It is a tenuous arrangement, but a necessary political arrangement if the people who make up the church are going to survive in a time of persecution.  


2nd Sunday of Lent

Voting for Hillary Part IV - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

02.27.2016

Voting for Hillary Part IV

As a supporter of Hillary (HRC), I can tell you that it was gratifying to watch the results come in from yesterday primary in South Carolina. Even though I am not anticipating it, I hope my DFL friends who are planning to caucus on Tuesday I hope we can show the same good sense. I am going to be up at Jefferson Elementary Tuesday night, March 1st; making the case.

I support HRC, it is not that I don’t think Senator Sanders (BS), has good ideas; I do. I share his ideals, but I think, as many of you have heard me say, that HRC has a much better chance of advancing the progressive agenda than BS does.

This is why I think HRC will get more traction for her agenda than BS will be able to do:

The republican establishment has been playing a long con, for the past eight years, by refusing to cooperate with Obama. They thought they could keep both social policy, and economic progress stagnant, and that this would do enough damage to the democratic brand that America would abandon both President Obama and his allies in congress. President Obama was able to get some things done, like the ACA, in the first two years, when the democratic party had control of both chambers of congress. However, in 2010 the democrats lost the House of Representatives, and the obstruction set in, and the long con began.

This gamesmanship did not work out quite the way they planned, President Obama was reelected, but the republicans did gain control of the Senate, and so they doubled down on their strategy for his second term; thinking that if things were held at a standstill the election this year, in 2016, would be viewed as a referendum on the Democratic Party and they would be able to sweep in. It was a big gamble, and the results of the 2014 election indicated that it might be working, the republicans strengthened their hand that year, and yet the con is not complete, and the risks are still risky, because the big money behind the Republican Party establishment, wants more than anything to make money. They want 4% or 5% economic growth, not 1% or 2%. They want the prime lending rate at 1% or 2% not 0%, or 0.25% which it is now.

The way I see the last eight years is that those interests basically accepted the notion of having a weak U.S. economy, one in which they were still making money, still performing better than the rest of the world (by just sitting on their capitol), with the hope that at the end of it they would have both houses of congress, the executive branch, and the Supreme Court all wrapped up. That is the con, but it did not quite work.

The economy performed better than expected. The stock market performed better than expected, the rest of the world did much worse than expected. At the moment, the U.S. economy is benefitting from the global slow down. The recent slowdown in China only benefits us, it hurts the stock market short term, it generated some uncertainty and instability, but it will help us in the longer term, because investment dollars will move away from those markets, into ours due to the long term stability that the United States provides. Furthermore, beyond those economic considerations, that long con that the republican establishment played forced the establishment to coddle the most rightwing elements of their party, and now establishment has been completely undermined by their ideological clowns, and they are on the verge losing control of it to an upstart named Donald Trump.

Here is the deal, those republican economic interests are not going to triple down on that bet. They will not play the con any longer if their gambit does not pay off. Those economic interests who are sitting on (as much or more than) two-trillion dollars in capitol, are going to free up that capitol, and return to investing it in the U.S., in our work force, in technology, in industry and in infrastructure development. Securing that capital investment, cooperatively (not by coercion), is the key to economic development and prosperity in American for the next several decades. But they will only play ball, if they have someone in office that will play ball with them. HRC will work with them.

For many of my friends, the fact that HRC will work with these interest groups is reason enough not to support her. I respect that, but I contend that it is short sighted. We want that capital investment in America, we can get to it much faster if we deal with them, than we can if the plan is to change the tax structure first, and take it from them. HRC will be able to make a deal in the short term, but only if they get some concessions. HRC will be able to cut an infrastructure deal, BS will not. This is true regarding the rest of their proposed agendas; HRC will be able to make deals and get some things done and BS will not. I am not going to put forward a long list of what HRC will be able to do that BS won’t, because that one example (on infrastructure) summarizes my argument and my point of view, and I think you can extrapolate my rationale from there.

I am certain that if Hillary puts out a reasonable plan for growth and the Republican leadership refuses to play ball, there will be some party switching, republicans will defect, and the leadership will get some marching orders from those economic interest groups; they will be told to play ball, those economic powers do not want another four or eight years of weak growth.


BS however, he will not get that consideration, because he either will not compromise, or he will not compromise enough. The strength of his idealism, will become his ideological weakness, he will not compromise enough. His idealism will have him come off looking like the crazy person at the bargaining table, and they will drive him out as a failure in four years, while at the same time holding on to the other channels of power. The republicans will triple down on their bet then, and the great con game will continue.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Emergence: Section One, Jim and Kathy; Part Seven, Catastrophe, Collected Chapters



Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter One: Unleashed
Pt. 07, Ch. 01
The explosion shook the world. Kathy felt it from over a thousand miles away, and she felt the fears of those dying.
#Emergence

Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter Two: Channel
Pt. 07, Ch. 02
Jim felt Earth’s psychic pain through the wormhole connecting him to Kathy; a hit from the other side of the galaxy.
#Emergence

Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter Three: Volcano
Pt. 07, Ch. 03
The volcano in Yellowstone blew. Most had no idea of the threat. Now the disaster was here, and the world was dying.
#Emergence

Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter Four: Shock
Pt. 07, Ch. 04
The trillions of persons of the Continuum became silent; all consciousness stilled. Every one felt the psychic pain.
#Emergence

Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter Five: Quiet
Pt. 07, Ch. 05
Jim was the first to recover from the trauma flowing through the string; connecting them to Kathy. Silence followed.
#Emergence

Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter Six: Justification
Pt. 07, Pt. 06
The catastrophe could have been avoided; as on many other worlds, but now the Continuum would feel its indifference.
#Emergence

Catastrophe; Part Seven,
Chapter Seven: Undone

Pt. 07, Ch. 07
As the Continuum was paralyzed; it was a simple thing for Jim to dismantle the architecture supporting its defenses.
#Emergence

Emergence:
Section One, Jim and Kathy
Part Seven, Catastrophe
Collected Chapters
Section 01, Jim and Kathy
Part 07, Catastrophe
Chapters
01 Unleashed
02 Channel
03 Volcano
04 Shock
05 Quiet
06 Justification
07 Undone
#Emergence
#SuperShortFiction
#365SciFi
@jaybotten

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Voice

I am looking for my voice

Have you heard it?

I might have left it with you

Will you listen?

It is a voice in prose

            At times…poetic?

It has a rhythm

Can you feel it?

As it falters, in the skipping beat of my heart

The line may alternate; from short to long, some lines meander, cat-like on a walk about.

Most are short and punchy.

Have you heard it?

My voice; seen it printed

Have you seen it on the screen?

I may have left lying in a notebook

            On a scrap of paper


            Or a random page

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 9:28-36 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.02.21 (Sunday)

The Transfiguration of Christ

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen. (NJB)

Myth and Reason

Theology; the words we use to speak about God. These words are only good and useful, if they are grounded and rational.

Mythology; the words we use to contextualize our experience, when we wish to speak in metaphors, and analogies, so that we may link our experiences to the world beyond ourselves.

These two modes of narrative are not necessarily at odds with each other, but they can be. Myth can be grounded and rational, when the motif of the metaphor, or the allegory are understood and properly balanced, when you engage this narrative with your eyes wide open. By the same token theology can be irrational, when the assumptions we make about the nature of reality, the nature of humanity, the nature of the divine, and the divine economy are not rooted in truth. Or worse, if they are rooted in fear, hate and greed.

The mythology behind the transfiguration is easily, and often misinterpreted. It is likely, that this is so because the root of the narrative in itself has its origins in a fundamental misunderstanding of who Jesus was.

It may be the case that those who first gave voice to the narrative, and those who first penned it, only intended the message to be that Jesus stood in the same tradition as Moses; the lawgiver, and Elijah; the prophet.

The motif of the cloud descending on Jesus may have only been meant to suggest that Jesus’ authority, his understanding of the divine will, came from a place of mystery.

The voice from the cloud naming Jesus as “son,” may have only been meant to convey the message that Jesus is the “heir” to the Abrahamic tradition, and not merely a “teacher” in that tradition.

This is the grounded and rational interpretation of this myth.

However, as happens most often, the interpreters of this myth point to the more sensational images in the narrative; the bright lights, and the shining garments, the presence of Moses, and Elijah (as if they were actually there), their journey into the cloud with Jesus (as if they went there bodily), the voice from that cloud naming Jesus as God’s son, as an actual declaration of paternity.

This fantasy-based in interpretation has led to great confusion through the centuries. Incredible conflict has ensued based on these fantastic beliefs; conflict and bloody warfare among Christians, and with non-Christians. All because they felt the need to take sides on the question of who Jesus was, and defend their side with violence.

It is a tragedy.

Jesus was a human being, like any other. Like all creatures he carried a seed of the divine within him, and where the divine is, the divine is present fully. The fullness of God dwelt within Jesus, just as the fullness of God dwells within each of us. We are connected and in relationship to God, and Jesus, just as we are connected and in relationship to every creature who ever was, is, or yet will be.

What differentiated Jesus from his followers was his understanding of these truths and his ability to apply that understanding in a way that points the way for us; to live in a moral and just society to, for our own understanding of that truth to flow from it.

2nd Sunday of Lent

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Voting for Hillary Part III – HRC v BS II - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

02.20.2016

Voting for Hillary Part III – HRC v BS II

A couple of days ago I made a comment on the Face Book page of a friend of mine. I said something to the effect of this:

“If Senator Sanders wins the Presidency (and I think he could do it if he wins the nomination of the Democratic Party), it will set back the progressive agenda by a generation.”

This may seem counterintuitive to most people who read it, because Senator Sanders (BS) is clearly the most ardent, and idealistic spokesperson for the progressive agenda in our public life at this time (with the possible exception of Senator Elizabeth Warren).

Why is that the case, why would the torch-bearer of the progressive movement, be the biggest threat to the cause of progressivism?  

This is complicated, and I ask you to allow the whole argument play out in order to arrive at its conclusion.

Therefore, let us talk about the candidates, and what they would bring to the table if they were President. What are the expectations attaching to each of them

I think I think Secretary Clinton (HRC) will be a least as effective as President Obama in advancing the progressive agenda. Many idealistic progressives will scoff at this; many of the most active liberals I know think that President Obama has accomplished very little in terms of genuine progressivism, and so this claim is not convincing to them. Those people complain that the Affordable Care Act was a giveaway to the insurance agencies, that our armed forces are still far too involved in conflicts around the world, they complain about the rate at which immigrants are being deported, they complain about the sequester, and so on. While they complain the apologists for 

President Obama, of which I am one, will tell you that he got what he was able to get while negotiating with Congress; Congress which actually controls the legislative agenda.
President Obama barely passed the Affordable Care Act, at a time when his party controlled both chambers of congress, when he had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. At the same time President Obama could not even close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, which he ran on as a first order of business for his administration. Why was it so difficult to get the one thing done, and impossible to do the other? It is because every little thing that the president wants to do are reduced to negotiating points to be made with hostile actors; hostile Republicans and intractable Democrats alike. A president cannot even rely on members of their own party to support their agenda; if those members discern even a tiny bit of political peril in it for them.

In the current political climate, while Republicans control both chambers of Congress, making some advances on the progressive agenda would be great, even small ones, but holding the line on what has been achieved over the past eight years is even more important. No backsliding!

When we Democratic voters, we liberal progressives are dreaming about raising the minimum wage, universal health care, strengthening unions, breaking up big banks, overturning Citizens United, subsidizing college tuition, major increases in domestic spending, protecting voting rights; we must bear in mind, that roughly half of the electorate will be voting for the other side. The other side already controls the Senate, already controls the House of Representatives, controls the majority of state legislative assemblies, and the majority of gubernatorial chairs throughout the country. The other side wants no minimum wage, no regulation of banking, health care provided through the free market, no right to organize unions, Citizens United affirmed, and the rights of corporations expanded, no support for higher education, and all domestic infrastructure spending made piecemeal through block grants, given to the sates and along to the private sector, they want all of that and the sharp curtailment of voting rights. Throw into the mix their long standing desire to privatize social security, to keep burning fossil fuels, and to ramp up the war footing of the Nation.  

Holding the line will, if that is all we are able to do, that will be a victory for the next President. I believe HRC can do that, and I believe she can do more. I believe she can build on the legacy of President Obama. HRC will able to hold the line precisely because her rhetoric is not calling for revolution. While some may criticize her for setting the bar too low, I believe she is setting the bar realistically. This is vital, because the most important thing about keeping the agenda moving forward is too not lose the support of the base. If you promise what you cannot deliver, they will become disillusioned and fall away. This happened to President Obama, people have written books about how he has “betrayed” the progressive agenda, and it happened to President Jimmy Carter, whose legacy should be a cautionary note for how we can view a possible BS administration.

Because the agenda that HRC has put forward is as tempered as it is, ordinary people on both sides of the political spectrum, everyone in the much maligned-muddy-middle, all of those supposed moderates, they can understand it, and because they understand it, they won’t feel threatened by it, they can support it, even in the face of opposition. Some people on the left might want more progressivism, some on the right might want more conservativism, but when one side or the other wins an election they get the mandate to expand their cause. The majority of Americans understand this, but they do not want, and they do not expect to gyrate wildly from poll to poll, they expect a moderate expansion of the franchise from the margins at the middle.

The majority knows who to hold at fault when the government gets shut down, if one side is being moderate, and the other side is acting from the demands of their ideals. If a BS administration threatens to veto a budget because it lacks some provision he has demanded from the furthest reaches of his idealism, BS will get the blame, and not congress.

Listen to me; progress is progress, even if it is gradual, and incremental.

This is not exciting. I realize that, but it is the truth, and I hope you can realize this too.

This is exactly how we would view it if the conservative side gets a victory. If the republicans win and decide to try and implement a legislative agenda that looks like the most ideal version of their conservative torch-bearers; deport eleven million people, build a giant wall on the border with Mexico, go to war again in Iraq, and in Syria, ban Muslims from entering the country, undermine the separation of church and state etc, etc, etc…we would expect our democrats to muster whatever power they had to block everything. That is what will happen if progressives try to do the same, they will block everything (only the conservatives hold more cards right now).

Here is what will happen in a BS administration. He will either compromise severely, thereby disillusioning his voters (I don't think this is likely), causing them to fall away. Or he will stick to his idealism, and he won't even get democrats to work with him. A BS administration will be a laughing stock either way, and it will ruin the cause of progressivism for at least a couple of decades; ala Jimmy Carter.

I have not heard BS say this himself, but I have heard Tad Devine, his campaign manager say it. He has admitted that the endeavor the BS campaign is engaged in is going to take a generation to develop. He is an experienced operator, and it is obviously true. They know that they have not only to win the presidency, and hold it, but that they also have to win a majority in congress, and keep it for at least one or two cycles. If liberal progressives are going to have a lasting chance, and the BS revolution succeed, they need to control congress in 2020 when the entire legislative map is up for redistricting. Unless they can do that; liberal progressives will continue to be at a significant disadvantage, and the BS revolution, even if he wins the presidency, will never materialize.

BS does not talk this way on the stump, but his more candid spokespeople do. They are talking behind the scenes about the realities of gradualism, the necessity of incrementalism, in this way they are indistinguishable from HRC. There is a difference however; HRC is leveling with people, and BS is trying to get people caught up in his romantic revolution.

HRC’s approach asks people up-front to sign on for the long haul, wherein progress (no matter how small) will be hailed for what it is progress. BS is asking people to “Feel the Bern,” to light the match, but as we all know the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

What will happen to all of that passion when the cold water gets thrown on it. Will people be writing books about how BS betrayed the progressive movement? I don’t think so, BS is not the type to compromise, at least not on the big things. He will stand his ground, and the ground will fall out from under him, progressives may not blame him for standing his ground while giving voice to their ideals, but as the ground falls out from under him; because he is unable to compromise, it will fall out from under the progressive movement as well; creating the opportunity for a nearly completely discredited conservative movement to come roaring back

Remember Jimmy Carter; arguably one of the smartest, most rationale, most authentic, and most sincere of our modern presidents. He did not lack for good ideas, he behaved like a leader and put those ideas forward, but his inability to accomplish those goals turned his legacy into a subject of ridicule. I am not saying that his administration deserves the ridicule, but they suffered under it anyway, and continue to suffer from that ridicule thirty-six years later. The failures of the Carter administration set the stage for the so-called Reagan Revolution. A BS administration threatens to set that stage again.  

It was under President Reagan that the nation began to move to the rightwing in a way that has been; anti-intellectual, anti-science, religiously fundamental, ahistorical and absolutely irrational. We risk that happening again, unless we are able to demonstrate in an irrefutable way that the leadership of Democratic presidents, championing liberal ideal, while implementing progressive policies is the key stability for the nation; and that will set the stage for economic growth, economic justice, and prosperity for all.

I believe that HRC can do this, and I have no faith that BS can. I believe this because Hillary speaks directly, and honestly to these points, while Bernie continues to dream the revolutionary dream.


More to follow…

Friday, February 19, 2016

Emergence: Section One, Jim and Kathy; Part Six, Debriefing, Collected Chapters


Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter One: Concealment
Pt. 06, Ch. 01
Jim had made the crossing thousands of times, but never carrying a secret. There was no way to know what would come.
#Emergence

Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter Two: HomeWorld
Pt. 06, Ch. 02
HomeWorld was not home to Jim, nor was it a world in the proper sense. It could seem like either; if he believed it.
#Emergence

Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter Three: Screening
Pt. 06, Ch. 03
Jim went to the council; sharing his consciousness, memory, and experience, but hiding his plan deep within himself.
#Emergence

Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter Four: Secrets
Pt. 06, Ch. 04
Secrets were forbidden, but this was a lie. The Continuum hid things, everyone participated. Concealment was an art.
#Emergence

Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter Five: Identity
Pt. 06, Ch. 05
Since his last mission Earth’s tech had advanced dramatically, Jim used it to alter his mind, and shield his secret.
#Emergence

Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter Six: Connection
Pt. 06, Pt. 06
The catastrophe struck. Millions died in seconds, and Kathy was connected to all of them. Jim transmitted all of it.
#Emergence

Debriefing; Part Six,
Chapter Seven: Shock

Pt. 06, Ch. 07
Jim opened his mind to the Continuum. The pain of Earth streamed through the quantum field, flooding the collective.
#Emergence

Emergence:
Section One, Jim and Kathy
Part Six, Debriefing;
Collected Chapters
Section 01, Jim and Kathy
Part 06, Debriefing
Chapters
01 Concealment
02 HomeWorld
03 Screening
04 Secrets
05 Identity
06 Connection
07 Shock
#Emergence
#SuperShortFiction
#365SciFi
@jaybotten




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Blue Green Farm

Blue Green Farm

What does it mean to be a farmer
Anymore?

Of all the people bearing that name
Farmer;


Who owns that title more?


Landlord, farmer floating above the green

And grime

Landlord, farmer detached from the earth

Your fingers do not push in the soil

Landlord, farmer absent from the field

            The nurturing field


To whom does the title belong?


Is the fieldhand the farmer
The worker?

The unnamed laborer who plots
plucks and picks


Is she the farmer; is he?


Sweat of the hireling drips from her brow

            Waters the rows

Field-hand-not farmer, he carries

No title

 Worker-not-farmer with no claim

To the land
                       

There are tractors that cost millions of dollars

Driven by satellites from beyond the world

A thousand laborers could live like princes for such

Wages


Those noble people, sprung from the green Earth,

Beneath the blue sky
Farm


Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 4:1-13 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.02.14 (Sunday)

Temptation

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone.’

Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says:

You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’

Then he led him to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said to him ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says:
He will put his angels in charge of you

to guard you,

and again:

They will hold you up on their hands

in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’

But Jesus answered him, ‘It has been said:

You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time. (NJB)

The Real Enemy is Within

We should all have clarity of mind when we begin to read this passage.

Jesus may have gone into the desert for a period of meditation in preparation for the mission he was about to undertake. Whether that part of this narrative is true or not is unimportant. The narrative itself is a myth.

Jesus was not tempted by the devil. How do I know this? Because there is no devil.
God did not create a universe a war with its creator. God is not a king, God does not have armies, there are no legions of the damned.

The antagonist in this story is Jesus’ own self, it is the same antagonist we all face when we struggle to know and do the right thing in the face of the temptation to do the wrong thing. We are our own enemy.

The voice of temptation does not come from without. It comes from within.

In the narrative, Jesus set out to fast. His first temptation was to break the fast, it was hunger, not the devil which tempted him.

The second temptation was the temptation to transform the movement he had begun into a political movement, which would mean taking up arms against the Romans, against his own people, and against the world. Jesus knew in his hear that this was not the way of heaven, he also knew it was a real possibility, and that his closest followers would have gladly taken up arms for him. The temptation was for power, it came from his own doubts, and he rejected it.

The third temptation was of a more esoteric nature. It was the temptation to believe the things that people were saying about him, to believe that he was a divine being, to believe that he had special powers, to believe that the mission he was on was given to him by God, and that it therefore could not be stopped, even if Jesus were to throw himself off of a high wall.

The temptation was to vanity, and Jesus rejected it.

In the temptation narrative Jesus demonstrates self-control guided by wisdom, and humility. He rejects vanity, he rejects political power, and he rejects hunger (rather he chooses to carry through with his resolve).

In each case the enemy of temptation was not a supernatural being, but instead it was the ordinary voice of hunger, desire for power, and vanity that each of face every day in our way.


1st Sunday of Lent

Is it Too Much to Expect Dignity? - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

02.13.2016

Is It Too Much to Expect Dignity?

            It is the year 2016. I am almost forty-seven years old, and I am deeply saddened by the state of politics in our country.

I was in the fifth grade, it was 1979. I was ten that year (eleven by the time it was over), when I came to political awareness. The big thing in the news that year was the revolution in Iran; more than sixty American citizens taken hostage, held for four hundred and forty-four days, held until January 20th, 1981, inauguration day, and the ascendency of Ronald Reagan.

Those events, that election; they jolted me into a place where I knew that politics were important, the news (no matter how poor it is), the news is important. I got a paper route that year.

For whatever reason (I cannot remember) I was home from school the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in. I remember watching it, and watching the release of the hostages live on T.V.. I remember the front page of the evening paper and the electoral landslide it depicted with forty-nine states going for Reagan and only one, Minnesota, my state, which like me, had chosen Carter.

I have memories of political events from earlier in my life. I remember when Jimmy carter won the presidency and took office. I remember the departure of Nixon. I remember newscasts from and about the Vietnam war, but it was in the years ’79 – ’80 that I became a close study of our great national dialog.

 In 1994 something changed. Democratic President Bill Clinton had been in office for two years. I had just gotten out of the Navy. There was a revolution in congress and the Republicans took control of both houses. They had a leader named Newt Gingrich, he had a thing called “The Contract for American,” an ambitious legislative agenda promoting republican values. This was the beginning of the coarsening of our political life.

The political talk coming from the heirs of that republican movement has become so coarsened that it is, to me, unrecognizable from the way in which I was raised to view public office, and public service, and the duty to comport oneself in public with dignity.

Right now, the “Front Runner” for the nomination of the Republican Party is Donald Trump, a man who has used called his opponents “pussies,” has said to his followers that he is going to tell immigrant workers from Mexico to “go fuck themselves.” He has said of people that criticize him that they are “full of shit.” He has said these things, repeated these things while at the podium, in front of crowds of thousands of people, while being telecast across the world, and his supporters cheer him on.

This is the saddest thing about the election. That man’s supporters cheer him on. They love the fact that he says hateful, hurtful and disgusting things.

Is it too much to ask for some dignity?

Carter and Reagan never spoke of one another like that, to one another like that. Neither did Reagan and Mondale when they ran against each other, nor did Bush speak that way of his opponents Dukakis and Clinton, and Clinton did not speak that way of Bush or Dole. IN fact, Bill Clinton, and George Bush Senior became good friends and worked together on many projects when they were each done with the job of being president.

The disgusting behavior currently on display is being leveled by republicans at republicans. There is a deep lack of respect, as if the entire notion of what it means to have good manners has been forgotten.

It makes me sad.

Donald Trump, the republican front runner, he hides his ill manners behind the rally cry that he is against “political correctness.” As if the task of being a gentleman had something to do with politics and not just good manners.

America, can we please just reject him on the grounds that he is crude; not because he brings up difficult political issues, trying to enforce our adherence to civil standards, and public policy through vehicles of peer pressure and shame (which are totally legitimate tactics). That is what political correctness is. Reject him because he is foul mouthed, ill mannered, and full of hate.


Reject Donald Trump because he has no dignity, he cannot bring dignity to the office of the presidency, he will tear it down, as a result he will tear us down.    

Friday, February 12, 2016

Emergence: Section One, Jim and Kathy; Part Five, Endings, Collected Chapters


Endings; Part Five,
Chapter One: Notice
Pt. 05, Ch. 01
Kathy knew she would never see Jim again. She knew it before she got the call informing her that his body was found.
#Emergence

Endings; Part Five,
Chapter Two: Anonymous
Pt. 05, Ch. 02
Jim did not carry ID. There was nothing on his phone that said who he was; only record of the call he made to Kathy.
#Emergence

Endings; Part Five,
Chapter Three: Autopsy
Pt. 05, Ch. 03
The pathologist told her the cause of death; a stroke. An embolism burst in his brain.
“Why am I here;” she wondered.
#Emergence

Endings; Part Five,
Chapter Four: Family
Pt. 05, Ch. 04
Jim was more mysterious in death, than life. Kathy was fascinated; except suddenly she was responsible for his body.
#Emergence

Endings; Part Five,
Chapter Five: Finding
Pt. 05, Ch. 05
It took time, and some detective work. They located Jim’s residence, and a judge gave Kathy access to the apartment.
#Emergence

Endings; Part Five,
Chapter Six: De Ja Vu
Pt. 05, Pt. 06
Kathy had never been to Jim’s home, and he had never moved. It was exactly as she had visualized it; scant and bare.
#Emergence

Endings; Part Five,
Chapter Seven: Memory

Pt. 05, Ch. 07
Kathy remembered everything, her recall was perfect. Standing in Jim’s home, she knew he had lied about many things.
#Emergence

Emergence:
Section One, Jim and Kathy
Part Five, Endings;
Collected Chapters
Section 01, Jim and Kathy
Part 05, Endings
Chapters
01 Notice
02 Anonymous
03 Autopsy
04 Family
05 Finding
06 De Ja Vu
07 Memory
@jaybotten
#Emergence
#SuperShortFiction
#365SciFi