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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Suffer the Flower

Suffer the Flower

I touched her thigh and Death smiled

Said Morrison; in his American Prayer[1]

Left handed Death is Lord of the harvest      

Fecundity, fertility – the fallen

                        Seeds, blown from the stamen of the flower

                        Caught by the wind like the spray of

Water from a fountain

Oh Death, take my hand and spin with me

Turning on the wheel of Life

Bright fingered Life is Mother of us all

            Heliposis, heuchera – the human

                        Conceived in the heat of ecstasy’s thunder

                        Birthed in agony; reaching for the light cold air

                                    Of morning     

[1] Jim Morrison, An American Prayer, The Doors, Elektra/Asylum Records, 1978

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of John 20:1-9 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.03.27 (Easter Sunday)

The Empty Tomb

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.


The Foundation of the Church

On this Easter Sunday, the reading for the day does not offer a great deal of theology to engage in. The narrative is brief. And relatively straight-forward.

It was dark on Sunday morning, when Mary Magdala came to the tomb. She was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. It was she who anointed him for burial, and she was the first to receive the revelation that Jesus had risen.

It was dark when she arrived at the tomb, but not completely, and in the dim light of morning she saw a hint of the truth that would unfold as the sun rose, and filled the day with light.

She saw the stone rolled away from the tomb, and found the tomb empty.

At first she assumed that someone had come and removed the body of Jesus; taken and hidden him somewhere.

She hurried to find the others, and tell them what she had found. When the other disciples arrived on the scene and explored the empty tomb for themselves, the understanding of what had transpired began to take hold.

They saw the empty tomb, the burial garments cast aside, and they understood that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

On that belief, and on the strength of their witness the Church was born, but the Church was not built on the foundation of Peter’s faith. It was built on the faith of women; the women who never abandoned Jesus, and did everything in their power to make smooth the path that was in front of him.

Throughout his ministry it was the women who surrounded him who always knew, always understood the power of his message. They were never confused about his mission. They always understood how it would end.

While his male disciples tripped over themselves, doubted him, doubted each other, vied for supremacy, betrayed him, denied him, sold him into captivity; while all of that was going on, the women were steadfast by his side. They anointed him, they witnessed his trial, they stood by him as he was crucified, they buried him, they waited by the tomb, and they were the first to see him risen.

God bless these women, and their faith, it was a comfort to Jesus in his final hours.

And then those same foolish men put them aside. Took over the narrative, and did their best to wash their names from the Gospel.

Easter Sunday – Easter

Saturday, March 26, 2016

President Obama is Right - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion


President Obama is Right

The President is right to be unmoved by the bombings in Brussels this week. He was right to remain in Cuba, to fulfill his itinerary as planned; to attend the baseball game, to go to Argentina, to dance the tango.

There is little to fear in the machinations of the jihadists in Belgium, and France. There is little to fear in the machinations of those lost people wherever they are. In Europe, in the Middle East, here in our own country.

The quest of those fighters to have their own state was always a futile quest, and that remains the case. They have succeeded only in creating anarchy. They only serve their own vanity. There is no Islamic Caliphate, not in any form. The Caliphate ended over one thousand years ago, Islam was too large then, and is much too large now; multicultural, multinational, to ever be governed by a single entity. Islam is not Arabia, and we should not dignify the pretenses of those fighters in Syria and Iraq by pretending that they are anything more than murderous opportunists.

President Obama was right to call them a JV squad. He has taken a lot of criticism for that, but he was right. A couple of years into their war, and they are falling apart after having achieved none of their objectives. All that they have to boast of is the killing and harming of thousands of people, and the destruction of ancient monuments that spoke of our collective heritage.

President Roosevelt was right when he said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. We do those killers too much credit by calling them terrorists and pretending that they have the smallest hope of achieving their ends.

What is true, what has always been and will always be true, a determined person can develop the means and find the opportunity to attack their neighbors; to attack them with stones, and knives, and guns, and bombs. If that person does not care if they live or die in the trying; it is that much easier for them, and they can do much more harm.

No matter how much policing we do, this will always be true. We may catch some people before they act, but we will not catch them all. We will catch the dumb ones; but only when we are being smart. The smart ones will catch us when we are dumb. That is the nature of this kind of conflict. It will not change, but neither can this kind of conflict change anything. It cannot overthrow our government, it cannot end international trade, it cannot change our way of life; unless we allow it to.

We can allow it to change our way of life. We could give in to fear and upend our social system. That would be a ridiculous capitulation.

We should allow it to change our way life insofar as it relates to the kinds of relationships we have with the countries within which these jihadists movements are cropping up.

We should not prop up dictatorships.

We should not sell them arms.

We should ensure that economic aid reaches the people on the street.

We should not support theocracies.

We should not buy their oil, we should get off of fossil fuels altogether.

We should open up their markets, give them access to our goods.

We should promote education, and democracy, foster its development, not impose it on a people who are not ready.

If we cannot find partners in this among those governments, we should give them nothing.

Whatever the case might be, we should not allow a group of violent extremists to influence our laws and policies in such a way that undermines our international leadership, and the commitments to human rights we have made under international law. If we do that, then we have lost.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Emergence: Section Two, The Continuum; Part Eleven, The Observers, Collected Chapters

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter One: Identification
Pt. 11, Ch. 01
The Continuum selected Observers from its members who had returned to consciousness after falling into deep silence.

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter Two: Assignment
Pt. 11, Ch. 02
Sending a person to the Observer Corp removed their influence from the Continuum, providing relief to the suffering.

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter Three: Mission
Pt. 11, Ch. 03
Observers lived with the people, and in the collective consciousness, feeding triumphs and tragedy to the Continuum.

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter Four: Incorporation
Pt. 11, Ch. 04
Being an Observer meant having a body. Organic on the observed world, mechanical on Home World; it was a life apart.

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter Five: Watching
Pt. 11, Ch. 05
There are many forms of observation; satellite imaging, audio recording. The primary method was to live with people.

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter Six: Indifference
Pt. 11, Pt. 06
Emotional capacities were engineered out of the Observer’s body. They complicated the work; disrupted the Continuum.

The Observers; Part Eleven,
Chapter Seven: Reporting

Pt. 11, Ch. 07
The regimen was for the Observer to return to Continuum; upload the content of their experiences, for it to consume.

Section Two, The Continuum
Part Eleven, The Observers
Collected Chapters
Section 02, The Continuum
Part 11, The Observers
01 Identification
02 Assignment
03 Mission
04 Incorporation
05 Watching
06 Indifference
07 Reporting

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Communing in the Garden

“Come. Sit next to us.” I heard their voices as if a chorus was speaking.
Of all the people in the world, their harmonies voiced only for me.
“We are more interesting than the slender spruce that caught your eye.
“We who are sheltered here; beneath the fir that drew you,
“Beneath those swaying pinion-arms.
“We are bright, and green; white-bejeweled blades of grass!”

The clustered onions spoke inside my head.
Telepathic tufts of foliage, sprouting thin wooden stems between the green, leg-like fronds.
Each stem crowned with two dozen beads, minute flowerets breaking free;
From the paper thin crèche they nested in.
The grassy blades were onion-sweet, the flower-gems; rich and garlicky.
They were a small and pungent society.

Robin watched me where I sat; the dancing bird, a red-breasted flutter of wings;
Watching me kneeling in the damp earth, curious to see me fondling the onions.
My seeking fingers brushing through the emerald locks.
Ignoring the yellow flowers of the bushy dill,
And the purple sage growing everywhere.

Allium Senecens
Ornamental Onion

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 22:14-23:56 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.03.20 (Palm Sunday)

The Last Supper - Arrest, Trial and Crucifixion

When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles.
He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover 5 with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you (that) from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

"And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed."

And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.

He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors'; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.

For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.

It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

"Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers."

He said to him, "Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you." But he replied, "I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me."

He said to them, "When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?" "No, nothing," they replied.

He said to them, "But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, 'He was counted among the wicked'; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment."

Then they said, "Lord, look, there are two swords here." But he replied, "It is enough!"
Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test."

After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." (And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.)

When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.

He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test."

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him.

Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, "Lord, shall we strike with a sword?" And one of them struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, "Stop, no more of this!" Then he touched the servant's ear and healed him.

Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness."

After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance.

They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them.

When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, "This man too was with him."

But he denied it saying, "Woman, I do not know him."

A short while later someone else saw him and said, "You too are one of them"; but Peter answered, "My friend, I am not."

About an hour later, still another insisted, "Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean." But Peter said, "My friend, I do not know what you are talking about." Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; 16 and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times."

He went out and began to weep bitterly.

The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.

They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.

They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond.

But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God."

They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am."

Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth."

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.

They brought charges against him, saying, "We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king."

Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so."

Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, "I find this man not guilty."

But they were adamant and said, "He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here."

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.

He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer.

The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly. (Even) Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate.

Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, "You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore, I shall have him flogged and then release him."  

But all together they shouted out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us." (Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.)

Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

Pilate addressed them a third time, "What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."

With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed.

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.

So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.'

At that time people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"

Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left.

[Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."] They divided his garments by casting lots.

The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God."

Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."

Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews."

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us."

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, "This man was innocent beyond doubt."

When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God.

He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.

It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. 

Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment. (NABRE)

True Leadership

The reading for today is long, far too long for me to treat in a single homily. I promise to expand on it over the course of my years.

For today I will boil down the essence of the Gospel reading, and the meaning of the day to the following two lines from Luke.

“He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as “Benefactors”; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant’” (Luke 22:25-26).

This is the reading for Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy week; culminating in Easter, the crucifixion of Jesus and the crowning of the King.

Palm Sunday is the day on which the crowing of Jesus was anticipated by the people of Jerusalem. They come out of the city to greet him as the deliverer and savior, lining the road to the city with palm fronds as if he was at the head of a victorious army, having freed the people from vassalage to some dark power.

That is the historic significance of the day, but instead of going to the temple, or the palace to feast with his generals, he goes to a small room on the upper floor of a common house, to celebrate the Passover and share a last meal with his closest friends and followers.

Jesus then draws the clearest distinction between himself, a king (of a type), and the other kings in the world.

Jesus is not willing to rule as an authoritarian, he will be a “lord” to the people, he will not even accept the title of benefactor, because the role of leader is not to rule but to govern, not to decree, but to manage not to order but to inspire the people to free themselves and share the blessings of their freedom with others.

This is the way of heaven. The society of God, creator of the universe, if not a kingdom, but a garden in which all of its citizens work and share in the abundance equally.

Jesus speaks directly to this point with his followers, knowing what is about to happen to him, wishing that his trial will free them from the same fate, and he orders them in no uncertain terms to remember this teaching, because it is meant to be the foundation of the church that will form after his passing.

Let us not dwell on the question of whether the church got right, by and large it has failed miserably, but this record of Jesus’ teaching has remained. In every generation since that time it has inspired some, a minority, to do the right thing.

Palm Sunday – Holy Week

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Berning it Down - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion


Berning it Down

There was a subtle shift in the Sander’s campaign this week; as he continues in his quest for Democratic Party’s nomination for President. I found it troubling, and a little bit amusing, but mostly worrisome, and befuddling.

BS lost every contest on Tuesday. His campaign spent a lot of resources, and they believed they would win at least one of the contests, if not two, and they were hopeful that they could make it three.
In two of the contests; Missouri and Illinois the margin was razor thin; virtually tied, but he lost. HRC won Ohio by a by a larger margin, but it was still relatively close. However, she blew the Sander’s campaign out of the water in North Carolina and Florida.

HRC expanded her lead in the contest for delegates in a significant way, I am speaking of pledged delegates, votes that are committed to HRC.

The Clinton campaign holds a commanding lead; something like 95% of the un-pledged, “super-delegates.” Making her path to victory almost guaranteed. BS has complained bitterly about this through the contest so far; stating over and over again that if HRC only wins because of the votes of super-delegates her victory would be un-democratic and illegitimate.

This line of reason has been vociferously echoed by the BS supporters all over the Web and throughout social-media. Only now, now that his path to victory has become extremely dubious; BS has begun to suggest that he might continue his campaign all the way to the convention even if he arrives there without a majority of pledged delegates, and try to convince the super-delegates to make him the nominee anyway; in what his campaign has already called an un-democratic and illegitimate way.

I am amused by this because it speaks directly against the holier than thou, I am not a regular politician image that the BS campaign has successfully foisted on the public imagination. The amusement can only go so far because such a path risks fracturing the democratic party just at the point when it needs to be unified.

This troubles me because it is a concrete foreshadowing of what I have been asking my friends, who are BS supporters to think about; my estimation that BS would gladly tear down the party jut for a chance to win an argument. That is the kind of guy he seems to be.

Mind you, I am not saying he would tear down the party just to win an argument; he would tear it down just for a chance to win, and jeopardize any possibility of advancing the progressive agenda that he claims to care so much about.

People, who are fans of BS have made a lot of noise about the notion that the Senator is untouched by political corruption. I challenge that notion on the basis that, people can be greedy for other things than money. Human beings are corrupted by their desires, and as the Buddha says, desire is the cause of all suffering. Desire causes suffering both from within and without. Our own desires cause us to suffer, and the desires of others inflict suffering on those around them.

Most people desire mundane things, material things; they are greedy for wealth, privilege, power. Some people however, have more intractable desires, more difficult for us to understand, not as easy to put our finger on, like; purity, righteousness, rightness. I contend that we have more to fear from those who crave these things than we do the other.

I ask you to think about this in the coming weeks as the BS campaign continues its rhetoric about the super-delegates, condemning HRC out of one side of their mouths for stacking the deck with these pledges at the outset of the contest, and out of the other side of their mouths giving us their strategy to capitalize on the same. While threatening to Bern down the party in the process.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Emergence: Section Two, The Continuum; Part Ten, The Hunger, Collected Chapters

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter One: Malaise
Pt. 10, Ch. 01
There are silences in the Continuum that span eons; as the members are quiet, observant, consumed by time’s passage.

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter Two: Fascination
Pt. 10, Ch. 02
There is a pervasive curiosity in the Continuum; concerning the culture of their offspring; a consumptive curiosity.

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter Three: Apathy
Pt. 10, Ch. 03
The Continuum had no sense of time, or its place among the stars. They did not consider that anyone could harm them.

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter Four: Control
Pt. 10, Ch. 04
The Continuum left nothing chance. It ruled an empire, it filled the galaxy like a hungry God devouring experiences.

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter Five: Taboo
Pt. 10, Ch. 05
For the Continuum all experiences were fodder for its need to feel and be something. Intervention was the one taboo.

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter Six: Domination
Pt. 10, Pt. 06
The Continuum feared that its progeny would find a path to their own immortality. This potential was always crushed.

The Hunger; Part Ten,
Chapter Seven: Addiction

Pt. 10, Ch. 07
The Continuum was a psychic vampire, living vicariously; feeding off the lives, and tragedies of billions of worlds.

Section Two, The Continuum
Part Ten, The Hunger
Collected Chapters
Section 02, The Continuum
Part 10, The Hunger
01 Malaise
02 Fascination
03 Apathy
04 Control
05 Taboo
06 Domination
07 Addiction