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Showing posts with label Power. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Power. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Stan Lee – Genius Creator and Mythologist

Let’s talk about Stan Lee; I cannot possibly state the significance of the debt I owe this man.

 

I never met him in life, but I hope to see him beyond, the Mists, past the Western Shore, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, walking in the Green Fields.

 

Stan Lee colored my imagination, painting it in the ubiquitous three-color-process that was the standard format of comic books when I was a child, drawn on the cheapest—acid washed paper that money could buy.

 

He taught me and millions of other kids, that with great power comes great responsibility. He taught us that it is always okay to punch a Nazi, in fact, it is the duty of free people everywhere to fight against tyranny, but it is the responsibility of American’s in particular to stand up against the forces of Hate and divisive Nationalism, of Fascism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head, and he taught us to look for it in our own backyard.

 

Stan Lee introduced everyone who read his comics to the classical world of Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus, as well as to Einstein and Heisenberg.

 

He showed us that the fight for civil rights included all people, and that we had better look around us, take stock of our friends, and make sure that we include in our group those people who are different from us, the marginalized and the meek.

 

Stan Lee schooled us that even mutants should be loved and respected and protected from the forces of a world fears them, from those who would seek to persecute them.

 

He told us in no uncertain terms that we should identify with them, the outcast and the disenfranchised, the alien in our midst. He insisted that we have an obligation to secure their rights, by any means necessary.

 

Stan Lee opened my eyes to the cosmos, through his imagination I took flight, I went surfing with the Alien, journeying through the heart of a black hole in an effort to understand the meaning of life, the nature of reality, and the purpose of existence. I

 

In the final analysis he told me that I had to be comfortable with the fact that there is no answer, that the galaxy and the universe itself is cold and indifferent, but that human beings don’t have to be. We do not have to follow our appetites, or be consumed by them. We are free and we have a choice. He taught us that the greatest thing we can aspire to, is to love and be loved in our turn, that friendship matters more than power, more than beauty, more than gold.

 

Stan Lee, was the bard of our day, overflowing with the gift to inspire; it was his super-power.

 

Excelsior!

 



Given First - 2020.11.12

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Language


The power of words
There are many who doubt it
As they doubt themselves

Language structures our beliefs
Communication, talking

The power to clarify
What is true from what is false
Come into knowledge

To find commonalities
To understand an other

Systems of beliefs
In relation to our own
Actualities

Words are the instruments that
Describe our experience

If we allow it
Words can describe our beliefs
Will guide our actions

Through words we build the platform
Where we examine our lives

Make real-referents
Analyze repercussions
Take the hard data

The facts of experience
Of truth and consequences

To parse the difference
Between the good, and evil
And become moral beings

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Mist


Groping in the mist, my mind is clouded, wisdom
I cannot see you

Silent Sophia
Invisible and blind, cacophony rising

Fortuna and Justice, sisters to the Fates, drowned in
Fountains of ego

Lost in a haze, tired
Swimming against the tide, searching for refuge, rest

Crashing on sharp stones, hot rocks, baked beneath the sun
Apollo takes me

God of prophecy
God of music and the lyre, God of poetry

Tell me your secrets, burn me with knowledge, branded
Send me to the void

Tell me everything
I need to know, the eternal peace I pray for

Why look for the truth in the world, tossed by wind and wave
The heartless powers

Neither rejoicing
Nor mourning for the things they touch, lift or destroy

Impersonal force
Harsh powers robs me of any sense of meaning

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Power - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
10.06.2018


Power


Frank Herbert said: Power does not corrupt, it merely attracts the corruptible.

He wrote many insightful things about the human condition in his great collection of Science Fiction, the Dune books, and others. The first time I read those words they resonated with me, and I knew he was right.

Like moths to the flame, the corruptible are attracted to power, it is lamentable that like moths, they do not burn up when the fly to close to it.

Frank Herbert also said this:

Most people never participate. They get by on little more than dumb persistence, reacting with anger and even violence, at anything that might come along to disrupt their resentment filled lives of mediocrity.

Look at the American electorate, look at crowds of people who gather to listen to the orange villain speak, listen to him channel their anger, watch it grow in response to him, in its vile, vituperative, vicious feedback-loop.

T-Rump in the exemplar, sine qua non, he is the unparalleled archetype of the first piece of wisdom offered by the sage, Frank Herbert.

This ridiculous buffoon shot from his mother’s womb like a steaming pile of corrupt filth, demonstrating throughout his life his obsessive need for congratulation, and adulation and the love of the crowd that you have to wonder if he was ever loved at all.

I think his mother must have seen what he would become and rejected him from the start, without realizing how her own neglect would shape him into the monster that he has become.

Did you read the report in the New York Times on the lifetime of corruption and fraud he and his family have pursued, and lied about, the hundreds of millions of dollars he squandered of his father’s fortune, finally, robbing his father of it when he was disabled with dementia, by forcing him to sign a codicil to his will.

We have a fixed number of constitutionally appointed officers and office holder outlined in our constitution. We have three branches of government and their roles are fixed.

These are the bright flames of power, that attract the corrupt people like T-Rump, yes, his corruption is obvious, you can see it dripping from him as he salivates when he throws his tantrums on the stage.

Let’s talk about the corruption of people like Susan Collins the Senator from Maine. She got in front of the camera yesterday and gave a speech about the nominee for the Supreme Court, in which she pretended to be reasonable in her acceptance of all the lies that the nominee told the senate, both this year, and in past years when he had previously sought confirmation for a judicial appointment, to the federal bench, and to the court of appeals.

The man told bold face lies; about his role in the Bush administration in drafting the legal rationale for torture, about his receipt and use of e-mails that had been stolen from the opposition party in the senate, about his knowledge of the sexual harassment and inappropriateness of a judge he clerked for, who resigned his post over his behavior; he lied about his own habits, his drinking in high school and in college, about the parties he attended, about the meaning of passages written in his yearbook, about his nickname Bart, about his own sexual conduct and misbehavior. He lied about when he knew about the allegations that came from his second accuser, Debby Ramirez, telling the Judiciary Committee that he learned about it when the story appeared in the paper, while at the same time his former classmates were coming forward with texts messages from him and he PR team, weeks before, pushing them to adopt a narrative to refute Debby Ramirez’ claims.

He lied, he ranted, he raved, he treated his nomination like it was an entitlement, rather than the honor and the privilege it is.

Susan Collins got up and in her speech, whitewashed the entire record. She asked the American people to believe that she does not know when she is being lied to, and to in turn accept her lies in asking us to believe it.

She did what the rest of the Republicans in the Senate did, their colleagues in the house, the President and all their supporters did; they foisted a con on the American people, a scam, they screamed and whined, and they told us the most obvious lies, all of it pouring out of their mouth like vomit, from the corrupt place inside of them where all of their self-loathing lies.

They did not do this for love of country. They did not do this because they think this will make America a better country to live in, a more descent country to live in, a more hopeful country to live in, or more just.

They did it because they think and believe in their collective rotten-heart that this vote today, this vote for Kavanaugh, is the path for them to retain the power that they covet.
On the campaign trail, the MAGA voter, the T-Rump sycophants, they eat it up, proving the latter thesis offered by the wise Frank Herbert.

They give no thought to what it means to let such a man onto the highest court in the land; a political partisan, an ideologue, a hack; a man who perjured himself to get confirmed, a man who once assaulted a fifteen year-old girl, and who could not find it in his hear to apologize, seek forgiveness and move on.

The MAGA voter only wants to see their Dear Leader win, to experience his victory vicariously, even while he pushes them down, stands on their backs, to bask in their applause.

T-Rump has taken to vilifying the survivors of sexual assault, of rape, to mock them and ridicule while his crowds cheer. He has brought the country low, and he seeks to bring it lower still, counting on the anger of his followers, their rage and their violence to keep it there.

We must resist

It is one month until the election, we must resist.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Homily – Mark 8:1-6 ©


The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.07.08
                        

Faith and Power

The gospel reading for today suggests that there are limits to Jesus’ power.

“He could work no miracles there,” the people in his home town would not accept him.

He left feeing despised, by most if not all.

Of course we know that his mother, Mary, followed him, She was with him when he was crucified. And we know that James, his brother was one of the twelve, as well as being the first bishop of Jerusalem.

Whatever resistance he met and the beginning of his ministry, at least in relation to his family, it was overcome.

Ultimately, that is less interesting than the revelation that the healing and miracle work Jesus was noted for, could not take place in the absence of faith.

Which corresponds to other passages we have read, where the faith of the individual is instrumental in the healing of their loved ones, drawing on Jesus’ power without his knowledge of it.

This is instructive, for us, because Mark’s gospel is the earliest of them, and it represents a less nuanced apology for the “miracle-making” Jesus was engaged in.


'A Prophet is Only Despised in His Own Country'

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Homily – Mark 5:21-43 ©


The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.07.01


Faith and Power

The Gospel for today is a lesson on faith.

It is steeped in stories of divine power and magic, but it is really about faith, faith which means trust.

It is a call to all people who suffer, it is an encouragement to hope, for to believe in the coming of a better day.

It is easy to read this narrative and make the story about Jesus, about his power. This is not the right way to read it.

It is unlikely that such miracles ever even occurred. We live in a world where disease and illness afflict us, where death occurs, all of it in accordance with the laws of nature, laws which God established for the good of all creation.

God does not abrogate God’s own law.

What the gospel intends, is to encourage us to have faith, faith in the notion that everything we suffer is a part of God’s divine plan, and that plan includes our salvation, which means an end to all suffering, for all time.

The gospel writers used the stories of miracles, and healing to convey their faith.

The narrative has two layers.

It is important that we push through the surface, go past the stories of divine power and miracle making, and get to the story of faith, the trust that washes us clan and makes us well, even in the midst of our pain.


Little Girl, I Tell You to Get Up

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
 
Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’
 
While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.


13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Freedom and Power


All around the world, and throughout the span of human history, governments have always grown into oppressive bureaucracies, transforming first into oligarchies until they finally become aristocracies, meandering one way or another through meritocracy, autocracy and plutocracy along the way.

This is the natural entrenchment of political power, a pattern so prevalent it feel like it is encoded in our collective DNA.

Governments adopt standards and conventions, they pass laws that pretend to organize civic power in ways that appear to be impersonal, indifferent and without expressed favoritism for parties, or persons. All the while allowing real power to moves in hidden channels, to flow between select individuals and secret societies that are only concerned with the progress of their agenda, the accumulation and concentration of wealth and power, access to markets, the distribution of food and clean water.

Power builds in this way until such a time comes that the powerful feel secure enough in their position to wield their power nakedly, without concern for the repercussions they might face from the people.

Fear and suspicion, violence and alienation are the tools by which these governments oppress, suppress, depress and repress the masses.

A healthy society cannot be maintained in systems such as these, a healthy society cannot be maintained in systems that are hostile and antagonistic to the common people.

Nevertheless, sick and unhealthy societies can endure for generations, centuries, even millennia, becoming so normalized that the masses will even worship the unjust structures of power with religious zeal, casting alternate ideologies and efforts to liberate them as poisonous and destructive.

A government of the people by the people and for the people, cannot live up to its aspirations if the courts continue to treat corporations like people, when it comes to such matters as the right to free speech, but will not hold corporations and their boards of governance accountable for the crimes that the same corporations commit.

Our government purports to be a government of the people, committed to the proposition that everyone is created equal, endowed with rights that are inalienable, the foremost among them being; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Our government cannot live up to these aspirations if the courts continue to treat the dollars given (in the form of campaign donations) to politicians and political parties, as constitutionally protected, and on the same level as the individual right to free speech.

Our government cannot live up to those aspirations if the courts continue to hold that the individual’s freedom of speech does not guarantee the right of the speaker to be heard, or that the right to vote does not guarantee that your vote will be counted.

Our government cannot live up to those aspirations so long as we continue to uphold un-democratic norms.

In order to live up to those aspirations we require a truly representative democracy, and the full enfranchisement of all citizens.

We are not free if our votes are disproportionately weighted, and if our representation in congress is not equally apportioned according to the population of those states.

We require a commitment from the people and its government that any person within the aegis of our power be protected by the rule of law whether they are a citizen or not, whether they are within our national boundaries or not.

Wherever our power is present, a commitment to our rule of law, our best ideals must be extended also.

The people, if they are to be free, must not merely be allowed to, but must be empowered to challenge the legal and economic structures that are operative in the social order.  

The citizenry will not be free unless it is educated well enough so that the average person understands the language and structure of the law, the forms and codes of its legal and political organizations.

This cannot be the province of specialists alone, it must be accessible by every citizen.

The citizenry will not be free unless it is free to associate, to form collectives, and to have they contribution they make to the fabric of society, to manufacturing and industry recognized and protected by the law.

Owners and workers must be equally represented before the bar of justice in regard to the rights they possess concerning the product of their labor.

Everyone who benefits from the public trust must contribute to it. Those who benefit from our roads and bridges, our ports and shipping centers, our educated workforce and the protection of our courts must pay for it.

We all benefit from it, those who benefit most, must pay the most, progressively.

If our society truly aspires to greatness the people must eliminate the secret, hallowed channels of power, and take their destiny into their own hands.

The people must be educated, empowered with access to information, and with the critical analytical skills to employ it to their advantage.

Equality and justice, our ability to apprehend truth itself depend on it.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Power of Words


Post-modern deconstructualism is a school of thought championed by the 20th century linguist and French philosopher Derrida, and it has had a corrosive influence on the integrity of our culture, not of Western culture alone, but on the entirety of human culture.

Deconstructualism has undermined our ability to engage with the truth, at the highest levels of academia, and even at the most basic level of human discourse.

The proponents of this school of thought claim that language, the words we use to navigate the world and to interpret the meaning of our daily lives, that these constructions are completely inadequate in regards to elucidating the truth.

While there may be legitimate reason to critique the limits of language, the basic claim, that verbal discourse cannot capture truth undermines a person’s confidence in their own self, in the product of critical analysis, in scientific data, and in the social order.

We are living in this deconstructed world now, a world of sheer relativism and alternate realities, where the denial of science is readily employed in order to aid people, corporations and politicians in their pursuit of wealth, power, and the social agenda that they favor.  

Language is a tool, it provides a means of contextualizing our experience and framing our beliefs. Language is not merely a matter of art and subjectivism, of theatre and illusion, of persuasion and dissuasion, yes it can be employed to prevaricate and destroy, but we have also been used to map the stars, to peer into the micro-verse, to crack the code that split the atom, to map the genome and to plum the mysteries of the universe.

Differing language systems organize the experience of the individuals who use them in different ways.

By engaging with one another, through language, by translation and interpretation, we have developed the means to understand the beliefs and values of cultures other than our own.

Without language, we do not even have beliefs and values, right or wrong, to share and interpret.

This is not always an easy process, it is not intuitive, it is difficult, it can take years, even generations to work out the intricacies of meaning, tone, mood, person, gender, time, spatial orientation that are inherent in the narrative process of a language system that is different from our own. It can take years to understand the scope of the differences, and even more years to bridge the gap between one system and another.

These difficulties exist on a massive scale in regard to translations and interpretations between one language group and another, even when those language groups exist with the same language family, like the Indo-European root system that is fundamental to such diverse languages as English and Sanskrit, they are even further exacerbated when the languages are as different from one another as English is to Finish, Basque, Mandarin, or Algonquin.

These challenges are significant, and they are to be taken seriously, even when we are transliterating dialects within the same language, or moving a narrative from an oral tradition to one that is written.  

This is communication. Civilization depends on it. The fact that is has discernable limits, does not invalidate it.

Words are the instruments we use to describe the actuality of our own experience. They are vehicles conveying our interpretation of reality, and the value we ascribe to it.

Words are not the reality, they are emblematic of the reality.

We have no alternative but to trust them, otherwise the entire structure of civilization will collapse; law and commerce depend on the stability of language, science and medicine, engineering and manufacturing, even poetry depends on the stability of language.

The word love, is not love, it is a designation of love, it may convey love, it may also convey love’s opposite depending on the context it is set in, and the way in which it is used.

Such is the flexibility of language.

It is always a mistake to substitute the terms for the reality itself. The word love does not love, only loving does, but the words frame the experience, shape the memory, and allow us to tell its story.

Language provides us a means to talk about the things we feel, albeit, imperfectly

If we allow the words that form our beliefs to guide our actions, then we have a platform with actual referents on which we may analyze the repercussions of those actions.

We require this feedback.

The experience of those repercussions is the key to understanding the legitimacy of our beliefs, and the structure of language that supports them, articulates them, allows us to communicate them.

A valid argument is good, the clear expression of our thoughts and values is to be applauded when it coheres to the dictates of logic; that is is great, but they are meaningless without the input of our raw experience, action, and the feedback that results.

Say what you will about feeding the hungry, about how good it is and how rewarding, but nothing can substitute for the actual doing of it.

The word nourishment, does not nourish, just as the word love does not love.

Here in the world, we are able to distinguish the difference between what is hurtful and what is helpful. However, without language we are unable to get behind the surface of our actions, whether harmful or hurtful, we are unable to understand the intention that drives them, the intention by which harmful and hurtful actions and their consequences take on a moral dimension, becoming not just matters of pain and pleasure, of joy and sorrow, but of good and evil, of right and wrong, which is the difference between the harm that was intended, and the unfortunate accident that simply occurred, or the gift that was presented, and the fortune that was stumbled upon.

Without language we cannot organize the meaning of our experience, we cannot see in it all of the currents that contribute to it.

Language may at times obfuscate the truth, at times this might be done deliberately, but without language we cannot get to the truth at all.

Without language we understand nothing.

Post-modern thought, the work of Derrida and the other deconstrucualists have their place; semiotics, metonomy and linguistics provide important and necessary filters by which we may more perfectly understand the narrative construction of our experience, and to test the limits of that understanding. But, to the extent that they undermine the conventions that allow us to understand one another, that they undermine our appreciation for the truth itself, that they create safe places for what is false to be regarded in the same light as what is true, for 2 = 2 to equal 5, for up to be down, or the Earth to be flat.

They have gone beyond their usefulness.    

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Homily – John 17:1 - 11 ©

The Gospel According to John – 2017.05.28


Getting it Wrong, Again

The writers of John’s Gospel reveal, once again, their fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus and mission.

The ministry of Jesus was centered on real people, living real lives, facing real hardship, in the real world.

His gaze was focused toward the Earth, not toward the heaven.

Jesus was not here to seek glory, or power, or dominion over mankind. He was selfless and meek, and gave everything away, including his life. There is a kind of power in this, but it is not power in the sense of force, or energy, but in its root, potens, potere, meaning ability. Jesus possessed the ability to love.

Jesus was not a Gnostic, but the writers of John would make him out to be one. He did not teach a secret doctrine. He himself wrote nothing down. He taught by the word of his mouth and through his actions. He proclaimed justice, and promoted love; through healing, and sharing, and community work.

Jesus prayed, but he only gave us one prayer. He prayed for bread, and mercy, and the strength to be merciful.

If the church is finally able to be like Jesus, then Christ will have risen in it.


Eternal Life

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.

And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me.

They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.

I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’



7th Sunday of Easter

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Observation - February 2nd, 2017, Thursday



Observation

There is a blanket of white noise over everything

It is the humidifier in my apartment, droning

It is the news cycle Trumpeting, trumpeting

The outrage of billionaires…wailing like babies

Demanding, white power, white privilege

There is a blanket of white noise over everything

The humidifier in my apartment is useful

It helps me breathe

The trumpeting of demagogues is smothering me