Friday, July 11, 2014

Worth Quoting

Phillip Blond is talking about Britain, but his point could be taken here in America.
In essence, the left needs a conservative account of society in order to create the vibrant civic space through which its goals can be most ably achieved.  At the same time, true conservatism needs to recognise crushing economic inequality and its harmful effects on precisely those institutions which conservatives instinctively cherish.  This requires dedication to equity and fairness, to distributed wealth and asset ownership, as much as to inherited culture and ethical traditions.  Social harmony does not flow from centrally enforced unity, and social justice does not spring unaided from libertarian indifference.  If the health of society is the common goal, then society itself must be valued higher than both state and market.
--From Red Tory 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


     Having children has to be one of life's top three pleasures (also one of life's top five annoyances).  Guiding them as they grow, watching how they navigate the wonder found in the world is a slow-burn of joy.

     In addition to one's own children, joy is found in the babies of creatures we share the world with.  If one can combine animal babies with one's own, one may have stumbled upon an alternative energy source that cannot be usurped by corporations.

     My children and I have watched infant praying mantids leave the relative safety of their egg case and venture into a world of danger, and for a fortunate few, maturation.  We've set a luna moth free that we observed from caterpillar to cocoon to adult.

     Most recently, we've watched Eastern American toad tadpoles (Bufo americanus americanus) metamorphose into tiny toadlets.
At the toad "delivery room"

It's hard to believe these tiny creatures can survive.  That's why hundreds of eggs are laid.

     Some wish their children could remain forever babies; not me, I was glad to be rid of the diaper pail.  It's much better to watch them journey from strength to strength accompanying nature's babies as well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"I'm My Own Person" and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

I used to teach mass media to high school students and it never surprised me when most of them, when asked, thought that advertising (and pop culture in general) had little to no influence on them.  Adults, quite often, tell themselves the same thing.

If advertising didn't work, however, it wouldn't exist.  Those billions spent would be wasted money--which isn't to say that all advertising works all the time--it doesn't.

An old acquaintance was on Facebook asking about getting a tattoo.  I replied that the response was merely bandwagoning--tattoos have been so mainstreamed that many who have them now are the same people thirty years ago would have turned their noses up at them.

Artifacts, ideas, attitudes: these are in our ecosystem and all influence us for good and ill.  To think otherwise is simply fooling oneself.

We pride ourselves on originality and individuality, but I find those to be overrated.  One, it's damn near impossible to be completely original and it's damned foolishness to think you exist as a hermetically sealed sui generis being.

Family, friends, media diet, physical surroundings, the supernatural all affect us in ways we don't fully understand.

You can make your own choices, but they don't appear from the ether to your mind not previously digested by others.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Worth Quoting

"Love receives but does not take what is not given."  --Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

Why is something so simple so difficult?

Why am I so slow to learn?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The View from Saturday

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
—Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann

And yet..."There lives the dearest freshness deep/ down things;/ And though the last lights off the black/ West went/ Oh, morning at the brown brink/ eastward springs--"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Like a House

O Lord,
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases Your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it,
to whom shall I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord,
and spare Your servant from strange sins.
                                    --St. Augustine

Lent is about halfway through and my house [soul] is still a mess.  It's a crack house, a whorehouse, a poor house, a rent-controlled shack.  Every confession cleans it up a bit, but the filth comes right back.

Image courtesy of Pikkatze

I let in the dirt, knowing my LORD wants it clean.  I should dwell in a spotless tent, but I've turned it into a latrine.  Why do I return to my vomit?  Why is that more attractive than the face of Beauty?
Give me a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, LORD.

How is your Lenten journey progressing?  What is the condition of your house?

Friday, January 31, 2014

"It's About Control..."

I remember back in Sunday school when I was 14 or 15, and Sister "B." asked us what person from the Bible we most identified with.  I don't remember whom I chose--I do remember struggling with an answer--Moses, maybe?--but most of my peers chose the famous, the strong, the victorious: Peter, Paul, David, etc.  Those people all seemed larger-than-life, how could I identify with them.  They are in THE BIBLE, after all.
Flash forward 30 years and here I am, unemployed, bounced-off unemployment insurance (for doing the right thing, I believe), struggling to find clients for my business, driving a 15 year-old vehicle that won't last much longer and wondering where is the favor of God?
As the days roll on, and possible employment opportunities or clients become just smoke, I find myself tied up in a plastic bag full of fear.  The fear expresses itself as anger at God, which morphs into guilt.  Guilt because who am I to lash out at God when I could be a Syrian refugee; I could be a victim of trafficking; I could be shot at in Afghanistan; I could be homeless like a family member of mine presently is; I could have no food in the house because of an error at the state's welfare office which has happened recently to someone I know.  In short, it could be worse.
     So, what Biblical person can I identify with now?  At the moment, I'd say Abram and Sarai in the 16th chapter of Genesis--this was before YHWH gave them new ID cards.  They had been promised offspring, even though they were already beyond the usual age of fertility.  Yet the couple kept aging and time kept blowing by like a strong breeze and they still had an empty cradle.
     They do what most of us would do--if God's not coming through, it looks like it's up to us.  Sarai tells Abram to have sexual intercourse with her young Egyptian maid, Hagar.  This works like they thought it would, Hagar is impregnated and delivers a son, Ishmael.  However, doing things their own way brings about the mythical origin of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Ishmael and Hagar are banished when Abram and Sarai's promised son arrives.

     I want to hijack God's plan for my life (whatever that might be, I'm never privy to these things) except I can't.  I can't make clients hire me; I can't produce money from oxygen molecules (I suspect I'd be a lousy counterfeiter, too); I can't do much of anything.
     What I can do is trust and let go of the fear (1 John 4:18 & Revelation 1:17-18) though that, as the proverb says, is easier spoken than acted upon.
     I cry out to God, I stare down my icons of Jesus, and I think those sounds and gestures never penetrate my roof line, but somehow when I least expect it, He comes through, He provides.  Not how I would have it done, mind you (my lottery tickets have never netted me more than $10), but little things fall into place.  Little by little, He shows me how stupid I am to doubt Him.
     His love is hard, like a solid tree trunk at times; a love to be feared because it can't be reasoned with or cajoled, but it is the strongest love one could ever conceive of (or even the creation of one million and one monkeys banging away on typewriters, keyboards, and tablets).

"It's about vision/my vision..."