Thursday, February 28, 2013


Before talking to our plants, should we give them names so that they know whom they are talking?  From Nature Speak.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


From Ted Andrews Nature Speak

"Do rubber plants need to be patched regularly?" Good question. And what do you use to "patch" them? LOL

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


"…we belong to a nation which prides itself on being free, and which relates this freedom at least implicitly to its source in Christian theology. Our freedom rests on respect for the rights of the human person, and though our society is not officially Christian, this democratic respect for the person can be traced to the Christian concept that every man is to be regarded as Christ, and treated as Christ.

Briefly, then: we justify our policies, whether national or international, by the implicit postulate that we are supremely concerned with the human person and his rights. We do this because our ancestors regarded every man as Christ, wished to treat him as Christ, or at least believed this to be the right way to act, even though they did not always follow this belief.

Now if we advance this claim, and base our decisions and choices upon it, we must not be surprised if the claim itself comes under judgment. If we assert that we are the guardians of peace, freedom, and the rights of the person, we may expect other people to question, this, demanding, from time to time, some evidence that we mean what we say. Commonly they will look for that evidence in our actions. And if our actions do not fit our words, they will assume that we are either fools deceiving ourselves, or liars attempting to deceive others.

Our claims to high minded love of freedom and our supposed defense of Christian and personalist ideals are going to be judged we believe, not only by other men, but above all by God. At times we are perhaps rashly inclined to find this distinction reassuring. We say to ourselves: God at least knows our sincerity. He does not suspect us as our enemies do. He sees the reality of our good intentions. I am sure He sees whatever reality is there. But are absolutely certain that he judges our intentions exactly as we do?

Let me cite an example. Our defense policies and the gigantic arms race which they require are all based on the supposition that we seek peace and freedom, not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. We claim to possess the only effective and basically sincere formula for world peace because we alone are truly honest in our claim to respect the human person. For us, the person and his freedom with his basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, come absolutely first. Therefore the sincerity and truth of all our asserted aims, at home and abroad, in defense and civil affairs is going to be judged by the reality of our respect for persons and for their rights. The rest of the world knows this very well. We seem not to have realized this as well as they.

We fail to notice that the plans we have devised for defending the human person and his freedom involve the destruction of millions of human person in a few minutes, not because the great majority of these person are themselves hostile to us, or a threat to us, but because by destroying them we hope to destroy a system which is hostile to us and which in addition, is tyrannizing over them, reducing them to abject servitude, and generally destroying their rights and dignities as human persons. Their oppressors have taken away their rights—but we will compound the injury by also taking away their lives and this in the name of the “person” and of “freedom”!

At the same time, even those who believe that such a war could conceivably be “won,” admit that we ourselves, the prospective victors, would necessarily have to live for many years under a military dictatorship while undergoing reconstruction.” Thomas Merton in Seeds of Destruction.

I realize this is a long quote. But, Thomas Merton is hard to paraphrase. He makes his arguments. Then he sets the hook and reels you in. Merton was writing these essays or letters between 1961 and 1964. As the arms race heated up and before the Viet Nam war was barely a blip on the horizon. I can only imagine his reaction to the phrase “we had to destroy the village to save it.” Just change the names and nothing has changed. Substitute Al Qaeda, Taliban, terrorists. You name it. “We saved you from the _______ terribly sorry we had to kill you to do it, I’m sure you understand it was for the greater good.” How much have we sacrificed over the centuries for what we call the “greater good.” Goddess you can justify damn near anything that way.

More later. I’m sufficiently depressed right now. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I was the sun, warm rays piercing the clouds to the sea.
I was the sea, mists rising to join the clouds.
I was the clouds riding the winds to rise above the coastal mountains.
I was the mountains, clouds cooling to drop their rain on my cliffs.
I was the cliffs, trees clinging to the crags and bluffs.
I was the trees, catching the rain dripping into the earth below.
I was the fallen rain, caught in the moss and fallen leaves.
I was the moss, catching the rain, letting it work into the soil
I was the soil, water full, drops working  down, into the foundations of the mountain.
I was the foundation, water seeping, pooling, feeding the deep springs.
I was the deep springs feeding the pools under the trees.
I was the pools, home to little streams bubbling over the rocks fallen from the cliffs.
I was the little streams, rushing to join the great river as it rushes to the salt marshes.
I was the salt marsh, feeding my water back into the sea.
I am the sea, sun warmed, giving up the mists to the sky.

Find a comfortable place to sit. Go back and forth. I was. I am. I will be. Feel it. Be it. 

Picture from the net but the words (for better or worse) are mine.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Image from the Wild Forests website

“Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world buns by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.

 I came up here from the monastery last night sloshing through the cornfield, said Vespers, and put some oatmeal on the Coleman stove for supper, It boiled over while I was listening to the rain and toasting a piece of bread at the log fire. The night became very dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it, all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside! What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.” Thomas Merton in an essay Rain and the Rhinoceros. 

Merton and Tom Cowan both read Eckhart. I wonder if Cowan read Merton. Forty years ago Merton wrote about nature the same way Cowan writes now. I can almost imagine the Trappist monk sitting next to a tree doing something like Cowan’s meditation on the roots of things. Especially trees. He might not have used the I am, but then again…who knows.

I am the tree growing from the soil.
I am the soil gathered around the roots.
I am the roots searching for water.
I am water flowing through the soil.
I am the soil soaking up the water.
I am the water seeping into roots.
I am roots sucking up the water.

Cowan recommended slowly moving back and forth with this meditation until you can feel the cycle. Live it. Be it. If you can’t lean against a tree I use the image of the oak as a world tree. Often the root system is almost the same size as the branches. At least if it isn’t a big, old, beat up tree that looks more like an Ent than an oak. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013


A diversion from what I've been writing lately.

Working on School of Assassins again. I may be able to finish it without bouncing it off the walls this time.

Very unpleasant idea this morning. The CIA handled the training of forces like the contras in Central America in the seventies and eighties. And the playbook included kidnapping, torture, targeted assassinations; the more brutal the better. Much of it based on experience in Viet Nam. Now for the unpleasant thoughts. The CIA also trained and backed the forces that opposed the Soviets in Afghanistan. How much overlap in their training and the Latin American training was there? Did they develop separate training programs? Or did they just use the same material for both groups. And how much of that material came back to bite us on the ass one sunny September morning.

Not exactly what I wanted to contemplate over my morning coffee and toast. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I’m not sure if this was discussed in Sunday school or even in my Great Religions class at the U of O. Probably not.  That class was taught by a retired minister by the way which means there was a certain bias built in from the start. After all I grew up being told that Christianity in all its thousands of sects and variations of belief was the culmination of humanities relationship with the ultimate.

But, once things start bouncing around the old brain box who knows what will come out. The Sabbath was presented as an improvement over earlier religious practices because it set aside a day as holy. Well duh, turns out that the so called pagans had holy days and festivals year round. Many of them lasting up to several day. There were the Olympic Games or the Pan Athenian Games. Those were celebrated every four years.

Greek philosophy described an ultimate God/dess who had more than one face. And some of the Gods had more than one face as well. Poseidon was the God of the sea, but he was also known as Earth Shaker. Not a surprising description for a God in a part of the world that is prone the shaking not only frequently but disastrously.

There were various versions of Apollo, Athena, or Artemis and they all had festivals. Many of them lasted several days. Dionysus was not only the patron of the vine but of actors and the theater.

Many of the festivals were times when plays might be presented as part of a contest, sometimes not. And, in theory, actors were under the God’s protection so they could travel from city to city even if those cities were at war with each other. Which made them useful as messengers or diplomats. Of course you might discover,  as the actor in Mask of Apollo did early in his career that you just might want to skip the next stop on the itinerary. The men were away fighting. The women and kids were barricaded at home. And you theater. The occupying troops are bivouacked in the theater using the scenery for the cook fires. Whoops, guess we don’t get paid for that trip.

 There was a rich spiritual life that has been either dismissed or barely acknowledged because what became our way was the right way. Period, end of discussion.

What was accomplished by setting a specific day as holy, by breaking the links to a changeable calendar that was tied to sun and earth? It undermined the authority of the astronomer/priests. One of their responsibilities was to keep track of the coming of the full moon for certain festivals of the goddess. Also they kept track of the orbit of the sun to signal the passing of one season to the next and the solstices and equinoxes that were the midseason festivals.  

By undercutting the authority of the astronomer/ priests the authority of the Mosaic priesthood was reinforced. And it isolated the followers of the Mosaic Law from their neighbors. No shared festivals. No ties of guest friendship that allowed people to travel from town to town in an era where inns were few and far between. If you were lucky you might be sure of some sort of welcome even if you didn’t have family in the town.

Under the old calendar any day could be a holy day for somebody. If one day is set aside as holy what does that make of the other six days of the week? If only one group within a society is labeled holy because they were born into that “tribe” where does that leave the rest of us? If God lives up on a “holy” mountain, is the rest of the earth not holy?

I don’t think so. I believe that holy ground is right outside my door. And I also believe that if we listen the way we should, any one of us can hear the Song.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Somebody is now big enough to get under the little area rug. And somebody else really, really appreciates it. Not necessarily the same somebody about the same thing. LOL

Saturday, February 16, 2013


This beautiful star dancer was downloaded from the net. I forget who the artist is, But I didn't paint this one. 

Brighid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs protect us,
Keeper of the hearth, kindle us,
Beneath your mantle gather us,
And restore us to memory.

Mother of our mother,
Foremothers strong,
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how
To kindle the hearth,
To keep it bright,
To preserve the flame,
Your hands upon ours,
Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light
Both day and night.

The mantle of Brighid about us,
The memory of Brighid within us
The protection Brighid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness,
This day and night,
From dawn till dark,
From dark till dawn.

Catilin Matthews
Oxford, Midwinter 1993

Brighid can be either the Irish goddess or the Irish saint who sort of stepped into her sandals after the conversion of Ireland. The saint kept most of the attributes of the Goddess, except for the wolves. And the swans. Both pictured with the goddess as special to her. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


My sister e-mailed this to me awhile back. She's a dog fan, just like the rest of us. If dogs aren't welcome, cats probably aren't welcome either. 

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying
the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.
He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been
dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side
of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch
that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.
"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."

 The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.

     "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.
There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the man. "Do you have any water?"
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in."
"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.
"There should be a bowl by the pump."

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.
The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is Heaven," he answered.

 "Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


There is a form of Irish poetry that allows the writer to identify with the land or describe the ties between related parts of Creation. The beauty is that it doesn’t have to rhyme, something that always was a pain when we hit the poetry unit and I actually had to try and write something remotely readable. And since I found most poetry written after say 1700, especially the romantics too sweet for words I never really got into it. Not for lack of trying.

This is my take on living in a part of the world caught between the hammer of Oregon’s volcanic heritage, the changeable vault of the Oregon skies  and the anvil of that great western ocean. That wonderful, wild not so Pacific Ocean.

I am fire from the heart of the earth;
I am the sun, caught in flowing stone;
I am a pillar of steam, born when glowing stone met foaming breakers;
I am a cloud, gray white and heavy with rain;
I am a drop of rain, fresh water become salt;
I am a wave breaking on wind whipped cliffs;
I am a grain of sand caught in the ebb and flow of the tides:
I am land;
I am sea;
I am sky.
Here I am home.

I haven’t quite got the knack of leading each line into the next, like a piece of Celtic knotwork. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Our family tree is mostly boringly British. There’s some Scots Irish. A little Welsh way back in the day. There’s one whole branch from dad’s family that’s Pennsylvania German. But, beyond that we are boringly British. When I Google dad’s last name, Heaton, I end up in Yorkshire, a coastal county in northwestern England. And there were Viking settlements in Northern Ireland and the north west of England so there’s a touch of the Scandinavian in the mix too. Mom’s family is much the same mix. Without the Germans.
 Scandinavia, highland Scotland, parts of England, the Welsh mountains, these countries have one thing in common, the people who live there are never very far from the sea. Maximum in England. About one hundred fifty miles. And Hadrian’s Wall is less than eighty miles long. And, except for most of Ireland, Holland and much of Germany; if you aren’t dealing with the ocean, you’re trying to get over a mountain. That may explain why none of the branches of the family didn’t waste any time getting from the east coast to the west coast.
One of grandma Heaton’s ancestors was born in Vermont in the early 1800’s. His wife represents the branch of  the family that came in from Germany in the early 1700’s. They were in Iowa by the time she was born in 1889 and she was in Oregon before dad was born in 1915. If there had been more land west of Oregon, I don’t think she’d have stopped until she reached the Pacific.
 For me the sea longing is always there. A gossamer thread most of the time, but when I really stop to think about it, an ache that won’t go away.
We give the oceans names and think the naming gives us some sort of control. A name on a map.  A barrier to be crossed in a cocoon of pressurized air. Or the support of a sea going city as we flee the familiar while surrounded by the familiar on the way to more of the same.
When it could be so much more if we could only remember. If we could only remember the time when
I was an snow covered evergreen, gnarled roots clinging to the cliffs of an icy fjord;
I was a gull, wind tossed in a North Sea gale;
I was a wave, a crashing rainbow on black cliffs;
I was a branch, left on a beach as the tide ebbed;
I was a grain of sand, cut from the cliffs by the wind;
I was the sun, lost in the mists;
I was a cloud, pushed inland to be caught snow by capped peaks;
I was a drop of rain; at home in a mountain stream;
I was the river; caught between two shores;
I was the sand bar; carved by the tides;
I was all these things and will be again.


Quote from Frederick Turner in Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness. Too much of our history since the beginning of the colonial era is one of power seeking, control seeking, extermination. And so it goes.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


This is the intro preface to Thomas Merton’s Faith and Violence, published shortly before his death in 1968. Merton has been accused by the fundies of being a heretic, godfather to the modern New Age movement. And so on. Merton was in many ways an uncompromising social critic. However, his criticism was steadfastly anti war as the Viet Nam war heated up. Anti nuclear weapons in the era of mutually assured destruction. And finally a supporter of the right of every human being to be fully human. He had little use for mass movements in the fifties and sixties. I can’t even imagine what his take would be on Reality TV, the obsessive cult of the celebrity and our country’s love affair with anything that goes “boom.” I’m damn sure he wouldn't describe the sound of a jet blasting overhead and the “sound of freedom.”

This is a fairly long entry, but I think it's worth the time. The church, not just the Catholic Church but many Protestant groups have either stood by silently or actively supported the violence and then looked at their critics with a "what, who me?" Mitt Romney and his use of money from Salvadorans who also financed death squads is only a more recent example. One that barely registered on the radar. 


Theology today needs to focus carefully upon the crucial problem of violence. The commandment “Thou shat not kill” is more than a mere matter of academic or sentimental interest in an age when man not only is more frustrated, more crowded, more subject to psychotic and hostile delusion than ever, but also has at his disposition an arsenal of weapons that make global suicide an easy an easy possibility. But the so called nuclear umbrella has not simplified matters in the least” it may (at least temporarily) have caused the nuclear powers to reconsider their impulses to reduce one another to radioactive dust. But meanwhile “conventional” wars go on with unabated cruelty, and already more bombs have been exploded on Vietnam than were dropped in the whole of World War II. The population of the affluent world is nourished on a stead diet of brutal mythology and hallucination, kept at a constant pitch of high tension by a life that is intrinsically violent in that it forces a large part of the population to submit to an existence that which is humanly intolerable. Hence murder, mugging, rape, crime, corruption. But it must be remembered that the crime that breaks out of the ghetto is only the fruit of a greater and more pervasive violence: the injustice which forces people to live in the ghetto in the first place. The problem of violence, then, is not the problem of a few rioters and rebels, but the problem of a whole social structure which is outwardly ordered and respectable, and inwardly ridden by psychopathic obsessions and delusions.

It is perfectly true that violence must at time be restrained by force: but a convenient mythology which simply legalizes the use of force by big criminals against little criminals-whose small-scale criminality is largely caused by the large scale injustice under which they live-only perpetuates the disorder.

Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris  quoted, with approval, a famous saying of St. Augustine: :What are kingdoms without justice but large bands of robbers?” The problem of violence today must be traced to its root: not the small time murderers but the massively organized bands of murderers whose operations are global.

This book is concerned with the defense of the dignity and rights of man against the encroachments and brutality of massive power structures which threaten to either enslave or destroy him, while exploiting him in their conflicts with on another.

The Catholic moral theology of war has, especially since the Renaissance, chiefly concerned itself chiefly with casuistical discussion of how far the sovereign state or the monarch can justly make use of force. The historic context of this discussion was the struggle for a European balance of power, waged for absolute monarchs by small professional armies. In a new historical context we find not only a new struggle on a global scale between mammoth nuclear powers provided with arsenals capable of wiping out the human race, but the emergence of scores of small nations in an undeveloped part of the world that was until recently colonial. In this Third World we find not huge armed establishments but petty dictatorships (representing a rich minority) armed by the great powers, opposed by small, volunteer guerilla forces fighting for the poor. The Great Powers tend to intervene in these struggles, not so much by the threat and use of nuclear weapons (with which they continue to threaten each other) but with armies of draftees with new experimental weapons which are sometimes incredibly savage and cruel and which are used mostly against helpless non combatants. Although many Churchmen moved apparently by force of habit, continue to issue mechanical blessing upon those draftees and upon the versatile applications of science to the art of killing, it is evident that this use of force does not become moral just because the government and the mass media have declared the cause of the patriotic. The cliché “My country right or wrong” does not provide a satisfactory theological answer to the moral problems raised by the intervention of American power in all parts of the Third World. And in fact the Second Vatican Council, following the encyclical of John XXIII Pacem in Terris, has had some pertinent things to say about war in the nuclear era.

To assert that conflict resolution is one of the crucial areas of theological investigation in our time is not to issue an a priori demand for a theology of pure pacifism. To declare that all use of force in any way whatever is by the very fact immoral is to plunge into confusion and unreality from the very start because, as John XXIII admitted, “unfortunately the law of fear still reigns among peoples” and there are situations in which the only way to protect human life and rights effectively is by forcible resistance against unjust encroachment. Murder is not to be passively permitted, but resisted and prevented-and all the more so when it becomes mass murder. The problem arises not when theology admits that force can be necessary, but when it does so in a way that implicitely favirs the claims of the powerful and self seeking establishment against the common good mankind or against the rights of the oppressed.

The real moral issue of violence in the twentieth century is obscured by archaic and mythical presuppositions. We tend to judge violence in terms of the individual, the messy, the physically disturbing, the personally frightening. The violence we want to see restrained is the violence of the hood waiting for us in the subway or the elevator. That is reasonable, but it tends to influence us too much. It makes us think that the problem of violence is limited to this very small scale, and it makes us unable to appreciate the far greater problem of the more abstract, more global, more organized presence of violence on a massive and corporate pattern. Violence today is white collar violence, systematically organized bureaucratic and technological destruction of man.

The theology of violence must not lose sight of the real problem which is not the individual with a revolver but death and genocide as big business. But this big business of death is all the more innocent and effective because it involves a long chain of individuals, each of whom can feel himself absolved from responsibility, and each of whom can perhaps salve his conscience by contributing with a more meticulous efficiency to his part of the massive operation.

We know, for instance, that Adolf Eichmann and others like him felt no guilt for their part in the extermination of the Jews. This feeling of justification was partly due to their absolute obedience to higher authority and partly to the care and efficiency that went into the details of their work. This was done almost entirely on paper. Since they dealt with numbers, not with people, and since their job was one of abstract bureaucratic organization, apparently they could easily forget the reality of what they were doing. The same is true to an even greater extent in modern warfare in which the real problems are not located in rare instances of hand to hand combat, but in the remote planning and organization of technological destruction. The real crimes of modern war are not committed at the front (if any) but in war offices and ministries of defense in which no one ever has to see any blood unless his secretary gets a nosebleed. Modern technological mass murder is not directly visible, like individual murder. It is abstract, corporate, businesslike, cool, free of guilt feelings and therefore a thousand times more deadly and effective than the eruption of violence out of individual hate. It is this polite, massively organized white collar murder machine that threatens the world with destruction, not the violence of a few desperate teenagers in a slum. But our antiquated theology myopically focused on individual violence alone fails to see this. It shudders at the phantasm of muggings and killings where a mess is made on our own doorstep, but blesses and canonizes the antiseptic violence of corporately organized murder because it is respectable, efficient, clean, and above all profitable.

In another place I have contrasted, in some detail the mentality of John XXIII on this point with the mentality of Macchiavelli (Seeds of Destruction, Part III). Macchiavelli said: “There are two methods of fighting, one by law and the other by force. The first is the method of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second.” I submit that a theology which merely seeks to justify the “method of beasts” and to help is disguise itself as law-since it is after all a kind of “prolongation of law”- is not adequate for the problems in a time of valence.

On the other hand we also have to recognize that when oppressive power is thoroughly well established, it does not always need to resort openly to the “method of beasts” because its laws are already powerful-perhaps also bestial-enough. In other words, when a system can, without resort to overt force, compel people to live in conditions of abjection, helplessness, wretchedness that keeps them on the level of beasts rather than men, it is plainly violent. To make men live on a subhuman level against their will, to constrain them in such a way that they have no hope of escaping their conditions, is an unjust use of force. Those who in some way or other concur in the oppression-and perhaps profit by it-are exercising violence even though they may be preaching pacifism. And their supposedly peaceful laws, which maintain this spurious kind of order, are in fact instruments of violence and oppression, if the oppressed try to resist by force-which is their right-theology has no business preaching no violence to them. Mere blind destruction is, of course, futile and immoral: but who are we to condemn a desperation we have helped to cause!

However, as John XXIII pointed out, the “law of fear” is not the only law under which men can live, nor is it really the normal mark of the human condition., To live under the law of fear and to deal with one another by the methods of beasts will hardly help world events “to follow a course in keeping with man’s destiny and dignity.” In order for us to realize this we must remember that “one of the profound requirements of (our) nature is this…it is not fear that should reign but  love- a love that tends to express itself in mutual collaboration,”

“Love” is unfortunately a much misused word. It trips easily off the Christian tongue-so easily that one get the impression that others ought to love us for standing on their necks.

. A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity while identifying “peace” with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness,, longsuffering and to solve their problems, if at all, non violently.

The theology of love must seek to deal realistically with the evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. Such a theology will have to take note of the ambiguous realities of politics, without embracing the specious myth of a “realism” that merely justifies force in the service of established power. Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.

On the other hand, Christian faith and purity of intention-the simplicity of the dove-are no guarantee of political acumen, and theological insight is a substitute for the wisdom of the serpent which is seldom acquired in Sunday school. Should the theologian or the priest be too anxious to acquire that particular kind of wisdom? Should he be too ambitious for the achievements of a successful authentic Christian witness from effectiveness in political maneuvering? Or is the real place of the priest the place which Fr. Camilo Torres took, with the Colombian guerillas?

This book cannot hope to answer such questions. But it can at least provide a few materials for a theology, not of pacifism. And non violence in the sense of non resistance, but for a theology of resistance which is at the same time Christian resistance and which therefore emphasizes reason and humane communication rather than force, but which also admits the possibility of force in a limit situation when everything else fails.

Such a theology could not claim to be Christian if it did not retain at least some faith in the meaning of the Cross and of the redemptive death of Jesus who, instead of using force against his accusers, took all the evil upon himself and overcame that evil by his suffering. This is the basic Christian pattern, but a realistic theology will, I believe, give a new practical emphasis to it. Instead of preaching the cross for others and advising them to suffer patiently the violence we sweetly impose upon them, with the aid of armies and police, we might conceivably recognize the right of the less fortunate to use force, and study more seriously the practice of nonviolence and humane methods on our own part when, as it happens, we possess the most stupendous arsenal of power the world has ever known.

General MacArthur was no doubt sincerely edified when the conquered Japanese wrote into their constitution clause saying they would never again arm and go to war. He warmly congratulated them for their wisdom. But he never gave the slightest hint of thinking the United States ought to follow their example. On the contrary, he maintained to the end that for us there was no other axiom than that “there was no substitute for victory.” Others have come after him with more forceful convictions. They would probably be glad to see all Asian nations disarm on the spot: but failing that we can always bomb them back into the Stone Age. And there is no reason to believe that the United States might not eventually try to do so.

The title of this book is Faith and Violence. That might imply several interesting possibilities. The book might for example study the violence of believers-and this as history shows, has sometimes been considerable. The disciples of the Prince of Peace have sometimes managed to prove themselves extremely bloodthirsty, especially among themselves. The have consistently held, that in practice, the way to prove sincerity of faith was not so much non violence as the generous use of lethal weapons. It is a curious fact that in this current century there have been two world wars of unparalleled savagery in which Christians on both sides, were exhorted to go out and kill each other if not in the name of Christ and faith at least in the name of “Christian duty.” One of the strange facts about this was, that in the Second World War German Christians were exhorted by their pastors to die for a government that was not only non-Christian but anti-Christian and had evident intentions of getting rid of the church.  An official theology which urged Christians as a matter of Christian duty, to fight for such a government, surely calls for examination. And we shall see that few questioned it. One man did. And we shall devote a few pages to his unusual case. Possibly he was what the Catholic Church would call a saint. If so, it was because he dared to refuse military service under the Fuehrer whom his bishop told him he was obliged to obey.

…At no point in these pages will the reader find the author trying to prove that evil should not be resisted. The reason for emphasizing non violent resistance is this: he who resists force with force in order to seize power may find himself contaminated by the evil he is resisting and, when he gains power, may be just as ruthless a tyrant as the one he has dethroned. A non violent victory, while far more difficult to achieve, stands a better chance of curing the illness rather than contracting it….


Read Lisa’s newest entry. And it tied into some reading I’m doing. And led to my considering some unpleasant possibilities. In 1977 Oscar Romero was appointed archbishop of El Salvador. Considered a theological conservative whose health wasn't  that good he proceeded to surprise just about everybody. Especially those who counted on his support for the government. Which they didn’t get. Fast forward three years to March 1980 and Romero’s assassination.

It took a little time but the killing was tied to Roberto D’Aubuisson, member of the Salvadoran military and graduate of the School of the Americas. The School of the Americas, with ties to the CIA and the playbook they used in Viet Nam.

The unpleasant thought? Oscar Romero was the Primate of El Salvador. The ranking member of the hierarchy in his country. Would D’Aubuisson and his death squads have dared to take out the archbishop without at least talking it over with their CIA contacts? I doubt it. In fact, in my paranoid little musings, I suspect that they had to get someone from the agency to sign off on the action. Or at least agree to sit in the corner, eyes closed, fingers in ears, humming really, really loud.

And that, was a bit of a heart stopper folks. And for starters freedom are the sounds of happy kids who know that they can go to bed at night and wake up in that bed in the morning, not a refugee camp or a mountain trail trying to escape from death squads. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I was (and still am) looking for another entry and found this blast from the past. I've never gone this far trying to dose a critter. I figure anything that can fight back that hard is probably healthy enough to not need any more meds. 


·                     Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby.  Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth.  Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
·                     Remove pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
·                     Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.
·                     Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand.  Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
·                     Remove pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
·                     Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws.  Ignore low growls entitled by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
·                     Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap.  Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains.  Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
·                     8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
·                     Check label to make sure pill is not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
·                     Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
·                     Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink.  Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for data of last tetanus jab.  Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw away T-shirt and fetch new one from bedroom.
·                     Ring fire brigade to retrieve the friggin' cat from tree across the road. Apologize to the neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap. 
·                     Tie the little bastard's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
·                     Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.
·                     Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

·                     Wrap it in bacon.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. Part of this was triggered by a story on the net about an attempt to rename Nathan Bedford Forrestt park in Memphis. And basically it's seen as a Civil Rights issue. Comment after comment on the thread had the theme that nobody alive now was a slave or owned slaves so African Americans should “just get over it.”

Aristotle taught that some nations were naturally meant to be slaves. Except for the Greeks of course. And that kind of depended on who was at war with whom and how PO'd they were about it. No. No Americans living now own slaves. And most of us don’t have ancestors that owned slaves. That we know of. And I’m not going to go into the why fors and where fors of why our ancestors thought slavery was the right way to do things.

But I’ll throw out some random thoughts. Society condemns the drug addict or the down and outer who steals our stuff so they can sell it and get money to by drugs or whatever.  The stuff that we believe we need to survive. Our money. Our cars. Our electronics. Our jewelry. They steal them because they “need” it at the time.

Outside out houses and our cities it a great, big wonderful, divinely created world full of creatures that depend on that world for their food, their homes, their futures. And in the words of the seventies song “we plunder, we drill, we dredge and we tunnel. Trees standing naked finger the sky. Building a land for machines and computers, in the name of progress the farms have to die,” And I might add the rivers, the meadows, the sea and the mountain tops.

We rip up the land. We spread our poisons, We literally take the tops off mountains and dump the waste at the bottom of the hill. Because we “need” the energy. We need the cheap crops, We need stuff to fill the bottomless pit in our souls. And no, we don’t own slaves. Too many of us do turn a blind eye to the sweat shop labor paid pennies an hour to build an Iphone that can cost hundreds. And we’ll line up for hours to buy the newest one to replace the one we bought last year. And it proves what? Damned if I know.

I do believe that there is a worm at the heart of our civilization and it goes back thousands of years. Somewhere, sometime, somebody decided that they had the right to take another human being; take them from their homes, their families, their place in Creation and force them to do their will. And claim divine sanction for it.

When the conquerors came to the New World they didn’t see people who mostly lived in harmony with their world they saw Christian converts and potential slaves. And yes, there was war, and conquest and bloodshed on this side of the pond. The poison goes back further than the migration to the New World from the west.

I’m not sure where this is leading me, except that I suspect that African Americans aren’t the only ones who need to “get over it.” 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This is not a shot of St. Ciaran's well at Clonmacnoise. That one is a bit too touristy for my taste. This one is appropriately mossy, ferny and ivy covered. If you look really hard you can see the water. 

Ireland is dotted with springs and wells sacred to either the pagans or Christians or both. As Tom Cowan tells it, wells can be mighty particular about how they’re treated. Wash your clothes in one? Not a good idea. Dump your trash in one?  Not recommended. Show disrespect and the spirit in the well may just decide to go elsewhere. Taking the water with it.

There is holy well near the ruins of the ancient monastery of Clonmacnoise. And it went dry several years ago. Now it could be disrespect. It could be that the EU experts that oversaw the draining of local marsh lands in efforts “improve” the land might have had something to do with it. In any case, locals still visit the well and leave prayers tied onto a bush on strips of cloth. The local priest keeps removing the strips and folks keep leaving them.

Dry or not, Cowan led a pilgrimage to the well several years ago. Leaving the interpretation center behind, the group followed the path to the well. Sure enough, the well was dry. Prayers were said. Rattles were shaken, songs were sung. A few prayers tied to the bush. And back they went to the monastery ruins. In need of the facilities some of the group headed for the restrooms. Only to find them posted closed. It seems that the water, well it was gone. The water level dropped during the prayer meeting. And it hadn’t returned before the party left.   

Monday, February 4, 2013


This is not a complete list of what's been torquing me lately, but it'll do to be getting on with. Catching up with blogs on the Creation Spirit website sort of brought this on. One blogger who spent a great deal of time and energy looking up material to refute the claims of certain ultra right wing spokesman. I've quite trying to find chinks in the armor of most of these "true" believers. You can patiently cite scripture and other teachers and hope for acceptance. Don't hold your breath because the approval or at least acceptance will never happen. So here goes. 

After checking out some of the nutcases highlighted on Face book OR that I’ve run across accidentally researching other topics or people I've had a revelation or two.

I’m not asking for anyone’s permission to believe. Especially the self appointed, barely educated “guardians’ at the gates. The ones who label anyone who deviates from their own narrow interpretations. You've probably run across them at one time or another. Most of the ones I’ve read haven’t been to a seminary or theological school but they’re at the front of the line when it comes to branding others as heretics and/or apostates.

As a Quaker on the Christian side of my personal Spiral Dance,  I claim the right of Soul Freedom to follow where I believe the spirit is leading me. I’ll take my place at the Creator’s table in my own right; not on the sufferance of others. And I’ll accord others the same right.

But, I also claim the right to disagree when claims fly in the face of science and reason. Especially when those claims can’t be backed up with research. I will not accept the “I’ve heard some scientists say”.” Or I’ve heard that there is research that claims.” Heaven knows we heard enough of that BS during the last election.  

Others are free to believe in Intelligent Design for example. Don’t expect me to support it being taught in public schools on the taxpayers’ dime. Especially in the name of “fairness.” Science doesn’t work that way.

Spokesman are free to claim that Christians are being persecuted. News flash, disagreement is not persecution. The billboards some atheist groups have been putting up may be tacky but there’s that pesky first amendment again.

In the meantime have any ministers been arrested in the middle of the night? Have any been shot on their way to a prayer meeting? Is anyone monitoring your home Bible study group? Have any Christian radio or TV stations been bombed lately? Have the Christian oriented publishing houses been shut down? Any churches been turned into barracks, storehouses or been bombed lately? I didn’t think so. And may you never discover what real persecution is.

And finally. When certain spokesmen talk about taking the country back for the “Lord” and “true” conservatism; here’s a little something to chew on. This country isn’t yours to take. And the rest of us aren’t going to just step politely out of the way because it isn’t ours to give up.

Well, that's off my chest. Time to close the book on this and move on. 


Traditionally the woman of the house would put the peat hearth fire to “bed” each night. I’m not sure but I suspect that in an extended household the oldest “mother” of the house would care for the fire.

The ashes and embers are spread and divided into three sections. A peat section is put between each section the ends butted at one end. Then covered with more ashes. A prayer is said. Pagan or Christian. The Christian trinity or the three faces of Brigid. Brigid who is the patron of the fires of the forge and the hearth. This is a version of the prayer common to the western highlands and the isles of Scotland.

The sacred Three,
To save,
To shield,
To surround
The hearth
The house,
The household,
This eve,
This night,
And every night,
Each single night.

It’s also traditional that the fire does not go out, even in summer. The only time the hearth fire was deliberately extinguished or allowed to go out was for Beltane; the summer festival on May 1. Community bonfires would be lit at sunset and the hearth fires would be lit for the coming year at dawn. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


It's the beginning of Spring in the Celtic calendar. Imbolc, they call it. Also Brigid's Day. Brigid, Brighid, Brigantia. A curious, in a way triple goddess. Three goddesses, all named Brigid. The patron of creativity; smithcraft, poetry, fertility. In fact she blesses almost every thing we can do.

Found on the net. The picture too. 


Blessings of the growing light
Blessings of the quickening earth
Blessings of the morning chorus
Blessings of the first shy flowers
Blessings of Nature waking
Blessings of Maiden singing
Briganti’s fire light your path
Briganti’s blessings on your hearth

The hearth was central to the Irish home. It warms the home, cooks the meals, provides light when the darkness falls. Especially in the darkness of winter. But, this is the time of growing light as the sun rises higher and higher in the sky. 


Let all the rivers clap their hands

And the mountains shout for joy.

Pictures from the web. Quote from Psalm 98. Now if I could just record the music that I hear in my mind. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you live in Oregon.

If you’ve worn shorts, sandals and a parka at the same time, you live in Oregon.

If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Oregon.

If you measure distance in hours, you live in Oregon.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Oregon.

If you switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ and back again in the same day, you live in Oregon.

If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both doors unlocked, you live in Oregon.

If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Central, Southern or Eastern Oregon.

If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over 2 layers of clothes or under a raincoat, you live in Oregon.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow and ice, you live in Oregon.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Oregon.

If you feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash, you live in Oregon.

If you know more than 10 ways to order coffee, you live in Oregon.

If you know more people who own boats than air conditioners, you live in Oregon.

If you stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the “Walk” signal, you live in Oregon.

If you believe that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain, you live in Oregon

If you can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and Dutch Bros., you live in Oregon. (That’s coffee, folks)

If you know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon, you live in Oregon. (Especially if you know that fish are being discussed without salmon added to the description)

If you know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Clatskanie, Issaquah, Oregon, Umpqua, Yakima and Willamette, you live in Oregon.

If you consider swimming an indoor sport, you live in Oregon.

If you know that Boring is a city and not just a feeling, you live in Oregon.

If you can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, you live in Oregon.

If you never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho, you live in Oregon.

If you have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain, you live in Oregon.

If you think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists, you live in Oregon.

If you buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time, you live in Oregon.

If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your friends (Oregonians or otherwise), you live or have lived in Oregon.