Monday, September 30, 2013

CREATION LAUGHS AND DANCES

I nearly drowned myself this morning when I found the link on one of my friends on FB. I inhaled rather than drown the keyboard.

Frankly I'd love to see this signboard with either/or Martin Luther or John Calvin's name on it. Too bad they didn't have Prozac or one of its cousins back in the 1500's. It might have saved a few lives. Luther isn't as bad as Calvin though.

In my opinion Calvin's take on predestination is one of the most hateful pieces of crap religious or other wise I've ever had the displeasure of learning about.

Salvation is reduced to a cosmic crap shoot or dart game. Before we were even created God destined a small minority for salvation, through no merit or lack of merit on our part and the vast majority for damnation also through no merit of lack thereof on our part.

That attitude is so far from something Eckhart wrote it's not even in the same galaxy.

"Do you want to know what happens in the core of the Trinity? I will tell you. In the core of the Trinity God laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us."

 Laughter. Oh we ache for it. We're starved for it. The Mother and Father of Creation laugh, sing and join hands with their children and lead us all in the great Spiral Dance of becoming. I wish I could paint whats behind my eyes.

And somebody else is writing this, not me. This entry did not end up where I started to go. That happens.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

FORGIVE THIS POOR STUMBLING ENTRY

The ideas and words are in the brain, It's the getting them into words that's causing me to stumble around like a drunken sailor, but here goes anyway.

I’m starting to get really weird vibes about the public face of the church in America. For every group like Soujourners there’s a Joel Osteen or a James Hagee. Heck one of the religious channels in our cable system is still showing old Billy Graham crusade footage. For every group like UMCOR (United Methodist Council on relief) and the Mennonites that are early on the scene when there’s a disaster there’s the Prosperity Gospel, Pat Robertson and I just accepted Jesus and I’m saved; end of story.

I realize this is the shortened, abridged version. You can come away with the impression that just about anything goes hyper individualism and capitalism are the eleventh and twelfth commandments.

On the other side there’s the folks who self identify as atheists. As atheists who show a fair amount of contempt for believers. The invisible Sky Daddy is used a lot. That’s what kind of got my attention. Commenters who are supposedly different individuals who post material that is eerily identical.

Apparently absent from the national stage is the rich umbrella of mystical traditions that encloses groups from the Irish monks to the Eastern Orthodox. When those Irish set out to renew the call in Europe their path stretched from Ireland through the north country of England planting the seeds that gave birth to the Quakers. And every one of them was a mystic. Still the only group I know of that is wise enough to sit down, shut up and listen for the spirit to speak. And then stay quiet long enough to be sure we aren’t talking to ourselves.

Then they made their wasy through what became Germany birthplace of Hildegard and Eckhart. Meister Eckhart who said that “every creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature – even a caterpillar – I would never have to prepare a sermon.” If you want to know God’s word? Look at your neighbor.

Then it was over the Alps and down to the heel of the Italian boot. Right through Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis. The one who sang a hymn to the birds.

Now we come to that inconvenient hero, Martin Luther King. He not only disappears from the national mythology from August 1963 until his death but there is not mention of the deep and evolving religious faith that was the foundation for his actions. I mean what part of Southern Christian Leadership Conference did we not understand?

By 1967 he was literally calling for a revolution and basing that call solidly in scripture from the old prophets to the Sermon and the Mount and Jesus litmus tests for separating the sheep from the goats.

That is was wrong to put poor young men into uniforms and sent them eight thousand miles to kill the poor young men in Vietnam. That you can’t convince people that democracy is the right road to travel by killing them. Bombs do not lead to the ballot box. You can't solve the problems of poor African Americans unless you end poverty for all Americans no matter their race or color. That you can't end poverty and humiliation in this country without ending it for all; not matter where they live. That militarism, racism and extreme materialism are, if not killing us then stripping us of our humanity. And it doesn't matter whether we we're rich or poor or where we live.

If you want to kill the dream of one man, of the men and women who believed and believe in that dream then do your best to belittle, ignore, “kill” the face of the faith that inspired him and us. Let the Limbaughs and the Becks and the Bachmanns tell us that Jesus didn’t teach us to care for, protect and love our neighbors. That from salvation to the pocketbook it really is all about ME.

Martin's answer would have been a resounding no. The the question was not "what will happen to me if I act" but "what will happen to whoever needs my help if I don't."

Well, there is is. Such as it is. Looks like I got some work to do. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

BACK WHEN

I only had two nephews with a little whozis/whatzis on the way and the other two were just a gleam in sis's eyes everybody was down for whatever holiday it was. Chris was four and Jon was about two. And Jon was following Chris EVERYWHERE. I don't know if it was because he adored Chris or if he was just the only person in the house who close to his size. Chris kept getting the litany. You're the oldest. You have to act like a big boy now. You're going to be a big brother. Etc. Etc. Etc. until he had a meltdown and ended up in the back bedroom.

We had a good talk. Well I talked and he nodded a lot. It was mostly along the lines of "I'll bet you're getting tired of being told you have to be all grown up now." Well, there wasn't much I could do about it except sympathize. I was the oldest too. But, I wasn't the mommy or the daddy. I was the auntie.

Anyway, when I saw this picture, it just so reminded me of that day.

Ok. Chris isn't a cat, but he is rather cat like. And he didn't actually apologize but he did quite heading in the other direction every time Jon wanted to give him a hug.

And now that they're all grown up, they are very good friends. Just give it time buddy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN

Chew gum and walk in a straight line at the same time. Or in this case follow the notes on the page, count, get my fingers in the right place, remember to breath, oh and remember which notes are which. Following notes on the staff does not guarantee you'll remember which is E and which is C. Oh and sharps and flats. I keep telling myself I'm doing this to keep my sanity. LOL oh, so LOL.

Mom is very patient and the cats go someplace else.

I could probably just tootle on the darn melodica and be perfectly happy. But, no. I have to haul out my old flute book and start from the beginning. Surprisingly the book works pretty well. Except for the five keys below middle C the range of the two instruments is the same. Even if I got the darn flute reconditioned I'm not sure I could hit F6 these days anyway. That's two octaves above the F next to middle C and as I recall that's one heck of a pucker. Not that the music we played in band ever really needed that range anyway.

This version of the instrument that have comes with something sis's didn't. But then I think hers only played two octaves. Along with the mouthpiece I remember, there's this cute, flexible tube. Using that you can "play" the instrument like a tiny piano. Play is the operative word right now. But, hey my shower singing has improved and oddly enough; so has my typing. Weird, hunh.,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DEALING WITH TROUBLESOME PROPHETS

I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories but. And it’s kind of a big but. We just finished watching my old DVD of King. Sort of the Cliff Notes version of MLK’s public career. The man was a son of a preacher. He was a preacher. He was surrounded by men of the cloth. And in the last five years of his life he started sounding a lot like a liberation theologian from Latin America minus the “dialectical materialism” of Hegel and the so called Marxists.

King was working from a Gospel perspective. Hell, in his last speech he came out and basically said if you’re going to say anything at my funeral say that I tried to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, care for the sick. That I tried to hold to non violence. Straight out of the Gospel according the Matthew.

Fast forward to 2013 and who do we see in the public eye? Hucksters for the prosperity gospel? So called churchmen whose interests seem confined to who marries who and what a woman does with her own body? Preachers whose only knowledge or interest in the prophets seems confined to prophecies about the messiah while ignoring the sometimes strident warning about what happens when we don’t care for the least among us. Shouting claims of persecution when the rest of us point out that if you’re worried about your kids praying maybe they should do it at home. With you leading the way. Or that there is nothing secular about the first four of the Ten Commandments.

Sometimes I think the story of Jesus goes straight from Christmas to Easter without taking stock of WHY so many in the local and imperial power structure thought it was a good idea to get an inconvenient prophet out of the way. As quickly, painfully and publicly as possible.

On to the conspiracy theory. If you don’t want the faith community messing with our still racist, extremely materialistic  and shoot first and ask questions later society what options do you have. You can’t attack the churches directly. Not when you’re also pushing the mantra that the U.S. was established as a Christian nation.

You can haul out the Becks and the Limbaughs to tell us that there was never any such thing as a “social gospel.” You can reduce the message of the gospels to “Jesus died for MY sins.” And a very narrow list of sins it usually is. You can encourage ridicule by encouraging so called ministers to run who seem to think that support of hyper capitalism and individualism are the eleventh and twelfth commandments. Or that if you don't accept his definition who is accepted as a member of the body and who isn't. 


And if you do find an inconvenient prophet on your hands you just might consult the playbook the CIA developed for Vietnam and transplanted to Latin America. If discrediting him (or her) doesn’t work? There’s always a rifle, a bullet and a convenient patsy. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

IT'LL BE TOOLATE WHEN WE NEED THEM


Just a reminder that when the climate finally hits the overshoot this planet doesn't come with a rewind button or lifeboats. There's nowhere else to go. Time to treat her like the spaceship she is.

Monday, September 23, 2013

WHY I WRITE

Because it's that or go nuts. It's a place to think things through by writing about them. I don't do a chatty blog. Partly because how often can you tell people what you had for lunch. I do the occasional kitty update. to be honest I'm on the north side of sixty and a seeker. Maybe this blog should come with a "beware soul searching in public." Well, semi public I'm usually happy if I get a dozen hits on an entry. I do wish folks would take the time to comment. I'd appreciate the feedback. Am I on the right track or am I an idiot? As long as there's no cussing I don't mind being told  that you don't agree with me.

Which brings me to an entry I did about a month ago. I still hope that the folks who put out Trumpet of Conscience don't mind that I pretty much copied MLK's speech on nonviolence and how to bring about change in our country. I'd really like to know how blogger gets the numbers that go in that number of views box because that entry is at over two thousand hits and counting. Looks like I might have struck a nerve. Or the topic struck a nerve. I'm not going to claim there's anything special about what I did except choose the topic was sure to put his initials first in the title.

I suspect that a lot of us are looking beyond the "safe" icon of prophet of nonviolence that gets hauled out when we show footage from the 1963 I have a dream speech. Then he disappears from popular history until that murderous night in Memphis. This nation's popular mythology has no room for the King who came out against the war in Vietnam. No room for the King who realized that being allowed on the bus, being able to sit down at a restaurant or register to vote is meaningless if you don't have a job, if you are poor, sick and ill fed. And that those problems have nothing to do with the color of your skin.

We're still trying to part the waters, follow that pillar of smoke by day and fire by night in hopes of reaching the promised land where everyone has the chance to live a fully human life.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

THE PROMISED LAND IS STILL WAITING


ABRAHAM MARTIN AND JOHN
Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.

Lyrics by Dion  Music for Richard Holler

I am tired. I am so damn tired. Every generation we have to fight the same battles over and over. As long as they keep coming we have to pick ourselves up and walking to the mountain top. 

SMOKY

Late March before last we had a snow storm. In the middle of the snow a kitty showed up on the porch to share what we'd been putting out for Amber. He had a collar with broken thread where the tag had been. He was bright and friendly and "will you be my mommy/" He was pretty big then and he's bigger now. It's nearly year and a half later and obviously the orphan is doing very well. He's and innie/outie. He's an "it"  one way or another. He gets along with the other kitties. Midge likes to tackle him just like the others. And he puts up with it. He loves to sit in mom's lap. And when there's no lap well there's the floor. He sticks pretty close to the yard. The porch is fixed up pretty good. He can come in whenever he wants and maybe just maybe this winter we can convince him to come in for good. For the moment he's really, really relaxed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

FUNDAMENTALIST BS

I've gotten so tired of fundies who treat prayer and the Bible like they're some kind of magic potion.

There's nothing stopping kids from bringing a Bible to school and reading it on their own. Just can't have a tax supported Bible Club.

If it's so important read the Bible with your kids before or after they go to school. And if you're going to do that be sure you practice what you preach. And I don't mean just the verses about gays etc. Do justice and love mercy. Practice the beatitudes. If you practice what you preach your kids probably won't run into any problems.

Friday, September 20, 2013

CAT TAILS

A break in the political/religious BS that's coming down this week. 



Midge about this time last year, give or take a week. just about three weeks old and about half a pound

Getting a shot of the perpetual motion furball is kind of hard. And she does look a little weird with one eye reflecting the flash and other not. But to get a pose so close to the first one is close to miraculous. What a difference a year makes. A year old and about seven pounds. Looking very prim and proper in her shirt front and tuxedo.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

LOVE THE SINNER AND ALL THAT JAZZ

Boy do I need that little keyboard. Even if I do sound like a herd of elephants sometimes. I do know how to read music. At least I thought I did. LOL Notes, fingers, keys, brain, check.

This isn't exactly a rant, but I've just about reached my personal limit of toleration for "believers" who insist that I share their view of the universe and that they should be allowed to dictate that the rest of us share that view.

“Biblical Christians love gay people as we love all people but we do not have to accept the act of homosexuality, which is a abomination and a sin. Again it's called loving the sinner but hating the sin. “

I wonder if the person who wrote this comment has any idea how freaking condescending they sound. Or that love the sinner, hate the sin can include more than gay rights. I’m Quaker and Celtic pagan. Both were heresies not so long ago. And it hasn't been so long ago that the “good Biblical Christians” would have done everything they could to “save” my soul even if it killed me.

I’ve run into so many of the passive aggressive types. They don’t exactly threaten me with hellfire if I don’t join the choir, but they strongly suggest it. Then they say they’re going to pray for me. I’m not asked if I want their prayers. Or if I believe in them. “I’ll pray for you.” Somehow I don’t think my offer of prayers in return would go over very well. I may try the offer sometime though. Just to see if I get an answer back. Care to place bets?

It must come hard to folks who have been used to calling the tune to discover that not only do more and more people not know their song, they insist on singing their own. And don’t care if you join in or not.

I’ll be honest with these folks, thanks, but no thanks. I do not require your acceptance, your tolerance, your validation, your condescension or anything else from you except to be left alone to work out my relationship with the unknown. And I’ll give you the same courtesy.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ABOUT THAT DOG

Her  name was Candy. She was an little poodle/peke cross. We got her before we moved to Kelly. It was almost funny to watch that tiny puppy go outside with my six foot two hundred pound dad. She never was more than about ten pounds. She loved to run, and front yard was just perfect. She'd run in a circle and bark every time she made a circuit. And she loved to sit on my music while I practiced. And sing, Actually she did pretty good, for a little bit of a dog.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FOR ABOUT A HALF AN HOUR

Me and my new semi best bud get together and I make something that sounds like music. For that half hour I'm not thinking about politics. Or about how crappy the world seems sometimes.

I haven't made it upstairs to locate my table top music stand from long ago. (which might not hold half of what I've got any way) I mean I played my guitar sitting on the side of the bed with a heavy book or a small dog to hold down the pages. More about the dog later.

Anyway I've got this handy, dandy wooden TV tray that will hold an old flute book, the melodica and a cat. Midge is terminally curious and insisted on sitting in the middle of the pages yesterday. I'm trying to remember which is E and which is D in the octave above middle C, to say nothing of F and high C. Trying to come up with consistent fingerings. Thanks mom who took piano lessons a very long time ago.

I can read music. I can. Most of the time. And I'm having a ball.

Monday, September 16, 2013

IS THIS THE SECOND AMENDMENT OR...

why I bought that darn Melodica. I'm going to need that music really, really bad.

The latest on the "I can take my gun anywhere I want front."  Has anyone out there heard of any African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans of women of any group including WASP'S pulling these half assed stunts?

For the record I have relatives that hunt. I didn't turn a hair last fall when my BIL's sister posted pictures of her grand daughter getting her first gun safety lessons from her uncle. I don't own a gun. I don't really worry that I might be standing by somebody with a concealed weapons permit while I'm in the line at Fred Meyer's. I do have a problem with a couple of brainless twits planning to take their guns into a crowded farmer's market because they need them for "self defense." What? You afraid somebody is going to start lobbing cabbages, apples or watermelons at you?

If as I suspect the vast majority of the attempts to take what are not what I grew up calling a hunting rifle into crowded public spaces are carried out by white male individuals then this has nothing, in my opinion, to do with the second amendment and everything to do with intimidation.

And while we're at it. What about the rights of everyone else to go shopping or take their kids shopping with them and not have to start wondering if it's time to head for the exits or take refuge behind the displays? The rest of us have rights too, or do you guys even give a damn.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NEW SORT OF BEST FRIEND

Fourth grade they issued us little plastic recorders called tonettes and taught us the basics. It was fun and somebody must have been watching.

Fifth grade I got hauled into the gym with a bunch of classmates. They started me on the mouthpiece for a flute, I got a sound and they didn't go any further. Somehow my folks came up with the $150.00 dollars for that sucker and a semi talented musician was born. I was pretty good for a small town band, I enjoyed it but I never really had any illusions that I had the drive to take it past high school. Still I enjoy music. Thanks to band practice I can read music. At least the notes above middle C. IE the flute range.

Well it's a long time since high school and my pucker isn't what it used to be. I invested in a recorder (soprano) years ago. Too bad the arthritis in my hands makes it hard hang on to the darn thing the way you should and my short fingers make playing a tenor recorder next to impossible. Even spanning an alto is difficult. Then I remembered my kid sister's Melodica. I got a tonette. She got a cute little mini keyboard. LOL. I'd fooled around with it years ago. Even got the dog to "sing" along.

So what the hey, I went on to Amazon, went shopping and found this baby. Three octaves F3 to F6. The selling point for me is that it comes with a flexible tube along with the mouthpiece so you can play it like a little piano. I got kick out of one reviewer who said he took it on hikes for jamming around the campfire. "Yeah it looks a little weird but have you ever tried to pack a piano on your back?"

Funny thing is, my old fifth grade flute book is the best beginning resource I have. Hell the damn thing is a wind instrument after all. Now for those keys below middle C. I know WHAT they are. I just have to find something on line that shows me what they LOOK like on sheet music. With a little finagling I might be able to kick things up an octave and have some fun. I put in half an hour. I forgot how tired your mouth can get.

Here's the funny thing. Midge seems to like it until I get to that top half octave. She was either singing along or trying to tell me to knock it off. I'm not sure which. :-)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

DEPORTEE

Woody Guthrie wrote this back in 1948 after a plane carrying Mexican migrant workers went down in Los Gatos Canyon near Fresno. The Bracero program was still in effect and if the employers didn't foot the bill to return workers to Mexico, as they were supposed to, the INS did it for them. Somehow, someway the pilots picked up the wrong plane. How the heck they didn't notice that the damn plane didn't have enough seats for the number of passengers, nobody knows. And it was overdue for maintenance checks. Witnesses saw the plane lose a wing, then go down in flames. Apparently the radio reports listed the dead as "just deportees." 

The reference to the crops hails back to a time when farmers were paid to destroy crops to keep the prices up. Good left that Guthrie was, he was mad that good food was being destroyed while people were going hungry. 

That's a sin. That's damn sin. It's sin against the Creator because it wastes the resources, the gifts that went to create those crops. 

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

My father's own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"


Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except "deportees"?

It's sixty years later and too many of our neighbors use names worse than "deportee." And to be honest I'd hate to think how many of them think potatoes come in bags and oranges come in crates with no dirt or trees involved. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

SILENCE

I’m not sure of the date; it was probably early to mid seventies.

“The atmosphere in the church was tense. Crowded inside were several hundred young Brazilians, there to attend an afternoon Mass for a fellow student killed by the military police. Outside the church, stationed in the plaza and all along the thoroughfares that crisscross this part of downtown Rio De Janeiro, were soldiers from the 1st Division of the Brazilian Army.

Earlier in the week, after the first funeral mass for the student, mounted police had attacked all those leaving the church. On the morning of this, the second Mass, the city had been readied as though for war, with machine-gun nests at the crossroads, armored cars, barbed wire entanglements, and aerial patrols. When the Mass ended, the unarmed people inside the church would have to confront the military. Set in the middle of a large plaza/parking lot that straddles Avenida Presidente Vargas, the Candelaria church is an unprotected island, with no narrow side streets or alleys for refuge. Surely more people would die this afternoon.

One of the priests forbade any in the congregation to leave the church ahead of the clergy. Dressed in alb and stole, the fifteen priests than followed Bishop Jose Castro Pinto out into the plaza, where, holding one another by the hand, they formed a line to confront the drawn sabers of a row of mounted military police. Slowly, slowly, this strange procession forced the horses to fall back. The priests then moved down Avenida Presidente Vargas to Avenida Rio Branco, the crossroads of downtown Rio. Forming a protective arc around Candelaria until the last person had left. It was only then, in the crossroads, that the cavalry and soldiers lashed into the crowd with their batons, hurling tear gas grenades, but at least there was somewhere to flee, someplace to hide”  Cry of the People by Penny Lernoux pp 313-314. The US media lapped up the picture of the student confronting the tank at Tiananmin Square in China. Nowhere have I ever seen a picture of this. Fourteen men against an army. Standing between death and their people. 

Of course we have to protect our liberties. And we protect our freedom by working to protect the freedom of others. Too often since WWII we turned away, looked away, sat in the corner with our fingers in our ears, eyes closed, humming. Loudly. Until the nineties the excuse was “the commies are coming, the commies are coming.” Since 2001 it’s “the terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming.”

We not only closed our eyes and ears to what was happening in Latin America from the sixties to the nineties. We aided, abetted, trained, paid; gave aid, comfort and cold hard cash to murderers and torturers. The few in this country who tried to ring the firebell were denounced as traitors, communist sympathizers if not actual communists. Sound familiar? Only now the cry traitors, cowards, etc. etc, so on and so forth. Rush, Glenn, Sarah, Michelle, Alan, all the rest and especially Mitt. Are you out there? 

Trouble is, and I can’t remember who said it or find the quote in Lernoux’s book again, “you can’t spread democracy by killing people” whether they’re farmers accused of aiding subversives tribesmen living too close to the drone strike.

Pastor Niemoller’s lament updated for the late twentieth and twenty first century.

They came for the Indians in the rain forest, but it those trees and those Indians didn't live in my country and I’m not an Indian so I didn't object.

They came for the farmers trying to scratch out a living for their families. And I’m not a mestizo farmer so I didn't speak out.

They came for those who tried to protect the rain forests and all who live in them. The forest is so big how can it all be destroyed? I still didn't speak.

They came for the teachers. And still I didn't raise my voice.

They came for the workers trying to organize some kind of unions. My silence was deafening.

They came for the lay church workers, the nuns, the brothers, the missionaries. My voice was lost in a black hole.

They came for the priests, a bishop or three and one archbishop. Hello! Is there anyone out there?


Now they've come to my country. For the immigrants, the Muslims, for those who fight for enough to feed their families, for those who try to protect the land and those who live from the land, for those with skin a different color, for those who call God or the Goddess by a different name. And finally they came for me and there was only silence. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WHAT WE SHOULDN'T FORGET

Lisa you were right. Perhaps we should never forget. But not the way say Fox News or the other drum beaters might mean it.

Perhaps we shouldn’t forget how easy it was to whip up that anger, wrath, bloodlust and the quest for revenge. I’d like to believe that most Americans didn’t realize that the elected hired help can have an agenda that might not be best for the nation and that most of us might not agree with if we were asked. 

In a way it’s hard for me to get used to 24/7 news cycle. I can remember when national news first began. Huntley and Brinkley were on for a whole 15 minutes at first. Imagine that. I finally gave up on anything after the first ten minutes or so most of the time. Because to be honest so much isn't news.n

Perhaps we shouldn’t forget how easy it was to exploit the worst of American nationalism. The day our army invaded Iraq I was passed by a beater pickup on the way to work. He was going sixty and flying a huge American flag. I remember thinking/ what is he trying to prove? And yes, there were times when I hesitated or pulled back on e mail messages. Even to family.

Perhaps we shouldn’t forget that “Mission Accomplished” moment with the president in his flight suit and the slow sinking feeling when I realized that not only was the mission not accomplished we weren’t even on first base.

Let’s not forget that we can thank president Reagan for big part of the widening gap between left and right when he presided over the unholy marriage between the GOP and the fundagelicals back in 1980. The GOP used the religious right for years. Steadily moving to the right to placate the base until the tail is wagging the elephant, not the other way around.

Let’s not forget that too many of us have stood by while words that were once seen as compliments have become insults. Liberal and progressive are the most obvious. And let’s not forget how the word Christian, which is an umbrella for denominations from Amish to Unitarians, has been claimed. Of ten claimed by the most fundamental and intolerant groups in the country.

Let’s not forget that too many seem to be bound more by hate than by love, or tolerance.


Perhaps the best way to honor the lost and injured is to not forget how easy it seems to walk down the path of hatred and destruction. So, so easy. If we do forget these things there will be more roads of hate and destruction to walk. Early next year my oldest nephew and his wife will welcome their first child into this world. I do not want that road for this child that will become part of our family. Or for the children of any family. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

THE HOLLOW RING OF THE TOLLING BELL

Or John Donne was right. "Never ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

Yes, this entry turned into a rant. And I'm not going to apologize. Either we find another way to solve our problems besides trying to kill them or there are going to be a lot more Syrias. 

It looks like we might dodge the bullet this time on Syria. Evidently Russia is attempting to broker a deal that would allow Syria to turn its chemical weapons stocks over to a third party.

It’s straight out of Animal Farm. “All weapons are bad but some are worse than others.” I know this will sound really weird. Full dose of poison gas. A minute or so of total terror while I suffocate and then I’m gone. Trying to cross a river with a crowd of refugees, kids in tow, mortars firing, choppers overhead, death squads shooting into us; several hours of terror and dying slowly of wounds or starvation. Or worse, watching my children die. Frankly, I’ll take the gas.

I believe it’s the idea of nuclear weapons or poison gas that makes them seem worse than so called conventional weapons. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrors. So were Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, Manchester, Coventry, Rotterdam and Warsaw. The laundry list of bombed out cities with their incinerated or homeless inhabitants. All were very efficiently destroyed using good old fashioned bombs loaded with TNT or whatever the masters of war were loading WWII bombs with back in the Forties. You have to hand it to us. We’re very efficient when it comes to taking out the enemy. Even when they’re aren’t wearing a uniform.

What was the death toll in Syria? About seventeen hundred or so? December 11 to the 12 a battalion of the Salvadoran army entered the village of El Mozote. By the time they were done the village was dead save for one survivor. A woman was not in the village at the time, hid in a tree and watched as the soldiers used every abomination known to man on her neighbors. It was the Atlacatl battalion and they were trained at the School of the Americas. Their teachers were members of our armed forces.

 It wasn’t the last massacre committed by this unit. And they weren’t the only killers. Armed with intelligence, arms, ammunition and equipment provided by the United States the army and the death squads managed to kill over seventy thousand men, women, children, priests, nuns, lay workers and an archbishop in over a decade of civil war.

And that was just El Salvador. And if we had had eyes to see where would we have found the Savior? In a mega church in the US listening to the empty words that equated patriotism with love of God or comforting the children dying of – hell it doesn’t matter what they were dying of. Most of the causes were stenciled Made in USA.

 But hey, what was the saying back before the USSR fell apart? “Better dead, than red?” Too bad we didn't ask the peasants who were doing the dying if that was a choice they would have made.


There’s a hollow ring to our protests now. We were so silent then. A story in the morning paper catalogs the lack of support from most Americans for military intervention in Syria. Yes, most Americans are tired of a decade of war. And just maybe it's finally sinking in that you can't kill your way to a solution for the world's problems. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

FAITHS UNITED CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS

And as MLK moved his ministry beyond the US borders. I don't care where you hang your believer's hat as long as your work towards the dream.

If you can take the time first read this. King gave his Beyond Vietnam sermon at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967. Ironically it was exactly one year later that he was killed.

Faux News produced another tempest in teapot this weekend. One of their pundits, Dana Perino, announced that she was “tired of Atheists and their attempts to ________ fill in the blank and why didn’t they just go someplace else.” The net erupted, mostly with suggestions that if Ms Perino was offended perhaps SHE should relocate.

I really have no use for “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or of “In God We Trust” on my paper money. I realize that both are relics of the Cold War, just out of the MacCarthy era politics of the fifties. They were adopted to prove that WE were not Godless, Pinko, Atheist Communists and about as hold about as much meaning as the offerings Romans made to Emperor every year to prove they were good Romans.

Frankly, the whole shebang makes me just a little uncomfortable. As a Christian, at least the part of me that still has part of one foot on the reservation, pledging allegiance to any physical object or earthly government smacks a little of idolatry. As a pagan I believe that the earth is my home and that nations are lines on maps that do more to divide their people than unite them. Well, pledging allegiance to a flag or a nation state isn’t idolatry I guess. But it’s pretty darned useless.

And let’s face it, that “liberty and justice for all” has rung pretty hollow since I watched children on the wrong end of the leash on the police dog in the south and body bags coming home from ‘Nam back in the sixties.

And frankly, while winning a court case in your local school district may bring personal satisfaction, it’s a distraction and wastes political AND religious capital. It reinforces the idiotic persecution complexes of the fundagelicals and is about as useful as pumping gas into a burning building.

And while I sympathize with folks who claim to be atheists, good on ya mate I’m not going to try to convert you to either Jesus or Danu. There were probably atheists and agnostics in the civil rights and anti war movements of the sixties and seventies but it was  his profound religious beliefs that drove Martin Luther King first fight for the rights of the Blacks of America.

Vincent Harding describes a man who was driven by his faith in the last years of his life. Often reluctantly. He came to realize that it didn’t matter if you were black, brown, yellow, white or Native American. Poverty, bad schools (or no schools), slums, joblessness, no access to resources, living in areas written off because it's cheaper to cut off the top of a mountain and dump the waste in people's drinking water cuts across not just racial divides in this country but national divides around the world. 

It doesn't make a difference if you can't support your family because China is making the fabrics that used to be made in the southeast or if your landlord turfed you and your fellow villagers to grow crops to export to the US. Your kids are still as hungry. 

That deep, profound, prophetic faith created a prophet. A radical prophet who called for a fundamental change not only in America but around the world. A change that acknowledged the right of all of us to live fully human lives not just a few.

And if we can only live our relatively safe, comfortable lives because others are forced to live in poverty stricken, nearly subhuman condtions what does that make us. And what have we been willing to give up to hang on to that life?

Sorry, this entry is disjointed. Threads are coming together, but I’m only part way down the road. And suddenly books I put aside because I didn’t think they’d help me are shouting my name, and telling me they’re all grist for the mill.

Oh well. If I make it to ninety with a reading list that hasn’t gotten any smaller maybe the Reaper will turn aside for awhile when I point to my poor attempts to write about where I’m going and how I got there.


And you know the real irony? The novel The Fifth Sacred Thing attempts to describe a society that mirrors what King and so many fighters have worked towards. Imperfectly, perhaps but she tried. And the author is a self described pagan with the craft name of Starhawk. Faith can move mountains. As long as we work together. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

DREAMS OF AN INCONVENIENT HERO

Funny, I thought I posted this yesterday. I even put a link on Facebook. This morning it was kaput, gone, down the black hole. So, here we go again.

This is an excerpt from the conclusion of Vincent Harding’s essay The Inconvenient Hero found in his collection Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero.

This essay collection was originally published in 1996. The echoes of the fall of the Soviet Union were still reverberating. If he had revised the essay for the second edition he probably could have used manipulated anti terrorism and it would mean pretty much the same thing.

1996 the videogame industry was just taking off and “Reality TV” was a nightmare waiting to be born.

The so called Free Trade Agreement treaties were just being negotiated and signed. Beware when anyone in any government or corporate position tries to pat you on the head and tell you not to worry your little head about the details; it’ll all work out.

And the toxic hyper individualism pushed by the likes of the Ryans and Santorums was just beginning to send out its poisonous tendrils.

Harding really catches the cadence of the spoken word in the written word. If you can get away with it try reading it out loud. And Mr. Harding goes in the neglected Wordsmith column.

“Who dares recall the man when, when all the plagues he fought are still among us, standing in the way of the “America we hope to be”: poverty and exploitation, racism, militarism, materialism, manipulated anticommunism? How shall we recall him when the America which has been is still protected and justified by Bible quoting presidents and supine legislators who offer no visionary leadership to a spiritually crippled people?

Who dare rededicate themselves to the causes of this hero? Who is there now when major portions of his black middle class have made their peace, found equal opportunity in the America that is? Someone.

Who is there now when the overwhelming experience of the black church is still focused on the individualistic religious experience, breaking faith with the Tubmans, the Turners, the Truths, and the Kings (and the King)/? Someone.

Who is there now when so many Black youth in whom the fire once burned are now being cooled out by drugs, by jail, by military lies, by poisoned cultural opium in music and on screens, and by big money for small games? Someone.

Who is there when so many of his white comrades now stand by in cynicism, success, fear, and puzzlement? Someone.

Who is there when the poor (and the recently poor) now compete for crumbs across racial and ethnic lines, rather than standing together in vision, to pray, to recollect, to plan, to struggle? Someone.

Who stands with a hero who insists on living for the broken and exploited,  Who refuses to deny nightmares, who still will not let dreams die, and is not afraid to go on exploring, trembling, stumbling wherever dreams lead him? Someone.

Who will open the door for the children, to let them see him, feel him, as he was, to recall him as he is, perhaps to expose their hungry, directionless lives to the flaming vector of his passion for the poor? Someone.


Is he safely dead? Perhaps we should recall him and see. Now. Perhaps in the process we  learn again how to live – unsafely, in love with God and neighbor, with cleansing, purifying fire, with the America that is yet to be created – by us. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

WHO DREAMS UP THESE NIGHTMARES?

Our protests about chemical weapons ring a little hollow. My sister, my nephew and his family live in Umatilla, Oregon. Just north of the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot. Until a few years ago the facility was home to twelve percent of US stocks of VX, GB and HD. GB has another name. Sarin. Yeah, sis and her family were living next to stockpile of the same gas somebody used in Syria. It seems at the moment that no one is quite sure which side used it.

In the late nineties an incinerator was built on the site partly because a UN treaty mandated the destruction of chemical weapons by about 2007. And there was another reason for building the destruction facility on site. Back in the eighties some genius ordered the gases to be made "war ready." That meant installing the shells on or in rockets. The canisters storing the gas or gases, they're often stored in binary form and aren't deadly until they mix on impact, were doing ok. The rockets however were deteriorating and were too unstable to be shipped somewhere else to be destroyed.

I thought it was bad enough when I moved into my dorm in '68 and discovered that one of the entrances to the campus fallout shelter was in MY basement. Until my high school teaching BIL was showing around Umatilla High School. When we got to the gym he showed us how it had been modified to be sealed and pressurized just in case something went wrong down south. Talk about a heart stopper.

Who dreams up these nightmares? I can't imagine ordering the manufacture of this poison much less dreaming it up in the first place or ordering it to be used. I know we've gone along with the destruction of the actual gases but in a little corner of my mind is that niggling doubt. Is there a warehouse somewhere that houses the binary forms of these little tastes of hell. Technically they aren't Sarin. Yet.

ECHOES OF LIBERATION THEOLOGY FROM THE NORTH

Sometimes I have the basics of an entry in my head. Then I start to type and the entry decides to take over. Looks like this one is going to be a two parter.

A couple of years ago the national hugfest over the "I have a dream" speech would probably have gotten my attention with a "boy we sure have a long way to go." I've done a lot of reading on my own in the last two or three years and it finally sank in that as far as the national mythology goes Rev. King might as well have been swallowed up by a black hole to be dropped off in Memphis just in time to be murdered.

I'd love to know what Martin Luther King was reading back in the late fifties and early sixties. When he had time to read, that is. By 1968 his word, captured by his good friend, brother in the spirit and Mennonite minister Vincent Harding, was echoing the Liberation Theology taking root in Central and South America.

In 1980 Archbishop Romero called on the police and military in his country to ignore orders to kill their fellow citizens; to work to stop the repression not fuel the flames. Two weeks later he was dead and his country continued the slide into a decade in Hell.

This is an excerpt from a speech given a few weeks before he went to Memphis.

 "The storm is rising against the privileged minority of the earth, from which there is no shelter in isolation or armament. The storm will not abate until a just distribution of the fruits of the earth enables men everywhere to live in dignity and human decency. The American Negro...may be the vanguard of a prolonged struggle that may change the shape of the world, a billions of deprived shake and transform the earth in the quest for life freedom and justice." 

Penny Lernoux went to South America in the seventies working the US Information Agency. She was a conventional Catholic, middle class American. What she saw changed her life. She documented the slide into US supported dictatorships and the rise of the death squads and horrors of the torture chambers in her first book Cry of the People. My used, well read copy had a list in the back of church workers, lay and cleric, who died or disappeared during those years. I would not hesitate to add an African American Baptist preacher to the list.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

ONCE THEY'RE A STATUE

Poet Carl Wendell Himes Jr. wrote this in 1969 in memory of MLK.

Now that he is safely dead
Let us praise him
Build monuments to his glory
Sing hosannas to his name.
Dead men make
Such convenient heroes:
They cannot rise to challenge the images
We would fashion from their lives.
And besides it is easier to build monuments
Than to make a better world.
So, now that he is safely dead
We, with eased consciences
Will teach our that he was a great man...
Knowing that the cause for which he lived
Is still a cause and the dream for which he lived
Is still a dream...A dead man's dream.

And safely a statue where we can take the school kids and maybe leave some flowers and a poem or two. Change the wording just a little and this could be used for any of our Founding Fathers and/or the political and religious leaders we say we revere. Just use your imagination.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SORRY, MY SALADS DON'T HAVE WHISKERS

This kitty looks a lot like Midge. I'm sure that Midget the Idget would have loved to try this yesterday. Hate to tell this kid. Salads don't have whiskers. At least I hope they don't and they do not purr or meow.

THIS IS KIND OF FUNNY...BUT

Just a short one right now. This is from the thirteenth century poet and Sufi mystic know in the west as Rumi. Somehow this little verse seems appropriate. It's one of those little thing you run across that, well you chuckle a little first and then you don't . Doesn't really matter what you're drunk on. And the faux outrage generated by a picture of the president, on the phone with his foot ON his desk is really beyond the pale. Hey, folks you never laid down on the couch with your shoes on? Riiiiiiiiiight. Before this president was elected the budget was balanced, we'd forged our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Nobody ever got sick. You didn't have to get rained on to get rainbows. Manna rained down from heaven and everybody loved us.

Frankly I'm envious. I haven't been that limber for ten years and I was never tall enough to pull it off anyway. The man is all leg.

Anyway from the Persian poet, and this seems strangely modern. They didn't have skyscrapers in Persia in the twelve hundreds. Frankly I think we're on the edge of the Empire State Building.

"Sit, be still, and listen,
 For you are drunk,
 And we are at the edge of the roof."

Monday, September 2, 2013

COMMENT ON EARLIER POST

If the graph is accurate I really touched a nerve with the post on Nonviolence and Social Change. I'll probably never get that many hits again. And it's not about the number of hits. Frankly, it's if I don't write I'll go nuts. I'm just thankful a few folks stop by once in awhile.

I just hope everybody who clicked on the post read it. Who knows, perhaps it'll do some good. At least maybe it'll help us remember that the man was a man before we turned him into an icon and a statue. Not a perfect man. Far from it and he'd have probably been the first to admit it. King, Wendell Berry and a witch who took the name Starhawk. Change comes from the bottom up. Not the top down. Now how do we kick start things at the bottom?

CREATION IS

This is a semi edited version of an essay from Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth. The essays are from many spiritual traditions. Father Richard Rohr happens to be Franciscan friar and a Catholic priest. I have to say the opening paragraph really caught me by surprise. It ties in beautifully with Celtic Christianity and the likes of Hildegard and Eckhart. Even the Irish Oran Mor, the Great Song. An Image that I really love. The Creator as a singer or a harpist. And it may just keep one of my  feet on the reservation. At least for now.

Naturally, this attitude doesn't make him very popular with the Catholic fundies in this country but he echoes other Catholic writers from Latin America. Not to mention most of the neopagans out there. Oh, boy has he honked off some of the fundies.  Some folks have entirely too much time on their hands.

I've kind of debated on when to post this, but some of the other material I want to work with will probably make more sense after reading this.

…The Incarnation of God did not happen in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. That is just when we started taking it seriously. The incarnation actually happened 14.5 billion years ago with a moment that we now call "The Big Bang." That is when God actually decided to materialize and to self expose.
Two thousand years ago was the human incarnation of God in Jesus, but before that there was the first and original incarnation through light, water, land, sun, moon, stars, plants, trees, fruit, birds, serpents, cattle, fish, and "every kind of wild beast" according to our own creation story (Genesis 1:3-25). This was the "Cosmic Christ" through which God has "let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made from the beginning in Christ" (Ephesians 1:9). Christ is not Jesus' last name, but the title for his life's purpose. (Some believe, as I do myself, that the Hindu love of Krishna, also an incarnation of the divine and a human avatar, was revealing the very same mystery.)

Jesus is the very concrete truth revealing and standing in for the eternal truth of the union between the divine and human, or the Christ mystery – or Krishna. I myself believe this, but just to believe it is not to live it. The living of this love mystery is the important thing and not the correct naming of it. I have met Hasidic Jews, Hesychastic Orthodox, sufi Muslims and “pagan” animists who live it much better than we do. 
…Christ, for John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) was the very first idea in the mind of God, and God has never stopped thinking, dreaming, and creating the eternal Christ mystery

For most of us, this is a significant shaking of our foundational image of the universe and of our religion I am sad to say. Many Christians have seen the world as sadly inert, non enchanted, unholy and even dangerous and evil. As if God’s Creation could be separate from God!  Yet if any group should have come to this quite simply and naturally, it should have been the three groups of believers that call themselves "monotheists". Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe that the world was created by one God. It would seem to follow therefore that everything, everything without exception, would bear the clear imprint and likeness of the one Creator. Doesn't that seem to follow? How could we miss that? Did Satan, after all, create some of us? We monotheists are the very ones who said “no” to that. After all, we believed that One God created everything out of nothing. (Genesis 1:2)

We could perhaps say that this terrible misperception was a disastrous act of human self congratulation and self absorption. For some reason Christians thought humans were the only creatures God cared about, and all else was just food for our own sustenance and enjoyment – animals, plants, sun, water and earth! This world was just a gratuitous painted backdrop so we could do our “Christian” thing and be saved. Yet god created million of creatures for millions of years before we came along – many we never saw and others we have never seen or discovered – for no human purpose whatsoever. God seems concerned to communicate Himself/Herself as endless beauty, love and fecundity. Almost shocking isn’t it.

For many Judeo-Christians, God created a seemingly “throw away world.” The so called “Stone Age” people, the ancient civilizations, the Persian, Greek, Aztec, Mayan, Inca and Roman Empires, even the poor ones we called barbarians, were merely warm-up acts for us. None of them really mattered to God, neither woman, child, beast or man. God was just biding His time, waiting for good Jews, Christians and Muslims to appear, and most preferably Roman Catholics, conservative Orthodox, or Born Again Evangelicals.

I am not being unfair here; this is quite literally true. A sort of cosmic narcissism, it seems to me. If you do not see the individual ego as a problem, it is almost impossible to recognize the corporate separate self as an even worse problem. Thus nationalism, ethnic cleansing of various sort, burning heretics, persecution of all that is “not me.” Including the rest of creation (animals, growing things, earth and water) were literally “fair game” for us. Poor God must just cry
If nothing else, one would have thought good people would be shocked and scandalized at God’s gross inefficiency and non concern for life. But it only got worse, as Christians were assured that all Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, pagans, atheists, communists, unbelievers of any stripe (all “not me”) were also of no interest whatsoever to their Creator. Apparently, God just likes white Christian Americans, preferably Republican – while this very group wastes not a tear on the fact that their worldview leaves 99 percent of what God has created since the beginning of time lost, rejected, and punished for all eternity. And this is the group that dares to call itself “pro-life.”

Christians must realize what a muddle we have got ourselves into by not taking incarnation and the body of God seriously. It is our only Christian trump card, and we have yet to actually play it! As Sally McFague states so powerfully, "salvation is the direction of all of creation, and creation is the very place of salvation." (The Body of God, p. 287) All is God's place, which is our place, which is the only place and every place.

... Wherever we are connected, in right relationship, you might say "in love," there is the Christ, the Body of God, and there is the church. But we whittled that Great Mystery down into something small, exclusive, and manageable too. The church became a Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant private club, and not necessarily with people who were "in communion" with anything else, usually not with the natural world, animals, with non-Christians, or even with other Christians outside their own denomination. It became a very tiny salvation, hardly worthy of the name. God was not very magnanimous or victorious all after all, despite all our songs of “How Great is our God.”

Our very suffering now, our condensed presence on this common nest that we have fouled, will soon be the one thing that we finally share in common. It might well be the one thing that will bring us together. The earth and its life systems on which we all entirely depend (just like God!) might soon become the very thing that will convert us to a simple Gospel lifestyle, to necessary community, and to an inherent and universal sense of the holy.

I know it is no longer words, doctrines, and mental belief systems that can or will reveal the fullness of this Cosmic Christ. This earth indeed is the very Body of God, and it is from this body that we are born, live, suffer, and resurrect to eternal life. Either all is God's Great Project, or we may rightly wonder whether anything is God's Great Project. One wonders if we humans will be the last to accept this…It is only humans who have resisted "the one great act of giving birth," and in fact have frequently chosen death for themselves and for so many others.




Sunday, September 1, 2013

LEAVE THEM A FLOWER REPOST

LEAVE THEM A FLOWER

I speak on behalf of the next generation
Our sons and our daughters their children to come
What will we leave them for their recreation
An oil slick, a pylon, an industrial slum.

Chorus:

Leave them a flower, some grass and a hedge row
A hill and a valley, a view to the sea
These things are not ours to destroy as we want to
A gift given once for eternity.

We plunder, we pillage, we tear and we tunnel
Trees lying toppled they finger the sky
Building a land for machines and computers
In the name of progress the farms have to die.

Chorus:

Fish in the ocean polluted and poisoned
The sand on our beaches all stinking and black
We and our tankers and banks and investments
They never worry the birds will come back.

Chorus:

When the last flower has dropped its last petal
When the last concrete is fired away
The moon will shine cold in a nightmarish landscape
Our gift to our children the world that we made.

Chorus:


I remember when this song was originally released. I probably have the Ed Ames version on a vinyl platter somewhere. And with what I've been reading, especially today, this is particularly poignant. All these years and it's gotten much, much worse; not better