Category Archives: OUR BEST POSTS

Tight vs. loose: Politics and mysticism

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monday, I lived my life the whole day the way I’ve always said one should, consistent with The Way of Peace. This was an accomplishment, and has been a long time coming. At bedtime, I was so proud of myself, I fully expected to be rewarded with a pleasant dream.

That didn’t happen.

The dream I did have was all about concepts, and wasn’t pleasant. It said, “Conservatism is tight; liberalism is loose.” It said I am currently being tight. I didn’t like being told that, and I didn’t like the fact that it was so.

Not because I have anything against conservatism. Though I tend in a more liberal direction, conservatism and liberalism are both largely immaterial to me.

But I would wind up pondering a lot, Tuesday, about how I would rather be.

It came to me that liberalism is like an open palm — one is ready to give someone something, or to accept something — whereas conservatism is like a closed fist. The conservative wants to keep what she or he has, and isn’t interested in accepting any handouts.

Now, it’s not that one is right and the other wrong. In life, both are necessary. And that insight opened up a different point of view.

That explains much more than I supposed.

The Qabala says there are ten sephirot, or dimensions, through which the Life Force may express itself. Two that are normally juxtaposed are Chesed, or Loving-kindness, and Gevurah, or Severity. These correspond well to the open palm, on the one hand, and the closed fist, on the other, respectively. The question is not choosing one over the other, but holding the two in balance; for in life, we need both.

One is not right and the other wrong; instead, each one has its own “good” or light and “evil” or dark potentialities. A “dark” potentiality of Loving-kindness is permissiveness, which can lead to a complete loss of order in society. Some people keep their hands out all the time, and that’s not good. A “dark” potentiality of Severity is that one may use the closed fist to beat up on oneself or others, to engage in tyranny or extortion.

Severity pertains less to the imposition of order than to the restoration of order (Hebrew: Tikkun) after disruption occurs. Chesed will express itself in making and serving a meal — but also in making a mess. Gevurah expresses itself in washing the dishes.

And taking out trash.

And picking up litter.

It pertains to the establishment of social norms, and to encouraging people to conform to those norms. For example, pee and poop belong in the toilet bowl, not on the toilet seat or on the floor. But when I worked at City Hall, it was clear that many men haven’t learned this.

Some social norms express themselves as laws. Thus all police activity expresses Gervurah — both its use and its abuse.(*)

But a complete lack of Gervurah is equally devastating.

It is telling that the concept of accountability is controversial among black Americans. Dez Bryant’s April 2017 remarks got scant attention in the mainstream press, but lots of pushback from the only black voices America is allowed to hear.  D. L. Hughley said, “There’s no such thing as black-on-black crime.” Stephen A. Smith questioned Bryant’s blackness. The ideal of a black world without norms manifests in the murders of Carter Scott , Chanetta Powell  and Charmaine Wilson.

Chesed and Gervurah in balance would be like a parent who corrects her or his child with love. We don’t have many good models for this. The current American correctional system is not, in fact, about correction, but retaliation. Likewise, the God portrayed in the Book of Numbers in the Bible does not correct, but retaliates. But putting the toys back in the toybox does not require scolding. Putting an errant object back in its right place does not require anger. Love can be constant.

That’s how I want to be.

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(*)(The auric color of Gevurah is blue, which is why police wear blue uniforms. The color of compassion is green, so the Green Party is so named. But green is also the color of envy.)

 

 

R.I.P. Joe Stocks

Monday, May 8, 2017

Church member Joe Stocks died suddenly Saturday. Natural causes.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” That’s the kind of man Joe was. All kinds of men and women glorify God because of Joe’s good works.

All kinds.

Continue reading R.I.P. Joe Stocks

Resolution

One can want the best for another person, but
only that person can define what “the best” means.

Thursday 2017-04-20

On the walk from the shelter to church Wednesday morning, I was in great turmoil.  I may or may not manage to recall all the questions now.  Pastor is focused on the need to change systems (people’s circumstances) in order to alleviate poverty, and seems unwilling or unable to consider how people act; my orientation is the exact opposite, wanting people to change their ways in order to alleviate poverty.  Pastor says he doesn’t like it when I talk about squalor; but doesn’t squalor need to be talked about, given that it’s why “haves” won’t invest where the “have-nots” live?

I am torn between the way I want to live, and the way I have to live in the situation I’m in.

Continue reading Resolution

We are the 47%

(Originally published 09/18/2012 at Trojan Horse Productions. Reposted 10/24/2013.)

Romney: Obama voters ‘believe they are victims’

First, let me say I believe the Republicans nominated the right person. Second, I have no special mission here to post things that put Mitt Romney in a bad light. I also am not keen on secret taping of anyone. (Remember Linda Tripp?)

Those things said, this report gives me lots of mixed feelings.

And my “facts” are certainly subject to correction.

I find it hard to believe 47% of Americans pay no income taxes. For the past several years I have had income so low as to have no income tax obligation, so that I get a complete refund of all taxes withheld; but one has to have a REALLY low income for that to happen, and with the U.S. median household income at roughly $50,000/year, I have to believe most of the folk in that lower 50% face some income tax liability.

The characterization of people who work full-time as “dependent” is questionable.

And I would look forward to polling or other public opinion research to verify what portion of this 47% hold to “entitlement” or “victim” mentalities. Such data will be much harder to come by during the current controversy. Please note that I myself speak to those frames of mind in this blog.

Not all the 47% will vote for Obama. They include a disproportionate number of folk who don’t vote at all, including convicted felons who cannot vote. And I have to assume a significant portion of the 47% have been Romney supporters all along.

Postscript, 09/20/12:

Who are Mitt Romney’s 47 percent? A breakdown

This article helps some, but I want still more information. How many of those who don’t pay income tax, support Romney?
talk show host, on air talent, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

Job creation: Mitt Romney’s other 30%

(Originally published 10/17/2012 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reblogged 10/24/13.)

During the 2012 Presidential race, a Democratic party operative secretly recorded Mitt Romney’s remarks to potential donors at a private fund-raiser.  Those remarks included that 47% of voters pay no taxes and thus have no interest in the Republican message.  The release of that recording caused quite a stir.  See “* We are the 47%.”  There are other features of who Romney is and what he does with his money, that got far less media attention.  Like, this one.

Democrats: Political slant marks Romney tax return

Continue reading Job creation: Mitt Romney’s other 30%

“By the time they start school, for some children it’s already too late.”

This article by Nick Morrison originally appeared in Forbes on 11/30/16, but for some reason is almost impossible to access now.  I reproduce here below the cached version; if there are legal repercussions, I’ll face them when the time comes.

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By The Time They Start School, For Some Children It’s Already Too Late

Continue reading “By the time they start school, for some children it’s already too late.”

Alcoholism basics

(A message I sent family on 26 April 2006.)

Disease, or sin?

To the best of my knowledge, the “disease theory of alcoholism” began with Dr. Robert Silkworth, at the time of St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, coincident with the beginnings of A.A. “Dr. Bob” referred to the condition as an “allergy”; for whatever reason, these folks’ bodies respond to this substance differently than others’ do.

This theory and its ramifications are, today, largely taken for granted throughout the scientific world. Whatever the disease’s cause, behavioral strategies are needed, too, if the subject is to manage the disease and live a normal life. The same is just as true of diabetes or near-sightedness or hay fever.

The competing view, that drinking problems reflect sin or some kind of moral deficiency, still has its grip on the popular mind. The predicaments that problem drinkers create for themselves and for others, are bad enough in and of themselves without the added burden of this stigma. My late father insisted until his last lucid day, that it was all a question of “will power.” I remember visiting Mom at home sometime prior to 1990, and finding on the bookshelf different books by Hazen G. Werner, an Ohio Methodist bishop whom my father fervently admired, and finding certain passages that my father had marked wherein the author discounted the disease theory and blamed it all instead on, as it were, sin. I shook my head at the untold, needless damage such words do.
Continue reading Alcoholism basics

Rough day at BK

Transcribed from my diary for Sunday 2017-03-12, for now I am intentionally leaving this unfinished.

Rough day at BK.  I may not have the guts to recall and tell it all.  But behind it I feel certain of (1) what Jesus did among the poor, and (2) what my task is at the shelter, and what it takes for me to leave.  (3) I have suspected for some time that the real means of wealth creation, of upward mobility, is different from anything we have ever imagined.  I have a notion of what it may be, and enough confidence in it to act on it, but it’s still very hard to believe.

The question is whether these certainties are enough to overcome my fear of uncertainty, my fear of the unknown.

Continue reading Rough day at BK

Kansas prisoners get the granny treatment

(Originally posted 11/23/13.)

Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” segment for the CBS Evening News, 11/01/13:

Kan. prisoners get the granny treatment

Here is a practical example of how brightening the “divine spark” within people can effect redemption or transformation.