Monday, February 27, 2006

CANDLES

Something curious happened with the words from that last entry. I had the words but hadn’t organized the candles. So, I changed it a little to “we would light this candle” and used it for our home Sabbath celebration last night. I tried visualizing candles being lit, and it worked. Which is neat, but umm, it didn’t stop at four. Right now, if I stop and think about it. I have a whole table full of lit candles in the background just behind my eyes. If I really concentrate I can visualize one of those old candlesnuffers descending on a candle, but when it moves to another light, the candle stays lit. The blessed thing absolutely refuses to go out. If I try to imagine an unlit candle, it promptly lights. This will probably fade in time. But, it’s sure gonna be nice while it lasts.

 

I’m not crazy enough to believe that I can personally change things all by myself. But, I can try to keep the candles lit. Oh my, while I was writing this, they started to get so bright I can’t even see the candles just the lights. And I'm feeling unusually centered right now. There's "rightness" to it that's very hard to put into words.

 

 

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I OFFER THIS

The Dominican monk known as Meister Eckhart wrote that faith was like a river with many wells. I've been reading from several sources and while I've tried to remain true to the lessons I've been blessed with, I make no claim to be anything but the typist.

We light this first candle in honor of the Creator of Creation. We are grateful for the plenty that blesses us. In a world where many walk hand in hand with hunger we have abundance. In a world where too many walk in fear we can show our faith freely. In a world where too many are alone, even in a crowd, we are rich in family and friends.

 

We light this second candle in honor of the earth and the star that warms it. We light this candle in gratitude for the changing seasons, for the coolness of rain, for the shifting mists and warmth of sun. We light this candle to ask healing for our battered world. May we learn .to use only what we need and to respect what we use. Help us to show gratitude for the plants and animals that sustain us. Their infinite variety is wondrous.

 

We light this third candle in honor of all who share this little world with us. We light this candle in gratitude for our fellow travelers. We light this candle in gratitude for birdsong, the glory of infinite colors of flowers and trees, and the infinite variety of our fellow humans. We light this candle to ask for healing for those who lash out in fear. We light this candle to ask for healing for those who lash out in anger. We light this candle to ask healing for those who lash out in ignorance. We light this candle in honor of the river of faith. Help us to remember that the river that sustains our spirits has many wells.

 

We light this fourth candle in honor of our family and friends. We light this candle in gratitude for their love and support. We light this candle to ask for healing for any sickness or injury. We light this candle to ask that they may find the love and support to live the lives they were meant to. We light this candle in faith that we can return the love and support that has been so freely given to us.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

Yet another letter in the local paper this morning with the theme that Global Warming is a figment of overheated liberal imaginations. First I got cranky and then I had an epiphany similar to the one just before the 2004 election. It doesn’t really matter why the glaciers are melting and the seas are rising. HOW ARE WE GOING TO DEAL WITH THE RESULTS? Maybe if we quit arguing about the whyfors and the wherefors and start thinking about the cost of dealing with the one foot rise in ocean levels that some are predicting in the next century then the cost of cutting back on emissions to slow it will look reletively cheap.

 

I live in Oregon. We don’t have a lot of beaches and the ones we have get smaller as you go north. The beaches get smaller and the cliffs get taller. We already get significant erosion during winters like the last one where high winds and high tides combine to take the sand right out to sea. So we’ll probably lose a lot of the beaches we already have and the seas will start to undercut the sandstone cliffs that have houses on top of them. What about the coast aquifers? They’ll probably fill with salt water that much faster. The coastal streams are already tidal but the salt water will probably go further in and stay longer affecting those ecosystems.

 

Our main coastal highway is Route 101. It cuts close to the beaches on some of the low lying stretches. Or hug the sandstone cliffs of the south coast. What happens when the sea rises and the beach goes away leaving the road bed vulnerable to storm damage? All together now. Spell giant sinkhole. We’re all ready having problems from the other direction. Took a few decades but now we’re discovering that basalt may be one tough rock but its structure makes it prone to large scale erosion during very wet winters. That and erosion makes soil, soil attracts plants, plants have roots, roots loosen rock. You get the picture. Stretches of roadside cuts have and are being sheathed in chicken wire to try cut down on the rock falls. Lots of chicken wire.

 

Our only port capable of handling big cargo ships is at Portland seventy miles inland up the Columbia River. The Columbia Bar Pilots are the only pilots in the world who go out in helicopters when the weather is too rough for their pilot boats. These are highly trained and experienced men and women who hold masters papers. They could skipper a ship anywhere in the world. They've chosen the challenge of guiding ships in and out of one of the toughtest harbor approaches in the world. And they lost a pilot in January. He was trying to make the transition from the freighter to the base ship in bad weather and didn’t make it.  They don’t call the Columbia bar the Graveyard of the Pacific because we like to exaggerate. The Port of Portland is literally one the hardest ports to reach in the world. But it’s the only game in town between Frisco and SeaTac. Between the freeways and the barge traffic on the Columbia, Portland handles freight for a large section of the country. Will a rise in sea levels make the bar easier or harder to handle? We’re already getting more agricultural traffic with the damage to New OrleansWhat happens when the other Gulf and South Eastern Ports get hit with Katrina reruns?

 

What happens to cities like Miami as the sea rises? Hell what happens to the whole state of Florida? It may not be flat as a pancake but it’s damn close. The highest place in the state is about 345 feet. Heck we’re higher than that here in Springfield. If parts of Oregon flood out we can up sticks and move down the Willamette Valley or east of the Cascades. And that’s only a couple of million people. There’s more than that in Miami-Dade County alone. Where are they going to go? And that’s just one metro area. The whole state has nearly sixteen million people. Expand that to the whole Gulf Coast and the Southern Atlantic seaboard.

 

Of course while each side is trying to convert the other to its point of view they don’t have to come to grips with the result. I believe that it’s time to quit arguing about the how and concentrate on the what. Once we start brainstorming the costs of the worst case scenarios of rising seas maybe we’ll start to realize that while it doesn’t matter where the green house gases are coming from, there are some sources that are more open to control than others. If we think switching to other energy forms and slowing the destruction of the seas and forests is expensive and disruptive just imagine trying to relocate the population of Florida or Bangladesh.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A PICTURE FOR THE LADY

 

 

Infrared, false color image of the center of the galaxy taken by the Spitzer space telescope. The galactic center lies about 26,000 light years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. A fitting picture for the Mother of Stars.

 

LADY, THOU GATE OF LIFE (6)

Lady, thou gate of life,
Attend to us,
So mote it be!

Lady, thou gate of death,
Bring peace to us,
So mote it be!

Oh, with us and for us
Where we shall longest be,
So mote it be!

Be about the morning of our day,
Be about the closing of our life,
So mote it be!

Be at the dawning of our life,
And at the dark'ning of our day,
So mote it be!

Be for us and with us,
Beautiful Goddess of all,
So mote it be!

Consecrate us
Life and love,
Thou Queen of the Gods,
Thou Mother of all,
So mote it be!

Consecrate us
Rites and spells,
Thou Mistress of Magic,
Thou Lady of Mysteries,
So mote it be!

Consecrate us
Heart and body,
Thou Cauldron of Life,
Thou Womb of Nature,
So mote it be!

Each heart and body,
Each day to Thyself,
Each night accordingly,
Thou Mother of Stars,
Thou Lady of Night,
So mote it be!

This document copyright 1997 - Mike Nichols

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Link to Leonard Pitts Column

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/living/columnists/leonard_pitts/13914812.htm

This link should take you to the full text of the column that I quoted from yesterday. The Miami Herald seems to be a rare bird. They allow access to text without having to sign up and get a pass word and all that personal stuff. :-)

I added this because there is a lot more info in the column than my excerpt. Freedom is a messy business, and most folks like things neat. It's too easy to forget that the most important freedom of all is the freedom to say NO! Something that has been trivialized by the "just say no to drugs campaign."

And to those who say "well, if you don't have anything to hide, why should it matter if where you go, or what you read, or who stays at your house is checked out?" READ MY LIPS, IT'S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. END OF STORY. IT'S ALSO NONE OF MY BUSINESS WHAT YOU READ, WHERE YOU GO OR WHO STAYS AT YOUR HOUSE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SCARING OURSELVES TO DEATH?















In 1941 FDR used his State of the Union message to outline the reasons for America's support for the Allied Nations in WWII. In his speech he outlined four basic freedoms that all people are entitled to. These freedoms are freedom of speech, freedom of worship freedom from fear, and freedom from want. The president who told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself, was bold enough to say that being free from fear was a right. In 1943, from late February to March, the Saturday Evening Post published four covers by Norman Rockwell that illustrated these freedoms.





Fast forward about sixty two years to an incident described in this excerpt from yesterday's column by Leonard Pitts who writes for the Miami Herald.





"The following happened in the United State of America on Februry 9 of this year.





The scene is the Little Falls branch of the Montgomery County Public Library in Bethesda, Maryland. Business is going on as usual when two men in uniform stride into the main reading room and call for attention. Then they make an announcement.





It is forbidden to use the library's computers to view Internet pornography.





As people are absorbing this, one of the men challenges a patron about a Web site he is visiting and asks the man to step outside. At this point, a librarian intervenes and calls the uniformed men aside. A police officer is summoned. The men leave. It turns out they are employees of the county's department of Homeland Security and were operating far outside their authority."





Pitts goes on to describe how hard it is for the fifty one percent of respondants to a recent poll to imagine what it would be like to have to ask for permission to travel, watch a movie, read what you want, even have someone stay at your house without asking someone if it's ok. And that because we're in a war against terrorism doesn't give a government employee the right to come in and look over you shoulder to see what you're reading or viewing on a computer screen. Of course the poll didn't ask the folks answering their questions which freedoms they were willing to give up in the "fight against terror."





Contrast FDR's dream with this administration's attitude toward the least among us and the use fear of terrorist attacks on the US to chip away at the constitution. Well, I feel a whole lot safer. Not bloody likely.





Incidently, I just love the faces in these pictures. These are faces you see everyday. Maybe only in the US can a working stiff get up in a town meeting and express his opinion. I've seen those faces in the pews of my church. Imagine sharing your bed with your little brother or sister. And my grandmothers both wore those simple cotton dresses and aprons.









Sunday, February 19, 2006

FAIRY SISTERS



















BLESS, O MISTRESS OF MAGIC (10)















Bless, O Mistress of Magic,



Myself and everything anear me,



Bless me in all my makings,



And keep me safe for ever,







Keep me safe forever.








From every unclean spirit and sending,



From every evil wish and cursing,



From every wicked spell and glamour,



From every star that frowns upon me,



Save me till the end of my day.







Save me till the end of my day.








Let every nymph and faerie be my sister,



Let every troll and brownie be my brother,



Let every fairy-mouse and will-o-the-wisp befriend me,



That they may keep me safe forever.







That they may keep me safe forever.





This document copyright 1997 - Mike Nichols





From the Pagan Carmina Galdalica.





I love the line wishing that every nymph and fairy would be my sister. Cicely Mary Barker did wonderful water colors of Flower Fairies. I first ran across them on Webshots. Someone had uploaded them and I managed to download some before the whole collection disappeared . Obviously for copyright violations. Some of the artwork is on the net on various sites (and if my scanner was on speaking terms with my Mac I have the book with the whole collection anyway) So, let me introduce some the fairy sisters (there may just be a little brother in the mix too) I hope are just out of sight in our yard.





And the lavender and buttercups are still sleeping, but that's ok.





(And the directional buttons aren't appearing on MY screen, but they probably are on yours. If they don't just move the mouse arrow close to the numbers and something should show up. Dumb smart machine. Sheesh.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

CROCUSES












We've got a few crocuses up. We've had very dry, very cold weather the last few days and they aren't opening up any more than they have to no matter how bright the sun is. We've been getting gusts of maybe twenty or so miles an hour and it's like the sun doesn't isn't even there. But east Portland near the Columbia Gorge they've been getting gusts strong enough to put trees down.

I picture the little crocus fairies down under the leaves just saying "ain't coming out, no way, no how. Where is the freakin' rewind button!"


SPRING MAGIC

The World is very old;
But year by year
It groweth new again
When buds appear.

The World is very old,
And sometimes sad;
But when the daisies come
The World is glad.

The World is very old;
But every Spring
It groweth young again,
And fairies sing.

Cicely Mary Barker in The Complete Book oof the Flower Fairies

Thursday, February 16, 2006

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE....

Trying to read the writings of a mystic is like trying to trap the wind in your hands and expect it to keep moving. Or try to bail the ocean with a teaspoon or count the grains of sand in a handful. Assuming you can keep the sand from spilling while you’re counting.

 

We’re trapped in what our human abilities can perceive with our five senses and further trapped by language when we try to describe it. I’m coming to believe that words are as imprecise as particle physics. If you know where a particle is you can’t know how fast it’s traveling. If you know how fast it’s going you can’t know where it is. And this from somebody who used to think that if you just had the right words you could explain something in a way that anybody would understand. Yeah, right. Between the current administration, the talking heads and the news that isn’t really news I think there’s a new Tower of Babel being built and it's just down the street.

 

If I say something is blue. Which blue am I talking about? Blue bells, blue birds, blue jays, the almost blue white of the sky in the east just before dawn on a clear morning or the almost blue black of the western sky at the same time? 

 

How about smells? Something smells sweet. Carnation sweet? The sun just went down and the garden smells like heaven sweet? I’m standing in the middle of a field of lavender sweet? Just bathed and powdered little baby sweet? Just took a big, three-layer devil’s food cake out of the oven sweet? (and how did something that tastes and smells so wonderful get called devil’s food anyway)

 

Someone could writean entire book on roses. How big they are, what colors they come in and then you come to the two kickers. You can only describe how a rose “smells” or how the blossoms “appear” by referring back to a rose. A rose smells like a rose. A rose looks like a rose. If someone has never seen or smelled as rose, telling them that it doesn’t smell or look like a lilac will tell them zilch. About all you can say is, there’s a rose garden, go have a blast and watch out for bees and thorns.

 

I’m currently working on the autobiography of a former Catholic priest who got drunk on the mystics and ran afoul of folks who would like to convince us that when they say something is blue everybody will agree about the shade they mean. Or if we don’t agree about the shade we’ll keep our mouths shut anyway.

 

Maybe creation is trying to tell us something. When you stop to think about it, the best roses often have the biggest thorns and we all know what kind of protection those little honey producers carry.

 

Monday, February 13, 2006

POLITICS AS UNUSUAL

I haven’t been writing about politics much lately. It’s not because I’ve given up or lost interest. It’s more a case of there’s too many pieces to the puzzle and I have to do some reading to get some of them clear in my mind. I’m starting to believe that we don’t learn nearly enough about English history when they teach us U.S, history. Every time I think I’m close to the beginning, I find some more information that takes me even further back in history. Anglo Saxon England for example. My oh my. My reading list is longer than my arm and getting longer. Every time I finish one it leads me to two more.

 

According to one historian you need to go clear back to the reign of Henry II to find some of the roots of the law as we know it now. To the idea that if you want to know what the law is “go talk to my judges.” Granted Henry had a temper that would make Mt. St. Helens look tame and he didn’t always practice what he preached.  But, the idea of a national body of law independent of the king, and that even the king was subject to, seems to have some roots in Henry’s reign.

 

During the reign of Henry’s grandson Henry III some members of the nobility tried to use the precedent of Magna Charta to place the king under the authority of Parliament. A tall order when you consider that Parliament only assembled when the ruler called for some kind of elections and then only when taxes were needed. The monarchy’s attempts to rule without Parliament and Parliament’s attempts to have a larger say in how the country was governed seesawed back and forth for centuries. What I’m trying to say is that what we’re seeing now has happened before. And if we are supremely lucky it will keep happening. At least we’re still shouting, not shooting and I hope very much that it will come to that.

 

There are plenty of pots boiling right now. The biggest one seems to be who decides what a law means and if the executive is bound by what the law says, not what he or she decides it means. Or if the executive has to follow the law at all. My personal opinion is this: the executive can’t pick and choose which laws to obey or redefine the meaning of the law to suit his agenda. If we allow this to continue, the meaning of a law may change every time we get a new president. No country that claims to be a democracy or a republic can function under those conditions, not and remain true to its founders.

 

There is a law on the books that addresses warrants for surveillance on communications from overseas. The government is allowed to set things in motion and has seventy-two hours to apply for a warrant. Given the history of the law there is little doubt that a warrant would be issued. If the government needs a new law, then go to congress and try to get a new one passed.

 

Asking questions in public about how to combat terrorism does not make us weak. It doesn’t endanger the public good. It’s the courage to discuss these issues in public that makes us stronger. Hiding in the shadows just chips away at the threads that hold us together.

 

Update: I had written this draft late last month and didn’t post it. There’s hope coming from the traditional conservative side of the Republican Party. They aren’t happy with the excuses in the Attorney General’s testimony. And quite blunt in the opinion that “if you don’t like the law ask us to change it.” What really takes the cake for me is the attitude of “yeah we knew about the law, we were basically too lazy to follow it.” And no apology for the ultra slacker attitude. Sheesh. There are other adjectives but this is an AOL journal after all.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

GREAT ACRONYM

I'm working through Matthew Fox's autobiography, Confessions. I've just hit say 1979 or 80 when Fox really started to find himself in the Vatican's crosshairs. He was asked to give the keynote address in Seattle for the convention for Dignity, a coaltion of gay and lesbian Catholics. Most of the info that went to Rome came from a group with the name Catholics United for the Faith or (drum roll please) CUFF. Is that great or what?

The then Archbishop of Seattle,Stephen Hunthause, also found himself on the hotseat for one, helping to invite the group to Seattle and (gasp) inviting them to mass at the cathedral. The good archbiship also was a tax protestor-withholding the portion of his income that would have gone to the military in 1982. And got his wages garnished.

 

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A PRAYER FOR THE WORLD

Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations. Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect. Then let the sun come out and fill the skies with rainbows. Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken. Let us burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly. So that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin color. Let the warmth ad brightness of the sun melt our selfishness so that we can share the joys and feel the sorrows of our neighbors. And let the light of the sun be so strong tht we will see all people as our neighbors. Let the earth, nourished by rain, bring for flowers to surround us with beauty. And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven.

 

Amen

 

Rabbi Harold S Kushner

POLITICS

Politics: from the Greek politika 1a: the art or science of government b: the art or science of influencing or guiding governmental policy c: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government. 2: Political actions, practices or policies. 3a: political affairs or business; especially competiton between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership in a government or other group b: political life esp. as a principal activity or profession c: political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices 4: the political opinions or sympathies of a person 5: the total complex or relations between people in society.

 

From Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary

 

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about neglecting what I saw as the political side of my journal. After all “politics” is part of the title. But, I’m slowly realizing that maybe I was defining politics a little narrowly. That I needed to look at politics as a totality.

 

At a time when the radical members of religions we consider patriarchal seem hell bent on pulling the framework of civilization down on our heads in the name of protecting it; learning to walk with the feminine side of Creation can be considered a political, even a radical action.

 

When drug company profits and advertising are at an all time high, learning more about herbal supports for health could be seen as political. The drugs that are marketed with claims of helping us often turn out to be worse than the diseases they treat. The latest one to hit the headlines is a common drug used to treat ADHD.

 

As our global food supply becomes more precarious, especially when you consider the contamination of what we feed the animals and the diseases they carry, buying locally and eating more non-meat products is pretty political.  

 

Those astronomy photos I’ve been including are not only beautiful, they’re a little subversive. The just fired PR guy for NASA tried to tell agency scientists to always refer to the Big Bang as a “theory” to leave room for Intelligent Design. Actually he resigned when his claims that he had a journalism degree turned out to be false. When a little surfing will turn up websites that support the “young universe” theory, highlighting pictures made with light that started our way at least 100 million years ago could be considered “political.”

 

I guess these folks never heard of Occam’s razor. The simplest definition of it is that “the simplest explanation, even if it seems unlikely, that fits the facts is probably the truth.” When I read the material on some of these sites my jaw just hangs open. Some of these writers are so determined to prove that the events of the Bible-say Noah’s flood- are true that they hang every principle of physics, geology, and biology out to dry.

 

And I just ran across a variation some folks call Heinlein’s razor after science fiction writer Robert Heinlein. Heinlein basically said “don’t attribute to malice what can be adequately blamed on stupidity.”

 

I guess the theme of this wandering entry is that I’ve been keeping to the political part of the journal, just putting a slightly different face on it. And I have to admit that when I’m feeling really crappy about what’s been going on here and overseas these astronomy photos help me keep my balance and perspective.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

 NGC 1309 is a galaxy about 100 million light years away and can be found near the constellation Eridanus. The picture was taken by the Hubble Telescope. While the face on view is spectacular, the really mind blowing things are all the other galaxies that you can see behind this one. Just can't stay away from these gems. Again this is from the Astronomy Picture of the Day site.

Just another one of those mind blowingly spectacular objects in our universe.

 

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

RUNES

There are two meanings to the word rune. The first is the common one, which refers to symbols in ancient Germanic alphabets or alphabet symbols in other languages that are believed to have special or magical powers. The other meaning, which I just looked up, refers to a poem or incantation used before a ritual. This one is the first entry in the pagan Carmina Gadalica. A wonerful and priceless reminder that there is a feminine face of the Creator and it come in all ages.

 

RUNE BEFORE A RITUAL (1)

I am bowing my head
In the eye of the Mother who gave me birth,
In the eye of the Maiden who loves me,
In the eye of the Crone who guides me in wisdom,
In friendship and affection.
Through thy gift of nature, O Goddess,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need.
Love towards the Lady,
The affection of the Lady,
The laughter of the Lady,
The wisdom of the Lady,
The passion of the Lady,
The blessing of the Lady,
And the magic of the Lady
To do in the world of Abred,
As the Ageless Ones do in Gwynfyd;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each moment in kindness,
Grant us Thy Sight.


This document copyright 1997 - Mike Nichols

SUN PILLERS

Ran across something in the astronomy photos that I've never heard of. Heck, there's a lot I've never heard of. Sun pillers are created when the rising or setting sun reflects off falling ice crystals in the atmosphere. This one was taken next to Lake Tahoe by an amateur photographer named James Kirkpatrick back in 2000. It's beautiful, I think. Especially since it's reflected in the smooth as glass lake.

And this one is also a sunset, but not quite so spectacular by photographer Stan Richard from 2001.

So enjoy. Nice change from the the politics

 

 

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

THERE'S SMOKE IN MY EYES

I’m going to state upfront that I believe in the freedom to speak and to write. If I don’t agree with something I have the right not to read it or to listen to it. Having said that, if someone doesn’t understand why showing a pig on or next to the Koran or the Torah for that matter would cause extreme offense, then you’ve got a lot of reading to do.

 

Images are much more powerful than words. Stop and think about images used in the past, say pre-war Germany, that were used to increase hatred of targeted ethnic groups. Were the cartoonists in Europe trying to do something like that? Probably not. Were they trying to provoke discussion? Maybe. Trouble is the only part that succeeded was the provoking. Did they just flat out not realize what the response in the Muslim world would be? Could be. Maybe the artists and the editors just flat out didn’t realize that something published in Denmark might end up being seen in Indonesia. And it could be that most of the people burning, shouting and shooting haven’t seen the images and are going off what they “believe” the images show.

 

This is a link to a page that includes the cartoons that have caused the uproar in so many parts of the Muslim world. I’m not going to give an opinion on the images, some of the peripheral ones are pretty bad, in my opinion. Oh, the ones credited for causing most of the uproar are at the bottom of the page. http://www.zombietime.com/mohammed_image_archive/

 

What can I say? Would I be uncomfortable if images of Jesus or Moses were substituted for the Muslim images? Probably. Would I go out burn an innocent bystanders’ house down because of it? Hell, no. That isn’t going to solve anything. The best of their teachings will survive not matter how many buildings are torched. But, the best of those teachings just might get lost in all that smoke.

 

The responses of some of the folks on this side of the water to what is happeningin the Muslim world are depressing to say the least. There’s either a total lack of understanding about why there might be a problem or “just you try to burn my car and see what’s happens.”

 

There seems to be a fatal flaw in the human response to the divine revelations in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. Too many who claim to follow all three traditions seem to believe that those who offend their traditions, or who are seen to offend their traditions must be hounded from our midst as unfit to live. They aren’t the only voices, they may not even be the majority in any of the faiths, but they do seem to be the loudest. And they’re the ones with the torches and the guns. 

 

So what do the rest of us do? Go out with our copies of Matthew Fox, or Hildegard of Bingen or Meister Ekhart in one hand and our own clubs in the other? Do we shout that there are traditions in all three faiths that teach peace, understanding, and respect? That all three teach that by caring for the sick, those in need, the poor and the voiceless we do the will of the Creator? And you’d better agree with us or else? Bit like going to war to promote peace isn’t it? Wait some of us are already trying that.

 

That knocking sound you might hear is my head hitting the desk.

Monday, February 6, 2006

WILD MAGIC

I was searching the net for information on "smooring" (more on that in another entry) the old Celtic ritual of putting the fire to bed at night and came across a site that has both the Christian Carmina Gadelica paired with more traditional prayers or runes. The link to the site can hopefully be found here http://www.iit.edu/~phillips/personal/contents/carmind.html 

Anyway, I really liked this one. Especially the part about following the ancient trackways.

RUNE OF THE WILD MAGIC (80)

Give thou thine heart to the wild magic,
To the Lord and the Lady of Nature,
Beyond any consideration of this world.

Do not covet large or small,
Do not despise weakling or poor,
Semblance of evil allow not near thee,
Never give nor earn thou shame.

The Ancient Harmonies are given thee,
Understand them early and prove,
Be one with the power of the elements,
Put behind thee dishonour and lies.

Be loyal to the Lord of the Wild Wood,
Be true to the Lady of the Stars,
Be true to thine own self besides,
True to the magic of Nature above all else.

Do not thou curse anyone,
Lest thou threefold cursed shouldst be,
And shouldst thou travel ocean and earth,
Follow the very step of the ancient trackways.


This document copyright 1997 - Mike Nichols

Sunday, February 5, 2006

ADULTERY?

I haven’t gone to Brokeback Mountain. Not because the subject bothers me, but I just don’t go to movies in theaters very often. But the gist of the story that I’m picking up would apply whether the couple is same sex or not.

 

Two people have a short, very intense relationship, separate and marry other people. If I understand correctly, they can’t put the original relationship aside and are unfaithful to their wives. It’s as if Romeo and Juliet hadn’t ended up in Juliet’s tomb but had married who they were supposed to and having the tragic finale happen ten or fifteen years later.

 

There actually was a guest column in the local paper by Maria Anglin of the San Antonio Express-News titled “No one cares about the ‘Brokeback’ wives.” I can see where she’s coming from. Infidelity, like violence, has become such a background noise in the culture that nobody seems to notice unless we’re faced with a same sex couple.

 

Since I haven’t seen the film I don’t know why these two young guys felt they had to marry. Family pressures, camouflage (this is set in the sixties after all), or failure to understand that they won’t be able to put that summer behind them. Whatever, the reason, the results are tragic.

 

I don’t remember reading anything in the New Testament where Jesus says anything about the gender of your partner. But, once you commit to your partner you are supposed to be faithful. So it looks like we have a fair amount of controversy over what is a very old story. What happens when you are unfaithful, when you break a promise. Actually what is one of the biggest promises two people can make each other.

 

And here is where I want to stir up the waters a bit and try to take the definition of adultery beyond the sexual. When a couple marries, especially in the church, they promise to put each other first; “to forsake all others.”

 

So let’s take this a little further. Take it beyond the sexual definition of adultery. What about corporate demands from the fifties on that the “job comes first” and the spouse and family come second. Often a distant second. Could this be a form of adultery? A kind of unfaithfulness to the marriage vows that society not only accepts but encourages in the name of material success and increased productivity. A form of unfaithfulness that can be just as damaging to family ties as sexual infidelity.

Friday, February 3, 2006

FIRE AND ICE

Sometimes the Astronomy Photo of the day is a little more earthbound. This is a shot taken of the skies over Iceland. The combination of the flashing Aurora and glowing lava is spectacular.

POLLS AND STUFF

There were some letters in the local papers today taking to task both other letter writers and the Oregonian’s editorial board for dissing the president’s state of the union speech. I have to say right up front that the only way you’d get the shrub on the tube giving any kind of a state of anything speech is that the constitution says he has to do it. Given the latitude he’s claiming for other questionable decisions, he’d probably find a way to get out of the speech if he didn’t believe it could be turned to his benefit.

 

The writers cited several unnamed polls. Polls that supposedly showed increased support for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Uh, guys, polls are only as good as the questions asked and the sample of people responding to the poll. If the first question is “did you watch the president’s speech” and we only want your opinion if you did watch the speech, you automatically remove everybody who didn’t watch the speech from the pool.

 

Personally, I think the man looks like Alfred E Newman from MAD magazine. That’s not a good place to start in the first place. Second I would rather face dental surgery without anesthetic that listen to this man talk about anything. I can barely manage to READ what he says much less LISTEN to him. Third, members of the party of the guy in the White House are more likely to sit through these things, so the results of any poll are, shall we say skewed in a certain direction anyway.

 

My eighth grade math teacher had a book on the shelf called How to Lie with Statistics. ‘Nuff said.

 

On a more cheerful note, the new guy in Tom Delay’s old house job is a representative from Ohio with absolutely no ties to Mr. Delay. Wonderful what facing election in fall can do. Especially when the loudest barfing sounds seem to be coming from a certain Texas congressional district. Hopefully, the voters in ol’ Toms’ district with send him back to his pest exterminating business full time.

And to all you hopeful Democrats out there. Don’t mistake my disgust for the actions of the party is power for anything more than that. The fact that you aren’t Republicans might get you through the upcoming election but it won’t get you any further. Until you can state clearly what you are for and find a workable way to make it happen you’ve lost me. I’m not prepared to vote for Democratic candidates just because they aren’t Republicans. A word of advice, check out the current governor of Washington. You might just learn something from the lady.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

INVOCATION AT THE THRESHOLD

Actually this is supposed to be said at the front door on the evening on January 31st. So I'm a day late. :-)

THRESHOLD INVOCATION FOR THE FESTIVAL OF IMBOLC

Midwife of Mystery, open the door,
    Infant of the Infinite, come you in.
Let there be welcome to the newborn truth,
    Let there be welcome to the Spring of the Year.
In cold and darkness you are traveling,
    In warmth and brightness you will arrive.
May the blessed time of Imbolc
    Kindle the soul of all beings,
Bringing birth to innocence and integrity
    From the depths to the heights,
From the heights to the depths,
    In the heart of every soul.

From THE CELTIC DEVOTIONAL by Caitlin Matthews

And a thought for the day: the most powerful tool we all have is the word NO. Just a little something to think about at the turning of the seasons.