Don’t Lie to Me

Video

Thank you, Barbara Streisand, for speaking the truth in a way only an artist can. Suffer through the short ad to get to the video. Then share with your friends.

Everyone answers to someone. Share with your friends. Leave a comment. Vote!

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 13, 2018.

Morning Fog and the Horizon

The horizon disappears behind the morning fog.Prairie grasses in fog

Tall grasses that yesterday colored the prairie as far as eye could see are still there. Only the nearest 100 feet of the rusty red, yellow, and brown prairie grasses now appears, the rest only imagined behind the gray mist curtain.

The Nebraska prairie and its earth-tone colors are native to Kay. They’ve been less appreciated by her husband, raised on the tree-covered hills and the bright ocean blues and greens, dotted occasionally with sumac red and willow yellow, of the Northeast Coast.

The Hutton Niobrara Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, this 5,000 acre wildlife refuge of Audubon of Kansas, feels unspoiled by human hands, except for the indigenous people who long ago vanished with the buffalo along the Niobrara River.

By noon the fog is still here. So are the earthen colors. What’s changed is the Yankee’s fresh appreciation for the intrinsic beauty of the browns, yellows, and rusty reds he once viewed as the dull, faded colors of boredom and decay.

The Earth is a splendid place to live. Morning fog blew in years ago over Old Garden Beach in Rockport, Massachusetts leaving only the gray granite, red sumac and pink primrosed white picket fence visible to the eye. Then and now, there and here, life is wrapped in mist and wonder. The horizon disappears in morning fog.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Hutton House, Hutton Niobrara Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, somewhere near Bassett, Nebraska, September 22, 2015.

As War Looms: a Jewish-Muslim fast day July 15

Isreali-Palstinian relations are getting worse. Rabbi Arthur Waskow speaks from within the Jewish community. His words have weight because they do not come from an outsider. They have no source in the historic anti-Semitism that makes Christian criticism suspect.
The best criticism is always self-criticism. Rabbi Waskow published this piece in the Shalom Report of the Shalom Center.

As War Looms, Can Jews & Muslims Join In 17 Tammuz/ Ramadan Fast on July 15 In “Hunger Strike Against Violence”?

Dear friends,

There are two crises in the world that call especially for Jewish responses:

One because it involves the future of a state that calls itself “Jewish,” and of its supporters in America — their spiritual, intellectual, ethical, and practical futures – at a moment when the relationship between Jews and our Abrahamic cousins of Palestine is filled with violence that threatens to kill more people, breed more hatred, and poison the bloodstream of Judaism and Jewish culture;

The other because it calls on Judaism as –- probably uniquely — a world religion that still can draw on having once been an indigenous people of shepherds and farmers with a Torah, offerings, festivals, and many other practices centered on the sacred relationship with the Earth. Can these roots regrow new flowering at a moment when all the wisdom of all human cultures is needed to cope with a planetary crisis that originates in human mistreatment of the Earth?

Reb Zalman addressed both of these, beginning from the deep spirit-place that was his calling in the world. In two Shalom Report letters this week, I will suggest ways to begin the spiritual turning necessary to address both these.

Let me begin with the first crisis, which every hour is worsening toward war:

Bottom line, a proposal, originating from Israelis & Palestinians; : That the traditional Jewish fast day of 17 Tammuz, which coincides this year with a day in the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan, be set aside on Tuesday, July 15, as a “Hunger Strike Against Violence.”

Background: Murder, violence, and ugly threats of it have broken out in Israel, its settlements in Occupied Palestine, and in Palestine itself – at both the level of street mobs and the level of governmental rockets, bombs, and troop mobilizations.

The endemic violence of occupation has been intensified by the murder of three Israeli youngsters by some Palestinians, one lynching murder of a Palestinian youth by Israelis, Israeli street mobs threatening pogroms against Palestinians and Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin, and exchanges of rocket and missile/ bomb firing between Gaza and Israel.

Eliaz Cohen (an Israeli poet/ settler in Gush Etzion) has proposed that Jews & Muslims respond to the outbreaks of violence by joining in a Hunger Strike Against Violence. He suggested fasting on the traditional Jewish fast day of 17 Tammuz, this year on July 15, which is also a day in the month-long fast of Ramadan. (Both fasts are from sunrise to sunset.)

What is 17 Tammuz about? It commemorates the day when the Babylonian Army broke through the walls of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, three weeks before the Babylonians destroyed the Temple.

So it is, among other things, a day of sorrow for the dead and self-restraint from killing.

My thought: — It would be both a serious expression of commitment to peace and decency and also a serious memorial to Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who died last week, for us here as well in the USA to join with Muslims on 17 Tammuz in a Hunger Strike Against Violence, and to end the day together with Iftar, the evening break-fast.

To do this, we could ask a mosque near any one of us, and/ or a chapter of organizations like CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, to join with our own congregation.

What does this have to do with Reb Zalman? He schrei’d Gevalt, gevalt, about the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Chatila; he visited the Tomb of Abraham in Hebron not in triumph but in Abrahamic peace; he became a Sufi initiate; he climbed the mountain known as Sinai with Muslims.

Why should we do this? The editorial board of Haaretz, not just an op-ed piece, has just warned that :

 

“There are no words to describe the horror allegedly done by six Jews to Mohammed Abu Khdeir of Shoafat [allegedly to “avenge” the murders of three Israeli youngsters]. Although a gag order bars publication of details of the terrible murder and the identities of its alleged perpetrators, the account of Abu Khdeir’s family — according to which the boy was burned alive — would horrify any mortal. Anyone who is not satisfied with this description, can view the horror movie in which members of Israel’s Border Police are seen brutally beating Tariq Abu Khdeir, the murder victim’s 15-year-old cousin.

“[We Israelis] belong to a vengeful, vindictive Jewish tribe whose license to perpetrate horrors is based on the horrors that were done to it.

“Prosecuting the murderers is no longer sufficient. There must be a cultural revolution in Israel. Its political leaders and military officers must recognize this injustice and right it. They must begin raising the next generation, at least, on humanist values, and foster a tolerant public discourse. Without these, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state.”

 

 

It seems to me that for the sake of God’s demand for justice, peace, and love for BOTH the peoples of Israel and Palestine, and for the sake of our own souls as well, we must support such a “cultural revolution in Israel” and in the American Jewish “organized” community — where idolatry for Israel is replacing love for Israel, despite deep disquiet and disaffection at the grass roots.
Below is what Eliaz wrote. And below that is a report from The Times of Israel (NOT a left-wing or liberal paper) about visits of sorrow and condolence between the bereaved families of the two peoples, including a Palestinian Muslim who affirmed the idea of sharing the Fast of 17 Tammuz/ Ramadan.

(If you want to know more about Eliaz Cohen, as I did, see http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/eliaz-cohen-in-translation-%E2%80%93hear-o-lord-poems-from-the-disturbances-of-2000-2009/)

 

Shalom, salaam, peace! — Arthur

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Thanks to Rabbi Eyal Levinson of northern Israel, who sent me Eliaz Cohen’s proposal:

 

“A day of fasting together, or in the language of civil protest: a hunger-strike day, next Tuesday, when the Jewish and Muslim calendars are united in a day of fast: the fast of 17 Tamuz and the fast of Ramadan, Jews and Muslims will unite in a day of fast.

“For both traditions/cultures – this is a day designated for soul-searching, an opportunity for people to take responsibility, for self repair and for self and communal purification and for repentance.

“This is an attempt to direct the consciousness of both peoples to this day as a “peak day” “in which each man and woman in their home and in their communities will be invited to take part, to fast in solidarity with the suffering, violence and pain of self and others, to ask how to end the cycle of bloodshed and draw a horizon of hope and vision.

“Afternoon gatherings and classes will be held between the two communities – sharing stories, studying and praying together, and by the appearance of the stars the people gathered will share an “iftar” – breaking the fast with a delicious meal.”

^^^^^^^^^

 

From The Times of Israel
http://www.timesofisrael.com/slain-israeli-teens-uncle-consoles-murdered-palestinians-father/
Earlier Sunday, two Palestinians from the Gush Etzion area … arrived at the Fraenkel’s Nof Ayalon residence where the family is in the midst of the traditional seven-day mourning period [for one of the three Israeli youngsters murdered by Palestinians].
Last week, the Fraenkels condemned the murder of Abu Khdeir [a Palestinian youngster murdered by Israelis], saying, “There is no difference when it comes to blood. Murder is murder; there is no justification, forgiveness or atonement for any murder.”

One of the visitors [said] that Fraenkel’s statements last week after Abu Khdeir’s murder “touched a large portion of the Palestinian people.”
“I come from a bereaved family, I lost my brother and I have family that were former prisoners, unfortunately we also threw stones at you. …
“The moment we learn to deal with each other’s pain and stop the anger against one another, the situation will be better,” the visitor said. “Our mission is to strengthen the family and also to take a step forward towards the liberation of my people. We believe that only through the hearts of the Jews will our liberation happen.”

He described the warm welcome the Fraenkels gave him, and said: “We are sorry for any harm against people, whether Jewish or Muslim. We don’t want anyone to be hurt, and want to reach a political agreement.”

The two Palestinians also described an upcoming initiative called the “Hunger Strike Against Violence,” next Tuesday, on which the Jewish fast of the 17 of Tammuz coincides with the ongoing Muslim Ramadan holiday.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I hope that as we mourn Reb Zalman, we turn the mourning not only into tzedakah (socially responsible charity) but also into tzedek (balanced justice), chesed (loving-kindness), and mishpat (justice on behalf of the poor and disempowered) . “Tzedek u’ mishpat ashira: l’cha YHWH azamaira. Of love & justice I will sing, to the ONE Breath of Life I’ll sing praises!”

Shalom, salaam, peace — Arthur

Planetary Pledge

We pledge allegiance to the earth

that sustains humanity,

and to the land, air, water, and sun

on which our future rests:

one fragile creation

in our hands to preserve and protect,

with equality, freedom, justice,

and peace for all

.

  – Steven Shoemaker and

Joan Humphrey Lefkow,

2007

Lao Tzu on Planet Earth

In harmony with the Tao
The sky is clear and spacious
The Earth is solid and full
All creatures flourish together
Content with the way they are
Endlessly repeating themselves
Endless renewed.

When man interferes with the Tao,
The sky becomes filthy
The earth becomes depleted
The equilibrium crumbles
Creatures become extinct.

The Master views the parts with compassion
Because he understands the whole.
His constant practice is humility
He doesn’t glitter like a jewel
But lets himself be shaped by the Tao
As rugged and common as a stone.

– Lao Tzu

This was sent by the Brazilian flutist and saxophonist who played last Friday evening in Hudson, WI. He is the first of the artists to respond to the Call to create artists “Before the Planetary Requiem” in the face of scientific evidence for Climate Departure. “Before the Planetary Requiem” was posted here on Views from the Edge yesterday. Interesting that his response is from one of the ancient figures of holy and practical wisdom.

Emily Dickenson: Earth Crammed with Heaven

Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees
Takes off his shoes –
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

– Emily Dickinson

Join the Call to Artists to take off your shoes before climate departure leaves us with no blackberries to pluck. Read yesterday’s post: Before the Planetary Requiem

Progress and the Pit of Babel

Ever since Hegel , the view of inevitable progress has held sway in much of philosophy and in some schools of theology. In Christian theology, which is my faith context, fundamentalists project the ideal world backward in time to human origins in the Garden of Eden. For them, the Garden is not myth; it’s fact. “The Bible tells me so” and that’s that. Those who view the Genesis story as myth (not “untrue” but a literary genre expressing a timeless truth) tend to look at evolution as the unfolding of the Will of God toward what the Bible calls the Eschaton, the Great Last Thing, perceived as the achievement of the ideal or perfected state toward which the whole creation groans. The Ideal is not behind us but ahead of us as the conclusion of history.

Ever since my undergraduate philosophy professor, Esther Swenson, plunged me into existentialism – which was and still is a protest against all idealistic suppositions and conclusions about the world and humankind – I’ve been a skeptic of idealism. The projection of an Ideal or perfect world ignores, it seems to me, the fact that the end point of the planet itself is death, as it is for all of life. There is no permanence. There was no Garden of Eden in the past and there will not be one in the future. Projections or imaginations that place the Garden ahead of us are as flawed as the fundamentalist assumption that human history began with one.

Franz Kafka remains my favorite writer, in part because of his honesty and in part because of his economy of words. Dom Sebastian Moore, a rather eccentric Benedictine theologian, is linked with Kafka only in this one shared conclusion: the human project of an ideal human being or society is a flight from death into the arms of death itself.

Moore writes that the flight from death “is opting for an ultimate solitude.

“This choice can be made not only by the individual as the unconscious of his desperation, but also by the whole human race. It is being made by the whole human race, as between two poles, taking seriously only our self-awareness. Ignoring our being-part-of, that is the ecology of whose balance we are partly animals. The human race thinks it can go on with all its Narcissistic human normalities, of war, of politics, of religion, and that somehow the vast other side of the picture will look after itself. So in opting for ‘himself as conscious’, man is opting for an ultimate solitude.

“And ultimate solitude is death. It is to be cut off from the tree of life, and to whither.”
– Sebastian Moore, The Crucified Jesus Is No Stranger

Two parables of Kafka offer food for reflection. They are reverse images of the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel

If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without ascending it,
the work would have been permitted.

The Pit of Babel

What are you building? – I want to dig a subterranean passage.
Some progress must be made. My station up there is too high.
We are digging the pit of Babel.

On Monday mornings I meet for an hour with a group of wise octogenarians. When Kate had listened to the reading of Jeremiah – “my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13) – she had a far off look in her eyes. “What are you thinking, Kate? Where did you go?”

“Oh,” she said, “I went way off track. I couldn’t help but think of those leaking nuclear reactors in Japan.”

A penny for your thoughts.

The President’s Speech on the Economy

Aired earlier today on All Things Considered (MPR, KNOW, 91.1 FM).

Paul Tillich quote in Tillich Park, New Harmony, IN.

Paul Tillich quote in Tillich Park, New Harmony, IN.

Today President Obama began a series of speeches about the future of the American economy. I hope he takes us back to the basics of what an “economy” is.

Economics is about a household and how to manage it. The household is a family, a state, a nation, a planet.

The English word “economy” comes from the Greek work oikos – the Greek word for house. The word “economics” derives from the Greek word oikonomia–the management of a household.

Before it is anything else, economics is a perspective, a frame of reference. Before it decides anything about household management, it knows that there is only one house. Good household management – good economics – pays attention to the wellbeing of the entire house and all its residents.

In America and elsewhere across the world, we are coming to realize that the planet itself is one house. What happens in one room of the house – one family, one city, one nation – affects what happens everywhere in the house. Paul Tillich caught the clear sense of it when he wrote that “Man and nature belong together in their created glory – in their tragedy and in their salvation.” That is to say, there is only one house.

The essential question of economics is not about systems – capitalism, communism, socialism, or something else. The essential question is spiritual, philosophical, and ethical. It’s whether we believe that there is only one oikos, one house; the subsequent question is about how best to manage it for the wellbeing of all its residents and the fragile web of nature without which the house of the living would not exist.

Very often what we call ‘economics’ is not economics. It’s not oikonomia. It’s something else. It assumes something else, and when we forget what an economy and economics really are, we enshrine greed as the essential virtue, ignoring and imperiling everyone else and everthing in the one house in which we all live.

I dream that the President will preach the old Greek common sense: that in his own way, he will reclaim the essential premise of an economy and the ethical task of economics. By bringing the Greek origins to our television sets, headsets, and iPads, he can call us to move forward out of the partisan houses of nonsense.

There is only one house.

Stamping out Affluenza

Verse – “Dump and Run”

Lisa Heller lost a ring.

Dumpsters came to be her thing!

She taught students at her school

Making trash just wasn’t cool.

Donate stuff that still has use;

Reduce trash, avoid abuse

To the earth.  Take your measure:

Turn the trash into treasure!

Lisa started Dump and Run.

College students have great fun

Giving, sharing–have a sale!

Find a bargain, make a deal!

Help a group that helps the world,

Buy recycled things you need.

Like you avoid  INfluenza,

You can stamp out AFFluenza!

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, pays tribute to “Dump and Run”.

Dumping and running at the landfill

  At the end of the academic year, University of Illinois students drop off the “stuff” that might end up in the landfill to the University YMCA to be recycled by other students.

Former Executive Director of the University YMCA and Pastor of McKinley Presbyterian Church at the University of Illinois, Steve continues to host “Keepin’ the Faith” on Illinois Public Radio  every Sunday evening at 5:00 CST.

The Web of Sanity and Fullness

Pond with morning mist evaporating

Pond with morning mist evaporating

A newspaper reporter asked me some questions. We were preparing for a First Tuesday Dialogues series on sustainability called “The Good Green Earth.”

The series would bring five speakers, including  spokespeople from the Gulf of Mexico deeply engaged in hazard assessment, technology, and recovery in the wake of Deepwater Horizon.

What’s your sense of the possibilities and trends for sustainability in your work now and what does it look like in the future?

I responded that one of my inspirations is Paul Tillich, according to whom:

Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.

Faith consists in being vitally concerned with that ultimate reality to which I give the symbolical name ‘God’. Whoever reflects earnestly on the meaning of life is on the verge of an act of faith.

The Spider’s Web with Morning Dew

My calling as a pastor was to help us here at Shepherd of the Hill and here in Chaska literally “go out of our mind.”

Because the collective mind that has delivered us to this place is killing us and destroying the balance of nature.

My calling is to shake us loose from the mental and spiritual chains of species superiority, My calling is to shake us loose from the mental and spiritual chains of species superiority, the mistaken notion that we – humankind – are the exception to Nature.  It’s a call to help re-shape our understanding of ourselves as participants rather than owners, participants rather than conquerors or manipulators, members of a diverse natural order of interdependent life. The spiritual resources are there in Hebrew scripture, in the New Testament epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, and in the ancient respectful spirituality of some of America’s indigenous people. By “going out of our mind” we will come back into a the web of sanity and fullness.

What factors do you see pushing towards or against sustainability?

Historian of science and technology Lynn White said flat-out that the root problem of the sustainability crisis is religious or spiritual, and so is the solution.

So, number one, we have to address the old and emerging questions about what Tillich called “Ultimate Reality” and the meaning of our existence.  We have to go into labor to set the new theological and anthropological  paradigm free from of the old destructive thinking.  What we are beginning to find as we go into this spiritual labor is that this more respectful, more holistic way of thinking is not new at all – it’s the older paradigm that got side-tracked by greed and pride.

Building of the Tower of Babel – Master of the Duke of Bedford

God has “come down,” as it were, to frustrate our attempts at building the secure city called Babel; God is making us nomads again who recognize that we and the Earth are already full, not empty. Every settlement comes to nothing. Every tower built as a monument to pride falls. And number two, and I’m afraid there is no other way to say this – we will never make it without leaving behind the economic system of greed. Capitalism is killing us.

The consolidation of wealth and corporate power have a stranglehold on national, state, and local public policy. The members of the boards of the oil companies sit on the boards of General Motors and Ford.  So it’s no wonder that U.S. federal policies on transportation are car-friendly and suspicious of mass-transit, regardless of a car’s gas mileage. Osalescence is built in because you can’t sell something five years from now if the old model is still like new. Our health care and the FDA are in the palm of the insurance and drug company’s so that it’s illegal to go across the border to fill your prescription in Canada.

Finally, the sustainability of the human species itself is, I believe, imperiled by chemical alterations that are meant to do good but that, in the long run, make us biologically less resistant and resilient. Our natural immune systems are being weakened by pesticides in the food we eat and by the pharmaceuticals we ingest from the drug store.

Black tar heroin - U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Black tar heroin – U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

We have become a nation of addicts.  Addicted to illusionary dreams of abundance.  Addicted to prescription drugs.  Addicted to fast food and faster short-term solutions. Even instant gratification is too slow. Controlled by advertizing that sells us prescription drugs that’ll give you an immediate erection but may send you to the emergency room if it last more than four hours,or drugs that may ruin your liver or land you in a casket, and the real pushers are not the petty drug peddlers on Minneapolis’s North Side. The real pushers are legal. They’re given license, while those who would shut them down are looked upon as crackpots and throw-backs who are opposed to progress.

So…what’s stopping real progress, a more Earth-friendly way of organizing human affairs that embraces reality itfself, “Being-Itself”?  The intransigent, legal, institutionalized arrangements of power and money, on the one hand, and our willing compliance with the de-democratization of America that salutes the system of greed. We have to learn again, and we are – very slowly –  pushing and screaming, that “the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. We have turned it over to the forces of greed and destruction.

The Good, Good Earth: Our Island Home

The Good, Good Earth: Our Island Home

We need to recover the gratitude and spiritual paradigm of a natural abundance in order to push against the false promises of those who would have us believe that our lives and the world would be empty without all the stuff that ends up in the landfills or washes ashore in the estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico.

So……Chime in, friends. How would you answer the reporter’s questions?