Home

A Mystical Take on Masks, Racism, & the 4th of July

3 Comments

As always, I have arrived at my family home in New Hampshire happily laden with books and full of dreams of writing. I intend to post here on Writing with Spirit more often, I’m working on a draft of my memoir, and I’ll begin a month-long online writing class next week. You will likely hear about some or all of these pursuits. Meanwhile, I have finished my first book of the trip, Richard Rohr’s “What The Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self.” I thought I’d share a short review because it’s rare that a “spiritual” book so completely jives with what we call “reality.”

And what a reality! As if things weren’t surreal enough lately, the President just celebrated Independence Day with a speech attacking what polls show is a majority of Americans who support the removal of confederate statues from places of honor. He aggressively stoked fear and hatred and division. But all this is nothing new. As he tries to distract us from the deadly pandemic that worsens daily, there will no doubt be more race-baiting and ugliness emanating from the White House.

Orange Fireworks

But back to the book:

I liked this little book. If you’ve read much Richard Rohr, you will find it familiar, with good reason: it’s a book of excerpts from his other writings. I could quibble with the structure of “Mystics;” the “seven pathways” seem forced and kind of random. This is probably because the editor who came up with the idea died part way through the writing, so I think the big picture may have been lost. But since the readings are in small bites, and the book doesn’t pretend to be a straight narrative, the structure isn’t too distracting, and there are plenty of wonderful Rohr nuggets throughout. This makes a fine daily reader for meditation and journaling, and I think I’ll be using it for years to come.

If you haven’t read Rohr, I recommend “Everything Belongs,” my favorite. But “Mystics” is a decent summary of his beliefs about spiritual growth and enlightenment, including growing out of our egoic self-preoccupations and into more compassionate non-dualistic thinking, less “othering” and judging.

It’s unusual for a “mystical” book to track so directly with the day’s headlines, but it’s impossible not to think about my fellow Americans refusing to wear masks because it “infringes on their freedom” when doing so would literally save the lives of others — talk about sick egos! Or about millions of white people yammering about their their precious “heritage” of slave-holding while demonizing black people being murdered in our streets and jails by law enforcement officials. Some seem more concerned about statues made of stone than their fellow citizens made of flesh and blood. Wrong color flesh, it seems.

Also timely, the last section of Father Rohr’s book centers on transforming others and society, and is hopeful but realistic. He recognizes that in North America, “our economy, our self-image, our very psyche have lived in a triumphalist and paranoid stance for so long that it will be hard to change to a positive and creative mode . . . a new way of living based on faith instead of fear, peacemaking instead of moneymaking, community instead of competition.”

May it be so!

 

July Fourth, Food, and Failure

3 Comments

Some think that July 4th is about independence or freedom or revolution or patriotism. The current president seems to think it’s about militarism. But I know the deeper truth.

The Fourth of July, like every other holiday, is about food. Often of the unhealthy variety, and always too much of it. Holidays are not helpful for someone newly committed to a healthy eating plan. First, there’s the smell of fatty dead flesh sizzling on grills throughout the land. Luckily, this is not a temptation for me, a long-time vegetarian. No dead cow or pig passes my lips. (Except for that time I bit into cleverly disguised bacon at a wedding reception and had to decide whether to swallow or spit in front of the cute guy I was talking to. I spat. He left.)

But as soon as I hear the crumpling of a potato chip bag, my hunger hormones start hoppin’. I’ve been learning about these hormones through Noom, my new weight-loss program. Noomers are into biology and psychology and like to throw around terms like “ghrelin” (“feed me” messengers) and “CCK” (“no more, thanks” messengers). Such knowledge helps me realize that it’s not just an inner evil monster that forces me to overeat, but a complex web of internal and external interactions. Knowledge is power, and I’m empowered to make a daily eating plan and stick to it because I know I am in charge, not the evil monster.

Holidays are another story though. Oh, I had a plan. I understood the challenge. I arrived at my neighbor’s with healthy tabbouleh salad, a giant bowl of raw veggies, and veggie dogs for the grill.

I also took a six-pack of beer, because hallelujah, I found out that Noom considers beer to be a “yellow” food (moderation) as opposed to my preferred Cabernet, a “red” food (limited consumption). My plan allows more yellow calories than red. I made this happy discovery just hours before going to my neighbor’s cookout. I was so excited about it that my first beer was gone in ten minutes. Well, I could nurse the second . . . you see where this is going. Alcohol is not known for boosting self-control, and the whole deal went south.

I dutifully logged my intake on the Noom phone app when I got home: every teaspoon of full-fat mayo, handful of chips, enriched white-flour hot dog bun, plate of pasta salad. I ate way more of that pasta salad than the healthy tabbouleh salad I’d brought. Epic fail. 900 calories over my daily goal.

Funny thing is, even what feels like an epic failure was still considerably less than I would have eaten before Noom. And you know what? That was yesterday. It’s over. I’m free from it. No shame, as I wrote earlier this week. Turns out that my Independence Day — new-found freedom from regret, shame, and self-flagellation — is July 5th this year.

Onward!

The Bombs Bursting in Air: 330,000 Lives, Four Trillion Bucks

1 Comment

I just heard that a local Veterans for Peace group is being banned from the Fourth of July parade in Santa Barbara. Although they have marched in the past, this year they had the audacity to propose an actual float, one with crosses and flowers honoring the dead.

The official reason for their banishment – I’m not kidding here – is that they might pass out flyers which would cause litter.

Veterans. For peace.

Peace Sign

Peace is Patriotic

I wanted to blog about it, but I find I have no words. No comment. I can’t even think of what to call it. An outrage? A crime? An abomination?

I think I will simply quote a few true patriots this Fourth of July, as part of my commitment to being a Blogger for Peace.

Thomas Jefferson

A founding father, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and third president of the U.S.:

“If there be one principle more deeply written than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.”

James Madison

A founding father and fourth president of the U.S.:

Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.

(Political Observations, April 20, 1795)

 John Quincy Adams

Secretary of State and sixth president of the U.S.:

…what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this:

She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart . . .Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.  But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force….

She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….

[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is Freedom, Independence, Peace.

{Speech to Congress, July 4, 1821}

Helen Keller

{People} are taught that brave men die for their country’s honor. What a price to pay for an abstraction–the lives of millions of young men; other millions crippled and blinded for life; existence made hideous for still more millions of human beings; the achievement and inheritance of generations swept away in a moment–and nobody better off for all the misery!

Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction.

{A speech at Carnegie Hall before World War I}

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered…

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with  orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

{Riverside Church, April 4, 1967}

Your Taxpayer Dollars at War

There have been more than 330,000 direct war deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan since 2001. More than 200,000 of those people were civilians.

This does not include indirect deaths attributed to the wars — almost always more than direct deaths.

The amount our country has invested to cause these deaths is over four trillion dollars (spent and obligated).

Fifty-three percent of your taxes go towards war, in this way:

FY2009 federal piechart

Courtesy War Resisters League

 

If you’ve been around awhile, you might remember Ronald Reagan’s hawkish Secretary of State, Alexander Haig. He offered a sound strategy for Americans who prefer peace to militarism.

“Let them march all they want,” Haig said, “as long as they pay their taxes.”

Thanks for the tip, Al.

Perhaps you will celebrate the Fourth with me by taking a look at this information about boycotting the War Tax. Something our founding fathers might well have condoned . . . like refusing to pay an unjust tax on tea.

Then go drink a cold beer and blow something up.

 

Related articles:

http://bloggers4peace.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/kozo-cheri-asks-that-you/

http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/allegiance-is-peace/

http://costsofwar.org/

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: