We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Inching toward 71

Imbolc                                                                  Imbolc Moon

As any who’ve paid attention to the top line of these posts over the years know, the moon has always been important for Ancientrails. The Imbolc moon, at 2%, will preside over my 71st birthday. I’ve just received a copy of Lunar Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao, meditation that follow the traditional Chinese lunar calendar.  I’m looking forward to both reading Ming-Dao’s work and considering how a similar book based on the Great Wheel might look.

The silly season is well underway. Caucuses here in Colorado are on March 6th. I drove over to Dorothy Lane in Evergreen yesterday for an event at Nancy Friedman’s. It was for Lisa Cutter, a candidate for the State assembly. She’s running against Tim Leonard who has the opinion that the government should not be involved in k-12 education. He’s part of the weirdo branch of Colorado politics, but a branch that includes many voters here, a Libertarian variant that has redolence of the range wars and anger about far away corporate control of Colorado.

After walking into Nancy’s, I remembered a reason I stopped going to these events. I couldn’t hear. Even with my hearing aid, the crush of people and noise, her dining room, living room and kitchen were full, hit me like a flood, physically repulsing me. I spoke to Lisa, put my check in the bowl, greeted other members of Beth Evergreen that were there and left.

Kate’s been gone since Friday. This morning I’m driving back to Buena Vista to pick her up. The road there is beautiful, a drive I look forward to.

 

 

Splitters and lumpers

Imbolc                                                                           Imbolc Moon

splitters2Last night at Beth Evergreen three presenters, a University of Colorado Regent, a newly hired diversity specialist for Jeffco schools and an Evergreen woman, formerly a philanthropist and LGBT activist, now working in corporate social responsibility spoke about labeling and identity. It was, in some ways, disappointing.

Though the focus was on labeling, someone or something else (like census forms, school boards, the dominant culture) describes you, and identity, you describe yourself, the topic veered rapidly into a mode of doublespeak. It’s difficult to describe, but identity politics has become a minefield of careful positioning, trying not to cause offense, and further and further journeys into talking but not changing. Each person in the room last night, presenters and audience included, brought authentic concern and a willingness to be part of a solution. But, to what?

I kept thinking of the hoary argument in plant classification between lumpers and splitters. The same analytical dynamic plays out in many fields. Lumpers look for commonalities, seek to reduce the number of categories in any particular area of study while splitters look for differences, for nuanced distinctions that allow uniqueness to flourish. Neither approach is right or wrong, it’s almost a psychological tendency, I think, rather than a reasoned stance.

splitters3In identity description the nod now goes to splitters. As one presenter last night said, “I see gender like the stars in the sky, some may be brighter, more prominent, but there are many stars in the sky.” That’s breathtakingly broad.

A key word that emerged last night was fluidity. It basically means that the ground shifts frequently in this conversation, not least because people claiming their own identity often make different distinctions as they learn more about themselves and their community. There are, too, regional differences and age cohort differences. It’s a splitters’ paradise.

Here’s why it was disappointing to me. It felt like conversations from the mid to late sixties, though those were blunter in their focus. They were, at least at first, focused on civil rights for African-Americans, or Blacks, or Black-Americans. The power moves involved in labeling versus identifying were in bold relief. We’re not niggers or coloreds or darkies. We’re Americans with a particular historical background.

Remember Black is beautiful? Afros. Kente cloth. Angela Davis. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Last night was the contemporary version: male, female, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, intersexual, asexual. Gay. Lesbian. It all felt depressingly familiar, as if we’d moved in time away from the sixties, but not in content.

beltane2017gorbachevThat’s not to say that “racial” distinctions were absent from the conversation. Not at all. Unfortunately. The strange, weird thing about this is that race is a nonsense category, not supported by genetics at all. So creating a splitters nomenclature for various “races” reinforces a non-existent and damaging conceptual paradigm. Of course, the culture, in diverse ways, uses race as a placeholder for attaching secondary characteristics to others. Of course it does. But how do we move away from that convenient slotting, or lumping of people based on skin color? Does it happen by emphasizing color? It cannot. Does it happen by ignoring the racist who does? No.

And that was the problem I had with evening. There seems to have no movement forward in the land of identity politics, only movement crabwise.

I did not ask my question, because it occurred to me on the way home, naturally. “Has identity politics by the left contributed to, even caused, the rise of populism now roiling our nation?” That is, have we, in slicing and dicing the particulars of personal difference blinded ourselves to the plight of working class Americans? It seems so to me.

A movement against oligarchy, plutocracy and autarchy must be first made of lumpers. These lumpers must find, express and celebrate the commonalities among those who suffer as a result of concentrated wealth, purchased power, dynastic ambition. Right now we have given away our power with a navel-gazing splitter mentality. Of course, we must be able to define and describe ourselves. Yes. But we must not only reach for the unique and particular, but for the broader and more universal. No political change can come without joining hands, so the more difficult, the more necessary task in the Trump era belongs not to the splitters but to the lumpers.

 

 

 

No Neutral Ground

Winter                                                                        Moon of the Long Nights

mlkToday Richard Spence, DJT and their shithole ilk wake up to a holiday honoring Martin Luther King. I can only hope their blood boils, their teeth clench and their testicles shrink. Here’s a link to a poem titled “I’m Rooting for Everybody Black” which should go out as an earworm to them all.

I can’t even.

 

Out. Now. On `Oumuamua

Winter                                                              Moon of the Long Nights

trump-parents

This photograph is not genuine and has been rather clumsily altered from the original, in which all three of them are wearing perfectly normal (and color-coördinated) clothing without a hint of Klan insignia.  Snopes. But…underneath the fake news? Truth.

Stormy Daniels. This is a man ruled by his appetites. Shithole countries. This is a man ruled by his prejudices. Grab’em by the pussy. I moved on her like a bitch. Winning. You’re gonna get so tired of winning. I would be embarrassed to have this guy as a neighbor, horrified to have him living in my community. Can you imagine how I feel about having him as President of the country in which I was born?

When you give cover to white supremacists, encourage violence against American citizens, mock the disabled, you should be driving a beatup Ford pickup truck flying that yellow rattlesnake flag, not catching rides in Marine 1 and Air Force 1. You should be hanging out with your fellow klansmen, kicking back brews and burning crosses, not watching Tivo of Fox News in the Oval Office.

gadsdenThere. Is. No. Excuse. For all of us. Not him. He’s the same man he always said he was. He’s his father’s son. His son’s father. We are blameworthy now because we haven’t eliminated this sad, disgusting man from holding office. Hell, from holding any office. Unless he might replace that county clerk in Kentucky. Remember her?

Any one. Any one who supports this maggot on the rotted corpse of the Republican party should suffer banishment. Where to? How about Elba? Or, the Rub’ al Kali? No. I know. `Oumuamua, the first interstellar asteroid. It would take all of them right on out of our immediate cosmic vicinity. With no oxygen. Perfect.

Now let me tell what I really think…

OMG!

Winter                                                                   Moon of the Long Nights

shitholeShithole countries. Oh, my. The racist-in-chief wants nice white folks from non-shithole places like Norway. Now, some of my best friends are Norwegian, in fact, I married a Norwegian so I don’t have anything against the Norse, but really? Are they the only acceptable gene pool for future immigrants? I hope not, because no sane Norwegian still resident in the homeland would give up their frigid utopia for the seething id of Trump’s version of America.

Can one word push a very stable genius who’s “like, really smart” out of office and back to the locked ward from whence he came? Hope so.

Very. Stable. Genius. Yeah.

Winter                                                                   Moon of the Long Nights

bone brothBone broth still gently boiling on the stove. Its been there since yesterday afternoon at 5 pm. First time I’ve made this. At 8 or so this morning I’m going to start a beef stew in the slow cooker.  Beer is one ingredient so Kate bought a six pack of Dos Equis. Sacrificing for the cause.

Our very stable genius has just cavalierly unmoored the lives of 200,000 Salvadorans. That’s a small city of immigrants. Lack of empathy is a hallmark of this administration, necessary for gutting the future with one trillion dollars plus in tax cuts, pretending that climate change is a liberal conspiracy, trying to dump transgender military personnel over supposed medical costs, and elevating pedophiles and other sexual predators.

trump3In the debate over his mental illness I’m agnostic, agreeing with those who say he’s obviously dysfunctional, yet unwilling to ascribe his character flaws to a particular diagnosis. It does a disservice to all people with mental illness when such a man, a man whose moral compass has been rendered useless by the powerful magnets of fame and money, is seen to act as he does because of possible narcissism or whatever else others find in his public persona. They may play a role, yes, but there are still underlying values toward which this particular man gravitates, values inculcated by a racist father and a distant mother, values embraced by a hollow man needing to fill a vast internal vacuum.

Nixon and Trump, cancers of the U.S. political system.

Sad about Rigel. A sort of dark blanket over our lives right now. There’s a bit of hope that we’ll find something other than cancer, but it seems slim. We want to know her prognosis, how best to care for her right now. She’s a sweet, sweet dog.

 

On the Path

Winter                                                                Moon of the Long Nights

86Winter break continues. The identity crisis has passed as I knew it would. The crisis focused on my passive choices, taking the path of least resistance after college and I did do that, giving up my intentionality about career to a socialization experience with clergy-focused fellow students. But. Within that decision to just follow the education I had chosen as a way to get out of a dead end job and an unhappy marriage, I was intentional.

The threads that continued from high school through college, into seminary and afterward during my fifteen years in the church were three: a commitment to political action, a desire for spiritual growth, and a thirst for learning. These same threads continue today though political work has taken a diminished role to the other two. When I met Kate, writing became my chosen focus and added itself to the other three as life long pursuits.

My career, if that’s the right word, has involved expressing in whatever context I’ve found myself, a journey on four ancientrails: act, grow, learn, write. The container has not mattered. And, it still doesn’t. That was the piece I was missing the other day, a brief regression, a going back to pick up something lost. Found.

 

Jones Wins!

Samain                                                              Bare Aspen Moon

Can’t ignore the news today. 51 to 49 is the new Senate math. Really a low, low bar when a victory against a Supreme Court defying pedophile, by only 21,000 votes, is seen as a crushing message. Yes, it’s in the deepest of the deep South and that does matter, but for a party that has trumpeted its family and religious values as core to its purpose, its representative in this race had flaws that should have kept him out of the race in the first place. In other words if the rot in the Republican party were not so pervasive, had they not allowed corruption to rule their primary process, they would have won this seat easily. I’m glad Jones won and I hope the way he won does augur Republican troubles at mid-term elections next year, but I’m not ready to celebrate quite yet.

 

 

Cogent. From within the evangelical camp. Damning. Worth Reading.

Samain                                                            Bare Aspen Moon

from today's Post Secret

from today’s Post Secret

The death of Christianity in the U.S.

 Miguel De La TorreChristianity has died in the hands of Evangelicals. Evangelicalism ceased being a religious faith tradition following Jesus’ teachings concerning justice for the betterment of humanity when it made a Faustian bargain for the sake of political influence. The beauty of the gospel message — of love, of peace and of fraternity — has been murdered by the ambitions of Trumpish flimflammers who have sold their souls for expediency. No greater proof is needed of the death of Christianity than the rush to defend a child molester in order to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate.

Evangelicals have constructed an exclusive interpretation which fuses and confuses white supremacy with salvation. Only those from the dominant culture, along with their supposed inferiors who with colonized minds embrace assimilation, can be saved. But their salvation damns Jesus. To save Jesus from those claiming to be his heirs, we must wrench him from the hands of those who use him as a façade from which to hide their phobias — their fear of blacks, their fear of the undocumented, their fear of Muslims, their fear of everything queer.

Evangelicalism has ceased to be a faith perspective rooted on Jesus the Christ and has become a political movement whose beliefs repudiate all Jesus advocated. A message of hate permeates their pronouncements, evident in sulphurous proclamations like the Nashville Statement, which elevates centuries of sexual dysfunctionalities since the days of Augustine by imposing them upon Holy Writ. They condemn as sin those who express love outside the evangelical anti-body straight jacket.

Evangelicalism’s unholy marriage to the Prosperity Gospel justifies multi-millionaire bilkers wearing holy vestments made of sheep’s clothing who discovered being profiteers rather than prophets delivers an earthly security never promised by the One in whose name they slaughter those who are hungry, thirsty and naked, and the alien among them. Christianity at a profit is an abomination before all that is Holy. From their gilded pedestals erected in white centers of wealth and power, they gaslight all to believe they are the ones being persecuted because of their faith.

Evangelicalism’s embrace of a new age of ignorance, blames homosexuality for Harvey’s rage rather than considering the scientific consequences climate change has on the number of increasing storms of greater and greater ferocity. To ignore the damage caused to God’s creation so the few can profit in raping Mother Earth causes celebrations in the fiery pits of Gehenna.

Evangelicalism forsakes holding a sexual predator, an adulterer, a liar and a racist accountable, instead serving as a shield against those who question POTUS’ immorality because of some warped reincarnation of Cyrus. Laying holy hands upon the incarnation of the very vices Jesus condemned to advance a political agenda — instead of rebuking and chastising in loving prayer — has prostituted the gospel in exchange for the victory of a Supreme Court pick.

Evangelicalism either remained silent or actually supported Charlottesville goose steppers because they protect their white privilege with the doublespeak of preserving heritage, leading them to equate opponents of fascist movements with the purveyors of hatred. Jesus has yet recovered from the vomiting induced by the Christian defenders of torch-wielding white nationalists calling for “blood-and-soil.”

The Evangelicals’ Jesus is satanic, and those who hustle this demon are “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor. 11:13-15, NIV).

You might wonder if my condemnation is too harsh. It is not, for the Spirit of the Lord has convicted me to shout from the mountaintop how God’s precious children are being devoured by the hatred and bigotry of those who have positioned themselves as the voice of God in America.

As a young man, I walked down the sawdust aisle at a Southern Baptist church and gave my heart to Jesus. Besides offering my broken heart, I also gave my mind to understanding God, and my arm to procuring God’s call for justice. I have always considered myself to be an evangelical, but I can no longer allow my name to be tarnished by that political party masquerading as Christian. Like many women and men of good will who still struggle to believe, but not in the evangelical political agenda, I too no longer want or wish to be associated with an ideology responsible for tearing humanity apart. But if you, dear reader, still cling to a hate-mongering ideology, may I humbly suggest you get saved.

Kick the Bums Out

Samain                                                                  Bare Aspen Moon

MetooOn the #metoo phenomenon kicked off by the now thoroughly besmirched Harvey Weinstein. What has happened, I hope, is that the tacit cover for sexual harassers has become at least translucent, maybe on its way to transparency. It’s that cover, consisting of male privilege and the fear of retribution in ways large and small that go with it, which has given especially men in power, but also men in all walks of life, the sense that they can treat women as objects rather than persons.

This objectification of women has always been wrong, always leads to mistreatment. How else can we explain the gendered wage gap, the glass ceiling still leaving accomplished women trapped in their cubicles, the continued male on female domestic violence? Only when the 3/5th’s compromise, America’s true original sin, no longer applies to anyone in our society will we have justice.

THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE. It is a male issue and in particular a males in power issue. As a result it is my personal position that anyone right now, even Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who has credible accusers should step aside. Resign. Quit. Admit that they were wrong and leave the position which made them feel so powerful that they could ignore the real lives of others.

#metoo2Apologies are important. As an academic who teaches a course on apologies noted, they affirm, confirm and reinforce social norms. We need to establish as the real norm that unwanted sexual advances of any kind are not funny, playful, teasing, victimless. One way to do that is for each of those harassers to acknowledge what they did, who they did it to, and why their behavior is abhorrent and inexcusable. Then, they should be allowed to move on with their lives, but not in whatever position they currently hold.

My hope is that as a result we will be able to nuance these incidents in the future. Perhaps, as some say, Al Franken’s clear admission and apology and the nature of his acts are less heinous than, say, Roy Moore’s or Donald Trump’s, but as we shake off the social consensus that allowed these events to go unremarked and their victims shamed, we cannot allow any special pleading. The chance to change the nature of our public and private life in favor of women is too important to occlude with partisan rhetoric.

I regret this position leads me to support removing politicians with whom I generally agree, but, to me, the moment and its potential is just too important.

February 2018
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