• Category Archives Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant.
  • Shabbat and Political Optimism

    Imbolc and the Ancient Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Tom. Alan. Diane. Marilyn and Irv. Ginny and Janice. Janet. Luke and Leo. Rabbi Jamie. Jewish prayer and liturgy. Wild Neighbors. Shadow Mountain. Black Mountain. My Lodgepole companion. Great Sol. Odysseus gone to the Moon. Living alone. 77. Blood pressure. Prostate cancer. Riley. Ginny. The next generation. Mark and Saudi. The MIA and its troubles.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

    One brief shining: Sat there in my serious reading chair, my long time buddy Tom on the newly reupholstered couch, both of us with a can of seltzer water, both engaged in that mutual investigation of our inner lives that typifies our relationship, enjoying seeing and being seen.

     

    Already looking forward to shabbat. Interesting. It beckons me, the sabbath bride waving, coming closer. She is the Shekinah, a feminine metaphor for the godliness of becoming. She represents malchut, the manifestation of becoming that we experience each day, the destination sought by all the sefirot on the tree of life. Once reached the destination changes to teshuvah, return, return to the crown of creation, the keter. That cycling of sacred energy, of thought becoming plan, plan becoming actions, actions flowing into this world, making it and keeping it vital, is the One. The one is becoming. The becoming is one.

    Once again those words from a post earlier this week: prana, chi, life force, breath, soul, love, the sacred, the divine. That buzzing, blooming mix in which we all live and move and have our becoming. No wonder ancient healing technologies want to find and direct that energy, turn it toward wholeness rather than destruction. Whether it can be found through the instrumentalities of scientific inquiry does not matter. Empiricism has its limits. And one very clear one is its understanding of life itself.

    Whew. Well. That took a dive into the deep end. Let’s swim back toward the middle depths.

     

    My inner pollster/pundit/analyst has begun to smile. I know, we’ve all been there before and gotten burned. However, hear me out. Listened to an Ezra Klein podcast, “The Strongest Democratic Party that any of us have ever seen.” Came away from that feeling hopeful.

    Been considering these several things: First and foremost, the vacating of Roe v. Wade. A decision against precedent, against stare decisis*. This will mobilize women in red and blue states, their allies, too. It will be a mobilization against not just Trump, but against the Republican party because red states have pushed quickly into the no abortion ever under any circumstances zone. And, of course, the most recent and perhaps the most egregious post-vacating instance (though there are many from which to choose) in the discovery of the Alabama Supreme Court that all embryos are children. Because God said so.

    Second, the evidence in the Ezra Klein show of a solid and working political party ready to dive into the most consequential election of our history. A good organization is the sine qua non of electoral victory.

    Third, the orange one who in addition to ironically selling clown shoes has gone further into the weeds of his fever swamped mind than ever before. A dictator for a day? Really? Punish enemies using the Justice Department? Sic the Russians on NATO countries that don’t meet his criteria? Not to mention all those criminal and civil actions against him. I know all this only makes his base love him more, but it will not play the same way in the hearts and minds of independents and Republicans who have not lost their sanity.

    Fourth, the evidence in Heather Cox Richardson’s book, Democracy Awakening, about the many times we’ve faced authoritarian threats and overcome them. She shows that though we cannot be complacent, the historical view finds we can rally and defeat the enemies of democracy. May it be so.

     

    *”Stare decisis is a legal doctrine that obligates courts to follow historical cases when making a ruling on a similar case.” Stare decisis


  • A Vital Reality

    Imbolc and the Ancient Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Early to bed, early to rise. Sacharit, the morning service. The Shema. Waking up. New life. Hello Darkness, my old friend. Shadow Mountain Home. February. Family. Murdoch. Kepler, of blessed memory. Kate, always Kate. Ruby, who needs a shower. Workout yesterday. Cardio. Labs this week. Snow. Warm weather. Books. Words.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Words

    One brief shining: My son came on the screen and we talked across nine thousand miles as if he were in the room or I was in his, Seoah bounced in smiling, Murdoch came over and put a paw on the table, now a dog of some years, gray showing on his muzzle.

     

    Prana. Love. Ruach. Neshamah. Chi. The Sacred. The Divine. Consciousness. Life Force. Psyche. Soul. Other words to add? Please. No syncretism or leveling here. No these do not mean the same thing. It is not the case, for example, that all religions have love as their main principle. We’d be better off as a species if they did, but no they don’t. I offered these words yesterday during the Ancient Brothers conversation about pan-psychism*.

    My point in this list lies not in their particular definitions but what, in my opinion, they point to. That is, many cultures, probably all though I don’t know how to know that, have an intimation of a reality somehow charged with vitality. Some have explicit views. The Celts, for example, had the Other World which sits alongside this one, permeable both ways. Jews see the world as one, interconnected and vibrating with energy. Some in Judaism call that vibration, God. Not me, but some. In Taoism chi animates and flows through everything. Chardin sees love as the essential oil of the universe.

    We live in a peculiar moment of history. Yes, in all those ways, too, but not my point here. In this instance I mean a world leveled by the forces of empiricistic and scientistic distortions. No God. No chi. No soul. No prana. Just what we can experience either through our senses or scientific apparatuses. In the Unitarian-Universalist movement this position had a nickname, flat-earth humanism. A world drained of color, meaning lost in a random number generator of a universe. Often with the added sea anchor of determinism, no free will. Automatons coming to life, then leaving it.

    John Dewey in his book Reconstruction points to this unresolved dichotomy between science and religious views that arose say before Francis Bacon. Dewey wants to reconstruct philosophy by using it to introduce scientific method to the consideration of ethics and morals. In the wrong hands this project could end up in the flat-earth camp. On the other hand if we admit to our conversation the wild world of quantum mechanics, the possibilities of string theory’s multi-verses, and as Tom mentioned yesterday, the dominant stuff of the universe, dark matter, dark energy, too, I imagine, we might find a way forward.

    A final point here. All of this requires a turn from the static ontology of being to the vital ontology of process.

     

    *Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


  • The Very Deep End of the Pool

    Imbolc and the 77 Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Valentine’s Day. Alan. Joanne making me a tallit. Marilyn and all the fire. And, candles. Irv. That Cow Elk on the side of the road between two firetrucks. The smashed SUV. Mussar yesterday. Closing in on a new way of understanding the sacred. Torah study. Amber. Tom. Ellory. Wild Neighbors. Rabbi Jamie. Luke. Leo. My dreams last night. The world of dreams. Sleep last night.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The injured Cow Elk

    One brief shining: I came up the slope from Evergreen Lake, past the Conoco Station on my left, saw flashing lights, and with the usual curiosity wondered what had happened, oh, two firetrucks angled out into the right hand lane, cars alongside none damaged, then in a flash of sorrow between the two firetrucks, a Cow Elk lying on her side, still alive, but down, and beyond the second firetruck an SUV with its hood angled up toward the windshield. Oh.

     

    At mussar Ginny started crying as she recounted seeing the injured elk. I was upset and sad, too. Rabbi Jamie offered a prayer for the Elk, for all those others involved. Wild Neighbors lives matter.

    Seeing this healthy animal struck down gutted me. Senseless death. Elk cross the road all the way from Evergreen Lake to about the turn for the Hiwan Golf Course, a distance of maybe three miles or so. Evergreen puts up road signs to watch for Elk. And often has an LED caution sign about where this accident occurred.

    We tend to speed along this stretch of highway, too. Yes, I do it. Gonna stop. The slower speeds are for the Elk. If I think about it that way…

    When I’m on my better behavior, I remind myself that it’s a privilege to need to take care for our Wild Neighbors. I recently slowed down my speed on the Mountain roads for the same reason. Complacency and familiarity breed carelessness. Can breed carelessness and has for me. We moved in on those Animals. Not the other way around. We’re responsible.

    When you consider the interconnectedness and oneness of all things, the sacred nature of all things, life becomes more and more precious. For desert Pigeons, for Camels, for Monitor Lizards and Pythons, for Elk and Mule Deer and Mountain Lions. For us, too.

     

    Here’s the new way of thinking about the sacred that’s beginning to surface for me. Whitehead’s advance into novelty puts creativity at the very core of reality and could suggest that God emerges from the becoming with each instance of creativity. I’ve always felt that a process metaphysics makes the most sense, that is a metaphysics that honors as primary the necessity of ongoing change and creation, nothing just “is”, everything is always becoming something new.

    What’s new for me about the notion of the sacred adds a filigree, well, maybe more than a filigree to the notion of creativity as the primary descriptor for the motor behind a process metaphysics. I’m thinking of adding a Jungian notion to the engine of creativity, an impulse toward individuation, a creativity that drives each instantation of its impulse toward its highest and best possibility. In this way of understanding creativity is the motor for process, yes, but the sacred adds a direction to the change, one toward the rock being as good and sound a rock as a rock can be. For a daisy to be the most functional flower for the continuation of daisies that it can be. For a Cow Elk to be the best Mother and Elk she can for the furtherance of Elks as a species. For all of the diverse realities created and decaying to work together to create the best possible Mother Earth. The best Solar System.

    No, this is not Voltaire’s Candid. This does not mean that best of all possible worlds will emerge. It does mean that even war and climate devastation could work to further the creation of the best of all possible worlds. But might not either.

     

     

     


  • Movement forward

    Imbolc and the 9% crescent of the Cold Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Brother Mark. Great Sol spotlighting the Lodgepole who is my companion each morning. Snow and Cold on the way. North America. Canada. Mexico. USA. South America. Colombia. Ecuador. Peru. Chile. Argentina. Uruguay. Brazil. That cruise in 2011 with my sweetheart. Kate, always Kate. Of blessed memory. February birthdays. Aquarius. Harmony and understanding. Hair.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Long hair

    One brief shining: In 1969 the draft lottery tumbled and my number came up 4 in the very year I graduated from college, losing my draft deferment and necessitating that trip to Indianapolis to the site for my physical where I took off my clothes down to underwear and t-shirt, walked from station to station, hoping for the magic of 4F, never in ever, but had to settle for a 1Y due to psoriasis which gets aggravated by wool and humid climates.

     

    Not sure why that memory popped up this morning. The further I ride the wave of time, especially in this oh so twisted electoral year, the more distant and surreal become the 60’s. I loved it then, but would not go back. Too much contingency. Every day a shift a turn a new idea a new drug a new woman a new threat from the government a new way of ordering the mind. I don’t have the energy for that sort of maelstrom. I did then. Barely. But what a time. As the Dead said, a long strange trip.

     

    Been thinking about religions, the religious life. A dominant thread for me. Somehow I need to have a religious idea as core to my day to day. Not sure why about that either. But it’s undeniable. Even in those times when I have been outside of a religious institution the questions of deep meaning, of the nature of existence, of my relationship to it all have remained. A resolute pagan for well over twenty years. A Christian until 17. A UU for 7 or so, longer in some ways. An existentialist always. A sort of Christian for another twenty, but more a radical political activist.

    Now a Jew for a few months or for my whole life thanks to the magic of the mikveh. I’m inclined, btw, to believe in the magic of the mikveh. That the seed of a Jewish identity came with me when the obstetrician pulled me from my mother’s womb.

    I realized the other day I’ve always wanted to be in a religious tradition, but one that allows me to think freely. Come to my own conclusions. Judaism is such a tradition.

    I want the thousands of years of history, the longue durée of revelation and tradition, it feeds something in my soul. Perhaps a need for order which I reject if imposed but embrace if allowed to consider its meaning on my own. Perhaps a need to belong. Perhaps a desire for community, but community based on wrestling the angels of human nature and destiny without a certain conclusion.

    We want to know the mystery, to tunnel into the darkness for the richness there; yet we fear the path. Unknown. Uncertain.

    One response to that uncertainty, to the mystery, is to foreclose it with dogma, with conclusions. Another response enfolds mystery and darkness and uncertainty, knows them as essential to the religious journey, the ancientrail of animal life, allows them to fertilize the imagination, the heart, the movement forward into…

     


  • Fire

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Alan. Snow incoming. Joanne. Marilyn and Irv. Rabbi Jamie. Leo and Luke. Mindy. Ginny. Janet. Ellen. Carol. Thursday mussar. A steel gray Sky. The yellowback running for President. Old Joe Biden. Democrats. Those who used to be Republicans. The Electoral College. To its demise. Mountain roads. Wild Neighbors. My Indiana home. The Sycamores.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: New Harmony, Indiana

    One brief shining: Luke asked me if I had gotten my extra ear back off the table from Thursday mussar, the Roger he meant, the small flying saucer like device that glows green when it’s on, taking in speech from my left or across a table in a noisy restaurant, cleaning it up and delivering it via Bluetooth to my fancy schmancy hearing aid; Amy my audiologist says it reduces fatigue from straining to hear and understand. Believe she’s right.

     

    I’ve written before about collecting my medical guardian, my hearing aid, my phone, my fitbit before I head out. Old age and technology add accessories to wallet and keys. Now I have to remember my Roger, too. The watch pocket on my jeans. Perfect fit. I also have to remember to pick it up, too, since I lost my first one at Gaetano’s with Alan. Getting more used to using it when I’m out. Especially since my ability to filter ambient noise has deteriorated.

     

    The metaphor we’re discussing in Thursday mussar is fire. We began with a general conversation about fire itself, how humans have, uniquely among all living creatures, learned to use it. How it requires destruction. How it takes three things: fuel, spark, oxygen.

    The most interesting aspect of Thursday’s session focused on the burning bush. This episode in Exodus occurs fifty years after Moses left Egypt, having killed an Egyptian overseer. Moses has become a shepherd and has herded his flock into the desert around Midian. He notices a fire burning off to the side of his path. Curious about it he turns from the path he was on to take a look. At some point he realizes the bush is on fire but not being consumed. God notices that he has turned aside to look and calls to him from the bush: Moses, Moses. Moses replies, “Here I am.”

    If you recall, I wrote earlier about the difference between the higher criticism I learned in seminary and the Jewish approach to the Torah. The conversation yesterday at Beth Evergreen highlighted that difference. The question was not where was Mount Horeb, near which the bush burned. Or what was the history of Midian, beyond what the Torah offers as the place where Moses met his wife Zipporah while in exile from his homeland, Egypt. We didn’t examine the form of the text or its history at the hands of redactors or in the various historic texts of the Book of Exodus.

    No. We discussed what was going on first. Moses turned and looked. He noticed the bush was not consumed. A messenger of God appeared to him, then God himself. In this episode Moses receives his call to return to Egypt and confront Pharaoh. To initiate the liberation of the Hebrew slaves.

    Here’s what fascinated me about our conversation. We went from Moses observing a burning bush to the burning bush as metaphor for Moses’ own enlightenment. Moses had been on fire since leaving Egypt with a passion for his enslaved people. But he didn’t know what to do, if anything. Suddenly, while in the desert alone, in a place of solitude, it comes to him that he has to return to Egypt and do what he can to liberate them. Even though he feels inadequate to the task.

    We then discussed the nature of revelation and how metaphor gives us a language to speak of our own experiences of revelation and the capacity to more deeply and personally understand the Torah as revelation. This is it. Emerson’s a religion of revelation to us in our time.

    With this twist and one with which I agree. That the Torah and the Upanishads and the Tao de Ching and the New Testament and the Quran are not the dry bones Emerson found them to be, but a history of others who have walked the path of openness to the vast and sacred reality in which we live. They are our spiritual ancestors who have much to teach us about how to recognize and integrate those mystical moments when our own Reed Sea parts, when we stop from herding the sheep of our life to look at our bush that burns but is not consumed.

     

     

     

     


  • Expectations

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Alan and Cheri. Joanne. Denver. Downtown living. Down the hill living. Shadow Mountain home. Domo. Buckhorn. Sushi Den. Jerusalem. Ali Baba. The Bistro. The Fort. Bread Lounge. Angry Chicken. Katsu Ramen. Fountain Barbecue. Restaurants. Meals out with family and friends. Chamber music. Charlie Parker. Thelonius Monk. Herbie Mann. Dave Clark Five. Dazzle.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Shabbat

    One brief shining: Bought a weighted blanket last summer and in these now cold winter nights it’s part of the layered system that keeps me warm; some mornings of late I’ve taken to enjoying not sleeping in but lying in, wrapped in those layers and happy with my head in the cold, just right, wondering why it all felt so good and I realized the other day it was the embrace of that weighted blanket.

     

    One of the reasons I’ve taken to these occasional surrender moments, to being awake but staying in bed, is the time it gives me to think. To ponder without distraction. I can follow a thought down an ancientrail and back again. This morning the notion of expectations had me going.

    Over the last couple of weeks in mussar we’ve been discussing an example given by Rabbi Toba Spitzer in her book, God is Here. Which I highly recommend, btw. Her example comes from a silent retreat, an annual event for her. She sits down to lunch, imagining the taste of the food, enjoying the view, settling in for a pleasant lunch. A man sits down near her and begins to eat an Apple. Each bite explodes in her ear. She’s completely thrown off the wonderful lunch she’d imagined. She ends up with a ruined lunch. The obvious culprit here is her expectation of how her lunch would go. As long as she held onto the quiet, contemplative meal, she experienced torment from the Apple eater.

    Taking the learning here. Expectations can sabotage our experience. Bad expectations. Bad. Down expectations.

    Then I began to wonder. What are expectations? The shorthand we use so we can navigate our day. Cars will stop at stop signs. Eating two eggs, bacon, and home fries will not only taste good, but satisfy my hunger. Leo will make me happy when he comes to stay. The stove will turn on. Expectations help us by routinizing parts of our lives. So we’re not always thinking through what’s going to happen next.

    Then it hit me. Expectations are the mental habit behind curiosity. Not obvious, right? Why? Because when something happens that defies or upsets our expectations, we have two choices. Choice one. Do our best to return our experience to its anticipated path. Which makes sense if the stove won’t turn on or we decide to wait out the guy who just ran the stop sign.

    But even in those mundane instances we have to stop and consider the second choice. Why? Why won’t the stove turn on? Why did that guy run the stop sign? In these cases the answers will probably not rock our world.

    However. Imagine that you assumed the earth was the center of the universe and you expected the data from your telescope would confirm that. Or on a less exalted plain. Traffic had caused me to stop beside three large Willow Trees. I looked at them, all gnarly and twisted, thick, old. Then I thought. Wait a minute. These are Willows. There’s no creek here. What’s going on? I’ve never seen Willows up here except by a stream. I don’t know the answer. But I’d like to.

    Here’s the aha. Curiosity arises when something breaches our expectations. Why did she say that? What’s going on with my dog? Why is she limping? Why has the climate begun to change? What would happen if I put this and this together rather than that and that? Does the Apple eater have to ruin my lunch?

    What this suggests to me. Greet breaches of your expectations with wonder. With awe. Because the world and your experience has given you a chance to learn something new.


  • The Most Precious Treasure

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: How do I feel? A mood changer. Thanks, Tal. Joan, such a bright lady. Alan in his tie dyed t-shirt for the Beatles shabbat. Luke’s dvar torah. His playing and singing in the service. A testament to his courage and growth. Breakfast at Dandelions, reopened under new ownership. Ackerman’s pick up of the couch. Reupholstering. Fixing Rigel’s deep hole. My son and Seoah.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Breakfast with friends

    One brief shining: Got the new menu for Dandelions, three of them, one for Alan and Joan and me, went back to the table and took my time with it since I was still alone, noticed corned beef hash as an entree, two eggs, found a side of berries, and I had made my decision so I slid my menu away from me, picked up the cream and added it to the coffee, waiting.

     

    A quote from the Zen calendar gifted me by Tom. From the Upanishads:

    “God made the senses turn outwards, man (sic) therefore looks outward, not into himself. But occasionally a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.”

    Don’t know the context of this quote but by itself it tells a truth and a half-truth. The truth is this. Our physicality forces our attention out and away from ourselves. Oh, look! See that! Wow. Did you hear what she said? Hey, can you smell that? OMG. This is the best avocado toast ever. Yes, again. Right there.

    The half-truth is only occasionally is there a daring soul who turns to the inner cathedral, that alembic of memory and thought powered by the fiery heat of the emotions. And that when they do they seek immortality. Some may, of course, search for the secret to life beyond life. But most of us stumble through the doors of our inner cathedral when a shock like grief, major illness, addiction, rejection, or several days in a row of gloomy inner weather force us down the steps into our vast private universe. We all go there from time to time over the course of a life. And look back, in rather than out. Unknown how many find themselves.

    How can we learn from the experience? Socrates. The unexamined life is not worth living. I believed that the first time I encountered it and believe it now. That examen as the Jesuits call it is not for the timid; as any cartographer can tell you, here there be monsters. Yet it is those shadowy winged creatures of our soul who guard the real treasure.

    Which suggests to me that Gandalf might well be our guide. I think of him in his encounter with the Balrog in the mines of Moira. Gandalf could have turned and run or at least not advanced toward the menacing creature. Instead he walks onto the narrow bridge that will carry him straight into the Balrog’s path.

    Gandalf walked toward the bomb, toward the fight, toward the pillar of smoke and in so doing earned the opportunity to face a great obstacle rather than force it back down and away from consciousness. In the ensuing battle Gandalf the Grey dies but only after killing the Balrog. Later, he reemerges as Gandalf the White.

    Whether Gandalf or Virgil or Moses or Tiresias or even Ignatius of Loyola, we need a guide, a companion as we wander the labyrinths of our heart/mind. I found John Desteian who walked with me through the tunnels and traps of my 28 years. I’ve found Ira Progroff and his journal workshops. Now Moses and the Torah. I’ve found Gandalf and Virgil, too. But the key companion all along has been the then existing version of myself.

    I invite you to find the entrance to your mines of Moira. I invite you to take a deep breath and set your foot on the steps that lead down and in to your inner cathedral. Yes, there be monsters there, but they’re your monsters and they guard the most precious treasure of all: self-knowledge.

     

     

     


  • A Bold Return to Giving a Damn

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Tara. Her new puppy. Cold. Snow. Sleep. Gabriella. A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm. Amazon. New Phone. Wallet. 2024 on the way. Poetry. Road Less Taken. Lines Written at Tintern Abbey. Kubla Kahn. Notes on a Supreme Fiction. Circles. Leaves of Grass. Ozymandias. The Raven. Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The Wasteland. Song of Myself. The Second Coming. And so much else.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Poetry

    One brief shining: The end of another year approaches, our penchant for deciding calendar dates as the always orbiting Earth’s journey around Great Sol continues, brings us to Pope Gregory XIII who chose in October of 1582 in his well known Papal bull: Inter gravissimas to change the rules for leap years to prevent the Julian calendar’s drift away from the solar holidays, oh you didn’t know, well neither did I but Wikipedia did.

     

     

    Gabriella. My adopted Axolotl. She’s swimming in the chinampas canals along with other wild Axolotls who will repopulate the ancient waterways of Xochimilco. I get excited about this project because it’s both the reintroduction of a wild species into its former habitat (see the five Timber Wolves released a week ago in western Colorado) and a project that supports indigenous farming methods healthy for the chinampas themselves. This kind of work will enable our grandchildren to have their best chance to adapt to a warming World.

    A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food relates the story of Will Harris and his disillusionment with Big Ag 30 years ago. The successful transition of his family’s farm to regenerative farming makes compelling reading if you care about the source of your food. This farm is in southwestern Georgia, but it’s an example, not singular.

    The USA Regenerative Agriculture Allliance, Inc trains farmers in regenerative practices. Yes, it’s about good food, food raised without pesticides, fertilizers and other “inputs” that defy the natural cycle and deplete the soil. But, it’s also about how to live in a warming World. Someday regenerative agriculture will use the perennial grains and other crops under development at the Land Institute.

    Want to volunteer in the work of Ecosystem restoration? Look at the Ecosystems Restoration Communities website. They do restoration projects all over the world. The expertise and practical knowledge developed as these organization go about their own individual missions will become the Seedstock for a World that can no longer afford any depletion of natural capital.

    What’s natural capital? An accounting method. That’s right. Accounting. The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University develops accounting methods that define the value of Ecosystems, Oceans, the Water cycle, Forests. Why is this important? Regenerative agriculture is a good example. Corporate farming, by far the dominant model in the U.S. and in most of the World, treats Soil, Crops, and Animals as so many widgets to be manipulated for increased profits. Their accounting methods do not have to take into account the value of the Soil, the Rain, the need for dna diversity in both food Crops and Animals. They don’t have to reckon with the future costs of ruined Soil, the dangers of monocultures in such critical crops as Corn, Wheat, Rice. Maybe they’re not as profitable as they think.

    OK. I’ll stop. For now. But I will return to these adaptive approaches that will help Ruth and Gabe survive in a much changed world.

     


  • In Shabbat

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: 6-8 inches of new Snow coming tonight and tomorrow. White Christmas. And, yes, it still matters to me. The dark. The long Nights. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. Chinese restaurants. Home movie. Quiet days. Shabbat. Today. Till 5:52. Leonard Bernstein. Maestro. Love stories. Action films. Art house cinema. Vayigash. This week’s parsha. Zornberg. Green. Ellis. New blinds. John Ellis. Evergreen Shutter and Shade.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Christmas

    One brief shining: Down the hill to Evergreen at night and after Thanksgiving some Lodgepoles and Ponderosas become pillars of light with bright multi-colored bulbs running from crown to base, how they do it I don’t know, I drive past following the curves and watching the lights, trying to remain on the road, sometimes it’s hard to do both.

     

    I’m in my version of Shabbat until 5:52. Still working on what it means for me. Probably going to breakfast at Aspen Perks, see the wait staff there before Christmas. Seeing and being with friends is part of mine. I also read the parsha, Vayigash this week. Each parsha gets its name from the first word of the passage. This week Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and Jacob/Israel makes the journey to Goshen. I’m reading some commentaries, too.

    Hang on here. I’m gonna get a bit into the weeds.

    Avivah Zornberg writes commentaries that are rich in psychoanalytic and midrashic thought. Midrash are commentaries written by rabbis, mostly from a long time ago though they’re still being written today, too. Jewish encounter with the biblical text differs a great deal from the hermeneutical method I was taught in seminary. Higher criticism.

    Exegesis came first. That meant using various critical methodologies like redaction criticism, seeing how various texts were edited, form criticism, sussing out whether the text conformed to, say, a prayer or a covenant or a song form, historical criticism, what was going on in the time period in which the text was written, textual criticism, how had this text fared in different editions of the bible over time. As well as others. The exegetical task was to find what the text meant in its day, sort of an originalist approach to the text.

    Then came the hermeneutical task. How did this passage and its message, as determined by exegesis, relate to our time. After that the homiletical work, writing the sermon, could begin.

    The Jewish approach can include the exegetical approach. Rabbis learn what critical methods have discovered about biblical texts. And, there is a lot of material to access. However, the Jewish approach that I have come to appreciate relies very little on higher criticism. Higher criticism seeks the best information about what the text meant in its day. Jews play with the text. Search in it for hidden meanings, word play, the human story. Or, the way the sacred reveals itself.

    In the story of Joseph, for example, Joseph’s brothers throw him in a pit, then take his coat, dripping with blood from a lamb, and give that to Jacob, his father, saying they don’t know what happened to him. Jacob says it looks like a wild beast has torn him apart.

    Instead of spending time on exegesis Zornberg dives right in. The pit can represent nothingness, ayin, the same nothingness from which God created the world. Joseph’s brothers consign him to ayin both by throwing him in the pit and by taking his blood soaked coat to Jacob. Jacob though is not completely taken in. He says it looks like a wild beast has torn him apart. He leaves open whether Joseph is dead or alive.

    But. Joseph is now absent from him and will be until the revelation comes to them about Joseph in Egypt. So, Jacob experiences Joseph as being in nothingness. Because of the blood. Zornberg then riffs on blood and what it can mean like bloodline, life, sacrifice. There are also the themes of sibling rivalry, deception, a father’s deep love for his son, as well as the parallel story of Joseph’s journey into Egypt and his rise to power there.

    I like the focus on longer passages, on whole narratives within the text. I also like an approach that seeks multiple meanings in the same text, acknowledging that we all approach not only Torah but everything in our life from distinctive places. That we see differently and conclude differently. It’s the frisson among the differing ideas raised in the Jewish encounter with the text that is the point. Not finding the meaning or message of the text, no, finding the messages and meanings of the text. A prismatic truth rather than a single truth.

     

     


  • Surrender Charlie

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Heidi. The Dragonfly Sign. Colorado Supreme Court. Psilocybin. Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphics. Surrender. Irv. Rider. Mt. Logan. Crooked Top Mountain. The Grandfather Tree. Park County 43. Buggy Whip Road. Hangman’s Road. Washington County Maine. Climate change. Shadow Mountain. The Rockies. The Front Range. Alan. Bastien’s Steak House. The Winter Solstice. Holimonth.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Colorado Supreme Court

    One brief shining: A cloth with Native American colors marking the four directions, circular, laid on it cut white Roses, small Pine Tree Branches, red Roses, Cinnamon, Coffee beans, Star Anise, Aspen Leaves arranged for a Peruvian gratitude ceremony in which I picked up a small Branch of Pine Needles, inhaled its essence three times and exhaled my love and gratitude before placing the needles gently in the center.

     

    OK, nation! See Colorado go. I loved living in Minnesota and in the Twin Cities for forty years. The North Woods. Wolves. Lake Superior. So many Lakes. Liberal to radical politics. Not perfect, no. Witness George Floyd. But no place is. And Minnesota seemed as close as they come while I lived there. Then Kate and I moved to Shadow Mountain.

    As the Dead said: What a long, strange trip it’s been. Many of you know my story over the now 9 years exactly since my buddy Tom and I drove straight through from the Twin Cities with Kepler, Vega, and Rigel in the back. And, yes, that story has its definite peaks and valleys. But that’s not my reference here.

    No where else in the country, this divided and often pitiful land of ours, could I have had a legal psychedelic journey on Crooked Top Mountain then come home to Shadow Mountain and read the wonderful news that the Colorado Supreme Court had called a crook a crook, an insurrectionist an insurrectionist and kicked Trump off our ballot. I mean, whoa! What a day.

    I shifted my inner identification a few years back from Minnesotan to Coloradan, my Mountain home become just that. Home. Yes, we elected a gay Governor. How bout that. And of course the wild Neighbors and the Mountain Streams and the Black Bears. The Snow and the spectacular Autumns with gold and green. Over the time I’ve lived here Colorado has shifted from red to blue. Not without some Western weirdness along the way, but that makes it interesting. All that’s true.

    But in one day to take a psilocybin journey with a good friend on property so evocative of a sixties commune and then learn we Coloradans had taken a firm stand, saying what all clear eyed non Trump bedazzled folks already know but somehow cannot communicate, that insurrectionists should not, in fact,cannot hold office. Well, I’m busting with state pride right now. Colorado is the California of the new Millennia. OK. Enough local chauvinism. Still, pretty damned cool. Gives this aging radical a boost.

     

    Short note on the psilocybin journey about which more later. Ate the mushroom after the gratitude ceremony. Mixed with a little lemon juice supposed to make it come on quicker and go sooner. Sat outside in the glass enclosed shelter where we held the gratitude ceremony, the others going inside. Watched the curved Snowy Bowl of Mt. Logan as my inner weather shifted under the power of the mushroom.

    Went inside and lay down on a heated pad. Soon Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphics began to move across the ceiling. Sometimes two dimensional sometimes three almost down to my face. I love hallucinations. So fun. I told my guide I might be under utilizing the experience; it was so entertaining.

    Turned out no. I hadn’t. I had two intentions going in, the one I wrote about yesterday, how to live fully, and the second to continue my exploration of the sacred.

    During some brief conversation after being asked if we had any insights I said, yes, I had one. In living more fully I’ve pushed, thought about things to do, about acting in my life to live more fully. Answering Shakespeare, I have always chosen to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Now I need to learn surrender.

    To live fully I need to open up, accept what’s coming. Greet the new year with arms spread wide for what it brings rather than what I can make happen. Well, not rather than. I mean, I’ll still take up arms, of course I will, but I learned yesterday that I have another option. To embrace, to wait, to listen, to let the world and its wonders come to me. As the Wicked Witch of the West might say, “Surrender, Charlie!”