Friday, July 20, 2018

The Good of Trump

I'm gratified by the scene in America today. Sounds like a Trump-fan, huh? How can Clancy be saying this?

I'm serious. What's going on in our country gives me hope. Never before have so many Americans defended Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. Never before so many men nurturing children and doing housework. Never before so many women and people of color entering politics. Never before so much concern about unequal wealth and power, disgust with Big Money, awareness of discrimination in our criminal justice system, and concern for victims.

At the same time, macho toughness seems to be rising not only in our country but around the world. Victor Orban in Hungary and Morawiecki in Poland turn away immigrants, Putin persecutes opponents in Russia and kills them elsewhere, Duterte slaughters citizens in the Philippines, Xi Jinping tortures political opponents in China, el-Sissi in Egypt and Erdogan in Turkey jail dissidents, Kim Jong Un tortures citizens and executes rivals in North Korea.

Trump expresses admiration for these strongmen, he calls them friends, but American citizens are repulsed by strongman brutality and cruelty. As they come into stark relief, they engender reverse impulses. People are waking up to the ugliness of making enemies of people who are different from us and disagree with us.

The story of Americans insisting that immigrant children must not be torn from their parents shows the rise of compassion and understanding of otherness. Stuff going on in our country and elsewhere pains me, but it forces awareness and I believe this ultimately leads to good. When we hit bottom, the only way to go is up.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Food Aid


Having just given the rich hefty tax cuts, the Trump administration and Republican Congress now are bent on reducing aid to have-nots in sundry ways. NCR editorialized:
While cable pundits are buzzing about Stormy Daniels, the most vulnerable Americans now face the prospect of losing critical nutrition support for their families. 
The editorial bemoans the draft of the 2018 farm bill that proposes cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rep. Colin Peterson of MN said it would drop 8 million people—children, seniors, disabled, and those who aid them—from getting food aid. Authors of the draft are reconsidering because of intense opposition. 

It’s already an old story during this administration. It and Congress propose outrageous attacks on vulnerable people, then have to back down in the face of vigorous objection. Citizens have power during this critical time, but only if we keep paying attention. 

We must not accept as normal what is now going on in D.C. This president and this Congress do not represent citizens fairly. They got their positions of power through gerrymandering and misleading propaganda paid for by Big Money. We need to keep calling out against injustice. Only if we are vigilant can we save our country from its immoral politicians. 

Responding to proposed food-stamp cuts, a Benedictine friend mourns, "What next?"

I draw strength from a psychic friend who sees the sun rising because of Trump's presidency. When we've sunk so low, the only direction to go is up.

But we have to make it happen, with our attention if nothing else. Staying informed, paying attention, is not doing nothing. Our mind activity alone can help to make things happen.



Saturday, March 31, 2018

Migrants on the Cross


From Good Friday to Easter, Christian church-goers memorialize the transformation of a man named Jesus who lived in Palestine. The Apostles’ Creed says he descended into hell and rose again from the dead.

From Joseph Campbell I learned of innumerable myths around the world with an array of Christ-figures whose lives resemble the Jesus story. The myths tell of transformation—dying and rising—often through the death and resurrection of a god or goddess. Campbell called this ubiquitous theme “the monomyth” of ancient civilizations.
The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl evokes Christ on the cross by sacrificing himself and descending to the Underworld. His heart then rises to the heavens and becomes the star Venus.

A Mother/Daughter myth of dying and rising balances the Father/Son myth of Christ. Persephone, the daughter, is abducted by Hades, who rules the underworld where the dead live. After her descent to the dead, her mother Demeter becomes enraged and withers the earth into a wintry death.
Demeter and Hades come to an agreement. He lets Persephone ascend to earth and live there for two-thirds of the year. When she rises, Demeter allows the earth to reawaken and it bursts into the fertile growth of spring.

Persephone’s descent and dwelling awhile in the underworld symbolizes a drop into the unconscious, where she is transformed. We all are transformed during moments—sometimes lasting years—when our divinity within guides us through perilous circumstances.

Striking examples of cross and resurrection today are the journeys of migrants. Imagine the terror of facing their horrific crossings over sea and land and then perhaps to meet hostility at their destination. If they experience a final resurrection on this earth, it is hard-won.

Our small deaths and resurrections pale by comparison, but recognizing the parallels with their journeys may help us to empathize appropriately.

*****************

A college classmate commented on Knowing from the Other Side:
Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece, Jeanette. Great story demonstrating how we all have this inner voice of intuition and it’s important we learn to listen to it, trust it, and follow it. I’ve heard it referred to as our own personal GPS (Global Positioning System).

A teacher I follow states: Your emotions are your very own GPS, a rock-steady, unfailing and unerring "personal navigational device" to get you where you want to go. "All is well. You did not come here to fix a broken world. The world is not broken. You came here to live a wonderful life.  


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Knowing from the Other Side


Maxine Moe Rasmussen lives in the country near Ada, Minnesota, about an hour east of Fargo and Moorhead. I asked her to read and comment on parts of my memoir. One of my chapters prompted the following story in response:
Helen and her husband Bob lived across the road from us, where he grew up. She grew up a quarter mile east. They were related to much of the neighborhood and were its matriarch and patriarch. I was out walking one day and about a mile east of our house I turned around to walk back home, when I had the sorrowful thought that everything would soon be changing in our neighborhood. I didn’t like the thought, so put it aside, but it was a knowing that could not be denied.
 One morning I stopped at the mailbox to pick up mail on my way to work. I was always running late and in a hurry. As I stopped the car and got out to get mail out of our box, I heard Helen’s voice. She was saying something to Bob, don’t know what, but at the sound of her voice and the closing of her car door, I felt a strong punch in my gut—the only way to describe that feeling, like someone punched me in the gut.
 Not long after that, Helen got sick. My beloved neighbor Helen was in the hospital with cancer. I doubted she would get out of the hospital and was thinking this as I left my house to go to the garage one day. I noticed the new moon above me and it was so very bright. Brighter than I’ve ever seen the new moon, neon bright. At that instant, the thought came that Helen would not be here when the moon was full. She held on while the moon gained in size and was almost full. I wondered if the prediction could have been wrong when I was so certain it was correct. She died the morning of the day of the full moon.
 My certainty of the knowledge received at the new moon was correct. I can still see the extreme brightness of that new moon. These experiences are truer than physical experiences. I can only see them as real and true.
 When Helen got into the car that one morning and shut the car door, it was the last time she set foot on that land. No wonder I felt a punch in the gut. She and Bob had spent their whole lives within a quarter mile of land. She never made it home again. It was a definite ending.
 Bob hung on a few years before he died. These two kept the neighbors connected, and their deaths brought about many changes. Shortly after Bob died, their daughter Mary died. Mary was the one in their family who kept things together. I still miss them very much. It’s been five years since their deaths and we still do not have neighbors across the road.  
Maxine was experiencing a knowledge that can't be verified by science, nevertheless true.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pews Emptying

It happens sometimes that I read one of my letters in a publication, agree with it, and discover I’m the author. (I admit my countless letters are one reason I haven’t blogged faithfully.)

It just happened again. I came upon a letter I submitted to National Catholic Reporter in December. It applauded an article about “churchless nones.” They are identified as non-affiliated with any religion in surveys of religious participation by the Pew Research Center. The article that drew my comment accepted “nones” as often being spiritual without being religious.
. . . If you’re looking for a place to comfortably park your soul, coming out as spiritual offers benefits.
But it wondered what the “nones” believe. I wrote,
What do they believe? It matters not what God-images draw them to the Inner Realm. But what’s better than the images given by the spiritual master Jesus? The inner Reign is like yeast, like a seed, like buried treasure, like a pearl (Matthew 13). I vastly prefer these images to the father-son gods created by the religion that claims to represent Jesus of Nazareth. 
I believe Catholic pews are emptying because the gods imposed by stale Mass language are no more credible among educated persons than pagan gods. We need a hierarchy that spreads teachings of the spiritual master Jesus instead of regulating liturgies to promote a god and male supremacy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Solstice

On the winter solstice I think about its meaning for our northern climate when the sun rarely companions us. The brooding darkness naturally directs us inward, not a bad thing. This darkest time of the year also begins the ascent to ever more sunshine. It's lovely to anticipate that.

Christmas descends from pagan traditions that celebrated the rebirth of the sun on this day. In the third century, Christian leaders borrowed from them the idea of honoring the birth of the sun with a feast. What evolved was Christmas. Calendar adjustments threw its date off kilter.

Christians call this the Paschal Mystery—death giving birth to new life. May new life grow in peace initiatives in our country and around the world.
Blessed Solstice and Christmas and New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Religious Freedom Subverted

The Supreme Court is hearing a case about religious freedom. A baker in Colorado refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, but state law bars discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Whose sincerely-held beliefs should prevail—those of the baker or gays?
Is the issue religious freedom or discrimination?

This case addresses the same issue that the court sent back to lower courts in 2016. The Little Sisters of the Poor did not comply with the Obama administration’s mandate to provide contraceptive services for their employees. Their name—Little Sisters of the Poor—made it easy for right-wingers to accuse Obama of bullying.

My sympathies lie with women employees too poor to pay for contraception and for whom pregnancy would be disastrous for medical or economic reasons. The Sisters apparently do not know that moral theologians on the birth control commission in 1967 advised Paul VI to change church doctrine banning contraception. The Little Sisters should be educated, not encouraged in their rigid orthodoxy.

Their case was settled by having the insurance company pay for contraception and the sisters didn’t have to offer it in their health plan. But Donald Trump became president, zealous to overturn Obama’s legacy. With encouragement of his administration, the Little Sisters contend their own religious freedom is violated because their workers have the freedom to practice birth control that the Sisters consider immoral. Their argument defies logic.

Another company, Hobby Lobby, claimed religious grounds for denying coverage for certain types of birth control they consider abortifacients. The Supreme Court, now right-leaning with the addition of Neil Gorsuch, ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. All three women justices dissented along with Stephen Breyer.
Hobby Lobby’s health plans will continue to cover vasectomies and Viagra!

I deplore the triumphal crowing of Catholic bishops over this decision.  From the time the so-called religious rights issue arose, I have considered the bishops’ naming of it ironic. What they call “religious freedom” denies others the freedom to follow their conscience. That the bishops disagree with women’s conscience is irrelevant. It is not the bishops’ bodies or their finances at stake.

How would this issue have been handled if women had decision-making power? Or if lay men and women in the Church did? Answers to these questions clarify our thinking about it. If ultra-right moral police sincerely want to reduce the number of abortions, they will let women do it with contraception.

Like the Little Sisters, religious officials want the right to force their moral judgment on others with different moral views. They claim "the right to discriminate against any class of people" who disagree with them, writes Pat Perriello in National Catholic Reporter.

Whose sincerely-held beliefs should prevail? All sides were accommodated by having insurance companies pay for birth control. It is no burden for them because birth costs them more than preventing conception.

The issue is not religious freedom. It is discrimination.