Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Facing Another End of a Year

I speak at 130 word a minute, with a 60,000 words in a vocabulary. In a recognizable way. It is said that if a child did not speak by age 5, it was unlikely the child would ever speak. Therapists focus on speech which maybe would work, including physical activities, with music.

And did you have some kind of spiritual vocabulary? A recognizable spiritual vocabulary, in a more and more spiritual but not religious world?

As another church year ends. Today. The Christian world does not hear the same story each year, as the world of Judaism does when their year comes to a close. Like the reading of the Akedah.

In the way of religion, if you did not know God by the age of seven, did it ever seem unfair? Since my graduation from Creighton University, it was not quite the world that I had expected. Lately, it was not quite the church I had expected. And I have come to believe that creation was not the world that God quite expected either. The old neighborhood had changed. It was not so much one ethnic group. Kids no longer were immersed in one culture, or even seemed to be interested in one culture. Or in just one tradition.

Creighton was a Catholic Jesuit University. The Jesuits make a pretty good attempt to pass on the tradition of what it truly means to be Catholic. A short time after I graduated, a more than a half-blind Jesuit had come to town.

As another church year ends, what Larry Gillick calls “God’s continuation syndrome,” David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, wrote about in his introduction of his book Reporting, “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over.”

Stories based upon relationships, weddings, and religion. Relationships which are always a struggle. And God, Larry Gillick the half-blind Jesuit says from Omaha, is “always beginning over and over again to share over and over divine love” with you and me.

Once and for all. For all time. Through a human person. In stories. And what these stories meant to me.

What had Abraham been trying to do? What was it like to face the end? Once and for all. For all time. In the Akedah? What was it like facing your own ending? When there was Isaac. And the stories thereof: Of Abraham and Isaac, seeming facing their end. On Mount Moriah. When that euphoric feeling of love will only take you so far when it comes to enduring the ups and downs of a relationship. When, if someone is forced into a relationship, there is a natural resulting anger. Anger mostly over what is expected of them. In a religion or in a marriage. A forced relationship, when you were immersed, not at all unlike an arranged marriage.

So there was Isaac, forced into a relationship — first of all as a son. And then by his father into a relationship with Abraham’s God. Not unlike a relationship which ultimately involved the risky business of marriage. For the future, where humans were to train yourself to embrace a daily routine that mirrors eternity in its changelessness. When, at least men get bored, if not women. In daily routine, with relationship as a daily way of life. Unable to shake boredom. As that euphoric feeling of love gives way to acedia, best described as the absence of care. That euphoric feeling of love — when your father was ready to kill you in the name of religion — would only take you so far. Isaac, enduring the ups and downs of relationship with the Creator, who called for his murder. Isaac, like anyone forced into a relationship, had to have had a natural resulting anger. To his father. To his God. Anger, like a girl in an arranged marriage, mostly over what is expected of her. Anger from a concept of God, or from a religion, in a what sure looked to be a lot like a form of arranged relationship.

A forced relationship not at all unlike an arranged marriage. “I think there is something to be said for arranged marriages, overall, with lower divorce rates, and more stable,” wrote a woman married to a man from India. “When we date, am I not looking for someone who shares the same values as I do? An Indian American woman, who was torn between love and family wishes and values, having been involved in a relationship for the last five years, is contemplating with an American male making another step forward. It is difficult when I have been ingrained in a culture that believes marriage is about two families coming together over similar values, lifestyles, and histories. And that love is unstable and unreliable, something that will not be able to hold us together.”

“The thinking behind arranged marriages is IF all parties involved are on board with the process, marriage is about shared values. However, that is not to say that love is not important and does not have its place but I believe it is important to share ingrained values in the way of approaching life. I believe the intentions with the ideals of an arranged marriage are good, until a point when people impose their ways upon someone else,” she writes.

Stories from the beginning. Once and for all. For all time. Stories of The Messiah. The love lesson. Almost silently, God had visited. To pass on a way of life. To all of us humans with “civil rights” and free will. It was a struggle to pass on to those made in the image and likeness of God – Me, You — a way of life. ‘Everlasting life.’ Amidst all of life’s pain, amidst all of the change. Whether you were born in India, in Israel, or Indiana, the question was always about how to pass on another form of life. What had the Messiah been trying to do? In his own arranged relationship which he had to figure out for himself.

It was the end of another church year. And there was the celebration of The Messiah. Facing once more, Larry Gillick writes, the call of God “to allow ourselves to be loved, and still do something about this world. Facing the end, like Abraham and Isaac. Or facing the end like Jesus of Nazareth.

God in His incredible subtleness, day in and day out. And so another church year ends. Those feelings of always being unworthy. Until you eventually figured some things out. About the tradition that love is available if you believed in the stories. These end of life stories. On National Day of Listening. Bring in the great teachers, at universities like in Omaha, with a meaningful systems of communications for those of us through no fault of their own who needed a shared vocabulary. In a recognizable way, including physical activities, with music.

A lesson of awareness with so many people struggling to find answers, desiring to have children who might mirror their own tradition, thrilled to find someone who mirrors themselves. Thrilled to be in an authentic relationship that is blessed. The same stories, over and over. A story that ends in a recognizable way, in love, as well as ‘Everlasting Life.’ The story of The Messiah.

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Letting Loose the Animal Spirit of Greed

Caught up in a SPIRIT of monetary war. A world monetary war, invisible in the world of media, up until now. The animal spirits of war include greed and the fight for survival on a very personal level. With concern over rising consumer prices.

Volatility. The distortions in the economy. In every economy. When all politics was local. Based upon the peripheral bond spreads, there was a forced restructuring announced today in Ireland. The peripheral bond spreads of Ireland and Germany, triggered by a currency collapse in Western Europe, will have the same effect on wages as the real estate bubble had on banks.

The conflict was between deflating economies in Western Europe and inflating economies in China and India. The Chinese central bank has “decided to fight forcefully” against the Fed’s easing, said Qu Hongbin to a reporter with the Bloomberg News Service. The co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong said reserve ratios may increase by at least another 2 percentage points over the next 12 months which would drain about $53 billion (350 billion yuan) now from the financial system, with anticipated moves over the months which QE2 is in affect to drain an additional $260 billion.

Ah, the steps to counter inflows of speculative money. Caught up in a spirit of globalization to move the dollar down, the need was based, according to the Congressional Budget Office, upon the cost of the unfunded $190 million a day war effort. With a running trade deficit in the United States, inflation has been 1.1 percent, compared with 2.7 percent when the year began. Although it had been written that the Fed’s QE2 move would indeed bring down the dollar, it was not happening at the start of this week, since the QE2 announcement.

Since the peg to the dollar was scrapped in June 2010, the yuan is up less than 3 percent. Interest rates along with cash reserves control credit growth. Caught up in the spirit of a monetary war, Chinese central bank has “decided to fight forcefully” against the Fed’s easing, in the ongoing monetary war, fought with every bit the intensity as the war effort in Afghanistan. For the fifth time this year, the government of China has ordered banks to step up liquidity management, by setting aside larger reserves.

Recent signs that the Chinese economy is maintaining momentum included the October 2010 trade surplus of $27 billion, seemingly which gave policy makers a confidence to keep tightening. China’s restraints on the yuan add to the build-up of cash, soon to become the world’s second largest economy. The International Monetary Fund has projected this economy would grow ten percent next year.

The UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Index surged more than 18 percent since August 27, 2010. Rising demand for oil and soybeans in China, as well as a drought in Russia has increased grain demand are combining to push prices higher for consumable commodities. As nations watch and try to control monetary policy.

Caught up in a SPIRIT of globalization to move toward “more market-determined exchange rate systems” and make efforts on “reducing excessive imbalances,” the story of 2011 was going to be about hunger. While Obama and his gang worried about health care, there seemed a sense of irony that the real story was going to be about hunger. The objective signs were beginning to appear.

Canada, a major exporter of wheat, expects the lowest wheat yields since 2002 because crops were destroyed by heavy rains or left unplanted. In Russia, weather conditions ravaged Russia’s grain plantations and a severe drought scorched one-fifth of Russia’s wheat farms, forcing the world’s number three producer to ban cereal exports. Wheat prices there hit a two-year high in August. Prices soared 42 per cent in July, in what analysts described as the highest monthly increase in at least 51 years. And in October, there was the quiet announcement of the lower than expected grain harvest in the United States.

The engine for the hyper-inflation with all the QE2 money was expected to be headed to China, as investors jump in, and animal spirits roar. U.S. companies are hoarding almost $1 trillion of cash. The Federal Reserve has more than $800 billion and will have $900 billion more, come June 2011. With all the profits of a successful QE2 to be turned over to the US Treasury. Greed turns heads, and prices go stratospheric. And so the price of gold.

And the Fed cannot continue its aggressive monetary policies forever, as seen in quantitative easing. Is the reduction of inflation the first sign of deflation HERE? Because inflation has been diminishing between March and October in the United States. Signs of deflation were the real concern for leaders of the major economies intent on their own immediate interests, of re-election. With money going into commodities like soybeans and corn, which have real value and people need to eat. Now!

Objective signs. Like the drought in Russia; the lower than expected harvest in the United States which has increased grain demand, combining to push prices higher for consumable commodities. Wheat, soybeans, corn are all up.

When prices go stratospheric, animal spirits roar. Was the concern about which countries would be able to afford food in the near future? When there were speculators hedging over futures contracts with their Blackberries, with a drought in Russia limiting grain supply, in a world with increased grain demand. Wheat, soybeans, corn are all up on the heals of QE2, along with human hunger. Because governments were always ruthless, acting on behalf of its people.

Like that old E.F. Hutton commercial, greed turns heads. In the allegedly gender-neutral western world with so much volatility. The animal spirits of women, of men, caught up in a spirit of what had been invisible hunger. Demanding some kind of transparency, so that greed might be controlled. The distortions in the economy are seen like on the isobars of weather maps, in the peripheral bond spreads, of Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland — or just in the price of gold. The strong winds of monetary policy of other nations versus QE2. The changing pressures of the monetary barometer. The distortions, like an old playground game, seen in addressing what to do with the results of our fertility, and the fertility of the land.

Old stories about hunger, about fertility of the land. Stories about drought and famine, families and fertility fighting for survival on a very personal level. From generation to generation, “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. Remnick had chronicled as a reporter for the Washington Post what had happened in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Empire, along with the collapse of its currency. Real life stories where some folks left, and others stayed behind. It was always the hunger which sent people in one way or another in search. With ruthless governments demanding documents of people, concerning where they were born and how long they intended to stay. If they survived.

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As the Merry Season Approaches

Robin Hood. Banks rescuing banks. Until government had to rescue banks. And no one asked for a tax increase.

Robin Hood. American troops rescuing Afghanistan. After rescuing Iraq. And no one asked for a tax increase.

Robin Hood. The rich rescuing the poor. It was a great story. At Thanksgiving time. Or at Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Until the rich were extinct. Or in Asia.

“I’ve been forever blowing bubbles. Pretty bubbles in the air. They rise so high…”

When you got older and used your head to make a living. Looking at the fundamentals. Making decisions upon the present day news. About investing. People living in the present. Carpetbaggers, somewhat. For the short-term. Those San Francisco 49ers one hundred sixty years later. Only not doing manual labor.

The movement in the story. In the story of speculators. Gold. Once you had entered the entrance ramp. With concern only about today’s closing prices. Hope, in the story of speculating. Hope for tomorrow, that I made the right decision. The only focus about a hope for the future based upon the disappearing past.

The movement in the story. Looking for exits. And what was happening. Looking for safety, once you had some gold. The movement in the story, in the world with Robin Hood. When it was thought to be okay to steal from the rich. And Robin Hood had his own powerful group of merry men. Sometime enacting the law of the land.

The movement in the story. When you moved around a lot in your life, you did not have a great deal of trust. In your relationships. When your relationships were short-lived. Like in the movement in the stories of the markets. Those quarterly results. With the recent market appreciation of 14 percent since August 27, 2010 when the Federal Reserve Chairman announced QE2. An appreciation driven, the movement upward, by the Federal Reserve, not underlying economic fundamentals. The illusions which come from artificial money moving the market. Cheap money. Newly printed money, as The Fed continues to pump cheap money into the markets. The commodities bubble will continue to grow, as the dollar becomes further depressed.

The movement in the stories. The accelerating speed. Of run-ups. On people. Anything providing evidence of how people would be dealing with loss. The focus on the human dimension of lost savings. And being saved. It was getting more personal. The stories were getting a lot more personal. If you were related to the Irish. As civilized people were buying guns.

There was conflict in a Robin Hood economy, as governments tried to take everything from the rich, to care for the uninsured, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the poor. As voters, if not merry men, could not make up their minds over the question of what ‘economic justice’ exactly was, as they wrestled with the fallout of economic freedom.

So was this what the Y2K problem really was about? In the Year 2010.

Religion Blogs

The Unaffiliated

What did it mean when you lose twenty-five percent of the audience before the show was half over?

After the annus horribilis that the Church of Rome seems to have suffered this year and over the past few years, the alarming trend for many in their twenties is not to be affiliated, not to affiliate their kids, with God through any organized religion. Was their embarrassment in the United States about their religion? That a young person told to their lover? Was this same embarrassment ever expressed in a semi-annual consultation with God? About all the distance created by all the dogma. Was the cause of the weakening sacramental practice ever talked about?

Twenty-five percent of baptized Roman Catholics in the United States have left the church. In a world with accountability management, did church leaders not really care about all of this?

Population trends. Within a spiritual population living in such a secular world. The news this week about population. Noting that more than 70 percent of registered births in the African-American community occurred outside marriage. Noting that more than a third of registered Irish births occurred outside marriage in the first three months of 2010. In Ireland, Professor of Psychiatry Patricia Casey of University College Dublin called for a national debate on the benefits of raising children in a married setting. Perhaps about the uncritical embrace of our kids and grandkids, against the backdrop of weakening belief in church leaders if not God, over the last three decades. A debate over issues of relevance when religion no longer seemed relevant. When there was no longer a reference point of church leaders to real people.

Marriage as a a reference point. With all of the fears which came out of time and place, for a nomad who had to be aware of his global position. Marriage as a reference point for sex, as co-ordinates beyond just myself. Genuine care, in such a phony world, for the co-ordinates of a lover.

“Where are you Adam?” And where are you going? Within the dominant pagan population. Marriage as a a reference point, as my direction in a world that seemed to be drifting. With the theme of movement. The realization that he cannot, does not want to, live alone. The “Where are you?” question. Just as Martin Zoellick calls for a gold standard, “an admission that the world does not know where it is in relation to where it has come from, and that there is no reference point,” according to Robert Bristow of the Randgold Resources. In a world where people were losing the ability to envision a future. And the alarming part of the story was, per the data, with the loss of vision came the loss of encouragement for others to grab a hold of the vision with me.

It all seemed so based upon fear. Invisible fear that was heard if not seen, felt if not smelled. So this was what life had been like in the 1930s? Or in Russia in 1906, or again in February 1917 and in October 1917. With dates somewhat out of step with the Gregorian calendar, and the rest of the catholic world. Where much closer to these problems, they know what the reality is on the ground in these communities. When the scream of silence lived in the dark on every corner of the villages of Russia.

“The attorneys-general,” said professor Prentiss Cox of the University of Minnesota Law School, “are much closer to these problems. They live in these communities. They know what the reality is on the ground.” As opposed to those leaders in Washington. Or the ones in other European ivy towers.

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