Archive for the ‘identity theft’ Category

Passover

“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. We endow our lives with stories. When your relationships were so alive, as your prayers were so alive and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Mostly the same stories, generation after generation. In search of the Promise Land. With a great restlessness. Carrying the fire, with the importance of the binding in the relationships, in stories within your own tradition, about pure love. With God’s intervention in the relationship.

Moses was born into a story whose history long predates him. Like Abram, Moses was a member of a “tribe” and like Abraham, he carried the idea of a new nation, after the burning bush, based upon Abraham’s idea of a place to freely sacrifice? A nation based upon blood, though it is thought that the young would never want to know about pain, never want to know about war, pestilence or death? The young do not, for the most part, want to hear of the never-ending plagues? They do not want to hear about Israel,named after the renamed Jacob?

There is this poetic justice of Passover, when contrasted to the times of the birth of Moses in Egypt.  I wonder whether the Egyptians were then having kids? Behold, in the story of Moses, the outsider! To the Pharaoh, with the two kinds of people in his kingdom – those who were free and those who had become enslaved – there was this annoying Moses.  Or had it been the savers and those who needed to be saved, as the slaves were making the Pharaoh look bad? Was this a fear, like in Sodom, of the growing minority of outsiders? [Lot, who had married a woman of Sodom, had been the only outsider.] Contrast the ambiance in Egypt in the times when Moses had been born to the ambiance in Egypt during the plagues. Death was all around? New life was not?

Note the separation if not a halving in this unsettling story. To be moved, like Abram, from his place of birth. The writers who record, unknowingly, an identity in stories, never mention the heart-break when you sacrifice a homeland? For the Pioneers, the FIRST time in the story of firsts.  Born into a story whose history long predates me, note the Identity, here! The ones listed, in the metrics of measuring up to the past, to judge.  So Abram’s first born son was half-Egyptian, though never in his early life had he seen the land of Egypt? After Egypt had saved the sons and grandsons of Jacob – after the Ishmaelites had saved the life of the prophet Joseph – wasn’t the threat HERE, in the times of Moses, to the Hebrew slaves whose identity comes from the LAND?  Hadn’t that been the reason Abram left, in his Call, in the first place? When he sacrificed his father’s home? There is a threat when you identify so much – too much – with the native land?

Compare / contrast. The metrics of story. Miscasting Ishmael, as a son disowned, the story of Passover miscasts the slaves? The tradition of story – the Passover story – only makes sense in light of the larger narrative arc of God’s saving work with Israel – so much like the half of his mother’s family that Jacob came to discover, as he had moved in with them [those who had formed her]. Echoing this theme of fulfillment is, the larger narrative arc, from an every day invisible formation of his own creator, at what point you were felt to be half-slave? As you were losing your identity, in this more and more secular land, like in Egypt? In a slavery which consumed every moment of your life, without any law to protect you and your loved ones? When you were not free, the past and its tradition become so dispensable, in a secular world.

Formed to be different than those living in the secular world of The Egyptians. Concerning Identity …. what does make me belong here, even after The Call? Notice ever the saving LAND of Egypt, for more than 400 years? There is this hostility in the perspective to the past, over the power of the past that everyone has been born into, because the past carries a certain authority.

Passover. There is the past in the story. So a new nation, based upon Abraham’s idea …. like maybe Abraham once had considered what a son would be like? And is it ironic that his first-born son had been half-Egyptian, and it was Egypt that had saved the grandsons and grand-daughters of Jacob, who had been renamed Israel? In a story of the loss of innocent life, is there a missing perspective about this unsettling story of Passover. For the Pharaoh who lost his first born son – the one he thought would one day be king?

The Call, again. Did you hear the Call again, here, like Abram had been called out of the land to which he was born? And so another story about halving in this unsettling story of refugees, like Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael.

Was there a great irony, in a disconnect from the time of Joseph when he had saved not only his father and the sons of Jacob but he had saved the Ishmaelites and all of Egypt? Behold another story about those who were saved, those who belong not to a land but, to us, still – the 600,000 refugees and their God. And what clearly had happened in the story of Passover, at the time of Moses’ birth through the time when Moses killed an Egyptian to save a slave, is that under the Pharaoh the past and its tradition had become so dispensable.

Over and over there is, for the sons of Abram, The Call. And in Passover, it is Moses who heard the same Call, to move the descendants of Abraham through Sarah out of Egypt. The story is not about political Power but something else. Did you feel all of the emotions connected to leaving? “I envy the dead with somewhere to settle down … permanently,” said the Syrian widow who envied the dead, while leaving in 2015 her loved ones behind . . . to be moved, like Abram from his place of birth? Life as refugees, for forty years! Behold Passover!  Note the halving/ separation in this unsettling story, as hearts are broken, as death is all around, but new life is not?

Had you read what had happened in Cologne on December 31, 2015, about the missing sacred, for younger people whose smaller attacks repeatedly have been discounted as random acts, by the secular leaders like Angela Merkel and the mayor of Cologne? It was like the gun violence, here, where I live. The secular world, in Belgium, treated Muslims from Morocco as victims who had no chance of succeeding, in life. What happens to a people who cannot be saved? To their Spirit? To move out of a kingdom, with powers of the monarch, into the land with more freedom where the majority ruled but you were always going to be the minority. You were not formed as the majority had been formed here. The KING of Morocco – unlike the Pharaoh – was happy to get rid of these discarded Moroccans who had come over time to sacrifice their identity? Clearly, these accused young male were giving up their religion and their identity which had taken up every moment of their life. Cast into a democratic republic, new belief filled the vacuum, that the end justifies the means? The young all around wanted consumer goods or some kind of worldly power over someone?  It had been young Moroccan men in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, involved in sexual assaults. [The unresolved mystery for this writer is how so many Muslims claimed January 1 as their date of birth.] Behold their underlying anger, that accompanies a lost identity!  What does the secular world not see about what had been left behind?  Behold the emptiness in the story, in the stories of the great unsettling and an emptying out.  Is it a wonder that ISIS – these pimps FOR sacrifice, for only their own temporal power – appeals to the refugees from a kingdom?

As you sacrifice a past, either voluntarily or involuntarily, the story of Ishmael had never been about a frothing rage at the colonialism of Sarah, using her handmaid to have a son. In the great unsettling, the story of Ishmael is not about a paternal Authority but something else – the spiritual power at work in an unsettling. The Call. His very own Call, just like the Call of Abram. And Hagar too listened to the voice of God, in another story of a saving love which comes out of the true sacrifice in leaving, as Abram once left.  


Passover is the challenge to remember for the children the unsettling story of invisible splitting. So had Ishmael been a victim? When each of the Victims in the stories of sacrifice – Isaac, Ishmael, Jesus – left behind to their followers this boldnes-for-life identity, like for a chocolate chip cookie. The unsettling boldness passed on by Abraham, to all of his sons and grandsons? This Passover season [which does extend for eight days] recall with bold gratitude the insertion into a rich family history of this ancient tribe of Abraham, with the attachment to the arc of God’s saving work through Abraham and Sons, both in the Land of Israel and wherever you happen to live, after the Great Unsettlings.  As a believer in one of the Abrahamic religions, consider the chocolate chip cookie and whether you had enough chocolate chips inside to even be considered a chocolate chip cookie, by both the inside and the outside world, or in the new world that you had entered.  With forty years of exile, to come.  What does happen when there is not a community of people there who had preceded me?  It is said in Belgium, “a less-integrated Turkish community has resisted the promise of redemption through jihad offered by “radical” zealots. The Turks, as a result, had held on to their identity in a foreign land.  Their children are not so split – YET – between the old world and the new.  And speaking of “saving love,” it is Turkey and Jordon which are saving so many refugees!

Behold the land which had once saved the sons of Abraham in Egypt, if the leaders there always did not. Note the Ishmaelites who did sell Joseph – at a time when slaves were sold – in the “Saving” in act of buying. A caravan of Ishmaelites had been given Joseph, after Judah had had his brothers sell Joseph – for a price, each time. Behold Egypt in the story, of salvation!  This selling of Joseph by the Ishmaelites, in the end, to the Egyptian, had saved him.

Behold the system, and the closeness to power in the story, in the household of the king! In the real world, behold The Pharaoh, counting the cost, 400 years later.  And slavery was about humans looking for enough ease! Yes, the Ishmaelites had sold Joseph . . .to a chamberlain.  Behold the pain of giving up, what you one day had had.

This ‘giving up’ was a Passover story. Just as saving or being saved, in the case of Moses, by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Living with the Egyptians before the split, with a closeness to power. Hadn’t it been a betrayal to the sons of Joseph who had saved all of Egypt to then enslave them? Behold the perspective of sacrifice: inside and outside over the devolution of sacrifice! “So where is the lamb, Abraham?”

From the saving LAND of Egypt, was it all of this LAND that needed slaves? Behold the invisible fertility which returned since the times of Famine!  The grateful-for- having-been-saved slaves!  When these people of Egypt had enough – Dayenu – and then forgot, by this point in the story, about all the people connected  to how Egypt had been saved.  So how, Moses, would the land be tended after our slaves were set free? What did a LAND do to a people’s spirituality, for these humans looking for ease!  Behold the threat of attachment to a place, if the Israelites too much belonged? Behold The LAND as a character in the story, with the sell-out, with betrayal, of your one-time saviors!  Did you have too much land or too much money if you ever considered purchasing a slave? Or not enough of your own fertile young kids to work the land?

With income and expenses, note the involuntary nature of his request to sacrifice your nation’s slaves, by this man named Moses. There would have been a revolt!  In the betrayal part of the story, in the Akedah, hadn’t Abraham betrayed his son?  How does that story connect to Passover? Why should the Pharaoh betray the Land and the future?  Had there been a threat of attachment? So did these slave belong to Egypt?  If your son never had a homeland, how would any of your descendants ever belong?  Did a son make a father too attached to the world?  Why HAD Abraham heard the Call to leave his home?  And then the Call to sacrifice his only son?  Whichever son!

It had been the chief servant who found Isaac, oh so damaged in the Akedah, as the reliance on the servants continued in this family, a wife. Hadn’t Jacob then betrayed Rachel by not saying no to the marriage with Leah? And then there were all the handmaid tales, with the sons and one daughter of Jacob, with sellouts, with betrayal, over issues of belonging?  Or in a world with all of the arrangements and the arranging, in  a world with dowries, was it the laws which determine belonging?  Locate all the betrayals…. in Joseph tattling on his brothers; in his brothers plan to sacrifice Joseph; even in the revised arranging to sell Joseph into slavery, based upon who was free and who was a slave in this family? And Reuben!  Yes, with the long-forgotten Reuben, did you ever see the voluntary nature of his sacrifice …. of the birthright?  And wasn’t that what had saved Joseph in the first place?  And by saving Joseph, Joseph had saved all their known world?  To have sacrificed the birthright, and his own sense of attachment, in the name of love.

Eve. Did you ever feel her conflict over the very first commandment?  In the one law about belonging in The Garden?  Like in the same conflict for Reuben, in the story how he lost his birth right, over a handmaid, in times when the law recognized handmaids as wives except with respect to an inheritance, though it had been Reuben who had saved Joseph after he was thought to have lost his inheritance.  And before Moses ever saved his people, there had been his sister Miriam who had saved Moses, risking her own life. In the name of sisterly love.


So wasn’t the conflict between Moses and Pharaoh – with the same deep emotions of his sister at the time that Moses had been born – over the recognition of the Spirit of God? After the God of Jacob once had saved all of Egypt, in a forgotten recognition of the God of Abraham? From out of The Call to KNOW – in sacrifice of Abraham’s son by Sarah – comes a recognized expectation to save. After Isaac is saved. And if you read the Quran, the same thing had happened to Abraham’s first born son. Unlike Ishmael, Isaac never physically leaves …perhaps because his faith is so shaken . . . as he is saved from Abraham’s image of God. Did you know of the involvement of a servant in the case of both these sons, after their own so personal involvement in the Akedah, then to find them a spouse?  In Ishmael’s case, it was the handmaid/ mother Hagar who found him a wife, as Ishmael learned over a time of discovery that he was born as no traditional servant. Behold the Post Traumatic Stress in the stories of the Victim, to make OUR lives a blessing …”bless those in need of healing”….. when no one would ever be the same!

Behold the conflict! “Though you are holier than I am, your God is not my God. Yet!”

Enough! Note the point of enough between Pharaoh and Moses, in the halving/ separation in this unsettling story, in asking for a place for his people to “freely” worship. Moses was challenging the Pharaoh who was connected himself to “his” people’s worship? Behold the Clericalism of the Pharaoh, where Church and State were one, who acted as mediator between the gods and the world of men. After death the Pharaoh became divine, identified with Osiris, the father of Horus and god of the dead, and passed on his sacred powers and position to the new Pharaoh, his son.  So compare / contrast the valuation connected to this blasphemy in Moses’ betrayal of the Pharaoh who had once saved him. Behold Moses, so perfectly formed by the Pharaoh, much like a prince of Egypt.  “We are not giving up our slaves …. over matters of worship.” Ask Abraham Lincoln, about April 15, 1863, on setting the captives free, without any compensation? Dealing with loss. Of not just the work force. “We are not sacrificing our slaves,” over issues of our god in Egypt!  Moses was asking the mediator as leader of the Church/State – a strong-willed monarch whose view of a rebellious slave-leader threatening old elites – to sell out existing religious belief in Egypt?  Was Moses asking Pharaoh to connect worship to love?

Behold the story of Liberation Theology, long before the controversy of Liberation Theology of John Paul ll with his South American theologians! Mission creep, threatening “our way of life!” Did you feel the mission creep of church or state, based upon the series of plagues from your God – the one that my people did not freely come to – in a challenge by your God, rather than my God? Or to my people? Compare / contrast, in the metrics of story, of blood in the story of Passover. Compare the children of Joseph to what the descendant of Isaac discovered, so much like the half of his mother’s family that Jacob came to discover, as he had moved in with them. The miscasting half of the family that he had never come to know, perhaps only heard about? When you never felt a part of a family that you did not know? The tradition of story – the Passover story – only makes sense in light of the larger narrative arc of God’s saving work with what always seems missing. In stories with various degrees of closeness, did you ever note the descendants of Joseph WERE related to the Egyptians, and not in a step-relationship. Who should be saved? Who should save, when these slaves were HALF- EGYPTIAN? 

“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” writes David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. As the first plague and the last plague involved a plague of blood.

Behold the rock of power meeting the pluralistic theological sands – shifting sand – of your slaves. Compare / contrast the metrics of story, as the blood of the lamb had saved the first-born sons of the Israelites, the Pharaoh was not quite so blessed. And did you hear the voice of Isaac from the Akedah on the story of Passover, about the whereabouts of the lamb?  Did you ever paraphrase Isaac over his ‘lamb’ question? So where is The ‘Saving’ love of prophets, formed to be different than those living in the present day secular world?  When power and position of Church and State were One!  A perfect first-born son!  Behold The Call – behold all the chances in his very own Calls in the story – that the Pharaoh did not heed, as another Pharaoh once had when it came to the dream of the Prophet Joseph.  And as a result, behold the intense deep emotional grief so personal all over Egypt, over all the perfect first born, considered to be pure Egyptian, lost!

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Larry Gillick Ascension Thursday Commonweal
Creighton Online Ministries
curbed.com

Robert Mickens

On the Day That the Sacrifice Begins

I live half-a-mile from The History Center.  In the New World there is the unsettling in this place, whether on issues of history and memory, like with Church or State.  Had this been the same unsettling connected to the Messiah – in the beginning – dealing in public ministry, as History is used against you? Whether with cameras or like Laws of Church or State can be used against you … as PLACE – the invisible …. in what always has been here – is used against you? This Spirit from where you come … like in The Americas, founded on the back of slavery and Imperialism?

Consider that first day on the job as a Messiah. And the loss of this protected status … in the beginning, closest to home …. later all over Israel. With the entire tradition resting upon purity, washing, dinnerware, bloodlines. This theology of Purity, ever since the time of Abraham. With Sarah, his half-sister.

Move! Letting go! Sacrifice. Note The Bond, just like for Ishmael in the story of Hagar — speaking of captives and refugees — becoming invisible as you move …. God-like. Feel the great unsettling of The Spirit of the Lord, connected to authentic sacrifice! When nothing else is left…. locate the displaced in the story, like the Lakota in South Dakota. Yes,in order to survive, MOVE! — to what the Canadians called the Reserve Land. And then what is left of my center, as a child – as a captive, like Ishmael – looks to their parent(s) as authority figures? But did you feel the alone-ness in the story, for the son?

The noun Targum – Targumim (singular) –refers to “translator, interpreter,” derived from early semitic quadriliteral root ‘trgm‘, and the Akkadian term ‘targummanu.’ A translator of the Hebrew Bible is called a hammeturgem (he who translates). Necessary near the end of the 1st century BCE, with the common Hebrew language in transition, to give explanations, as Hebrew was being used for little more than schooling. Besides denoting the translations of the Hebrew Bible, the term Targum also denotes the oral rendering of Bible lections in synagogue. Other than the meaning “translate,” the verb Tirgem also means “to explain.” Writing down the targum was prohibited. Targum refers to “translation” and “explanation” or argumentation of spoken paraphrases, expansions and explanations of Jewish Scripture by a Rabbi in common worship, in the common language of the listeners, with paraphrasing in the common language after Hebrew Scripture was read.

“…. handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’ Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.”

In either saving or being saved, locate the comeback in the story …. with an audience that felt that they did not need another authentic sacrifice connected to a Messiah? Hearing of the great unsettling teaching, The Spirit of the Lord, in “their” synagogues …. praised by all. Into the real Promise Land, into the synagogue, Jesus had come back to Nazareth, to where he had grown up, and went according to ‘his’ custom into his synagogue, in public ministry, on the Sabbath day. And there in the House of God was the great unsettling Presence … in The Spirit of the Lord. Living with the invisible loss of language, as PLACE is used against you, as PLACE claims you as its slave? How old were, how blind were, how oppressed were the eyes of all in the synagogue? As your place of birth blinds you to the outside world.

With language directed at intimations of attachment, This Spirit from where you come … founded on the back of sacrifice. The humility,in an endurance for a generation, living under the great Roman Empire. Dealing with loss, for the those who were small, slow, weak? For those who endure, generation after generation, over and over, sacrifice. Loving not your teammates from Rome, but your neighbor. . . but who is my neighbor? Where so many try to choose their neighbor, based upon the choice of domicile. With all the different degrees of closeness to a neighbor, as your child becomes captive …to a PLACE founded on the back of sacrifice! Captive to an identity that they are born into. With a King who bowed down, as the Giant had bowed down in death to David.

There is this great unsettling, with the loss of this protected status, for the son of David, who had worked as a carpenter in a search for God’s Will? “… and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.” Met with silence? Do you feel the invisible size in another story of sacrifice?

There is this great unsettling, with the loss of this protected status! With the choice of conversion to Islam, death, or exile — threatened the Jewish and Christian communities — and wasn’t this then what happened in the Inquisition to the Jews of Spain, in 1492. What had the prologue said about ‘mostly the same lives’ in that David Remnick book Reporting? There is an unsettling loss of this protected status which is connected to authentic sacrifice, to develop your very own abilities in all areas – intellectual, artistic, social, physical – of accomplishment.

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Besides meaning “translate,” the verb “tirgem” also means “to explain.” While Targum refers to “translation” and “explanation” or argumentation of spoken paraphrases, expansions and explanations of Jewish Scripture, writing down the targum was prohibited  — not unlike some communities banning or limiting study altogether of Rabbeynu Mosheh Ben Maimon’s (Our Rabbi Moses Son of Maimon”) The Guide for the Perplexed, as well as his writings on Jewish law and ethics.

According to scholars, otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract, and obligation, dhimmis did not enjoy, as citizens in the Islamic state, certain political rights reserved for Muslims.  Dhimmis — Jews and Christians  — had their rights fully protected in their own communities, but with certain restrictions.  It was obligatory for dhimmis to pay the jizya tax, which complemented the Islamic tax (the zakat) paid by Muslim subjects.  Excluded from specific duties assigned to Muslims, the various dhimmis communities were allowed to rule themselves under separate legal courts in the Ottoman millet system.  Under Sharia Law, the dhimmi communities were usually subjected to their own special laws, rather than some laws that were applicable only to Muslims.

Noting the history of Spain and the subsequent history of the Spanish Empire, the family of Rabbeynu Mosheh Ben Maimon (Maimonides) chose exile. Some speculate that it was likely that Maimonides feigned a conversion to Islam before escaping.  When brought up by a rival in Egypt, his forced conversion was ruled legally invalid under Islamic law.  Maimonides moved about for the next ten years in southern Spain, eventually settling in Morocco.  This was during this time when he composed his acclaimed commentary on the Mishnah in the years 1166–1168.

Yes, I live 800 meters away from The History Center which is somehow directed at intimations of attachment, like the attachment that I got at home from my parents and grandparents, to share a form of secular holiness that often is directed to a home … or a neighborhood … or a city. There was a distinct sense of place in my life which had always been asserting itself, enfolding over time, staking a claim on a people. Before it was lost or overtaken. Or just taken anyway? After you had come to know something about a place.

“… and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him… And he said to them,’Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’ …They also asked, ‘Isn’t this the son of Joseph?’ …. he said, ‘Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.’ When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town.” And did you note, how after the reading from Isaiah in his hometown, Jesus became — in THE TRADITION  OF ABRAHAM, ISHMAEL, and ALL the descendants of the sons of Abraham  — homeless?  ‘For we know partially and we prophesy partially…’  So, in search of a Promise Land, Jesus chose exile.  

Note, while reviewing the words of Isaiah, the proclamation: ‘The Spirit of the Lord … has sent me to proclaim …. to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim….,” with the credentials of a carpenter.

Feel the alone-ness in the story, for the son of David.  God-alone prayer seems so selfish, without stories and without sacrifice….. and without a community to give and receive support. And according the the previous verse, Jesus had just come back from his forty days alone in the dessert.  For me, without a community to give and receive support, I would believe in neither miracles nor prayer.  In the God-question – in the perspective as the Receiver of prayer, without others – prayer is self-indulgent, affecting no one else, unless you did belong to a community.

‘They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.’ There is the unsettling loss of protected status, with the choice of exile; did you feel the alone-ness in the story, as a son of David? In Nazareth, “Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”

When the power of a culture is based upon a shared literature. In stories. “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. We endow our lives with stories, if the power in the ideals of a father – the bonds, the identity, and all the belief – is gonna survive. If the identity in a name is going to survive at another level. When you were forced to somehow start over.  Without a home. And there is the unsettling in this place, whether on issues of Church or State, when a human is displaced.

On the day you became the Authority over your own life – or think that you could do anything that you wanted….alone or together, though this is the perspective only if you were the Master, not the Handmaid.

Note these Victims of sacrifice, followed by the Post Traumatic Stress to anyone who personally knew the Victim – Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus – through stories of such personal sacrifice in the Book of Firsts of the Hebrew Bible as well as in the first book of the New Testament.

Locate all the victims in the Book of Firsts. Did you ever notice all the victims of rape in the Book of Firsts. The daughters of Lot whose own protected status is now connected to their father. Note the rape stories, connected to the daughters of Lot, later to the daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah, whose own protected status is now connected to her brothers … or not? Note the barren women, in half-relationships, in arranged marriage, with mostly informed consent? Locate all the victims in the Book of Firsts. Note the unsettling stories, of sacrifice, which includes Hagar, a woman whose own protected status is not connected to a man. Was Lot a rape victim, with all of the sons of his nameless daughters who went on to find their own nations? Did you ever note the chronology, where after the birth of Ishmael comes the story of Sodom? Doesn’t chronology – in the spotlight on the First Born all over the Book of Firsts – mean something? And those Ishmaelites were the folks who ended up saving Joseph so he might save his family as well as all of Egypt. Note the unsettling stories, with the various degrees of informed consent, just like in the story of Hagar’s pregnancy related to such personal sacrifice?

Could you connect the lives of the descendants of Abraham to unsettling sacrifice? And these were the sons who were related to such personal sacrifice. So how is the birth of Abraham’s first born son – on issues of power, ordering, shared dominion and freedom – related to such personal sacrifice? After the attempted sacrifice of Ishmael on Mount Moriah, after the birth of Isaac, after he is weaned – if you ever noted the chronology – Abraham sets the captive (Hagar) free, along with his own son. Yes, locate all the victims in the Book of Firsts. Did you count the barren women in arranged marriage whose sons all became prophets? Did you count Ishmael? Had there been agony in the arrangement in Abraham’s marriage, as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his first born son – to banish him when he had reached adolescence. In the perspective of Sarah, Ishmael was sacrificed in his exile from his father. And Hagar had been this woman in an arranged relationships, whose son became a prophet.

Living in denial, note the little attention paid to the VICTIM of rape … like Ishmael. In either saving or being saved, locate the need for a body before you ever sacrifice. With an appreciation for the mothers – before you note these Victims of sacrifice – locate who it was who first gave birth with agony in those days, before anesthesia. In that the first born son of Abraham was born a slave, was there in the manner that Ishamel was born a slave an imitation of attachment, for Sarah and Abraham? In a world where birth and motherhood give meaning and purpose to a human life – if your faith in God did not – over time Ishmael becomes unwanted to Sarah. What did Sarah know about all the agony connected to giving birth, with the various degrees of informed consent? On the day you became the authority, over your own life – or think that you did – are you conscious of your own protected status which is connected to authentic sacrifice that occurred in the past, over giving birth? With an appreciation for the mothers and their life cycle as women whose sons all became prophets, note – in the day and age now where so many believe in the organization called Planned Parenthood as well as this authority over your own body and consequential life (or think that you did) – and locate the agony connected to giving birth, with the various degrees of informed consent. With different degrees of education and experience – like music appreciation in elementary school – note the lack of appreciation connected to your perspective of Hagar, for what she was willing to do out of love. What did Sarah know about falling in love with a stranger, in that she married her half-brother – Abraham who had always been there – ten years older than she was? And wasn’t Abraham’s fatal flaw Sarah’s fatal flaw – not understanding what it means to really belong – that Abraham had been forced in the name of love to share with her? By locating all the victims in the Book of Firsts – focused since the argument of Cain with Abel – in either saving or being saved, what had motivated Abraham to travel first to Mount Moriah with his first born son, per the story in the Qoran. Was Abraham’s motive to subsequently travel to Mount Moriah with Sarah’s first born son, per the story in the Book of Genesis, the same? If you compare Abraham to Adam, did you see the same acquiescence to Sarah and her handmaid that Adam had given to Eve, concerning eating the apple? Were the female prophets married to the male prophets using, in the name of love, the God of Abraham? Isn’t this especially the same female fear of being used and exploited … connected to creation? Just as Sarah tried to have this God of a nomad belong ‘to us,’ through her handmaid’s son –through birth – Abraham set forth to Mount Moriah to have this God belong ‘to us,’ through his sons’ sacrificial death. Yes, locate the need for a body before you ever so personally sacrifice that a mother so well understood. How did Abraham address the anger of Sarah over the sacrifice of their protected status – like with the various degrees of anger by some believers – with such a perfect son? And the believers, as a descendant of the Father of Faith or anyone who personally knew the Victim – Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus – through stories of such personal sacrifice, believed that these Victims were perfect, up until the moment on the Mount when they were saved – before the Post Traumatic Stress. And the perfect really have no need for God? Or forgiveness?

Note how closeness and the Truth about closeness, through / with /in love stories, along with a feeling about the misuse of human power – to whom did this Living God really belong? – lead to a stories about Mercy and the birth right of God’s Mercy. As if you are entitled to have this protected status, carrying a name, as a descendant of the Prophet Abraham?  There is the realness of raw emotions after a son seemingly lost his father, of a closeness to his father.  Yes, over time a prophet becomes unwanted, like the presence of Isaiah was an unwanted intrusion, in his native land. When the Victim in each of the stories of sacrifice taught the importance of giving up the protected status that you once had considered to be the inheritance, in the name of Forgiveness. And both of the sons of Abraham – in stories on innocence – had come back to bury their father. Together.

Did you ever notice how you are on-guard with outsiders? Did you note in a relationship, the best humor is always domestic, like about a father or any family member …. if you had once been living in a spirited place? If mostly these are the same lives, the same stories, over and over, there comes the unsettling time in witness or hearing testimony about either true human sacrifice or an act of rape, that the unsettling sets in, again. Maybe like with the circumcision of a grown-up. And there is this long period of recovery, either for the Victim or for anyone, like her/his family, who had come to know the Victim. And there is this long period of recovery, in trying to return to what was once there. When a Victim was so innocent. And somehow this indescribable event is connected to learning how to pray, directed at God-alone prayer with others, out of the alone-ness in the stories. In the three Abrahamic religions, whether in the Old Country or the New World, there is the same unsettling for anyone who personally knew the Victim — Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus — with a closeness. In the three Abrahamic religions, if you were ever going to come to learn how to pray, you needed first an appreciation connected to a body and the stories directed at keeping a reverence for indescribable sacrifice directed at a Living God. But mostly you needed an authentic love relationship connected to a splitting if a sacrifice is ever gonna mean anything.

….. and then she died.

Perhaps you are able to connect the lives of the descendants of Abraham to unsettling sacrifice. But how was Sarah ever able to forgive Abraham after the attempted unsettling sacrifice of Isaac? How is the birth of Sarah’s first born son – on issues of power, ordering, shared dominion and freedom – related to such personal unsettling sacrifice in the lives connected to the descendants of Sarah? It is Sarah, per the chronology too often ignored – the mother of the sons of Abraham is key to their identity – who dies after The Akedah.

Memory is the key to any identity, touching your emotions in this tremendous bond, touching you deeply, connected to your identity. So “remember that you are dust, and unto dust thou shall return.”

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POST SCRIPT: ….. and then she died.

Perhaps you are able to connect the lives of the descendants of Abraham to unsettling sacrifice. Abraham, who discovered at the end of the story of his tremendous human longevity, was, in the dénouement — in the release of tension in the dénouement — coming back home in his lame-duck days, with his great sense of shame after wounding his own fertility, while dealing with loss of mostly power in old age, and starting over. Is pride, involving a desire for power, based upon knowledge – to somehow be more important than others – the most serious of the deadly sins for Chosen People?  Based upon more than surface knowledge, how is the birth of Sarah’s first born son – on issues of power, ordering, shared dominion and freedom – related to such personal unsettling sacrifice in the lives connected to the descendants of Sarah? It is Sarah, per the chronology too often ignored – the mother of the sons of Abraham is key to their identity – who dies after The Akedah. So was it Abraham wondering before The Akedah, or or Isaac wondering afterwards, if he had even mattered, begging to have had mattered, begging to be blessed, so that God would never forget, NEVER forget Abraham, just like THAT Holocaust — or had it been Sarah wondering if Abraham ever really loved her?

Recognize the developments after The Akedah story as Isaac, not Abraham, becomes the protagonist by the time of the dénouement of the story? So how was Sarah ever able to forgive Abraham after the attempted unsettling sacrifice of Isaac? Somehow the movement in the common stories, like the physics after The Akedah, or in Eid Al Fitr— creating something out of nothing, like with the lingering Spirit from a closeness, in the beginning — becomes this birth right, related to Closeness, even after all the splittings and separation  …. with all the lingering human doubts. So was Ishmael, was Isaac, ever able to forgive Abraham after the attempted unsettling sacrifice?   And how did they come to understand this God of Abraham Who had first called the Father of Faith, away from his own father’s home so long ago, giving up a sense of protected status connected to borders?  Since The Call of Abraham …. “Let me show you a Promise Land, a place you do not know….and you shall be a blessing.” … there is this unease over this place you do not know, similar to my unease when I am running late for an important appointment. Only a displaced son carried this unease related NOT to a clock but to an unknown place – a lot like over not belonging here – maybe so much like being a Jew in Germany in 1939, when you carried the unease with your every moment of your life, or like a one of the millions of refugees suffering mass displacement, from Syria in 2016?

Memory is the key to your identity, touching your emotional connection in this tremendous bond, with different degrees of deepness, in the 26 European countries without visible national churches that have abolished passports and any other type of border controls, on imitations of attachment, directed at union.  In a collective memory of forgiveness of others in the name of a forgiving God, on issues of inheritance and birth right — note the discovery of forgiveness through the son, in all the Abrahamic religions — with all the eye-popping tension in the story between those who were not good enough with those who seemed to be too good, there is this indescribable pain which creates memory in a culture — like out of that closeness, in the beginning.  As that closeness, in the beginning, often seems one day lost if not sacrificed, in a more secular world with such free movement.  Did you note how the son really ends up saving the father …or, in the case of Ismael, the mother?   On issues of union, beyond imitations of attachment?  Yes, “remember that you are dust, and unto dust thou shall return.”

This paperless world gives me the heebie jeebies
larry gillick, sj
jorge mario bergoglio, sj and molly mattingly

Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries

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Institutional Advancement

So this day, a national federal holiday since only 1941. Independence Day.

In 2012, institutional advancement as a moving account revisiting history, figuring out the social order of the soul. A celebration of the institutional advancement, just around the time of the American Revolution. With its burden of history.


It had not just been in the Americas where the locals lived, with a missing immunity to world diseases of despair, of powerlessness, and the directed anger over the powerlessness. The unstated spirituality of Columbus, in going west in search of a route to the east. With such a conflicted theology in late 15th century Europe. On December 5, 1492 Columbus landed, having come in search of a route to the east. If one existed. With such a conflicted theology of a late 15th century European God. To avoid the Ottoman Turks –those fierce Ottoman Turks. The fierce-fighting Ottoman Turks who believed so strongly in the God of Mohamed. With such a conflicted theology of a late 15th century European God of Columbus’ world. The Ottoman Turks who by the 17th Century had their eyes on the city of Vienna. And then the Christian world, with such a conflicted theology. That soon would allow an Inquisition against the descendants of Abraham. In the history of the nomads, looking for a new perspective.

Irish music. The same traditional songs night after night. Passing down the same songs. When a people could become bored with the same old songs, night after night. When in each generation there was all the modern music. Traditional Irish music, not so unlike the same stories, over and over, in the Torah. As Jewish people passed down the same stories. The stories which together gave a moving account of their relationship with God. In one generation after the next. Along with a history.

In one generation after the next, there was the struggle to find God in the new world. Independently, or from the same traditions. As documented on MTV, on The Real World, as people could become bored with the same old songs, night after night, unless there were new arrangements.

Being a slave. Dependent versus independent. With the educated descendants of displaced slaves, and the descendants of slave masters, there was the directed anger over the powerlessness. The anger from the past which had come out of slavery was a part of the always and everywhere identity of being a slave.

The always and everywhere identity of being a slave. Had there been a certain irony that the descendants of Abraham had become enslaved in Egypt? After Abraham had circumcised his own slaves? In these Tree of Life stories. The ones that involved becoming in so many different ways knowledgeable about a divine viewpoint. Which started after Adam and Eve ate the apple. With no mention whatsoever about who invented this thing called soap. Can you imagine tilling the soil and roaming the dessert without soap? Maybe that was why Eve thought they should eat the apple. And then after more than 400 years, once Jacob settled his family in Egypt, it took 40 years of wandering in the desert to cleanse the influence of slavery from those Hebrew slaves working in Egypt. If it could ever be cleansed of the pretensions of the labor of the enslaved, and the every day aspects that took up every moment of your life.

Like religion. Undoubtedly, an imposed faith. And so the always and everywhere powerful identity from the past that is little discussed in polite society, with forced circumcision. The past no one could escape, with identity of being a slave based upon race, color, creed; there was this always and everywhere identity of slavery which was never a part-time job, because slavery represented parts of every moment of your life.

Irish music. The same songs night after night. I was once again in this pub in Galway in January, a place that I last had set foot in 1978. And there the locals still were. Passing down the same songs. When in each generation there was all the modern music. Traditional Irish music. Not unlike the same stories, over and over, in the Torah. As Jewish people passed down the same stories. The stories which together gave a moving account of their relationship with God. In one generation after the next. When most of us struggled so much with the concept. Of moving forward. The moving account of cave women with their power struggle in their relationships. With nomads. With God. Or nomads with their sons. These women trying to get their arms around something, like a cave man who did not even seem human. At least compared to me. They did not seem real lovable. Compared to me. And was Abraham’s love for Isaac only as strong as he had loved his own slaves? If circumcision was a symbol of love. This new concept of unconditional love.

The unstated spirituality of those slaves. The ones of Abraham. The ones of Columbus. To try and believe in such a conflicted theology, in going west in search of a route to the east. To move humanity forward. Using words to try and get your arms around something. When most struggled so much with the concept of going west to end up east. And Columbus with his own distinct religion, along with his private philosophy of going west to end up east to avoid the sons of Ishmael, who was the son of the servant girl.

In modern times, the one universal truth since the American Revolution has included the anger and the fear that the young always directed at institutions. The institutions which sheltered a civilization. Institutions like government. King George. Or the G20. Or a lot like the anger directed at institutional religion. Or maybe at Jacob. Or now at Christopher Columbus. With his built up immunities. Including the immunity against seasickness. Because the world was so unfair. And the institutions seemed to prop up all of the old ways, and their people entrenched in power.

To try and get your arms around somebody. When most struggled so much with the concept of righteousness, and institutions. And so the understated spirituality of those stories about Abraham, about Isaac, and about Jacob. In Tree of Life stories meant to lead people somewhere. When so many people were wrapped up into themselves. Maybe not unlike Jacob, trying to get his arms around someone. When he struggled so much with the concept. About the God of Isaac and Abraham.

Tree of Life stories meant to lead people somewhere. When moving forward, the struggle with the old concepts, while opening up a new perspective. Now read in such a booming world population, with overcrowding. It was a more interesting story than most people had ever explained to me.

A generation raised on these Tree of Life stories about Chosen People living in a world without enough people, left with so few answers, but moving forward. And opening up to someone. Completely. Unconditionally. Descendants of believers who did not ask, did not dare ask this generation whether the one true God would seem relevant to them in such an overcrowded world. Even though a few had four spouses, like Jacob. Did not dare ask if God, amidst all of the personal pronouns used, had ever been relevant to the parents.

These Tree of Life stories about Chosen People, when God always met a person one on one. As someone developed their own relationship to the Tree of Life narrative set in a world with enough people. And now the generation with all of the new nomads. Maybe like Jacob in his all night fight with an angel. Or the one true God. Or maybe with one of his four wives over the issue of unconditional love. Or his eleven sons and one daughter. Stories about Chosen People, living in a world without enough people.

Institutional advancement. With all the burdens of history. When settling onto the lands of Abraham. As he had moved his own family back to the lands of Abraham. Approaching a tough fight with Esau and his four hundred. When God always met a person one on one, in such a lonely world of solitude. To try and get your arms around somebody. Like Jacob, in the night. To be left like Jacob, with a visible disability which seemed to inhibit all future movement. Not unlike Columbus with his concept, going west to end up east. To avoid the tough fights. It is said that it had been in Galway in 1477 that Columbus came to realize the world was not flat.

Institutional advancement. Moving forward. Figuring out the social order of the soul, today. With issues still about immigration. Or nomads. Illegal nomads. In a land once belonging to Spain. Just as in the history of Mexico, and most of the Americas, except Brazil, had belonged to Spain. Or to France. Before the American Revolution.

Institutional advancement of Jacob. A nomad finally after twenty years of marriage ready to settle down. After twenty years, ready to move forward in his relationship with the one true God. Because up until this point in the story, Jacob had not shown much loyalty to the God of Abraham or the God of Isaac. While on the receiving end and the giving end of all of his deceit. Jacob, who had wanted a piece of the institutions which sheltered a civilization. Institutions from where birthrights had come. Jacob returning to world where those first sons of a first son were supposed to get everything. Until with a bit of deceit, Jacob got his. Maybe in some way, wanting God to discover him, in a blessing? If his father Isaac had not. Jacob, now escaping death as he fled his father-in-law, after being accused of hoodwinking Laban, the ultimate of hoodwinkers. Jacob, facing death again as he was about to confront his brother. Esau, with all of this DIRECTED anger, maybe not unlike Cain’s anger about Abel. And Rachel stealing the idols of her father’s gods, with her own deceit with the idols as she left her homelands and moved for the first time to the lands of Abraham.

To try and get your arms around someone to move humanity forward. Union, with your own descendants. And Jacob had little understanding of the One True God that he had inherited. The God of Abraham, who Isaac had discovered with his post traumatic stress syndrome. The One that left Isaac mostly silent, when he never came down Mount Moriah with Abraham. When his father had to find him a wife at the age of forty. When Isaac is never heard speaking for the next twenty years. And now Jacob, fighting in the night with an angel, to be left with a visible disability for the remainder of his life.

“Something that is yours forever,” wrote Chaim Potok, “is never precious.” Looking for Union. And all the evolving traditions of union. With the ongoing theme of barren woman and Chosen People. Sarai. Rebekah. Rachel. Looking for the divine in all relationships. Barren women looking to bear a child to prove their worth. Women looking in a world for meaning in relation of their children to a father. In relation to the Creator. Women, looking for union with God, through their own flesh and blood. Women trying to get their arms around someone to move humanity forward.

Jacob, leaving for the world of Canaan after having worked for a generation. His attempt to return home. Jacob, the greatest nomad in days long before Columbus, leaving behind Rachel’s world to finally go back to find the viewpoint of God in his very own personal life.

In one generation after the next, the struggle to find God in the real world. In the same songs. With a new arrangement. Jacob. Not really seeing God directly, outside his youth. Beyond Canaan. Or outside his immediate family.

New arrangements. God in His incredible non-apologetic graciousness. In His subtleness. Always and everywhere His graciousness. Not so unlike Isaac, carrying his spiritual disability like some kind of DNA which had come to you from your own experience, here was Jacob, coming home. In search still of the divine. Wrestling with God. Over issues of goodness and evil. When you had been disabled from the deceit in your life, as a result of the decisions you had made. When you carried an invisible disability from the past like some kind of genetic DNA. A now the love lesson. Looking for union. Left with a visible disability from the choices made over power.

Jacob. Columbus. Famous men in need of spiritual direction in their lives. Going west to end up east. A nomad ready to settle down? Looking for union. In his love. Of God. Of a family. Of a nation. Left with a visible disability which seemed to inhibit all future movement, trying to understand the mystery. Jacob. Looking for the perspective of the God of Isaac. And finally finding the viewpoint of the living God. In this world. In his own family. Which came both from hereditary or the environment where he choose to live. The love lesson. And those feeling of always being unworthy.

Independence Day. The unstated spirituality of a nomad ready to settle down. When it took so long to know the Living God, based not on the old paradigm but the new. And when it took so long to try and get some mastery over this thing called creation.



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Wait and See

So in the case of relationships, what did she see, what was she after? In me? Or what was I after in her? Before there was sex? After the sex was over? Why did I want to marry? Two-in-one? Why?

So much of my life was about the search for meaning, but in a wait-and-see mode. And thus the aquarium where I lived, called nation, where 99% lived in the wait-and-see mode.

In the case of failed relationships. Relationships which had never really had evolved. Fault and looking for scapegoats. There was a lack of understanding, in a state with No-Fault laws on auto accidents and divorce. Why had it happened? And what about the children? Would they accept this “no-fault” world? In 10 or 20 years? Without a festering anger? How did this world come to be?

The lack of reconciliation with the past was resulting in a failure to reach an acceptance. About the world we lived in. The one filled more and more with self-promotion, with the media acting as the accelerant about these kinds of lifestyles.
What was she after? In me? And what had I failed to give? I was busy looking for the lure of work which provides my organizing purpose and identity. Like everyone in the western world, too many of us were searching for vainglorious work. Asking in a new way, in a wait-and-see mode, “Why are you doing this?”

The way people choose a profession, but the way a profession changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first. Not only did I choose the profession, but that profession began to mold me. That same point of view leads to point in time on a Friday. Today.

So in the case of a failed relationship, it was all one person’s fault? What was I doing about the failure? Living in a wait-and-see mode? Today.

So in the case of relationships, there was this inherent human urge to leave something behind, in the evolutionary process of perfection. When I was so imperfect.

Asking in a new way the old question:“Why are you doing this? Why are you here?”

Becoming


The human struggle with identity. There was both an individual struggle and a communal struggle with this identity. Now more than ever.

I am nothing except what I have absorbed from my father. I knew what he liked, how he thought. He had passed on to me what was important in life. I share within me a part of his identity. All that was important. And a lot of what he liked and how he thought.

I spend a lot of time at ballparks, like my dad. With a certain edge. Last night I was asked a question about baseball. I was asked a question about the umpires by someone my own age. The questioner did not know the answer, but attempted to offer an answer. That answer was not close to the truth. I too bluntly asked what good it was to give an answer when you really had no idea.

I did not like the local broadcasters who purported to know everything. It made me think how poor the current generation of broadcasters were, as they tried to project a certain image. There was never a discussion on air about issues like this one, developing umpires. Are crews kept together season to season? The crew chief’s job was to work to make the rookie umpire better. The crew chief’s job was to make this an efficient 4-man crew. What I did not know was, since the day that the commissioner’s office had allowed National League umpires to integrate with American League umpires, whether these were one year gigs? Or whether the crews were dispersed each year with all new crews? If they ever get to keep working for a while with those partners who became a friend? A young umpire was nothing except what he had absorbed from his crew. And then what he did with it.

The new archbishop in New York City was quoted in February 2009 in the New York Times that a bishop’s success as a Catholic leader was to be judged in the numbers who elect to marry in the church, who attend Sunday Mass, or who join the priest or sisterhood. There were not many successful popes or archbishops anywhere, in an American perspective, based on this measuring stick, over the last 20 to 30 years. Statistics show that 25% of all Catholics have left the Church of Rome for another church. Surely those 25% were not attending Mass. And the rate of Catholics becoming priests or nuns had fallen off dramatically over the past 40 years.

One day the crew chief would die and in baseball, he had to be replaced.

All of this was a part of the human struggle with identity. That “becoming.” There was an excitement in all of this “becoming.” In the formation. Of this communal and individual “becoming.” Since I am nothing except what I have absorbed from my father and my mother.

Once a year I went away to this spot of Lake DeMontreville to look at what I had “become.” In that life journey, to actually stop to hear the “How’s it going?” question. To read those Genesis stories, where God asked, “Where are you Adam?” After he just ate the apple.

The journey. With its starts and stops. This year there was a retreat “master.” The crew chief, as it were, amidst the human struggle with identity. That retreat master’s opening remarks were “Pilgrim, there is no way. The way is made by going.”

My struggle. The pope’s struggle. In the journey. With an edge. In the simpleness of the morning, I had started once again on this “becoming” process, to grasp the reality of the earth. And to figure out how I fit into this story.

The human struggle, an individual struggle and a communal struggle, with identity. “Pilgrim, there is no way. The way is made by going.

Empty Nests

To be moved, in this world with all of its dysfunction, to act.

The 40% of American Catholics that had moved to different churches, amidst the dysfunction. The European Catholics who just plain quit worshiping. The leadership which by the way was supposed to believe in the Gospel of “I am the Good Shepard,” failed to respond to the dysfunction. Mostly it was left to the parish priest. The leadership, which seemed to called to go looking for its lost sheep, were lost in their own spiritual golf game.

To be moved. When creation had become chaos. Golf games. The priests to whom I was related had loved to play golf. Simple parish priests.

Dysfunction. The dysfunction. I saw it not far from my home in the black community. I heard it on a walk the other night where one woman never took a deep breath in the 120 to 180 seconds I just stood listening to an uninterrupted rant inside a house. When another neighbor came along from the opposite direction, I felt like I had to move on. It might have been the television but if it was, a commercial seemed over due. To this passer-by, it was not funny. It was hilarious.

Uninterrupted rants. There were a lot of them in the world. Creation had become chaos. All that the Good Book says is that Noah submits to God’s will and nothing more;uninterrupted rants. About the ongoing effects of World War II. When you elected leaders who had lived through it all. It was not just what Adolph Hitler had done to all of us, Jews and non-Jews. It was what Stalin had done to all of us. When so much of the media was ready to offer canonization, what had the leadership of John Paul II done to the church? How could anyone lived a life through all of this and not show affects of dysfunction?

Gdansk in 2001. People coming back to claim property wrongfully taken. Gdansk is about my favorite historical place in all the world. On issues of freedom in that shipyard. Following September 11, there were not many travelers looking at the Gdansk museum, where I learned that Gdansk represented much more than just Lech Walensa. The fight for freedom that arose there under the leadership of Lech Walensa came from events that had happened at the shipyard over a 10 year period. Massacres really. This was the successful Polish uprising, a lot like the ones that had ultimately failed in Warsaw in response to German occupation.

Where was the accountability in Rome to all the lost sheep? It was not just the abuse of the 20th Century and the lack of response from Rome. It was about addressing the status of women in the church for the 21st Century. Men born before World War II did not see the need to address it. Not when nuns were still ironing your vestments, making your food, and cleaning your apartment.

With a dysfunction seen in the corporate world with board of directors appointed by CEOs. When those boards did not question executive compensation. With politics as usual, without a concern for the real world. The real world of Bernard Law. And archbishops like that all over the country, not much different than the world of Wall Street.

When there was a laziness that came from your habits, without thinking. Going back to the same staid ways. When things quit working. The culture will soon be demanding even more reparations for these sins, if they had not already. The juries made up of women were a scary scene when they were going to sit in judgment of this church, on issues of damages against the church.

In this dysfunctional world, with all of the lost sheep

That party in Omaha. “What did you think about John Paul II.”

To be moved. Beyond words of apology. To be moved to change. It was time. This Penecost Sunday.

Notre Dame


May 11, 2009

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Graduating Class of 2009:

This Sunday, as you receive your degrees at Commencement, your joy – and that of your families – will be shared by the faculty, staff, and administration of the University. We have had the privilege of laboring with each of you to inquire and discover, to teach and to learn, and we will send you off with affectionate and fond hopes for the future.

During your years here we have endeavored to train you in the various disciplines and urged you to ask the larger questions – discussing not only the technical and practical but also the ethical and spiritual dimensions of pressing issues ….grappled with intellectual, political, and spiritual questions. ….The decision to invite President Obama to Notre Dame to receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address….Yet, there has been an extra dimension to your debate….You engaged each other with passion, intelligence and respect…..At the same time, and born of the same duty, a Catholic university has a special obligation not just to honor the leader but to engage the culture. Carrying out this role of the Catholic university ….we must be a place where people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue.

The President’s visit to Notre Dame can help lead to broader engagement ….on matters of human life and human dignity…..Remember, though, that this day is your day.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President

The Day the Music Died

For all that it mattered, Obama had my vote until he kicked 3 reporters off a plane in the closing week of the campaign when their newspapers endorsed the other candidate. It was in 2008 that I set out to write about the threat to democracy when newspapers died. The news reports on the news is like watching a loved one with cancer. The deathwatch was prolonged, but the end result is fairly obvious.

A generation has come of age with a free news media. Without the news, I would not be on-line with the anticipation of excitement which I bring to the desk each evening.

Today I read a piece by Neil Macdonald of the CBC News. If you have never had the pleasure of watching the news produced from Canada, you have missed one of the Cadillacs of the industry.

Macdonald writes: “Many of the people who govern us do not believe the public has a right to know very much at all. This is not a conservative or a liberal thing.”

“George W. Bush and his group were obvious stonewallers. But the Obama administration is, in some ways, even more controlling. Barack Obama has taken up the Bush practice of pre-selecting and notifying reporters in advance that they will be called upon at his press conference, leaving all the others to act as props. Obama’s people are also famous for what’s called message discipline, meaning no leaks.”

“Were it not for newspapers, the American public would likely not know that its former president had authorized secret CIA ‘black’ prisons abroad, where government operatives were free to torture detainees. Or that the U.S. government was wiretapping American citizens without judicial permission. Or that returning veterans, their minds and bodies shattered, were suffering in the dank squalor of a mouldy military hospital.”

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/03/31/f-rfa-macdonald.html

Amidst the age of bailouts, it was rather noble that not a newspaper was asking the government for loans that the industry might survive. Without newspapers, we are all of us more vulnerable. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your political affiliation. Anyone who has not given thought to subscribing to the local news at this point in history, to save an institution that has provided a formidable part of a democrat society, will rue the day when their town no longer has reporters out sniffing out stories of corruption, dishonesty, or well thought opinion pieces.

Newspapers for the most part are about figuring out what things are worth. Newspapers are about integrity and setting standards which politicians are expected to meet. And newspapers are about those who walk among us, and learning through the obituary page who is now gone. Sadly, the newspapers in my town, both of them, do not appear to have a life expectancy of more than a few months.

Quantitative Easing

There was rather imprecise understanding all around us. How worried should I be in all of this?

Quantitative easing was the term used by the Federal Reserve bank. Money was cheap these days. Despite the fact that easy money had created most of the world’s troubles.

I had a goddaughter that was now 24. Her belated birthday celebration was in three hours. I am not sure if she was given the choice of the menu. I had loved the celebration of genealogy in her holy day of baptism. It was in the genealogy that the baptized were connected, a realization that had more meaning following the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

My sister came back from Israel and Egypt 4 months ago, and I had seen the pictures of Moses’ burning bush. Coptic Catholics had possession of the bush which still was in Egypt. It could not be transplanted. It had been tried. Over and over. So the burning bush was still in Egypt. Last November, I had missed the subtleness of the reality and the meaning of those who had tried to transplant it.

Churches and schools were the institution dedicated to leading people out of their darkness. The conflict amongst the baptized. The conflict of the Christian world with the unbaptized over what we actually do and how we actually live. It was not about dogma. Or meatless Fridays. It was not about compulsory prayer as much as it was about learning intimacy, how to communicate, and how to worship with intimacy in a relationship.

There was a desire of everyone for an intimate relationship. It is a dangerous process opening to someone. It is a dangerous process to tell them how to live their own unique life. There is a need to risk in a relationship before you can be comfortable, before you can be truly intimate, and yes, have efficient sex.

Intimacy. Prayer and sex were a lot alike. Monogamy. Monotheism. Revelations. Of imperfections. His. Hers.

I had this goddaughter who was moving in with her boyfriend in one week. The birthday celebrant. She was taking “the quantitative-easing” route that was all the rage these days. I saw her future and where she was headed now, in these turbulent times, as a result of this move, more as one of either of the “D” words. In her life and in the life of the economy. Deflation. Depression.

The first to be deflated would be her grandmother. No one would be hearing the news tonight, I have been told.

Genealogy. Setting high standards and priding itself on its dignity and decorum, genealogy could get a battering over the course of a 12 month period.

Genealogy. And my niece. Her “Catholic education” ended at the age of 14. The root meaning of ‘education’ was ‘to lead people out.’ “Catholic education” was about passing along the religious tradition, an attempt to convey meaning.

I think the best comedians were either Jewish or Irish. God and His sense of humor. And the subtleness of the reality of those who try to transplant tradition. Developed over time. In individual relationships. Those sacraments. The outward signs. On public display. The public display of affection. There used to be seven.

Who could believe in the sacraments? It was always the question. Who WOULD believe in the sacraments? A virgin birth. Who could believe? Or who WOULD believe in a virgin birth? Then. Or now? A Messiah? Who would believe in a Messiah? Then? Or now? That was the mystery. The darn near impossible. God! This year. Who WOULD believe in God? It was always the question. Then. Or now.

So what did all of this mean? Genealogy. Then. And now

Heraclitus was a philosopher who believed “You cannot step twice into the same river. For other waters are continuously flowing on.”

I think he wrote it about the time of the baptism. When there was an imprecise understanding all around. Then. And now.

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POST SCRIPT: From the July 25th Atlantic Monthly piece by Emma Green:

In 1970, there were roughly 426,000 Catholic weddings, accounting for 20 percent of all marriages in the United States that year. Beginning in 1970, however, Catholic marriages went into decades of steady decline, until the turn of the new century – when that decline started to become precipitous: Between 2000 and 2012, Church weddings dropped by 40 percent, according to new data from the Official Catholic Directory. Given other demographic trends in the denomination, this pattern is question-raising: As of 2012, there were an estimated 76.7 million Catholics in the United States, a number that has been growing for at least four decades."


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The New Paradigm

Time. The magazine. Hair growth. Dust bunnies. It was all a time thing.

Time. Good times. For better. For worse. I had fear shopping for food. The worst was coming. Fear of rising prices. Since I was categorized as in the wealthiest class of the upper 10% on earth, what was it like in the 3rd world? I felt authentic fear of prices in the supermarket the other night.

The weather. Hot. Cold. Diminishing daylight. Cold would be coming soon.

I was in denial— not looking. At my life. It was about a job change. I did not want to change. But the market was forcing it. Hunger drove people.

Mark Halperin was here last night. I listened to him speak about the state of the media, and campaign 2008. He cited surveys about the interest in the young in current events. They expressed surface interest. Yet these were the non-readers of the news. The indifference of youth was not new, to the news. But it now was making a financial impact.

In the crowd, I saw a priest, who administered to the sick. Quite intimately in my family. He had buried my grandfather, in his first act as a new pastor. And then my father. Time.

My time. The years that I was alive. We spoke briefly about James Patrick Shannon’s autobiography, entitled Reluctant Dissenter . His name was in the book, since he accompanied Shannon to Rome to participate in Vatican II. He was one of the youngest clerics in Rome. Serving as the bishop’s secretary, he said he never saw much of the light of day in more than 2 months.

Time. A Pastor. Now retired. He was in listening to Mark Halperin too. And speaking about Vatican II, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops had now announced they were turning back the clock to pre-1965, with the language of the Catholic Mass, come 2011. Time.

To talk about God, amongst the non-believers. McCain, Obama had to feel uncomfortable. So how did the candidates feel, to address religion and politics. Together. Time, the magazine. Halperin worked for them. He covered these guys.

A sense of humility. Life was about sharing intimacy to a different degrees, with those who knew me. I was being asked by a friend what my blog website was. I was writing these time pieces, but did I really want someone I knew to read this stuff? I had a sense of the humble, within. To discuss what I had seen, made me feel humble, in the secular world, when it included allusion to God. I was uncomfortable to talk about God with people I knew.

Listening to Mark Halperin, he cited the remaining 7 news organizations in the world. The financial success of the organization would determine what they could cover in the future. Local organization did not have the financial strength. To cover, to explain what was happening. In a changing world.

Listening to Mark Halperin, I thought of the indifference of youth. Indifference to the news, to religion, to God? (See “Guys with Miters.”) The world had changed. Kids had grown up in the 401K world, the era of leveraged buyouts, hedge funds. When financial success determined too much. Leadership had been from afar all of their lives, with corporations and even church leaders coming from places far away, sent like in the days of the British Raj, as the Brits tried to rule India.

In a changing world, we would all become indifferent with this kind of leadership model. The indifferent model, not looking. At the invasive technology, collecting vast amounts of information. THIS was the new paradigm that was destroying institutions. We had lost the local leader, who could make a difference here. There no longer was the local guy/gal who could identify with the world, with us and all of our problems, to spend some coins to stay afresh. Instead with their leveraged buy-outs, the corporate raiders of the 1980s had displaced the loyal CEO who employees knew and identified with. How the world had changed. In 1982, the average CEO made 42 times more than more than the average worker. In 1990, CEOs made about 107 times more than the average worker. In 2001, the ratio of CEO compensation to the average pay of a production (i.e., non-management) worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1. According to “Executive Excess,” an annual report released by a liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies, in 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the was 431-to-1. We had reached the point where the chief executive of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company made on average $14.2 million in total compensation in 2007.

This was the world that did not appeal to the young. Indifferent, they did not buy the paper. It never had been locally owned anyway, in their lifetime. The newspaper was like a stranger starving in a 3rd world country. And most of us went about our daily life not conscious of their plight. I did not seem to be made in he image of the homeless. And nobody gawked at the problems of the newspapers.

This sense of belonging: In New York, the Mets acquired a relief pitcher from the Washington Nationals this week. Luis Ayala said that coming into this Mets’ clubhouse Monday reminded him of his first day in the major leagues when he first wore a Montreal Expos uniform. He had played with 5 of these guys before. It was all about a sense of belonging. Of identity. He broke into baseball with Montreal in 2003 and major league baseball purchased the team and moved the Expos to Washington in 2005. He had just gone from worst to first. In an era when baseball was now managed by MBAs and Ivy leaguers. With less loyalties and greater salaries. This pitcher was reflecting the new paradigm of the baseball world which followed leveraged buyouts. Where the performers were paid sums which averaged more than $2 million per year. Even Luis Ayala. Because the current owners somehow saw their own self-image in these ballplayers. Those CEOs who lived in their own fantasy camps.

Deciding to gawk or not wanting to look? Looking around for the familiar, when your CEO hadd not grown up within your company. And there was a misssing personal identity that seemed to affect elections and the funding of elections. Yes, a magazine, a newspaper offered a good story, often by good writers. The indifferent choose not to look at the world. Not too closely. So in this new world order with gigabyte speed, as more and more of us live in a paper-less (if not quite paperless) world, there would be less gawking, less delays. Where no one had time to look too closely. The new paradigm, about ourselves, was all about the loss of identity. As those in authority had all the technology to engage in covert round-the-clock surveillance through cellphones and global positioning systems. Over an extended period of time.

Identity theft. For the young who had hair, there was a need to do something with it. And there would always be,with this time thing, a need for haircuts. I now needed one, in order to still be identified by those who knew me.

Hair. Dust bunnies. A civil world, with no paper trail. A world with less caring. A lost sense of place. A lost sense of belonging to a bigger world. The unrecognized loss of liberty. And no local paper.


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