Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I watched the film Moonlight last night. The thing that has really lingered afterwards is the way that we are at our childish worst (whether we're children or adults) when we single out those who are different from us and treat them as "less than": less worthy than us; less valuable than us; less capable of virtue than us; less deserving of happiness than us; less human than us. When we do this, we are really displaying our own desperate sense of being "less than."

--DC



"Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark." 

--Rabindranath Tagore


Tuesday, February 21, 2017


The Buddha told a parable about a man who was traveling on foot and came to the bank of a wide river.  The only way the man would be able to move forward on his travels would be to cross the river.  So he gathered what was around him--branches and logs and leaves and vines--and built a raft.  He pushed the raft into the water, lay on his stomach on it, and paddled with his hands and feet.  It worked.  The raft got him safely to the other side of the river.  But then, instead of leaving the raft behind now that it had done its job, the man hoisted it onto his back and began carrying it.  And so, the thing which had previously enabled him to move forward now became a burden which impeded his progress, because he couldn't recognize that it was time to let it go.

-DC


Monday, February 20, 2017


Seventy-five years ago yesterday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order which resulted in 70,000 American citizens of Japanese descent--men, women and children--to be rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps.  50,000 non-U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were also imprisoned.

The internment camps were shut down four years later.  Many of those imprisoned lost their homes and businesses while they were incarcerated.

This is looked back upon as a terrible blemish of injustice in U.S. history.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued an apology for it, as did the president after him, George H.W. Bush.  A token monetary reparation was issued to the victims.

During his campaign for president, Donald J. Trump defended his proposed ban on Muslims by saying, "What I'm doing is no different than FDR.  I mean, take a look at what FDR did many years ago and he's one of the most highly respected presidents. I mean respected by most people. They named highways after him."


-DC



Sunday, February 19, 2017


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Saturday, February 18, 2017


"We need to define addiction in a new way: addiction is the manic reliance on something, anything, in order to keep our dark or unsettling thoughts at bay. What properly indicates addiction is not what someone is addicted to, for we can get addicted to pretty much anything. It is the motives behind their reliance on it – and, in particular, their desire to avoid encountering the contents of their own mind."

-- Why We Are All Addicts

Friday, February 17, 2017


"In almost any Church one cares to choose there is and has long been an absolute minimum of the teaching and practice of mystical religion.  Even for the intelligent congregations Church teaching and preaching is concerned almost exclusively with a multitude of minor matters having mostly to do with the smaller points of morality or in liberal Protestant churches, with politics and vague ethical principles.  One may go even further and state that the whole atmosphere and attitude of modern Church religion impresses the modern mind as having little or nothing to do with the Reality which controls and causes our universe.  Science has given to our age a most impressive view of this universe, and this demands an equivalently wonderful and splendid conception of God together with an appropriate manner of worship.  In comparison with this view of the universe, which, without the aid of religion, has so staggered man's thought of God as to stop it, present-day Church religion seems utterly paltry."

--Alan Watts, Behold the Spirit


Thursday, February 16, 2017

There Is No Plan


I don't believe God has a plan. That is to say, I don't believe that everything happens according to God's plan, or that God predetermined all that occurs.  

The belief that God ordained everything that happens has its roots in Plato's and Aristotle's speculations about the Monad--the "unmoved mover" of the universe.  A great many theologians and leaders of the Christian church in its first few hundred years (as well as Medieval theologians like Aquinas, Calvin and Luther) were steeped in Greek philosophy and supplemented (or substituted) Yahweh of the Hebrews with the omnipotent, immutable Monad ("the One") of the Greeks.  Yahweh was a reactive deity; he got angry and sad and regretful and joyful and jealous.  Yahweh was interactive: asking questions, making bargains, expressing hopes.  The Monad experiences none of these things; existing in a perpetual state of unchanging detached perfection.  To make God feel or react, the Greek philosophers contended, is to exercise a modicum of power over God, which would be impossible if God is omnipotent (possessing all power).

Among the many implications of an unmoving, omnipotent God who stands outside of time and predestined all that occurs is that our sense of free will is an illusion, and evil--even the most heinous forms of evil--occurs because God willed it from the beginning of time.

My own beliefs tend more toward the Buddhist concept of Contingent Arising: that things happen as a result of the previous things that happened.  There is no plan.

I do believe, however, that God has an intent, and that God's intent is for goodness and beauty and life and, in a word, shalom.  But God's intent only comes to fruition to the degree that we participate with God in enacting God's intent.  This is why the Hebrew and Christian scriptures exhort us over and over to choose the way of compassion, of care, of peace, of fairness,
of generosity, of inclusion, of kindness, of love.  These align with God's intent.

I've been told that a traditional Chinese curse is "May you live in interesting times."  "Interesting" in this case is a euphemism for "unstable."  We certainly are living in "interesting" times at present.  As I watch events unfold I am fascinated by (what I believe to be) the reality that this is not happening according to God's script.  God is not "in control" here, but God is accompanying us on this journey.  Anything can, and might, happen.  That is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling because it means, how things turn out is largely up to us.


-DC


Wednesday, February 15, 2017























“Christianity stands or falls by its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power, and its apologia for the weak. I feel that Christianity is doing too little in making these points rather than doing too much. Christianity has adjusted itself much too easily to the worship of power. It should give much worse offense, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than for the potential moral right of the strong.”

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, February 13, 2017


"I was only following orders." (The defense used at the Nuremberg trials and by immigration officers).

-DC


Sunday, February 12, 2017


"To listen to some devout people, one would imagine that God never laughs."
--Sri Aurobindo






"How are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the ones who hunger and thirst for justice, blessed? Jesus blessed the people on the margins of his culture by embracing them, showing solidarity with them, building a community in which those who had always been shunned were welcomed and loved. As the body of Christ, we are called to be that blessing."

--Lindsey Paris-Lopez, The Sermon on the Mount: A Theology of Resistance

Saturday, February 11, 2017


"Apocalypse is a word we sometimes confuse with 'armageddon' but it refers to an 'unveiling,' and for me, that was the word I was looking for. This year, I was able to see with a clarity I hadn’t before."

--Sharon Hodde Miller, Evangelicals and the Loss of Prophetic Imagination

Friday, February 10, 2017


"If we are properly humble, if we drop to our knees on occasion, we will acknowledge that we never fully know God’s purpose. We can never fully fathom His amazing grace. 'We see through a glass, darkly' — grappling with the expanse of His awesome love. But even with our limits, we can heed that which is required: To do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with our God." 

-- President Barack Obama, February 2015

Thursday, February 09, 2017



"It's not about trying to be good. It's about seeking to become more and more centered in the reality we call God."

--Marcus Borg


Wednesday, February 08, 2017



One of the things I love about history is that you come across the most remarkable people and circumstances. If there is one thing that history teaches us, it is that almost anything is possible.
 
One such remarkable person was Benjamin Lay, who died on this day in 1759. Lay was a Quaker who grew up in England and became a merchant seaman. He and his wife eventually settled in Barbados, West Indies, which was a hub for the slave trade. There Lay witnessed firsthand the horrors of slavery. He was so appalled that he devoted the rest of his life to speaking out against slavery. While living in Barbados, Mr. and Mrs. Lay would invite hundreds of slaves to their home each Sunday for meals and worship. This did not go down well with the slave owners, who feared he would incite rebellion. Lay was eventually asked by government officials to leave Barbados.


The Lay's next settled in the then new town of Philadelphia, which was founded and governed by Quakers. He was upset to learn that slavery was being practiced there as well.


Lay was an unusual man both in his obstreperous nature and his physical appearance. He was a dwarf--standing just over 4 feet tall--with a thin body, hunched back, protruding chest, spindly legs that appeared as if they wouldn't support him, very long arms, an unusually large head and a thick white beard. He was a vegan and refused to use any products that were made from animals or from slave labor. Mrs. Lay was equally diminutive and hunch-backed as well. The slaves in Barbados believed that Benjamin Lay had sailed the world in order to find a matching woman. Upon moving to Pennsylvania, Mr. and Mrs. Lay purchased a piece of property, where they grew their own food, including flax which Mr. Lay spun himself to make his own clothes with.


Lay would often walk five miles into Philadelphia to visit his friend Benjamin Franklin. He wrote a continuous stream of anti-slavery pamphlets and became a thorn in the side of his slave-owning Christian neighbors. He was known for his theatrical one-man protests against slavery, such as lying half-naked in the snow in front of the church on Sunday to bring attention to the fact that poorly dressed slaves had to work in the cold. Church attendees would have to walk past his prone body as he lectured up at them. He once walked into church dressed in sackcloth and stood motionless in the sanctuary until the conclusion of the sermon, then began berating the congregants for their complicity in the slave trade.


Perhaps Lay's most over-the-top and memorable demonstration was at the Quaker yearly meeting in Burlington, New Jersey. He had filled a bladder with blood-red pokeberry juice, hollowed out a book and inserted the bladder inside. He had then dressed up in full military regalia, sword included. He covered his uniform with his gray Quaker cloak, then went into the meeting and found a seat that would be highly visible. During the course of the meeting, Lay stood and spoke out against the plight of the slaves, crying out, “You might as well throw off the plain coat as I do [casting off his Quaker coat] and thrust a sword through their hearts as I do this book.” At which point he stabbed the book with the sword, piercing the hidden bladder and spraying "blood" upon nearby attendees.


Benjamin Lay continued to offend and incite for the abolition of slavery until his passing at 82 years of age. Not long before his death in 1759, the Society of Friends (Quakers) officially voted to disfellowship any members who bought or sold slaves, and urged their members to free their slaves. When Lay heard the decision he cried out, “Thanksgiving and praise be rendered unto the Lord God! I can now die in peace!”


In 1775 the first slavery abolition society was formed. It was called The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, and was primarily comprised of Philadelphia Quakers.
In 1780, the congress of Pennsylvania passed An Act for the Gradual Abolishment of Slavery. This was nine years before Wilberforce's first abolition motion in England.


By 1798 all Northern states had enacted laws abolishing or severely limited the slave trade.  The importation of slaves into the United States was officially banned on January 1, 1808, but it wasn't until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 that slavery officially ended in the U.S. 


--DC



"For the contemplative, God is more verb than noun, more process than conclusion, more experience than dogma."

-- Fr. Richard Rohr, The Inner Witness



Tuesday, February 07, 2017


"What’s emerging...is...a quiet but revolutionary shift under way in American mainline Protestantism. Across the country, hundreds of long-established congregations are finding new roles for laypeople as the churches undergo a fundamental change from full-time to part-time clergy. In many cases, the members of the flock never saw themselves as shepherds. But they are now stepping up to save their churches from closure – and to take a personal risk for the Gospel. The trend is helping to redefine what it means to be a parishioner and a pastor in a Protestant movement that encompasses 36 million members in the United States.”

 America's new ministers.  In a fundamental shift in American Protestantism, hundreds of churches across the country are allowing people in the pews to handle pastoral duties, such as delivering sermons.

"The undeserving maintain power by promoting hysteria."

--Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune


Monday, February 06, 2017


"Mystic communion with the Ultimate is, by their own account, the core of every religious tradition. How this seed grows in a given case into doctrine, ethics, and ritual depends on the widely different historic conditions under which a given tradition originates and develops. Unfortunately, in the course of its history each tradition tends to get rigid. At the start, the function of doctrine is to point to the inexpressible. But soon it takes on a life of its own and, through comment upon comment, hardens into dogmatism. Ethical precepts originally want to foster a sense of belonging, but they, too, tend to become rigid, exclusive, and moralistic. With ritual, the emphasis shifts from celebration of the mystic event to ritualistic preoccupation with traditional forms. The living water of every tradition runs the risk of freezing to rigid ice in the cold climate of religious institutions and, thus, their innate happiness is lost.

At this point the question arises: Can religions recover their religiousness? Can they again become doors to that mystic happiness from which they spring? The answer is given by mystics. They thaw the ice of dogmatism, moralism, and ritualism by fiery joy in their own hearts. Ultimately this is the task of everyone who stands in a given religious tradition. Any tradition is as alive as the mystic happiness in the hearts of its members. And this mystic fervor melts also the barriers between traditions -- celebrating their variety, but strengthening their unity with each other."

-- Bro. David Steindl-Rast

Sunday, February 05, 2017


“Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source.”

— Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation


Saturday, February 04, 2017




“I have found that extending our understanding of each other’s spiritual practices and traditions can be an enriching experience, because to do so increases our opportunities for mutual respect.  Often we encounter things in another tradition that helps us better understand our own.” 

– the Dalai Lama




"Think of water as a different metaphor for God. Water rushes to fill all the nooks and crannies available to it; water swirls around every stone, seeps into every crevice, touches all things in its path—and changes all things in its path. The changes are subtle, often slow, and happen through a continuous interactions with the water that affects both the water and that which the water touches. Particles of sand and sediment change the color of the water, and the water’s action changes the stone, and the land, and the life that can be supported. The water doesn’t exert its power by being ‘single-minded’ over and above these things, but simply by being pervasively present to and with all things. It does not evoke the ‘command’ of power over its creation; it is more like a ‘persuasive’ power with and around its creation. Its power is a power of presence."

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Deal



The classic tale of Dr. Faustus has been told and retold in many forms. It is one of those universal cautionary tropes which, when you think about it, appears all over the place in literature, movies and song. The trope basically centers on an ambitious man who is dissatisfied with his place in life. He believes he deserves more: more respect, more power, more influence. Spotting that the man is vulnerable to temptation, a demon appears and offers the man a deal: he will be given all he desires in exchange for his soul. The man makes the deal and gets what he wants, though it never quite works out the way he anticipated. Eventually he realizes the foolishness of his deal with the devil, but alas it is too late.

We see this tale writ large in current events here in North America. Conservative Evangelical Christianity has been on the decline in the U.S. It has been losing not only adherents but also influence in the public sphere. The response of Evangelicals to this sociological trend has, sadly, often been to circle their wagons, curse the darkness and lash out (against gay couples ordering wedding cakes, against Muslims and the spectre of "Sharia Law", against Starbucks, against immigrants, against those who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," etc.).

But the demon's deal came this election season when--in exchange for a conservative Supreme Court justice who might help restrict abortion and provide legal protection to discriminate unfairly against others under the guise of "religious freedom"--81% of white conservative Evangelical Christians voted to elect as their President a crass congenital liar who not only lacked the experience, qualifications and temperament for the job, but who had a long track record as a serial adulterer, a sexual predator, a business fraud, a thin-skinned revenge-driven narcissist prone to casting insults (often very publicly via Twitter); and a promoter of greed, racism, torture, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, religious discrimination, mob violence and general crudeness.

81% of white Evangelical Christians chose a man who promised to take away people's medical coverage, to punish women who have abortions, to cast out immigrants on a massive scale, to ban people entry into the U.S. based upon their religion, to force members of certain religions to register with the government, to take his critics and rivals to court, etc.

81% percent of white conservative Evangelical Christians decided to bind themselves to a man who's words and deeds are not simply un-Christian, but are anti-Christian; antithetical to the teachings and values of Jesus. Not to mention the most unpopular President-elect in U.S. history--who seems to stand a good chance of ending his Presidency ignominiously.

For now, Trump is beginning to deliver on his promises. Evangelicals are beginning to get action. Time will tell to what degree their agenda goals will be satisfied. But the price has been paid nonetheless; the white conservative Evangelical soul was sold, and in a very public transaction. They are winning their battles and, in so doing, will lose their war. Any Evangelical claims to moral high ground can now be dismissed in a single word: Trump.

There is a growing defensiveness among white conservative Evangelicals as the true and inescapable cost of their deal with the demon begins to become apparent. They ask us to "get over it" and to stop with the 24x7 social media postings about the Trump administration's continuous stream of blunders and kerfuffles and injustices. They rail as a chorus against the "mainstream media." They mock the unprecedented protests and civic actions against Trump. They defend the indefensible claims of Trump and Conway and Spicer about crowd sizes and illegal voters and other "alternative facts." And, of course, they cast themselves as the victims ("it's such an easy part, and you know how to play it so well" sang the Eagles).

The decline of Christianity in the U.S. will continue to accelerate, as those outside the church--particularly young people--watch and take note of the shenanigans. The credibility of white Evangelical Christianity has been trashed for generations to come--perhaps irrevocably. But they got their Supreme Court justice. The deal was struck. The die is cast. The devil will have his due.

-DC

 

How one middle America town is reacting to the refugee ban.





"To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float."

--Alan Watts



Thursday, February 02, 2017


Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others,
Hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
Have patience and indulgence toward the people.

Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
or to any man or number of men,
Go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
And with the young, and with the mothers or families.

Re-examine all you have been told
in school or church or in any book,
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem…

And have the richest fluency, not only in its words,
But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
And between the lashes of your eyes,
and in every motion and joint of your body.


--Walt Whitman



I always throw up a little in my mouth when someone misuses Jesus's statement, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends," (John 15:13) as a tribute to the military.  Jesus was not speaking of the military when he said this; he was speaking of himself.  Jesus was arrested, incarcerated, tried, tortured and executed by the military because he challenged the power structures of his day, which relied on military violence to impose their will upon others.  Jesus knew that by exposing them as systems of oppression, they would kill him.  They did kill him, and then they co-opted him.

-DC




"There comes a time when nothing is meaningful--except surrendering to Love."
--Rumi


Wednesday, February 01, 2017






















"You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion."

--Meister Eckhart


Tuesday, January 31, 2017


If conservative's concern was really about protecting the American people, then the crackdown wouldn't be on refugees and law-abiding immigrants, but on extremist white men with guns (like the one who just massacred worshipers at a mosque in Quebec).  This isn't about protecting the American people, it's about preserving a vision of American homogeneity.

-DC


Sunday, January 29, 2017


"Buddhism does not advocate faith in the sense of believing something because it is written in a book, attributed to a prophet, or taught to you by some authority figure. The meaning of faith here is closer to confidence. It is knowing that something is true because you have seen it work, because you have observed that very thing within yourself. In the same way, morality is not a ritualistic obedience to a code of behavior imposed by an external authority. It is rather a healthy habit pattern that you have consciously and voluntarily chosen to impose upon yourself because you recognize its superiority to your present behavior."
--Bhante Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English
 

Saturday, January 28, 2017


If you love your freedom, thank a lawyer.






This short documentary film is entitled 4.1 Miles and has been nominated for an Oscar. It shows humans at their best, as they respond unselfishly to the disastrous effects of humans at their worst.


4.1 Miles from The New York Times - Video on Vimeo.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A few years ago, my wife and I went to Germany to visit our son--who was living in Munich at the time. Munich is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. It is filled with amazing architecture and ancient, ornate Catholic and Protestant churches. And every now and then one comes upon a plaque or a monument indicating where a synagogue or Jewish business once stood, or commemorating a shameful event such as Kristallnacht. These serve as reminders that the city's tranquil beauty and deep Christian history did not prevent it from becoming the epicenter of perhaps the greatest evil ever perpetrated in the history of humankind.

Outside of Munich is the Dachau concentration camp--still intact and open as a museum and memorial site. It is difficult to reconcile the horrors that happened at Dachau with the idyllic countryside in which the camp sits. During our visit we learned that Dachau was the Nazi's prototype concentration camp and that the first prisoners there were political opponents and people who spoke out against the Nazis: journalists, editors, activists, artists, some religious leaders, Quakers, etc. Also sent to Dachau initially were gay men, Jehovah's Witnesses and immigrants, who had been rounded up. The camp was conceived and developed by Munich's Chief of Police, Heinrich Himmler. Later the camp swelled with Jews and had to be expanded. It was a place of brutal torture, summary executions, and hideous medical experiments. By the end of WWII, tens of thousands had died there.

What was seared into my soul upon that visit was the juxtaposition between the civility and culture of Munich and the depraved barbarity of Dachau. The people of a deeply religious city--festooned with places of worship--unleashed the most Satanic of events: the Holocaust.

According to History Today, "Hitler’s regime was legitimised by various Christian churches from the start. The Vatican state was the very first to recognise Nazi Germany diplomatically. In 1933 the Deutsche Christen (the German Church) declared its support for the unity of cross and swastika. More ominously, 1941’s joint declaration of German Protestant Evangelical leaders urged that the ‘severest measures against the Jews be adopted and that they be banished from German lands.'"  After all, Hitler played to deeply ingrained prejudices and promised to make Germany great again.

Those Christian leaders who did speak out in the early days against the obviously anti-Christian agenda of the Nazi government were far too few.  They were criticized as alarmist, and then as extremist, and then as unpatriotic, and ultimately as traitors. 
By and large, the Church failed to be salt and light and a city on a hill.  The rest is history.


 (This is an edited re-post of a blog entry from November, 2015)

Thursday, January 26, 2017


"Religions have always stressed that compassion is not only central to religious life, it is the key to enlightenment and it the true test of spirituality. But there have always have been those who’d rather put easier goals, like doctrine conformity, in place."

--Karen Armstrong

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


"Try pausing right before and right after undertaking a new action, even something simple like putting a key in a lock to open a door. Such pauses take a brief moment, yet they have the effect of decompressing time and centering you."

-- Br. David Steindl-Rast


Tuesday, January 24, 2017


It's a veritable renaissance of Huxley and Orwell quotes these days.
#Notnecessarilyagoodthing

-DC 



I never really thought about this until someone pointed it out to me: Paul--who is attributed with writing two-thirds of the New Testament--never uses the word "Christian" to describe himself or others.

-DC


In Asian mythology there are malevolent beings called "hungry ghosts." Hungry ghosts have huge stomachs, but tiny mouths and throats. As a result, they can never satisfy their immense cravings, and live in continuous torment and rage. 
Monsters and ghosts, of course, are metaphors for aspects of the human condition. The lesson of the hungry ghosts is that constant craving for more and more and more only leads to one's own suffering, as the appetites become insatiable. We see this in the myriad addictions which plague our culture. The hungry ghosts are tragic figures, trapped in their own hell.
Hungry ghosts drain off the chi--the lifeforce--of the living. This is reminiscent of the Greek tragedies, in which flawed human kings and princes committed misdeeds which brought miasma (plague, catastrophe, spiritual retribution) upon the land--often as a result of their own cravings for power or sex or revenge. Ultimately, the miasma could only be discharged via some terrible sacrificial cost.
When I look at Donald Trump, I see a hungry ghost. I see a man who goes out of his way to convince the world that he has it all, but who is suffering intensely because his craving for adulation is never satisfied. And I see a ruler who, as a result of his torment, will likely bring some form of miasma upon the land, with a resultant cost to us all. My prayer for Donald Trump is that he will find peace within himself--for his sake and ours. 
--DC

Sunday, January 22, 2017


I surf.  Well, not literally.  I did try surfing literally once but I was terrible at it (it's harder than it looks).  No, I do a different kind of surfing.  I surf metaphorically, via mindfulness, on waves of existential impermanence.  It's not easy either. 

When I started down the contemplative path, I was seeking that inner "still point" which T.S. Eliot wrote of in his poem Burnt Norton:

"At the still point of the turning world....
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance..."


I was drawn to silent inner stillness.  I saw it as a place of repose.  But as I sat in meditation and watched my in-breaths and out-breaths, I noticed the continuous stream of thoughts running through my head.  I felt my blood pulsing and momentary nerve sensations on my skin.  I heard the sounds of activity outside my room: birds singing, cars humming, leaves rustling in the wind.  What I encountered in my stillness was motion; ever-changing and morphing and arising and ceasing.  The flux and flow of the universe.

When I think of creation--of atoms and molecules and cells and organisms and planets and solar systems and galaxies--I can see that each is not a static entity but rather a manifestation of continuous processes.  Right now, my body is whirring with the activity of trillions of cells as I stand on a rotating planet that is hurtling though space within a system within a system within a system; all inter-related and in motion. 

And then I fill in the blanks that I previously left out from that segment of T.S. Eliot's poem:           

"At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only dance."


So there is a still point, but that is where the dance is.  Christian mystics called it perichoresis: the divine dance of the Trinity.  "Do not call it fixity," says Eliot.  What the contemplative perceives in stillness is an intimate awareness of riding on the present-moment wave of the constantly changing everything.  “How do I become still?," wrote Lao Tzu, "By flowing with the stream.”  In stillness I become motion, and in the motion I am still.


--DC



"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death."


--Elie Wiesel

Saturday, January 21, 2017


My wife and I marched in Seattle today.  50,000 people were expected.  130,000 showed up.  It was the largest protest/rally/march in Seattle's history.  The energy was amazingly positive.  The cooperation between the marchers and the police was remarkable. Marchers showed their appreciation for police officers with cheers and thank-yous. Police officers were courteous and helpful and unobtrusive--facilitating rather than obstructing. It was a wonderful example of how to do a civic protest well.

Leading the march were indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest.  Behind them was an amazingly diverse array of Seattlites: young, old, LGBTQ, straight, black, white, latino, asian, every economic strata, etc.  The emphasis was on inclusion, compassion, diversity, kindness, human decency, appreciating and caring for others--all that "politically correct" stuff.  It was uplifting and Christ was very present.


The march was a five-mile walk through downtown ending at the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is).  A steady stream of marchers arrived hour after hour after hour.  I've never seen anything like it in my life. 

One of the most touching moments for me was a woman who stood at the side of the march with look of beatific love and an ad hoc sign reading "I see you."

I was a young child during the Vietnam era and the Civil Rights movement.  I hope I would have been part of those protests had I been an adult at the time.  But I'm here now and I'm proud to be part of this amazing movement; to be on the right side of the moral arc of history.