amendment 4 – a bright spot in today’s dismal political news

In the 2018 elections Florida’s voters passed overwhelmingly Amendment 4 which stated that people with past felony convictions who had completed their sentences could not be locked out of the democratic process in future elections.

Governor Ron DeSantis and a majority of Florida’s lawmakers countered with SB 7066 which required people with past felony  convictions to pay fines, fees and restitution before they were allowed to vote.  Essentially, they would be forced to pay for the right to vote.  The state government, led by DeSantis, undermined the voices of millions of Florida voters.

“In a landmark decision yesterday, a federal court affirmed the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Floridians and ruled that a pay-to-vote system is unconstitutional.

This victory with our partners means that Floridians with past felony convictions cannot be banned from voting if they are unable to pay fines, fees or restitution.”

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER

the lesson to learn

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

cropped-sanity2.pngIs covid-19 just a warm-up, a practice session for the inhabitants of earth when the gathering global warming and climate change wreak havoc on our weather patterns, our agriculture system, our social connections, our employment, our financial security, our black-and-white-black-and-white-boy-1299417ability to survive in a hostile environment?

If so, if this is a test, how are we doing?  I personally am dealing with social distancing rather handily since I am by nature an introvert and a non-engager.  I enjoy solitude and the absence of people.  I enjoy hours ‘piddling’ in my garden, reading a book, watching cooking videos on YouTube, walking in the woods, hanging out with Max, the cat.  I am not bothered by the lack of social interaction mandated by covid-19.

But, how are you doing?  Cinemas have closed their doors, restaurants are no longer serving sit-down meals inside, churches have cancelled Sunday services, schools are shut down, grocery stores are experiencing shortages (who’d have thought toilet paper), bars are closed, and we are all supposed to maintain 6 feet between us and the people nearby.  How are you handling this?

Should we take our lesson from our government leaders playing the blame game while promising free money to its citizens, looking for the most advantageous political maneuver in an election year?  Should we listen to the conspiracy pundits telling us this is a foreign government’s plot to overtake the financial markets and impose world-wide hardships on the free world?  Should we believe that covid-19 was unleashed on an unsuspecting world by a mad scientist?

Really, how are you dealing with this?  Where do you go for comfort? If this virus called covid-19 is just the tip of a catastrophic iceberg, will we survive as a worldwide brotherhood sustaining and comforting one another, or will we (as the dooms day prognosticators tell us) slide into world-wide anarchy, violence, and destruction?

I don’t write about my faith very much anymore because most people don’t want to hear it.  But this is my blog, I pay for it and should anyone object to the mention of God or faith or belief, or all three in one sentence….well, there are probably a million other blog sites online suitable to their journey in life.

The following verses taken from the writings given to us in Psalms from ancient Judaic wisdom and faith say this:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake in their surging…..

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire…..

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  PSALM 46

For further thought and meditation refer to the writing of Richard Rohr at CAC.ORG https://cac.org/love-alone-overcomes-fear-2020-03-19/

Right now I’m trying to take in psychologically, spiritually, and personally, what is God trying to say? When I use that phrase, I’m not saying that God causes suffering to teach us good things. But God does use everything, and if God wanted us to experience global solidarity, I can’t think of a better way. We all have access to this suffering, and it bypasses race, gender, religion, and nation. 

We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. There’s no doubt that this period will be referred to for the rest of our lifetimes. We have a chance to go deep, and to go broad. Globally, we’re in this together. Depth is being forced on us by great suffering, which as I like to say, always leads to great love.” FR. RICHARD ROHR

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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share, shelter and clothe

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization. 

– it is my humble opinion –broken hearted

Apparently many in the secular world of politics who profess Christianity and a number of those preaching from America’s pulpits have not read the text of Isaiah 58, verses 7-10.  Or perhaps they have read it and believe it to be irrelevant in today’s world scene where children are caged on our southern border, where desperate refugees are turned away from a safe haven, where poverty and destitution among American citizens are reaching epidemic proportions, where suicides among young people and veterans are increasing, where the homeless are turned out into the city’s streets and rural wooded areas, where it is still legal in 30 states to discriminate against gays and lesbians regarding jobs, housing and social services, where oppression of minorities is advocated by those in power, where the funding for basic necessities of food and housing is being slashed, where it has become OK to persecute dissenting voices, where the ostentatious wealth of the wealthy is nothing less than socially immoral.

This appears to be the legacy our current Washington, DC powers are building.  It would be far better for those Christian leaders to honestly admit their intentions and agendas and lay their cards on the table for all to see.  Instead they attempt to deceive under the guise of God-inspired leadership.

But, what do I know?  I am just a simple and unfiltered man.  However, from a different culture and a different time come these words of wisdom:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

ISAIAH 58:7-10

FRANCISCAN ACTION NETWORK

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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simplicity, gratitude, generosity

“Aware of the poverty and greed in the world and of the intrinsic abundance of the earth, I stand in the presence of the ancestors, the earth, and future generations and vow to cultivate the simplicity, gratitude and generosity that have no limits.”

Rosemary Lynch and Mary Litell, Peace Grows! Pace e Bene

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There is no shortage of anything in this world except, perhaps, love.  The misconception of a world without enough is the result of too many people wanting too much unimportant stuff.  Predicted shortages of food can be easily resolved if government subsidized mega-food industries are held accountable for the resources they consume and the ecology they destroy to produce highly profitable protein for our tables.

But ultimately, we are responsible.  I am responsible for shedding exaggerated beliefs of what I need to not only survive, but thrive in today’s world whether it be foodstuffs or consumer goods.  Living simply does not equate to going without; rather, it is a commitment to joyously appreciate each new day with words of thanksgiving for the earth’s abundance and generosity and then sharing that abundance cheerfully.

In words attributed to Gandhi – “live simply so that others may simply live.”

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BEACONS

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

jesus in prayer

The wisdom seekers from ancient times offered to us these words as recorded in writings which were incorporated into the Old Testament of today’s Bible:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

ISAIAH 58:7-10

“Then your light shall break forth….”

Is my beacon of hope and compassion breaking forth today?  Is yours?  How about the beacon of America?  I know that I can do better, but I believe that America has lost its way.  Granted there are many who continue to offer food, shelter, solace to the homeless and oppressed, but they are not the ones in power today, are they?  Our government and, sadly, a handful of religious leaders seem to have forgotten that it has been immigrants who historically have made this nation a melting pot of ingenuity, intelligence and hard work.  Perhaps we can live today as if that beacon of hope is shining brightly.

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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follow the leader?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

broken hearted

Follow the leader.  Just a child’s game?  How about Simon says?  For us they were playtime activity intended to teach interaction with other children.  But, have you ever considered the ramifications of a 5 or 6 year-old being taught to follow a designated leader wherever that person leads or to do explicitly what Simon instructs?  Of course not, they were just games for children.

What about adults?  Life is not a game.  Do you and I have enough self-confidence, enough courage to walk away from the herd trailing after a proclaimed leader when we know that person is dishonest and corrupt? Whether that person is speaking from the pulpit of a church or from a governmental office, do we have the cojones to say, “No, I will not follow you nor do as you say?”

Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu were such men.  They viewed their country’s status quo as unacceptable.  Violence was not the answer; however, passive disobedience created movements which fueled social action that could not be ignored by national leaders with their trailing herds and toadying sycophants nor preachers with their ‘amen & hallelujah’ congregations.

It was called civil disobedience.  In the months leading up to November 3rd, we should, each of us, consider what it is we are willing to do to press forward on a path which honors the validity of all citizens whether white, black, brown, religious or non-religious,Picture6 gay or straight, wealthy or poor, Muslim or Christian.  When our elected leaders ignore us, when our spiritual mentors speak untruths, our options as a nation dwindle.  However, a greater power within each of us commands us to disobey government and religious leaders when that obedience would be illegal, unlawful and unjust.

The days of child’s play are past.  A new era in American history is upon us and its future will be determined by whom we choose to follow and whom we choose to obey.

These words from CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE by Henry David Thoreau are well-advised in today’s political turmoil:

The government, according to Thoreau, is not just a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work, but in fact the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice. Because of this, it is “not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize”. WIKIPEDIA

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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RELIGION – relic of tribalism ?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

Okay, I get it.  Religion has inspired great acts of compassion, it has led man to creatediversity spectacular works of art and architecture, it has provided us with beautiful literature.  So, before you light the fires around my stake, consider this.  Perverted interpretation of religious belief has also caused immense human suffering, it has destroyed cultures, it has promoted the degradation of our earth and natural resources in the name of an unproven, man-created god.

Tribalism was essential to ancient cultures to preserving their beliefs and insuring their survival.  The caveman with the biggest clubs usually won the battle.  Armies with the most manpower prevailed over weaker enemies.  Scorching the neighborhood was an acceptable price for winning.  My God-belief is better than yours.  He (yes, most violence in the name of God worships a male entity) needs my defense.

WE ARE NO LONGER CAVEMEN.  With the historical destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 the USA entered mankind into a new paradigm of warfare – a pattern embracing the ability of one culture to bring annihilation to the entire planet.  Unfortunately, we continued to maintain the caveman attitude of tribalism.  We continued to thump our scriptures and proclaim limited access to an omnipotent deity  through a religious philosophy of exclusion – only this God is real, only this belief is true, only this scripture is valid.  It is rampant tribalism with a continuing caveman mentality.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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MLK, JR – an impossible dream?

Martin Luther King, Jr. – an impossible and unrealistic dream or a legacy squandered by hatred and division?  Or might you be one who believes great strides have been made in equal justice and opportunity for not only our black and brown brothers and sisters, but also for those of different creeds, lifestyle and nationality – the Puerto Rican, the Muslim, the gay and lesbian?

Yes, laws have been passed and legislation protects, but has the heart of white, privileged America miraculously filled with compassion since the era of MLK, Jr.?  What leads you to believe so?  Equal job opportunities?  Fair housing practices?  Safe city neighborhoods?  Justice in the court systems?  Protected voting rights?  Or maybe state and federal governments represented proportionately by members of all minority groups?  Really?  You truly believe this is so?  Can you unequivocally state that a gay man, a black man, a Muslim woman, a white woman walks as securely through life as a white man?

Well golly gee, I would love to share some of that whacky weed you are smoking followed by a swig of the Kool-Aid you’re drinking.  America, wake up!  We are at a crossroads in our country’s destiny.  We have been rent asunder by today’s world and national political powers who want to see us even further divided because it will be then that their vile plans can be instituted – race against race, black against white, straight against gay, Christian against Muslim, Democrat against Republican.  Dr. King spoke often of the brotherhood of mankind as the only way to keep this ship (the earth) from sinking and the necessity of non-violence in solving our problems.  So, is his dream dead or merely shifting gears?  It’s up to us, isn’t it?

one nation, indivisible, with liberty & justice for all

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“the time is always ripe to do right”

“morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated”

Click to access mlk-gp-speech.pdf

what does Advent mean to us?

 

three kings day

FAN Newsletter (FranciscanActionNetwork)

Sunday, December 1st, marks the beginning of the Christian season of Advent which leads up to the announced birth of Jesus, the Christ, Christianity’s reason for the season.  Have you, whether a professed follower or a non-believer, ever wondered what would happen to this child if he were born in the year 2019?

“I cannot help but think of the journey of the children, women and men forced to migrate.  In September [2019] the number of migrants globally reached 272 million, outpacing the growth rate of the world’s population.”  Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

Most of us who were raised in the comforts of an American Christian community surely remember the sweet stories about baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger being adored by the shepherds and wise men and lovingly attended by Mary and Joseph.  We remember the art masterpieces depicting a handsome Jesus, obviously an Anglo-Saxon man, decorating the church wall.

We were somewhat dismayed upon learning that this proclaimed savior of the world was probably a brown-skinned, short man with curly black hair born into poverty to just one of numerous illiterate families earning a meager living working for the wealthy, religious elite.  They were, of course, Jewish and followed Judaic traditions.  Undoubtedly, they experienced hunger and probably did not have clean water or adequate sanitation.  Security was to be found not in material wealth but in their devotion to the God of their ancestors and the cooperative charity of fellow villagers.

If Jesus were born today, he and his family would probably be immigrants on some nation’s border, possibly ours.  He would risk violence at the hands of racial prejudice or trafficking in child sex trade.  On the southern border of the wealthiest nation in the world, Jesus would likely be separated from Mary and Joseph and caged with other immigrant children.

Not much has changed, has it?  Two thousand years later and we still treat immigrants as if they somehow do not really matter to the Father/Mother of us all, that they are less loved than we are.  We continue to hang on to that image of Jesus, the privileged, Anglo-Saxon white man adorning the church wall.  We noisily thump our Bible to support our prejudice while reading the words which state explicitly that every person on earth is made in the image and likeness of God.  We somehow ignore the scriptures which tell us that we are to love our neighbors [earthly brothers and sisters] as ourselves.

The season of Advent is a journey for the Christian world leading up to the birth of its proclaimed Christ child.  In addition to all the joy, jingle bells, gifts and Santa Claus let’s set aside time to contemplate what it would be like to be an immigrant.  What if you and your family were forced to leave the comfort and security of your home and your community because of political or economic turmoil?  What if the people on the other side of the border which you must cross hated you because of your skin color, creed or social status.  What if you were financially disadvantaged and had to rely of the goodness and compassion of strangers to provide for your family?  Would you be afraid?

If we justify our intolerance and lack of compassion for immigrants by citing the need to protect our families or protect our faith tradition or protect our racial purity, or protect white identity, then truly what we cherish is but a heap of rubbish, is it not?  We are denying the reason for the season.  How can we proclaim amazing grace at the altar while disregarding the message given to us through the life of Jesus, the impoverished immigrant?

LOVE

 

OCTOBER 2

 

 

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Are you an advocate for non-violence?  Do I commit on a daily basis to non-violence in my life?  It is fitting that the International Day of Non-Violence be celebrated on the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi who was born October 2, 1869.  Bestowed the title of Mahatma (a person who is revered and respected) he led to the independence of India from British rule by mass non-violent civil disobedience.

Concurrently reported on the same news page which tells of Gandhi and today’s celebration of non-violent actions to confront the world’s affinity for violence, is an account of a national leader suggesting in a private meeting with aides that the immigration “problem” could be resolved by “shooting them in the legs” or “topping a 2000 mile electrified border wall with flesh piercing spikes.” MSN NEWS

We can only hope that this account of the President’s words were a summary of foolish and facetious statements by one who attempts to lead by division and fear.  Other actions and speech, however,  confirm that our nation is not governed by policies of non-violence.  Peace through enforced powers of violence is not what Gandhi had in mind when crusading for independence from Britain.  It is an unsustainable truce in which the oppressed must submit to an oppressor.

Who is my personal oppressor?  Yours?  What inner powers keep us from knowing peace?  What violence do we inflict upon our souls?  Perhaps the most significant factor in world-wide violence is absence of self-love.  No, not talking about ego and its deceptive need for attention, rather, the realization that compassion and tolerance of others begins with an attitude of compassion and tolerance for me.  I MUST LOVE ME BEFORE I CAN LOVE OTHERS.

Are you a movie fan or prime time TV viewer?  Ever question the need for all the blood and violence being shoved into your head?  Yes, it gets terrific ratings above and beyond any ratings SOUND OF MUSIC or I LOVE LUCY would garner.  But, it shows a complete absence of reverence for life.  Self-love and non-violence begin in a place of reverence for all life, all creation, all races, all tribes, all creeds, all religions, all lifestyles.  Doesn’t mean I need to understand or agree with your choices, but I must respect your right to live your choices.  Namaste, my fellow earthlings.  Have a blessed INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE.

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