Monday, August 30, 2004

When you seem to be the weakest link...

Don't be strong so someone else is the weakest link.

Remember that you're still a link, and still in the loop.

Everything Will Be Fine...

[noted at Heart of Canada in this post]

I'm sure we've all heard these kinds of statements before, to the point that the message is nearly a cliche. What struck me like a ton of bricks during the sermon was that these very same words, which so often are used to comfort people, can also be used another way. For people who perform nasty and horrible things to other people (or who stand by and do nothing to help those who are suffering), these words can be used as a kind of self-justifying rationalization for bad behavior.

On the Verge of...

[noted by robyn's nest in this post]

This morning in the service, the pastor spoke, and what he said caught my attention. He said, "Waiting it hard to do when something good is coming, and it's even harder when something bad is coming."

Friday, August 27, 2004

Without the Battle Being Lost...

[from the poem pivot at The Writer's Outpost]

My senses pivot on flimsy hinges
Defecting to one side and then another
In an unceasing battle fed with swells of raw fear
As though a victory can be won
Without the battle being lost

{read the whole poem here}

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Conflict of Interest?

Will they ever trust us again?--- Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

[noted at One Room's section of poetry]

from the poem Awareness of Praise:

I envy the extreme clearness
to draw figures from memory.
As simple as buttoning
your coat in the tone of the flesh.
Never to hurriedly,
as a spider waits for flies in its web.

If only every artist had something to live
on and to work on. It's looking
at things for a long time that ripens you.


[noted at Just Etchings in this post]

Where is the good in silence? How do I sit in silence when it feels like being in a tent that leaks and the pouring rain has left no dry clothes or dry blankets to wrap myself in. I shiver in the silence. It is not a warm welcome presence with arms and legs and voice to communicate. It is just there and I silently scream inside at it’s arrival.

Silence is what the night holds before daylight arrives.
Silence is what fills the concert hall as the Maestro lifts his baton - just before the concerto begins. Silence then bows out.
Silence is what it must be like in the womb before the precarious journey begins where the little one takes its first breath of oxygen and begins the life long process of breathing in, breathing out.
Silence is when you are held tightly in strong arms and feel safe but no words are spoken.
Silence is what comes after a winter blizzard and a deep blanket of snow covers everything, and the moon lights up this eerie night.
Silence is that moment when the forest is still and the smell of the pine carpet fills your nostrils.
Silence shows up with mourning, anger, disapproval and rejection in tow but doesn’t arrive to celebrate, to accept and to heal.
Silence is a place of absence and not presence.
Stillness is a place of peace and filling, but silence isn’t.
I want to fill the empty places Silence brought but I have no energy to do so.
Silence seems to have brought another guest along – fear.
Silence seems to want me to wear insignificance and invisibility. They are the garments of disapproval and anger.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hierarchies of Fear

[noted by]

Hierarchies of fear. Ours is worse than yours.

Interesting fact: In the year after 9/11, many people stopped flying. Road deaths spiked.

There has been terrorism in the world, more or less nonstop, since 12th-century Syria, when a persecuted Persian religious sect called the Assassins knifed people to death in crowds. Terrorism has persisted because terrorism works. It makes people crazy. It is a cost-effective method of waging psychological war by those who see themselves outnumbered or disenfranchised.

A disenfranchised minority cannot sack Rome, rape Nanking, burn Atlanta or firebomb Dresden. These are terror attacks by nation-states, military sieges with the primary goal of sowing despair among the enemy and weakening their will to resist. A disenfranchised people -- whether Palestinians in the Middle East, or Tamils in Sri Lanka, or Islamic zealots who see the spread of Western culture as an assault on their religion -- will use the means at their disposal. Amoral though it may be, terrorism succeeds in focusing attention on whatever cause its practitioners espouse. It does this in a particularly insidious way.

A quarter-century ago, a cultural anthropologist named Ernest Becker wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book called The Denial of Death. For a time, during the primacy of Freud, it was huge. It's not about terrorism, it's about the psyche, and its central thesis is one of the most disturbing analyses of human behavior ever set in print.

Everything we are, Becker argued -- our personalities, our attitudes, our very being -- is an elaborate lie, a carefully crafted self-delusion constructed to avoid having to face a fact so terrifying it would drive us mad: Not only are we certain to die, but death could come at any moment, followed by an eternity of nothingness. Lower animals, blessedly unaware of their mortality, plod thoughtlessly through their lives on instinct alone.

Lacking their ignorance, Becker says, we compensate by making ourselves stupid. We tranquilize ourselves with the trivial; we make friends, raise families, drink beer, follow the Redskins, find comfort in religions promising eternal life, all of which takes our minds off the potentially paralyzing truth. We deceive ourselves into believing -- not literally, but emotionally -- that we are immortal. Paranoiacs and depressives are in some ways the sanest among us, according to Becker, because their layer of denial is so fragile it fractures. Most of us, though, are able to retain our sanity so long as our anxiety is held at bay, and our anxiety is held at bay so long as our bold illusion remains manageable. This is not exactly the anthem of romantic poets or motivational speakers, but no one has ever successfully challenged Becker's central thesis. On some level, we attempt to smother our elemental fear of death with a grand lie.

That's where terrorism comes in. Terrorism penetrates that self-deception in a way that few things can.

---from this article


The Gospel According to Glamour

---by Becky

Monday, August 23, 2004

Creativity and experimentation are two different things, even though they often work in tandem.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Action...not Missing

[noted at Tim Samoff in this post]

I think what I like most about anarchists is their passion—their gumption for taking action and getting things done. Anarchists don’t sit around on their butts complaining all day (well, some of them don’t anyway).

Taking action is one of the things I like about liberals too. What is it about most conservatives that makes them like to whine and complain about everything and never get up and do anything about it?

Good works are not what you do.
Good works are not what you don't.
Good works are not chosen.
Good works are not forced.
Good works are not intentional.
Good works are not accidents.
Good works are not about you.
Good works are not about others.

Good works do matter.

Good works effect what you do.
Good works effect what you don't.
Good works effect your choices.
Good works effect your pressures.
Good works effect your intentions.
Good works effect your spontaneity.
Good works effect you.
Good works effect others.

Good works can be very hard.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

[noted at My Life in Hypertext]

Anyway, feeling a little weird about the night… Talking with people who you’ve never met but who know lots about your life is kind of trippy. In one way it was nice because we could cut through all of the get-to-know-you small talk, but...{for the whole post, go here}


When mass culture became all-consuming, all-accepting, all-entertaining, the underground disappeared-- leaving us to deal with our need to assert ourselves as individuals without necessarily burning down the KFC or blowing up the Cineplex or found our own alternatives, but without whole-heartedly buying into the entertainment complex that invites us to eat rubber chicken while we "Defeat the Dark Side and Win!"
--from We Want Some Too: Unacceptable Art and the Reinvention of Mass Culture by Hal Niedzviecki, p. 92

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


[from Heart of Canada in this post]

When I was teaching, I thrived on the social and intellectual interchange of the academic world everyday. When I was put out of the academic world, like a cat on a cold winter morning, I looked back a few times and then gingerly stepped, one foot at a time, into a world that was, for the most part, silent. That's what happens when you suddenly are on your own. When I talk to people now, it's private and confidential, and there's no social and intellectual interchange like I had with students.

Then came blogging. I'm starting to recognize how important and meaningful blogging was for me at a time when there really was nobody to talk to on a personal or social basis all day long.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Power to the blog...

Monday, August 16, 2004

from No Way Out - Is there any hope of avoiding catastrophe in Iraq? By Fred Kaplan

The trick of a stable Iraq is to find some way of accommodating the ambitions and insecurities of Sunni Arabs, secular Shiites, religious Shiites, and Kurds. Nobody has figured out a way to do this yet.

Blessings are part accident and part purpose. Wisdom is recognizing the connections.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

[noticed at TheyBlinked]

unconditional love hurts.

it also looks different as the conditions unconditionality lives within change.

Hey...I just noticed Wendy added me to her blogroll. Thanks! It adds to this list:

Been There...Still There
The Invisible Sun
Lake Neuron Bait Shop
...seeking serenity
Unedited Ravings
Worship Freehouse

[and grrrl meets world had me on her blogroll/sidebar...but now is on her bloglines/rss reader.]

Friday, August 13, 2004

Participation and Excellence

[Remember the Paralympics and Special Olympics during the Olympics...]

The theory is that competition draws each individual along, bringing out of him or her the best he or she has to offer. Competition and the resulting fame are thought to be among the great achievements of our rational meritocracy. They promise both self-improvement and participation.

The reality is almost the opposite. In a world devoted to measuring the best, most of us aren't even in the competition. Human dignity being what it is, we eliminate ourselves from the competition in order to avoid giving other people the power to eliminate us. Not only does a society obsessed with competition not draw people out, it actually encourages them to hide what talents they have, by convincing them that they are insufficient. The common complaint that we have become spectator societies is the direct result of an overemphasis on competition.
What we have been witnessing is the growth of perfectly innocent, even banal, physical pastines into something which makes governments, national and international communications systems vibrate with excitement. Clearly what excites them is not sportmanship, widely based participation or a profound or sustained interest in how many millimetres higher the high-jump bar has moved...Rather they are attracted by the event's ability to produce bevies of immediate stars who are tied to facile national emotions. These stars become not role models for the young- few would pretend they could ever jump so high -but dream models. They become the modern knights of the Round Table.

(John Ralston Saul, Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, p. 507)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Political Intelligence

[noticed by small dead animals in this post]

I’m beginning to think that maybe the weakest link in America’s intelligence system isn’t the spooks who generate the intelligence. The weakest link may be the users, the policymakers. But then, the users, the policymakers are ultimately elected. So maybe the problem is us.

That’s the question that keeps hitting me as I read and reread the 9/11 report this summer. Yes, it tells of many disturbing intelligence failures. But even more disturbing are the intelligence successes – the many times that Osama bin Laden was within reach in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 and yet still nothing was done.
--David Frum, from here

Since the Republican Convention Cometh...

from the Holy Observer:

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Come January 2005, congregations across the world will be asked do the unimaginable—open their Bibles to the book of First Americans. The New Testament has been tinkered with for the first time in nearly 1,700 years by the Council at Colorado Springs—a hodgepodge of evangelical leaders from across the nation who have added the United States Constitution to the canon of Scripture.

"We had to do it," said Councilman and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson. "For those with ears to hear, this has been a move of the Spirit for some time now. Fortunately for God, His remnant here in America heard His call to do what should've been done a long time ago - add a 67th book to the Bible, the Constitution! If the liberals can have their neutered NIV, then the true church can and will have her PKJV - Patriot's King James Bible. Take that, liberals!"
{more here}

Right Religiously...or Not

via Discount Blogger in this post from here:

Some prominent evangelical Christians say they have not been invited to participate in or attend the Republican National Convention less than three weeks before the event is to begin.

Analysts said the move likely reflects a GOP desire to sideline its more polarizing supporters during a tight presidential race, but convention organizers deny they're marginalizing the religious leaders. Republican strategist Ralph Reed said Wednesday that invitations just started going out to evangelical figures, but he would not release any names.

...Republicans are doing everything possible to turn out the evangelical vote, since conservative Christians are among Bush's core supporters. The president's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, has estimated that 4 million conservative Christians did not vote in 2000, and the campaign is working hard to prevent that from happening this Election Day.

Analysts say that denying a prominent spot to leaders such as Robertson or Falwell likely will not hurt this effort. John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron, said that after years of activism in Republican campaigns, conservative Christians are now party insiders who may not require a specific religious appeal at the convention.

Learning to Trust

[noticed in this post]

when another human being totally believes in you. its a most intoxicating thing but also a most terrifying experience. one in which we all need for healing and one we need to share love with others.

[from jammin']

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Thanks to ...seeking serenity for having me on her blogroll. It adds to this list:

Been There...Still There
The Invisible Sun
Lake Neuron Bait Shop
Unedited Ravings
Worship Freehouse

[and grrrl meets world had it on her blogroll/sidebar...but now it's on her bloglines/rss reader.]

Monday, August 09, 2004

The personal is often prejudicial...

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Good...but not new

Truth can be stranger than fiction at the Saskatoon Fringe, with one play called Jesus' Penis In My Heart featured in a church basement. Of course, it wasn't intentional, but just a logistical situation. Seeing it as a sign, this Door Magazine reader felt led to check it out (so to speak) on Wednesday.

Lest anyone possibly stumbles, let's be clear about the title. Jesus' Penis In My Heart is NOT a porno about Christian gals doing...right, but rather a play about a teenage Catholic school-girl who struggles to find her place within her faith. It tries to capture the ambivalence and doubt that coming-of-faith can be.

The play follows one particular day in the life of Lina, who's been struggling with typical teenage Catholic angst. From the straying mind at morning devotions to persistent questioning at chapel, Lina becomes rather frustrated with the easy answers of the faith. In Christian Ethics class, she's forced to read a note she tried to pass that expressed what part of the Body of Christ she wished to embrace. (It, the "Sword of the Lord"?) Let's just say the class (and her) will never see Jesus quite the same.

Later, she starts realizing that being a righteous Catholic woman is harder than it seems. Even the most holiest (so it seems) women come across as not quite virtuous. an epiphany, she leaves behind unquestioning faith and chooses to make space for herself, all the wiser. It seems that tempting choice is sexier than unquestionable faith.

Summary: A teenage Catholic school-girl struggles to find a place in her faith, and seems to find enlightenment

Good: Authentic examples, Affectionate, Tone

Bad: Simple, Cliched

Conclusion: All in all, good, but nothing new.

[noticed at insights]

"Paths are not made for walking, but by walking."

Friday, August 06, 2004

Lack of Control

[noticed by Jordon Cooper]

When organizations fail, our first reaction is typically to fall into "control mode": One person, or at most a small, coherent group of people, should decide what the current goals of the organization are, and everyone else should then efficiently and effectively execute those goals. Intuitively, control mode sounds like nothing so much as common sense. It fits perfectly with our deeply rooted notions of cause and effect ("I order, you deliver"), so it feels good philosophically. It also satisfies our desire to have someone made accountable for everything that happens, so it feels good morally as well.

But when a failure is one of imagination, creativity, or coordination—all major shortcomings of the various intelligence branches in recent years—introducing additional control, whether by tightening protocols or adding new layers of oversight, can serve only to make the problem worse. {more here}

Thursday, August 05, 2004


[noted byjen lemen in this post]

but really, clinical depression & her cousins aside, how many problems do you have that would not be drastically improved if you had wonderful people in your life who actually descended on you when you were in a state and helped dig you out of whatever trauma you currently felt trapped by? what fog of dismay could not be dramatically lifted by someone scrubbing your toilet, feeding you hot soup in bed and generally treating you like you're horribly sick, only it's your soul that's making everything feel so crummy? what soul sickness could not be cured by the hourly, weekly or monthly sitting shiva for the parts of you that died along with that trauma? with nice cashews and dried apricots and hot kenyan tea to go around while everyone listened to your stories?

it's just that people have to get in their cars for that. and that no one has the time. not to mention everyone's already overloaded thinking about their own depressed damn self. the whole thing is just so sad.


[top quoted at Been There...Still There; bottom quoted at grrrl meets world]

"Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? 'I love you' is always a quotation. You did not say it first, and neither did I, yet when you say it and I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them."

-- Written on the Body, Jenette Winterson

"I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness." --Sacred Space

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Also from gaping void:

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it's going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it's worth it. Even if you don't end up pulling it off, you'll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It's NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity- that hurts FAR more than any failure.

[from How To Be Creative]

Easy is Never Easy

[noticed on maggi dawn from gaping void]

Stamina is utterly important. And stamina is only possible if it's managed well. People think all they need to do is endure one crazy, intense, job-free creative burst and their dreams will come true. They are wrong, they are stupidly wrong.

Being good at anything is like figure skating- the definition of being
good at it is being able to make it look easy. But it never is easy. Ever.
That's what the stupidly wrong people coveniently forget.

If I was just starting out writing, say, a novel or a screenplay, or
maybe starting up a new software company, I wouldn't try to quit my job for a year and make this big, dramatic heroic-quest thing about it. I would do something far simpler: I would find that extra hour or two in the day that belongs to nobody else but me, and I would make them productive. Put the hours in, do it for long enough and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually. Sure, that means less time watching TV, internet surfing, going out or whatever.

But who cares?
-- from here, at How To Be Creative

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Church of Fools

[noticed by Eric in The Door Magazine's Chat Closet; also referred by Lake Neuron Bait Shop]

Increasingly we disappoint the world with what appears to be hypocrisy. --Tony Campolo

[read the reactions here]

Divided They Stand?

[both quotes noted on grrrl meets world in this post]

from this article:

Nancy Reagan has told close followers she believes Bush and the current Republican leadership have divided America with their extreme views. She has told Republican leaders she wants nothing to do with the party or Bush.

During the week of Reagan’s funeral, the former First Lady “went ballistic” when she learned the Bush campaign was test marketing new ads that used Reagan’s photos and speeches in an effort to show he supported Bush and his re-election. She personally called Republican Party Chief Ed Gillespie to demand the ads be destroyed.

and from this article:
[...] My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration.

Cult Status

It can be tough being a cult leader these days. The pressures of amassing a following, selecting a proper style for your appearance, purchasing property for your cult headquarters and coming up with a system of odd-ball beliefs, can get to you. That's why you need the forthcoming book The Purpose-Driven Cult: Growth and Stability Without Prosecution. Yes, The Purpose-Driven Cult is the perfect companion and guide for busy cult leaders. [the full post]

Cool, But Closed.

[from The Heresy]

Let’s face it, a lot of people who congratulate themselves on being cool are really deceiving themselves. I may be uncool, but I can tell what cool is, and most people I know aren’t all that cool at all. They are broken, hurting, insecure, needy people who constantly fail themselves and others. Watching people banter on about cool is like watching kids in a backwards 2 horse town talk about how much greater they are than the folks in the backwards 1 horse town down the road. It’s not cool; it is really kind of sad.
{the full post}