One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.
“This is what you shall do;
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
despise riches, give alms to every one 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 of families,
read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at 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 Leaves of Grass
By David Zimmerman
For many years those within the lgbt community have read stories in lgbt press regarding the Salvation Army. Most of these stories revolved around the fact that the nation’s largest charity is decidedly anti-gay.
Now, with the explosion of social media, the noise regarding the Salvation Army’s policies is getting louder. Recently America Blog began urging people to print out vouchers (see below) and to place the voucher in the red donation bucket in lieu of cash.
Significant anti-lgbt moments in the Salvation Army’s past include:
In 2002 the charity made waves when it announced a policy that would have offered health insurance for a “legally domiciled adult” living with an employee. Essentially granting health benefits for same-sex partners of employees. This policy was reversed after only 2 weeks
In 2003 the Washington Post reported that the Bush administration was working with the Salvation Army in an effort to issue a regulation making it easier for government-funded religious groups to discriminate against gay people in hiring. According to an internal Salvation Army report the Bush White House gave the charity a “firm commitment” to work to protect them from state and city laws that prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic-partner benefits.
At the time the Salvation Army spent approximately $100,000 to lobby in favor of President Bush’s faith based initiative. (The Bush administration wound up not working with the Salvation Army on the regulation)
In 2004 the charity threatened to leave New York City if Mayor Michael Bloomberg enforces a new ordinance requiring all groups with city contracts to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees. Bloomberg was against the ordinance and did not enforce it.
In June of this year the following passage appeared on the official website of the Australian Salvation Army:
“[Homosexual activity is] as rebellion against God’s plan for the created order… Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the [Salvation] Army.”
Complete Article HERE!
Do you know where you were on this date, 11/22, 37 years ago? That would be 1975, for those who can’t do the math.
I was being ordained a Catholic priest in Oakland, CA. It all seems like a lifetime ago.
That day was filled with such promise and joy. Little did I know back then that the organization I was pledging my life too would turn out to be this rapacious monster, a destroyer of lives and vocations. That this organization’s leadership would become a heartless, insulated, monolithic, callous and tone deaf power structure hellbent on undercutting and dismantling The Second Vatican Council. Now, more than ever before and throughout the entire Church, people of conscience are being harassed, shamed and bullied, simply because they are not in lockstep with the old men in charge.
I thought things were bad when the Oblates of Mary Immaculate moved to dismiss me, on trumped up charges, in 1981. It took them thirteen years and a complete violation of our community’s rules and constitutions before they actually got around to tossed me out. I thought things were horrible back then. But those sad days pale in comparison to what is going on today. Just look what they’ve done to Roy Bourgeois. Not only did they dismiss him, but they excommunicated him and defrocked him too. Now compare the ruthless treatment Roy to how the hierarchy deals with pedophile priests in their midst and you’ll get a pretty good picture of the institution’s priorities.
It’s a scandal and it’s heartbreaking to watch.
Dear friends and colleagues
I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying: Enhancing The End Of Life.
(Click on the book art below for a synopsis and to purchase the book.)
The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying is specifically designed for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder, and dying people from all walks of life. But concerned family and friends, healing and helping professionals, lawyers, clergy, teachers, students, and those grieving a death will also benefit from reading the book.
The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying is a workbook that offers readers a unique group/seminar format. Readers participate in a virtual on-the-page support group consisting of ten other participants. Together members of the group help each other liberate themselves from the emotional, cultural, and practical problems that accompany dying in our modern age.
The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying helps readers dispel the myth that they are incapable of taking charge during the final season of life. Readers face the prospect of life’s end within a framework of honesty, activity, alliance, support, and humor. And most importantly readers learn these lessons in the art of dying and living from the best possible teachers, other sick, elder, and dying people.
The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying engages readers with a multitude of life situations and moral dilemmas that arise as they and their group partners face their mortality head on.
The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying offers readers a way to share coping strategies, participate in meaningful dialogue, and take advantage of professional information tailored to their specific needs. Topics include spirituality, sexuality and intimacy, legal concerns, final stages, and assisted dying. The book does not take an advocacy position on any of these topics. It does, however, advocate for the holistic self-determination of sick, elder, and dying people, which can only be achieved when they have adequate information.
Facing your mortality with the kind of support The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying offers does not eliminate the pain and poignancy of separation. Rather it involves confidently facing these things and living through them to the end.
This innovative workbook on death and dying is now available on Amazon and in bookstores. I welcome your thoughts, comments, and reviews.
All the best,
Are religious people more moved by compassion than those who described themselves as less religious or non-religious?
A group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley set out to answer that question and what they found would surprise some: In three experiments, the social scientists found that the less religious were more generous when presented with situations that stimulated their compassion, which the scientists defined as “an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help, often at a personal risk or cost.”
Here’s how Berkeley sums up the study in its press release:
“The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.
“‘Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,’ said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. ‘The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.’”
So how did scientists test this? First they looked at survey of 1,300 Americans. That showed that the non-religious were more motivated by emotion to be generous.
Next, they tested it in the lab. In one experiment Americans were shown a neutral video and a “heartrending one.” The participants were given “lab money,” which they could donate after they watched each video.
“The least religious participants appeared to be motivated by the emotionally charged video to give more of their money to a stranger,” the scientists found.
In another study participants were told that a participant before them had given a portion of their reward to them. The participant, scientists told them, were free to reward the person before them by giving them back a portion of the money, which had now doubled.
Those who reported feeling more compassionate and less religious, were also more generous in this experiment.
The findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Complete Article HERE!