Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Can't Resist

I was going to write a serious piece this morning, but I came across this clip and just can't resist the urge to do what little I can to help it get seen as widely as possible.

I love the satrical online "newspaper," The Onion, "America's Finest News Source." Their foray into "TV" is equally inspired. As an example, this report:

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

If that tickled your fancy, here's another:

Obama Runs Constructive Criticism Ad Against McCain

My work for the day is done.

in Gassho,


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good? Bad?

There's a well known Taoist story about a farmer and a series of events that bring his neighbors out to alternately console and congratulate him. He loses his only work horse; the horse returns with several young wild horses. His son breaks his leg while trying to tame one of the horses; the broken leg saves him from being drafted into a battle in which every other young man from their village is killed. At each turn of events, as the neighbors weigh in on how "good" or "bad" the situation is, the farmer replies only with the words, "good news, bad news, who's to say?"

I thought of this story when Colin Powell came out as endorsing Barack Obama's candidacy. Here he is, a standard bearer for the Republican party, a decorated general, former Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying that, McCain's rhetoric aside, he believes that Barack Obama is the man with the right stuff to lead this nation. At one time Powell, himself, was discussed as a possible candidate for the Presidency, and Democrats and Republicans alike were excited at the prospect.

So this is good news, right? Well, who's to say? During the lead-in to the Iraq war Powell was excoriated by liberals as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Bush Administration. His reputation as a man of principles, a reputation earned during the first Gulf War, seemed to have been permanently obliterated. And yet here we are, a few years later, celebrating his endorsement of Obama. Is Gen. Powell a good man? A bad man? It's hard to say.

And let's not forget that John McCain himself was once the darling of the Democrats. A straight talking maverick, he was seen as a potential running mate for John Kerry in 2004, and the possibility electrified many. So is he a good man or a bad man? It's hard to say.

I'm not advocating for a complete moral relativism. I am wanting to remind us--myself included--that in our rush to judge people "good" or "bad" we generally, usually, almost invariably, overlook the myriad shades and hues between black and white. Simple answers are almost always wrong; oversimplifications always are.

In Gassho,


"Out beyond concepts of right-ness and wrong-ness there is a field. I will meet you there."
~ Rumi

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Springer-fication of the Electorate

This morning I sent out this letter to the editor to a number of local and national papers. I thought I'd post it here as well:

I am frightened for my country.

Economically, we are in the midst of what many experts are calling the worst financial crisis since the great depression; not just here in the US but around the world economies teeter on the brink of disaster.

Militarily, our nation is involved in two wars, and our foreign policy over the past eight years has significantly reduced our standing in the world making us less, rather than more, safe in these troubling times.And culturally, here at home, we're seeing what I've come to think of the "Springerfication" of the electorate.

Think back to the Democratic National Convention--throughout you saw people looking up at the dais through glistening eyes which revealed a spirit of hope and inspiration that permeated the convention hall.

Think of the Republican National Convention--all loud booing and derisive laughter that conveyed a mean spirit, an angry spirit. And in recent days some people at rallies at which Gov. Palin has been speaking have shouted "terrorist," and "Obama bin Laden," and "kill him" when Senator Obama's name has been mentioned. I feel like I'm watching the Jerry Springer Show.

Are Senator McCain and Gov. Palin responsible for the actions of the people who attend their rallies? Of course not. But they must take responsibility for not immediately and in no uncertain terms condemning such behavior. And we, each and every one of us, Republican and Democrat, must take responsibility for ourselves. We are America, and if America is to continue to be the great nation it boasts of being we must be a great people. Let us look for the best in one another and stop calling for blood.

In gassho,


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Gandhi-ji

Today is the 139th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known in his day as both Mahatma (Great Spirit) and Bapu (Papa). Once, when asked what his message was to the world he replied, "my life is my message."

I once preached a sermon of that title, noting that Gandhi was not always the fearless figure of modern memory. In his young adulthood, as he studied at a London law school, he broke strict Hindu custom by eating meat and drinking alcohol. (In his autobiography he said that he had noticed that all of the British boys of his same age were much bigger and stronger than he was, and he thought meat might be their secret. The alcohol? He said he just wanted to fit in.) He smoked cigarettes. He even flirted with becoming a Christian.

And the first time he got up in a courtroom was a fiasco. He said that he became so terrified, so panic stricken, that he could think of nothing to say and ran, sweating, from the room. His client lost.

Yet at his death Albert Einstein uttered these memorable words: "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this in flesh and blood did walk upon this earth."

His autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, makes clear that we should not dismiss Gandhi as some sort of superhuman saint. "What can be done I will try to do," he said, and his life--his message--is that much, much can be done by those who are willing to try.
Two sites worth exploring:

In Gassho,