Category: radical theology

Ray Bradbury’s Advice for Life

From his talk at the West Hollywood Book Fair: (the short version)

1) Fuck college.  Go to the library.  Make your own college.

2) Love completely.

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America’s Strength

“People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power.”

–Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention 8/27/08

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Still Dreaming…

But today, we are closer than we’ve ever been.

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Read a Book

I just saw this for the first time this past week.  This was originally aired on BET show The 5ive, and I believe (from the CNN spots below) has been aired on the show 106 & Park, a daily top-10 rap video countdown.  The song, by poet Bomani Armah, aka D’Mite or notarapper, is a parody/satire of the state of the “urban” black culture.  Not surprisingly, people didn’t get it:

Part 1 (From CNN)

Part 2 (From CNN)

I love in the second part of the interview, that the guy doesn’t see how silly his complaints about this animated short are.  He keeps trying to make the video out as a PSA, removing it from the context where it was shown. Completely ignoring the fact that it was shown on a show (and channel) that regularly feature music videos that glorify violence and drugs, while at the same time objectifing women. 

When accused by the CNN host of being a provocateur, Bomani responds wonderfully:
“I didn’t think the idea of reading and hygiene and all these things was controversial”

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off the grid

Early tomorrow morning (as in 5.15am) I am heading out to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey for a weekend retreat.  I’m leaving the cell phone, the laptop and the bustle of the city behind.  What I’ll be taking with me, a couple books, my moleskine and an open mind and spirit.  It’ll be a weekend of silence and discernment.

The books I’ll have with me:

  • The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
  • Jesus the Son of Man by Kahlil Gibran
  • The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about the weekend when I get back on Sunday!

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there is still kindness…

I boarded the number 8 bus downtown on my usual route to work this morning.  As I’m walking towards an open seat, there is a boy around 6-8 years old, sitting on the steps just past the back door.  His mom is sitting up in the seat next to him.  The boy has obviously been crying.  After taking a seat it quickly becomes apparent that the boy is “throwing a fit.”  The mother is doing her best to calm the boy down.  The boy of course has none of it, demanding his mother to get off the bus.  He wants to take the next bus.

This bus travels up to OHSU as well as the VA hospital.  So needless to say, the bus fills up fairly quickly as it travels the bus mall downtown.  By the second stop after I get on the bus enough people have boarded that it is necessary for the mother to pick up the boy from the middle of the aisle and make him sit in the seat next to her.  The boy of course, wants none of this.  As his mother is holding him he begins to bite her and punch her.  The boy is not big yet, but its all the mother can do to hold on.  He still wants to get off and take the next bus.  The mother at this point is on the verge of tears and finally has had enough.  She tells the boy, “fine, well get off as soon as you settle down a little bit.  Then we’ll go home.”  The boy doesn’t want to go home either.  But he does begin to settle down.

By this time we are passing the stops serving PSU.  Enough people have deboarded that the seat across the aisle is free, and the boy decides he wants to sit by himself over there.  He calmly goes and sits down, his “fit” apparently over.

The mother is still sitting on the verge of tears.  As another woman is getting off the bus, she gently touches the mother on the knee and compliments her on her handling of her child.  This is the trigger that opens the gate to her tears.  Another woman, who was sitting up in the front of the bus, comes over to the mother and lets her cry on a shoulder.  This woman then sits next to the boy and talks to him for a little bit.  His storm has passed at this point.

Finally we get to their stop and they deboard.  A guy also deboarding tells the woman (who let the mother cry on her shoulder), “simply magic.”

And it was…simply magic…

A crowded bus with a screaming kid, yet I didn’t hear anyone say anything in poor taste about the mother.  Just a few people showing love to a stranger. 

It is through this kind of love that our world will find salvation. 

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Love and Sin (revisited)

In this post (Love and Sin) i briefly talk about the idea of sin being a rejection of love.  I was recently asked how something relatively common, such as a lie, how that would be a rejection of love.  It’s an interesting question, that I’m not really sure has a right answer.

In my quote by Merton, he states that the rejection of love is “the pattern and prototype of all sin.”  Before diving to far into my thoughts, I want to define some terms:

Continue reading

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The Seven Storey Mountain (pt 2)

For my review of Part 1 of The Seven Storey Mountain click here.

Parts 2 & 3 of The Seven Storey Mountain were much more enjoyable for me.  And as a result, I got a lot more out of these sections of the book.  I think in the end I had the expectation of the later Merton who was much more open to non-Catholics.  The harshness of the young Merton (and Father Louis) was a little unsettling for me.

The things that stuck most for me in this section were nuggets of wisdom about discernment and vocation.  Merton’s journey from conversion to the monastery was fascinating for me as well.  My reading of this book has been timely for me.  This was of course a purposeful reading on my part.  With the hiatus of my path to seminary it has been a time to rediscover aspects of my faith.  My faith hasn’t been something I’ve questioned, however I have let it coast somewhat recently.  Its time for me to get my hands a little dirty with my spiritual life again.

I’m going to take a weekend retreat at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey next month.  I’m really looking forward to this time to really focus on my faith life.  There are also a few sections of The Seven Storey Mountain that I plan to meditate over the next month or so.  I’ll probably post on a few of those later on this blog.

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Politics and Religion

I knew a little about this back in 2004 when it first came up, on Crooks and Lairs today there is a piece about the IRS investigation of All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA.  Why Doesn’t the IRS Investigate James Dobson?  Basically a former rector of the parish delivered an anti-war sermon a couple of days before the 2004 elections.  Not long after that the IRS came knocking threating to revoke the parish’s tax exempt status.  The reason: The Rev. George Regas’ sermon was seen as “endorsing or campaigning against a candidate in an election.”

So why isn’t organizations like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family being threatened with revocation of tax-exempt status?  Many of the “christian right” groups are activively campaigning for and against candidates.  Yet few of these groups are being investigated for violations of the tax code.

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Love and Sin

“In a sense, this terrible situation is the pattern and prototype of all sin: the deliberate and formal will to reject disinterested love for us for the purely arbitrary reason that we simply do not want it.  We will to seperate ourselves from that love.  We reject it entirely and absolutely, and will not acknowledge it, simply because it does not please us to be loved.  Perhaps the inner motive is that the fact of being loved disinterestly reminds us that we all need love from others, and depend upon the charity of others to carry on our own lives.  And we refuse love, and reject society, in so far as it seems, in our own perverse imagination, to imply some obscure kind of humiliation.”

–Thomas Merton “The Seven Story Mountain

It is an interesting idea that sin is really just a rejection of love.  To be honest, I had to go to the dictionary to make sense of the term “disinterested love.”  My first thought when reading this paragraph was “how can you love something disinterestly?”  What the dictionary reminded me was disinterest is not the lack of interest, but the lack of self-interest.

I think that this is one of the most powerful aspects of the character of Jesus.  His complete disinterested love for the whole world.  It is an ideal that is simply amazing in scope.  Just a fraction of this type of love would make such a difference in this world.

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