Tag Archive: radical theology

Jun 13 2016

Love is love is love is love is love…

In the shadow of the horrible tragedy in Orlando Sunday morning, Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of the hit musical Hamilton) delivered a passionate sonnet as part of his acceptance speech for Best Score. At its climax he pleads “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

If there is any truth and hope to be found in the world, it is this. If anything will ever change the horror and sadness in the world it is this.

Love.

Hold on to love. Do not let it go.

Let hate go as it will only prevent you from loving.

Just love.

Love.

There is nothing bigger than love.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/love-is-love-is-love-is-love-is-love/

Jun 01 2016

The Science of Happily Ever After

This article from the Atlantic popped up in my Facebook feed earlier this week: Masters of Love.

It covers some of the research by social scientists relating to the success of marriages in response to rising divorce rates beginning in the 70s. In the first section of the article, the research of Psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson is reviewed. In their study they brought newlyweds into the lab and observed how they interacted with each other. They also hooked the couples up to electrodes to measure and record the body’s response to their interactions. Six years later, they brought the couples back in to see who was still together.

From their data, they grouped the couples into two groups the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years, while the disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy. In their observations of the disasters, the disasters looked cool and calm during the interviews, however the electrodes told a different story of what was going on physiologically. Their heart rates were quicker, sweat glands more active, and blood flow was faster. The data pointed to a conclusion that the more physiologically active a couple was, the quicker their relationship deteriorated. The masters had a lower physiological response and were able to maintain warm and affectionate behavior even when they fought. This helped create a climate of trust and intimacy that made both partners more emotionally and physically comfortable.

In a follow-up study, Gottman and Levenson set up a lab to look like a bed and breakfast retreat and invited 130 couples to spend a day at this retreat. In this study, they observed the couples go about what they would normally do on a vacation. In this study, an observation would come that be a key indicator on whether or not a relationship would thrive or languish. Throughout the day, partners would make “bids” for the others attention. “For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.” In this scenario, the wife can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband. These interactions had a profound effect on marital well-being. The couples who had divorced by the six-year follow-up had “turn toward” bids only 33 percent of the time. Those that were still happily married had “turn toward” bids 87 percent of the time.


One of my goals as I move through the process of my divorce is looking at ways that I can improve myself and the way I will interact with a future partner. There was a time in my relationship/marriage with A that I was definitely in the “turning away” camp. There was at least one stretch of time in our marriage that it might have been pushing it to get up to the 33 percent of time for “turning towards.” In that time, the seed was planted that would eventually lead towards the pending divorce. While I did make an effort to improve my moments of “turning towards” during and after a period of couples counseling last summer and fall, it was perhaps already too late even at that point. The seed had been sown.


The article goes on to talk about the habits the masters have. How they are looking for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. In doing this they build a culture of respect and appreciation. Disasters end up looking for their partners mistakes. This behavior ends up building a culture of contempt and ends up being the biggest factor that tears partners apart. They give their partner the cold shoulder – deliberately ignoring or responding minimally – thereby damaging the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and not valued. This ends up not only killing the love in the relationship, it makes it harder for the partner to fight off physical ailments (such as viruses). In this culture of contempt we miss around 50 percent of the positive things our partner is doing and see negativity that isn’t there.


This paragraph reflects where I most contributed to the downfall of my marriage. I was guilty of this for far too long, creating an environment where…while love may have still been there…its hold was tenuous. I had killed enough of it that fighting for what remained became difficult. Stepping outside of comfort zones to have difficult discussions took more energy then it should have. It was easier to let the feelings of contempt to control our thoughts instead of the hard work of focusing on kindness and generosity.


So as I look to heal from the trauma of divorce and eventually to opening myself up to a new relationship it is important that I take lessons like this to heart. I need to focus on being someone who “turns toward” those bids for attention from romantic interests, friends, and really just people in general. I don’t want to be someone who’s heart is ruled by contempt. Kindness and generosity sound like a better way to live life.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/the-science-of-happily-ever-after/

Nov 27 2012

Three Things To Remember

As long as you’re dancing, you can
     break the rules.
Sometimes breaking the rules is just
     extending the rules.

Sometimes there are no rules.

— Mary Oliver

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2012/three-things-to-remember/

Aug 06 2012

Cut the World [Video]


Antony and the Johnsons – Cut the World.

Originally composed for Robert Wilson’s play “The Life and Death of Marina Abramović. (From Wikipedia: Abramović’s work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.)

Haunting, melancholy, bleak to say the least.

Also beautiful (as Antony’s songs often are).

[From Gizmodo]

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2012/cut-the-world-video/

Jan 25 2012

is this christianity?

A two part blog post about the Mars Hill church in Seattle and Christian discipline from Matthew Paul Turner:

Part 1: Mark Driscoll’s Church Discipline Contract

Part 2: Mark Driscoll’s ‘Gospel Shame’

Do we really wonder why people don’t like church?  This seems to me about as far from Jesus’ message of love as you can get.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2012/is-this-christianity/

Jan 16 2012

Steinbeck on Falling in Love

Something for all of us to remember…whether we’ve already found love or are still waiting for it to find us.

Originally posted at Brain Pickings:

“If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”

Nobel laureate John Steinbeck (1902-1968) might be best-known as the author of East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men, but he was also a prolific letter-writer. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters constructs an alternative biography of the iconic author through some 850 of his most thoughtful, witty, honest, opinionated, vulnerable, and revealing letters to family, friends, his editor, and a circle of equally well-known and influential public figures.

Among his correspondence is this beautiful response to his eldest son Thom’s 1958 letter, in which the teenage boy confesses to have fallen desperately in love with a girl named Susan while at boarding school. Steinbeck’s words of wisdom — tender, optimistic, timeless, infinitely sagacious — should be etched onto the heart and mind of every living, breathing human being.

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

via Letters of Note

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2012/steinbeck-on-falling-in-love/

Jun 25 2011

Tree of Life

“Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life.”
– Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert calls the film Tree of Life a prayer…not asking for something, not to someone or something, but a prayer for everyone and everything.  It most definitely is not your typical Hollywood fare.  It is a film that is beautifully shot and for the most part edited (I did think one sequence was a little long).  It is a film the plays with the idea of what the beginning and end actually are.

This isn’t a film for everyone though. Which in some ways can lead to that “I’m a genius film maker and smarter than you” vibe. The way it plays with time can make it difficult to follow.  In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure how I felt about it.  I mentioned above one sequence I thought could have been edited a little differently (I think it could have been a little shorter without affecting the impact of the sequence).  I do think that one of the ideas was to keep you questioning, both when and where you are, but how we are connected with each other and our world.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2011/tree-of-life/

Oct 05 2010

Ego(n’t)

From The Naked Now by Richard Rohr:

“For some unfortunate reason, complaining, rejecting, or fearing something strengthens your sense of ego and makes you feel like you are important.  You contract back into your small and false self, and from there, unfortunately, it becomes harder and harder to reemerge.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/egont/

Feb 24 2010

Giving up God

The thing that sucks about being a Christian is that God actually lives in other people.

— Sara Miles in Jesus Freak:Feeding Healing Raising the Dead

The community I am a part of is giving up God for Lent.  No, we haven’t all decided to give up church for hedonistic pleasures.  What we are doing is giving up our notions of who (or what) God is.  The goal?  To be open to new ways God can manifest in our lives.  As part of this exercise, our 10:15 community (along with the rest of the parish) is reading the book quoted above.  Unfortunately, because of a prior commitment, I won’t be able to participate in the discussions.  It’s going to be an interesting read (and Lent) based on the quote above from the books introduction.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/giving-up-god/

Sep 10 2009

Loving Everyday

I think I need to spend some time sitting (reading) with Richard Rohr.

Graciously stolen from this post by Gareth Higgins: How are We Present to Reality?

A remarkable thought from Richard Rohr, which, if I read it thoughtfully enough, I think might get me through the day:

“Somewhere each day we have to fall in love, with someone, something, some moment, event, phrase, animal, or person. And it must be done quite definitively! Somehow each day we must allow a softening of our heart, which usually moves toward hardness and separation without our even knowing it. We can now prove neurologically that it is easier to move toward cynicism, bitterness, fear and despair than it is toward goodness, beauty, or appreciation. All spirituality is intended to help us recognize and counter our downward spiral toward smallness.

The world often tries to conjure up life by making itself falsely excited, by creating parties, even when there is no actual reason to celebrate. I have often noted in poor countries how people create fiestas because they have survived another season or even another day. We create fiestas to create fiestas, which I guess is not all bad; but after a while the ungirding of joy and contentment is not there. We have to create and discover the parties of the heart, the place where we know we can enjoy what is, and that we have indeed survived and even flourished another day of our one and only life. Just make sure you are somewhere, and always, definitively in love! Then you’ll see rightly, because only when we are in love can we accept the mystery that almost everything is.”

(Read the rest of Gareth’s thoughts)

An interesting thought indeed.  It seems somewhat appropriate for me in relation to my recent spiritual struggles.  Living in a place like Los Angeles can be quite the beast.  Its a tough place to find your niche.  At least for me it is.  I’ve been here just over two years now and still haven’t found my “community.”  Sure there are a handful of acquaintances and even a few friends, but for whatever reason it just hasn’t gelled into a community for me.  Perhaps the comparison to my community in Portland gets in the way of this.  Perhaps the struggles of my first nine months working here and what that did to my confidence in myself…to my self-esteem…is sub-consciously hindering me in my relationships.  I don’t really know for sure.  I know my internal life has struggled and I’m sure it has affected my external presence.

In reality, things aren’t that bad.  I’ve got a job that pays well enough for a level of financial security I haven’t really had since leaving my parents house.  I’ve found love that is amazing and surprising in so many ways.  I just sometimes need to remind myself of that.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2009/loving-everyday/