Monday, April 26, 2010

One tale is told of the Zen monk/poet Ryokan, that when he returned to his hut he discovered a robber who had broken in and was in the process of stealing the impoverished monk’s few possessions. In the thief’s haste to leave, he left behind a cushion. Ryokan grabbed the cushion and ran after the thief to give it to him. This event prompted Ryokan to compose one of his best known poems:

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parable of the Old Men and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
--Wilfred Owen

Friday, April 23, 2010

war in heaven/war in kitchen

Stake President Holman centered his talk on a concept President Boyd K. Packer has taught: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Little Children,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 16)

President Tolman then reviewed the plan of salvation, the basic doctrines about the pre-mortal existence, earth life, and the hereafter. Before beginning this review, and several times during the review, he asked a question along the lines of: “Which of these doctrines helps you understand a behavior that you might need to change?” This was thought-provoking and productive.

He then told us that one of his favorite authors is Carl Broderick, a therapist who practiced in Los Angeles. A wikipedia bio indicates that Dr. Broderick was somewhat of a celebrity and a devout member of the LDS Church, having served as bishop, stake president, and patriarch. President Tolman then shared a story that beautifully illustrated an application of the principle he taught us tonight. Dr. Broderick helped a Jewish clinician resolve a conundrum in counseling with LDS parents attempting to deal with a rebellious youth. The LDS couple originally consulted with Dr. Broderick, but as they lived on the other side of Los Angeles from him, he referred him to the other professional that he held in high regard. Here is the story:

“After only a couple of weeks, I got a call from my friend. ‘Carl, I need some help with this couple you referred to me.’ ‘What’s the problem? They probably just need to loosen up the parental iron fist a little.’ ‘That’s right. If they don’t, this kid is about to run away from home or attempt suicide or do something else drastic. But, Carl, every time I suggest any movement in the direction of loosening up, they patiently explain to me that I just don’t understand their religious obligation, as Mormon parents, to keep this kid in line. Frankly, I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to attack their religious beliefs, but the situation is explosive.’

I thought a moment and then said, ‘Here’s what you do. First, tell them that during the time you have been working with them, you have developed a real curiosity about the Mormon religion. This will serve to get their attention. Then say that there is one issue that keeps coming up when you ask about it that has you mystified. You keep hearing about some ‘war in heaven,’ but you can never quite figure out what it is about.’ ‘That’s it? I just ask them to explain the ‘war in heaven’?’ ‘That’s it.’ ‘Carl, what’s the war in heaven?’ ‘It doesn’t matter; just do what I said and let me know how it goes.’

A few days later he called. ‘Carl, I can’t believe it. I did what you said, and it was like magic.’ ‘So tell me about the session.’ ‘Well, as you suggested, I told them that since I started working with them I had gotten sort of interested in the Mormon religion. You wouldn’t believe the response. Even the rebellious teenage kid promised to give me a copy of some book on the Church with the family picture in the front.

Then I said there was just one thing that kind of confused me about their beliefs. . . . What was this war in heaven? Well, the mom didn’t as much as take a minute to collect her thoughts. In seconds she had launched into some story about a council in heaven and two plans and she gets about three minutes into it and she stops cold in her tracks and gives me a funny look and says, ‘All right, Doctor, you’ve made your point.’ From that moment on they were like putty in my hands. It was like magic.’ . . .

Of course, there was no magic. This good LDS woman simply had the unnerving experience of explaining Satan’s plan to an ‘investigator’ and, in the midst of her explanation, recognizing it as substantially her own version of responsible Mormon parenting as she had outlined it to him the week before. She understood the gospel principle fully; she just had been blinded to its applicability to her everyday challenges as a parent.’”
--recounted by Greg Jones

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"What is the sign," a young woman asked Hafiz, "of someone knowing God?"

"Dear," he replied, "They have dropped the knife, the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self and others."
--13th century Sufi

Friday, April 9, 2010

hell to the chief

Let us hear no more excuses for Barack Obama. Let us hear no more defenses, no more special pleading, no more extenuations. Let us have no more reciting of the "pressures" he is under, of the "many obstacles" that balk him in his quest to do us good, of the "bad advisors" who are swaying him to unworthy acts against his will. Let us be done at last with all these wretched lies, these complicitous self-deceptions that are facilitating atrocity and tyranny on a monstrous scale.

Barack Obama has ordered the murder of an American citizen, without trial, without due process, without the production of any evidence. All it takes to kill any American citizen in this way is Barack Obama's signature on a piece of paper, his arbitrary designation of the target as a "suspected terrorist." In precisely the same way -- precisely the same way -- Josef Stalin would place a mark by a name in a list of "suspected terrorists" or "counterrevolutionaries," and the bearer of that name would die. This is the system we have now, the same as the Soviets had then: a leader with the unchallengeable power to kill citizens without due process.

That this power has not been used on the same scale in the American system as in the Stalinist state -- yet -- does not alter the equivalence of this governing principle. In both cases, the leader signs arbitrary death warrants; the security services carry out the task; and the 'great and good' of society accept this draconian power as necessary and right.

And of course, thousands of innocent people continue to die in the wars of dominion and profiteering that Obama has so eagerly embraced. In Afghanistan, they die directly at the hands of American forces -- including secret assassins who raid villages by night, often slaughtering civilians, even those cooperating with the military occupation. As Obama's hand-picked commander in the region, Stanley McChrystal, has openly admitted: “We have shot an amazing number of people [at checkpoints and on the roads], but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat." And in Iraq -- the scene of the abominable, Nazi-like war crime of military aggression whose continuation by Bush's "surge" was hailed by Obama as "an extraordinary achievement" -- innocent people continue to die in droves at the hands of the vicious and violent forces unleashed and empowered by the American invasion and occupation, while they wait to see which brutal "hard man" will seize power over their riven and ruined society.

Now, there can be no shuffling, no waffling on the matter. Obama has made it crystal clear for even the most avidly self-duping progressive: He will murder his fellow citizens without trial or evidence if he sees fit. The state can murder whom it pleases. This is the system we have. This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. You cannot escape this logic, this judgment. If you support Obama now, in this, then there is no crime he can commit that you will not support.

And thus you become one of those people that we all used to puzzle over, the accomodationists to brutal tyranny: "How did all those people go along with the Nazis? Why wasn't there more opposition to Stalin? How could they countenance all those obvious abominations? What kind of people were they?"

Now you know. They were you. You are them.
--Chris Floyd (again)

Friday, April 2, 2010

inspiring story

Some people are born successful. They’ve got everything. Some people are born with a frog’s chance in snowball hell. My friend was born without a head. Unkind people would give him hats for his birthday. Or ties. Or sunglasses. But he was pretty philosophical about it.

When we were kids, he used to get teased a lot. They would say, “So what are you going to be when you grow up? The head of a big corporation.?” And then they would all laugh. My friend just ignored them.

When he got older, he started saving his money for a wooden head. He finally ordered one from the Philippines, but it never looked quite right. Actually it looked a lot like one of those monkey heads they carve out of coconuts. And the straps chafed his armpits. I think he was pretty disappointed, seeing how he had saved for years for that head. But it was better than nothing.

I always tried to be a good friend to him and went out of my way to avoid certain phrases, like “heads up,” “well, I guess I’ll be headin’ home” and “put a head on this.” It wasn’t much, I know, it was the least I could do. I think he appreciated it.

Naturally Halloween was his favorite time of the year. He would put a big coat on and carry his Filipino monkey head under his arm and everyone would say, “Great costume.” Of course the next day he would just be that guy without a head again.

But my friend was determined not to let his handicap keep him from living a normal life. He got a job at an elegant French restaurant as head waiter, but people just couldn’t get used to him putting the tray on top of his shoulders, even though it was every efficient and made perfectly good sense. Next he tried opening a headshop, but he freaked all of his customers out and sent most of them into recovery. It was at this time I lost track of him.

Several years later I got an unexpected package with a Jamaican postmark. Inside was a letter and something wrapped in newspaper. I opened the letter. Seems my friend had finally succeeded at being normal and was living the good life as headmaster of an exclusive school for the blind in Ocho Rios. He was married and had two lovely children, both born with heads, something he was quite pleased about. He sent me a picture of himself and the family and I was was happy to see that his wife was not only very pretty, but also had a head. He said she loved him for his mind and the fact that he had no head to keep it in didn’t bother her one little bit. She was considerate as well and never used the excuse, “Not tonight, I have a headache.” In deference to his condition but amazingly, to his great delight, she always acknowledged him as “the head of the household.” Women like that are hard to find. You bet.

I guess it just goes to show that anyone can fit it, even if they have to go all the way to Jamaica to do it. I miss my friend and plan to go for a visit during the Spring break. I think about him all the time now. Oh yeah, that thing wrapped in newspaper was the wooden Filipino monkey head thing. I’ve got it on my mantelpiece, so it’s kind of hard not to think about him all the time. He had a note attached to it: “Won’t be needing this anymore. You keep it. Or give to some needy headless person. Or use is as a doorstop. I don’t care. Thank for avoiding the “H” word all those years.

Your friend, Hedly.
--as told to Irene’s Mustache by Kona Lowell