Monday, August 30, 2010

Musing on the Mosque at Ground Zero

So, what did Karen Armstrong have to say in the video snippet when asked her opinion about the mosque/ civic center near Ground Zero?  You can hear the whole clip HERE. It's only about 2 minutes long. 

Her first comment was that the building in question is not a mosque nor is it at Ground Zero.  It is several blocks away from Ground Zero, in a neighborhood that was devastated by the attack on the Twin Towers. She sees the new community center aka mosque as a rebuttal of the terrorism that took place at the World Trade Center. 

Now, just to be clear, I am writing this post without an extensive amount of research under my belt. I do, however, know more this afternoon than I did this morning.  My opinion is not etched in stone because the information I've gleaned thus far is not all there is to say on the subject.  I am just musing about it in written on the cyber pages of this blog. I'm leaning toward the left....not an epiphany for anyone who reads here regularly (or even now and then :)

What have I read?  Well, to begin with I've read that the people behind the mosque are mainly Sufi's....a branch of Islam that is regarded by radical Islam as heretical. Sufi's find their spiritual inspiration from a plethora of sources including Christian writings...the Bible...and other sacred writings. They are not dogmatic. They are not fundamentalists. Their beliefs lean toward mysticism...not fundamentalism.  Radical Islam puts them on the same ladder as Christianity...they might even be a rung or two below Christians because they are guilty of perverting the one true religion...and they should know better.  To the terrorists behind 9-11, the mosque folks are infidels too.  

And what about all the talk about the area being sacred ground. Is it really? Do plans to build a major retail shopping center, including two levels of below grade concourses violate the sanctity of the spot where several thousand people died?  And that is indeed planned right smack dab at Ground Zero. A snippet about the retail plans for Ground Zero from the World Trade Center website.

Occupying approximately 550,000 square feet of total space, retail areas will be interspersed throughout the World Trade Center (WTC) - stretching from as far as the new Fulton Street Transit Center to the World Financial Center.
Shops and services will be located on six levels, including two-levels of a below-grade concourse extending from the World Financial Center to both the new Fulton Street Transit Center and the corner of Liberty and Church Streets; below grade in the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Transportation Hub; at street level on Church Street, Cortlandt Way, and Dey Street; and on three levels above grade within Towers 2, 3, and 4 - three Class A office towers designed respectively by world-renowned architectural firms Foster and Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Maki & Associates. Developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - with support from Silverstein Properties - the retail space is expected to be completed by 2014.

WTC retail will be positioned at the center of the resurgence of Lower Manhattan, which, following the completion of the redevelopment of the WTC, will be one of the largest business districts in the United States, a vibrant residential community, a major hub of transportation within the NYC metropolitan area, and a world-renowned shopping destination.

"The design we have developed with the Port Authority calls for not only rebuilding the retail space that was lost on 9/11, but going above and beyond what was there before. We want to create a real destination for visitors and shoppers, a center that will share many of the attributes of the city’s great retail hubs."

So, should the area be rebuilt with the emphasis on creating a "real destination for visitors and shoppers"? Should stores be built below grade...right there in what is, in essence, a burial ground? Is that honoring the sanctity of the area? there are plans for this major retail hub RIGHT AT Ground Zero.  But what about the proposed mosque? How close is it...really?  I don't know.  I've found conflicting information. I read it was a block...two blocks...six blocks. I googled it and came upon a blog called "Oh My Gov" Exposing Government's Wonders and Blunders. There are 13 views of the Ground Zero area.  The pictures show where the mosque will be located in relation to where the Twin Towers stood. I can't vouch for the blog...but the pictures look legit.  Check it out for yourself....HERE

And for a more tongue in cheek...Pete on the Street look at where the mosque will be...may relation to Ground Zero check out this video. 

Another point I happened upon....many Muslims live in the area of the proposed mosque/civic center. A Time Magazine article states the following:

Ironically, Islam's roots in New York City are in the area around the site of the World Trade Center, and they predate the Twin Towers: in the late 19th century, a portion of lower Manhattan was known as Little Syria and was inhabited by Arab immigrants — Muslims and Christians — from the Ottoman Empire.

So, according to Time Magazine...there have been Muslims in the area since the late 19th Century.

And another thing we tend to forget is that there were many nationalities and various religious beliefs among those who died at Ground Zero. Muslim lives were also lost when the planes hit the Twin Towers. And I am not talking about the death pilots flying the planes. I searched on google for some exact statistics but, like the distance thing, I found conflicting reports.  I am going to do a bit more research on the breakdown...and will post what I find. 

And my last "what about" point...
Was our country founded on the principle of religious freedom or not? Are the guaranteed freedoms mainly for the WASP branches of religion...or are they for ALL religions. I've read quips at several sites that express the following sentiment....

I will advocate for a Ground Zero mosque just as soon as we can build a synagogue and a Roman Catholic church in Mecca.

Does that really have any bearing on whether the mosque should be built or not?  Is that the deciding factor...what's permissible in Mecca? Can we really use the Taliban as a yardstick for religious rights and freedoms?

More in my next post....

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

From atheist to "freelance monotheist"

In my last post I mentioned the short video Brian posted of Karen Armstrong voicing her views on the controversial Mosque near Ground Zero. I was not familiar with any of her writings other than a few quotes I've come across in the course of checking out other stuff. So I googled her. Interesting lady.

Former nun.  She spent 8 years in her late teens in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus....left the convent at 24. She wrote a book called Through the Narrow Gate describing her experiences as a nun.  She was bitter. She was angry.  She was pissed.  When she became a nun she dedicated her life to the search for God.  Now she describes herself as a person of faith and she writes books explaining and discussing humanity's search for God.  In between the nunnery and her present vocation/ministry she was an atheist.  So she went from atheist to "freelance monotheist." 

I found several quotes in the articles I checked out....

"I get my spirituality in study," she said. "The Jews say it happens, sometimes, studying the Torah."

"My study is my religious discipline. There are little moments of transcendence, of awe, which Rabbi Blue tells me is what the study of the Torah is about. St Benedict [of Nursia] also refers to it as the lectio divina in which during study, there are these miniseconds of oratio or prayer."

Interesting that she finds moments of transcendence while studying. Sometimes I wonder if I should read less and do more of the touchy-feely spiritual stuff.  You know, spend more time meditating or praying...or sitting in silence. Granted, I do most of my "research" on the internet...and it is far to haphazard to call study. 

And in the spirit of inclusivism/plurality she says

"It's inevitable that people turn to more than one religious tradition for inspiration," she said. "It's part of globalization."

"Religion is like a raft," she said, explaining the Buddha's view of it. "Once you get across the river, moor the raft and go on. Don't lug it with you if you don't need it anymore."
I think the point is akin to the finger pointing at the moon analogy. The finger (religion) points you in the right direction...but don't mistake the finger for the moon. 

She's written quite a few books.  Previews and overviews can be found on Google Books.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Interesting Website-Read the Spirit

I came across the following links at a website called "Read the Spirit." I found the site the way I often find interesting websites. Via a link or a phrase or a snippet of info that someone buries in a blog post, an email, their facebook page etc. etc. This morning I found it on my friend Brian's facebook page. It was a short video of Karen Armstrong's reply when asked about her view on the Mosque at Ground Zero. Her comments and my web surfing research piqued by her opinions will (more than likely) follow in a subsequent post...but for today more about Read the Spirit.....  
It is an eclectic site...interfaith, oneness oriented...inclusive, pluralistic. It features daily articles, blogs, book recommendations and links to other similar sites. 
The selection of blogs is varied and interesting. 
Our Values Blog
University of Michigan’s Dr. Wayne Baker, an expert on values and ethics, publishes a fresh, thought-provoking story 5 days each week—focusing on issues in the news. Promotes civil discussion through reader comments.
Our Goal appears in the banner across the top of We want to show that civil discussion is possible about the values and ethics that shape our lives—even when stark conflicts arise over core issues.
Sharing Islam
Showcases positive stories about Muslim life in the U.S. You’ll find some in-depth stories and interviews about Islam—and occasional first-person stories from the daily lives of Muslim men and women.

Friendship and Faith
A unique celebration of friendship, faith, religious diversity—and the wisdom of women! Meet women from many backgrounds whose lives were changed through friendships crossing religious and cultural boundaries.

Religious Holidays and Festivals
This unique magazine focuses on the religious holidays, festivals, anniversaries and milestones that shape our lives each year. Reporter Stephanie Fenton focuses on many different global faiths and cultures.
Interfaith Heroes ongoing resource for people seeking true stories of men and women who risked crossing religious boundaries to heal communities and, in many cases, to save lives. These stories were researched and written by the Rev. Daniel Buttry, the international peace negotiator for American Baptist Churches — working in cooperation with other interfaith scholars and the editors at ReadTheSpirit.
Spiritual Wanderer
The Spiritual Wanderer’s real name is Rodney Curtis. A nationally known journalist and educator, Rodney has a quirky sense of humor that often makes readers laugh at his refreshing “take” on daily life. 

A PS about this blog.  Rodney Curtis is being treated for leukemia...has spent weeks in a Muskegon Michigan hospital.  I read a half dozen entries and really enjoyed his writing style and musings.  From what I read, I think he is an agnostic.  I'll take the insights of an agnostic over the insights of a cocksure fundamentalist any day. 

The site is definitely worth a look see.  My friend annie believes that the interfaith movement occurring today is just a more in depth version of the inter/non denominational movement of the 70's....a step closer to God being all in all.  I know that rankles more conservative viewpoints....but I am inclined to agree.  

A correction to the above info....
I was delighted to find a comment from Rodney (Spiritual Wanderer) here on my blog.....which I am going to copy and paste below.  Since I only read a half dozen or so posts, I got the wrong impression and mistakenly passed that misinformation along. ( Sort of like the guy at the gas station who a-s-s-umed Emily was a teenage mom :)  Rodney is not an agnostic....

Hi Cindi,

Thank you for the comments about Spiritual Wanderer and the rest of the Read The Spirit gang.

I can easily see where you'd get the impression I'm an agnostic but I wanted to assure you I am a believer in God, the after-life, the pre-life and certainly that little strip of life in between.

I just find my belief and spirituality taking on many different names and forms. I appreciate your kind words and since your site was pointed out by my publisher, others will certainly be reading and bookmarking your space.


Monday, August 23, 2010

projecting from their own dark psyches....

Projecting from their own dark psyches....
I found the above phrase buried in an article about the mosque at Ground Zero.

This phrase intrigued me...."projecting from their own dark psyches."

And it kind of goes along with a post that has been churning around in my thoughts for a while now.  A post about forming opinions, based on assumptions....without truly knowing the whole story or all of the facts.  And I have a good example. 

I've mentioned here before that Emily often babysits for the two year old (hearing impaired but smart as a whip) daughter of a young single mom she's known since we moved here 10 or so years ago.  She does it out of the goodness of her heart and her love for children.  She does it to help her friend.  She usually does it for free.  She often takes Kaya to Sunday School, to Youth run Beth to work in a friend's Dunkin' Donuts.  She straps Kaya's pink carseat in the old brown van, throws her stroller in the back.... and off they go...where ever Emily needs to go.  Kaya along for the ride. 

So, in their travels the other day, Emily stopped to get gas...with Kaya....who was in her pink car seat...fussing and carrying on.  She was fussing because it was very hot and the van doesn't have air conditioning....and she was fussing because ......well, because sometimes two year olds fuss and carry on.  The pump malfunctioned....and Em was in the process of getting Kaya out of the carseat to take her in the store to figure out why it pumped $36 worth of gas when she only prepaid for $12.  That's when a well dressed man in a suit...driving an SUV hollered at her.

"You're in my way."

"Why don't you just turn the f#@*ing air conditioning on"

and then the kicker.....

"If you hadn't had a f#@*ing kid so young, you might know more."

Appearances can indeed be deceiving.  A teenage girl....a beat up van....a crying two year old. was a cut and dried case.  But his assumptions were way off.  He was missing vital information.  He was projecting from his own dark psyche.  He was misinformed.  He didn't know the whole story.

 I wonder if there is any of that going on in the mosque dispute. Could there be missing information and false assumptions on both sides of the issue?

A side note.  The clerk in the store told Emily they had a new register system and had been having problems with it all day and there was no charge for the extra gas.  She was absolutely thrilled.... 

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Oh..great and mighty coffee god.....


I actually meant to post the above picture on a private (just for me) blog I have called "This, That and the Other Thing" using add on blog editor for Mozilla. I am still getting the hang of ScribeFire...and accidentally posted this amusing, yet somewhat irreverent picture here at Mercy. But what the's a cute picture. Perhaps a fellow coffee lover will get a chuckle out of it too. FYI....I've paid proper homage to the coffee god this morning by draining my second large mug of coffee.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Emily and I were talking the other day....can't remember about what....just shooting the breeze in the living room...her on the living room on my laptop.  She mentioned that at Impact this year, they were asked the following question. 

If it was illegal to be a Christian and you were arrested and put on trial, would there be enough evidence to convict you? 

Apparently this question is not new....although it was to me.  When I mentioned it to Keith just a few minutes ago, he said he'd heard it before.  When I typed it into Google, 116,000 results came up in .2 seconds.  Not a new or novel question.  But a really good question to ponder.  Emily thought there would be enough evidence to convict me (based on my cyber trail if nothing else)...but I'm not so sure.  How about you? Would it be a cut and dried verdict or would the prosecution have to get very creative to win their case? 

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teshuva - when you are the perp....

Another Hebrew word dealing with forgiveness is T'eshuva ...

I came across the following definition somewhere in my journeys but forgot to copy the source. ooops...

T’shuva has 8 steps, each of which starts with an “R” word.

regret, remorse, repent, resolve, right thing, restitution, rehabilitation, restoration.

  1. Regret. Have regret for what you have done wrong.
  2. Remorse. Express your remorse to the person you have wronged.
  3. Repent. Decide not to do the hurtful behavior anymore.
  4. Resolve. Express your resolve to the person you have harmed.
  5. Right thing. Do the right thing and apologize, ask for forgiveness.
  6. Restitution. Compensate the person for the wrong as best you can.
  7. Rehabilitation. Change your behavior.
  8. Restoration of relationship. If the person forgives you and chooses to reconcile.
Which reminds me of a fairly recent book coauthored by Gary Chapman who most folks know as the author of the well known "5 Languages of Love" books.  He sums up the following 5 ways:

  1. Expressing Regret — "I am sorry."
  2. Accepting Responsibility — "I was wrong."
  3. Making Restitution — "What can I do to make it right?"
  4. Genuinely Repenting — "I'll try not to do that again."
  5. Requesting forgiveness — "Will you please forgive me?"
And another more consolidated list by Rabbi Shraga Simmons at 

The process of teshuva involves the following four steps:
Step 1 - Regret. Realize the extent of the damage and feel sincere regret.
Step 2 - Cessation. Immediately stop the harmful action.
Step 3 - Confession. Articulate the mistake and ask for forgiveness.
Step 4 - Resolution. Make a firm commitment not to repeat it in the future.
And the ebb and flow of life...sometimes we are the perp...sometimes we are the one "perpetrated" against.  Both have their own unique angst...yet both are remedied by the same solution....forgiveness.  

"With a little time, and a little more insight, we begin to see both ourselves and our enemies in humbler profiles. We are not really as innocent as we felt when we were first hurt. And we do not usually have a gigantic monster to forgive; we have a weak, needy, and somewhat stupid human being. When you see your enemy and yourself in the weakness and silliness of the humanity you share, you will make the miracle of forgiving a little easier." Lewis B. Smedes -Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve
"Forgiveness is the only way to break the cycle of blame--and pain--in a relationship...It does not settle all questions of blame and justice and fairness...But it does allow relationships to start over. In that way, said Solzhenitsyn, we differ from all animals. It is not our capacity to think that makes us different, but our capacity to repent, and to forgive." Philip Yancey
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Forgiveness with a Hebrew Slant

mechilá, selichá, kappará, tahorá

I came across these four Hebrew words relating to forgiveness in a quote by Rabbi David Blumenthal as I was zipping around in cyber space "researching" this series of posts...

“The most basic kind of forgiveness is ‘forgoing the other’s indebtedness’ (mechilá). If the offender has done teshuva [a process requiring the offender to acknowledge their offense, express remorse, make restitution, and take steps to prevent repeating the behavior], and is sincere in his or her repentance, the offended person should offer mechila; that is, the offended person should forgo the debt of the offender, relinquish his or her claim against the offender. This is not a reconciliation of heart or an embracing of the offender; it is simply reaching the conclusion that the offender no longer owes me anything for whatever it was that he or she did …

“The second kind of forgiveness is …selichá. It is an act of the heart. It is reaching a deeper understanding of the sinner. It is achieving an empathy for the troubledness of the other. Selicha, too, is not a reconciliation or an embracing of the offender; it issimply reaching the conclusion that the offender, too, is human, frail, and deserving of sympathy. It is closer to an act of mercy …

“The third kind of forgiveness is ‘atonement’ (kappará) or ‘purification’ (tahorá). This is a total wiping away of all sinfulness. It is an existential cleansing. Kappara is the ultimate form of forgiveness, but it is only granted by God.”

Next post...what about when you are the perp....when you are not the forgiver but the one seeking forgiveness?

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

More on the Stories We Tell Ourselves....

Some people can't stand Byron Katie.  I've seen her in interviews...watched her doing "the work" in online videos.  I'm kind of neutral when it comes to liking or disliking her.  Probably veer more toward liking than disliking.  I think the compassion she shows is real...although there are people who think she is anything but compassionate.  But whatever....the Work...the 4 questions she tells us to ask ourselves can be very revealing and eyeopening.  I wrote about her a while back, in a post called Strange Bedfellows.  In it, I pointed out that some of her beliefs and teachings are very similar to the total sovereignty guys (Ray Prinzing, Preston Eby, etc) although those who adhere to that theology probably dismiss Katie as new age.  And you know...she probably is new age.  But she mirrors Prinzings "Whatever is, is right" that she believes that if it happened, it was supposed to.  Prinzing attributes it to the meticulous tweakings of a sovereign God.  Not sure what Katie attributes it to.

But they both tell us there is no sense fighting reality.  If it was supposed to.  That rankles me a bit...but alas that is not the subject of this post....which is letting go of the stories we keep repeating to ourselves until we believe there is absolutely no other way of seeing things.  Our truth is THE truth.  There are no other possible explanations or reasons.  Following are a few Katie quotes.....
Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.
And to investigate our untested theories?  She suggests doing The Work....

When you’re operating on uninvestigated theories of what’s going on and you aren’t even aware of it, you’re in what I call “the dream.” Often the dream becomes troubling; sometimes it even turns into a nightmare. At times like these, you may want to test the truth of your theories by doing The Work on them. The Work always leaves you with less of your uncomfortable story. Who would you be without it? How much of your world is made up of unexamined stories? You’ll never know until you inquire.~ from Loving What Is
The Work is quite simple.  It consists of 4 questions....

Step 1 Is it true?

Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it's true?

Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

Who would you be without the thought?

Number 3 is a reminder that we are usually the one who suffers the most when we hold a grudge.

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  ~Malachy McCourt
I see the logic of asking the questions and especially of coming up with the turnarounds.  I've done it myself a few times during some tumultuous periods in my life and it's helped provide some clarity.

Another method of bringing clarity (and perhaps reality) to a distressing situation is to apply the principles of Dr. David Burns and his unique approach to cognitive behavioral therapy.  During the tumultuous time mentioned above, I looked into it...even purchased the book used from Amazon. But it too has some really good, eye opening statements that hold a mirror up to some of our unexamined thoughts....the stories we tell ourselves about our situation. ...the stories we tell ourselves about others....and the ones we tell ourselves about....ourselves.

More to come on forgiveness.  In the meantime...if you are inclined....check out the links I've included in the text of this post. 

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Comment - Steps to letting go...

I tried to post this in the comments section of the post "Steps to letting go" but Blogger was having no part of it.  First it was too I split it in half...and it was still too long. And then I would have lost it if I hadn't caught on to their sneaky little tricks a long ago (after losing numerous comments when trying to "preview" them) Now, I always copy what I've written before I trust them enough to click "Preview"  So anyway...what I've written below actually started out as a comment...a very long one, I'll admit. 

I think I get what you are trying to convey. These lists are hokey and meaningless without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. I don't altogether disagree but as one who believes we can drag our feet a bit even when the spirit is urging (compelling) us to forgive, I think a bulleted list can be helpful.

Recently, I leafed through a copy of Flawed by Design by Jeff Priddy that Keith was rereading. I know, he goes by Martin Zender these days...but I read his stuff years ago when he signed his real name Jeff Priddy...and it seems to have stuck. it I read, 

A disturbed reader objects vociferously. It is Monty: Then why does God exhort us to do the right thing?
Answer: You need to know what the right thing is Monty. There must be a standard. How will you know you've fallen short if there is no standard? How will you know how righteous God really is? How will you know when you've arrived at perfection? You are assuming, I think, that God gives exhortations as a means of testing you, to see what you will do. You may be thinking that God puts forth these exhortations as a challenge, so that you can impress him with your accomplishments.
Not so Monty. This isn't about you; it's about God. Think of scriptural exhortation as a matting inside which God intends to paint a masterpiece. These exhortations are God giving Himself an opportunity to show the world what He can do through you.

Not a bad quote...and parts of it I agree with. The part that pertains to this post is where he says...that exhortations are in scripture to clarify what the right thing set the standard...even though, according to Priddy, Monty does not have a snowball's chance in hell of actually doing any of the things on his own.

That's how I see some of these lists. Some people want to forgive but the thought "forgive your enemies" can seem a bit vague. Sort of like telling a 2 year old to get ready for church. They need it spelled out a bit more....wash your face...get out of your PJ's...put on your shirt...etc. etc. And actually bulleted lists have helped me sometimes. You know...with titles like "10 things you can do today to improve your relationship with your kids." Either by thinking...that's bullshit...or...sometimes...hey....that's a good idea.

But....while surfing extensively for the past few days...I came upon a short excerpt by Corrie Ten Boom. I am pretty sure you have probably read it. I've read it before...several light of this series...and your comments, I copied it to post here. I think you will like it....

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

Fun and the same sentence.....

I came across an interesting book my web travels.  I've been all over the place this morning and have happened upon dozens of interesting web sites, books, snippets, ideas and thoughts. What differentiates what actually makes it to the front page of this blog and what ends up on a list of Blog Post Ideas...I'm not sure.  Something just piques my interest enough to digress from whatever the series du jour is (which is probably a digression from a digression from a digression from a by-gone "current series")  This book..."Yeah Dave's Guide to Livin" in the Moment...contained a quote in the introduction that piqued my interest enough to postpone my nap long enough to write a short post about it.  The quote follows....

Imagine a man meditating on a secluded mountaintop.  Imagine another man with juggling manboobs dancing at a rock concert.  Now imagine something in between, and you have me and my approach to life. 

Wow..that conjures up quite the mental image....

I tell you this not because I want you to envision me chesty and hairy while showing up to meet you for lunch.  rather, I want you to think about fun and faith in the same sentence.  Because there is a place where the party and the prayer can coexist peacefully. There is a place where the chocolate tastes sweeter, the music sounds better, the inspiration feels richer and the visions look clearer. That place is The Moment. 

Hmmmm....The Moment.  Another way of saying "Living in the Now?"  Another way of describing mindfulness? 

It occurs to me that Jesus had it down pat when it came to combining faith and fun....and it got him into trouble with the religious police of the day. 

'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax
collectors and "sinners." (Luke 7:33-34)

He was known as a wine bibber and a glutton...aka a party boy...spending way too much time with "those people."  You know...the tax collectors...the whores....the unclean... ewwwwwwwww.....sinners.  Perhaps, in part, Jesus came to teach us how to live a life where the party and prayer co-exist to enjoy the moment....and enjoy the people sharing the moment with us.  A valuable lesson to learn. 



Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tell a different story.....

A quote about one of  Dr. Luskin's workshops.... from a post on the  Forgiveness Retreats Blog....

For me, the best thing about the workshop was the background in Cognitive Psychology he provides on “Tell The Story Differently.” When we tell the story of how we’ve been hurt over and over again we reinforce the message that we are a victim and we create in our consciousness hostility.
No doubt, heinous, unbelievably tragic things come into our lives...and no matter how we spin them, they are still heinous and unbelievably some situations, we embellish the facts a bit....and perhaps add to them, distort them...exaggerating things in a mountain out of a molehill kind of way. Which reminds me of something I read in Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth.....
This story illustrates the uniquely human ability to cling to the past by holding on to our stories.

When two ducks get into a fight, it never lasts long — they soon separate and fly off in opposite directions. Each duck then flaps its wings vigorously several times. This releases the surplus energy that built up in him during the fight. After they flap their wings, they fly on peacefully as if nothing had ever happened.

Now, if the duck had a human mind, this scene would go very differently. The duck may fly away peacefully, for a moment, but he would not put the fight behind him. He would keep the fight alive in his mind, by thinking and story-making.

The duck’s story would probably go something like this: “I can’t believe what he just did. He came within five inches of me. He has no consideration for my private space. He thinks he owns this pond. I’ll never trust him again. I know he’s already plotting something else to annoy me with. But I’m not going to stand for it. I’m going to teach him a lesson he will never forget.”

And in this way the duck’s mind spins its tale, still thinking and talking about it, days, months, or even years later. He man never see his adversary again, but that doesn’t matter. The single incident has left its impression and now has a life of its own deep within the duck’s mind.

As far as his body is concerned, the fight is still continuing, and the energy his body generates in response to the imaginary fight is emotion, which in turn generates more thinking. This becomes the emotional thinking of the ego. The emotions feed the story and the story feeds the emotions. Endlessly. Unless the duck chooses to recognize that the fight is over, unless he drops the story, he will suffer from the endless cycle of his mind’s creation.

You can see how painful and troublesome the duck’s life would become if he had a human mind. But this is how most of us live all the time. For the average person, no situation or event is ever really over and done with. The mind and the mind-made story keep it going.

Unlike the duck, we are a species that has the power to remember, which is both wonderful and problematic.

Our duck has an important lesson to teach us and his message is this: Flap your wings, which means “let go of the story,” and live your real life — here and now, in the present moment.

~ by Eckhart Tolle
In the Power of Now he says:

Don't let the mind use the pain to create a victim identity for yourself out of it. Feeling sorry for
yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in suffering. from the Power of Now  Tolle
And from Byron Katie...the creator of The Work....

Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.  Byron Katie
More on The Work and how it can help us separate truth from storyline in my next post.....

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Steps to Letting Go

As I was click, click, clicking along the the cyber freeway reasearching this series of posts, I came upon the The Fetzer Institute. Very cool site. 

Their goal/mission statement....
The Fetzer Institute is a private, nonprofit operating foundation. Our mission is to foster the awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community.
We engage with people and projects around the world to help bring the power of love, forgiveness, and compassion to the center of individual and community life.
One section of the website is The Campaign for Love and Forgiveness

Among the many resources you will find on the website is a booklet called...Four Conversations about Forgiveness  Participants Handbook.

Within the book are suggestions for how to let go of a to forgive. The following are the 9 steps from Dr. Luskin's Forgive for Good workshop

  1.  Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
  2.  Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
  3.  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”
  4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
  5. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.
  6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
  7.  Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
  8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
  9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.
And from another site I happened upon....the Forgiveness Retreats Website...a more pared down version...a list of 5 Steps to letting go by Frank Desiderio..........

    * Look deeply and long at what went wrong.
    * Empathy for the other is key.
    * Tell the story differently
    * Give the gift of forgiveness freely.
    * One day  at a time, keep the forgiveness strong

Although the second list is somewhat streamlined and consolidated, the gist of both is the same and they overlap on key points.  One is the need for a  thorough awareness and understanding of what happened. 

* Look deeply and long at what went wrong.

* Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.

But the overlap that piques my interest...and is mirrored in the teachings of "new age gurus" like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie....

Tell the story differently


Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.

Byron Katie wrote a book entitled.....Who Would You Be Without Your Story?  Something to seriously consider in the process of forgiveness....

More tomorrow....

And a PS.....

There is another well known "steps to forgiveness model" Everett Worthington Jr who gleaned the method the hard way....learning to forgive the rape and murder of his elderly mother.  It is called the REACH program.  REACH is an acronym for

  • Recall the hurt
  • Empathize with the one who hurt you
  • Altruistic gift of forgiveness, offer
  • Commitment to forgive, make
  • Hold on to the forgiveness

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Society is Angry

So...starting at the Corrymeela site I mentioned in my last post...I followed links here and there and everywhere....and I have bits of info and quotes from a lot of different places...without a clear idea of how to present them in So...starting at the Corrymeela site I mentioned in my last post...I followed links here and there and everywhere....and I have bits of info and quotes from a lot of different places...without a clear idea of how to present them in an orderly series of posts.  So I'm just going to jump right in and start.....

First a quote from
Dr. Fred Luskin, Ph.D.....a Stanford trained counselor, and co-director of the the Stanford/Northern Ireland HOPE Project (Healing Our Past Experiences), an ongoing project that investigates the effectiveness of his forgiveness methods on the victims of political violence.


I like that.....

Anyway....the quote:

We're experiencing the consequences of a culture that is excessively angry. There is such damage done to relationships, people and health through anger, blame and a kind of self-righteous aggression. We live in a culture that's stressed and angry. People are hungering for solutions - a corrective has to emerge. And the most complete, strongest corrective is forgiveness.

One reason to forgive?  If we don't it damages our health....

The negative physical responses when you're frustrated or angry are meant to exist for a short period only. Our body has exquisitely designed mechanisms to alert us to danger and to give us energy to get out. After that short period, it's wearing on your body. Without the skills to turn it off, you store that piece of anger - and then the next one, and the next one, and the next one. Each one of those is corroding your body's finely tuned balance. It can wear out your nervous system because it simply violates the way we were designed to operate.

Another reason to forgive....If we don't it damages our outlook on life.....

The other problem is that if you don't forgive, then you are in some ways prejudging your future - that you are on guard and defended and helpless, that there's a residual bitterness that influences your capacity for happiness because you haven't resolved something from your past.

 People who experience anger too much forget that life is still beautiful and joyful. It robs them of an ability to slow down enough to appreciate their relationships, to give thanks.
Tomorrow some of the steps we might follow to forgive.....

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