Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Hiatus


I'm currently in the last week of my chaplain residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Next Tuesday I take up the position of Palliative Care Chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

There are also some other changes in my life that are in process, so it's a rather momentous time for me.

Accordingly, I'll be taking a break from blogging here at The Wild Reed for about a month or so, maybe longer.

Basically, I'll be working on getting my grounding in my new role and position. I also intend to seek grounding and balance in my life in general – an endeavor that will involve spending as much time as I can in nature, under open skies and by flowing waters, in these last weeks of summer.

I also want to take this opportunity to say how much I appreciate everyone who takes the time to visit this blog. Thank you for your support of me and of what I seek to create here: a journal of my thoughts and interests that (hopefully) serve as invitations and opportunities for deeper understanding and the transformation of hearts and minds, making for a world of compassion, beauty, and justice.

Michael



Sitting on your bank, in touch with all I see
You rise and you fall,
Bringing life so perfectly
River running free, lay your wisdom down on me

Journey goes on
What I wouldn't do to run beside you now
Rolling on, skipping over pools of light,
Even through the darkest night
River running bright, lay your wisdom down tonight

River, river
Flowing when the world was young
Nothing new under the sun
I'm calling to a sweeter sound
Come on and lay your wisdom down
Lay your wisdom down.



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Now Is the Time
The Prayer Tree
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Spirituality and the Health Care Setting
Seeking Balance
Hiatus (2013)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Now Is the Time

Now is the time to know
that all that you do
is sacred.

Now, why not consider
a lasting truce with yourself
and God.

Now is the time to understand
that all your ideas of right and wrong
were just a child's training wheels
to be laid aside
when you can finally live
with veracity and love.

My love, please tell me,
why do you still
throw sticks at your heart
and God?

What is it in that sweet voice inside
that incites you to fear?

Now is the time
for the world to know
that every thought and action
is sacred.

This is the time
for you to deeply reckon with
the impossibility that there
is anything but grace.

Now is the season to know
that everything you do
is sacred.

Hafiz
From The Gift: Poems by Hafiz,
translated by Daniel Ladinsky
(Penguin Compass, 1999)



For more of the poetry of Hafiz at The Wild Reed, see:
Your Scent I Know
Never Say It Is Not God
It Happens All the Time in Heaven

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Longing and a Prayer
Meeting (and Embodying) the Lover God
The Gorgeous One
Beloved and Antlered
Vessels of the Holy
"Make Us Lovers, God of Love"
No Altar More Sacred
An Erotic Encounter with the Divine
Redemption in the Sensuousness of the Moment
Sometimes I Wonder . . .

Image: "Mahad, 7/30/18" by Michael J. Bayly.


Monday, August 13, 2018

To Be Alive Is to Love


Love is a very dark stream flowing in the inmost recesses of one's being as Teilhard de Chardin says, silent yet alive, powerful yet gentle, a source of unexplainable energy leading to ecstatic delight and woeful depression. Love is, as the saying goes, "a many-splendored thing," though, of course, it can also be a many-forked thing. Love evokes cries of delight, cries of equal anguish. Love is what makes us most alive, and, as the song goes, we are "born to be alive." So, to be alive, that is to love. Yet we don't know it! Infuriating as it may be, we cannot encounter it in a fleeting moment, with the flick of a switch. It takes time – and in a time-conscious environment that can be a disqualifier. Nevertheless, that is what it takes – time. And it takes a willingness to descend into the lower depths and there discover not a bright light, but a stream, a dark stream that is incomprehensible, as the anonymous author of long ago so well put it in The Cloud of Unknowing.

Francis W. Vanderwall, S.J.
Excerpted from Water in the Wilderness
(Paulist Press, 1985, p. 57)


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
What We Mean by Love
The Choice (and Risk) That Is Love
Love as "Quest and Daring and Growth"
The Holy Pleasure of Intimacy
"There's Light in Love, You See"
Our Lives as LGBTQI People: "Garments Grown in Love"
Like a Sure Thing
Love Is My Guide
Love at Love's Brightest
The Longing for Love: God's Primal Beatitude
"Make Us Lovers, God of Love"
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
Meeting (and Embodying) The Lover God

Image: Subjects and photographer unknown.


Sunday, August 12, 2018

As the World Burns, Calls for a "Green New Deal"



The surge of political candidates who are advancing a democratic eco-socialist vision, connecting the dots between the economic depredations caused by decades of neoliberal ascendency and the ravaged state of our natural world, comprise humanity’s best shot at collective survival, writes Naomi Klein.


The climate change crisis has reached a new level of intensity, with the New York Magazine recently observing that "from Japan to Sweden, and Oman to Texas, a global heat wave is setting records, igniting wildfires, and killing dozens all across the world." Meanwhile, over at The Intercept, award-winning journalist and best-selling author Naomi Klein (right) has an excellent piece written in response to Nathaniel Rich's recent New York Times article, "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change."

While Klein acknowledges that Rich's "novella-length piece represents the kind of media commitment that the climate crisis has long deserved but almost never received," she nevertheless makes a compelling case that it is "spectacularly wrong in its central thesis."

Following is an excerpt from Klein's well-informed and insightful piece.

According to Rich, between the years of 1979 and 1989, the basic science of climate change was understood and accepted, the partisan divide over the issue had yet to cleave, the fossil fuel companies hadn’t started their misinformation campaign in earnest, and there was a great deal of global political momentum toward a bold and binding international emissions-reduction agreement. Writing of the key period at the end of the 1980s, Rich says, “The conditions for success could not have been more favorable.”

And yet we blew it – “we” being humans, who apparently are just too shortsighted to safeguard our future. Just in case we missed the point of who and what is to blame for the fact that we are now “losing earth,” Rich’s answer is presented in a full-page callout: “All the facts were known, and nothing stood in our way. Nothing, that is, except ourselves.”

Yep, you and me. Not, according to Rich, the fossil fuel companies who sat in on every major policy meeting described in the piece. (Imagine tobacco executives being repeatedly invited by the U.S. government to come up with policies to ban smoking. When those meetings failed to yield anything substantive, would we conclude that the reason is that humans just want to die? Might we perhaps determine instead that the political system is corrupt and busted?)

This misreading has been pointed out by many climate scientists and historians since the online version of the piece dropped on Wednesday. Others have remarked on the maddening invocations of “human nature” and the use of the royal “we” to describe a screamingly homogenous group of U.S. power players. Throughout Rich’s accounting, we hear nothing from those political leaders in the Global South who were demanding binding action in this key period and after, somehow able to care about future generations despite being human. The voices of women, meanwhile, are almost as rare in Rich’s text as sightings of the endangered ivory-billed woodpecker – and when we ladies do appear, it is mainly as long-suffering wives of tragically heroic men.

All of these flaws have been well covered, so I won’t rehash them here. My focus is the central premise of the piece: that the end of the 1980s presented conditions that “could not have been more favorable” to bold climate action. On the contrary, one could scarcely imagine a more inopportune moment in human evolution for our species to come face to face with the hard truth that the conveniences of modern consumer capitalism were steadily eroding the habitability of the planet. Why? Because the late ’80s was the absolute zenith of the neoliberal crusade, a moment of peak ideological ascendency for the economic and social project that deliberately set out to vilify collective action in the name of liberating “free markets” in every aspect of life. Yet Rich makes no mention of this parallel upheaval in economic and political thought.

. . . Why does it matter that Rich makes no mention of [this upheaval] and instead, claims our fate has been sealed by “human nature”? It matters because if the force that interrupted the momentum toward action is “ourselves,” then the fatalistic headline on the cover of New York Times Magazine – “Losing Earth” – really is merited. If an inability to sacrifice in the short term for a shot at health and safety in the future is baked into our collective DNA, then we have no hope of turning things around in time to avert truly catastrophic warming.

If, on the other hand, we humans really were on the brink of saving ourselves in the ’80s, but were swamped by a tide of elite, free-market fanaticism – one that was opposed by millions of people around the world – then there is something quite concrete we can do about it. We can confront that economic order and try to replace it with something that is rooted in both human and planetary security, one that does not place the quest for growth and profit at all costs at its center.

And the good news – and, yes, there is some – is that today, unlike in 1989, a young and growing movement of green democratic socialists is advancing in the United States with precisely that vision. And that represents more than just an electoral alternative – it’s our one and only planetary lifeline.

Yet we have to be clear that the lifeline we need is not something that has been tried before, at least not at anything like the scale required. When the Times tweeted out its teaser for Rich’s article about “humankind’s inability to address the climate change catastrophe,” the excellent eco-justice wing of the Democratic Socialists of America quickly offered this correction: “*CAPITALISM* If they were serious about investigating what’s gone so wrong, this would be about ‘capitalism’s inability to address the climate change catastrophe.’ Beyond capitalism, *humankind* is fully capable of organizing societies to thrive within ecological limits.”

Their point is a good one, if incomplete. There is nothing essential about humans living under capitalism; we humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems. Indeed, humans have lived that way for the vast majority of our history and many Indigenous cultures keep earth-centered cosmologies alive to this day. Capitalism is a tiny blip in the collective story of our species.

But simply blaming capitalism isn’t enough. It is absolutely true that the drive for endless growth and profits stands squarely opposed to the imperative for a rapid transition off fossil fuels. It is absolutely true that the global unleashing of the unbound form of capitalism known as neoliberalism in the ’80s and ’90s has been the single greatest contributor to a disastrous global emission spike in recent decades, as well as the single greatest obstacle to science-based climate action ever since governments began meeting to talk (and talk and talk) about lowering emissions. And it remains the biggest obstacle today, even in countries that market themselves as climate leaders, like Canada and France.

But we have to be honest that autocratic industrial socialism has also been a disaster for the environment, as evidenced most dramatically by the fact that carbon emissions briefly plummeted when the economies of the former Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. And as I wrote in “This Changes Everything,” Venezuela’s petro-populism has continued this toxic tradition into the present day, with disastrous results.

Let’s acknowledge this fact, while also pointing out that countries with a strong democratic socialist tradition – like Denmark, Sweden, and Uruguay – have some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world. From this we can conclude that socialism isn’t necessarily ecological, but that a new form of democratic eco-socialism, with the humility to learn from Indigenous teachings about the duties to future generations and the interconnection of all of life, appears to be humanity’s best shot at collective survival.

These are the stakes in the surge of movement-grounded political candidates who are advancing a democratic eco-socialist vision, connecting the dots between the economic depredations caused by decades of neoliberal ascendency and the ravaged state of our natural world. Partly inspired by Bernie Sanders’s presidential run, candidates in a variety of races — like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Kaniela Ing in Hawaii, and many more – are running on platforms calling for a “Green New Deal” that meets everyone’s basic material needs, offers real solutions to racial and gender inequities, while catalyzing a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Many, like New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, have pledged not to take money from fossil fuel companies and are promising instead to prosecute them.

These candidates, whether or not they identify as democratic socialist, are rejecting the neoliberal centrism of the establishment Democratic Party, with its tepid “market-based solutions” to the ecological crisis, as well as Donald Trump’s all-out war on nature. And they are also presenting a concrete alternative to the undemocratic extractivist socialists of both the past and present. Perhaps most importantly, this new generation of leaders isn’t interested in scapegoating “humanity” for the greed and corruption of a tiny elite. It seeks instead to help humanity – particularly its most systematically unheard and uncounted members – to find their collective voice and power so they can stand up to that elite.

We aren’t losing earth – but the earth is getting so hot so fast that it is on a trajectory to lose a great many of us. In the nick of time, a new political path to safety is presenting itself. This is no moment to bemoan our lost decades. It’s the moment to get the hell on that path.

– Naomi Klein
Excerpted from “Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not 'Human Nature'
The Intercept
August 3, 2018


Related Off-site Links:
Scientists Aren’t Impressed with New York Times’ New Story on Climate Change – Joe Romm (Think Progress, August 1, 2018).
Experts: If We Don’t Stop Climate Change, California Fires “Will Seem Mild In Comparison to What’s Coming”Democracy Now! (August 9, 2018).
The World Is Losing the War Against Climate ChangeThe Economist (August 1, 2018).
U.S. Military Is World’s Biggest Polluter – Whitney Webb (Eco Watch via Mint Press, May 15, 2017).
In a Summer of Wildfires and Hurricanes, My Son Asks “Why Is Everything Going Wrong?” – Naomi Klein (The Intercept, September 9, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – August 29, 2017
The Neoliberal Economic Doctrine: A View from Australia
The People's Climate Solidarity March – Minneapolis, 4/29/17
The Paris Climate Talks, Multilateralism, and a "New Approach to Climate Action"
Earth Day 2017
"It Is All Connected"
Standing Together
Standing in Prayer and Solidarity with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock
A Record High
Prayer of the Week – April 24, 2017
Earth Day 2015
Quote of the Day – September 19, 2014
Something to Think About – April 22, 2014
Carrying It On
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2011
A Lose/Lose Situation
In a Blow to Democracy, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Corporate Personhood
Making the Connections . . . Then and Now

Opening Image: Photographer unknown.


Thursday, August 09, 2018

"Avengers Assemble!"

– Artwork by Joey Mason

Okay, it's true, with this post I'm totally channeling my inner geek. Or is it my inner hero? Maybe both! 🤣 . . .

Over at Screen Rant, Matt Morrison ranks all 30 superheroes in Avengers: Infinity War "from worthless to most powerful" . . . and my two favorite Marvel superheroes – Black Panther and Scarlet Witch – are ranked #7 and #3 respectively, with the Scarlet Witch bested only by Thanos (#2) and Thor (#1). For those in the know, that's pretty impressive!

Below (with added images and links) is what Morrison writes about Black Panther and the Scarlet Witch . . .


#7 – Black Panther


King T'Challa [Chadwick Boseman] of Wakanda has a number of advantages that make him one of the greatest fighters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is at the peak of physical perfection; his body honed through continual training. He is a master of multiple martial arts and disciplines.

His already impressive physique is further enhanced by the Heart-Shaped Herb – a plant found only in Wakanda that gives those who partake of it strength, speed and endurance on par with the enhanced physicality granted by the Super-Soldier formula. The Heart-Shaped Herb also enhances the senses, granting perfect night vision, enhanced hearing and a sense of smell so strong one can track by scent like a bloodhound.


T'Challa is more than a good body, however – he has a genius intellect and a brilliant tactical mind to match! Coupled with the armor designed by his sister, Shuri, his traditional Vibranium weapons and all the resources that the most technologically advanced nation on Earth has to offer and there is little T'Challa cannot overcome with sufficient warning and time to plan.


T'Challa acquits himself quite well in Infinity War, leading the charge against the Outriders in the Battle of Wakanda, with only Captain America managing to keep pace with him as he runs into the field of battle.

We see him tackle multiple opponents at once, cutting his way through opponents as only a true warrior king could.

_________________________


#3 – Scarlet Witch


One of two twins who was experimented on by HYDRA in a bid to create their own super-humans, Wanda Maximoff [Elizabeth Olsen] found herself cursed with strange abilities that defied explanation as well as control. A powerful telekinetic, telepath and energy manipulator, she was almost able to single-handedly take down The Avengers when she and her brother, Pietro, were set against them by Ultron. She later joined the team in the wake of her brother's passing, hitting it off with The Vision before being forced into hiding overseas following the events of Civil War.

At first glance, Wanda doesn't seem to be much of a fighter. She's easily defeated by Proxima Midnight in a one-on-one fight, despite her considerable powers. She's also easily flustered and doesn't handle surprises well.

Give her a chance to find her footing, and the Scarlet Witch is potentially the most powerful and dangerous Avenger of them all.

When the Battle of Wakanda began in earnest, Wanda proved her worth and then some. She flipped several of Thanos' war machines away from the Wakandan military. She saved Black Widow from being destroyed by Proxima Midnight. Most impressively, she managed to hold back Thanos while he was empowered by five Infinity Stones while simultaneously unleashing and focusing enough energy with her other hand to destroy the Mind Stone!

As Okoye said, "Why wasn't she down here the whole time?!"





Related Off-site Links:
Avengers: Infinity War Is an Extraordinary Juggling Act – Erik Kain (Forbes, May 9, 2018).
The 5 Biggest Problems With Avengers: Infinity War – Christopher Orr (The Atlantic, April 26, 2018).
Avengers: Infinity War Is Stunning, Hilarious, and Heartbreaking – Bryan Bishop (The Verge, April 24, 2018).




Above: Front row (left to right): Okoye (Danai Gurira), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow Scarlett Johansson), and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Season of the Witch
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
One Divine Hammer
Wolvie
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men
The New Superman: Not Necessarily Gay, But Definitely Queer


Saturday, August 04, 2018

A True American Hero



LeBron James: a true American hero; an impeccable role model, a black man who is an authentic spiritual teacher and healer.

Friar André Maria
via Facebook
July 30, 2018



Above: The July 30, 2018 opening of the LeBron James Family Foundation's “I Promise” School in Akron, Ohio. “I Promise” is a public elementary school created to help struggling elementary school students stay in school. LeBron considers it the most important professional accomplishment of his life.


In reflecting on his choice of words to describe LeBron James, Friar André Maria writes:

With my post earlier this morning where I labeled LeBron James an "authentic spiritual teacher and healer" (and I am completely serious about that) something was awakened in me that, in truth, has been awakened before. However, it now seems more solidified.

What has been awakened in me is to help create a movement, perhaps or perhaps a re-creating or a re-awakening/imagining of a template for understanding the definition of spiritual teaching and healing work; one that comes directly out of the experience of contemporary people of the African Diaspora and specifically not from a place of the colonized mind that almost every black person in America and Europe has been indoctrinated in. I know I am not the first person to do this. However, this iteration will have my specific touch and will reflect everything I specifically bring to this project.

Several weeks ago there was the "Beyoncé Mass" at the Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. And today there is my calling LeBron James "an authentic spiritual teacher and healer." This is what I'm talking about. This is only the very, very beginning.

And have you ever been on a spiritually based nondual forum, for example? Trust me, Beyoncé makes far more sense as a potential source of authentic spiritual enlightenment and inquiry than what passes as such on many such forums.

I reject the narrow constructs and definitions the colonized, patriarchal, and white supremacist (overtly and/or covertly) mindset tells us and instructs us is the criteria for understanding what an authentic "spiritual teacher" and "healer" are. I embrace a defining and a living out of these terms that reflect the specific reality of modern day people of the African Diaspora.


Related Off-site Links:
In One More Career-Defining Moment, LeBron James Opens a School for At-Risk Kids – Tania Ganguli (Chicago Tribune, July 30, 2018).
What LeBron James Keeps Doing Is More Impressive Than You Think – Terence Moore (Forbes, August 2, 2018).
Trump Insults LeBron James’s Intelligence in an Echo of “Shut Up and Dribble” – Alex Horton (The Washington Post, August 4, 2018).
Twitter Explodes Over Donald Trump’s “Disgusting” Attack on LeBron James: “LeBron Puts Children Through School. Trump Puts Children in Cages” – Jeff Zillgitt (USA Today, August 4, 2018).
Sports World Reacts to Donald Trump’s Attack on LeBron James – Michelle R. Martinelli (USA Today, August 4, 2018).
Trump’s Tweet About LeBron Is Pathetic, Immature But Not Unexpected – Jeff Zillgitt (USA Today, August 4, 2018).

UPDATES: LeBron James Tweets Positive Message to Kids After Donald Trump Attacks Him – Hilary Hanson (The Huffington Post, August 4, 2018).
When Trump Attacked LeBron James, It Had an Unintended Effect: Other Athletes Speaking Out – Cindy Boren (The Washington Post, August 5, 2018).
Amid LeBron James Flap, Melania Trump Again Charts Her Own Course – Associated Press via MSN.com (August 5, 2018).
LeBron Shows Trump What Winning Really Looks Like – Dave Zirin (The Nation, August 6, 2018).
LeBronThe Leveret (August 7, 2018).




See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – April 23, 2018
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Michael Sean Winters on This Year's Grim Fourth of July: "The Entire Republican Establishment Has Caved to Trumpism"
Quote of the Day – May 23, 2018
Opposing the Trump Administration's Inhumane Treatment of Immigrant Families
"What We're Seeing Here Is a Tipping Point"
Jeremy Scahill on the Historical Context of the Trump Administration's "Pathologically Sick" Anti-Immigrant Agenda
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
2000+ Take to the Streets of Minneapolis to Express Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Trump's Playbook

Images: Photographers unknown.


Wednesday, August 01, 2018

A Morning at the Minneapolis Institute of Art


I spent this morning with my friends Sam, Mark, Kristen, Jamie, Danielle, and Logan at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I share this evening some of the photographs I took of those works at the MIA (and/or juxtaposition of works) that caught my attention. Enjoy!

(NOTE: When time permits, I'll return to this post in the next few days and add descriptions to some of the works highlighted.)















See also the previous Wild Reed, see:
A Visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales
A Visit to the Weisman
A Visit to the National Museum of the American Indian
A Visit to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry
A Visit to Kansas City's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
An Afternoon at the Science Museum
A Day at the Abbey
Return to the Abbey

Images: Michael J. Bayly.