Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Purpose of Art

Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed . . . because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged. They then act in a way that may effect the course of events . . . by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Potential of Art and the Limits of Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Dancer and the Dance
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Church and Dance
The Soul of a Dancer
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
Desert Dancer: A Story That Matters
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
Love is Love

Image: A still from David LaChapelle's video of Sergei Polunin dancing to "Take Me to Church" by Irish musician Hozier. For more about this artistic collaboration and to view the video, click here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links:
A Grand Jury Just Decided Not to Indict the Cop Who Killed 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice – Jaeah Lee (Mother Jones, December 28, 2015).
What Everyone Should Know About The Police Killing of Tamir Rice (2002-2014) – Judd Legum (Think Progress, December 28, 2015).
Tamir Rice Family "In Shock" After Grand Jury Clears Police for Fatally Shooting Boy Holding Toy GunDemocracy Now! (December 29, 2015).
No One Was Indicted In The Tamir Rice Case. That Was The Plan All Along – Cristian Farias (HuffPost Politics, December 28, 2015).
Nation Mourns Tamir Rice Case as a "Catastrophic and Pernicious Miscarriage of Justice" – Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams, December 29, 2015).
How A Prosecutor Managed to Blame a 12-Year-Old for Getting Killed By a Cop – Daniel Marans (HuffPost Black Voices, December 28, 2015).
Tamir Rice's Death Resulted From "Officer-Created Jeopardy." So Why Were No Officers Indicted? – Leon Neyfakh (Slate, December 29, 2015).
Tamir Rice and the Value of Life – Charles M. Blow (The New York Times, January 11, 2015).
This Case Proves If Tamir Rice Were White He’d Still Be Alive – Dylan Hock (U.S. Uncut, December 28, 2015).
Tamir Rice Found Guilty of Being Young, Free and Black – Kirsten West Savali (The Root, December 28, 2015).
The Stages of What Happens When There’s Injustice Against Black PeopleAwesomely Luvvie (December 4, 2014).
The Tamir Rice Case Shows How Prosecutors Twist Grand Juries to Protect Police – Ari Melber (The Washington Post, December 29, 2015).
England Abolished Grand Juries Decades Ago Because They Didn't Work – Bradley Campbell (PRI, December 4, 2014).
Harvard Medical Scientists Say Police Killings Should Be Recorded As Public Epidemic – Dylan Sevett (U.S. Uncut, December 27, 2015).
American Lives: James Baldwin, "Lifting The Veil" – NPR (July 15, 2011).
Gay Will Never Be the New Black: What James Baldwin Taught Me About My White Privilege – Todd Clayton (HuffPost Gay Voices, February 12, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
An Update on #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
Quote of the Day – June 19, 2015
"Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore

Monday, December 28, 2015

Photo of the Day

Related Off-site Links:
Major Winter Storm Hits Home Late Monday – Paul Huttner (MPR Weather, December 28, 2015).
Finally, Snow! – Courtney Perry and Alex Kolyer (MPR News, December 29, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Winter Reflection
Winter's Return
Winter Storm
Just in Time for Winter

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Quote of the Day

How will we as a church live with our gay, lesbian and transgender brothers and sisters? We are past the time of "love the sinner" platitudes.

. . . [Greg] Bourke and [Michael] DeLeon [right] are emblematic of this major challenge facing the church today, because they force us to ask not how will we live out a hypothetical situ­ation, but how will we live with Greg and Michael. They give flesh to an abstraction.

The answers [that members of] the church [hierarchy are] giving . . . are con­fused, uneven and often cruel. Greg and Michael – and countless gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics – deserve better.

For their historic roles as plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges [which found same-sex marriage a con­stitutional right] and for their faithful public witness as gay Catholics, we name Greg Bourke and Michael DeLe­on NCR's persons of the year for 2015.

National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
Excerpted from "Our Persons of the Year for 2015
National Catholic Reporter
December 28, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Catholic Newspaper Names Same-Sex Marriage Plaintiffs "Persons Of The Year" – Amanda Terkel (HuffPost Gay Voices, December 28, 2015).
National Catholic Reporter Editorializes: "How Will We As a Church Live with Our Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Brothers and Sisters?" – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, December 28, 2015).
Married Gay Catholics Chosen as “Persons of the Year” – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, December 29, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
U.S. Supreme Court Legalizes Marriage for Same-Sex Couples Across the Nation
Progressive Catholic Perspectives on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Marriage Equality Ruling
Quote of the Day – June 26, 2015
Something to Celebrate – June 27, 2015
Questions for Archbishop Kurtz re. the U.S. Bishops' Response to the Supreme Court's Marriage Equality Ruling

Image: Michael DeLeon, left, and Greg Bourke, April 28, 2015, Washington, D.C. (Newscom/UPI/Pete Marovich)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015: Reflections and Celebrations

It's Christmas Day here in Minnesota, and although I miss spending this special time of year with my family and friends in Australia, I feel very fortunate to have many wonderful friends here in the U.S. with whom I'm able to celebrate all that the Christmas season signifies.

Above (from left): Kalvin, Kimaria, Tykia, Joan, Ian (with Sadie), Angela, me, Nathan, and George – Christmas Eve.

Right: With Brent, a wonderful guy I've been dating since October.

Below: A gathering of friends for the holiday party Tim and I hosted on December 16.

Above: At right with my good friend and housemate Tim and his girlfriend Colleen – December 16, 2015.

I share this evening a few images of some of the celebrations I've been part of, starting with a holiday gathering on December 16 and my Winter Solstice/Christmas party on December 18 and continuing throughout today. (And updated with images from New Year's Eve!) These images are accompanied by some reflections on Christmas – its meaning and significance. I also take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2016.

God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving towards the house of peace and joy. This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey. . . . The challenge is to let God be who [God] wants to be. A part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain. Often we hide from God precisely those places in ourselves where we feel guilty, ashamed, confused, and lost. Thus we do not give God a chance to be with us where we feel most alone. Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let God – whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend – be our companion.

A Christmas that idolizes prosperity and ignores suffering is no Christmas at all. Pope Francis believes that Christmas is less about preaching tidings of comfort and enjoyment, and more about encountering and walking with those who are afflicted by discomfort and pain. For Francis, war-torn Mosul, impoverished Bangui, and struggling Juarez are the cultural centers of Christmas much more than New York, London, or even Rome. . . . The pope isn’t making this up out of thin air. Christmas, too domesticated and romanticized over time, is nothing short of a subversive and revolutionary holiday. To understand Francis’ war on the bourgeois version of Christmas, we must encounter the story once again with new eyes. . . . No one would have expected the messiah to be born in poverty, obscurity, and exclusion, far from the cultural and political centers of the world. But that’s God’s Christmas logic.

– Christopher Hale
Excerpted from "Pope Francis’ War on Christmas"
December 24, 2015
p. 140

Human beings have proved their capacity to survive suffering, bad luck, poverty, isolation, natural disasters. Christ did, after all, and that's one of the rites we celebrate for each other at Christmas. We age and we die (old Christmas photos provide evidence), but we think about it, and at our best, sing about it. Christmas, much more than New Year's Eve, is the ritual that asks us to take stock, remember, allow our minds and consciences to be flooded with our own history. If we are honest, this will not lead us to back-slapping cheeriness, but it might bring us the quiet joy that we have done our job as human beings by living out our lives, however many Christmases we have marked off on the calendar.

– Bill Holm
Excerpted from Faces of Christmas Past
pp. 58-59

Let us be at peace with our bodies and our minds.
Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves.
Let us be aware of the source of being,
common to us all and to all living things.
Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion,
let us fill our hearts with our own compassion –
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be
the cause of suffering to each other.
With humility, with awareness of the existence of life,
and of the sufferings that are going on around us,
let us practice the establishment of peace
in our hearts and on earth.

The incarnation is the irruption of God into human history: an incarnation into littleness and service in the midst of overbearing power exercised by the mighty of this world; an irruption that smells of the stable.

The Son of God was born into a little people, a nation of little importance by comparison with the powers of the time.

He took flesh among the poor in a marginal area—namely, Galilee; he lived with the poor and emerged from among them to inaugurate a kingdom of love and justice.

That is why many have trouble recognizing him.

– Gustavo Gutiérrez
Excerpted from The Good Life

Above and below: Photos from the December 16 holiday party that my housemate and friend Tim and I hosted for members and friends of our yoga group.

Right: With my friend and work colleague Julia – December 17, 2015. We're pictured with gifts for our TRUST Meals on Wheels clients provided through the Wreath of Love program.

On the evening of Friday, December 18, my good friend and housemate Tim and I hosted our annual Winter Solstice/Christmas party. Pictured above are friends Lisa and Brent and Colleen.

Left: With my friend Pete – December 18, 2015.

Above: Javier, Raul, Kathleen and Ron.

Above: Alfredo, Lisa, Rick and Kathleen.

Above: Kathy, John, Kathleen, Joan, George, Brent and John.

Above: Lisa and Brent.

Above: Tim, Julia, Edgar and Brent.

Above: Pete and Colleen.

Above: Margie and Alfredo.

Above: Brent, Kathy and Joan.

Above: Raul and Ron.

Above: Margie and John.

Right: George and John.

Above: Javier, me, Kathleen, Ron and Rick.

Left: Tim and Colleen.

Above: Joan, Brent and Kathleen.

Above: With Lisa and Brent.

Above: Alfredo and John.

Above: Kathleen and Joan – December 18, 2015.

Right: On the evening of Wednesday, December 23, my good friends John and Noelle invited me to be part of their family's annual Christmas tree decorating ritual.


Above: Alicia and Scott.

Above: Friends Liana and Curtis with their beautiful little daughter Amelia.

Left: Brittany and Phil with Gordy.

Above: Scott and Phil.

Right: With Eddie.

For more photos of this handsome dog, click here, here, here and here.

Above: Liana and Amelia decorating the tree.

Above: With my dear friend Joan – Christmas Eve 2015.

Above: Tykia and Kimaria – Christmas Eve 2015.

Above: At Cecil's Deli, Bakery and Restaurant in St. Paul, where I had a delicious Christmas Day lunch with my friends Rick and Brian.

Above: Christmas dinner at the always welcoming home of my friends John and Noelle. Pictured from left: Alicia, Scott, Liana, Amelia, Curtis, Noelle, Ben, Phil and John.

Above: Little Amelia with her Aunty Alicia.

Above: With my dear friend Rita McDonald, CSJ, one of the renowned McDonald Sisters – Sunday, December 27, 2015.

Along with Marguerite Corcoran, CSJ, Rita was my “companion” during my CSJ consociate candidacy process in 2006-2007.

Above: Quinn – December 27, 2015.

Above: Celebrating New Year's Eve. With me from left: Brent, Tim, Colleen, Brian and Kelly.

Above: Seeing 2016 in with a vigorous game of table tennis!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Christmas 2014: Thoughts and Celebrations
Celebrating the Coming of the Sun and the Son
Christmastide Approaches
The Christmas Tree as Icon, Inviting Us to Contemplate the "One Holy Circle" of Both Dark and Light
Quote of the Day – December 1, 2014
Something to Cherish (2012)
A Christmas Message of Hope . . . from Uganda (2011)
Quote of the Day – December 26, 2010
Christmas in Australia (2010)
John Dear on Celebrating the Birth of the Nonviolent Jesus
A Bush Christmas (2009)
A Story of Searching and Discovery
The Christmas Truce of 1914
Clarity and Hope: A Christmas Reflection (2007)
An Australian Christmas (2006)
A Christmas Reflection by James Carroll

Recommended Off-site Links:
War is Over! – If You Want It: Christmas Celebrates Nonviolence – John Dear (Common Dreams, December 25, 2015).
Christmas 2015 – Why There Is No Peace On Earth – David Stockman (David Stockman's Contra Corner, December 25, 2015).
Cardinal Seán: Christmas Joy is About Solidarity, Rejecting Ayn Rand Extreme Individualism – Robert Christian (Millennial, December 28, 2015).
When Words Become Flesh: Risking Vulnerability in a Violent World – Parker Palmer (On Being, December 23, 2015).
Jewish Angels and Roman Gods: The Ancient Mythological Origins of Christmas – Valerie Tarico (AlterNet via Salon, December 12, 2014).
Pulling the Princes from Their Thrones – Mike Lux (The Huffington Post, December 24, 2014).
An Unexpected Revolution – Elizabeth Stoker-Bruenig (Democratic Socialists of America, December 24, 2014).

Images: Michael J. Bayly and friends.