Sunday, March 20, 2022

Spring Hiatus

It’s the spring equinox today here in the northern hemisphere, an event which marks the first day of spring.

I’ve decided to use this time of new beginnings to take a “sacred pause” from blogging so as to regain some balance in my life. This means not only developing and maintaining an exercise routine and being more mindful of what I eat, but also getting and staying grounded in – and open to – the Divine Presence within and around me. One way I’ve come to think about this cultivating of relationship with the Divine is as “aligning with the Living Light.” For me, a key way of embodying this alignment in through a daily practice of meditation.

Time and energy usually spent in blogging, will now be directed to becoming disciplined in the practical measures aimed at cultivating balance and renewal in my life: exercise, eating well, and meditation.

I’m not sure how long my hiatus from blogging will last. And that’s okay.

For now I’m simply looking forward to taking a rest from writing and researching; from spending time inside and at my desk. Also, now that the weather is warming, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in nature, trusting that, as Celtic spirituality reminds us, the merging of the human soul with the soul of nature facilitates a deep healing of body, mind, and spirit.

It’s this kind of healing, this kind of balance that I’m longing to see manifested in both my own life and in the world. And so I’ve decided to very intentionally clear space in my life to cultivate the conditions for such manifestation.



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Day Both Holy and Magical
Reading About Keats on the Spring Equinox
In This In-Between Time
O Dancer of Creation
The Landscape Is a Mirror
Welcoming the Return of Spring (2018)
Celebrating the Return of Spring (2017)
Spring: “Truly the Season for Joy and Hope”
Celebrating the “Color of Spring” . . . and a Cosmic Notion of the Christ
In the Footsteps of Spring: Introduction | Part I | II | III | IV | V
Hiatus (2018)
Hiatus (2013)
Seeking Balance

Image: “Wild Reeds on the Spring Equinox” by Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Now Here’s a Voice I’d Like to Hear Regularly on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows

Author, activist, and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has been described by philosopher and social critic Cornel West as “one of the few in the higher echelons of public life and public conversation who understand the intimate relation between the spiritual and the social, the personal and the political, and the existential and the economic.”

Continues West: “It’s very rare that people have this synoptic vision, [one that ensures that] spirituality, morality, and integrity sit at the center and at the beginning of any serious discussion about the relation of a self and a society.”

Recently, Marianne Williamson appeared on SXSW (South by Southwest) as a guest of this media platform’s Live Studio Interviews, “where conversations go beyond the boundaries of sessions, showcases and screenings.”

Given the stated purpose of these interviews, it’s no wonder that Williamson seemed right at home. True to form, she took her conversation with host Wajahat Ali to a deeper level and, in doing so, made a number of critically important and insightful points about the state of the world. (For the transcript of Marianne and Wajahat’s conversation, click here.)

It’s the kind of depth I long to see in, say, the Sunday morning talk shows of corporate mainstream media. But then that’s unlikely, as the points raised by Williamson question and challenge the current political and economic status quo, a status quo that reflects and serves the interests of the political-media complex, headquartered, as Marianne reminds us, in both major political parties in the U.S.

By and large, outlets and shows of the corporate mainstream media, including the “big five” Sunday morning talk shows, serve as megaphones to the political-media complex and the underlying corporatization of society which is corroding democracy, weakening social activism, and destroying the environment. No surprise then that those who are unafraid to call out this corporatism, in whatever form it takes, are rarely, if ever, invited to speak on the Sunday morning talk shows. Along with Marianne Williamson, I’m talking about folks like Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Robert McChesney, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Barbara Ehrenreich, Norman Solomon, Jeff Cohen, Vandana Shiva, Ralph Nader and Richard Wolff.

Thankfully, there are independent media platforms, shows, and podcasts that do lift up these vitally important voices. . . . And following is an example of the refreshing results of this lifting up.

Following is how to contact the “big five” Sunday morning talk shows to request that Marianne Williamsom be regularly invited to share her perspective.

NBC’s Meet the Press – Politics Editor, Matthew Korade:

CBC’s Face the NationFeedback

ABC’s This WeekProgramming Feedback

Fox News SundaySubmit a Request

CNN’s State of the UnionFeedback

NOTE: Marianne Williamson did appear on one of the above shows, Face the Nation, on July 28, 2019. To view this interview, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
“I Have Hope”: Marianne Williamson on the Democratic Party and the 2024 Election – Brennan Leach (North by Northwestern, February 3, 2022).
Think Big to Overcome Losing Big to Corporatism – Ralph Nader (Common Dreams, January 8, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marianne Williamson and Cornel West: “Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 11, 2021
Marianne Williamson on the Tenth Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
Cultivating Peace
Marianne Williamson on Pollyanna As a “Miracle Worker”
Inauguration Eve Musings
Marianne Williamson on the Movement for a People’s Party
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Deep Gratitude
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Hope Over Fear
A Lose/Lose Situation
Ralph Nader: Quote of the Day – January 20, 2022

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Making a Splash

Here’s a wonderful video by Yes Jamal with a message for the world . . .

Stop wars. Stop racism.
Make peace. Spread love.

Says Yes Jamal: “I always use my social media to promote positive messages. And this message is one of peace.”

The music that accompanies this lively (dare I say splashy) video is “Calm Down” by Nigerian singer and rapper Rema.


To subscribe to Yes Jamal's YouTube channel and/or follow him on Tik Tok and Instagram, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
The Dangerous Assumption That Violence Keeps Us Safe – George Lakey (Waging Nonviolence, February 26, 2022).
The Greatest Evil Is War – Chris Hedges (Popular Resistance, February 28, 2022).
Hello, Humanity: What You’re Doing Now Isn’t Working – Marianne Williamson (Transform, March 8, 2022).
Peace Groups to Demand “Russian Troops Out” of Ukraine at Weekend Rallies – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, March 4, 2022).
The Ukrainian Refugee Crisis and the Pathology of Racism – Simar S. Bajaj and Fatima Cody Stanford (BMJ, March 11, 2022).
Thich Nhat Hanh On the Art of Being Peace – Metta Center for Nonviolence (January 28, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Cultivating Peace
Celebrating the “Sisters of Peace”
Walking for Peace, Witnessing Against War
General Strike for Peace
Rallying to End U.S. Militarism
“There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Saying “No” to War on Iran
A Prayer for Ukraine

Monday, March 14, 2022

“This Is Indeed Part of My Queer Agenda . . .”

Every time the word “gay” rolls off my tongue – when the words “queer” or “intersex” or “trans” or “nonbinary” or “bisexual” bless my lips – no matter what I’m talking about, I am also, always, sending a love letter, casting a lifeline, praying a prayer, and yes, obviously, waving a flag.

So many generations of silence and slurs, of words of violence and of quiet, lonely does-anyone-else-in-the-world-feel-this-way? My heart could burst every time I speak the imperfect but earnest attempts at finding ways to communicate lineages of “us.” Every word, a reaching toward each other. A “you’re not alone” or a “we got each other” and a “isn’t it divine, being this way?” It’s never too early to start teaching this love language and planting these seeds of assurance. Just thinking about it makes me want to sing the whole queer lexicon to the tune of ABCs to every new born baby. “Asexual, Bisexual, Cubs, and Dykes . . .”

Train a child up in the way they should go, says the scriptures. And I want them all to go queerly, go freely, go in belonging. I want us to raise a whole generation of kids who never learn to hate themselves. Or to treat others like monsters. Or that there’s anyone even god is against.

This is indeed part of my queer agenda: To expose children as early as possible to all the possibilities of their beautiful becoming. To leave no doubt that whichever way their love blossoms and their gender blooms and their body unfurls, they will be protected, cherished, celebrated, loved. In the world as it is, to even begin to balance out all the messages otherwise, these things cannot be said enough. So we say them in every form they take across languages and cultures. We say them as early and as often as we can. We say them, especially, when they’re not welcome. We say them with all the love we’ve got and we will never, never stop.

Related Off-site Links:
Florida Just Passed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. Here’s What It Means for Kids – Madeleine Carlisle (TIME, March 8, 2022).
At Home With the Families Affected by Texas’s New Anti-Trans Orders – Rachel Monroe (The New Yorker, March 9, 2022).
ACLU Files Suit Over Texas Investigation Into Parents of Trans Child – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, March 1, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Affirmation Declaration
Day of Silence Prayer
Our Lives as LGBTQI People: “Garments Grown in Love”
Jim Smith on the “Tears of Love and Faith” of LGBTI People and Their Families
Minnesota Catholics, LGBT Students, and the Ongoing Work of Creating Safe and Supportive Schools
GSAs and the Catholic High School Setting
An Inspiring Event
A Girl Named Sara: A “Person of the Resurrection”
Confronting Classroom Homophobia
Stephanie Beatriz on the Truth of Being Bi
The Bisexual: “Living Consciously in the Place Where the Twain Meet”
Putting a Human Face on the “T” of “GLBT”
Trans 101
Catholics Recognize and Celebrate the Truth of Transgender People: “Their Quest for Authenticity Is a Quest for Holiness”
Lisa Leff on Five Things to Know About Transgender People
Signs and Wonders
Signs and Wonders Continue

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Cornel West on Responding to the “Spiritual Decay That Cuts Across the Board”

Journalist and novelist Vinson Cunningham recently interviewed Cornel West, who for over three decades has been “one of the preëminent public philosophers in America.”

The following words and insights of West really speak to me. Perhaps they will to you as well.


When you have a vocation, as opposed to just a profession, and a calling as opposed to a career, then you’re really trying to proceed in the spirit of integrity, and you’re going to find persons who also have that same sense of vocation, no matter what color they are. And you form some genuine relations and friendships and brotherhoods and sisterhoods and siblinghoods, as my nonbinary folk would say.

But the problem is that, these days, everybody wants their brand to be so commodified, rather than to find their cause and be so courageous that they’re willing to pay a cost and take a risk for their cause, not just their careers. That’s a spiritual decay right there, and that cuts across region, race, class, gender, sexual orientation – across the board. We see gangsterization and thuggishness, every color, every gender, every sexual orientation, and we see it in every class, but those at the top see the élites unaccountable. Say anything, do everything: no answerability at all.

That’s not just brother Trump, even though he’s a neo-Fascist one. He’s on the continuum with so much of the professional-managerial class in terms of their lack of accountability to working people and poor people. Once you have that kind of spiritual decay and moral decrepitude . . . then it’s just gangsterization on steroids, man. That’s where America’s headed. I tried to say the same thing in Democracy Matters, but it was hard for that book to gain visibility, partly because of what I said about the Middle East. I talked about the gangsterization. Through what? Militarism, free-market fundamentalism, and increasing authoritarianism that’s become neo-Fascism in its expressions. And that’s eighteen years ago.

. . . The Democratic Party is in deep trouble. The neoliberal vision of brother Biden, which, in his own individual case, is predicated on crimes against humanity in terms of mass incarceration, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the Wall Street bailout that led toward the collapse of so many poor and working people’s life chances – to me those are crimes against humanity, just as a person that’s trying to be decent in the world, the crushing of lives of so many folk, the killing of so many folk in Iraq and so on. But he’s still better than Trump. Now, good God almighty, we wonder why we are so desperate.

It’s very clear he turns out to be milquetoast, and the only way he can deliver is the opposing posture, as if you put a Black sister on the Supreme Court and you satisfy the Black women who voted. You’re going to tell me that Black women voted solely to have a representative on the Supreme Court, and not to deal with Black people, Black children, and other folk who are suffering economically and socially? All you need is just a Black woman on the Court, and you’re satisfied now? Most Black sisters out there that I know did not go out for that. But, of course, we want a Black progressive on the court, and a Black woman, fine. But he can’t fight for voting rights for a whole year, can’t hardly engage in any courageous action for that for a whole year? [After Biden announced his selection of Ketanji Brown Jackson, I asked West what he thought of the choice. “It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “I applaud Black success. The challenge is: how do we sustain Black moral greatness?”]

[Biden’s] not dealing with deportation. [He’s] still locked into a very knee-jerk defense of NATO so that the militarism still goes on – everybody knows if Russia had troops in Mexico or Canada there would be invasions [of those countries] tomorrow. He sends the Secretary of State, telling Russia, “You have no right to have a sphere of influence,” after the Monroe Doctrine, after the overthrowing of democratic regimes in Latin America [by the U.S.] for the last hundred-and-some years. Come on, America, do you think people are stupid? What kind of hypocrisy can anybody stand?

That doesn’t mean that Putin is not still a gangster – of course he is. But so were the folk promoting the Monroe Doctrine that had the U.S. sphere of influence for decade after decade after decade after decade, and anybody critical of you, you would demonize. Yet here are you, right at the door of Russia, and can’t see yourself in the mirror. That’s spiritual decay right there, brother, it really is.

. . . The sad thing is that neither the neo-Fascists nor the neoliberals have too much deep love of poor and working people across race, gender, and nation, and very few of them are committed to democratic processes all the way down. And so things really begin to get very confusing on a surface level. But when you really scratch beneath that surface, you can still see just how empty and decrepit, spiritually and morally, both the neo-Fascists are, with all of their ugliness, and the neoliberals, with all of their hypocrisy. Because if we can’t provide an alternative vision between neoliberalism and neo-Fascism, then, as neoliberalism goes under, America will go neo-Fascist. Period.

. . . Certain kinds of democratic processes are precious and fragile. That’s why we try to hold on to them. We’re losing those, too. And that’s why these days are so grim and dim. And that’s why we have to be committed to being certain kinds of persons, no matter what the possibilities are for triumph. We have a chance of a snowball in Hell of fighting for freedom. We fight anyway, because it’s right and because it’s just. And we just get crushed when we get crushed, but we get crushed with a smile.

Cornel West
Excerpted from Vinson Cunningham's interview,
Cornel West Sees a Spiritual Decay in the Culture
The New Yorker
March 9, 2022

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
Cornel West: “Of Course America Is Racist”
Cornel West: Quote of the Day – December 3, 2020
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy
The Problem Is Ultimately Bigger Than Individuals. It’s Systemic
Reacting to the Effects, Not the Cause, of What Ails Us
Making the Connections . . . Then and Now
Hope Over Fear
Hope in the Midst of Collapse
Balancing the Fire
Discerning and Embodying Sacred Presence in Times of Violence and Strife
The End of the World As We Know It . . . and the Beginning As We Live It
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Medicine Songs
Soul: The Connecting Force in Life

Image: Elias Williams for The New Yorker.

Friday, March 11, 2022

On the Second Anniversary of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Words of Gratitude and Hope

Members of a local church recently shared messages of gratitude and hope with the Palliative Care team I’m part of at Mercy Hospital. I serve as the spiritual health provider (or chaplain) on this team.

It’s clear to me (and hopefully to you too) that these heartfelt messages are applicable to all who work in the field of healthcare, especially in this ongoing time of pandemic. In fact, it was two years ago today that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic.


Dear Palliative Care Team: We are strangers, and yet I’m putting pen to paper. . . . Thank you for your tremendous care of COVID patients and their families for these past two years. Confusion, frustration, anger, tears, exhaustion, despair and more – whatever your experience has been, those of us who do not work in healthcare will never understand. We are grateful. I am grateful. I honor your work, and I acknowledge your grief. Be gentle with yourself. I am holding you in the Light.

I hold you in my heart for all the times you’ve been pushed beyond unimaginable limits. You have endured so much and helped so many. Thank you for all the care you have given to others during this weary pandemic. I pray for your strength on this long journey. May the goodness you have shared with others come back around to you.

Dear friends: I am writing to thank each and every person who has been ministering to all those who have been so ill and in need of your loving and skillful care. Please know your work is deeply valued. Thank you.

Dear Heath Care Heroes: I’m sure that you have received much criticism and complaints from some over the past two years. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your exceptional service to people in need during the two years of pandemic. God bless you in the work you do.

Hello! You don’t know me, but I wanted to reach out and share with you how grateful I am for the important work you are doing during this pandemic. My family and I are doing our best to be safe, and we are full of gratitude and respect for your expertise and efforts. I am praying for you and your loved ones, praying that you will have everything you need to come through this safely. Please know that you are making a difference in this crazy world.

I have been amazed at the stories of courage and strength that have been shared and/or reported in churches, on the radio, and on TV. I’m sorry that you have been exploited because of your skills, your training, and your devotion to your patients. But I thank God that you are there, and for what you have done, because if not for you so many more people would have suffered. My father was a combat marine who survived three major amphibious assault landings in the South Pacific during World War II. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and is my hero. Your story is almost like my father’s. The courage, strength, and devotion to patients, co-workers, and staff. The long hours! Having something that you can’t see that seems to want to kill you. You are my heroes too. We will never understand the chaos of the last two years this side of heaven, but I’m convinced that there will be plenty of treasure there for you.

Dear Healthcare Workers: From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for all you do, especially during these tumultuous times. My father died of cancer while being treated in a Palliative Care facility one year ago. Even though we barely knew the nurses and caregivers, they were the first ones to offer a shoulder for us to cry on. The loving care and empathy with which you treat each patient, regardless of whether or not it is reciprocated, reminds me of the love that my father gave to my family. Please continue to be the light that shines through the darkest hours. I hope you know that it means everything to someone, even if they never see you again.

To All the Healthcare Professionals: Many thanks and blessings to you all for your tireless and selfless dedication to your patients at this crucial time in our lives. Your help and sacrifice are so very much appreciated and no thanks is enough. God bless you all!

We know from personal experience the gifts and challenges of serving people with life-limiting disease – and their families – and cannot imagine how the challenges have been magnified with COVID. Know that we send our love and gratitude to you as you bring your expertise and understanding and compassionate presence in easing the journey of others. May you find the respite, compassion, and support you need as you do this hard work.

Dear Palliative Care Team: Please know that your work is appreciated by those of us who lack the skills and aptitude which you share at this impossible time. I hope that deep down you know this and can feel it somehow. I hope you are able to get some rest in-between shifts and can get the care that you need to be able to care for your patients. There are many people praying for you and holding you in the light! Thank you a million times over for all you have already done.

To You, Valued Caregivers: Thank you for your dedication, courage, and service in these difficult times. Your gifts are so specific, so needed, and your work so challenging. We appreciate your ongoing work in service of others – each a unique person who matters. May you find grace, peace of mind, and helpful hands when needed. And may this pandemic find its conclusion soon. We’re masking, vaccine and boostered, and keeping distance – to ease your burdens and spread the benefits toward that goal. May you find reasons to smile today, and know we are thinking of you with thanks.

To All Members of the Palliative Care Team: This morning as I sit with my cup of tea, I’m thinking about how grateful I am that nurses and hospital staff have been on the front lines through day after day of this pandemic. Thank you for your consistent care, even when you are weary yourselves. Thank you for your devotion to care . . . to caring about, and for, people in need. I have hope that your resiliency will carry the day.

Related Off-site Links:
Two Years Into Pandemic, Human Rights Watch Warns of Lessons Not Learned – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, March 11, 2022).
After Two Years, WHO Chief Says Pandemic “Not Over Anywhere Until It’s Over Everywhere” – Andrea Germanos (Common Dreams, March 9, 2022).
Two Full Years and 6 Million Dead: Covid-19 Pandemic Latest Grim Milestone
– Jon Queally (Common Dreams, March 7, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A COVID Start to 2022
Out and About – Autumn 2021
Renae Gage: Quote of the Day – November 28, 2021
COVID Observations From a General Surgeon
Richard LaFortune: Quote of the Day – August 20, 2021
Something to Lament
A Pandemic Year
Out and About – Spring 2020
Memes of the Times
The Lancet Weighs-in on the Trump Administration’s “Incoherent” Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Sonya Renee Taylor: Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It’s Okay to Be Heartbroken
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic

Monday, March 07, 2022

Biophilia, the God Pan, and a Baboon Named Scott

One of the more interesting and informative groups I follow on Facebook is Baboon Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of baboons in South Africa. A big part of this conservation effort involves the finding of sustainable solutions for peaceful co-existence between humans and baboons.

In recent decades, humans have encroached upon the baboons’ natural habitat, and issues have arisen as a result. A recent message from the moderator of Baboon Matters provides an example.

This is Scott.

Scott is a young male trying to go about his business.

As a young male he can’t make up his mind – leave the family? Or stay with the unit you know so well? . . . For baboons these life decisions are exacerbated by their human neighbours and it never fails to amaze me how we chose which details to compare as we prepare “judgements.”

On the Cape Peninsula there are many primates – primates who share DNA, have similar emotional range, personalities and needs. But don’t get too anthropomorphic – a baboon is a baboon!

In all honesty, baboons don’t want to be anything but baboons; it is we humans who confuse and judge our neighbours.

Baboons are baboons and they want to go about baboon business as normal, but here on the Cape Peninsula (and in so many other areas) humans have encroached upon baboon territory to such a degree that baboon business is now very much our business.

And of course, humans get priority. Right?

I have been watching all the WhatsApp groups and posts about Scott and for the record need to establish my credentials; I lived on the baboon path into my village and had baboons coming and going regularly. I have two giant breed dogs who needed to be contained. Waste had to be managed, windows and doors closed when the baboons were in town. Sure it got hot, at times frustrating – but at the end of the day I opened everything up, took the dogs for a great walk and we all lived very well.

Those are my choices – to manage waste, manage my lifestyle and adapt – not everyone’s choices I know.

What I object to is the way other people choices are now being made the norm, the way in which the smallest percentage of resident choices are being heard the most; the “intolerants” who hate baboons, shoot baboons and complain the loudest; those are the voices most heard. It seems that the “lynch mob” mentality might easily become the norm.

Really, people? Get a grip!

Baboons are just baboons, they are not murderers, rapists or drug lords – they are primate neighbours. Wildlife neighbours. Love them or hate them, they are in our space and in our face – so how do we react?

. . . Scott is just a young male baboon, by all accounts he does not look for trouble; he may take the occasional tomato and sleep on a roof. Is that what we are going to kill him for?

These are catalytic times and our choices now will govern what sort of society we find acceptable. Will the lynch mob mentality outweigh the tolerant co-exitance?

I wish [Scott] every chance and every opportunity a baboon should have. Will residents give [him] that respect and understanding? I hope so.

Chantal Carstens-Luyt caught up with Scott as he attempted to find his way back to his home troop after having being relocated today. Chantal descibed an exhausted baboon who broke her heart as he simply does not know what is happening. Is this okay people?

This thoughtful and compassionate message from the moderator of Baboon Matters reminds me of the concept of biophilia, a concept I was recently introduced to when reading Francesco Ganzetti’s book, The God Pan, Shepherd of Empathy.

In this book, Ganzetti cites Edward Osbourne Wilson, author of The Biophilia Hypothesis (1993), in defining biophilia as the “innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.” Wilson reiterates this definition in his 2002 book, The Future of Life, writing that “biophilia is our innate tendency to focus on life and life-forms, and in some instances, to affiliate with them emotionally.” Biophilia, then, is humanity’s innate affinity for the natural world.

Ganzetti contends that “the other side of biophilia is the ‘solastalgia,’ that is the sense of suffering accumulated over the years by those who see local natural landscape progressively anthropized and eroded.”

So where and how does the ancient god Pan fit into all of this?

As with the myriad of gods and goddesses throughout human history and across cultures, Pan can be seen to represent a distinct facet of the divine energy that imbues, animates, and sustains all creation.

Traditionally, Pan is the god of nature, and, as such, illuminates important truths about humanity’s relationship with nature. In The God Pan, Shepherd of Empathy, Francesco Ganzetti says that the new ecological sciences (geophysiology, or the Gaia hypothesis; sociobiology; cognitive ethology; and moral ethology) “impose a re-reading of the god Pan according to the key of interspecies empathy.” With this re-reading, “Pan . . . gives us back a fair, powerful and well-oriented biophilia.”

In ancient Arcadia, Ganzetti reminds us, Pan was the god of balance between natural environments, and we can think of him today as “ecological guardian and bridge between human and animal consciousness.” With this in both heart and mind, we can understand and experience Pan as “the widespread awareness emerging from the empathic relationships between creatures of different species endowed with gaze, with their own level of consciousness, who live and interact at the edge of the forest” – creatures like Scott, the baboon, and the humans with whom he and other baboons increasingly come into contact.

In closing, I share the following excerpt from Ganzetti’s The God Pan, Shepherd of Empathy. I dedicate this sharing to the work of Baboon Matters and all organizatons and individuals striving to cultivate and embody interspecies empathy.

When the mystic of nature, the one who immerses himself in it in serach of a direct contact with the divine, meets Pan [i.e., experiences deep love and empathy for the natural world], he can finally open his eyes. . . . After all, neuroscience today tells us how much the fair of heart know already, that is conscience is not word but vision that arises from a sensory stimulus even not purely visual, especially if very emotionally intense: each of us will recognize that there is nothing more exciting than a unexpected encounter . . . eye to eye, with another creature at the edge of the woods. It all comes down in one word: Pan, which reveals himself as eiphany in this sudden perfusion of consciousness among different species. If different species can speak to each other without words in a moment, then perhaps there is a conscious fabric of which we are a part, hidden but not entirely closed to logos [reason]. New sciences whisper to us in full voice that only by blending logos with pathos can we experience this conscious fabric directly, and perhaps protect it: Pan is also a moral god, because heart knows what is right.

. . . Myth shows us that Pan is decisive in the moment of greatest danger. What moment is more critical than today, the Anthropocene, in which the mass of human biota has swallowed up most of the othe animals capable of eye contact? Pan’s mother Driope is the spirit of every oak tree and of every tree that annually returns to vegetate giving acorns, like beech, known also as mountain oak; Pan’s father Hermes is the messenger of the gods: all this means that when we perceive the bonds between the forest and the creatures that it nourishes and protects, not least ourselves, then we sense the message of empathy and recognize the divine: Pan.

– Francesco Ganzetti
Excerpted from The God Pan, Shepherd of Empathy (2020)
pp. 3-5 and 8-9

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Beatrice Marovich on Divinity and Animality in Life of Pi
Pan's Labyrinth: Critiquing the Cult of Unquestioning Obedience
The Devil We (Think We) Know
“A Dark Timelessness and Stillness Surrounds Her Wild Abandonment”
Mystical Participation
The Landscape Is a Mirror
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
Something to Think About – February 10, 2020
Something to Think About – October 13, 2015
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
The Prayer Tree
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012

Related Off-site Links:
Ape Town: Living With Baboons in Cape Town – Tim Dee (The Architectual Review, February 11, 2022).
The Great God Pan Is All Things to All Men – Nina Lyon (The Spectator, November 6, 2021)

Image 1: Catherine Nelson.
Image 2: Chantal Carstens-Luyt.
Image 3: Artist unknown.
Image 4: Artist unknown.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Hans Matheson: Living Life in Pure Joy and Celebration

Life is what you make it, she said.
Life is out to take you on.
Take it by the reins, my friend,
Take it while you can.
And don’t you shy from what’s inside of you.
Just go your own way.

This evening for “music night” at The Wild Reed I share a second track from Hans Matheson’s 2019 album, Sail the Sea.

You may recall that I recently shared the music video for “The Sun Is All Around You.” Tonight, it’s the video for Sail the Sea’s opening track, “Take It By the Reins.” And what a wonderful combination of music and visuals this video is. Indeed, as noted elsewhere:

Look at this Human Angel at work, playing with creativity. I already loved the first video, but this one has it all. The magic of simplicity, the essence of life lived in pure joy and celebration. [Hans is] such a gift to this world, as so many have forgotten about the true freedom of being, playing, loving and sharing. Such a gift and timeless treasure!

Floating while splintering wisely, parting sadly.
It’s waiting in the wings,
Count your blessings, a leaf from her book.
I need to see the stars tonight,
Give colours to this fading light..
I need to risk it all again.
All again.

Following is an excerpt from Dave Franklin’s review of Sail the Sea.

Sail The Sea is one of those records that is built around understatement and calm, there is often little more than guitar and vocals building the songs and it is all the better for it. Music doesn’t have to be intricate and weighty when it can get the same job done through deftness and restraint. The old cliche of less is more is certainly at work here but the art of such a route is knowing just which less to use and which more to leave out. It is a skill that Matheson is certainly well versed in and the voids that he creates in the pauses between the lyrics and the spaces between one fading note and the strike of the next creates its own form of atmosphere and anticipation. Instruments in their own right to play an otherworldly counterpoint to the more tangible elements of the music.

As an album it is wonderfully reflective, beautifully spacious and, something we are sorely in need of in modern times, fantastically positive. With all the darkness that there is to dwell on, it is great to come across an album that lets the light in, that is intimate yet relatable and that sees the best in the world around it. What a breath of fresh air! Songs such as “Goodbye” lean toward that Damien Rice blend of vocal lines that are left hanging provocatively, shimmering harmonies and softly brooding cellos, and “Climb All The Way” is as reassuring a sentiment as you are ever going to find to lean on in your moment of need. “She Said She Could” wanders some more jaunty territory, relatively speaking, but still adheres to the same elegance and musical eloquence as the more drifting moments of the album and the title track rounds the whole thing off in a gentled majestic and empowering moment of perfection.

Hans Matheson has created a thing of beauty here and also the perfect reminder that whilst it is easy to make an statement by being bold and bombastic, there is an art to linking such gossamer sounds, such delicacy and drifting ethereality together into something just as impactful. Sail the Sea is a beguiling exercise in that art and a very successful one at that.

Dave Franklin
Excerpted from "Sail the Sea by Hans Matheson: A Review
Dancing About Architecture
March 30, 2019

Hans’ latest album is The Gospel of Thomas – A Musical Adventure, released in 2021. You can check it out at Hans’ Bandcamp page. For an insightful interview with Hans about the album, click here.

For more of Hans Matheson at The Wild Reed, see:
Hans the Man
To the Lighthouse!
Hans Matheson in The Tudors
A Devilish Turn
Stealing Away
Hans Matheson in The Christmas Candle
Hans Matheson in 300: Rise of an Empire
The Gravity of Love
The Sun Is All Around You

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Joy: The Most Infallible Sign of God’s Presence
Spring: “Truly the Season for Joy and Hope”
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee: Quote of the Day – February 8, 2013
Megan McKenna: Quote of the Day – April 8, 2012
Nakhane’s Hymn to Freedom

Previously featured musicians at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas | Mbemba Diebaté | Judie Tzuke | Seckou Keita | Rahsaan Patterson | Black | Ash Dargan | ABBA | The KLF and Tammy Wynette | Luke James and Samoht

Friday, March 04, 2022

Something to Think About . . .

NEXT: William Hartung:
Quote of the Day – May 24, 2022

Related Off-site Links:
Beyond Ukraine, a Devastating War in Yemen Not Many Are Talking About – Darpan Singh (India Today, March 1, 2022).
Critics Denounce Racist Double Standard of Western Media’s Ukraine Coverage – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, February 28, 2022).
The U.S. Hypocrisy on Ukraine – Stephen Zunes (The Progressive, March 1, 2022).
Let's Call Out the West's Bias Over Ukraine For What It Is – Blatant Racism – Peter Oborne (Middle East Eye, March 1, 2022).
Why the Ukraine Crisis Is Being Treated Differently Than Yemen or Syria – David Faris (The Week, March 3, 2022).
Not Every War Gets the Same Coverage as Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – and That Has Consequences – Malaka Gharib (NPR News, March 4, 2022).
Media Coverage of Ukraine Shows It’s Time to Rethink What We Know About Africa – Moky Makura (CNN Opinion, March 4, 2022).

UPDATES: The Racist and Dehumanizing Double Standards of War Reporting – Farrah Hassen (OtherWords via Common Dreams, March 17, 2022).
“U.S. Hypocrisy on Ukraine”: Biden Administration Remains Silent on Morocco’s Occupation of Western SaharaDemocracy Now! (March 21, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
How We Can Help the People of Yemen
Jeff Cohen: Quote of the Day – February 28, 2022
Yanis Varoufakis: Quote of the Day – February 24, 2022
A Prayer for Ukraine
A “Post-Cold War Train Wreck Long In the Making”
In Search of a “Global Ethic”
Letting Them Sit By Me

Thursday, March 03, 2022