Friday, April 28, 2023

Finding Balance in the Presence of the Beloved

Just as a spinning dancer must keep returning
his eyes to a given point to maintain his balance,
so you must keep returning your focus to me.

I’ve previously mentioned that a spiritual resource that many of my Christian patients find meaningful is Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. It’s a collection of daily reflections written as if Jesus is speaking directly to us. They are words of encouragement, comfort, and reassurance based on Jesus’s own words of hope, guidance, and peace within Scripture.

Recently, one of the book’s readings particularly spoke to me. I should also say that I’m drawn to understand and envision the speaker of these words as “the Beloved,” one of any number of names we can use when seeking to describe our experience of the loving and transforming Presence within and beyond all things. These names include “Holy One,” “Divine Presence,” “God,” “Jesus,” “Living Light,” “Great Spirit,” “Sacred Mystery”. . . the list goes on.

Following is my slightly-adapted version of the April 25 reading from Jesus Calling, one that is inspired by Hebrews 12:2 and Psalm 102:17.


Make me the focal point as you move through this day. Just as a spinning dancer must keep returning his eyes to a given point to maintain his balance, so you must keep returning your focus to me.

Circumstances are in flux, and the world seems to be whirling around you. The only way to keep your balance is to fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes.

If you gaze too long at your circumstances, you will become dizzy and confused. Look to Me, refreshing yourself in My Presence, and your steps will be steady and sure.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Soul’s Beloved
You Are My Goal, Beloved One
Be In My Mind, Beloved One
Your Peace Is With Me, Beloved One
Beloved and Antlered
Meeting (and Embodying) the Lover God
Seeking Balance
Balance: The Key to Serenity and Clarity
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
May Balance and Harmony Be Your Aim
Aligning With the Living Light
Returning the Mind to God
The Beauty and Challenge of Being Present in the Moment
A Prayer for the Present Moment
A Prayer for Dancers
Aristotle Papanikolaou on How Being Religious Is Like Being a Dancer
Not Whether We Dance, But How
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Soul of a Dancer

Images: Dancer unknown.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Despite the Undemocratic Antics of the DNC, Marianne Williamson Plans on “Winning the Nomination”

If, like me, you’ve ever donated to a Democratic candidate then you no doubt received at least three text messages on your phone today – one from President Biden, one from Vice-President Kamala Harris, and one from First Lady Jill Biden. All were asking for a financial contribution to the president’s 2024 reelection campaign which he launched earlier today.

At this point I’m choosing not to support Joe Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign. Why? Because I don’t believe his agenda is the one needed to both defeat whoever the Republican presidential candidate is in 2024 and lead the country in the direction it needs to go in the years ahead.

Biden likes to talk a lot about “battling for the soul of America.” This battle is rightly understood as being between democracy and the threat of a Republican party infected by the fascist ideology of Trumpism. I’m sure Biden means well, but I’m choosing to support the Democratic candidate who not only literally wrote the book on “healing the soul of America,” but who offers the platform of transformational politics necessary for such healing. That candidate is author and activist Marianne Williamson.

Earlier today, Marianne appeared on The Hill TV’s Rising program where she offered her take on Joe Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign, his “out-of-touch” pitch to the American people, and the efforts of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to stifle the democratic process by ignoring or marginalizing any Democratic challenger to Biden so as to “shoehorn” him into the nomination.”

Rising’s interview with 2024 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamsom is well worth checking out.

Unlike the DNC, I stand for democracy everywhere, not just as a goal but as a process. . . . There should be a debate. It should be RFK Jr. It should be myself. It should be the president. And it should be anyone else who joins. We need to discuss what is the right agenda and who is the right person to take on the Republicans in 2024. This should not be a decision that is just dictated by the establishment elite at the DNC. . . . The people should decide, not the DNC. They should not be trying to shoehorn this president into the nomination. . . . I think that I’m a far more serious candidate for this moment in our history than the president is. . . . Right now, I’m planning on winning the nomination.

– Marianne Williamson

Also today, Marianne appeared on Fox News’s Tonight program where she schooled the host on the real state of the nation and on how her platform differs from President Biden’s. I should also say at this point that I think it’s pathetic that a right-wing network is prepared to give Marianne Williamson’s progressive platform a respectful listen when so-called liberal outlets like MSNBC, CNN, and NPR continue to ignore her candidacy.

I conclude this post by sharing the latest from Marianne’s substack, Transform. It’s also the latest in her “Notes from the Trail” series.

President Biden made it official this morning that he’s running for re-election. Here is the statement I put out shortly after watching his video:

For those of us committed to Democrats winning the White House in 2024, the president’s campaign announcement today was concerning.

His remark that he has fought so that everyone "is given a fair shot" contradicts his refusal to fight for a higher minimum wage, permanentize the child tax credit, or side with railroad workers trying to negotiate for sick pay.

His saying that he “knows America” doesn’t seem to include his knowing the 39% of Americans who report skipping meals to pay rent, the one in four Americans living with medical debt, or an entire generation concerned that the tepid efforts of his administration to fight the climate crisis will rob them of a habitable planet.

His saying that this is “not a time to be complacent” about threats to our democracy does not seem to include standing for the democratic process when it comes to choosing the Democratic nominee. The Democratic Party establishment has indicated it is planning to subvert the primary process by shoe-horning Biden into the nomination, and Americans most concerned about our democracy must not let this happen.

With over 50% of Democrats, and 70% of all Americans making it clear they wish to see someone other than Biden run against the Republicans in 2024, it is imperative that the voters hear from all candidates running in this primary – not just the President.

I look forward to a robust debate with Joe Biden, as I present to the American people my platform of fundamental economic reform as a far better way to win the White House in 2024 than the president’s incremental approach to governing. At such a critical time in our country, neither the President nor the DNC has the right to determine who and who is not a serious candidate. That is the right of the people alone.

Then, as the day went by, politician after pundit after politician lined up to endorse the president. I admit I was pretty sad to see Bernie Sanders not only announce he would not be running and that he endorses Biden, but that he “discourages any other high-visibility progressives from doing so either.”

My sadness gave way pretty quickly, however, to an even deeper commitment to keep walking in the direction I’ve been walking.

It’s pretty astonishing to me the way people fall in line in a situation like this. It’s a primary, for God’s sake! No one is spoiler here! It’s a primary. But be that as it may, as my mother used to say . . .

Someone needs to take a stand for universal health care. Someone needs to take a stand for cancelling the entire college loan debt. Someone needs to take a stand for tuition free college (which we had until the 1960’s). Someone needs to take a stand for free childcare. Someone needs to take a stand for paid family leave and guaranteed sick pay. Someone needs to take a stand for a guaranteed livable wage.

With 39% of Americans now reporting they skip meals in order to pay for rent, someone needs to take a stand for an economic u-turn in America.

The positions I support are considered moderate in every other advanced democracy, and they should be in ours as well.

So I’m going to continue being that someone, and I hope you will support me. Let’s not forget that the majority of Americans actually agree with my positions, but have been so beaten down as to not expect any more than they have. Americans have been trained to expect far too little.

Last night I spoke to a full house of young people at Michigan State University. Today I met with Stop Cop City activists in Atlanta, and tomorrow night I’m speaking at Emory University. After that I’m off to Charleston to begin another swing through South Carolina. It’s all quite grinding, in case you’re wondering, but very exhilarating as well.

I’m in it to win it, because the American people deserve so much more.

Much love from the campaign trail. And thank you so much for your support.

– Marianne Williamson
“Notes from the Trail”
April 25, 2023

Above: Agribusiness Management senior Mateo Ponton takes a selfie with Marianne Williamson, a Democratic candidate for the 2024 presidential election, who spoke about her agenda at MSU's Broad College of Business on April 24, 2023. (Photo: Sonya Barlow)

Related Off-site Links:
DNC Shields Biden, Refuses to Hold Primary Debates, Silences RFK Jr andc Marianne WilliamsonRising, April 24, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Made a Campaign Stop in Detroit Where She Railed Against the 1%. The Media Didn’t Cover It – Michael Betzold (Metro Times, April 25, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Warns Younger Voters Will “Stay Home in Droves” If Biden Becomes Nominee – Ryan King (Washington Examiner, April 25, 2023).
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Speaks to Youth Issues at MSU Campaign Stop – Lily Guiney (The State News, April 25, 2023).
Presidential Hopeful Marianne Williamson Targets Young Voters in East LansingWILX-10 News, April 24, 2023).
The Case for Marianne Williamson – Zach Courtney (The Minnesota Daily, April 20, 2023).
Democratic Presidential Longshot Marianne Williamson on Challenging Biden: “We Should Have as Many People Running in an Election as Feel Moved” – Victor Reklaitis (Market Watch, April 15, 2023).
Marianne Williamson, Fusing Bernie Sanders and (Early) Jordan Peterson, Is Taking Over TikTok – Ryan Grim (The Intercept, April 14, 2023).
Meet Eris, the Goddess Behind the Force That Is Marianne Williamson – Rayner Jae Liu (Medium, April 8, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Making Gains Against Joe Biden, New Poll Suggests – Jason Lemon (Newsweek, April 1, 2023).
Democratic Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Challenges Biden Status Quo in South Carolina Visit – Chris Day (The Post and Courier, March 28, 2023).
Biden Won South Carolina, But Marianne Williamson Tells Democrats to Take Her 2024 Bid Seriously – Javon L. Harris (The State, March 27, 2023).
Williamson Launches Progressive Challenge to Biden in New Hampshire – Andrew Sexton (WMUR 9 News, March 12, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Says Democrats Need to Fix “Unjust” Economy to Win – Andrew Stanton (Newsweek, March 12, 2023).

UPDATES: Marianne Williamson Is Serious About Running a Progressive Campaign for President – Liza Featherstone (Jacobin, April 27, 2023).
Why Biden May Have to Forfeit the First Contest in His Re-election Bid to Marianne Williamson or RFK Jr. – Alex Seitz-Wald (NBC News, April 27, 2023).
Marianne Williamson on Her 2024 Presidential Bid – C-SPAN (May 4, 2023).
Marianne Williamson: Democrats Need a “Genuine Economic Alternative” to Beat the GOP in 2024 – David Sirota (Jacobin, May 5, 2023).
To Make a Peaceful Revolution Possible – Marianne Williamson (Transform, June 7, 2023).

See also: Marianne 2024 Official Site | About | Issues | News | Events | Blog | Donate

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marianne 2024
Marianne Williamson Launches 2024 Presidential Campaign
Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
More Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
Ben Burgis: Quote of the Day – March 10, 2023
Marianne Williamson: “We Must Challenge the Entire System”
Progressive Perspectives on the U.S. Midterm Election Results
Marianne Williamson on the Current Condition of the U.S.
An Essential Read Ahead of the Midterms
Marianne Williamson’s Politics of Love: The Rich Roll Interview
Celebrating Tuesday’s Progressive Wins in the Midst of the Ongoing “War for the Future of the Democratic Party”
Now Here’s a Voice I’d Like to Hear Regularly on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy

For The Wild Reed’s coverage of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 presidential campaign, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
“This Woman Is Going to Win the Nomination”: Matt Taibbi on Marianne Williamson in Iowa
Something to Think About (and Embody!)
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 4, 2019
Michael Goldstein: Quote of the Day – November 11, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – December 14, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “I Am Not Suspending My Candidacy”
Marianne Williamson on New Day with Christi Paul – 01/04/20
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“I Learned So Much From the Experience”: Marianne Williamson on Her Presidential Bid
Deep Gratitude

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Remembering and Celebrating Dusty

It’s the birthday today of the late, great British pop/soul vocalist Dusty Springfield (1939-1999). If still with us in this life, she would be 84 today.

Dusty’s career spanned over three decades, and included numerous hits, including “I Only Want to Be With You,” “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “The Look of Love,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (with the Pet Shop Boys), and “In Private.” She is widely regarded as one of greatest female vocalists of the twentieth century, with a solo career that began in 1963 and continued to 1995, four years before her death from breast cancer in 1999.

My interest in and admiration for Dusty is well documented here at The Wild Reed, most notably in Soul Deep, one of my very first posts.

Other previous posts worth investigating, especially if you’re new to Dusty, are Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon, which features an excerpt from Laurence Cole’s book, Dusty Springfield: In the Middle of Nowhere; Celebrating Dusty (2017), which features an excerpt from Patricia Juliana Smith’s insightful article on Dusty’s “camp masquerades”; Celebrating Dusty (2013), which features excerpts from Annie J. Randall’s book, Dusty!: Queen of the Postmods; Remembering Dusty, my 2009 tribute to Dusty on the tenth anniversary of her death; and Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On, my 2019 tribute on the twentieth anniversary of her death.

And, of course, off-site there’s my website dedicated to Dusty, Woman of Repute (currently only accessible through the Internet archive service, The Way Back Machine).

My website’s name is derived from Dusty’s 1990 album Reputation, and as I explain in Soul Deep, it was this album that introduced me not only to Dusty’s music but also to her life and journey – much of which resonated deeply with me. Indeed, my identification with aspects of Dusty’s journey played an important role in my coming out as a gay man.

Above: Dusty, amidst the flowing streams, standing stones and picturesque Celtic ruins of County Clare and the Galway coast for the making of the music video for “Roll Away,” a track from her last album, 1995’s A Very Fine Love. The liner notes of the 2016 2-disc expanded collector’s edition of A Very Fine Love include my reflections on this beautiful song, reflections which are also shared in the previous Wild Reed post, Time and the River.

In remembering and celebrating Dusty on the 84th anniversary of her birth, I share “Getting It Right,” a 1989 track by Dusty that’s very meaningful to me, in large part because I discern certain spiritual insights in its lyrics. These insights remind us that we are made by and from Love. Theologian Ilia Delio explains this idea in this way: “God is not a lonely deity at the top of a medieval cosmos, spinning the stars and governing the heavens; rather, God is selfless love . . . dynamic love. It is out of this love that we are and continue to be created.”

In reflecting on this spiritual truth, A Course in Miracles says: “If Love created you like Itself, this Self must be in you. And somewhere in your mind, it is there for you to find. . . . Love created you like Itself. Hear the truth about yourself in this.”

And Dusty sings this truth to us very forthrightly in “Getting It Right,” . . . You’re made of love.

From the first time I heard “Getting It Right,” it spoke to my soul of this truth about myself. It still does. And this isn’t just because of the song’s lyrics; it’s also because of the way Dusty sings these lyrics.

In her singing, I hear Dusty powerfully and beautifully inviting me (and by extension all of us) to embody Love by trusting myself enough to take the risk of being vulnerable with another.

Indeed, such trust and openness are “the secret" of “getting it right,” with “it” being the living of an authentically loving life. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have healthy boundaries or that we can never say “no.” But it does mean that we seek, as best we can, to let trust, generosity and love guide our lives rather than suspicion, doubt and fear. It’s not always easy, I know. But it’s what I try to do each and every day, and Dusty's “Getting It Right” encourages me in this.

The audio of “Getting It Right” (below) is followed by an excerpt from Soul Deep, in which I explore further the significance of this song in my journey to authenticity as a gay man.

Hey, boy, don’t be shy
Waiting all alone
Think about what you can give
Some boys never learn
That’s the way to live
And it’s the secret
To getting it right

Living carefully, always filled with doubt
Scared to make a move too soon
Just once, take a chance
He will take one too
’Cause that’s the secret
To getting it right

It’s not who loves you as how much do you love
And what’s in your heart that shows what you’re made of
You’re made of love

Hey, boy, it’s all right
Someone understands
You don’t have so far to go
Reach out for his hand
Then you’ll really know
The secret to getting it right

You’re made of love

Hey, boy, it’s all right
Someone understands
You don’t have so far to go
Reach out for his hand
Then you’ll really know
The secret to getting it right

Reach out, take his hand
Then you’ll really know
You’ll know that you’re getting it right

Yes, you’ll know that
You’re getting it right

In recognizing and resonating with Dusty’s life and music, I was experiencing what writer Charles Taylor identifies as pop music’s ability to offer “a distilled and transcendent version of experience – [one] that can seem both shared and startlingly personal.”

Indeed, when Dusty sang, Hey, boy, it’s alright / Someone understands / You don’t have so far to go . . ., I had the unnerving yet exhilarating sense that she was singing directly to me – hiding fearfully as I was, behind the heterosexual persona that my career in teaching [at the time] had forced me to create and maintain.

But now, Dusty’s “songs of experience,” as one critic labeled the music of [her 1990 album] Reputation, were pushing me to question this closeted existence of mine – to the extent that I realized that it really wasn’t worth the patience. This discernment played a fundamental role in my coming out process and my decision to relocate to the United States. Perhaps you could say that in singing along with Dusty Springfield’s soulful “songs of experience,” I not only discerned a kindred spirit, but also began finding my own soul-deep voice.

. . . Or, said another way, finding the Love within me in whose image I have been created, as have we all. I will forever be grateful to Dusty and her music for helping guide me to this Love.

For more of Dusty at The Wild Reed, see:
Soul Deep
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Remembering Dusty Springfield’s “Daring” 1979 Gay-Affirming Song
Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On
Remembering and Celebrating Dusty – 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019
Remembering Dusty (2018)
Celebrating Dusty (2017)
Celebrating Dusty (2013)
Remembering Dusty (2009)
Remembering Dusty – 14 Years On
Remembering Dusty – 11 Years On
The Other “Born This Way”
Time and the River
Remembering a Great Soul Singer
A Song and Challenge for 2012
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding
Home to Myself

See also the following Wild Reed posts:
The Choice (and Risk) That is Love
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
Vulnerability Is Power
Love as “Quest and Daring and Growth”
A Vibrant Relationship
Moving Among Mysteries
“Queer Love Is My Divine Companion”
What We Crave
The Gravity of Love
To Be Alive Is to Love
Like a Sure Thing
Intimate Soliloquies

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Quote of the Day

I hate to say this, but America no longer has two parties devoted to a democratic system of self-government. We have a Democratic Party, which – notwithstanding a few glaring counter-examples such as what the Democratic National Committee did to Bernie in 2016 – is still largely committed to democracy. And we have a Republican Party, which is careening at high-velocity toward authoritarianism. Okay, fascism.

. . . We are witnessing the logical culmination of win-at-any-cost Trump Republican politics – scorched-earth tactics used by Republicans to entrench their power, with no justification other than that they can.

Democracy is about means. Under it, citizens don’t have to agree on ends (abortion, health care, guns, or whatever else we disagree about) as long as we agree on democratic means for handling our disagreements.

But for Trump Republicans, the ends justify whatever means they choose – including expelling lawmakers, rigging elections through gerrymandering [and voter suppression laws], refusing to raise the debt ceiling, and denying the outcome of a legitimate presidential election.

My friends, the Republican Party is no longer committed to democracy. It is rapidly becoming the American fascist party.

. . . I don’t believe Trump alone is responsible for the birth of modern Republican fascism, but he has legitimized and encouraged the vicious rancor that has led much of the GOP into election-denying authoritarianism.

– Robert Reich
Excerpted from “The United States
Now Has a Fascist Political Party

Common Dreams
April 11, 2023

Related Off-site Links:
Tennessee Exposes Swift-Moving Fascism Within the GOP – Chuck Idelson (Common Dreams, April 8, 2023).
“I See This as a Global Fascist Moment”: Author Jeff Sharlet on Interviewing Far-right Americans – Ann Neumann (The Guardian, March 30, 2023).
We’re Reaching Fascism’s “Inflection Point” – Again – James Roosevelt, Jr, et al (The Hill, February 8, 2023).
Sociologist Says the U.S. Is Still on the Path to Becoming a “Fascist Country” – Cheryl Teh (Business Insider, November 25, 2022).
Who Is Fighting the Rise of Fascism in the U.S.? – Brynn Tannehill (Dame, March 9, 2023).
“Fascism, Full Stop”: Progressives in Congress Condemn Expulsion of Tennessee Democrats – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, April 7, 2023).

UPDATE: “Rising Tide of Fascism”: Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones Warns of GOP’s Growing Embrace of AuthoritarianismDemocracy Now! (April 28, 2023).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Jeff Sharlet on the Fascist Ideology of Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene
Chauncey Devega on the Ongoing Danger of the Trump Cult
Historian Nancy MacLean: The Threat to American Democracy Is at “Red-Alert”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat on the Return of Fascism in Italy
Judith Butler on the Reactionary Movement and Fascist Trend Opposed to Diverse Ideas About Gender
Jelani Cobb: Quote of the Day – September 4, 2022
“Come for the Racism, Stay for the Autocracy”
William D. Lindsey: Quote of the Day – August 12, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson: It’s Up to Us to Prove That Democracy Is Still a Viable Form of Government
“How Can One Overreact to a Mortal Threat to American Democracy?”
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking Democracy
“The Coup Attempt on Jan. 6th Was a Warning for What’s to Come If We Don’t Act”
“My Biggest Worry Is for My Country”
Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
The Big Switch
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”
Heather Cox Richardson on Combating the Republican Party’s “Rigging of the System”
David Remnick: Quote of the Day – February 13, 2021
Dan Rather on America’s “Moment of Reckoning”
Michael Harriot: Quote of the Day – January 6, 2021
Insurrection at the United States Capitol
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Fascism Is Upon Us
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Trump’s Playbook

Sunday, April 09, 2023

He Is Risen, and So Are You

The Wild Reed’s 2023 Holy Week series concludes with a fourth excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s 2004 book The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life (To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

There is passion to the crucifixion, but there is passion to the resurrection as well. It cannot be seen with physical eyes, however, for the emergence of a reborn self is not a material occurrence. You have the same eyes, but there is a new light in them. You have the same brain, but it operates differently. You have the same heart, but it is beating with [God’s transforming presence and power] now. And the resurrection is not a moment but a pattern. For every two steps into the light, we might fall one step back into darkness. But once we are on the way, once we have glimpsed the One who has promised to take us there, there is no real going back.

It doesn’t matter what anyone says or does to try to stop you. You’re on your way to a brand-new life, not just for yourself but for others as well. You are not a martyr; you’re a teacher of love. You have seen the light, and you are walking toward it.

Just know who you are and Who lives within you. He is risen, and so are you.

– Marianne Williamson
Excerpted from The Gift of Change:
Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life

HarperCollins, 2004
pp. 192-193

For previous installments in this series, see:
From Spiritual Death to Rebirth
A Vortex of the Miraculous
Tomb Time

See also the previous The Wild Reed posts:
Jesus Our Guide to Mystical Love – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
The Two Entwined Events of the Easter Experience
Resurrection in an Emerging Universe
Resurrection: A New Depth of Consciousness
A Hallmark of the Resurrected Life
Jesus: The Revelation of Oneness
The Resurrected Jesus
And What of Resurrection?
Jesus: The Breakthrough in the History of Humanity
To Believe in Jesus
Resurrection: Beyond Words, Dogmas and All Possible Theological Formulations
The Cosmic Christ: Brother, Lover, Friend, Divine and Tender Guide
The Passion of Christ – Jesus Appears to Mary
The Passion of Christ – Jesus Appears to His Friends
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Chadwick Boseman and That “Heavenly Light”
Being the Light
The Soul of a Dancer
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
Aristotle Papanikolaou on How Being Religious is Like Being a Dancer
A Prayer for Dancers

Related Off-site Link:
The Transformative Power of Holy Days – Marianne Williamson (Transform, April 9, 2023).

Image: Dancer unknown.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

“We Are Still Here, and We Will Never Quit”

This past Thursday, Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson, two Black Democratic lawmakers, were expelled by a Republican supermajority in the Tennessee state House of Representatives for peacefully protesting gun violence in the chamber last week as thousands rallied at the Capitol to demand gun control after the Covenant elementary school shooting in Nashville.

A vote to expel Rep. Gloria Jones, their white colleague who joined them in solidarity, failed.

“They thought by expelling us they would silence us, they would silence our movements that we’re part of, but in fact they’ve amplified it, because the nation can see how racist they are. The nation can see how retaliatory and absurd and authoritarian they are,” said Jones on Thursday.

Yesterday, Justin Jones was interviewed by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman.

The interview, of 24-minute duration, is a must-see. Not only does it allow Jones to eloquently share his thoughts on his expulsion and its deeper significance, but it also features some of the inspiring testimonies and dramatic exchanges that unfolded on the House floor. Overall, Jones calls the incident “a public lynching” targeting the two youngest Black lawmakers in the Legislature.

The video of Democracy Now!’s interview with Justin Jones is followed by a number of progressive perspectives on the ousting of both him and Rep. Justin Pearson.

Decorum means that one’s speech must be appropriate to the speaker, the subject matter, the audience, and the occasion. That means that if you witness a bloody murder, decorum dictates that you scream bloody murder.

For years in this country we have witnessed the bloody murder of children in our schools. Kids decapitated by blasts from AR-15s. Silence is not decorum. Silence is complicity.

The young legislators who were expelled in Tennessee were not engaging in insurrection. Reports I have read suggest an interruption on the House floor of a few minutes, not an attempt to subvert the democratic process or to overturn a valid election.

Those who engage in civil disobedience know and accept that their actions will have consequences. But Republicans in the Tennessee House went way beyond enforcing House rules. They were using the protest as a pretext for a grossly disproportionate penalty, driving members of the opposing party out of the legislature, in effect overturning their valid election by their constituents.

– McAuley Hentges
via Facebook
April 7, 2023

Above: Justin Jones carries his name tag after the vote to remove him from the Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo: Reuters/Cheney Orr)

Republicans in the Tennessee House of Representatives are furious and out for revenge. Two Black Democratic members and a [white female] Democratic [member] had confronted them – and embarrassed them – over their unwillingness to do anything about the slaughter of Tennessee’s children in that state’s schools.

To punish them and teach women and other young Black men – who might think of being too troublesome in the legislature – a lesson, the GOP ran a pathetic Kangaroo Court for the world to see. And got their revenge.

. . . Revenge as a political philosophy is rooted in violence: the domination of the many by a few, whether the main instrument of that domination is personal physical violence, the violence of great wealth and political power being used to destroy one’s enemies, or unjustified violence inflicted by the state under color of law.

But at its core, revenge is rooted in physical violence, intimidation, and murder. It’s war brought into politics and governance. Vengeance like this has its own power and its own attraction. The media is drawn to it, making it attractive to Republicans as a way of bringing together their followers.

Insecure, frightened men (and the occasional woman) participating in revenge-fueled violence find a sense of agency, of individual power and meaning, a sort of orgasmic release from a life of ordinariness and political impotence.

And make no mistake: the GOP has become the party of revenge and political violence.

Revenge is the cardinal characteristic, the logo, the brand identity of fascism. Every fascist movement in history has lifted itself to power on the scaffold of revenge against an “other” they claim have stolen from them or persecuted them.

Rightwing media revel in the language of revenge. They dehumanize the victims of their violence with words like “invaders” and “vermin” and “illegals” and demand revenge for the lost jobs, integrated schools and neighborhoods, and other insults they imagine.

To justify the violence at the heart of their movement, they also squeal a phony claim to victimhood: wealthy Republicans claim Democrats are trying to take their tax dollars. They fear gays are trying to groom their children. They pretend teachers are indoctrinating their youth in socialism. Revenge, they say, is their only option.

Over the past four decades, as this revenge-fueled movement has arisen in America and taken over the GOP, more than three-quarters of all politically motivated murders have been committed by rightwing often-Republican-aligned terrorists who invariably claim they’re rightfully seeking revenge.

Republicans justify their violence as necessary to get revenge against those they say have assaulted their faith, their families, and the “identity” of their homeland. They will tell you it’s the unfortunate last-ditch “necessity” provoked by the Democrats and dark-skinned or queer “others” who “threaten our way of life.”

In reality, revenge is not the fascist’s final, last-gasp option: it’s their first.

– Thom Hartmann
Excerpted from “Tennessee GOP
Show That Revenge Is Fascism’s First Instinct

Common Dreams
April 7, 2023

There is no justification for ousting two legislators who were protesting with and for their constituents. That two Black men were expelled for standing up against the murder of children – but not their white counterpart – says it all. People are dying because Republicans want to put politics over the lives of the people they represent. They ask for safety for themselves, but not for school children, and they’ll sacrifice the lives of our loved ones for their lobbyists.

Now is not the time to be on the sidelines. We better fight back before it’s too late.

– Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.)
Quoted in Jake Johnson’s article,
‘Fascism, Full Stop’: Progressives in Congress
Condemn Expulsion of Tennessee Democrats

Common Dreams
April 7, 2023

Thank you, Tennessee, for introducing us to these two young men, the two Justins. My goodness, I would have never known about these leaders without your desire to ELEVATE them. Yes, elevate them. You thought you were expelling them, but you have raised them up. It is no coincidence that their names are so close to the word – justice.

On this Good Friday, this is scripture in action. Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

What the enemy meant for evil, God turns to good!

– Victoria Christopher Murray
via Facebook
April 7, 2023

Related Off-site Links:
Justin Jones Has Gotten Himself Into “Good Trouble” Again – William Spivey (Medium, April 7, 2023).
Tennessee GOP Goes Through With Absurd Purge of Anti-Gun House Dems – Eileen Grench (The Daily Beast, April 7, 2023).
Tennessee Republicans Tried to Silence Three Democrats Over Guns. They Turned Them Into National Figures – Josh Marcus (The Independent via Yahoo! News, April 7, 2023).
Ousted Tennessee Lawmaker Justin Jones Vows to Keep Fighting for Gun Control – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, April 6, 2023).
Jones Says He Will Fight “Unconstitutional” Expulsion as Reinstatement Votes Loom – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, April 7, 2023).

UPDATES: Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones Returns to Capitol After Nashville Council Reinstates Him – Cynthia Abrams (NPR News, April 10, 2023).
Countering “Miscarriage of Justice,” Metro Nashville Council Reappoints Justin Jones – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, April 10, 2023).
Tennessee GOP Tried to Stem Tide of Progress – Instead, They Unleashed a Tsunami – London Lamar and Svante Myrick (The Progressive, April 11, 2023).
County Board Reinstates Expelled Democratic Lawmaker Justin Pearson to Tennessee House – Adrian Sainz (AP News via PBS Newshour, April 12, 2023).
Reappointed Justin Pearson Vows to Fight on Against Tennessee GOP That Expelled Him – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, April 12, 2023).
Both Black Tennessee Lawmakers Have Been Reinstated After Being Expelled by GOP – Bill Chappell and Katie Riordan (NPR News, April 12, 2023).
“Rising Tide of Fascism”: Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones Warns of GOP’s Growing Embrace of AuthoritarianismDemocracy Now! (April 28, 2023).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Jelani Cobb: Quote of the Day – September 4, 2022
“Come for the Racism, Stay for the Autocracy”
William D. Lindsey: Quote of the Day – August 12, 2022
“How Can One Overreact to a Mortal Threat to American Democracy?”
Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking Democracy
The Big Switch
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”
“We Must Challenge the Entire System”

Opening image: Rep. Justin Jones (front) and Rep. Justin Pearson raise their fists as Republicans prepared to vote to expel them on Thursday, April 7, 2023. (Photo: Reuters/Cheney Orr)