Joy As An Act of Resistance

This morning (11/6/17) when I turned on the news, Gayle King was interviewing Texas Governor Greg Abbott on CBS This Morning about the mass-shooting in Sutherland Springs TX the previous day. Ms. King said to the governor:

Ms. King

“Governor, we’re hearing stories that eight members of one family lost their lives on that Sunday morning going to church.  So now we’re at a place where you get shot at a concert, at a school, at a movie theatre, and now, in church. Do you now think we have to think this is the new normal in this country for the citizens who live here?”

Governor Abbott

“We need to understand one thing here: killing in this country is illegal.  And we’ve seen challenges in all different kinds of ways, as you know. Just last week we saw a person use a truck to mow down people in a bike lane. As you know we’ve seen bombings at concerts, in London, as well as knife stabbings.”

Ms. King (interrupts)

“But right now we’re just focusing on the guns.”

Governor Abbott

“That’s what you are focusing on.

It’s important that we understand two things: we have evil that occurs in this world whether it be a terrorist who uses a truck or whether it be a terrorist who uses bombs and knives . . . We have evil and, hence, the greatest response to evil is what I encountered in Sutherland Springs Texas last night. And that is the key focus is victims’ families that I got to hug and hold and pray with. They wanted one thing: they wanted a stronger connection to God; they wanted to be able to pray as we shared a candlelight vigil. And it’s important that we go back to the fundamentals of our faith-based nation . . .”

Ms. King (interrupts again)

“Praying and hugs are good, we all agree. But what can we do to keep these weapons out of the hands of people that you were saying yourself are evil? What can we do about that?”

Governor Abbot

“I’m going to use the words of the citizens of Sutherland Springs themselves, and that is, they want to work together for love to overcome evil, and you do that by working with God.”

Ms. King tried repeatedly, and in vain, to get Governor Abbott to address gun violence.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-church-shooting-governor-greg-abbott-on-gunman-devin-kelley/

Governor Abbott’s performance reminded me, as things often do these days, of M. Scott Peck’s disturbing and essential book, The People of the Lie. The gist of the book as I recall it is: the worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves to maintain the ego’s false image of itself so we don’t have to change.

Prior to turning on the news this morning, I had begun this week’s essay this way:

“It was the first time I had dealt directly and flatly with the evidence of atomization, the proof that all things fall apart: I went to San Francisco because I had not been able to work in some months, had been paralyzed by the conviction that writing was an irrelevant act, that the world as I had understood it no longer existed. If I was to work again at all, it would be necessary for me to come to terms with disorder.”

From the preface of Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion

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Would You Just Try It For Lent?

As I write this, the president will reportedly announce his decision on DACA in the next 24 hours. If he continues to be true to form the decision will be a cruel one.

Justice and compassion for the children of DACA is personal for me. I know firsthand of the sacrifices and hardships they and their parents have made in order to have a new life here. I know firsthand of the contribution the immigrant community—whether documented or not—has made to the culture and community of both Los Angeles, the city where I’ve lived for 44 years and Denver, CO, the city where I was raised.

In the fall, winter, and spring of 1982-83, I suffered through an almost year long bout with suicidal depression. I was unemployed (and, at that time, probably unemployable) and low on funds. This was barely a year after my experience at the Camaldolese monastery where I had experienced the love and intimacy of God more deeply than I ever had before. I had plummeted from the ecstasy of that experience into the darkest time of my life. Many days I barely got out of bed.

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Meditation Contemplation and Facebook

Fr. John McNeil S.J.

Father John McNeil, S. J. saved my life in the early 1970s and, nearly four decades later, blessed it. He was unaware of our first encounter, but not of the second.

In the late 1960’s—1968 to be exact—my bride Georgia and I moved to New York with visions of Broadway dancing in our heads. Were it not for Georgia I would never have had the courage to leave home (Denver) and pursue my dreams—dreams that I assumed were our dreams. I am indebted to her forever.

In 1973, Georgia asked for a divorce (in our therapist’s office), which completely blindsided me, as I had spent months planning a celebration of our fifth wedding anniversary.

I was left alone in the room with the elephant of my thus far unexpressed homosexual desires. Good Catholic boy that I was, I had never acted on them. Georgia and I lived in the West Village blocks from the Stonewall Inn and adjacent to Greenwich Avenue, at the time, the biggest cruising street in Manhattan. With my hand on a bible I can swear that it never occurred to me that those men were looking at me.

Without the vows I had made to God and Georgia, I was defenseless against my desires and, in no time at all, I was behaving like a kid in a candy store—and Manhattan, in those days before AIDs, was some candy store!

I went to confession and told a priest that I had had intimate relations with another man and I didn’t know what to do.

“It’s too late to do anything,” was his less than compassionate reply, “You’ve already done it!”

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