A gift from my friend Jan.
May we each feel the breath that spurs us on, that gives us reason to do it all again, to keep going.And may this new decade bring us all we wish for and all that we need.
No Country for Old Women
“Hold back the growing tide of men…the relentless tides of men.”
“So this weekend the sun stood still for a while; now it is beginning its slow climb through the season of the light. It’s time to look for the light amidst the dark. And it seems as if it’s been a dark year, in many ways. A dark decade? So the stories we need right now, more than ever, are stories which show light emerging out of darkness.
I’d like to offer you such a story. A bedtime story, tailor-made for the season. I wrote it at precisely this time last year, dreaming over a winter stove with the dogs. Like so many of my stories, it’s a story about the Cailleach – that Old Woman of the World who, in the Gaelic tradition, presides over the winter season. It’s my original reimagining of an old folk tale about the Cailleach, and it’s from my recent collection Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women.
I offer you a recording of me reading the story in gratitude for your company during the course of the year, and in appreciation for the tribe which walks this path of re-enchantment together. The story is called ‘No Country for Old Women’, and it’s a story of light emerging out of darkness. It’s a story for these times. I hesitate to use the much-maligned word ‘hope’, but it’s a story of hope. And we could all use a little of that right now, I think.
Above all, it’s a story of the Cailleach. Of the archetypes which are calling to us, and rising again.”
-Dr. Sharon Blackie
Even stones have a love, a love that seeks the ground.
I regret nothing.
“I’ve learned a great deal this year. I feel it has been productive and also enjoyable day to day. What a wonderful thought to live our lives with as few regrets as possible.
What kind of year did you have? How would you rate it? No matter how many challenges you’ve had, no matter what pain you’ve endured, did you do your very best? Then have no regrets.
-Alexandra Stoddard, Grace Notes
An upcoming documentary, “Stripped for Parts: American Journalism at the Crossroads,” documents the fight being waged by newspapers nationwide to continue reporting the news despite growing threats to push local journalism toward extinction.
[Society for Professional Journalists]
This film is currently in production.
Kovno Communications, Inc. (KCI) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization which was founded in 1997 with a mission to develop, produce and distribute film and video for educational purposes. Rick Goldsmith, two-time Academy Award-nominated director, is the principal filmmaker and President of Kovno Communications.
“We welcome your support as we document this important story of local journalism in America. Donate to our project. All contributions are tax-deductible.”
December 4th, 1875 – December 29th, 1926
Rose, oh pure paradox, desire
to be no one’s sleep beneath
the many eyelids of your petals.
Sally Yates, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General:
“Prayers for Rep. John Lewis, the soul of America at our best.”
Never give up, never give in, never give out. Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize. Together, we can redeem the soul of America. John Lewis
[Civil rights icon and US Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is 79.]
From Oscar-nominated filmmaker Feras Fayyad, THE CAVE tells the story of a hidden underground hospital in Syria and the unprecedented female-led team who risk their lives to provide medical care to the besieged local population. In limited release now. The Cave paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity.
The film will air in 170 countries in March 2020 on National Geographic.
IMDb: ‘Shot from 2016 to 2018, The Cave belongs to the top rank of war films. Syrian director Feras Fayyad takes us to a subterranean landscape that feels akin to the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max (1979). With life too dangerous above ground, survivors create a network of secret tunnels under the city of Ghouta, near Damascus, for an underground hospital maintained by women doctors. In contrast to the many Syrian documentaries made from cellphone footage or shaky cameras, Fayyad takes great care to visualize the landscape and its memorable occupants with artful cinematography. For anyone who feels jaded by Syria coverage, this work stands apart. The heart of the film is Dr. Amani, a young Syrian woman operating in unimaginable conditions with great humor and fortitude.’
Danish Documentary Production
“The year’s timeliest documentary.”
“It is the disconcerting gift of cinéma vérité to put us right in the middle of a hospital attempting to function surrounded by conditions accurately described as “like a fire from hell.”
“Is God really watching?” (Dr. Amani) asks in despair at one point, adding a furious “may God destroy the Russians” at another.
“No one can imagine the things we have seen,” Dr. Amani says. To watch this film is a moving opportunity to see for ourselves.”
“Crimes Against Humanity”
In March 2017, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 465,000 people had died in the conflict, of which 96,000 civilians, and an additional 145,000 civilians were missing. The SOHR attributed 83,500 civilian deaths to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its allies, including Russia 7,000 to Syrian rebels and allied forces;3,700 to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); 920 to the U.S.-led coalition; and 500 to Turkey.
According to various human rights organizations and the United Nations, human rights violations have been committed by both the government and the rebels, with the “vast majority of the abuses having been committed by the Syrian government”. The U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria confirms at least 9 intentional mass killings in the period 2012 to mid-July 2013, identifying the perpetrator as Syrian government and its supporters in eight cases, and the opposition in one.The United Nations has since conducted several further studies.
The Assad regime has been blamed for using chemical weapons (chlorine gas) against civilians and conducted torture and extrajudicial killings. Assad has also been accused of “Indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial bombardment and shelling” which “led to mass civilian casualties and spread terror.” -Wikipedia
Fifteen films will advance in the Documentary Feature category for the 92nd Academy Awards. One hundred fifty-nine films were submitted in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.
The films, listed in alphabetical order by title, are:
“The Biggest Little Farm”
“The Edge of Democracy”
“The Great Hack”
“Knock Down the House”
“One Child Nation”
‘I open myself to this time and place made holy by my contemplation. I open my heart, my mind and my very being to be present to that vast and amazing cosmic story which is still being told…a conclusion that is not yet known but continues to reveal itself in all of its creation.
I contemplate this Living Presence, and I view this vast arc of goodness, truth and beauty that my eyes behold. My very being is filled with wonder and awe of Its glory.
I am aware of that life…of that mind which was in the mind of Jesus the Christ…I am aware that that life is my life and my mind now, and from this place, I speak my word. The word that I speak is peace. The peace that heals restores and reconciles my life to all life. The peace that diffuses any perception of illusion of separation from myself or anyone or anything. I allow myself to be grounded in the experience of this peace, this beauty, this goodnesss that avails itself to each of us now.
I am aware that we are all a center of divine consciousness in this vast whole. I know that each of us is family to our home…our mother, the Earth. I know this Presence was there at the beginning of all things. It is the Presence that sustains all things. It is the Presence that makes all things news. It is the Christ consciousness that incarnates in all creation.
This presence…the Christ consciousness…calls forth in each of us that which is good and noble. It is this Presence that invites each of us to co-create a world that is just, equitable and sustainable of all life…a world that works for all creation.
And so even now, as light gives way to darkness, I know that once again light is born from darkness. And so I am filled with gratefulness for the light that gives us warmth, that guide us and renews us. Naming it good, I call it forth by saying may it be so.’
April 6, 1931~December 22, 2019
“We’re fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.”
“Compassion refers to the arising in the heart of the desire to relieve the suffering of all beings.”
Unconditional Love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It’s love for no reason, love without an object.
‘During the festival of light; bring light to the world.’ ❥
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday which celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the larger Syrian army. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means rededication. The Hanukkah menorah is a candle holder, an important Hanukkah symbol. It has nine candles.
One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the ‘shames’, or ‘attendant.’ Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing the game of dreidel and eating oil-based foods, such as latkes, or potato pancakes, and ‘sufganiyot,’ round jelly donuts.
No, thank you.
‘America is not broken. Across the country, in red states and blue states, before the public and even behind bars, ALL of us are trying to figure things out. And many of us are doing it with patience, candor, empathy, intensity and a hunger for solutions.’ ღ
~Joshua Johnson, Studio 1A
Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, and under the dynamic chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
‘Blue Christmas’ Services Offer Refuge From Holiday Cheer
Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. And across the country, some churches are offering “Blue Christmas” services — setting aside the tinsel and other trappings for a night, to acknowledge the darkness in life.
The format of Blue Christmas services vary church to church. But the common theme is dropping the usual merry and bright, and recognizing the hard stuff. People offer prayers and light candles, and open up to the sadness they’re carrying. About loss, relationships, addiction.
people write down things they’re struggling with. And then everyone’s invited to grab some of these notes — literally lifting someone else’s burden — and hang them on the church garland.
“It’s not putting our sorrow on display. “It is inviting us to remember that it’s all part of the experience.”
At Portland’s First Congregational United Church of Christ, Rev. Dr. Janet Parker welcomed a small group for a service in mid-December, which they called “Out of the Darkness.”
In a very dark worship space, participants sang hymns, walked a labyrinth, journaled and prayed both alone and together. They also lit candles — some dedicating the candle’s light to a particular missed or suffering person by saying their name aloud, others doing so silently.
“At its deepest level, I think the Christmas gospels tell the story of God’s entrance into this world from the underside. And when all of us gather there together, and the marginalized are in the center — that’s the promise of Christmas.”
Queens man impeached
Dec. 19, 2019
by Victoria Merlino
Former Jamaica Estates resident Donald Trump was impeached Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the third president to be impeached in United States history — and the first from Queens.
Trump is accused of pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate political rival and Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, and of withholding military aid until the Ukrainians conducted the investigation. He is also accused of obstructing the Congressional investigation.
Trump fired off a series of tweets on Thursday over the impeachment process, calling it “presidential harassment” and directing ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up! The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!” he wrote.
The charges will be sent to the Republican-controlled Senate, initiating a trial that could have lasting ramifications in the 2020 presidential election.
The entire Queens House delegation voted in favor of impeachment.
“Today, I voted to impeach President Donald Trump … I did so with a heavy heart for our country, but a clear conscience. I did so, because, above all, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” U.S. Rep. Grace Meng wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“No normal person would be able to get away with attempting to extort a foreign power to compromise our country,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “But all too often, the most corrupt and powerful people grow so accustomed to life with impunity that standard accountability feels to them like unjust persecution.”
Trump’s old Jamaica Estates home, where he lived as an infant until he was four years old, went back on the market after it was sold to a Chinese investor and rented on Airbnb for $725 a night, according to Curbed.
Trump’s parents’ graves are located at All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village. The cemetery was slapped with a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier this year for allegedly misappropriating funds.
The event gets underway at 5 p.m. at Ketchum Town Square with music by Tylor and the Train Robbers. Their music will be followed by a showing of Teton Gravity’s Research’s 25-minute film “Fire on the Mountain” showcasing music by the Grateful Dead. [Eye On Sun Valley]
‘2019 started as the year of The Squad, and ends as the year of The Speaker.’
DECEMBER 19, 2019
An important moment: Christianity Today, the key evangelical magazine founded by Billy Graham, calls for Trump’s impeachment, describing him as “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?
Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today.
92% of Americans think their basic rights are being threatened, new poll shows
Americans are most concerned that their freedom of speech (48%), right to bear arms (47%) and right to equal justice (41%) are at risk, says the Harris Poll/Purple Project, which surveyed 2,002 people nationwide.
“When you frame something as a threat, it creates a bit of a political response, and it creates division and encampments of special interest,” said John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll. That’s why political parties and lobbying groups warn supporters with strident language, he said: It’s easier to drum up backing for a political cause by talking about an issue in terms of “threats.”
But when you start to consider which rights and freedoms really matter, Gerzema said, poll responses changed – and Americans re-prioritized which values they cared about most.
When asked what rights and freedoms Americans would miss if they were taken away – rather than which ones are threatened – poll respondents’ concerns generally ticked upward.
Sixty-three percent said they would miss freedom of speech if that right was taken away, while nearly half would miss freedom of expression (46%) and the right to equal justice (45%).
“When you look at the things we really value, what makes America so special is these core tenets of our Constitution,” Gerzema said. “I just find it interesting to note how much Americans really value this.”
The poll results come at a juncture in American politics where friction and division are more apparent – and Americans are overwhelmingly frustrated by the discourse. In fact, another recent survey, a Public Agenda/USA TODAY/Ipsos poll, shows that the divisive national debate over just about everything has convinced many that the country is heading in the wrong direction. More than nine of 10 in that poll said it’s crucial for the U.S. to try to reduce that divisiveness.
Even among Americans with opposing political views, a majority surveyed in the Harris Poll/Purple Project – 55% – want more meaningful conversations.
How can this be done? Talking about issues in a way that de-escalates tensions from a threat and helps Americans find common ground, Gerzema said. So does finding common ground on shared values and freedoms, both at the dinner table and between the political aisle, he said.
Even if Americans don’t agree on a contentious, politically charged topic, they can find shared values in the things that Americans tend to take for granted, he said.
After all, only 16% of Americans thought their right to own property was under threat, but 44% would miss that right. Same goes for free speech, which 63% said they would miss if it was gone – 15% more than felt free speech was at risk of being taken away.
Gerzema’s advice to the folks in Washington? Focus on the things that are fundamental to the American way of life.
“There is something wonderful going on underneath the surface, and that’s what I wish our leaders in Washington would pay attention to,” he said. “You start to see the true, softer side of America’s rough-and-tumble political reality.”
The truth is that what we want or dream of doesn’t always last. It tends to serve its purpose in our development and then fades away, losing its relevance. And we can do enormous damage to ourselves by insisting on carrying that which has died.
Living up to a dream is rarely as important as entering it for all it has to teach.
What is it teaching you?