Saturday, January 22, 2022

January 22, 2022

The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth.
—Thich Nhat Hanh

[Image: Center for Action and Contemplation]

“Thank you” is a simple phrase, but one that carries a lot of meaning. So many people act in ways big and small each day that help others for no expected monetary or other return other than the satisfaction that comes from the act itself.

Inn times of struggle, sadness, and fear, let us all remember the helpers in the world, and try to be helpers to others. Let us be kind and generous. And let us not take all that is good out there for granted. -Dan Rather

For our ancestors. 
Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ

“The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness.”
—Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

From Father Richard Rohr:

“Our very suffering now, our condensed presence on this common nest that we have largely fouled, will soon be the one thing that we finally share in common. It might well be the one thing that will bring us together politically and religiously. The earth and its life systems, on which we all entirely depend might soon become the very things that will convert us to a simple lifestyle, to necessary community, and to an inherent and universal sense of reverence for the Holy. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. There are no Jewish, Christian, or Muslim versions of these universal elements. All water is “holy water” even before the benefit of a priest’s waved hand. It is always and everywhere two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, and voilà—we have the absolute miracle of liquid water, absolutely necessary for all that lives.

This earth indeed is the very Body of God, and it is from this body that we are born, live, suffer, and resurrect to eternal life. Either all is God’s Great Project, or we may rightly wonder whether anything is.”

And…

Francis of Assisi called animals “Sister” and “Brother” and viewed humans as one part of a wider family of creation. Franciscan writers Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood recommend adapting a historic Christian practice of “examination of conscience” to focus on how we have harmed or helped our relationships with the Earth:

  1. Do I seek to eliminate from the world whatever keeps all creatures from their full development intended by their Creator: pollution, greed, overconsumption, loss of habitat, disease, war, extinction of species, oppressive laws and structures? . . .
  2. Have I encouraged others to take care for creation seriously? . . .

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

Thay.

1926-2022

From his community at Plum Village in France:

With a deep mindful breath, we announce the passing of our beloved teacher, Thay Nhat Hanh, at 00:00hrs on January 22, 2022 at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at the age of 95.

 

Thay has been the most extraordinary teacher, whose peace, tender compassion, and bright wisdom has touched the lives of millions. Whether we have encountered him on retreats, at public talks, or through his books and online teachings–or simply through the story of his incredible life–we can see that Thay has been a true bodhisattva, an immense force for peace and healing in the world. Thay has been a revolutionary, a renewer of Buddhism, never diluting and always digging deep into the roots of Buddhism to bring out its authentic radiance.

 

Thay has opened up a beautiful path of Engaged and Applied Buddhism for all of us: the path of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. As Thay would say, “Because we have seen the path, we have nothing more to fear.” We know our direction in life, we know what to do, and what not to do to relieve suffering in ourselves, in others, and in the world; and we know the art of stopping, looking deeply, and generating true joy and happiness.

 

Now is a moment to come back to our mindful breathing and walking, to generate the energy of peace, compassion, and gratitude to offer our beloved Teacher. It is a moment to take refuge in our spiritual friends, our local sanghas and community, and each other.

 

We invite you to join our global community online, as we commemorate Thay’s life and legacy with five days of practice and ceremonies broadcast LIVE from Hue, Vietnam and Plum Village, France, starting on Saturday January 22nd. Please see our website for more details coming shortly: www.plumvillage.org/memorial

 

Let us each resolve to do our best over the coming days to generate the energy of mindfulness, peace, and compassion, to send to our beloved Teacher.

 

Over the coming hours on the Plum Village website, we will publish some inspirational chants, texts, and mindfulness practice resources, to support you to come together with your local sangha to generate a collective energy of mindfulness and compassion, and create your own ceremony or session in tribute to our Teacher. As Thay has always taught, nothing is more important than brotherhood and sisterhood, and we all know the power of collective energy.

We invite you to share your messages of gratitude or personal transformation and healing on our website: plumvillage.org/gratitude-for-thich-nhat-hanh

 

With love, trust, and togetherness,

The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village, France

Thích Nhất Hạnh


 

Gautier Capuçon

Hymne à l’amour

Édith Piaf/Marguerite Monnot – Paris Tour Eiffel

Is now like then?

January 18, 2022

Sound familiar?

“To control information is to control the world. This innovative history reveals how, across two devastating wars, Germany attempted to build a powerful communication empire―and how the Nazis manipulated the news to rise to dominance in Europe and further their global agenda.” 

“Information warfare may seem like a new feature of our contemporary digital world. [And FOX media/Rupert Murdoch.] But it was just as crucial a century ago, when the great powers competed to control and expand their empires. In News from Germany, Heidi Tworek uncovers how Germans fought to regulate information at home and used the innovation of wireless technology to magnify their power abroad.”

pp. 3-4:

“In 1926, 90% of all newspapers had no correspondents abroad or in Berlin. They received all their national and international news through news agencies or syndicate services. Today, we worry about whether Facebook or Google hold monopolies over information provision. New agencies exerted an arguable even greater grasp over national and international news in the first half the 20th Century.

(Always follow the money…corporate owned media. -dayle)

p. 229:

“In the second half of the 20th century, newspaper ownership seemed like license to print money. Newspapers averaged annual returns of in the United States. Some newspapers generated profits of 30%. In comparison, grocery store profits were in the 2% range and department stores around 4%. In non-exceptional periods, when profits are hard to come by, companies become more reliant on the state or more susceptible to outside control The problem of profits has long made news firms likelier to participate in business arrangements like cartels and monopolies as well as more open to outside influences..

p. 231:

“When elites no longer believe in upholding democratic institutions, a free press alone could not stop a democracy’s disintegration. Democracy can die in full daylight, and has done before.”

[The book, 2019, has received the Fraenkel Prize from the Wiener Holocaust Library and the Ralph Gomory Prize from the Business History Conference and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.] 

Sage Publication Journals

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1007/s12290-014-0315-5

[2014]

Economic Crisis and Political Extremism in Europe: From the 1930s to the Present 

by, Antonis Klapas

Historical experience shows that when economic conditions remain bad for a significant period of time people tend to become more radical as far as their electoral behaviour is concerned. However, no matter how strong the linkage between economic crisis and the rise of political extremism might be, economic crisis is not the only factor to be taken into account when analysing the phenomenon of political extremism, as other parameters (historical, social and so on) are also important.

The economic crisis of the 1930s had a profound effect on European politics. The vicious circle of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty that started in 1929 created massive social problems and thus favoured the strengthening of extremist parties, especially far-right ones (Table 1). The case of Germany was probably the most characteristic and definitely the most important one as far as its long-term consequences were concerned. Before 1929 Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist party was nothing more than a marginal political force. In the German federal elections of May 1928 they won only 2.63 % of the vote. Just two and a half years later, in September 1930 they secured 18.25 %. In the elections of July 1932 they came first with 37.27 %, a place that they managed to hold in November of the same year despite the fact that their share of the vote was reduced to 33.09 % (Gonschior 2005). On 30 January 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany and gradually began to impose his dictatorial and racist regime. The Weimar Republic was dead. Europe was, little by little, sliding towards the abyss of the Second World War.

The establishment of Benito Mussolini’s FASCIST regime in Italy in 1922 had already paved the way towards the dominance of political extremism. However, it was only in the 1930s that anti-democratic parties across Europe became more successful.

As in the 1930s, today most far-right extremists promise to overthrow the established political system. In general, they describe politicians (excluding themselves, of course) as corrupt and decadent. They take advantage of the mass media (with special emphasis on social media which give them the opportunity to attract the attention of younger audiences) in order to get their messages across. They make extensive use of stereotypes to address the public and they use black-and-white arguments which, despite their poor reasoning, sound reasonable to the average voter. They are conservative on societal issues and sometimes openly homophobic. They reject liberal ideas and they have racist tendencies. They underline the threat of the expansion of Islam in Europe, while at the same time some of them are anti-Semitic. They point to immigrants as one of the main causes (if not the main cause) of all sorts of problems, from unemployment to high criminality. In some cases, they do not disapprove of and talk with respect or even admiration about FASCIST and Nazi leaders of the past. There are also those who do not hesitate to resort to violence in order to intimidate others.

AXIOS

1.18.22:

Trust in governments around the world is collapsing, especially in democracies, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer writes from a new global survey.

  • Why it matters: People don’t think government, business or the media are telling them the truth. This suspicion of societal institutions is pushing people into smaller, more insular circles of trust.

Government leaders and journalists are the least-trusted societal leaders, according to Edelman’s 2022 global “Trust Barometer,” a survey of 35,000 respondents in 28 countries.

  • A majority of people globally believe journalists (67%), government leaders (66%) and business executives (63%) are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”
  • Around the world, people fear the media is becoming more sensational for commercial gain and that government leaders continue to exploit divisions for political gain.

[Trust in neighbors and co-workers has apparently ⬆️.]

[AXIOS-Sarah Fischer]

https://www.axios.com/distrust-in-political-media-and-business-leaders-sweeps-the-globe-f02f7cf0-9385-4067-abff-92c6b6392d02.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top

ON THE MEDIA

https://www.wnycstudios.org

#MustListen

Since the insurrection on January 6, warnings of a second American Civil War have been sounded. This week, On the Media explores whether the civil war talk is an alarmist cry, or actually a sober assessment. Plus, hear how the myth of “the Dark Ages” paints an unfair portrait of medieval times. 

1. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker and host of the New Yorker Radio Hour, on the risk of second civil war. Listen.

“In the current context, is ‘Civil War’ a metaphor, a proposed diagnosis for what ails our country? Or is it meant to be taken literally? In a recent essay in The New Yorker, editor David Remnick suggests both. He writes that ‘for the first time in two hundred years, we are suspended between democracy and autocracy. And that sense of uncertainty radically heightens the likelihood of episodic bloodletting in America, and even the risk of civil war.’ Remnick tells Brooke about the value of ‘a journalism of warning,’ and why cautions of civil war should be heeded. -OTM

2. Barbara Walter [@bfwalter], professor of International Relations at the University of California, San Diego, on the tell-tale signs that a country is headed for insurgence. Listen.

“To a subset of the White population here this is deeply, deeply threatening… They see the United States as a White Christian country. And they feel like they’re justified to fight to maintain it.”

“Sadly, if we remain ignorant about how power operates in American politics, then people with nefarious purposes will step in and take it away from us. It’s why a civics curriculum in schools would create a stronger electorate and lead to greater faith & trust in the system.”

‘Everybody thought their civil war was unique,’Barbara F. Walter writes in her new book, How Civil Wars Start: And How To Stop Them. ‘So no one saw the risk factors that emerged again and again no matter where war broke out.” According to Walter, who has studied civil wars around the world for the past three decades — from Syria to Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka — the same warning signs appear each time. And now Walter says she sees those same signs here, in the United States. This week, she discusses them with Brooke.” -OTM

Anocracy or semi-democracy: a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a “regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features.” … Such regimes are particularly susceptible to outbreaks of armed conflict and unexpected or adverse changes in leadership. [wikipedia]

According to Professor Walter, a new Civil War would not look like the old one…

[Image: MSNBC]


U.S. democracy downgraded in 2016 and 2019. “U.S. no longer deemed longest consistent democracy.” It is now Switzerland.

#Anocracy

Center for Systemic Peace


3. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], journalist and contributing writer at The Atlantic, on when journalists should sound the alarm (and how loud we should ring it). Listen.

“Since the anniversary of January 6th, the pundit industrial complex has been churning out new ‘takes’ on a possible civil war every day.  Could it be “like the summer of 2020, but 10 times bigger”, or ‘a Seinfeld civil war’— a war about nothing? Amid the noise, it has only become more difficult to determine the proper level of alarm. Journalist Charlie Warzel tried to help everyone calibrate in the latest installment of his newsletter for The Atlantic, Galaxy Brain. This week, Brooke and Charlie discuss the role of alarmism in the face of seemingly existential problems, and who the real ‘doomsayers’ actually are.

4. David M. Perry [@Lollardfish] and Matthew Gabriele [@prof_gabriele], authors of The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, on how the Dark Ages might have not been so dark. Listen.

Today, when we encounter the medieval world it’s mostly a dark time. Un-enlightened by reason, but also literally gloomy – all bare stone and grey skies. We know it as a brutal time, dominated by white men with steeds and swords, or drenched in blood by marauding Vikings. But in their new book, The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, historians Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry trace the harm of the myths of the “Dark Ages,” and illuminate the medieval stories that have mostly escaped our modern gaze. -OTM

Boise State Public Radio

#MustListen

Excellent reporting from journalist Heath Druzin and the team at KBSX, Boise State Public Radio.

‘This podcast takes you inside the world of ascendant Patriot Movement, the militia members & far-right activists who are simultaneously preparing to fight the government & become part of it.’

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/extremely-american/id1599294971


Voices of Freedom, edited/produced by me; see if you can the identify the speakers. -dayle


 

‘Congressman Jamie Raskin has proudly represented Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017. Prior to his time in Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland and the Senate Majority Whip. He was also a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years.’

[His book is #1 this week on the NYTimes hardcover non-fiction Best Seller’s List.]

“I have learned that trauma can steal everything from you that is most precious and rip joy right out of your life,” Raskin writes. “But, paradoxically, it can also make you stronger and wiser, and connect you more deeply to other people than you ever imagined by enabling you to touch their misfortunes and integrate their losses and pain with your own.”

“If a person can grow through unthinkable trauma and loss,” Raskin continues, “perhaps a nation may, too.” [NPR]

“When everything looks hopeless, you are the hope.”

-Marcus Raskin

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

2022

💚

There’s so much to share — especially in a world where we’re too silent on the things that matter most and are divided into chaos. It’s our destiny to connect and with each other as we truly are, beyond limitations. -Jennifer Rose @SeeTheRoses 

MLK DAY 2022

January 17, 2022

Life takes pride in not appearing uncomplicated. If it relied on simplicity, it probably would not succeed in moving us to do all those things that we are not easily moved to do.

-Rilke

Seth Godin:

“The Way Things Are…”

That’s how culture perpetuates injustice and indignity. Because that’s just the way things are around here.

But the status quo isn’t permanent. The world doesn’t stay the way it was. It changes.

And it’s been changing faster than ever.

It doesn’t change because the status quo sub-committee had a meeting and decided to change it.

It changes when someone decides that the way things are around here needs to change, and simply and bravely begins to do something differently.

And then someone else follows along.

Dan Rather:

I fear that the elevation of Dr. King to the pantheon of great Americans who have national birthday celebrations has come at a subtle cost. These days almost no public official would dare speak ill of Dr. King. However I worry that this universal acclaim has deadened the radicalism of Dr. King’s message. And by radicalism, I mean that what he espoused was far outside what was then the mainstream. It still is.

We must remember that he was a deeply contentious person at the time of his death. Dr. King would not, could not, suppress the moral clarity with which he saw the world. His messages about racial prejudice and social justice were not welcome in most corridors of power. He was a danger to the status quo and many who benefited from it. He not only preached powerfully about the necessity for racial healing and integration. He also issued stirring rhetoric from his pulpit on the need for economic fairness across racial lines. And he was a fierce critic of the Vietnam War.

So today, please don’t revere Dr. King the American saint. Please engage with Dr. King as the unique vessel for a message America was long overdue to hear.

[Steady/Substack]

https://steady.substack.com/p/remembering-dr-king?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email&utm_content=share&token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjo3NzQxODc2LCJwb3N0X2lkIjo0NzE0OTE5OCwiXyI6Imc5NzkxIiwiaWF0IjoxNjQyNDUxOTY0LCJleHAiOjE2NDI0NTU1NjQsImlzcyI6InB1Yi0yNDc4ODEiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0._IKTFNkcwaZtjY4vR8egOl8Fssc0Ssv3U-tauVb9tEA

Our Turn Now

Marianne Williamson:

Those words should ring like clarion calls to all of us today. Our task is not merely to celebrate the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr., but to commit ourselves to their realization. And that means much more than just tweeting a quote, or making an instagram post. It means developing what Dr. King described as “tough minds and tender hearts.” It means committing to routing out not only systems of injustice in the world, but also the hatred in our own hearts. Dr. King said that a basic tenet of non-violent philosophy is that “self-purification must precede political action.” In his words, we need both “a quantitative change in our circumstances and a qualitative shift in our souls.”

Dr. King was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., remember, a Baptist preacher whose political vision was rooted in his understanding of the gospel of Christ. “It is time,” he said, “to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of human civilization.” That love – that new love – was a social love, a love that would heal not only personal but also political and social relationships as well. He found inspiration for that possibility in the work of Mahatma Gandhi, traveling to India to study the principles of non-violence and bringing them back for application to the struggle for Civil Rights in the United States in the 1960’s.

So many of the struggles to which Dr. King dedicated his life, and for which he ultimately died, are struggles that are with us still. Surely he could be talking about America today with comments such as this: “If they give it to poor people, they call it a handout; if they give it to rich people, they call it a subsidy.” Or, “If it happens to rich people, they call it a Depression; if it happens to poor people, they call it a social problem.” Or how about this? In describing America in 1967, Dr. King described the “three evils” of racism, consumerism/poverty, and militarism/war. As those not the main challenges that are with us now? He called for a “radical revolution of values” then, just as we need to call for one now.

The struggle is in our hands. The dream is in our hands. The hope is in our hands.

MLK Day 2022. It’s our turn now.

‘…the ultimate goal (was) the establishment of the beloved community.” Such a notion was not a religious platitude; it was a political strategy.

For a full look at Dr. King’s writings and speeches, I highly recommend A Testament of Hope.’ -Marianne

The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.

-Rilke

Monday, July 17th, 2022

This is where we are, not to regulate and protect, but defend, on our own, to stay alive. -dayle

[Brandon Bell/Getty Images]

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker — who was among the four hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday — said his congregation has taken security training over the years from Colleyville police, FBI, Anti-Defamation League and Secure Community Network.

  • “We are alive today because of that education,” he said in a statement. “I encourage all Jewish congregations, religious groups, schools, and others to participate in active-shooter and security courses.”
  • “In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening. Without the instruction, … we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself.”

[AXIOS]


Center for Action and Contemplation

Writer Victoria Loorz, co-founder of the “Wild Church Network:”

The word religion, at its roots, means re, “again,” and ligios, “connection,” like ligaments. Religion is meant to offer us support to connect again what has been separated. Apparently we need constant reminders to continually reconnect with the fullness of life, the whole, the holy. What we’ve created is more like disligion: disconnection from people and species unlike us. When religion loses its purpose and colludes with the forces of separation instead, it becomes irrelevant and even irreverent. . . .

Loorz seeks to encourage people towards deeper love by encountering the Holy outdoors:

The new story is emerging, and I cannot pretend to know all the layers. Yet one aspect that seems essential relates to the worldview of belonging—a way of being human that acts as if we belong to a community larger than our own family, race, class, and culture, and larger even than our own species. The apocalyptic unveiling happening in our world right now makes it difficult even for those who have been sheltered in privilege to look away from the reality, both tragic and beautiful, that we are all deeply interconnected. Humans, trees, oceans, deer, viruses, bees. God.

Many people, whether they go to church regularly or avoid it, feel closest to God while they are in nature. Even a simple gaze at a full moon can be a spiritual experience if you are mindful enough. And a glorious sunset can summon hallelujahs from deep in your soul. Humans are made to engage in life-affirming conversation with the whole, holy web of life. . . .

Mystical experience in nature—those moments when you sense your interconnection with all things—are more than just interesting encounters. They are invitations into relationship. Beyond caring for creation or stewarding Earth’s “resources,” it is entering into an actual relationship with particular places and beings of the living world that can provide an embodied, rooted foundation for transformation. The global shift necessary to actually survive the crises we’ve created depends on a deep inner change.

The Wild Church Network is here to encourage and support people who are starting Wild Churches.  The Church of the Wild book offers inspiration for those who feel the call from Spirit and Earth herself to create a spiritual community that reconnects us to the rest of the alive and sacred world. 

“This book will be of great use to all who feel a little broken by the world right now—those of a Christian heritage especially, but really everyone yearning to reconnect with something larger. I think the wisest course of action would be to slip it into a knapsack and remove yourself outdoors to read it.”

—Bill McKibben, author of Falter, Eaarth, and The End of Nature

~

The Wild Church Network is here to encourage and support people who are starting Wild Churches.  The Church of the Wild book offers inspiration for those who feel the call from Spirit and Earth herself to create a spiritual community that reconnects us to the rest of the alive and sacred world. 

“This book will be of great use to all who feel a little broken by the world right now—those of a Christian heritage especially, but really everyone yearning to reconnect with something larger. I think the wisest course of action would be to slip it into a knapsack and remove yourself outdoors to read it.”

—Bill McKibben, author of Falter, Eaarth, and The End of Nature

 

A Movement is Emerging…

From isolation to connection.

From detachment to immersion.

From dualism to interBeing.

Popping up all over the land, like wild mushrooms after a spring rain,

Wild Church communities are responding to a call from deep within

to change the way we relate to the natural world, moving

“from a collection of objects, to a communion of subjects”

Thomas Berry

https://www.wildchurchnetwork.com

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

January 16, 2022

Marianne Williamson:

Not every lesson feels fun while it’s happening, and at times I have resisted growth fiercely. But I remain open today to the miracle of transformation. I know that as I move forward into a new realm of being, Love itself will aid me in my progress. Spirit will erase the patterns of fear that have sabotaged my past.

“Freedom without consequences is a myth.

Our actions always have consequences.

The question is: who will bear them?” -Seth Godin

From https://www.suleikajaouad.com newsletter this week.

Suleika, your name is on my alter as you continue to ease back into health. February v i b e s  strong. Only love and healing and wholeness. -dayle

“When you’re suffering—enduring some kind of rage or heartbreak, disappointment or plain human idiocy—it can feel like you’re alone, like you’re the only person who’s struggling this way. Often, the impulse in those moments is not to share or create but to hide.”

-Suleika Jaouad

Diving deeply into a dynamic unity, Father Richard Rohr writes:

In the early Christian era, only some few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor) cared to notice that the Christ was clearly something older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time, and the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit beyond time. But the later centuries tended to lose this mystical element in favor of dualistic Christianity. We lost our foundational paradigm for connecting all opposites.

Since we could not overcome the split between the spiritual and the material within ourselves, how could we then possibly overcome it for the rest of creation?

The polluted earth, extinct and endangered species, tortured animals, nonstop wars, and constant religious conflicts have been the result. Yet Jesus the Christ has still planted within creation a cosmic hope, and we cannot help but see it in so many unexplainable and wonderful events and people.

For more and more people, union with the divine is first experienced through “the Universal Christ”—in nature, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, with animals, or a primal sense of awe. 

Our encounter with the eternal Christ mystery started about 13.8 billion years ago in an event we now call the “Big Bang.” God has overflowed into visible Reality and revealed God’s self in trilobites, giant flightless birds, jellyfish, pterodactyls, and thousands of species that humans have never once seen. But God did.  And that was already more than enough meaning and glory.

From journalist and former CBS news anchor Dan Rather today:

Steady is about taking the world as it comes, trying to control what you can but recognizing much is beyond your ability to shape. It is about joining with others to leverage the power of collective action. It is about caring for yourself when you need to regain your footing. It’s about understanding that others have struggled in the face of injustice and despair. Steady is about recognizing that progress is possible, even when it feels ungraspable. It is also about having the humility to understand that joy can be fleeting, so you need to find it and hold on to it when you can. 

I don’t know what the next year holds in store, for me, for you, or for our country and our planet. I hope it is one of greater justice, peace, and health. I know that it will undoubtedly be one of challenges, in ways we can predict, and in ways that are unknowable.

Emerson:

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please…you can never have both. […] There is no history. There is only biography. 

“Caution is like a disease, it kills ideas. Be daring. And caution will disappear.” -Yoko

 

Radical Transformation

January 15, 2022

“Being fully present to what is happening in the world is a radical act that can transform grief into action.”

YES! Magazine

By Dahr Jamail

In this excerpt from the new anthology “A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Times,” journalist Dahr Jamail describes how Macy and her work helped him survive profound war trauma and climate grief.

Macy, a scholar and teacher of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology, is the author of 13 books and a respected voice in movements for peace, justice, and ecology. She originated The Work That Reconnects, a framework and methodology for personal and social change. It is influential work that, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, helps people transform despair and apathy into constructive, collaborative action.

[…]

During one of Joanna’s discussions, she said, “The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.” For me, the price of admission into that present was allowing my heart to break. But then I saw how, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, despair transforms into clarity of vision, then into constructive, collaborative action. “It brings a new way of seeing the world, freeing us from the assumptions and attitudes that now threaten the continuity of life on earth,” Joanna said.

[…]

There is more and more social hysteria, greatly aided by the corporate media and its finger-pointing and scapegoating. On one hand, you have the mass shootings, and on the other, a deathlike closing down under the pressures of the moment when you need to just get food on the table.”

Illustration by Benjavisa Ruangvaree.

I felt like little more than a typist for Gaia as the feelings and words flowed out of me, as I bowed to and held in reverence our magnificent planet. With each passing day, it became clearer to me that my work was truly in service to the planet, each chapter an homage to her. And along the way, she brought in Native American elders, which literally changed the ending of the book I had prepared. It was due to my training with Joanna that I knew what was happening and allowed myself to be Gaia’s instrument.

No matter how difficult life on Earth becomes, we will only be able to withstand these times by sharing ourselves with one another. If nothing else, we can bear witness together and not suffer in isolation as the dominant culture prefers. In being a “we,” humans can live as the deeply interconnected consciousness of Earth that we already are, just as Joanna has taught all of her life.

Yes. But what is the ‘we’ now? We are no longer deeply connected, only ideology connected and fractions are deep within each. Jesus spoke of ‘thou’, you, but contemporaneously it is only ‘me’ and perspectivism. ‘We’ know what needs to be done, but can ‘we’, will ‘we’? Hope is nothing more than a gamble, and we have no more chips.

R A D I C A L   T R A N S F O R M A T I O N

…desperately needed, as ‘we’ exist in a state of radical uncertainty.

 

 

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Absolute

Reciprocity

Ineffable

Perspectivism

Thinking this morning, journalism doesn’t exist, not really, not in a pure sense. Journalism is corporate owned media and social media.

Absolute?

No qualification, restriction, or limitation; not viewed ion relation to other things or factors.

Reciprocity?

Mutual benefit.

Ineffable?

Too great or extreme to be expressed.

Perspectivism?

Knowledge of a subject is inevitably partial and limited by the individual perspective.

Yes. Journalism is absolute, reciprocity exists for profit and attention, the evaporation of democracy and planet is ineffable, and all of it loaded with bias and perspectivism.

A free press is the foundation of a democracy, and in this country, the United States, as in others, it is state owned, corporate owned, billionaire owned, and not free.

We are drowning in seas of misinformation and disinformation. No one knows how to rescue our collective, or want to (?), only observing as we breathe our last breath.

Julian of Norwich:

“She took advantage of the crisis to explore more deeply what her soul and heart truly desired and was capable of.”

 

 

Howl. Go ahead.

January 14, 2022

 

Full Moon in Cancer is Monday, January 17 at 4:50PM Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Also known as the Wolf Moon, this full moon suggests a deeply emotional time giving opportunity for some serious emotional clearing of pent up frustrations, past disappointments, regrets, judgments and feelings about what has or has not happened. It is a good time to sort out the difference between your mental thoughts and judgments and the true nature of your emotional center and what it holds.

This year (2022) is an emotionally centered year and we see it anchored in this full moon. Since the theme of January is about values and what is important, this will also be highlighted during the full moon window.

Beware of self-judgment around what you should have paid more attention to or put more energy into. What is past is past. Clear the emotions around it and move on. This is also a good time to receive the higher emotional energies of gratitude, love, awe, beauty and inspiration. Do some self-care during this time that includes some higher-centered possibilities. Since Mercury is now retrograde, this is a time for more being rather than doing and a good time for reflection and study of where your true power comes from. What is important to you? What do you value? What do you love? What do you love to do and where do you love to be? And with whom?

Blessings,
Lena

PowerPath.com


🌕

Marianne Williamson:

Today I choose the light, and turn away from darkness. 

I know there is a force within that lures me toward the light, yet there is a competing force within me that would keep me bound to darkness. May the love of God cast out the fear that is lodged inside my consciousness, and deliver me to peace. May the light of love cast out all fear and darkness in my mind.

CQ

January 12, 2022

CB radio

“It was huge and kept growing by leaps and bounds.

Until it didn’t.

(My license was KFV2338, a number I haven’t said out loud in 40 years).

CB radio took off because human beings desperately want to connect with people they know and be heard by people they don’t.

And then it went away because it was noisy, unfiltered and sort of pointless.

We can’t imagine why people were so entranced.

Until the next one comes along.

It was huge and kept growing by leaps and bounds.

Until it didn’t.

(My license was KFV2338, a number I haven’t said out loud in 40 years).

CB radio took off because human beings desperately want to connect with people they know and be heard by people they don’t.

And then it went away because it was noisy, unfiltered and sort of pointless.

We can’t imagine why people were so entranced.

Until the next one comes along.”

Here’s mine: KG7HAK 

Breaker Breaker. :)

Wednesday, 1.12.22

Father Richard Rohr

Center for Action and Contemplation

Once we allow the entire universe to become that alive and dynamic, we are living in an enchanted world. Nothing is meaningless; nothing is able to be dismissed. It’s all whirling with the same beauty, the same radiance. In fact, if I had to name the Big Bang in my language, I’d call it the Great Radiance. About 13.8 billion years ago, the inner radiance of God started radiating into forms. All these billions of years later, we are the continuation of that radiance in our small segment of time on this Earth. We can either allow it and let the Infinite Flow flow through us, or we can deny it, which is really what it means not to believe.

This is not something I can prove to anyone. This is nothing I can make logical or rational. It’s only experiential, and it’s only known in the mystery of love when we surrender ourselves to it, when we grant the other inherent dignity and voice—the plant, the animal, the tree, the sky, Brother Sun and Sister Moon as my Father Francis of Assisi put it. 

Beguines, the ‘world’s oldest women’s movement…’

NYTIMES

Some historians believe they banded together after losing their men to the Crusades, which left behind mainly criminals and louts — beguines were not confined to the cloister. Many ministered to the poor and sick outside their walls. Lifelong celibacy was not required either. They could leave the order and marry (but not return).

Traces of these remarkable women and their idiosyncratic spiritual ways can be found today in the urban islands of quietness they once called home. Known as beguinages or begijnhofs, several dozen of these compounds are still intact (to varying degrees) from England to Germany. Ten years ago Unesco declared a select group as World Heritage Sites. No country has more beguinages (29) than Belgium, and a trip to inspect a few in three cities seemed like a pleasant way to spend a spring day, especially given the ease with which one moves by train in that convenient nation.

In its modesty, this beguinage is reminiscent of a poorly endowed college at Oxford. The bourgeois values of peace and tidiness govern all beguinages, elements that look forward to the airy clarity of the Enlightenment rather than back to the Gothic sublime of the Middle Ages.

These were “independent women who defined for themselves what it meant to live according to gospel values. Beguines were not nuns. They used their sources of income to purchase homes near the chapel or parish church where they gathered together for prayer. They emerged in the midst of a so-called first renaissance when European society was transforming itself from a narrowly defined structure of a great many peasants.

Several factors propelled this renaissance and supported the emergence of the beguines, including the Crusades and courtly culture, emerging cities and their fledging universities, a new money-based economy, the growth of lay spirituality and the cult of the Virgin Mary, as well as new monastic orders.

Additionally, there was a phenomenon called vita apostolic, which means the ‘apostolic life’ or ‘the life of an apostle.’ Beguines were a powerful expression of the vita apostolica.

Leading profound simplicity, beguines pooled their resources in order to serve the sick and destitute by building and operating infirmaries and almshouses.

  • Hildegard of Bingen
  • Heloise
  • Marguerite d’Oingt
  • Gertrude of Helfta

And many women became beguines as a result of their newfound literacy.

A heretic is a person who allegedly corrupts established faith doctrine, often by selecting a limited set of beliefs and denying the other parts of orthodox teaching.

It was a highly charged political environment in the medieval world.In a society strongly defined by each person’s specific place (such as belonging to the guilds or merchants, to aristocratic or religious classes or the the peasantry), beguines were violating their ‘God-assigned place’ in order to serve the gospel.

Beguines were under church investigation at different ties and in different parts of Europe for their spiritual independence.

While most beguines were quite orthodox, there were some religious laywomen who did join the Cathars, the Free Spirits, The Spiritual Franciscans, and other suspected heretical movements.

Most challenges of heresy, however, were politically motivated. When beguines challenged inept clergy, they made priests and bishops angry. When beguines condemned the red and corruption within the church, they made the church hierarchy angry. When beguines denounced the cruelty done to innocent laypeople through interdict, they made the popes angry. Beguine preaching would always make some men in power angry.

Beguines showed great strength and persistence and collaborated with fellow seekers, tolerated diversity, and raised difficult questions; they exercised both communal and personal wisdom and freedom to follow God as they felt called.

The story of the beguines affairs that women have contributed far more to spirituality and culture than history books have traditionally acknowledged. Their voices proclaim a divine presence that years for relationship with each of us.

These medieval women offer us hope and a fresh path: to think creatively, to collaborate to achieve change, and to live with prophetic courage.”

“A movement, rather than an order, there was no single style or pattern of beguine life.

While reacting against the wealth and ostentation of secular society, the beguines did not see poverty as an end in itself, rather they encouraged the development of the virtues of charity, humility and companionship.

Beguines worked in hospitals, visited the sick in their homes and established infirmaries.

As the church became increasingly paranoid concerning the presence of heterodox teachings, and brutal it its attempt to eradicate those it conceived of a threat, beguines, along with Jews, witches and various other sects, found themselves vulnerable and subject to frequent accusations of heresy, with often terrible consequences.”

~

The French mystic Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake in Paris in 1310, after a year and a half of imprisonment. Her crime was to repeatedly refuse to appear before the court of the inquisitorial commission to answer charges relating to her book, The Mirror of Simple Souls. During her trial, she refused to swear the oath required of her by the inquisitor’s office and she showed no remorse for having violated an injunction to withdraw her book from circulation after it had been publicly burned several years previously. Many who witnessed her execution were said to be moved to tears by her piety.

Little is known about Porete, apart from the record of her trial and what can be gleaned from her writings. It seems likely that she was associated with the beguines, a women’s religious movement which spread across northern Europe during the 13th and 14th centuries. Although the beguines devoted themselves to charity, chastity and good works, they took no religious vows and their lifestyles varied greatly, from solitary itinerants (of which Porete was probably one) to enclosed communities. The beguines were part of an era of vigorous spiritual flourishing during the Middle Ages. They were condemned by the Council of Vienne (1311-1312), which also condemned the Free Spirit Movement with which they were sometimes (and probably erroneously) identified. Although the beguine movement declined dramatically in the 15th century, some beguine communities survived until the early 20th century. The beguinage in Leuven in Belgium is a Unesco world heritage site, and to wander through its quiet cobbled roads and enclosed gardens is to feel a poignant sense of the lost history of women’s lives.

~

And this, by Allysha Lavino…recommend highly.

My review from 2020 for Amazon, Trust the Magic:

What did you see today?
What did you learn today?
What did you love today? (p.79)

Henry Lincoln chose to See, and now, Allysha has chosen to See with the eyes and wisdom of the Divine Feminine in The Heretic. Having both discovered their place in the universal pattern, Allysha invites us through beautiful and brilliant storytelling to find our own place through sacred geometry while meeting the Good People, the ancient Cathars, in Southern France. Reading The Heretic, I had the remarkable context of a Sacred Mystery Tour with Allysha and her husband, Mark, co-led by Sir Henry, to visit the sites revealed in the Languedoc region of Southern France. My hope is that if you’ve landed in this virtual space—”nothing is done par hazard” (p. xv)—either directed by the Divine Feminine or a passionate friend, you, too, will be called to physically explore the ruins and profound spiritual places Allysha excavates in the pages of The Heretic. If not, this book will be your experience. Allysha has magically captured through character and compassion the Wisdom resting beneath all things, the dualism of good and evil. During this time of pandemic and global social sadness, Allysha reminds us through her ancient research and inspired writing that suffering cannot destroy us, beauty is in everything, “though the world around us was filled with the shear chaos of the unknown” (p. 217). She gently encourages us in her story to “trust the magic,” as she gathers what Emily Dickinson called the fruits of the spirit: patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. It is Lily’s discoveries along with her young ethereal guides at the old hotel in Alet-les-Bains who encourage us to charge the awakening. I didn’t want this book to end—gratitude to Gaia it is a trilogy! Allysha, “thank you for your wisdom…your joy…your peace…your guidance…your strength…your love (pp. 265-266). As Henry writes in his Forward, “The world has been preparing Allysha for this task for years, unbeknownst to either of us.” Baphomet, friends…the path awaits.

Author Beatrice Bruteau [1930–2014]: “We need a new theology of the cosmos, one that is grounded in the best science of our day, so that all the world turns sacred again.”

-Dayle Ohlau

10 years…maybe less.

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

-Henry David Thoreau

 

YES! Magazine

When Less Is More

by David Korten

“Science tells us that we now have fewer than 10 years to reduce the human burden on Earth or trigger tipping points in Earth’s natural systems from which there is no return. Most discussion centers on the climate emergency, but we also have crises related to air, water, soil, species extinction, and more.

A viable human future depends on living with less. Does that mean sacrifice? Leaving more people behind? Or is this challenge an unprecedented opportunity to achieve a better future for all? The question of how much is enough, the theme of the fall 2021 issue of YES! Magazine, poses a foundational question for our time.

Let us look at several key areas where less could be more.

  • Deadly Weapons.
  • Mis-/Disinformation.
  • Financial Speculation.
  • The Bitcoin Con.
  • Global Supply Chains.
  • Short Stay Air Travel.
  • Auto-Dependent Cities.

We face a defining choice. We can hold to course with an economy that grows GDP to provide a few with the opportunity to make a killing as they prepare to escape to outer space. Or we can embrace the current opportunity to transition to an ecological civilization, with a living economy dedicated to supporting us all in making a secure and fulfilling living on a thriving living Earth.”

Full Piece: yesmagazine.org

~

How Much Is Enough?

YES! Magazine

by, Lornet Turnbull

Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark envisioned back in 2013 when they created Buy Nothing—a gift economy operated on a hyperlocal scale to bring neighbors together through sharing and community.

Neither a group, organization, association, or nonprofit, Buy Nothing is a movement that has doubled in size during the pandemic. It now has more than 4 million participants in 6,500 groups, located in 44 countries across the globe.

“It’s like a radical new economy, except of course it’s an old economy that has been around forever,” Rockefeller says. “We’re just re-presenting it.”

“Here we were studying this very old culture, up to 3,000 years old, while at the same time seeing that the modern folks were using their materials in a way that was so beautiful and eye-opening,” she adds. “The only way these cultures could survive was literally by always ensuring that the weakest were carried along with them.”

https://buynothingproject.org

[Barter Economy/Wikipedia Image]

Thoughts…

January 11, 2022

‘The Soul works through a kind of “psychic DNA,” which manifests on many planes…our bodies, our personalities, our dreams…using all of it to work out the karma of the Soul.’

-Ram Dass

‘God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please…you can never have both.’

And…

‘The great majority of men are not original, for they are not primary, have not assumed their own vows, but are secondaries…grow up and grow old in seeming and following; and when they die they occupy themselves to the last with what others will think, and whether Mr. A and Mr. B will go their funeral.’

-Emerson

‘There is no more wretched prison than the fear of hurting someone who loves you.’

-Rilke

Paula Modersohn-Becker(1876–1907), an early expressionist painter, became acquainted with Rilke in Worpswede and Paris, and painted his portrait in 1906.

Memphis Free Speech

The new Barbie doll of journalist and activist Ida B. Wells.

Jason Tidwell/Mattel

I had a Skipper and a Scooter. I wish I could have had an Ida B. -dayle

Journalist Ida B. Wells is commemorated with a Barbie doll for fearless activism

NPR

by Elizabeth Blair

Educator, journalist, anti-lynching activist and NAACP co-founder Ida B. Wells joins the pantheon of distinguished women honored by Mattel with her own signature Barbie doll. Resplendent in a deep blue, floor-length dress with lace details, the new Ida B. Wells doll also comes with a historically significant accessory: a miniature replica of the Memphis Free Speech, the newspaper where Wells became editor and co-owner in 1889.

Mattel has created numerous Barbie dolls to honor both historic and contemporary heroines in the hopes of inspiring “generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.” It’s Inspiring Women Series includes dolls dedicated to Maya Angelou, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and singer Ella Fitzgerald.

The oldest of eight children, Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Miss., in 1862. When she was 16, both of her parents and a younger brother died during the yellow fever epidemic. Wells raised her younger siblings and became a teacher to support her family.

Daniel and Michelle Duster attend the dedication of a monument to their great-grandmother, journalist, educator, and civil rights leader, Ida B. Wells in Chicago last year.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

“I am honored that Barbie has chosen to celebrate my great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells, as part of its Inspiring Women Series,” says Michelle Duster, author, public historian, and great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells in a statement. “My great-grandmother was a trailblazer, who courageously followed her convictions and challenged the status quo by fighting for civil rights and women’s suffrage. This is an incredible opportunity to shine a light on her truth and enduring legacy to empower a new generation to speak up for what they believe in.”

A pivotal moment in Wells’ life came in 1883 when she was traveling by train from Memphis to Woodstock, Tenn., where she was a teacher. When she refused to give up her seat and ride in a segregated car, she was forcibly removed. Wells later sued the Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwest Railroad Co. A local court ruled in her favor but the decision was eventually overturned in federal court.

Wells became a fierce anti-lynching activist. She investigated white mob violence and wrote scathing indictments of the lynchings of Black men. Her articles so angered locals, the offices of the Memphis Free Speech were destroyed.

In the preface to her 1892 pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws In All Its Phases, Wells wrote, “It is with no pleasure I have dipped my hands in the corruption here exposed. Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen on me to do so.”

https://www.npr.org/2022/01/11/1071885031/ida-b-wells-barbie-doll?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_term=nprnews&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr

The Second Coming

‘What is clear, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity,” W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming,” 1919.

What no one wants to admit openly in the U.S. is that we are a nation gone mad.’

by Gregg Gonsalves, The Nation

We have become a nation of death-eaters. We can consume the tragedy of losing 826,063 [1.6.22] men, women and children to this disease and respond with cries to do less, to get us back to normal. And our politicians, pundits, and business leaders are all too willing to oblige.

Many of us may be over Covid, but it is not done with us. Not by a long shot.

Gregg Gonsalves is the codirector of the Global Health Justice Partnership and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

 

https://www.thenation.com/article/society/covid-omicron-variant-testing/

Rêver

Paris

by Judith Mahoney Pasternak, 2000

 

Darrell Lee Ohlau

January 5, 2022

22 years.

Ho’oponopono

‘And if I go,

while you’re still here…

know that I live on,

vibrating to a different measure,

behind a thin veil you cannot see through.

You will not see me,

so you must have faith.

I wait for the time when we can soar together again,

both aware of each other.

Until then, live your lie to its fullest.

And when you need me,

just whisper my name in your heart,

…I will be there.

‘Ascension’

by Colleen Corah

~

Stephen Colbert to guest Keanu Reeves:

“What do you think happens to us when we die Keanu Reeves?”

Pause…

“I know the ones who love us will miss us.”

Always.

jai

~

The Greek tragedian Aeschylus wrote:

God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer.

And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget,

falls drop by drop upon the heart,

and in our despair, against our will,

come wisdom through the awful grace of God.

Lena’s January 2022 Forecast

January 4, 2022

The main theme for January is “ALL ABOUT VALUES”.

As we begin the new cycle of the year 2022, what we value is up for review. What are we putting energy into that is not serving us? What should we be cherishing and putting energy into that we are not? This is an interesting month where choices and change will be based on what we value, and personal truth will guide our priorities.

We have been imprinted by media, conditioning, and outside judgments about what is valuable and what is not.

As we move forward out of the chaos and uncertainty of the last year and into the anticipation of what this new year will bring, we are in a perfect position to re-evaluate what is most important to us regardless of what others think or what we believed to be valuable in the past. Where we go from here and how we manifest our future will depend on the foundation of values we come from. It is no longer viable to base intentions on an old paradigm or on something that is not truly true for us.

The values up for review this month are what we value or undervalue about ourselves, our personal strengths, talents and medicine as well as our relationships to ourselves, our bodies, each other and nature. We also review the true value of our ambitions and dreams and whether they come from an authentic place of truth or past imprinting or the intentions of others. We evaluate our personal environment and whether it supports us or not.

It is a great month to continue the big clean out, not only of physical items that are no longer resonant with you, but also habits, behaviors, energy leaks and attitudes that should not be given any value. The law of attraction is alive and well this month and what you put your energy into will grow and spread like a virus. It is time to starve the fear and negativity, and to feed the curiosity, optimism, hope and everything that you value about yourself, your environment, others and your life. When you feed the positive, it will spread and affect everything around you. If you feed the negative, the same thing will happen. So, keep it positive, hopeful and optimistic no matter what.

You should be inspired by what you value.

This is an emotionally centered year where the points of reference and the reality checks will be based more on what feels right rather that what you think should be right.  One of the themes for 2022 is a recapitulation of the past that includes sorting out your values as opposed to values imprinted upon you by others. It is important work this month as it will help to create a foundation that will support how and what you manifest for the year. The theme of Values and resetting them for yourself also includes looking at quality vs quantity. We have been conditioned as a consumer society that more is better and that power lies in how much you have instead of how valuable what you have is.

We are in a new time where our perceptions are changing, our awareness is increasing, and we are becoming more mature in our responsibilities. It is time to claim our truth, reset our priorities and what we value, and move forward with curiosity and hope into the positive opportunities of 2022.

[More at powerpath.com.]

“…it barely exaggerates.”

Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up shows that subtlety isn’t always a virtue. (Netflix)

The Nation

Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up Captures the Stupidity of Our Political Era
BY BRANKO MARCETIC

‘The scariest thing about Don’t Look Up is that as absurd as it is, it barely exaggerates. Much of our political elite are just as greedy and foolish, our media just as vapid, and our response to impending disaster exactly as mind-bogglingly irrational as in the movie.

The times we live in are both shot through with menace and impossibly stupid. This is one of the defining features of this political era, and yet I can’t think of many movies in the post-2016 years that capture this dynamic, or even bother to try, like Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up.

The marquee productions about capital “P” politics in the Donald Trump years had plenty of the former. Vehicles like The Post and The Comey Rule filtered the news we all sat around watching and reading after the 2016 election through the lens of a 1970s-style political thriller, and were celebrated for flattering establishment biases. The heroes were institutions like the press and the FBI, nobly defending norms and democracy from a Nixonian assault unparalleled in its danger. It’s no coincidence this came at a time when much of the establishment had convinced themselves they were on the verge of uncovering a sprawling espionage scandal and dictatorial conspiracy all in one.

Don’t Look Up feels a much better fit for the reality we’re actually living through. There’s no villainous authoritarian ending democracy; as in our world, American democracy in the film has already been smothered under the weight of oligarch money and corporate profit-chasing. There’s no secret evil conspiracy, at least in the salacious form these Trump-era stories imagined; the villains are a self-obsessed, blinkered elite, and it’s their greed, venality, and stupidity that lead them to evil decisions.

If nothing else, the discourse now swirling around the movie has probably clued you in that it’s an allegory for climate disaster. Astronomers Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) discover a comet the size of Mount Everest making a beeline for Earth, and determine (after desperately triple-checking and rechecking) that it’s set to cause an apocalyptic event of the kind that killed the dinosaurs in only six months’ time. They soon fly to Washington to brief the president.

Climate change has long been compared to an approaching asteroid by incredulous scientists and activists who ask, as they tear their hair out, if we’d respond with the same denial and delay to the kind of planetary disaster immortalized in end-of-history blockbusters like Armageddon. Those movies have conditioned us to assume that no, we’d put together a plucky team of characters, rough around the edges but with a lot of heart, who, with the help of modern science and unlimited government resources, would win out over the space rock. Their only obstacles would be their own personal issues, their inability to work as a team, and the immensity of the task itself.

McKay and David Sirota, the journalist, Jacobin contributor, and former Bernie Sanders speechwriter who cowrote the film’s story, flip that timeworn scenario on its head. What if stopping the actual disaster wasn’t the hardest part? What if the hardest part was convincing anyone to even bother trying?

Dibiasky and Mindy are frustrated every step of the way in their efforts. The head of NASA — a political donor, we later learn, with no background in astronomy — at first doesn’t believe it. President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her dimwit son and chief of staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), initially blow them off, then look for a rationale to delay doing anything about it; the midterms are coming up, after all. The press is mostly uninterested, and the one establishment paper that treats the story as the blockbuster it is quickly gives up on it after the White House disputes the science. The duo lands on a popular morning show, but an exasperated Dibiasky is ignored and mocked after what looks like an on-air meltdown.

Things don’t get much easier once the government finally does take the threat seriously, a version of what might happen if Michael Bay’s oil drillers had to operate in our world of cultural polarization, runaway greed, and social-media-driven psychosis. In all its absurdity, the movie is a depressingly accurate portrayal of this specific era, from the vapid media landscape and the foibles of social media stardom to its mock political ad of a suburban mother earnestly telling the camera that “the jobs the comet’s gonna create sound great.”

All of this would be moot if the movie was no good. Thankfully, the movie is rooted in terrific comedic performances from a stacked cast — the two leads in particular — who keep us caring about their characters even as they dare us to give up on them. Mindy becomes intoxicated with his own microcelebrity and becomes little more than a government flack. Dibiasky checks out of the struggle entirely in sullen apathy. It’s remembering what truly matters — human connection, relationships, the small pleasures like sitting around a dinner table together — that brings them back from the brink, even as the planet slides over it. The result is at once entertaining, tense, and devastating.

Rejecting the Anti-Populist Turn
The film thankfully swerves away from one of the worst impulses of post-Trump discourse and its anti-populist tendencies. Critics have charged the filmmakers with smugness and contempt for ordinary people, portraying a country too stupid to save itself. They’re wrong.

The people of the world of Don’t Look Up decidedly aren’t the problem. Bar patrons coax the horrible truth about the government’s inaction out of our heroes and respond with concern and violent outrage. A sweet Midwestern Christian boy played by Timothée Chalamet casually assumes the comet isn’t real, but changes his mind with evidence and exceedingly gentle persuasion. At a Trump-like rally, Jason implores the crowd that they “Don’t look up,” until a doughy, red-hatted attendee does, and sees the comet clearly streaking right at them. “Fucking lied to us!” he yells.

In a reversal of the prevailing liberal narrative since 2016 — which either casts all ordinary Trump voters as irredeemable, bigoted villains, to the point of fantasizing that they lose their health insurance, or dumps the blame on nonvoters for failing their politicians — it’s the country’s elites and institutions, including the media, that are the real problem in Don’t Look Up. All corrupted by money, they mislead, manipulate, and distract the rest of us from what really matters. Maybe this is why the film’s been met with surprising hostility from a lot of the mainstream press, which have complained chiefly about the film’s lack of subtlety.

But subtlety isn’t always a virtue. Dr. Strangelove, the Cold War classic that McKay’s film has been widely and justifiably compared to, was hardly a masterclass in understatement, featuring a US military advised by a Nazi scientist with a sentient, murderous hand, and its final shot of a cowboy pilot practically orgasming on top of a falling nuclear warhead. There are different ways to make a movie, and not every climate film has to be Paul Schrader’s excellent First Reformed. The impressive streaming numbers for Don’t Look Up so far suggest McKay and Sirota’s approach has been the right one for their purposes of shaking the public by the shoulders and begging them to pay attention.

I’m also not convinced the movie is as aggressively obvious as its critics charge. My immediate thought after watching the movie went to its restraint. If you’re not one of the relative minority of people hyperaware of climate change or familiar with the movie before it came out, there’s little to suggest its central allegory, short of a handful of brief shots of polar bears and other wildlife in end-of-the-world montages. It’s all ambiguous enough that, both anecdotally and based on the movie’s reception so far, a not insignificant chunk of people thought it was actually about the pandemic. Critics would do well to remember most people aren’t highly educated, habitual news consumers like themselves.

The Strangelove comparisons stick because both movies do a similar thing: They take a fundamentally absurd, nonsensical piece of logic that’s central to our politics — the nuclear policy of mutually assured destruction in Kubrick’s film and the denial of and even profit-making delusions toward the climate crisis in McKay’s — and let them play out in front of us. The results are laughable and unbelievable. It’s insane that people in power and influence would jeopardize stopping the literal apocalypse because they either saw it as a moneymaking opportunity or because they didn’t want to talk about bad news.

And yet this is the maddening reality of the climate crisis today, where business and political figures insist that preventing planetary disaster is too expensive and would cost jobs, and probably the most progressive anchor on cable news casually justifies the lack of his network’s climate coverage on the basis that it’s a “ratings killer.” Just last week, one of the nation’s top newspapers giddily celebrated that leaders around the world were abandoning their climate pledges and “starving the issue of political oxygen,” something it labels “climate realism.”

For all the critics’ concerns that the movie is undermining its own goal, or that it’s stealing the thunder of hardworking climate campaigners, it’s worth looking to actual scientists and activists. There the film has been near universally positively received, one of the few bright spots in a year full of gloomy climate news. The gripes about its lack of subtlety haven’t landed with climate scientists, who instead recognize the scenes of the astronomers vainly trying to warn a pair of professional cable news morons not as over-the-top satire but as a reality they’ve lived through.

The scariest thing about Don’t Look Up is that absurd as it is, it barely exaggerates. Much of our political elite are just as greedy and foolish, our media just as vapid, and our response to impending disaster exactly as mind-bogglingly irrational as in the movie. But there is one major difference (and it does involve a spoiler): it may be too late for the characters in Don’t Look Up, but it’s not for us in the real world. Let’s prove McKay wrong by not sharing his characters’ fate.’

 

 

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