Documentary film maker Ken Burns:
“I used to think there were three great crises: the Civil War, the Depression and the Second World War in American life. I would add this. And maybe this is the very, very worst. But at the same time, we just keep going forward. There is no other option but to endure.” [NPR]
‘Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.’
American politics has reached a moment of existential uncertainty. Beyond the headlines and news alerts are problems bigger than any one administration—problems that stem from the deep tensions and challenges in America’s political institutions.
It’s time to reevaluate and revisit how we think about American democracy. The Founding Fathers did their best, but the hosts of a new podcast, “Politics in Question,” have some ideas, too. They discuss political reforms in this first-of-its-kind show that asks the very biggest questions.
Join hosts Lee Drutman, Julia Azari, and James Wallner, three lively experts on American political institutions and reform, as they imagine and argue over what American politics could look like if citizens questioned everything.
There are a lot of podcasts about the daily chaos. But “Politics in Question” is the first to step back and think big about the basic structures and processes of democracy — and to take nothing for granted.
This podcast is part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.
“From all the thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘man,’ that man finds utter peace.”
The extremist behavior and violence that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6 was truly shocking and worthy of condemnation—many have already done so. The whole world is transfixed, bearing witness to the awful and extraordinary unfolding of history.
In my previous letters I wrote about the DISORDER that is already upon us, as well as the consequences that ensue when illusions of power and privilege co-opt and distort Christianity. At the Center for Action and Contemplation, we are free to speak in great part because we are not beholden to the usual constituencies. Using the brilliant metaphor from the Hebrew Scriptures, we are “outside the camp” of either political party, any need to influence an election, and, by the grace of God, any negative or fear-based church pressure from Rome, Santa Fe, or Assisi.
We are also, like few other organizations, free from the coercion of donors and finance, thanks to almost thirty-three years of operating with our priorities clearly in view to all who cared to study or read our publications. Blessedly, our donors have not run for cover over time, but only increased in numbers, continuing to join us—even from outside the usual camps of both religion and politics.
Few people enjoy such freedom of living and teaching from the edge of the inside. This is the unique position that a prophetic charism holds and for which it is responsible; it is structurally quite rare, and therefore we must use it.
“Moses used to take the tent, and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. . . . Anyone who wanted to consult Yahweh would go to this tent of meeting outside the camp.” (Exodus 33:7)
The “tent of meeting” is the initial image and metaphor that eventually became our much later notion of “church.” Moses had the prescience and courage to move the place of hearing God outside and at a distance from the court of common religious and civic opinion—this was the original genius that inspired the entire Jewish prophetic tradition. It is quite different than the mere liberal and conservative positions, and often even at odds with them. Most of liberalism is based on a secular foundation of knowledge, and most of conservatism is identified with boundary-keeping, order, and control. By contrast, Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative and non-dual way of knowing—a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in the compassion of God.
The early desert fathers and mothers imitated both Moses and Jesus by fleeing to Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Cappadocia—and some as far as Ireland and Scotland. Beginning in the 4th century, we Christians surrendered our unique and free perspective to the Roman and Byzantine Empires. In the desert and outside the camp, these people discovered what we now call “contemplation”: the alternative mind and the alternative community to the status quo—then and now—of money, power, and war.
The free and graced position found in the tent of meeting is what allowed Jesus and all prophets in his lineage to speak from a minority position. It is always less desirable, compared to the comfortable and enjoyable places at the center and the top; yet it is the Jesus stance, and the place where all Franciscans follow after him.
“Let us go to him, therefore, outside the camp, and be willing to share in his degradation.” (Hebrews 13:13)
For many people, religion as a “cosmic egg” capable of holding universal Truth, collective and personal meaning, is broken. Now, the cracks in this very “uncosmic egg” are rapidly spreading in all directions. Delusions enthrall us and inherent deceit becomes overwhelmingly apparent and manifest in the nihilism of our postmodern age, the denial of science and reasonableness, and the denial of the pandemic that now assaults us all. The very future of the meanings of words and truth are at stake, as specifically exemplified by Trumpism in its many forms.
We must again move with Jesus outside the camp and even be willing to “share in his degradation” if that be God’s will. We must trust that the one who has called us into this present moment will also sustain us and lead us through it.
“Yahweh would speak with Moses face to face [outside the camp] as a young man speaks with his friend. And then Moses would return to the camp.” (Exodus 33:11)
This is the primary vocation of the Center for Action and Contemplation. We invite you to join us—first, in the tent of meeting outside the camp for prayer, dialogue, and deep discernment. Then, like Moses, we must all choose to “return to the camp,” where all of our brothers and sisters live and die.
Maybe unity is not possible, yet, we can remember that we are one, one in humanity as species and co-creators in our reality with ourselves and in each other…especially in context and proximity of losing our democracy, our republic, just three weeks ago. Can we pledge, at least, to cooperation? To listening? To empathy?
We are ‘we the people.’ Let us remember. And may we vow today to divest ourselves from the for-profit platforms and groups that feed disinformation and hate into our collective bloodstream. It must end.
And in less than 24 hours, the first woman vice president in the United States.
A letter to Kamala Harris from Cathie Caccia in Sun Valley, Idaho, a revered yoga teacher, spiritual leader, and friend. A beautiful discovery, indeed. -dayle
I am a long time student and teacher of yoga. I was continuing to study Lakshmi this morning. You most likely know in the shortest summation Lakshmi is considered the goddess of spiritual and material wealth. Lakshmi is the goddess energy who preserves life. When we consider what it means to live sustainably in this world we are contemplating what it means to incarnate Lakshmi. With Lakshmi’s reappearance, love, generosity, sacred practices, wealth, and fertility return to the world. Another name for Lakshmi is Kamala (lotus-like). This really struck me today!!!! I am beyond grateful the Biden/Harris ticket won the election. There is so much work to be done to restore kindness, balance and right action and more. I am buoyed by the timeliness of Kamala rising. May you embody your name fully and help bring the potent, healing energy of Lakshmi to our country and globe.
Visit Cathie’s website for yoga instruction (virtual classes during COVID), Shiatsu massage, jewelry, and special events.
Cathie Caccia began her yogic studies in 1984 and was immediately captivated by the physical, energetic and philosophical aspects of the practice. Her most influential teachers include Rodney Yee, Rod Stryker, Judith Lasater and more. Cathie has extensive training in Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Shiatsu, Acupressure and Massage and began teaching in 1987. Cathie’s classes combine her love of Yoga, Chinese energetics and Sanskrit chanting to support her students in accessing their most essential nature. Cathie is registered with Yoga Alliance as E-RYT 500, she teaches public and private classes, workshops and yoga teacher training. Cathie is a licensed massage therapist with over 1200 hours of training.
“In the spirit of Ha-tha, we must learn how to have one foot on the Sun, with our day-to-day business of living in the world, and one foot on the Moon, tending to the world of the psyche and the spirit.”—Bhavani Maki, The Yogi’s Roadmap
🤎 I love this image, especially because not only does he embody hate, I am reminded hate is born of fear and fragmentation, threading in and out of our existence on this plane. Somehow, we, this country, allowed him to be celebrated after decades of his darkness…his evil energy. May he always be a reminder for what we don’t want to be and stay diligent against these dark forces. May he be dissolved, and fade from our public platforms and consciousness. May those who supported him be awakened to his destructive energies and dark heart. May their eyes be opened. And may they want to unite with all of us to be one people, to know what is true, justified, equal…for all beings…especially the oppressed and marginalized. Let us, together, be reminded of what it means to reside in the heart of democracy and fix what has been broken since this country was born.
And then, may we heal.
From Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States:
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”
Alluding to scripture, he added: “This is the time to heal in America.”
From the Vice-President Elect, Kamala Harris, the first woman, a woman of color, Black and Southern Asian woman, to be elected to this office.
“Protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress. Because we, the people, have the power to build a better future.”
We The People
For those who voted, again, for the current president, please answer, ‘Why’? What did he do for you? During a pandemic? Employment? Opportunity? Fairness? Equality? Or, is it deeper? Fear? Nationalism? Culture? Bias? Concerns over race? Majorities? Disinformation? Social media platforms?
May we heal. And unite. Not half of us…all of us. We. The. People.
W.E.B. Du Bois:
Strive for that greatness of spirit that measure life not by its disappointments, but by its possibilities.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
The collective heart of humankind’s suffering.
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.
Today, we celebrate our democracy, our common humanity, and a glass ceiling shattered once and for all.
With nearly 160 million votes cast, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won a decisive victory. They received more than 75 million votes, a greater number than any ticket in history, with a remarkable breadth of support from across the nation.
And they shattered several glass ceilings—it will be a joy to watch Vice President-elect Kamala inspire generations of future leaders and active citizens!
Across the Collective, we have seen so many give so much over these past four years, using a range of tools to fight for justice, equality, and our democracy. I am thankful and full of admiration.
We now have the opportunity to work for the systemic solutions we know we need—solutions that can remake the calcified systems in our country, from immigration and education to race and reconciliation, criminal justice and climate. And it will require each of us to bring spirit of ingenuity and hard work to support and accelerate America’s rebuilding and renewal.
We will let out the breath we have been holding in for so long. As celebratory as we feel, we also know that much work lies ahead—the work of healing the wounds and repairing the breaches.
So, we will get to work, and usher in the America we know is possible.
With relief and gratitude,
Laurene, Emerson Collective
Empathy + Sympahty = Compassion
We are a progressive being.
There is nothing at a standstill in nature.
Only God is motionless for (S)He was, is and will be the same yesterday,
today and tomorrow,
and yet, is ever moving.
I will never understand how 70,000,000+ people could vote for him again. Never. Perhaps, maybe, hopefully, some will evolve to understand his destructive and immoral behaviors. He has shown us who he is for decades. Some of us (me) gave him no mind. And then, he was elected to serve. He did not serve. He lied. He divided. And he hated. Hate is born of fear. What was feared?
Perhaps, we have always been this divided, but the ugly part was given platform and verbalized. Democracy, we have learned, is not passive, but active. We can not simply turn out the vote every two, or four years.
We must edify and protect the marginalized and oppressed. The government serves us, we don’t serve it.
A true democracy is messy and necessary. And it requires ‘good trouble.’
Now, let’s work to balance the scales and bring Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate in Georgia. The shadow president, Senator Mitch McConnell, will continue to strangle democracy and refuse to move policy forward if we do not achieve balance. Please donate or volunteer:
James Martin, SJ:
It is, and always has been, possible to speak respectfully about someone with whom you disagree. Here’s how: “Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”
Krista Tippett, journalist and author:
What is the story of “us”? How do we learn it, how do we tell it, and how to shift it, across dehumanizing divides, in enduring ways?
Padraig O’ Tuama, poet:
In all the waiting of your week — for results from elections, for different news, for finality, for certitude — the work of the past is calling for attention. A new future will only be built on courageous moments, and those are happening now, and now and now. In the waiting, we are with you, considering history, paradise and conflict, considering how these patterns of time are inviting us to new actions.
What do you notice about how you behave in times of conflict? Do you tend toward avoidance? Or compromise? Or collaboration? Or competition? Or accommodation?
This poem describes a conflict between neighbors: a tree hangs over a fence. The owners love this tree; their neighbors don’t. Somebody responds directly, somebody else avoids, a chainsaw appears. Suddenly this conflict becomes a parable for all conflicts, illustrating how deep they can go and how often they cannot be resolved with a question about what to do.
‘Conflict is not two sides, but many sides.
What is the definition of love between conflict?’
Will we learn how to listen to each other again; we are not enemies–we are merely opponents. We have more in common than we know, or perhaps, are willing to admit. .d
‘Character is destiny.’
[New York Times, Sunday, November 8th, 2020]
“Now that the campaign is over—what is the people’s will? What is our mandate? I believe it is this: Americans have called on us to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness. To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.”-President Elect Joe Biden
“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country.
The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not.
I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
Congressman John Lewis, before his passing, wrote: Democracy is not a state. It is an act.’
“America’s democracy is not guaranteed.
It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted.
And protecting our democracy takes struggle.
It takes sacrifice. There is joy in it and there is progress.
Because ‘We The People’ have the power to build a better future.
And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.”
“Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight.
Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.
All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.
Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been — I stand on their shoulders.
But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last.
Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message:Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.
And we will applaud you every step of the way.”
I feels so good to feel this good. -dayle