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Time to Retreat

Run away! Run away! No, not that kind of retreat.

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I was thinking we as a nation needed to take some time to withdraw from the bustle of the day to day and engage in a period of reflection and study...together.  I mean, it seems, regardless of one's socio-political stripes,  everyone is disgruntled with the way things are.  Something's gotta change.  But we also seem as a nation to be divided about where we need to go and how to get there (and where we have been).  A push me-pull you nation, unable to retreat from the scene even if we wanted to.

So a little notion crossed my mind.  What if we had a little retreat to do some strategic visioning.  Individuals from across the country would be randomly selected to participate in groups of 25 people.  Each group would spend five days in some secluded location and attempt to generate a plan of action for the country.  Afterwards, the groups would meet to fuse the plans together in some fashion.  The question would be, how would I conduct the five-day retreat if I was to facilitate the retreat.

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Becoming a Mirror

The spouse of someone I know very well passed away today as a result of complications due to cancer. In writing about his struggle to overcome the cancer, someone wrote in tribute

He never stops being positive! It also never ceases to amaze me how genuine and authentic he naturally is....But we need more people like him in the world. There isn't time to waste not being a mirror of God's love for others with patience, kindness and grace.

The impression he made on me the few times we crossed path was pretty much similar.  Needless to say, today has been a somber one.  The demands of life, however, continue and we push forward while trying to come to terms with something like the passing of someone in this fashion. We all deal with these things in our own way, and as is my proclivity, I retreated into my head, thinking it out.  The wish for people still here to be a mirror stuck with me.  Other thoughts of which I have blogged about and have been swirling around in my mind gravitated to it.  The aspiration to be a mirror of God's love for others with patience, kindness and grace is one path for what I like to call the struggle to appear.

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Keep It Complex, Sillyhead

"As long as the mind keeps silent in the motionless world of its hopes, everything is reflected and arranged in the unity of its nostalgia. But with its first move, the world cracks and tumbles: an infinite number of shimmering fragments is offered to its understanding." - Albert Camus

The campaign season is now in full swing as the Republicans seek to find the man who will challenge Obama, and then things will really heat up on the blogosphere. This brings to mind a general topic of interest: discussing how we discuss things.  A particular incident on a recent thread when admonished advice of KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid. 

This general rule of thumb can serve one well.  Some of us do have the tendency to complicate matters more than they need be.  Keeping things simple can be a more effective means to a successful outcome, no less true when we get enmeshed in political discussions.  Yet...if we are to actually have productive and meaningful political discussions in the coming year, we would also benefit from heeding the principle of KICS, or Keep it Complex, Sillyhead.

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A New Year's Eve - Clean, Sober and Liminality-Free

I have been clean and sober for just over a month now and have made the commitment to travel down the recovery path once again.  Nearly a decade ago I had tried this before and after a couple of years of a week here and a month there I was able to achieve about a year of continuous sobriety before going "back out."  Consequently I saw new year arrive last night sober for just the second time in some thirty five years (except for those times I had fallen asleep before the midnight hour).

I don't bring this up seeking some kind of congratulations (or pity), nor to wag my finger at all those out there who enjoy their libations in whatever preferred form.  The reason I bring this up can be seen in the word "libation" itself. While we now use the word to merely describe any of the intoxicating beverages (and other substances) we consume or the consuming of such, it originally referred to the pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual or the liquid so poured.  Like the word libation, our celebrations have tended to lose their role to help orientate us in the world once the event is over.  They have become just merely another event in which we participate. 

Herbert Blau wrote in Taking Up the Bodies:

We lack the ritual forms with the clear events; when we have the clear events we distrust the forms.

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The Liberal Conundrum and Ron Paul

The mixed reactions from those on the Left regarding Ron Paul seems to me to come the collision between two very strong perspectives or attitudes.

On the one hand, liberals believe in a strong role of the government when it comes to ensuring an equitable and just society.  We don't believe anybody should be left behind and those who would lessen the common good for their individual benefit should be thwarted.  We believe it does take a village and a corporation shouldn't dump toxic waste into the nearby river because it is cheaper.

The conundrum arises because in the modern world, the village has to operate in many or most cases through the state.  Whether it is educating our children, enforcing environmental laws, assisting those in poverty, or dealing with our global neighbors, it is the state - local, state and federal - that has take at least the lead role in the matter.

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New Year's Resolution #215: Don't Fear the Loop

Christmas is over and we now move on to the New Year celebration. With a general consensus as to its secular nature, we are fortunately not subjected to wringing hands about any wars against it.  We do, however, have to deal with the seemingly unending ‘Best of 2011’ lists and talk about resolutions for the new year (as well as the Mayan prophecy about the end of world).

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Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
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Remembering Professor Sugar

Recent blogs by myself and others has me pondering the notion of nations and the forces that hold them together and tear them apart.  And this pondering inevitably leads to remembering Professor Peter Sugar.  I only took one class from him during my time at the University of Washington in pursuit of a degree in history.  Yet he had a profound impact on how I see the world and the relationship between that world and myself (and others). 

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One Nation Under God - Or Not

In spite of the diversity of the country and our best intentions, we do find ourselves in a community of folks that lean one particular way or another.  I have spent most of my adult life in the Northwest urban areas. As a consequence, it was easy to believe the folks who will say, when the topic turns to God, "I'm spiritual, not religious" were quite common.  As my recent years in the Mid-West and Gallup's newly released finding from their religious identity poll attest to, this is not really the case when we scan the contours of the American nation.  Gallup summarizes the findings this way:

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An Open Convention In Tampa - Maybe

Let's face it, winning Iowa isn't that big of a deal.  And it is a big deal.  For the GOP this time around. 

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