Music: A bridge from abandonment and brokenness to freedom and wholeness

Yes, do it right, rocker!       In praise of Taz Vegas    —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKvYioCo5g

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Thanks, Native FM, among media resources, f0r featuring our local vocalists

  http://nativefm.com/page.php?page_id=67

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And have a good day!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIee2iChvaY

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Thank you, Danielle Whitney, for —  Hey!    Oculesics:   The study of eye-related, nonverbal behavior that evokes instincts and social cues in primates.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDriMYb5-ww

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Danielle look-alike

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuG-H1noCCY

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“Because the guy can’t help himself!!”                 :-)  

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Because Danielle just can’t help herself  (like my detestable idol Cliff Livermore below)

Cliff Livermore look-alike

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas

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The original foursome dissolves. And Frankie Valli spends the next years recording and performing to pay off Tommy’s debt.

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And that’s when the jolt happens. Frankie’s girlfriend barks, “Why would you be a friend to a guy like that?”

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And Frankie barks back, “Because he can’t help himself!”

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And I think about that verbal exchange for days on end.

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See, my industry (behavioral health) coined ideas like “codependency” and “enabling” and “boundaries” to admonish us never (or virtually never) to rescue someone from destructive or irresponsible behavior.

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But this moment makes me think there is more to love than pop psychological reductionism.

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What if real love knows us?

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Even our gripping, pernicious character flaws?

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 And what if real love doesn’t so much “give a pass” to those flaws

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as it does — accept those flaws as part of what and who we love?

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What if real love is obliged to the bond of friendship despite the flaws?

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In some cases, because of the flaws?

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There remains a sense of something owed.

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This is not codependence or enabling or poor boundaries.

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This is love.

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Makes me think of a friend of mine who thinks another friend of mine is a not-very-nice person. I understand the first friend’s point of view, and even in some ways agree. But once, long ago, this not-so-nice person extended to me an act of such unmerited kindness and encouragement, forging a bond between us.

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The matter is about trust    —

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God and the devil will often tell us the exact same truth. And it is true. But their respective motives for telling you this truth will be radically different.    You can trust God (redemption via Grace) or you can trust Satan (you are the Parasite’s host).

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from Cliff Livermore’s editor/clarifier    —

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This is a very good point. I have thought about this many times. I’ve been in the bondage of co-dependency but on the other hand, sometimes you join people not to change them

but because you just love them (like God loves us all).

Sometimes this can well be redemptive.

 

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from Cliff Livermore’s cogent editor/clarifier    —

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I actually feel very bad about something I did. My query to you about Cliff was not intended to go to him…and I hope it didn’t make him angry/hurt. I really just wanted an opinion about how a a narrative might be received if it’s framed one way or another way. My (copy reader)  feels that I shouldn’t have sent anything at all on the matter… so my apologies if I have started something that shouldn’t have gone around. I probably dug myself in deeper by including Cliff in the response to you, as I didn’t want to leave him out once he’d been included.

Sorry for any trouble,
(Cliff’s editor/clarifier)

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My main concern about sending  out drafts willy-nilly before due time is that the miraculous/mystical parts of it might be reworked for someone else’s agenda and thus derailed.  (my reaction: Scripture annotation is our indestructible capstone  — no one can rework Scripture  — no one)

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On the other hand, I hate to only preach to the choir, which will happen if we assume too much scriptural detail throughout.  (my reaction:  First, you demonstrate belief — in signs of legalism/being superhuman;  then you exhibit A/B/C — as in outcomes of angst/betrayal/critical mass –tipping point toward annihilation;  finally, you offer the Holy  — as in spirit  — for restoration of immortality and revocation of death;  pagan fairy tales do not heal us for being human  — our honest frailty is of God, not the sign of annihilation/extinction).

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I am glad you are Cliff’s good friend!

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Also that you question assumptions and ask us to see things through another lens.

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To (Cliff’s editor/clarifier) on your matter about Cliff Livermore’s frail countenance:

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being human   — honest frailty is inherent in our DNA

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Cliff emboldens on being everyone’s Exhibit A of redemption.    Cliff does not want to be everyone’s pagan fairy tale  — where miracles manifest, then belief in the superhuman takes hold.   Drama’s correct endpoint is love forevermore springwelled by faith (Jesus’ blood of our new creation/Jesus’ living water of God’s holy spirit e.g. 1 Cor. 15:10).   Faith, then signs.   Not the other way around — not signs, then faith (idolatry).

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Cliff had what I secularly describe as an orgasmic experience of being honestly human when I told Cliff last week that

Cliff belongs to Jesus in spite of Cliff, not because of Cliff.

Of course, I took a spin from an erudite gifted wordsmith (another autobio author Pali’s copy reader)  — who used the word God instead of Jesus in my anecdote here.   Cliff’s climactic endpoint — beet-red face band-aided by the widest grin this side of the Pacific Ocean!   Aha!! Gotcha, Cliff!!

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I never forget the Book of Esther (4:14).     Mordecai reminds Esther:   If you’re not willing or able to be used for good by God, God will pick someone else who shall do God’s work.   I thank nurturant Lester Chun for summoning Esther.

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Cliff Livermore asks Jesus to heal people.  Cliff does not have any power to heal.    Still,  I’m not going to ease into a chair & be useless to all around me.   I try to make a difference for the better, instead of my not lifting a finger to comfort another.  I help Cliff.  I’m available.

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Help includes standing in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30), so to speak, however absurd & tragic it appears (risk of false hope/expectation).

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But there’s a big difference between carrying a cross (Luke 9:23) and being crucified on one  — namely,  nails.

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Being crucified with Christ means to nail thru one’s soul to the point of death (of sinful self).    Thank you, Christian mystic and pastor Robert Gomes.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-c-crosby-dmin/the-three-nails-in-christs-cross_b_2980159.html

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Passionate Taryn Scali   —

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXjxn-qThOk

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More than words   

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D6N4ot8nVw

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Listen to Justin Young’s beautiful tenor at timeclock 3:58-4:03  (tenor lilt starts at 3:30)  (lower pitch lines sung by less talented vocalist) —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBDg_psb7xM

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/we-cant-help-judge-book-covers

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We look. We see. We make eye contact but immediately move our eyes away. This is Tinder’s “swipe left.” Nope.

But, sometimes, two people make eye contact and … hold it steady for about one or two seconds. We might or might not shift the angle of our head. Reveal a slight smile. If we’re really forward, raise our eyebrows.

Something has clicked. Something has connected. It’s an intangible bzzz. And a complete mystery. You can’t decide to make it happen. It’s a happening.

This is Tinder’s “swipe right.” Hmm. Maybe.

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In most cases, absent this more or less immediate first bzzz, the love dirigible has very little chance of ever leaving the ground.

We don’t like admitting this truth, because we’ve been told it makes us “shallow.” It doesn’t. It merely makes us human.

This experience doesn’t stop when you make an emotional commitment to one person. You can still sometimes experience the bzzz … with someone who is not your partner. It’s not a big deal. Assuming you are indeed committed, you simply notice it, enjoy it for five seconds or so, and then let it float away. It doesn’t mean you’re unhappy or on the prowl. It just means you’re alive.

Now, is the bzzz enough? Don’t be ridiculous.

Does the bzzz tell you everything? Of course not. In fact, it doesn’t tell you much at all. But it is the overriding factor in most courtship beginnings. It’s why you decided to engage the person at all. Without it, you probably wouldn’t have his or her phone number in your pocket.

By the way, this is neither a commercial nor an endorsement for Tinder. It’s just my endless fascination in watching courtship models morph, shift and change.

What will never change, of course, is the longing in the human heart for meaningful and lasting connection.

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Great melody and lyrics, though the message is of lamentation  (Josh Tatofi’s masterful tune — Taken) 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX0Cg5eu7G8

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also,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Xp2QddihCA

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Josh’s role model, the great composer George Veikoso aka Fiji

http://fijitheartist.com/about-us/  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6a0AuCO8Tw

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Fiji’s rap at timeclock 2:20

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXh16emaupc

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forerunner of rap    —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzq8BqVnQJY

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Imua Garza’s fresh and youthful vocal   —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGFVlKdSiaE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXewtL_kX4k

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imua_Garza

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great blue-Z fare by Ho’onu’a  —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfsmdXdN2lg

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Wanna’ sky (verb), baby??      Rise in the lift of Magdalena, then the tenor in Only You,  followed by Graham Bonnet,  closing with  Muster’s Astaire & Rogers  & Fogerty’s climax  —

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmqEnEhjFp0

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t6k02Q5lco

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyERjzpByxI

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk8IhUqTmq0

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrh8FGaBiyE

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stronger bass via Fogerty’s cover    —    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY9g92K5R64&spfreload=1

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And check out the opening riff to band London‘s blue  —   (time clock 0-:10 seconds)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oZRj1NXEgs

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a resonant bass backdrop     —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmHWE5TwQLU

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Powerful lyrics (artist Baba B)    —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjxg-xiRQlg

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIq4CPjJBUo

 

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/you-have-got-laugh-or-cry#
http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/stitching-together-should-be-our-goal
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You can lament (cry), or you can fight and argue and “be right,” … or you can laugh. That is, choose a default position of bemusement, delight, irony and satire. You can learn to have a lot of fun “playing” with your mate’s absurdities of type and temperament. And he or she with yours.

(I’m thinking that’s how you get to be that elderly couple on the airplane.)

Like, in child rearing. Maybe especially with adolescents. Of course those youngins are going to push and pull with you, square off and defy you, toxify the air around you with moods, intrude upon you with drama, posture with narcissism and entitlement, experiment with hiding, deceiving and even sometimes lying, chafe hard against the bit of the necessary bridle and regularly withdraw their affection. Stop reacting and start having some fun getting smarter! More strategic. Stronger.

Of course you love them. And they love you. And, heavens, do they need you.

Like, in life. Of course you’re mortal. Of course you are “in bondage to decay” (The Epistle to the Hebrews). It’s not just our bodies that must eventually decline and die, but also our illusions, our ego, and our well-laid plans. Everyone dies with things unfinished. Some hopes and dreams unrealized.

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There is a powerful liberation in embracing life as life is. We stop hammering against it and simply live it.

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I’m reminded of something I often think and sometimes say out loud: When you are lying in hospice, “being right” will not be much company.

It is love that will keep you company.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/in-praise-of-the-46th-anniversary-of-mccartneys-tune-i-will/

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/verse-chorus-verse-lifetime-feelings-traversed
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But, is there one tune that has reached out to your soul in some definitive imprint? A song that grabbed a time and place and etched itself into the fabric of your psyche? Or, if not a time and place, perhaps a song that spoke melodically, rhythmically or lyrically to your hopes, your worldview, your values or your personality in a way that will never let you go?

Is there a song about which you could say, “If you want to know something very special and intimate about my history, my passions, my ideals and dreams, then put on these headphones, push the ‘play’ button, close your eyes and listen carefully. Then we’ll talk.”

Often favorite songs are attached to memories of time, place, people and experience. We hear the intro guitar riff, perhaps the drums, the strings, the horns or the a cappella vocals, and it’s like walking through the portal of a time machine. In the blink of an eye we are transported back … back … and we are somehow standing in a memory that is alive and vibrant.

Great love affairs almost always come with a portfolio of music. Ask any thriving, happy, healthy couple and they will remember that song that is their song. The tune that takes them back to the time of falling in love when everything sparkled with acute emotional clarity. When the bond was being forged in a white hot crucible of mystery, wonder and joy.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/depressive-symptoms-crisis-of-meaning-and-self-absorption/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/love-what-it-requires-how-to-value-it-how-it-calls-us-to-pay-attention-to-celebrate-and-be-grateful-because-we-simply-never-know-human-beings-have-no-rights-or-claims-on-the-ever-so-brief/

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http://www.peteenns.com/worshiping-god-because-he-is-god-some-thoughts-on-job-by-choon-leong-seow/
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What are one or two common misunderstandings of the book of Job and how do you handle them differently?

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The book is commonly thought to be about why people suffer, and that it is a theodicy (evil/suffering in the presence of an omnipotent God). If it is either of these, it is not very successful.

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In the end there is no answer to the question of why there is innocent suffering.

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And the book is as much antitheodic (decrying the lack of divine justice) as it is theodicy (defending divine justice).

The liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez is right that it is not about these issues. Rather, to Gutierrez, it is about “God talk”—how we talk about God in the face of inexplicable human suffering. Yet the book is more than “God talk.” It is “God thought”—human interiority, what is in the human heart and unexpressed when we face a God who contradicts all our expectations.

The book asks, in effect, if human beings worship God because God is good (what we expect and demand God to be), or if we worship God because God is God—utterly sovereign, utterly free.

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The suffering Job in drawing to the left here

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“Natural” (vs. spiritual)  life   —  ends do not justify the means  —  go to timeclock 9:00 to end 10:45   —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugCUhKj0jNg

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pop/rock musical history –

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/musica-amore-so-whos-lovin-you-baby-in-praise-of-smokey-robinsons-53-yr-old-classic-as-sung-by-none-other-than-our-salt-of-the-earth-lifes-most-enthralling-vocalists-ahsan/

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music history highlights –

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/tribute-to-my-musical-dad-toshi-1913-1998-george-trices-passion-personality-analog-my-dad/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/in-praise-of-the-60th-anniversary-of-sweet-song-teardrops-are-falling/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/in-praise-of-boogie-diva-dona-oxford-her-coverredux-of-charles-albertines-62-yr-old-tune-bandstand-boogie/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/redux-the-83rd-anniversary-of-beautiful-melody-love-letters-in-the-sand/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/in-tribute-to-my-leader-ri-in-honesty-speaks-to-the-heart-where-true-love-resides/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/in-praise-of-hidden-fine-baritonedancer-bo-diddley-1928-2008-his-5-accent-clave-rhythm-road-runner-55-yrs-ago/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/but-now-theres-nowhere-to-hide-since-you-pushed-my-love-aside-my-head-is-saying-fool-forget-her-my-heart-is-saying-dont-let-go-hold-on-to-the-end-thats-what-i-intend-to-do/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/ouvre-nearly-half-a-century-of-deepest-passion-i-can-see-it-in-your-eyes-that-you-despise-the-same-old-lines-you-heard-the-night-before-and-though-its-just-a-line-to-you-for-me-its-true-a/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/in-memoriam-great-rock-vocalist-steve-lee-of-switzerland-1963-2010-died-as-victim-of-highway-mishap-mooalii-succession-of-great-exemplars-with-steve-lee-following-in-footsteps-of-genes/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/musica-amore-celebrate-77-years-of-great-vocalistpianist-mickey-gilley/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/in-memoriam-mary-la-roche-1920-1999-15-years-gone-but-not-forgotten-actress-who-evoked-great-sensuality-compassion/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/midnight-special/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/linda-ronstadt-rock-hall-of-fame-2014/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/great-pianist-matthew-lee-born-1982-will-be-34-a-month-from-now-i-can-help-baby-redux-billy-swans-tune-40-yrs-ago/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/beyonce-the-game-changer-randall-roberts/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/20/nun-italy-the-voice_n_5002937.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/lessons-could-be-learned-Philomena

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It is wrong to think that forbidding consensual human sexuality is more important than Christ’s message of compassion and forgiveness.

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I see the film “Philomena” and I am deeply moved. So much so that I go home and spend several hours researching the true story of Philomena Lee. I’m able to sort history from the inevitable artistic license modern filmmakers cannot not indulge.

In 1952, the real Philomena Lee is sent by her parents to Sean Ross Abbey in Ireland both to conceal and to manage her teen pregnancy. Philomena says her father told friends and neighbors that she had died. Died! My own mother tells me not to be shocked. She remembers, in the early ’80s, a colleague whose father said he’d rather his daughter contract cancer than conceive and deliver a child out of wedlock.

As a high school freshman in 1971, I remember once or twice female students “disappearing,” then reappearing six to 12 months later with vague stories about travel, illness or their father’s career. But it was years later before I put the puzzle together.

Philomena’s son, Anthony, is adopted by an American couple and raised as Michael Hess. Three times did Michael, as an adult, go to Ireland to inquire about his birth mother. And many times did Philomena inquire to the nuns about her son. Both were told the same deliberate lie: “We have no information about your mother … your son.”

Mean? Evil? Malicious? I might surprise you here. My answer is “no.” I would describe the behavior of the powers-that-were at Sean Ross Abbey as predictable, completely in concert with the cultural mores of the day, albeit ignorant, unconsciously terrified, psychologically immature and utterly wrong. Which is, of course, the ideal breeding ground for mean, evil and malicious, but I’m not willing to paint every Christian leader, every monastic, every cleric (Roman Catholic or otherwise) with my presumption of their motive. I’ve been ignorant, unconsciously terrified, psychologically immature and utterly wrong before, too.

Ann Medlock writes for the Huffington Post. Her story virtually mirrors Philomena’s story. She writes:

Illegitimacy is a bizarre concept to me, a stunning manifestation of human hubris. An infant, wonder of wonders, arrives in the world and some construct of our prideful, rule-making culture declares this particular child less-than, extra-legal, flawed because his parents were not united by the civic and religious constructs we’ve invented.

Somewhere in even the most rule-bound heart, it must be clear that this is demented. Life given should be life welcomed. But that thinking was not the prevailing wisdom in 1954.

My mother knew instinctively that the man-made rules made no sense, telling me after her first grandchild was on his way to placement in another household, “We should have kept the little guy, and the hell with the neighbors.”

Then, speaking specifically to Roman Catholic history, Medlock says:

The obsession with sexual restrictions is and always has been wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong to be contemptuous of naive young women like Philomena and me. Wrong to ignore the men involved in creating “illegitimate” children. Wrong to demonize gays while knowing full well how many men and women of the church are gay. Wrong to excuse and hide criminal priests, transferring them to new, unsuspecting parishes. Wrong to think that forbidding consensual human sexuality is more important than Christ’s message of compassion and forgiveness.

Not surprisingly, I find a news story quoting the monastics at Sean Ross Abbey as complaining how unfair the movie is. How it “made us look like monsters.”

Really? Still? After all this suffering you still think the most important part of this discussion is your reputation?

Sisters, imagine how powerful it would be if you simply released the following to the press:

“The church is at once a beacon of light to the world, and a product of that world. As regards the latter, the courageous story of Philomena Lee brings to light a great darkness in which the church often participated, nurtured and furthered. As regards human sexuality and gender, the church has too often been ignorant, afraid and egregiously unjust. We are complicit in untold, undeserved human misery. It is our fervent hope that the story of Philomena Lee will open doors of forgiveness, healing, and a clearer embrace of Christ’s message of mercy and love to the world.”

How hard is that?

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/history-deserves-honest-retelling

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I’ve just returned from my youngest son’s Rite of Passage, something his brothers also went through at his age. It’s a curriculum I’ve developed — teachings, rituals and ceremonies.

During the Rite, my boy inquired more deeply about his family. And this time my answers were complete. I told him the truth. Including the truth about his father. Because you can’t know who you are unless you know who your people are.

I spoke to him of lasting bonds of love. Of family fidelity, celebrations and joy. Of endurance through hardships and loss. Of values and character. Of forgiveness and reconciliation.

But … I also told him stories of moral failure. Stories of injustice, sin, estrangements, alcoholism, suicide, divorce and mistreatment of children.

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Because, in every individual, every marriage, every family and every nation, the story contains both good and bad. Light and dark. Wholeness and brokenness.

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He said he felt good about knowing a more complete story. Like all initiates, he had passed through the veil of the unspoken. Now, it was spoken.

A New York Times story by Katharine Q. Seelye catches my eye. Probably because it’s about the Episcopal Church. And I’m an Episcopalian. This is my family, too.

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is opening a museum and “reconciliation center” to tell its story of … grievous sin.

Yes, you read that right. Most museums are a people’s pageantry of art, skills, inventions, values, nobility and honor. But this museum dares to present its people’s admitted darkness and dereliction. Wow.

Seelye writes:

“One of the darkest chapters of Rhode Island history involved the state’s pre-eminence in the slave trade, beginning in the 1700s. More than half of the slaving voyages from the United States left from ports in Providence, Newport and Bristol — so many, and so contrary to the popular image of slavery as primarily a scourge of the South, that Rhode Island has been called ‘the Deep North.’ …

“Many of the shipbuilders, captains and financiers of those slaving voyages were Episcopalians. The church, like many others in its day, supported slavery and profited from it even after the trans-Atlantic slave trade was outlawed and slavery had been banned in the state. Among the most notable Episcopalian slaveholders were Thomas Jefferson, who was active for some time in the church, and George Washington.”

A history buff and an Episcopalian, I had never heard this story. And, like my boy, I felt good about the knowing. And filled with a deep admiration for belonging to a family that can and will tell the whole of truth.

When I was growing up in the church, my favorite Bible passage to hate and ridicule was Matthew 1. There are four Gospels, but only in Matthew do you read a long, patriarchal genealogy beginning with Abraham and ending with Jesus. I thought the word “begat” was funny. Almost euphemistic. But mostly I thought it was boring.

But you can’t know who you are unless you know who your people are. On that list are the heroes, the icons of Judeo-Christian faith and virtue. But also on that list are several metric tons of ego, folly and sordid sin. Light and dark. Dance partners, forever.

A leader in the Rhode Island museum is James DeWolf Perry VI. He is the co-editor of the book “Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites.” Seelye reports he is “a direct descendant of the most prolific slave-trading family in the United States.”

“I want my child to remember our family history, both good and bad,” he says. “I think this is how we need to approach our shared history as a nation, too.”

I’m right there with you, James. We don’t whine about the past. We don’t wallow in it. But we own it! We acknowledge it and account for it. Only then can we weave it into the tapestry of a whole and authentic life.

As a child, I think I lost count of the number of times my father rolled his eyes and said, sarcastically, “I’ve never owned a slave.” Though I could not have put it into words, I think I knew by the time I was 8 this utterance, while technically accurate, was a dodge from the deeper, more rigorous and more rewarding work of being human.

You can’t know who you are until you know who your people are. What we don’t talk out we are doomed to act out.

The sins of the fathers are visited unto the third and fourth generation (Exodus 34). The virtues are, too.

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http://www.peteenns.com/how-the-bible-forces-us-to-be-unbiblical/
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The findings of science and biblical scholarship are not the enemies of Christian faith. They are opportunities to be truly “biblical” because they are invitations to reconsider what it means to read the creation stories well—and that means turning down a different path than most Christians before us have taken.

Of course, this would not be the first time Christians have had to divert their path from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

We need only think of the raucous caused by Copernicus and Galileo, telling us the earth whizzes around the sun, as do the other plants, when the Bible “clearly” says that the earth is fixed and stable (Ps 104:5) and the heavenly bodies do all the moving. Sometimes older views do give way to newer ones if the circumstances warrant.

In fact, shifts in thinking like this are a perfectly biblical notion. We find throughout the Bible older perspectives giving way to new ones.

The prophet Nahum rejoices at the destruction of the dreaded Assyrians and their capital Nineveh in 612 BCE, but the prophet Jonah, writing generations later after the return from exile, speaks of God’s desire that the Ninevites repent and be saved.

What happened? Travel broadens, and Israel’s experience of exile led them to think differently about who their God is and what this God is up to on the world stage.

In fact, Israel’s entire history is given a fresh coat of paint in the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, which differs remarkably, and often flatly contradicts, the earlier history of Israel in the books of Samuel and Kings.

Why? Because Israel’s journey to exile and back home again led the Judahites to see God differently.

I could go on and talk about how the theology of the New Testament positively depends on fresh twists and turns to Israel’s story, such as a crucified messiah and rendering null and void the “eternal covenant” of circumcision as well as the presumably timeless dietary restrictions given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

What happened? Jesus forced a new path for Israel’s story that went well beyond what the Bible “says.”

Simply put, seeing the need to move beyond biblical categories is biblical—and as such poses a wonderful model, even divine permission—shall I say “mandate”—to move beyond the Bible when the need arises and reason dictates.

Being a “biblical” Christian today means accepting that challenge: a theology that genuinely grows out of the Bible but that is not confined to the Bible.

And so I see the matter of Christian faith and evolution not as a “debate” but as a discussion, not defending familiar orthodoxies as if in a fortress but accepting the challenge of a journey of theological exploration and discovery.

For me, that approach is much more than an intellectual exercise—though it is that—but a spiritual responsibility.

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http://www.peteenns.com/remember-to-hold-your-beliefs-lightly-the-bible-says-so/

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Here’s the point I want to make today: Being deeply challenged in our faith is not a “threat” or “attack” that should be fought against. Rather, these moments play an important and necessary role in our spiritual growth.

Nothing has helped me see more clearly the positive spiritual value of having one’s faith tradition challenged than reading the Bible.

Over the last 30 years or so, I have come to see that the Old Testament writers and editors are not conduits of timelessly inerrant information, but as ancient theologians who deliberately, consciously, recontextualized their past to suit the needs of present communities of faith.

The reason we see such flexibility and movement in the Old Testament is this: The final editors of the Old Testament, not to mention many of the writers, experienced and had to account for the crisis of exile, a failed monarchy, and, the survival of one tribe out of 12, Judah, among all the countless children of Abraham that were to have filled the earth.

“So what?” you might ask. Here’s the “so what”: It’s looked like God was changing course. What they were sure that God was doing needed to be adjusted in the face of their changing circumstances.

Think of this, for example. Is it not curious that the Old Testament narrative explicitly focuses on and exalts the tribe of Judah, beginning at least as early as way back in Genesis 49:8-12 (Jacob’s farewell speech)? The Judahite winners/survivors who wrote/edited the story wove their own experience into the ancient Patriarchal tradition. It is hard to escape that conclusion.

Indeed, the traditions of Abraham and the other ancestors in Genesis are shaped to “anticipate” scenes in 41laJ6C-ITL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_the united and divided monarchies.

  • For example, God makes with both Abraham and the Judahite King David an “eternal covenant.” The Abrahamic tradition is recast to support the Davidic line.
  • Or Isaac gives his leftover blessing to Esau, telling him he will first serve his brother but then break loose and break the yoke from his neck (Genesis 27:39-40). That scene is played out the national level when Edom rebels against Judahite rule in the days of King Jehoram in 2 Kings 8:20-22. Personally I don’t believe the Patriarchal narratives were created during the divided monarchy, but rather these old Patriarchal traditions were reworked to speak into a later time.

Perhaps more clearly, the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are nothing if not a significant, deliberate, conscious theological reshaping of Israel’s earlier history (the Deuteronomistic History) by late postexilic theologians for a late postexilic audience.

  • Manasseh, for example, the utterly corrupt and idolatrous king of Judah and the cause of the exile according to 2 Kings 21—so wicked that even Josiah’s thorough sweeping reforms could not stay God’s wrath (2 Kings 23:26-27)—this Manasseh becomes in 2 Chronicles humble and contrite, a repentant sinner who is then blessed by God (33:10-17) The Chronicler recasts tradition and reshapes Manasseh as a model of repentance to motivate his Persian era Judahite readers.

Or consider Nahum’s late 7th century gloating over the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the wicked Assyrians, in 612 BC, which gives way to Jonah’s postexilic claim that even the Ninevites have a place in God’s future—indeed, they convert en masse. This reshaping of the past reflects the sobering cosmopolitan experience of the exile.

And of course we have the lament psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Job, which famously take to task the conventional theology of divine retribution championed in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History (for example, Deuteronomy 28:15-68).

The Old Testament does not work well as a historically accurate record of the ancient past, a foundation of historical certainty upon which to build an unchanging, firm, and true tradition. But it does work very well as something entirely different, the value of which no contemporary person of faith should underestimate:

The Old Testament models an intentionally innovative, adaptive, and contemporizing theological dynamic—a recasting of the past to speak to the changing present and for a vision for the future.

The authoritative texts and traditions of the past were not simply received by the faithful but were necessarily adapted and built upon.

And I say “necessarily” because as circumstances change (like the exile), rethinking tradition is never far behind. In fact, adaptation of tradition is necessary in order to stay connected to the tradition—which is to say, in order to keep it alive.

We also see this pattern in the New Testament.

The Synoptic Gospel writers were in some way dependent on each other, but rather than an “accurate use of sources,” they willingly—and with apparently little reservation—“rewrote” earlier versions of the life of Jesus to suit the theological needs of their communities.

Paul profoundly and of theological necessity recontextualized, reshaped, and thus reinterpreted Israel’s story around the unexpected circumstance of Jesus of Nazareth.

The tectonic shift of a crucified and risen messiah, not to mention a major shift in how one conceived of Gentile inclusion in the family of Abraham (Acts 10 and 15), required a profoundly creative re-engagement of Israel’s story, to which the NT bears clear and consistent witness.

sin-of-certainty-peter-ennsThis pattern of adaptation also plays out, perhaps unwittingly but also unavoidably and necessarily so, throughout the history of Christianity, beginning with the reshaping of the ancient Semitic story of the Old and New Testaments in Greco-Roman philosophical categories, giving us ancient church creeds (Nicean, Chalcedonian).

This dynamic of adaptation of the past seems never to have not happened.

Through the entire history of the church, then and now, the faithful cannot help but ask the very same question asked by biblical authors like the Chronicler and Paul: how does that back there and then speak to us here and now?

Answering that question is a transaction between the believer’s present and the scriptural past, which always involves some creative adaptation.

Here’s an irony. Those who claim to be the most scrupulous of “Bible believers,” who say they will “follow Scripture” wherever it leads, should be the most open to theological change.

What I find curious is that, more often than not, the very opposite is the norm. Those most “biblical” are most resistant to having their belief systems challenged.

Take Scripture “seriously” by embracing what Scripture itself models—a moving rather than static theological process.

After all, the question has never simply been, “What did God do then?” but “What is God doing now—surprisingly, unexpectedly, counterintuitively, and in complete freedom from our traditions?”

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soulful Alan Wilson and the era I grew up in   —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf0Dm-OaTNk

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Wilson_(musician)#See_also

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Ryan Hiraoka’s ethereal/exquisite melody

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbyigd_Fw8A

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Ryan Hiraoka’s forerunner, Abba‘s chamber wall of sound   —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL0EoXdpOqg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DIX8226rWQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ21CLUQf0E

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Katchafire’s heartful lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XnNGY7JWxA

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surreal tenderest raspy texture/timbre vocal (Christmas salutation)    —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al5XFjwpARw

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Love conquers all (fear)    —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w98xc5irm4o

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPtNilIMtfA

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Hd9wT08tg

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M06L586uSgk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBfSu4nGDfk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OpzlCrBfOw

Hilo’s Bruddah Waltah Aipolani       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCcd9sBzPwY

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr3BgSqzW_Q

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go to timeclock 1:40 (how sad that the Chantels are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  — Ami Ortiz succeeded original virtuoso Arlene Smith)   —

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-ea1ayIEWQ

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orzcN1c28Y4

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAILJXyIctI

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wonderful sensual artists Kimie  & Anuhea  —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpAUtJ9ZEfA

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5XGvDAjOps

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My brown-eyed girl     —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1tEm-iOVy0

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Be real (humble spirit) —  check out Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts at time clock  4:00 to 10:00  —

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Erqj_mCk9r8

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Honesty in show business  —  Miley Cyrus “tells it like it is” despite her profanity   —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CzGeAAEggA

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Mr. Excitement, the incomparable Jackie Wilson    —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WXZmjUtlJw

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhDU1jblfM0

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdIZSBJA4sM

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOvlr7YUHHY

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listen to this special feathery tenderest raspy texture/timbre  voice at timeclock 10 – 22 seconds   —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnmPvLflEQQ

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the great Orbison backdropped by KD Lang   —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWFRlgLX98k

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Volare  (fly/sky)!!!     —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLwO3u0eww0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DBcqH09RwQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiDiiVloe2M

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scintillating percussion of Buddy Rich    — go to timeclock 3:51 to 4:09    —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2a712M5SJE

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and Steve Vai’s neoclassical alternate guitar pick mastery    —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgUcG0aw72U

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Ahh, to be young, baby!!      —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrClxXac3Nw

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HGEmDMXwsg

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeSvkbV7JPE

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tFr616F83E

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xweMWhLS82Q

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz6Gqdf6JSU

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT8zucqMd2I

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuG-ZKJv0qg

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFd6eELnsRU

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O8a6ueFY9A

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPywHBE1AWI

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/modern-societys-devolution-and-self-absorption-we-need-symbols-which-participate-in-the-things-they-represent/

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I stand incredulous before the sheer number of people reporting/experiencing symptoms of depression. I say again, I don’t believe our ancestors experienced the same proportion of depressive symptoms. Possible explanations for this phenomenon: Crisis of meaning, for example. An increasingly vacuous culture, with significant evidence of devolution. Or, perhaps depression/depressive episodes is in part provoked by the emotional self-absorption of moderns – the observable, inexplicable delay of real emotional conversance and maturity in modern people. — Steven Kalas

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“For me, there’s hardly a gnat’s whisker of difference between the psychological idea of healthy individuation and the Christian idea of salvation. Both include the lifetime journey of authentic living.”

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All the worth we could ever need are found as we love and are loved.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/self-worth-comes-loving-being-loved

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Did people in the Middle Ages fret about their self-esteem (worth in the eyes of others)??

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(self-respect is the reality of worth, not self-esteem)

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Did they sit in taverns and wonder aloud to their friends why others didn’t  love them more? Did they work their farms while daydreaming about the hope of someday having more self-esteem?

See, I rather doubt it. I think obsessing about self-esteem is the calling card of this time, this place and this culture. I think our incessant pondering about self-esteem is the undesirable outcome of affluence and leisure. It’s the thing we’re left to do

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when we lack

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sufficient access to meaning.

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Self-respect, self-worth. How do human beings come to feel worthwhile?

Some people undertake the quest literally: material worth. He who dies with the most toys wins. They make money. Lots and lots of money. They are good at making money. They tell themselves they will feel worthy when they have a literal, measurable worth.

The chief problem with this worldview, of course, is that it is quite savagely exclusive. By this measure of worth, the poor would not be allowed to be worthy.

(By the way, I didn’t say it was wrong to be good at making lots and lots of money. I just said it was a dubious place to invest the idea of self-worth.)

The other great American notion of human worth is usefulness. I have self-worth if I am useful. For example, if I’m a passenger flying at 38,000 feet on a plane that suddenly loses an engine, it is very useful to have a competent pilot on board. Similarly, if you are suffering an acute bereavement, you will find that I’M very useful to have around.

Usefulness is closely related to competence. And these are common measures for a person’s felt sense of self-worth. Just listen to the chronically unemployed. The frustrations of the disabled. The vague air of depression that sometimes surrounds the newly retired. The alienation of the aging and elderly who can contribute less and less to a community, a neighborhood or a household. Ultimately not able to care for themselves.

So, in the end, usefulness is an important measure of self-worth, but still an incomplete measure. What’s more useless than a newborn? Yet, would we say the baby is worthless? Of course not.

We reach for merit. We hope to become meritorious of worth through the realization of virtue and character. We are generous. Philanthropic. Faithful. Hard-working. We endure. We are kind. We sacrifice. We are humble. We are honest. Etc.

Virtue is a good thing. And I, for one, hope to have more character rather than less. Yes, merit can be an important measure of self-worth, but still this path contains a built-in, obvious problem: Human beings have an irregular, variable grasp on merit. Human beings make mistakes. They screw up. Sometimes character fails.

I’m saying that, being a card-carrying sinner myself, I hope there is a human worth available in the absence of merit.

And so the philosophers speak of intrinsic worth. That there is something about merely being human that should rightly oblige me to respect myself and others. If I breathe, then I have worth. Even if I’m poor. Even if I’m unable to be useful. Even if I lack merit.

Can you consider your intrinsic worth? The idea that some people who love you actually do love you? Not for your money. Not because of your achievements. Not because you can fix the garbage disposal or iron a shirt. Not because you’re morally perfect. But because they love you.

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But even intrinsic worth is nigh impossible to realize and enjoy on our own. Do newborns have intrinsic worth? Absolutely. Do newborns know that? Absolutely not. Then how do newborns discover their own intrinsic worth?

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Someone has to love them. Touch them. Care for them. Or they will go crazy. Or die.

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“We love because we are first loved,” says the Christian Epistle of 1 John. Here a religious “truth” is identical to a psychological observation: Self-worth does not first belong to self. Worth is bestowed upon us by love. Our worth is conveyed.

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All the worth we could ever need are found as we love and are loved.

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Hope soars heavenward     —

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1IzUbFMDGc

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To love and to be loved are our deepest desires a la Carl Jung’s archetypes (Jung’s forebearers are mystics Plato, Apostle Paul, & Augustine)(Jung is pronounced like “young”)

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Archetypal star-crossed lovers

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However, Jewish theologian Martin Buber says that Jung went outside Jung’s  psychoanalytic expertise into theology by Jung’s point that God does not exist independent of the psyches of human beings.

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Buber chastens that Jung was “mystically deifying the instincts instead of hallowing them in faith,”  which he called a “modern manifestation of Gnosis.” (the improper ascription to self-knowledge as the end-all, instead of God).   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungian_interpretation_of_religion#Extensions_and_criticisms

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+to+love+and+be+loved&id=EACBCF9FA17727184C6B7DC4961D1E0CD101EC1F&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=EACBCF9FA17727184C6B7DC4961D1E0CD101EC1F&selectedIndex=0

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgLzsGmnogo

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Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/symbol-participates-thing-it-represents

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A symbol “participates” in the thing it represents

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The difference between a sign and a symbol is something first felt, and only later comprehended.

This meaning of a symbol is the difference between a sign and a symbol.

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All kinds of symbols. Marriage is a symbol. Wedding rings are symbols. That collar around the neck of the priest is a symbol. Old Glory is a symbol. Hair can be a symbol (see Samson). Fire (see sweat lodges). The Alamo is a symbol. (I was in San Antonio on the day Ozzy Osbourne urinated on it. Texans reacted, well, badly. Dramatically, even.)

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Only in a culture as overly rationalized and material as this one could we …

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* wear the American flag as jockey shorts;

* refer to a wedding license as “just a piece of paper”;

* be absent collective rituals for grief;

* be absent collective rituals for rites of passage to adulthood;

* think it’s funny to try to make the guard at Buckingham Palace laugh;

* think potato chips and Pepsi could stand in for bread and wine;

* refer to a girl’s first menses as the arrival of “The Curse”;

* think a glowing light bulb is the same as a perpetual flame;

* ask them to mail your doctoral diploma to your house;

* dare to be impatient when stuck behind a funeral procession in traffic.

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Here’s my first question in premarital counseling: “What do you want to change in your relationship on (date)?” Wanna know the most common answer? The couple exchanges a befuddled glance. One of them sits taller. Proud of this answer, mind you. “Nothing,” he/she says quizzically, as if I’ve asked a very strange question.

If your goal was to change nothing, wouldn’t it make sense that you would do nothing?

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Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols.

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http://www.viewnews.com/2009/VIEW-Jan-06-Tue-2009/downtown/26019332.html

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What do you see in human experience?

C.G. Jung said that in Western civilization, the ancient office of tribal “ritual elder” was less and less occupied by clergy. Changes in modern institutional religion have turned parish clergy into administrators, teachers and fundraisers, and less and less available for the ancient symbolic functions of meaningful ritual and “testing the spirits” (discernment).

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Jung believed that modern therapists were largely the default recipient of the shamanic role. This has always intrigued me and made me nervous.

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Nonetheless …

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I want to extend an invitation to veteran therapist/counselor types — you modern elders — who might be in earshot of this column: What do you notice? Wrap your arms around the years of individuals, couples, kids, teens and families that moved through your practice. What themes do you see in the modern human experience, either positive or negative? Put all that into a two- to six-sentence paragraph, and send it to me.

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Here are a few things I notice:

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* People seek redemption. Yep, regardless of religion or no-religion, people long to convert banal human experience into redemptive meaning: birth, belonging, hope, vocation, sex, pride, humility, fear, joy, forgiveness, justice, evil, anger, values, moral failure, guilt, grief, love, meaning, child-rearing, aging, death. You can see how Jung arrived at his conclusion; the list of presenting issues in therapy is virtually synonymous with the needs and hungers of any pilgrim on a religious journey.

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* There is no escaping the paradox of The Individual and The Collective. Meaning, we cannot participate creatively in the wider human experience without possession of a healthy, separate self. Yet, the only way to grow a healthy, separate self is to participate in the collective.

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* People are designed for relationships. Seems funny how often I remind folks of this. I think “individualism” is a near cult in America. People are surprised, made anxious, threatened, even embarrassed by their yearning for deep friendships, kinship and a great love affair. We embrace insipid mantras — or sometimes hear them from therapists who mean to encourage — such as, “You’re fine alone.” You’ll never hear that from me. Instead you’ll hear, “You’re fine enough alone.”

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* Western civilization is a neurosis factory. Anxiety, self-consciousness, self-doubt. An overwhelming tendency to attach undue and largely negative meaning to self. So common is this outcome in human formation that consulting therapists will describe patients with a shrug, saying, “He’s a normal neurotic.” Meaning, he’s just like everybody else. Just like me, for that matter.

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* People have answers for most of their questions. In fact, it’s uncommon for patients to ask me an honest question; meaning, a question seeking actual information about which they are ignorant. Nope, the majority of questions are rhetorical. The patient poses the “great mystery/crisis/dilemma” inquiry as a segue, a stage. Give them some room, and they will usually answer their own questions.

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* Children need to be admired. They need to hear the “wow” in the voice of the mother, the father. They need to see the wonder in our eyes.

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* Children are absurdly forgiving and breathtakingly resilient.

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* We marginalize adolescents, yet reserve the right to complain about their despair.

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* The best thing I have to say about hitting children is that it is unnecessary.

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* The “nuclear family” is a ridiculous and historically unprecedented way to raise children.

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* Narcissistic parenting patterns dominate the current culture of child rearing.

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* As a group, we have sold ourselves a shameless bill of goods regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. We’re personally affronted when we discover that our marriage has failed to sustain “in-lovedness” and happiness. We tell ourselves that divorce and remarriage is a terrific strategy for growth and personal development. No data supports this idea.

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* Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols. Said another way, materialism and rationalism rule the day, both at the cost of meaning.

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* It’s not abuse that makes children — and later, adults — feel or act crazy and destructively, it’s not being allowed to have any feelings about our abuse. To be separated from the reality of our emotional reality — that is crazy-making!

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We’ve come a long ways, but it remains today axiomatic: Men can’t cry, and women can’t get angry. I’m serious. Can’t tell you how many times individual therapy with a man includes helping him take grief and loss seriously. Can’t tell you how many times individual therapy with a woman includes helping her take anger and outrage seriously.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-walters/zombies_1_b_7770466.html

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The truth of the matter is that no society ever becomes fully secularized. The hunger for a transcendent dimension to reality–for an enchanted world–remains a basic human drive, and if it can’t express itself in overtly religious imagery, it’ll search out symbolic substitutes. So, for example, psychologists become modernity’s priests, invested with awesome authority to hear confessions, bless, and heal. Political allegiances substitute for religious communities, and partisan feuds take on the rhetoric of cosmic struggles. Self-improvement replaces spiritual discernment. Patriotic holidays and rituals stand in for religious holy days. Our chthonic yearning for something greater than ourselves plays out again and again, even in a supposedly disenchanted world.

One important archetype that gets renamed and redistributed in modern society is metaphysical evil, or the Devil. Its psychological importance can’t be underestimated; it helps us cope with those acts of wickedness–torture, genocide, child abuse–so numbingly sinister that chalking them up to mere human agency is unsatisfyingly inadequate. Our ancestors personified metaphysical evil in the form of a demonic enemy, Satan, who roams the world like a roaring lion seeking human prey. Their “enchanted” belief in the Devil’s machinations provided them with an explanation for evil that protected them from the far worse alternative that wickedness is gratuitous and spontaneous. Moreover, it gave purposeful direction to their lives by offering them the opportunity to enlist in God’s grim but ultimately triumphant crusade against evil.

Most people today, even religious ones, no longer believe in the reality of a metaphysical source of evil, much less its personification as Satan. Nor have they an explicit sense of soldiering in a cosmic battle between divine good and hellish evil. But both archetypes are so hardwired in our psyches that they recur again and again, finding a home in any symbol that can express them.

And here’s where we cue the zombies. They’re today’s Devils, modernity’s version of the Great Enemy. We re-enchant the world by attributing to zombies qualities that our ancestors believed belonged to Satan. Zombies allow us to scratch our itch for archetypal symbols that hold deep meaning for us while allowing us to jettison pre-modern religious language that no longer speaks to us.

So for us, Zombies become roaring satanic lions hungrily searching out prey. They’re concrete personifications of our deep and ancient sense that evil is somehow mysteriously nonhuman in origin, even though it uses humans as its agents. Zombies reek of death and the grave–the underground, where Satan and the damned traditionally dwell. Their bite mutates human victims into zombies, just as Satan’s embrace mutates humans into slaves. And the cosmic battle theme between good and evil is also present: in all zombie stories, a valiant band of humans, typically led by a Savior-like figure, risk their own lives to rescue humankind from damnation.

No one believes that zombies actually exist. But our fascination with them points to the latest recurrence of the very same archetype that for earlier generations was communicated in explicitly religious language. We’re more deeply rooted in the enchanted world of our ancestors than we suspect.

So the next time you watch a zombie movie, be aware that your forebears are seated alongside you.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dreams-and-visions-of-the-dying_us_56b24a88e4b04f9b57d81b9d?utm_hp_ref=religion

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As Kerr’s patients approach death, many of them report having vivid and comforting dreams.

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The dreams frequently involve deceased loved ones, reaching out to them in some way to let them know everything is okay.

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Time and again, Kerr and his fellow researchers found that these dreams help give patients a sense of meaning and spiritual comfort as their death approaches.

“End of life experiences represent a rich interconnectivity between body and soul, between the realities we know, those we don’t, between our past and our present,” Kerr said in his TEDx talk. “Most importantly, end of life experiences represent continuity between and across lives, both living and dead.”

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Sage Paul Lutus: Most “educated” people cannot tell the difference between a fact and an idea, the most common confusion of symbol and thing. Most believe if they collect enough facts, this will compensate for their inability to grasp the ideas behind those facts. And, because of this “poverty of ideas,” most cannot work out the simplest conceptual questions, such as “why is the sky dark at night?”

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/euclid-reasoned-something-or-it-isn-t

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The reflexive property is hugely important. And, in modern times, this property is apparently not so apparent and obvious. If you turn your ear to listen, you will hear myriad observations, worldviews, and specious conclusions that come down to this: a = … (something that is not) a.

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And this bothers me. Because, deny, ignore or obfuscate whether a = a, and suddenly you can explain and justify just about anything. It might or might not be entirely a conscious process, but it is nonetheless deliberate. And lazy. And convenient. And creepy.

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I think about this when, several times each year, a patient will speak of a new courtship with … someone who is married. And the new interest gives my patient The Speech: “We’re not really married. We’ve been separated for (period of time), and the reason the divorce isn’t yet filed/final is (blah blah blah).”

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And my patient thinks this clears things right up.

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And I affect my very best neutral nod. But, inside, I always think the same thing: a = a. Only divorced people are divorced. Only married people are married people. Which means that married people aren’t divorced people.

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A = a. Only friends are friends. And only nouns are nouns. So, write this down: I will never “friend” you. Ever. Or “unfriend” you.

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I could go on and on. The reflexive property has never mattered more. Because we live in a time of confusing facsimile with reality. And that has consequences.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-twitter-really-americas-conscience/2015/02/24/8b9e04d6-bc67-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html

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Mindless social media (e.g. Twitter)

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Social media, especially Twitter, have appropriated the role of national conscience. When Tweety Bird is upset, the whole world is upset — or at least that portion of the world that pays attention to such things. As of 2014, only 23 percent of online adults (18 and older) use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.

The broader media, however, pay attention to and report on buzz as though these online snippets were the last word on public opinion. But buzz, like all gossip through time, is meaningless without contextual analysis. Buzz, in other words, doesn’t necessarily suggest a conclusion, such as Americans have lost their sense of humor, and we have become mind-numbingly politically correct .

This may be our future, heaven forbid. But meanwhile, we can find some comfort in the following: Many Americans couldn’t care less about the Oscars, what Penn said, or what Twitter buzzed about it. Only 36.6 million watched the Academy Awards this year, down 16 percent from last year, according to Nielsen ratings.

Context is, as always, everything. But we’ll see what Twitter has to say about that.

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I’ll concede that Sean Penn’s delivery at the Oscars had all the warmth of a basilisk’s gaze. Then again, what would one expect from Penn? He has mastered the expression of one who would rather be anywhere else. His default countenance is of a man trapped between existential angst and disgust — or rather like someone who knows what’s really going on.

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It’s all in the delivery.

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Human beings are created for relationship. Without you, there is no meaningful me. How I experience my life is, in the end, inseparable from how I experience you. Said yet another way, we’re here to love and be loved. — sage Steven Kalas

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/luck-of-the-draw-bad-or-good-forgive-yourself-for-what-is-not-in-your-power-to-do-steven-kalas/

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Sometimes the worst pain comes from feeling abandoned (estrangement) and unloved (alienation). That happened to me when my marriage of more than three decades ended. When my wife walked out on me, she took my sense of self-worth with her.

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Without her to validate me as a human being,

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I began to think I wasn’t worth anything at all.

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It is very hard to let go of your past. For years I held on to my old life, refusing to let go. I just couldn’t see any other life worth living. Letting go of your past is a long, hard process, and for me that process isn’t over yet. In some ways, it’s just beginning.

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But here is why it’s important that we put in that time and effort — because if we live in the past, we will never discover our destiny. Destiny, promise, potential, purpose — all of these are things that have to do with the future, not the past.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antoinette-tuff/three-steps-to-turning-pain-purpose_b_4979660.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS%20for%20the%20Soul
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Yes, one who lives authentically and in the moment suffers persecution, taking a line from exemplar Christ.

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 http://biblehub.com/2_timothy/3-12.htm
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-davis-phd/saint-francis-and-pope-francis_b_4967289.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/life-advice_n_4979765.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul
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Life  celebration often is born of immense suffering.

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The willingness to stretch oneself into compelling vulnerability by loving and desiring to be loved draws from a psychic well so deep that is not without cost.

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Sometimes great cost.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/after-laughs-comedian-leaves-us-lesson
http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/trust-risk-taken-not-acquired-skill
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Once you have a meditative life you start to see that the world is really far different than what it appears to be,   e.g.

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob%27s_Ladder_(film)#Production

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/this-ancient-blueprint-fo_n_5312209.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

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A person must have an “inner citadel” to which one can retreat.

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Living from this inner place of peace and equanimity —

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a place which no person or external event can penetrate —

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gives one the freedom to shape one’s life by responding to events from a rational, calm headspace.

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Find your inner citadel.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/one-man-s-definition-spirituality

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I once tried to craft a definition of spirituality that could be universalized. That is, the definition would not and could not be “owned” or dominated by any particular religion.

Purely objective. And utterly human.

For better or worse, I finally came up with this:  “Spirituality is the intentional disciplines we undertake to realize, respond and bring witness to essential relatedness.”

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Intentional disciplines

Significant spirituality presupposes some effort and intention on our part. We habituate ourselves to certain prescribed disciplines. Meditation, prayer, worship, sacrifice, piety, chanting, alms, fasting, study, mission, pilgrimage, ritual, marriage, music, art, dance, exercise — there are myriad forms of spiritual discipline. Only some are formal, “religious” activities.

But all spiritual disciplines attempt to express, strengthen and realize our fundamental relationships: self, others, cosmos, mystery. An authentic spiritual path is more than mere spontaneous enthusiasm or casual, intellectual observation.

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Let’s unpack the definition:

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To realize

A lot of things that are real are never realized. To realize is to bring to full expression. In authentic spirituality, we reach for what we believe to be real (our worldview) and we make it real in ourselves.

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To respond

Authentic spirituality compels us to respond. When we realize we are related, we find that we must respond to our relationships. We serve, we seek, we redeem, we account, we repair, we reconcile, we protect, we do battle, we make peace — action verbs.  We must answer the “voice” we have heard. We are obliged (from the Latin obligare = “tied to”).

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Bring witness

In word and deed we evidence our essential relatedness. We tell our story, yes, sometimes with words, but more often with deeds. The fast track of getting to know any human being is observing how that human being responds to his/her committed bonds of relationship.

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Essential relatedness

I was unable to coin a meaningful definition of spirituality without presupposing an article of faith. In the case of my definition, I’m presupposing that people and cosmos are essentially related. I can’t prove that. It’s part of my spiritual worldview (my cosmology) leaking into my definition.

I can’t apologize, though, because I do think we are essentially related. We do not choose to be related to the mystery, the cosmos, to ourselves and each other. We are related.

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All significant world religions and spiritual paths share common elements:

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A narrative

“In the beginning” … “Once upon a time” … “a child was born” …

Spirituality is contained in story. The story often includes a particular human life perceived to be unique and definitive of how life is and how life should be lived. For example, there is a life lived in history (Siddhartha) and then there is the collective response to that life lived (Buddhism).

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Sacred writings

The Bible, the Quran, the Deer Park Sermon, the Torah, Bhagavad Gita, petroglyphs — in sacred writings the stories and collective wisdom of spiritual paths are preserved and passed on.

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Moral code

The great world religions share basic concerns about violence, exploitation, dishonesty, theft and the breakdown of sexual boundaries. Religions postulate an “ideal” expression of our humanity and generally agree that we are incapable of realizing this ideal by the mere force of will. We sense what is good, but we cannot simply decide to be good.

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Festival, ritual and tradition

The great world religions contain potent rites of passage, rituals that realize and celebrate relatedness, and traditions that mark a rhythm for the ebb and flow of life.

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Sacrifice (alms)

The great world religions express a primary concern for the especially vulnerable members of society — the poor, the sick, the disabled, the very old and very young, etc. And so, authentic spirituality includes the regular, sometimes ritual sacrifice of time, talents, energy, goods, service and money for the aid and protection of the “especially vulnerable.”

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The thing I rather enjoy about my definition is that, even for people who swear they don’t have a religious bone in their body, well, there is still a very sense in which they can enjoy, nurture and grow an authentic inmost dimension to their lives.

If your spirituality/inmost-edness and/or your religion is not, at the end of the day, about tying you to fidelity in relationships, then I would wonder about its purpose and relevance.

Right relationships yield human wholeness.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-a-georgescu/the-last-shall-be-first_b_4683340.html
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The Last Shall be First — Jesus

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Devoting oneself to others is at the heart of all the world’s major faiths.

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If we are devoted to a higher purpose (e.g. hope in salvation), love and compassion become the whole point and our goals become more important than what we get in return for them.

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Who am I? A person who loves and desires to be loved in turn.

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Jodi Picoult: “People always say that, when you love someone, nothing in the world matters. But that’s not true, is it? You know, and I know, that when you love someone, everything in the world matters a little bit more.”

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http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3764682-handle-with-care

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/not-who-am-i-but-whose-am-i-and-this-radicalgestalt-changes-everything-from-sage-steven-kalas-born-1957/

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It’s not “Who am I?” but “Whose am I?” And this radical/gestalt changes everything!! (e.g. I am a father/grandfather/elder role model to my progeny/etc.)

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOW4QiOD-oc

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner#Interpretation

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These thematic elements provide an atmosphere of uncertainty for Blade Runner‘s central theme of examining humanity.

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In order to discover replicants, an empathy test is used, with a number of its questions focused on the treatment of animals—seemingly an essential indicator of someone’s “humanity.”

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The replicants appear to show compassion and concern for one another and are juxtaposed against human characters who lack empathy while the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal.

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The film goes so far as to put in doubt whether Deckard is human, and forces the audience to re-evaluate what it means to be human.

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Yes, the bad guy/unwanted huli’au actually might be the good guy.

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luck of the draw (bad or good) — forgive yourself for what is not in your power to do — Steven Kalas

 

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The blind will see and those who see will become blind. John 9:39-41 Those who become blind also will blind themselves as experts (ability to see). Thence those who become blind shall continue to remain ignorant. — Chiasmus

http://www.biblelimericks.com/?limerick=john-941-blind-seeing-seeing-blind

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/family/best-approach-help-some-addicts-step-away

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/relationship-important-part-effective-therapy

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She tells her story, and it’s my job to listen to the telling. It’s an awful story. Betrayal, injustice, abuse of power, exploitation — it’s not easy to listen.

Listening trips alarm systems in my body. My brain begins dumping chemicals into my bloodstream, changing the way I breathe. There’s a pre-emptive readiness in my musculature that I experience as tension. I feel anger and sadness, both vying for center stage of my attention. Competing fantasies include weeping, stepping outside to scream, sending her perpetrator a letter bomb and pouring us both shots of expensive bourbon. Right here in the office. Right here in session.

The latter fantasy explains why I don’t keep expensive hooch in my office.

She finishes the ugly tale. I lean forward with my most sincere Father Flannigan face and say in soothing intonations, “Take the deepest breath you can.” She looks up, smiles a tender, peaceful, beautiful smile and says, “I’m really OK.” To which I — Steven Kalas, Caped Crusader, Action Counselor, Man of the Hour — respond spontaneously and without a moment’s thought, “You’re right, it’s me who needs to take a deep breath.”

In the next moment, we both erupt in gales of laughter, both buffeted by the physical force of the irony ricocheting off the walls. It’s a cleansing irony. She ceremoniously hands me the Kleenex box and says, in caricature, “Would you like to talk about it?” I shrug and say: “I don’t know. How much do you charge?” And we laugh some more.

It doesn’t get any more real and honest than that. When I’m old and long-retired, I will remember that moment in my career. I will never stop sharing that story with interns and practicum students whose desire it is to learn this craft called Talk Therapy.

News flash for aspiring therapists: The idea that quality therapy is delivered to people in sheer objectivity and muted detachment is … well … absolute crap. Blank slate? Yeah, right. Run away screaming from any therapist who tells you they have no opinions, no prejudices and who seems deliberately wooden and removed from the interaction. It is not my job to be free of bias (as if that were possible), rather, to know my biases to the end that my bias does not intrude, interfere, countermand or impede.

Quality therapy is delivered in the context of a therapeutic relationship! Key word: relationship! Therapeutic benefit emerges — literally — in and proceeding out of the relationship. It is not a relationship of unilateral trust, rather, of mutual trust. It is a deep-seated sense of partnership. Even very sick people bring strengths to the table that have seen them through rough times. I notice these things, admire them and even learn from them.

A veteran therapist friend tells a simple yet powerful story about working with a patient who’d been sexually abused by several males in her family:

“She wailed, ‘Why Me?!’ It was voiced as a demand. She wanted an answer. And, of course, she feared she did something to deserve it. I simply answered, ‘The luck of the draw.’ She stared at me a moment, then shrieked: ‘The luck of the draw? That’s your answer?’ I nodded and said: ‘Yup. You did nothing to deserve it and, as far as I know, God doesn’t get pissed off at little kids and decide to punish them by giving them evil relatives who abuse them. To me that means it’s just the luck of the draw.’

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After staring at me several seconds, she burst out laughing and I joined her. She left that session, smiling, shaking her head and marveling, ‘The luck of the draw.’ I might say that I’d come to this conclusion some time before about my own experiences.”

See, a therapist focused on textbooks and technique might have answered, all sincere and philosophical: “I don’t know. Why do you think this happened to you?” But patients deserve more than a Human Echo Chamber. They deserve more than nodding, staring and “Mmm.” They need human reparative interaction.

Another veteran therapist tells this story:

“I once treated a developmentally disabled teen, hospitalized for childhood schizophrenia. He did very, very well, and at the time we terminated therapy asked me, ‘You know why this worked so well, doctor?’ I said, ‘No, why?’ He smiled and said, ‘Because you respected me and I respected you.’ “

Well, yeah. Of course.

With all respect to the practitioner’s training and expertise, maybe the heartbeat of effective therapy is 50 minutes of acutely focused, directed, authentically present and respectful human relationship.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/1-peter-48-love-covers-a-multitude-of-sins-center-of-grace-or-in-the-secular-sense-forgive-yourself-for-what-is-not-in-your-power-to-do/

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The points are to establish love and emotional support as our idyllic commands, in a tragic and indifferent world.

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Needless suffering is of this world, stuck in this tragic and indifferent life.

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Indeed, true love endures.

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It’s just that you need to close the gestalt of being in love with the person who no longer loves you

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and get past one’s own hurt, bitterness, disappointment and anger

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before what endures can be apprehended

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as the honored friend it is (self-respect)

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and not the cruel enemy

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it appears to be

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right after we’ve been dumped

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by the love of our life.

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True love endures. That’s a good thing.

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But true love is different from needless suffering for the rest of your life.

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At the end of the day, we have to grow a self-respect sufficient not to want someone who doesn’t want us.

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You need to forgive yourself

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for what was

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not

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in your power to do.

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/love-can-endure-if-people-work-through-lost-relationships-144330465.html

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Søren Kierkegaard says that life is full of absurdity, and one must make his and her own values in an indifferent world. One can live meaningfully (free of despair and anxiety) in an unconditional commitment to something finite, and devotes that meaningful life to the commitment, despite the vulnerability inherent to doing so. As sage Steven Kalas says, we’re here to love and be loved. That’s it. Dying people revel in who they became in meaningful relationships (soulmates)! Every other dimension of life — job, money, golf game, emptying the kitchen trash — is only important as it serves the end of how and why you are related to another soul.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/what-is-not-in-our-power-to-do/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/forgive-yourself-for-what-is-not-in-your-power-to-do-love-yourself-no-matter-the-external-rejection-from-others/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/limerence-falling-in-love-is-a-powerful-spontaneous-projection-of-self-the-experience-is-cosmic-and-powerfully-bonding-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/im-here-to-love-and-be-loved/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/but-now-theres-nowhere-to-hide-since-you-pushed-my-love-aside-my-head-is-saying-fool-forget-her-my-heart-is-saying-dont-let-go-hold-on-to-the-end-thats-what-i-intend-to-do/

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7128.Jodi_Picoult

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“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” ― Jodi Picoult

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“I’m lonely. Why do you think I had to learn to act so independent?” – ― Jodi Picoult

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“Love is not an equation, it is not a contract, and it is not a happy ending. Love is the slate under the chalk, the ground that buildings rise, and the oxygen in the air. It is the place you come back to, no matter where you’re headed.” ― Jodi Picoult

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“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?” ― Jodi Picoult

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“A real friend isn’t capable of feeling sorry for you, [but instead feeling sorry for/loss of you by the other person.]” ― Jodi Picoult

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“I didn’t want to see her because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it’s hard to remember who I am.” ― Jodi Picoult

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Preface to Susan Sarandon’s undying line below — the gumshoe/private eye says to Susan Sarandon’s character Beverly Clark (on tailing Bev’s hubby played by Richard Gere) that couples get married for passion, not protocol. Susan’s character Bev in turn responds via her eternal line below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0358135/quotes

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We need a witness to our lives. There are billions of people on this planet…

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I mean, what does any one life really mean?

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But in a relationship,

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you’re promising to care about everything.

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The good things, the bad things, the mundane things…

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all of them, all the time.

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You’re saying

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‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.

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Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdBATA_Ag5s

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(Sigh) … it could not have been said any deeper than this … with love timelessly, :-)–Curt

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Rose teasingly tells Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack in the 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic –

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Immortalize me, Jack!” (via Jack’s portrait sketching talent) Done, baby!!

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As sage Steven Kalas intones (Love’s Purple Heart is won) –

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/what-hurts-most-may-bring-people-closest-together

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Once upon a time you stood before an altar

And you promised not to leave

You held each other’s hand and dreamed a sweet forever

Love brought angels to your knees

Oh, the days they do fly by

Count the tears that you have cried

Count the laughter and the lies

Count your love and times love died

And here you stand together, battle-scarred and torn

The locks of fairy tales have fallen, long since shorn

Love has chosen you, blessed you, crucified you

See what you’ve become

Love’s Purple Heart is won

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Once upon a time

You promised to believe

That wounded hearts though painful so

Are the only hearts that grow

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Infinity’s Loving Purple Heart has been won.

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http://www.bigislandchronicle.com/2010/02/15/dispatches-from-curt-%e2%80%94-john-hustons-the-battle-of-san-pietro-semper-fi-wounded-in-action-and-other-musings/#comment-25773

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For Greek philosophers Plato/Aristotle, glorious virtues start w/courage & end w/wisdom, a la Santini/Zulu/the British square/other renowned warriors.

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The 1st historian in the Western World, Herodotus, crusaded to “preserve the memory of great and marvelous deeds,”

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just as successor Thucydides’ mission was to record “important and instructive actions of human beings.”

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I tip my hat to my dearest daughter Staycie age 43 for finding the hero/heroine in us all, our very own Herodotus/Thucydides who exemplify Plato/Aristotle’s creeds that glorious virtues start with courage and end with wisdom, and for making us all the happier/wiser/deeper for these values.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/when-the-unconscious-is-ready-to-deliver-its-great-treasures-forged-timeless-in-the-depths-of-the-human-soul-well-who-would-want-to-interrupt-that-with-a-mere-mortal-agenda-steven-kal/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/its-a-virtual-cliche-for-modern-patients-in-therapy-to-self-diagnose-with-i-need-to-work-on-my-self-esteem-it-rarely-turns-out-to-be-a-correct-diagnosis-i-much-prefer-to-focus-on-self-respec/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/interesting-that-jesus-not-only-doesnt-feel-the-need-to-scour-the-countryside-in-search-of-people-to-condemn-for-fear-that-surely-someones-ruining-the-fabric-of-tradition/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/life-is-full-of-reversals-of-expectations-baby-dedicated-to-my-little-girl-staycie-age-40-my-separation-anxiety-from-my-baby-girl-when-she-turned-18-left-home-to-live-on-her-own-turned/

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my little baby girl Staycie’s look-alike

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gps-for-the-soul/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/mind-blowing-jesus-stands-inexplicably-before-us-and-jesus-turns-common-sense-ideas-upside-down-confounding-us-all-dedicated-to-authentic-ri-in/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/in-tribute-to-my-leader-ri-in-honesty-speaks-to-the-heart-where-true-love-resides/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/love-what-it-requires-how-to-value-it-how-it-calls-us-to-pay-attention-to-celebrate-and-be-grateful-because-we-simply-never-know-human-beings-have-no-rights-or-claims-on-the-ever-so-brief/

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/love-the-simple-measure-life

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“When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.”

— Denali

Denali isn’t famous enough to need a last name. He has no formal education. Not even a high school diploma. What he does have is a keen, super-human sense of what love means. What it requires. How to value it. How it calls us to pay attention. To celebrate and be grateful.

Because we simply never know.

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Human beings have no rights or claims on the ever-so brief moments they are given to be together.

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Denali doesn’t understand why people complain about the fact that salads cost $12 or why their shoes got wet. Denali has love in keen relief, proper perspective. He talks of loving his dog, Ben, through cancer.

In journeys like that, you don’t notice your shoes. And maybe you forget to eat lunch entirely, at any price.

I’ve never met Denali in real time. I heard him quote the above words in an eight-minute short film called “Denali.” You can watch it on Vimeo.com. (https://vimeo.com/122375452)

Films like “Denali”

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remind me how simple is the measure of my own life:

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When I notice myself in narratives of chronic complaint, I’m a loser. It’s that simple.

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Then, when I get the idea that others should be obliged to grant an audience for my complaining, I’m a loser and a boor.

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The tortured trifecta is when I take the point of privilege to feel slighted, to mobilize resentment if others are unavailable for my complaining.

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Loser, boor and Crown Prince of Entitlement.

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When, instead, I work the discipline of gratitude, I’m a man of peace and humility. My soul is in a posture to receive rather than grasp or take. I revel in an inventory of unspeakable grace and gifts,

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not an inventory of ownership, achievement and deservedness.

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Ownership? Every day I grow older, the whole idea of ownership seems more a waste of time.

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For what is truly my own

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except for the moments I dared to love and be loved?

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Answer:    nothing.

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“We are in bondage to decay.” — Romans 8:20-21

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Only love survives.

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Nobody lies in hospice and makes an inventory of ownership. Nope. Dying requires us to take inventory of love.

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“Love is paying attention.” — M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)

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A friend tells me about a family tradition, started by her father, now gone to be with God. Home from work each night, he would pull his car up to the house and tap a friendly “beep beep” on the horn. He would announce his arrival, and a wife and children would rise and mingle toward the door to greet him.

Today, my friend continues the tradition. Her family knows to expect the “beep beep” as she pulls her car around to home.

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Thus do healthy families and healthy marriages make customs and rituals out of comings and goings, hellos and goodbyes.

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They see each other. They behold each other. They respect each other. (Look it up. In Latin, respectus means “to see again.”)

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I remember, as I do at least annually in this column, the Thorton Wilder play “Our Town.” At the end, the protagonist pleads to her mother, “Mother! Won’t you just look at me!”

Then she says to the stage manager: “Does anyone really live life while they live it?”

“Oh, a few,” says the stage manager, puffing his pipe. “Poets and saints, maybe. Nobody else.”

By the way, if you decide to click that link and watch “Denali,” bring a box of tissues. It’s going to wreck you. Wring you out like a dishrag. Pour your heart into your shoes. If you can watch this piece and not be moved, something is wrong with you. You’re embalmed. Sleepwalking. Frozen in ice.

Watch it. Ponder what really matters.

Then put this column down. Go call someone you love, and tell them so. Just because.

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Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm
https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity

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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar#Criteria_for_authenticity

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“Hi everyone! The one we worship was crucified by the Romans. Come follow us.” This opening line did not fit among Greco-Roman religions. Claiming that a divine figure was helplessly beaten, tortured, and gruesomely–shamefully executed, would have been proof positive that such a religion was a joke worthy only of late night monologs. The ridiculousness of the crucifixion of the Son of God is easily lost on modern Christians. We miss an important reversal that so typifies the gospel. Because the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation of being wise, to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) — Peter Enns

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle. “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.”

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What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”       ― Jodi Picoult,Nineteen Minutes    

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3375915-nineteen-minutes
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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/04/discovering-the-futility-of-human-existence-at-my-high-school-reunion/#ixzz3YGIJHHDx
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http://theutopianlife.com/2014/11/22/eeyore-pessimists-guide-beautiful-life/
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Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.

Ecclesiastes 3:15

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http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/3-15.htm
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Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
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3:11-15 Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts,

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we are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them.

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Our purpose is to love others (as God first loves us).

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Ecclesiastes 3:15

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Is there anything of which one can say,
  

            “Look! This is something new”?


It was here already, long ago;

 

             it was here before our time.

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This realization often comes much later, in mid-life, when the frantic pace of our youth has become tiresome, when we finally slow down a bit and take stock.

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I’m just another in a long line. I’m not at the front or back. Just in the massive middle. So are you.

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So is everyone.

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle.

I also, strangely, felt peace at this thought. I wasn’t exactly sure at the time why, but perhaps knowing that things are as they are and that I will not break this cycle  —-

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leads to a healthy resignation, a release of the fantasy that we control our universe, our lives.

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This is how I put it: my epiphany was a tender “letting go” moment.

I have found that letting go is a key component of the Christian life—of any spiritual life—but I was never taught “letting go” in my Christian education, in church, college, or seminary. The sub-current always seemed to be how “special” and privileged we were

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to be part of this endless cycle of life.

I was taught to think of myself as outside of the circle.

But we live our lives within this circle, and our lives

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 have meaning. Not a meaning handed to us, but a meaning we forge—right here, right now — by choice. Not by denying our humanity but by looking it square in the eye, shedding any notion of being above it all  — and choosing to walk or not — in spiritual salvation with our Lord Jesus.

After all, as Christians believe, God himself entered the human drama, the cycle of life, as yet another man in the long line of men before and since, born of a woman, in ancient Judea, in Galilee, who grew and learned like everyone else.

God valued the cycle enough to be a part of it.   So will I.   I so choose to walk in spiritual salvation with my Lord Jesus.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/a-faith-crisis-in-the-bible-and-dont-let-some-60s-hippies-tell-you-otherwise/
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Confession of resignation in Ecclesiastes:   The best we can do is to find joy (in God) in everyday life.

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In Ecclesiastes we find we hear our voices of sadness, depression anxiety, strife, and doubt echoing back from 2,500 years ago.   Life is not so grand, but we are not alone in feeling such.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/it-ll-take-more-bubble-bath-cure-your-stress

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Four fundamental sources of stress    —

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1.   MEANINGLESSNESS

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that the crisis of Western civilization was a crisis of meaning. As the great “symbol systems” of our past erode (e.g., the American flag, wedding rings, clear gender symbols, Judeo-Christian symbols), we are left more and more with a culture void of symbolic identity. Our understanding of relationship and intimacy is no longer grounded in depth communion expressed by shared symbols but in the facade of “connectedness” (see Facebook, etc.). Our work is less and less grounded in the symbol of vocation and more and more grounded in “occupation.” That is, something that occupies our time and makes money.

More and more patients enter therapy not to resolve unhappy childhood memories, not to change some unhealthy habit, but to try to express that vague, nagging, painful emptiness of a soul looking for meaning.

Meaninglessness is very stressful.

2.    DENIED EMOTIONS

Imagine standing waste deep in a swimming pool, holding a volleyball. Now, push the ball underwater with one hand. Hold it there, underwater. Give it a minute. As your arm tires, you will notice the ball’s desire to surface. It wants to surface. Demands to surface! Your arm will start to tremble. You have to concentrate. Perhaps a grunt will escape your lips as you bring to bear the effort to keep that ball underwater.

This is what it’s like to deny your emotions. To do anything but feel. Anger, fear, vulnerability, shame, guilt, grief, loss, despair — our culture raises you to deny suffering at all cost.

Undigested, unrecognized, denied emotions are very stressful.

3.     DISRESPECT/CONTEMPT

If a tree is planted in a poison forest, it will fail to thrive. If you rescue the tree by digging it up, repotting it in healthy soil, feed and water it, then the tree will begin to recover and grow. But, once restored to health, if you return it to the poison forest … well, there aren’t enough bubble baths in the world to make living in that forest OK.

This is what it’s like for so many patients. I help them. They begin to thrive and heal in therapy. But, if they must then return to a poison marriage … or return to poison parents … or return to a poison workplace and a poison supervisor … well, relaxation techniques will not ultimately be enough to save them.

Participating in relationships marked by chronic disrespect/contempt is very stressful.

4.     THE DOUBLE BIND

In the 1950s, Gregory Bateson struck upon the idea of the double bind: “A psychological impasse created when a person perceives that someone in a position of power is making contradictory demands, so that no response is appropriate.”

Bateson says the victim of double bind receives contradictory injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words, and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticized or silenced whenever he or she actually does so).

No meta-communication is possible — for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense.

The victim cannot leave the communication field.

Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished (for example, by withdrawal of love).

The double bind is often one of the poisons in the poison forest. It is a common strategy (albeit, often unconscious) of folks treating us with chronic disrespect/contempt. It can make you feel like you are losing your mind.

Sure, take time for yourself. That’s a good thing. But, if any of these four stressful dynamics haunt your life, you will have to do something about it.

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The issue is whether we are able to accept that our cognitive power–which can be limiting and deceiving as well as liberating and enlightening–is truly up for the task of grasping the divine.

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http://www.peteenns.com/when-god-stops-making-sense-or-my-favorite-part-of-the-old-testament/
http://www.peteenns.com/a-blog-post-in-which-i-ask-myself-4-questions-about-christianity-and-evolution/

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Job’s experience threatens the foundation of his moral world. God punishes the wicked, yet Job isn’t wicked. So why is God doing this (theodicy — the issue of suffering)?

Job never gets a straight answer to the question–other than God telling Job “I’m God, the Creator. You’re not.”

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“You are human, Job, present here on earth for a few moments. You can’t possibly comprehend how the universe works, or my part in it. The script of the sacred story is fine as far as it goes, but this world and my place in it aren’t constricted by it. You will not figure this out, Job.”

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The universe we inhabit is largely deaf to our moral preoccupations. It is distant, cold, empty space, beholden to an apparently endless cycle of destruction and rebirth.

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God’s answer to Job, if I may translate into the contemporary idiom, is that the divine is “trans-rational.”

At the end of the day the human thought process can only get you so far when it comes to God.

At some point, for most of us, as it was for some biblical writers, God stops making sense.

The question then is whether the non-sense leads to disbelief in God or becomes an invitation to seek God differently–even through confrontation and debate, as these biblical books model for us.

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I’m just saying that over time I’ve come to answer that question in the second way–as I think Job, some psalmists, and the author of Ecclesiastes did.

Some might call that kind of faith “fideism”–an irrational belief in God rather than based on “sound reason.” But I think the charge of fideism misses the halting lesson life insists on giving us, and also persists in presuming what Job’s friends also insisted on–that where God is concerned, things make sense.

The issue as I see it isn’t simply whether your faith is or isn’t “reasonable.” “Reasonable” is a moving target.

The issue is whether we are able to accept that our cognitive power–which can be limiting and deceiving as well as liberating and enlightening–is truly up for the task of grasping the divine.

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That, I think, is what these books of the Old Testament are after in their own way and in their own time and place. And that’s why I like them.

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Was Jesus more than a 1st century Jew? Yes, I believe he was—and working that out is the stuff of 2000 years of Christian theology. But however “more than human” Jesus may be, and whatever we might mean by that, he was certainly not one micro-millimeter less than fully human—and that has all sorts of implications.

But that’s the deal with the incarnation, and that’s why appealing to a reference or two in the Gospels doesn’t trump the profound observations of science.

And to think that it does, ironically, is not respectful of Jesus or a declaration of a “high” or “orthodox” Christology. It is actually a quasi-biblical sub-Christian Christology that betrays a deep discomfort with the theological implications of the core element of the Christian faith–the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

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http://biblehub.com/john/1-14.htm

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John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

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God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father.

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My life has been a Griffin Dunne character in After Hours    

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Paul Hackett (Dunne) experiences a series of misadventures as he tries to make his way home  (mishaps produce laughter via cynicism, skepticism, & the irony of incurring wrath thru one’s desire of pleasure).

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This film is on the list of “Great Movies,” and it combines comedy, satire, and irony (irreducible truth) with unrelenting pressure and a sense of all-pervading paranoia/destruction.

Hopscotch to oblivion’, Barcelona, Spain

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtPI9jIx1kU

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Hours_(film)

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Nelle Harper Lee’s epiphany To Kill a Mockingbird    —

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In real life, Nelle’s father defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients, a father and son, were hanged.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harper_Lee#Early_life

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Loss of innocence

A color photograph of a northern mockingbird

Lee used the mockingbird to symbolize innocence in the novel.

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Songbirds and their associated symbolism appear throughout the novel. The family’s last name of Finch also shares Lee’s mother’s maiden name. The titular mockingbird is a key motif of this theme, which first appears when Atticus, having given his children air-rifles for Christmas, allows their Uncle Jack to teach them to shoot. Atticus warns them that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Confused, Scout approaches her neighbor Miss Maudie, who explains that mockingbirds never harm other living creatures. She points out that mockingbirds simply provide pleasure with their songs, saying, “They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” Writer Edwin Bruell summarized the symbolism when he wrote in 1964, “‘To kill a mockingbird’ is to kill that which is innocent and harmless—like Tom Robinson.” Scholars have noted that Lee often returns to the mockingbird theme when trying to make a moral point.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird#Loss_of_innocence

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-kornbluth/maybe-you-should-re-read_b_7779356.html

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lowering-the-flag-of-divisiveness/2015/07/10/e519f21a-2740-11e5-aae2-6c4f59b050aa_story.html

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Friday’s ceremony in Columbia was brief, dignified and profoundly moving for the many gathered, as well as those watching from afar. Gov. Nikki Haley (R), surrounded by fellow officials and lawmakers, looked resplendent in a white suit that was reminiscent of a white flag offered in surrender and in peace. I don’t mean the South’s surrender to the North, or of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to the NAACP, which has fought for the lowering of the flag in South Carolina for more than 20 years.

It was the surrender of injured pride to the cause of the greater good. It was the sublimation of “I” for the liberation of “we.”

South Carolina’s better angels were tapped by the departing souls of nine people gunned down while praying in the historic Mother Emanuel church not far from where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. Only silence can capture the totality of so much suffering, forgiveness, surrender, reconciliation and grace.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/flag-debate-rages-readers-responses

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I resolved the struggle when I realized that innocence of motive (mine) combined with understandable naivete (again, mine) is and was and insufficient argument for doing nothing. Let alone the folks protesting their own innocence (“€œBut: it’€™s about heritage!”) or still insisting The Civil War was wholly the North’s fault and had nothing to do with slavery or it’€™s tantrum progeny, racism.

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I had struggled through a contradiction within myself.

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The disease that spawned The Holocaust is not a German disease. It’s a human disease. The only citation Hitler’€™s Germany deserves is one of scale. But the “DNA” of the problem courses through the blood stream of every human being, including this columnist. Its name is human evil. And it’s always here, always waiting for the conditions allowing it to incubate. Individually or collectively. On scales small and large.

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One reader sobered me. Broke my heart. Because I think he represents a critical mass of America today.

“€œDialogue is useless. Waste of time. No one is gonna change anyone’s mind. We are in a culture war. In a war one side will win. You have no clue.”

About that, Good Reader, we disagree. Dialogue is a beautiful thing. Powerful. Even profound. By definition, its participants come to the table open to the possibility of change. Even excited about the possibility. Learning, changing and growing is the only reason to be in a dialogue.

It is not dialogue that is useless. Rather, it’€™s a culture no longer courageous enough to enter in to dialogue. It’€™s easier to dichotomize and vilify.

To decide that I have no clue (when the option is imperative — to uplift the forsaken).

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http://www.vulture.com/2015/07/jon-stewart-told-wyatt-cenac-to-fck-off.html

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This happened back in the summer of 2011, when Stewart was roundly pillorying the 2012 presidential hopefuls, including one Herman Cain. He made fun of Cain by doing a “voice.” At the time Cenac was on a field assignment, and watched the bit from home. “I don’t think this is from a malicious place, but I think this is from a naïve, ignorant place,” he remembered thinking. “Oh no, you just did this and you didn’t think about it. It was just the voice that came into your head. And so it bugged me.” Stewart had been getting flak from Fox News for the voice, and he wanted to do something to respond — an Avenue Q–style “Everything I do is racist” segment. (They did change the frame to one making fun of Stewart.)

Cenac, who was the only black writer there at the time, voiced his concerns during the writer’s meeting. “I’ve got to be honest, and I just spoke from my place,” said Cenac. “I wasn’t here when it all happened. I was in a hotel. And I cringed a little bit. It bothered me.” He wanted them to drop the bit and said that it reminded him of Kingfish, a character Tim Moore played on Amos ‘n’ Andy. He remembers:

[Stewart] got incredibly defensive. I remember he was like, What are you trying to say? There’s a tone in your voice. I was like, “There’s no tone. It bothered me. It sounded like Kingfish.” And then he got upset. And he stood up and he was just like, “Fuck off. I’m done with you.” And he just started screaming that to me. And he screamed it a few times. “Fuck off! I’m done with you.” And he stormed out. And I didn’t know if I had been fired.

The fight carried on at Stewart’s office and was only stopped when one of the office dogs began pawing at them. (Aww.) Eventually, the show had to go on, and Cenac remembers going outside to a baseball field and having a breakdown. “I was shaking, and I just sat there by myself on the bleachers and fucking cried. And it’s a sad thing. That’s how I feel. That’s how I feel in this job. I feel alone,” he said.

The entire conversation is well worth listening to. Cenac is characteristically thoughtful about how racial dynamics manifest themselves in creative spaces like The Daily Show, and how it places people of color in a bind where they have to “represent”:

Something like this, I represent my community, I represent my people, and I try to represent them the best that I can. I gotta be honest if something seems questionable, because if not, then I don’t want to be in a position where I am being untrue not just to myself but to my culture, because that’s exploitative. I’m just allowing something to continue if I’m just going to go along with it. And sadly, I think that’s the burden a lot of people have to have when you are “the one.” You represent something bigger than yourself whether you want to or not.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/time-the-naive-wake-symbolism-confederate-flag

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When I began to digest the news of nine murders at a historic black church in South Carolina, I confess it was at first hard for me to take Dylann Roof seriously as a white supremacist, any more than I took Mark David Chapman seriously as a Christian when he murdered John Lennon for saying “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus.”€ That is, Chapman could have just as easily murdered James Taylor, whom he’€™d accosted the day before Lennon‘€™s murder at a subway station.

Roof, for me, was just another mortally damaged, soulless, sociopathic punk whose sickness is wont to fixate and react to anything and nothing. A church. A school. A mall. An ethnic group. A leaf blowing across the yard.

I‘€™m saying that crazy is disturbingly random stuff. I‘€™m reluctant to give it too much credit for ideological calculation.

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Then, when we as a nation turned our heart-wrenching horror and grief toward the Confederate flag, I shifted into my clinical training in bereavement. “Here we go,” I thought. Because desperately sad, frightened people often turn their collective grief, fear and guilt to some symbolic action they see as redemptive. Sometimes this action is well-reasoned and meaningful. Sometimes it‘s just reactive and a bit willy-nilly.

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The controversy challenged me. It made me examine and re-examine. It made me wonder –€” again –€” what part of my worldview reflects wisdom, truth and goodness — and what part is naivete and/or historical ignorance.

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The more I read, the harder it became to distinguish between the Confederate flag as standing for regional pride or injured pride, the latter being a real problem.

Yeah. Let‘€™s take it down. While surely some Southerners have flown that flag as innocently as a 10-year-old drawing swastikas, the time for stubborn innocence and willful naivete is just as surely over.

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Right hearts, minds, and actions in sequential order

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New Testament external prompts correlate with the convergence of the human and holy spirit and the sacred items in the Ark of the Covenant

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christian-piatt/following-jesus-isnt-prim_b_6740148.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Right thought or belief is generally called “orthodoxy,” [New Testament prompt of sipping wine-conscience/Old Testament Aaron’s Rod]

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while right action is called “orthopraxy.”  [New Testament prompt of breaking bread-fellowship/Old Testament manna]

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And sometimes we seem to assume that these are the only things to focus on, or even that one is somehow superior to the other.

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In studying the teachings and words of Jesus, however, I’m coming to embrace the sense that “orthopathy,” or right-heartedness [New Testament prompt of Lord’s table-intuition/Old Testament Torah Scroll], is a critical third leg [actually the first leg] of the proverbial stool.   This right-heartedness actually helps lead us to the path we’re seeking for the other two.

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Consider the Greatest Commandment, which Jesus claims is foundational to all other laws and commandments. He’s not saying that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant or that the 600-plus Jewish laws should be cast aside. Far from it, in fact. By focusing on loving God with all we are, loving all our neighbors (“all” really does mean all) and even loving ourselves in kind, everything else falls into its proper place.

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He doesn’t say that the Greatest Commandment is to claim a certain set of beliefs, get baptized or go to a certain church.

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He doesn’t say that the virtues of action to which we are called in the Beatitudes are paramount.

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But at the same time, he’s not diminishing or undermining these.

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Rather, he’s helping bring them into greater fullness (perfection) by focusing first and foremost on loving. Not just love as a claim or feeling but as a verb, a worldview, a lens through which we understand all of creation. When we are driven by such all-encompassing, consuming, perfect and sacrificial love [New Testament prompt of living water-convergence of the human & holy spirit/Old Testament Tablets of Stone], the beliefs and actions fall into place.

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In this way, the teachings of Jesus dovetail elegantly with the teachings of the Buddha:

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Right hearts lead to right minds, and right minds lead to right actions.

 

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Perhaps we focus on orthodoxy and orthopraxy more because, in many ways, they’re easier to measure. Also important is that they are easier to wield over others, in assessing whether or not they are worthy of salvation, inclusion, or (fill in the blank). But the act of living into perfect love is terrifying, partly because it is perpetually unfinished business.

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Also, it is radically subversive, because the rule of love (rather than the rule of law) cannot be used to consolidate and exert power over one another. 

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Whereas our application of the old laws — or orthodoxy or orthopraxy — can be used to control or conform,

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love inherently releases and liberates.

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And in the best ways possible, it subverts the very systems of power we have built to contain, control and even marginalize those without power and privilege.

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I know that for some this is a significant shift in understanding what is at the heart of following Jesus. It is shockingly simple but never, ever easy. It is accessible by all yet controlled by none.

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It is the way, the truth, the life. And it is so much bigger than any church, denomination or religion. To me, that is good news; that is gospel.

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Hope (as in salvation/inner joy-peace) beyond suffering is what moves us to suffer for the good of others.

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The spirit of fear (self-conscripted insecurity/ego defensiveness)(smallness ergo self-inflated importance to mask our insecurity) is selfishness, whereas as examples the fear (respect) of God & the Wrath of God have selfless-altruist outcomes.

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Which is why deepest thinker/soulful pilgrim Steven Kalas intones that authentic Christianity/Christian mysticism are incompatible with today’s “hip” New Age outcomes of narcissism/me-me-me mentality.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/new-age-spirituality-aka-integralevolutionarytransformational-not-to-be-confused-with-christianitys-i-am-exodus-314/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism#Biblical_influences

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism#Modern_era

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age#Late_20th_century

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Do you know that theologian Martin Luther’s tabletalk (intimate heartfelt dialogues with others) helped inspire Luther’s deep comprehension of Scripture (selfless sacrifice for the good of others)?

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/tabletalk.html

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And that mysterious and mystical exemplar Christ’s tabletalk with diverse/divergent ones from atheists to believers — inspire our deepest connection with compassion for others??

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Platonism (the mystical) was considered authoritative in the Middle Ages, and many Platonic notions are now permanent elements of Christianity. Platonism also influenced both Eastern and Western mysticism.

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While Aristotle became more influential than Plato in the 13th century via Aquinas, St. Thomas Aquinas‘ philosophy was still in certain respects fundamentally Platonic (mystical).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonism#Christianity_and_Platonism

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Aquinas placed more emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of Aristotle’s metaphysical and epistemological writing.

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This was a significant departure from the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking (the mystical) that had dominated much of early scholasticism (early church fathers).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism#High_Scholasticism

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/augustinian-mystic-martin-luther-aquinas-cognition-john-calvin-and-yet-bertrand-russell-apostle-john-are-augustinian-plato-logos-analytical-acolytes-huli-au-upside-down/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/augustine-acolyte-original-sin-john-wycliffe-1320-1384-was-the-impetus-to-luthers-protestant-reformation-a-century-later-for-this-reason-wycliffe-is-called-the-morning-star-of-the-reformatio/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/in-praise-of-pastors-calisto-violet-mateo-of-our-god-reigns-ministry-at-1289-kilauea-ave-hilo-suite-h-phone-808-961-6540/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/ouvre-nearly-half-a-century-of-deepest-passion-i-can-see-it-in-your-eyes-that-you-despise-the-same-old-lines-you-heard-the-night-before-and-though-its-just-a-line-to-you-for-me-its-true-a/

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlgregg/2014/03/the-life-tradition-versus-the-death-tradition-in-christianity/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/it-hurts-to-be-treated-as-a-means-to-an-end-the-hurt-is-a-sign-of-our-health-our-self-respect-not-a-sign-that-anything-about-us-needs-to-be-fixed-from-sage-steven-kalas/

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An overprideful person “swallows one’s own stomach.” Such nature entails endless self-aggrandizement and vanity, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels authenticity/truth.

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It is true, the strength behind the leader is the person who mystifies me, the so-called unspoken one, like baby brother Andrew was to Peter [Bible].

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God has no use for pride, such that the meekest of the meek went on to lead, like Moses/Gideon.

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Look at King David. Lowly Nathan chastened shell-shocked David. Look at Joshua/etc. All unheralded/unsung heroes. Tremendous symbolism of “never judge a book by its cover.”

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grace-jisun-kim/jesus-and-the-cross-rejec_b_5143162.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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No one likes rejection.

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Jesus knew rejection through his life. The people of Nazareth, his own hometown, rejected him (Luke 4:26-30). Still others wondered about him because of that hometown. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked (John 1:46). People rejected much of his teaching. Many questioned the origin of his teachings and do not accept him as he was born poor, the son of Joseph the carpenter. In Matthew 21:42, Jesus talks about the stone the builders rejected. The story is a revelation about Jesus, himself.

The Gospels say that Jesus travelled a lot and suggest he entered villages where he found no place to rest. Luke’s Gospel tells of one time Jesus was not welcomed in a Samaritan village (Luke 9:51-53). Jesus’ comment on the experience could imply this happened frequently (Luke 9:58).

Remember the last few hours of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion. Many people and groups rejected Jesus, including those closest to him. Judas betrayed Jesus and identified him in the Garden of Gethsemane for those who came to arrest him. The disciples all ran away in fear when Jesus was arrested. Peter, who said that he would never desert Jesus, ended up denying Jesus three times (John 18:15-27). The high priest, the chief priests, the elders and scribes rejected Jesus and wanted him put to death.

The religious leaders took Jesus to Pilate for a trial. Pilate did not want any trouble and since it was the governor’s custom to release one prisoner during Passover, he asked the crowd, “Which do you want me to release, Barabbas or Jesus?” (Matthew 27:17). The crowds chose Barabbas and rejected Jesus, leaving him to be crucified.

At the final moment of his life, Jesus felt the ultimate rejection. On the cross at the ninth hour Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45). Jesus knows and understands rejection. Jesus exemplified rejection.

Tremendous pain comes with rejection. The experience can feel like one has been thrown into a spiraling emotional and spiritual black hole and lead one to wonder if there is hope of return to a normal life.

Rejection fills life.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/knowing-when-dream-when-let-dreams-go

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Not every dream comes true.

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Sometimes because our dreams overreach the miserable human condition (ideals of great love).

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Sometimes our dreams overreach immutable realities (my body simply wasn’t designed to fly like a bird).

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The good life, then, requires us to tightrope this paradox: We must never stop dreaming … yet also we must learn to say goodbye to some dreams.

If we stop dreaming, our lives become one-dimensional, static, not fully alive. If we don’t know how and when to say goodbye to a dream, we get stuck in embittered, nostalgic quicksand.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/limits-vs-limitless-freedom-choice-life

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James Kavanaugh publishes “Celebrate the Sun: A Love Story.” In it we meet protagonist Harry Langendorf Pelican. Like his seagull compatriot, Harry rejects the ordinary life of a pelican and reaches outward for his own potential. Like Jonathan, Harry falls into disfavor from family and friends. He considers his willingness to suffer the disfavor as a measure of his depth, commitment and bravery.

Then Harry’s mother dies. And Harry is confronted with limits. No amount of affirming our life’s potential or hurling ourselves boldly in that potential changes the fact that there is, in the end, no such thing as limitless freedom.

The most joyous human freedoms emerge, paradoxically, from surrender to limits.

Kavanaugh’s book critiques Bach’s book. And I knew I must choose. And I did, finally, choose. I decided. I know it sounds like a riddle, but I decided there is ever-so-much more potential for freedom in limits. I began to see the idea of limitlessness as … limiting.

Bach says, “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self — here and now. And nothing can stand in your way.”

I concluded, “Oh, actually tons of things can stand in your way. That’s the wonder and joy of it: the journey of finding authentic selfhood when so many things are standing in the way.”

Bach says, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, they never were.”

I concluded, “If you love someone, choose them with your whole heart! Never stop having high expectations of him/her, or of yourself!”

Bach says, “If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.”

I concluded, “Yes, many limitations are in fact self-imposed. Rethink those, for sure. But other limitations are immutable. We’re mortal. We age, weaken and die. We suffer. We grieve. We cannot will our own goodness. We cannot, no matter what we achieve, ever be wiser or stronger than The Mystery. Life will continue to happen, independent of our striving to be the sole author of our fate.”

Humility is the doorway to all the greatest treasures of the human experience.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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I write to live authentically — “having been” is the surest kind of being, per great sage Viktor Frankl

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Usually, to be sure, man considers only the stubble field of transitoriness [the “now”]

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and

overlooks

the full granaries of the past [reflective lookback] –

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wherein he had salvaged once and for all his deeds, his joys

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and also his sufferings.

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Nothing can be undone, and nothing can be done away with.

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[for example, I dream of being loved & wanted in the most beautiful way, & even if this dream is not reality, such thought/”unction” comprises my strength & “positive/right” attitude, even in the starkest moment of despair/seemingly hopeless predicament/state of nonexistence-nonbeing closest to death itself, having been forsaken all the way around –

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which is why Jewish Viktor Frankl’s dream amid the Holocaust even when facing down the death chamber/firing squad was “the angels are in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” Ohh, so true!!]

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I should say ”having been” is the surest kind of being.

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl?page=2

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‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved –

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but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ “

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From “Logotherapy in a Nutshell”, an essay” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

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The reality of life is the luck or unluck of the draw [a crapshoot] —

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“fair” & “unfair” are nonexistent in life’s vocabulary —

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life “just is.”

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Thence, how I deal with setbacks is the key to existence, not the external factual triggers [to despair/hopelessness of predicament].

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/this-ancient-blueprint-fo_n_5312209.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

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Find your ‘inner citadel.’

Marcus Aurelius, who faced a fair share of hardship and warfare in his life, and is thought to have written the Meditations from a tent in a Roman battle camp.

The Roman statesman wrote that in dire situations, man must have an “inner citadel” to which he can retreat. Living from this inner place of peace and equanimity — a place which no person or external event can penetrate — gives a man the freedom to shape his life by responding to events from a rational, calm headspace.

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We can choose to exercise power over our thoughts and attitudes in even the most dire of situations — Roman philosopher Cicero uses the example of torture to illustrate a man’s power to choose our own thoughts, which he says can never be taken away from him. In his Discussions at Tusculum, Cicero explains that when a man has been stripped of his dignity, he has not also been stripped of his potential for happiness.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/54285947.html

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In this gaping hole of despair & hopelessness of one’s predicament is a crushing emptiness and an aloneness that can make you lose your mind and a sadness that can make your heart question the wisdom and the relevance of continuing to beat — a sadness no person thinks one can bear alone.

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On some days, very much to wish it would stop beating.

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To die of unrequited love. Van Gogh didn’t shoot himself in the head. He shot himself in the heart. He saw reality so deeply and clearly, yet could not ultimately disconnect his heart [“be not of this world” — self-respect despite this indifferent and tragic sentient life] from this reality or the other people in it.

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Van Gogh died because, in the end, he could not differentiate himself [self-respect] from the Collective Unconscious [our indifferent & tragic lack of empathy/compassion in our broken/flawed sentient nature] into which he was compelled to wander.

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My own epiphany, but I always was a wanderlust, dreaming of beautiful landscapes and never-seen places. Last night I dreamed that my long ago deceased uncle from Kona [symbolizes the love which my ohana/kazuko progeny Minnie/Donna still have for me] showed me a breathtaking vista of a mountainscape ahead of us as we gazed from the seashore toward the distant horizon. This “awesome dream come true” despite my 3 other Hilo family members having ignored me yesterday at McDonald’s in Hilo. I could’ve unconsciously nightmared over forsaken-ness, but such did not manifest. Wow!

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/sharing-grief-puts-a-healing-distance-between-us-and-the-pain-this-is-why-storytelling-matters/

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sharing grief puts a healing distance between us and the pain — this is why storytelling matters

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Share the suffering. The opportunity to tell the story of our suffering to a compassionate and skillful listener is helpful beyond measure. Simply in the telling and retelling, we begin to shift perspective, to put a healing distance between us and the pain.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/10174701.html

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Great journeys in emotional maturity are walked alone

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When another man’s life forces you to behold your own smallness, all you have to do is retro-narrate pathologized stories about him. Just like that, your world is a safer, happier place.

Your friends who are simply gone? You force me to behold, J.K., something I hate to think about:

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All great journeys in emotional maturity are ultimately walked alone.

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The archetypal picture here is probably Jesus, whose friends agreed to accompany him into the garden of Gethsemane that night to pray. Jesus is scared. Anxious. Asking God if there isn’t some other way. He looks to his friends for support and encouragement.

And they are sound asleep. And Jesus asks a rhetorical question into the silent night air: “Will no one stay awake with me?”

As a matter of fact, no. Tonight Jesus will suffer, and he will suffer alone.

How to maintain some sense of respect and optimism for humanity? I can only tell you what I do.

When I’m feeling low, when I’ve lost track of why I keep putting one foot in front of the other, when I am sick and tired of paying the price for living out values about which no one else appears to have much if any investment, when I can no longer argue with Protestant theologian John Calvin who used the word “depraved” to describe the essential nature of human beings …

… well, J.K., that’s when I think of people like you [who suffers alone in ennobled integrated fashion to care for his incapacitated wife].

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/9380491.html

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Mystery surrounds deep connections we make with others [making friends with “Alone”]

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An old friend writes from far away. Oh, not that old. She’s 48. I mean we’ve been friends a long, long time.

There’s this bond between us. A connection. I felt it the first time we spoke, which is funny because the first thing she ever communicated to me was disdain. I was 23, so I reached into my repertoire for managing repartee with beautiful women and selected “boyish cockiness” for my retort.

When you’re 23 and male, boyish cockiness is pretty much the extent of your repertoire.

But that was it for us — bonded. A connection that has survived time together, protracted times apart, even years of no communication whatsoever. The friendship has survived love affairs — not with each other — marriages and becoming parents. We’ve been drunk together. And sober. It occurs to me that I’ve never seen her cry.

She was 20 when I met her. Once, on a whim, she sent me a picture of herself at age 5. I smiled. Somewhere inside myself I knew her then, too. Recognized her. In some alternative past, she and I played together in a sandbox (until she made me cry because she was so bossy). Like the bond between us contains secret passages that defy time and space.

She writes to me: “I get you, Steven Kalas.”

Her words strike me like thunder. Truly awestruck, like the way you fall into a spectacular sunset, or the way you stop breathing when you’re standing in a barn at 2 a.m. watching the birth of a calf. I’m focused in a point of time, staring at my monitor. It’s like she’s right here. Right now. I have a friend who gets me. She sees me. I jumble a few words and she says, “Oh yeah.” She not only understands, but understands why and how things matter to me.

Amen.

Then I have this other friend. Or did. Or thought I did. Could’ve sworn we were friends. Soul mates. Years we were friends. Across passion and victory and folly and failure. Across celebration and loss. This friend knows me. And doesn’t know me at all.

We’re not connected anymore.

And I know as much about why we’re no longer connected as I do why I’m still connected to the other friend. Which is to say I don’t know anything at all. And I’ve been railing against the disconnection, like, if I protest loudly and long enough, my erstwhile friend will snap out of it and be connected to me again.

I’ve decided to stop railing. Sad, yes. Probably sad forever. But pounding on it serves all the purpose of pounding on a grave. Why would I look for the living among the dead?

See, both connections and disconnections deserve the same responses. Awe. Respect for the mystery. Even I, a man who believes his gifts and his calling to be teaching people how to be in relationship — well, I can’t tell you much of anything about why some connections happen and some connections don’t happen and still others disintegrate.

The most terrible thing my therapist ever said to me was also the most important: “Steven, we’re alone. No one has anyone.”

Yikes-oi. (Sorry. This sort of thing happens when a GoyBoy tries to express himself forcefully in Yiddish.)

I hated what she said. Railed against it. Argued with it. She had thrown existential sand into the gas tank of my fine-tuned DeLorean of delusion. And my pricey car would go not one mile farther.

My therapist was right. And, as with every other time when she is right, it’s time for me to grow up. We’re alone. No one has anyone.

Strangely, this new truth, while initially a scalpel slashed across my chest without anesthetic, did not burden and depress me for long. Surrender to separateness and aloneness quickly began to create a new space in me. A space for … for …

… relief. A kind of peace. And, most precious, gratitude and humility. Relationship is a grace. A kind of miracle. Human communion emerges as a gift. An unmerited joy. Yes, there are ways of living more conducive to forging and maintaining lasting relationships than other ways of living. I’m not saying there’s nothing we can do. Just that, in the end, I no longer think I have earned or deserved the people who stand in the inner circle of my life.

I just give thanks.

We’re alone. No one has anyone.

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Human beings cannot be possessed. They cannot be apprehended. They can only be respected and enjoyed. Or respected and bid farewell. Relationship is mystery.

Who really sees you? Who gets you? If you need more than one hand to count those people, you are rich beyond your dreams.

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Individualism as ego overpride is not the solitary reflection of an authentic life –

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/steven-kalas-we-are-individuals-in-consequential-relationships-162688016.html
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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/idyllic-imperatives-in-this-tragic-and-indifferent-life/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/appropriate-self-respect-can-lift-all-areas-of-life-118320899.html

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A warning: there’s a downside, a real tricky balance in the work of self-respect. I have learned to nurture a healthy suspicion when I become too strident, too righteous about that value.

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There’s a line between self-respect and self-important/arrogant pride.

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It’s a fine line. Easy to cross. Way too easy for me, anyway. And I cross it at my own peril.

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When the human ego conscripts the language, the work and the mantle of self-respect, you start to feel really good and right about discarding people from your life.

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And then you can know that you were right, because you don’t have any friends at all.

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Self-respect and self-importance — not the same at all. But they can feel the same.

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Why can’t I be like you or in sync with you? Because then there would be no need for a me, just you and you alone.

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You can become your  own refutation. When overpride/vanity/jealousy are your Stygian Triplets, you know you’ve passed into some parallel universe.

This is what fear masked as supreme confidence with emotional manipulation looks like in print.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Missing is the “Grace to You” part.

There is no crisis, folks. Really. There isn’t. Only the one you continue to fuel.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/02/heres-something-new-genesis-is-in-crisis-and-if-you-dont-see-that-youre-syncretistic/#ixzz3SzNTPDXE

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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And, for those kinds of sufferings/losses that can never be entirely healed, to bear it. To find meaning in it. To turn that suffering into some transformative work in the world.

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And the truth is this: The human journey includes suffering. No one comes to ask for help who isn’t suffering.

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But, here’s another truth: In any given time in your life, the number of people who actually, really, honestly want and

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are willing to grant you an engaged and healing audience for your suffering/loss is …

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small!! Or nonexistent!!

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Even people who sincerely love and adore you might find themselves ambivalent about really engaging and listening to the part of you that suffers. See, the people around us have egos, too. Their egos mobilize to protect them just like your ego does. “Cheer up … get over it … God has a plan … everybody is doing the best he or she can … don’t cry” — the felt motive for these messages is to help you.

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But each of these messages also contains the anxiety of the messenger:

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Please stop bothering and disturbing me by suffering.

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And that’s what most modern people do. They try to stop suffering. They “get over it.” They build layer upon layer of pretense and persona over their wounds, because it’s, well, the sociable thing to do. Most of us, then, suffer unconsciously. Because that’s the way we’ve been taught to suffer.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/9146411.html

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Lots of people don’t want to be present to sadness — their own or anyone else’s.

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Other people would like to be present to their bereaved friends and family, but don’t know how.

We live in a culture where grief is treated as a disease to be “cured,” or a weakness cursed of shame or self-loathing.

Contrarily, grief is the holiest of human journeys.

One of my favorite Friedrich Nietzsche quotes is, “Everything holy requires a veil.” Now, modern Americans might think he means that we should keep things covered up because those things are shameful. Nope. He means that some things are so beautiful, so huge, so powerful, so naked, so intimate, that to gaze casually upon them would be injurious to their meaning and value. Injurious ultimately to us.

Grief is such a thing.

I concur with your observation that people around us are largely inept at befriending us in grief. Yet I also encourage people like you to remember to veil (protect and value) their grief. Keep the circle of confidants small. Pick two and no more than five people who will hear the depths of your pain.

There are two ways to read your question at the end. Literally you ask how you might numb the heartache. But I’m guessing you aren’t being literal. In fact, it’s not a question at all, is it? It reads more like an indignation. Like, how dare anyone ask you to numb the heartache! How dare the medical community suggest drugging your bereavement!

See, J.R., you know how precious your sadness is. A breathless, crushing burden, yes. But precious.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/alienation-i-dont-belong-and-estrangement-getting-dumped-because-i-dont-belong/

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alienation [I don’t belong] and estrangement [getting dumped because I don’t belong]

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Alienation & estrangement – the results of Loss [e.g. getting dumped] by your beloved [lifemate/soulmate]

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/_Retirement_leaves_time_for_pondering_self_relationships.html

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Question: What do all people seeking release from personal despair have in common?

Answer: They are suffering some combination of alienation and estrangement.

Alienation means a crisis of belonging. We are alien. We don’t belong.

Estrangement means the painful disruption of the bonds of relationship. Interpersonal injuries and injustices. To become estranged is to become a stranger to the one we love and by whom we are loved.

I’m saying your use of the word “misfit” sounds like a crisis of alienation and estrangement.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/western-religion-breeding-ground-neurosis

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When it comes to the question of the usefulness of guilt in shaping and inspiring a thriving human identity, I would say Western religion is, at once, beautiful, nutty and (potentially) pathological. Healthy religion knows these dangers. And psychologically healthy pilgrims embrace what is beautiful while keeping a keen watch on what is nutty or pathological.

Guilt is beautiful, holy, vital and important when it is healthy guilt. And healthy guilt is nothing more or less than the name of the grief we feel when we abandon our own values.

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The grief of alienation and estrangement.

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Healthy guilt, however miserable it feels, contains within itself a holy longing for reconciliation. (One prayer during the rosary, for example, is asking God to “give me a contrite heart.” Meaning, “Please give me the courage to let my heart break over the ways I have hurt others, etc.”) Catholicism — its rites, rituals and symbols — bears much beauty into the world to facilitate the blessings of healthy guilt, healthy shame.

The nutty or potentially pathological side of guilt happens when people, families or institutions (especially the church) peddle guilt to us with darker, perhaps unconscious motives. If you, for example, are threatened by another’s genius, gifts and “light” (envy!), then one way to dodge the threat is to instill in that person a grave, crippling self-doubt. An anxious, paralyzing self-consciousness forcing a default posture of apology to the world for daring to be him/herself.

Or, people/institutions instill guilt because they are projecting sadism. That is, they are reveling in the humiliation of sinners. Yes, some of our accusers are having a grand time!

Control, humiliation, hierarchy, authority, power — when discussions of guilt bear these darker motives, run away quick!

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Brené Brown studies fear, shame, and vulnerability

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In Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, she writes about collecting huge amounts of data about how human lives are shaped by the “struggle with shame and the fear of not being enough” as well as “the power of embracing imperfection and vulnerability.” She then began analyzing the data for common characteristics of people who were resilient in the face of adversity and who were living wholehearted life: “living and loving with their whole hearts.” Emerging out of that huge data set were some clear patterns:

The Do column was brimming with words like worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude, and creativity. The Don’t column was dripping with words like perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity. (x)

Now, I don’t know what your reaction is to that “Do” and “Don’t” list. But Brown confesses that her initial reaction was horror. She says, “I thought I’d find that Wholehearted people were just like me…: working hard, following the rules, doing it until I got it right, always trying to know myself better, raising my kids exactly by the books…” (xi). But Brown was horrified by the revelation that as a successful professional, she had been formed and rewarded for living almost exclusively by the list of how not to live a wholehearted life, by the list of how to increase the likelihood of reaching the end of your life with many regrets: “perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity.” So, she packed up her research and hid it under her bed for a year-and-a-half (xii)!

When you pause and take a step back, you can often see that daily life is a constant reminder of our imperfections and limitations. We are constantly being invited to “let go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we are,” but often we’re like Brown and shove those invitations under the rug as quickly as possible. In Brown’s words, “The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button” (xiii).

The UU First Principle affirms, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.” But often it can be easier for many of us to fight for the rights and recognition of a marginalized group than to fully embrace the inherent worth and dignity of all those hidden parts of our own self: all those imperfect parts that we hope we are hiding from others. As the old saying goes, “Too often we compare our insides to others’ outsides, and we feel inadequate.”

Brown writes, “The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute.”

Not I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds, if I can get pregnant, or stay sober. Not I’ll be worthy if everyone thinks I’m a good parent, when I can make a living selling my art, if I can hold my marriage together, when I make partner, when my parents finally approve, if he [or she] calls back…, or when I can do it all and look like I’m not even trying. (24)

On the other side of a lot a research and some important work in therapy during that year-and-a-half in which she had hidden her research under the bed, Brown says that she’s come to be “a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist.” That doesn’t mean that we should stop pursuing excellence. But when you embrace your inherent worth and dignity, then your motivation changes in a vital way. Brown puts it this way, “Healthy striving is self-focused — How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused — What will they think? (56). The middle way is perhaps neither the narcissism of exclusive self-interest nor the self-deprecation of acting only for others, but instead knowing your limits and seeking the next best step for both yourself and others.

Leonard Cohen, in the chorus of his song “Anthem,” says that all any of us can ultimately do is “Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in.”

Where are the cracks and imperfections in your life?

How might those places of seeming weakness paradoxically be the most powerful invitations you will ever have in this life to “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are,” to let go of our culture’s addiction to certainty and the myth of permanent satisfaction — and instead to savor and celebrate the gifts of the life that already have: right here and now.

I will conclude by offering you this blessing from one of my favorite liturgists Jan Richardson. In this life, we all have our different struggles, gifts, and graces:

May you have the vision to recognize the door that is yours,

the Courage to open it,

and the wisdom to walk through. (47)

May it be so, and blessed be.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bad_Sleep_Well

 

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/jesus-death-becomes-even-more-powerful-when-this-particular-messiah-also-carries-your-personal-projections-that-is-the-celebritys-life-mirrors-important-pieces-of-your-own-psychic-journey-your/

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Jesus’ death becomes even more powerful when this particular messiah also carries your personal projections. That is, the celebrity’s life mirrors important pieces of your own psychic journey. Your own life dramas. Jesus did this for me with his transparency. His naive nakedness. He was the first “icon” to recognize egotistic “discernment” as insanity, to rightly despise it, and to distance himself from it. Unlike Jesus, celebrities of the flesh like John Lennon, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, & Judy Garland couldn’t stop seeking it. If one says that a weeping fan’s grief is “unrealistic (and therefore annoying) at a time when so many are struggling with foreclosures, debt, disappearing jobs and other miseries,” I would say quite the opposite — that the sting of this grief is made more acute during these hard times, because we will miss the beauty, the passion, the inspiration and hope that pour through these artists and into our lives especially during times of social misery. Celebrities, and especially artists, provide us a deep mirror into the celebration of being human. Some celebrities become iconic. That is, the mirror they wield reaches into the collective human experience of a culture and sometimes across cultures (such as Waikiki’s Bruno Mars). And the death of an icon is felt painfully and powerfully in a human psyche. The loss is real and meaningful. And so is the grief. John Lennon was a celebrity. In Latin literally “the one who helps us celebrate.” And did he ever help us celebrate. And the price he paid was the burden of fame, fame in Latin meaning “rumor/gossip.” Celebrity is a calling. Fame is simply nuts. In the end fame killed him. If anybody needs forgiveness here, it’s us. Just as fame killed Lennon, we killed Jesus (mob hysteria after Jesus cleansed the temple of the mammon money changers). For then are when we need our leaders most.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/celebrities-can-lift-us-and-let-us-down

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Celebrity  lifts us  into the collective inspiration of the human race. The gift is ultimately found in the collective — not the individual.

While celebrities gather us to remember how utterly cool it is to be a human being, fame gathers us to affirm how utterly and uniquely cool is one particular human being. And, invariably, no mortal is utterly and uniquely cool.

In psychology, we would say that celebrity invites projection. That is, we tend to be attached to celebrities in ways that can be fun, useful, very emotional, even meaningful, but are nonetheless irrational, because our attachment says everything about us and virtually nothing about the actual mortal we’re adoring.

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Fame is a lonely and isolated business. And deadly. Fame killed Kurt Cobain. It killed Jimi Hendrix. Judy Garland. Speaking of Marilyn Monroe, Robert Bly wrote, “No one can survive the weight of 100 million projections. Marilyn did not survive.”

But, if not deadly, then fame is one seductive, bewitching place to be, inviting illusion and delusions of power and entitlement. Fame virtually begs its owner to forge two identities — one public, and one hidden.

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But never have I been confronted so powerfully about the naivete and power of my hero-projections until this week. Until a judge decided to unseal a 2005 court record revealing Bill Cosby’s confession that, yes, he acquired prescription Quaaludes with the intention of giving them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

See, I was desperately holding out.

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And now, this. My mind rages against truth.

Losing a battle with temptation in a moment of human weakness is one thing. Being a lousy husband is another. Shameless promiscuity is many things unflattering — a dead end, an emptiness, a recklessness, a compulsion — but it is not evil.

I’m not a guy who bandies about the word “evil.” I save it for very special occasions.

But somnaphilia? This would mean that Bill is (or has been during his lifetime) a seriously unwell human being.

And drugging an unwitting woman so as to sexually exploit her unconscious form is not “a moment of human weakness.” It’s not being a lousy husband. It is not shameless promiscuity.

It’s rape. And rape is evil.

And I’m reeling.

 

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/but-these-reactions-are-not-really-about-batman-theyre-about-us-and-our-relationship-with-narratives-stories-and-mythology-the-primary-way-we-encounter-and-make-sense-of-the-world-is-through-sto/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/shakespeares-great-prodigyera-peer-john-miltons-poem-paradise-lost-is-about-the-fall-of-man-the-temptation-of-adam-and-eve-by-the-fallen-angel-satan-and-their-expulsion-from-the-garden-of-eden/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/to-be-or-not-to-be-real-dear-hamlet-tis-the-question-in-praise-of-grace-mercy-full-of-redemptions-greatest-emotional-therapist-shakespeare-who-incredulously-not-to-christians-whence/

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French-Swiss John Calvin reacted against Martin Luther in more conservative terrains far south of Frankfurt’s latitude. John Calvin was 26 years younger than Martin Luther, and for the most part Calvin was the “yang” to Luther’s “yin,” so to speak.

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Shakespeare actually is a product of Martin Luther’s Reformation, with Grace & Mercy “full of redemption” replete thruout Shakespeare’s Morality Plays.

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Word out, so to speak, Shakespeare plagiarized Scripture thru and thru, Daddy-O! No Scripture, No Shakespeare!

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Remember that just 30 yrs. before Shakespeare was born, Latin to English Bible translator William Tyndale was

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burned at the stake by the Papacy for making the Bible readable

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by the English commoners.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale

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No matter the rather undeserved propping up of Shakespeare on the backs of our Gospel Authors. Kudos to Shakespeare for Shakespeare’s own search for the mystery and the Truth of Jesus!

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Which, by the way, says a lot about shunned predestination pariah John Calvin, who is Shakespeare’s total opposite on salvation.

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Looking at the frayed Calvin proselyting about Man’s venality & depravity amid predecessor reformer Martin Luther’s Reformation in the north latitudes, one easily accepts Calvin’s admonition about the evil of Ego/overpride as our worst affliction/contagion.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-take-away-which-is-a-huge-lesson-to-learn-from-some-contemporary-evangelicals-is-that-calvin-did-not-impose-onto-the-gospels-a-view-of-how-the-bible-ought-to-work-as-gods-word-rather/

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Calvin correctly says that the best Man can hope for is a release from Hell’s Iniquity by choosing Jesus as our Lord & Savior.

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Has anything changed from early Church father Augustine to intellectual Aquinas (Summa Theologica) 800 years after Augustine, to us today 800 years after Aquinas??? 1200 AD Aquinas is equidistant by 800 yrs. after Augustine & 800 yrs. before us today — yet nothing has changed in our depraved nature from 400 AD Augustine to us today, not to mention from Jesus’ crucifixion to Augustine 400 yrs. later.

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No, not in our own mental/intellectual gymnastics/tortuous rationalizations on predestination vs. free will.

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And certainly not in our innate venal toxic nature.

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We are as detestable today as we were when we crucified Jesus in the mob hysteria of those 6 days 2000 years ago.

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Imagine, we sing Hosanna, even the stones shout Hosanna, as Jesus marches into Jerusalem sideway on a donkey’s colt.

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And no later than you can bat an eyelash, we crucify Jesus because

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Jesus cleans out the temple of everything evil about us.

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No, we are no better today than that week when Jesus died for our sins. Like I say, John Calvin has something here, baby!! ;-)

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Augustine and Luther came to Christ thru Romans and Galatians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_the_Romans

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Epistle to the Romans is the 6th Book in the new Testament, and is the longest of the Pauline epistles. It is considered Paul’s most important theological legacy.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles

Salvation is offered thru the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Especially where there are multitudes of sin, there is more Grace — so that the former baleful sinner/wretched man/filthy rag such as Saul nka Paul now missions supernaturally for Jesus’ Word.

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Justification has 2 meanings in Greek: 1) Propitiation which is subjective forgiveness for each sin as if one had never sinned; 2) transformative righteousness which is objective deliverance from continuous sin. Or, as great disciple Watchman Nee suffused, Jesus’ blood on the cross is the subjective mercy of God for our numerous sins (plural), whereas the body of Christ is the overall objective deliverance from continuous sin (singular).

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/in-praise-of-china-christian-capstones-yu-cidu-dora-yu-1873-1931-margaret-emma-barber-1966-1930-their-acolyte-ni-to-sheng-watchman-nee-1903-1972/

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http://orthodoxwiki.org/Justification#Western_v._Eastern_concepts_-_Implications

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Legal/juridical concepts of mercy/propitiation & acquittal/substitutionary atonement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substitutionary_atonement#Ransom_and_Christus_Victor_theory

were clarified by Augustine.

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Anselm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury#Influence

developed these ideas 600 years later,

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and Luther built on the work of Anselm 500 years after Anselm.

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To the early correctly rooted Christian, theology is not something that improves with age—it is something to be internalized, and it can best be understood by journeying as close to the roots of our faith as possible. Reason and logic ergo the Enlightenment cannot guarantee a better understanding of God, his Son or our faith.

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Justification is seen by Protestants as being the theological fault line that divided Catholic from Protestant during the Protestant Reformation – Catholics emphasize works/rituals of righteous deliverance, whereas Protestants emphasize transformative faith, that faith is entirely distinct from works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justification_(theology)

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Protestants emphasize that law/ritualized righteousness is not to make us righteous, but to let us know we’re sinners/to convict us.

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Unlike Catholics, Protestants emphasize that our of-the-flesh sinful nature distorts righteousness by ritualizing works.

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In this sense, Christ has no value to me if I’m delusionally self-righteous (such as by Catholic ritualized works).

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On the other hand, if I’m open and honest about myself, I will fail, which is what Christ’s atoning sacrifice/faith-obedience are all about.

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After all, Romans 8:7 speaks of mankind’s natural/flesh enmity vs. God.

http://biblehub.com/romans/8-7.htm

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Revelation via deliverance from continuous sin gives us a new heart, and we become a new creation.

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Like Paul, both Augustine and Luther made great efforts to refute the notion that our works could serve as the proper basis for justification & eventual sanctification.

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Remarkable that one’s experiences span a century or more, if one is lucky enough to live into old age. My uncle Masaaki 1903-1970 was 50 years older than me. My grandsons Silas & Ashley are 50 years younger than me. Uncle Masaaki is a century older than Silas & Ashley. My life experiences span a century between Uncle Masaaki and my grandsons Silas & Ashley. Gatz! Defy Father Time??

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Of course, one can stretch even longer life’s time span – my grandma [Uncle Masaaki’s & my dad’s mama] Tome was 70 years older than me. I just turned age 62, so my lifeblood youngest progeny is my youngest grandchild, my granddaughter Maya, who is 60 years younger than me. Not equidistant, but 130 years separate my grandma Tome from my granddaughter Maya.

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Actor William Demarest 1892-1983 was 60 years older than me, thus meeting the equidistance measure, with my granddaughter Maya being 60 years younger than me — the total span being 120 years from William Demarest [or my uncle Bill Cappy Chun, also born in Demarest’s time] to my granddaughter Maya. Here is prolific vaudeville/longtime character actor Demarest –

William Demarest Picture

William Demarest(1892–1983)


Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William Demarest was a prolific actor in movies and TV, making more than 140 films. Demarest started his acting career in vaudeville and made his way to Broadway. His most famous role was in My Three Sons, replacing a very sick William Frawley. Demarest was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting role in the real-life biography…See full bio »

Still of Humphrey Bogart and William Demarest in All Through the NightStill of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and William Demarest in All Through the Night
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Of course, last year’s 60th year Diamond Jubilee with majestic Queen Elizabeth had the most amazing aerial displays –
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but let’s also remember lusty [yes, con todo mi alma y corazon] Victoria‘s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 [my grandparents were hormonal teens bent on pioneering East to the Hawaiian islands of silk & honey][Victoria is current Queen Elizabeth’s great great grandmother][our greatest modern Hawaiian statesperson Pi’ehu Iaukea 1855-1940 pilgrimaged to England for this tremendous occasion — Pi’ehu was preceded in great diplomacy & leadership by Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli 1813-1854]

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Thence, my immigrant grandparents’ odyssey East transcended both Victoria’s & current Queen Elizabeth’s reigns – my ojisans/obasans [tutus] experienced both divine queens in all their soulful reigns – 115 years [Victoria in 1897 & Elizabeth’s 2012 jubilee] spanning 3 centuries [1800s to 2000s]!!! Wow!!

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I was 20 when my daughter was born, 40 when my oldest grandchild/mo’opuna kane was born, 50 when my middle grandsons were born [among 5 grandchildren, 3 boys, 2 girls], and nearly 60 when my youngest grandchild/mo’opuna wahine was born.

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My parents whom I worship and miss dearly were 40 years older than me. My mature parents were tutus/grandparents to me in age chronology, & I am blessed by their mature wisdom/magnanimity & composure/equanimity.

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My parents died 18 years ago 4 months apart [coincidence — Mom died of a stroke/Dad died 4 months later from cancer].

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I felt like a grandchild blessed with the most loving & supportive tutus/grandparents in the world, though when I was a barefoot plantation toddler here in Wainaku [Ha’aheo Elem. School atop Kamehameha the Great’s most beautiful pu’u/hilltop] — I felt terribly embarassed that my parents were fuddy-duddy oldsters vs. my village kid peers’ parents, and that my mom worked, so that I never came home to a homemaker mom who had cookies laid out for me on the kitchen table in our old plantation mill camp.

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When my parents died 18 years ago, I suddenly crossed over to be a tutu/grandparent to my burgeoning mo’opuna/grandkids. My grandparents 70 years older than me had died by the time I was old enough to know them.

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I don’t remember being a child [in a most blessed sense], but undeniably I was blessed/gifted [of the spirits? Cor./Romans/Ephesians/Peter/etc.] as a grandchild would be, with my dearest parents who were like grandparents to me in wisdom/countenance.

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Nor do I remember being a parent [my daughter Staycie who is at middle age at 43 — laughingly tells me that I was a lousy party animal parent but above all else — I loved my daughter more than anything/anyone in the whole wide world — and this is the only thing which counted for my daughter, which is/means everything to her & to me!!].

Always my little baby Staycie girl

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But now here I am as a grandparent [by default — ha ha ha — still a party animal], and wow, time flies, baby! !!

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And now I am by default/pied piper via hedonism/elan tutu again to 2 dearest “hanai”/emotional attachment — mo’opuna — Colton age 27 & Jill age 22, grandkids to me in age chronology! I ask Colton how may I be of service to him/Jill, & Colton shoots back, “Don’t! Just be you!” Gatz! Who am I???? [ha ha ;-) ]

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Foggy bottom, baby — is my head — spinning like a top???!! Ha ha! Dig my hero George Harrison’s video – [40 years from age 20 to 60 for me — go by in the blink of an eye!!][Maui resident Harrison died of cancer at age 58 after 9/11 & a year after this You Tube video was produced]

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Yes, I hope to make it to age 80 & still feel like a passionate teenager in love!! Ha ha ha!! Enjoy [the treats below], baby!!!

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Age is a figment of our imagination — our core being is ageless!

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See especially timeclock 4:19 to 5:05 of youtube below about Harrison’s opinion on aging as soulfully deepest youth enjoyed –

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uVnKjv4fK0&feature=related

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/in-praise-of-the-46th-anniversary-of-mccartneys-tune-i-will/

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Music is my whole life, and I dedicate these happy links to my Dad Toshi 1913-1998, who was born to sing & play his ubiquitous Martin ‘ukulele, and who sang & played in the mango tree astride my grandparents’ Wainaku mill camp home as a young boy. Dad’s mom Tome 1881-1954 sang & picked at her samisen Japanese fiddle/string board. Dad got his music from his mom Tome. Dad is a baritone, my baby brother Lloyd & Dad’s youngest sibling Charley & Dad’s 2nd youngest sibling Yukio’s son Don are fine tenors. Dad had gone thru hell as a combat soldier witnessing death all around him — thence Dad appreciated every single day of a new dawn of continued life on this earth. Which is why I’m inspired by Dad’s composure/calm countenance in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds/trials/tribulations. Repugnant manipulation/deceit/overpride/anger/hostility/selfishness — are such ordinary behaviors “of the flesh” – which are why Dad’s serenity and joy of spirit for me are “to behold for alltime sake.” 🙂

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My Mom Teruko “Ruth” (maiden name Hanato of Kona) never sang. I think our musical DNA is from my Dad’s side of the family. My Mom was a good athlete [basketball capt. soph. yr. 1932 Hawai’i Island prep titlist —
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Mom spawned all the Kona Hanato girl hoopsters you see today, incl. female coach Bobbie Hanato Awa & Bobbie’s NCAA1 daughter Dawnyelle, though imperious Bobbie Awa has no clue about Mom’s hoopster genesis behind Awa].  

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Mom’s legacy is Mom’s grandniece Bobbie Hanato Awa’s winningest high school program in the whole State and among the winningest nationally.

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Actually, Mom’s father’s [otosan] & mother’s [okasan] legacy abides in their genesis of what is today’s historically significant Kona’s Honalo Buddhist Jodo Daifukuji church

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Mom’s great-grand niece Dawnyelle –

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http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dawnyelle+awa+videos&qpvt=dawnyelle+awa+videos&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=8D292407068405377FB58D292407068405377FB5

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http://www.hawaiibookblog.com/articles/japanese-buddhist-temples-in-hawaii-an-illustrated-guide-book-review/

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http://www.daifukuji.org/history.html.

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No, the Hanato legacy is not in Mom’s athletic prowess, nor in the Hanato business acumen [e.g. Mom’s sister 106 yr. old centenarian Shizue “Mary” Hanato Teshima’s world-renowned Teshima Restaurant — Shizue 1907-2013]. Dad was a great athlete [incl. bootleg boxer pre-legalization], as is my baby brother [State prep baseball all-star]. Dad’s legacy is as WWII 442nd combat infantry soldier in the all-Japanese American Unit — Dad as Silver Star awardee for rescuing Dad’s mortally wounded CO & fellow PFC after Dad’s squad was ambushed by German infantry soldiers.

* https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/yushin-charley-narimatsu-1920-2013-died-age-93-my-nisei-2nd-generation-uncle-the-last-of-his-generation-in-my-kazokufamily/

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my Dad Toshi 1913-1998 (Dad was longtime State 442 prexy Willy Okino Thompson’s hanai older brother) stepping up in convoy with left leg raised & left hand on side rail (National Archives have actual film/movie of this convoy)

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Even into Dad’s final years, Dad would sing among our backyard pals, Dad’s Martin ‘ukulele always in his arms. My daughter Staycie age 43 is half Hawaiian, & my dearest little baby girl Staycie has instilled in her children the spirit of the islands — aloha — welcome/accomodation/tenderness/humbleness/kindness/generosity — her children Maya age 4/Emily age 8/Silas & Ashley both age 13/Shay age 24. Beautiful aloha. My mo’opuna keiki all.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/tribute-to-my-musical-dad-toshi-1913-1998-george-trices-passion-personality-analog-my-dad/

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Hana hou (one more time — reprise)!!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D-SgA_NJwk

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVCwe_Jewl8

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As a child just after Statehood 57 yrs. ago, I was enthralled by the theme song to CBS local affiliate’s Saturday Island matinee playhouse. I still have not pinned down its title, but I remember it sounding a little like Glen Miller’s Moonlight Serenade. Music aficionados “in the know” are long dead & gone [the great George Camarillo/Gloriana Adap/etc.], so I’ll have to sleuth a little more to find out the melodic magic of half a century ago. Nonetheless, I present to you favorites of mine over the years. Enjoy ;-)

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Beautiful Pachelbel’s Canon, lost to history for centuries

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Af372EQLck

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Of course, Mozart is the greatest solace/emotional therapist –

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi8vJ_lMxQI

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from https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/susanne-mentzer-the-mozart-effect-beautiful/

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Brain Memory

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The cost of discipleship

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/family/radical-commitment-and-nothing-less-makes-marriage-thrive

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Hope for credibility with  “I’m not religious!”  readers. Sometimes I like to retell a religious story and then apply it to a broader but still important human matter.

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In the Christian Gospel, there is told a brief exchange that Jesus has with three people. The chapter heading in my Bible titles it, “The cost of discipleship.” Each of these three people begins the conversation with an expressed desire to be one of Jesus’ followers. And to each, Jesus responds with the cost entailed in such a commitment.

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Whenever I read this, I think of people who have dared to consider a lifelong commitment to growing love and fidelity with another human being in the bonds of life partnership.

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The first guy says to Jesus, “I will follow you!” And Jesus fires back, “He who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”   Luke 9:62

http://biblehub.com/luke/9-62.htm

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Well, of course. Either decide to plow the field or decide not to plow the field. But if you decide to plow the field, then put your hand on the plow and keep your eyes forward. Pay attention. If you say “giddyup” to the mule, and then keep eyeballing over your shoulder, fantasizing and wondering about fields you might or should have plowed instead, the mule is going to get the idea that plowing is not very important. You won’t be plowing straight lines. The mule might even get a mind of its own and wander over to someone else’s field, making the owner of that field very unhappy. You’ll also likely get some very critical questions from the co-owner of your field – the field you made a commitment to plow.

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Lifelong togetherness calls for an unequivocal, radical commitment. It’s normal over the course of 40 to 50 years occasionally to indulge the fantasy of what might have happened had you not made this commitment. What might have happened if you made the commitment to someone else or something else. But the fact is, you made this commitment. Not that one. So, hand on the plow. Eyes forward. You are in charge of the mule, not the mule in charge of you.

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So, decide. Unequivocally. Radically. With your whole heart.

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The second guy says to Jesus, “I will follow you.” And Jesus says, cryptically, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  Matthew 8:20

http://www.realteachingsofjesus.com/2009/06/foxes-have-holes-and-birds-of-air-have.html

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Well, of course. Radical commitments require the regular sacrifice of belonging. If I say I belong “here,” then by definition, I will not belong to other places and people the way I once might have belonged. If I belong “here,” then there will be some places and people to whom I cannot ever belong again. Radical commitment demands that we “rewire” belonging.

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If we make a lifelong commitment, then we cannot belong to our vocation the same way. We cannot belong to our mother and father the same way. Nor to our friends. To make someone or something primary in your life means other relationships will now have different orbits in the constellation of our attention and energy.

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I say this often, especially to blended families. Divorced parents meet and fall in love. But they often underestimate, make naive assumptions about or even try to dodge the work of rewiring children into the new union. But if you want your new union to be the success that your first marriage was not, then there is no alternative to having the rigorous conversations with the new mate and with your children about the new constellation of belongingness.

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The third guy says to Jesus, “I will follow you, but first let me bury my father.” And Jesus says: “Let the dead bury the dead. You follow me now.” Ouch.    Luke 9:60

http://biblehub.com/luke/9-60.htm

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Jesus might sound insensitive, but his point is well-taken. There are and will always be reasons to put off radical commitment. Commitment requires us to recognize the illusion of our hesitation. We keep telling ourselves, “When circumstances X, Y and Z are resolved, then I will make a commitment.” But all great unions sojourn in a land of constantly changing circumstances and problems to solve. Make the commitment. Decide. Then turn together – as We – to face and do battle with those swirling, ever-changing circumstances.

We don’t say, “If/when (the problems/circumstances), then my union  …” We say, “What shall We do about the problems and the circumstances?”

Only a radical commitment is a radical commitment.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/writing-and-eventually-dying-a-good-death-expressing-sharing-love-to-the-end/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/sharing-grief-puts-a-healing-distance-between-us-and-the-pain-this-is-why-storytelling-matters/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/ambivalence-killed-jesus-the-people-waved-palm-branches-on-sunday-singing-hosanna-hey-come-friday-they-shouted-to-free-barabbas-same-crowd-when-you-stand-too-close-to-beautiful/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/acknowledging-ambivalence-is-best-way-to-cope-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/i-will-die-a-good-death/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/does-your-life-have-purpose/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/randy-pausch-steven-kalas-living-meaningfully/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/harriet-beecher-stowes-prophetic-engine-sage-joan-d-hedrick/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/theodicy-suffering-in-the-world-and-the-problem-of-evil-an-afterlife-is-a-cop-out/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/if-were-going-to-write-it-is-because-we-have-a-desire-to-express-ourselves-even-if-we-dont-quite-understand-what-we-wish-to-say-it-might-just-be-an-inner-yearning-but-by-making-t/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/dont-you-just-love-a-cogent-argument/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/whats-the-lesson-in-your-narrative-kare-anderson/

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inspired by wordsmith Steven Kalas’ reasons for writing –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Art_is_expression_of_self_shared_with_the_world.html

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Art is expression of self shared with the world

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How did I learn to write? Great teachers along the way, including but not limited to the Hayakawas & Nishiharas of my formative teen years.

Why do I write? Some people keep a diary. Some people write in a journal. Some people keep meticulous photo albums, chronicling important moments, times, places and people.

I write about my observations and experiences.

If it moves me deeply, it will show up in my written words. If it opens my heart, it will show up in a written format. If it compels me in paradox, if it makes me tremble with humility and gratitude, if it mobilizes outrage or contempt, it will become a written composition. If I fall in love with you, if I despise you, if you bless me, if you hurt me badly enough, don’t be surprised if you end up in a written verse.

If it makes me hope, makes me ache, makes me cry, then I hand it to heaven, where it ricochets off eternity and pours itself into my Jung archetype named Shadow. Then it pours back out into the world.

Shadow has more than once saved my sanity. Maybe even my life.

I write to know myself better.

Here’s a paradox: Real art is, for the true artist, an act of the purest selfishness, which, because it is pure selfishness, moves out into the world as extravagant generosity.

Selfishness? Yes. A true artist is never first a performer. He/she doesn’t do it for us. The artist is lost in self. For self. Obedient to a voice that cannot be ignored or denied. Art is near hedonism. A naked reveling. It includes suffering, yes, but even the agony is more a masochistic pleasure.

Generosity? Yes. The artist’s brazen and shameless desire to dig so deeply into self produces art that forces us to dig more deeply. To see ourselves more transparently. Art is a cosmic mirror.

Deciding to listen to my Shadow is deciding to see me naked. Though you won’t know that while you’re listening. If my art moves you, then you will see yourself naked. And that’s always a good thing. People come to an artist’s art as a voyeur. But what they spy on, in the end, is themselves.

Does that make me an exhibitionist? I can live with that. It’s a fair cop.

I’ve written much before which never made the trek into our current internet era. The first one was about nostalgia of love lost. The last one is this composition here. But, as sage Steven Kalas says about his songwriting, it’s Steven’s song No. 92 that probably would tell you the most about why I write for myself to share with you, the world.

My heroes have always been naked/ Warm in the clothes of their transparent identity/ Maybe we all should be naked/ With nothing to hide there’s no need to pretend not to see

But shame is the name of the master who must be obeyed/ And after a while we learn to like being a slave

The naked man/ He takes a stand/ He lets the people see/ We point and laugh/ We’re taken back/ But freedom lives in authenticity.

Like a lot of songs, it works on several levels at once. On the most personal level, it’s about my passion to live authentically. I don’t always get there, but I respect myself when I try.

On another level, it’s about my admiration of people who do live “nakedly.” Was John Lennon a card-carrying narcissist? Well of course. But I get why he posed naked with Yoko on the album cover of “Two Virgins.” He was trying to crawl out from under the deadly weight of Beatlemania, a fame he sought, created and then rightly abhorred.

And later, I was surprised to discover it’s a song about my spirituality. In Steven’s case, it’s a song about Jesus.

My heroes are those who live naked/ The man that you meet still the man who is there when you leave/ But brave are the ones who live naked/ Most people are hiding and naked is their enemy

Naked is a mirror in which there is no choice but to see/ So we break the mirror and then blame it for making us bleed

The naked man/ He takes a stand/ He lets the people see/ His naked fate/ Humiliate/ What people hate is authenticity.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-morley/writing-tips-6-ways_b_1591232.html#s1088091&title=Workshops_work

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We are born writers in the sense that we are born storytellers. Language is who we are to the world. Our ability to tell our story with clarity and panache will make the difference between being heard and being ignored.

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We like to think that artistic genius, at least, feeds on solitude. It is not uncommon for new writers to worry that they will become less distinct, less original, if they spend too much time sharing ideas with their peers. But consider the case of Jorge Luis Borges. When he went to Europe as a young aspiring poet, he found his feet (and an education) in the tertulias of Madrid. Returning to his native city of Buenos Aires, he continued the habit. The almost nightly conversations he had with Adolfo Bioy Casares and other writers fed directly into his writing, and into theirs. If Latin America literature then went off in a direction not yet possible in Europe and North America, it is largely thanks to this unruly group of literary hybrids, who drew as much inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe and G.K. Chesterton as they did from Shakespeare and Verlaine. They gave each other the courage to be break conventions, question received ideas, and imagine the unimaginable. – Maureen Freely
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Write, firmly believing that imagination is the quintessential self/the quintessential way of “knowing” the world. This imaginative knowing has the potential to dispel barriers that isolate individuals and communities. Exercising imaginative “knowing” allows, always, for a potentially transcendent narrative, that is trans-global, trans-cultural and speaks to our common humanity. – Jewell Parker Rhodes
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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/a-writers-life-list-listen-more-than-you-speak-engage-with-the-world-thats-where-ideas-come-from-ohh-so-true-these-are-where-ideas-manifest-beautifully-lori-nelson-spielman/

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A writer’s life list: Listen more than you speak. Engage with the world. That’s where ideas come from. Ohh, so true, these are where ideas manifest beautifully. — Lori Nelson Spielman

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Writing Life List

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-nelson-spielman/a-writers-life-list_b_3676417.html?utm_hp_ref=books

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The inspiration for my novel was found in an old cedar box. Tucked alongside my first bankbook and my grandmother’s rosary, I discovered a yellowed piece of notebook paper folded into a tidy little square. In my flowery, 14-year-old cursive, I’d written Lori’s List across the top, along with 27 goals I thought would make for a good life. I also included a sidebar called, Ways To Be, which included such pearls as, Don’t be stuck-up. Don’t talk about ANYONE.

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Never expect to be taken seriously. People, even friends, can be insensitive. They don’t realize how important your craft is to you. Don’t fault them for it.

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Learn to describe your project du jour in one succinct sentence, and do so if, and only if, someone inquires. And never, ever ask your friends to read your unpublished manuscript. Find a writer’s group for that.

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Don’t complain to non-writers. They don’t want to hear it.

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Write with joy and abandon. Use your creative gift in a way that would please its benefactor.

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http://www.pccs.va/index.php/en/news2/attualita/item/787-suspense-novelist-writes-about-people-finding-hope-redemption

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Koontz acknowledges he has “a very low boredom threshold” and wants to be entertained by what he writes. He says he’s been asked, “I want you to write a book that’s very dark and very noir and everybody dies in the end and there’s no meaning to anything.” To which he replies, “You don’t need me to do that. It’s everywhere.”

“That’s not what I do,” Koontz said. “I write about people trying to find hope and redemption in their lives from suspense.”

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/i-will-die-a-good-death/

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I will die a good death — as my greatest hero Viktor Frankl said, “having been” is the surest kind of being, though it cannot inspire envy [life is full of suffering].

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I love and am loved. I want to love and want to be loved. I am true to my heart and I lead with my heart. I will die a good death. No one but me decides my attitude when I die.

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Like basketball/football, I process my life in 4 quarters of 20 years each. The first quarter was schooling in preparation for the workplace. The second quarter was raising a family. The third quarter was paying down the sundry bills which came with a life full of activity. My final & fourth quarter consists of retirement & emotional preparation of inevitable death. I will die a good death.

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I always have an immutable enduring image of Wainaku Pua Lane’s Albert Pacheco Sr. as he rested his head in his lap while sitting on the shoreline boulder by our Wailuku river “singing bridge” astride our ubiquitous lighthouse — contemplating his own death of terminal cancer while still in his middle ages. Ohhh so sad. For the first 3 quarters of my frenetic “frantic” life — I never “got” [captured] the feel of mortality that coursed thru Albert’s soul as he engaged the end of his life. Now I “get it.” I will die a good death. I am at peace with myself. Albert is my hero. Albert’s example is my example. Die a good death. No one owns my attitude with my death. Life’s journey in deepest selfhood always in the end is walked alone.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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Albert walked wondrously to his inner peace. Albert was the greatest husband, father, & friend. And the humblest! Albert is my hero.

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Hope Kiko Nakamura of downtown Hilo’s Kino’ole St. also is my hero. A native of Japan, she is Amaterasu, my sun goddess who is kindness personified. Nihonjin are very bigoted because of our racial homogeneity [master race psychomania], so to speak. Not Hope Maki, who is the most loving person around — to people of all colors, social classes, manners, ages. Also, I have never seen an older woman any unthinkably prettier than Hope Maki — yet she is our humblest person, singularly divine like Albert Pacheco. Hope Maki and Albert Pacheco are my immortal heroes — forever inspiring — every generation should observe, study, and learn from these 2 sublime archetypes [greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation][like Jesus & like Scripture’s Pericopes/Parables, my dynamic duo above exemplifies such confounding deepest Truths/frustration-reversal of conventional expectations — huli’au/upside down outcomes but the righteous results, so to speak]. Their interior contemplative humblest nature undyingly are for the ages, and they inspire me to no end.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/in-praise-of-gautam-mukundas-extraordinary-study-indispensable-when-leaders-really-matter/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/sublime/

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An interior contemplative “soul” is valued a la Albert, Hope Kiko [& young Kepola Lee in my article on the greatest of leaders –https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/in-praise-of-gautam-mukundas-extraordinary-study-indispensable-when-leaders-really-matter/], and of course, a la Jesus [or ascetic Buddha or Allah, for that matter] –

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my mythic hero Frankie Starlight [Alan Pentony] dares to reach for the stars

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV1EYBnPMEY

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Alan Pentony [with Anne Parillaud]

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Starlight

Plot

Frank Bois writes a successful first novel and finds himself looking back over his life. His mother Bernadette (Parillaud) was a French woman who, after the death of her friends and family in World War II, hid herself aboard an Allied war ship heading to Ireland, where she exchanged sexual favors for silence among the soldiers who found her on board. A nice customs agent, Jack Kelly (Byrne), allowed Bernadette to enter Ireland illegally, and they soon became a couple lovers, even though she was already pregnant from one of the soldiers from the ship.

Bernadette soon gave birth to young Frankie (Pentony), who suffers from dwarfism. As he grew older, Frankie develops romantic feelings for Jack’s daughter Emma (Cates), who does not share his feelings, while Jack teaches astronomy to Frankie. Eventually, Bernadette meets Terry Klout (Dillon), an American soldier she had met on the war ship, who offers to marry her. Bernadette and Frankie go with Terry to his home in Texas, but both mother and son feel like they don’t belong there, so they return to the Irish home they loved. An older Bernadette eventually committed suicide, and Frank used his life as source material for his writing.

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Empathy means literally “to enter the pathos.”

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To enter the pathos is to surrender to all that is tragic, absurd, lost, despairing, meaningless. The word “pathos” is not a derision; it’s an observation.

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Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”

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We bandy these words about too easily. It’s not all that frequently we find people who will really do what are implied in those words. I cherish the people I do find.

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I no longer lift bread and wine. I lift broken, poured out people. Folks like myself. My meaning in life is to help others find their meaning.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-watt/why-we-write_b_2411000.html

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Why We Write

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By approaching our writing from this perspective we take our thumb off the scale, and in doing so make conscious what was previously unconscious.

And that is the goal of story: to make meaning out of a set of events.

Growth is painful. To make a choice involves discomfort, because it demands that we take responsibility. But it also means that we get to live in reality. To create from a place of fantasy, of groundlessness, is an escape — which is different than losing ourselves in our work by shedding our ego for a deeper connection to our humanity.

Why we write is more important than what we write because our reason for writing influences the content of our work. It is important to remember that we don’t have to do this. The world is not in a rush for more books. There are more great works of fiction, poetry, memoir, history and pumpkin soup recipes than we will ever have time to consume.

If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work has a chance to live. In expressing ourselves, we make what we write essential, if only to ourselves, and by beginning from this place, it has a chance to affect the world.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-goeman/faitheist-social-change-through-storytelling_b_2382772.html

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‘Faitheist’: Social Change Through Storytelling

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America is diverse. However, this diversity occurs in safe, isolated pockets that are stagnant and unengaged with one another. Diana Eck, religious scholar and founder of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, notes that diversity is nothing to be proud of. Diversity is the description of a community, like Tufts or America, where people of different beliefs or backgrounds happen to be in the same location. Pluralism, rather, is the “active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.” It is this engagement that breaks down barriers and guards against prejudice. If we want to make pluralism, rather than diversity, a descriptive fact of our community, we need emissaries to navigate cultural boundaries.

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We need to invite others inside our communities and show them what we value. And we need storytellers.

“Faitheist” works to end this ideological segregation. Chris humanizes atheism by sharing his life and his values –

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Chris aims to end the cycle of isolation and tribalism by encouraging others to contribute their own story to our collective narrative.

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The more we get to know each other, the more our prejudices will dissolve.

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Toward the end of the book, he notes: “The moment I shared my story as a secularist, others felt more comfortable sharing their own.”

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“Faitheist” isn’t just a memoir; it’s a continuation of the biographical heritage established by “Roots”, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Hiroshima” —

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the books that informed Chris about the radical depths of human suffering and inspired his dedication to justice —

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but it is also the predecessor to a new generation of compassionate voices articulating their beliefs while serving humanity.

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Chris’ model of interfaith engagement and storytelling will, I believe, make my university and my country better places —

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places where diversity actually means something.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wray-herbert/who-am-i-the-heroes-of-ou_b_2497839.html

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Who Am I? The Heroes of Our Minds

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One of my guilty pleasures is the TV show Ice Road Truckers, which tells the stories of the heavy haulers who deliver vital supplies to remote Arctic territories of Alaska and Canada. In just two months each year, these truckers make more than 10,000 runs over hundreds of miles of frozen lakes, known as ice roads. We get to share in the treacherous drives — and just as important, the personal travails — of the veteran Hugh “The Polar Bear” Rowland, the brash tattooed Rick Yemm, the cold-hating rookie T.J. Wilcox, and former school bus driver and motocross champ Lisa Kelly, one of the rare women to break into this man’s world.

I’m not alone in this fascination. Millions of viewers have tuned into every episode of Ice Road Truckers since its premiere in 2007. And if hazardous driving is not your cup of Joe, how about Ax Men or Dance Moms, Chef School or Bikini Barbershop, Sister Wives or Biggest Loser? Reality TV dominates small-screen viewing these days. Viewers have literally hundreds of choices in vicarious viewing every day, 24 hours a day. And so what if they’re not exactly real.

What explains this trend? Well, it’s in part simple economics. These shows are cheap to make. But it’s more than that. There is something compelling about people’s stories, something that taps into a deep human need for narrative. The pull of Deadliest Catch and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo can really be traced back to ancient story telling traditions, which exist in every world culture. We see parts of ourselves in these modern-day folk tales, just as we construct stories about our own personal realities.

Psychological scientists have in recent years begun to examine this deep human yearning for story — in particular our need to create a coherent narrative identity. They have been using narrative identity as both an indicator of psychological health and a possible tool for enhancing well-being. Much of this work has been done by Northwestern University’s Dan McAdams and Western Washington University’s Kate McLean, who describe their and others’ research in a forthcoming issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

We all construct a coherent narrative identity, according to the emerging theory, from the accumulated particulars of our autobiographies as well as our envisioned goals. We internalize this story over time, and use it to convey to ourselves and others who we are, where we came from, and where we think we’re heading. Consider the example of redemption. McAdams and other scientists have been asking people to narrate scenes and extended stories from their past, and then they code the accounts for key ideas like redemption and self-determination and community. They have found that people who include themes of redemption in their stories — a marked transition from bad to good — are less focused on themselves and more focused on community and the future. They’re more mature emotionally.

This is just one example of how people make narrative sense of the suffering in their lives. Others have studied how people narrate life challenges, such as a painful divorce or a child’s illness, and they have found that those who produce detailed accounts of loss are better adapted psychologically. Their narratives often strike themes of growth and learning and transformation. Importantly, the stories of the well-adapted have endings, positive resolutions of bad experiences.

Psychotherapy is largely about personal narratives. Therapists help their clients to “re-story” their lives by finding more positive narratives for unhappy experiences. Indeed, when scientists asked former psychotherapy patients to describe how they remembered their therapeutic experience, the healthier ones told heroic stories, tales in which they bravely battled their symptoms and emerged victorious. This narrative theme of personal control was also and by far the best predictor of therapeutic success: As patients’ stories increasingly emphasized self-determination, these patients’ symptoms abated and their health improved. The stories themselves created an identity that was mature and well-adjusted.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/if-were-going-to-write-it-is-because-we-have-a-desire-to-express-ourselves-even-if-we-dont-quite-understand-what-we-wish-to-say-it-might-just-be-an-inner-yearning-but-by-making-t/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/dont-you-just-love-a-cogent-argument/

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Writing is simplicity and contentment –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Playing_with_words_is_fun_as_well_as_meaningful.html

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So, I have come up with three questions. First, why do you write? Second, what inspires you? Third, what do you do to overcome “writers’ block”? — B.F., San Francisco

Why do I write? I write for the same reason people ride roller coasters: It’s a rush. A flow. Movement and rhythm. It’s sensory. Aesthetic.

Words, for me, are like being 8 years old and having a huge bag of Legos. Every day my dictionary contains the same English words, just like every day the bag contains the same Legos. But today I have the chance to assemble them differently! And that’s fun for me.

Why do I write? I write because I love words. I hate jargon, but I love words. Yes, there are a lot of different ways to talk, but words matter.

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The right word can help us apprehend our lives in deeper, more intentional and more meaningful ways.

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There’s a reason the Hebrew verb dabar can mean either “to say” or “to do.” The Hebrew worldview speaks to the power of words: “And God said (emphasis mine), ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

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Words have a creative force. Until we say “I love you,” there will be something about love that does not yet exist.

Am I a ‘word snob’? Oh, maybe. OK, probably. Dammit, yes! But I don’t think my demeanor is snobbish. More relentless and passionate.

I admire excellence and precision with language. I’m a harsh critic of the way American pop culture lazily conscripts the English language willy-nilly.

Americans tend to think of this — when they think about it at all — as another entitled “freedom.” A creative evolving of language. Most of the time it’s exactly the opposite. We broaden, distort and thereby cheapen the meaning of important words. This undermines meaningful discourse.

In the end, it’s worse than merely me not understanding what you mean to be saying; you no longer can accurately apprehend your own experience with anything like clarity and meaning.

For me, there is only one dictionary: The English Oxford Dictionary. Why? Because it alone is willing to guard the power and meaning of the English lexicon.

If I step out on my front porch, and shout “Labeedoowitz” loudly enough, the word “labeedoowitz” will show up in the next printing of the Rand McNally Dictionary.

OK, that’s hyperbole. But, I swear, coin the word “labeedoowitz” in a hit Broadway musical, and it will indeed be automatically included in the dictionary your son and daughter take to college.

I want to chase people to the dictionary. Regularly. I don’t apologize for using important words when just the right word matters.

I love it when I hear a new word. I interrupt people, right there on the spot. I say, “Ooh, I don’t know that word!” That’s a rush for me. A delicious feeling in my brain.

Why do I write? I write because I’m a compulsive communicator who loves to think out loud. Critical thinking turns me on. I like building an argument the way little boys like Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.

I even have fun when the argument collapses. My best friends will tell you that I flat out love being wrong. Yep, when someone puts a finger clearly and accurately on the flaw in my argument, my brain stem hums as if I’d just bitten into a vanilla creme chocolate. If your argument can derail my argument, then I’m like a little kid with a new toy! I’ll race back home with your argument. Take it apart. Put it back together. Play with it. Integrate into my worldview, now changed.

Bring me a good argument, and I’ll ask you to marry me. (Uh, metaphorically speaking. I am so off the market.)

What inspires me? Life. Love. Tragedy. Suffering. Redemption. Evil. Beneficence. Truth. Beauty. Moral dilemmas. Mystery. The human journey inspires me, in virtually any form or circumstance.

What do I do to overcome “writers’ block”? Two things. First, I surround myself with deadlines imposed by others in authority over me. I’m inherently lazy. Not much of a self-starter. Without deadlines, I tend to sit around congratulating myself for thinking about all the brilliant things I could write. The thing that best “jump starts” my most creative self is the high expectations of others, especially if I have contractual obligations with them.

Second, I overcome “writers’ block” by writing. It’s like pumping the pump handle on a reluctant well. At some point I stop saying, “When I get a worthy idea, I’ll start writing.” No, I just sit down and start banging the keys, until a worthy idea shows up.

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http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/01/08/f-scott-fitzgerld-on-writing/

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing

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What is the secret of great writing? For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. For Henry Miller, about discovery. Susan Sontag saw it as self-exploration. Many literary greats anchored it to their daily routines. And yet, the answer remains elusive and ever-changing.

In the fall of 1938, Radcliffe College sophomore Frances Turnbull sent her latest short story to family friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. His response, found in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters (UK; public library) — the same volume that gave us Fitzgerald’s heartwarming fatherly advice and his brilliantly acerbic response to hate mail — echoes Anaïs Nin’s insistence upon the importance of emotional investment in writing and offers some uncompromisingly honest advice on essence of great writing:

November 9, 1938

Dear Frances:

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming — the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’ You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,

Your old friend,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

Two years prior, in another letter to his fifteen-year-old daughter Scottie upon her enrollment in high school, Fitzgerald offered more wisdom on the promise and perils of writing:

Grove Park Inn Asheville, N.C. October 20, 1936

Dearest Scottina:

[…]

Don’t be a bit discouraged about your story not being tops. At the same time, I am not going to encourage you about it, because, after all, if you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience. Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.

Let me preach again for one moment: I mean that what you have felt and thought will by itself invent a new style so that when people talk about style they are always a little astonished at the newness of it, because they think that is only style that they are talking about, when what they are talking about is the attempt to express a new idea with such force that it will have the originality of the thought. It is an awfully lonesome business, and as you know, I never wanted you to go into it, but if you are going into it at all I want you to go into it knowing the sort of things that took me years to learn.

[…]

Nothing any good isn’t hard, and you know you have never been brought up soft, or are you quitting on me suddenly? Darling, you know I love you, and I expect you to live up absolutely to what I laid out for you in the beginning.

Scott

For more wisdom on the writing life, see Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 guidelines for a great story, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules, Margaret Atwood’s 10 practical tips, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/christina-patterson-the-novice-poet-will-try-and-express-feelings-they-already-know-they-have-but-an-experienced-poet-is-one-who-knows-that-a-poem-is-only-a-true-poem-if-it-reveals-what-you-didn/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/no-one-can-take-away-ones-own-attitude-to-live-authentically-passionately-in-praise-of-roberto-benignis-15th-anniversary-movie-life-is-beautiful/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/getting-over-having-been-dumped-by-the-one-you-want-is-a-long-difficult-process-getting-dumped-does-not-dump-your-self-respect-attitude/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/reconciliation-formula-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/an-ennobling-sufferance-living-life-to-the-fullest/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/true-faith-is-a-context-for-suffering-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/the-choice-is-not-whether-to-have-or-not-have-a-worldview-in-which-you-place-faith-the-only-choice-is-whether-we-are-willing-to-choose-with-intention-clarity-commitment-sage-steven-kala/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-extraordinary-sage-viktor-frankl-only-then-through-the-power-of-using-the-past-for-living-and-making-history-out-of-what-has-happened-does-a-pe/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/in-some-ways-suffering-ceases-to-be-suffering-at-the-moment-it-finds-a-meaning-such-as-the-meaning-of-a-sacrifice-life-is-never-made-unbearable-by-circumstances-but-only-by-lack-of-meaning-and-pur/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/surrender-yes-what-is-demanded-of-man-is-not-as-some-existential-philosophers-teach-to-endure-the-meaninglessness-of-life-but-rather-to-bear-rationally-his-incapacity-to-grasp-its/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/society-blurs-the-decisive-difference-between-being-valuable-in-the-sense-of-dignity-and-being-valuable-in-the-sense-of-usefulness-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/dostoevski-said-once-there-is-only-one-thing-i-dread-not-to-be-worthy-of-my-sufferings-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/what-is-to-give-light-must-endure-burning-sage-viktor-frankl-in-tribute-to-connie-francis/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/the-paradox-of-authenticity-a-conscious-commitment-to-your-peace-whether-its-i-or-not-i/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/faith-is-consequential-but-it-is-not-about-immortality-faith-is-about-finding-peace-within-oneself/

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http://www.asianentrepreneur.org/thai-nguyen-founder-of-the-utopian-life/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rubinstein/writing-process_b_2707747.html?utm_hp_ref=books

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For me, writing begins with an almost dreamlike process. It’s as though my mind goes through some semi-conscious period where things from the past and present seem to coalesce and begin building upon themselves. Sometimes a thought fragment forms, only to fade the way some dreams dissolve as you’re awakening. At other times, an idea imbeds itself and develops with a clear forward trajectory.

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The novel’s story incorporates other aspects of my own and others’ experiences, coupled with large doses of imagination and fantasy. Like all fiction writers, I draw from the things I know well, and borrow heavily from life around me.

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I draw water from the well of my life’s work, and create stories.

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A writer is someone who always has an eye open and an ear cocked. I am no exception.

Drawing from life is at the heart of my novels, although each one begins in its unique way.

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 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-hess/mentors-we-dont-realize-exist-_b_6726214.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
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A valuable principle I learned in my Christian ministerial studies was a mentoring metaphor that has never left me. It was idly called the Paul Principle.

Paul was the apostle that came after Jesus had already ascended into heaven. Paul was the adopted step-child of the disciples. He was mentored by Barnabas, was in jail with a peer named Silas, and wrote letters of teaching to a student called Timothy.

The principle was this…

Every man in life should always have a Barnabas, Silas and Timothy if he is to be a complete man.

Always identify your Barnabas, the one who is mentoring and teaching you.

Discover your Silas. The peer who is in the trenches with you and learning life at the same time.

And never forget to pass the torch to a Timothy in your life. The wise saying goes “If you can’t teach it, you really don’t understand it.”

We all have many Barnabas’ along our journey. We all have many Silas’ too. But to avoid complete selfishness, we need to take the wisdom we’ve acquired and impart it to ones like our children, their peers, and anyone else God allows us to come to know in our lifetime.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/jesus-makes-clear-that-to-forgive-is-to-forget-propitiation-and-their-sins-and-iniquities-i-will-remember-no-more-hebrews-1017/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/topic-irony/

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Irony as paradox [subtitled as negativity]

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Where much of philosophy attempts to reconcile opposites into a larger positive project, Kierkegaard and others insist that irony—whether expressed in complex games of authorship or simple litotes—must, in Kierkegaard’s words, “swallow its own stomach.”

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.

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Similarly, among other literary critics, writer David Foster Wallace viewed the pervasiveness of ironic and other postmodern tropes as the cause of “great despair and stasis in U.S. culture, and that for aspiring fictionists [ironies] pose terrifically vexing problems.”

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Sincerity

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In response to the hegemony of metafictional and self-conscious irony in contemporary fiction, writer David Foster Wallace predicted, in his 1993 essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction,” a new literary movement which would espouse something like the New Sincerity ethos:

“The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows.”

In his essay “David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction,” Adam Kelly argues that Wallace’s fiction, and that of his generation, is marked by a revival and theoretical reconception of sincerity, challenging the emphasis on authenticity that dominated twentieth-century literature and conceptions of the self.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/this-is-water-david-foster-wallace-wallace-used-many-forms-of-irony-but-focused-on-individuals-continued-longing-for-earnest-unselfconscious-experience-and-communication-in-a-media-s/

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-irony

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox#Paradox_in_philosophy

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Paradoxes are irresolvable truths, not contradictions, in which only one opposite is true [a contradiction]

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http://www.academia.edu/2541288/Towards_an_Ethics_of_Irony_The_Paradox_of_Love_in_the_Symposium_

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“In Critical Fragment 48 Schlegel remarks that, ‘Irony is the form of paradox. Paradox is everything simultaneously good and great.’ This is the best articulation of the concept of irony in the German Romantic tradition: in contrast to the classical trajectory of irony embodied in the figure of Socrates who rhetorically dissembles his own knowledge, Schlegel’s fragment is emblematic of an irony that is a condition of possibility of objects, literary or otherwise, occurring in time and space.

The form of paradox becomes the horizon of potential that, for instance, allows good works to be read, un-read and re-read in countless interpretations hence becoming the great works of history. Or, in Kierkegaardian terms, which themselves are spectralized reproductions of Aristotelian terminology, irony allows one literary actuality to be superseded by the potentiality located in the literary actuality itself. As thus envisaged, hermeneutic progress itself hinges upon this ironic potential.

But what about ‘progress’ and ‘potential’ thought of in terms of political hope? Can irony, this condition of possibility, inform an ethics?

Ironically, perhaps an answer is to be found not in the German Romantic tradition, but in the very classical tradition that has been consistently distinguished from it. In sticking with the idea of irony as a condition of possibility and without defining it tout court, I shall argue that Socrates’s exploration of the concept of love in the Symposium not only pre-dates the structure of irony normally attributed to the German Romantic movement, but also compliments it as a relevant form of ethics for contemporary times. It would be ironic indeed if irony itself, normally a suspect trope in the field of ethics, allowed all ethical questions to occur in the first place.

To me, Socrates simply called this condition love— this paper seeks to further elaborate this thought.”

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http://books.google.com/books?id=6EAw-H8zvDkC&pg=PA115&lpg=PA115&dq=Critical+Fragment+48+Schlegel+irony+is+paradox&source=bl&ots=0vE_ZSo4_8&sig=S-Wj3HJJlCszh7DtMNhS5rdSxAU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MXuNUe2_FKOtigLE8IAw&sqi=2&ved=0CFIQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=Critical%20Fragment%2048%20Schlegel%20irony%20is%20paradox&f=false

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http://www.bachelorandmaster.com/criticaltheories/friedrich-schlegel.html

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Irony and paradox as distinct and not convergent –

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http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/english/2010/lesson_plans/reading/nonfiction/9-12/14_11-12_readingnonfiction_recognizing_ambiguity_contraction.pdf

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http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm

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Paradox and irony seem quite distinct.

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Paradox relies on the clarity and exactness of language; it shows that truth can be expressed by words alone.

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Irony uses words to point beyond language.

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Irony shows that there are some truths which, though they cannot be articulated in words,

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can none the less be expressed by means of words.

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Irony, like many other figures, is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language,

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of ensuring that it does not disguise thought

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but is both the midwife and the medium of thought.

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Not everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly,

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but everything that can be thought at all can be put into words.

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E.g. – seminaries could teach us how to think and even how to apply the truths of Scriptures to certain situations, but our seminaries did not have the ability nor the capacity to teach their young ministers how to feel. Only the Prompt of the Spirit could provide that.” — James H. Hill, Jr.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/in-praise-of-mystic-christian-jo-anne-silva-i-recognized-that-our-seminaries-could-teach-us-how-to-think-and-even-how-to-apply-the-truths-of-scriptures-to-certain-situations-but-our-seminaries-did/

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E.g. –

Richard Hays’ Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: Paul’s readings of Scripture are not constrained by a historical scrupulousness about the original meaning of the texts. Eschatological meaning subsumes original sense…. True interpretation depends neither on historical inquiry nor on erudite literary analysis but on attentiveness to the promptings of the Spirit, who reveals the gospel through Scripture in surprising ways. In such interpretations, there is an element of playfulness, but the freedom of intertextual play is grounded in a secure sense of the continuity of God’s grace: Paul trusts the same God who spoke through Moses to speak still in his own transformative reading. Just as my lectionary commentary invites Christians to read the Bible as Jesus read the ‘Bible’ in his day (with a hermeneutic of love), Hays’ work invites us to embrace the same freedom to interpret the Bible that Paul with other ancient commentators claimed. — sage Carl Gregg

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And yet,

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The Epicurean paradox “problem of evil” is a cosmic irony due to the sharp contrast/incongruity between reality and human ideals, or between human intentions and actual results. The resulting situation is poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Paradoxes#Philosophy

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Cosmic_irony_.28Irony_of_fate.29

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On Roy Kodani’s outstanding book chock full of peripeteia/turning points    —

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http://www.hawaii247.com/2015/01/28/roy-kodani-the-sound-of-hilo-rain/

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Aloha Curtis:

My father always spoke about Yamauchi sensei and his wife, and how kind they were to him.  My father, his mother, his step-father, and his half brothers and sisters lived far beyond Camp 6 almost close to the forest.  Sometimes, when it rained hard, the river would rise, and he would not be able to return home.  So, he would stay with Yamauchi sense and okusan.  My father always used to say that okusan would put  a huge heap of rice in the bowl, because she knew it would be hard for him to ask for another bowl of rice.  Because of their kindness, I, too, am indebted to the Yamauchi family.

Thank you very much for taking your valuable time to send me your turning points.

I don’t visit Hilo as often as I used to when my parents were still living.  If I do have plans to visit Hilo, I will contact you so that we can meet and talk about Hilo, our families, values, and remembrances.

Thank you for writing to me.  I hope to see you soon.

Roy

Roy M. Kodani

Home Page: www.roykodani.com

From: Curtis Narimatsu

Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 11:06 AM
To: ROY KODANI
Subject: your outstanding book

Hi Roy:    This is Curtis Narimatsu from Hilo.      I wept uncontrollably in reading The Sound of Hilo Rain.    Such beautiful reminiscences.    You might know the Waiakea-Uka Camp 6 area Yamauchi progeny.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_M._Yamauchi

Your book is full of mind-blowing turning points.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripeteia

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Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

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http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm
https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity

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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Depressive symptoms: Crisis of meaning and self-absorption

https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/modern-societys-devolution-and-self-absorption-we-need-symbols-which-participate-in-the-things-they-represent/

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I stand incredulous before the sheer number of people reporting/experiencing symptoms of depression. I say again, I don’t believe our ancestors experienced the same proportion of depressive symptoms. Possible explanations for this phenomenon: Crisis of meaning, for example. An increasingly vacuous culture, with significant evidence of devolution. Or, perhaps depression/depressive episodes is in part provoked by the emotional self-absorption of moderns – the observable, inexplicable delay of real emotional conversance and maturity in modern people. — Steven Kalas

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“For me, there’s hardly a gnat’s whisker of difference between the psychological idea of healthy individuation and the Christian idea of salvation. Both include the lifetime journey of authentic living.”

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All the worth we could ever need are found as we love and are loved.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/self-worth-comes-loving-being-loved

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Did people in the Middle Ages fret about their self-esteem (worth in the eyes of others)??

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(self-respect is the reality of worth, not self-esteem)

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Did they sit in taverns and wonder aloud to their friends why others didn’t  love them more? Did they work their farms while daydreaming about the hope of someday having more self-esteem?

See, I rather doubt it. I think obsessing about self-esteem is the calling card of this time, this place and this culture. I think our incessant pondering about self-esteem is the undesirable outcome of affluence and leisure. It’s the thing we’re left to do

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when we lack

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sufficient access to meaning.

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Self-respect, self-worth. How do human beings come to feel worthwhile?

Some people undertake the quest literally: material worth. He who dies with the most toys wins. They make money. Lots and lots of money. They are good at making money. They tell themselves they will feel worthy when they have a literal, measurable worth.

The chief problem with this worldview, of course, is that it is quite savagely exclusive. By this measure of worth, the poor would not be allowed to be worthy.

(By the way, I didn’t say it was wrong to be good at making lots and lots of money. I just said it was a dubious place to invest the idea of self-worth.)

The other great American notion of human worth is usefulness. I have self-worth if I am useful. For example, if I’m a passenger flying at 38,000 feet on a plane that suddenly loses an engine, it is very useful to have a competent pilot on board. Similarly, if you are suffering an acute bereavement, you will find that I’M very useful to have around.

Usefulness is closely related to competence. And these are common measures for a person’s felt sense of self-worth. Just listen to the chronically unemployed. The frustrations of the disabled. The vague air of depression that sometimes surrounds the newly retired. The alienation of the aging and elderly who can contribute less and less to a community, a neighborhood or a household. Ultimately not able to care for themselves.

So, in the end, usefulness is an important measure of self-worth, but still an incomplete measure. What’s more useless than a newborn? Yet, would we say the baby is worthless? Of course not.

We reach for merit. We hope to become meritorious of worth through the realization of virtue and character. We are generous. Philanthropic. Faithful. Hard-working. We endure. We are kind. We sacrifice. We are humble. We are honest. Etc.

Virtue is a good thing. And I, for one, hope to have more character rather than less. Yes, merit can be an important measure of self-worth, but still this path contains a built-in, obvious problem: Human beings have an irregular, variable grasp on merit. Human beings make mistakes. They screw up. Sometimes character fails.

I’m saying that, being a card-carrying sinner myself, I hope there is a human worth available in the absence of merit.

And so the philosophers speak of intrinsic worth. That there is something about merely being human that should rightly oblige me to respect myself and others. If I breathe, then I have worth. Even if I’m poor. Even if I’m unable to be useful. Even if I lack merit.

Can you consider your intrinsic worth? The idea that some people who love you actually do love you? Not for your money. Not because of your achievements. Not because you can fix the garbage disposal or iron a shirt. Not because you’re morally perfect. But because they love you.

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But even intrinsic worth is nigh impossible to realize and enjoy on our own. Do newborns have intrinsic worth? Absolutely. Do newborns know that? Absolutely not. Then how do newborns discover their own intrinsic worth?

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Someone has to love them. Touch them. Care for them. Or they will go crazy. Or die.

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“We love because we are first loved,” says the Christian Epistle of 1 John. Here a religious “truth” is identical to a psychological observation: Self-worth does not first belong to self. Worth is bestowed upon us by love. Our worth is conveyed.

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All the worth we could ever need are found as we love and are loved.

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To love and to be loved are our deepest desires a la Carl Jung’s archetypes (Jung’s forebearers are mystics Plato, Apostle Paul, & Augustine)(Jung is pronounced like “young”)

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Archetypal star-crossed lovers

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However, Jewish theologian Martin Buber says that Jung went outside Jung’s  psychoanalytic expertise into theology by Jung’s point that God does not exist independent of the psyches of human beings.

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Buber chastens that Jung was “mystically deifying the instincts instead of hallowing them in faith,”  which he called a “modern manifestation of Gnosis.” (the improper ascription to self-knowledge as the end-all, instead of God).   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungian_interpretation_of_religion#Extensions_and_criticisms

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+to+love+and+be+loved&id=EACBCF9FA17727184C6B7DC4961D1E0CD101EC1F&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=EACBCF9FA17727184C6B7DC4961D1E0CD101EC1F&selectedIndex=0

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgLzsGmnogo

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Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/symbol-participates-thing-it-represents

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A symbol “participates” in the thing it represents

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The difference between a sign and a symbol is something first felt, and only later comprehended.

This meaning of a symbol is the difference between a sign and a symbol.

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All kinds of symbols. Marriage is a symbol. Wedding rings are symbols. That collar around the neck of the priest is a symbol. Old Glory is a symbol. Hair can be a symbol (see Samson). Fire (see sweat lodges). The Alamo is a symbol. (I was in San Antonio on the day Ozzy Osbourne urinated on it. Texans reacted, well, badly. Dramatically, even.)

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Only in a culture as overly rationalized and material as this one could we …

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* wear the American flag as jockey shorts;

* refer to a wedding license as “just a piece of paper”;

* be absent collective rituals for grief;

* be absent collective rituals for rites of passage to adulthood;

* think it’s funny to try to make the guard at Buckingham Palace laugh;

* think potato chips and Pepsi could stand in for bread and wine;

* refer to a girl’s first menses as the arrival of “The Curse”;

* think a glowing light bulb is the same as a perpetual flame;

* ask them to mail your doctoral diploma to your house;

* dare to be impatient when stuck behind a funeral procession in traffic.

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Here’s my first question in premarital counseling: “What do you want to change in your relationship on (date)?” Wanna know the most common answer? The couple exchanges a befuddled glance. One of them sits taller. Proud of this answer, mind you. “Nothing,” he/she says quizzically, as if I’ve asked a very strange question.

If your goal was to change nothing, wouldn’t it make sense that you would do nothing?

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Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols.

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http://www.viewnews.com/2009/VIEW-Jan-06-Tue-2009/downtown/26019332.html

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What do you see in human experience?

C.G. Jung said that in Western civilization, the ancient office of tribal “ritual elder” was less and less occupied by clergy. Changes in modern institutional religion have turned parish clergy into administrators, teachers and fundraisers, and less and less available for the ancient symbolic functions of meaningful ritual and “testing the spirits” (discernment).

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Jung believed that modern therapists were largely the default recipient of the shamanic role. This has always intrigued me and made me nervous.

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Nonetheless …

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I want to extend an invitation to veteran therapist/counselor types — you modern elders — who might be in earshot of this column: What do you notice? Wrap your arms around the years of individuals, couples, kids, teens and families that moved through your practice. What themes do you see in the modern human experience, either positive or negative? Put all that into a two- to six-sentence paragraph, and send it to me.

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Here are a few things I notice:

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* People seek redemption. Yep, regardless of religion or no-religion, people long to convert banal human experience into redemptive meaning: birth, belonging, hope, vocation, sex, pride, humility, fear, joy, forgiveness, justice, evil, anger, values, moral failure, guilt, grief, love, meaning, child-rearing, aging, death. You can see how Jung arrived at his conclusion; the list of presenting issues in therapy is virtually synonymous with the needs and hungers of any pilgrim on a religious journey.

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* There is no escaping the paradox of The Individual and The Collective. Meaning, we cannot participate creatively in the wider human experience without possession of a healthy, separate self. Yet, the only way to grow a healthy, separate self is to participate in the collective.

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* People are designed for relationships. Seems funny how often I remind folks of this. I think “individualism” is a near cult in America. People are surprised, made anxious, threatened, even embarrassed by their yearning for deep friendships, kinship and a great love affair. We embrace insipid mantras — or sometimes hear them from therapists who mean to encourage — such as, “You’re fine alone.” You’ll never hear that from me. Instead you’ll hear, “You’re fine enough alone.”

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* Western civilization is a neurosis factory. Anxiety, self-consciousness, self-doubt. An overwhelming tendency to attach undue and largely negative meaning to self. So common is this outcome in human formation that consulting therapists will describe patients with a shrug, saying, “He’s a normal neurotic.” Meaning, he’s just like everybody else. Just like me, for that matter.

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* People have answers for most of their questions. In fact, it’s uncommon for patients to ask me an honest question; meaning, a question seeking actual information about which they are ignorant. Nope, the majority of questions are rhetorical. The patient poses the “great mystery/crisis/dilemma” inquiry as a segue, a stage. Give them some room, and they will usually answer their own questions.

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* Children need to be admired. They need to hear the “wow” in the voice of the mother, the father. They need to see the wonder in our eyes.

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* Children are absurdly forgiving and breathtakingly resilient.

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* We marginalize adolescents, yet reserve the right to complain about their despair.

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* The best thing I have to say about hitting children is that it is unnecessary.

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* The “nuclear family” is a ridiculous and historically unprecedented way to raise children.

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* Narcissistic parenting patterns dominate the current culture of child rearing.

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* As a group, we have sold ourselves a shameless bill of goods regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. We’re personally affronted when we discover that our marriage has failed to sustain “in-lovedness” and happiness. We tell ourselves that divorce and remarriage is a terrific strategy for growth and personal development. No data supports this idea.

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* Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols. Said another way, materialism and rationalism rule the day, both at the cost of meaning.

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* It’s not abuse that makes children — and later, adults — feel or act crazy and destructively, it’s not being allowed to have any feelings about our abuse. To be separated from the reality of our emotional reality — that is crazy-making!

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We’ve come a long ways, but it remains today axiomatic: Men can’t cry, and women can’t get angry. I’m serious. Can’t tell you how many times individual therapy with a man includes helping him take grief and loss seriously. Can’t tell you how many times individual therapy with a woman includes helping her take anger and outrage seriously.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-walters/zombies_1_b_7770466.html

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The truth of the matter is that no society ever becomes fully secularized. The hunger for a transcendent dimension to reality–for an enchanted world–remains a basic human drive, and if it can’t express itself in overtly religious imagery, it’ll search out symbolic substitutes. So, for example, psychologists become modernity’s priests, invested with awesome authority to hear confessions, bless, and heal. Political allegiances substitute for religious communities, and partisan feuds take on the rhetoric of cosmic struggles. Self-improvement replaces spiritual discernment. Patriotic holidays and rituals stand in for religious holy days. Our chthonic yearning for something greater than ourselves plays out again and again, even in a supposedly disenchanted world.

One important archetype that gets renamed and redistributed in modern society is metaphysical evil, or the Devil. Its psychological importance can’t be underestimated; it helps us cope with those acts of wickedness–torture, genocide, child abuse–so numbingly sinister that chalking them up to mere human agency is unsatisfyingly inadequate. Our ancestors personified metaphysical evil in the form of a demonic enemy, Satan, who roams the world like a roaring lion seeking human prey. Their “enchanted” belief in the Devil’s machinations provided them with an explanation for evil that protected them from the far worse alternative that wickedness is gratuitous and spontaneous. Moreover, it gave purposeful direction to their lives by offering them the opportunity to enlist in God’s grim but ultimately triumphant crusade against evil.

Most people today, even religious ones, no longer believe in the reality of a metaphysical source of evil, much less its personification as Satan. Nor have they an explicit sense of soldiering in a cosmic battle between divine good and hellish evil. But both archetypes are so hardwired in our psyches that they recur again and again, finding a home in any symbol that can express them.

And here’s where we cue the zombies. They’re today’s Devils, modernity’s version of the Great Enemy. We re-enchant the world by attributing to zombies qualities that our ancestors believed belonged to Satan. Zombies allow us to scratch our itch for archetypal symbols that hold deep meaning for us while allowing us to jettison pre-modern religious language that no longer speaks to us.

So for us, Zombies become roaring satanic lions hungrily searching out prey. They’re concrete personifications of our deep and ancient sense that evil is somehow mysteriously nonhuman in origin, even though it uses humans as its agents. Zombies reek of death and the grave–the underground, where Satan and the damned traditionally dwell. Their bite mutates human victims into zombies, just as Satan’s embrace mutates humans into slaves. And the cosmic battle theme between good and evil is also present: in all zombie stories, a valiant band of humans, typically led by a Savior-like figure, risk their own lives to rescue humankind from damnation.

No one believes that zombies actually exist. But our fascination with them points to the latest recurrence of the very same archetype that for earlier generations was communicated in explicitly religious language. We’re more deeply rooted in the enchanted world of our ancestors than we suspect.

So the next time you watch a zombie movie, be aware that your forebears are seated alongside you.

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Sage Paul Lutus: Most “educated” people cannot tell the difference between a fact and an idea, the most common confusion of symbol and thing. Most believe if they collect enough facts, this will compensate for their inability to grasp the ideas behind those facts. And, because of this “poverty of ideas,” most cannot work out the simplest conceptual questions, such as “why is the sky dark at night?”

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/euclid-reasoned-something-or-it-isn-t

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The reflexive property is hugely important. And, in modern times, this property is apparently not so apparent and obvious. If you turn your ear to listen, you will hear myriad observations, worldviews, and specious conclusions that come down to this: a = … (something that is not) a.

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And this bothers me. Because, deny, ignore or obfuscate whether a = a, and suddenly you can explain and justify just about anything. It might or might not be entirely a conscious process, but it is nonetheless deliberate. And lazy. And convenient. And creepy.

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I think about this when, several times each year, a patient will speak of a new courtship with … someone who is married. And the new interest gives my patient The Speech: “We’re not really married. We’ve been separated for (period of time), and the reason the divorce isn’t yet filed/final is (blah blah blah).”

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And my patient thinks this clears things right up.

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And I affect my very best neutral nod. But, inside, I always think the same thing: a = a. Only divorced people are divorced. Only married people are married people. Which means that married people aren’t divorced people.

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A = a. Only friends are friends. And only nouns are nouns. So, write this down: I will never “friend” you. Ever. Or “unfriend” you.

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I could go on and on. The reflexive property has never mattered more. Because we live in a time of confusing facsimile with reality. And that has consequences.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-twitter-really-americas-conscience/2015/02/24/8b9e04d6-bc67-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html

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Mindless social media (e.g. Twitter)

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Social media, especially Twitter, have appropriated the role of national conscience. When Tweety Bird is upset, the whole world is upset — or at least that portion of the world that pays attention to such things. As of 2014, only 23 percent of online adults (18 and older) use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.

The broader media, however, pay attention to and report on buzz as though these online snippets were the last word on public opinion. But buzz, like all gossip through time, is meaningless without contextual analysis. Buzz, in other words, doesn’t necessarily suggest a conclusion, such as Americans have lost their sense of humor, and we have become mind-numbingly politically correct .

This may be our future, heaven forbid. But meanwhile, we can find some comfort in the following: Many Americans couldn’t care less about the Oscars, what Penn said, or what Twitter buzzed about it. Only 36.6 million watched the Academy Awards this year, down 16 percent from last year, according to Nielsen ratings.

Context is, as always, everything. But we’ll see what Twitter has to say about that.

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I’ll concede that Sean Penn’s delivery at the Oscars had all the warmth of a basilisk’s gaze. Then again, what would one expect from Penn? He has mastered the expression of one who would rather be anywhere else. His default countenance is of a man trapped between existential angst and disgust — or rather like someone who knows what’s really going on.

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It’s all in the delivery.

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Human beings are created for relationship. Without you, there is no meaningful me. How I experience my life is, in the end, inseparable from how I experience you. Said yet another way, we’re here to love and be loved. — sage Steven Kalas

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/luck-of-the-draw-bad-or-good-forgive-yourself-for-what-is-not-in-your-power-to-do-steven-kalas/

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Sometimes the worst pain comes from feeling abandoned (estrangement) and unloved (alienation). That happened to me when my marriage of more than three decades ended. When my wife walked out on me, she took my sense of self-worth with her.

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Without her to validate me as a human being,

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I began to think I wasn’t worth anything at all.

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It is very hard to let go of your past. For years I held on to my old life, refusing to let go. I just couldn’t see any other life worth living. Letting go of your past is a long, hard process, and for me that process isn’t over yet. In some ways, it’s just beginning.

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But here is why it’s important that we put in that time and effort — because if we live in the past, we will never discover our destiny. Destiny, promise, potential, purpose — all of these are things that have to do with the future, not the past.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antoinette-tuff/three-steps-to-turning-pain-purpose_b_4979660.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS%20for%20the%20Soul
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Yes, one who lives authentically and in the moment suffers persecution, taking a line from exemplar Christ.

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 http://biblehub.com/2_timothy/3-12.htm
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-davis-phd/saint-francis-and-pope-francis_b_4967289.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/life-advice_n_4979765.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul
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Life  celebration often is born of immense suffering.

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The willingness to stretch oneself into compelling vulnerability by loving and desiring to be loved draws from a psychic well so deep that is not without cost.

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Sometimes great cost.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/after-laughs-comedian-leaves-us-lesson
http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/trust-risk-taken-not-acquired-skill
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Once you have a meditative life you start to see that the world is really far different than what it appears to be,   e.g.

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob%27s_Ladder_(film)#Production

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/this-ancient-blueprint-fo_n_5312209.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

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A person must have an “inner citadel” to which one can retreat.

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Living from this inner place of peace and equanimity —

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a place which no person or external event can penetrate —

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gives one the freedom to shape one’s life by responding to events from a rational, calm headspace.

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Find your inner citadel.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/one-man-s-definition-spirituality

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I once tried to craft a definition of spirituality that could be universalized. That is, the definition would not and could not be “owned” or dominated by any particular religion.

Purely objective. And utterly human.

For better or worse, I finally came up with this:  “Spirituality is the intentional disciplines we undertake to realize, respond and bring witness to essential relatedness.”

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Intentional disciplines

Significant spirituality presupposes some effort and intention on our part. We habituate ourselves to certain prescribed disciplines. Meditation, prayer, worship, sacrifice, piety, chanting, alms, fasting, study, mission, pilgrimage, ritual, marriage, music, art, dance, exercise — there are myriad forms of spiritual discipline. Only some are formal, “religious” activities.

But all spiritual disciplines attempt to express, strengthen and realize our fundamental relationships: self, others, cosmos, mystery. An authentic spiritual path is more than mere spontaneous enthusiasm or casual, intellectual observation.

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Let’s unpack the definition:

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To realize

A lot of things that are real are never realized. To realize is to bring to full expression. In authentic spirituality, we reach for what we believe to be real (our worldview) and we make it real in ourselves.

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To respond

Authentic spirituality compels us to respond. When we realize we are related, we find that we must respond to our relationships. We serve, we seek, we redeem, we account, we repair, we reconcile, we protect, we do battle, we make peace — action verbs.  We must answer the “voice” we have heard. We are obliged (from the Latin obligare = “tied to”).

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Bring witness

In word and deed we evidence our essential relatedness. We tell our story, yes, sometimes with words, but more often with deeds. The fast track of getting to know any human being is observing how that human being responds to his/her committed bonds of relationship.

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Essential relatedness

I was unable to coin a meaningful definition of spirituality without presupposing an article of faith. In the case of my definition, I’m presupposing that people and cosmos are essentially related. I can’t prove that. It’s part of my spiritual worldview (my cosmology) leaking into my definition.

I can’t apologize, though, because I do think we are essentially related. We do not choose to be related to the mystery, the cosmos, to ourselves and each other. We are related.

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All significant world religions and spiritual paths share common elements:

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A narrative

“In the beginning” … “Once upon a time” … “a child was born” …

Spirituality is contained in story. The story often includes a particular human life perceived to be unique and definitive of how life is and how life should be lived. For example, there is a life lived in history (Siddhartha) and then there is the collective response to that life lived (Buddhism).

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Sacred writings

The Bible, the Quran, the Deer Park Sermon, the Torah, Bhagavad Gita, petroglyphs — in sacred writings the stories and collective wisdom of spiritual paths are preserved and passed on.

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Moral code

The great world religions share basic concerns about violence, exploitation, dishonesty, theft and the breakdown of sexual boundaries. Religions postulate an “ideal” expression of our humanity and generally agree that we are incapable of realizing this ideal by the mere force of will. We sense what is good, but we cannot simply decide to be good.

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Festival, ritual and tradition

The great world religions contain potent rites of passage, rituals that realize and celebrate relatedness, and traditions that mark a rhythm for the ebb and flow of life.

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Sacrifice (alms)

The great world religions express a primary concern for the especially vulnerable members of society — the poor, the sick, the disabled, the very old and very young, etc. And so, authentic spirituality includes the regular, sometimes ritual sacrifice of time, talents, energy, goods, service and money for the aid and protection of the “especially vulnerable.”

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The thing I rather enjoy about my definition is that, even for people who swear they don’t have a religious bone in their body, well, there is still a very sense in which they can enjoy, nurture and grow an authentic inmost dimension to their lives.

If your spirituality/inmost-edness and/or your religion is not, at the end of the day, about tying you to fidelity in relationships, then I would wonder about its purpose and relevance.

Right relationships yield human wholeness.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-a-georgescu/the-last-shall-be-first_b_4683340.html
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The Last Shall be First — Jesus

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Devoting oneself to others is at the heart of all the world’s major faiths.

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If we are devoted to a higher purpose (e.g. hope in salvation), love and compassion become the whole point and our goals become more important than what we get in return for them.

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Who am I? A person who loves and desires to be loved in turn.

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Jodi Picoult: “People always say that, when you love someone, nothing in the world matters. But that’s not true, is it? You know, and I know, that when you love someone, everything in the world matters a little bit more.”

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http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3764682-handle-with-care

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/not-who-am-i-but-whose-am-i-and-this-radicalgestalt-changes-everything-from-sage-steven-kalas-born-1957/

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It’s not “Who am I?” but “Whose am I?” And this radical/gestalt changes everything!! (e.g. I am a father/grandfather/elder role model to my progeny/etc.)

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOW4QiOD-oc

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner#Interpretation

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These thematic elements provide an atmosphere of uncertainty for Blade Runner‘s central theme of examining humanity.

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In order to discover replicants, an empathy test is used, with a number of its questions focused on the treatment of animals—seemingly an essential indicator of someone’s “humanity.”

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The replicants appear to show compassion and concern for one another and are juxtaposed against human characters who lack empathy while the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal.

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The film goes so far as to put in doubt whether Deckard is human, and forces the audience to re-evaluate what it means to be human.

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Yes, the bad guy/unwanted huli’au actually might be the good guy.

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luck of the draw (bad or good) — forgive yourself for what is not in your power to do — Steven Kalas

 

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The blind will see and those who see will become blind. John 9:39-41 Those who become blind also will blind themselves as experts (ability to see). Thence those who become blind shall continue to remain ignorant. — Chiasmus

http://www.biblelimericks.com/?limerick=john-941-blind-seeing-seeing-blind

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/family/best-approach-help-some-addicts-step-away

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/relationship-important-part-effective-therapy

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She tells her story, and it’s my job to listen to the telling. It’s an awful story. Betrayal, injustice, abuse of power, exploitation — it’s not easy to listen.

Listening trips alarm systems in my body. My brain begins dumping chemicals into my bloodstream, changing the way I breathe. There’s a pre-emptive readiness in my musculature that I experience as tension. I feel anger and sadness, both vying for center stage of my attention. Competing fantasies include weeping, stepping outside to scream, sending her perpetrator a letter bomb and pouring us both shots of expensive bourbon. Right here in the office. Right here in session.

The latter fantasy explains why I don’t keep expensive hooch in my office.

She finishes the ugly tale. I lean forward with my most sincere Father Flannigan face and say in soothing intonations, “Take the deepest breath you can.” She looks up, smiles a tender, peaceful, beautiful smile and says, “I’m really OK.” To which I — Steven Kalas, Caped Crusader, Action Counselor, Man of the Hour — respond spontaneously and without a moment’s thought, “You’re right, it’s me who needs to take a deep breath.”

In the next moment, we both erupt in gales of laughter, both buffeted by the physical force of the irony ricocheting off the walls. It’s a cleansing irony. She ceremoniously hands me the Kleenex box and says, in caricature, “Would you like to talk about it?” I shrug and say: “I don’t know. How much do you charge?” And we laugh some more.

It doesn’t get any more real and honest than that. When I’m old and long-retired, I will remember that moment in my career. I will never stop sharing that story with interns and practicum students whose desire it is to learn this craft called Talk Therapy.

News flash for aspiring therapists: The idea that quality therapy is delivered to people in sheer objectivity and muted detachment is … well … absolute crap. Blank slate? Yeah, right. Run away screaming from any therapist who tells you they have no opinions, no prejudices and who seems deliberately wooden and removed from the interaction. It is not my job to be free of bias (as if that were possible), rather, to know my biases to the end that my bias does not intrude, interfere, countermand or impede.

Quality therapy is delivered in the context of a therapeutic relationship! Key word: relationship! Therapeutic benefit emerges — literally — in and proceeding out of the relationship. It is not a relationship of unilateral trust, rather, of mutual trust. It is a deep-seated sense of partnership. Even very sick people bring strengths to the table that have seen them through rough times. I notice these things, admire them and even learn from them.

A veteran therapist friend tells a simple yet powerful story about working with a patient who’d been sexually abused by several males in her family:

“She wailed, ‘Why Me?!’ It was voiced as a demand. She wanted an answer. And, of course, she feared she did something to deserve it. I simply answered, ‘The luck of the draw.’ She stared at me a moment, then shrieked: ‘The luck of the draw? That’s your answer?’ I nodded and said: ‘Yup. You did nothing to deserve it and, as far as I know, God doesn’t get pissed off at little kids and decide to punish them by giving them evil relatives who abuse them. To me that means it’s just the luck of the draw.’

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After staring at me several seconds, she burst out laughing and I joined her. She left that session, smiling, shaking her head and marveling, ‘The luck of the draw.’ I might say that I’d come to this conclusion some time before about my own experiences.”

See, a therapist focused on textbooks and technique might have answered, all sincere and philosophical: “I don’t know. Why do you think this happened to you?” But patients deserve more than a Human Echo Chamber. They deserve more than nodding, staring and “Mmm.” They need human reparative interaction.

Another veteran therapist tells this story:

“I once treated a developmentally disabled teen, hospitalized for childhood schizophrenia. He did very, very well, and at the time we terminated therapy asked me, ‘You know why this worked so well, doctor?’ I said, ‘No, why?’ He smiled and said, ‘Because you respected me and I respected you.’ “

Well, yeah. Of course.

With all respect to the practitioner’s training and expertise, maybe the heartbeat of effective therapy is 50 minutes of acutely focused, directed, authentically present and respectful human relationship.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/1-peter-48-love-covers-a-multitude-of-sins-center-of-grace-or-in-the-secular-sense-forgive-yourself-for-what-is-not-in-your-power-to-do/

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The points are to establish love and emotional support as our idyllic commands, in a tragic and indifferent world.

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Needless suffering is of this world, stuck in this tragic and indifferent life.

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Indeed, true love endures.

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It’s just that you need to close the gestalt of being in love with the person who no longer loves you

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and get past one’s own hurt, bitterness, disappointment and anger

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before what endures can be apprehended

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as the honored friend it is (self-respect)

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and not the cruel enemy

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it appears to be

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right after we’ve been dumped

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by the love of our life.

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True love endures. That’s a good thing.

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But true love is different from needless suffering for the rest of your life.

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At the end of the day, we have to grow a self-respect sufficient not to want someone who doesn’t want us.

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You need to forgive yourself

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for what was

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not

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in your power to do.

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/love-can-endure-if-people-work-through-lost-relationships-144330465.html

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Søren Kierkegaard says that life is full of absurdity, and one must make his and her own values in an indifferent world. One can live meaningfully (free of despair and anxiety) in an unconditional commitment to something finite, and devotes that meaningful life to the commitment, despite the vulnerability inherent to doing so. As sage Steven Kalas says, we’re here to love and be loved. That’s it. Dying people revel in who they became in meaningful relationships (soulmates)! Every other dimension of life — job, money, golf game, emptying the kitchen trash — is only important as it serves the end of how and why you are related to another soul.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/what-is-not-in-our-power-to-do/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/forgive-yourself-for-what-is-not-in-your-power-to-do-love-yourself-no-matter-the-external-rejection-from-others/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/limerence-falling-in-love-is-a-powerful-spontaneous-projection-of-self-the-experience-is-cosmic-and-powerfully-bonding-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/im-here-to-love-and-be-loved/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/but-now-theres-nowhere-to-hide-since-you-pushed-my-love-aside-my-head-is-saying-fool-forget-her-my-heart-is-saying-dont-let-go-hold-on-to-the-end-thats-what-i-intend-to-do/

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7128.Jodi_Picoult

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“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” ― Jodi Picoult

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“I’m lonely. Why do you think I had to learn to act so independent?” – ― Jodi Picoult

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“Love is not an equation, it is not a contract, and it is not a happy ending. Love is the slate under the chalk, the ground that buildings rise, and the oxygen in the air. It is the place you come back to, no matter where you’re headed.” ― Jodi Picoult

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“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?” ― Jodi Picoult

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“A real friend isn’t capable of feeling sorry for you, [but instead feeling sorry for/loss of you by the other person.]” ― Jodi Picoult

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“I didn’t want to see her because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it’s hard to remember who I am.” ― Jodi Picoult

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Preface to Susan Sarandon’s undying line below — the gumshoe/private eye says to Susan Sarandon’s character Beverly Clark (on tailing Bev’s hubby played by Richard Gere) that couples get married for passion, not protocol. Susan’s character Bev in turn responds via her eternal line below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0358135/quotes

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We need a witness to our lives. There are billions of people on this planet…

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I mean, what does any one life really mean?

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But in a relationship,

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you’re promising to care about everything.

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The good things, the bad things, the mundane things…

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all of them, all the time.

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You’re saying

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‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.

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Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdBATA_Ag5s

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(Sigh) … it could not have been said any deeper than this … with love timelessly, :-)–Curt

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Rose teasingly tells Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack in the 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic –

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Immortalize me, Jack!” (via Jack’s portrait sketching talent) Done, baby!!

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As sage Steven Kalas intones (Love’s Purple Heart is won) –

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/what-hurts-most-may-bring-people-closest-together

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Once upon a time you stood before an altar

And you promised not to leave

You held each other’s hand and dreamed a sweet forever

Love brought angels to your knees

Oh, the days they do fly by

Count the tears that you have cried

Count the laughter and the lies

Count your love and times love died

And here you stand together, battle-scarred and torn

The locks of fairy tales have fallen, long since shorn

Love has chosen you, blessed you, crucified you

See what you’ve become

Love’s Purple Heart is won

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Once upon a time

You promised to believe

That wounded hearts though painful so

Are the only hearts that grow

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Infinity’s Loving Purple Heart has been won.

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http://www.bigislandchronicle.com/2010/02/15/dispatches-from-curt-%e2%80%94-john-hustons-the-battle-of-san-pietro-semper-fi-wounded-in-action-and-other-musings/#comment-25773

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For Greek philosophers Plato/Aristotle, glorious virtues start w/courage & end w/wisdom, a la Santini/Zulu/the British square/other renowned warriors.

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The 1st historian in the Western World, Herodotus, crusaded to “preserve the memory of great and marvelous deeds,”

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just as successor Thucydides’ mission was to record “important and instructive actions of human beings.”

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I tip my hat to my dearest daughter Staycie age 42 for finding the hero/heroine in us all, our very own Herodotus/Thucydides who exemplify Plato/Aristotle’s creeds that glorious virtues start with courage and end with wisdom, and for making us all the happier/wiser/deeper for these values.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/when-the-unconscious-is-ready-to-deliver-its-great-treasures-forged-timeless-in-the-depths-of-the-human-soul-well-who-would-want-to-interrupt-that-with-a-mere-mortal-agenda-steven-kal/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/its-a-virtual-cliche-for-modern-patients-in-therapy-to-self-diagnose-with-i-need-to-work-on-my-self-esteem-it-rarely-turns-out-to-be-a-correct-diagnosis-i-much-prefer-to-focus-on-self-respec/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/interesting-that-jesus-not-only-doesnt-feel-the-need-to-scour-the-countryside-in-search-of-people-to-condemn-for-fear-that-surely-someones-ruining-the-fabric-of-tradition/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/life-is-full-of-reversals-of-expectations-baby-dedicated-to-my-little-girl-staycie-age-40-my-separation-anxiety-from-my-baby-girl-when-she-turned-18-left-home-to-live-on-her-own-turned/

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my little baby girl Staycie’s look-alike

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gps-for-the-soul/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/mind-blowing-jesus-stands-inexplicably-before-us-and-jesus-turns-common-sense-ideas-upside-down-confounding-us-all-dedicated-to-authentic-ri-in/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/in-tribute-to-my-leader-ri-in-honesty-speaks-to-the-heart-where-true-love-resides/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/love-what-it-requires-how-to-value-it-how-it-calls-us-to-pay-attention-to-celebrate-and-be-grateful-because-we-simply-never-know-human-beings-have-no-rights-or-claims-on-the-ever-so-brief/

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/love-the-simple-measure-life

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“When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.”

— Denali

Denali isn’t famous enough to need a last name. He has no formal education. Not even a high school diploma. What he does have is a keen, super-human sense of what love means. What it requires. How to value it. How it calls us to pay attention. To celebrate and be grateful.

Because we simply never know.

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Human beings have no rights or claims on the ever-so brief moments they are given to be together.

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Denali doesn’t understand why people complain about the fact that salads cost $12 or why their shoes got wet. Denali has love in keen relief, proper perspective. He talks of loving his dog, Ben, through cancer.

In journeys like that, you don’t notice your shoes. And maybe you forget to eat lunch entirely, at any price.

I’ve never met Denali in real time. I heard him quote the above words in an eight-minute short film called “Denali.” You can watch it on Vimeo.com. (https://vimeo.com/122375452)

Films like “Denali”

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remind me how simple is the measure of my own life:

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When I notice myself in narratives of chronic complaint, I’m a loser. It’s that simple.

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Then, when I get the idea that others should be obliged to grant an audience for my complaining, I’m a loser and a boor.

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The tortured trifecta is when I take the point of privilege to feel slighted, to mobilize resentment if others are unavailable for my complaining.

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Loser, boor and Crown Prince of Entitlement.

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When, instead, I work the discipline of gratitude, I’m a man of peace and humility. My soul is in a posture to receive rather than grasp or take. I revel in an inventory of unspeakable grace and gifts,

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not an inventory of ownership, achievement and deservedness.

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Ownership? Every day I grow older, the whole idea of ownership seems more a waste of time.

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For what is truly my own

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except for the moments I dared to love and be loved?

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Answer:    nothing.

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“We are in bondage to decay.” — Romans 8:20-21

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Only love survives.

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Nobody lies in hospice and makes an inventory of ownership. Nope. Dying requires us to take inventory of love.

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“Love is paying attention.” — M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)

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A friend tells me about a family tradition, started by her father, now gone to be with God. Home from work each night, he would pull his car up to the house and tap a friendly “beep beep” on the horn. He would announce his arrival, and a wife and children would rise and mingle toward the door to greet him.

Today, my friend continues the tradition. Her family knows to expect the “beep beep” as she pulls her car around to home.

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Thus do healthy families and healthy marriages make customs and rituals out of comings and goings, hellos and goodbyes.

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They see each other. They behold each other. They respect each other. (Look it up. In Latin, respectus means “to see again.”)

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I remember, as I do at least annually in this column, the Thorton Wilder play “Our Town.” At the end, the protagonist pleads to her mother, “Mother! Won’t you just look at me!”

Then she says to the stage manager: “Does anyone really live life while they live it?”

“Oh, a few,” says the stage manager, puffing his pipe. “Poets and saints, maybe. Nobody else.”

By the way, if you decide to click that link and watch “Denali,” bring a box of tissues. It’s going to wreck you. Wring you out like a dishrag. Pour your heart into your shoes. If you can watch this piece and not be moved, something is wrong with you. You’re embalmed. Sleepwalking. Frozen in ice.

Watch it. Ponder what really matters.

Then put this column down. Go call someone you love, and tell them so. Just because.

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Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm
https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity

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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar#Criteria_for_authenticity

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“Hi everyone! The one we worship was crucified by the Romans. Come follow us.” This opening line did not fit among Greco-Roman religions. Claiming that a divine figure was helplessly beaten, tortured, and gruesomely–shamefully executed, would have been proof positive that such a religion was a joke worthy only of late night monologs. The ridiculousness of the crucifixion of the Son of God is easily lost on modern Christians. We miss an important reversal that so typifies the gospel. Because the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation of being wise, to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) — Peter Enns

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle. “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.”

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What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”       ― Jodi Picoult,Nineteen Minutes    

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3375915-nineteen-minutes
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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/04/discovering-the-futility-of-human-existence-at-my-high-school-reunion/#ixzz3YGIJHHDx
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http://theutopianlife.com/2014/11/22/eeyore-pessimists-guide-beautiful-life/
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Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.

Ecclesiastes 3:15

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http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/3-15.htm
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Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
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3:11-15 Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts,

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we are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them.

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Our purpose is to love others (as God first loves us).

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Ecclesiastes 3:15

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Is there anything of which one can say,
  

            “Look! This is something new”?


It was here already, long ago;

 

             it was here before our time.

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This realization often comes much later, in mid-life, when the frantic pace of our youth has become tiresome, when we finally slow down a bit and take stock.

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I’m just another in a long line. I’m not at the front or back. Just in the massive middle. So are you.

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So is everyone.

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle.

I also, strangely, felt peace at this thought. I wasn’t exactly sure at the time why, but perhaps knowing that things are as they are and that I will not break this cycle  —-

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leads to a healthy resignation, a release of the fantasy that we control our universe, our lives.

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This is how I put it: my epiphany was a tender “letting go” moment.

I have found that letting go is a key component of the Christian life—of any spiritual life—but I was never taught “letting go” in my Christian education, in church, college, or seminary. The sub-current always seemed to be how “special” and privileged we were

not

to be part of this endless cycle of life.

I was taught to think of myself as outside of the circle.

But we live our lives within this circle, and our lives

do

 have meaning. Not a meaning handed to us, but a meaning we forge—right here, right now — by choice. Not by denying our humanity but by looking it square in the eye, shedding any notion of being above it all  — and choosing to walk or not — in spiritual salvation with our Lord Jesus.

After all, as Christians believe, God himself entered the human drama, the cycle of life, as yet another man in the long line of men before and since, born of a woman, in ancient Judea, in Galilee, who grew and learned like everyone else.

God valued the cycle enough to be a part of it.   So will I.   I so choose to walk in spiritual salvation with my Lord Jesus.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/a-faith-crisis-in-the-bible-and-dont-let-some-60s-hippies-tell-you-otherwise/
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Confession of resignation in Ecclesiastes:   The best we can do is to find joy (in God) in everyday life.

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In Ecclesiastes we find we hear our voices of sadness, depression anxiety, strife, and doubt echoing back from 2,500 years ago.   Life is not so grand, but we are not alone in feeling such.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/it-ll-take-more-bubble-bath-cure-your-stress

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Four fundamental sources of stress    —

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1.   MEANINGLESSNESS

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that the crisis of Western civilization was a crisis of meaning. As the great “symbol systems” of our past erode (e.g., the American flag, wedding rings, clear gender symbols, Judeo-Christian symbols), we are left more and more with a culture void of symbolic identity. Our understanding of relationship and intimacy is no longer grounded in depth communion expressed by shared symbols but in the facade of “connectedness” (see Facebook, etc.). Our work is less and less grounded in the symbol of vocation and more and more grounded in “occupation.” That is, something that occupies our time and makes money.

More and more patients enter therapy not to resolve unhappy childhood memories, not to change some unhealthy habit, but to try to express that vague, nagging, painful emptiness of a soul looking for meaning.

Meaninglessness is very stressful.

2.    DENIED EMOTIONS

Imagine standing waste deep in a swimming pool, holding a volleyball. Now, push the ball underwater with one hand. Hold it there, underwater. Give it a minute. As your arm tires, you will notice the ball’s desire to surface. It wants to surface. Demands to surface! Your arm will start to tremble. You have to concentrate. Perhaps a grunt will escape your lips as you bring to bear the effort to keep that ball underwater.

This is what it’s like to deny your emotions. To do anything but feel. Anger, fear, vulnerability, shame, guilt, grief, loss, despair — our culture raises you to deny suffering at all cost.

Undigested, unrecognized, denied emotions are very stressful.

3.     DISRESPECT/CONTEMPT

If a tree is planted in a poison forest, it will fail to thrive. If you rescue the tree by digging it up, repotting it in healthy soil, feed and water it, then the tree will begin to recover and grow. But, once restored to health, if you return it to the poison forest … well, there aren’t enough bubble baths in the world to make living in that forest OK.

This is what it’s like for so many patients. I help them. They begin to thrive and heal in therapy. But, if they must then return to a poison marriage … or return to poison parents … or return to a poison workplace and a poison supervisor … well, relaxation techniques will not ultimately be enough to save them.

Participating in relationships marked by chronic disrespect/contempt is very stressful.

4.     THE DOUBLE BIND

In the 1950s, Gregory Bateson struck upon the idea of the double bind: “A psychological impasse created when a person perceives that someone in a position of power is making contradictory demands, so that no response is appropriate.”

Bateson says the victim of double bind receives contradictory injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words, and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticized or silenced whenever he or she actually does so).

No meta-communication is possible — for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense.

The victim cannot leave the communication field.

Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished (for example, by withdrawal of love).

The double bind is often one of the poisons in the poison forest. It is a common strategy (albeit, often unconscious) of folks treating us with chronic disrespect/contempt. It can make you feel like you are losing your mind.

Sure, take time for yourself. That’s a good thing. But, if any of these four stressful dynamics haunt your life, you will have to do something about it.

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The issue is whether we are able to accept that our cognitive power–which can be limiting and deceiving as well as liberating and enlightening–is truly up for the task of grasping the divine.

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http://www.peteenns.com/when-god-stops-making-sense-or-my-favorite-part-of-the-old-testament/
http://www.peteenns.com/a-blog-post-in-which-i-ask-myself-4-questions-about-christianity-and-evolution/

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Job’s experience threatens the foundation of his moral world. God punishes the wicked, yet Job isn’t wicked. So why is God doing this (theodicy — the issue of suffering)?

Job never gets a straight answer to the question–other than God telling Job “I’m God, the Creator. You’re not.”

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“You are human, Job, present here on earth for a few moments. You can’t possibly comprehend how the universe works, or my part in it. The script of the sacred story is fine as far as it goes, but this world and my place in it aren’t constricted by it. You will not figure this out, Job.”

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The universe we inhabit is largely deaf to our moral preoccupations. It is distant, cold, empty space, beholden to an apparently endless cycle of destruction and rebirth.

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God’s answer to Job, if I may translate into the contemporary idiom, is that the divine is “trans-rational.”

At the end of the day the human thought process can only get you so far when it comes to God.

At some point, for most of us, as it was for some biblical writers, God stops making sense.

The question then is whether the non-sense leads to disbelief in God or becomes an invitation to seek God differently–even through confrontation and debate, as these biblical books model for us.

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I’m just saying that over time I’ve come to answer that question in the second way–as I think Job, some psalmists, and the author of Ecclesiastes did.

Some might call that kind of faith “fideism”–an irrational belief in God rather than based on “sound reason.” But I think the charge of fideism misses the halting lesson life insists on giving us, and also persists in presuming what Job’s friends also insisted on–that where God is concerned, things make sense.

The issue as I see it isn’t simply whether your faith is or isn’t “reasonable.” “Reasonable” is a moving target.

The issue is whether we are able to accept that our cognitive power–which can be limiting and deceiving as well as liberating and enlightening–is truly up for the task of grasping the divine.

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That, I think, is what these books of the Old Testament are after in their own way and in their own time and place. And that’s why I like them.

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Was Jesus more than a 1st century Jew? Yes, I believe he was—and working that out is the stuff of 2000 years of Christian theology. But however “more than human” Jesus may be, and whatever we might mean by that, he was certainly not one micro-millimeter less than fully human—and that has all sorts of implications.

But that’s the deal with the incarnation, and that’s why appealing to a reference or two in the Gospels doesn’t trump the profound observations of science.

And to think that it does, ironically, is not respectful of Jesus or a declaration of a “high” or “orthodox” Christology. It is actually a quasi-biblical sub-Christian Christology that betrays a deep discomfort with the theological implications of the core element of the Christian faith–the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

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http://biblehub.com/john/1-14.htm

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John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

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God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father.

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My life has been a Griffin Dunne character in After Hours    

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Paul Hackett (Dunne) experiences a series of misadventures as he tries to make his way home  (mishaps produce laughter via cynicism, skepticism, & the irony of incurring wrath thru one’s desire of pleasure).

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This film is on the list of “Great Movies,” and it combines comedy, satire, and irony (irreducible truth) with unrelenting pressure and a sense of all-pervading paranoia/destruction.

Hopscotch to oblivion’, Barcelona, Spain

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtPI9jIx1kU

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Hours_(film)

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Nelle Harper Lee’s epiphany To Kill a Mockingbird    —

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In real life, Nelle’s father defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients, a father and son, were hanged.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harper_Lee#Early_life

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Loss of innocence

A color photograph of a northern mockingbird

Lee used the mockingbird to symbolize innocence in the novel.

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Songbirds and their associated symbolism appear throughout the novel. The family’s last name of Finch also shares Lee’s mother’s maiden name. The titular mockingbird is a key motif of this theme, which first appears when Atticus, having given his children air-rifles for Christmas, allows their Uncle Jack to teach them to shoot. Atticus warns them that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Confused, Scout approaches her neighbor Miss Maudie, who explains that mockingbirds never harm other living creatures. She points out that mockingbirds simply provide pleasure with their songs, saying, “They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” Writer Edwin Bruell summarized the symbolism when he wrote in 1964, “‘To kill a mockingbird’ is to kill that which is innocent and harmless—like Tom Robinson.” Scholars have noted that Lee often returns to the mockingbird theme when trying to make a moral point.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird#Loss_of_innocence

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-kornbluth/maybe-you-should-re-read_b_7779356.html

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An honor guard from the South Carolina Highway patrol lowers the Confederate battle flag as it is removed from the Capitol grounds Friday, July 10, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (John Bazemore/AP)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lowering-the-flag-of-divisiveness/2015/07/10/e519f21a-2740-11e5-aae2-6c4f59b050aa_story.html

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Friday’s ceremony in Columbia was brief, dignified and profoundly moving for the many gathered, as well as those watching from afar. Gov. Nikki Haley (R), surrounded by fellow officials and lawmakers, looked resplendent in a white suit that was reminiscent of a white flag offered in surrender and in peace. I don’t mean the South’s surrender to the North, or of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to the NAACP, which has fought for the lowering of the flag in South Carolina for more than 20 years.

It was the surrender of injured pride to the cause of the greater good. It was the sublimation of “I” for the liberation of “we.”

South Carolina’s better angels were tapped by the departing souls of nine people gunned down while praying in the historic Mother Emanuel church not far from where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. Only silence can capture the totality of so much suffering, forgiveness, surrender, reconciliation and grace.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/flag-debate-rages-readers-responses

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I resolved the struggle when I realized that innocence of motive (mine) combined with understandable naivete (again, mine) is and was and insufficient argument for doing nothing. Let alone the folks protesting their own innocence (“€œBut: it’€™s about heritage!”) or still insisting The Civil War was wholly the North’s fault and had nothing to do with slavery or it’€™s tantrum progeny, racism.

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I had struggled through a contradiction within myself.

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The disease that spawned The Holocaust is not a German disease. It’s a human disease. The only citation Hitler’€™s Germany deserves is one of scale. But the “DNA” of the problem courses through the blood stream of every human being, including this columnist. Its name is human evil. And it’s always here, always waiting for the conditions allowing it to incubate. Individually or collectively. On scales small and large.

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One reader sobered me. Broke my heart. Because I think he represents a critical mass of America today.

“€œDialogue is useless. Waste of time. No one is gonna change anyone’s mind. We are in a culture war. In a war one side will win. You have no clue.”

About that, Good Reader, we disagree. Dialogue is a beautiful thing. Powerful. Even profound. By definition, its participants come to the table open to the possibility of change. Even excited about the possibility. Learning, changing and growing is the only reason to be in a dialogue.

It is not dialogue that is useless. Rather, it’€™s a culture no longer courageous enough to enter in to dialogue. It’€™s easier to dichotomize and vilify.

To decide that I have no clue (when the option is imperative — to uplift the forsaken).

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http://www.vulture.com/2015/07/jon-stewart-told-wyatt-cenac-to-fck-off.html

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This happened back in the summer of 2011, when Stewart was roundly pillorying the 2012 presidential hopefuls, including one Herman Cain. He made fun of Cain by doing a “voice.” At the time Cenac was on a field assignment, and watched the bit from home. “I don’t think this is from a malicious place, but I think this is from a naïve, ignorant place,” he remembered thinking. “Oh no, you just did this and you didn’t think about it. It was just the voice that came into your head. And so it bugged me.” Stewart had been getting flak from Fox News for the voice, and he wanted to do something to respond — an Avenue Q–style “Everything I do is racist” segment. (They did change the frame to one making fun of Stewart.)

Cenac, who was the only black writer there at the time, voiced his concerns during the writer’s meeting. “I’ve got to be honest, and I just spoke from my place,” said Cenac. “I wasn’t here when it all happened. I was in a hotel. And I cringed a little bit. It bothered me.” He wanted them to drop the bit and said that it reminded him of Kingfish, a character Tim Moore played on Amos ‘n’ Andy. He remembers:

[Stewart] got incredibly defensive. I remember he was like, What are you trying to say? There’s a tone in your voice. I was like, “There’s no tone. It bothered me. It sounded like Kingfish.” And then he got upset. And he stood up and he was just like, “Fuck off. I’m done with you.” And he just started screaming that to me. And he screamed it a few times. “Fuck off! I’m done with you.” And he stormed out. And I didn’t know if I had been fired.

The fight carried on at Stewart’s office and was only stopped when one of the office dogs began pawing at them. (Aww.) Eventually, the show had to go on, and Cenac remembers going outside to a baseball field and having a breakdown. “I was shaking, and I just sat there by myself on the bleachers and fucking cried. And it’s a sad thing. That’s how I feel. That’s how I feel in this job. I feel alone,” he said.

The entire conversation is well worth listening to. Cenac is characteristically thoughtful about how racial dynamics manifest themselves in creative spaces like The Daily Show, and how it places people of color in a bind where they have to “represent”:

Something like this, I represent my community, I represent my people, and I try to represent them the best that I can. I gotta be honest if something seems questionable, because if not, then I don’t want to be in a position where I am being untrue not just to myself but to my culture, because that’s exploitative. I’m just allowing something to continue if I’m just going to go along with it. And sadly, I think that’s the burden a lot of people have to have when you are “the one.” You represent something bigger than yourself whether you want to or not.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/time-the-naive-wake-symbolism-confederate-flag

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When I began to digest the news of nine murders at a historic black church in South Carolina, I confess it was at first hard for me to take Dylann Roof seriously as a white supremacist, any more than I took Mark David Chapman seriously as a Christian when he murdered John Lennon for saying “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus.”€ That is, Chapman could have just as easily murdered James Taylor, whom he’€™d accosted the day before Lennon‘€™s murder at a subway station.

Roof, for me, was just another mortally damaged, soulless, sociopathic punk whose sickness is wont to fixate and react to anything and nothing. A church. A school. A mall. An ethnic group. A leaf blowing across the yard.

I‘€™m saying that crazy is disturbingly random stuff. I‘€™m reluctant to give it too much credit for ideological calculation.

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Then, when we as a nation turned our heart-wrenching horror and grief toward the Confederate flag, I shifted into my clinical training in bereavement. “Here we go,” I thought. Because desperately sad, frightened people often turn their collective grief, fear and guilt to some symbolic action they see as redemptive. Sometimes this action is well-reasoned and meaningful. Sometimes it‘s just reactive and a bit willy-nilly.

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The controversy challenged me. It made me examine and re-examine. It made me wonder –€” again –€” what part of my worldview reflects wisdom, truth and goodness — and what part is naivete and/or historical ignorance.

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The more I read, the harder it became to distinguish between the Confederate flag as standing for regional pride or injured pride, the latter being a real problem.

Yeah. Let‘€™s take it down. While surely some Southerners have flown that flag as innocently as a 10-year-old drawing swastikas, the time for stubborn innocence and willful naivete is just as surely over.

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Right hearts, minds, and actions in sequential order

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New Testament external prompts correlate with the convergence of the human and holy spirit and the sacred items in the Ark of the Covenant

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christian-piatt/following-jesus-isnt-prim_b_6740148.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Right thought or belief is generally called “orthodoxy,” [New Testament prompt of sipping wine-conscience/Old Testament Aaron’s Rod]

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while right action is called “orthopraxy.”  [New Testament prompt of breaking bread-fellowship/Old Testament manna]

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And sometimes we seem to assume that these are the only things to focus on, or even that one is somehow superior to the other.

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In studying the teachings and words of Jesus, however, I’m coming to embrace the sense that “orthopathy,” or right-heartedness [New Testament prompt of Lord’s table-intuition/Old Testament Torah Scroll], is a critical third leg [actually the first leg] of the proverbial stool.   This right-heartedness actually helps lead us to the path we’re seeking for the other two.

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Consider the Greatest Commandment, which Jesus claims is foundational to all other laws and commandments. He’s not saying that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant or that the 600-plus Jewish laws should be cast aside. Far from it, in fact. By focusing on loving God with all we are, loving all our neighbors (“all” really does mean all) and even loving ourselves in kind, everything else falls into its proper place.

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He doesn’t say that the Greatest Commandment is to claim a certain set of beliefs, get baptized or go to a certain church.

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He doesn’t say that the virtues of action to which we are called in the Beatitudes are paramount.

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But at the same time, he’s not diminishing or undermining these.

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Rather, he’s helping bring them into greater fullness (perfection) by focusing first and foremost on loving. Not just love as a claim or feeling but as a verb, a worldview, a lens through which we understand all of creation. When we are driven by such all-encompassing, consuming, perfect and sacrificial love [New Testament prompt of living water-convergence of the human & holy spirit/Old Testament Tablets of Stone], the beliefs and actions fall into place.

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In this way, the teachings of Jesus dovetail elegantly with the teachings of the Buddha:

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Right hearts lead to right minds, and right minds lead to right actions.

 

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Perhaps we focus on orthodoxy and orthopraxy more because, in many ways, they’re easier to measure. Also important is that they are easier to wield over others, in assessing whether or not they are worthy of salvation, inclusion, or (fill in the blank). But the act of living into perfect love is terrifying, partly because it is perpetually unfinished business.

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Also, it is radically subversive, because the rule of love (rather than the rule of law) cannot be used to consolidate and exert power over one another. 

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Whereas our application of the old laws — or orthodoxy or orthopraxy — can be used to control or conform,

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love inherently releases and liberates.

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And in the best ways possible, it subverts the very systems of power we have built to contain, control and even marginalize those without power and privilege.

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I know that for some this is a significant shift in understanding what is at the heart of following Jesus. It is shockingly simple but never, ever easy. It is accessible by all yet controlled by none.

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It is the way, the truth, the life. And it is so much bigger than any church, denomination or religion. To me, that is good news; that is gospel.

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Hope (as in salvation/inner joy-peace) beyond suffering is what moves us to suffer for the good of others.

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The spirit of fear (self-conscripted insecurity/ego defensiveness)(smallness ergo self-inflated importance to mask our insecurity) is selfishness, whereas as examples the fear (respect) of God & the Wrath of God have selfless-altruist outcomes.

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Which is why deepest thinker/soulful pilgrim Steven Kalas intones that authentic Christianity/Christian mysticism are incompatible with today’s “hip” New Age outcomes of narcissism/me-me-me mentality.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/new-age-spirituality-aka-integralevolutionarytransformational-not-to-be-confused-with-christianitys-i-am-exodus-314/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism#Biblical_influences

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism#Modern_era

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age#Late_20th_century

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Do you know that theologian Martin Luther’s tabletalk (intimate heartfelt dialogues with others) helped inspire Luther’s deep comprehension of Scripture (selfless sacrifice for the good of others)?

 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/tabletalk.html

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And that mysterious and mystical exemplar Christ’s tabletalk with diverse/divergent ones from atheists to believers — inspire our deepest connection with compassion for others??

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Platonism (the mystical) was considered authoritative in the Middle Ages, and many Platonic notions are now permanent elements of Christianity. Platonism also influenced both Eastern and Western mysticism.

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While Aristotle became more influential than Plato in the 13th century via Aquinas, St. Thomas Aquinas‘ philosophy was still in certain respects fundamentally Platonic (mystical).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonism#Christianity_and_Platonism

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Aquinas placed more emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of Aristotle’s metaphysical and epistemological writing.

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This was a significant departure from the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking (the mystical) that had dominated much of early scholasticism (early church fathers).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism#High_Scholasticism

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/augustinian-mystic-martin-luther-aquinas-cognition-john-calvin-and-yet-bertrand-russell-apostle-john-are-augustinian-plato-logos-analytical-acolytes-huli-au-upside-down/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/augustine-acolyte-original-sin-john-wycliffe-1320-1384-was-the-impetus-to-luthers-protestant-reformation-a-century-later-for-this-reason-wycliffe-is-called-the-morning-star-of-the-reformatio/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/in-praise-of-pastors-calisto-violet-mateo-of-our-god-reigns-ministry-at-1289-kilauea-ave-hilo-suite-h-phone-808-961-6540/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/ouvre-nearly-half-a-century-of-deepest-passion-i-can-see-it-in-your-eyes-that-you-despise-the-same-old-lines-you-heard-the-night-before-and-though-its-just-a-line-to-you-for-me-its-true-a/

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlgregg/2014/03/the-life-tradition-versus-the-death-tradition-in-christianity/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/it-hurts-to-be-treated-as-a-means-to-an-end-the-hurt-is-a-sign-of-our-health-our-self-respect-not-a-sign-that-anything-about-us-needs-to-be-fixed-from-sage-steven-kalas/

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An overprideful person “swallows one’s own stomach.” Such nature entails endless self-aggrandizement and vanity, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels authenticity/truth.

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It is true, the strength behind the leader is the person who mystifies me, the so-called unspoken one, like baby brother Andrew was to Peter [Bible].

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God has no use for pride, such that the meekest of the meek went on to lead, like Moses/Gideon.

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Look at King David. Lowly Nathan chastened shell-shocked David. Look at Joshua/etc. All unheralded/unsung heroes. Tremendous symbolism of “never judge a book by its cover.”

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grace-jisun-kim/jesus-and-the-cross-rejec_b_5143162.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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No one likes rejection.

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Jesus knew rejection through his life. The people of Nazareth, his own hometown, rejected him (Luke 4:26-30). Still others wondered about him because of that hometown. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked (John 1:46). People rejected much of his teaching. Many questioned the origin of his teachings and do not accept him as he was born poor, the son of Joseph the carpenter. In Matthew 21:42, Jesus talks about the stone the builders rejected. The story is a revelation about Jesus, himself.

The Gospels say that Jesus travelled a lot and suggest he entered villages where he found no place to rest. Luke’s Gospel tells of one time Jesus was not welcomed in a Samaritan village (Luke 9:51-53). Jesus’ comment on the experience could imply this happened frequently (Luke 9:58).

Remember the last few hours of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion. Many people and groups rejected Jesus, including those closest to him. Judas betrayed Jesus and identified him in the Garden of Gethsemane for those who came to arrest him. The disciples all ran away in fear when Jesus was arrested. Peter, who said that he would never desert Jesus, ended up denying Jesus three times (John 18:15-27). The high priest, the chief priests, the elders and scribes rejected Jesus and wanted him put to death.

The religious leaders took Jesus to Pilate for a trial. Pilate did not want any trouble and since it was the governor’s custom to release one prisoner during Passover, he asked the crowd, “Which do you want me to release, Barabbas or Jesus?” (Matthew 27:17). The crowds chose Barabbas and rejected Jesus, leaving him to be crucified.

At the final moment of his life, Jesus felt the ultimate rejection. On the cross at the ninth hour Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45). Jesus knows and understands rejection. Jesus exemplified rejection.

Tremendous pain comes with rejection. The experience can feel like one has been thrown into a spiraling emotional and spiritual black hole and lead one to wonder if there is hope of return to a normal life.

Rejection fills life.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/knowing-when-dream-when-let-dreams-go

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Not every dream comes true.

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Sometimes because our dreams overreach the miserable human condition (ideals of great love).

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Sometimes our dreams overreach immutable realities (my body simply wasn’t designed to fly like a bird).

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The good life, then, requires us to tightrope this paradox: We must never stop dreaming … yet also we must learn to say goodbye to some dreams.

If we stop dreaming, our lives become one-dimensional, static, not fully alive. If we don’t know how and when to say goodbye to a dream, we get stuck in embittered, nostalgic quicksand.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/limits-vs-limitless-freedom-choice-life

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James Kavanaugh publishes “Celebrate the Sun: A Love Story.” In it we meet protagonist Harry Langendorf Pelican. Like his seagull compatriot, Harry rejects the ordinary life of a pelican and reaches outward for his own potential. Like Jonathan, Harry falls into disfavor from family and friends. He considers his willingness to suffer the disfavor as a measure of his depth, commitment and bravery.

Then Harry’s mother dies. And Harry is confronted with limits. No amount of affirming our life’s potential or hurling ourselves boldly in that potential changes the fact that there is, in the end, no such thing as limitless freedom.

The most joyous human freedoms emerge, paradoxically, from surrender to limits.

Kavanaugh’s book critiques Bach’s book. And I knew I must choose. And I did, finally, choose. I decided. I know it sounds like a riddle, but I decided there is ever-so-much more potential for freedom in limits. I began to see the idea of limitlessness as … limiting.

Bach says, “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self — here and now. And nothing can stand in your way.”

I concluded, “Oh, actually tons of things can stand in your way. That’s the wonder and joy of it: the journey of finding authentic selfhood when so many things are standing in the way.”

Bach says, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, they never were.”

I concluded, “If you love someone, choose them with your whole heart! Never stop having high expectations of him/her, or of yourself!”

Bach says, “If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.”

I concluded, “Yes, many limitations are in fact self-imposed. Rethink those, for sure. But other limitations are immutable. We’re mortal. We age, weaken and die. We suffer. We grieve. We cannot will our own goodness. We cannot, no matter what we achieve, ever be wiser or stronger than The Mystery. Life will continue to happen, independent of our striving to be the sole author of our fate.”

Humility is the doorway to all the greatest treasures of the human experience.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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I write to live authentically — “having been” is the surest kind of being, per great sage Viktor Frankl

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Usually, to be sure, man considers only the stubble field of transitoriness [the “now”]

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and

overlooks

the full granaries of the past [reflective lookback] –

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wherein he had salvaged once and for all his deeds, his joys

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and also his sufferings.

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Nothing can be undone, and nothing can be done away with.

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[for example, I dream of being loved & wanted in the most beautiful way, & even if this dream is not reality, such thought/”unction” comprises my strength & “positive/right” attitude, even in the starkest moment of despair/seemingly hopeless predicament/state of nonexistence-nonbeing closest to death itself, having been forsaken all the way around –

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which is why Jewish Viktor Frankl’s dream amid the Holocaust even when facing down the death chamber/firing squad was “the angels are in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” Ohh, so true!!]

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I should say ”having been” is the surest kind of being.

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl?page=2

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‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved –

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but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ “

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From “Logotherapy in a Nutshell”, an essay” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

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The reality of life is the luck or unluck of the draw [a crapshoot] —

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“fair” & “unfair” are nonexistent in life’s vocabulary —

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life “just is.”

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Thence, how I deal with setbacks is the key to existence, not the external factual triggers [to despair/hopelessness of predicament].

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/this-ancient-blueprint-fo_n_5312209.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

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Find your ‘inner citadel.’

Marcus Aurelius, who faced a fair share of hardship and warfare in his life, and is thought to have written the Meditations from a tent in a Roman battle camp.

The Roman statesman wrote that in dire situations, man must have an “inner citadel” to which he can retreat. Living from this inner place of peace and equanimity — a place which no person or external event can penetrate — gives a man the freedom to shape his life by responding to events from a rational, calm headspace.

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We can choose to exercise power over our thoughts and attitudes in even the most dire of situations — Roman philosopher Cicero uses the example of torture to illustrate a man’s power to choose our own thoughts, which he says can never be taken away from him. In his Discussions at Tusculum, Cicero explains that when a man has been stripped of his dignity, he has not also been stripped of his potential for happiness.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/54285947.html

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In this gaping hole of despair & hopelessness of one’s predicament is a crushing emptiness and an aloneness that can make you lose your mind and a sadness that can make your heart question the wisdom and the relevance of continuing to beat — a sadness no person thinks one can bear alone.

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On some days, very much to wish it would stop beating.

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To die of unrequited love. Van Gogh didn’t shoot himself in the head. He shot himself in the heart. He saw reality so deeply and clearly, yet could not ultimately disconnect his heart [“be not of this world” — self-respect despite this indifferent and tragic sentient life] from this reality or the other people in it.

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Van Gogh died because, in the end, he could not differentiate himself [self-respect] from the Collective Unconscious [our indifferent & tragic lack of empathy/compassion in our broken/flawed sentient nature] into which he was compelled to wander.

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My own epiphany, but I always was a wanderlust, dreaming of beautiful landscapes and never-seen places. Last night I dreamed that my long ago deceased uncle from Kona [symbolizes the love which my ohana/kazuko progeny Minnie/Donna still have for me] showed me a breathtaking vista of a mountainscape ahead of us as we gazed from the seashore toward the distant horizon. This “awesome dream come true” despite my 3 other Hilo family members having ignored me yesterday at McDonald’s in Hilo. I could’ve unconsciously nightmared over forsaken-ness, but such did not manifest. Wow!

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/sharing-grief-puts-a-healing-distance-between-us-and-the-pain-this-is-why-storytelling-matters/

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sharing grief puts a healing distance between us and the pain — this is why storytelling matters

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Share the suffering. The opportunity to tell the story of our suffering to a compassionate and skillful listener is helpful beyond measure. Simply in the telling and retelling, we begin to shift perspective, to put a healing distance between us and the pain.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/10174701.html

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Great journeys in emotional maturity are walked alone

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When another man’s life forces you to behold your own smallness, all you have to do is retro-narrate pathologized stories about him. Just like that, your world is a safer, happier place.

Your friends who are simply gone? You force me to behold, J.K., something I hate to think about:

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All great journeys in emotional maturity are ultimately walked alone.

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The archetypal picture here is probably Jesus, whose friends agreed to accompany him into the garden of Gethsemane that night to pray. Jesus is scared. Anxious. Asking God if there isn’t some other way. He looks to his friends for support and encouragement.

And they are sound asleep. And Jesus asks a rhetorical question into the silent night air: “Will no one stay awake with me?”

As a matter of fact, no. Tonight Jesus will suffer, and he will suffer alone.

How to maintain some sense of respect and optimism for humanity? I can only tell you what I do.

When I’m feeling low, when I’ve lost track of why I keep putting one foot in front of the other, when I am sick and tired of paying the price for living out values about which no one else appears to have much if any investment, when I can no longer argue with Protestant theologian John Calvin who used the word “depraved” to describe the essential nature of human beings …

… well, J.K., that’s when I think of people like you [who suffers alone in ennobled integrated fashion to care for his incapacitated wife].

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/9380491.html

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Mystery surrounds deep connections we make with others [making friends with “Alone”]

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An old friend writes from far away. Oh, not that old. She’s 48. I mean we’ve been friends a long, long time.

There’s this bond between us. A connection. I felt it the first time we spoke, which is funny because the first thing she ever communicated to me was disdain. I was 23, so I reached into my repertoire for managing repartee with beautiful women and selected “boyish cockiness” for my retort.

When you’re 23 and male, boyish cockiness is pretty much the extent of your repertoire.

But that was it for us — bonded. A connection that has survived time together, protracted times apart, even years of no communication whatsoever. The friendship has survived love affairs — not with each other — marriages and becoming parents. We’ve been drunk together. And sober. It occurs to me that I’ve never seen her cry.

She was 20 when I met her. Once, on a whim, she sent me a picture of herself at age 5. I smiled. Somewhere inside myself I knew her then, too. Recognized her. In some alternative past, she and I played together in a sandbox (until she made me cry because she was so bossy). Like the bond between us contains secret passages that defy time and space.

She writes to me: “I get you, Steven Kalas.”

Her words strike me like thunder. Truly awestruck, like the way you fall into a spectacular sunset, or the way you stop breathing when you’re standing in a barn at 2 a.m. watching the birth of a calf. I’m focused in a point of time, staring at my monitor. It’s like she’s right here. Right now. I have a friend who gets me. She sees me. I jumble a few words and she says, “Oh yeah.” She not only understands, but understands why and how things matter to me.

Amen.

Then I have this other friend. Or did. Or thought I did. Could’ve sworn we were friends. Soul mates. Years we were friends. Across passion and victory and folly and failure. Across celebration and loss. This friend knows me. And doesn’t know me at all.

We’re not connected anymore.

And I know as much about why we’re no longer connected as I do why I’m still connected to the other friend. Which is to say I don’t know anything at all. And I’ve been railing against the disconnection, like, if I protest loudly and long enough, my erstwhile friend will snap out of it and be connected to me again.

I’ve decided to stop railing. Sad, yes. Probably sad forever. But pounding on it serves all the purpose of pounding on a grave. Why would I look for the living among the dead?

See, both connections and disconnections deserve the same responses. Awe. Respect for the mystery. Even I, a man who believes his gifts and his calling to be teaching people how to be in relationship — well, I can’t tell you much of anything about why some connections happen and some connections don’t happen and still others disintegrate.

The most terrible thing my therapist ever said to me was also the most important: “Steven, we’re alone. No one has anyone.”

Yikes-oi. (Sorry. This sort of thing happens when a GoyBoy tries to express himself forcefully in Yiddish.)

I hated what she said. Railed against it. Argued with it. She had thrown existential sand into the gas tank of my fine-tuned DeLorean of delusion. And my pricey car would go not one mile farther.

My therapist was right. And, as with every other time when she is right, it’s time for me to grow up. We’re alone. No one has anyone.

Strangely, this new truth, while initially a scalpel slashed across my chest without anesthetic, did not burden and depress me for long. Surrender to separateness and aloneness quickly began to create a new space in me. A space for … for …

… relief. A kind of peace. And, most precious, gratitude and humility. Relationship is a grace. A kind of miracle. Human communion emerges as a gift. An unmerited joy. Yes, there are ways of living more conducive to forging and maintaining lasting relationships than other ways of living. I’m not saying there’s nothing we can do. Just that, in the end, I no longer think I have earned or deserved the people who stand in the inner circle of my life.

I just give thanks.

We’re alone. No one has anyone.

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Human beings cannot be possessed. They cannot be apprehended. They can only be respected and enjoyed. Or respected and bid farewell. Relationship is mystery.

Who really sees you? Who gets you? If you need more than one hand to count those people, you are rich beyond your dreams.

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Individualism as ego overpride is not the solitary reflection of an authentic life –

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/steven-kalas-we-are-individuals-in-consequential-relationships-162688016.html
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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/idyllic-imperatives-in-this-tragic-and-indifferent-life/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/appropriate-self-respect-can-lift-all-areas-of-life-118320899.html

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A warning: there’s a downside, a real tricky balance in the work of self-respect. I have learned to nurture a healthy suspicion when I become too strident, too righteous about that value.

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There’s a line between self-respect and self-important/arrogant pride.

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It’s a fine line. Easy to cross. Way too easy for me, anyway. And I cross it at my own peril.

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When the human ego conscripts the language, the work and the mantle of self-respect, you start to feel really good and right about discarding people from your life.

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And then you can know that you were right, because you don’t have any friends at all.

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Self-respect and self-importance — not the same at all. But they can feel the same.

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Why can’t I be like you or in sync with you? Because then there would be no need for a me, just you and you alone.

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You can become your  own refutation. When overpride/vanity/jealousy are your Stygian Triplets, you know you’ve passed into some parallel universe.

This is what fear masked as supreme confidence with emotional manipulation looks like in print.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Missing is the “Grace to You” part.

There is no crisis, folks. Really. There isn’t. Only the one you continue to fuel.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/02/heres-something-new-genesis-is-in-crisis-and-if-you-dont-see-that-youre-syncretistic/#ixzz3SzNTPDXE

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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And, for those kinds of sufferings/losses that can never be entirely healed, to bear it. To find meaning in it. To turn that suffering into some transformative work in the world.

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And the truth is this: The human journey includes suffering. No one comes to ask for help who isn’t suffering.

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But, here’s another truth: In any given time in your life, the number of people who actually, really, honestly want and

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are willing to grant you an engaged and healing audience for your suffering/loss is …

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small!! Or nonexistent!!

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Even people who sincerely love and adore you might find themselves ambivalent about really engaging and listening to the part of you that suffers. See, the people around us have egos, too. Their egos mobilize to protect them just like your ego does. “Cheer up … get over it … God has a plan … everybody is doing the best he or she can … don’t cry” — the felt motive for these messages is to help you.

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But each of these messages also contains the anxiety of the messenger:

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Please stop bothering and disturbing me by suffering.

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And that’s what most modern people do. They try to stop suffering. They “get over it.” They build layer upon layer of pretense and persona over their wounds, because it’s, well, the sociable thing to do. Most of us, then, suffer unconsciously. Because that’s the way we’ve been taught to suffer.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/9146411.html

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Lots of people don’t want to be present to sadness — their own or anyone else’s.

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Other people would like to be present to their bereaved friends and family, but don’t know how.

We live in a culture where grief is treated as a disease to be “cured,” or a weakness cursed of shame or self-loathing.

Contrarily, grief is the holiest of human journeys.

One of my favorite Friedrich Nietzsche quotes is, “Everything holy requires a veil.” Now, modern Americans might think he means that we should keep things covered up because those things are shameful. Nope. He means that some things are so beautiful, so huge, so powerful, so naked, so intimate, that to gaze casually upon them would be injurious to their meaning and value. Injurious ultimately to us.

Grief is such a thing.

I concur with your observation that people around us are largely inept at befriending us in grief. Yet I also encourage people like you to remember to veil (protect and value) their grief. Keep the circle of confidants small. Pick two and no more than five people who will hear the depths of your pain.

There are two ways to read your question at the end. Literally you ask how you might numb the heartache. But I’m guessing you aren’t being literal. In fact, it’s not a question at all, is it? It reads more like an indignation. Like, how dare anyone ask you to numb the heartache! How dare the medical community suggest drugging your bereavement!

See, J.R., you know how precious your sadness is. A breathless, crushing burden, yes. But precious.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/alienation-i-dont-belong-and-estrangement-getting-dumped-because-i-dont-belong/

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alienation [I don’t belong] and estrangement [getting dumped because I don’t belong]

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Alienation & estrangement – the results of Loss [e.g. getting dumped] by your beloved [lifemate/soulmate]

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/_Retirement_leaves_time_for_pondering_self_relationships.html

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Question: What do all people seeking release from personal despair have in common?

Answer: They are suffering some combination of alienation and estrangement.

Alienation means a crisis of belonging. We are alien. We don’t belong.

Estrangement means the painful disruption of the bonds of relationship. Interpersonal injuries and injustices. To become estranged is to become a stranger to the one we love and by whom we are loved.

I’m saying your use of the word “misfit” sounds like a crisis of alienation and estrangement.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/western-religion-breeding-ground-neurosis

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When it comes to the question of the usefulness of guilt in shaping and inspiring a thriving human identity, I would say Western religion is, at once, beautiful, nutty and (potentially) pathological. Healthy religion knows these dangers. And psychologically healthy pilgrims embrace what is beautiful while keeping a keen watch on what is nutty or pathological.

Guilt is beautiful, holy, vital and important when it is healthy guilt. And healthy guilt is nothing more or less than the name of the grief we feel when we abandon our own values.

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The grief of alienation and estrangement.

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Healthy guilt, however miserable it feels, contains within itself a holy longing for reconciliation. (One prayer during the rosary, for example, is asking God to “give me a contrite heart.” Meaning, “Please give me the courage to let my heart break over the ways I have hurt others, etc.”) Catholicism — its rites, rituals and symbols — bears much beauty into the world to facilitate the blessings of healthy guilt, healthy shame.

The nutty or potentially pathological side of guilt happens when people, families or institutions (especially the church) peddle guilt to us with darker, perhaps unconscious motives. If you, for example, are threatened by another’s genius, gifts and “light” (envy!), then one way to dodge the threat is to instill in that person a grave, crippling self-doubt. An anxious, paralyzing self-consciousness forcing a default posture of apology to the world for daring to be him/herself.

Or, people/institutions instill guilt because they are projecting sadism. That is, they are reveling in the humiliation of sinners. Yes, some of our accusers are having a grand time!

Control, humiliation, hierarchy, authority, power — when discussions of guilt bear these darker motives, run away quick!

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Brené Brown studies fear, shame, and vulnerability

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In Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, she writes about collecting huge amounts of data about how human lives are shaped by the “struggle with shame and the fear of not being enough” as well as “the power of embracing imperfection and vulnerability.” She then began analyzing the data for common characteristics of people who were resilient in the face of adversity and who were living wholehearted life: “living and loving with their whole hearts.” Emerging out of that huge data set were some clear patterns:

The Do column was brimming with words like worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude, and creativity. The Don’t column was dripping with words like perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity. (x)

Now, I don’t know what your reaction is to that “Do” and “Don’t” list. But Brown confesses that her initial reaction was horror. She says, “I thought I’d find that Wholehearted people were just like me…: working hard, following the rules, doing it until I got it right, always trying to know myself better, raising my kids exactly by the books…” (xi). But Brown was horrified by the revelation that as a successful professional, she had been formed and rewarded for living almost exclusively by the list of how not to live a wholehearted life, by the list of how to increase the likelihood of reaching the end of your life with many regrets: “perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity.” So, she packed up her research and hid it under her bed for a year-and-a-half (xii)!

When you pause and take a step back, you can often see that daily life is a constant reminder of our imperfections and limitations. We are constantly being invited to “let go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we are,” but often we’re like Brown and shove those invitations under the rug as quickly as possible. In Brown’s words, “The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button” (xiii).

The UU First Principle affirms, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.” But often it can be easier for many of us to fight for the rights and recognition of a marginalized group than to fully embrace the inherent worth and dignity of all those hidden parts of our own self: all those imperfect parts that we hope we are hiding from others. As the old saying goes, “Too often we compare our insides to others’ outsides, and we feel inadequate.”

Brown writes, “The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute.”

Not I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds, if I can get pregnant, or stay sober. Not I’ll be worthy if everyone thinks I’m a good parent, when I can make a living selling my art, if I can hold my marriage together, when I make partner, when my parents finally approve, if he [or she] calls back…, or when I can do it all and look like I’m not even trying. (24)

On the other side of a lot a research and some important work in therapy during that year-and-a-half in which she had hidden her research under the bed, Brown says that she’s come to be “a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist.” That doesn’t mean that we should stop pursuing excellence. But when you embrace your inherent worth and dignity, then your motivation changes in a vital way. Brown puts it this way, “Healthy striving is self-focused — How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused — What will they think? (56). The middle way is perhaps neither the narcissism of exclusive self-interest nor the self-deprecation of acting only for others, but instead knowing your limits and seeking the next best step for both yourself and others.

Leonard Cohen, in the chorus of his song “Anthem,” says that all any of us can ultimately do is “Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in.”

Where are the cracks and imperfections in your life?

How might those places of seeming weakness paradoxically be the most powerful invitations you will ever have in this life to “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are,” to let go of our culture’s addiction to certainty and the myth of permanent satisfaction — and instead to savor and celebrate the gifts of the life that already have: right here and now.

I will conclude by offering you this blessing from one of my favorite liturgists Jan Richardson. In this life, we all have our different struggles, gifts, and graces:

May you have the vision to recognize the door that is yours,

the Courage to open it,

and the wisdom to walk through. (47)

May it be so, and blessed be.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bad_Sleep_Well

 

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/jesus-death-becomes-even-more-powerful-when-this-particular-messiah-also-carries-your-personal-projections-that-is-the-celebritys-life-mirrors-important-pieces-of-your-own-psychic-journey-your/

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Jesus’ death becomes even more powerful when this particular messiah also carries your personal projections. That is, the celebrity’s life mirrors important pieces of your own psychic journey. Your own life dramas. Jesus did this for me with his transparency. His naive nakedness. He was the first “icon” to recognize egotistic “discernment” as insanity, to rightly despise it, and to distance himself from it. Unlike Jesus, celebrities of the flesh like John Lennon, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, & Judy Garland couldn’t stop seeking it. If one says that a weeping fan’s grief is “unrealistic (and therefore annoying) at a time when so many are struggling with foreclosures, debt, disappearing jobs and other miseries,” I would say quite the opposite — that the sting of this grief is made more acute during these hard times, because we will miss the beauty, the passion, the inspiration and hope that pour through these artists and into our lives especially during times of social misery. Celebrities, and especially artists, provide us a deep mirror into the celebration of being human. Some celebrities become iconic. That is, the mirror they wield reaches into the collective human experience of a culture and sometimes across cultures (such as Waikiki’s Bruno Mars). And the death of an icon is felt painfully and powerfully in a human psyche. The loss is real and meaningful. And so is the grief. John Lennon was a celebrity. In Latin literally “the one who helps us celebrate.” And did he ever help us celebrate. And the price he paid was the burden of fame, fame in Latin meaning “rumor/gossip.” Celebrity is a calling. Fame is simply nuts. In the end fame killed him. If anybody needs forgiveness here, it’s us. Just as fame killed Lennon, we killed Jesus (mob hysteria after Jesus cleansed the temple of the mammon money changers). For then are when we need our leaders most.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/celebrities-can-lift-us-and-let-us-down

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Celebrity  lifts us  into the collective inspiration of the human race. The gift is ultimately found in the collective — not the individual.

While celebrities gather us to remember how utterly cool it is to be a human being, fame gathers us to affirm how utterly and uniquely cool is one particular human being. And, invariably, no mortal is utterly and uniquely cool.

In psychology, we would say that celebrity invites projection. That is, we tend to be attached to celebrities in ways that can be fun, useful, very emotional, even meaningful, but are nonetheless irrational, because our attachment says everything about us and virtually nothing about the actual mortal we’re adoring.

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Fame is a lonely and isolated business. And deadly. Fame killed Kurt Cobain. It killed Jimi Hendrix. Judy Garland. Speaking of Marilyn Monroe, Robert Bly wrote, “No one can survive the weight of 100 million projections. Marilyn did not survive.”

But, if not deadly, then fame is one seductive, bewitching place to be, inviting illusion and delusions of power and entitlement. Fame virtually begs its owner to forge two identities — one public, and one hidden.

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But never have I been confronted so powerfully about the naivete and power of my hero-projections until this week. Until a judge decided to unseal a 2005 court record revealing Bill Cosby’s confession that, yes, he acquired prescription Quaaludes with the intention of giving them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

See, I was desperately holding out.

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And now, this. My mind rages against truth.

Losing a battle with temptation in a moment of human weakness is one thing. Being a lousy husband is another. Shameless promiscuity is many things unflattering — a dead end, an emptiness, a recklessness, a compulsion — but it is not evil.

I’m not a guy who bandies about the word “evil.” I save it for very special occasions.

But somnaphilia? This would mean that Bill is (or has been during his lifetime) a seriously unwell human being.

And drugging an unwitting woman so as to sexually exploit her unconscious form is not “a moment of human weakness.” It’s not being a lousy husband. It is not shameless promiscuity.

It’s rape. And rape is evil.

And I’m reeling.

 

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/but-these-reactions-are-not-really-about-batman-theyre-about-us-and-our-relationship-with-narratives-stories-and-mythology-the-primary-way-we-encounter-and-make-sense-of-the-world-is-through-sto/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/shakespeares-great-prodigyera-peer-john-miltons-poem-paradise-lost-is-about-the-fall-of-man-the-temptation-of-adam-and-eve-by-the-fallen-angel-satan-and-their-expulsion-from-the-garden-of-eden/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/to-be-or-not-to-be-real-dear-hamlet-tis-the-question-in-praise-of-grace-mercy-full-of-redemptions-greatest-emotional-therapist-shakespeare-who-incredulously-not-to-christians-whence/

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French-Swiss John Calvin reacted against Martin Luther in more conservative terrains far south of Frankfurt’s latitude. John Calvin was 26 years younger than Martin Luther, and for the most part Calvin was the “yang” to Luther’s “yin,” so to speak.

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Shakespeare actually is a product of Martin Luther’s Reformation, with Grace & Mercy “full of redemption” replete thruout Shakespeare’s Morality Plays.

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Word out, so to speak, Shakespeare plagiarized Scripture thru and thru, Daddy-O! No Scripture, No Shakespeare!

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Remember that just 30 yrs. before Shakespeare was born, Latin to English Bible translator William Tyndale was

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burned at the stake by the Papacy for making the Bible readable

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by the English commoners.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale

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No matter the rather undeserved propping up of Shakespeare on the backs of our Gospel Authors. Kudos to Shakespeare for Shakespeare’s own search for the mystery and the Truth of Jesus!

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Which, by the way, says a lot about shunned predestination pariah John Calvin, who is Shakespeare’s total opposite on salvation.

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Looking at the frayed Calvin proselyting about Man’s venality & depravity amid predecessor reformer Martin Luther’s Reformation in the north latitudes, one easily accepts Calvin’s admonition about the evil of Ego/overpride as our worst affliction/contagion.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-take-away-which-is-a-huge-lesson-to-learn-from-some-contemporary-evangelicals-is-that-calvin-did-not-impose-onto-the-gospels-a-view-of-how-the-bible-ought-to-work-as-gods-word-rather/

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Calvin correctly says that the best Man can hope for is a release from Hell’s Iniquity by choosing Jesus as our Lord & Savior.

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Has anything changed from early Church father Augustine to intellectual Aquinas (Summa Theologica) 800 years after Augustine, to us today 800 years after Aquinas??? 1200 AD Aquinas is equidistant by 800 yrs. after Augustine & 800 yrs. before us today — yet nothing has changed in our depraved nature from 400 AD Augustine to us today, not to mention from Jesus’ crucifixion to Augustine 400 yrs. later.

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No, not in our own mental/intellectual gymnastics/tortuous rationalizations on predestination vs. free will.

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And certainly not in our innate venal toxic nature.

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We are as detestable today as we were when we crucified Jesus in the mob hysteria of those 6 days 2000 years ago.

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Imagine, we sing Hosanna, even the stones shout Hosanna, as Jesus marches into Jerusalem sideway on a donkey’s colt.

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And no later than you can bat an eyelash, we crucify Jesus because

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Jesus cleans out the temple of everything evil about us.

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No, we are no better today than that week when Jesus died for our sins. Like I say, John Calvin has something here, baby!! ;-)

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Augustine and Luther came to Christ thru Romans and Galatians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_the_Romans

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Epistle to the Romans is the 6th Book in the new Testament, and is the longest of the Pauline epistles. It is considered Paul’s most important theological legacy.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles

Salvation is offered thru the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Especially where there are multitudes of sin, there is more Grace — so that the former baleful sinner/wretched man/filthy rag such as Saul nka Paul now missions supernaturally for Jesus’ Word.

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Justification has 2 meanings in Greek: 1) Propitiation which is subjective forgiveness for each sin as if one had never sinned; 2) transformative righteousness which is objective deliverance from continuous sin. Or, as great disciple Watchman Nee suffused, Jesus’ blood on the cross is the subjective mercy of God for our numerous sins (plural), whereas the body of Christ is the overall objective deliverance from continuous sin (singular).

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/in-praise-of-china-christian-capstones-yu-cidu-dora-yu-1873-1931-margaret-emma-barber-1966-1930-their-acolyte-ni-to-sheng-watchman-nee-1903-1972/

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http://orthodoxwiki.org/Justification#Western_v._Eastern_concepts_-_Implications

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Legal/juridical concepts of mercy/propitiation & acquittal/substitutionary atonement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substitutionary_atonement#Ransom_and_Christus_Victor_theory

were clarified by Augustine.

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Anselm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury#Influence

developed these ideas 600 years later,

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and Luther built on the work of Anselm 500 years after Anselm.

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To the early correctly rooted Christian, theology is not something that improves with age—it is something to be internalized, and it can best be understood by journeying as close to the roots of our faith as possible. Reason and logic ergo the Enlightenment cannot guarantee a better understanding of God, his Son or our faith.

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Justification is seen by Protestants as being the theological fault line that divided Catholic from Protestant during the Protestant Reformation – Catholics emphasize works/rituals of righteous deliverance, whereas Protestants emphasize transformative faith, that faith is entirely distinct from works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justification_(theology)

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Protestants emphasize that law/ritualized righteousness is not to make us righteous, but to let us know we’re sinners/to convict us.

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Unlike Catholics, Protestants emphasize that our of-the-flesh sinful nature distorts righteousness by ritualizing works.

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In this sense, Christ has no value to me if I’m delusionally self-righteous (such as by Catholic ritualized works).

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On the other hand, if I’m open and honest about myself, I will fail, which is what Christ’s atoning sacrifice/faith-obedience are all about.

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After all, Romans 8:7 speaks of mankind’s natural/flesh enmity vs. God.

http://biblehub.com/romans/8-7.htm

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Revelation via deliverance from continuous sin gives us a new heart, and we become a new creation.

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Like Paul, both Augustine and Luther made great efforts to refute the notion that our works could serve as the proper basis for justification & eventual sanctification.

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Remarkable that one’s experiences span a century or more, if one is lucky enough to live into old age. My uncle Masaaki 1903-1970 was 50 years older than me. My grandsons Silas & Ashley are 50 years younger than me. Uncle Masaaki is a century older than Silas & Ashley. My life experiences span a century between Uncle Masaaki and my grandsons Silas & Ashley. Gatz! Defy Father Time??

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Of course, one can stretch even longer life’s time span – my grandma [Uncle Masaaki’s & my dad’s mama] Tome was 70 years older than me. I just turned age 61, so my lifeblood youngest progeny is my youngest grandchild, my granddaughter Maya, who is 59 years younger than me. Not equidistant, but 130 years separate my grandma Tome from my granddaughter Maya.

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Actor William Demarest 1892-1983 was 60 years older than me, thus meeting the equidistance measure, with my granddaughter Maya being 60 years younger than me — the total span being 120 years from William Demarest [or my uncle Bill Cappy Chun, also born in Demarest’s time] to my granddaughter Maya. Here is prolific vaudeville/longtime character actor Demarest –

William Demarest Picture

William Demarest(1892–1983)


Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William Demarest was a prolific actor in movies and TV, making more than 140 films. Demarest started his acting career in vaudeville and made his way to Broadway. His most famous role was in My Three Sons, replacing a very sick William Frawley. Demarest was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting role in the real-life biography…See full bio »

Still of Humphrey Bogart and William Demarest in All Through the NightStill of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and William Demarest in All Through the Night
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Of course, last year’s 60th year Diamond Jubilee with majestic Queen Elizabeth had the most amazing aerial displays –
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but let’s also remember lusty [yes, con todo mi alma y corazon] Victoria‘s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 [my grandparents were hormonal teens bent on pioneering East to the Hawaiian islands of silk & honey][Victoria is current Queen Elizabeth’s great great grandmother][our greatest modern Hawaiian statesperson Pi’ehu Iaukea 1855-1940 pilgrimaged to England for this tremendous occasion — Pi’ehu was preceded in great diplomacy & leadership by Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli 1813-1854]

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Thence, my immigrant grandparents’ odyssey East transcended both Victoria’s & current Queen Elizabeth’s reigns – my ojisans/obasans [tutus] experienced both divine queens in all their soulful reigns – 115 years [Victoria in 1897 & Elizabeth’s 2012 jubilee] spanning 3 centuries [1800s to 2000s]!!! Wow!!

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I was 20 when my daughter was born, 40 when my oldest grandchild/mo’opuna kane was born, 50 when my middle grandsons were born [among 5 grandchildren, 3 boys, 2 girls], and nearly 60 when my youngest grandchild/mo’opuna wahine was born.

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My parents whom I worship and miss dearly were 40 years older than me. My mature parents were tutus/grandparents to me in age chronology, & I am blessed by their mature wisdom/magnanimity & composure/equanimity.

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My parents died 17 years ago 4 months apart [coincidence — Mom died of a stroke/Dad died 4 months later from cancer].

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I felt like a grandchild blessed with the most loving & supportive tutus/grandparents in the world, though when I was a barefoot plantation toddler here in Wainaku [Ha’aheo Elem. School atop Kamehameha the Great’s most beautiful pu’u/hilltop] — I felt terribly embarassed that my parents were fuddy-duddy oldsters vs. my village kid peers’ parents, and that my mom worked, so that I never came home to a homemaker mom who had cookies laid out for me on the kitchen table in our old plantation mill camp.

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When my parents died 17 years ago, I suddenly crossed over to be a tutu/grandparent to my burgeoning mo’opuna/grandkids. My grandparents 70 years older than me had died by the time I was old enough to know them.

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I don’t remember being a child [in a most blessed sense], but undeniably I was blessed/gifted [of the spirits? Cor./Romans/Ephesians/Peter/etc.] as a grandchild would be, with my dearest parents who were like grandparents to me in wisdom/countenance.

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Nor do I remember being a parent [my daughter Staycie who is at middle age at 42 — laughingly tells me that I was a lousy party animal parent but above all else — I loved my daughter more than anything/anyone in the whole wide world — and this is the only thing which counted for my daughter, which is/means everything to her & to me!!].

Always my little baby Staycie girl

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But now here I am as a grandparent [by default — ha ha ha — still a party animal], and wow, time flies, baby! !!

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And now I am by default/pied piper via hedonism/elan tutu again to 2 dearest “hanai”/emotional attachment — mo’opuna — Colton age 27 & Jill age 22, grandkids to me in age chronology! I ask Colton how may I be of service to him/Jill, & Colton shoots back, “Don’t! Just be you!” Gatz! Who am I???? [ha ha ;-) ]

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Foggy bottom, baby — is my head — spinning like a top???!! Ha ha! Dig my hero George Harrison’s video – [40 years from age 20 to 60 for me — go by in the blink of an eye!!][Maui resident Harrison died of cancer at age 58 after 9/11 & a year after this You Tube video was produced]

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Yes, I hope to make it to age 80 & still feel like a passionate teenager in love!! Ha ha ha!! Enjoy [the treats below], baby!!!

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Age is a figment of our imagination — our core being is ageless!

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See especially timeclock 4:19 to 5:05 of youtube below about Harrison’s opinion on aging as soulfully deepest youth enjoyed –

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uVnKjv4fK0&feature=related

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/in-praise-of-the-46th-anniversary-of-mccartneys-tune-i-will/

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Music is my whole life, and I dedicate these happy links to my Dad Toshi 1913-1998, who was born to sing & play his ubiquitous Martin ‘ukulele, and who sang & played in the mango tree astride my grandparents’ Wainaku mill camp home as a young boy. Dad’s mom Tome 1881-1954 sang & picked at her samisen Japanese fiddle/string board. Dad got his music from his mom Tome. Dad is a baritone, my baby brother Lloyd & Dad’s youngest sibling Charley & Dad’s 2nd youngest sibling Yukio’s son Don are fine tenors. Dad had gone thru hell as a combat soldier witnessing death all around him — thence Dad appreciated every single day of a new dawn of continued life on this earth. Which is why I’m inspired by Dad’s composure/calm countenance in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds/trials/tribulations. Repugnant manipulation/deceit/overpride/anger/hostility/selfishness — are such ordinary behaviors “of the flesh” – which are why Dad’s serenity and joy of spirit for me are “to behold for alltime sake.” 🙂

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My Mom Teruko “Ruth” (maiden name Hanato of Kona) never sang. I think our musical DNA is from my Dad’s side of the family. My Mom was a good athlete [basketball capt. soph. yr. 1932 Hawai’i Island prep titlist —
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Mom spawned all the Kona Hanato girl hoopsters you see today, incl. female coach Bobbie Hanato Awa & Bobbie’s NCAA1 daughter Dawnyelle, though imperious Bobbie Awa has no clue about Mom’s hoopster genesis behind Awa].  

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Mom’s legacy is Mom’s grandniece Bobbie Hanato Awa’s winningest high school program in the whole State and among the winningest nationally.

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Actually, Mom’s father’s [otosan] & mother’s [okasan] legacy abides in their genesis of what is today’s historically significant Kona’s Honalo Buddhist Jodo Daifukuji church

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Mom’s great-grand niece Dawnyelle –

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http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dawnyelle+awa+videos&qpvt=dawnyelle+awa+videos&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=8D292407068405377FB58D292407068405377FB5

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http://www.hawaiibookblog.com/articles/japanese-buddhist-temples-in-hawaii-an-illustrated-guide-book-review/

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http://www.daifukuji.org/history.html.

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No, the Hanato legacy is not in Mom’s athletic prowess, nor in the Hanato business acumen [e.g. Mom’s sister 106 yr. old centenarian Shizue “Mary” Hanato Teshima’s world-renowned Teshima Restaurant — Shizue 1907-2013]. Dad was a great athlete [incl. bootleg boxer pre-legalization], as is my baby brother [State prep baseball all-star]. Dad’s legacy is as WWII 442nd combat infantry soldier in the all-Japanese American Unit — Dad as Silver Star awardee for rescuing Dad’s mortally wounded CO & fellow PFC after Dad’s squad was ambushed by German infantry soldiers.

* https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/yushin-charley-narimatsu-1920-2013-died-age-93-my-nisei-2nd-generation-uncle-the-last-of-his-generation-in-my-kazokufamily/

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my Dad Toshi 1913-1998 (Dad was longtime State 442 prexy Willy Okino Thompson’s hanai older brother) stepping up in convoy with left leg raised & left hand on side rail (National Archives have actual film/movie of this convoy)

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Even into Dad’s final years, Dad would sing among our backyard pals, Dad’s Martin ‘ukulele always in his arms. My daughter Staycie age 42 is half Hawaiian, & my dearest little baby girl Staycie has instilled in her children the spirit of the islands — aloha — welcome/accomodation/tenderness/humbleness/kindness/generosity — her children Maya age 4/Emily age 8/Silas & Ashley both age 13/Shay age 23. Beautiful aloha. My mo’opuna keiki all.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/tribute-to-my-musical-dad-toshi-1913-1998-george-trices-passion-personality-analog-my-dad/

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Hana hou (one more time — reprise)!!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D-SgA_NJwk

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVCwe_Jewl8

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As a child just after Statehood 56 yrs. ago, I was enthralled by the theme song to CBS local affiliate’s Saturday Island matinee playhouse. I still have not pinned down its title, but I remember it sounding a little like Glen Miller’s Moonlight Serenade. Music aficionados “in the know” are long dead & gone [the great George Camarillo/Gloriana Adap/etc.], so I’ll have to sleuth a little more to find out the melodic magic of half a century ago. Nonetheless, I present to you favorites of mine over the years. Enjoy ;-)

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Beautiful Pachelbel’s Canon, lost to history for centuries

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Af372EQLck

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Of course, Mozart is the greatest solace/emotional therapist –

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi8vJ_lMxQI

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from https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/susanne-mentzer-the-mozart-effect-beautiful/

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Brain Memory

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The cost of discipleship

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/family/radical-commitment-and-nothing-less-makes-marriage-thrive

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Hope for credibility with  “I’m not religious!”  readers. Sometimes I like to retell a religious story and then apply it to a broader but still important human matter.

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In the Christian Gospel, there is told a brief exchange that Jesus has with three people. The chapter heading in my Bible titles it, “The cost of discipleship.” Each of these three people begins the conversation with an expressed desire to be one of Jesus’ followers. And to each, Jesus responds with the cost entailed in such a commitment.

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Whenever I read this, I think of people who have dared to consider a lifelong commitment to growing love and fidelity with another human being in the bonds of life partnership.

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The first guy says to Jesus, “I will follow you!” And Jesus fires back, “He who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”   Luke 9:62

http://biblehub.com/luke/9-62.htm

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Well, of course. Either decide to plow the field or decide not to plow the field. But if you decide to plow the field, then put your hand on the plow and keep your eyes forward. Pay attention. If you say “giddyup” to the mule, and then keep eyeballing over your shoulder, fantasizing and wondering about fields you might or should have plowed instead, the mule is going to get the idea that plowing is not very important. You won’t be plowing straight lines. The mule might even get a mind of its own and wander over to someone else’s field, making the owner of that field very unhappy. You’ll also likely get some very critical questions from the co-owner of your field – the field you made a commitment to plow.

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Lifelong togetherness calls for an unequivocal, radical commitment. It’s normal over the course of 40 to 50 years occasionally to indulge the fantasy of what might have happened had you not made this commitment. What might have happened if you made the commitment to someone else or something else. But the fact is, you made this commitment. Not that one. So, hand on the plow. Eyes forward. You are in charge of the mule, not the mule in charge of you.

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So, decide. Unequivocally. Radically. With your whole heart.

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The second guy says to Jesus, “I will follow you.” And Jesus says, cryptically, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  Matthew 8:20

http://www.realteachingsofjesus.com/2009/06/foxes-have-holes-and-birds-of-air-have.html

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Well, of course. Radical commitments require the regular sacrifice of belonging. If I say I belong “here,” then by definition, I will not belong to other places and people the way I once might have belonged. If I belong “here,” then there will be some places and people to whom I cannot ever belong again. Radical commitment demands that we “rewire” belonging.

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If we make a lifelong commitment, then we cannot belong to our vocation the same way. We cannot belong to our mother and father the same way. Nor to our friends. To make someone or something primary in your life means other relationships will now have different orbits in the constellation of our attention and energy.

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I say this often, especially to blended families. Divorced parents meet and fall in love. But they often underestimate, make naive assumptions about or even try to dodge the work of rewiring children into the new union. But if you want your new union to be the success that your first marriage was not, then there is no alternative to having the rigorous conversations with the new mate and with your children about the new constellation of belongingness.

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The third guy says to Jesus, “I will follow you, but first let me bury my father.” And Jesus says: “Let the dead bury the dead. You follow me now.” Ouch.    Luke 9:60

http://biblehub.com/luke/9-60.htm

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Jesus might sound insensitive, but his point is well-taken. There are and will always be reasons to put off radical commitment. Commitment requires us to recognize the illusion of our hesitation. We keep telling ourselves, “When circumstances X, Y and Z are resolved, then I will make a commitment.” But all great unions sojourn in a land of constantly changing circumstances and problems to solve. Make the commitment. Decide. Then turn together – as We – to face and do battle with those swirling, ever-changing circumstances.

We don’t say, “If/when (the problems/circumstances), then my union  …” We say, “What shall We do about the problems and the circumstances?”

Only a radical commitment is a radical commitment.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/writing-and-eventually-dying-a-good-death-expressing-sharing-love-to-the-end/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/sharing-grief-puts-a-healing-distance-between-us-and-the-pain-this-is-why-storytelling-matters/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/ambivalence-killed-jesus-the-people-waved-palm-branches-on-sunday-singing-hosanna-hey-come-friday-they-shouted-to-free-barabbas-same-crowd-when-you-stand-too-close-to-beautiful/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/acknowledging-ambivalence-is-best-way-to-cope-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/i-will-die-a-good-death/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/does-your-life-have-purpose/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/randy-pausch-steven-kalas-living-meaningfully/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/harriet-beecher-stowes-prophetic-engine-sage-joan-d-hedrick/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/theodicy-suffering-in-the-world-and-the-problem-of-evil-an-afterlife-is-a-cop-out/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/if-were-going-to-write-it-is-because-we-have-a-desire-to-express-ourselves-even-if-we-dont-quite-understand-what-we-wish-to-say-it-might-just-be-an-inner-yearning-but-by-making-t/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/dont-you-just-love-a-cogent-argument/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/whats-the-lesson-in-your-narrative-kare-anderson/

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inspired by wordsmith Steven Kalas’ reasons for writing –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Art_is_expression_of_self_shared_with_the_world.html

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Art is expression of self shared with the world

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How did I learn to write? Great teachers along the way, including but not limited to the Hayakawas & Nishiharas of my formative teen years.

Why do I write? Some people keep a diary. Some people write in a journal. Some people keep meticulous photo albums, chronicling important moments, times, places and people.

I write about my observations and experiences.

If it moves me deeply, it will show up in my written words. If it opens my heart, it will show up in a written format. If it compels me in paradox, if it makes me tremble with humility and gratitude, if it mobilizes outrage or contempt, it will become a written composition. If I fall in love with you, if I despise you, if you bless me, if you hurt me badly enough, don’t be surprised if you end up in a written verse.

If it makes me hope, makes me ache, makes me cry, then I hand it to heaven, where it ricochets off eternity and pours itself into my Jung archetype named Shadow. Then it pours back out into the world.

Shadow has more than once saved my sanity. Maybe even my life.

I write to know myself better.

Here’s a paradox: Real art is, for the true artist, an act of the purest selfishness, which, because it is pure selfishness, moves out into the world as extravagant generosity.

Selfishness? Yes. A true artist is never first a performer. He/she doesn’t do it for us. The artist is lost in self. For self. Obedient to a voice that cannot be ignored or denied. Art is near hedonism. A naked reveling. It includes suffering, yes, but even the agony is more a masochistic pleasure.

Generosity? Yes. The artist’s brazen and shameless desire to dig so deeply into self produces art that forces us to dig more deeply. To see ourselves more transparently. Art is a cosmic mirror.

Deciding to listen to my Shadow is deciding to see me naked. Though you won’t know that while you’re listening. If my art moves you, then you will see yourself naked. And that’s always a good thing. People come to an artist’s art as a voyeur. But what they spy on, in the end, is themselves.

Does that make me an exhibitionist? I can live with that. It’s a fair cop.

I’ve written much before which never made the trek into our current internet era. The first one was about nostalgia of love lost. The last one is this composition here. But, as sage Steven Kalas says about his songwriting, it’s Steven’s song No. 92 that probably would tell you the most about why I write for myself to share with you, the world.

My heroes have always been naked/ Warm in the clothes of their transparent identity/ Maybe we all should be naked/ With nothing to hide there’s no need to pretend not to see

But shame is the name of the master who must be obeyed/ And after a while we learn to like being a slave

The naked man/ He takes a stand/ He lets the people see/ We point and laugh/ We’re taken back/ But freedom lives in authenticity.

Like a lot of songs, it works on several levels at once. On the most personal level, it’s about my passion to live authentically. I don’t always get there, but I respect myself when I try.

On another level, it’s about my admiration of people who do live “nakedly.” Was John Lennon a card-carrying narcissist? Well of course. But I get why he posed naked with Yoko on the album cover of “Two Virgins.” He was trying to crawl out from under the deadly weight of Beatlemania, a fame he sought, created and then rightly abhorred.

And later, I was surprised to discover it’s a song about my spirituality. In Steven’s case, it’s a song about Jesus.

My heroes are those who live naked/ The man that you meet still the man who is there when you leave/ But brave are the ones who live naked/ Most people are hiding and naked is their enemy

Naked is a mirror in which there is no choice but to see/ So we break the mirror and then blame it for making us bleed

The naked man/ He takes a stand/ He lets the people see/ His naked fate/ Humiliate/ What people hate is authenticity.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-morley/writing-tips-6-ways_b_1591232.html#s1088091&title=Workshops_work

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We are born writers in the sense that we are born storytellers. Language is who we are to the world. Our ability to tell our story with clarity and panache will make the difference between being heard and being ignored.

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We like to think that artistic genius, at least, feeds on solitude. It is not uncommon for new writers to worry that they will become less distinct, less original, if they spend too much time sharing ideas with their peers. But consider the case of Jorge Luis Borges. When he went to Europe as a young aspiring poet, he found his feet (and an education) in the tertulias of Madrid. Returning to his native city of Buenos Aires, he continued the habit. The almost nightly conversations he had with Adolfo Bioy Casares and other writers fed directly into his writing, and into theirs. If Latin America literature then went off in a direction not yet possible in Europe and North America, it is largely thanks to this unruly group of literary hybrids, who drew as much inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe and G.K. Chesterton as they did from Shakespeare and Verlaine. They gave each other the courage to be break conventions, question received ideas, and imagine the unimaginable. – Maureen Freely
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Write, firmly believing that imagination is the quintessential self/the quintessential way of “knowing” the world. This imaginative knowing has the potential to dispel barriers that isolate individuals and communities. Exercising imaginative “knowing” allows, always, for a potentially transcendent narrative, that is trans-global, trans-cultural and speaks to our common humanity. – Jewell Parker Rhodes
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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/a-writers-life-list-listen-more-than-you-speak-engage-with-the-world-thats-where-ideas-come-from-ohh-so-true-these-are-where-ideas-manifest-beautifully-lori-nelson-spielman/

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A writer’s life list: Listen more than you speak. Engage with the world. That’s where ideas come from. Ohh, so true, these are where ideas manifest beautifully. — Lori Nelson Spielman

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Writing Life List

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-nelson-spielman/a-writers-life-list_b_3676417.html?utm_hp_ref=books

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The inspiration for my novel was found in an old cedar box. Tucked alongside my first bankbook and my grandmother’s rosary, I discovered a yellowed piece of notebook paper folded into a tidy little square. In my flowery, 14-year-old cursive, I’d written Lori’s List across the top, along with 27 goals I thought would make for a good life. I also included a sidebar called, Ways To Be, which included such pearls as, Don’t be stuck-up. Don’t talk about ANYONE.

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Never expect to be taken seriously. People, even friends, can be insensitive. They don’t realize how important your craft is to you. Don’t fault them for it.

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Learn to describe your project du jour in one succinct sentence, and do so if, and only if, someone inquires. And never, ever ask your friends to read your unpublished manuscript. Find a writer’s group for that.

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Don’t complain to non-writers. They don’t want to hear it.

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Write with joy and abandon. Use your creative gift in a way that would please its benefactor.

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http://www.pccs.va/index.php/en/news2/attualita/item/787-suspense-novelist-writes-about-people-finding-hope-redemption

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Koontz acknowledges he has “a very low boredom threshold” and wants to be entertained by what he writes. He says he’s been asked, “I want you to write a book that’s very dark and very noir and everybody dies in the end and there’s no meaning to anything.” To which he replies, “You don’t need me to do that. It’s everywhere.”

“That’s not what I do,” Koontz said. “I write about people trying to find hope and redemption in their lives from suspense.”

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/i-will-die-a-good-death/

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I will die a good death — as my greatest hero Viktor Frankl said, “having been” is the surest kind of being, though it cannot inspire envy [life is full of suffering].

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I love and am loved. I want to love and want to be loved. I am true to my heart and I lead with my heart. I will die a good death. No one but me decides my attitude when I die.

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Like basketball/football, I process my life in 4 quarters of 20 years each. The first quarter was schooling in preparation for the workplace. The second quarter was raising a family. The third quarter was paying down the sundry bills which came with a life full of activity. My final & fourth quarter consists of retirement & emotional preparation of inevitable death. I will die a good death.

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I always have an immutable enduring image of Wainaku Pua Lane’s Albert Pacheco Sr. as he rested his head in his lap while sitting on the shoreline boulder by our Wailuku river “singing bridge” astride our ubiquitous lighthouse — contemplating his own death of terminal cancer while still in his middle ages. Ohhh so sad. For the first 3 quarters of my frenetic “frantic” life — I never “got” [captured] the feel of mortality that coursed thru Albert’s soul as he engaged the end of his life. Now I “get it.” I will die a good death. I am at peace with myself. Albert is my hero. Albert’s example is my example. Die a good death. No one owns my attitude with my death. Life’s journey in deepest selfhood always in the end is walked alone.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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Albert walked wondrously to his inner peace. Albert was the greatest husband, father, & friend. And the humblest! Albert is my hero.

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Hope Kiko Nakamura of downtown Hilo’s Kino’ole St. also is my hero. A native of Japan, she is Amaterasu, my sun goddess who is kindness personified. Nihonjin are very bigoted because of our racial homogeneity [master race psychomania], so to speak. Not Hope Maki, who is the most loving person around — to people of all colors, social classes, manners, ages. Also, I have never seen an older woman any unthinkably prettier than Hope Maki — yet she is our humblest person, singularly divine like Albert Pacheco. Hope Maki and Albert Pacheco are my immortal heroes — forever inspiring — every generation should observe, study, and learn from these 2 sublime archetypes [greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation][like Jesus & like Scripture’s Pericopes/Parables, my dynamic duo above exemplifies such confounding deepest Truths/frustration-reversal of conventional expectations — huli’au/upside down outcomes but the righteous results, so to speak]. Their interior contemplative humblest nature undyingly are for the ages, and they inspire me to no end.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/in-praise-of-gautam-mukundas-extraordinary-study-indispensable-when-leaders-really-matter/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/sublime/

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An interior contemplative “soul” is valued a la Albert, Hope Kiko [& young Kepola Lee in my article on the greatest of leaders –https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/in-praise-of-gautam-mukundas-extraordinary-study-indispensable-when-leaders-really-matter/], and of course, a la Jesus [or ascetic Buddha or Allah, for that matter] –

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my mythic hero Frankie Starlight [Alan Pentony] dares to reach for the stars

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV1EYBnPMEY

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Alan Pentony [with Anne Parillaud]

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Starlight

Plot

Frank Bois writes a successful first novel and finds himself looking back over his life. His mother Bernadette (Parillaud) was a French woman who, after the death of her friends and family in World War II, hid herself aboard an Allied war ship heading to Ireland, where she exchanged sexual favors for silence among the soldiers who found her on board. A nice customs agent, Jack Kelly (Byrne), allowed Bernadette to enter Ireland illegally, and they soon became a couple lovers, even though she was already pregnant from one of the soldiers from the ship.

Bernadette soon gave birth to young Frankie (Pentony), who suffers from dwarfism. As he grew older, Frankie develops romantic feelings for Jack’s daughter Emma (Cates), who does not share his feelings, while Jack teaches astronomy to Frankie. Eventually, Bernadette meets Terry Klout (Dillon), an American soldier she had met on the war ship, who offers to marry her. Bernadette and Frankie go with Terry to his home in Texas, but both mother and son feel like they don’t belong there, so they return to the Irish home they loved. An older Bernadette eventually committed suicide, and Frank used his life as source material for his writing.

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Empathy means literally “to enter the pathos.”

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To enter the pathos is to surrender to all that is tragic, absurd, lost, despairing, meaningless. The word “pathos” is not a derision; it’s an observation.

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Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”

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We bandy these words about too easily. It’s not all that frequently we find people who will really do what are implied in those words. I cherish the people I do find.

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I no longer lift bread and wine. I lift broken, poured out people. Folks like myself. My meaning in life is to help others find their meaning.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-watt/why-we-write_b_2411000.html

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Why We Write

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By approaching our writing from this perspective we take our thumb off the scale, and in doing so make conscious what was previously unconscious.

And that is the goal of story: to make meaning out of a set of events.

Growth is painful. To make a choice involves discomfort, because it demands that we take responsibility. But it also means that we get to live in reality. To create from a place of fantasy, of groundlessness, is an escape — which is different than losing ourselves in our work by shedding our ego for a deeper connection to our humanity.

Why we write is more important than what we write because our reason for writing influences the content of our work. It is important to remember that we don’t have to do this. The world is not in a rush for more books. There are more great works of fiction, poetry, memoir, history and pumpkin soup recipes than we will ever have time to consume.

If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work has a chance to live. In expressing ourselves, we make what we write essential, if only to ourselves, and by beginning from this place, it has a chance to affect the world.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-goeman/faitheist-social-change-through-storytelling_b_2382772.html

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‘Faitheist’: Social Change Through Storytelling

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America is diverse. However, this diversity occurs in safe, isolated pockets that are stagnant and unengaged with one another. Diana Eck, religious scholar and founder of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, notes that diversity is nothing to be proud of. Diversity is the description of a community, like Tufts or America, where people of different beliefs or backgrounds happen to be in the same location. Pluralism, rather, is the “active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.” It is this engagement that breaks down barriers and guards against prejudice. If we want to make pluralism, rather than diversity, a descriptive fact of our community, we need emissaries to navigate cultural boundaries.

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We need to invite others inside our communities and show them what we value. And we need storytellers.

“Faitheist” works to end this ideological segregation. Chris humanizes atheism by sharing his life and his values –

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Chris aims to end the cycle of isolation and tribalism by encouraging others to contribute their own story to our collective narrative.

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The more we get to know each other, the more our prejudices will dissolve.

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Toward the end of the book, he notes: “The moment I shared my story as a secularist, others felt more comfortable sharing their own.”

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“Faitheist” isn’t just a memoir; it’s a continuation of the biographical heritage established by “Roots”, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Hiroshima” —

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the books that informed Chris about the radical depths of human suffering and inspired his dedication to justice —

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but it is also the predecessor to a new generation of compassionate voices articulating their beliefs while serving humanity.

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Chris’ model of interfaith engagement and storytelling will, I believe, make my university and my country better places —

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places where diversity actually means something.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wray-herbert/who-am-i-the-heroes-of-ou_b_2497839.html

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Who Am I? The Heroes of Our Minds

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One of my guilty pleasures is the TV show Ice Road Truckers, which tells the stories of the heavy haulers who deliver vital supplies to remote Arctic territories of Alaska and Canada. In just two months each year, these truckers make more than 10,000 runs over hundreds of miles of frozen lakes, known as ice roads. We get to share in the treacherous drives — and just as important, the personal travails — of the veteran Hugh “The Polar Bear” Rowland, the brash tattooed Rick Yemm, the cold-hating rookie T.J. Wilcox, and former school bus driver and motocross champ Lisa Kelly, one of the rare women to break into this man’s world.

I’m not alone in this fascination. Millions of viewers have tuned into every episode of Ice Road Truckers since its premiere in 2007. And if hazardous driving is not your cup of Joe, how about Ax Men or Dance Moms, Chef School or Bikini Barbershop, Sister Wives or Biggest Loser? Reality TV dominates small-screen viewing these days. Viewers have literally hundreds of choices in vicarious viewing every day, 24 hours a day. And so what if they’re not exactly real.

What explains this trend? Well, it’s in part simple economics. These shows are cheap to make. But it’s more than that. There is something compelling about people’s stories, something that taps into a deep human need for narrative. The pull of Deadliest Catch and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo can really be traced back to ancient story telling traditions, which exist in every world culture. We see parts of ourselves in these modern-day folk tales, just as we construct stories about our own personal realities.

Psychological scientists have in recent years begun to examine this deep human yearning for story — in particular our need to create a coherent narrative identity. They have been using narrative identity as both an indicator of psychological health and a possible tool for enhancing well-being. Much of this work has been done by Northwestern University’s Dan McAdams and Western Washington University’s Kate McLean, who describe their and others’ research in a forthcoming issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

We all construct a coherent narrative identity, according to the emerging theory, from the accumulated particulars of our autobiographies as well as our envisioned goals. We internalize this story over time, and use it to convey to ourselves and others who we are, where we came from, and where we think we’re heading. Consider the example of redemption. McAdams and other scientists have been asking people to narrate scenes and extended stories from their past, and then they code the accounts for key ideas like redemption and self-determination and community. They have found that people who include themes of redemption in their stories — a marked transition from bad to good — are less focused on themselves and more focused on community and the future. They’re more mature emotionally.

This is just one example of how people make narrative sense of the suffering in their lives. Others have studied how people narrate life challenges, such as a painful divorce or a child’s illness, and they have found that those who produce detailed accounts of loss are better adapted psychologically. Their narratives often strike themes of growth and learning and transformation. Importantly, the stories of the well-adapted have endings, positive resolutions of bad experiences.

Psychotherapy is largely about personal narratives. Therapists help their clients to “re-story” their lives by finding more positive narratives for unhappy experiences. Indeed, when scientists asked former psychotherapy patients to describe how they remembered their therapeutic experience, the healthier ones told heroic stories, tales in which they bravely battled their symptoms and emerged victorious. This narrative theme of personal control was also and by far the best predictor of therapeutic success: As patients’ stories increasingly emphasized self-determination, these patients’ symptoms abated and their health improved. The stories themselves created an identity that was mature and well-adjusted.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/if-were-going-to-write-it-is-because-we-have-a-desire-to-express-ourselves-even-if-we-dont-quite-understand-what-we-wish-to-say-it-might-just-be-an-inner-yearning-but-by-making-t/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/dont-you-just-love-a-cogent-argument/

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Writing is simplicity and contentment –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Playing_with_words_is_fun_as_well_as_meaningful.html

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So, I have come up with three questions. First, why do you write? Second, what inspires you? Third, what do you do to overcome “writers’ block”? — B.F., San Francisco

Why do I write? I write for the same reason people ride roller coasters: It’s a rush. A flow. Movement and rhythm. It’s sensory. Aesthetic.

Words, for me, are like being 8 years old and having a huge bag of Legos. Every day my dictionary contains the same English words, just like every day the bag contains the same Legos. But today I have the chance to assemble them differently! And that’s fun for me.

Why do I write? I write because I love words. I hate jargon, but I love words. Yes, there are a lot of different ways to talk, but words matter.

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The right word can help us apprehend our lives in deeper, more intentional and more meaningful ways.

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There’s a reason the Hebrew verb dabar can mean either “to say” or “to do.” The Hebrew worldview speaks to the power of words: “And God said (emphasis mine), ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

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Words have a creative force. Until we say “I love you,” there will be something about love that does not yet exist.

Am I a ‘word snob’? Oh, maybe. OK, probably. Dammit, yes! But I don’t think my demeanor is snobbish. More relentless and passionate.

I admire excellence and precision with language. I’m a harsh critic of the way American pop culture lazily conscripts the English language willy-nilly.

Americans tend to think of this — when they think about it at all — as another entitled “freedom.” A creative evolving of language. Most of the time it’s exactly the opposite. We broaden, distort and thereby cheapen the meaning of important words. This undermines meaningful discourse.

In the end, it’s worse than merely me not understanding what you mean to be saying; you no longer can accurately apprehend your own experience with anything like clarity and meaning.

For me, there is only one dictionary: The English Oxford Dictionary. Why? Because it alone is willing to guard the power and meaning of the English lexicon.

If I step out on my front porch, and shout “Labeedoowitz” loudly enough, the word “labeedoowitz” will show up in the next printing of the Rand McNally Dictionary.

OK, that’s hyperbole. But, I swear, coin the word “labeedoowitz” in a hit Broadway musical, and it will indeed be automatically included in the dictionary your son and daughter take to college.

I want to chase people to the dictionary. Regularly. I don’t apologize for using important words when just the right word matters.

I love it when I hear a new word. I interrupt people, right there on the spot. I say, “Ooh, I don’t know that word!” That’s a rush for me. A delicious feeling in my brain.

Why do I write? I write because I’m a compulsive communicator who loves to think out loud. Critical thinking turns me on. I like building an argument the way little boys like Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.

I even have fun when the argument collapses. My best friends will tell you that I flat out love being wrong. Yep, when someone puts a finger clearly and accurately on the flaw in my argument, my brain stem hums as if I’d just bitten into a vanilla creme chocolate. If your argument can derail my argument, then I’m like a little kid with a new toy! I’ll race back home with your argument. Take it apart. Put it back together. Play with it. Integrate into my worldview, now changed.

Bring me a good argument, and I’ll ask you to marry me. (Uh, metaphorically speaking. I am so off the market.)

What inspires me? Life. Love. Tragedy. Suffering. Redemption. Evil. Beneficence. Truth. Beauty. Moral dilemmas. Mystery. The human journey inspires me, in virtually any form or circumstance.

What do I do to overcome “writers’ block”? Two things. First, I surround myself with deadlines imposed by others in authority over me. I’m inherently lazy. Not much of a self-starter. Without deadlines, I tend to sit around congratulating myself for thinking about all the brilliant things I could write. The thing that best “jump starts” my most creative self is the high expectations of others, especially if I have contractual obligations with them.

Second, I overcome “writers’ block” by writing. It’s like pumping the pump handle on a reluctant well. At some point I stop saying, “When I get a worthy idea, I’ll start writing.” No, I just sit down and start banging the keys, until a worthy idea shows up.

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http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/01/08/f-scott-fitzgerld-on-writing/

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing

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What is the secret of great writing? For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. For Henry Miller, about discovery. Susan Sontag saw it as self-exploration. Many literary greats anchored it to their daily routines. And yet, the answer remains elusive and ever-changing.

In the fall of 1938, Radcliffe College sophomore Frances Turnbull sent her latest short story to family friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. His response, found in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters (UK; public library) — the same volume that gave us Fitzgerald’s heartwarming fatherly advice and his brilliantly acerbic response to hate mail — echoes Anaïs Nin’s insistence upon the importance of emotional investment in writing and offers some uncompromisingly honest advice on essence of great writing:

November 9, 1938

Dear Frances:

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming — the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’ You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,

Your old friend,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

Two years prior, in another letter to his fifteen-year-old daughter Scottie upon her enrollment in high school, Fitzgerald offered more wisdom on the promise and perils of writing:

Grove Park Inn Asheville, N.C. October 20, 1936

Dearest Scottina:

[…]

Don’t be a bit discouraged about your story not being tops. At the same time, I am not going to encourage you about it, because, after all, if you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience. Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.

Let me preach again for one moment: I mean that what you have felt and thought will by itself invent a new style so that when people talk about style they are always a little astonished at the newness of it, because they think that is only style that they are talking about, when what they are talking about is the attempt to express a new idea with such force that it will have the originality of the thought. It is an awfully lonesome business, and as you know, I never wanted you to go into it, but if you are going into it at all I want you to go into it knowing the sort of things that took me years to learn.

[…]

Nothing any good isn’t hard, and you know you have never been brought up soft, or are you quitting on me suddenly? Darling, you know I love you, and I expect you to live up absolutely to what I laid out for you in the beginning.

Scott

For more wisdom on the writing life, see Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 guidelines for a great story, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules, Margaret Atwood’s 10 practical tips, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/christina-patterson-the-novice-poet-will-try-and-express-feelings-they-already-know-they-have-but-an-experienced-poet-is-one-who-knows-that-a-poem-is-only-a-true-poem-if-it-reveals-what-you-didn/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/no-one-can-take-away-ones-own-attitude-to-live-authentically-passionately-in-praise-of-roberto-benignis-15th-anniversary-movie-life-is-beautiful/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/getting-over-having-been-dumped-by-the-one-you-want-is-a-long-difficult-process-getting-dumped-does-not-dump-your-self-respect-attitude/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/reconciliation-formula-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/an-ennobling-sufferance-living-life-to-the-fullest/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/true-faith-is-a-context-for-suffering-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/the-choice-is-not-whether-to-have-or-not-have-a-worldview-in-which-you-place-faith-the-only-choice-is-whether-we-are-willing-to-choose-with-intention-clarity-commitment-sage-steven-kala/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-extraordinary-sage-viktor-frankl-only-then-through-the-power-of-using-the-past-for-living-and-making-history-out-of-what-has-happened-does-a-pe/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/in-some-ways-suffering-ceases-to-be-suffering-at-the-moment-it-finds-a-meaning-such-as-the-meaning-of-a-sacrifice-life-is-never-made-unbearable-by-circumstances-but-only-by-lack-of-meaning-and-pur/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/surrender-yes-what-is-demanded-of-man-is-not-as-some-existential-philosophers-teach-to-endure-the-meaninglessness-of-life-but-rather-to-bear-rationally-his-incapacity-to-grasp-its/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/society-blurs-the-decisive-difference-between-being-valuable-in-the-sense-of-dignity-and-being-valuable-in-the-sense-of-usefulness-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/dostoevski-said-once-there-is-only-one-thing-i-dread-not-to-be-worthy-of-my-sufferings-sage-viktor-frankl/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/what-is-to-give-light-must-endure-burning-sage-viktor-frankl-in-tribute-to-connie-francis/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/the-paradox-of-authenticity-a-conscious-commitment-to-your-peace-whether-its-i-or-not-i/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/faith-is-consequential-but-it-is-not-about-immortality-faith-is-about-finding-peace-within-oneself/

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http://www.asianentrepreneur.org/thai-nguyen-founder-of-the-utopian-life/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rubinstein/writing-process_b_2707747.html?utm_hp_ref=books

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For me, writing begins with an almost dreamlike process. It’s as though my mind goes through some semi-conscious period where things from the past and present seem to coalesce and begin building upon themselves. Sometimes a thought fragment forms, only to fade the way some dreams dissolve as you’re awakening. At other times, an idea imbeds itself and develops with a clear forward trajectory.

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The novel’s story incorporates other aspects of my own and others’ experiences, coupled with large doses of imagination and fantasy. Like all fiction writers, I draw from the things I know well, and borrow heavily from life around me.

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I draw water from the well of my life’s work, and create stories.

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A writer is someone who always has an eye open and an ear cocked. I am no exception.

Drawing from life is at the heart of my novels, although each one begins in its unique way.

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 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-hess/mentors-we-dont-realize-exist-_b_6726214.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
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A valuable principle I learned in my Christian ministerial studies was a mentoring metaphor that has never left me. It was idly called the Paul Principle.

Paul was the apostle that came after Jesus had already ascended into heaven. Paul was the adopted step-child of the disciples. He was mentored by Barnabas, was in jail with a peer named Silas, and wrote letters of teaching to a student called Timothy.

The principle was this…

Every man in life should always have a Barnabas, Silas and Timothy if he is to be a complete man.

Always identify your Barnabas, the one who is mentoring and teaching you.

Discover your Silas. The peer who is in the trenches with you and learning life at the same time.

And never forget to pass the torch to a Timothy in your life. The wise saying goes “If you can’t teach it, you really don’t understand it.”

We all have many Barnabas’ along our journey. We all have many Silas’ too. But to avoid complete selfishness, we need to take the wisdom we’ve acquired and impart it to ones like our children, their peers, and anyone else God allows us to come to know in our lifetime.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/jesus-makes-clear-that-to-forgive-is-to-forget-propitiation-and-their-sins-and-iniquities-i-will-remember-no-more-hebrews-1017/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/topic-irony/

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Irony as paradox [subtitled as negativity]

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Where much of philosophy attempts to reconcile opposites into a larger positive project, Kierkegaard and others insist that irony—whether expressed in complex games of authorship or simple litotes—must, in Kierkegaard’s words, “swallow its own stomach.”

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.

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Similarly, among other literary critics, writer David Foster Wallace viewed the pervasiveness of ironic and other postmodern tropes as the cause of “great despair and stasis in U.S. culture, and that for aspiring fictionists [ironies] pose terrifically vexing problems.”

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Sincerity

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In response to the hegemony of metafictional and self-conscious irony in contemporary fiction, writer David Foster Wallace predicted, in his 1993 essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction,” a new literary movement which would espouse something like the New Sincerity ethos:

“The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows.”

In his essay “David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction,” Adam Kelly argues that Wallace’s fiction, and that of his generation, is marked by a revival and theoretical reconception of sincerity, challenging the emphasis on authenticity that dominated twentieth-century literature and conceptions of the self.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/this-is-water-david-foster-wallace-wallace-used-many-forms-of-irony-but-focused-on-individuals-continued-longing-for-earnest-unselfconscious-experience-and-communication-in-a-media-s/

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-irony

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox#Paradox_in_philosophy

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Paradoxes are irresolvable truths, not contradictions, in which only one opposite is true [a contradiction]

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http://www.academia.edu/2541288/Towards_an_Ethics_of_Irony_The_Paradox_of_Love_in_the_Symposium_

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“In Critical Fragment 48 Schlegel remarks that, ‘Irony is the form of paradox. Paradox is everything simultaneously good and great.’ This is the best articulation of the concept of irony in the German Romantic tradition: in contrast to the classical trajectory of irony embodied in the figure of Socrates who rhetorically dissembles his own knowledge, Schlegel’s fragment is emblematic of an irony that is a condition of possibility of objects, literary or otherwise, occurring in time and space.

The form of paradox becomes the horizon of potential that, for instance, allows good works to be read, un-read and re-read in countless interpretations hence becoming the great works of history. Or, in Kierkegaardian terms, which themselves are spectralized reproductions of Aristotelian terminology, irony allows one literary actuality to be superseded by the potentiality located in the literary actuality itself. As thus envisaged, hermeneutic progress itself hinges upon this ironic potential.

But what about ‘progress’ and ‘potential’ thought of in terms of political hope? Can irony, this condition of possibility, inform an ethics?

Ironically, perhaps an answer is to be found not in the German Romantic tradition, but in the very classical tradition that has been consistently distinguished from it. In sticking with the idea of irony as a condition of possibility and without defining it tout court, I shall argue that Socrates’s exploration of the concept of love in the Symposium not only pre-dates the structure of irony normally attributed to the German Romantic movement, but also compliments it as a relevant form of ethics for contemporary times. It would be ironic indeed if irony itself, normally a suspect trope in the field of ethics, allowed all ethical questions to occur in the first place.

To me, Socrates simply called this condition love— this paper seeks to further elaborate this thought.”

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http://books.google.com/books?id=6EAw-H8zvDkC&pg=PA115&lpg=PA115&dq=Critical+Fragment+48+Schlegel+irony+is+paradox&source=bl&ots=0vE_ZSo4_8&sig=S-Wj3HJJlCszh7DtMNhS5rdSxAU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MXuNUe2_FKOtigLE8IAw&sqi=2&ved=0CFIQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=Critical%20Fragment%2048%20Schlegel%20irony%20is%20paradox&f=false

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http://www.bachelorandmaster.com/criticaltheories/friedrich-schlegel.html

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Irony and paradox as distinct and not convergent –

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http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/english/2010/lesson_plans/reading/nonfiction/9-12/14_11-12_readingnonfiction_recognizing_ambiguity_contraction.pdf

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http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm

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Paradox and irony seem quite distinct.

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Paradox relies on the clarity and exactness of language; it shows that truth can be expressed by words alone.

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Irony uses words to point beyond language.

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Irony shows that there are some truths which, though they cannot be articulated in words,

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can none the less be expressed by means of words.

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Irony, like many other figures, is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language,

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of ensuring that it does not disguise thought

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but is both the midwife and the medium of thought.

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Not everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly,

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but everything that can be thought at all can be put into words.

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E.g. – seminaries could teach us how to think and even how to apply the truths of Scriptures to certain situations, but our seminaries did not have the ability nor the capacity to teach their young ministers how to feel. Only the Prompt of the Spirit could provide that.” — James H. Hill, Jr.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/in-praise-of-mystic-christian-jo-anne-silva-i-recognized-that-our-seminaries-could-teach-us-how-to-think-and-even-how-to-apply-the-truths-of-scriptures-to-certain-situations-but-our-seminaries-did/

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E.g. –

Richard Hays’ Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: Paul’s readings of Scripture are not constrained by a historical scrupulousness about the original meaning of the texts. Eschatological meaning subsumes original sense…. True interpretation depends neither on historical inquiry nor on erudite literary analysis but on attentiveness to the promptings of the Spirit, who reveals the gospel through Scripture in surprising ways. In such interpretations, there is an element of playfulness, but the freedom of intertextual play is grounded in a secure sense of the continuity of God’s grace: Paul trusts the same God who spoke through Moses to speak still in his own transformative reading. Just as my lectionary commentary invites Christians to read the Bible as Jesus read the ‘Bible’ in his day (with a hermeneutic of love), Hays’ work invites us to embrace the same freedom to interpret the Bible that Paul with other ancient commentators claimed. — sage Carl Gregg

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And yet,

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The Epicurean paradox “problem of evil” is a cosmic irony due to the sharp contrast/incongruity between reality and human ideals, or between human intentions and actual results. The resulting situation is poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Paradoxes#Philosophy

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Cosmic_irony_.28Irony_of_fate.29

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On Roy Kodani’s outstanding book chock full of peripeteia/turning points    —

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http://www.hawaii247.com/2015/01/28/roy-kodani-the-sound-of-hilo-rain/

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Aloha Curtis:

My father always spoke about Yamauchi sensei and his wife, and how kind they were to him.  My father, his mother, his step-father, and his half brothers and sisters lived far beyond Camp 6 almost close to the forest.  Sometimes, when it rained hard, the river would rise, and he would not be able to return home.  So, he would stay with Yamauchi sense and okusan.  My father always used to say that okusan would put  a huge heap of rice in the bowl, because she knew it would be hard for him to ask for another bowl of rice.  Because of their kindness, I, too, am indebted to the Yamauchi family.

Thank you very much for taking your valuable time to send me your turning points.

I don’t visit Hilo as often as I used to when my parents were still living.  If I do have plans to visit Hilo, I will contact you so that we can meet and talk about Hilo, our families, values, and remembrances.

Thank you for writing to me.  I hope to see you soon.

Roy

Roy M. Kodani

Home Page: www.roykodani.com

From: Curtis Narimatsu

Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 11:06 AM
To: ROY KODANI
Subject: your outstanding book

Hi Roy:    This is Curtis Narimatsu from Hilo.      I wept uncontrollably in reading The Sound of Hilo Rain.    Such beautiful reminiscences.    You might know the Waiakea-Uka Camp 6 area Yamauchi progeny.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_M._Yamauchi

Your book is full of mind-blowing turning points.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripeteia

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Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

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http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm
https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity

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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Love — what it requires, how to value it, how it calls us to pay attention — to celebrate and be grateful. Because we simply never know. Human beings have no rights or claims on the ever-so brief moments they are given to be together.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/love-the-simple-measure-life

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“When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.”

— Denali

Denali isn’t famous enough to need a last name. He has no formal education. Not even a high school diploma. What he does have is a keen, super-human sense of what love means. What it requires. How to value it. How it calls us to pay attention. To celebrate and be grateful.

Because we simply never know.

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Human beings have no rights or claims on the ever-so brief moments they are given to be together.

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Denali doesn’t understand why people complain about the fact that salads cost $12 or why their shoes got wet. Denali has love in keen relief, proper perspective. He talks of loving his dog, Ben, through cancer.

In journeys like that, you don’t notice your shoes. And maybe you forget to eat lunch entirely, at any price.

I’ve never met Denali in real time. I heard him quote the above words in an eight-minute short film called “Denali.” You can watch it on Vimeo.com. (https://vimeo.com/122375452)

Films like “Denali”

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remind me how simple is the measure of my own life:

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When I notice myself in narratives of chronic complaint, I’m a loser. It’s that simple.

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Then, when I get the idea that others should be obliged to grant an audience for my complaining, I’m a loser and a boor.

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The tortured trifecta is when I take the point of privilege to feel slighted, to mobilize resentment if others are unavailable for my complaining.

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Loser, boor and Crown Prince of Entitlement.

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When, instead, I work the discipline of gratitude, I’m a man of peace and humility. My soul is in a posture to receive rather than grasp or take. I revel in an inventory of unspeakable grace and gifts,

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not an inventory of ownership, achievement and deservedness.

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Ownership? Every day I grow older, the whole idea of ownership seems more a waste of time.

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For what is truly my own

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except for the moments I dared to love and be loved?

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Answer:    nothing.

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“We are in bondage to decay.” — Romans 8:20-21

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Only love survives.

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Nobody lies in hospice and makes an inventory of ownership. Nope. Dying requires us to take inventory of love.

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“Love is paying attention.” — M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)

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A friend tells me about a family tradition, started by her father, now gone to be with God. Home from work each night, he would pull his car up to the house and tap a friendly “beep beep” on the horn. He would announce his arrival, and a wife and children would rise and mingle toward the door to greet him.

Today, my friend continues the tradition. Her family knows to expect the “beep beep” as she pulls her car around to home.

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Thus do healthy families and healthy marriages make customs and rituals out of comings and goings, hellos and goodbyes.

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They see each other. They behold each other. They respect each other. (Look it up. In Latin, respectus means “to see again.”)

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I remember, as I do at least annually in this column, the Thorton Wilder play “Our Town.” At the end, the protagonist pleads to her mother, “Mother! Won’t you just look at me!”

Then she says to the stage manager: “Does anyone really live life while they live it?”

“Oh, a few,” says the stage manager, puffing his pipe. “Poets and saints, maybe. Nobody else.”

By the way, if you decide to click that link and watch “Denali,” bring a box of tissues. It’s going to wreck you. Wring you out like a dishrag. Pour your heart into your shoes. If you can watch this piece and not be moved, something is wrong with you. You’re embalmed. Sleepwalking. Frozen in ice.

Watch it. Ponder what really matters.

Then put this column down. Go call someone you love, and tell them so. Just because.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/understand-the-motive-behind-lie#

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“A  lie” does not always come out of the mouth of “A Liar.” So, when I find out about a lie, my first move (especially if I love and care about you) is not judgment. Not some thundering, terrible moral conclusion of “Liar!” Rather, my first move is … curiosity.

To wit: Why did you just lie to me? What’s going on? What’s your motive? I treasure understanding far more than I value the “gotcha” of moral condemnation. The latter is easy. The former takes effort.

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Not to mention that understanding is generally a more effective change agent than shame.

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Second, I’m slow to pull the trigger on the word “liar” because of compassion. The human condition stirs in me empathy, mercy and pathos much more often than righteous indignation. I like that about me.

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A lie emerges along an observable continuum:

On the low-budget end is “the spin.” Everybody does it. In fact, most people reserve the right to organize, order and present truth in a particular way. Specifically, in a way that makes them look better than worse. It’s why there are defense attorneys. For that matter, it’s why there are skilled makeup artists, hair stylists and wardrobe consultants. It’s all spin. We’re trying to downplay or even hide flaws while accentuating positives.

Then there is spin’s close cousin: dissembling. To dissemble is not technically to lie, but to nonetheless deliberately conceal our true motives, feelings and beliefs. Everybody does this. In fact, there are regularly scenarios in our lives when to do otherwise would be purely foolish. In some relationships, we dissemble to survive.

It is unwise to be always and in every case emotionally honest.

Next is obfuscating. To obfuscate is to deliberately blur meaning into willful ambiguity. The goal is to confuse. To keep the listener off balance. If you’re really good at this, you can leave your audience believing deeply they understand you when you know they do not. This was your goal. When my English ancestors say, “He is a man of many words” … well, it’s not a compliment.

Next on the trajectory is withholding truth. In part or in whole. There are many reasons to withhold truth. Those reasons range from noble to prudent to slimy to flat immoral.

Now on the continuum we cross what is, for most people, a line. That is, up until we’re talking about everybody. The human condition. But these next lies are … something else.

The inflation lie: to exaggerate or flat fabricate status, achievements, life experiences, credentials, data, history of record, honors, skills or anything that aggrandizes us in the eyes of others. The inflation lie ranges from minor, slightly pathetic self-exaggeration (“I once met Clint Eastwood”) to near pathological social deception (like people who place unearned academic credentials next to their name or practice medicine for years without a license.)

The shame/embarrassment lie: It’s just easier to say, “There was an accident on the freeway,” than it is to say, “I completely forgot about this appointment and slept late.”

And now another line is crossed …

There are lies told to steal. Lies told to cheat. To exploit. To betray. Lies told to deliberately ruin a reputation. There are lies told to cover immorality. To cover crime.

To cover evil.

For most of us ordinarily good, ordinarily flawed human beings, lying is a bad habit best to be avoided.

My teacher Ruth once said to me that the fail-safe antidote for lying was to say, “I’m a liar.”

“Because, Steven,” she said, “to say ‘I’m a liar’ is to instantly become a perfect teller of the truth.”

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http://www.peteenns.com/when-god-stops-making-sense-or-my-favorite-part-of-the-old-testament/

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Israel’s main storyline is pretty black and white, a lesson to be learned, a story with a moral. .

But for Psalms and wisdom literature, life isn’t black and white. Life is messy, unpredictable, and often makes no sense.

These books take issue with the storyline and its moral. They interrogate the black and white script and conclude, “Life isn’t that straightforward.”

  • Job loses everything he has except his life. The script (e.g., Deuteronomy) says that such calamities are by God’s hand, a response to disobedience. Yet we learn from Job that this is not the case.

  • Ecclesiastes questions the “world order” God has made: nothing we do matters, since we all die and are driven to the point of madness at the thought of our futile existence.

  • A number of psalms lament God’s absence in the world. Like Psalm 73–where the author can’t get his head around how a just God can allow the wicked to prosper.

  • Or Psalm 89–where God is in effect called a liar for promising that one of King David’s descendants would always be on the throne in Jerusalem and then allowing the Babylonians to kill off the last of David’s royal line and take the people captive.

I like these parts of the Bible because, the older I get the more I live where the script makes less sense. Too much of life has happened. It’s all too messy.

Job’s experience threatens the foundation of his moral world. God punishes the wicked, yet Job isn’t wicked. So why is God doing this?

Job never gets a straight answer to the question–other than God telling Job “I’m God, the Creator. You’re not.”

I don’t take that to mean, “Be silent before the sovereign overlord, you puny human. How dare you question meeeee!”

I take it to mean, “You are human, Job, present here on earth for a few moments. You can’t possibly comprehend how the universe works, or my part in it. The script of the sacred story is fine as far as it goes, but this world and my place in it aren’t constricted by it. You will not figure this out, Job.”

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Job points us in the right direction.

God’s answer to Job, if I may translate into the contemporary idiom, is that the divine is “trans-rational.”

At the end of the day the human thought process can only get you so far when it comes to God.

At some point, for most of us, as it was for some biblical writers, God stops making sense.

The question then is whether the non-sense leads to disbelief in God or becomes an invitation to seek God differently–even through confrontation and debate, as these biblical books model for us.

I know people who have answered that question both ways–people close to me, whom I love and respect. I’m not judging anyone and I’m not here to debate the issue or try to make an argument.

I’m just saying that over time I’ve come to answer that question in the second way–as I think Job, some psalmists, and the author of Ecclesiastes did.

Some might call that kind of faith “fideism”–an irrational belief in God rather than based on “sound reason.” But I think the charge of fideism misses the halting lesson life insists on giving us, and also persists in presuming what Job’s friends also insisted on–that where God is concerned, things make sense.

The issue as I see it isn’t simply whether your faith is or isn’t “reasonable.” “Reasonable” is a moving target.

The issue is whether we are able to accept that our cognitive power–which can be limiting and deceiving as well as liberating and enlightening–is truly up for the task of grasping the divine.

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Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm
https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity

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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar#Criteria_for_authenticity

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“Hi everyone! The one we worship was crucified by the Romans. Come follow us.” This opening line did not fit among Greco-Roman religions. Claiming that a divine figure was helplessly beaten, tortured, and gruesomely–shamefully executed, would have been proof positive that such a religion was a joke worthy only of late night monologs. The ridiculousness of the crucifixion of the Son of God is easily lost on modern Christians. We miss an important reversal that so typifies the gospel. Because the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation of being wise, to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) — Peter Enns

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle. “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.”

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What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”       ― Jodi Picoult,Nineteen Minutes    

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3375915-nineteen-minutes
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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/04/discovering-the-futility-of-human-existence-at-my-high-school-reunion/#ixzz3YGIJHHDx
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http://theutopianlife.com/2014/11/22/eeyore-pessimists-guide-beautiful-life/
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Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.

Ecclesiastes 3:15

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http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/3-15.htm
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Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
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3:11-15 Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts,

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we are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them.

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Our purpose is to love others (as God first loves us).

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Ecclesiastes 3:15

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Is there anything of which one can say,
  

            “Look! This is something new”?


It was here already, long ago;

 

             it was here before our time.

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This realization often comes much later, in mid-life, when the frantic pace of our youth has become tiresome, when we finally slow down a bit and take stock.

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I’m just another in a long line. I’m not at the front or back. Just in the massive middle. So are you.

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So is everyone.

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle.

I also, strangely, felt peace at this thought. I wasn’t exactly sure at the time why, but perhaps knowing that things are as they are and that I will not break this cycle  —-

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leads to a healthy resignation, a release of the fantasy that we control our universe, our lives.

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This is how I put it: my epiphany was a tender “letting go” moment.

I have found that letting go is a key component of the Christian life—of any spiritual life—but I was never taught “letting go” in my Christian education, in church, college, or seminary. The sub-current always seemed to be how “special” and privileged we were

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to be part of this endless cycle of life.

I was taught to think of myself as outside of the circle.

But we live our lives within this circle, and our lives

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 have meaning. Not a meaning handed to us, but a meaning we forge—right here, right now — by choice. Not by denying our humanity but by looking it square in the eye, shedding any notion of being above it all  — and choosing to walk or not — in spiritual salvation with our Lord Jesus.

After all, as Christians believe, God himself entered the human drama, the cycle of life, as yet another man in the long line of men before and since, born of a woman, in ancient Judea, in Galilee, who grew and learned like everyone else.

God valued the cycle enough to be a part of it.   So will I.   I so choose to walk in spiritual salvation with my Lord Jesus.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/a-faith-crisis-in-the-bible-and-dont-let-some-60s-hippies-tell-you-otherwise/
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Confession of resignation in Ecclesiastes:   The best we can do is to find joy (in God) in everyday life.

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In Ecclesiastes we find we hear our voices of sadness, depression anxiety, strife, and doubt echoing back from 2,500 years ago.   Life is not so grand, but we are not alone in feeling such.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/it-ll-take-more-bubble-bath-cure-your-stress

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Four fundamental sources of stress    —

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1.   MEANINGLESSNESS

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that the crisis of Western civilization was a crisis of meaning. As the great “symbol systems” of our past erode (e.g., the American flag, wedding rings, clear gender symbols, Judeo-Christian symbols), we are left more and more with a culture void of symbolic identity. Our understanding of relationship and intimacy is no longer grounded in depth communion expressed by shared symbols but in the facade of “connectedness” (see Facebook, etc.). Our work is less and less grounded in the symbol of vocation and more and more grounded in “occupation.” That is, something that occupies our time and makes money.

More and more patients enter therapy not to resolve unhappy childhood memories, not to change some unhealthy habit, but to try to express that vague, nagging, painful emptiness of a soul looking for meaning.

Meaninglessness is very stressful.

2.    DENIED EMOTIONS

Imagine standing waste deep in a swimming pool, holding a volleyball. Now, push the ball underwater with one hand. Hold it there, underwater. Give it a minute. As your arm tires, you will notice the ball’s desire to surface. It wants to surface. Demands to surface! Your arm will start to tremble. You have to concentrate. Perhaps a grunt will escape your lips as you bring to bear the effort to keep that ball underwater.

This is what it’s like to deny your emotions. To do anything but feel. Anger, fear, vulnerability, shame, guilt, grief, loss, despair — our culture raises you to deny suffering at all cost.

Undigested, unrecognized, denied emotions are very stressful.

3.     DISRESPECT/CONTEMPT

If a tree is planted in a poison forest, it will fail to thrive. If you rescue the tree by digging it up, repotting it in healthy soil, feed and water it, then the tree will begin to recover and grow. But, once restored to health, if you return it to the poison forest … well, there aren’t enough bubble baths in the world to make living in that forest OK.

This is what it’s like for so many patients. I help them. They begin to thrive and heal in therapy. But, if they must then return to a poison marriage … or return to poison parents … or return to a poison workplace and a poison supervisor … well, relaxation techniques will not ultimately be enough to save them.

Participating in relationships marked by chronic disrespect/contempt is very stressful.

4.     THE DOUBLE BIND

In the 1950s, Gregory Bateson struck upon the idea of the double bind: “A psychological impasse created when a person perceives that someone in a position of power is making contradictory demands, so that no response is appropriate.”

Bateson says the victim of double bind receives contradictory injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words, and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticized or silenced whenever he or she actually does so).

No meta-communication is possible — for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense.

The victim cannot leave the communication field.

Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished (for example, by withdrawal of love).

The double bind is often one of the poisons in the poison forest. It is a common strategy (albeit, often unconscious) of folks treating us with chronic disrespect/contempt. It can make you feel like you are losing your mind.

Sure, take time for yourself. That’s a good thing. But, if any of these four stressful dynamics haunt your life, you will have to do something about it.

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Eeyore: A Pessimist’s Guide to a Beautiful Life

Image Credit: cultjer.com

I’m a recovering pessimist. A perennial one. I know it’s a striking confession given the nature of my site. But in a paradoxical way, pessimism’s been great fuel for personal growth. Pitiful dwellings on life’s miseries launch me into striving for the best possible world.

Perhaps the greatest of pessimists: Eeyore. The thistle eating donkey from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.

There’s something poignantly oxymoronic about Eeyore—that such laughter and joy can come from a gloomy character.

In the same way being poor teaches us to appreciate wealth, having our hearts broken teaches us to love faithfully, and failures magnifying our victories—Eeyore’s melancholy in a subtle way highlights the joys in life.

Here are 7 classic lines and lessons for a beautiful life from Eeyore:

 

1. “Thanks for noticing me.”

It’s what we all want. Beyond our physical needs, the existential cry for acknowledgment underlies everything we do.

To be noticed, to be love, to be validated.

One of Eeyore’s favorite lines highlights the power in simply acknowledging someone’s presence. Appreciating the uniqueness of their character, the serendipity that allows friends to share the same space and time. Every relationship is made up of chance occurrences which deserve some marveling.

And when silence is no longer awkward in any relationship—it’s a beautiful experience of ‘noticing’ one another that should be celebrated.

 

2. “It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.

“So it is.”

“And freezing.”

“Is it?”

“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

We’ve all blown things out of proportion before. Our problems will expand to fill the mental space we give it, and often, we give far too much.

Psychologists call it Catastrophic Thinking, defaulting to worst case scenarios—we think getting pulled over means a night in jail. Fear is a powerful mechanism, and if untamed, it knows no boundaries.

Eeyore knows the key—the word “However” causes a mental reappraisal, a mindfulness that allows for a more rational evaluation. And actually, thinking the worst case scenario, allows us to realize how unjustified and unrealistic we’re being.

 

3. “A tail isn’t a tail to them, it’s just a little bit extra at the back.”

Not everyone will understand you, and that’s ok. We celebrate freedom of speech, but often get bent out of shape when someone expresses an opposing view.

Just like you can take a horse to water but not make it drink, there’s no point going blue in the face telling someone it’s a tail if all they see is “extra at the back.”

 

4. “To the uneducated an A is just three sticks.”

Ignorance is bliss—for those who are ignorant about bliss. Eeyore must have read some Socrates, who said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Knowledge has the power to expand our human experience. To learn any language is to open up to literally a whole new world. To learn any skill increases your self-confidence, and ability to add value to someone else’s life.

Give yourself the gift of seeing more than just sticks; challenge yourself to learn one new thing each day.

 

5. “They’re funny things, accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.”

To live life in bubble-wrap may prevent us from ever getting hurt, but it’ll certainly prevent us from ever experiencing a meaningful life.

So while we can do our best to be wise and cautious, ultimately our best is the best we can do. Accidents are indiscriminate—to try and live in prediction of them is paralyzing.

6. “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference. Or so the say.”

Our survival mechanism means we possess an inherent selfishness. Babies will learn “mine!” as quickly as “mumma” or “daddy.”

As inherent are acts of selfishness, so too is the desire for selflessness—we’ve said it a thousand times: “It’s better to give than receive.” But kindness takes a little more effort than we’d like to admit; taking action to bridge the gap between desire and act can be an internal battle. But the possibility of making someone’s day, and even their life through what we can give should be good motivation. Even if the difference goes unnoticed.

 

7. “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.

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That’s all there is to it.”

“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.

“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

It’s like being an introvert in a culture that preaches extroversion. Thankfully there’s more balance nowadays with introversion seen less as an issue to fix and more of a celebration.

But with any majority view or ‘cultural norm,’ there’s a always the temptation to feel as though there’s something wrong with you if you don’t fit into the neat cookie-cutter.

Simple, yet profound words from Eeyore: “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.” There’s beauty in being different. Cookie-cutters are meant for cookies, not life.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/fatherhood-its-own-reward
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It is the devil’s lie to say that vulnerability is weakness. Rather, an open heart is the most powerful force in the universe. This is courage. (Look it up. The word courage, in its literal Latin origins means “open hearted.”)

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To be open-hearted is a tall order. But I am inspired to try. Not to mention to redeem. I feel as if I had won the cosmic lottery. Now I have the chance to try to be the person I feel I was meant to be.

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This is the paradox, you see. The practice of selfless love is no mere benefit to those you love. The selfless love of the compassionate person benefits the person too. It rescues and redeems his or her own soul.

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Dig out your root of bitterness    (tribute to Christian mystic Pastor Wilfredo Agngaray)    –

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http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/bitterness.php

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Bitterness is a root!

Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

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Bitterness is hidden under the soil or surface. The same is true with bitterness in a person’s soul. It is a hidden element that lies under the surface, and out of it sprouts up anger and other negative emotions against others and against the circumstances around us. People who have a root of bitterness find it easy to get upset over things that others are doing around them. It’s like a volcano that lies beneath the surface, waiting to explode onto the surface.

Bitterness is a root, thereby making it harder to identify and expose than many surface issues, but none the less it’s a deadly poison that needs to be released.

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“Why do you drink a poison brewed from the root of bitterness — in order to foment a curse on your adversary??”  rhetorically asks erudite sage Wilfredo Agngaray.

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My life has been a Griffin Dunne character in After Hours    

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Paul Hackett (Dunne) experiences a series of misadventures as he tries to make his way home  (mishaps produce laughter via cynicism, skepticism, & the irony of incurring wrath thru one’s desire of pleasure).

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This film is on the list of “Great Movies,” and it combines comedy, satire, and irony (irreducible truth) withunrelenting pressure and a sense of all-pervading paranoia/destruction.

Hopscotch to oblivion’, Barcelona, Spain

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtPI9jIx1kU

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Hours_(film)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuF39JcriEk

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What others meant for evil, God meant for good   — the epiphany of Josephine A. Roche  — she loved to no end her dad — but also empathized with the forsaken of society  —

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In 1925, Roche returned to Colorado due to her father’s failing health, and in 1927 inherited his holdings in the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, a coal mining company which he had founded.   By 1929, she had purchased a majority interest in the company and become president. She then proceeded to enact a variety of pro-labor policies, including an invitation for the United Mine Workers of America to return to Colorado and unionize her mines, 15 years after her father and other coal mine owners had broken the unions in the aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre of 1914.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Roche

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Massacre

 

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The value of the Old Testament includes not just the pattern/representation of Jesus  — but also the expectation of long suffering  (perseverance of the saints)     –

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/12/well-at-least-the-old-testament-has-one-thing-going-for-it/

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Their experiences are very much like ours today: life is hard, and life of faith does not automatically make it easier. It may actually make it harder at times.

Spiritual struggles are normal for Christians. They are not to be sought after, but they are normal. They are not to be romanticized, but they are normal.They are not to be shown off and bragged over, but they are normal.

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http://www.differentspirit.org/blog/gethsemane-and-what-follows/
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The suffering and sacrifice of Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to be poured out on those who believe in Him. There is joy in our salvation, and joy in the promise of what is to come in eternity.

Trials and tribulations, pressure and suffering, are part of the human condition. Christians do not escape.

However, Christians have the joy of knowing that God is with us through times of pressure and suffering, and that He allows it because the final outcome will be good ( James 1:2-3, and Rom 8:28 ).

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Sadly, I see a bird in shock at seeing the bird’s mate run over by a car on the road.   Such a tragic sight has been replayed over and over since the automobile was invented over a century ago.

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Such a tragic sight is reminiscent of the insanity of war, with scenes of carnage replayed over and over since the beginning of humanity.

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In our Hawai’i legislative senate today, the takeover of the “chess club” (reformers)(its puffed up leader Donna Mercado Kim got deflated via exclusion) ) by the “opihis” (“corrupt” status quo) is reminiscent of the tragedy surrounding the assassination of President Garfield nearly a century and a half ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Breed_(politics)

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/marriage-exposes-us-good-and-bad

Everybody knows that, when it comes to icebergs, there is more beneath the surface of the water than above. About 90 percent more.    The same is true with people.

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Such are the psychic content “beneath the surface.”

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obergefell_v._Hodges#Majority_opinion

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Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (June 26, 2015) is  a   landmarkUnited States Supreme Court      case in which the Court held that state recognition of same-sex marriage is a constitutional right under theFourteenth Amendment.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

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In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled its  17 yr. old    1986 decision inBowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, which upheld a Georgia law that criminalized certain homosexual acts, on the basis that such antiquated laws making same-sex intimacy a crime “demean homosexual persons.”    Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 575.

 

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Bowers was decided at a time when the court’s privacy jurisprudence, and in particular the right to abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), had come under heavy criticism. Bowers signaled a reluctance by the Court to recognize a general constitutional right to privacy or to extend such a right further than it already had.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowers_v._Hardwick#Effects

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The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture   (husband owns his wife)   have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.

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This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness. Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/did-jesus-even-live-a-brief-thought-about-scholarship-skepticism-and-apologetics/

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Time and again the study of Jesus has been swamped by waves of radical skepticism–to the point of denial of this historicity of Jesus. Three names may be mentioned as examples.

Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), who once lectured in theology at Bonn, regarded the earliest Gospel as a literary work of art: history is produced in it, not described.Albert Kalthoff (1850-1906) understood Jesus as a product of the religious needs of a social movement which had come into contact with the Jewish messianic expectation. Arthur Drews, who was professor of philosophy in Karlsruhe, declared Jesus to be the concretization of a myth which already existed before Christianity.

Here we find three motives for skepticism which are also operative where there is no dispute over the historicity of Jesus: Jesus is understood as a product of literary imagination, social needs or mythical traditions.

Here historical skepticism appears within or outside theology, often with a great ethical solemnity, and foists on its critics the ungrateful role of apologists driven by their wishes.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/ambivalence-challenges-most-close-relationships

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An accepted bit of “wisdom” in our culture is that, in marriage, being “in love” and hot sex must, of necessity, “wear off.” The elders ask us to accept that.  But this bit of wisdom isn’t so wise.

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 In fact, it’s a sad excuse for lack of commitment to a most intimate spiritual togetherness.

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It is ambivalence that erodes love and sex. Nothing more. Nothing less. The human ego finds the experience of great vulnerability — great love — both compelling (approach-love)) and intolerable (avoid-hate). So we seek it, find it and then promptly begin to erode it, starve it (slow deprivation) and stonewall it (slow poison) so as to protect ourselves. This almost always is an unconscious process.   (slow deprivation/slow poison below)

In fact, that’s the rub: Ambivalence begins unconsciously. And we can’t manage it well unless we are willing to make it conscious. When ambivalence is made conscious, then we have choices for bearing it creatively, usefully, sometimes even playfully.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/acknowledging-ambivalence-best-way-cope

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Perpetrators of domestic violence are provoked to violence in two primary ways.

One is obvious: the perpetrator’s felt loss of control over the mate. But lesser known is the alternate route to the perpetrator’s rage: the mate got too close, emotionally speaking. The perpetrator experienced an intimacy and therefore a vulnerability.

Other people, while not committing/experiencing acts of physical violence in marriage, can and do exhibit another type of disturbing — not normal — ambivalence.

I’m referring to couples with frequent cycles of reactive hostility pingponging back to cosmic sex and breathless romance. “Frequent” here can mean two to five such highs and lows in a given week. The participants are beaten to an emotional pulp.

For some folks, these slingshot highs and lows are near addictive.

The cycles create powerful bonds. Just not healthy bonds. Certainly not happy bonds.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/bonds-untie-moment-barely-noticeable-moment

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The two most common enemies of marriage are the least obvious. And that’s a disturbing proposition, because we often don’t recognize the enemy as an enemy until it is too late.

It’s like termites. You don’t know you have termites until you come home to find your roof on the living room floor.

The most common enemies of marriage are treacherously subtle. Domestic violence, infidelity, addiction, vicious arguments — these enemies of marriage are obvious. But they are not the most common enemies. Just the most obvious.

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The two most common enemies of marriage are Slow Deprivation and Slow Poison.

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Slow Deprivation is what happens when your mate becomes slowly but surely inattentive to nurturing the bond. The connection. Your mate “falls asleep at the wheel,” so to speak. A little less present each day. Each week. Each month. But doesn’t know it. Doesn’t see it. And never had a conscious intention to do so.

It happens in subtle, mostly unnoticeable increments. It’s like feeding and watering your roses a little less … and less and less … and then being surprised to find that your roses are dying.

And the roses are duped, too. They don’t notice, either. Until their life is passed the point of no return.

Slow Deprivation is practiced by good people who are deeply in love and believe deeply in marriage.

How many times can you put your mate second in line, or fourth or ninth, even for all the “right” reasons (children, career, aging parents), before your mate decides he/she no longer particularly needs, wants or cares to be first in line?

How many times can you explain leaving the customaries of romance unattended by saying, “I’m just not very romantic,” as opposed to saying, “I should bloody well learn to be romantic”?

How many times can you decline great sex by saying, “I’m tired,” as opposed to saying, “I must be a better steward of my energy so that I can show up for great sex”?

How many times can you decline your mate’s eager invitations to join him/her in socializing, hobbies, recreations and interests before the invitations simply dry up? Stop.

It’s like eating one calorie less each day and then being sincerely shocked and surprised to find you’re starving to death.

If you are bent on teaching your mate not to need, want or desire you, then Slow Deprivation is the master teacher.

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Slow Poison is what happens when your mate slowly but surely acquires the habit of pushing negative energy into the marriage. Persistent complaining. Speaking in tones that are short, curt and sharp. Impatience. Mobilizing more warmth and eye contact to greet the dog than to greet you. Moving unconsciously across the line from playful teasing to sarcasm and belittling. Entitling oneself to chronic moodiness. Deciding that good manners no longer matter except in public. Forgetting to be grateful, appreciative, complimentary and encouraging.

These are slow-acting poisons. And they are deadly to marriage. Often these poisons are undiagnosed until the autopsy of divorce makes them plain.

I know this couple who devised a plan to help them stay alert to the enemies Slow Deprivation and Slow Poison. It’s absurdly simple: The Weekly Check In. Once each weekend (Saturday or Sunday depending on their schedule), they fix a time to talk.

Sometimes just sitting together. Depending on the weather, they might go for a Talk Walk. And they “check in.”

How are you? How are you feeling about our connection? Is there anything left over from (this or that conflict) we need to process or talk about? Are you getting what you need from me? Am I injecting poisons unawares? How goes your heart? Are you feeling loved?

Sometimes the conversations last four to eight minutes. Occasionally the conversations demand 90 minutes or so of tiring rigor and the tolerance of discomfort.

Theirs is a terrific idea and a faithful practice. It’s like having the termite inspector visit weekly. It’s like having garlic and holy water hanging by the front door in readiness for the occasional vampire. It’s like a weekly reconnaissance through the rose garden to see if your roses are happy and thriving. To check for aphids.

Marriage requires us to live consciously. Intentionally. Out loud in words. We must stay awake.

The bond of love is a living, organic creature. Which means it is also mortal. It can die.

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Mixed emotion

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My modern Jesus  —  towering intellectual & spiritual figure —   philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr   —

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/07/reinhold-niebuhr-religion_n_7019384.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
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The Library of America has published Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, which gathers four of his books, along with writings on contemporary events from the 1920s to the 1960s, a selection of prayers, and sermons and lectures on faith and belief. The volume is edited by Niebuhr’s daughter Elisabeth Sifton, an editor and book publisher for forty years and the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War.

The Library of America recently interviewed Sifton on why Niebuhr’s writings continue to fascinate and challenge today’s readers. This interview is published with permission.

What’s the aim of this collection, what sorts of pleasures, discoveries, and insights do you hope readers will find?

Reinhold Niebuhr was a writer and thinker who engaged fully in his times—from 1914 and World War I, through the heady 1920s, into the Great Depression, then World War II, the “nuclear age” and the Cold War. This book shows how he wrestled with the spiritual and political issues of those times: many of them are with us still, and some are with us always. In America—where he was born and raised, his very German name notwithstanding—he worked for better working conditions for people caught up in the rush of industrialization, he called for social justice in all our communities, and he strove for better relations between races. In international affairs, he ceaselessly advocated policies that would lessen the risk of war, and he argued that a rich and newly powerful nation like the US should learn better how to conduct itself vis-à-vis other nations. I hope readers will find wisdom here that deepens their understanding of our world today.

Why Reinhold Niebuhr in The Library of America? How would you characterize his contribution/legacy? His influence?

Niebuhr has been described as the most important American theologian of the twentieth century and as an especially influential American progressive. He knew how hard it was to alter entrenched power structures, but he combined his tough-minded political realism with a sympathetic understanding of society’s injustices and cruelties. Both his secular work and his theology became famous thanks to his memorable gifts as a public speaker, his huge productivity as a writer and teacher, and his frequent participation in national political discussions. In all these activities he never stopped being a pastor, which is how he started (he thought of himself more as a pastor than a theologian).

How would you characterize Niebuhr’s contribution as a public intellectual during the years covered by this volume?

He tried to wake people up to the inequities and failures in American society. He thought it deplorable that Americans were by and large so self-confidently certain of their basic goodness—meanwhile ignoring not only their own inadequacies (sins?) but also the threats and dangers to American democracy and to the world—whether human (in the form of fascist dictators) or material (nuclear weapons). His sermons and speeches were famous for the clarity and urgent force he gave to his exploration of these themes. One key opinion that infused both his theological and secular work was that possessing superior power or force does not make a person or a state wiser or braver, but it does heighten the danger of sinful hubris.

As a religious thinker?

I’m not qualified to answer this, but perhaps we can say that he sharpened and deepened the discourse about Christian ethics, Christian interpretations of the Gospels and Epistles, Christian understanding of secular society. He was a radical critic of much of American religious life, well known for the vigor with which he made his unclouded assessments. Again, he feared and decried the hubris of so many secular and religious leaders.

Did his thinking and writing fundamentally evolve over the years charted by the works in this collection?

Yes, it did. When he wrote Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) he considered himself a social-democratic Marxist, but the traumas and dangers of the Depression led him to rethink his Marxist presuppositions and reformulate his ideas on the dynamics of social change and betterment. And, as he writes in “An End to Illusions,” included in the volume, he resigned from the Socialist Party in 1940 because he couldn’t go along with its isolationist refusal to take action against the fascists threatening Europe. Thereafter one sees a deepening and refinement of his positions. He insisted always on the important distinction to be made between Communism and socialism.

The fame and influence of The Irony of American History (1952) have made Niebuhr’s contribution to an understanding of American foreign policy well known, but can his thought also be brought to bear on domestic political considerations—such as inequality in America?

Yes, certainly. Indeed, Niebuhr believed that domestic and foreign policies were, and should be, related to each other; only despots or would-be despots separated them. As this book shows, America’s social-political-economic life, and the disparities separating rich and poor, were major concerns for Niebuhr from the very start of his ministry until his death a half-century later.

How might Niebuhr have responded to the widening gap between rich and poor that we see today?

I can’t “channel” my father, but it’s clear in everything he wrote and did that he considered social and economic inequities as unethical, immoral, even sinful. And he denounced the self-delusions and proud deceits that people invoke to preserve them. One prayer, included in this volume, reads in part: “We confess the indifference and callousness with which we treat the sufferings and the insecurity of the poor, and the pettiness which mars the relations between us. May we with contrite hearts seek once more to purify our spirits, and to clarify our reason so that a fairer temple for the human spirit may be built in human society.”

How might Niebuhr have responded to the new sorts of religious extremism we see with al Qaeda and now ISIS?

He frequently inveighed against religious fanaticism and against theocrats, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or secular (as in the Soviet Union under Stalin). Al Qaeda and ISIS are new for us, but the history of violence-prone religious extremism is, tragically, as old as that of civilization itself. He could not have supported a foreign policy that requires America to battle jihadism around the globe while ignoring the social and spiritual strife that gives rise to it in the first place.

The LOA collection opens with Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic (1929), a very personal and accessible book. How would you characterize its importance?

Niebuhr in his old age would shake his head over the popularity of his first book. But it’s never gone out of print for good reason: these pages from the diary he kept at Bethel Church in Detroit in the 1920s are disarmingly honest about the emotional, psychological, and spiritual dilemmas faced by inexperienced young pastors, and ever since it first appeared almost ninety years ago, inexperienced young pastors, priests, and teachers have found its counsels wise and its candor refreshing.

What does it tell us about Niebuhr’s only pastorate, and about his experiences in an ascendant Detroit?

Well, Detroit wasn’t quite his only pastorate: when his pastor father died in 1913, he left divinity school and returned to Lincoln, Illinois, to fill in there for a time. But to answer the question, the book shows you his first encounters with brutal capitalism at full throttle, which is what Detroit was experiencing in the 1920s in the new automobile factories. He witnessed at first hand the spiritual crises that people face when unstable social and economic conditions encourage divisive politics. And it deeply affected him.

How did you decide which of the uncollected pieces to include?

Few of the previous (and partial) collections of his writings included his copious journalism about national and international events as they occurred. We had hundreds of short articles to choose from, articles that were probably read by as many people as read his books or heard his sermons. I wanted to show them in chronological order, so that one could observe the speed and precision with which he addressed himself to crises in the headlines.

What’s the most interesting discovery you made in the course of putting the volume together?

When I put the journalism together with the sermons and lectures, I began to see how he often approached a given theme or issue: first, maybe writing an essay about it or preaching on a Biblical text he thought relevant to it, then exploring it further in a lecture, writing about it some more, perhaps, and praying about it. This kind of recycling pattern allowed him to finish an incredible number of assignments in any given week, but also gave him a way to re-examine and deepen his initial ideas.

What’s the most important thing you learned as a writer and thinker from your father’s example?

To be unafraid of prevailing, stifling orthodoxies.

Did he offer you practical advice?

Not really, but the Serenity Prayer is the best possible form of daily instruction.

President Obama has expressed his great admiration for Niebuhr as a thinker. Would Niebuhr have returned the compliment?

I am sure he’d have been happy to see such an intelligent, principled, brave black man in the White House—and a Democrat from Illinois, the state where he grew up, no less!

Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?

My father preached more than once on the mysterious Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, so one version of such a sermon is included; it’s a great example of his theological and moral subtlety about human life. And my favorite paragraph in his writing comes from chapter 3 of The Irony of American History:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

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http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgeelio402277.html

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It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

George Eliot

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Loneliness is a public health crisis

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/21/science-loneliness_n_6864066.html?utm_hp_ref=science
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Our time has been called the “age of loneliness.” It’s estimated that one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness, and while we’re more connected than ever before, social media may actually be exacerbating the problem.

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There are ways to break the cycle of isolation.

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Here are ways to combat chronic feelings of loneliness and isolation:

Here are three main types of treatment for loneliness: group therapy, individual treatments (working with a therapist to improve befriending skills or to minimize negative beliefs that might contribute to loneliness) and community interventions (events focused on reaching out to lonely people).

Examining a body of existing literature on the subject, the researchers concluded that the most promising line of treatment for loneliness is individual therapy that addresses the thought patterns and beliefs — such as low self-esteem or shame — that prevent a person from connecting with others. With further research, they say, this treatment could be combined with pharmaceutical treatments, such as short-term courses of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote pro-social behavior.

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The study noted that the U.K. government has developed several initiatives to improve quality of life for those suffering from chronic loneliness and to raise awareness about the issue. The authors also point to efforts to help people t find more connections in their daily interactions.

Over a given period, people who have strong ties to family, friends, or coworkers have a 50 percent greater chance of outliving those with fewer social connections.    If our relationships can have such an effect on our overall health, why don’t we prioritize spending time with the people around us as much as we do exercising and eating right?

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm
https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/irony-can-include-paradox-and-paradox-can-include-irony/

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity

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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity

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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar#Criteria_for_authenticity

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“Hi everyone! The one we worship was crucified by the Romans. Come follow us.” This opening line did not fit among Greco-Roman religions. Claiming that a divine figure was helplessly beaten, tortured, and gruesomely–shamefully executed, would have been proof positive that such a religion was a joke worthy only of late night monologs. The ridiculousness of the crucifixion of the Son of God is easily lost on modern Christians. We miss an important reversal that so typifies the gospel. Because the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation of being wise, to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) — Peter Enns

We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle. “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.”

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What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”       ― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes    

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3375915-nineteen-minutes
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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/04/discovering-the-futility-of-human-existence-at-my-high-school-reunion/#ixzz3YGIJHHDx
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http://theutopianlife.com/2014/11/22/eeyore-pessimists-guide-beautiful-life/
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Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.

Ecclesiastes 3:15

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http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/3-15.htm
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Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
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3:11-15 Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts,

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we are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them.

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Our purpose is to love others (as God first loves us).

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Ecclesiastes 3:15

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Is there anything of which one can say,
  

            “Look! This is something new”?


It was here already, long ago;

 

             it was here before our time.

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This realization often comes much later, in mid-life, when the frantic pace of our youth has become tiresome, when we finally slow down a bit and take stock.

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I’m just another in a long line. I’m not at the front or back. Just in the massive middle. So are you.

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So is everyone.

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We are here for a while, we busy ourselves, we accomplish things, and then we move on — and others continue the cycle.

I also, strangely, felt peace at this thought. I wasn’t exactly sure at the time why, but perhaps knowing that things are as they are and that I will not break this cycle  —-

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leads to a healthy resignation, a release of the fantasy that we control our universe, our lives.

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This is how I put it: my epiphany was a tender “letting go” moment.

I have found that letting go is a key component of the Christian life—of any spiritual life—but I was never taught “letting go” in my Christian education, in church, college, or seminary. The sub-current always seemed to be how “special” and privileged we were

not

to be part of this endless cycle of life.

I was taught to think of myself as outside of the circle.

But we live our lives within this circle, and our lives

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 have meaning. Not a meaning handed to us, but a meaning we forge—right here, right now — by choice. Not by denying our humanity but by looking it square in the eye, shedding any notion of being above it all  — and choosing to walk or not — in spiritual salvation with our Lord Jesus.

After all, as Christians believe, God himself entered the human drama, the cycle of life, as yet another man in the long line of men before and since, born of a woman, in ancient Judea, in Galilee, who grew and learned like everyone else.

God valued the cycle enough to be a part of it.   So will I.   I so choose to walk in spiritual salvation with my Lord Jesus.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/a-faith-crisis-in-the-bible-and-dont-let-some-60s-hippies-tell-you-otherwise/
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Confession of resignation in Ecclesiastes:   The best we can do is to find joy (in God) in everyday life.

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In Ecclesiastes we find we hear our voices of sadness, depression anxiety, strife, and doubt echoing back from 2,500 years ago.   Life is not so grand, but we are not alone in feeling such.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/it-ll-take-more-bubble-bath-cure-your-stress

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Four fundamental sources of stress    —

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1.   MEANINGLESSNESS

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that the crisis of Western civilization was a crisis of meaning. As the great “symbol systems” of our past erode (e.g., the American flag, wedding rings, clear gender symbols, Judeo-Christian symbols), we are left more and more with a culture void of symbolic identity. Our understanding of relationship and intimacy is no longer grounded in depth communion expressed by shared symbols but in the facade of “connectedness” (see Facebook, etc.). Our work is less and less grounded in the symbol of vocation and more and more grounded in “occupation.” That is, something that occupies our time and makes money.

More and more patients enter therapy not to resolve unhappy childhood memories, not to change some unhealthy habit, but to try to express that vague, nagging, painful emptiness of a soul looking for meaning.

Meaninglessness is very stressful.

2.    DENIED EMOTIONS

Imagine standing waste deep in a swimming pool, holding a volleyball. Now, push the ball underwater with one hand. Hold it there, underwater. Give it a minute. As your arm tires, you will notice the ball’s desire to surface. It wants to surface. Demands to surface! Your arm will start to tremble. You have to concentrate. Perhaps a grunt will escape your lips as you bring to bear the effort to keep that ball underwater.

This is what it’s like to deny your emotions. To do anything but feel. Anger, fear, vulnerability, shame, guilt, grief, loss, despair — our culture raises you to deny suffering at all cost.

Undigested, unrecognized, denied emotions are very stressful.

3.     DISRESPECT/CONTEMPT

If a tree is planted in a poison forest, it will fail to thrive. If you rescue the tree by digging it up, repotting it in healthy soil, feed and water it, then the tree will begin to recover and grow. But, once restored to health, if you return it to the poison forest … well, there aren’t enough bubble baths in the world to make living in that forest OK.

This is what it’s like for so many patients. I help them. They begin to thrive and heal in therapy. But, if they must then return to a poison marriage … or return to poison parents … or return to a poison workplace and a poison supervisor … well, relaxation techniques will not ultimately be enough to save them.

Participating in relationships marked by chronic disrespect/contempt is very stressful.

4.     THE DOUBLE BIND

In the 1950s, Gregory Bateson struck upon the idea of the double bind: “A psychological impasse created when a person perceives that someone in a position of power is making contradictory demands, so that no response is appropriate.”

Bateson says the victim of double bind receives contradictory injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words, and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticized or silenced whenever he or she actually does so).

No meta-communication is possible — for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense.

The victim cannot leave the communication field.

Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished (for example, by withdrawal of love).

The double bind is often one of the poisons in the poison forest. It is a common strategy (albeit, often unconscious) of folks treating us with chronic disrespect/contempt. It can make you feel like you are losing your mind.

Sure, take time for yourself. That’s a good thing. But, if any of these four stressful dynamics haunt your life, you will have to do something about it.

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Eeyore: A Pessimist’s Guide to a Beautiful Life

Image Credit: cultjer.com

I’m a recovering pessimist. A perennial one. I know it’s a striking confession given the nature of my site. But in a paradoxical way, pessimism’s been great fuel for personal growth. Pitiful dwellings on life’s miseries launch me into striving for the best possible world.

Perhaps the greatest of pessimists: Eeyore. The thistle eating donkey from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.

There’s something poignantly oxymoronic about Eeyore—that such laughter and joy can come from a gloomy character.

In the same way being poor teaches us to appreciate wealth, having our hearts broken teaches us to love faithfully, and failures magnifying our victories—Eeyore’s melancholy in a subtle way highlights the joys in life.

Here are 7 classic lines and lessons for a beautiful life from Eeyore:

 

1. “Thanks for noticing me.”

It’s what we all want. Beyond our physical needs, the existential cry for acknowledgment underlies everything we do.

To be noticed, to be love, to be validated.

One of Eeyore’s favorite lines highlights the power in simply acknowledging someone’s presence. Appreciating the uniqueness of their character, the serendipity that allows friends to share the same space and time. Every relationship is made up of chance occurrences which deserve some marveling.

And when silence is no longer awkward in any relationship—it’s a beautiful experience of ‘noticing’ one another that should be celebrated.

 

2. “It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.

“So it is.”

“And freezing.”

“Is it?”

“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

We’ve all blown things out of proportion before. Our problems will expand to fill the mental space we give it, and often, we give far too much.

Psychologists call it Catastrophic Thinking, defaulting to worst case scenarios—we think getting pulled over means a night in jail. Fear is a powerful mechanism, and if untamed, it knows no boundaries.

Eeyore knows the key—the word “However” causes a mental reappraisal, a mindfulness that allows for a more rational evaluation. And actually, thinking the worst case scenario, allows us to realize how unjustified and unrealistic we’re being.

 

3. “A tail isn’t a tail to them, it’s just a little bit extra at the back.”

Not everyone will understand you, and that’s ok. We celebrate freedom of speech, but often get bent out of shape when someone expresses an opposing view.

Just like you can take a horse to water but not make it drink, there’s no point going blue in the face telling someone it’s a tail if all they see is “extra at the back.”

 

4. “To the uneducated an A is just three sticks.”

Ignorance is bliss—for those who are ignorant about bliss. Eeyore must have read some Socrates, who said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Knowledge has the power to expand our human experience. To learn any language is to open up to literally a whole new world. To learn any skill increases your self-confidence, and ability to add value to someone else’s life.

Give yourself the gift of seeing more than just sticks; challenge yourself to learn one new thing each day.

 

5. “They’re funny things, accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.”

To live life in bubble-wrap may prevent us from ever getting hurt, but it’ll certainly prevent us from ever experiencing a meaningful life.

So while we can do our best to be wise and cautious, ultimately our best is the best we can do. Accidents are indiscriminate—to try and live in prediction of them is paralyzing.

6. “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference. Or so the say.”

Our survival mechanism means we possess an inherent selfishness. Babies will learn “mine!” as quickly as “mumma” or “daddy.”

As inherent are acts of selfishness, so too is the desire for selflessness—we’ve said it a thousand times: “It’s better to give than receive.” But kindness takes a little more effort than we’d like to admit; taking action to bridge the gap between desire and act can be an internal battle. But the possibility of making someone’s day, and even their life through what we can give should be good motivation. Even if the difference goes unnoticed.

 

7. “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.

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That’s all there is to it.”

“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.

“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

It’s like being an introvert in a culture that preaches extroversion. Thankfully there’s more balance nowadays with introversion seen less as an issue to fix and more of a celebration.

But with any majority view or ‘cultural norm,’ there’s a always the temptation to feel as though there’s something wrong with you if you don’t fit into the neat cookie-cutter.

Simple, yet profound words from Eeyore: “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.” There’s beauty in being different. Cookie-cutters are meant for cookies, not life.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/fatherhood-its-own-reward
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It is the devil’s lie to say that vulnerability is weakness. Rather, an open heart is the most powerful force in the universe. This is courage. (Look it up. The word courage, in its literal Latin origins means “open hearted.”)

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To be open-hearted is a tall order. But I am inspired to try. Not to mention to redeem. I feel as if I had won the cosmic lottery. Now I have the chance to try to be the person I feel I was meant to be.

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This is the paradox, you see. The practice of selfless love is no mere benefit to those you love. The selfless love of the compassionate person benefits the person too. It rescues and redeems his or her own soul.

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Dig out your root of bitterness    (tribute to Christian mystic Pastor Wilfredo Agngaray)    –

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http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/bitterness.php

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Bitterness is a root!

Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

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Bitterness is hidden under the soil or surface. The same is true with bitterness in a person’s soul. It is a hidden element that lies under the surface, and out of it sprouts up anger and other negative emotions against others and against the circumstances around us. People who have a root of bitterness find it easy to get upset over things that others are doing around them. It’s like a volcano that lies beneath the surface, waiting to explode onto the surface.

Bitterness is a root, thereby making it harder to identify and expose than many surface issues, but none the less it’s a deadly poison that needs to be released.

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“Why do you drink a poison brewed from the root of bitterness — in order to foment a curse on your adversary??”  rhetorically asks erudite sage Wilfredo Agngaray.

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My life has been a Griffin Dunne character in After Hours    

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Paul Hackett (Dunne) experiences a series of misadventures as he tries to make his way home  (mishaps produce laughter via cynicism, skepticism, & the irony of incurring wrath thru one’s desire of pleasure).

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This film is on the list of “Great Movies,” and it combines comedy, satire, and irony (irreducible truth) with unrelenting pressure and a sense of all-pervading paranoia/destruction.

Hopscotch to oblivion’, Barcelona, Spain

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtPI9jIx1kU

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Hours_(film)

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What others meant for evil, God meant for good   — the epiphany of Josephine A. Roche  — she loved to no end her dad — but also empathized with the forsaken of society  —

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In 1925, Roche returned to Colorado due to her father’s failing health, and in 1927 inherited his holdings in the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, a coal mining company which he had founded.   By 1929, she had purchased a majority interest in the company and become president. She then proceeded to enact a variety of pro-labor policies, including an invitation for the United Mine Workers of America to return to Colorado and unionize her mines, 15 years after her father and other coal mine owners had broken the unions in the aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre of 1914.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Roche

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Massacre

 

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The value of the Old Testament includes not just the pattern/representation of Jesus  — but also the expectation of long suffering  (perseverance of the saints)     –

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/12/well-at-least-the-old-testament-has-one-thing-going-for-it/

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Their experiences are very much like ours today: life is hard, and life of faith does not automatically make it easier. It may actually make it harder at times.

Spiritual struggles are normal for Christians. They are not to be sought after, but they are normal. They are not to be romanticized, but they are normal. They are not to be shown off and bragged over, but they are normal.

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http://www.differentspirit.org/blog/gethsemane-and-what-follows/
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The suffering and sacrifice of Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to be poured out on those who believe in Him. There is joy in our salvation, and joy in the promise of what is to come in eternity.

Trials and tribulations, pressure and suffering, are part of the human condition. Christians do not escape.

However, Christians have the joy of knowing that God is with us through times of pressure and suffering, and that He allows it because the final outcome will be good ( James 1:2-3, and Rom 8:28 ).

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Sadly, I see a bird in shock at seeing the bird’s mate run over by a car on the road.   Such a tragic sight has been replayed over and over since the automobile was invented over a century ago.

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Such a tragic sight is reminiscent of the insanity of war, with scenes of carnage replayed over and over since the beginning of humanity.

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In our Hawai’i legislative senate today, the takeover of the “chess club” (reformers)(its puffed up leader Donna Mercado Kim got deflated via exclusion) ) by the “opihis” (“corrupt” status quo) is reminiscent of the tragedy surrounding the assassination of President Garfield nearly a century and a half ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Breed_(politics)

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/marriage-exposes-us-good-and-bad

Everybody knows that, when it comes to icebergs, there is more beneath the surface of the water than above. About 90 percent more.    The same is true with people.

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Such are the psychic content “beneath the surface.”

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obergefell_v._Hodges#Majority_opinion

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Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (June 26, 2015) is  a   landmark United States Supreme Court      case in which the Court held that state recognition of same-sex marriage is a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

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In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled its  17 yr. old    1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, which upheld a Georgia law that criminalized certain homosexual acts, on the basis that such antiquated laws making same-sex intimacy a crime “demean homosexual persons.”     Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 575.

 

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Bowers was decided at a time when the court’s privacy jurisprudence, and in particular the right to abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), had come under heavy criticism. Bowers signaled a reluctance by the Court to recognize a general constitutional right to privacy or to extend such a right further than it already had.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowers_v._Hardwick#Effects

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The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture   (husband owns his wife)   have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.

This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness. Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/did-jesus-even-live-a-brief-thought-about-scholarship-skepticism-and-apologetics/

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Time and again the study of Jesus has been swamped by waves of radical scepticism–to the point of denial of this historicity of Jesus. Three names may be mentioned as examples.

Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), who once lectured in theology at Bonn, regarded the earliest Gospel as a literary work of art: history is produced in it, not described. Albert Kalthoff (1850-1906) understood Jesus as a product of the religious needs of a social movement which had come into contact with the Jewish messianic expectation. Arthur Drews, who was professor of philosophy in Karlsruhe, declared Jesus to be the concretization of a myth which already existed before Christianity.

Here we find three motives for skepticism which are also operative where there is no dispute over the historicity of Jesus: Jesus is understood as a product of literary imagination, social needs or mythical traditions.

Here historical skepticism appears within or outside theology, often with a great ethical solemnity, and foists on its critics the ungrateful role of apologists driven by their wishes.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/ambivalence-challenges-most-close-relationships

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An accepted bit of “wisdom” in our culture is that, in marriage, being “in love” and hot sex must, of necessity, “wear off.” The elders ask us to accept that.  But this bit of wisdom isn’t so wise.

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 In fact, it’s a sad excuse for lack of commitment to a most intimate spiritual togetherness.

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It is ambivalence that erodes love and sex. Nothing more. Nothing less. The human ego finds the experience of great vulnerability — great love — both compelling (approach-love)) and intolerable (avoid-hate). So we seek it, find it and then promptly begin to erode it, starve it (slow deprivation) and stonewall it (slow poison) so as to protect ourselves. This almost always is an unconscious process.   (slow deprivation/slow poison below)

In fact, that’s the rub: Ambivalence begins unconsciously. And we can’t manage it well unless we are willing to make it conscious. When ambivalence is made conscious, then we have choices for bearing it creatively, usefully, sometimes even playfully.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/acknowledging-ambivalence-best-way-cope

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Perpetrators of domestic violence are provoked to violence in two primary ways.

One is obvious: the perpetrator’s felt loss of control over the mate. But lesser known is the alternate route to the perpetrator’s rage: the mate got too close, emotionally speaking. The perpetrator experienced an intimacy and therefore a vulnerability.

Other people, while not committing/experiencing acts of physical violence in marriage, can and do exhibit another type of disturbing — not normal — ambivalence.

I’m referring to couples with frequent cycles of reactive hostility pingponging back to cosmic sex and breathless romance. “Frequent” here can mean two to five such highs and lows in a given week. The participants are beaten to an emotional pulp.

For some folks, these slingshot highs and lows are near addictive.

The cycles create powerful bonds. Just not healthy bonds. Certainly not happy bonds.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/bonds-untie-moment-barely-noticeable-moment

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The two most common enemies of marriage are the least obvious. And that’s a disturbing proposition, because we often don’t recognize the enemy as an enemy until it is too late.

It’s like termites. You don’t know you have termites until you come home to find your roof on the living room floor.

The most common enemies of marriage are treacherously subtle. Domestic violence, infidelity, addiction, vicious arguments — these enemies of marriage are obvious. But they are not the most common enemies. Just the most obvious.

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The two most common enemies of marriage are Slow Deprivation and Slow Poison.

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Slow Deprivation is what happens when your mate becomes slowly but surely inattentive to nurturing the bond. The connection. Your mate “falls asleep at the wheel,” so to speak. A little less present each day. Each week. Each month. But doesn’t know it. Doesn’t see it. And never had a conscious intention to do so.

It happens in subtle, mostly unnoticeable increments. It’s like feeding and watering your roses a little less … and less and less … and then being surprised to find that your roses are dying.

And the roses are duped, too. They don’t notice, either. Until their life is passed the point of no return.

Slow Deprivation is practiced by good people who are deeply in love and believe deeply in marriage.

How many times can you put your mate second in line, or fourth or ninth, even for all the “right” reasons (children, career, aging parents), before your mate decides he/she no longer particularly needs, wants or cares to be first in line?

How many times can you explain leaving the customaries of romance unattended by saying, “I’m just not very romantic,” as opposed to saying, “I should bloody well learn to be romantic”?

How many times can you decline great sex by saying, “I’m tired,” as opposed to saying, “I must be a better steward of my energy so that I can show up for great sex”?

How many times can you decline your mate’s eager invitations to join him/her in socializing, hobbies, recreations and interests before the invitations simply dry up? Stop.

It’s like eating one calorie less each day and then being sincerely shocked and surprised to find you’re starving to death.

If you are bent on teaching your mate not to need, want or desire you, then Slow Deprivation is the master teacher.

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Slow Poison is what happens when your mate slowly but surely acquires the habit of pushing negative energy into the marriage. Persistent complaining. Speaking in tones that are short, curt and sharp. Impatience. Mobilizing more warmth and eye contact to greet the dog than to greet you. Moving unconsciously across the line from playful teasing to sarcasm and belittling. Entitling oneself to chronic moodiness. Deciding that good manners no longer matter except in public. Forgetting to be grateful, appreciative, complimentary and encouraging.

These are slow-acting poisons. And they are deadly to marriage. Often these poisons are undiagnosed until the autopsy of divorce makes them plain.

I know this couple who devised a plan to help them stay alert to the enemies Slow Deprivation and Slow Poison. It’s absurdly simple: The Weekly Check In. Once each weekend (Saturday or Sunday depending on their schedule), they fix a time to talk.

Sometimes just sitting together. Depending on the weather, they might go for a Talk Walk. And they “check in.”

How are you? How are you feeling about our connection? Is there anything left over from (this or that conflict) we need to process or talk about? Are you getting what you need from me? Am I injecting poisons unawares? How goes your heart? Are you feeling loved?

Sometimes the conversations last four to eight minutes. Occasionally the conversations demand 90 minutes or so of tiring rigor and the tolerance of discomfort.

Theirs is a terrific idea and a faithful practice. It’s like having the termite inspector visit weekly. It’s like having garlic and holy water hanging by the front door in readiness for the occasional vampire. It’s like a weekly reconnaissance through the rose garden to see if your roses are happy and thriving. To check for aphids.

Marriage requires us to live consciously. Intentionally. Out loud in words. We must stay awake.

The bond of love is a living, organic creature. Which means it is also mortal. It can die.

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Mixed emotion

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My modern Jesus  —  towering intellectual & spiritual figure —   philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr   —

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/07/reinhold-niebuhr-religion_n_7019384.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
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The Library of America has published Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, which gathers four of his books, along with writings on contemporary events from the 1920s to the 1960s, a selection of prayers, and sermons and lectures on faith and belief. The volume is edited by Niebuhr’s daughter Elisabeth Sifton, an editor and book publisher for forty years and the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War.

The Library of America recently interviewed Sifton on why Niebuhr’s writings continue to fascinate and challenge today’s readers. This interview is published with permission.

What’s the aim of this collection, what sorts of pleasures, discoveries, and insights do you hope readers will find?

Reinhold Niebuhr was a writer and thinker who engaged fully in his times—from 1914 and World War I, through the heady 1920s, into the Great Depression, then World War II, the “nuclear age” and the Cold War. This book shows how he wrestled with the spiritual and political issues of those times: many of them are with us still, and some are with us always. In America—where he was born and raised, his very German name notwithstanding—he worked for better working conditions for people caught up in the rush of industrialization, he called for social justice in all our communities, and he strove for better relations between races. In international affairs, he ceaselessly advocated policies that would lessen the risk of war, and he argued that a rich and newly powerful nation like the US should learn better how to conduct itself vis-à-vis other nations. I hope readers will find wisdom here that deepens their understanding of our world today.

Why Reinhold Niebuhr in The Library of America? How would you characterize his contribution/legacy? His influence?

Niebuhr has been described as the most important American theologian of the twentieth century and as an especially influential American progressive. He knew how hard it was to alter entrenched power structures, but he combined his tough-minded political realism with a sympathetic understanding of society’s injustices and cruelties. Both his secular work and his theology became famous thanks to his memorable gifts as a public speaker, his huge productivity as a writer and teacher, and his frequent participation in national political discussions. In all these activities he never stopped being a pastor, which is how he started (he thought of himself more as a pastor than a theologian).

How would you characterize Niebuhr’s contribution as a public intellectual during the years covered by this volume?

He tried to wake people up to the inequities and failures in American society. He thought it deplorable that Americans were by and large so self-confidently certain of their basic goodness—meanwhile ignoring not only their own inadequacies (sins?) but also the threats and dangers to American democracy and to the world—whether human (in the form of fascist dictators) or material (nuclear weapons). His sermons and speeches were famous for the clarity and urgent force he gave to his exploration of these themes. One key opinion that infused both his theological and secular work was that possessing superior power or force does not make a person or a state wiser or braver, but it does heighten the danger of sinful hubris.

As a religious thinker?

I’m not qualified to answer this, but perhaps we can say that he sharpened and deepened the discourse about Christian ethics, Christian interpretations of the Gospels and Epistles, Christian understanding of secular society. He was a radical critic of much of American religious life, well known for the vigor with which he made his unclouded assessments. Again, he feared and decried the hubris of so many secular and religious leaders.

Did his thinking and writing fundamentally evolve over the years charted by the works in this collection?

Yes, it did. When he wrote Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) he considered himself a social-democratic Marxist, but the traumas and dangers of the Depression led him to rethink his Marxist presuppositions and reformulate his ideas on the dynamics of social change and betterment. And, as he writes in “An End to Illusions,” included in the volume, he resigned from the Socialist Party in 1940 because he couldn’t go along with its isolationist refusal to take action against the fascists threatening Europe. Thereafter one sees a deepening and refinement of his positions. He insisted always on the important distinction to be made between Communism and socialism.

The fame and influence of The Irony of American History (1952) have made Niebuhr’s contribution to an understanding of American foreign policy well known, but can his thought also be brought to bear on domestic political considerations—such as inequality in America?

Yes, certainly. Indeed, Niebuhr believed that domestic and foreign policies were, and should be, related to each other; only despots or would-be despots separated them. As this book shows, America’s social-political-economic life, and the disparities separating rich and poor, were major concerns for Niebuhr from the very start of his ministry until his death a half-century later.

How might Niebuhr have responded to the widening gap between rich and poor that we see today?

I can’t “channel” my father, but it’s clear in everything he wrote and did that he considered social and economic inequities as unethical, immoral, even sinful. And he denounced the self-delusions and proud deceits that people invoke to preserve them. One prayer, included in this volume, reads in part: “We confess the indifference and callousness with which we treat the sufferings and the insecurity of the poor, and the pettiness which mars the relations between us. May we with contrite hearts seek once more to purify our spirits, and to clarify our reason so that a fairer temple for the human spirit may be built in human society.”

How might Niebuhr have responded to the new sorts of religious extremism we see with al Qaeda and now ISIS?

He frequently inveighed against religious fanaticism and against theocrats, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or secular (as in the Soviet Union under Stalin). Al Qaeda and ISIS are new for us, but the history of violence-prone religious extremism is, tragically, as old as that of civilization itself. He could not have supported a foreign policy that requires America to battle jihadism around the globe while ignoring the social and spiritual strife that gives rise to it in the first place.

The LOA collection opens with Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic (1929), a very personal and accessible book. How would you characterize its importance?

Niebuhr in his old age would shake his head over the popularity of his first book. But it’s never gone out of print for good reason: these pages from the diary he kept at Bethel Church in Detroit in the 1920s are disarmingly honest about the emotional, psychological, and spiritual dilemmas faced by inexperienced young pastors, and ever since it first appeared almost ninety years ago, inexperienced young pastors, priests, and teachers have found its counsels wise and its candor refreshing.

What does it tell us about Niebuhr’s only pastorate, and about his experiences in an ascendant Detroit?

Well, Detroit wasn’t quite his only pastorate: when his pastor father died in 1913, he left divinity school and returned to Lincoln, Illinois, to fill in there for a time. But to answer the question, the book shows you his first encounters with brutal capitalism at full throttle, which is what Detroit was experiencing in the 1920s in the new automobile factories. He witnessed at first hand the spiritual crises that people face when unstable social and economic conditions encourage divisive politics. And it deeply affected him.

How did you decide which of the uncollected pieces to include?

Few of the previous (and partial) collections of his writings included his copious journalism about national and international events as they occurred. We had hundreds of short articles to choose from, articles that were probably read by as many people as read his books or heard his sermons. I wanted to show them in chronological order, so that one could observe the speed and precision with which he addressed himself to crises in the headlines.

What’s the most interesting discovery you made in the course of putting the volume together?

When I put the journalism together with the sermons and lectures, I began to see how he often approached a given theme or issue: first, maybe writing an essay about it or preaching on a Biblical text he thought relevant to it, then exploring it further in a lecture, writing about it some more, perhaps, and praying about it. This kind of recycling pattern allowed him to finish an incredible number of assignments in any given week, but also gave him a way to re-examine and deepen his initial ideas.

What’s the most important thing you learned as a writer and thinker from your father’s example?

To be unafraid of prevailing, stifling orthodoxies.

Did he offer you practical advice?

Not really, but the Serenity Prayer is the best possible form of daily instruction.

President Obama has expressed his great admiration for Niebuhr as a thinker. Would Niebuhr have returned the compliment?

I am sure he’d have been happy to see such an intelligent, principled, brave black man in the White House—and a Democrat from Illinois, the state where he grew up, no less!

Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?

My father preached more than once on the mysterious Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, so one version of such a sermon is included; it’s a great example of his theological and moral subtlety about human life. And my favorite paragraph in his writing comes from chapter 3 of The Irony of American History:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

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http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgeelio402277.html

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It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

George Eliot

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Loneliness is a public health crisis

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/21/science-loneliness_n_6864066.html?utm_hp_ref=science
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Our time has been called the “age of loneliness.” It’s estimated that one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness, and while we’re more connected than ever before, social media may actually be exacerbating the problem.

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There are ways to break the cycle of isolation.

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Here are ways to combat chronic feelings of loneliness and isolation:

Here are three main types of treatment for loneliness: group therapy, individual treatments (working with a therapist to improve befriending skills or to minimize negative beliefs that might contribute to loneliness) and community interventions (events focused on reaching out to lonely people).

Examining a body of existing literature on the subject, the researchers concluded that the most promising line of treatment for loneliness is individual therapy that addresses the thought patterns and beliefs — such as low self-esteem or shame — that prevent a person from connecting with others. With further research, they say, this treatment could be combined with pharmaceutical treatments, such as short-term courses of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote pro-social behavior.

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The study noted that the U.K. government has developed several initiatives to improve quality of life for those suffering from chronic loneliness and to raise awareness about the issue. The authors also point to efforts to help people t find more connections in their daily interactions.

Over a given period, people who have strong ties to family, friends, or coworkers have a 50 percent greater chance of outliving those with fewer social connections.    If our relationships can have such an effect on our overall health, why don’t we prioritize spending time with the people around us as much as we do exercising and eating right?

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