spirituality

An Open Letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

430 South Capitol Street

Washington, DC 20003

http://dccc.org

An Open Letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Dear DCCC:

I am greatly distressed and disappointed to learn that during the recent special Congressional election in Mississippi, the DCCC ran ads linking a key Republican donor, Sheldon Adelson, to what you refered to as "atheist China".

Certainly there are good reasons to point out the influences a
foreign nation - especially one with a questionable human rights record
- might have with a candidate.

But labeling China as "atheist" in this context can only be seen
as a slur against atheists.

open mic at Cacao Lane; Buddha at the bar

Went to the open mic at Cacao Lane Wednesday, played a few songs - longest I've played since I crushed my finger, and didn't have any pain. Hooray!

Interesting episode afterwards:

the Buddha said, "do not drink alcohol"
I've never quite agreed with the Buddha on that one

and he's not
here, now
sitting at this bar
next to a young man who wants to buy us all shots
to toast the memory of his dead girlfriend

if I were the Buddha
maybe I could say something amazing about the
illusory nature of birth and death
that would help ease his pain

but I am not the Buddha

the tree outside my window

the tree outside my window
is god

the sparrow in its branches knows this
the hawk that takes and tears and rends the sparrow's mate as it sits in the branches knows it too
sometimes I know it
sometimes the snow sitting on the branches tells me
sometimes drops of rain hanging pendant from the buds reflect the universe
sometimes its green shade protects me and my house, watching over us tenderly, a guardian, a savior
sometimes it is the dying and resurrecting god of a thousand myths

mostly I look past it, walk under it, without seeing
but every once in a while
every once in a while
it lets me Know

flirting Buddhist monks; Zen is not Theravada

An interesting story at ABCNews.com: "The Thai government said Tuesday it was investigating claims that supposedly celibate Buddhist monks have been using a U.S.-based social networking Web site to flirt with women."

However, the headline of the article is "Zen Flirting?" Which prompted me to send the following note:

While I'm sure the author of the "Zen Flirting?" headline (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=4385254&page=1) meant no disrespect, the form of Buddhism practiced in Thailand is not Zen. Indeed, in some Zen schools it is not uncommon for monks to marry.

Mentioning Zen in a connection with the Theravada Buddhism found in Thailand would be rather like headlining a story about some scandal in the Catholic Church with a pun about Billy Graham.

rough drafts of sample chapters from "Why Buddha Touched the Earth"

Hi friends. As some of you know, for some time I've been working toward a book about some of my "Zen Pagan" ideas.

While there's still a long way to go, I'm happy to have rough
drafts of some sample chapters, and I've posted them on one of my
websites. If you'd be interested to take a look, your comments would be much appreciated.

http://infamous.net/WhyBuddhaTouchedTheEarth/

(Please feel free to invite others to take a look.)

-Tom

Going ape...

A recent Slashdot discussion brought up the the way that Soledad O'Brien asked John Edwards about evolution, specifically the phrase "man came, evolution-wise, from apes.", and whether that was an attempt to whip up the ""I didn't come from no monkey!" camp.

It got me imagining my ideal candidate giving a reply. Wouldn't you love to hear something like this:

"Why, yes, Ms. O'Brien, according to our best evidence we did descend from apes - more precisely, we and modern apes descended from a common, ape-like ancestor. And I'm proud of how far our species has developed, how far up from the muck we've come, how far towards grace we've climbed; and I hope that our umptity-great grandchildren will be as far above us as we are above the Australopithecines. My opponent the Biblical literalist, on the other hand, seems to hold that we're all the fallen result of incestuous inbreeding from a single original pair of idiots dumb enough to be fooled by a talking snake. I've got to say I find the scientific account not only more rational, but orders of magnitude more inspiring."

letter to the editor, Baltimore Sun: Giving the state its micrograms of flesh

Letter to the Editor, Baltimore Sun:

What strange world does Governor O'Malley inhabit, where the state taking flesh from citizens is "noninvasive" ("O'Malley urges DNA collection", February 14, 2008)? Ignoring for the moment the massive privacy concerns that DNA collection raises, there is a much more fundamental issue here: the sovereignty of the state ends at my skin. The government has no legitimate authority to compel citizens who have not been convicted of a crime to undergo any medical procedure, however minor.

Jesus of Nazareth had a pretty good take on the question of how far the legitimate authority of government goes: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's; and unto God what is God's." Our bodies may or may not be "temples" of some deity, but they certainly are not Caesar's, for him to demand any amount of flesh from us, for any purpose.

Review: "Groundhog Day"

Imbolc today - a.k.a. Candlemas, a.k.a. Groundhog Day. In old Celtic reckoning, an agricultural calendar, this cross-quarter day was seen as the start of spring. In its honor, the Well had a showing of the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.

If you haven't seen it, check it out. While it's probably shelved in the "romantic comedy" category, it's a surprisingly spiritual film. In fact one participant in an internet forum on karate called it a real "warrior's film", which I think is accurate.

Murray's character, a weatherman named Phil Conners, finds himself living the same day over and over again - Groundhog Day, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Once he figures out what's going on, he uses the situation to learn all about the town and its inhabitants, then uses his knowledge to amuse and please himself - seducing women, robbing an armored car and spending the money to buy a fancy car, going for joyrides - all without consequence, as he wakes up the "next" morning with everything reset to the way it was. And this is enough for a while.

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