Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dylan Thomas
from A Child's Christmas in Wales

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannelpetticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smeltlike Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, theEnglish and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode thedaft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed.
But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. Imade a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.""But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, itcame shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snowgrew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls andsettled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

Monday, December 05, 2005

An Urgent Appeal: Please Release Our Friends in Iraq

Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken this past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not spies, nor do they work in the service of any government. They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith, but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to self-determination.

To find out more & sign the petition, check out http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/freethecpt

After the petition, a "free" offer will come up--ignore it! It's **not** free, in case you are still naive!

Monday, November 28, 2005

When Bruce Springsteen made the album Born To Run about 30 years ago, it took six months of grueling studio time to perfect it. The members of the band worked day & night, and Bruce himself drove it all. He talks about a thick notebook that went on for pages and pages before even one line of music that got used on the album came out. I learned all of this recently, from an NPR special and an article in the British magazine Uncut (did you know the British did not like Bruce at all??). After being a BS fanatic for 32 years, all of this information has caused me to rearrange my set of beliefs about the Boss. Contrary to the laid-back rocker image he projects, he comes across in these interviews as a fear-driven, perfectionistic, borderline obsessive. (In other words, he's a real human being).This does not make me like him less. On the contrary, it helps me understand that behind every work of genius, there is an extraordinary amount of work, drive, and attention to detail. There's a lot of magical thinking about creativity, and art of all kinds, and I think one truly enters the realm of the artist when one acknowledges that what's required is dedication and discipline, not just vision. Wow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wallace Stegner ON WRITING

"For the writer, whose life is as often as not a mess, (fiction) can clean up a murky and littered mind as snails clean up a fish tank. And at its best it leaves behind a purified residue, an artifact, something shaped and created and capable of communicating whatever wisdom it has arrived at."

It's cheaper than therapy, too.


Some things in life really do get better. I think many of us in these postmodern times believe that decline is the only possible direction, even though we may not say so. It's tempting to flirt with despair when the prognostications of natural decay due to human interference (ie global warming) and upheaval and destruction due to human greed and enmity are rampant.

I just returned from New Jersey where, among other signs of doom, I saw the damage wrought by two floods this past year. At home we experienced tornados, and yet another hurricane is brewing in the Gulf. Even a die hard liberal begins to wonder whether the Biblical descriptions of the end times have some sort of weird merit.

But then I went to New York City. All through my formative years in NJ, it was pretty much accepted that one only chose to go to NYC if they were 1) required by their business; 2) wealthy enough to do so in style (not most of the people I knew); or 3) crazy. We did get hauled there on the occasional field trip, and the folks back home would send us off with a sack full of warnings. The one I remember best is "Don't look up-you'll be found out to be a tourist and you'll get killed." Taxi drivers were only slighter more moral than Satan, and riding in a taxi was a dangerous thrill that, while death-defying, could provide tales back at home.

This was my third visit to NYC in the past calendar year, and each trip has delighted me more. The streets are clean and safe. Central Park is astoundingly beautiful, almost a recreation of the storybook New York of childhood fantasies. Merchants and service people are-dare I say it?-friendly and solicitous. I jokingly told my child thst it would be best not to say, "Have a nice day," while in NYC, but I was wrong. Nearly every clerk and cashier gave us that very salutation.

Have alien Mormons taken over the bodies of the grumpy and gritty New Yorkers we all know and love to fear? Because there is no doubt that things have changed. Probably some of it has to do with the Apple's preparations for the Olympic bid, but I suspect that it's due in large part to a kind of collective determination to triumph over the horror of September 11th. I don't think I'm imagining this, and it gives me the teensiest glimmer of hope in the midst of all this decline and atrophy.

Sometimes things actually get better instead of worse, and humans seem to be the cause in both directions.

Friday, November 04, 2005

RITALIN makes me furious!

Why do people think it's OK to drug kids?
I am currently working on a novel about a young family, and the little boy, modeled after my own son (now grown) is what might be called hyperactive. He's high energy and demanding.
I remember that one of my son's teachers suggested he get tested for ADD (it was a new idea then), but THANK GOD I had the presence of mind to ignore her.
What I did have to do was expend a good deal more energy, time, and patience with him than with my older, easier son. He became an honor student and had no significant problems throughout his school years.
People now just take drugging kids for granted! Do you know that about 10% of kids in schools are on drugs for ADD/ADHD?
Matthew Fox (Creativity) says that what we have is actually an Imagination Deficit Disorder, and I agree. On Ritalin and "ADD," he says:
"...we have in America the perverse situation wherein adults are drugging our children so they will sit still in the classroom. Adults are reaping great financial rewards by doing so."
Is anybody else alarmed by this?

Here's a website that has quite a few links to articles and reports on Ritalin: <http://www.breggin.com/ritalin.html>

Monday, October 31, 2005


...writes the following:

We must become ignorant
Of all we've been taught,
And be, instead, bewildered.

Run from what's profitable and comfortable
If you drink those liquers, you'll spill
The spring water of your real life.

Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy yoiur reputation.
Be notorious.

I have tried prudent planning
Long enough, from now
On, I'll live mad.

from Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet by Matthew Fox

Friday, October 28, 2005

CREATIVITY vs. creationism

One of the most inspiring things in my life these days is the creativity of young people. When I skim through the many left-leaning blogs that I come across, I'm amazed at the freedom and expressiveness of young adults. I'm of the generation that was taught to color within the lines. We have to re-learn this freedom. For I believe that every human is born with the potential for enormous creativity. Shoot, I used to work at the local jail as a volunteer and I saw first hand what those women were able to make out of some toilet paper and torn t-shirts! There you have folks who have been using their ingenuity to hurt themselves & others. But most of us, squelched as little grasshoppers, just go mainstream and give up. We are actually embarassed to dance, sing, laugh, or make art! I see this regularly in my congregation, where resistance has been steady to the efforts of the music director and me to get them to occasionally sing without hymnals. Anyway, one of my sabbatical plans is a study of creativity. Right now I am reading Matthew Fox's book called Creativity (okay, so the title belies the theory!). I never ceased to be amazed by this de-frocked Dominican priest who is now teaching a form of worship called the techno-cosmic mass. Fox says that not only is it our divine inheritance to create, it is our responsibility. He quotes Otto Rank and Rollo May (I will read them next), and makes the connection between the spiritual and the creative. He says, "The artist is one who wants to leave behind a gift....The artist is not in denial about death.... Furthermore, the artist is not exiting quietly.... the gift is to life itself...the gift is always to God." Right now I see the autumn colors and it reminds me that awareness of death can spark creativity. Look what the trees leave behind as they go still. Read Matthew Fox's 95 Theses at www.matthewfox.org

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rosa Parks Lives On

Although this woman of courage and conviction has died, the spunk that took her on to that bus lives on. Rosa Parks has been romanticized for school children, and that's too bad. She didn't just sit down on that bus because her feet were tired (in an interview, she said that her feet weren't even tired). Rosa trained at the Highlander Center in Tennessee for civil disobedience. As her conviction grew, so did her willingness to take the risk of arrest and even bodily harm. It's demeans her creativity and fearlessness to make her action a story about someone who was just too weary to move back. Even though the holiday and all of the fuss is about MLK (and tends to be focused upon the male leaders), there were incredibly strong women who made the civil rights dream a reality. Meanwhile, who is the Rosa Parks of today? One I have met is Cindy Sheehan. When I first saw her, in April, she was somewhat reluctantly beginning to speak out about her son Casey's death in Iraq. I saw her at Riverside Church in New York, and I was so moved by her suffering (it was the one year anniversary of Casey's death, and the 40th anniversary of MLK's speech against the Vietnam War) that I could not stop crying. It was like a punch in the gut to me, for my son (who is not in Iraq--but could be) and I are Cindy & Casey, too. I saw Cindy Sheehan again in June, when she spoke here in Kentucky at a rally. We sat on the grass and talked about our sons, and I tried to encourage her to keep speaking out and to understand how much her mission meant. She has a unique voice because of her very real and very legitimate suffering. So, when I learned of Camp Casey in August (I even heard about Cindy in Romania, where barely a scrap of news from the USA can be found!) I felt so proud and honored to have met her. Cindy is the real thing. You can read about her mission to stop the senseless killing in Iraq at www.meetwithCindy.org Women of courage and conviction are finding creative ways to bring peace and justice to the world. This will never stop as long as there are mothers and daughters and sisters and lovers. Thank God. May Rosa rest in peace, and may she be assured that the truth will never die!

Monday, October 24, 2005


Twelve years ago, I was studying Reinhold and Niehbur with Dr. Philip Wogaman at Wesley Seminary. My daughter was a baby of about six months. I brought her to school with me and left her with a graduate student's wife after I nursed her. One day, the traffic into DC was worse than ever, and I didn't have time to breastfeed her before class, so I slipped in and tried to do so discreetly (it was a small class, though--only about 6 people, as I recall). Dr. Wogaman was talking about God and he pointed to me, breastfeeding my baby, and said, "That's God." It was a bit embarrassing, but affirming, too. Dr. Wogaman was, at that time, the minister to our then-President, Bill Clinton. Since then, I have come to understand more clearly why he said, "That's God." Breastfeeding is not just a powerful metaphor; it is, I would say, central to our human quest for wholeness. Still, there are those who would impede it or place it in the closet. Woe to them! Here's a link to a new organization that I'm excited about: www.breastfeedingkentucky.com

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It means "God Bless You" in Hungarian. In a million years, I would've never guessed that I would know how to say anything in Hungarian, but life has its surprises. The original Unitarians were in Transylvania (now part of Romania) and there are still thriving communities there. Our North American (and British) congregations have partnerships with churches there. In Nyomat, a small village nestled in a beautiful valley, the bells are rung by hand each Sunday at the old (I mean really old--almost 800 years) church to summon the villagers to the Unitarian services. Right now, it's almost 4 AM there--soon the farmers will get up, the carts will roll through the dirt roads, the roosters will announce that another day has arrived. It's a world there in that tiny village, a whole world away. Each time the members of the congregation meet, they pass the greeting: Isten aldjon! God Bless You.


It's Sunday afternoon--do you know where your minister is? At home, blogging! That's because I'm on sabbatical, and even though I'm not working, my brain still works overtime. Maybe this will be a place to deposit a few of my ideas and inspirations. We'll see.
Rev cyn