Showing posts from July, 2016

Non-Clinging, Politics, & Jesus

There is a Buddhist teaching I am thinking about a lot these days. It is called anupadana. It means non-clinging, or non-attachment. It i s  based on the idea that clinging or grasping onto things or ideas, holding on to them too tightly, is an obstacle to being all we can be. Upadana, clinging or grasping onto things or ideas, prevents us from individually and collectively applying the truth of love in our lives. Buddhism lays out four forms of clinging or grasping, four kinds of unhealthy attachments. There is senses-based attachment. Renowned Buddhist teacher Buddasa states, this means “clinging to attractive and desirable sense objects.” Our six senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking – attach onto what is pleasurable. We want to see beautiful things, we want to hear beautiful sounds, we want to smell fragrant things, we want to taste delicious food, we want to touch pleasant things, we want to think good thoughts. At a certain level, these

Absolutism is Not Progressive or Revolutionary

I know what absolutism is and feels like. I grew up in a religion that owned it. I was taught early on if a person didn't think, believe, declare the same faith as we did, they did not fully belong and were bound for hell. Yes, they had a choice. They could join us or go to hell - literally. We are seeing this kind of absolutism at play in some of Bernie Sanders supporters today. But it must be made clear - absolutism is not progressive or revolutionary. It is actually regressive and reactionary. It is also exactly what radical Republicans want both from us and for themselves. They want us to be absolutists so in a battle of absolutes they win - and surely they will win. What can be more progressive than to see we do not own the truth but can sit down, learn from each other, and construct a platform together that speaks to our hopes and dreams for the nation? What can be more revolutionary than to say we will see the best in each person, even those we hate, those we see as ou

Politics: America's New & Favorite Cult

Have you noticed that politics in America is becoming more a religion than a means to govern? Politics is no longer a means to an end, but the end, the aim, the goal. It is no longer how will this political party and it representatives help us build at a better place, it is how this personality-politician will win, fix it all, and make us feel better. Faith in and devotion to personalities has replaced researching policy and voting based on what best aligns with one's view of government. Instead of seeing politics as the art of deliberately building a platform on which to build a better government and place, we see it as supporting the personality who we like the most and/or who thinks 100%  just like we do. We see this most clearly in the illogical, post-primary devotion to Bernie Sanders, what I will call the Bernie or Bust Party. I speak as a primary Bernie Sanders supporter. I truly felt and feel that his social democratic philosophy and platform is what this country ne

The Common Fountain of Grief

O, this violence. O, this division. When will it stop. Will it kill me, someone in my family? Will it kill this country, our communities, our collective life? After falling asleep earlier than usual Thursday evening, I woke up early Friday morning. I had a nightmare. It was so disturbing I could not get back to sleep. So I went downstairs, and turned on the TV. Then I heard the news of a real, living nightmare. I did not get back to sleep. I must be honest, these past few years and up till Dallas, I have been really torn. On one hand, I realize how important police officers are to our collective lives. I realize the sacrifice they make and the difficulty of the job. I worked with officers in the ER when I was a resident chaplain and witnessed firsthand their professionalism, their sense of duty, and their dedication. In my role here, there are members of this community that are or have been police officers and whom I really respect and admire. I think of Dan and Dane and Paul. We c

Black Lives Must Matter

Another summer, more cases of complete disregard for the sanctity of life in the form of Black Lives. Having friends and congregants who are police officers and realizing they have a very difficult job, I know it is not fair to generalize. But at what point do we say, we have a problem, a core, deeply-rooted yet rotting on the vine problem, here? There is an ingrained lack of identification with the Other. This lack of seeing Black lives as the equivalent of our White lives is exasperated by our media's portrayal of Black lives. Black lives are rarely portrayed in full, rarely nuanced, usually a little less than fully humane. Black lives are portrayed as Other, disconnected from us and our lives. The problem is also exasperated by a bias that says young, male, and Black means being extra prone to crime and criminality. As far as policing goes, I imagine  in the police officer psyche,  the disproportionate rate of crime by young, Black males creates a bias that increases t