Andrew Sullivan on Obama-Clinton

Wherein he argues (correctly I think) that Clinton has political post-traumatic stress disorder. Understandably so, but real nonetheless. And not a prescription of hope for the future.

Conclusion:

The choice between Clinton and Obama is the choice between a defensive crouch and a confident engagement. It is the choice between someone who lost their beliefs in a welter of fear; and someone who has faith that his worldview can persuade a majority.

Post-Boomer politics, please God. Even if its too liberal for my tastes (which with Obama it is), I think I’ll have to take it over the alternative.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 12:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iraq’s Humanitarian Crisis

BAGHDAD, July 30 — Living conditions in Iraq have deteriorated significantly since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, leaving nearly one-third of the population in need of emergency aid, a consortium of relief organizations said in a report released Monday.

The numbers in the report offer a contrast to the picture of steadily improving conditions painted by the Iraqi government and the U.S. military over the past several months. Seventy percent of Iraqi residents lack adequate water supplies, compared with 50 percent in 2003, while more than 4 million people have been displaced during that time. Yet funding for humanitarian assistance in Iraq has declined precipitously, from $453 million in 2005 to $95 million in 2006.

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

I Heart Ana Marie Cox

My favorite political blogger. (An ace at the art of blogging).

Exhibit A: Her post today. (Read the whole thing: covers Obama-Hillary foreign policy spat + Bill’s intervention, the gay-debate, the Daily Show, Ted Stevens, Cheney and Chief Justice Roberts all in one.)

Oh and the war: Pretty excerpt (HH=Hugh Hewitt):

You know things are bad when the pro-war blogosphere is trumpeting this bit of “good news”:

HH: Do you believe that, John Burns, that the war is lost?

JB: No, I don’t, actually. I think the war is close to lost, but I don’t think that all hope is extinguished.

All hope isn’t extinguished! Wooo-hooo! Where’s that on the “hope-o-meter”? Somewhat more hopeful than “in the midst of a sustained, bloody, humanitarian crisis” but less hopeful than “We’ll be greeted as liberators”? Let me know.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Sec of State

Not so good….hedgehogs everywhere.

clipped from news.yahoo.com

Asia’s largest security meeting has a notable absentee: Condoleezza Rice.

The U.S. secretary of state is forgoing this week’s annual ASEAN Regional Forum to visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt in yet another American effort to stabilize the situation in Iraq ahead of September’s key administration report to Congress on military and political conditions there.

Rice’s decision to skip the Asian security meeting for a second year was perceived by some in the region as a slight. Her absence comes at a difficult time for American diplomats in Southeast Asia, already assaulted by complaints that Washington is turning its back on a part of the world that once stood near the top of its foreign policy agenda.

It also comes as China, the new megapower on the Southeast Asian block, is deepening its economic, cultural and military footprint in its traditional backyard.

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  

life

I’ve been feeling in a rut-like state for awhile now. I’m not sure how or why (serendipity as C4 would probably say) but I’ve found myself facing back into work on my bodymind. Namely life skills–an ability to trust my own intuition and to, how do I put this, just do stuff correctly in life.

Translation is not a really helpful term, but it’s in that arena.

Human potential has too much of a 60s California ring to it—no saunas or hot tub conversating with anyone.

So I’ve got no word (yet?) for it, but it goes on, needing not a conscious word to encapsulate.

I experienced a very powerful visualization yesterday.

[Timeout: I hate the word visualization (am I the only one?) but again what the hell other word covers it. I guess technically I hate what New Age has done to the word….my apologizes Sister Visualization. Visualization minus the hooky-ass flim-flam connotations].

Timein: The visualization gave me a sense of my voice that I had not experienced before. Or at least not trusted in the same way before.

I was struggling for awhile with this idea that I had no connection to my subtle faculties. That I was all conscious mind/rational.

I mean I don’t have the visionary qualities of Joe, the artistic genius of the Polysemy crew, or the emotional and pastoral subtlety of Shannon (Erosophy).

Compared to all that, I’m just a nice guy book nerd. Or so I thought.

But there is one other: voice.

I don’t really cover it here at “IU” but the voice (a voice?) emerges (submerges?) in preaching and teaching.

Continue Reading

For the record, I don’t posts my sermons because:
A)I never write them down (I don’t use notes, ever).
B)They are experiential and can not be conveyed through the written word (as a series of “Talks” say). That might work for others, but not for me.

And the other realm is where I use the writing medium to push my mind/attention to its edges, even just beyond them. For me, that is my meditations on post-metaphysics.

On that topic a note of thanks to readers. My thoughts on post-metaphysics consistently get more hits than anything else on this site. Plus some very kind reader response to those pieces has encouraged me in that regard.

In short, I’ve been given a series of great graces: a visual/path to reconnect whenever necessary (in image form) to the source of my passion and mission. [in broad outline only].


The rest of the effort and the real hard work to come will be making all that concrete. That is where so much of my struggle originates from. Because a voice, teaching, speaking, writing is so abstract, it can easily float away.

I’m from a very non-personal (not anti-personal just un-personal) spiritual tradition. A path that puts the major emphasis on detachment, awareness, humor, sacrifice, and abandonment. So language/practices of achievement, hell even focus, is quite difficult for me.

I went tip-toeing down this same road a few years back, in some ways very unprepared, and got burned as a result. That time taught me a great deal about the need for psychological smarts on the spiritual path, particularly in the mode of accepting (relatively).

That gives me more trust heading back into these waters. i.e. That whatever arises again–in the way of fear, failure–can be accepted.

But the acceptance that I have these underlying issues is not enough. Necessary but not sufficient. I still want to work on them. It’ll never be perfectly healed or fixed or cleared or whatever term is best.

But some of it clearly has to be or else the pattern from my life up to now will simply repeat and these elements will bring down, sabotage the voice elements.

When I spent years as a spiritual seeker I faced some crazy stuff–don’t know how else to put it. Stuff that I think for others would be pretty terrifying. By grace, they weren’t as much for me. I think in large measure because I had been raised in and had models of people (both alive and dead) who made me less afraid.

This other element, the psychological/worldly (gross bodymind ego), I really don’t have models for. This side of life, which for others comes fairly naturally, is for me profoundly terrifying. Because I feel going into it that I am truly alone.

Facing the question of the ultimate nature of all existence, one is truly alone. In my case, I think my difficulties with low self-esteem actually were a great gift. Because you have to face the real possibility that your life will be annihilated and there is no guarantee that you will be embraced by the Void of Godhead. You may be crushed. It happens. There is no knowing why this is the case for some and not others.

For adoptees the self is usually not felt as wrong but as not “there”. Empty–not Shunyata Empty/Emptiness but just something is missing. There’s no there there. So I think when facing the Void I was not as concerned about the possibility of a loss of myself because I wasn’t even sure I had a self. [I mean a relative self]. And if I did, I apparently wasn’t really that concerned about its possible destruction—upshot of the low esteem.

Detachment is not about seeking out certain forms of realization, needing them, identifying with them, making oneself into a spiritual hero/athlete. But it is also not to actively prevent them from occurring either. That is the other side of the seeking coin (negative seeking). You are equally free for them to arise as to be absent.

I (consciously and unconsciously) negatively seek on my bodymind level. Shadow hugging it is sometimes called. In this case I’ll be alone but the curse that was my gift the last time around (low esteem) will be the gift that is my curse. Not an aid, but the very crux of the issue itself.

Knowing all this heading in doesn’t in any way solve anything. The best it can do is give me perspective to respond with some more humor and grace to whatever arises.

I want to give–my true desire. But the road to hell is paved with good even holy desires. I don’t want to give all of this shadow–like smallpox on a blanket.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

vol 2

I’ve had a couple mental breakthroughs on my larger project at the moment: an application of post-metaphysics to Biblical theology.

It will do a couple of things (a la Integral Politics)

  • 1)Index through dominant perspectives the major schools of Biblical interpretation already in existence.
  • 2)Having seen that, offer a more inclusive vision. (Theory)
  • 3)Point towards a deeper, more liberating, biblical praxis.

The reason I think to do this, this general view, is simply to breathe some more air/consciousness into the otherwise currently cramped environs. I also hope it could go some way to bridging gaps between academic theology and local churches/believers. Particularly to do something about the horrific state of preaching in most churches.

And further to point to the Biblical texts as the main spring of all theological thinking. I’m not particularly impressed by so much non-Biblical theology. [This btw is why showing the deep Biblical nature of the mystical path is so important–to counter charges that it is a non-Biblical, even pagan, import].

I take very seriously Wilber’s notion of freedom through limitation. That the real “enemy” (as it were) is not what already arises but the “isms” that grow around them.

Conservative not conservatism.
Liberal not liberalism.
Science not scientism.
Fundamentals not fundamentalism.
evangelical not Evangelicalism
catholic not Catholicism

This is a huge issue in the field of biblical studies, not just across the liberal/conservative divide (at each level plus levels up/down) but more I find between the different paradigms: form critics versus historical source critics versus sociological critics versus literary…..

Not that everyone has to become master of all sub-specializations (which is impossible anyway) but so that we have a way to be and do together, mentally as well as emotionally. Consciousness as incorporating both the cognitive and affective dimensions. It brings a freedom and lightness I find (when done properly) versus heavy handed categorizations and anti-intellectualism that is the possible shadow of this way.

Otherwise the (non)choice is further balkanization, mini-fiefdoms, ego battles in academia, particularly over reduced funding, less theological students, etc. This way you actually give a reason for theological education. As opposed to assuming an entire worldview/system and philosophy of education from the secular world and then replicating it theologically and then wondering why the numbers keep dwindling.

Anyway, that soap box aside, a couple of interesting points have already emerged—Habermas and validity claims with regards to textual criticism and textual transmission of the Biblical canon; a cutting of the Gordian Knot that is the Jesus of History vs. Christ of Faith (non)debate; the introduction of mystical criticism. But I don’t want to give away too many of the details just yet.

The concept of “natural transcendence”–immanental transcendentalism is the real key. With immanence having levels of expression.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  

My Old Employers

clipped from www.nytimes.com

United Parcel Service said yesterday that it would offer health benefits to its employees’ partners in civil unions in New Jersey, 10 days after Gov. Jon S. Corzine wrote a letter urging it to comply with the state’s five-month-old civil union law.

The policy decision was a reversal for the company, which had said it could not offer such benefits because the couples were not legally married, and will affect an unspecified number of United Parcel’s 8,700 employees who belong to the Teamsters union.

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Co-operation

socio-cultural (lower left and right) inherent throughout the Kosmos.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

In recent papers, Dr. Nowak has argued that cooperation is one of the three basic principles of evolution. The other two are mutation and selection. On their own, mutation and selection can transform a species, giving rise to new traits like limbs and eyes. But cooperation is essential for life to evolve to a new level of organization. Single-celled protozoa had to cooperate to give rise to the first multicellular animals. Humans had to cooperate for complex societies to emerge.

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  

More on Biden being right for Iraq

Helene Cooper in the NYTimes (arguing he may be running for Sec. of State).

She writes:

The proposal acknowledges forthrightly what a growing number of Middle East experts say is plain as day: Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis are not moving toward reconciliation; they still haven’t managed to get an oil law passed, and de facto ethnic cleansing is under way as Sunnis flee largely Shiite neighborhoods and towns, and vice versa.

The plan was dumped on when it came out last year. “Partitioning Iraq: No Starter” was the headline on a column by George Hishmeh in Gulf News, a daily newspaper that specializes in the Middle East. Mr. Hishmeh, a former writer for the United States Information Agency, pointed out a common complaint about the partition idea, that the very word “partition” has a bad ring to Arab ears given that a United Nations partition plan paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel.

Foreign policy analysts also pointed out that breaking up Iraq could cause bloodletting (as if that isn’t happening now) in Iraq’s urban areas. While Sunnis predominate in the western part of the country, Kurds in the north, and Shiites in the south, Iraq’s cities are not as homogeneous. Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul don’t have clear geographical lines separating the main groups.

Or at least they didn’t. The reality is, Iraq’s cities have become far more homogeneous recently as terrified residents have fled areas where their ethnic group doesn’t predominate. The neighborhoods around the edges of Baghdad have already experienced a lot of ethnic cleansing.

Officially, Bush administration officials maintain that they share President Bush’s hopes that increased American troop strength in Baghdad will tamp down the violence and create political space for Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to reach a political solution. But testimony and interviews this month about conditions in Iraq indicated that the administration is already making de facto moves towards partition.

tags technorati :
tags technorati :
Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  

The Truths of "Ir-rationality"

Really enlightening (and sad) op-ed from Harriet Washington in the NYTimes. She works off the recent release of the Bulgarian nurses from Libya charged with consciously infecting children with HIV. Washington explores the more widespread fear of medicine in certain parts of Africa, and where the truth underlying the psyche of the charges–though not the truth of the charges in that actual case.

Washington writes:

Africa has harbored a number of high-profile Western medical miscreants who have intentionally administered deadly agents under the guise of providing health care or conducting research. In March 2000, Werner Bezwoda, a cancer researcher at South Africa’s Witwatersrand University, was fired after conducting medical experiments involving very high doses of chemotherapy on black breast-cancer patients, possibly without their knowledge or consent. In Zimbabwe, in 1995, Richard McGown, a Scottish anesthesiologist, was accused of five murders and convicted in the deaths of two infant patients whom he injected with lethal doses of morphine. And Dr. Michael Swango, ultimately convicted of murder after pleading guilty to killing three American patients with lethal injections of potassium, is suspected of causing the deaths of 60 other people, many of them in Zimbabwe and Zambia during the 1980s and ’90s. (Dr. Swango was never tried on the African charges.)

In other words, though again in this case these people were not guilty, the fear itself is not completely irrational.

Washington again:

Such tragedies highlight the challenges facing even the most idealistic medical workers, who can find themselves working under unhygienic conditions that threaten patients’ welfare. Well-meaning Western caregivers must sometimes use incompletely cleaned or unsterilized needles, simply because nothing else is available. These needles can and do spread infectious agents like H.I.V. — proving that Western medical practices need not be intentional to be deadly. Although the World Health Organization maintains that the reuse of syringes without sterilization accounts for only 2.5 percent of new H.I.V. infections in Africa, a 2003 study in The International Journal of S.T.D. and AIDS found that as many as 40 percent of H.I.V. infections in Africa are caused by contaminated needles during medical treatment. Even the conservative W.H.O. estimate translates to tens of thousands of cases.

In fact regarding the Bulgarian case, this unintended infection (perhaps even prior to the arrival of the Bulgarian nurses) was in fact the cause of the children’s infections. If true, this would make the charges of the Libyan government not as crazy as they seemed prima facie.

The conclusion:

Certainly, the vast majority of beneficent Western medical workers in Africa are to be thanked, not censured. But the canon of “silence equals death” applies here: We are ignoring a responsibility to defend the mass of innocent Western doctors against the belief that they are not treating disease, but intentionally spreading it. We should approach Africans’ suspicions with respect, realizing that they are born of the acts of a few monsters and of the deadly constraints on medical care in difficult conditions. By continuing to dismiss their reasonable fears, we raise the risk of even more needless illness and death.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment