Mad Lib

once upon
a mattress
means anything
can shift
part way
along familiar
time lines

mad libs
jump over
common constraints
setting relationships
awry awhirl
playing silly
opening doors

subject verb
prepositional phrase
coordinating conjunction
another subject
inappropriate verb
modifying phrase
punctuation mark

who could
ask for
anything less
to avoid
while away
whittle down
impending _________

Simultaneous Plurality

I have just spent an hour with a Westar Institute event on engaging others on hot-button topics. A point that kept returning was “simultaneous plurality.” Additional phrases that circle this mouthful are: 1) nothing happens in isolation and 2) there is no position without a location.

When identity politics is based on isolated positions separated from their values and become undebatable or able to be thought about in relation to multiple senses of reality, it isn’t easy to find any ground where we can stand together. A King-of-the-Hill approach leaves only one standing. For creatures that survive through social structures that shift over time to meet new conditions, this sort of extreme individualism is tantamount to genetic suicide or environmental murder.

One of the possible values of religion in such a polarized situation is a remembrance of its reliance upon trust (a better translation than “faith”). Trust has a communal/social component at its center. This can be seen when it is contrasted to viewing life on the basis of commodification or creedalism, that which can be owned and held over another.

An appreciation of provisional truth asks that its antecedents and consequences be part of the conversation. It is not sufficient to boil things down to a single sense of reality. When a professed truth tries to stand on its own, it wraps everything into a crisis point of a tribal identity only supportable by becoming self-referential to the point of constructing interlocking conspiracies that deny everything but itself.

Our current tendency is to divide along the lines of those who see eternal doubt about everything and those convicted that certainty requires uniformity. Symbolic language becomes weaponized, and a war of words directly leads to a battle of bodies seeking to claim the center of nothing but itself.

There is no final resting spot in a system of dynamic relationships. So, we are called to the difficult work of 1) not making stuff up and 2) trusting beyond our self-referential self.


not everything true
is provable
so goes certainty
that brings us around
to deeper dreams
beyond such limits
of false positives
and positive falsity
wearing a façade
of coherence
grounded in consistency
within a granular universe
with multiple faces
leaving little choice
but to smile
as there we go
take my surety

Beyond Local

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle plays speed off against position – it is not possible to localize anything. While applying to matter and space, the Uncertainty Principle does have implications for other disciplines, such as politics.

There is an old saying that all politics is local. I imagine this was first articulated by someone frustrated at effecting a change of any sort and fell back on a hope that a butterfly here might be a contributing factor for change at some remove.

Political change is challenging to determine, like that of quantum speed or position. Locality is but one small factor. It is not unusual for people to vote against their own best interests (no matter where such might be identified). A classic example is that of voters who elect trickle-down representatives if they promise to outlaw abortion. A recent example is that of voters who acquit DJT and simultaneously indict his responsibility for acts of insurrection.

It turns out that economic stability is one of the most significant factors for reducing abortions. This means that a local morality against abortion, counter-intuitively, results in poorer economics because of a false theory of common good and more requests for an abortion. This goes beyond “fool me once ….” To become doubly fooled the first time around with increased poverty and increased abortions.

Those who have been shutout of the economy (grievance voters) have recently found comfort in a false theory of strength – it is best seen in the mirror of yesterday and personal independence. MAGA Militia is alive and well and doing real harm based on faulty data and doubly false interpretation of the same. Their unconscious has been groomed to be scammed by the latest con-artist with a lie to sell. The alternative is the difficult work of wrestling with the uncertainty of multiple factors and degrees of confidence in evaluating them. Admittedly, this is difficult to do in the best of situations and doubly difficult in a time of felt survival by narrowly local tribes.

We need better analysis of intersecting global speed with local position. Where is a political M-Theory when it is needed?


I know it is not the season for sugarplums dancing in heads. I’ll chalk mine up to shoveling the sidewalk with the temperature at -2°F.

Having dealt with cultish Christians insistent that it is imperative to impose their creed on all people at all times and just happens to benefit themselves, I know their ability to shift gears between whining when caught out and accusing when not. Their 180° turns are not only to save the day but become a part of their long-term strategy by keeping everyone off-stride and more malleable (eternally forgiving; never holding them to account).

That same response is still available to the Republican Senators who will decide the impeachment of DJT (a veritable political poison—DDT). The picture here is an evaluation that the best Republican long-term strategy is to remove DJT from ever running again. Such a decision would allow them to campaign on their integrity of holding one of their own to account and also claim they are running on his policies (even though his policies were disastrous — children caged, environment raped, citizen set against citizen, pandemic response….).

I’m not sure how that would play in the coming mid-term election. Still, current Republican leadership may see it as preferable to defending their acquittal of DJT from the consequences of impeachment and stimulating more Georgia-like organizing that could still overwhelm their next attempts at voter suppression.

I have no way of evaluating this possibility. Still, I would find a conviction on the charge of impeachment easier to deal with in the public discourse and see an acquittal as a continuation of the big lie that has begun to be revealed and will be further revealed through criminal charges.

I mention the above without hope that conviction will occur. It would make a final reckoning more difficult because people will think, once again, that we have turned a corner. No matter what the Senate decides about impeachment, we still have miles to go.


As the 2nd Trump impeachment trial continues, I found interesting connections with this section of Kazantzakis’ “Last Temptation of Christ.” [Chapter 28]

= = = = = = =

Jacob had already become reconciled to the Rabbi’s [Jesus’] death and was spinning in his mind what they would do when they were left on earth without him.

“We cannot oppose God’s will and the will of our master. As the prophets tell us, Rabbi, it is your duty to die, ours to live: to live so that the words you spoke shall not perish. We’ll establish them firmly in new Holy Scriptures, we’ll make laws, build our own synagogues and select our own high priests, Scribes and Pharisees.”

Jesus was terrified. “You crucify the spirit, Jacob,” he shouted. “No, no, I don’t want that!”

“This is the only was we can prevent the spirit from turning into air and escaping,” Jacob countered.

“But it won’t be free anymore; it won’t be spirit!”

“That doesn’t matter. It will look like spirit. For our work, Rabbi, that’s sufficient.”

A cold sweat flowed over Jesus….

Jesus, despairing, lifted his hands. He seemed to be asking for help. “I shall send you the Comforter, the spirit of truth. He will guide you.”

“Send us the Comforter quickly,” John cried, “so that we won’t be led astray and fail to find you again, Rabbi!”

Jacob shook his hard, obstinate head. “It too—this spirit of truth you’re talking about—it too will be crucified. You must realize, Rabbi, that the spirit will be crucified as long as men exist. But it doesn’t matter. Something is always left behind, and that, I tell you, is enough for us.”

“It’s not enough for me!” Jesus shouted in despair.

Control Authority

A week ago, I noted the distinction between a plural you and a singular you and how that shows up in relation to communal freedom and individual freedom. Of course, there is more than what circles out from the rock of “you” to other particular identities in our common pond. If you have access to Hulu, you can see some of that in the current film, “In and of Itself.”

A related issue to Freedom is Control and Authority. These also come in communal and individual forms. Our challenge is to manage their relationship in our life, so there is a healthy balance between them. One of the places this becomes more evident is with facial recognition that tends toward centralized control that forces sublimation of our identity until it is disappeared. Central control reminds me of the problematic movie “Brazil.” Watch it as far as you can.

In parallel with the old slogan, “Question authority!” we also need to ask what it means to “Control authority.”

Tomorrow the official 2nd impeachment of Donald Trump begins. It will show how authority can be misused and how difficult it is for people to maintain their own sense of control and authority separate from their tribal allegiance. This will be true on both sides as the issue of holding to one’s authority, and control of their integrity is always fraught with any number of reasons to either go along or become passive, and these are not the same.

There is no avoiding questions of social control, we are communal creatures, and any threat of exile from systems we have grown into is often enough met with turning that reality into unconsciousness. This is a source of resistance to rethink the limits of control and ask a new question. I know I have not been independent enough of my social position to this point and will continue to stumble in whatever time remains. Nonetheless, I expect to continue poking at the fantasies involved with univalent analyses, either external social or internal psyche.

Simultaneously playing the pendulum game of always being on the counter beat leaves us unmoored and irrelevant. This is the effect of focusing overmuch on personal control. We have no traction to add the benefit we have to offer because we don’t know the vernacular around us and cannot speak to the situation before us.

To control ourself when the world around has gone crazy is an appealing thought, but it turns out it mostly results in our being the one judged to be the nincompoop. To attempt to control the system within which we swim is unrealistic and wearying to the point of compassion fatigue.

There is no answer in these persistent quandaries. However, a response is required. Support to respond is available wherever we find a community willing to engage in clarifying the relationships between You and You, competing Freedoms, Authorities, Controls, and honest Questions facing big Lies. Blessings on your week of exploring one layer deeper into life’s onion.


Throughout the Midwest came warning about essential driving. A major snowstorm covering several states at a time was predictable and did arrive. It turned out the expectation of multi-vehicle accidents arrived on schedule and resulted in hours and hours of delay.

It turns out that essential travel is quite mutable. My desire to move on is essential, and your desire is not.

The question of a day’s delay seems not to have a place to land. A desire, not always recognizable, has come to mean it must be fulfilled. Passion has become the contemporary arbiter of “freedom.” A delay or denial of a desire is tantamount to a reason to break solidarity with one another and claim a privileged position or power.

Along with a right to travel in a windy whiteout comes easy access to plausible deniability and a first strike of blame. If we had been alone on the road, there wouldn’t have been a pile-up demanding evasive action and becoming stuck in a ditch.

Since we do not have the power to claim independence when roads are obviously constructed communally, it can only be said that we are a particularly myopic people.

In the tenor of the day – it must be that we were conspired against. Otherwise, we wouldn’t now be sitting here awaiting a long-overdue tow truck to get us on our way and into a next, surprise!, delay.

“Snow falls and builds up around the righteous and the unrighteous” – there is no special dispensation. May it sometime come to this: A recognition of no-exemption from the consequences of entitlement is a warning bell leading to a rethinking of desire’s limits.