Empire

I appreciate the public theologizing available at https://www.westarinstitute.org. Their latest conversation was about Empire. A book referenced may be of interest to you — Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, by Isabel Wilkerson.

Of note is how an Empire and its representatives will use everything at its/their disposal. This includes me and you and every form of faith. No practice will exempt anyone from being a tool of the Empire. That same Empire will use even resistance to the Empire for further genocide, slavery (by various names), and conquest. Whether resistance is passive or active, those who participate will be publicly lynched (hung on a cross) as a warning not to follow that way or privately incarcerated in solitary confinement (left in a deep, dark, dank dungeon).

One of the techniques of Empire is to work through innocence. Individuals can comfort themselves by considering their goodness is on a higher moral plane than any injury caused by Empiric structures. Secure in their innocence, they do not have to stoop to politics of resistance in homes or on the streets. Even if the structures of an Empire are blatantly obvious in their hurt of peoples and creation—individuals can claim a benefit of relative safety by not raising questions or visions of a compassionate future of common good. Empire is freed to promise one benefit or another in return for safety (law and order), only to abrogate that whenever it suits the Empire or those representing it. People and places will continue to be caught and destroyed if they should stray beyond the limit of being of utility for expansion (gaining more land or capital for a ruling few).

In the end, every Empire falls. Fantasies of eternity dance in Empire’s heads. Whether it is Manifest Destiny, American Exceptionalism, or a final Nazi Reich, Empires project a strength they do not have. In the end, Emperors are naked power-grabbers, and each dies.

Empire desires its subjects (who think of themselves as citizens) to live in personal innocence (plausible deniability that they have agency) and public fear. “Fear Not” is an antidote to Empire.

Windows

Windows
passive stationary
vertical resistant
to wind and rain
some insulated
some not

none of which
exempt them
from dust and dirt
and spiders and tornadoes
smudging and breaking
a first transparency

it’s fall again
to prepare
for winter overcast
cleaner and squeegee
found used put-away
whew and bring-it-on

Birds

Birds here have been going a little nuts (berries). Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and other related species flew into and out of a berry bush the backyard this last week. Now they are doing the same with the crab apple in the front yard.

They have lost their usual flight skills and pathways. Sitting under the awning of a deck swing set is not safe. The bird’s flight controller has called in sick. Multiple birds try landing at the same place and time. Life on the swing is particularly serious as they lean in all directions, with no flight plans filed, just “Yee-Haw! Off we go!” No time to pull-up, so through the swing set they go.

Talking in the driveway is an exercise calling for hazardous-conditions pay. Apparently, flying between conversation partners is good fun when you’re a bit loopy from over-ripe berries and fruit.

In theory, this frantic behavior will have some benefit from a coming migration. For now, the birds make for enjoyable physical comedy.

Well, except for the dozen or so who hit the house and windows. They disregard such limits in the same fashion as other bird brains dismiss how viruses work. Unless the neighborhood feral cat has gotten a casualty or two, I only know of one fatality.

A wing and a prayer is as fragile an analysis and strategic plan as is available. It is a very fine line between loopy and dead.

New Book Released

I have just published a new book: Struggling with (Non)violence, by Julie Marie Todd.

Cover of book --

 

Julie is the John Wesley Iliff Senior Lecturer in Justice and Peace Studies at the Iliff School of Theology and was one of the three founders of Love Prevails. As a scholar-activist, Julie grounds her studies in the real world and reflects and analyzes situations, actions, and effects to guide actions. This book is particularly pertinent in today’s United States as violence is escalating on a personal level as well as structurally (legally, politically, and economically) and culturally with the rise of militia groups.

(Non)violence is one of many ways to address the reality and presence of violence. Sometimes it is used as a moral rule that informs personal responses. It is sometimes just a bumper-sticker that lets structural and cultural violence continue unchecked. The book asks if (non)violence is the only way to “love an enemy” or if it is “effective” in the specifics of a given violence.

By ignoring the complexity of what constitutes violence, the (non)violent thought and praxis represented by white, liberal Christians in the United States falls short. In this book, twelve scholar-activist interviewees share perspectives and effective practices that destabilize traditional rationalizations of violence, including those from the institutions and practices of a dominant Christian theology.  

The author calls on communities committed to (non)violence to invest in a model for social change which:

1) ROOTS ITSELF IN CONTEXTUAL, HISTORICAL ANALYSIS;

2) INCLUDES OTHER-THAN-HUMAN LIVES AS NECESSARY PARTNERS;

3) VALUES PRACTICES THAT DISMANTLE VIOLENCE OVER THEOLOGICAL ABSTRACTIONS; 

4) EMPHASIZES CREATIVE COMMUNITIES OF ACTIVE, COUNTER-CULTURAL RESISTANCE OVER INDIVIDUALISM;

5) EXPERIMENTS WITH DIVERSE, DISRUPTIVE TACTICS; AND

6) URGES A SELF-CRITICAL SOLIDARITY THAT WELCOMES DIFFERENCES REGARDING VARIOUS MEANS OF SOCIAL CHANGE.

The Interviewees: Rita “Bo” Brown (B♀), Ward Churchill, John Dear, Vincent Harding, Dolores Huerta, Derrick Jensen, Kathy Kelly, Alice Lynd, Staughton Lynd, Katherine Power, Sarah Schulman, Akinyele Umoja.

I hope you will join in the discussion of (non)violence with Julie and the interviewees.

— — — — — — — — — — — —

The book is currently available through Julie’s website [https://justjulie.me/publications]. It is working its way through the internet and will be available through other providers at a later time.

 

Pendulum

Pendulums in physics present some interesting questions and formulas. Adjusting them in clocks is more an art than a science. If done without gloves, a little extra weight is added and modifies the prescription. There is a time commitment involved with adjusting time.

In politics, other communal efforts, and conversations—pendulums are problematic. At issue here is not adjustment toward an agreed-upon recording of time past. Power over others has now raised its head.

Elections and appointments tend toward being zero-sum games. There is no analysis of where we are in relation to what makes for long-term sustainability. When an opportunity comes to make a next series of decisions, there is only knee-jerk reversal.

Rarely does such a reversal come when the pendulum is at its limit and ready to begin another cycle—slowing down and slowly beginning to revisit its path. This translates into shorter and shorter periodicity. Eventually, there is nothing left to reverse. Stasis arrives, and books are written to explain the great fall or whimpering-away of another unit of attempted civilization.

Pendulums have their work to do but utterly fail at being translated out of their milieu.

In human terms, pendulums do not measure time regularly but are a sign of a shortening of time left to get an act together, get over the hubris of having the right answer to any relational question, or attempt to apply Newtonian physics in a quantum context.

A pendulum effect in governance will turn a supposed Supreme Court into a mediocre mouthpiece of a deservedly bygone time.

Until

it used to be
ever so easy
one little box
alongside another
check this one
and that one too
any box will do
so so easy
until it isn’t
a thought a hunch
will no longer do
from seeming nowhere
so well documented
autogenic massacre
between and within
the smallest boxes
no you can’t
you’re not even you
gaslighting abuse
a handmaid’s tale
crushes every fantasy
routine has failed
no spare courage
will get us
half-a-league onward
guns surround
little empty boxes
rubble is but
a matter of time
so learn to play
in the dirt
there is no past
to be great again
and yet
such sweet words
meaning can be made
even added together
until there are
no more untils
bless yourself
with yourself
until all are blessed
until
so great
a sweetness
flows

Frustration

This bloggy thing is frustrating. I do due diligence, and still typos and just plain wrong words and syntax show up in the final product that goes out to a MailChimp audience of a very select few. I suppose I should be grateful so few receive the errors.

I jot these notes by hand with one or another of my daily carry fountain pens—sometimes even two if the ink runs out of one. I then enter those bespoke words into an everyday word processor, sprucing them up as I go. From there, Grammarly is called upon for a first go to suggest a more effective way to present such thoughts. The results are printed and shared with the house grammarian. Finally, adjustments are made, and the post is scheduled to be released at 5 AM of some weekday. At 9 AM, MailChimp looks in to see if there is a posting or postings since 9 AM of the previous day. Shortly after 9 AM, the posting shows up in people’s inbox.

Sometime in the course of the day, it is brought to my attention by a reader that some fubar snafu (with an emphasis upon the “f” in each descriptor) has occurred and some letter has been dropped, or a word misapplied that I cannot account for but is less than was intended.

Anyone who has a hint about how to better monitor my process so my frustration is lowered without leading to a lack of caring about such details … —Do tell.

Flag

Flags come in combinations of color and patterns. Those are symbols that people define in the grandest of terms that put themselves in their best light. My current dream of a flag to use as a standard revealing my allegiance shifts in the other direction.

The flag of my dreams is square instead of a rectangle. It won’t wave as well in a wind as a rectangle, but if desired, it could be placed in the center of a humble white rectangle of truce.

In the center of the square is a blue circle, one-third the area of the largest circle available on a square. It represents the “pale blue dot” of a planet of water—our only Indigenous home. Water—as the largest component of our bodies—reminds us to be humble.

Around such a starting point is a transparent circle (or as fine a grid as is just barely noticeable to distinguish it from any busy background against which it might be displayed). This is reminiscent of the air around us that we swim in and keep forgetting it is present until a derecho flattens us. Our imaginations need the invisible.

The remaining space contains a third circle touching the side of the square. It is green for the chlorophyll that is representative of the food that sustains us. No plants : no animals ∴ no food.

A rainbow’s remaining colors frame the circles of life—red, orange, yellow, and violet.

Any quilters or seamsters among the readers here who would give this a try?