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"In every culture of which we have some adequate historical record, we encounter spiritually radiated individuals with miraculous healing capacities, telepathic gifts (what was once called the 'reading of hearts'), precognitive abilities (traditionally known as divination or prophecy), clairvoyance (seeing objects or events at a distance in space or time), even, believe it or not, apparent literal floating or flight (levitation)."
from The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained, Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey Kripal (2016)
He had the multi-instrumental talent of Stevie.
The devout artistic dedication of Jimi.
The genius of Joni Mitchell.
The soul of Ray Charles.
The funk of Sly.
The religious ecstasy of Aretha.
The royal fabulousness of Beyonce.
The liberated queerness of Little Richard, Bowie, and Grace Jones.
The commitment to Black freedom of James Brown.
The songwriting chops of Chuck Berry.
The star power of Elvis.
The magic of Michael.
He had the fearlessness of punk rock, the sexuality of a mystic in a juke joint, the mystery of a druid who could dance. Prince was all of this and more.
As a teenager in the 80s, when 1999 was either a distant party or the end of the world, Prince was a one-person sonic apocalypse, a purple armageddon that was musical paradise.
As a born-and-bred Tar Heel, I can tell you we take special pride in the fact that our own Michael Jordan--born in Wilmington and mentored as a young skywalker by Dean Smith in Chapel Hill--is the greatest basketball player Earth has ever seen. My family had season tickets to the Heels' games, and I was a young teen watching in awe when MJ was rocking the cradle and rattling rims and skying high on the backboard for a follow-slam. We in Chapel Hill knew his greatness several years before the rest of the world caught on. So I do not entertain comparisons to MJ lightly. There has simply been no one who has equaled his total combination of skill, grace, savvy, finesse, power, swagger, clutch-ness, competitiveness, and championships. Not Magic, not LeBron, not Kobe.
But Stephen Curry is doing something that, in its own way, rivals Michael. He's CHANGING THE GAME. If Jordan took the game above the rim, Curry is extending the game beyond the arc.
Asked about comparisons with Jordan, Curry states, "We have totally different skill sets, obviously. I try to stay in my lane when it comes to that." Unfortunately for the Warriors' opponents, Curry's lane keeps getting farther and farther from the basket. His accuracy from distance is on the order of a paradigm shift, a transformation from "Air" to "Splash."
Tonight we will see the Warriors try to take the single-season win record from one of the greatest teams ever, MJ's '96 Bulls, as well as the final game of one of the All Time Greats, Kobe Bryant. No one has come closer than Kobe to mirroring Michael's moves, even if he never quite attained that Jordan je ne sais quoi. Steph Curry, on the other hand, is nothing like Michael Jordan. And that's why he's the next Michael Jordan.
In the book, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, based on interviews from the nineties, are the following paragraphs in which Chomsky describes the incipient fascist dynamics in Republican party politics at the time, and foretells a scenario with remarkable similarities to the current Trump phenomenon.
"There are other things to worry about too, like the fact that the United States is such an extremely fundamentalist country--and also such an unusually frightened one.... [There is a lot of] extreme irrationality and fear... in the U.S. population.
And that's a very dangerous phenomenon--because that kind of deep irrationality can readily be whipped up by demagogues, you know, Newt Gingriches. These guys can whip up fear, hatred, they can appeal to fundamentalist urges--and that's been scaring the rest of the world for a while... For example, if you recall the Republican National Convention in 1992, it opened with a 'God and Country' rally, which was televised and seen around the world. In Europe particularly it really sent chills up people's spines--because they remember Hitler's Nuremberg rallies, at least older people do, and it had something of that tone. Well, the Republicans were able to insulate the Convention from it that time around and keep most of that stuff confined to the first night, but in the future they might not be able to do that--in the future those people might take the Convention over, in which case we'd be very close to some American version of fascism; it may not be Hitler Germany, but it'll be bad enough....
Actually, I think that the United States has been in kind of a pre-fascist mood for years--and we've been lucky that every leader who's come along has been a crook.... But if somebody shows up who's kind of a Hitler-type--just wants power, no corruption, straight, makes it all sound appealing, and says, 'We want power'--well, then we'll all be in very bad trouble. Now, we haven't had the right person yet in the United States, but sooner or later somebody's going to fill that position--and if so, it will be highly dangerous."
--Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky (2002), based on interviews mostly from 1989-1999.
Lockdown America, by Christian Parenti (1999)
The “War on Drugs” inaugurated by President Richard Nixon—with its devastating consequences on American families for over four decades—is not only racist in its enforcement and effects. It was designed to be racist from the very beginning. It is racist on purpose, by intent.
This was the shocking revelation that erupted this week in journalist Dan Baum’s April cover story for Harper’s magazine. Baum describes a 1994 interview with Nixon advisor, John Ehrlichman, in which Ehrlichman makes the following admission:
“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Despite the casual brazenness of the confession, and the sociopathic depravity it displays, this did not come as a surprise to the communities most affected by the pervasive, systemic racism of the legal/judicial process and the mass incarceration state.
My first reaction upon reading of the new Ehrlichman quote was this: Disgusting. Immoral. Fascist. Heart-crushing. But why is this being treated as Breaking News when another Nixon aide, H. R. Haldeman, said the same thing years ago? I went to my copy of Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America (1999). Yep. There it was. Haldeman admitting the exact same thing as Ehrlichman:
“[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”
--H. R. Haldeman (quoted in Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America, p. 3. This quote is an epigraph to Chapter One, and does not have a footnote/source.)
Now, three former Nixon officials have jumped in to dispute the “new” quote from John Ehrlichman and to dismiss its premise. In a joint-statement, former Nixon officials Jeffrey Donfeld, Jerome H. Jaffe, and Robert DuPont contend that Ehrlichman was just joshing. (Because ruined lives and shattered families are a real knee-slapper, right?) Ehrlichman was “known for using biting sarcasm,” they state, and suggest, “it is possible the reporter misread his tone.” “Most importantly,” these officials claim, “the statements do not reflect the facts and history of President Nixon’s approach to the drug problems.”
These former Nixon officials want us to ignore the clear words in front of our face. They claim that the admission by Ehrlichman was misconstrued and is off base. But then why did H. R. Haldeman say the same thing?
So far, the corroborating quote from H. R. Haldeman has been missing from the reporting on the “new” Ehrlichman quote. The consistency between the statements from Ehrlichman and Haldeman is a crucial piece of evidence. It should underscore the newly revealed interview with Ehrlichman and cast doubt on those who dispute the accuracy or importance of what he confesses.
The mutually reinforcing quotes from Ehrlichman and Haldeman amplify a shattering truth that communities of color having been communicating for decades: the “War on Drugs”—and the hyper-incarceration of Black, brown, and Native youth—are contemporary expressions of the US‘s foundational white supremacy. The legal and judicial systems are institutionally racist. All people of conscience must join together in a unified movement to end systemic racism in policing and sentencing, before the next generation of broken lives and grieving families.
I strongly encourage everyone to go see Michael Moore's powerful new film, "Where to Invade Next." It's heart-breaking, enraging, and ultimately hopeful.
I've often said that traveling to another country and/or entering another culture is a crash course in cosmology and worldview. One comes to recognize that what one thought of as "reality," or "the way things are," or "how things are done," is, in fact, just ONE WAY of perceiving and acting.
Moore uses this to maximum effect, traveling to other countries to shine a DEVASTATING light on current US society--what we've gotten used to, and what we've allowed ourselves to become.
Whether it's issues of work in Italy, school lunches in France, education in Norway, free college in Slovenia, historical memory in Germany, or women's leadership in Iceland, the film hammers the question of whether we have to be living the way we are.
I'm sure there are critiques of Moore's presentation, but the issues and questions raised by this film are tremendously important.
One of the major spiritual questions of our time for white people is not 'can we embody compassion and love while remaining in denial about racial oppression?' but rather, 'can we embody compassion and love while fully acknowledging, directly confronting, and engaging in the struggle against, racial oppression?'
A billion years from now, circling some indigo star, perhaps speaking a language unrecognizable to us, a human child will be taunting another child or adult to the tune of 'nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah; you-can't-get-me.' I swear that thing never dies.
"Justice, as envisaged by a post-modern imagination, is never simply a matter of conforming to a given law. It involves a responsibility to listen to other narratives (in the sense of alternative narratives and narratives of others). The justice of narrative imagination is, in short, a justice of multiplicity."
--Richard Kearney (1998)
"In Nyakyusa society... the main form of artistic expression is in ritual. Rituals are frequent and elaborate; great numbers of people attend them and the excitement is often intense.... The greatest ritual of all is that performed at the handing over of power from one generation to another, but it occurs only once in thirty years."
--Monica Wilson (1954)
"White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today. You will not find this term in introductory, or even advanced, texts in political theory. A standard undergraduate philosophy course will start off with Plato and Aristotle, perhaps say something about Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli, move on to Hobbes, Locke, Mill and Marx, and then wind up with Rawls and Nozick. It will introduce you to notions of aristocracy, democracy, absolutism, liberalism, representative government, socialism, welfare capitalism, and libertarianism. But though it covers more than two thousand years of Western political thought and runs the ostensible gamut of political systems, there will be no mention of the basic political system that has shaped the world for the past several hundred years. And this omission is not accidental."
--Charles Mills, The Racial Contract (1997)
"The heritage of philosophy has deprived women one generation after another. The serious consequences are that not having known or read or digested women's words along with those of Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and John Dewey, no assimilation into the vocabulary of allusion has been allowed to take place, and unnecessary ignorance has been perpetuated. The loss in the silence of these mentors--who spoke so eloquently--is a loss forever to those generations already gone. The loss in the study of philosophy to the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham without Frances Wright, to American ethical theory without Anne Bradstreet, to American political theory without Judith Sargent Murray and Mercy Otis Warren, to aesthetics without Ednah Dow Cheney, to the 'classical American' philosophy of William James and Josiah Royce without Mary Whiton Calkins--is unredeemable for the past. But now, with this anthology and with works like it, the legacy of deprivation will come to an end."
--Therese Boos Dykeman, American Women Philosophers 1650-1930: Six Exemplary Thinkers (1993)
"We need more social justice. Free-market societies produce unjust and very stupid societies. I don't believe that the production and consumption of things can be the meaning of human life. All great religions and philosophies say that human beings are more than producers and consumers. We cannot reduce our lives to economics. If a society without social justice is not a good society, a society without poetry is a society without dreams, without words, and most importantly, without that bridge between one person and another that poetry is. We are different from the other animals because we can talk, and the supreme form of language is poetry. If society abolishes poetry it commits spiritual suicide."
--Octavio Paz (1990)
"The twentieth century witnessed the emergence of the disciplines of astrophysics and cosmology, from subjects which scarcely existed to two of the most exciting and demanding areas of contemporary scientific inquiry. There has never been a century in which fundamental ideas about the nature of our Universe and its contents have changed so dramatically.... This is a fantastic story, and one that would have defied the imaginations of even the greatest story-tellers."
--Malcolm Longair, The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology (2006)
It's 2015, people. Time to leave behind the ableist storytelling shortcut that injury / disability = 'evil' / 'wicked.' Examples of this include the character "Scar" in "The Lion King"; the bad guy in "The Sting," who walks with a limp; Dr. Strangelove; Captain Hook; the bad guy in "Casino Royale," with a glass eye, and on and on and on.
Filmmaker's and storytellers do this because it has traditionally been a powerful way to 'establish character' in milliseconds. It's now time to do better, and establish character through ACTIONS, not injury / disability.
On a related note, there's a lot of looks-ism (aka lookism) in how looks and attractiveness are used to signify good / bad character. Time to kick that shit to the curb as well.
"Religion is about meaning making.... Religion... can also be understood as any system that organizes our life into a meaningful daily existence. Consumerism, the free-market economy, environmentalism, and other such systems can be analyzed as meaning-making practices, and in this sense they are religious."
--Whitney A. Bauman, Religion and Ecology (2014)
Robert F. Kennedy eulogizing Martin Luther King, April 4, 1968
On April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy received the news that Dr. King had been shot as Kennedy boarded a plane for a campaign rally in one of Indianapolis’ Black neighborhoods. When he landed in Indiana a reporter came onto the plane and told him King was dead. RFK, “seemed to shrink back, as though struck physically."
The mayor, the police chief, and some of his own aides advised RFK to cancel the event, arguing that it would be suicidal for him to appear in the 'ghetto.' The Indianapolis police refused to escort him. However, with cities across the US already erupting, one police inspector felt the event should go on, and told one of RFK’s aides, “I sure hope he goes. If he doesn’t, there’ll be hell to pay. He’s the only one who can do it.”
Most in the crowd had been waiting outside for several hours & many had not yet heard the news. It would fall to Kennedy to inform them. Light rain fell as he climbed onto a flatbed truck. A television reporter described him as “hunched in his black overcoat, his face gaunt and distressed and full of anguish.”
As Kennedy approached the microphone he asked one of the organizers, “Do they know about Martin Luther King?”
“To some extent,” replied the man. “We have left that up to you, if you feel like you can handle it.”
For nearly seven minutes Kennedy delivered an extemporaneous eulogy. During the remarks he shocked his close associates by speaking publicly of something he usually never mentioned, even in private—his brother’s assassination.
Rep. John Lewis called RFK’s nod to his fallen brother “an incredibly powerful and connective and emotionally honest gesture.”
“What we need in the United States is not division,” said Kennedy. "What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country."
Kennedy's campaign had taken on heightened significance in the wake of King’s death. On the morning of June 6, at 1:44 am, something in the spirit and soul of America was broken. Coming in the wake of King’s assassination, the psychic impact of the double-blow was devastating.
Pat Watters wrote, "When they killed Robert Kennedy, when that obscene spirit killed him, if it said anything at all, it said: do not even allow yourself to hope, against all evidence, just to hope there might be a chance for something else, for the spirit embodied in the words, the efforts, the life of Dr. King."
It may well be that the country and the world have yet to fully recover from the intertwined losses of King and Bobby Kennedy, just two months and two days apart. “Bobby Kennedy struck a chord with people that was just incredible,” said his associate Frank Burns. “I never witnessed it in anything in politics that I’d seen before, or that I’ve seen since.”
“In 1848, Walt Whitman was twenty-nine years old, and had not yet written a single text that we now remember. Yet seven years after his twenty-ninth birthday, this ordinary American man with no visible talents would publish the most unusual book of poems ever to be written in the United States."
--Paul Zweig (1984)
Bob Dylan changed songwriting; opened it to kaleidoscopic new possibilities. There is no "Sgt. Pepper" without Dylan's influence. 1963's "Freewheeling" has two of my favorites: "Girl from the North Country" and "Don't Think Twice," and perhaps the first 'breakthrough': "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall."
"I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard"
1964 brings the exquisite "Boots of Spanish Leather," the stunning "Chimes of Freedom," the cantankerous "It Ain't Me Babe," and the anthemic "Times They Are A-Changing." But the REVOLUTION is Side Two of 1965's "Bringing It All Back Home." An achievement for the ages.
"And I try to harmonize with songs
The lonesome sparrow sings
There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden"
"Of war and peace the truth just twists
Its curfew gull just glides"
"The motorcycle black madonna
Two-wheeled gypsy queen"
"The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine"
I continue to stand in awe of "Gates of Eden."
But the song that remains an enigma--shining like an obsidian monolith of genius--the ineffable marriage of wordplay, imagery, sound is...
"Religious studies are to a dangerous degree personal. They call for an attitude of fresh awareness, a new sensitivity to others, to nature and to oneself, and a series of conversions in one's way of life. For what is the point of merely studying about religion, without also changing one's life?"
--Michael Novak (1971)
"Bufotenin (5-OH-dimethyltryptamine), a hallucinogen present in toadskins as well as in the Amazonian-Antillean narcotic snuff (Anadenanthera peregrina) and in some higher plants and animals, seems specifically to promote a feeling of flying through the air--a factor to be taken into account in reports of shamanistic 'journeys' among paleo-Siberians, and in witches' flights in late medieval Europe."
--Weston La Barre (1980)
"Perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of current America is the attempt to reduce life to buying and selling. Life is not love unless love is sex and bought and sold. Life is not knowledge save knowledge of technique, of science for destruction. Life is not beauty except beauty for sale. Life is not art unless its price is high and it is sold for profit. All life is production for profit, and for what is profit but for buying and selling again?"
--W. E. B. Du Bois (1968)
"I have the greatest contempt for historians who try to disguise and distort history in order to make it suitable for afternoon tea."
-- W. E. B. Du Bois (February 27, 1939)
A friend of Thomas Berry's once said to him after a talk, "Tom, you're a prophet." To which he replied, "No, I'm a shaman." Berry's concern was creating the conditions through which Western culture could regain a visionary, shamanic experience of the Earth and cosmos.
Love, and the passion for justice that comes from love, have EVERYTHING to do with true, objective scholarship. We cannot see what we do not love.
As scholars, our task is neither to honor nor disparage, but to evaluate... with a clear-eyed, heart-filled commitment to truth and justice that can burn a hole through rock.
"Although divinatory practices were well-known from the time of the Babylonians, print, chronic warfare, the growth of towns and cities, and the arrival of syphilis converged in the late fifteenth century to create a new horizon for astrological forecasting."
--Robert S. Westman, The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order (2011)
"What I'm really driving at is that the transplanting of millions of Africans into the West was an environmental switch, but there wasn't a simultaneous cosmological or worldview adjustment--the Black man didn't adopt Materialistic Thinking as a mode of defining his world. Society in Africa was communal and nature was respected; but the West is competitive, aggressive, capitalistic, and nothing is sacrosanct. The only thing that is respected in the West is organized power--the ability to back up your position with dollars, people, and force if necessary. People who achieve in the West are doers concerned primarily with how they can manipulate the environment and other people to their best advantage, and it matters not how they do it--as long as they do it in a practical manner. The attitude which leads to success in the West is the same attitude which makes evil so profuse. There is no morality because the only criteria of good or bad is whether or not the individual succeeds."
--Sterling D. Plumpp, Black Rituals (1972)
Dean Smith, head coach of the UNC Tarheels for 36 years.
Dean Smith sent $200 to each of his former players for the same reason he invented the now-universal gesture of pointing to the passer after a basket... He deeply understood the spiritual principle of UBUNTU... that we exist because of, and for, others. We are interdependent. There is no solo success.
It's become fashionable to say that there is no place for "shaming." I think this is largely a matter of semantics. How about if, instead of "shaming," we used the words, "accountability" or "discussion of."
Our first concern must always be stopping oppression, injustice, and systemic violence. The feelings of those willfully or unconsciously perpetuating injustice can never take priority over the lives of the oppressed. To underestimate the tenacity with which some will cruelly cling to power is to be historically naive.
The Hebrew prophets used fiery, oftentimes harsh, oratory to nonviolently advocate for society's most abused, challenge the violence of state power, and call for reforms and transformation. Today some call this "shaming." (And believe me, I understand the concerns about the 'uselessness' of 'shame' and 'shaming,') but we need to think VERY clearly and VERY carefully before we dismiss or 'tone-police' prophetic voices of the politically marginalized. I seriously think some folks today would call out Dr. King for 'shaming' segregationists. I mean that. There is a difference between unhelpful shaming, and speaking truth and holding decision-makers accountable. We need to understand that difference.
From Claudette Colvin, who inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to Rachel Carson, who launched the environmental movement, the vision of women has the power to transform the world.
Visionary women leaders – from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ida B. Wells, to Ella Jo Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, to Wangari Maathai, Ang San Suu Kyi, and Malala – have shaped, and are shaping, the world of the future. These women are inventors of democratic possibilities, inventors of new forms of justice, of connection, of community.
In the spirit of these predecessors, let's continue their work for social transformation, and honor their commitment to future generations, by supporting the young women leaders of today.
"The chief cook said, 'To study the words is to know the origin of words; to strive in discipline is to probe the origin of discipline.' Then Dogen asked, 'What are the words?' 'One, two, three, four, five,' replied the chief cook. Dogen asked again, 'What is the discipline?' 'The entire universe has never concealed it,' the monk replied."
--Takashi James Kodera, Dogen's Formative Years in China (1980)
I remember being at a big game in Carmichael Auditorium, crowd hyped up, when the ref made a horrible call against the Heels. Someone started yelling, "bullshit, bullshit, bullshit," and more folks joined in. Suddenly, for the first time ever, a good part of the Carmichael crowd was chanting, "bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!" I was a little surprised, a little excited, not quite sure--but I was pissed, the call was awful, and I joined in.
Dean Smith, with an irked look on his face, in the middle of the game, walked to the scorer's table, grabbed the mic, and said tersely, "That's not how we do things here. Let's beat 'em the right way."
We fell silent.
I'd never seen a coach do that.
Coach Smith schooled us all.
Drew Dellinger speaking at the New Story Summit. Findhorn, Scotland.
A short video clip of my poem, "re:vision," from my talk at the New Story Summit at Findhorn in Scotland.
I went to basketball camp only once (as anyone who's seen me play can attest), and though I bleed Carolina blue, I did indeed go to Duke Basketball Camp in 1980, which was the first project of newly hired, yet-to-win-a-game-at-Duke, Coach K. He was a bit of a hard-nose, which is typical for a coach, but amplified by his Army, Coach Knight lineage. Overall, he seemed passionate about life and basketball.
In one pick up game I brought the ball up court and dished to Coach K on the right--he was balling in those ridiculous nylon 'coaches' shorts--who pulled up for a smooth, if stiff, jumper, all net. As we ran down court he pointed at me (a Tarheel move) and said, "nice pass."
So on the occasion of Coach K's 1000th win, I'd like to say first, congratulations, and while, as a Tarheel fan, I can't say that I like the dude, (though the Jimmy V documentary actually made me like him for a second), I'm deeply thankful to Coach K for creating a program that has pushed the Duke-Carolina rivalry to new heights. May it continue to be among the best in all of sports.
"Natural order provides the foundation for much of everyday moral thinking, and the origins of natural order can be invoked to justify the choice of one way of acting over another. We are not surprised by such arguments in the Homeric literature... nor by reports that link cosmogony and ethics in the traditional cultures of the Andes and highland Guatemala... We are, however, less prepared to see the impact of cosmogonic beliefs on the moral systems of our own society, both in popular thought and in theoretical reflection."
--Robin W. Lovin and Frank E. Reynolds (1985)
Film critic Elvis Mitchell, actor David Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay, and producer Oprah Winfrey at a screening of "Selma" in San Francisco. (Photo: Drew Dellinger)
It started with the brazen murder of a Black man by police in broad daylight. While this could describe a number of recent cases, the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Selma, Alabama, on February 26, 1965, precipitated the climactic confrontation of the Civil Rights Movement, one that eventually ended a century of Black disenfranchisement in the South.
The events brought to life in Ava DuVernay’s stunning film, “Selma,” are essential to understanding our history, and the systemic racism that seems stuck on repeat, in what could be cut-and-paste headlines. “Selma” is an important, moving film that sets a new standard for dramas about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.
David Oyelowo’s Oscar-worthy performance does an exceptional job in a daunting assignment, capturing the soul of King. He does well enough with the sound and rhythms of King’s speech, especially in moments of conversation. He does less well in the great speeches, but who could fault any actor for failing to fully match one of the last century’s greatest orators?
I am thankful to Robin DiAngelo for coining this new and necessary scholarly term to describe this old phenomenon. Every Person of Color, I imagine, is intimately familiar with myriad manifestations of "White Fragility."
As an educator I have experienced this often. It makes the work--and even the accurate portrayal of history---much more difficult. It also makes the work that much more necessary.
From "White Fragility," by Robin DiAngelo:
"If and when an educational program does directly address racism and the privileging of whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism). So-called progressive whites may not respond with anger, but may still insulate themselves via claims that they are beyond the need for engaging with the content because they “already had a class on this” or “already know this.” These reactions are often seen in anti-racist education endeavors as forms of resistance to the challenge of internalized dominance (Whitehead & Wittig, 2005; Horton & Scott, 2004; McGowan, 2000, O’Donnell, 1998). These reactions do indeed function as resistance, but it may be useful to also conceptualize them as the result of the reduced psychosocial stamina that racial insulation inculcates. I call this lack of racial stamina “White Fragility.”
--Robin DiAngelo, "White Fragility" (2011)
Full article here.
Martin Luther King and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter to The Nobel Institute, nominating Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967:
"As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967.
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam....
I know Thich Nhat Hanh and am privileged to call him my friend.... You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests.
He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity... he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion....
His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.
I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility.
Martin Luther King, Jr."
[Martin Luther King Jr., Letter to The Nobel Institute, January 25, 1967.]
"The four patriarchal institutions that have governed western history could be listed as the political empires, the institutional church, the nation-state, and the modern corporation."
--Thomas Berry (1987)
"The universe is a psychic-spiritual as well as a physical-material reality from its beginning... We are, by definition, that being in whom the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in conscious self-awareness. We are the universe in its self-awareness phase. In and through this universe-identity we have our identity with that numinous mystery whence all things emerge into being."
--Thomas Berry (1987)
"To interest the children in the universe, we must not begin by giving them elementary facts about it, to make them merely understand its mechanism, but start with far loftier notions of a philosophical nature, put in an acceptable manner, suited to the child's psychology."
--Maria Montessori, "The Universe Presented to the Child's Imagination," chapter four in To Educate the Human Potential (1948)
Thomas Berry turned me on to this great book, To Educate the Human Potential, by Maria Montessori, which he discoverd after he had written about education and the universe. Berry used to say with a laugh, 'Everything I've been saying about cosmology and education, she said in the 1940s.'
"Let us give [the child] a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things.
Drew Dellinger speaking at the New Story Summit. Findhorn, Scotland.
[Transcript of Drew Dellinger's remarks on the opening day of the New Story Summit at Findhorn, Scotland. September 27, 2014.]
“everything is shining in glory
singing a story
if love is a language
then I am just
learning to spell
while there’s a story
that the stars
[Excerpt, "soulstice," by Drew Dellinger]
The first person to introduce me to the power of story was Thomas Berry, the American ecological and cosmological writer and thinker. In 1978 Thomas Berry wrote an essay called, “The New Story,” and it starts like this:
“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is no longer effective, yet we have not learned the new story.”
And so, Thomas Berry was very much talking about the function of stories and the power of stories—the meta-story about stories, as David Spangler just referred to. When I was first studying with Tom Berry in 1991 he said, “It seems that we basically communicate meaning by narrative, at least that’s my approach to things: that narrative is our basic mode of understanding. The difficulty that we’re into has come, to a large extent, from the limitations and inadequacies of our story. And what we need, I think, and what we really have, is a new story."
Now, there are several elements to the new story. All of you are bringing a different thread of the new story. But when Berry was talking about the new story, a lot of what he was talking about was our new understanding of the universe and the unfolding of the planet Earth, what you could call The Universe Story. And so, for Berry, this was an amazing opportunity for the Western tradition to reconnect to the sense of interdependence and interconnectedness that Indigenous peoples have always maintained, have always held in their wisdom traditions.
In an interview on CNN last Sunday, Dan Rather criticized pro-war pundits who push for US military intervention around the world without being willing to send their children or grandchildren to fight.
While I support his sentiment, the fact is, Rather has no standing on this issue.
On September 17, 2001, less than a week after the 9-11 attacks, Rather went on The Late Show with David Letterman and beat the war drums like a one-man Taiko group.
It is understandable that Rather was perhaps swept up in the shock, grief, and anger felt so strongly in the immediate aftermath of September 11. It is not understandable that he should forget the role of a journalist in a democracy.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold," Rather told Letterman at one point.
But the statement I will never forget is when Rather, a journalist, said to David Letterman, "Wherever the president tells me to line up, I'll line up."
It was perhaps the most the most chilling and Orwellian sentence I've ever heard from a journalist.
When the nation is reeling, and the fever of war is spreading, is the moment we most need a independent, skeptical press.
Dan Rather failed the test when it mattered most.
UPDATE -- August 28, 2014:
Media critic and NYU professor Jay Rosen pointed out to me on Twitter that in the CNN interview Dan Rather included himself in his critique of pre-Iraq War punditry. Thanks, Jay, for the heads up. This is relevant information that definitely changes things. I based the post above on these two articles, one on Talking Points Memo, and one on Huffington Post, neither of which mention Rather's self-indicment in their text. That said, it was sloppy of me to post about an interview I had not watched in full.
Here is the relevant quote from Rather, from about 6:32 in the interview:
Dan Rather: "Those of us in journalism, and I include myself in this, we have a lot to answer for about what we didn't do and what we did do in the run-up to war in Iraq, which I think history will judge to be a strategic disaster of historic proportions. We journalists--including this one--we didn't ask the right questions, we didn't ask enough questions, we didn't ask the follow-up questions. We did not challenge power."
Again, I should have been aware of, and included Rather's self-critique in my original post. However, I still don't think Rather understands the significant difference between "not asking enough questions," and his active war-drumming on national television, in a moment of crisis. For this reason, after considering changing the title of the post to "Dan Rather's change of heart," I think "Dan Rather's hypocrisy" is still most accurate.
I don't blog much about urine and feces, but I do blog about politics and activism. In this case, these topics overlap, so here we are.
Today in Ferguson a Missouri police officer was suspended indefinitely for pointing a rifle at protesters and journalists last night, and saying, "I will fucking kill you. Get back." When asked for his name, the officer replied, "Go fuck yourself." On the internet and twitter, some seemingly Right-leaning folks were justifying the aggressive police response in general, and the officer's actions in particular, by citing reports that police, and this officer specifically, were 'hit with urine.' Exactly what this might mean is unclear, which is to say, there's a difference between being splashed with urine, and being near a contained plastic bottle with a lid that has urine in it.
Today CNN is reporting that, "Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security, later told reporters someone threw urine on police." This report has been picked up by other news media, including the UK's Daily Mail, and gleefully turned into headlines by Right-wing bloggers.
It is unclear if this alleged bottle of urine is thought to be the same or different from the one 'thrown water bottle' being used to justify last night's police aggression. CBS 6, from Richmond, VA, writes on their website, "Later, the situation deteriorated when someone threw a water bottle at police." And indeed, this video from KMOV 4 news seems to show a bottle (presumably plastic?) coming in, though it also shows police macing demonstrators prior to that.
First off, I have no idea if someone threw urine on or at police last night or not. I don't know if that's been confirmed or not. But I do know that police often embellish the truth to justify repression. I think it's important to point out two things that are true regardless of what happened last night:
1. Police lie fairly often.
2. More than you might think, police lie specifically about protestors throwing urine and / or feces.
Again, I don't know, and can't find any conclusive documentation, about whether or not a bottle of urine was thrown last night. This transcript from Drew Pinsky's show on CNN seems to have a video clip in which an "unidentified male" says, "They began throwing at bottles. They threw urine at police."
The point I'm trying to make is larger than the veracity of any particular instance. The question is, why do police and media keep invoking this meme, and is there sufficient evidence to support these claims? If not, the media should be more circumspect before presenting them as fact.
Regardless of any specific example, as an observer of, and participant in, protests for a long time, I've followed police claims and media reports closely for years. And I have to tell you, I've been amazed at how often this pee-and-poop motif comes up. Honestly, I think it's mostly a trope with more basis in PR than in fact.
While this may seem gross and trivial, American history requires that we take seriously all official attempts to undermine activists and disrupt movements for justice with falsehoods.
Ever since I participated in my first mass direct-action protest 15 years ago, when we peacefully shut down the WTO meetings in Seattle in 1999, and many times since, I've been shocked and saddened to see the lengths to which police and media will go to distort, vilify, and misrepresent protesters on the political Left building movements for justice.
In case you haven't noticed, this does not happen with nearly the same frequency and intensity to protesters on the political Right. An oft-cited example is the relatively mild police and media reaction to the recent Cliven Bundy supporter who, for hours, in plain view, had an assault rifle trained on law enforcement officers. It is instructive to reflect on how mild the response would be to an "occupy," immigrants' rights, or racial justice activist taking up a similar position. Our peaceful protests are treated like armed insurrections. Their armed insurrections are treated like protests.
It doesn't take much study to recognize that the lazy myth of "The Liberal Media" (which as Bob Somerby notes, is the most successful Right-wing talking point of recent decades, skewing the entire discussion on a range of issues), is demonstrably false.
In fact, the media are more than willing to pass along almost any assertion from police as long as it makes progressive or radical Left protesters look like jerks and imbeciles.
And here's where pee and poop come in.
As I said above, one thing I've noticed with interest watching coverage of protests over the years, is how often, in the aftermath of a police riot, the claim will be made that "protesters threw bags of urine" or "protesters threw bags of feces" at officers. Seriously, it's like fucking clockwork.
Now, I'm not saying that this has never happened. To be clear, every decent-sized group of humans has a few knuckleheads. But I think it happens much, much less frequently than police and media claim. These reports, which go out to millions, and impact how protesters, their message, and movements are perceived and supported, are often unconfirmed, often without evidence beyond the police saying 'trust us.'
It is apparently the case that some doofus shit on a cop car during Occupy demonstrations in New York, and unfortunately I did see a picture of that. But that's really the exception that makes my point. There didn't seem to be any compunction about sharing that image far and wide, so where are the other photos of this apparent epidemic of scatological dissent?
A close read of history shows that we should be extremely skeptical of unsubstantiated police claims, especially when such claims consistently paint demonstrators in the most repulsive, juvenile, unattractive, and disrespectful light possible. Make no mistake; there's a reason cops go straight to tales of piss and shit. Who wouldn't side with police against such 'cretins'? Who would want to support or join a movement with folks like that?
Again, I'm sure this flinging of bodily fluids has happened at some point, and perhaps even last night, but I've never seen it, and I've been at a lot of protests (admittedly an unscientific measure).
I've never once been at an organizing meeting and heard someone say, "We have a great action planned. We have beautiful artwork. We have clear messaging, but I just can't shake the feeling that bringing a bag of poop would really help bring down the State and help build a mass movement." For all of the frequency with which police claim this happens, it seems surprising that I've never once heard that.
Regardless of whether or not there are confirmed examples, in general, I think we need to be much more skeptical than to simply accept these claims at face value every time they're invoked. If there's evidence or video, that's one thing, though we can never discount the real possibility of undercover police acting as agent provocateurs. It is well documented that police sometimes use undercover agents to instigate chaos and provoke a crackdown.
Whether it's urine, or just a small plastic water bottle, we cannot discount the possibility of a plainclothes officer amid a huge crowd, with a radio in his ear, receiving an order along the lines of, 'We're ready to move in. Throw the water bottle.'
But the archetypal power of invoking urine or feces resonates beyond simple expedience on the day of a protest. This is about winning the long-term cultural story. Like spitting on someone, throwing piss or shit at someone is an Ultimate Symbol of Disrespect. It's hard think of a much more potent meme for anyone with incentive to try to turn the hearts and minds of middle Americans against joining or supporting movements for justice.
Because of the symbolic and emotional power of this charge, and especially because police are notorious for just-making-stuff-up, the only reasonable standard at this point has to be 'Pics or it didn't happen.' Like the kid who cried 'wolf,' the cops have brought this upon themselves. Because of their chronic and well-documented mendacity, the burden of proof must be on them.
The democratic freedom to peaceably assemble and to build movements for justice and redress of grievances is too important and fundamental to let police and media spread untruths about activists and their tactics.
When your friend lies to you, it sucks. When the State lies to you, democracy dies.
And when police lie, systemic oppression, institutional racism, and the worst aspects of our history are made new and sustained in the present, like a malevolent sunrise.
When police lie, it is not only democracy that dies, but also our children, especially our youth of color. When police make up stories of "he went for my gun," the most basic rights, to life and liberty, evaporate.
Compared to that somber and intolerable fact, police stories of protesters throwing urine are trivial. But the lies of police about protesters disrupt democratic movements and crush momentum, stealing the hope of generations.
When can't let that happen. The future cannot be built on police corruption and sabotage. It has to be built on the truth.
Captain Ron Johnson and law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri, are constructing a false narrative to rationalize their unconstitutional and unconscionable attacks on peaceful protesters. After Sunday night's police violence, which some are calling the worst so far, police representatives are defending their deployment of tear gas on a peaceful march including children, elders, and youth.
At a press conference Monday morning, and later in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Capt. Johnson repeatedly claimed that tear gas attacks on marchers, several hours ahead of the curfew, were provoked by bottles and 'Molotov cocktails' thrown by protesters. Numerous eyewitness accounts contradict this. There is no video I am aware of that supports police contentions that objects were thrown before they unleashed tear gas on nonviolent marchers.
By obscuring the timeline, police are attempting to use bottle throwing that may have happened later in the evening to justify earlier attacks on a peaceful march. This is a well-worn charade; police in Seattle floated the same misinformation and inverted sequence during the WTO protests in 1999. In Seattle, the police's faulty narrative was naively transcribed and reported by national media, as documented by Seth Ackerman for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Despite using pepper spray and tear gas on nonviolent protesters in Seattle as early as 9 to 10am on November 30, 1999, police and media later spun such police aggression as a 'response' to window-breaking at NikeTown and other stores that did not occur until hours later, at approximately 1 to 2pm.
By portraying their illegal assault on civil disobedience as a justified 'response' to vandalism that had not yet occurred, the police are able to hide their violence, aided and abetted by lethargic corporate media.
Refusing to parse the sequence of events, Dan Rather and CNN happily passed along the Seattle police's story. "The meeting of the World Trade Organization was thrown in to turmoil by violent demonstrations," stated Rather on December 1. "That brought on today's crackdown." Likewise, a CNN report asserted, "as tens of thousands marched through downtown Seattle, a small group of self-described anarchists smashed windows and vandalized stores. Police responded with tear gas and pepper gas."
The media's acceptance of this looking-glass narrative had a permanent distorting effect on the public memory of events in Seattle.
But as Ackerman notes, this framing of 'protestor violence' and 'police response' is contrary to fact. "The sequence of events described in this report was wrong. As Detective Randy Huserik, a spokesperson for the Seattle police, confirmed, pepper spray had first been used against protestors engaged in peaceful civil disobedience."
Twenty-five years later, Ferguson police are making a similar attempt to shape the story into a cloak to hide their violence. By twisting the timeline, they render invisible their assaults on nonviolent demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights to 'peaceably assemble' and 'petition the government for a redress of grievances.'
Today, when Capt. Ron Johnson tried to 'pull a Seattle,' and convince the press that police had not in fact attacked a peaceful march the night before, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, one of the organizers on the ground in Ferguson, was able to go on air and quickly correct the record. (See video here: "Clergy contradict Ferguson police.")
REV. OSAGYEFO SEKOU: "I was actually on the frontline, leading and holding the line, as we were marching up the hill, and there were children, mostly twenty-somethings in the line. 'Hands up. Don't Shoot.' All of a sudden three urban tanks came, cut us off; cut the front of the line off; said 'disperse immediately'; began to shoot tear gas. They began to shoot tear gas; chaos ensued. There was a ledge not too far from where we were, so people kind of ran up the ledge to get away from it. They continued to shoot tear gas with children on that ledge, and kept continually moving forward to us."
CHRIS HAYES: "You're all saying you did not see bottles, Molotov cocktails."
REV. SEKOU: "Any violence that occurred, occurred after police attacked peaceful protests."
Kudos to Chris Hayes for consistently challenging unconfirmed police claims of 'Molotov cocktails,' and thanks to Rev. Sekou for demolishing them with his first-hand account.
While police mendacity about the timing of tear gas is only one small part of the complex situation unfolding in Ferguson, police lies, and the systemic racism they uphold, are central to the community's heartbreak and their struggle for justice.
In this precarious moment, arguably one of our nation's most significant in decades, all of us are called to stand for accountability, community, connection, transparency, and the healing that can come only from racial justice and social change.
Forty-six years ago, as US society faced a similar crisis, Martin Luther King Jr. sought to foster understanding of the historical dynamics at play and the structural changes needed. "Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention," King said in 1967. "There is no other answer." That same year King noted, "It is clear that the riots were exacerbated by police action that was intended to injure or even to kill people."
As despair and uprisings erupted in American cities following King's assassination on April 4, 1968, his prophetic voice continued to offer a vision of hope and transformation. In an article published in Look magazine 12 days after his death, King wrote, "We have, through massive non-violent action, an opportunity to avoid a national disaster and create a new spirit of class and racial harmony."
May the wisdom of King's words echo across the decades and into our hearts. May we respond to the pain of Fergurson's and the nation's families, and may we emulate the courage and leadership of Ferguson's youth, rising up together to build a world beyond systemic oppression, a world of connection, justice, and compassion.
The following excerpts are from Thomas Berry: Reflections on His Life and Thought, by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker (2010). These passages provide some background on Thomas Berry's philosophy of a "New Story" (1978), which laid much of the groundwork, and created much of the context, for many of today's discussions of a New Story.
"In 1978, Thomas [Berry] initiated the Teilhard Studies series with his essay, 'The New Story: Comments on the Origin, Identification, and Transmission of Values.' Here he called for the articulation of a new story of evolution and the emergence of life." (p. 2)
"While those graduate school days focused on historical and textual developments in the world's religions, Thomas encouraged us also to explore the cosmology of religions. Under his guidance we related rituals, texts, teachings, and commentarial studies to the stories of creation and metaphysical speculation about the world. We struggled to understand the history, anthropology, and sociology embedded in those stories. Thomas forged ahead, articulating broad understandings of historical interactions and cultural relationships.
Gradually we began to appreciate his interest in cosmology as that which orients humans to the universe and to nature itself. 'With a story,' he would say, 'people can endure catastrophe. And with a story they can gather the energies to change their lot.' For him the first place to look for a story was in history. He began with Western history and later moved to Asian history. He was part of the early group of world historians seeking to define the contours of our human movement across the planet. He mused that the West was in search of a comprehensive story and cited historians such as Oswald Spengler, Arnold Toynbee, Christopher Dawson, and Eric Vogelin to give nuance to his views. He drew on the philosopher of history, Giambattista Vico, stiching his arguments together with a sense of the sweeping ages of human and Earth history.... It was because of his remarkable grasp of world history that he could eventually make the transition into evolutionary history.... Gradually Thomas connected his study of history and evolutionary cosmology to the environmental issues of our day." (pp. 6-7)
"Increasingly he spoke of the rich creativity imparted by the Earth itself in its biodiversity. It was in the late 1980s that these ideas coalesced in his term 'Ecozoic.' This was his way of marking the end of a geological era in which thousands of species were disappearing each year.... But rather than leaving his audience in despair, he used the term Ecozoic to name the emerging period in which humans would recover their creative orietation to the Earth community.
He drew increasingly on the thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for insight into the story of our times, namely, the emerging, evolutionary universe. Teilhard provided a large-scale vision of humans as situated within the vast context of cosmic evolution.... While Teilhard saw his work as science, Thomas narrated it as story." (pp. 7-8)
"Rather than settling on Teilhard's insights, however, Thomas pushed beyond to explore the conjunction of cosmology and ecology.... He wanted us to see that in a geological instant we were diminishing the life of ecosystems, rivers, and oceans. Our historical moment was as significant as the change implied in a geological era.
While flying back from an environmental conference in the Seychelle Islands, looking down over the Nile River at 30,000 feet, he realized that he was not a theologian, but rather a 'geologian.' With this term, he viewed himself as a human being who emerged out of eons of Earth's geological and biological evolution and was now reflecting on our world. This reflection was a way to reinvent the human at the species level.
The notion of reinventing to role of the human was enhanced when in 1982 Thomas met Brian Swimme who came to the Riverdale Center for a year of study.... Thomas' years of study of world history and religions were paralleled by Brian's comprehensive study of evolutionary history. From an intense decade-long collaboration including research, lectures, and conferences, there emerged in 1992 the jointly authoured book, The Universe Story. This was the first time the history of evolution was told as a story in which humans have a critical role.
After Thomas retired from teaching at the age of 64, he began some of his most significant writing in the area of evolutionary cosmology in relation to the ecological crisis. The Dream of the Earth was published in 1988, The Great Work in 1999, Evening Thoughts in 2007, and The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth and The Sacred Universe in 2009. These books elaborated on the 'new story' of our shared cosmological journey." (pp. 8-9)
"STORY AS FUNCTIONAL COSMOLOGY
Thomas spoke frequently of our broken relationship with nature and the drift away from older traditional stories of creation. These breaks followed from the inability of contemporary scientific, religious, and philosophical narratives to locate humans in a meaningful relationship with Earth's ecosystems and their evolution over time. Ironically, as Thomas observed, the break with nature as well as with mythos, the storied magic of older cosmologies, occurred in the search for 'progress' and in the turn towards empirical reasoning as the exclusive guide to reality.... In an effort to move beyond our fixation with materialism that undermines our relationship with the natural world, Thomas spoke of a 'functional cosmology.' His concern was that we had lost emotional, affective connection with the processes of life embedded in the emergence of the cosmos itself. In the past, connection with these vital processes enabled a people and their cultural traditions to function so that they knew the deeper meaning of their life and work.
The transformative key for Thomas was story, namely, a narrative telling of our origins and our purpose. An origin story was, for Thomas, the most accepted explanation of reality. Narrated in ritual settings, woven into the structures of cities, celebrated in daily food and drink, these traditional stories provide meaning and direction for people in everyday life. But having lost their grounding in the natural world upon which we depend, many of these stories, and the institutions they spawned, ceased to function in a vital manner.
For Thomas then, contemporary humans are in between stories, that is, we have lost our connection to traditional cosmologies, and we have been unable to weave a functional cosmology from our collective scientific data. It is from within this context that Thomas forged his career as an engaged historian interested in articulating a new and functional cosmology.
Thomas' emphasis on the cultural transmission of coherence and meaning throughout history brought him to one of his most singular insights regarding the cosmological stories of a people:
It's all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The Old Story--the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it--is not functioning properly, and we have not learned the New Story. The Old Story sustained us for a long period of time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with a life purpose, energized action. It consecrated suffering, integrated knowledge, guided education. We awoke in the morning and knew where we were.
.... When a human community's collective story disintegrates, that community experiences a dislocation symbolized most acutely by the loss of human orientation with the natural world." (pp. 10-11)
He sensed that humans had lost their way of being integrated into a larger cosmology. He pointed toward religious and cultural cosmologies in which humans relate to their bioregions as their most immediate experience of place. (p. 12)
In elaborating the character of awakening, Thomas Berry has drawn out the inner working of mythic forces and concomitant sensitivities that call for both individual and institutional change. Finally, Thomas provided creative historical analysis to the new cosmology in ways that expand Teilhard's thought into ecological concerns.
.... Thomas observed that our desire for action may require even deeper contemplation of the roots of these problems. This is why he pointed us toward the universe story as a comprehensive context for responding to our ecological role in the modern world--a world that is being ravaged by industrial production and extraction. For Thomas, universe emergence as the story of our time can evoke in humans awe, wonder, and humility. At the same time, as a functional cosmology, it can encourage the 'great work' of ecological restoration and environmental education so needed in our times.
Since meeting Thomas Berry some 40 years ago we have become more aware of the many layers of his thinking that have organic continuity with one another. Among these layers the following can be noted: the play of texts, institutions, and personalities in the history of religions; the cultural-historical settings in which religions emerge and develop; the inherent and formative relationship of local bioregions and indigenous societies; the complex relations between and among the world's religions; cosmological expressions within the various religions; the awakening to our growing realization of the continuity of the human with the community of life; and the evolutionary story as a functional cosmology for our multicultural planetary civilization.
.... Drawing out his syllables in a laconic North Carolinian manner, he would calmly elucidate complex topics that deeply engaged him. This reflective style enabled him to ponder both the problematic story of our industrial age as well as the 'new story,' the recovery of human energy and reinvention of the human spirit. Indeed for him the 'new story' was an engaged participatory event in which the universe was present in the telling." (pp. 19-20)
--John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Thomas Berry: Reflections on His Life and Thought (2010)
"We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice."
--Martin Luther King Jr.
"There is a widespread conviction that the new teachings of astronomy and physical science are destined to produce an immense change on our outlook on the universe as a whole, and on our views as to the significance of human life."
--Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe (1931)
they say that two wrongs don't make a right
but what two rights make might take flight
Explaining to your great- great- grandhildren that we fracked the planet. #awkward
"Sunaksatra... according to some sources was the Buddha's half-brother and personal attendant prior to that position being held by Ananda. Despite his personal connection to the Buddha and his extensive knowledge of his teachings, Sunaksatra had no respect for the Buddha, saying that in his twenty-four years of service to him, he saw no difference whatsoever between the Buddha and himself apart from the fact that the Buddha had a six-foot aura."
--Robert Buswell Jr. & Donald Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (2014)
It's telling that Rebuplican congressman, Rep. Roger Williams, thinks "patriot" means "opportunist."
He equates the two terms in the first five seconds of this campaign ad.
Dictionary definitions of "Opportunist" include:
"a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans"
"someone who tries to get an advantage or something valuable from a situation without thinking about what is fair or right."
When Rep. Williams and his staffers find their missing dictionary, maybe they can look up "unintentionally" and "revealing."
UPDATE 7/26/14: My apologies: When I posted this yesterday, I didn't realize that this ad is several years old. I assumed it was new, and therefore more newsworthy, because I saw it posted on Facebook yesterday. That was silly of me. I should have checked the date. I don't know if the campaign or candidate were ever asked about their misuse and misunderstanding of the word "opportunist," though with 2 million views on Youtube, I imagine it was picked up on and asked about.
"There was not a whiff of smoke or mist, and the colour of the sky matched the hills. We drifted with the current, which bore us now in one direction, now in another. Thus we traversed the hundred odd li from Fuyang to Tunglu, through some of the best scenery in the world.... There were hundreds of jutting peaks. The torrents dashed against the rocks as they came rushing down the hill-sides, humming and gurgling. The birds sang melodiously in chorus. The chirping of cicadas was interrupted now and then by the ape's shrill cries. Even as the eagle desists from its soaring flight when confronted with a massive mountain, so those engaged in governmental affairs would forgo their worldly ambitions if they set eyes on one of the mysterious ravines, shrouded in perpetual twilight by thick overhanging trees forming a screen through which the sun but seldom penetrates."
--Wu Chun (469-520 CE)
"I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality, if one may so speak."
--Andre Breton (1924)
Two weeks ago you breezed into my life. Since then, you've consumed my every waking moment with your beautiful games, your singing, your drama. I've replayed your cheeky touches in my dreams. I quit my job for you. I couldn't eat. My relationships, in tatters. But it was worth it. You brought the world to my door. Enchanted me with your acrobatic grace and fiery passion, enticed me to overlook your troubling dimensions. I was bitten, you could say.
And now today, nothing. You're gone. Incommunicado. Oh #WorldCup soccer, why must you taunt me so!
"Muir's writings indicate that the clearest avenue to the ecological position is beauty. In the perception of beauty, we overcome civilization and participate in God--'no synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty'--and affirm our own 'most richly Divine' nature. For Muir, beauty was no effete concept, and not a casual activity for leisure time: it was the key to wild nature and thus self-nature. The purely anthropocentric mind is closed to beauty on this level; a 'streaming,' open consciousness is required.
Muir's chief technique for inspiring this border-crossing kind of consciousness is to show all nature as alive and moving, so that the ordinary Lockeian theory of mind--a separate 'subject' perceiving 'objects'--is transcended."
--Thomas J. Lyon (1972)
Passage from Alan Watts:
We need to become vividly aware of our ecology, of our interdependence and virtual identity with all other forms of life which the divisive and emboxing methods of our current way of thought prevent us from experiencing. The so-called physical world and the so-called human body are a single process, differentiated only as the heart from the lungs or the head from the feet. In stodgy academic circles I refer to this kind of understanding as "ecological awareness." Elsewhere it would be called "cosmic consciousness" or "mystical experience." However, our intellectual and scientific "establishment" is, in general, still spellbound by the myth that human intelligence and feeling are a fluke of chance in an entirely mechanical and stupid universe--as if figs would grow on thistles or grapes on thorns. But wouldn't it be more reasonable to see the entire scheme of things as continuous with our own consciousness and the marvelous neural organization which, shall we say, sponsors it?
Metaphysical as such considerations may be, it seems to me that their issues are earthy and practical. For our radically misnamed "materialistic" civilization must above all cultivate the love of the material, of earth, air, and water, of mountains and forests, of excellent food and imaginative housing and clothing, and of cherishing and artfully erotic contacts between human bodies."
--Alan Watts (1971)
"My wisdom hath accumulated long like a cloud, it becometh stiller and darker. So doeth all wisdom which shall one day bear lightnings."
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
Just received a new volume of scholarly essays on the work of Thomas Berry, edited by Heather Eaton. Here's a passage from the entry by John Grim:
"As a storyteller Berry guided his students into the power and engagement of cultural worldviews. Like all storytellers, Thomas had an intuitive sense of his own rhetorical power; but unlike many storytellers he seldom drew on personal anecdotes or the large gesture. He was more given to intellectual pursuits than solipsistic insight or emotional arguments.... Drawing out his syllables in a laconic North Carolina manner, he would calmly elucidate topics that truly excited him. Ultimately, what framed his educational enterprise was a historical vision increasingly integrative of time and space.... He had an abiding patience for the fluidities, shape-shiftings, and porosities of myths in transmitting values. Story, then, for Thomas held potential as primal narration arising from the most authentic engagement with interiority. Story did not imply simply a passive reception by a listener. Rather, story required an active, participatory, mutual interaction in which the story was present, alive, and in movement through teller, telling, and audience. The movement of story was for Thomas, therapeutic and transformative. In ways it can be said that he held a shamanic interpretation of the transformative healing transmitted in stories."
--John Grim, "Exploring Thomas Berry's Historical Vision,"
in The Intellectual Journey of Thomas Berry, Heather Eaton, ed.
"We have constructed a history which is a total lie, and have persuaded ourselves that it is true. I seriously doubt that anything worse can happen to any people."
"My approach to cosmology is, cosmology is the basic opening of the human consciousness to the universe. It takes its first expression in language and its typical linguistic form, or literary form, is imagination. Imagination, myth and symbol, and ritual."
(Interview with Drew Dellinger, December 26, 2006)
"When I talk to college administrators and college presidents, I say that ecology is not a course. It's not a program. It's a foundation of all courses, all programs, all professions. Because ecology is a functioning cosmology. It's the way the universe functions. It's the way the Earth functions. And to be able to think this way is the beginning of survival. Because right now we are not in a survival mode, because we are disrupting things."
--Thomas Berry (December 1998)
(Interview with Drew Dellinger and Prescott College students.)
"It seems that we basically communicate meaning by narrative, at least that's my approach to things: that narrative is our basic mode of understanding. It gives us a sense of life as we experience it. The difficulty that we're into has come, to a large extent, from the limitations and inadequacies of our story. And what we need, I think, and what we really have, is a new story."
--Thomas Berry, Earth & Spirit Conference, 1990 (Edited by Drew Dellinger)
On King Day we honor not a man, but a movement.
This King Day let us remember the many women who led the Civil Rights Movement with their vision, courage, tenacity, strength, strategic thinking, and love.
These sheroes include Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, JoAnn Robinson, Septima Clark, Daisy Bates, Ella Baker, Diane Nash, Dorothy Height, Coretta Scott King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Marian Wright Edelman, Melba Patillo Beals, Autherine Lucy, Virginia Durr, Victoria Gray Adams, Dolores Huerta, Ruby Bridges, Anne Braden, Angela Davis, Anne Moody, Jean Wiley, Rita Schwerner, Ericka Huggins, and many, many, more.
Let us honor all the women and men who risked their lives and livelihoods to transform our nation by continuing their sacred work for justice.
"Misogyny would seem inseparable from analysis, which in turn is but a late manifestation of the Western, Protestant, scientific, Apollonic ego. This structure of consciousness has never know what to do with the dark, material, and passionate part of itself, except to cast it off and call it Eve. What we have come to mean by the word "conscious" is "light"; this light is inconceivable for this consciousness without a distaff side of something else opposed to it that is inferior and which has been called--in Greek, Jewish, and Christian contexts--female."
--James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis (1972)
"We're presently in the terminal Cenozoic and we have to move into a new period, something equivalent to the transition from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic, or from the Paleozoic to the Mesozoic... So my own thinking has been to go back to a cosmological answer... My own approach is not psychological; it's not sociological; it's not theological or epistemological. My approach is cosmological.
We need a myth, but a myth that speaks out of the scientific tradition, something that is both scientific and mythic, because myth is a part of science; science [itself] has a mythic dimension.
All things have a 'person' aspect, a subjective aspect. The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects. Everything carries this capacity for presence and rapport in some way... If there is compassion in the universe, it must be a dimension of the universe. All things are a dimension of each other, all things express a dimension of the universe."
--Thomas Berry, Lectures in Assisi, Italy, 1991.
(Edited by Drew Dellinger)
Yesterday I was looking through The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (1964), by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert (now Ram Dass).
While perusing, I was especially stuck by a sentence in one passage, and its subtle similarities in spirit and phrasing to John Lennon's immortal intro to "I Am The Walrus": "I am he / as you are he / as you are me / and we are / all together."
Here's the passage from Leary, Metzner, and Alpert (emphasis added):
A sense of profound one-ness, a feeling of the unity of all energy. Superficial differences of role, cast, status, sex, species, form, power, size, beauty, even the distinctions between inorganic and living energy, disappear before the ecstatic union of all in one. All gestures, words, acts and events are equivalent in value -- all are manifestations of the one consciousness which pervades everything. "You," "I" and "he" are gone, "my" thoughts are "ours," "your" feelings are "mine." Communication is unnecessary since complete communion exists. (The Psychedelic Experience, 1964.)
Admittedly, this is not much to work with, but I think the coincidence in timing is worth noting. "The Psychedelic Experience" was published in 1964, just as Lennon and the other Beatles were first encountering LSD. In the next few years Lennon wrote his psychedelic anthems, "Tomorrow Never Knows" (Revolver, 1966) and "Strawberry Fields Forever (1967), as well as "A Day in the Life" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (Sgt. Pepper, 1967).
It seems likely that a book such as "The Psychedelic Experience" would have been among Lennon's reading interests at the time.
Clearly this is longshot speculation, with little to go on, but it seems possible that the idiosyncratic syntax of this phrase, "'You" 'I' and 'he,'" as well as the spiritual import of the paragraph, caught Lennon's attention.
Just maybe, these words helped inspired what I've always thought to be the peculiar (and somewhat masculine) phrasing of Lennon's captivating verse: "I am he / as you are he / as you are me."
I haven't looked at my Beatles books to see what John has said about the influences on "I Am The Walrus," but I thought this small correspondence was worth noting. I have no evidence that John Lennon read this paragraph, or, if he did, that it had any influence, but I think the similarity in spirit, and slight echoes in wording, to one of Lennon's most iconic lyrics, is enough to raise the question.
Additional note (Aug 11, 10:26am):
I just glanced at a statement where Lennon says the first two lines of "I Am The Walrus" were written during two separate acid trips. More resereach to be done. Also, on further the reflection, the "I am he as you are he," kind of language also seems similar to my memory of some of the kinds of wording used in the Upanishads.
"At the heart of existence, we find art, and we find poetry, and we find a multitude of religions. Yet no one knows what art is. Or poetry, for that matter. No one, in the end, knows what religion is."
--Georges Bataille (1959)
"I mean, in a way, the Rolling Stones overtake you, and it's almost like you're sort of levitating. You don't even want to touch the strings 'cause they're doing it themselves. And anyway they'd be too hot."
--Keith Richards, from the documentary, "Crossfire Hurricane."
10. When the GOP put forth the weakest and most extreme field of primary candidates in recent memory.
9. When Rep. Todd Akin shared his "thinking" on rape and pregnancy.
8. When Romney went to London and stuck his foot in his mouth.
7. When Team Romney allowed Clint Eastwood to ad-lib to an empty chair on the most important night of Romney's political life.
6. When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.
5. When Mitt Romney convinced himself that he could run for president, but not release his tax returns, despite 45 years of precedent.
4. When President Obama, as commander-in-chief, killed Osama Bin Laden.
3. When Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate.
2. The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
1. When Romney lied in an attempt for personal political gain while our embassy was under attack in Libya.
"The symbol translates a human situation into cosmological terms; and reciprocally, more precisely, it discloses the interdependence between the structures of human existence and cosmic structures."
--Mircea Eliade (1965)
Romney's pick for Vice-Presidential nominee is coming up, so I thought I'd dust off some free advice I offered to the GOP nearly TWO MONTHS BEFORE they made the worst VP pick in modern history. A pick so awful that movies have been made about it. After hearing "boy-genius" William Kristol float the Governor of Alaska for McCain's VP, I made the following blog post on July 2, 2008. (I literally did not know Palin's name at the time.)
I think "bemused" is the word for what I feel as I sense Romney heading for the same mistake, especially post-Palin (!). Remember folks, there's only one qualification for VP: be ready to be POTUS. I call it the Heartbeat Test. Who thinks Jindal or Ryan are ready to be president? Only a fool picks a VP who's not ready to be president.
In my mind Pawlenty and Condi Rice are the only names floated so far that might (arguably) pass the Heartbeat Test.
Anyway, here's the blog entry I posted on July 2, 2008:
"Weird Suggestions for McCain's VP"
"I don't understand why some commentators keep floating names for McCain's VP that don't rise to the ONLY QUALIFICATION that is a prerequisite for VP: "The Heartbeat Away Test."
Does anybody think that Bobby Jindal is ready to be President of the United States? Or the Gov. of Alaska, who Bill Kristol suggested for VP?
This is of course exponentially more important for McCain, who is so old he turned George Burns on to cigars."
Link to original post:
"It is hard to imagine what human life would be like without oral narrative, for it is chiefly through storytelling that people possess a past. It is through prized stories, often enshrined in a ritual context, that a complex religious dimension is added to life."
--John D. Niles,
"Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Literature" (1999)
"Coolness, then, is a part of character, and character objectifies proper custom. To the degree that we live generously and discreetly, exhibiting grace under pressure, our appearance and our acts gradually assume virtual royal power. As we become noble, fully realizing the spark of creative goodness God endowed us with... we find the confidence to cope with all kinds of situations. This is ashe. This is character. This is mystic coolness."
--Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philososphy (1983)
"The Yoruba assess everything aesthetically--from the taste and color of a yam to the qualities of a dye, to the dress and deportment of a woman or a man. An entry in one of the earliest dictionaries of their language, published in 1858, was amewa, literally "knower-of-beauty," "connoisseur," one who looks for the manifestation of pure artistry."
--Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy (1983)
So I'm driving down San Pablo in El Cerrito yesterday with just twenty minutes to spare before the Big Game, and there's a sign on the sidewalk that says "FREE BOOKS."
For me, this is like being submerged and seeing a sign that says "Free Air."
I make a u-turn, park, and walk into this storefront that is apparently a free book exchange. This is literary Shagri-La, but I've got to case the place before tip-off.
And damned if there aren't some cool old books in there. I start to gather a little stack. As it grows I wonder if I'm being greedy, so I take a closer look at the flyers posted on the wall: "Limit is 100 per person, per day." Wow. So I'm cool with my 10. By the time I left it was 16. Watching the game with friends, I gave some away. The Portable Aquinas to Snider. Marcus Borg to William & Danielle, plus a funny early-80s book on NFL Running Backs that I got for Will as a gag.
Here's quote from one of the books: The Revolution of Hope, by Erich Fromm:
"This book is written as a response to America's situation in the year 1968. It is born out of the conviction that we are at the crossroads: one road leads to a completely mechanized society with man as a helpless cog in the machine--if not to destruction by thermonuclear war; the other to a renaissance of humanism and hope--to a society that puts technique in the service of man's well-being."
--Erich Fromm, The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology (1968)
“A griot (pronounced greeo) is one who, by memory alone, preserves and teaches the history and traditions of the tribe. In some traditional African societies, this master of “historical oratory” is an important sacred figure – akin to a story-teller, minstrel, jester, herald, annalist, troubadour, gleeman, and poet all rolled into one.”
--Geneva Smitherman, Talkin and Testifyin (1977)
"We see, with deep feeling, that if Man is no longer (as one could formerly conceive him) the immobile centre of an already completed world--on the other hand from now on he tends, in our experience, to represent the very leading shoot of a universe that is in process, simultaneously, of material 'complexification' and psychic interiorisation: both processes continually accelerating.
It is a vision whose impact should strike our minds with such force as to raise to a higher level, or even to revolutionise, our philosophy of existence."
--Teilhard de Chardin (January 10, 1950)
Man's Place in Nature
“A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing them with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”
--Clifford Geertz, "Religion as a Cultural System" (1965)
"One of the remarkable things about Occupy is how kind people are to each other. As I have at other protests here, I met many good and decent people with whom I had great conversations. Most of these people really care about the state of our world, and have embraced this movement with gratitude for having a place where they can figure out ways to take that caring and turn it into tangible action.
I point this out because no matter what the mainstream media says about Saturday’s action, there’s a big piece of the story that can only be absorbed by walking with these people and getting to know them. The heart of Occupy Oakland is so good. It’s been a bit broken by all the repressive police actions, ranging from waging war on the Occupiers the day of the first raid, to arresting people for things as petty as taking a blanket out of a garbage can. In spite of all the attempts to break the the movement’s heart and destroy it, it continues on, beating strongly and moving forward."
--Kevin Army, from his article in Salon.
"It would be well to remind white America of its debt to Dr. Du Bois. When they corrupted Negro history they distorted American history because Negroes are too big a part of the building of this nation to be written out of it without destroying scientific history. White America, drenched with lies about Negroes, has lived too long in a fog of ignorance. Dr. Du Bois gave them a gift of truth for which they should eternally be indebted to him."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (Feb. 23, 1968)
In honor of today's national holiday clebrating Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, here's a video of some recent remarks I made at Darrin Drda's book release party.
"All I know is that when I see white people regularly yelling at police officers then something good is happening. I know it is easy to be snarktastic, but why do it with the Occupy Movement? There are plenty of things to snark about that don't involve the oppression of the poor. Do yourself a favor. Be on the right side of history."
--W. Kamau Bell
Read the article here.
Matt Taibbi nails it.
"What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us."
Glen Greenwald hits the nail on the head. Here's an excerpt:
"The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.
The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest."
Bill Twist, Pia Banerjee, Lynne Twist, John Perkins, Drew Dellinger, Jon Symes.
Here's a photo from the panel that followed the Awakening the Dreamer "Super Symposium." Yesterday's event was the unveiling of the newest version of the Symposium.
In 2003-2004, Drew was a key member of the team that developed and designed the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium. The Symposium has now been used in 60 countries, in 14 languages.
I was honored to have Joel Olson as a guest speaker in a class I taught at Prescott College in the late '90s. Later I heard him speak in the bay area about his excellent book, "The Abolition of White Democracy."
I respect Joel and his scholoarship immensely. Check out his recent article, "Whiteness and the 99%."
Stories reflect the ecological nature of reality. Each story is an ecosystem, a galaxy of its own, a holographic microcosm that contains and mirrors the One Story that is the cosmos.
(Nod to Susan Griffin and Thomas Berry.)
"Calling someone a racist individualizes the behavior and veils the fact that racism can occur only where it is culturally, socially, and legally supported. It lays the blame on the individual rather than the systemic forces that have shaped that individual and his or her society. White people know they do not want to be labeled racist; they become concerned with how to avoid that label, rather than worrying about systemic racism and how to change it."
--Wildman and Davis, "Making Systems of Privilege Visible,"
in White Privilege, Rothenberg, ed.
"The attention of the audience is gained through a willingness of the performer to involve himself totally in the performance and to call for the audience to do so as strongly. This the artful talker does by 'dancing' his talk, by dramatizing himself and his argument in physical ways."
"White coaches resisted the jump shot for two decades. When Nat Holman, coach at City College of New York, saw his first jump shot in the late 1930s, he declared, 'That's not basketball. If my boys ever shot one-handed, I'd quit coaching.' In his autobiography, former Boston Celtics player and coach Bill Russell describes playing ball in the 1950s when coaches routinely benched players for taking 'Negro' jump shots. Today the move is so essential to basketball that we cannot imagine the game without it."
--GENA DAGEL CAPONI
p. 4, Signifyin(g), Sanctifyin', and Slam Dunking: A Reader in African American Expressive Culture
A great spiritual leader has passed. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, known for his fearlessness, initiated the Birmingham Campaign that turned the tide of the nation and led directly to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the Civil Rights Act.
In 1956, after 16 sticks of dynamite blew off the corner of his house and literally blasted him out of bed, he was never again afraid. "It took the fear out of me and it made me know that god saved me to lead the fight so that I was never fearful after that."
"Sgt. Pepper hit a nerve in popular culture as nothing before had.... 'For a brief while,' critic Langdon Winner famously wrote, 'the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the West was unified, at least in the minds of the young.'
This was seen -- and is still remembered -- as a call to community. In some ways, the Beatles had represented this ideal all along: Through them, we witnessed the cultural power that a pop group and its audience could create; with Sgt. Pepper, possibilities of all sorts that felt boundless. Rock & roll became collusive with the social and political disruptions of the 1960s."
Rolling Stone magazine,
The Beatles: The Ultimate Album-by-Album Guide
Will Palin run, and if so, will she wear an "I'm too pretty to do homework" shirt?