Who’s In and Who’s Out of Institutions (and the immigrants between)

The British social anthropologist Mary Douglas had this to say about institutions: Inside a religious body you get sects and hierarchies, inside an information network you get bazaars and cathedrals, it is the same, call them what you like. They survive by pointing the finger of blame at each other. That about sums it up, [Read More...]

Naming the Ultimate, Part Two

A quick peek at www.godchecker.com gives some indication of the sheer number of times humanity has attempted to name The Ultimate. At this point philosophers–and even most theologians–have given up on a proof of god and left the battlefield. For some, a god or gods is there, for others, not so much. We can debate [Read More...]

Naming the Ultimate, Part One

I suspect that we think about the ultimate because we can’t manage to see ourselves as ultimate. Or infinite. Or eternal. Or all-knowing. And that hurts! It hurts to be a too, too solid, limited, fragile creature. So, we think about the Spirit of Life. God. The gods. The Ultimate Concern. Search the internet for [Read More...]

Free Will, Fate, and Destiny: A Humanist Perspective

Human religions have always been built upon foundations of the best available science of the time. Sometimes that science said that the middle earth sat in a large tree. Sometimes science said the earth sat on a turtle’s back. Ezekiel knew that the earth had four corners and was held up by pillars–heavens above, Sheol [Read More...]

Freedom . . . for Which?

I subscribe to the notion that separating out religion from other meaning-making systems is valid only for the sake of convenience. I agree with anthropologist Jonathan Z. Smith who says, Religion is solely the creation of the scholar’s study. It is created for the scholar’s analytic purposes by his imaginative acts of comparison and generalization. [Read More...]

Arguing Over the Light

All religions, all this singing, 
one song. Rumi
 1. A poet I met once, Leslie Scalapino, said “stay in continual conceptual rebellion.” She thought we must “re-form” our minds, “make it new, every day,” as Pound put it, or fall for the snake oil routines of all the drummers and askers around us. “No” to [Read More...]

Here, In This Flow

The turtles go out of their water this time of year, slow on roadways, slow to mating somewhere, or slow to dates with car tires. No, there’s no enlightenment– there’s no one there. (That’s Buddhism 101 each day teaches.) No, there’s no virtue– there’s no one there. Only being. Lost in this movement I rub [Read More...]

Our Place in the Alhambra

1. Go ahead, climb up the Alhambra brick– taxis can’t come here, and the effort it takes is only as much as you have in mind. 2. How often we’ve fallen for another algorithm for bliss, the snake oil shill of camphor shadows. Enough. The book is there now, a shining blossom, big as a [Read More...]

Incarceration Nation

Incarceration nation, where did you put your young men? You put them in a plea bargain; you put them in a felony record; you put them out of your mind. Incarceration nation, your heart is in a prison cell; your future is in a prison cell; your conscience is in a prison cell. Incarceration nation, [Read More...]

Benediction for the Wind (on the occasion of a killer tornado)

What better way to get people praying than to remind us of random chance? What better way than the cold logic of air rising, falling, killing here, not there; this one, not that. Where I come from we name them by a year: 2011, 1957, 1925, and remember deaths, 695, 255, 12. What better way [Read More...]


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