Salt Burns

Isn’t that how it feels when you have a wound?

I made it to class at HMI last night. It was a near thing: due to the Hill Fire, the 101 was closed at the usual on ramp, and it took me ninety minutes to wend my way five miles through the evacuation from Camarillo Springs to get to Pacific Coast Highway. Traffic up Las Virgenes was throttled until we made it past the hairpins, but flowed freely up to the 101. I thought with the freeway closed traffic would be light through the San Fernando Valley, but the smoke from the Woolsey Fire was driving people out of the Conejo Valley. It was a slow crawl up to Tarzana.

Class began with a review of our “consciousness exercise.” The first three students avoided the point – which was for one day to record our unspoken judgments – instead rambling on about how they learned not to be judgmental. Feeling judgmental, I offered my example: coming in to work yesterday morning to learn of the Borderline Restaurant massacre. Talking with a colleague about the impact on the community where my sons grew up. One of our neo-con, gun-toting conservative colleagues came up behind me and I instinctually turned my shoulder to him. When he walked away, I thought “Well, good, I didn’t need to hear whatever he had to say anyways.”

As we gathered at the elevator at the end of the evening, one of my friends stopped to ask how I was doing. “I’m fine. I just need to stay focused on the situation I described. My weekend is going to be spent trying to find opportunities to project healing energy into the community.” He looked at me, shook his head, and offered, “Well, if anyone can do that, I guess that it would be you.”

I dragged myself to the car and headed back up the 101 to Westlake Village. Traffic warning signs announced that the freeway was still closed at the 23. The smoke was heavy as I exited at Lindero Canyon Boulevard, but let up suddenly when I pulled into the Oak Forest mobile home park. My mother was on the phone with my sister-in-law up in Templeton. We spent a few minutes chatting about the fire and the memorials for the Borderline victims held that evening, and went to bed.

The phone rang at 1:30 AM. I assumed it was another family member calling to check on us. Then my mother, looking pale, shook me to alertness. “Mandatory evacuation.” It was a conservative measure, I understood, but given the impossibility of defending the heavily wooded trailer park, I didn’t resist her urge to prepare an overnight bag. The flames were impressive from the freeway, but hadn’t yet penetrated the housing tracts or jumped to the ocean side. By 2:30 I was helping to set up cots in the Red Cross evacuation center at Pierce College, just two miles from HMI.

Mom wouldn’t lie down on the cot she had claimed, saying that they “were uncomfortable.” I started musing about our camping trips, asking what we had slept on when we were children? Just sleeping bags and heavy mats. She then laid down on the cot and allowed me to drape a blanket over her. My back was becoming tight, so I laid down on the floor and closed my eyes. Unable to sleep, I eventually headed out at 4:15.

Noticing additional closures on the 101 where the fire had jumped the freeway, I took De Soto Boulevard to the 118. The back side of the fire was burning slowly down the hillsides into Simi Valley. Exiting at Los Angeles, I drove the back roads, arriving in Port Hueneme at 5:30 AM.

I’m writing this from work. I tried to fall asleep when I got home after breakfast, but could only dose. We do donuts on Friday morning, and maybe the sugar crash will lay me out on the floor. But it doesn’t feel that way. I did a huge circle around the Conejo Valley where the Borderline Restaurant is the bull’s eye. I’m wondering whether it’s only ego that’s pulling me into the eye of that storm.

I’ll find out at Sunday morning mass.

Home At Last

Last Saturday on the way to HMI traffic was slowed around Topanga due to tree cutting crews. I assumed the same this morning as I drove on the 101 through unusually slow traffic past the blocked Moorpark Road off ramp.

I drove out to Las Vegas and flew out to Parkland. Both were disasters cultivated by ready availability of weapons to people susceptible to violent rhetoric.

What happened last night at the Borderline Restaurant bears the same imprint.

So I will be active over the next few weeks trying to heal the damage at colleges and communities traumatized by the end of so many precious young lives. The psychic scars I salve are the tissue from which the barrier to heaven is woven against those that cultivate a culture of fear.

Think of it that way, my fellow light-workers. We can forgive, but forgiveness does not entail acceptance. Not everyone can be saved.

Basta es basta.

Block-Head Chain

We may be losing the trade war in goods with China, but the virtual trade war is running nicely. It seems the US should soon resume its historical dominance in natural resources production…

Excerpted from the link:

Extracting a dollar’s worth of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin from the deep Web consumes three times more energy than digging up a dollar’s worth of gold.

There are now hundreds of virtual currencies and an unknown number of server farms around the world running around the clock to unearth them, more than half of them in China

Privacy Parts

Apple CEO Tim Cook presented an address in Brussels attacking industry practices that customize our online experience to maximize opportunities for third parties hoping to sell us goods and services. The major actors are Google and Facebook, of course.

I guess that Apple has the benefit of having indoctrinated an entire generation to prefer its products over others. It doesn’t need to market any longer – the masses wait breathlessly. And how exactly do you know which features will inspire them to throw away functional devices and upgrade? Hopefully not by analyzing iPhone usage patterns, Tim.

But what really galls is that Cook and his executive team manufacture devices in countries and facilities where the right to privacy is violated in far more concrete terms. Workers sleep in large dormitories on the factory site working for corporations that collaborate with dictatorial government to create devices that spy on citizens.

Yes, the road to destruction is broad, Tim. Don’t complain of the mote in your neighbor’s eye.

The ‘D’ Factor

No, this isn’t a post about breast size.

Psychologists from the University of Copenhagen have identified a core trait in personalities that project the “dark side” of human behavior. These include narcissism, psychopathy, sadism and spitefulness.

They label this core trait the ‘D’ factor, ‘D’ presumably standing for ‘dark.’

Out at Love Returns, in developing a definition of “sin” by contrast against a mature description of the nature of love, I came up with another term. A term that was also promoted by the Catholic theologian Thomas Merton.

How much money was spent discovering the obvious fact that SELFISHNESS is the root of all evil? And why the adoption of obscure terminology?

So that the researchers can “maximize personal utility?”

Religious Anomie

Comment in response to this:

One of the secrets of managing chronic pain is to learn to focus on what feels good rather than what feels bad.

We all tend to be born with the prejudice that our initial system state is all that is important, and evaluate what is good or bad based upon the trends. Conversely, institutions serve to establish continuity across generations and locations. So what helps is to reflect on what it was like before they existed.

Dog ate cat ate mouse ate cockroach ate… Sucked for every creature except the peak predators, didn’t it? And even sucked for them when all the prey were gone.

But it goes to illustrate that “can’t we all just get along” won’t suffice in a reality of resource limitations. Sooner or later there’s only one grape on the table, and forty hungry people around it.

So back to institutions: religions are institutions that propagate wisdom gained about spiritual experience. The best of them seek to liberate the flights of the mind from cultural and material constraints. Fundamentalists, in my experience, work to the opposite end. That’s true whether they are Dawkins and his friends, or Wahabbists or Christian Crusaders. They want us to be animals rather than humans.

Which brings me to God, or Source or whatever you want to call it. The Gospel of John expressed the tautology most directly: God is Love (and conversely Love is God). Love seeks infinite variety in relationship – it is not chaotic, but it always stands on the side of responsible exercise of liberties. It does not rejected those that make errors, for love provides them the skill and motives to heal the wounded. Everything is a lesson that leads to greater maturity, and ultimately to union with Source itself, carrying with us immunity to the selfishness that wounds without purpose or cause.

Humanity isn’t an ugly spot on God’s creation. We are the adaptive agents – a medicine, so to speak – that recognizes and heals its ills.

Deviangelicals?

Evangelicals voted for Trump with the narrow goal of the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Their position is absolutist in this regard: since we cannot know when the soul enters the womb, they insist that every fetus is an unborn child, and thus that termination of any pregnancy is murder. This absolutist position authorizes them control over a woman’s body. Rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life are rejected as justifications for medical termination of a pregnancy. Even birth control is seen as an usurpation of God’s authority to decide when life is brought into the world.

Naturally, as did the slaves before them, women desire autonomy. So they fought for the right to family planning services, a fight that reached its culmination in the Roe v. Wade decision. Having attained autonomy over their bodies, they waged a determined fight to guard their right.

Against that resistance, for forty years the evangelicals have waged a war (sometimes literally) to overturn Roe v. Wade. Joining forces with the Republican Party, they became a powerful engine for fund-raising.

So they voted for a man who famously treated his romantic conquests as pieces of meat – because he promised to nominate judges that would revoke the right to abortion services.

What saddens is to hear them now characterize allegations from other women denouncing other men as a “Democratic conspiracy.” They rely upon the testimony of other men – “friends” of the accused – who admit attending the parties in which inebriated youth engaged in sexual shenanigans.

Here is the fact that you should attend to, my coreligionists: those men have a vested interest in lying, because they also engaged in the same behaviors. If their friend goes down, they all go down.

What should happen, of course, is that fathers should counsel their sons to temperance. Those guilty of youthful indiscretion should recognize and apologize for their transgressions, and by their withdrawal from public life make it clear that such behavior is intolerable and costly.

The alternative is to subscribe to deviancy.

You despise the Catholic Church because it hid pedophilia from the public eye. How can you now support a party that hides sexual deviancy from the public eye? Because the perpetrators were drunk, or politically expedient to the cause of forcing women to bear unwanted children? Under just what conditions, pray, are those children going to be conceived if you tolerate drunken debauchery?

The sad truth is that you are now being used by the political elite in the GOP in the same what that pedophiles used the Catholic Church. They mouth support for your closely-held moral goals, using those assurance as a fig-leaf to cover their history of deviancy.