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Reposted from rabsrabs by rebel ga

As someone dedicated to the issue of ending Veteran homelessness, I recommend you check out this article on Huffington Post's impact page. It discusses how Boston-based Housing Partnership Network members in Portland, Pittsburgh, and Madison are doing their part to expand housing opportunities for Veterans exiting homelessness. It starts as follows:

One home at a time—that's how the nation is going to end to homelessness among Veterans. Yet the persistent shortage of low-cost housing across the country is a challenge too many communities face. Success depends in large part on housing providers being willing to generate more permanent housing for Veterans.
The Housing Partnership Network is one housing provider stepping up the plate, but we need more if we're going to win this fight.

More below the fold.

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Reposted from Frederick Clarkson by Frederick Clarkson

Now that Rick Santorum has announced that he is running for president, again, it is worth reminding ourselves that he is a coarsely obvious religious bigot. I first published this post when he was running in 2012.  To my knowledge, he never retracted or apologized for his prior statements. -- FC

Rick Santorum has sought to project a sunnily suburban, regular guy appeal as he vies for the GOP presidential nomination. But whenever I have seen him during the campaign, there seems to be a seething and loathing just beneath the surface that he has to struggle to keep from leaking out.  

But back in 2008, while a senior fellow of the neoconservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, we got a glimpse of what it is that is so churning under his public face.  In a speech, he quietly explained to students at Ave Maria University, in Naples, Florida  that Satan, the "Father of Lies", is destroying America.  Part of Satan's effort, according to Santorum, has been to so transform the mainline Protestant churches in America -- that they are no longer even Christian.  

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Reposted from Community Quilt Project by Sara R

Cedwyn's quilt at her memorial celebration this past Saturday, in Portland, OR

Gordon20024 has a cancerous mass on his neck.  It will be removed this Thursday -- so let us keep him in our thoughts.  This is from a comment he made in the Monday Night Cancer Club diary last night:

Thursday will be my day for removal of 'neck mass, limited neck dissection and removal of overlying skin'.

Seven weeks ago I noticed a small lump on the side of my throat about the size of a 00 buckshot pellet or 3/16" diameter. I'm not one to waste a lot of time sitting in an ER but was curious. Was it safe, normal or something to be addressed. The more the ER Dr probed it the more angry it became. Biopsies have tested positive for malignancy.

PET and CT scans have been conducted so the medics should have a good road map to work from.

I really appreciate the outpouring of support and well wishes from the DKos community. I means a lot to have so many wonderful friends from the far reaches of the compass who send healing energies and thoughts.

Bless you all.

Put your good thoughts for him on his quilt!  Just leave a message of love and support in the messages and I will transcribe it in archival ink onto muslin -- and my sister and I will sew it in.

We are short 9 messages and $67 for this quilt.  I will keep these numbers updated.

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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Coffee Hour at Street Prophets. This is an open thread where we can discuss what’s happening in our lives, what we’ve been working on, and our opinions on current events. There was a time before automobiles when wagons were powered by animals rather than some type of engine. Shown below the artistic orange wagon wheel are some of the wagons I have encountered in various museums.

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Reposted from crystal eyes by Ojibwa

On April 27 my life changed forever with a seizure and following that: the diagnosis of brain cancer.  I am beginning full spectrum treatment on Thursday the 28th with radiation, chemo, and cannabis.  Here is a post from my blog series on cancer and personal transformation.  My hope is to document my efforts to find connection and healing in the battle with cancer. that deals with my changing relationship to Buddhism.

  It is necessary to change that now.  I am blending my inner and outer worlds in a necessary union of oneness which is needed to generate healing cancer curing energy. No more blockages and compartmentalization of my life force.  I need to openly live the path that I have been studying for a lifetime. Let me begin to share some of it with you.
It would come out in hints.  I have been a vegetarian for 42 years  and had just become a vegan. I have no military stories to tell.   I was a conscientious objector during Viet Nam.  My two years of alternative service was at Gateways Hospital (a private psychiatric facility within crowd cheering noise of The Dodgers Chavez Ravine).   I still carry the vow to hold all life sacred and not participate in killing.  I wear Buddhist prayer beads under my shirt and occasionally sit in meditation when Panorama holds all day retreats.  My religion was a private thing.  I sit every day and dabble in books that evoke the spirit of Buddha.  Looking at my practice now I have to laugh.  I said I loved all sentient beings, but they were actually too much trouble for me  to connect with in my daily practice.   Shame would whisper in my who are you to talk about universal truth?  Hunker down, meditate  in isolation, read those books that give you spiritual  goosebumps,and try to live a vital, authentic but private religious life.  Being a visible Buddhist elementary school teacher in rural Central Oregon, the land of prayer breakfast PTA moms, would  have complicated my teaching.  I learned how to  go and be an active practicing Buddhist in stealth mode.

My concept of meditation since my brush with death has profoundly changed.

Pre-seizure Pete had used meditation as a treasured daily quiet time for  settling of the mind.  Like dirty muddy water in a jar, the act of sitting still and waiting in awareness of each breath going i. pause out,  pause  in,  pause out,  paus noting thoughts,  notice  pause out, pause feelings, notice and on til an arbitrary time is reached when I bow and arise to join the world refreshed.  Arise, toilet, brush teeth, start coffee, meditate, drink coffee and bow, shave. wash, dress.
Then I would enter Panorama social activity a mind a little less muddy,  wearing the hidden prayer beads.   Meditation was basically  an automatic wired- in mental health habit right between bushing teeth and the first cup of coffee.

I knew from my readings that meditation promised transformation into a deeper  awareness of our inner being, but I was content with the cozy spiritual life of a comfortable retired seeker on a graceful aging glide path.

Enter the dragon of a brain induced seizure.  I was brought gasping & kicking to the edge of being and then allowed to return with my eyes wide open.  When I came back, that little me that was running the religion practice had abandoned ship.  That little voice that knew so little about spirit but was running the practice had flown the coop.  My new religion now is" I dont know what religion is".  All I want to do is experience the moment, be truthful, be kind, and be helpful.  I trust the ancient Buddhist tradition to help me better understand my new sense of being.  I will be attending our local Nalanda Institute mediations and lectures.

Anything else right now  is too much distraction.

Now I look at my former meditation practice as a very nice daily activity that kept my busy little self  calm and relaxed my mind.  My little self was also pretending to have the potential to become enlightened if it just sat long enough or read the right book, or dropped into a magical state by chance.  The magical drop-in part happened but the little self just wasn‚'™t able to handle the ride.  That little self isn'™t able to sneak into the big dance.

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Mon May 25, 2015 at 04:04 PM PDT

Meditation-Waking Up Now

by Ooooh

Reposted from DKos Sangha by davehouck

It is only human for us to think we will find happiness someplace “out there.” We think, “If I could just get the right job, then I could be happy,” or “If I just had someone to love me, then I could be happy,” the list goes on and on, and our thinking minds continue to lead us down the path of seeking outside ourselves for happiness.

The problem with this strategy is anything that arises from external circumstances is impermanent, it is bound to come and go, to arise and fall away, then what happens to the happiness that comes with it? That too is impermanent, it comes and goes, arises and falls away.

Good evening and welcome to Monday Group Meditation. We will be sitting from 7:30 to 11:00 PM Eastern Time. It is not necessary to sit for the entire extended time, which is set up to make it convenient for people in four North American Time Zones; sit for as long as you like and when it is most convenient for you. Monday Group Meditation is open to everyone, believers and non-believers, who are interested in gathering in silence. If you are new to meditation and would like to try it for yourself, Mindful Nature gave a good description of one way to meditate in an earlier diary, copied and pasted below:

                                                                "It is a matter of focusing attention mostly. In many traditions, the idea is to sit and focus on the rising and falling of the breath.  Not controlling it, but sitting in a relaxed fashion and merely observing experiences of breathing, sounds, etc.  Be aware of your thoughts, but don't engage in them.  When your mind wanders (it will, often), then return to focus on breath and repeat."

Sangha Co-hosts for meditation are:

7:30 - 10:00  Ooooh and davehouck

9:30 - 11:00  thanatokephaloides

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Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. - Wikipedia

Photo: US ARMY - A boy holds an American flag during the 2009 National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol.

In today's Open Thread / Coffee Hour all topics of conversation are welcome.  What is for dinner? How are you doing? What is on your mind? If you are new to Street Prophets please join in the conversation in the comments below.

And, what are you doing this Memorial Day?

Reposted from pikachu by Ojibwa

In November of 2014, the Mormon Church officially admitted that its founder, Joseph Smith, had forty wives.  While the polygamy of Mormon leader Brigham Young had long been acknowledged, founder and Prophet Joseph Smith's polygamy was not previously admitted.  Mormon polygamy has long been a controversial topic, and now it has been confirmed by Mormon Church leadership its founder was a prodigious polygamist.  Learning of this admission, my civil libertarian side made me think, "So what?"  If these folks want polygamous relationships, and there are no underage participants (this seems somewhat in dispute with respect to Joseph Smith), then I have no problem with it.  Then I remember the California ballot initiative "Proposition 8", a direct attack on marriage equality, underwritten substantially by Mormons.  Mormons have long been associated with an alternative to "traditional" marriage, interwoven into their doctrines and beliefs, yet they funded an attack upon others who are seeking acceptance of their alternative view of marriage.  This gets to the heart of what I don't like about much of organized religion - it is hypocritical and coercive.  There is ingrained in many "religious" people some need to force their beliefs on those of us who may not share them.

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Reposted from History for Kossacks by Ojibwa

Within the overall Christian community, there continues to be waged the debate over who is really a Christian and who is not. For many, this is a debate about belief: belief in the Bible rather than belief in any scientific finding which might contradict the Bible. There is a feeling that science and Christian religion are irreconcilable, particularly with regard to the creation of the universe, the age of the planet, and the origins of humans. These are not recent arguments, but ones which have been taking place for the last couple of centuries. One of the more interesting debates centered around the shape of the earth, with some arguing that it was impossible to be a Christian and believe that the earth is a globe.

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On this Memorial Day I am remembering the members of my immediate family who served in the Armed Forces.

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Reposted from Elders of Zion by ramara

The five scrolls or megillot, The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations, are read during the year on different holidays. Ruth, my subject here, is read on Shavuot. This is usually associated with this verse (I use the older translation used by the Jewish Virtual Library; Chabad uses a more modern translation):

2:23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.
The barley harvest comes at Passover, when wheat is planted to be harvested seven weeks later at the Festival of Weeks, Shavuot. So this is the time of year where the main action of the book takes place. There is also a parallel between Ruth accepting Judaism and the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.

But I see another connection between this aspect of the holiday and the story of Ruth.

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Reposted from Secular School Teacher by Ojibwa
I was sitting on the couch channel-surfing with my mom one afternoon when she stopped on Long Island Medium, a self-professed psychic who supposedly puts the living in contact with the dead.

After watching for a minute or two I commented on how sad it is that this woman is making fools of these poor gullible people on national TV.

My mom turned to me and said, “Don’t you want to believe that we will meet up again in heaven after we die?”

I told her it’s not that I didn’t want to see her again but that such a belief is just not an option for me.
Even when my doctor once told me I was possibly riddled with lung cancer the god thing never even popped into my mind during the two weeks it took for me to make peace with my premature mortality (the "cancer" turned out later to be benign nodules).

I just couldn’t possibly buy into the notion of a heaven or hell based on the Christians' Bible with 400+ contradictions and whose authors believed the sun revolved around a flat, stationary earth on "pillars," which condones slavery, and is replete with unicorns, talking donkeys, vegetation, evil snakes, and many other such reality-breaching tales.

Later, thinking about the prospect of living forever, I wondered why it could even be considered to be such a wonderful thing. Who wants to look down and watch millions of kids starve to death each year, while tormented moms look helplessly on? What’s fun about that?
I spend so much time signing petitions – e.g. to help end slavery (a 190 billion dollar a year business), help indigenous people hold on to their land from greedy corporations or their culture from self-righteous missionaries, promote more humane factory farm conditions, end the brutal slaughtering of elephants, dolphins and sharks, and stop the vivisection of nonhuman primates and other lab animals – so that by the time I’ve finished my arm is tired from holding up the hand that blocks the part of the screen flashing associated images while the other feels the onset of carpel tunnel from clicking the "sign" button so much.

I don't want to even imagine being exposed to all these horrors on an eternal basis. And what would the weather be like? Perpetually sunny? That would get monotonous after a while too.

Even if I am shielded from viewing the suffering back on earth somehow, how could strolling hand in hand with the one I love not get boring? Especially if all you see is white puffy clouds. A week or two of that might be novel, but for all eternity?

What about the woman whose husband dies and she remarries a man she loves equally as much – does she get to keep both husbands once they’ve all expired? And what about her spouses? It’s unlikely they’d be so blissful having to share their wife with another guy.

What if I’m subjected to listening to a guy named Jesus reading from the Bible to masses of judgmental, sanctimonious Christians – and what if that arrogant John Boehner or smug Pat Robertson were in attendance? Hanging with that crowd doesn’t sound like a paradise too me. And besides, the Bible’s not really known for being a real page-turner and having read it cover-to-cover, revisiting it sounds more like a hell to me.
And what if it’s Allah who’s in charge “up there?” Hanging with fundamentalist, misogynistic Muslims sounds even worse. Or does each god get his or her own cloud on which to pontificate? And talking about people believing in Iron Age books about lands of milk and honey, will they have beer there?
At what age would I be entering those pearly gates? Now, when I’m still relatively young and healthy, or when I die, which hopefully will be when I’m old and decrepit? And if my mom’s so intent on seeing me there, what age would I have to be to qualify it as a heavenly experience for her? Certainly not my teens, which put the poor woman through much misery. She misses the baby years, but that would conflict with my ideal age.

And how can anyone be happy knowing some of the people they love best are in the process of being eternally sizzled alive “down below?” My Catholic great-grandmother expressed her fear of ending up in hell regularly.

BTW whatever happened to forgiveness? If I were God, I would forgive everyone simply because I couldn’t live with myself for a plan in which I condemned people to be forever burned alive because they made a few mistakes. Especially since I would know they would be prone to error being omniscient and having created them in the first place.
Sometimes I feel like I just want to curl up into a little ball and die witnessing all the suffering on this tiny planet, but then I think, would the world be a better place with or without me? The answer for me is to try to enjoy as many moments as possible and ease as much suffering as I can along the way. This gives my life purpose and the will to keep going, and the feeling of having been lucky to have been alive in the first place.                
So the prospect of an everlasting heavenly existence ends up being a depressing rather than exhilarating thought. Fortunately, it just doesn’t sound plausible, especially since there are no historical first-hand accounts of Jesus and archaeology disproves all four main Bible stories.

Eternal life provokes zillions of questions and provides zero answers. But the one answer that works for me is that when I go, it will likely end in blackful nothingness. And then I will finally, truly RIP.

Biblical References

Sun revolves around earth
Eccles. 1:5

Flat earth
Job 38:13; Isaiah 11:12; Rev. 7:1

Stationary earth
Eccles. 1:5; Psalm 93:1, 96:10, 104:5; Joshua 10:12; 1 Chron. 16:30

Earth rests on pillars
1 Sam. 2:8; Job 9:6, 38:4, Psalm 75:3

Lev. 25:44; Exod. 21:2,7,21; Col. 3:22; 1 Pet. 2:18; Eph.6:5; 1 Tim. 6:1-2

Job. 39:9-10; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7; Num. 23:22, 24:8; Deut. 33:1 (KJV-conveniently changed to "wild oxen" for American and International Standard versions)

Talking snakes
Gen. 3:1

Talking donkeys
Num. 22-24

Talking bushes
Exod. 3:1-22

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