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Sunday, June 19, 2011
9:00 to 10:00 AM
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Leader:  Rachel Port (ramara)
Readers:  Judy Schultheis (loggersbrat) and Assorted volunteers

Donations will go to Netroots for the Troops 2012

Beyond the fold is the service as read, and the full text of contributions.

Order of Service:

Introduction
Spoken words are different from written words, and many of us who live in oral pagan traditions are reluctant to write down the words that we would speak at a blessing.  The power of the word changes when it is written and it loses its sense of the here and now.
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Centering
“Walk gladly across the earth answering that of God in each man you meet.”
Walking joyfully across the earth is how we must begin.  To be joyful is not to be blind to suffering, to pain, to the evil that we may encounter.  Rather, it is to embrace the entire world, believing that in answering that of God we empower others to use that of God in themselves to heal themselves and heal the world.
Perhaps that is why we so value silence, even those who like me are musicians by background or training.  We start with silence, we settle down, so that we can find that of God in ourselves.

(period of silence)
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Praise and Thanksgiving

(from Psalm 150)
Hallelujah!
Give praise with trumpet calls
With harp and lyre give praise
Give praise with drum and dance
With flute and strings give praise
Give praise with crashing cymbals
With resounding cymbals, give praise.
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A prayer from Cate in Bham, WA: Thank you God for all I have and all I know and for all I understand.  And thank you too, for all that I don't yet know and don't yet understand but with your patience and teaching, I may eventually come to know and appreciate.  May what is good for all living things come to pass.
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This attitude of thankfulness prior to the execution of ideas is what I would like everyone present here to remember and take home to their communities. It is not enough just to bring back arcane technical knowledge to improve election metrics. We must bring home the spirit of love found in this diverse community.  We must bend these ideas to better the lives of the “least of us.” We must ground our activism in serving the people and nourishing the poor. And the best way to stay on track is to frame our efforts with gratitude.
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Remembrance
Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of west and a reminder of the importance of death. If I have lived well, then it is a good day to die. The focus among traditional Native Americans was on maintaining harmony in life: there was not a lot of concern for what happens next. The offering to the west is also about endings, about changing things in our lives.
Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of east and a reminder of the importance of birth. This is a reminder of the need for birth, rebirth, and new ideas. New ideas, new concepts, like newborns, must be nurtured and nourished.

(music in background)
-

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Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, by Heitor Villa Lobos, for 8 cellos and solo soprano voice [Anna Moffo]

(have people name those they remember)
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Pagans perform their rituals within circles, because circles are symbols of unity, inclusion and eternity. Everything inside a circle is together . . . is a set. Ultimately, the Universe is a circle. And everything in it – you, me, that rock, the hungry stray cat lingering around your yard – is a set. We are all made of the same stuff – the budding flower and the oldest star. We are swirling matter and energy in a single, great pool. And that gives us a duty to each other, and the others already gone, and the others yet to be.
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Community
The Creator of the universe seeks human assistance in completing the work of Creation. The world is not good enough as it is, the Torah insists, and you and I can make it better. All of us are needed for this task: Jews and non-Jews, men and women, old and young. Everything that each and every one of us brings to the task is required: the sum total of our diverse experiences and learning, our skills and our relationships, our intelligence and our passion, all the arts and all the sciences: all our hearts, all our souls, all our might.
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The activist, writer and witch known as Starhawk said: “We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.”
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...And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
This was Dr. King, speaking on the day before he lost his life.
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The Dharma is not a set of teachings in a dusty book, those are just old words striving to point people long dead towards the Dharma.  The Dharma is the understanding right here, right now, of how the world really is, how the world really transforms.
One cannot study the Dharma merely by hiding in a corner reading, we must engage the world around us.  The connections we share with each other are arguably the most potent force of the Dharma, and politics are an important manifestation of these connections.
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But there's one anecdote from the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) that trumps any and every possible quote you could get -- it's the story about the man who approaches Shammai and Hillel, respectively, and mockingly demands that they teach him the entire Torah while he stands on one foot. Shammai, enraged, banishes him from his academy. Hillel tells the man, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. The rest is commentary; go and study.”
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Resolution
My wife is an Episcopalian and I'm a nonbeliever. We both find inspiration from Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Bishop in the church and a passionate advocate for justice.  Bishop Gene says, "it's important, but not sufficient to pull drowning victims out of the river.  You have to go upstream and stop the person who is throwing them in."
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Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.   
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The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows
However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them.
However inexhaustible the deluding passions are, I vow to exterminate them.
However immeasurable the doctrines of Dharma are, I vow to study them.
However inaccessible the Buddha Way is, I vow to attain it.
And we come full circle, because the Buddha Way is for us to become enlightened, shake the cobwebs off our eyes, go forth and liberate all beings from the cycle of suffering.  
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Numenists immerse ourselves in the world because it is a gift to us and therefore we must take care of it and all that composes it, and through our personal charities, we will discover our spiritual roots and connections.   
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Oh, I'm a Catholic reporting in.  Locally at least, my parish is pretty strong on feed the hungry, tend the sick, comfort the sorrowing.  And throwing kickass choir parties.   
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What some of us feel we must do is to fully live what we believe.  If we start with the idea of answering that of God in another, we should not demean by words or actions.  To discriminate is to ignore or reject that of God in the other person.

I am uncomfortable judging the humanity of another person.  Perhaps all I can do is to hold that person “in the Light” and hope that as I seek to answer that of God in her she will be able to accept it in herself.
We attempt to live what we believe.  We are not always successful.  We know that we need to be reflective, to examine ourselves - were the words I just spoke loving, mindful of that of God in the person about whom or to whom they were spoken?

Do I see the whole person?  Do I acknowledge the whole person?  Do I accept all of myself, using the good to help me address the parts of myself that still need work?
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I am a panentheistic pagan. I do not walk with God, in Christian imagery. Instead, I am a jellyfish in an ocean of God. Without God, I have no structure. God runs through me, pervades my entire existence and the world I live in.
    And to me, God does the same to you.
    If God also pervades you, then I cannot countenance prejudice or injustice.  We are siblings of the same Mother.  The other creatures on this earth are our younger sibs, forever in our care, and we have a responsibility to them.  And the earth is our Mother.  As we care for her, she will care for us.
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I often think of Abraham Joshua Heschel, himself a holocaust survivor, who once marched with Martin Luther King on the Sabbath.  When he was criticized by other rabbis, he replied, “Sometimes it is necessary to pray with your feet.”   
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I recently finished reading “Love Wins”, that new book by Rob Bell.  On page 116, the end of a sentence jumped out at me:  “...God has an imagination and is not afraid to use it.”  When I stopped laughing, the next thought in my head was, “Go and do likewise.”  At that, I really howled.
    Yes, I just got my marching orders, but I am entitled to think it’s funny.
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We want to thank everybody who sent something to us, even though we could not possibly fit everything into our timeframe, which is something that we very much regret because we received some truly great material.

Thank you all!
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Here follow the entire texts we received in more or less the order we received them, with the proper attributions.

My wife is an Episcopalian and I'm a nonbeliever. We both find inspiration from Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Bishop in the church and a passionate advocate for justice.  Bishop Gene says, "it's important, but not sufficient to pull drowning victims out of the river.  You have to go upstream and stop the person who is throwing them in."

I T

The Creator of the universe seeks human assistance in completing the work of Creation. The world is not good enough as it is, the Torah insists, and you and I can make it better. All of us are needed for this task: Jews and non-Jews, men and women, old and young. Everything that each and every one of us brings to the task is required: the sum total of our diverse experiences and learning, our skills and our relationships, our intelligence and our passion, all the arts and all the sciences: all our hearts, all our souls, all our might.

ramara

But there's one anecdote from the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) that trumps any and every possible quote you could get -- it's the story about the man who approaches Shammai and Hillel, respectively, and mockingly demands that they teach him the entire Torah while he stands on one foot. Shammai, enraged, banishes him from his academy. Hillel tells the man, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. The rest is commentary; go and study." He goes on to add that "to me, that is Judaism."

wiscmass for Elders of Zion

A prayer from my dear friend Cate in Bham WA:  Thank you God for all I have and all I know and for all I understand.  And thank you too, for all that I don't yet know and don't yet understand but with your patience and teaching, I may eventually come to know and appreciate.  May what is good for all living things come to pass.

ArkansasJoseph

Numenists immerse ourselves in the world because it is a gift to us and therefore we must take care of it and all that composes it, and through our personal charities, we will discover our spiritual roots and connections.

Noddy

(Catholics) Feed the hungry, tend the sick, comfort the sorrowing, fight global warming, and throw kickass choir parties.

RunawayRose

Pagans perform their rituals within circles, because circles are symbols of unity, inclusion and eternity. Everything inside a circle is together . . . is a set. Ultimately, the Universe is a circle. And everything in it – you, me, that rock, the hungry stray cat lingering around your yard – is a set. We are all made of the same stuff – the budding flower and the oldest star. We are swirling matter and energy in a single, great pool. 

And that gives us a duty to each other, and the others already gone, and the others yet to be. We are inescapably interconnected – with each other, with the world, with the Divine. Trying to live in isolation - trying to live without being a part of something – is like trying to swim in the ocean without getting wet. 

Our only choice is what we choose to be a part of, and how. Whether we act out of love, or fear. Whether we embrace all these other things that are part of us - and that we are part of – or we try fruitlessly to push it away and sever it from ourselves. Either way, we are still connected and affected by everything else that is.

Beyond these thoughts, I would only add a few apropos quotes from a better writer than myself – the activist, writer and witch known as Starhawk. One because it speaks directly to political activism:

“No sane person with a life really wants to be a political activist. When activism is exciting, it tends to involve the risk of bodily harm or incarceration, and when it’s safe, it is often tedious, dry, and boring. Activism tends to put one into contact with extremely unpleasant people, whether they are media interviewers, riot cops, or at times, your fellow activists. Not only that, it generates enormous feelings of frustration and rage, makes your throat sore from shouting, and hurts your feet. 
Nonetheless, at this moment in history, we are called to act as if we truly believe that the Earth is a living, conscious being that we’re part of, that human beings are interconnected and precious, and that liberty and justice for all is a desirable thing.”

And one because I think it goes right to the heart of the Netroots itself:

“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.”

jaxpagan

I recently finished reading “Love Wins”, that new book by Rob Bell.  On page 116, the end of a sentence jumped out at me:  “...God has an imagination and is not afraid to use it.”  When I stopped laughing, the next thought in my head was, “Go and do likewise.”  At that, I really howled.

Yes, I just got my marching orders, but I’m entitled to think it’s funny.

loggersbrat

I think I can best express how my faith ties into my politics right now through the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows.  There are many different wordings and versions of the vows, but they are all the same four vows.

However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them.

Buddhism seeks to save people from the seemingly endless cycle of suffering.  So much of how our nation is structured keeps people mired in endless cycles of suffering.  Poverty, fear, privilege, violence, all create self-perpetuating cycles, encouraged and reinforced by our infrastructure, our culture and our politics.  They all leave us suffering, over and over again, generation after generation.

My faith calls on me to help break these cycles.

However inexhaustible the deluding passions are, I vow to exterminate them.

We cannot break these cycles of suffering unless we see them as they really are.  We look at poverty but instead see laziness, lack of ambition.  We look at fear but instead see security.  We look at entitlement but instead see just rewards.  We look at violence and instead see justice.

We are active participants in our own delusion, while we strive to sate our cravings, for money, for love, for power, for sex, for acknowledgment, for oblivion.  The real world watching us indulge our cravings is too much for us, so we hide reality from us, hide ourselves from reality, create self-justifying delusions.  Delusions that shelter us from the harm we cause, to ourselves, to each other, to the environment, to the future generations.

My faith calls on me to help people move beyond their cravings, see through the veils of delusion, help people uncover what is actually before them, so they can respond appropriately.

However immeasurable the doctrines of Dharma are, I vow to study them.

The Dharma is not a set of teachings in a dusty book, those are just old words striving to point people long dead towards the Dharma.  The Dharma is the understanding right here, right now, of how the world really is, how the world really transforms.

One cannot study the Dharma merely by hiding in a corner reading, we must engage the world around us.  The connections we share with each other are arguably the most potent force of the Dharma, and politics are an important manifestation of these connections.

However inaccessible the Buddha Way is, I vow to attain it.

And we come full circle, because the Buddha Way is for us to become enlightened, shake the cobwebs off our eyes, go forth and liberate all beings from the cycle of suffering.

figleef

The parable of the Good Samaritan where, after pointing out that it was a member of a persecuted minority group, the Samaritans who were scorned by the Jews as much perhaps as the Jews were scorned by the Romans, who behaved in a manner that showed love and concern for another, Jesus tells his disciples to "Go forth and do likewise".

The social gospel is perhaps best spelled out in Matthew 22:39 "Love thy neighbor as thy-self".

What does God expect of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord thy God. (Micah 6:8). That is all.

Matthew 5: 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 
  14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  (h/t to CherryTheTart)

Danish Brethren

Quakers and activism
“Walk gladly across the earth answering that of God in each man you meet”

That was the message that George Fox delivered in the 17th Century.  It is a starting point to understand why so many in the Religious Society of Friends are actively involved in attempting to make the world a better place.

First, a couple of points to bear in mind.

We Quakers are a diverse group.  There are some who have ordained ministers.  There are some - particularly among Friends in Africa - who are very much evangelical in their Christianity.  There are others who might be the Quaker equivalent of the ethical Jew - in the Meeting where I am enrolled (officially listed as a member) we had a marriage between the children of two women one of whom considered herself Wiccan and the other Pagan but not Wiccan.

There are issues on which Friends can disagree forcefully -  it is why we had a long period of fissure between the Orthodox Friends and the Hicksite Friends -  and given Haverford was the former and Swarthmore was the latter it made for some pretty violent football contests in the early part of the 20th Century!

At times Quakers have withdrawn from public life, and were, incorrectly in my opinion, accused of being quietists.

Yet there is a strong tradition of moral concern.  One can see this in the 18th Century American Quaker John Woolman who almost single-handedly persuaded the Religious Society of Friends that it was wrong for one human being to own another.  One can see Quaker influence in the lives of others as diverse as Thomas Paine and Lucretia Mott.

While we may be “active” in political and social affairs, most of us would not define what we do as activism.  Rather, it is a simple living of our concern for humanity and all of creation.

I am what is known as a Convinced Friend -  I was not born into a Quaker family.   While I had some minimal knowledge of Quakers growing up in Westchester County NY, my first meaningful exposure was when I attended Haverford as a 17 year old freshman beginning in 1963.   By then I was already active in civil rights -  in my case from a combination of being shocked at encountering Jim Crow in Florida in 1956, then watching Little Rock and subsequent events on television throughout the rest of my school years, and coming from a Jewish family where ethics played as important or even more important part than did worship and prayer.

Perhaps I can explain this in a different way.  Were you to come to our Meeting House on 1st Day (Sunday) and look around the parking lot, you would notice that perhaps half of the vehicles are hybrids of different sorts.  Were you to join us after some Meetings for Worship, you might find we were having a simple meal -  bread, cheese, fruit, etc. - as a fundraiser to support our Social Concerns Committee on which I serve -  our purpose is to assist worthy causes in the community.

Or perhaps after 9-11 you might have seen some of our Members providing silent Witness and protection to one of our local mosques.  Or were you to visit the Capitol Grounds on a Saturday a small group standing in silent vigil, perhaps with a War is Not the Answer sign.

We are in Langley Virginia.  Sometimes we go down the road to stand quietly outside the CIA.    Or we write letters, or visit Members of Congress and Senators to quietly lobby on matters of war and peace, of social and economic justice, on environmental sanity, against the death penalty.

Perhaps you know the name Tom Fox.  He was a long-time member (and one-time Clerk) of our Meeting, who felt led to go to Iraq to offer assistance, to witness against the violence.  He was the only one of the Christian Peacemakers’ team that were kidnapped who did not survive.  My wife knew him before I did, because she would as an Orthodox Christian travel to Jarrett Virginia to stand outside the Greenville Penitentiary in silent protest at the time of an execution, and Tom would also be there.

What some of us feel we must do is to fully live what we believe.  If we start with the idea of answering that of God in another, we should not demean by words or actions.  To discriminate is to ignore or reject that of God in the other person.

I am uncomfortable judging the humanity of another person.  Perhaps all I can do is to hold that person “in the Light” and hope that as I seek to answer that of God in her she will be able to accept it in herself.

We attempt to live what we believe.  We are not always successful.  We know that we need to be reflective, to examine ourselves - were the words I just spoke loving, mindful of that of God in the person about whom or to whom they were spoken?

Do I see the whole person?  Do I acknowledge the whole person?  Do I accept all of myself, using the good to help me address the parts of myself that still need work?

Remember, answering that of God is the 2nd part of the statement.  Walking joyfully across the earth is how we must begin.  To be joyful is not to be blind to suffering, to pain, to the evil that we may encounter.  Rather, it is to embrace the entire world, believing that in answering that of God we empower others to use that of God in themselves to heal themselves and heal the world.

Perhaps that is why we so value silence, even those who like me are musicians by background or training.  We start with silence, we settle down, so that we can find that of God in ourselves.  Without that first, our actions run the risk of doing more harm than good.

Our words and actions may well be incomplete.  Perhaps some think of better phrases, more effective actions.  We can only answer that we start where we are with what we can do now, and take the first steps in the direction of something better.

I don’t know if that qualifies as activism.   To me it is something far more basic -  it is living honestly.  It is also living more fully.

We start with that.  We Quakers are few in number.  That matters little.  What matters is that we are faithful to what we believe, which can be understood in those words from  George Fox:

“Walk gladly across the earth answering that of God in each man you meet”
Peace.

teacherken

Here are the thoughts that most influence me to activism:

...And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

This was Dr. King, speaking on the day before he lost his life.

And,  "If you love me, feed my sheep."

texasmom

I am a panentheistic pagan. I do not walk with God, in Christian imagery. Instead, I am a jellyfish in an ocean of God. Without God, I have no structure. God runs through me, pervades my entire existence and the world I live in.

And to me, God does the same to you.

If God also pervades you, then I cannot countenance prejudice or injustice. We are siblings of the same Mother. The other creatures on this earth are our younger sibs, forever in our care, and we have a responsibility to them. And the earth is our Mother. As we care for her, she will care for us. Environmental issues are very important to most pagans.

We do not hate other religions; it's just not our path, but we recognize that it might be right for someone else. But we strongly support social justice and freedom of worship issues; your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. We believe that what you decide to create, whether this is harmony and laughter or discord and anger, comes back to you from the universe. Let us all in our own ways create harmony, that we may create a better world.

Alexandra Lynch

Traditionally, Native American events began with a blessing. We understand that there are a great many different religious and spiritual traditions, and beginning discussions with a spiritual blessing does not imply that all must “believe” the same—rather it simply indicates that this is an important event. Traditional Indians have little concern for making converts, for carrying “the message,” or for proselytizing. An elder is simply asked to bless the event. This blessing might involve smudging with sage, sweet grass, cedar, or some other herb. It might involve a song. It might involve a pipe ceremony. It might involve some symbolic gestures.

Spoken words are different from written words, and many of us who live in oral pagan traditions are reluctant to write down the words that we would speak at a blessing. The power of the word changes when it is written and it loses its sense of the here and now. If I were to do a blessing at this event, it would probably involve smudge and the use of the pipe. What follows is not the words which I would speak, but a description of their intent.

This is a blessing calling upon the seven directions. It starts with offerings to that which lies above and that which lies below. It is a way of reminding ourselves of our need for fresh air, for rain that falls clean and free of chemicals, for the sun, the moon, and the star people. It reminds us of our dependence of the earth and our responsibility to nourish and care for it, just as it nourishes and cares for us.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of north and a reminder of the importance of dreams. It is a reminder that it is our responsibility to bring our dreams to life.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of south and a reminder of the importance of words. We should remember that words are living things and they continue to impact our lives long after they have been spoken. At meetings such as this we should speak words which bring us together, which create harmony. Words which separate us—those which reflect racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, classism, and other divisions—should have no place here.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of west and a reminder of the importance of death. If I have lived well, then it is a good day to die. The focus among traditional Native Americans was on maintaining harmony in life: there was not a lot of concern for what happens next. The offering to the west is also about endings, about changing things in our lives.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of east and a reminder of the importance of birth. This is a reminder of the need for birth, rebirth, and new ideas. New ideas, new concepts, like newborns, must be nurtured and nourished.

And the final direction, the seventh direction, is inward. It is placing myself within the circle that has gathered and opening myself up for the words which will be spoken and the concepts which will be presented.

We come from many traditions. We come here to find harmony in our common cause.

Ojibwa

I would like everyone present at this service to consider what you have learned at the 2011 Netroots Nation community gathering and to give simple thanks for the experience.  We should be thankful and feel gratitude for each new person we met, each panel or presentation we went to, and each new idea or concept we learned. And above all be thankful for the Netroots Nation community.

I would like those here today to reflect for a moment on one of the new ideas or resources that you will bring home to your local communities. (Pause) And, when you identify this highlight in your mind I want you to give silent thanks for receiving it. (Pause)

Now some might say, “I learned some new ideas here at NN11. I have given thanks at this service.  And now it is time to say good bye.”   Those of you what want to leave please do so now. (Pause for laughs)

I would ask you to consider reversing this. (Raise Voice)

Remember the thanks you gave a moment ago. Say it again in your mind. (Pause) Now remember the idea that prompted the thanks. (Pause)

Put the thankfulness and gratitude first, before Politics. (Raise Voice)

This attitude of thankfulness prior to the execution of ideas is what I would like everyone present here to remember and take home to their communities. It is not enough just to bring back arcane technical knowledge to improve election metrics. We must bring home the spirit of love found in this diverse community.  We must bend these ideas to better the lives of the “least of us.” We must ground our activism in serving the people and nourishing the poor. And the best way to stay on track is to frame our efforts with gratitude.

Giving thanks is at the core of what makes us human. Connecting with others through gratitude activates the empathy within all of us. In my Political outreach, while staffing our Democratic Club table at the farmers market, I start every conversation with a statement of thankfulness.  It could be for the good weather. It could be for the opportunity to convey a progressive value to a Republican that stops to talk. Or, just an inward silent thanks that I’m alive and able to be there to make a difference.

As I continue the conversation I ask the guest what they are grateful for as an American. The key here is finding a common ground through thankfulness and sincere gratitude, and talking about it. This simple act leads naturally to talking about the value of electing a progressive candidate or voting for a progressive initiative on the ballot.

Pastor Daniel Schultz, the founder of Street Prophets, says it this way in the closing pages of his book Changing The Script:

“I want to conclude then with an embarrassingly simple suggestion. Why not begin (or continue) the journey of the Religious Left not with polls or positions but with a prayer?  A common table grace may not mobilize “people of faith” to vote a certain way, nor does it have immediate policy implications. It does not even provide an obvious alternative to conservative religious perspectives. But to pray in this way engages in the most transformational politics of all.”

In closing I leave it to each of you to realize that the essence of what make us human is our ability to express thankfulness and gratitude in a community setting. And with care and creative effort we can convey this value publicly without engaging in trappings of “Civic Religion.”  

This is living our Faith. (Raise Voice)

linkage

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Thank You

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 08:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Muslims at Daily Kos, Elders of Zion, and Anglican Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookie Jar (14+ / 0-)
    In closing I leave it to each of you to realize that the essence of what make us human is our ability to express thankfulness and gratitude in a community setting. And with care and creative effort we can convey this value publicly without engaging in trappings of "Civic Religion."  

    This is living our Faith.

    linkage

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 08:47:39 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (7+ / 0-)

    all of you!

    Living our faith--a gift and a challenge.

    Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

    by mapamp on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 09:10:37 AM PDT

  •  wanted to be there, but I didn't know where (6+ / 0-)

    you were. Sorry I missed it. I gather it was lovely. Thank you for doing it.

  •  threadjack. This comment does not belong here. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, mapamp, andycoster, ramara

    Two years ago it was Loggersbrat who was the "link" between linkage and I that got me a free ticket to NN09;

    an event I hardly considered myself worthy of attending were it not for that gracious invitation. As it was, I went, and I had a great time.

    When I came home, I posted a diary both at SP and here about how that Sunday service made me  feel; not just because of the crowd of people I was in, but because the way the service was conducted, I felt - even as an atheist in an auditorium of believers - I felt loved, and I felt like I belonged.

    The words that were spoken in that service, as in this one, were not exclusionary; they were not dogmatic, they were not accusatory -

    they talked about "us"

    ...and they did not mean that only as the antithesis to "them" - they meant "all of us in the human family".

    At that time, in that moment, I beleived them.

    Maybe that says something about the pitfalls of "belief".

    Here I sit, two years later. Barely five months after that service, soon after I wrote this, I was banned from SP. Nobody of course could find one thread of cause/effect in the time in between for the change in my attitude; they guy who I had so much trouble there with apparently doesn't come around any more, and life surely went on as normal.

    All this time, it still eats away at me.

    Cleaning the house recently I found the printed handout that was given to us at the interfaith service on that Sunday in 2009. "A call to service".

    I remember how I cried when we sang "Teach your Children"

    I kept it because I felt I belonged.

    I kept it because the first two pages were such an ecclectic collection of welcoming and inclusive religious sentiments from around the world, I remember thinking - and later writing - if what people around me called "church" was anything like this on any other Sunday, I'd be there with them all.  

    I kept it because it reminded me what it was like to be part of something.

    Two years later, I don't even talk to any of the people who I once called friends, loggersbrat and linkage,  because any thread to that time just brings it all back

    the scars, the still open wounds

    of what happened in the last days of my participation at SP are now deeper than any of the stories that I told on SP about what those "other" belivers who weren't so welcoming had done to shape my views as an atheist.

     It's apparently not good form to call people by name, so the people at SP who got  so deep in my head they haven't left yet must be left to ask themselves if they know I'm talking to them. I'm guessing not, because they were the ones who insisted they were nothing like "those" other people who were obviously doing it all wrong, and they insisted that they stood with me in support and even to resist whoever was...and yet like those believers who were doing it "wrong" , in the end, even my 'friends' ultimately settled on the comfort that it was solely my observations, my attitude that was wrong.

    I wonder if the people I have had conflicts with remember me as much as I remember them.

    I wonder if they wonder where I am or what I'm thinking

    This is proof I still remember them.

    In the end, when I look back on it, I came to a site with many belivers who I knew I did not share any faith with, but thought I shared ideas about what our government was all about; to warn them, if they intended (as their tag line says) to be different than how the political Right uses faith, not to make the same mistakes. I wrote stories about what it was like to be "them", "the enemy" to all those believers; believers they assured me that they were nothing like - and who they apologized for.

    Then they became the very same, in my eyes

    and they blamed my eyes.

    It's apparently bad form to "call out" those specific people who we have problems with; I don't get that. It seems pointless to me not to, as then nobody really ever knows what has got some people on edge. So I've done the socially acceptable thing and just swallowed it all and pretend it's still not bitter and sour and causes pain when it goes down.

    and that will lead me right back down the path of where it all went wrong.

    Which, if I'm to believe my critics, was all my own doing.

    ...and yet nobody can understand why I might be so dark and cold about it.

    I will always be whatever I am, and right now that is still an example of how the very people who are so sure that they are "right" in their faith can become (blindly) precisely the people they are sure they are nothing like and who they are apologizing for.

    I wear deep scars.

    They dont' heal.

    And it seems that the current path to absolution for those who carved them into me is to blame the cut and bleeding guy for not healing himself.

    Hmm.....why does this story remind me of some allegory of some kind....why does this sound so familiar?

    meh.

    . Whether it's SP, Kos, or all my Republican "friends" from 30 years ago who have found me on Facebook to tell me how wrong I am, It's me, it's only me, of that it seems everyone can agree. They all know that as soon as (but not until) I somehow straighten myself out to look more like them, things will be perfect.

    If only it were that simple.

    I couldnt' read this diary. Brings back too much, sends me off into darker territory still.

    My wounds are my own, and the world seems all right with that.

    I feel like I'm doing something wrong in posting this -

    But if you read the FAQ at what remains of the original Street Prophets, you'll find a link to a diary written by a guy who was supposed to be the example of how welcome the atheists were, a diary which remains linked in that FAQ almost 18 months after they told that guy who wrote it to leave.

    I see no purpose in keeping it all inside and leaving everyone to think all is well. I see no harm to disabuse anyone who might be standing around scratching their head and thinking, "Wow, that guy who's off by himself, I wonder what crawled in his head and made him such a hermit..."

    ...

    I've been told that there's certainly no reason I can't post or join in the Street Prophets 'group' here at DK; I see no point  - having thrown everything I had into what I meant and what I said at the old house, only to have that end up the way it did.

    I leave the saga as an example of what it is - whatever that is. Some people are surely OK with that, others forget and move on, at least one (and a few who wrote me in the wake of it all) were not comfortable with it but felt it prudent to lay low lest they become another target.

    The next time you see some militant atheist who's frothing at the mouth and you're sure that only serves as proof that atheists are just angry assholes by nature, please, not for my sake but your own, recognize that people like me are not born this way. I wasn't raised by wild animals, or sequestered from humankind on some alien moon - other people shaped my beliefs and my attitude.

    I did not care about religion until someone who represented one told me I had to choose; then they blamed me for my choice; ignoring the reality that in their world there really is no choice at all.

    Given that 9 out of 10 people in America have some kind of faith, and given certain populations like the one I live in now it's more like 999 out of 1000 who are specifically of one faith, it seems odd not to recognize who one might look to when asking how and why I became the person I am.

    so here's my reminder that you all are not forgotten.

    do with that what you will.

    That's what I've been left to do.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 10:56:43 AM PDT

    •  I love you, Joe, ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, snafubar, andycoster, ramara

      for your outspokenness. You should wear your ousting as a badge of honor. After all it was in mortal combat with an ideological opposite.
      -

      -
      Referees come and go. Do not be so hard on the one that tossed you out of the game. You have to admit you are a little overwhelming at times.

      Nice to see your voice here.

      JON

      "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

      by linkage on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 12:18:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't said a word to the two people I have (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        andycoster, linkage, ramara, mapamp

        in mind; I realized I could not get out of my own little box of misery to say anything OTHER than my angst about this to Loggersbrat.

        She understands.

        I don't like to hurt people by mistake.

        if I'm going to do it on purpose, I want credit for my deliberation.

        ...and ultimately, what I want the world to realize is that if I hurt them by accident...

        ...and they tell me THEY know it was deliberate

        then I won't ask to be forgiven as I then do it deliberately so I can get some mileage for this burden I'm carrying.

        I am a function of my environment. If people don't like me, then maybe they ought to look at all the tools they are using on me and ask themselves if they have looked at the plans recently; they're building all that they claim to be so angry about.

        If there has ever been ANY agreement on who I am, from the shrinks to my most ardent critics, it's that I'm reactive. easy way to neutralize a reactive compound -

        ...dont' give it anything to react to, and surely don't add a catalyst.

        I'm half hiding, half protecting you because I know what I've got to say has got more teeth than an ocean full of sharks.

        As for the referee, I am precisely the person she needs to be locked in a room with for three days, and lets not ignore the silent partner who phoned it in and remains silent on his silence.

        That's as enigmatic as I can make it without calling that person out, too.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 01:08:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I understand. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, snafubar

          I, too, have lived with being told that I do not feel what I feel, and do not see what is right in front of me.  And how dare I be crass enough to upset those of delicate sensibilities.

          The list of people who did it to me is shorter than yours, and only a few of the names are the same; but, yes, I understand.

          And I don't blame you at all for being less than forgiving.  I just wish there was some way I could help.

          Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

          by loggersbrat on Mon Jun 20, 2011 at 08:43:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You were always good to me, 'brat (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            loggersbrat

            I just know that I wear my soul on my sleeves, and certain people and situations carry with them a context I can't seperate. I don't want to risk unloading some truckload of angst about SP on the one person who least deserves it.

            People ask me what it would take to heal from this -

            The links to what I've wrote about it are all there, and I cant' drop breadcrumbs and demand people go there because that's too easy. It's like reminding someone of your birthday a week before - that's no test of whether they remembered.

            The people who echo still in my head have used their faith, or maybe it' sjust their personality, to absolve themselves from what happened.

            It's never been about me - there's only one question I would ask the two I have in mind; and about six others who were "in the room" at the time -

            so you sleep at night thinking it was all my fault

            does that mean when you encounter another like me and find yourself in the same situation witha  different person next time, you'll play it the same way?

            Ok, maybe TWO questions -

            "How long have you played Russian Roulette with other people's lives?"

            Any objective person would have to ask them why they think they won't find a different person/personality who will just say fuck it and make them all famous for all the wrong reasons - that's precisely why they banned me -

            ...but at that point, if I had done something drastic AFTER the banning, on what grounds would they protest and still deny they had any contribution in cause/effect?

            I think that's a fair question; one they might face in a courtroom if the circumstances present themselves again.

            One of these days they'll find one who calls their bluff

            if they can find absolution, peace, or excuse themselves after that - they need to seek far more "help" than I need, and they should forget about ever finding absolution.

            See now why I shouldn't get started on this?
            _____________

            I still have your card; it sits on the counter by the front door where I keep my wallet and my keys. I see it several times a day.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:58:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  oh, I do imagine. Atheists do that. n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mapamp, linkage, ramara

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 01:09:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My contribution - (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, linkage, andycoster, ramara

    One of the comments that was analogous to the pin pulled from the grenade in those days when everything went wrong at SP, was from a faithful member of SP who's friend had committed suicide. This event was a life changing, life shaping, moment for that person. He wrote of it often, and he said it gave him comfort to know that his friend was in heaven. That person also wrote he felt a chill, discomfort, when pondering the views of an atheist, and this believer who lost his friend to suicide then wrote something like this:

    "I can imagine atheism as nothing more than an empty abyss of lonliness and despair"

    An atheist (also banned) chimed in

    "don't worry, it's not that bad"

    this further angered the believer, and really set me off in response to him.

    Because when I ponder death, I want an end. Period. If that's not what he wants, that's fine, but it does just as much violence to my views to demand his are better than anyone who has views of their own that provide just as much comfort in times of trouble.

    So in the end, all that "hate" that was found in me was inspired by a few "jerks" who were simply convinced that they weren't.

    Just like real life.

    So it all came down to what other people will freely say about another's beliefs without apology, but who took great umbrage if another says something about their own views they feel differently about. The scat hit the fan when one tried to claim he knew what was offensive, to decide for another what pain they were allowed to cry out over.

    My views on - life
    ______

    To an atheist, it's just us. Atoms, void, and us. We don't need to know where we came from to know where we want to go - ask yourself, and you will realize this. Evolution, with all it's gaps, still leaves with a deterministic framework that allows us to see what works to go forward.

    Awake on a deserted island, and where you came from or how you got there is surely of little importance compared to where you want to go and what you want to do next.

    But let's make our island analogous to the Earth as a whole:

    Suddenly you discover the island is not deserted.

    now - it's you, the island, and whoever else you've encountered.

    whether you decide to build a craft and set out for someplace else, or you decide to use your individual and combined talents to endure in your new home,

    none of that has anything to do with who "created" you, or even how you got there. Gaps in the story, or even the theory itself are worthless towards your future survival - unless you use those theories to recognize there is somewhere else to set off in search of, or that the chances of success in that quest are so small that your future depends on what you've got in hand.

    Either way, it's you, the island, and whoever you meet along your path. No "greater" force is needed to build a fire, catch a fish, build a shelter. Nobody but one another is neccessary to comfort, inspire, or defend one another. Niether ethereal beings nor the stories of their origin are needed to make - and keep - peace amongst one another to survive another day. Whether you are "rescued" and returned to where you came from ...

    ...or whether there is in any practical realization no other place to go...

    ...the next day of your life only depends on what you choose to do in that moment, and how well you can live in concert with your environment, and those in your company.

    Considering this body of thought, by the way - the "Reality TV" that is so popular in our age is actually the exact opposite of our true reality. Did you notice that they start with some number of participants and then whittle them down by exclusion, expulsion or elimination, until one remains? Where have you ever seen that played out except in sports?

    Our reality on Earth would be better illustrated by a type of reality TV I have yet to see:

    Put one guy on the island, and tell him he's on his own. Every few days, add a new person to the island and tell them they're on their own. Let the occupants discover each other. Resources will be finite, unless renewal can be managed, and as more and more people populate this "reality",

    --- this is the key, right here ---

    ...nobody "wins" unless ALL members that are put on the island survive and prosper (not neccessarily procreate) until some date.

    What date?

    ...tomorrow.

    That is the only date when everybody "wins".

    It's you, and me, and the rock we're standing on.

    please don't look over my head for answers, look to me

    I'm right here.

    and I will not look past you for answers, I'll look to you

    for surely you are here, too.

    Let's work together.

    That's the best I can do when asked for a prayer.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 11:40:34 AM PDT

    •  I like the Island metaphor (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, snafubar, ramara

      Thank you for sharing it.

      I also like the "Let's work together."  Works for me.

      Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

      by mapamp on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 12:13:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I thought of you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, texasmom

      at that service as I began to plan this one.  It could not have been otherwise.  I miss you.  Take care of yourself.  I wish you could have been there yesterday.

      When shit happens, you get fertilized.

      by ramara on Mon Jun 20, 2011 at 08:25:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  this whole subject, saga, history is very hard (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara

        for me.

        I cannot possibly find any way to explain to anyone who I met at NN09 what it was like those nights after Netroots to be home alone, unemployed, losing my dogs, and to have the constant scold of certain people who were like pull-string dolls with either a scripture or an admonishment that they did not like my style.

        My history at SP is an exact, precise, step-by-step allegory of how my experience with people of Christian faith has been all my life.

        One SP'er called me an "anti-theist" - which if you have seen my comments of late to a guy name "Sam Wise Gingy" - I am not. Yet people still feel obligated to put a label on my head and then somehow it's my failure for peeling it off or not fitting the steretype. This same person, supposedly engaged in a professional counseling capacity at some point in his life, called me a "terrorist".

        I'd ask him now but I know it to be pointless,
        Let me know, the rest of you, the first suicidal terrorist you find who takes his own life before he acts out on anyone else, and then I'll concede he was right.

        try to explain to him that I have never, in the 35 years that religion has been an issue in my life, ever had any conflict of any kind with a Jew, Muslim, pagan, spiritualist - none of them have ever knocked on my door, and I not theirs. Yet I still take grief because I can't say the word "Christian" without making some self-proclaimed "good" Christian indignant that he did nothign wrong...

        ...who in short order will prove that I most certainly could have included him by name when it's all over.

        I think back on that whole week - it's all very strange to me.

        But this is a blog with many people; a large and busy set of goals that are far bigger than little me, and I don't expect to hold up traffic while I stop in the middle of the crosswalk to burst out in tears.

        I do, however, reserve the right to remain as an indelible crimson stain in the pavement after a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites ran me over and kept driving, only asking if they got any blood on the car.

        Fill in names and dates as you see fit; I can't

        I know who cares and who doesn't.

        I lay low, as I tried to explain to loggersbrat, because I can't talk about any of it without inadvertently getting so wrapped up I catch everybody in the net, and I don't want to snag my true friends in that reflex.

        Shit happened.

        I got plowed over and forgotten.

        I may be underground, and the people driving the tiller think that they have moved on to a new season of harvest and renewal.

        I've hardened in the meantime, so the person they plowed over is now a rock buried in the field that - until they stop to see what it is - will always be here to make a noise every time the plow hits it again.

        I wish I could have been there, but I recognize now that it's better if I stay in the shadows. The people I need to reach will never, ever, see, hear, or acknowledge me except as a gadfly or a demon.

        And yet they will remain surprised - shocked - they insist, over why I remain so hostile.

        "And so it goes" (hat tip to the late Kurt Vonnegut)
        : )

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 10:28:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's one of the better ones I've seen. (0+ / 0-)

      Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

      by loggersbrat on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 03:46:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am proud to be a Kossack and a person of faith (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liz dexic, mapamp, linkage, terabthia2, ramara

    here on the Daily Kos. Thank you so much for the diary. Next year in Providence I will be leading a contingent to attend one of the most amazing Anglo-Catholic churches in the country. I might even be able to manage it that the anthem there is one of mine. I'll see what I can do.

    Love, peace, fraternity/sorority to all Kossacks of Faith.

    Craft is what emerges when you hit inspiration over the head with a stick.

    by commonmass on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 12:02:49 PM PDT

    •  . (0+ / 0-)

      wonders if anyone else read that last line and asks

      "...and as for the rest of us without faith????"

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 10:29:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As far as I am concerned (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snafubar

        people of no faith are welcome to come along.  I described the service as open to those of all faiths and no faith, and I meant it.  There were contributions by animists, pagans of different leanings, linkage had a reading in there too.

        When shit happens, you get fertilized.

        by ramara on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 07:44:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's just one of those things that is easily (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ramara

          noticed by those who, when one group is invited specifically, realize that generally they might be, but there's always plausibility in some circumstances.

          I'm surely not talking about you here, Ramara. I'm thinking back to all the times when I saw the sign that said "all are welcome" and found out that "all" had a lot of qualifiiers for something that is ostensibly all inclusive.

          When it says right there in print "all of faith" - even you must admit that at this point in my life, it behooves me to realize they mean that exactly the way John Fleetguy used to mean it

          "anyone who does not have faith will likely be a suicide victim"

          I hope you undestand my reason for opinting this out.

          If it says "all of faith" - that is by implication a distinction that need not be made if it really means "all".

          again, this is my larger purpose, just to be a little cricket to chirp and remind that we all see things from our own perspective; some things that are assumed to be understood or unambiguous, depending on one persons unique experience, may not be so.

          Peace.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 07:00:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  BTW: republihed to Anglican Kossacks. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, linkage, ramara

    Craft is what emerges when you hit inspiration over the head with a stick.

    by commonmass on Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 12:04:08 PM PDT

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