Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dilemnas and Deer Hunting

I don't know if I should take my rifle or my chainsaw with me out in the woods this morning. Most of the people that I've talked to around here are saying they're seeing little or no deer. The other day walking down the trail I noticed an old, dead red oak that had blown over and pinned down a young white oak. It was still alive but bent over in the shape of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. So instead of sitting on my stand waiting for deer that aren't there I might just save this white oak since it produces more acorns than any other oak tree around here. Hopefully then my kids and their kids won't have to sit around and talk about the deer they aren't seeing because the deer will have something to eat. Plus, running a chainsaw is warmer than sitting on a deer stand when it's only 15 degrees out there.

Dilemnas like are common place when I finally make it out to the woods. Things could get out of control if I spent any significant time out there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 4 of The Hunt

It's day four of the sacred Wisconsin-nine-day-gun-deer-hunt. Yesterday we were blessed with close to 6 inches of fresh tracking snow. My morning will be spent not out in the woods following tracks made in that snow but watching it blow out the chute of our Cub Cadet snowblower as I wrestle it up and down our driveway. By about noon that snow will no longer look like a blessing but a curse. I've done this before, can you tell?

I'm reminded of a statement often repeated by a fellow mail-carrier whenever he's asked how it's going. The carrier, who's been at it for over 40 years, milked cows for just as long and is well into his seventies, will pause, take a breath, and sometimes even put down what he's doing and say, "Oh, it's gotta go." Ever since I first heard him say that I often find myself wondering what the undefinable "it" that has to go is. Especially on days like this where I'd rather be out in the woods hunting but can't be because I have to make sure the driveway is clear, the cars are free of snow and full of gas, so we are ready to deliver mail at a moment's notice (Annie got called in at 6:30 yesterday morning).

But the hunt for the meaning behind the undefinable "it" is going to have to wait for now. Because, well, I hate to say it but "it's" gotta go. I'm off to blow snow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's Been Awhile

It's been awhile since I've posted here. I post something on Facebook almost on a daily basis. So if you have been following my blog and would like to see more of what I post just friend me on Facebook. I'd be happy to accept your request.

Thank you,


Friday, August 15, 2014

Some Psychological Thoughts on Robin William's Death

The other day, following Robin William's suicide, I was following an internet discussion about it. Of course, religion and how he lived his life was the central theme. And why wouldn't they be? Like sex, death and suicide cannot be explained on any rational level and are therefore religious matters. Anyway, a couple of the posters commented on how he was wicked, no friend of Jesus Christ, a sinner; and had free will and decided to take his own life and will suffer his fate in hell. My god, I thought, how could anyone say such things after someone has ended their life? He's done nothing wrong. He hasn't sinned. It's his life and he can do what he wants with it. His pain is his to suffer. So, on the mail route yesterday the urge to read a postscript that James Hillman wrote at the end of "Suicide and the Soul" presented itself. Having read it before I knew there were some answers to my questions there. This is what I came up with this morning:

"Old church decrees banned suicided bodies from burial in the common graveyard. Evidently, it was believed that suicide severed your body and soul from the soul-body of the community. Suicide not only took your life; it took you out of your inherent attachments with others, cutting the threads with the polis. By taking your own life you were asserting that you were ontologically not a citizen, not a member, as if utterly free of any kind of cosmic participation.

"Yet it is not the act that does the severing. It is the thought that my soul is mine, and so my death belongs only to me. I can do with my death what I choose. Because I can end my life when and how and where I please, I am wholly my own being, utterly self-determined, free of the fundamental constraint that oppresses each human's being--the uncertain certitude of death. No longer am I Death's subject, waiting on its will to pick when and how and of its arrival. I have taken my death out of the hands of Death. Suicide becomes the ultimate empowerment. I am my own redeemer-- 'Death where is thy victory....'[I. Cor. 15:55]-the superbia of individualism.

"This helps account for the common reaction against those who attempt suicide. They are not welcomed with sympathy by family, friends, or clinic, but rather are met with anger and disgust. Before we sympathize with a person's plight or pain that may have occasioned the attempt, we blame; we find ourselves spontaneously annoyed, outraged, condemnatory. I do believe that all too common response points to the enduring strata of the psyche that we all share, call it our archetypal humanity. We are indeed societal animals, as well as having individual destinies. Something insists we belong to a wider soul and not only to ourselves alone." [James Hillman, pg. 197-98, Suicide and The Soul]

If your soul isn't yours alone then perhaps some of their anger at Robin William's suicide comes from the simple fact that he didn't let us in on it before he did it.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Who Ya Gonna Serve?

The final authority in this culture is its technics and not the health of the land base. We serve the former before the latter. It's pretty fucking scary.

“My thesis, to put it bluntly, is that from late Neolithic times in the Near East , right down to our own day, two technologies have recurrently existed side by side: one authoritarian, the other democratic, the first system-centered, immensely powerful, but inherently unstable, the other [hu]man-centered, relatively weak, but resourceful and durable. If I am right, we are now rapidly approaching a point at which, unless we radically alter our present course, our surviving democratic technics will be completely suppressed or supplanted, so that every residual autonomy will be wiped out, or will be permitted only as a playful device of government, like national balloting for already chosen leaders in totalitarian countries.”--Lewis Mumford

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Face

Yesterday we were over at my parent's house having Dairy Queen cake to celebrate my sister's birthday and my grandma got to telling me about what they call "bath salts" (I've never heard of them until yesterday). I guess it's a white powder, somewhat similar to Epsom salts, that can be inhaled, injected, snorted, etc. Anyway, she was saying that some users will take it so far that they will try to tear their own face off or remove another's face with their bare hands. Just last week I read a line by the poet Robert Bly that has stuck with me. He said something like "the face is the barrier between the soul and the world". So when we get slapped in the face it's a pretty big violation. I wonder what tearing your face of symbolizes?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Is Food A Commodity?

Back to reading "My Ishmael" with my teenage son this morning. Right now this is probably one of the highlights of my day. I take great pleasure in doing this. Out of all the things I can pass on to him Ishmael's teachings are probably one of the most important.

After reading two chapters with him today I have to ask: What guy came up with the bright idea to make a food a commodity? I remember first watching Daniel Quinn's "Food Production and Population Growth" video and him making the comment about doctors being paid to deliver babies. His point went was doctors don't get paid by the pound to deliver a baby. Likewise, why do farmers have to get paid by the pound to produce food. Can't their services fall under the category of service? I had the hardest time with that point when I first heard it, and I still do to this day. Having been conditioned for close to 25 years to imagine there is no other way to be paid for food production, is a hard habit to break out even if it is only an act of imagination.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Unschooling The World With My Teenage Son

Started off my morning reading "My Ishmael" with my 15 year old son. We managed to get a chapter read before the house became to chaotic. That chapter's title was: "Unschooling the World." It's still as fresh and vital as it was when I read it back in my mid-twenties (I'm going to be 40 in a couple of months!) This time there isn't as much hope, though. There is a lot more grief this time around. Why? I imagine it's because things just haven't changed fast enough. 15 years after I first read it we value buisness over people to an even greater degree than we did at the turn of the century. If this wasn't the case corporations would not have free speech rights and be allowed to flood political campaigns with money. Scott Walker wouldn't be touring the central part of Wisconsin thanking God and glaciers for all of the jobs created by the frac-sand they left us.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Barbara Ehrenreich on Families

This quote makes whole lot of sense to me:

"The problem with families is not that you get stuck in the same persona for life, which is what everyone complains about, but that you're always getting confused with someone else and end up taking the blame for them. You may think of yourself as a freestanding individual, a unique point of consciousness in the universe, but in many ways you are just subbing for absent family members or departed ancestors. You may even literally change places with them..." Barbara Ehrenreich, pg. 34, Living With a Wild God

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Politics and Coaching Baseball

Right before my son's baseball game got started my coaching partner told me that I needed counseling. Apparently he followed me and my family to the diamonds and got a good look at the bumper sticker on the back of our rusty 1999 Pontiac Montana mini-van. The bumper sticker reads "Wisconsin wants to be scott-free in 2014/ Remove Walker."

Here is how the exchange went in the dugout as our players were warming up on the field.

"So, you don't like Walker?"

"No, not at all." I said. "And you think I need counseling because of this?"

"No, no," he laughingly said trying to keep it light, "but do you vote for the other party automatically?"

"Ummm, no. I'd consider myself independent." I said. "But I'd say that I mostly lean left. You know, like on social issues; take care of the poor and quit giving so much money to the rich."

He nervously stood back and faced me straight on swinging a bat lightly as I sat on the bench in the dugout feeling like absolute shit from an allergy attack and lack of sleep. Psychically shrinking by the second and not wanting to have this conversation 10 minutes before game time, I said, "We probably should'nt get into this right now. This is a pretty deep subject for me."

"I know, I know." he said. Then in a faint fatherly tone he snuck this in there, "You can't enable them (I'm assuming he meant the poor). And the wealthy provide a lot of jobs." Then his mom (She keeps the books for us) looked over at me and said, "And he got our state out of debt."

I nodded. Thinking to myself how in the fuck am I going to coach this game with this bullshit out in the open. Things went well, though. We went on to win 15 to 5. Our bats finally got going late in the game and we played solid defense throughout.

Since I started coaching again that is what I have always loved about the game. For a couple of hours the political and philosophical tensions between the parents seem to lighten. Now that the game is over, though, the lightness is gone. It was gone as I soon as I got in the van to go home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nothing Worth Saying

This is one those mornings when I feel like I should say something but have nothing worth saying. So, I go looking through my piles of books looking for inspiration. I come across this statement by J.P Morgan stated back in 1901: "I owe the public nothing."

Robert Bly would call him an uninitiated man. A man stuck in adolesence. Donald Trump would simply bow.

Time for me to fire up the chainsaw and remove the tree lying over the top of our horse fence.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Two Neighbors Standing in a Clearcut

The other day, standing in the middle of a fresh 100 acre clear cut, a neighbor of mine told another neighbor of mine that people loved the creation more than the creator. Then the Pentecostal missionary/preacher went on to say that trees were put hear by God for us to use.

Religions, says the Buddhists and Robert Bly, are ruined by ignorant priests.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Soul and School

We don't send our kids to public school. There are times when I really struggle with this decision. Then someone smart and wise will throw me a lifeline:

"Politicians and educators consider more school days in a year, more science and math, the use of computers and other technology in the classroom, more exams and tests, more certifications for teachers, and less money for art. All of these responses come from the place where we want to make the child into the best adult possible, not in the ancient Greek sense of virtuous and wise, but in the sense of one who is an efficient part of the machinery of society. But on all these counts, soul is neglected. We want to prepare the ego for the struggle of survival, but we overlook the needs of the soul." (Thomas Moore, Pg. 52, Care of the Soul)

Perhaps this is what it comes down to for me: The state of Wisconsin wants to prepare our children's egos for the struggle to survive in industrial civilization. And as the child prepares for this struggle it kills his soul. No wonder the suicide rate among teenagers has skyrocketed over the past 50 years or so.

I'm off to mow lawn....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More Extreme Weather

It looks like I will be running a chainsaw for most of the day--thankfully I'm not delivering mail for the corporations today so I can help out friends and family. One of the biggest red pines on our place is now lying across our fence and driveway. Who knows what went down out in the forest. We've heard from a couple of neighbors that are facing similar types of situations. Why? Last evening more extreme weather descended down up on us. I just got off the phone with my dad and he said they recorded 85 mile an hour winds in our area. He said they were hurricane type winds.

Just another step in adapting to the extreme weather patterns of climate change

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Faith Looks for Understanding

"Fides quaerens intellectum." Faith looks for understanding.

I have been thinking about why I support one of the most radical environmental organizations on the planet: Deep Green Resistance. Part of it comes down to the idea that The State will determine how we will resist. DGR and what they stand for exist in reaction to The State's unwillingness to adequately address the environmental horrors that we face as a species. We're literally facing the possibility of going extinct within the next 100 years or so. That means my great-grandchildren could be wiped out. DGR has the best plan that I've seen so far in preventing this from happening

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mouse Magic

Last night, I'm sitting at the table reading the newspaper and I hear a 4 year old boy's cry making its way across the yard to the door. Hayden opens the front and heads straight for my arms. I ask what's wrong as he wails away. "Mom let the mouse go!"

We have a medium-sized steel garbage can for storing our black sunflower seed in. It sits near the back door of the old, abandon farm house we used to live in before we upgraded to cordwood. Yesterday, somebody didn't tighten the lid on it. When Annie and the kids when to refill the birdfeeder there was a mouse waiting for them at the bottom of the nearly empty can. With the help of their hands the mouse got the opportunity to run circles around the bottom of the can for a few minutes. Annie then went to pick it up so she could give the kids a closer look. It had different ideas. As soon as the mouse made contact with her hand it scampered up her arm and onto her shoulder, across to Sophia's hand which was touching her shoulder, and down her back to her pant leg and was gone in a flash. Not what Hayden had in mind.

Annie decided to leave the lid off the can for another night in an attempt to recreate the experience. This morning, while filling the dog food dish, I looked down at the can and noticed two beady, black eyes looking up at me.

I gave Hayden the news upon awakening. A few minutes later I see a naked boy running across the yard with mittens on to handle a mouse. It's like Christmas morning all over again without the snow and presents.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Goosebumps and Nixon

If something moves me I usually get goose bumps all over my body. Chris Hedges did this to me the other day in the few comments he made about Richard Nixon. He said that tricky Dick was our last liberal President. Why? That was the last time there was a liberal class willing and strong enough to push a President into signing liberal-minded legislation. He also mentioned that Nixon was frightened to death that the 50,000 or so protestors marching outside the White House in the name of civil rights were going to come through the walls and get him. That's according to Henry Kissinger's memoirs.

Mediocre people usually seek power. It's up to us to keep them in check. That's democracy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

30 Hours of Podcasts

I downloaded close to 30 hours of author podcasts from The Philadelphia Free Library, and listened to all of them in the car while delivering mail last week. Out of all of them two authors and what they had to say stick in my mind. First, I'll paraphrase Alice Walker: Hope to sin only in the service to waking up. Sin is part of the discipline of who we become. There is no such thing as living without it. Secondly, Chris Hedges said that if we allow unfettered and unregulated capitalism to continue we'll be extinct as a species within a 100 years. The elites, he said, are preparing for the instability that every empire in its endgame goes through. That's part of the reason why they are collecting massive amounts of information about us and storing it in a building in Utah. He also said that theologists call the systems that our corporate state has created "systems of death." I like that term. I'm becoming more and more a fan of Chris Hedges. He's just as dark and doesn't sugar-coat a thing about the predicament we've got ourselves into, much like Derrick Jensen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

In House Exchange Between Wife and I

My wife and I had one of our typical exchanges this morning. While reading this morning I ran across some really good writing about James Hillman. It expressed well the experience that I've had reading Hillman's work. I liked the section so much, and noticed there was a brief silence in the crying and chattering children, that I thought I'd better take the opportunity to read it to her. Like usual, afterwards she shook her head and wondered what the hell that had to do with anything.

"What?" I asked.

She said, "It doesn't really resonate for me because his work hasn't had an impact on me like it has you."

"I know." I said, "But it was so good that I had to read it out loud to you."

"That's fine. I don't mind listening. It just doesn't have the same affect on me as it does you," she said.

Then I said to her, "You know, it just occured to me that I used to do this exact same thing with a girlfriend that I had when I was 14. We talked alot on the phone. And there were times where I'd sit feeling the same way I do this morning blabbering on about some fascinating idea that someone had talked to me about. I wasn't talking about books or other's writing back then because I didn't read books. But it's the same exact thing but in a slightly different form."

"Ha!" she said with a smile, " I guess some things just never change."

"Guess not."

Here is the writing that inspired this post:

"By the way, a nonromantic friend or partner, too, can be a muse. I've already told the story of how James Hillman entered my imagination, taking up room and board there for decades, giving rise to much creative work. He has done the same for many other people because of the seminal quality of his thoughts and writings. You read him and the seeds get planted in the soil of your mind and sprout in good time. Then you don't know for sure if the ideas are yours or his. He wrote about people starting out in childhood like an acorn destined to be an oak, but he himself was an acorn. You have to read him with care, lest you lose yourself in his brilliance.

"Hillman's anima, his soul, his aesthetic sense mixed with his sharp ideas, the spark of imagination within him, revealed the nature of his muse. He inspired with his imagination and with the world he loved. On the other hand, to me Hillman was a muse taking on the disguise of a friend." ( Thomas Moore, pg. 193, A Religion of One's Own)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Been Awhile

I did something last night that I haven't done in probably close to 20 years: I ate a Big Mac. Afterwards my wife looked over at me from the driver's seat and jokingly asked: "Do you feel violated?" I thought I could just go with the flow and perhaps even rise above it. But after a night's worth of indigestion and reflection I can honestly say that it'll probably be another 20 years before it happens again.

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Unschooling Reflection

It was my now 14 year old son's first day of first grade. We decided as parents that it'd be a good idea to drive him into school given that it was a new school and experience. I was driving our rusty, old 1990 Ford Taurus, my wife in the passenger seat, my son in the backseat wearing his new school clothes holding onto his backpack. Traveling west on County E halfway between our house and where you turn off onto Hwy. 63 a voice from the backseat breaks the silence as we passed through the red pine plantations.

"What do you think I'm going to learn in school today?"

Without pause I answer, "You're going to learn how to sit still in a desk for long periods of time and watch the clock."

Years later I still find myself wondering if I should've or shouldn't have been so direct and honest.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring and Desire

Every spring it seems like my desires muliply.

"Desire takes you on and on until you realize that there is nothing in this world that will calm it completely. Then you find deep religion and learn that the ultimate object of desire is God or the divine, the mysterious and unnameable."--Thomas Moore, pg. 123, A Relgion of One's Own.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Two Monk's Story

"In a famous Zen story two monks are walking together and come to a river. A beautiful woman is standing there trying to figure out how to get across. The older monk offers to help and picks her up and carries her. Later, as the two monks resume their stroll, the younger says, 'I thought we weren't supposed to have contact with women.' The older monk replies, 'I put the woman down long ago, but you're still carrying her.'

"The lesson usually drawn from this story is, do what you have to do and move on. From a typical spiritual point of view, the monk picks up the woman and then lets go. No attachments, no complications, no worries.

"But disturbing reflection can be a good thing. Even inner conflict and worry inspire the need to sort things out. In my interpretation of the story, the young monk who can't stop thinking about the woman would become the teacher. He's more human and has the capacity to carry his experiences for a long time and worry about them. In a way, the story contrasts spirit and soul, and I favor the soulful young man."Thomas Moore, Pg. 115, A Religion of One's Own)

It was a refreshing and a relief to read this excerpt this morning. I've heard this story a few times and I've always looked at it from the spiritual point of view. I'm glad Thomas Moore gave us his perspective from the soul's point of view. I spent a lot of my childhood worrying and full of inner conflict, and to have a licensed psychologist acknowledge that this it isn't a genetice defect or something that needs to be fixed is a huge relief, even as a I approach 40.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Good Video on Right's-Based Organizing

This video is the best introduction that I've seen yet on what Community Rights and "rights-based" organizing is all about.

"Communities, municipal officials, environmental and social justice organizations, and others engages in this "rights-based" organizing have come to a shared conclusion--we can't achieve local self-governance or sustainability under the existing structure of law.

"And further, that in order to drive necessary structural change into our legal system, they must begin by making legal change at the local level, and then drive it upward."--Thomas Linzey from "New Frontiers: Building a Grassroots Movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature" video

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Overthrowing The American Government

"I'm not looking to overthrow the American government, the corporate state already has." - John Trudell

Sunday, May 04, 2014

First Day of Fishing Season

Yesterday was the opening day of fishing season in Wisconsin. The events of that day went more or less like this. Woke up and sat on cushion for half-n-hour; started fire in masonry stove to keep house warm; arrived at work and delivered mail until mid-afternoon; stopped at gas station and bought: two bags of Giants sunflower seeds ( one bacon ranch the other siracha flavored), a fishing license and trout stamp; entered a house that looked like a bomb went off from three kids being home alone for 7 hours; started van and loaded up kids; stopped at the closest culvert with trout stream running under it; 14 year old son joyfully fished while I exhaustively kept kids out of road and from falling in fast flowing water; got home and played catch with sons; grilled some burgers for dinner and ate; read book to 4 year old son in bunk bed; passed out with book and son; we both awake at 2:30 AM to take pee and get in bed with wife and daughter.

Oh how the opening day of fishing season has evolved over the years.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Walk Like an Elephant

"In one of his insightful talks Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said that in your practice you should walk like an elephant. 'If you can walk slowly, without any idea of gain, then you are already a good Zen student.' There's a mantra for your religion: Walk like an elephant. It means to move at a comfortable pace. No rushing toward a goal. No push to make it all meaningful." Thomas Moore, pg. 43, A Religion of One's Own

All I need to say about this quote is yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I think that is why I love baseball so much. A few years back, an elder friend of mine once said, "your a baseball player, the game and its pace fits your character." At that time in my life I hadn't played the game for close to a decade and wasn't coaching. He'd only heard me talk about it and seen me play catch with a weak and wounded arm. I was around 25 at the time and about ten years earlier I had my arm surgically repaired because it would not stay in it's socket anytime I threw a ball. I've never had full strength in my arm since. And ever since then anytime I took the field the feeling of being weak and disabled has always accompanied me. Anyway, the comment confused me because he'd never seen me compete. Nonetheless, the comment has always stuck with me.

This also points to why one of my biggest bitches about paying the bills by means of being a part-time rural letter carrier is that the job is based on speed. You're suppose to try and be back to the office at a certain time no matter what. If an elderly customer wants to sit down with a cup of coffee and chat about their childhood or gossip about a neighbor; or you want to pull over and watch a bear stroll across a field with her cubs, the clock is always ticking, and I despise it.

This also takes me back to a comment that a Facebook friend of mine made about a year or so ago: "It's interesting to me why your work is so far away from what your values are." It's one of those comments, I think, that cuts right through to the bone and arises periodically until the space between the work and the values isn't so vast.

Time to get ready to help out a fellow carrier pedal mail so she can go to a funeral.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Thomas Moore on Soul and Spirit

"Spirit is the element that wants to perfect, purify, and transcend. It directs our attention to the future, the cosmos, and the infinite. It is abundant in education, progress, and vision. It allows us to advance and move upward in all our pursuits. It directs our attention away from ordinary life, the body, and sensual existence. Soul is the opposite: It lies embedded in our struggles and pleasures, in our ordinary circumstances and relationships, and in the emotions and fantasies that lie deep. We feel our soul stir at family gatherings and visits home, in deep friendships and romantic relationships. Comforting dinners and friendly lunches--food in general--makes the soul come alive. People often bring their soul issues to therapy and yet may need better ideas and a vision for their lives."--Thomas Moore, pg. 29, A Religion of One's Own

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Wicked Good Militia

I have been looking for this quote since I first heard Paul Cienfuegos use it in a talk that he recorded for Alternative radio awhile back.

"We The People must unite if we are to be a power strong enough to get our sovereign rights back. we must not squabble amongst ourselves over stuff like abortions, drugs, guns, welfare, unemployment benefits, men who whistle at women, cultural differences, race, and all that. a united people must include all of us: the homos, the heters, the yuppy, the hippie, the red necks, hairy, shaved, kinky, spiffy, the work boots, the sneakers, the black shiny pumps, the nose rings, the knit shirts, flannel shirts, pink shirts, the fat, the thin, the tall and the short and the beauteous, and the ugly. We need millions. We can’t fight the corporate scheme if we are all hissing and fluffing and puffing and snorting in little isolated groups which blame other little groups for the country’s ills."--Carolyn Chute

I found it HERE.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Compass Points to Colorado

This morning I put 45 minutes into the Community Rights effort. It was basically 45 minutes full of grief and despair. When you see it pointed out to you again and again how corporations have rigged the system to the point where most people in the country feel powerless to the point of self-destruction, and most methods of activism surrounding you is the one-corporate-harm-at-a-time type, grief and despair are just part of the program. Or to say it another way, it's all part of the decolonization process. I'm not complaining here or need support of any kind, that's not the intent of me writing this. It's an attempt at a description of what I consider to be an important and essential part of my life.

My compass points to the courageous folks in Colorado working toward an amendment to their state Constitution giving local communities the right to govern themselves. I want to see a Wisconsin Community Rights network some day.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Barbara Ehrenreich's New Book

Barbara Ehrenreich's new book "Living With A Wild God" has moved up to the top of my reading list. I've listened to an interview and talk with her while delivering mail the past couple of days. I was interested so much in what she had to say that I forgot to deliver some of my customer's packages and had to back track. That's one of the ways I can tell if a thinker has really got my attention. Along with her stories I agreed with almost all of what she had to say. She deplores monotheism; doesn't think God has a care in the world about goodness and morality; thinks we're paying a heavy price for close to erasing all of the animistic rituals from the face of the earth; and how the animistic gods don't requite belief.

What most interested me, though, was her description of one of the mystical experiences she had in her teens (I've heard the psychologist James Hillman say that most of us get closest to God in adolescence and towards the end of our life). I would like to read more of her description of this. She said it was both ecstatic and horrifying at the same time. Plus, to all of you Daniel Quinn fans out there, it sounds very similar to the experience that he had at the monastery in his early twenties, which he described in "Providence."

Another quote that points to the idea that I got from Robert Bly's "Sibling Society" years ago: We are the only culture to have ever colonized ourselves; and the political left are the gatekeepers. Also, I think this is perhaps why environmentalist and author Derrick Jensen has received close to a thousand hateful emails from folks on the left and only a handful from those on the political right. I've also heard Thomas Linzey say that the "progressive" community will not likely be the ones to carry the Community Rights work forward, a whole new constituency will arise and will be responsible for moving it forward.

"Corporations essentially define our economy, out society, our jobs, our educational system, and our leisure time. Our state legislatures once defined corporations as subordinate entities, yet now We The People find every aspect of our lives subordinated to corporate "needs."--Jane Anne Morris, pg.41, Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy

It's because of these corporate "needs" that I deliver so much junk mail and you get so much of it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our First Baseball Practice

Last night I spent the evening with 18 young men on the baseball diamond. I'm helping coach my son's 13-14 yr. old Babe Ruth team. Last night was our first practice. A few reflections and observations:

Reflections: This thought kept reoccurring during our practice: "Wow, just think you used to move and throw like that with little or no effort. Now you come to practice with ice packs and ibuprofen set to pace yourself." Ah yes, grief and diminishment. Welcome to middle-age, forty is only a few months away.

Observation: There is an underlying rage in most of those boys. They're extreme in nature. In trying to understand this I turn to Michael Ventura's "Age of Endarkenment:"

"We tend to think of this extremism in the young as rela-
tively new, peculiar to our time. The history of the race
doesn't bear this out. Robert Bly and Michael Meade,
among others, teach that tribal people everywhere
greeted the onset of puberty, especially in males, with
elaborate and excruciating initiations — a practice that
plainly wouldn't have been necessary unless their young
were as extreme as ours. But, unlike us, tribal people
met the extremism of their young (and I'm using "ex-
tremism" as a catch-all word for the intense inner caco-
phony of adolescence) with an equal but focused and
instructive extremism from the adults.

"The tribal adults didn't run from this moment in their
children as we do; they celebrated it. They would as-
sault their adolescents with, quite literally, holy terror;
rituals that had been kept secret from the young till
that moment — a secrecy kept by threat of death, so
important was this "adolescent moment" to the ancients;
rituals that focused upon the young all the light and
darkness of their tribe's collective psyche, all its sense
of mystery, all its questions and all the stories told to
both harbor and answer those questions. Their 'meth-
odology,' if you like, deserves looking at, since these
societies lasted with fair stability for at least 50,000 years.

"The crucial word here is 'focus.' The adults had some-
thing to teach: stories, skills, magic, dances, visions,
rituals. In fact, if these things were not learned well
and completely, the tribe could not survive. But the
adults did not splatter this material all over the young
from the time of their birth, as we do. They focused
and were as selective as possible in what they told and
taught, and when. They waited until their children
reached the intensity of adolescence, and then they
used that very intensity's capacity for absorption, its
hunger, its need to act out, its craving for dark things,
dark knowledge, dark acts, all the qualities we fear
most in our kids - the ancients used these very
qualities as teaching tools.

"Through what the kids craved, they were given what
they needed. Kids of that age crave extremes of ex-
perience — they crave this suddenly and utterly, and
are possessed by their craving. They can't be talked out
of it or conditioned out of it. It's in our genetic coding,
if you like, to crave extremes at that age. (So they must
certainly feel rage if, as in our culture, adults tell them
that these cravings are wrong, disruptive, and/or don't
really exist — which New Agers do as surely as Vic-
torians.) At the same time, these kids need the cosmology
and skills apt for survival in their world. The kids can
create the extremes for themselves — they're quite good
at it; but not the cosmology, not the skills. And
without those elements, given at the proper time
through the dark-energy channels that have suddenly
opened in the young and go clear down to their souls,
the need for extremes is never really satisfied in its pur-
pose, and hence it goes on and on."--Micheal Ventura out of The Age of Endarkenment

We don't give them a working cosmology. Why? We don't have one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014

It's Earth Day. And I've been sitting here for a half-n-hour or so trying to figure what I'm going to say about it. This best I can come up with is a quote by a guy that I didn't know existed until yesterday. His name is Henry Giroux. I guess Bill Moyers has interviewed him the past. I heard about him from Derrick Jensen. He'll be doing an interview with him on Resistance Radio in the near future. Anyway, here is the quote:

“It’s hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. It’s easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism.”

I struggle with this all the time. Do you?

I want my kids and grandkids to sit down some day and not have to hear about species going extinct, overpopulation, poisoned water, rising cancer rates, mountain tops being blown to pieces, oil spills, climate change, desertification, and the list goes on.

Happy Earth Day...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The End Of The World As We Know It

Yesterday, I had a brief conversation about gas prices with an over-the-road truck driver. I mentioned that a lot of us would be shocked if we had to pay the real price for gas. He said, "We don't as it is; we pay over 60% in taxes." I knew where he was going with it: Gas is over taxed; we need cheap toilet paper; and government is going to tax the working man out of a job. I more or less bowed out of the conversation and took in what he had to say.

But before I went on my way I did mention that no matter what the government does I'm afraid the price of gas will continually rise until a lot of us can't afford it anymore. I pointed to the fact that in the mid-eighteen hundreds the first oil well in the United States was only about 60 feet deep and produced a gusher of oil. About 150 years later we had the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that was at least a mile below the ocean's surface and a couple more miles below the bottom of the ocean. "I'm afraid we're running out cheap oil. It's becoming harder to find." I said. He said, "We have all the oil we need in Alaska. It's just that pipeline that's holding it up."

I wished him a nice day

Welcome to the end of the world as we know it. (Thank you to the band REM for this line)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy" Has Arrived

The other day I received "Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy" and immediately started reading essays out of it. I can't believe this book is out of print. I think it's essential reading for any citizen that wants to fight for democracy. It's clear after reading a few essays that things really do not have to be this way. Anyway, the first essay by Jane Anne Morris is one of the best titles to an essay that I've come across in my short and limited reading life:

"Help! I've Been Colonized And I Can't Get Up..."

Ain't that the truth. It's going to take generations to get this thing turned around...if we do. Right now, as I type this Plum Creek is clear cutting (liquidating) close to 100 acres of red pine plantation next to my neighbors house. And if that isn't horrible enough they have plans on spraying the whole section with herbicides to kill anything that'll compete with the trees (assets) they are going to plant.

To show you how naïve I used to be, when I first read "Ishmael" and quit logging back at the turn of the century, I thought for sure we'd be well beyond this type of forestry practice within a decade. I really thought that enough minds would be changed and more sensible and sustainable ways to cut trees would be common.

On my way out the door to shovel a foot of wet, heavy snow so that I can get out of my driveway. I wonder if this is the last storm of the year.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another Sunday Morning

It's Sunday. Hopefully home all day. Making an effort to not get in an automobile to go anywhere. The Beatles are playing on the Bose in the background. Daughter is dancing to the beat. Starting on my fourth cup of coffee to help fuel the ambition to cut some firewood. Surrounded by books, one of them is Jim Harrison's "Just Before Dark: Collected Nonfiction." Two lines speak to me this morning. One by the author and the other by W.B Yeats. Harrison says, "Poetry at its best is the language your soul would speak if you could teach your soul to speak," and Yeats, "Those men who in their writings are most wise, own nothing but their blind stupified hearts."

Time to work with wood.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Lower Brains Run The Show

I found the internet quote I was looking for yesterday. I'm beginning to think about the only thing the internet is good for is an organizing tool.

"Virtually reality, touted as an alternative reality, really means no reality at all, or rather it means that the neocortex, outflanked and pressured, creates a place it can be in control for forty minutes, while the lower brains [reptilian and paleomammalian] run everything else in the universe.

"The internet is a perfect creation of the sibling society, particularly in its belief that no codes of literary behavior and no standards are called for, and information can come along fruitfully without any filtering. But civilized proceedings cannot proceed without filters." (Robert Bly, Pg. 258, The Sibling Society)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wrong Book

Yesterday I wrote about my oldest son and how I read him a passage about Thoreau. What I forgot to mention was there was another passage that I was searching for and wanted to read to him but couldn't find. Well, this morning I found it. I couldn't find it because I was looking in the wrong book! I found it while looking for another passage on how the internet has made us even less political than we already were before it became popular. Here's the passage:

"[Thoreau's] aunt, who admired an ethical man named Dr. Chalmers, complained, 'Henry will stand for six hours watching frogs hatch, but he won't read the biography of Dr. Chalmers!' When Thoreau was dying, a neighbor said to him, 'How do you stand with Christ?' Thoreau said, wittily, but truthfully for him, 'A snowstorm is more to me than Christ.'" (Robert Bly, Pg. 56, The Sibling Society)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Living Sincerely

Lately, our oldest son (He's 14) has been spending a lot of time in the woods lighting campfires, shooting his homemade bow, watching the birds, climbing trees, etc. So while we took a break from doing firewood I felt inspired to pull down "The Winged Life: The Poetic Voice of Henry David Thoreau," by Robert Bly. Prior to me doing this we were talking about how Thoreau had changed his name from David Henry to Henry David. I wanted to find the passage where Bly talks about the name change but like usual I was sidetracked and read this passage to him instead. It's about what it means for a human being to "live sincerely." I hope he remembers it in times of need.

"To live sincerely is to live your own life, not your father's life or your mother's life or your neighbors life; to spend soul on large concerns, not to waste your life on your neighbor's life; not to waste your life as a kind of human ant carrying around small burdens; and finally, to live sincerely is to 'live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,' as Thoreau declares in "Walden." (Pg.25)

I hope I remember it in times of need.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

It's a Corpocracy

Despite what we've learned since kindegarten: We do not live in a democracy; we live in a corpocracy. If we want to eventually live sustainably on this planet we're going to have to learn how to govern ourselves again. And that is going to involve fighting to elevate community rights above corporate rights. As it stands right now a corporation can come into your community and commit whatever harm it sees fit. The only thing that you can do as a community is try to regulate this legal fiction. In other words, it's a given the corporation is going to commit the harm. You just get to regulate how harmful the harm is going to be. Where I come from that isn't democracy, and its not a good recipe for sustainability.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Time To Blow Snow

If you live in northwestern Wisconsin, and haven't been outside yet, there is close to a foot of fresh snow on the ground, and it's still coming down. Time to put on my bibs, boots, hat and gloves and trudge out to my pic-up to head over to my dads to load up the snowblower. That'll be close to a dozen times this year. I don't think I've loaded up the snowblower this many times in total in the past decade. It's just been a tough winter. I can only imagine what the deer and turkeys are feeling right now. The robin that I saw last Saturday, it's probably packed up and is almost to the Wisconsin/Iowa border by now.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Another Week

Yesterday, after work, I made up my mind that I was going to return Jung's "Red Book" to the library. It was a day overdue and it's hard to get an extension on inter-library loan books. Plus, I've got plenty of books and magazines around here to read but not enough time to read most of them as it is. But when I got up to the counter to hand the book off to the librarian I changed my mind. I asked her if I could keep it for another week and she didn't think it would be a problem, they just had to do some paperwork on it. Once again, I walked out the library with "The Red Book." This time not feeling excited but slightly obligated and overwhelmed.

This morning, to justify my keeping it, I was determined to randomly open it and just start reading a section or some footnotes. So, I did. The first paragraph that I layed my eyes on was underlined in pen by someone else. It read:

"It is better to be thrown into visible chains than into invisible ones. You can certainly leave Christianity but it does not leave you. Your liberation from it is a delusion. Christ is the way. You can certainly run away, but then you are no longer the way." [Pg. 293]

I think it's noteworthy because this is more or less what I've been getting at in some of my posts after the sermon from my fundamentalist neighbor. I also wrote down another quote that I think is somehow related to telephone sermon:

"Like everything healthy and long-lasting, truth unfortunately adheres more to the middle way, which we unjustly abhor." [pg. 293]

Seeing more blue herons around here. Time to go add to my firewood pile.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Lorax and Beauty

"A think of beauty is a joy forever"-- John Keats

Believe it or not I first heard this quote while the kids were watching "The Lorax" about a month or so ago. After I wrote it down I'd assumed Dr. Seuss came up with it until I googled it this morning. It looks like he stole it from Keats.

I've heard James Hillman say that beauty is proof that the gods exist. Without it we'd only have theology.

Off to work we go this morning. That wasn't the plan until the phone woke me up at around 10 last night.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

From Jung to Uecker

I had someone tell me the other day that I had to let the telephone sermon with the fundamentalist, firewood cutting neighbor go; that I should just let it roll off my back. I don't know if the person thought I was wounded or hurt or what. Somehow I got the feeling that they thought I needed support in this. Or perhaps that I needed protection. That's not the case at all. I'm geniunely interested in some of the things the guy had to say. Of course, when you're interested in anything there is focus, attention, emotion and values and so on. And anyone that knows me knows that I don't just let things go. I can't. It's impossible. I still brood and think on things that were said to me 25 years ago. Anyway...

During the conversation my neighbor said that he hears the prophetic voice of the lord on a daily basis. I think the guy does hear voices. And I'm not saying that in a contemptuous way. I don't think he's a nutcase. Granted I don't agree with some of the things that his voices are telling him, but I'm interested that he's hearing voices. Why? As I've mentioned before, I'm reading bits and pieces of Jung's "Red Book", and that's what the whole thing is about. It's an account of a man dealing with the voices of his internal figures. He's telling those of us in the Western tradition that we all have internal figures and voices that we hear. That's your soul. And we need to get to know and discern which figures are saying what. I think that's what good fiction writers do by the way. I've heard authors say that the characters they create actually take over their life at times.

All of that interests me.

Last night, while I was grilling burgers, I saw two blue herons fly over and heard some Canadian geese off in the distance. I'm not sure, but I think I heard sand hill cranes as I was getting into the Park Avenue to head off to work. There's still alot of standing water and snow around here. Our old horse barn finally caved in.

Oh, and Bob Uecker thinks that Justin Upton beat B.J. to the table quite a bit when they were kids.

Those are some of my thoughts and observations before I head out to cut firewood on this gray day.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Two-Thousand Year Curse

The other day I posted about the telephone sermon that my firewood cutting, fundamentalist Christian neighbor felt that he needed to give me. I'm a bit worried that come across as anti-Christian or anti-religious or just beyond all of that at times. I don't think I am. I was born and baptized a Christian for gods sakes. I may proclaim that I'm not Christian on the surface but below I am. The great thinker and psychologist James Hillman convinced me of this last year, and he alluded to it here in Lament of the Dead (A conversation about Jung's Red Book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in Jung's work.)

"When I'm talking about the Christians, I'm not only talking about those who are denominationally officially Christian, or go to Church or whatever. We're all Christians. We're all suffering the two-thousand year curse that has been laid on us by what you all like so much, the early Church." (Pg. 218)

Perhaps, I'm just one of the billions suffering from the two-thousand year curse.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Love Pitched Its Mansion In Excrement

The other day I called a neighbor to see if he had firewood left to sell. I soon found out that he was a fundamentalist Christian. Approximately 85% of the 30 minute telephone sermon was biblical quotes, his philosophy on how Obama is the apex of evil; how our nation is suffering because of abortions, men marrying men and women marrying women, and how he hears the lord speak to him while he's cutting firewood.

I should've cut him off five minutes into it. I don't why I didn't. I'm almost 40 and my time here is getting shorter by the day. I don't need someone telling me what they think is the truth. Oh well, here I am a few days later looking up "Crazy Jane," by William Butler Yeats because of it. I should have read him these lines:

"But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent."

Next time...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Waking The Dead

Rumi writes: "Those of you whose work it is to wake the dead, get up, this is a work day." (Pg.106, A Year With Rumi)

Me: We're up and out of bed. My son and I will be reading "My Ishmael" to each other in a few minutes. Doing what we can do to step out of the Great Forgetting into the The Great Remembering, Rumi.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Big Red Friend

I spent some time with my big, red friend this morning. I ran across this statement that Carl Jung made in a seminar back in 1930.

"We are prejudiced in regard to the animal. People don't understand when I tell them they should become acquainted with their animals or assimilate their animals. They think the animal is alway jumping over walls and raising hell all over town. Yet in nature the animal is a well-behaved citizen. It is pious, it follows the path with great regularity, it does nothing extravagent. Only man is extravagant. So if you assimilate the character of the animal you become a pecularily law-abiding citizen, you go very slowly, and you become very reasonable in your ways, in as much as you can afford it." [Pg.296, The Red Book]

It's interesting to note that the other day when I called into Wisconsin Public Radio the guest from the Wisconsin Towns Association kept repeating throughout the program that local ordinances must be reasonable. I'd say that if the citizentry assimilates the "character of the animal," as Jung recommends, a very reasonable response to any potential harm moving into a community is to simply say NO. You cannot mine our sand, spray pesticides on the fields, spread shit across a 1000 acres, or pack close to a thousand head of cattle on less than adequate acreage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Call To WPR

I called into Wisconsin Public Radio yesterday. I don't rememeber the last time I did this. The hour long program was about local governments in Wisconsin regulating the frac-sand industry. It had two guests: One from the Wisconsin Towns Association and the other a corporate attorney representing a frac-sand company down by Eau Claire.

Here is the point I made when I called in for all the listeners to hear: This is about Community Rights. A community should have the right to say NO to a frac-sand mine. Right now, in Wisconsin, this is illegal and considered unconstitutional for a community to do. When a community forms a citizen majority and tries to say NO they run up against a structure of law that clearly shows them that a corporation has more rights than their local governing body. In other words, corporations (a legal fiction) have more rights than they do. We do not live in a democracy.

They cut me off before I could make any follow up remarks. Both guests said that I missed the point.

It's also interesting to note that during the whole hour the words "rights" and "community rights" came up once in the conversation (It's not really a conversation), and that is when I called in.

If we want to live in a democracy we've got a long road ahead of us.


Read the quote below to my 14 yr. old son this morning. He immediately got the dictionary out and looked up Eleusis and epitaph. Next we start reading "My Ishmael" to each other.

It's a good unschooling morning so far...

“Truly the blessed gods have proclaimed a most beautiful secret: death comes not as a curse but as a blessing to men.”- Ancient Greek Epitaph from Eleusis

Monday, March 24, 2014


It's at least 10 degrees below zero at sunrise this morning. That set a record for this area on this day of March according to my phenology calendar. We've been seeing mallards, Canadian geese, and hooded mergansers on the crick that runs behind the house. A few days back I saw a skunk standing on the side of the road. Still well over 2 feet of frozen snow on the ground.

Masonry stove fire roaring. Van Halen's "Unchained" playing in my head.

The other day author and psychologist Thomas Moore wrote on his Facebook page: "Freud, Jung and others explored the mysteries of the soul, but the psyche has largely gone out of modern 'psycho-logy.'"

I asked: "What would be some good indicators that the psyche has gone out of modern psychology from a therapist's perspective?"

He said: "Therapists thinking they know what a particular person should be; using only meds; using evidence-based methods; trying to change behavior instead of listening to the soul. . . ."

Off to feed the animals and start the car....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jung's Red Book

Yesterday I got the chance to pick up Carl Jung's "Red Book" from my local library through inter-library loan. The book is huge. My wife says it's bigger than a sheet-cake pan and it looks like a real page turner. She also said it'll also cure me of falling asleep in bed with a book. It's possible that it could give me a concussion or a bloody nose if I hold it just right and doze off. My son laughed at me when he walked by the kitchen table as I was reading it. He said it looks like a giant wizard's book. When I walked out of the library with it I felt like a boy again. Similar to what it felt like when I walked out of the grocery story with a new pack of baseball cards thirty years ago. Part of it, I think, is because of the sheer size of the book and the other is that I'm giddy about having it in my hands. I'm interested in reading about an intense conversation between a man and his soul.

Like usual I was looking through the footnotes and found this quote: "If he [A Man] accepts the feminine in himself, he frees himself from slavery to woman."( pg.263) D.H. Lawrence once said something like if a man doesn't organize his life around his vision he will become a slave to a woman's sex nights. I'll have to look the quote up again. I probably murdered it. I wonder if this is why some men can't live without pornography. They have a hard time accepting that other half of themselves.

That's my amatuerish psychological insight for the day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When It Finds You

"When death finds you, may it find you alive."--African proverb

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rubber Boots and Soul

I promised myself I'd read the section titled a Democrat's Platonism out of James Hillman's The Soul's Code before everyone got out of bed this morning. I did it, and it's left me with a few questions to ponder as I go about my day: Democracy has Founding Fathers, but does it have angels? Can I imagine democracy more than just a collection of opinionated victims?

Reading this section also cuts to the question that Paul Cienfuegos asked at the beginning of the We The People workshop I attended last weekend: Why are you here? I wanted to simply say for the soul, but I didn't....

Time to cut firewood then a trip to town for haircuts and new rubber boots. Our front lawn will soon be flooded and rubber boots will be required if we plan on venturing anywhere out of the house.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Pinch of Pain

This morning I find myself sitting next to the fire reading through material that I've been asked to read for a community rights workshop I'm interested in attending next weekend. The paragraph below hit me hard:

"Corporations and their owners have learned quite well that when you control the law, you can rise swiftly to power and wealth by shedding -- and shredding -- bothersome laws adopted by communities. By configuring and perpetuating a corporate culture -- that embeds corporate values into the culture: government bad, free enterprise good; jobs vs. the environment; efficiency and modernization good, leisure time bad -- people are slowly colonized to believe the unbelievable."--Thomas Linzey

We live in a corporate state. Corporations run our country. We simply go along without resisting real heavily. And if we do we know the consequences. I've known this for well over a decade now. But for some odd reason it hurts more this morning. I think the psychologist Thomas Moore referred to it as the "pinch of pain."

I don't know why. My only guess is that if one is going to stare this corporate state in the face one is going to feel pain and grief. I've learned that much on this path so far. To hold back these feelings takes more energy and just creates flatness.

The only thing I can say to myself is welcome to adulthood. You're not a child anymore. Welcome to the pain and grief of manhood. Real men know grief. Real men know how, as Robert Bly says, to go down in the ashes.

I continue on down the path from laws to legends.

We're all on it whether we like it or not.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

New Generation

The "new generation" isn't just those born at a certain time, but all of us living now. We can all cultivate a new vision.-Thomas Moore

I see Ishmael as one of the foundational building blocks of that new vision.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Belief and Believing in God

I read the quote below to my 14 year old son this morning. He's a big fan of The Percy Jackson series (My wife is actually reading it right now) and the rest of Rick Riordan's work. And he occasionally wonders out loud if the Greek Gods actually exist. The answer I usually come up with usually is: Well, Carl Jung use to have a latin saying above one of his doorways that said: "Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. ... Summoned or not summoned, The God is present."

Also, the quote below also reminds me of deer season a few years back. On the afternoon of Thanksgiving, my dad and I were in the bar having a couple of beers after registering a deer I'd just shot that morning. There was a guy about my age (I'm 39)sitting across from us that was close to falling-of-his-barstool drunk. He looked over at me and asked if I believed in Bigfoot. I shot back with, "I don't believe in anything." It just came out.

"James Hillman: Belief is captured in the realm of religion and Christianity makes a big deal of it. Credo. And the Christian God, you know, starts with the credo, I believe in Jesus Christ, and so on and so forth. That's part of the testament of faith. And I often wondered what would happen to the Gods of Christianity in no one believed in them. They require belief. If the God says you have to believe in me, then belief is what supports the God. The Greeks did not ask people to believe in their Gods. The Gods asked for certain rituals, or not to be forgotten, that was the most important thing. Not to be forgotten.

"Sonu Shamdasani: Belief automatically valorizes disbelief. To say 'believe in something' is a statement: the addressee is starting from a position of disbelief, or nonbelief, and is asked to move from that state to one of belief. This is the whole shift that Jung completely tries to discount. It's not a question of belief, nor was it a question of disbelief." [Pg.128, Lament of The Dead]

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Soul and Imagination

I had a guy tell me the other day that he didn't believe that we have souls. I don't know if we do or not. But I found this quote referring to Carl Jung and "The Red Book" interesting:

"...actually what he [Carl Jung with his Red Book] reestablished was that the psyche is a living world of imagination and that any person can descend into that world. That's your truth, that's what you are, that's what your soul is. You're in search of soul, and your soul is imagination. As Blake said, Jesus, the imagination, meaning the very creative power, the redemptive power, the strength that you are, is given to you by this remarkable thing that Coledridge called the esemplastic imagination, this force that presents itself figured. They are your teachers, they are your motivators, and they are your landscapes. That's what the habitations of your depths are. This seems to me the prophecy. I think this is the teaching that DOES come out [of the Red Book]."--James Hillman, Pg. 114, Lament of the Dead

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

One More

I had -5 F at the official sunrise this morning. It's warming up! You know that you've had bad winter when you start feeling this way.

More signs of spring are in the air. Last night, at around 8 o'clock or so, Hayden (4 yr. old) approached me wearing his spiderman suit, his left hand wearing a baseball glove holding onto an orange Ripken foam ball. We ended up tossing and rolling the ball back and forth to each other for a half-hour or so. Me on my knees in the middle of the kitchen and he standing on the pitcher's mound in the middle of our round house. He didn't catch any balls I tossed to him. He did well on grounders, though. He let me know that Cal and Billy (He's watched my Baseball Fundamentals by Ripken Baseball videos more times than I can count) taught him how to take grounders. Despite all of the missed tossed balls he doesn't give up. He'll go close to a hour and catch only a handful of balls. I'll be begging for mercy and he'll be asking me to throw "one more." Someday I'm going to have a T-shirt made that says "One More" on it. I'll wear it during baseball practices. Why? Because that is one of the most oft repeated phrases you hear when your throwing batting practice or catching pitches from Little Leaguers.

I'm afraid my son is going to one more my arm into retirement sooner then I wish. Time to load up the boys and start hauling slab wood for next winter...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Last night at the dinner table our teenage son posed this question: "What does it mean to be sentient?" I couldn't come up with an answer off the top of my head. Which is terrible because I don't know how many times I've read about sentience in Derrick Jensen's work. Annie threw her definition out there which was being conscious of your own existence. I then fumbled around for awhile with idea of perception. Then got my feet underneath me and a head of steam and explained to him that this is the problem with our culture. Most of us at some level believe that humans are the only sentient beings on the planet. We think that we are the only ones that can perceive with our senses that we exist. The rest of the creatures are basically unfeeling machines. If we didn't think this I'd probably see a lot less frozen dead deer plowed up into the snow banks along the roadways as I deliver mail. Perhaps we wouldn't have cars or roads either.

My Webster's Random House College Dictionary that sentient is: 1. having the power of perception by the senses; conscious. 2. Characterized by sensation and consciousness.

Before posting this, Annie asked: "Isn't that why we believe animals don't have souls?"

Time to get the van warmed up to head to town for a doctor's appointment

Monday, March 03, 2014

Cold Again At Sunrise

It's well over 30 below zero Fahrenheit this morning. The starter turned over hard on the Saturn (Our mail car) at 6 AM. And that was after the oil pan heater was plugged in for a couple of hours. I didn't think it was going to go but it finally popped and Annie was off to work.

Had breakfast with my family yesterday. My dad and grandpa let me know that folks around the area are finding frozen wild turkeys on their land. One women said that she found some frozen up in their roost and on the ground below it. On the mail route I almost had a deer jump in the car with me as I was cruising down the road at 40 miles per hour. It just stood on top of the snow bank and decided to bolt as I was passing by. The plowed roads and driveways are some of the only places they can go right now where they're not up to their chests and neck in snow. The black bear: They just sleep through it.

Broken glass by baby hands in the house. Time to go..

Sunday, March 02, 2014

15 Years Or So After...

The other day I ran across this line out of "Lament of the Dead:"

"There's something very different about feeling that I'm being lived by a story."--pg.92

Yes, there is, Mr. Hillman. And that is one of the big reasons, I think, Ishmael had such an impact on me. I had no idea at the time that you could be lived by a story. Or maybe at some level I did, but it helped me to have it brought to light by a good teacher.

Next I ask myself why I'm thinking about this book 15 years after its reading. Am I being like Alan Lomax, the main character in Ishmael, and just hanging around my guru and not got out into the world to live my life with these teachings. No, I'm not. The soul, as Plotinus and others have taught us, moves in circles. It's not linear and therefore not progressive. I'll probably circle around and periodically return to these teachings for the rest of my life.

Ishmael helped me remember that the soul is immanent.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's 20 below zero before the sunrise on this Thursday morning. Despite the frigidly cold weather I noticed a couple signs of spring on the mail route yesterday. Saw two eagles sitting together on the branch of an oak tree over looking a farmer's pasture. From the looks of them I got the impression they could be thinking about having little ones together. Also noticed a lot of oak leaves blowing around on top of the waste-high snow in my front yard. Perhaps the oaks have gotten impatient. They're decided to start pushing their new buds out and shedding the old, brown, shriveled up leaves that've hung on all winter.

These two lines from Rumi keep running through me head:

"My worst habit is I get so tired of winter
I become a torture to those I'm with."

Off to unexpectedly deliver mail again this morning.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wrestling Machines

Spent most of my waking hours yesterday wrestling my dad's John Deere snow blower up and down our driveway. Now, it's off to work this morning to wrestle our 1996 Buick Park Avenue through snow banks in an attempt to deliver two-days worth of mail for the United States Postal Service. It'd be all more worth it if I handled more mail like the mail one of my customer's has waiting for me whenever I work. He has a hand written letter in an artfully crafted envelope with a U.S postage stamp stuck in the right hand corner addressed to I'm presuming a friend of his.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Saving The Buffalo

If anyone is interested in the fight to save the last remaining wild buffalo this interview is worth listening to. This interview also inspired me to go back and look up this quote about the buffalo and extinction:

"About ten years ago, I spoke to members of the Society for Ecological Restoration. I told them that traditional Indian knowledge says that beings never become extinct. They go away, but they have the power to come back. I predicted that, in their restorations, if they were preparing the area right, plants they thought were extinct would begin coming back unaided after four or five years. Plants would come back first, and then animals and then birds.

"Of course, my audience thought I was crazy. But later, when I went to get a cup of coffee, several people followed me. They said, "You're right. We're seven years into a swamp restoration in Wisconsin, and all the original plants are coming back."

"This is not as extraordinary as it might sound. The elders tell us that the buffalo used to go back and forth between two worlds. In the summertime, people would find themselves in the middle of a big herd for weeks. But in the wintertime, there would be only a few buffalo down in the river bottoms, or up in the grasslands. Where were the huge herds? According to the Sioux, they were underground. There were about ten places where they went in or came back out.

"When I first heard that, I didn't believe it. Then I talked to some of the elders, who said, "Of Course," and showed me the buttes where the buffalo used to come out in the springtime. I thought, this is insane, so I scoured the literature, but I couldn't find any accounts of big buffalo herds in the wintertime. Then, come June, the damn plains were so covered with buffalo. In the fall, they started disappearing again.

"I'm still working on this one. But that's what life is all about. You take disparate facts, bring them together, and say, "Now, what's the real question?" And so often you're amazed to find that the matter is much deeper than you ever imagined. But the point is to ask the questions, and keep asking them."--Vine Deloria Jr. in an interview with Derrick Jensen back in July of 2000.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Letter To The Editor Concerning Environmentalists

This letter is in response to [Writer's name] letter criticizing environmentalists two weeks ago. A couple of things he wrote jumped out at me as I read his letter. They are: "It seems that to diehard environmentalists the earth and it creatures take welfare over humans." Then he finishes his letter with, "According to scripture human beings were God's prize creation."

Perhaps this thinking is part of the problem that you and others have with the environmentalist movement. They, and the science they're using--roughly 200 species a day going extinct, the planet warming up, human population doubling every 50 years or so-- to fuel their actions are showing us in no uncertain terms that we are indeed not "God's prize creation." Is it possible that we're as important to the creator as woodticks or wolves? Can we go the way of the dinosaur without God batting an eye? Pope Francis recently was quoted as saying, "God always forgives. People occasionally forgive. But nature never forgives. You drive a creature extinct, that creature is not coming back."

The possibility of our species going extinct is a frightening thought to some, [Writer's name]. I think it's important we give them the space and listen to their concerns before we jump to conclusions.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beyond The Playground Fence

"Schooling of any kind is unnecessary and counterproductive in human children." Daniel Quinn, Pg. 166

My sister recently inspired me to go back and reread the chapter titled, Unschooling The World out of "My Ishmael." That chapter helped me understand why as a boy I always wondered what was beyond the fence that surrounded South Beaver Dam school's playground. And why I entertained the fantasy of me and a few friends packing up a some clothes, matches, and primitive weapons and spending a couple of nights next to a campfire under the stars. Perhaps James Hillman is right, the heart imagines its way out of things

The Willingness To Look

A brief reflection after looking at this page and map concerning Wisconsin's frac sand industry.

"The white man seeks to conquer nature, to bend it to his will and to use it wastefully until it is all gone and then he simply moves on, leaving the waste behind him and looking for new places to take. The whole white race is a monster who is always hungry and what he eats is land." ~Chiksika, (1760-1792), The eldest brother and mentor of Tecumseh

When discussing war and resistance, James Hillman once said that we must think ourselves into the heart of the enemy. We must go to war ourselves. Asking: What are there beliefs? What are there fears? Why do they do what they do? And If we don't, he warns we remain innocents. We remain children not wanting to know. Not willing to look.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Children, Celebrities and Madness

More on the theme of children and learning with a little depth psychology thrown in there:

"We educate our children to make a good living rather than to become thinking persons, and often we honor as celebrities those who have not made a genuine contribution to society but who mirror our own madness."-Thomas Moore, pg. 97, Original Self

I remember Thomas Moore saying in a talk that I have downloaded that people locked away in insane asylums are living our madness for us.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Indian and Non-indian People

"If you are concerned about the mounting evidence of catastrophic climate change or the fate of the world's forests and the loss of global biodiversity, then you cannot afford to overlook the critical role of native peoples in defending their lands and culture from mining and oil corporations. Their success or failure is inextricably tied to the fate of the planet and the health and well-being of its people."--Al Gedicks

Thursday, February 06, 2014


My son's 14 years old. And has friends around the same age. They exhibit, among many other things, a sense of heightened irritability and energy. The body races. The head is ready to explode with plans. It could just be a dragon in the blood. Or is it what Michael Meade and the Gisu of Uganda call Litima?

"To them [the Gisu], Litima is the violent emotion peculiar to the masculine part of things that is the source of quarrels, ruthless competition, possessiveness, power-driveness, and brutality and that is also the source of independence, courage, upstandingness, and emotional force that fuels the process of becoming an individual ... Litima is ambiguous ... it has two sides. The source of independence and high ideals can also be the source of ruthlessness and brutality."--Michael Meade

I find it easier looking at this way compared too seeing it as a thirty-fold increase in testosterone.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Mysteries Are Not To Be Solved

Reading Rumi before heading off to carry mail this morning. I really like these two lines out his poem titled: "Someone Digging in the Ground." I've heard Robert Bly quote the "eye goes blind" in at least one of his talks.

"Mysteries are not to be solved. The eyes goes blind when it only wants to see why."--Rumi

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Before The World Was Made

A perfect poem on this holy day: Sunday.

From mirror after mirror
No vanity's displayed
I'm looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.--William Butler Yeats

I'm adding this a few hours after my initial post because I feel it's important: The overriding question of our time is: How are we going to stop murdering the planet before it's too late? The Community Rights movement is one way to stop it, I think. The excerpt below shows why Corporate America is taking this style of organizing seriously. We're already seeing bills being circulated (Thank you to Tom Tiffany from Hazelhurst) in Wisconsin to diminish the autonomy an authority of local governments to decide what goes on in their communities. In other words, there are politicians at the state level that don't like direct democracy.

EXCERPT FROM: Energy New Mexico
A Publication of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico


"...Earlier this year, Mora County, New Mexico became the first county in the nation to pass a complete ban on oil and gas development. The Mora County Community Rights ordinance states that corporations may not drill, extract, or contract for any oil and gas development. Further stating, corporations have no rights to free speech or the right to go to court to protect their corporate or even private property.

"Specifically, corporations have no rights under the 1st, 5th, or 14th Amendments of the United States or New Mexico Constitutions and the county has the right to ignore all federal and state laws regulating oil and gas development.

"Framed as the “new civil rights movement for the younger generation,” the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is leading the fight against corporations and the oil and gas industry. The CELDF drafted the Mora County Ordinance and has announced that it will defend the county against any legal challenges all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

"In November 2013, IPANM and several land and mineral owners filed a suit in Federal court against Mora County. The suit alleges violations of corporate constitutional rights. Effectively, the Mora County ban and other ordinances seeking to limit corporate and private rights is a test of ‘home rule’ that allows any local government to create its own laws. This includes banning any unpopular businesses without the protection of the state or federal laws.

"While industry, the media and the public might ignore all the commotion created about the hydraulic fracturing discussion, this issue is the beginning of a social movement that is greater than just the oil and gas industry, it is a potential game changer for all of corporate America." This was posted on The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund's Facebook page on January 31st

Thursday, January 30, 2014

End Modern Capitalism With Good Books

Finishing up Thomas Moore's Original Self this morning. This quote has got me thinking:

"The way out of the dehumanizing effects of modern capitalism and industrialism is not to change the system but to read good books."(Page 143)

Some brief reflections: I didn't start reading good books on a regular basis until my mid-twenties. It all started about 15 years ago after I read "Ishmael." Given my lifestyle--unschooling 3 kids, taking care of a horse, a dog and a cat, plus 4 vehicles sitting in the driveway and a cordwood house to maintain--I barely have enough time to finish a good book these days. And I'd guess that I work at a job half as much as a man my age living in a similar situation. We've worked hard to stay out of debt. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't feel blessed. It's been that way since I started reading good books.

I'm also thinking of an interview that Derrick Jensen did with Lierre Keith on the Progressive Radio Network a few months ago. At the end of the interview she made a distinction between a liberal and a radical. What I heard her say is that liberals spend most of their time trying to change individual minds. They concentrate more on personal transformation. Radicals, on the other hand, organize and try to change the material conditions that keep them oppressed. They are not afraid of wanting to seize and obtain power...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Religion and Sex

One of the Townships near me is working on banning any kind of adult entertainment within the township. I don't know where I'm at concerning the issue, but I've always like this quote by Alan Watts: "Religion without sex is a rattling skeleton, and sex without religion is a mass of mush." Or this one by Thomas Moore, "Sex and religion are closer to each other than either might prefer."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

An Insight into Manhood

This morning I ran across one of the best insights into being a son, grandson, and father that a guy could ask for, and that you will rarely hear mentioned in our innocent American culture. The Tallensi of Ghana say: "Your son is your rival." This also explains why my neighbor has a bumper sticker on the bug shield of his work truck that reads: "I hate [Insert his son's name here]." Talk about being transparent.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Growing up I used to be a Washington Redskins fan. I still remember watching Joe Theismann falling behind center wearing eye-black, a single-bar kicker's helmet, and the #7 on his jersey (My favorite number to this day). And Joe Gibbs giving the ball to John Riggins sometimes up to 40 times a game. The glory days of the franchise. Of course, now I've come to my senses and am a die hard Green Bay Packer's fan.

Why am I remembering and writing about this?

Yesterday I learned that "redskin" refers an image of a body of an Indian that has been skinned alive. I guess when you take the skin off from the human body most of the blood comes to the surface. This used to be a common practice as the settlers moved westward towards California. I always thought that redskin just referred to the reddish color of their skin.

I was wrong. And I can see why the natives want the name changed.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fever Setting In

As the snowflakes gently fall from the sky and the temperature drops outside these cordwood walls on this 20th day of January, my 4-year-old son stands facing me with baseball cap on head, baseball glove on left hand, ball in right hand, and a naked bottom. My 14 year old son's bat bag has made it's way from its spot in the old abandoned farm house a stone's throw away from the house we're living in now.

I'd say not cabin but baseball fever is setting in.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


"We have weakened the nobility of fatherhood in our time by mistaking imperialism in business and government for genuine paternal leadership. Mistakenly we complain about patriarchy instead of paternalism and weak-kneed authority. Patri-archy refers to the archetypal or original father, the ur-father, the father in heaven who permeates every created thing with his seminal possibilities."--Thomas Moore, Pg.51, Original Self

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Masculinity and Gender

This is some of the best writing on gender and masculinity that I've seen in a long time. It also speaks to my experience.

"Gender is an aspect of our individuality. I am a man as no one else is a man. My masculinity is like my American spirit, a defining facet. The variations of gender are infinite, and so it is absurd to reduce gender to two categories and insist that everyone fit into one or the other. Besides, all dualisms doom us to division and conflict. They are simplistic descriptions of experience and tend toward easy literalism. Paradoxically, to become less certain about one's own gender may be the turning point at which one begins to discover the richness of one's masculinity and femininity."--Thomas Moore, Pg.55, Original Self

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Roosevelt and The Future

The other day I listened to an interesting radio program about Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. The guest made the point that Roosevelt understood well that industrialism caused a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and he did all that he could do within his presidential powers to save capitalism and lift people out of poverty.

I often wonder what a future President's rhetoric will sound like when most of the population comes to the understanding that civilization is the cause of poverty; that when civilization walks in the door poverty comes with it. Or will there even be a Presidential office when this is realized?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Anxiety and Collapse

"Anxiety is nothing but fear inspired by an imagined future collapse. It is the failure of trust."-Thomas Moore

A few questions come to mind after running across this quote this morning. What kind of future collapse do you imagine? Where should we put our trust to alleviate the general feeling of anxiety in this day in age?

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Priapus's Hard-on

My morning started with a question. Why does priapus have a permanent hard-on? Then while doing some research on that I got sidetracked by a quote:

"Tell me for what you yearn and I shall tell you who you are. We are what we reach for, the idealized image that drives our wandering."--James Hillman

Back to priapus. A few reflections: From what I know about priapus so far health class would've been much more interesting if priapus would have been introduced. Sex would have lost some of its heaviness, I think. He also lightens things up when the subject of sex comes up with your 14 year old son. If you don't believe me look up some images of him.

Now it's time to go deliver mail in the polar vortex. While doing the route yesterday the temperature didn't get above -12 F. I've been noticing a lot of deer tracks along the wood edges. They have to be really struggling right now.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Listening To The Dead and Adulthood

"It is an adult perception to understand that the world belongs primarily to the dead, and we only rent it from them for a little while. They created it, they wrote its literature and it songs, and they are deeply invested in how children are treated, because the children are the ones who will keep it going. The idea that each of us has the right to change everything is a deep insult to them."--Robert Bly, pg. 238, The Sibling Society.

"The work is [Carl] Jung's 'Book of the Dead.' His descent into the underworld, in which there's an attempt to find the way of relating to the dead. He comes to the realization that unless we come to terms with the dead we simply cannot live, and that our life is dependent on finding answers to their unanswered questions." Sonu Shamdasani, pg. 1, Lament of the Dead

Saturday, January 04, 2014

More Cold On Its Way

The thermometer let me know it's 30 degrees warmer than it was yesterday morning about this time. It sounds like it's going to be a brief warm up. It's not suppose to be much above zero while the Packers face the 49ers tomorrow. The Governor of Minnesota has already called off school statewide because of projected cold temperatures. More on the cold theme:

"Tom Brown once asked Stalking Wolf why the cold didn't bother him. Stalking Wolf answered, 'Because it's real.'"--Ran Prieur

Friday, January 03, 2014

Keeping The Cold Out

It's 5AM. The thermometer on the wall reads -10 degrees F. It's warmed up 5 degrees since I went to bed 6 hours ago. The pine fire has just started to take off. Not much of a struggle to get it going, but it's work. Minutes later I sit down with my coffee and a book before heading off to pedal mail. A few minutes later the pen is uncapped and my hand is moving across the page writing the quote below.

"Stop struggling to keep the cold out. Let it flow through your body. Give it the space it will have in any case. Then you'll see that it isn't malevolent or hostile--or indeed anything that is thinking of you at all."-- Daniel Quinn, pg. 38, Tales of Adam

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Cold Again

It didn't get much above zero again today. I had -20 on my thermometer at 5AM. I'm wondering if this past December has been one of the coldest we've experienced in northwestern Wisconsin. And with the consistent cold temperatures I found myself going back through author Timothy Scott Bennett's Facebook updates to find where he talked about his experience with the cold and the stories he tells himself about it. With a little persistence I found it. It was a pleasure to read again before I get ready to go out for another run in below zero temperatures.

TSB's update from 12/17: "Isn't it amazing? I get up and it's 4° F below and still there are gulls in the sky, still there are crows looking for handouts, still there are deer stepping quietly across the driveway trying not to wake anyone. How do they do it, I won...der, and why can't I? Over the years, I've schooled myself to walk barefoot on the ground, and can now easily do so when it's 15-20°F. I go out without coat and hat for as long as I can, and let the wind rip right through me. It seems that story and fear and culture and belief are as much a factor as anything else, when it comes to our experience of cold. So I work at that level, knowing that I won't always be able to control my external circumstances, knowing that the stories inside of me will determine my experience just as much as any outside force, knowing that if I can meet things like cold, hunger, and discomfort without fear and judgment that that will give me an edge, knowing that Nietzsche was right about what makes me stronger. In the end, it's my resistance to what's so - whether it be cold, heat, biting ants, or feelings of anger or grief- that causes me all of my suffering. The story 'this should not be' creates so much of my upset. And it's a silly story, don't you think, as anything that "should not be" surely "is" already. The cold surely "is." And I think the gulls and crows and deers just take it as such, with no thought of personal punishment, no offense, no inner mumbling of 'this should not be.' Thank you, teachers."

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year's Resolution

My New Year's resolution: To entertain more radical thoughts.