Monday, May 31, 2010

Psalm for Memorial Day

Psalm 122

I rejoiced when I heard them announce,
“The time of warfare is past.
No more will brother hate brother
or violence have its way.
No more will they drown out God’s silence
and shut their hearts to his song.”

Pray for peace in the cities
and harmony among the races.
May peace come to live on our streets
and justice within our walls.
With all my heart I will pray
that peace comes to live among us.
For the sake of all earth’s people,
I will do my utmost for peace.

(The Psalms, translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Web archive of Panhala postings:

Mary Oliver: Wild Geese

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Dream Work)

Web archive of Panhala postings:

Howard Zinn: Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day?

On this Memorial Day, I find myself reflecting on so much... Including a new wave of grief with experiencing this day for the first time without Howard Zinn, who passed on January 27th, 2010. This once courageous WWII bombardier transformed himself into one of the most amazing warriors for peace. His is a different perspective on how to honor our fallen soldiers and others who fought tirelessly for peace, which I am moved to share today. Peace ~ Molly

Published on June 2, 1976 in the Boston Globe (from the Zinn Reader)
Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day?
by Howard Zinn

Memorial Day will be celebrated ... by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.

In 1974, I was invited by Tom Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. I did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year's Memorial Day. After it appeared, my column was canceled.

* * * * *

Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.


* * * * *

Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren. ~ Howard Zinn

Thursday, May 27, 2010

William Stafford: You Reading This, Be Ready

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

~ William Stafford ~

(The Way It Is)

Web version:

The Light Inside Dark Times

I am moved to share this message that I received from Mosaic today.
I so appreciate the work that Michael Meade does in the world.
Peace ~ Molly


When asked about the current crises in culture and nature Michael Meade referred to an excerpt from the recent CD set The Light Inside Dark Times:

“Creation in almost all stories and mythologies comes from emptiness and darkness. So culturally speaking, when things get dark and difficult a time of creation is also happening if we can recognize it. In a culture that has been saying for so long that it is the most powerful and most abundant of all, it is hard to get the notion of how a fall from that height could be a creative circumstance. We now have ourselves in one of those places where the Second Hand of Creation enters… and the way that things will be created will be through the losses and from the broken parts.”

He then added: “We might also add from the broken oil pipes and the cracking institutions and even from the broken hearts of those who witness the pollution of the oceans and the destruction of the marshes and the breeding grounds of nature.”

Visit the Mosaic website to listen to excerpts where Michael Meade shows how the dark and troubled times create circumstances for the return of the ecstatic, an increase of Eros, and growth of the soul.


Magical and profound, unlike anyone else one is likely to encounter,
Michael Meade is one of the greatest living teachers of our time.
~ Alice Walker

The symptoms of personal and cultural sickness are aimed at something; they are purposeful. On the surface, a symptom appears to be the problem. Yet treating only the symptom makes the underlying trouble worse. Purpose hides within the symptom. Wisdom seeks not simply the cause of the symptom in the past, but the purpose hidden within it, the goal that the symptom secretly points to and aims at.... Wisdom is attained by going to the depths, finding meaning below in the dark tangle of emotions and repressions that appear as illness above. It's important not to take the darkness out of wisdom, for wisdom begins in the half-light where the upper-world meets the underworld. Those who try to be wise without descending to the deepest levels of meaning turn out to be just clever. Under pressure, they easily lose their heads. What's missing and needed, what has been repressed and has fallen below common awareness, must be sought in the exact extremities of the psyche, at the edges of knowledge and in the depths of awareness.

~ Michael Meade, from The Water of Life

Tuesday, May 25, 2010



Old spirit, in and beyond me,
keep and extend me. Amid strangers,
friends, great trees and big seas breaking,
let love move me. Let me hear the whole music,
see clear, reach deep. Open me to find due words,
that I may shape them to ploughshares of my own making.
After such luck, however late, give me to give to
the oldest dance.... Then to good sleep,
and - if it happens - glad waking.

~ Philip Booth ~

(Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999)

Web version:

Metta Center For Nonviolence: Rehumanization

Blessed gratitude to son Brian for sharing this link...
Peace & blessings ~ Molly

Rehumanization is the process by which an individual or group is recognized by the opposing group as innately worthy, noble and deserving. In order for violence to occur, opponents must be dehumanized — reduced to a group unworthy of moral consideration (see dehumanization). How, then, do dehumanized groups become rehumanized?

Violence reinforces the stereotypical qualities of an already dehumanized group by solidifying the dehumanized groups’ depiction as barbarous, immoral, and animalistic. Nonviolence, on the other hand, never denies the humanity of the opponent, instead acting with compassion, consideration, and, at the very least, no-violence. An adherent to principled nonviolence resists the oppression (the act) but not the oppressor (the agent).

It is difficult to portray a nonviolent group as savage or devoid of moral consciousness when the nonviolent resistors are enduring violent action with humility, patience, and acceptance of self-suffering. By maintaining their own humanity, the nonviolent group defies the dehumanizing label with the potential of being recast as human once more. Thus, the power of nonviolence is the power to rehumanize a dehumanized group or individual.


Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks
for another day of loving.
- Kahlil Gibran

Mary Oliver: Look and See

Look and See

This morning, at waterside, a sparrow flew
to a water rock and landed, by error, on the back
of an eider duck; lightly it fluttered off, amused.
The duck, too, was not provoked, but, you might say, was

This afternoon a gull sailing over
our house was casually scratching
its stomach of white feathers with one
pink foot as it flew.

Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we
only look, and see.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early)

Web version:

Brian Murray: Rehumanization

Brian in the Himalayas, May 2010

A blog post by our son on Tuesday, May 25, 2010


A few people have asked me why I am in Morocco as a part of my current travels. I have quoted various superlatives involving Fez; biggest this, oldest that. But that does not really get to the heart of why I am here. And so the question has stayed with me. And really, it goes even deeper than that. Why travel at all, regardless of destination? This is a question that haunts me. By traveling am I being selfish, wasteful?

I flew into Casablanca yesterday afternoon from Geneva. I hopped on a train at the airport and ended up in Meknès, albeit late--like midnight late. But no worries, Hotel Majestic was right around the corner and exactly what I needed.

This morning I walked about 20 minutes over to the old town, the medina, from the new town, the ville nouvelle, where I am staying. I proceeded to get lost, literally, in the various markets or souqs of the medina--and a couple of times, at that. The souqs are quite a sight--and smell and sound and taste! Vegetables, spices, fish, meat, clothes, shoes, leather products, wood products, silver, etc. Each with its own collection of a few or a lot of nearly identical little shops. Feels like how shopping used to be, you know? All open air, little signage. No branding. Not corporate. Had shawarma, a meat and veggie sandwich, in a little place on the main square.

By this evening I had made my way to a nice open green space back in the ville nouvelle, just a few blocks from my hotel. So many people out for a post-dinner walk! I feel like I have seen this before, say in Valladolid, Mexico or Gresham, Oregon--could be anywhere, and that is starting to get to the point.

Seeing all of these people, just out enjoying the evening... couples, families, individuals; young, mid-life, old; traditional, progressive; all kinds. I was just walking around, quietly taking in the scene, when a couple of girls carrying a heavy bag walked by me. The must have been about ten years old. Their load was clearly heavy, and they started to argue a bit about it. In Arabic, of course. That was when it hit me. Rehumanization.

(The sun just set. The fairly modern guy running the internet cafe I am in turned off the cheesy French music that had been playing. The call to prayer echos in through the windows.)

That is at least part of the reason that I choose to spend some of my precious time and money on travel. The word just occurred to me hearing these girls speak, the guttural and emphatic consonants, the glottal stops of their Afroasiatic language. I do not know whether it is a real word. I certainly had not heard it before, although a cursory google search reveals that others have found a use for it, as well, e.g., here.

I feel vulnerable when I travel. I make mistakes. I do not understand things--a lot of things! It is a feeling. It is emotional. It helps me to learn to have empathy. What does it mean to be on the outside?

Moreover, I see more of the nuance and complexity of the world. Of course the world is complex you say from the comfort of your home. But it is something else entirely to feel that complexity, to smell it, to taste it. Television cannot do that. Google cannot do that. Wikipedia cannot do that.

There is such a drive to categorize, to quantify. To place people in nice, clean boxes. To stereotype. To turn people into others. But we are all human. We all feel. We all matter. We are all part of us.
That is what I was reminded of this beautiful evening in Meknès. Rehumanization. A good of a reason as any to take a trip to Morocco.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What to Remember When Waking


In that first
hardly noticed
to which you wake,
coming back
to this life
from the other
more secret,
and frighteningly
where everything
there is a small
into the new day
which closes
the moment
you begin
your plans.

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
will make plans
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

To be human
is to become visible
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember
the other world
in this world
is to live in your
true inheritance.

You are not
a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not
an accident
amidst other accidents
you were invited
from another and greater
than the one
from which
you have just emerged.

Now, looking through
the slanting light
of the morning
window toward
the mountain
of everything
that can be,
what urgency
calls you to your
one love?
What shape
waits in the seed
of you to grow
and spread
its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting
in the fertile sea?
In the trees
beyond the house?
In the life
you can imagine
for yourself?
In the open
and lovely
white page
on the waiting desk?

~ David Whyte ~

(The House of Belonging)

Web version:

FreedomWorks & Beck: Everybody wins - except for our nation

By Thom Hartmann

Today on its Twitter page, FreedomWorks - the astroturf group run by Dick Armey, the former Republican leader and former lobbyist for the People's Mujahadeen of Iran, the natural gas industry, Dubai Group, Comcast, military contractors and weapons manufacturers, and numerous other corporate interests - announced that it was officially partnering with Glen Beck.

This is a brilliant business deal, which will create huge profits for both Freedomworks and Beck.
Beck has the Fox platform, which has turned out most of the people for tea party events, and Freedomworks now has the database of all the tea partiers that they can hand off to Beck, who will then expose them to his advertisers. Everybody wins and makes money - except for our nation, which gets kneecapped since Beck and Dick Armey are open advocates for the interests of millionaires and billionaires and openly hostile to working people, unions, social security, medicare, and want to turn the commons over to the tender mercies of transnational corporations. Their money comes from Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other devoted funders of right wing infrastructure including Exxon Mobil.

Their goal is to take down Democratic or progressive candidates and now they'll have more money and power and a larger media platform.

* * *****************

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places -- and there are so many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

~ Howard Zinn

Sunday, May 16, 2010

That Beautiful Sentence

Thank you, Bruce, for sharing this one with me.
My heart knows this experience... deeply.

That Beautiful Sentence

the way you no longer
knock yourself out about
every single capitalist injustice,
but instead turn

to your other lives,
being a lover, being a gardener,
the struggle is long,
sometimes the fulcrum lies elsewhere,

but when the moment to change things
comes in all its dazzling radiance
you still seem to know
what time it is, despite a history

of uphill battles, throw
everything you have
into it, like a cowgirl
furiously wrestling a steer
to the ground,

like that saying you copied
what seems like a million years ago
from a wall in the depths
of the drug treatment program

because it struck you
as true
because it struck you
as accurate

because it struck you
as beautiful
because it was in accord
with your heart

oh, lord,

give me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,
the courage to change

the things I can ,
and the wisdom,
the wisdom to know
the difference

and then,
when you were finished,

you got up from your chair
and walked over
to the park

you still
that beautiful sentence.

~ Christopher Butters



Certainty undermines one's power, and turns happiness
into a long shot. Certainty confines.

Dears, there is nothing in your life that will
not change - especially your ideas of God.

Look what the insanity of righteous knowledge can do:

crusade and maim thousands
in wanting to convert that which
is already gold
into gold.

Certainty can become an illness
that creates hate and

God once said to Tuka,

"Even I am ever changing -
I am ever beyond

what I may have once put my seal upon,
may no longer be
the greatest

~ Tukaram ~

(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West,
versions by Daniel Ladinsky)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hafiz: TODAY


Do not
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God's palm
As I move through the earth's

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
My Beloved.

Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full of wonder
And kindness.

I do not
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God's body
That is right beneath your
Own foot

As I
Dance with
Precious life

~ Hafiz ~

(The Gift - versions of Haifiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

A Great Urgency: To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders

by Arvol Looking Horse
19th generation keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle

My Relatives,

Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened,those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations. Eventually all will be affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I asked, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth. As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc'I Maka).

We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop. That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. Pray for the people to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children¹s future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse,
19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

* * ***************

"Our people have striven to protect Sacred Sites from the beginning of time. These places have been violated for centuries and have brought us to the predicament that we are in at the global level... Look around you. Our Mother Earth is very ill from these violations, and we are on the brink of destroying the possibility of a healthy and nurturing survival for generations to come, our children's children... Know that you yourself are essential to this World. Believe that! Understand both the blessing and the burden of that. You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this World. Did you think you were put here for something less?" ~ Chief Arvol Looking Horse

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Poem: Eyesight

Trentino, Nothern Italy


It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don't worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain

it's not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone

~ A. R. Ammons ~

(The Selected Poems 1951-1977)

Web version:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gratitude: An Anniversary for Judith Duerk & Me

On one of several women's retreats I have done
with Judith over the years.


Nearly 30 years ago I struggled, when asked, to write a gratitude list.
Time passed....

Today I am rooted in a daily practice of gratitude - and my gratitude
list goes on without end - all, in part, due to the extraordinary
people who have graced and blessed my life over the years.
They have made all the difference.

Judith Duerk - mentor, author, psychotherapist, teacher of
T'ai Chi Ch'uan, and leader of women - is among them.

Last night I came home to an unexpected voicemail message
from Judith. It has been a while since we last talked.
My heart always smiles to hear from her.
Tonight it came to me to explore the exact date when I first
met Judith. I looked in my original copy of Judith's first book --
Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey to Herself
and found the date of when I first heard Judith speak at the
Northwest Service Center here in Portland:
May 10th, 1990.

Yesterday was the 20 year anniversary.

Judith writes:

How might your life be different if, as a young woman there had been a place for you, a place where you could go to be among women... a place for you when you had feelings of darkness? And, if there had been another woman, somewhat older, to be with you in your darkness, to be with you until you spoke... spoke out your pain and anger and sorrow.

And, if you had spoken until you had understood the sense of your feelings, how they reflected your own nature, your own deepest nature, crying out of the darkness, struggling to be heard.

And, what if, after that, every time you had feelings of darkness, you knew that the woman would come to be with you, and would sit quietly by as you went into your darkness to listen to your feelings and bring them to birth... So that, over the years, companioned by the woman, you learned to no longer fear your darkness, but to trust it... to trust it as the place where you could meet your own deepest nature and give it voice.

How might your life be different if you could trust your darkness... could trust your own darkness?

Judith, perhaps more than anyone else, has been this woman for me.
A presence in my life - outwardly and inwardly - as I have gradually
awakened, grown stronger, remembered, healed, deepened,
expanded. And my life has been transformed.
And the gifts of the alchemist are no longer unknown to me.
Nor is the beauty of my own true nature.
Or yours.

May we have the courage and support to embrace the
darkness, beauty, and strength within our hearts.
My process is on-going...

Generosity. Gifts. Gratitude.

May we all receive, be transformed, and pass it on...

Peace & brightest blessings ~ Molly

* * *

"We will go as deep as the support we perceive is available to us." ~ a quote I remember from the early years of my awakening...

Mary Oliver: The Journey

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Dream Work)

Web version:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Arizona, The Wrong Answer

I am saddened today at the prospect of a young Hispanic immigrant in Arizona going to the grocery store and forgetting to bring her passport and immigration documents with her. I cannot be dispassionate about the fact that the very act of her being in the grocery store will soon be a crime in the state she lives in. Or that, should a policeman hear her accent and form a "reasonable suspicion" that she is an illegal immigrant, she can -- and will -- be taken into custody until someone sorts it out, while her children are at home waiting for their dinner.

Equally disturbing is what will happen in the mind of the policeman. The police talk today about how they do not wish to, and will not, engage in racial profiling. Yet faced with the option of using common sense and compassion, or harassing a person who has done nothing wrong, a particularly sinister aspect of Arizona's new immigration law will be hanging over his head. He can be personally sued, by anyone, for failing to enforce this inhumane new act.

For the full article, please go here:


"Abominations such as apartheid do not start with an entire population suddenly becoming inhumane. They start here. They start with generalizing unwanted characteristics across an entire segment of a population."
~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Our Son Brian's Adventures in Nepal

Brian went "trekking in the Langtang region ..."

Brian shares that "written on this stone is Om mani padme hum,
which is the mantra that shows up everywhere and on everything in
the Buddhist parts of the country. Young people, old people chanting... "

Brian's "self-portrait is on my second day in Kathmandu."

I am beyond happy, excited, grateful, joyful, moved, and loving that
our oldest son Brian has been on an amazing adventure in Nepal.
For more, and to learn more about this other side of the world,
please visit Brian's blog at

Peace & blessings ~ Molly

* * *

I don't really even have words for what all was happening up there.
I like the word puja (also, here). My understanding is still very
minimal, but to me puja seems to mean practice, worship, whether
it's on a daily level, a yearly festival or a once in a lifetime event.
It's so strong here. There are always bells ringing to waken the
gods, people making small religious gestures as they pass temples.
It's really beautiful, actually.

~ Brian Murray

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers' Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870

This is exceptionally powerful....
* * *

Julia Ward Howe

Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons. Here is the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870, followed by a bit of history (or should I say "herstory"):

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.

"Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston 1870


Mother's Day for Peace
by Ruth Rosen

Honor Mother with Rallies in the Streets. The holiday began in activism; it needs rescuing from commercialism and platitudes.

Every year, people snipe at the shallow commercialism of Mother's Day. But to ignore your mother on this holy holiday is unthinkable. And if you are a mother, you'll be devastated if your ingrates fail to honor you at least one day of the year.

Mother's Day wasn't always like this. The women who conceived Mother's Day would be bewildered by the ubiquitous ads that hound us to find that "perfect gift for Mom." They would expect women to be marching in the streets, not eating with their families in restaurants. This is because Mother's Day began as a holiday that commemorated women's public activism, not as a celebration of a mother's devotion to her family.

The story begins in 1858 when a community activist named Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers' Works Days in West Virginia. Her immediate goal was to improve sanitation in Appalachian communities. During the Civil War, Jarvis pried women from their families to care for the wounded on both sides. Afterward she convened meetings to persuade men to lay aside their hostilities.

In 1872, Julia Ward Howe, author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", proposed an annual Mother's Day for Peace. Committed to abolishing war, Howe wrote: "Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage... Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs".

For the next 30 years, Americans celebrated Mothers' Day for Peace on June 2.

Many middle-class women in the 19th century believed that they bore a special responsibility as actual or potential mothers to care for the casualties of society and to turn America into a more civilized nation. They played a leading role in the abolitionist movement to end slavery. In the following decades, they launched successful campaigns against lynching and consumer fraud and battled for improved working conditions for women and protection for children, public health services and social welfare assistance to the poor. To the activists, the connection between motherhood and the fight for social and economic justice seemed self-evident.

In 1913, Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day. By then, the growing consumer culture had successfully redefined women as consumers for their families. Politicians and businessmen eagerly embraced the idea of celebrating the private sacrifices made by individual mothers. As the Florists' Review, the industry's trade journal, bluntly put it, "This was a holiday that could be exploited."

The new advertising industry quickly taught Americans how to honor their mothers - by buying flowers. Outraged by florists who were selling carnations for the exorbitant price of $1 a piece, Anna Jarvis' daughter undertook a campaign against those who "would undermine Mother's Day with their greed." But she fought a losing battle. Within a few years, the Florists' Review triumphantly announced that it was "Miss Jarvis who was completely squelched."

Since then, Mother's Day has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry.

Americans may revere the idea of motherhood and love their own mothers, but not all mothers. Poor, unemployed mothers may enjoy flowers, but they also need child care, job training, health care, a higher minimum wage and paid parental leave. Working mothers may enjoy breakfast in bed, but they also need the kind of governmental assistance provided by every other industrialized society.

With a little imagination, we could restore Mother's Day as a holiday that celebrates women's political engagement in society. During the 1980's, some peace groups gathered at nuclear test sites on Mother's Day to protest the arms race. Today, our greatest threat is not from missiles but from our indifference toward human welfare and the health of our planet. Imagine, if you can, an annual Million Mother March in the nation's capital. Imagine a Mother's Day filled with voices demanding social and economic justice and a sustainable future, rather than speeches studded with syrupy platitudes.

Some will think it insulting to alter our current way of celebrating Mother's Day. But public activism does not preclude private expressions of love and gratitude. (Nor does it prevent people from expressing their appreciation all year round.)

Nineteenth century women dared to dream of a day that honored women's civil activism. We can do no less. We should honor their vision with civic activism.

Ruth Rosen is a professor of history at UC Davis.


Mother’s Day for Peace: A Dramatic Reading of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation:


Peace ~ Molly

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ten Ways Christians Tend to Fail at Being Christian

by John Shore

Speaking as someone who, well, had the conversion experience 14 years ago that I recounted in "I, a Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Convert," we Christians too often fail in these ten ways:

1) Too much money. "Wealthy Christian" should be an oxymoron. In Luke 12:33, Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 19:21, he says, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 6:24, he says, "You cannot serve God and Money." Christians are generally pretty huge on cleaving to the word of God. I just don't see how those particular words could be clearer. (For more on this, see my post "Christians: No Fair Heeding Paul on Gays But Not Jesus on Wealth.")

2) Too confident God thinks we're all that and a leather-bound gift Bible. I'd like to humbly suggest that we spend a little more time wondering how we displease God and a little less time being confident that we do. (See my post "Certainty in Christ: A Blessing and a Curse.")

3) Too quick to believe that we know what God really means by what he says in the Bible. The Bible is an extremely complex, multi-leveled work. We're sometimes too quick to assume that we grasp its every meaning. Take this passage, for instance, from Luke 8: 9-10: "His disciples asked him [Jesus] what this parable [of the sower] meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand."'" Huh? And that's Jesus "explaining" what is generally regarded as one of his most readily understood parables! Are we really all that confident that we always know exactly what Jesus meant by everything he said? Wouldn't we do well to sometimes admit that the words attributed to God manifested on earth are just a tad, well, Greek to us? (See my post "The Bible's Two Big Problems.")

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A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.
~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.
~ Sojourner Truth

Whether you believe in God or not does not matter so much, whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much. You must lead a good life. A good motivation is what is needed: compassion without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their human rights and dignities. That we humans can help each other is one of our unique human capacities. This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Gulf Oil Spill: A Symbol of What Fossil Fuels Do to the Earth Every Day, Say Environmentalists

Oil blobs and oil sheen are seen in the waters of Chandeleur Sound, La.,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

by Dan Froomkin
Published on Friday, May 7, 2010 by
The Huffington Post

The leading edge of a vast oil slick started to come ashore in Louisiana on Thursday night, a shroud of devastation falling on America's coastline even as the blown-out BP oil well that produced it continues to belch millions of gallons of thick crude into the Gulf of Mexico for a third straight week.

At moments like this, it's hard to see any silver lining here at all. But it's possible there is one. Many environmentalists say that the wrenching and omnipresent images of filth and death are at last providing Americans with visible, visceral and possibly mobilizing evidence of the effects that fossil fuels are having on our environment every day.


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If the earth does grow inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants. ~ Thomas Berry