Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Denver Woman's March

Having grown up watching news accounts of protests against the Vietnam War and the draft; as a child I longed to join in what looked like a revolution, but what I understood later as these (mostly) peaceful protests against policies of the United States government are a part of a participatory democracy. I wanted to join in, but something as adventurous as a demonstration never seemed to make it to my tiny university town in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

So when I was invited to join in a group heading to Denver for the Woman’s March—I immediately purchased my bus ticket.

This one group from Boulder grew from four to eight buses carrying over 400 person to the center of Denver.

The first of the buses was pulling out as I arrived at the meeting point for the drive to Denver. 

I picked up my tickets and joined the line boarding the bus.

Cars driving past on Broadway were honking their horns in solidarity with the marchers. As we rode through Boulder, there were large groups of people waiting for the regional RTD buses to take them to Denver.

As we entered Denver, there were large groups of people walking towards the Civic Center Park; carrying signs and banners, flags and balloons. Our bus stopped and we thanked our driver and headed towards the park. 

There was some music playing as I walked up the steps and around the empty fountain in the middle of the park. More and more groups began to arrive; coming from all the points of the compass around that center gathering point.  I climbed up on a bench and could see a wildly colorful sea of people all converging with signs to the start of the march.

This was an amazingly cross-section of people and groups at this march. 

The people around me were discussing the clever signs. "Did you see that sign over there...?"

This felt more like a celebration than a protest.  The crowd was up-beat, and as a friend said to me later, "The fellowship was awesome!"

Here's to strong women!

The roar of the crowd was overwhelming. As the call and response rang out "Tell me what Democracy looks like" 

All the crowd responded "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!!"

"The People United will never be divided"

"El Pueblo Unido Jamas sera vencido"

"Woman's rights are Human Rights!"

This was a profoundly moving experience.

I pray we take this momentum and put it to good use.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Excerpts from "The Subjection of Women" Part II

John Stuart Mill 1870
London Sterioptic Company

Excerpts from "The Subjection of Women" by John Stuart Mill.

Part II

“Whatever gratification of pride there is in the possession of power, and whatever personal interest in its exercise, is in this case not confined to a limited class, but common to the whole male sex…[the exercise of power] comes home to the person and hearth of every male head of a family, and of every one who looks forward to being so. The clodhopper exercises, or is to exercise, his share of the power equally with the highest nobleman. And the case is that in which the desire of power is the strongest; for every one who desires power, desires it most over those who are nearest to him, with whom his life is passes, with whom he has most concerns in common, and in whom any independence of his authority is oftenest likely to interfere with his individual preferences. If, in the other cases specified, [male slavery and absolute monarchies,]powers manifestly grounded only on force, and having so much less to support them, are so slowly and with so much difficulty got rid of, much more must it be so with this [the subjection of women], even if it rests on no better foundation than those. We must consider, too, that the possessors of the power have facilities in this case, greater than in any other, to prevent any uprising against it. Every one of the subjects lies under the very eye, and almost, it may be said, in the hands, of one of the masters—in closer intimacy with him than with any of her fellow-subjects; with no means of combining against him, no power of even locally overmastering him, and, on the other hand, with the strongest motives for seeking his favour and avoiding to give him offence. In struggles for political emancipation, everybody knows how often its champions are bought off by bribes, or daunted by terrors. In the case of women, each individual of the subject-class is in a chronic state of bribery and intimidation combined.

Some will object, that a comparison cannot fairly be made between the government of the male sex and the forms of unjust power which I have adduced in illustration of it, since these are arbitrary, and the effect of mere usurpation, while it on the contrary is natural. But was there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it? There was a time when the division of mankind into two classes, a small one of masters and a numerous one of slaves, appeared, even to the most cultivated minds, to be a natural, and the only natural, condition of the human race. No less an intellect, and one which contributed no less to the progress of human thought, that Aristotle, held this opinion without doubt or misgiving; and rested it on the same premises on which the same assertion in regard to the dominion of men over women is usually based, namely that there are different natures among mankind, free natures and slaves natures; that the Greeks were of a free nature, the barbarian races of Thracians and Asiatics of a slave nature. But why need I go back to Aristotle? Did not the slaveowners of the Southern United States maintain the same doctrine, with all the fanaticism with which men cling to the theories that justify their passions and legitimate their personal interest? Did they not call heaven and earth to witness that the dominion of white man over the black is natural, that the black race is by nature incapable of freedom, and marked out for slavery? Some even going so far as to say that the freedom of manual laborers is an unnatural order of things anywhere. Again, the theorists of absolute monarchy have always affirmed it to be the only natural form of government; issuing from the patriarchal, which as the primitive and spontaneous form of society, framed on the model of the paternal, which is anterior to society itself, and, as they contend, the most natural authority of all. Nay, for that matter, the law of force itself, to those who could not plead any other, has always seemed the most natural of all grounds for the exercise of authority. Conquering races hold it to be Nature’s own dictate that the conquered should obey the conquerors, or, as they euphoniously paraphrase it, that the feebler and more unwarlike races should submit to the braver and manlier.”

John Stuart Mill "The Subjection of Women" in Theorizing Feminism. Edited by Elizabeth Hackett and Sally Haslanger (2006, New York, Oxford University Press) pp 102-103

Sunday, January 15, 2017

From "The Subjection of Women" by John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill,
by London Sterioscopic company ca. 1870

Excerpt from "The Subjection of Women" by John Stuart Mill
The following was published in 1869.

“In early times, the great majority of the male sex were slaves, as well as the whole of the female. And many ages elapsed, some of them ages of high cultivation, before any thinker was bold enough to question the rightfulness, and the absolute social necessity, either of the one slavery or of the other. By degrees such thinkers did arise: and (the general progress of society assisting) the slavery of the male sex has, in all the countries of Christian Europe at least (thought, in one of them, only within the last few years) been at length abolished, and that of the female sex has been gradually changes into a milder form of dependence. But this dependence, as it exists at present, is not an original institution, taking a fresh start from considerations of justice and social expedience—it is the primitive state of slavery lasting on, through successive mitigations and modifications occasioned by the same causes which have softened the general manners, and brought all human relations more under the control of justice and the influence of humanity. It has not lost the taint of its brutal origin. No presumption in its favor, therefore, can be drawn from the fact of its existence. The only such presumption which it could be supposed to have, must be grounded on its having lasted till now, when so many other things which came down from the same odious source having been done away with. And this, indeed, is what makes it strange to ordinary ears, to hear it asserted that the inequality of rights between men and women has no other source than the law of the strongest.”
“If people are mostly so little aware how completely, during the greater part of the duration of our species, the law of force was the avowed rule of general conduct, any other being only a special and exceptional consequence of peculiar ties—and from how very recent a date it is that the affairs of society in general have been even pretended to be regulated according to any moral law; as little do people remember or consider, how institutions and customs which never had any ground but the law of force, last on into ages and states of general opinion which never would have permitted their first establishment. Less than forty years ago, Englishmen might still by law hold human beings in bondage as saleable property: within the present century they might kidnap them and carry them off, and work them literally to death. This absolutely extreme case of the law of force, condemned by those who can tolerate almost every other form of arbitrary power, and which, of all others, presents features of the most revolting to the feelings of all who look at it from an impartial position, was the law of civilized and Christian England within the memory of persons now living: and in one half of Anglo-Saxon America three or four years ago, not only did slavery exist, but the slave trade, and the breeding of slaves expressly for it, was a general practice between slave states. Yet not only was there a greater strength of sentiment against it, but, in England at least, a less amount either of feeling or of interest in favor of it, than of any other of the customary abuses of force: for its motive was the love of gain, unmixed and undisguised; and those who profited by it were a very small numerical fraction of the country, while the natural feeling of all who were not personally interested in it, was unmitigated abhorrence…The yoke is naturally and necessarily humiliating to all persons, except the one who is on the throne, together with, at most, the one who expects to succeed to it. How different are these cases from that of the power of men over women! I am not now prejudging the question of its justifiableness. I am showing how vastly more permanent it could not but be, even if not justifiable, that these other dominations which have nevertheless lasted down to our own time. Whatever gratification of pride there is in the possession of power, and whatever personal interest in its exercise, it in this case not confined to a limited class, but common to the whole male sex."

John Stuart Mill, “The Subjection of Women” in Theorizing Feminism: a reader. Elizabeth Hackett & Sally Haslanger, Editors (2006, New York, Oxford University Press) Excerpts from pp 99, 101-102

Sunday, January 8, 2017

"No-One Wants to Remain a Prisoner in an Unlived LIfe" John O'Donohue

“No-one Wants to Remain a Prisoner in an Unlived Life”

 “This is one of the sacred duties of imagination: Honorably to imagine your self. The shortest distance in the world is the one between you and yourself. The space in question is tiny. Yet what goes on in this little space determines nearly everything about the kind of person you are and about the kind of life you are living. Normally, the priority in our culture is to function and do what is expected of us. So many people feel a deep dissatisfaction and an acute longing for a more real life, a life that allows their souls to come to expression and to awaken; a life where they could discover a different resonance, one which echoes their heartfelt dreams and longing. For their short while on earth, most people long to have the fullest life they can. No-one wants to remain a prisoner in an unlived life. This was the intention of Jesus: ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.’ Of the many callings in the world, the invitation to the adventure of an awakened and full life is the most exhilarating. This is the dream of every heart. Yet most of us are lost or caught in forms of life that exile us from the life we dream of. Most people long to step onto the path of creative change that would awaken their lives to beauty and passion, deepen their contentment and allow their lives to make a difference.”

From Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue (2004, New York, HarperCollins) 134-135

And for a bit more inspiration, watch this 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Abundance and Heart

Here is the article in the Huffington Post on Paula White Praying at the Inauguration:

I would like to add my thoughts to the conversation; but first, let me explain both a bit about Paula White's theology and my personal context. 

At one point in my life, I was a follower of the “Name-it-claim-it” theology of Kenneth Copeland. I saw Creflo Dollar when he was just starting out and I have been to a “Believer’s Convention” in the 80’s. I have watched a significant amount of Paula White’s shows on “Day Star” TV in 2006.

I believe that the heart of this theology is an idea that people can manipulate  God to change their situation.  There are bits of pop-psychology mixed in with The Power of Positive thinking of Norman Vincent Peal, along with a lot of misappropriation of biblical passages. Honestly, there are things preached that do motivate people to try harder and work better, which could be perceived as God helping. In the end these ideas tends to lead to an Old Testament (see Deuteronomy)  type belief in a godly reward/retribution system.

Christianity may have some complicated worship systems; Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox come to mind, but those systems are grounded on a grace-based theology which worships a God who cannot be bribed and will forgive anyone who will ask. There have been a thousand years of arguments and critical thinking on the problem of evil, attributes of the Godhead and philosophy of religion; this along with pastoral counseling for the laity over suffering, loss and death. Pastors are not supposed to fleece their flock.

Now what I have observed in “Name-It-Claim-it” theology is believing that you begin to deserve certain things if you start to give your proper tithe (however that is calculated) and then you “trust” God for future “blessings” when you give a certain amount based on the idea of a “hundred-fold” return (or harvest) from God.

The verses referenced were actually talking about how well persons would receive and act on Jesus’ words…you know, feed the hungry, heal the sick, help the poor…stuff like that.

But when you have people accustomed to taking financial risks (Like Trump) listening to a charismatic leader (like Paula White) telling them that because you have “stuff” it is a sign of God’s favor. Can you see now why someone like Trump would be drawn to another pretty blond woman who says things that resonate with his own idea of high-risk, investment/venture capital money making schemes.

It is tragic that people will become so deluded to believe that God really wants people to have mansions, planes (etc) on the proverbial “Widow’s Mite.”

I am stunned that there are evangelical believers and leaders who still think Trump is a Christian. Maybe he is; I cannot see his heart. But Jesus also said that “...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (see both Mat. 12:34, Luke 6:45)

I’ll leave that decision to other smart people to discern.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays?

Hello Furnace Followers!
I've decided to make a bit of a come-back. I will be using this blog to share more of my creative writing and still some (hopefully) insightful blog posts.

This is what I called my version of a "holiday card" this year. I read this at the Innisfree Poetry Open Mic recently.


Io Saturnalia! Gut Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah…Happy Holidays?

I am checking out of this Season this year; I am abstaining, and if at all possible ignoring everything.

I read somewhere that Pliny the Younger, every year would retire to his rooms during the entire holiday of Saturnalia…now eighteen hundred years later, this time of year is known as Christahanakuanzayule…or just Happy Holidays for short.

Advertisers don’t care what you call “it” as long as you are racking up charges on your visa/mastercard/American express/discover accepted here.

I don’t watch TV anymore (it’s been 8 years now) but my computer, linked to the internet is no safety zone from this season. Advertisers have become like con-artists in the myriad ways they can snag your email address or throw a dump-truck load of “Cookies” which leave thick crumb trails for those digital hounds to follow.

This is not a rant; it may be a bit of a chuckle, or maybe a defiant cry—mostly these are my benevolent observations while standing on the banks of the river of crazed or numb shoppers, holding my sign that reads “Free Tea and cookies for the weary; Stop and think about what you are doing!”

No one wants to take me up on the offer.

Perhaps they’re afraid I will ask them to give up this madness—which of course I will. But not until they have a cup’a tea and a biscuit; as I am sure their blood sugar is low—rational talk only begins after food.

I am checking out of this season this year; I am suffering from a generational curse of enforced guilt over what one SHOULD do vs. what I thought I would do in the quest to preserve family memories, customs, and memes during THE Holidays, and whether or not we can sing something “new” at church—I use scare quotes because new only means we haven’t sung it in 15 years or so.

I am checking out of this season this year; I realized that I was trying to capture memories of holidays past and re-live what I thought were pretty moments without the drama, emotional abuse and mental meltdowns that actually encrust those fleeting memories—I am tired of failing miserably.

The sad thing is watching people around me doing exactly the same thing, for exactly the same reasons; thus adding to the Post Traumatic Stress disorder of the whole planet!

On a positive note: I was part of a Christmas pageant which didn’t seem to leave any permanent emotional scars on the child performers; and I may have watched the beginning of  what might end up being be some promising acting careers!

I am checking out of this season this year; because I need to heal from people (well meaning or not) telling me how I should live and how I should behave, especially during this winter Season; when that just isn’t a good fit for who I am—Paul Simon wrote his song “I am a Rock” in a way that made me believe that to be an island or a rock was a bad thing! I still feel pain and I do cry, but I pull up the drawbridge as necessary and shut out the world—and I am OK with that!

This Season will soon be over, and the days will grow longer and warmer, but right now I will sit alone, warm and comfortable—content in my melancholy sort of way which for me is as happy as I need to be right now.

So may you all have a comfortable, calm and sane Season through the dark days of winter—I wish you all peace and poetry for the New Year!

Pax et Iustia (peace and Justice)


Sunday, September 4, 2016


Yes, I know that it has been a very long time since I have posted anything on "Insights..."

My Work-Life balance is a bit out of whack right now; so as should be quite obvious, I am taking a hiatus from blogging.

I am looking into some possibility for my life ahead, and I do expect to return to blogging in the not-too-distant future.

The blog will still be here, with the old posts and I will be posting any new artwork as well as some photography.

I will keep the light on.

Thank you, and God bless!