Razzle Dazzle ‘Em

In light of the American news stream these days, I give you a sequel to yesterday’s post, “Tap Dance Dodge or Truth Tango.” “It’s all a circus, kid. A three ring circus.” Billy Flynn has morphed into another character in 2017, but the message is the same fifteen years later.

“Razzle Dazzle” from the film musical “Chicago” 2002

BAILIFF(Spoken)

Mr. Flynn, his honor is here

BILLY(Spoken)
Thank you. Just a moment.
You ready?

ROXIE(Spoken)
Oh Billy, I’m really scared.

BILLY(Spoken)
Roxie, you got nothing to worry about.
It’s all a circus, kid. A three ring circus.
These trials- the wholeworld- all show business.
But kid, you’re working with a star, the biggest!

(Singing)
Give ’em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ’em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ’em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ’em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you’re just disgusting?

Razzle dazzle ’em
And they’ll never catch wise!

Read more: Chicago The Musical – Razzle Dazzle Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Tap Dance Dodge or Truth Tango?

Having completed my morning wade through the daily swamp of American news I leave it to place this question before us:

Can we make America great again this way:

Or this way:

Truth Tango

That old familiar tune
Strikes up in the recesses of my soul
Heralding the familiar promenade of pretense.
I cast off layers of deceit
To the tattoo-tune of the Holy Stripper
And the raucous pleadings of my victims,
“Take it off! Take it all off!”
The bright white bones of truth
Step out of their camouflage
To dance La Cumparsita with wild abandonment
Until the familiar tune calls me back
To the stage of my humanity.

© Rita H Kowats June 3, 2017

6:00 p.m. And the hits just keep on coming. TapDanc

 

 

And the hits just keep on coming.  Tap Dance ad nauseum:

6:00 p.m:. Tuesday:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4708778/Trump-Putin-held-second-undisclosed-meeting-G20-summit.html  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4708778/Trump-Putin-held-second-undisclosed-meeting-G20-summit.html

Giving Spiritual Space

img_1844

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” …The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by  1 Kings 19:9;11

 

FORMS OF HOSPITALITY

from Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out

We probably will never be free from all our hostilities, and there even may be days and weeks in which our hostile feelings dominate our emotional life to such a degree that the best thing we can do is to keep distance, speak little to others and not write letters, except to ourselves. Sometimes events in our lives breed feelings of bitterness, jealousy, suspicion and even desires for revenge, which need time to be healed. It is realistic to realize that although we hope to move toward hospitality, life is too complex to expect a one-way direction. But when we make ourselves aware of the hospitality we have enjoyed from others and are grateful for the few moments in which we can create some space ourselves, we may become more sensitive to our inner movements and be more able to affirm an open attitude toward our fellow human beings.

 

Photo Credit: http://stevensauke.blogspot.com/2013/08/high-noon-on-israelite-front.html

EXULT

 

image

 

A conflicting tornado of emotions always snatches me up and plunks me down in the midst of this Pride Weekend.  I exult that finally in some sectors of the world a monolithic understanding of sexuality has opened onto a spectrum of dazzling, rich colors.  Our gender-varied God exults. But I also grieve that my friend Jim is not here to experience it and continue in the work of this important revolution.

Jim died suddenly in 2010 at the age of sixty-six after a passionate life as a gifted artist-priest-pretend/straight-out loud gay man.  I loved him in all the nooks and crannies of his being, and miss him keenly this weekend. Feast with me on his poem from Pride Weekend New York:

 

Corpus Christi: New York “87”

Sunny Sunday in late June.
Thousands march.
Joyous and free.
I joined.

Searchers and seekers
Walking with dignity and pride.
Approaching the Cathedral:
A contradiction!

Blue barricades, blue flashing lights
On cop cars and paddy wagons;
Blue shirted police arm to arm
Protecting the Cathedral.

A Crucifixion?
The front steps blocked by
A blue Army in blue berets
(looking psychotic)
Shaking rosaries, thumping Bibles
Yelling “Sinners Sinners” as we passed by.

“Shame, shame, shame,” we murmured
Softly in reply.
I looked for Jesus beyond the barricades.
Not there!
“Thank God,” I said.

At 3 o’clock the parade stopped.
Silence
A city fell silent.
Bells tolled.

From the Village up Fifth Avenue.
Coming closer and closer
Passing over us
Until the whole sky was filled with
Colored balloons.

My heart burned within,
I remembered all who died of AIDS.
Gazing at the heavens,
I watched a great loving God
Gather balloons, holding them high
In God’s bright blue sky
Above the blue barricades, blue lights
Blue armies & blue shirted cops.

My God gathered these children,
Sons & daughters into a peace-filled
Eternal embrace.

I wept.
Turning, I saw two older women,
Pioneers and witnesses of the movement,
Weeping and holding each other as they
Too gazed upward.

EASTER and ASCENSION.
CHRIST HAD COME AGAIN.  GLORY TO GOD!
Peace to you and me!
Birthday

Jim's signature

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.timeout.com/chicago/lgbt/pride-parade-and-more-major-gay-events-for-pride-month

Sacred Iconoclasm

Portland-KKK-1922-FSDM2 small

 

“This image shows a photograph from the early 1920s, probably in Portland, in which robed and hooded Ku Klux Klan members share a stage with members of the Royal Riders of the Red Robe, a Klan auxiliary for foreign-born white Protestants. A large banner reading “Jesus Saves” occupies a prominent position on the wall at the rear of the stage and testifies to the strong role that Protestantism played in the KKK philosophy of “100 percent Americanism,” an ideology that developed during World War I as a reaction to the perceived threat to national unity posed by the influx of non-Protestant, non-English-speaking immigrants.”

https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/portland-kkk/#.WT77sWjyvIW

While reading the Washington Post this morning I was accosted by this photo from the Oregon Historical Society.  Although the story it tells about the Pacific Northwest is familiar to me, the stark truth of the paradox depicted  shook me to the core. I read it as “Jesus Saves, but only white people.” I invite the photo to go viral as a warning to all that we are again confronted by the “KKK philosophy of ‘100% Americanism’.” Let the warning go out that espousing a warped brand of Americanism in the name of a warped brand of Christianity calls for an iconoclastic revolution.  Perhaps Meister Eckhart’s most puzzling statement is, “I pray God that he may quit me of god.”  This is the time to throw out all profane idols and embrace the real God devoid of all ego clammoring for power.

This poem from a few years ago speaks to this experience once again:

natures stained glass 50 per cent

 

Photo Credit:  https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/portland-kkk/#.WT77sWjyvIW

Photo Credit:  Nature’s Stained Glass Window overlay Lynn Scholar

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/06/07/when-portland-banned-blacks-oregons-shameful-history-as-an-all-white-state/?utm_term=.0280aaa83460

 

Holocaust Day of Remembrance

bitsela-2HR

  Yom HaShoah

“You just keep living until you are alive again,” said a character in a BBC episode of “Call the Midwife.”  The words stir me to write on this Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Survivors, their families, indeed, the whole Jewish community endure, and even thrive, with a resilience I can hardly even dream of mustering.  I repent and grieve for the evil perpetrated against Jews, gays, and those physically and mentally challenged.l  I celebrate their resilience, born from a deep well of faith.

Inaugurated in Israel in 1953, Holocaust Remembrance Day is ritualized differently throughout the world.  Common threads are the lighting of six memorial candles to represent the approximately six million victims.  The Mourners’ Kaddish is often recited to show that despite their loss, Jews still praise G-d.  At the memorial ritual in Auschwitz, school children participate in “The March of the Living,” which is a profound defiance of the Death Marches to the crematoriums.  I am reminded of the work of theologian Walter Brueggemann, who calls for a “prophetic imagination” which re-appropriates acts of injustice as positive acts of life- a way of living until we are alive again.

One Sunday I came to Hebrew class at Temple Beth El- always the only Christian student- this day, the only student.  My teacher, whose relatives did not survive the holocaust, took the opportunity to teach me some of the more obscure facts about anti-Semitism.  She said with searing pain, that in the Spanish Inquisition Jews were denied the right to recite Kaddish.  The refrain that G-d will “uproot foreign worship from the earth,” threatened the power of Christianity.

As I imagine the youth reciting Kaddish on their March of Life today at Auschwitz, I rejoice in the hope their action evokes.  In them, their ancestors live on.  Paul Celan’s poem, “Death Fugue,” draws us inside life in a death camp.  The images are shattering, but we must look.  We must remember.  After embracing the horrifying reality, I return to celebration of the resilience of a people who still chooses life.  L’Chaim!

 

Death Fugue
by Paul Celan

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are
flashing he whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a
grave
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
sundown
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes
there one lies unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you
others sing now and play
he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his
eyes are blue
jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play
on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at at noon in the morning we drink you
at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents
He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master
from Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then
as smoke you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one
lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink
and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in
the air
He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is
a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Clip Art Credits:  http://free-bitsela.com/

Cultivating Wisdom in This Spate of Fake News

TiB+4

 

The beginning of wisdom

was when I learnt the difference
between believing in the truth
and telling the truth
about
belief.

Padraig O’ Tuama in Readings from the Book of Exile

 

 

Photo Credit: Truth is Beauty pictured at Burning Man. The 55-foot tall sculpture is part of ‘The Bliss Project’ by Marco Cochrane, and she currently resides at the San Leandro Tech Center, across the street from BART. Photo courtesy of marcocochranesculpture.net.

 

 

 

 

“It was a bright cold day in April [January], and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

19842017

epa-silencing

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

― George Orwell, 1984

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

― George Orwell, 1984

“It was a bright cold day in April [January], and the clocks were striking thirteen.” So begins George Orwell’s story of descent from freedom, 1984.  When I read the news in real-time this morning my instinct was to panic; instead I determined to weave reality with Orwell and develop a spiritual practice with which to combat the onslaught. Here it is:

Turn PANIC into PRESENCE:

P= Pay attention, live consciously

A= Analyze the situation; no intellectual or spiritual sloth

N= Now; Live in the now.  Don’t let fear of the future take possession

I=  Inhabit;  live in the deepest self where the divine in us is present

C= Call on the wisdom of the Spirit.  We are not alone.

And breathe…..be well travel companions.

 

It is encouraging to me that so many are in sync in our response to news of the last two days.  This morning the Washington Post carried this story:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/why-orwells-1984-matters-so-much-now/2017/01/25/3cf81964-e313-11e6-a453-19ec4b3d09ba_story.html?utm_term=.b4ab636b7a1b&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

 

A Companion to the Women’s Marches

 

womens-march-on-washington-huffpost

huffingtonpost.com

 

 

For Strong Women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbel
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

– Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water