6 Keys To Make America America Again

We’re locked in a war that’s making us all hostages.   We ‘re all scared. Politics has swallowed up everything else that matters, it seems, until there is no oxygen or energy left for anything else. Some may enjoy the constant combat, but most of us want things to calm down. How on earth did we get here? We’re here today, in part, because we did something willingly and enthusiastically for the good of our children that had nothing at all to do with politics. And that changed absolutely everything. Because that original decision had nothing to do with politics, I am hopeful it holds the seeds of a cure.

  We didn’t know what we didn’t know.   We were being offered  6 keys to civil and productive discourse, politics and society. They were commonplace, and now they’re edging to extinction.

 I must go way back in history to describe the first key. When I was at the University of Texas and Vanderbilt University, the schools deliberately paired Engineering Students with English majors as roommates.  We thought it a sadistic exercise of power, but this simple practice was a deliberate part of our education.  We mocked each other’s chosen careers. I, as an English major was in “Arts and Crafts” and “Finger-painting”, and my roommate’s vocation of engineer was “Robot” and “Gearhead.”  But when our own skills, mindsets, emotional intelligence, and aptitudes weren’t enough for an educational or life challenge, we borrowed those of our roommates and increased our arsenal for taking on the world.  It turns out that seeing the totality of a thing, a person, or a situation is essential to correctly perceiving it or them, and that’s the first key— perspective—our ability to change our view, depending on what comes to light.

It turns out that the comprehensive study of History, particularly American and World History, gave us something priceless we no longer have—the story of America and where we fit in, the key of context. It taught us we aren’t the whole story. We learned how a multitude of disciplines and points of view made us an indomitable whole. That’s how America works, when it works.  This study taught all of us how we fit into the grand scheme of a thing. It taught our American system of government, how the branches of government are designed to work, and when they don’t.  History reaffirmed our American values and explained why they were our values in the first place. It gave our children profiles and examples of courage, heroism, service, and sacrifice. It chronicled our mistakes and recorded them for posterity, so future generations wouldn’t repeat them. Attempts to correct these mistakes are the beginnings of policy.  In the study of history, we got to stand on the shoulders of millions who went before us and learn what their lives taught us, without having to suffer their tragedies.

It turns out that English, Literature, and foreign language courses gave us the most precious thing possible:  a way to disagree with our friends, and still keep them as friends. They did this by giving us a bridge of language we could use to reach and learn about people unlike us.  The study of language and literature gave role models of how to communicate civilly with people who are strange to us.  They gave us the keys of vocabulary and civility. You can’t have one without the other.

Guess What? It turns out our Liberal Arts educations weren’t in any way useless.  Won’t our parents finally be glad? Probably not.  A broad- based education has served for generations to be an orientation on how we Americans work; our history and why it’s important, our heroes, and our children’s potential place in all of this. All of these seemingly unrelated courses gave us the ability to see the whole of our political system and how humanity fits in—how we fit in. They gave us the ability to assimilate, analyze, and prioritize information to decide for ourselves what’s  valuable knowledge and what isn’t; what’s true and what’s myth.  The word, Liberal in terms of education or knowledge means generous, extensive, the whole enchilada, the totality. It has no more political connotation than the word, pipe wrench does for a plumber. This type of education teaches the key of detachment- the ability to detach from our own emotions. How we feel about something doesn’t alter what it actually is.

Who wants to raise kids who are scared of everything?

All of these keys together give us the magic bullet thatstops fear dead in its tracks: curiosity.  For this reason alone, a broad education is worth its weight in gold.

Curiosity allows the mind to open just long enough for it to assimilate new information before fears sets in and stops us. How can a person change, if they’ve never wondered if they could, or wondered how? How can a person pursue their dream and catch it, if they never wondered if they could, or felt safe enough to wonder anything at all?

Curiosity leads to questions without fear, and permits us to ask the three questions that change absolutely everything: What if? Why not? and Who says?

If we look at every new fact through a lens of terror because curiosity has died, our emotional state prevents us from seeing anything at all.  Fight or Flight was not designed for providing insight.

This is how we got here: our kids were getting left behind in math and science, so we devised standardized tests to catch up.     But this change in emphasis went all the way up and down the educational ladder, and affected whether kids could learn how to think critically, without fear.  The emphasis became turning out perfect technicians. Ask any parent about “Teaching to the Test” and you will get not only an earful, but a sermon on how not to teach a young child anything that matters at all. 

  Polarization means concentration at one end.  I’m not saying that jobs don’t matter or competition is a bad thing. We just went a little overboard, and now we have to cultivate a balance.

When we turn out technicians, without also teaching our children how to utilize and enjoy the right sides of their brains, we lose the artists, prophets, and sages. We can get the outcome of citizens trained to be richly rewarded for thinking in only 1 way. Eventually, we lose the ability to even hear someone else’s way of thinking, much less accept it.  

  If you only take away one point from this blog, let it be this: Curiosity must be taught and rewarded in a world that is changing every second, because if it isn’t, we are creating kids who can’t self-soothe and look beyond the chaos. Curiosity is the lens through which we look at our lives and the world and its inhabitants, and choose for ourselves what definitions we use. We have a choice about what kind of world we want to live in every day of our lives, not just in election years.

It all comes down to the two roommates I described in paragraph 2 of this essay. Are they fellow travelers and friends, or enemy combatants? Is life a never-ending adventure and classroom for them, or is it’s all-out war, a sentence only to be endured? Is the world something benign and beautiful, or is it menacing and dangerous? Will they continue to complain as every aspect of the political system devolves, or will they dedicate themselves to becoming educated citizens? Are there infinite possibilities for them to invent and re-invent themselves, or is life over after High School?

There is a way for all of us to come home.

ALL TOGETHER NOW!

We’re locked in a war that’s making us all hostages.   We ‘re all scared. Politics has swallowed up everything else that matters, it seems, until there is no oxygen or energy left for anything else. Some may enjoy the constant combat, but most of us want things to calm down. It’s like the Talking Heads song: How on Earth Did We Get Here? We can blame the politicians, who richly deserve it, but nothing will ever change if we do that.  Politics is about pointing and blaming, to some extent. Maybe, it’s time for us to look at us? If experience is our teacher, what are we learning? What are we teaching? How much of what we’re experiencing in our political system today is about what we choose to see and the meaning we choose to give it?

  This may seem a radical statement, but I don’t think my Liberal Arts Degree was the cakewalk for stoners it was labelled to be. I’m more convinced of this every day. In many ways it’s exactly what we need today. It teaches what so many are looking for: that we’re not alone, that we’re not meant to be, and that we, in fact, never were.  Liberal Arts means a generous, extensive course curriculum. —the big picture. The more information is fragmented and aligned with our preferences, the less useful that information becomes. It provides no navigation tools for turning off the fear, the rage, the confusion we are being fed by our televisions.  But my liberal arts education taught me all I needed to know to combat all of this noise.  Here’s how:

I learned that troublesome people are often my teachers, particularly those I wish I’d never met. When I was at the University of Texas and Vanderbilt University, the schools deliberately paired engineering students with English majors as roommates.  We thought it a sadistic exercise of power, but this simple practice was a deliberate part of our education.  We mocked each other’s chosen careers and thought the people with whom we had been paired extra- terrestrials. I, as an english major, was in “Arts and Crafts” and “Finger-painting”, and my roommate’s future vocation of engineer was labelled “Robot” and “Gearhead.”  But when our own skills, mindsets, emotional intelligence, and aptitudes weren’t enough for an educational or life challenge, we borrowed those of our roommates and increased our arsenal for taking on the world. My engineer roommates taught me women could be tough and compete in male- dominated fields, and gave me organizational skills that made me more productive as a writer and artist and eventual lawyer.

I learned the real, comprehensive story of America and its place in the world through the study of world and American history.  I learned how a multitude of disciplines and points of view made us an indomitable whole.  I learned our American system of government, how the branches of government are designed to work, and when they don’t.  History reaffirmed our American values and explained why they were our values in the first place. It gave profiles and examples of courage, heroism, service, and sacrifice. It chronicled our mistakes and recorded them for posterity, so future generations wouldn’t repeat them. Attempts to correct these mistakes are the beginnings of policy.  In the study of history, we got to stand on the shoulders of millions who went before us and learn what their lives taught us, without having to suffer their tragedies. Our history is a gorgeous, unlikely miracle illustrating how the sum of our many parts made a whole of incalculable beauty.

Those “useless” English Literature, and foreign language courses gave me the most precious thing possible:  a way to disagree with my friends, and still keep them as friends. They did this by giving me a bridge of language I could use to reach and learn about people unlike me.  Friends did not used to ask each other who they voted for before becoming friends in the first place. It made life so much easier. We had other things to talk about. We were focused on learning each other’s story and walking with them as it unfolded.

A broad- based education has served for generations to be an orientation on everything you want or need to know about America; our history and why it’s important, our heroes, and our children’s potential place in all of this.   It gave me a common story with every other American and gave me the gift of being a part of a giant family all working together. It’s always the story that matters, that transforms and changes, not whatever technical information we may learn. Absolutely no one anywhere mentors or transforms themselves.

My education taught me to stay curious and dive in. That’s the magic bullet for fighting fear. I can say this from personal experience, as a naturally fearful person. For this reason alone, a broad education is worth its weight in gold.

Curiosity allows the mind to open just long enough for it to assimilate new information before fears sets in and stops us. It allowed me the space to ask the 3 questions that keep propelling me forward: What if? Why not? and Who says? I never would have gone to law school if I relied on polling to make my decision. No one thought I could do it, and that made me curious to see if I could. Even more importantly, how can I progress spiritually if I don’t wonder and question?

 “Fight or Flight does not provide insight.  The antidotes to the terror we all can feel when we look at our world and the safety of our children in it are love, curiosity, and engagement.  The cure for our world and our politics is us—daring to live without fear and throwing ourselves into humanity and watching for what unfolds.

It all comes down to the two roommates I described in paragraph 3 of this essay. Are they fellow travelers and friends, or enemy combatants? Is life a never-ending adventure and classroom for them, a sentence only to be endured? Is the world something benign and beautiful, or is it menacing and dangerous? Are there infinite possibilities for them? Do they stay in touch? I’ve got to believe that everyone we meet is our teacher, especially those we may wish we never met, that all things and people work together for our eventual good, that our purpose is to keep learning, and that life is most definitely not over after High School.

There is a way for all of us to come home.

ALL TOGETHER NOW!

We’re locked in a war that’s making us all hostages.   We ‘re all scared. Politics has swallowed up everything else that matters, it seems, until there is no oxygen or energy left for anything else. Some may enjoy the constant combat, but most of us want things to calm down. It’s like the Talking Heads song: How on Earth Did We Get Here? We can blame the politicians, who richly deserve it, but nothing will ever change if we do that.  Politics is about pointing and blaming, to some extent. Maybe, it’s time for us to look at us? If experience is our teacher, what are we learning? What are we teaching? How much of what we’re experiencing in our political system today is about what we choose to see and the meaning we choose to give it?

  This may seem a radical statement, but I don’t think my Liberal Arts Degree was the cakewalk for stoners it was labelled to be. I’m more convinced of this every day. In many ways it’s exactly what we need today. It teaches what so many are looking for: that we’re not alone, that we’re not meant to be, and that we, in fact, never were.  Liberal Arts means a generous, extensive course curriculum. —the big picture. The more information is fragmented and aligned with our preferences, the less useful that information becomes. It provides no navigation tools for turning off the fear, the rage, the confusion we are being fed by our televisions.  But my liberal arts education taught me all I needed to know to combat all of this noise.  Here’s how:

I learned that troublesome people are often my teachers, particularly those I wish I’d never met. When I was at the University of Texas and Vanderbilt University, the schools deliberately paired Engineering students with English majors as roommates.  We thought it a sadistic exercise of power, but this simple practice was a deliberate part of our education.  We mocked each other’s chosen careers and thought the people with whom we had been paired extra- terrestrials. I, as an English major, was in “Arts and Crafts” and “Finger-painting”, and my roommate’s future vocation of Engineer was labelled “Robot” and “Gearhead.”  But when our own skills, mindsets, emotional intelligence, and aptitudes weren’t enough for an educational or life challenge, we borrowed those of our roommates and increased our arsenal for taking on the world. My engineer roommates taught me women could be tough and compete in male- dominated fields, and gave me organizational skills that made me more productive as a writer and artist and eventual lawyer.

I learned the real, comprehensive story of America and its place in the world through the study of world and American history.  I learned how a multitude of disciplines and points of view made us an indomitable whole.  I learned that America had help from other countries, particularly France, in becoming America.. I learned our American system of government, how the branches of government are designed to work, and when they don’t.  History reaffirmed our American values and explained why they were our values in the first place. It gave profiles and examples of courage, heroism, service, and sacrifice. It chronicled our mistakes and recorded them for posterity, so future generations wouldn’t repeat them. Attempts to correct these mistakes are the beginnings of policy.  In the study of history, we got to stand on the shoulders of millions who went before us and learn what their lives taught us, without having to suffer their tragedies. Our history is a gorgeous, unlikely miracle illustrating how the sum of our many parts made a whole of incalculable beauty.

Those “useless” English Literature and foreign language courses gave me the most precious thing possible:  a way to disagree with my friends, and still keep them as friends. They did this by giving me a bridge of language I could use to reach and learn about people unlike me.  Friends did not used to ask each other who they voted for before becoming friends in the first place. It made life so much easier. We had other things to talk about. We were focused on learning each other’s story and walking with them as it unfolded.

A broad- based education has served for generations to be an orientation on everything you want or need to know about America; our history and why it’s important, our heroes, and our children’s potential place in all of this.   It gave me a common story with every other American and gave me the gift of being  part of a giant family, all working together. It’s always the story that matters, that transforms and changes, not whatever technical information we may learn.

My education taught me to stay curious and dive in. That’s the magic bullet for fighting fear. I can say this from personal experience, as a naturally fearful person. For this reason alone, a broad education is worth its weight in gold.

Curiosity allows the mind to open just long enough for it to assimilate new information before fears sets in and stops us. It allowed me the space to ask the 3 questions that keep propelling me forward: What if? Why not? and Who says? I never would have gone to law school if I relied on polling to make my decision. No one thought I could do it, and that made me curious to see if I could. Even more importantly, how can I progress spiritually if I don’t wonder and question?

 Fight or Flight does not provide insight. 

  The antidotes to the terror we all can feel when we look at our world and the safety of our children in it are love, curiosity, and engagement.  The cure for our world and our politics is us—daring to live without fear and throwing ourselves into humanity and watching for what unfolds. No one mentors or transforms themselves.

It all comes down to the two roommates I described in paragraph 3 of this essay. Are they fellow travelers and friends, or enemy combatants? Is life a never-ending adventure and classroom for them or a sentence only to be endured? Is the world something benign and beautiful, or is it menacing and dangerous? Are there infinite possibilities for them? Do they stay in touch? I’ve got to believe that everyone we meet is our teacher, especially those we may wish we never met, that all things and people work together for our eventual good, that our purpose is to keep learning, and that life is most definitely not over after High School.

There is a way for all of us to come home.

10 REASONS TO GOBBLE UP GRATITUDE THIS THANKSGIVING

 

 

  1. Gratitude slaps fear in the face of fear and subdues it. For that reason alone, we must return Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Week to their glory days as full-throated holidays. Not at all coincidentally, thought and conversation about the traditions of Thanksgiving and the reasons for it keep family discussions away from the rolling political disasters and crises that turn discussions into hyper- heated detours from which no one returns alive.

We all need a freaking break. And turning Black Friday into Death Race 2018 isn’t taking a break. Let’s pause long enough to actually remember we like our relatives, so long as we’re not playing Hot Topics truth or dare. Gratitude and inspiration breed hope, and fear takes them away. So, here’s a little dose of hope for the holidays.

2.In light of the California Camp fires and the Paradise Fire, we can be grateful that the relatives sitting around our Thanksgiving Table or celebrating with us from afar are still in our lives, still breathing air, annoying us, challenging us, inspiring us, and lifting us when we fall. To a large extent, they have formed us.

  1. There’s always another source of inspiration just around the corner. The world is full of unsung heroes quietly living their lives, forming a protective circle around us. Of course, we’re so thankful for the first responders in the news today, who keep us safe in ways of which we are only marginally aware. The fact that these people exist in the world, who’ve run into the fire, the flood, the dissolving buildings, is nothing short of a miracle. But, each of our lives is also populated with people who help us and give us the love and courage to be exactly who we are. For every image that inspires fear, there are many more people that inspire faith, courage, and admiration.

4.If we have a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in, a fridge full of food, clean water to bathe with and drink, and clean air to breathe, we’re not only better off than two thirds of the world, we’re better off than cities and counties of the United States of America.This one gets cited often during the holidays, because every day proves its truth.

5.And then there’s holiday fatigue. We can be thankful that we have the right and the means to veg out and take a break, when we need to. There is nothing wrong with a well-timed retreat, if it provides an escape from  the sad, abandoned pets on TV, the ubiquitous Michael Buble’ Christmas CD, the Will Mariah or won’t Mariah have a New Year’s Eve Meltdown? quandary, the frantic trip to the frantic mall with the frantic minions spraying frantic fragrance in our frantic faces, as we frantically check items off our frantic Christmas lists, and prepare to fight with other frantic shoppers in the parking lot!

  1. Art, music, movies, painting, poetry, travel, and each other can all be the difference in a life. A movie, a song, a sonnet, a book, or a trip can live in us like a joyful virus for weeks and months, keeping us strong, and then we get to pass it on! We pass it on by inviting others to enjoy what we enjoy, through groups, retreats, clubs, blogs, videos. Or we can create these inspirational art forms ourselves, if we’re so inclined. We can join with other creatives like ourselves and collaborate. These things and so many others ignite the spark of joy within us. We get to be the neurotransmitters of joy! What could be better than that? These joy- starters are always there, as long as we can see, hear, and move.
  2. We can be thankful for the struggle, for it’s only the struggle that teaches courage, perseverance, when to shut up and listen, when to speak up, and the common sense to know we don’t know enough yet or that more action is required. This year, the struggle has made us bulletproof and bionic.
  3. A late bloomer still blooms. All we need is a pause and a reboot.
  4. Finally, I’m grateful for the fact that God brought each of you into my life, as a continual source of inspiration.
  5. Oh, and coffee!

Without the wonderful aroma, the beautiful-bitter taste and the sizable jolt it provides, we’d never make it out of bed to ponder the imponderables, journey towards purpose, or write or communicate anything intelligible to anyone. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks to each and every one of you for everything you add to my life.

Need more inspiration?  Click here: https://www.amazon.com/Ignite-Poems-L-E-Kinzie/dp/1635052114/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468507965&sr=8-1&keywords=kinzie+ignite

 

 

HOW TO BLOOM

 

I don’t happen to believe that people who are truly spiritual are even aware of their spirituality. And here I am writing a spiritual blog, stumbling from one lesson to the next, inviting you to come with me. But, I think that’s the point. In sharing our stories of imperfect stumbling and discovery, we are sharing the most vulnerable and important part of ourselves, and are exercising our spirituality.

So much of our spiritual lesson is loss, and dealing with it. We are bulbs stuck in the dark, yearning to see the light and open. But, when we finally blossom, the light is glaring, and we feel exposed, and maybe afraid. There are prettier blooms out there! We have left the safety of the dark soil behind.

That is loss. Life requires us to shed the things we can’t carry or that belong to someone else on our journey.

Sometimes, we’re presented with the necessity masquerading as an option, to shed people, or bad habits, or a way of coping with life that is fearful, critical, or foolish. I personally can fill in the blank with 100 different things that don’t get me anywhere spiritually or anywhere else. They’re stupid habits, that provide momentary comfort, that are ridiculously hard to drop! It’s even more difficult to opt out of certain relationships in the realization that you have changed beyond them and they just don’t want the new you—they want the old version. All of these things or circumstances are innocuous in and of themselves, but they can eat up other options, even a calling.

Sometimes, the lesson is more brutal, as someone who occupies a chamber of our very heart is ripped from our lives. How to make sense of the brutal pain? I’m watching someone I love go through this now. Why did it happen? No mortal can answer the question.

I don’t think God is doing something to us or taking the things we lean on to make us grow. I think we can’t help but grow, if we let the tears out and let them water us like rain, letting our hearts open to the sunlight that’s still there, and always has been. 

BOOK REVIEW: LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Sanders

 

 

Compelling stories can be transformative for both reader and writer. They unify us because everyone’s got one. Even non- fiction and poetry genres tell a story, or they aren’t reaching anyone who cares.

Lincoln In the Bardo is one hell of a weird, wonderful, super-unique, cosmic journey of a novel. The author has painstakingly researched and accumulated real newspaper reports and book quotes from the time of Lincoln about him, his family, his acquaintances and party, and the Civil War, and incorporated these into a novel astounding in its breadth and scope, spanning love, war, hate, grief, loss, life, death, and beyond, blurring the boundaries of them all.

Too many details will give away too much, but like other great novels such as The Goldfinch, The Nightingale, and All the Light We Cannot See, this work’s profundity sneaks up on the reader and will leave him or her breathless and thoughtful for quite a while.

It confronts the darker instincts and fears that unite us in our humanity, and shows these darkest instincts and circumstances can give way to something brilliant, good, and immortal.

Likewise, books give us a kind of immortality: they spawn further creativity, clarity, and invention. They get under our skin like a virulent contagion, and change us, as we pass our insights and creations on and on. Enjoy!

Lauren

http://www.lekinzie.com

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.”

THE TRADE

THE TRADE

 

The inward battle—against our mind, our

wounds, and the residues of the past—is more

terrible than the outward battle.

—Swami S

 

If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life. 

Tony Robbins

We’re in a Game of Thrones society now. We’re tethered to a remarkably short and fraying fuse, ready for combat at the slightest disrespect or perceived injury. Everything is always winner take all, and there’s a trail of bodies in our wake, because losing an argument now is cause for public shaming. We’re all so very war- weary, and it feels like we’re under an existential threat. As Father Thomas Keating said, we’re in a cultural straightjacket.

Most of us are getting progressively more desperate for less Game of Thrones and more I love Lucy in our daily lives– a little humor, a little perspective, a little lightheartedness.

I think I know how we got here.

We traded communion for connection, after

We traded wisdom for information, after

We traded eye contact for feedback, after

We traded contemplation for activity, after

We traded authenticity for truthiness, after

We traded mastering ourselves for managing our image, after

We traded understanding and community for tribal identity, after

 We traded accuracy for speed, after

We traded self- knowledge for goals.

Not coincidentally, we’re immersed in the trivia of each other’s lives to the exclusion of our own. We’re more attuned to whether others are succeeding at their goals or agree with us, than knowing what we truly want. Its a world of spiritual poverty and perceived dire scarcity, and yet we run from the fact that we’re all connected, because we’re all connected.

Everything that’s happening in the world is actually happening to us.

Charles Eisenstein

As one Hurricane Harvey survivor put it,

Everybody needs everybody.

It hurts and makes us feel even more helpless and tiny than we do already, unless we can get in there immediately and help. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma brought us together as we all jumped in and helped, donated, or both. But, other things, farther away, like the Congo make us feel somewhat impotent. What’s the point of seeing all of this suffering if we personally can’t get in there quick and do something about it? Of course, there is a point, and yet we run from it like Ebola. We voluntarily make the trades mentioned above rather than face it. It might as well be written on a tablet in Greek, locked in a cave with the Dead Sea Scrolls, because that’s how far away we want it to be.

We’re afraid we’re going to have to sit in a prayer closet in the lotus position, breathing like a lifelong Yogi, waiting for God to show us what our purpose is, and there will be only silence. Or, even worse, we’ll do it wrong, we’ll have spent the money for the prayer pillows and the God box, and somehow, we’ll piss him off. Or that in the silence in the middle of the night, after we turn off the reruns and the infomercials, we’ll realize we aren’t anywhere close to our path, or that the grief we feel will break loose in a torrent and we’ll lose ourselves in it forever.

But, it’s simple. It’s how we think of it that’s terrifying. TV taketh away, but sometimes it givith, by showing how something scary and complicated isn’t either of those things. I’m going to get us there via a TV show called The Leftovers about running away from loss and pain, individual and global, about existential crisis. But that has nothing to do with us, right?

Each character devises a story to explain his or her pain, in the hopes of minimizing it. There are clues to the greater meaning, as we and they attempt to decipher it all. Some characters even attempt to escape the suffering and ambiguity by dying.  But they can’t, and no answers ever come. Their elaborate explanations of why are false, and each is operating as an imposter because of them. Each character finally hurls themselves into what is, facing the darkness and their own imminent mortality, only to find they get to start again.

The brilliance of the show is that we go along for the ride, only to discover the clues were just red herrings, pointing to the now obvious: there’s no escape.   The situation was horrible, but they were inflicting the torture upon themselves.

The only way out is through, hurling ourselves into loss, grief, and  uncertainty, and the fact that none of us have enough time, by learning to listen to the silence, so we can hear our true natures, for how can we face the world and all of its tragedy as imposters? 

 But, its not about hours logged in the prayer closet like its punishment or atonement, its our reward. We fear, because we misunderstand what silence is and what’s required to listen. Silence is playing with the dog for 10 minutes in the back yard and noticing that he smiles, and then noticing the trees are whispering as they dance in the wind. Something magnificent is happening at this moment, and we’re here in it. Something turns and softens in us and we aren’t scared or resentful or mad as hell anymore.

Listening is simply listening in the moments when life is trying to tell us something, letting ourselves know that life is paradox, love, and loss, and letting the silence, the truth, and the tears cleanse us like rain, so we’re no longer haunted by the past. We can pay attention to what is happening now, all the wacky, crazy, tragic, comic beauty of it. Silence cleanses us of what blocks us from bravely facing the world as ourselves.

It’s that simple: it’s a trade. We escape running and distraction for embracing the loss, the pain, the grief and helplessness and letting it wake us up, yet again, to our own lives, our own heartbeats, and tears. If we do this, then even the most mundane things can become our sanctuary, sprinkled in the sacred.

Lauren

http://www.lekinzie.com

 

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.”

 

WHAT & WHO THE “NEW” CHRISTIANITY LEAVES BEHIND–ME?

 

 

I thought we Christians agreed on the things that Jesus said and did, and the attributes he embodied and wanted us to strive to achieve.

I ‘m going through a second puberty, much uglier and scarier than the first. At times, my faith’s new terrain is unnavigable and unrecognizable, because of the fusion of politics and religion by some.

Where is my Jesus?   

This is important for so many reasons.

When was the last time you heard any Christian politician talk about Jesus, or these very simple cornerstones of our faith?

 

Whenever you help the least of these, you help me.

 

They will know you by the way you love one another.

 

 Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and don’t hide from relatives who need help. Then, your salvation will come like the dawn, and . . . when you call, I will answer. (This particular quote is from Isaiah, not the New York Times).

 

Don’t steal.

Don’t lie.

Don’t want to take what belongs to your neighbor.

Don’t commit adultery.

Don’t kill.

Honor your father and mother.

Judge not, or you will be judged

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

 All of us, Christian or not, are losing when Jesus and the things he stands for are dropped from the equation.

 

 We lose peace and solace. Our faith is where we turn to get away from the ugliness and endless blame game of this world—our sanctuary.

In terms of Christianity, Jesus was supposed to be what Christians agreed on. It was the beginning of all further conversations. In terms of other faiths, see the point immediately below.

We lose identity and our voice. The Christian Evangelical political movement has become so powerful that non- Christians equate” Evangelical” with all of Christianity, and we non- Evangelical Christians feel like an endangered species.  No one is listening to us at the moment. But, maybe they should. We’ve been walking in our faith since no one knew what Evangelical was.  We’ve seen and learned there is a vast difference between attempting to vote ones

Christian conscience as a factor in politics, and allowing politics to dictate the very tenets of our faith, or what we are allowed to believe.

We lose leadership. If we’re the peacekeepers, and we don’t love, agree, or even tolerate each other, why on earth would anyone listen to us?

Ask yourself, who wins and profits if the Body of Christ is at each other’s throats?

As long as the politically powerful control the narrative and tell us what Christians are and aren’t, they retain power.

Power always acts the same.

Who decided Christianity was a “winner- take -all” full contact team sport?

The discord, “the all or nothing”, “you’re with us or against us ideology” is false, perpetrated by those who know better. If we buy into it, we lose the ability to be effective or solve problems. We lose compassion and grace for those who threaten or challenge us, and thereby lose Jesus himself. We lose our moral standard. We no longer know what’s over the line, because there is no line.

 

 

But, if we can agree on just these few things, we can solve a great many insurmountable” problems within and without our faith:

 

 Jesus isn’t for sale

Hes not a political prop.

He stands for certain things, none of which is being in the elite 1 percent.

He is the standard.

He isnt ego or economically driven.

As the body of Christ, it isnt helpful or effective to cut off limbs.

 

If we dont allow others to dictate membership in our faith, drown different voices out, or dictate what we believe and what is possible, we can’t lose, because we realize it isnt winner take all. We can all rise to the greater world vision Jesus called us to have. We can see that the narrative saying its impossible to have compassion and care for the powerless is just thata narrative.  We know who we are and who we stand for.

 

Im not abdicating fiscal responsibility for the nation, but we must hold true to the example and teachings that underpin our faith, as we make the difficult decisions.

The entire world is watching us after our crazy election.

The oppressed still need justice. The starving still need food.  The lost, marginalized, and hopeless still need a beacon. We can stay humble and caring, or we can devolve into us vs. them, all adrift on individual life preservers, with no shore in sight.

Isn’t it ultimately what’s in our hearts that counts? Are they still open and hopeful, or are they closed tight? Can we expect our prayers to God for mercy, forgiveness, and justice to be answered, if we dont allow others to receive those things? The answer determines the fate of the soul of a nation.

L E Kinzie

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.” 

 

ARE WE THERE YET?

 

The destination we have craved with desperation for over 2 years has arrived, and yet we are nowhere near “there” yet. There was a collective expectation that when 2017 finally came, decency, courtesy, civility, and normalcy, would return to us.  But, it dawns on all of us political trauma victims that was a fantasy we created to cope. Normalcy cannot return, because normal has been redefined. I have been silent, because I didn’t want to write anything that wasn’t unifying and solution -oriented, thereby contributing to the divisive, somewhat unhinged state of things.

 But, I’m Baaaack! — rested, with a new perspective and new hope.

Strangely, the worse things seem to get, the more there is to unite us, because it pushes us to return to our core values—not talking points, but values. When we get down to our values, we agree on solutions. Here are some examples.

  • We all agree that we don’t want our own behavior, biases, and beliefs to make our children ashamed of themselves or of us– ever. We can’t encourage our children to participate in a political system, if we believe that system is a cosmic joke. Most of us can agree that it is a cosmic joke at this point. But,

 

  • the problems aren’t insurmountable despite all being said to the contrary. To say so is an insult to us and our children. We deserve more than a group of politicians who create division and promise solutions only to throw up their hands and punt. It’s lazy, craven, and cynical, and isn’t us—even now.

 

  • If we look to the motivation for saying things are so forgone they can’t be solved, we see how false those claims really are, because we can see the motivation behind the words. Political platforms need problems to solve. So do re- election campaigns. If we believe there are no solutions, we get compliant, we stop making demands. We turn our lives over to our leaders. That doesn’t benefit us, it benefits them. FDR solved problems. Was he an alien from Mars or a special one -of -a -kind breed of human? Was Reagan? They listened to the people. We can still do that.

 

  • We can agree that our leaders to a large extent just don’t seem to care about us anymore. It’s like they have terminal narcolepsy: they’re not waking up anytime soon. They are focused somewhere else on something shiny.

 

  • We can all agree that there is a real resurgence of activism and involvement, and we need to keep it going. It is very, very early in the game.
  • We all agree that it is more important than ever.
  • We can all agree that  the preceding 6 points  lead to the inevitable conclusion that the solutions are up to us, the reasonable people left when you subtract the professionally angry and ideologue politicians.

 

 There is a hairpin turn in this plot: All of these problems effectively are one problem, which points to its own solution.

Our political discourse has been stripped of any and all language relating to possibility, tactical solutions, timelines, goals, and mission. It is a hopeless, barren landscape populated by people spouting ideologies without actual values. Our politics doesn’t know who or what it is, or who it’s for. It has been stripped of its very identity. Our political system, the system that finances that system, and the parties themselves are now biased against solutions and problem solvers. Language for policy drafting isn’t making it into our political campaigns, and that language is the beginning of the negotiation process necessary for lawmakers to propose and adopt solutions. How can anyone meet in the middle, if there is no middle?  So, people who know how to solve problems and want to, look strangely out of place, and are run out of the race.

Look at what happened to Bernie Sanders. Agree or not, this guy had solutions. He had thought seriously about the problems and had policies to solve them.  He was earnest. He was beloved by the populace. They had no idea what to do with him. The democratic party viewed him as a threat to its viability, because he pointed to its shortcomings. He transcended party politics, because that is what is required to solve problems, and that transcendence was viewed as a threat.

 Well, if one person can transcend party politics, what kind of effect would millions of us transcending party politics have? Significant. Maybe we should all re- register as Independents. Suddenly, the party hacks are automatically out of the loop.

  A problem this huge can only begin with a spiritual solution. Spirituality is about what is possible, and language follows that sense of possibility. Until we shift and lift our focus above the differences and the problems, unity and therefor solutions, will be impossible. The very language necessary to devise solutions will be impossible.  

Focusing on the problems effectively shuts down the higher consciousness that creates solutions, finds points of unity, and forges alliances, agreements, and treaties. There is a reason why the politicians, most of them, keep harping on our differences: as long as we perceive them as insurmountable, they don’t have to lift a finger to solve anything. It is up to us to drive it from the grass roots up. Let it begin with us.

Spirituality points to our common humanity, and embraces solutions and people. There aren’t two different Americas: there is one united America with a multitude of different perspectives and experience.  THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM. IT’S THE SOLUTION. This is where creative solutions come from: Outside.

The key to happiness is said to be a sense of purpose. Well, now we all have one!

So, whoever you are, whatever you believe, wherever you get your news and info, you alone have the power. You have the power of the pen, the phone, your feet, your friends, your constitution, your memory (remember the names of the politicians who broke their promises or betrayed you) and your vote. We have the power of infinite creativity and possibility, and we don’t have to concern ourselves with re- election. It’s a swamp, but we aren’t in it. We are standing with clear eyes on dry land.

 

*****

 

 

MY CHRISTMAS WISH FOR CHRISTIANITY

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It’s been a heck of a year.

At many times, I was afraid for the state of Christianity.

2016 was the year of shouting, and softer voices temporarily got drowned out. This was also the year of labels. The candidates had labels and so did Christians. The media spoke of “the Evangelicals” as synonymous with “the Christians”, which was simplistic and false.  It had its place in election reporting, but it was a form of shorthand that was deceptive, leading people to believe that there is only 1 kind of Christian and there is a checklist to be followed. Call me Pollyanna, but I think there is as much diversity in Christianity as there is in any other area, and I think that is a fantastic and necessary thing for actual unity to occur. I think that what we non- Evangelicals bring to the party is also valuable.

I have been a Christian my whole life, but not an Evangelical, because my personal belief it that religion and politics is a bad pairing. Politics is a tribal blood sport! It’s “our team” vs. “their team.” It, of necessity, relies on soundbites, shorthand, and over- simplification and generalization of issues and the categorization and labeling of people. I think we can all agree that we have had enough of that.

My first  Christmas wish  for Christianity it that we drop the labels and checklists! Stop the madnessJ It is what is in our hearts, that only God himself knows that is what matters. We can’t attribute intent to someone because of how they voted.

Allow me to use a little humor to make my point. Is God a Republican? Is he an Evangelical? Did he have a favorite in the election? Was he rooting for Hillary or Bernie? Or Russia?

Though a registered Republican, I have voted Democrat or Independent in the past 3 elections, because I don’t want people in Washington that I have never met telling me how to be a Christian. Am I still a good Christian if I really don’t like Congress or the President telling me how to live my life?

What if I believe in separation of church and state despite the fact that I’m a Christian?  Do I forfeit my faith card?

Yes, these scenarios are ridiculous.  Can we stop pretending that they aren’t?

There are as many shades and flavors of faith as there are people professing it. There is not only room for all of us, but all of us are needed to raise our voices during this Christmas season and be reminders of what we actually agree upon, and it is a lot, despite what we see on the news and our Twitter and Facebook feeds. So, my second Christmas wish is that we ,put those sources of division away for at least some of each day during the holidays and focus on what draws us together.

The following are the things that we agree upon: We believe in loving our neighbors as ourselves and at least attempting to see them with understanding. We believe in peace and compassion, good will toward men, assuming the best until proven otherwise. Each of us, not matter what our faith, believe it is sacred and not something to be exploited by anyone –ever. We believe in extending grace, because we have received it. We believe in opportunity and optimism.

We are still the most compassionate, generous, open minded and open hearted nation on earth. The labels don’t matter. We know who we are. And I think God’s still rooting for us.

Pollyanna.