The True Birthdate of Jesus

by Paul Nugent (member of the Board of ICUJP and Aetherius Society)

On March 15th,  throughout The Aetherius Society, we have held a service commemorating what we regard as the true birthdate of the Master Jesus (i.e. March 15th) heralding the beginning of the Piscean Age, hence the symbol used by early Christians of the fish. As many will also know, we believe this Master to have come to Earth from the planet Venus, “the bright and morning star” of Revelations, 22:16. It was, of course, a time when conventional wisdom held that the world was flat; but at this time of greater scientific discovery, and with a number of astronauts openly testifying to the reality of UFOs, perhaps it is time to reconsider what was meant in the first chapter of “The Acts of The Apostles” when it was written: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

 At a time when our world is facing almost insurmountable problems, is it not time to take a more open and critical view of this profoundly important subject which could have unlimited possibilities for the future potential of humanity, way beyond the flat-Earth mentality we have imposed upon ourselves?

For more about the Aethetius Society, see http://www.aetherius.org

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A taste of our Friday morning ICUJP gatherings

Diane Goldstein (right) speaks with Rita Lowenthal and Kwazi Nkrumah.

By Anthony Manousos

As you can see from reading these posts, the ICUJP meetings every Friday morning draws some fascinating speakers. The only drawback: getting to Immanuel Presbyterian church at 7 AM to hear them!

For those who have jobs or other responsibilities that made Friday mornings impossible, ICUJP is planning to organize events on a Sunday evening. Stay tuned for details.

Meanwhile, I will continue to provide blog entries that give a taste of what our Friday morning meetings are like. Enjoy!

Fidel Sanchez, Grace Dyrness and Mr. Cardenas

Our March 16 gathering was especially tasty since it included a Costa Rican breakfast, pinto gallo (beans eaten while the rooster crows), made in honor of Grace Dyrness, who was celebrating her 65th birthday. One of the beloved leaders of our group, Grace gave a thoughtful reflection on the environment, which she promised to share on this blog.

Kwazi Nkrumah, organizer of Occupy the Hood, showed up at our gathering with a man named Cardenas whose wife Bianca was deported after their home was foreclosed by the bank. Cardenas is a US citizen and his wife was going through the process of becoming a citizen when this punitive deportation occurred.

Cardenas explained what happened: “Last Feb 22 my wife was at home. The banks had sold our home while we were trying to modify our loan and had gone through a bankruptcy process. The investor who bought our home called the police department, and they arrested my wife Bianca, even though they had no right to do so. We filmed the arrest and the police got mad. They kept my wife in jail for 7 hours and they found that 10 years ago she tried to cross the border and so they took her to immigration. Within two hours she was deported. They told her she had no rights. She had no attorney. This deportation broke our family apart. We have a one-year-old daughter.”

His lawyer provided legal background: “When the property went to sale, the family was in bankruptcy so there was supposed to be an automatic stay. This was then a civil matter and therefore the LAPD was not supposed to be involved. The bank was not supposed to sell their home while the legal process was still going on. Therefore, this foreclosure and arrest were illegal.”

Occupy the Hood has been working on the issue of foreclosure for the past year. Said Kwazi: “We have a massive criminal dispossession of the populace taking place around the foreclosure crisis. The banks have become criminal syndicates falsifying documents and seizing properties by any means possible. This case has escalated from a simple struggle to keep their home to a deportation. We are calling on groups to join us in this effort, including the Catholic arch diocese…”

See http://occupylosangeles.org/?q=node/8670

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWx7KmNOSok.

There was also a talk by Diane Goldstein, a 21-year-old law enforcement veteran retiring as the first female Redondo Beach Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), as well as the executive committee for the 2012 initiative “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine.” She was invited by Rita Lowenthal.

You can hear her talk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No1A2J6Z4C0

and learn more about LEAP at http://www.leap.cc/

Explained Diane: “This a critical time in our society. We’re seeing interesting coalitions develop among organizations unlikely to come together. I became involved with LEAP in 2010 because of Proposition 10. I was brought into by Judge Jim Brath, an OC judge who’s written good books on how prohibition has failed.

 “Because of LEAP, I became involved with Mom’s United Against the War on Drugs. I have a real belief that the drug war in its totality has been an abject failure. I have seen the full spectrum. I have seen how drug addiction works in my family. My brother was an addict and how was treated changed my attitude.

 “My brother started self-medicating at an early age but was clean for ten years. But then became a user again and he ended up dying at age 41.

 “I have looked at drugs as public health issue. I can’t understand why we use incarceration and enforcement as a way of dealing with drug use.

“Drug use is bad for our society, but what is our obligation to those we love? Is it better to marginalize and lock up drug users? This method targets people of color and is racist in nature.

” LEAP was started in 2002 by retired police officers on the East Coast who had become disillusioned by the drug policy. Drug war is the largest “whack-a-mole” in our society. When we knock out one drug dealer, another pops up. This is unlike apprehending rapists, murderers, etc.

“Drugs are not moral or immoral. They are things which can be used for good or bad purposes. We have turned drugs into a moral issue.

” One of the goals of LEAP is to restore respect for law enforcement.

“We have an obligation to prevent violence but we must do it without racism or excessive force.”

She went on to explain that LEAP wants to remove drug policy from a police matter to a health issue. She told us over 55 billion dollars is spent on drug enforcement policies. etc. The drug enforcement lobby spends a lot of money to influence our legislators.

“Law enforcement is as self-serving as Wall Street,” she said.

 She also cited some disturbing stats:

Drug arrests occur every 13 seconds.

1.6 million have been arrested, most for simple possession.

40% of high school students have used drugs.

 3 out of 4 voters think that the drug war has failed.

 50 die each day of overdose because they are afraid to call because of drug laws. Instead of saving them, we let people die.

 25 million are engaged in substance abuse.

 In 1997 Rand study showed that drug rehabilation was 23 times more effective than source control.

Portugese decriminalized drugs and did a 10-year-old study. HIV went down. Drug overdose rate went down because more people were willing to go to public health treatment. Usage went up to start and then went back to its previous level. Use by kids went down 25%.

Our group was very impressed with this presentation and are looking for ways we can expose the so-called “war on drugs” for what it is: a war against drug users, mostly people of color, that is causing untold misery and violence.

Upcoming Events sponsored or endorsed by ICUJP

LA Laborfest presents Bread and Roses “The Singing Strike” on Sunday, March 24, at 4 PM.

A special conversation with George Hunsinger, Found of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Sunday, April 22, 2012, at the home of Betsy Hailey. A fundraiser for NRCAT and ICUJP.

Reckoning with Torture. Sunday, April 29. 3-5 PM at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, 31 N Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena CA 91103.

Upcoming speakers at our Friday morning gatherings:

2/23 Ali Saleh (the new clean Muslim mayor of Bell) and Cristian Garcia will speak on encouraging coalition building and civic engagement among Bell’s Muslim community.

3/30 Jeff Paterson of The Courage to Resist will speak on the campaign to free Bradley Manning.

4/6 Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

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The Right to Wear (or Not to Wear) a Head Scarf

 

by Stepehn Rohde, Chair of ICUJP

At a time when women are being raped and exploited around the world and defiled at home as “sluts” and “prostitutes” for defending contraception, conservative columnist Dennis Prager recently chose to devote his valuable print space in the Jewish Journal to defiling “the Muslim practice of covering women’s faces with a veil, [as] one of the most dehumanizing behaviors to women practiced in the world today.” Really?

Not according to Sara Bokker, former actress/model/fitness instructor and activist, Director of Communications at “The March For Justice,” and co-founder of “The Global Sisters Network,” who describes herself as a “Muslim feminist.” An American convert to Islam, after learning that while the head scarf, Hijab, was mandatory, the face veil, Niqab, was not, Bokker voluntarily adopted the Niqab only to see that “women in Hijab or Niqab are being increasingly barred from work and education not only under totalitarian regimes such as in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, but also in Western democracies such as France, Holland, and Britain.”

When living in South Beach, Florida, a hotspot for those seeking the “glamorous life,” she became a regular “exhibiting” beach-goer, “a slave to fashion” and “a hostage” to her looks. But to raise her children as “upright Muslims so they may be beacons of light for all humanity once again,” and to “enjoin good–any good–and to forbid evil–any evil,” Bokker is fighting “for our right to wear Niqab or Hijab and to please our Creator whichever way we chose.” She’s trying to spread “our experience with Niqab or Hijab to fellow women who may never have had the chance to understand what wearing Niqab or Hijab means to us and why do we, so dearly, embrace it,” because “it is the personal choice of each and every one of us, which none of us is willing to surrender.”

Bokker says she “couldn’t be happier to shed my bikini in South Beach and the ‘glamorous’ Western lifestyle to live in peace with my Creator and enjoy living among fellow humans as a worthy person. It is why I choose to wear Niqab, and why I will die defending my inalienable right to wear it. Today, Niqab is the new symbol of woman’s liberation.”

Take that, Dennis.

 

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Remembering Rachel Corrie

by Rev. Darrel Myers
 
This Friday, March 16th, is the ninth anniversary of the bulldozer killing of Rachel Corrie in the Gaza Strip. The 23- year-old from Olympia, Washington, was trying to block the demolition of yet another Palestinian home by Israeli military forces.This time the home housed two families, one father a pharmacist and the other an accountant, whom Rachel personally knew. She had played with the three children. She had slept overnight there. At about 5 pm on that fateful day she positioned herself between that home and the bulldozer. Wearing a bright flourescent vest on a bright green patch of grass, in that Gazan town on Rafah, bullhorn in hand, she tried to stop the oncoming towering Caterpillar. It crushed her. She died in the arms of a fellow human rights activist, a Jewish young woman.
 
Like a number of other international human rights activists Rachel felt it imperative to go to Palestine, including Gaza, to stand with the imperiled people there. She had been drawn to the Israel/Palestine human issue by the testimony of an Israeli woman, whose family had survived the Holocaust, who voiced her strong opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Readings in the books on Gaza by the intrepid Israeli journalist Amira Hass and the Harvard scholar Sara Roy helped confirm Rachel’s resolve to go.
 
Rachel’s dad, Craig said to her as she was packing her bags, “You don’t have to go; no one will blame you if you don’t.” “I know. I’m really scared. But I think I can do this. I know I have to try.” She arrived in Israel/Palestine in January, 2003, two months before she died.
 
A prolific and very good writer, she wrote in that February: “There are very few words to decribe what I see …. [N]o amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it.”
 
Rachel has been highly honored by the Palestinian community. Many, for example, remember her willingness to sleep before the threatened and attacked village well at nights. {Maybe an American could ward off the military threat.}: Five years after her death, as even today, she was featured at a drama presentation in Gaza. Children hung placards: “Rachel we need you,” “Rachel we will never forget you,” “Rachel Corrie died as a Palestinian.”
 
This extraordinarily strong and compassionate-from-childhood young woman wrote prolificly of her life and experiences in letters contained in the recent book, Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie. A previous book, My Name is Rachel Corrie has been turned into an internationally aclaimed stage play, directed by the Briotish actor and director Alan Rickman, who says of her, “A born writer. It’s like jumping inside someone’s soul. Her relentless, undiluted humanity is inspiring and profoundly moving. And she makes you laugh.”
 
The late, great Palestinian renaissance man, Edward Said, wrote of Ms. Corrie: “The letters Rachel wrote to her parents and friends from Rafah reveal a progressive form of consciousness of a young woman who discovered herself through experiencing the misery, hunger, thirst of a humanity without hope, living in dangerous situations, threatened by bullets and bombs where imminent death is the only certainty for the young and old.”
 
ICUJP is proud, and has done additionally ourselves proud, to have had as Friday morning speakers a couple of years ago Rachel’s parents — solid, bereaved, articulate — Cindy and
Craig telling her story and the ongoing legal case in Israeli courts regarding this death which, to date still after seven years, has been unresolved.

Darrel Meyers

Darrel Meyers is a Pastor at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Van Nuys, Southern California, and is a member of ICUJP.  He was a co-founder of the Middle East Fellowship of Southern California and has served as one of its chairpersons since 1969. Darrel is also a board member of the Friends of Sabeel-North America and makes frequent visits to the Middle East. He holds a Masters degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Darrel has three grown children and three granddaughters. Along with spending time with his family, he enjoys reading, sports, cinema, music and the companionship of friends.

 

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“Dancing in an Earthquake”: Reflection of Rita Lowenthal on her 85th birthday

by Rita Lowenthal

Rita on her birthday

 I’m not quite sure how this happened—why I decided to use my reflection time to celebrate my 85th birthday with you. It feels a little egocentric—my women friends are giving me a luncheon–the family is having two parties, so how much did I need?

I think it’s because I want to share with those that have been most important to me during my 80”s.

When I thought about what was unique and different  about my 80’s—two things  came to mind: Five years ago  the diagnosis  of dementia of my wonderful now 97-year-old husband Jerry—and the gift of my late middle and old age.

 And my joining ICUJP.  I forget what year that was, between the two of you, in these five years, I’ve read enough about healthy aging and dementia  and spirituality  to fill a book—but   don’t despair I’m limiting my self to 10 minutes.  I’m allowing myself  this  gift of a an extended reflection just because I think I am the oldest person in the room (not that that  makes any sense)—but since when  did everything have to make sense?—especially in a room with so  many believers.

First, Jerry’s Alzheimer’s type dementia. We lucked out—he has what is known as euphoric dementia.  He is, if not euphoric, absolutely content.  I remember when we first got the diagnosis—five years ago when he was 92—he looked at me and said: ‘Don’t worry—I  lived and loved the good times, nd what’s the big deal about forgetting the hard years.” Shortly after, when he lost his drivers license, his response was: “ I can’t drive—great—I  hate driving in LA—now you’re stuck.”

 When I got over the initial fears,  sadness and outrage about the wastefulness  of it all. What was going to happen now to this man who spent his life on intellectual  and cultural pursuits—having an UNcurious brain? And how would I  respond? I needed to do this right.

 When you raise and love a drug child and go through a divorce you are never sure when you are doing exactly right. He has allowed me the opportunity to like myself more—than possible any other period.  I think I’m doing this right,.

 I suppose I  quite quickly  made a peace with the diagnosis because  I was assured that the onset would be very gradual. And it was—his Dementia moved slowly and it has really only in the last six months that it has become difficult: inconvenient, annoying and boring. But not devastating, It’s like living with a good four-year old: all he really wants is ice-cream, Animal Planet National Geo on TV, and me.

 I have learned to pretty much replace our  outside life so I’m not  too lonely for intellectual and  collegely fun situations—and I bless him every time I go out and count on is saying says—have a good time—he never says, “Don’t leave me.” What a mench!

 But hanging out with him in the same room too long sent me to a hypnotist to block out my impatience at his repeating–even though the repeating is  five things that in some other  time might be a gift:  “Do you love me as much s I love you?   Don’t you love our lives?  Aren’t we lucky and do have enough money? And we need vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.” 

 Some  times in what seems like machine gun rapidity  it goes on and on  and he must be answered.

 Well, as everyone is this room knows–having a world view–knowing what others are experiencing makes it easier  but not easy. Incidentally the hypnotist did help and remembering that he won’t remember no matter how often I say,  “I’ll see you later, I’m going to going to take a nap” gets me out of whatever room he is in, but I rarely pass  where he is sitting that we don’t touch.

 Another of the gifts of my aging are the acceptance of “life happening.”   I don’t feel our predicament is a tragedy. It is  just “Life Happening”  He is 97.

 Plus understanding  the boundaries of how much or little we can really do to save those we love is an enormous  gift of  psychological freedom and  then, as most people who have lived through what they sense as real tragedy  (for me the death our beloved boy)and survived, I’m just not afraid of the future.  I got past that period of devastating mourning, and life is good.  Some clichés are clichés for reasons. Time does heal.

 Nothing  negative seems very anxiety-provoking and I rarely sweat about the negative future.   Being sad or angry is a pleasure  compared with anxiety.  Although thinking about the world—it feels like we are dancing in an earthquake– but I have you to share it with,    plus a relatively new mantra for me, “one day at a time,”  is not that difficult to remember,

 A few years ago I wrote these two poems:

 Dementia Dilemma

 Why label him a disease?

Can’t he just be forgetful, fatulmult

Like old people used to be.

Where is it written he needs to know

The vice president’s name?

even this nice one.

 Who says he should eat breakfast,

lunch and dinner at prescribed times.

He’s retired.

He can eat whenever he damn well pleases.

Maybe short burst of anger are a functional release

like mini orgasms,

Must even passion be pathologized?

 Maybe it’s not tragic to live long

And be forced to live in the present.

Surely the past was as difficult

as it was wonderful

Having lived it once should be enough.

 Words. Words. Words.

Dementia—that’s what the say.

Sounds like demented.

Maybe a rose is a rose

But why not daft

Or a gentle madness

 or pixilated?

If he is daft or pixilated

There is room for laughter

 But Alzheimer’s  Type Dementia

No, that’s worth forgetting,

 Rita Lowenthal 2009

 Premature Peace

 I made a peace with aging

Accepting the inevitabilities

Aches, forgetting, and diminished fantasies

Exchanged for the gratefulness

Of every pain free day,

I wrote a pretty good poem

About all that

And now I want to renege.

 I am exchanging an old

Belief system

For a newer acceptance

Of this long life.

 Now I know that the eighties

And nineties are new possibilities.

This may not be the last stage

Only the next one.

 I can erase where I wrote

That I will grow old and infirm

And choose old and informed.

Boldness over acceptance.

 Hmm, What’s next?

 Rita Lowenthal–2010

 That’s were ICUJP came in,  Just when I was ready to just  hang it up on all religious  institutions—they  just make too much trouble  (I’m not  talking about my my Jewish and Zionist identity–they’re just too engrained—they are who I am, like my womanhood—but enough of organized religion)—so I joined the  Jewish Humanist  and Some Shalom Communities.

 Then came ICUJP.  I had never been active in interfaith work. You became  my graduate course in another America—and I  came to realize how ghettoized  my  life  has been although it never felt that way—I  have always had non-Jewish friends.  neighbors and leftie local politics buddies,  but Pasadena church-going religious leaders,  Muslims  and Aetheriens!?

 As all  limited people must come to know it is not enough to say—some of best friends are—I really fell in love you with you guys –and that makes the difference.

I  believe we are  a truly a unique group—it’s not just the values of peace and justice that we share—other groups claim the same.  I think it’s the unique  ways  we  have built, in an often cold room and a history of no coffee at 7 AM ,with  people who often don’t  see each other  more than once a week for two hours and from different parts of LA—a closeness—that’s unusual..  And of course,  there is our amazing leadership.

 The members of this group have helped me get over my cynicism about organized religions  (when it is organized on my side) and to once again not to be so over simplistic.

 Another is that because I have so much respect for who and what goes on in this room—I  have made a peace with my struggle with God. I  m still attached to my former colleagues at Hebrew Union College and the Reform movement. But for the for the first time in my life, I have no particular congregational relationship I call my own. I am very committed to interfaith work and Jewish organizations with progressive political views.  You are my spiritual homes,

 We had on our book shelf a small maybe 3×5 framed quote of Gertrude Stein.  It said: “There ain’t no answer. There never was an answer. There will never be an answer. And that’s the answer.” 

A few months ago I realized that it was totally faded—it came with Jerry so it was probably 60 years old—and I replaced it with the ee cummings’ poem that my dear friend John Forney introduced me to:

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”

  It fits right in with quote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote that, for the Jews, the greatest of sins is despair.

 That’s it. For my birthday I want you all to promise to stay well and grown older with me

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Protesting unfair foreclosure, single mom is fined and given probation

by Anthony Manousos

Last fall 14 members of ICUJP were arrested for “illegal assembly” (i.e. exercising our First Amendment Rights)  in front of the LA Federal Building. We were protesting the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and calling for an end to our occupation of this and other countries. We were given a suspended sentence, with no probation or fine.

This week Rose Gudiel and 8 other protesters were not so fortunate when they faced charges for “occupying” OneWest Bank in order to protest the bank’s attempt to foreclose on her home without just cause. The City Attorney of Pasadena wanted to “make an example of them'” so they were given probation and a fine.

Because my wife Jill Shook and I care passionately about the rights of homeowners who have been facing foreclosure due to unfair banking practices, I wrote a letter to the Pasadena Star News which was published on Thursday. By the time the letter appeared, the case had been settled.  As of yet, Rose Gudiel has not received a commendation from the city. I still think they and others like her deserve recognition for standing up to the banks.

Dear Editor:

The Pasadena Star News ran an article today revealing that the city of Pasadena plans to prosecute Rose Gudiel and others who protested the attempt by OneBank to foreclose on her home without just cause. Thanks to Gudiel’s protest, OneWest relented and Gudiel was able to keep her home. Now the city wants to prosecute Gudiel and those who helped her. City Attorney Michelle Bagneris claims that she is just “following the law.” This is similar to the argument made by Southerners during the Jim Crow era when they arrested protesters for sitting in at segregated lunch counters.
       Clearly there is something wrong with laws that allow banks to foreclose on people’s homes, but don’t allow people to protest to save their homes from unfair eviction. We need to change the laws to protect the homeowners, not the banks.
    I urge the City not only to drop these charges, but to commend Gudiel and the protesters for living up to America’s finest tradition: the spirit of civil disobedience that led the citizens of Boston to dump tea into Boston harbor, and the protesters in the Deep South to violate the discriminatory Jim Crow laws. We need to honor men and women of conscience like Rose Gudiel who are calling for banks to behave morally and responsibily.

For more info see  http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_20124822/pasadena-pursues-charges-against-foreclosed-mom

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An Atheist Affirmation of Activism

by Bonnie Blustein

In our Unitarian Universalist community, teenagers participating in a “Rites of Passage” ceremony each present a personal “Credo.” They talk of god and the universe, the meanings of life and death, of how to know what to believe.  One recently spoke about his spiritual experience in helping families inTijuanabuild their own houses.  Another imagined a river of souls, into which a bucket is dipped when a person is born so that the new soul is at once unique and partaking of all those that came before—and destined to return to the river.  She, and others, said in voices reflecting both pride and pain: “I’ve been struggling with these questions, I have answers to some but not others, and as I continue to struggle I’ll probably change my mind.”

 When I was their age, I concluded that I was an atheist rather than an agnostic – and about that, I haven’t changed my mind.  Some humanists shun the word “atheist” as a negative, a denial.  But, as Spinoza said, “Every determination [or affirmation] is a denial,” and the opposite is equally true:  every denial is an affirmation. Let me restate my affirmation: 

 We are made of stardust.   The stuff of the Big Bang sparks our neurons and flows in our veins.  The glow of suns condensing from cosmic clouds is neither more nor less wondrous than a Bach fugue or a child’s crayon drawing.  Our spirit, our substance, and the substance of the universe are one.

 We often speak of “connecting the dots,” but the “dots” are already connected.  Our task is to understand those connections. 

 We feel what we don’t fully understand:  that which we share with a universe far larger and more majestic and more important than our individual selves, even as we sense the difference that sets each of us uniquely apart.  Failing to grasp the yin and yang of sameness and difference, we experience the difference as separation and seek reconnection.  Experiencing separation as sin, we seek redemption. 

 But:  Must the humble realization that we are not the be-all and the end-all obscure the lofty truth that we are precious pieces of the all-being and never-ending?  Must we seek that connection in a realm of the spirit qualitatively different from the world we see, smell, and touch?  I deny it, and I affirm:  That “river of souls” is only a metaphor, one of many, for the real, materially existing and ever-flowing cosmos from which we may feel alienated but from which we can never truly be sundered.     

 One youth said that she sometimes wanted to believe in God.  Amid the instability in her world, it would be comforting to know that something never changed.   In meditation we often seek to find the “stillness at the core.”   We praise the permanence of mountains (even as mountains rise and fall) and of the stars (even as they supernova and collapse into black holes). 

 Could it be that many of our deepest beliefs reflect the prejudices of a society in which we are truly alienated, one from the other and even from our own work?  That these are the prejudices of that class of society which has the most to gain from permanence, and the most to fear from change?

 The I Ching teaches  “change: that which is unchangeable.”   We need balance, not stability:  think of the soaring bird or the surfer riding the wave.  At the core –of the universe and of our lives — is not stillness but motion.

 Does this matter?  Does philosophy matter when children’s starving bellies are swollen with disease, when a grandmother in a wheelchair is blown apart by bullets paid for with our tax dollars, when we have to wonder whether the world will survive nuclear madness long enough to be devastated by global warming?

 It matters tremendously whether we fear change or welcome it.  Whether we build real connections among people, or satisfy ourselves with the ones in our minds.  Whether we work for justice now or wait for it in another life.  Whether we try to coast along the bended arc of the universe or grasp that we are the ones who must bend it.

 Let us welcome change.  It is not ours to fear.

  To fear change is to seek justice in an economic system where the fate of immigrants is tossed back and forth between those who hate them and those who wish to exploit them.

 To fear change is to seek peace in a political system where Democrats and Republicans collude to continue wars in which decent young people are turned into an army of occupation so hated and isolated that some become the murderers of Haditha and the torturers of Abu Ghraib.

 We seek to connect the dots, but their connections run deeper than we know.  Let us try to know them better.

Let us connect ourselves and our neighbors of the world, in the world, and in the work of bending and building it.

We are made of stardust.  Let us shine!

 From an ICUJP Friday morning reflection, June 9, 2006. Bonnie Blustein teaches mathematics at West LA community college, serves on the board of ICUJP, and is a member of Neighborhood Unitarian Church, Pasadena, CA.

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