Posts Tagged ‘demagogue’

Pilgrimage Statistics
 Consecutive Days Riding:  120                                              Days Blogged: 102

New Mileage: 12                                                               Total Trip Mileage: 865

Circle of Offerings!

In my last posting I noted that my blog journey/pilgrimage had reached several significant milestones.  It’s been a little over four months since we started and I have posted along the way over one hundred times!   Those of you who have been following me for some time may remember that I started blogging on a daily basis.  About a month ago I decided I needed to take a break to get the new semester under way.  Things have fallen together nicely and I’ve decided as of today to resume the daily postings and to return to following our journey’s progress on a map.  People can once again follow my virtual bike ride  as we snaked across Florida and beyond.

Colorful Offerings!

 I was telling my partner Susan that part of a “healthy process” toward life is to at times step back and take stock of your journey, your destination, progress and goals.  Such “breaks” in our routine, like going on a retreat, gives us a chance to take a look at the “bigger picture.”  Reverting to a three times a week blog schedule afforded me the opportunity to do just that.  I’ve come to the realization that for me a daily blog has benefits that outweighed the negative aspects and demands associated with such an effort!  In particular, a daily blog is time consuming as it demands that one: identify daily topics, researching the topics, identify and research possible pilgrimage sites, make time to dictate and edit the posting, and dealing with admin duties of maintaining a blog like responding to comments.  However, I find that having the daily blogging ritual provides a great deal of structured focus on to my day.  I often ponder and ruminate over issues and events occurring both in the news and in my personal life.  I most often think them through like I would a blog posting.  In the past I would often call any of a number of “coffee buddies” to share my thoughts on the topic.  So I am already doing much of the mental work, why not share it with a larger audience?

 In addition, as with any good spiritual routine (e.g., daily prayer, meditation, yoga, and a regular mindful walk) once it’s under way it tends to produces benefits far greater than the simple acts.  The routine can provide a unifying connection with the spiritual dimension of our life.  The daily blog serves a kind of focusing function for me.

I’ve had considerable success in identifying retreat and pilgrimage sites, throughout Florida and beyond. It is my renewed goal to make more site visits; we have four such site visits in the coming week!  I am also going to try to keep my postings somewhat briefer.  My friends and students know that I am NOT a “man of few words!”  However, the effort to be more succinct and keep the topics simpler is a worthy challenge.  I am reminded of the scene from the movie “A River Runs Through It” when the father would continually send his son back to the editing process to cut the number of words he used to express a written opinion.   This is a worthy challenge, and of course I have my “Editor-in-Chief” (Susan) to help me meet the goal!

I set off on this blog pilgrimage journey with a joyful mindset and a sense of excitement.  I have marveled at the variety of people and experiences that have enfolded before me.  I feel that I’ve recently gotten caught up with current events that tend to pull people into the “my side versus your side” and “right versus wrong” dichotomous arguments.  I often found myself responding to or using words like demagogue, hypocrite, atheists and true believer which lead to circular arguments that end with everyone retreating to their corner.  While these discussions can be valuable in helping to understand other positions they seem to “pollute the well” of civil discourse.  It seems to me the airways (talk radio, and TV talking heads) and now the Internet is dominate by too much of this win-lose struggle that pushes people into extreme positions.

Why Not Non-dichotomous Thinking?

My journey through life, whether on the personal or social level, has always been about finding and exploring the middle ground. My Circle of friends and fellow pilgrims expands every day with new voices, new faces, new people spread around the globe!  I welcome one and all and I hope my journey and my word offerings will at times bring a smile to your face, will at times warm your heart, will at times make you go “I hadn’t thought of that,” and will at times give you a sense of not being alone!  I hope that by sharing my journey I might somehow help you on your journey.  I believe the most important and lasting gifts in life are those that lift us up towards the light, towards wisdom, towards the experience called “the divine.”

If for no other reason... think of the future!

If you like the blog please consider joining the stationarypilgrim’s e-mail list by visiting the e-mail subscribe button on the top right corner of this page.  Have a wonderful day!

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  94                                      Days Blogged: 91 

New Mileage: 8                                                      Total Trip Mileage: 741

I once had a student tell me that he thought the world would be a much better place if there was no religion! I told him I could not disagree more. I view religion as a double edged sword.  Clearly it may serve a very positive function within an individual’s life.  It may help to give their life meaning and a sense of direction.  It also serves a very important function within our communities. Many of our important national and world leaders like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Dali Lama arose from within the ranks of religious citizens. In response to Haiti’s devastation many religious groups are stepping forward with assistance.  Whether they are responding to Christ’s or Buddha’s commands to providing comfort and aid to the less fortunate and those in need, they are stepping forward.

Words have consequences!

 The other side of this sword is the fact that the religious beliefs and actions of certain individuals and groups can be turned into potential instruments of bias, divisiveness, hatred and some might even say evil.  Religion can be used to drive a wedge between people rather than become a device to bring together our communities.

Most recently two examples of this negative side of religious beliefs have come to light. The first occurred several weeks ago, when in response to Tiger Woods’ adultery, commentator Brit Hume of FOX News suggested that Tiger Woods should turn to Jesus to deal with his sins because the Buddhist faith does not offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption offered by Christianity. He suggested that Tiger should “turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”  As you might expect this statement has created a firestorm of protest from both Buddhist leaders as well as within the liberal Christian community.  Robert Thurman, a professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University notes that “it is insulting to Buddhism to indicate that it does not care about its own believers and followers.”  He notes that adultery is as much a sin in Buddhism as it is in Christianity and that the ethics are the same in both traditions.  There are clear philosophical differences between Buddhism and Christianity.  Buddhism believes that a person must look inward and that the problem is something he’s got work out for himself, while Christianity believes that only a potent “creator God” can bestow redemption.  I have no problem with Brit believing what he believes but his statement that Tiger should “lose his faith” and that this faith is inferior or somehow lacking is an insult to not only Buddhists but to anyone who does not hold to a Christian viewpoint. This approach does not foster deeper understanding and acceptance of others within our community.  The fact that his views were aired on a network that prides itself on being “fair and balanced” just adds insult to injury in my view.

The second and I believe somewhat more egregious example occurred in response to the terrific destruction in Haiti following the recent earth quake. I’m referring to Pat Robertson’s statement in which he noted that “something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about. They were under the heels of the French you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘we will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’”  Pat Robertson then goes on to note that Haitians need to have a “great turning to God” in response to this earthquake. It has been noted that this is not the first time that the former Republican presidential candidate has made controversial comments in the wakes of disasters he was quoted as linking Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks to a legalized abortion and the presence of the gay agenda in our country.

While Pat Robertson has every right to make his statements, the questions for me are:  What good do the statements server?  Do they help the Haitian people in their moment of need?  Do they help our response to the disaster?  Do they simply represent a “holier than thou” or a “we’re right and favored by God and you’re wrong” exclusionary religious rant?  Is he trying to help quell questions from his followers about why or how could a “just and caring God” do this to these people?  

Are your words and deeds like candle offerings to the divine?

How helpful is it in our preparing for natural disasters or dealing with terrorist threats to make blanket statements in which we tie the occurrence of these disasters to social political causes (e.g. abortion, gay rights). Do you help people who have a “pact with the devil?”  How do we compromise and find common ground on issues like abortion if any kind of support is seen as bringing God’s punishment and damnation upon us?

One of the blessings of our great nation is people’s right to speak their opinions. However, I believe that there are responsibilities that go with this gift and that one of these is to work toward a greater sense of community, toward solutions that bring people together not drive apart. You can label it “fair and balanced” all you want, if it is derogatory, inflames passions and drives wedges into our communities then I believe we may be heading toward a path fraught with EVIL consequences.

Haiti is suffering!

As I prepared to post today’s blog my partner pointed out to me an editorial by the NYT writer Ross Douthat in which he notes that Brit Hume’s comments have fostered a much needed religious discussion.  I agree that such discussions are needed, however, I would suggest that they not be started by commentators who present one sided and insulting statements. I would suggest starting with a balanced two sided presentation of the topic in question.

Please hold the people in Haiti in your prayers as they struggle to survive and rebuild!

Read Full Post »