Nov 30, 2013

Cardinal Dolan on Losing the Culture Wars

Last night I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that Pope Francis had resigned and been replaced by yet another pope. How many retired popes, I wondered, could Vatican City accommodate? Would this become the new normal in the Catholic Church? And what about the Malachy prophecy? Because it looks very likely that Pope Francis is, in fact, Peter the Roman. Mostly, I was just really disappointed because I like this pope. He's not perfect but his heart is in the right place.

I was somewhat relieved to find this morning that Francis was still the pope and all was, more or less, right with the world. But then I was disheartened to hear that Cardinal Dolan was on Meet the Press spinning like a top. Because it's never about the regressive views of US bishops. It's about how they're being unfairly portrayed in media. Why oh why do they have so much trouble getting their message across?

They're not anti-gay says Cardinal Dolan. That's just how they've been "caricatured" by the media, simply because they're so pro "traditional marriage." But they've been "outmarketed," says Dolan.

"When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion molders that are behind it, it is a tough battle.”

What the round-faced, red-hatted one never seems to understand is that if you're for something to such an extent that you want to prevent everyone else from doing differently, you are by definition, "anti." And Cardinal Dolan is "anti-anybody" who wants to get gay married. But he seems somewhat resigned to the fact that the "stampede" of same sex marriage support is crushing formal Catholic opposition.

Also horribly unfair, says Cardinal Dolan is the misconception that the Catholic Church is opposed to universal healthcare. They were way ahead of the curve, says he, going all the way back to 1819. But they can't support Obamacare because, you know, birth control mandate. It goes against the teachings of the Church. Never mind that 98% of Catholic women in America have used birth control.

This tells us a lot about the priorities of US Bishops. Landmark legislation that the Catholic Church has been wanting for nearly a century and they can't support it because of a handful of wedge issues. This is called letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. There were many things the political left wanted from Obamacare and didn't get -- a public option for instance -- but they didn't let that stop their support for the overall aims of the bill. Because that would have been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. That US Bishops were willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater over contraception tells you very quickly that they are far more preoccupied with our wombs than our health.

Pope Francis has gone on record regarding the Catholic Church's priorities and found them wanting. The relentless obsession with things like abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, are contrary to the overall aim of spreading the Gospel, says the pontiff.

A few days ago His Holiness made waves again when he released an exhortation addressing the injustices of modern capitalism.

Pope Francis has taken aim at capitalism as "a new tyranny" and is urging world leaders to step up their efforts against poverty and inequality, saying "thou shall not kill" the economy. Francis calls on rich people to share their wealth.

The existing financial system that fuels the unequal distribution of wealth and violence must be changed, the Pope warned.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" Pope Francis asked an audience at the Vatican.

The Bible contains over 300 verses on social injustice and caring for the poor. It is, in fact, a major theme. Whereas a smattering of verses on homosexuality say nothing about marriage rights and actually call for execution. That traditional marriage Cardinal Dolan waxes on about loses out big time to polygamy. And the tireless obsession with our lady parts is ridiculously counter-biblical in all respects but the misogyny. News flash: Abortion isn't forbidden in the Bible.

I know that Cardinal Dolan is adhering to Catholic doctrine but he's cherry-picking that just as he is the Bible. Pope Francis seems to have his priorities in better order. I hope he remains pope for a good, long time, or until the end of time, whichever comes first.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Nov 26, 2013

On Watching Piers Morgan Interview James Ray -- UPDATED

 photo JARonPiersMorgan1_zps82e6605c.jpg
Yes, Ladies! He's keeping the hair. Natch!

*See Update Below*

Well that was about insufferable.

Piers Morgan had an opportunity last night to hold James Ray's feet to the fire in a way that Arizona prosecutors could not. But it was Ray who was in control of that interview. Morgan could have had Ginny Brown on to offer a counterpoint, but Ray would not allow it. He would only deign to appear if he was the only guest. Why James Arthur Ray, convicted felon, is such a hot media property that he gets to set his terms is a mystery to me.

Morgan continued in the long CNN tradition of playing passive apologist for James Arthur Ray. This is, after all, the news organization that lost interest in covering the trial as it became increasingly apparent that Ray was going to be convicted. And that he's a horrible, horrible person.

For 45 minutes, Ray emoted for the camera about the totally unforeseeable events of October 8, 2009 and how painful it's been for himself and his family. Said Ray:

I think the most difficult thing I can ever imagine is investing your entire life in helping people, and then finding them getting hurt. It's just the antithesis of anything that I had ever stood for or wanted. [emphasis added] And so that anguish has continued every single day since that moment.

And much like when Lululemon announced that brutal murder was antithetical to their values, I gotta wonder why anyone would need to spell that out. Is Ray afraid we'll all think he asked his genie to bring him death and destruction? 

The sweat lodge, as Ray tells it now, was just a tiny piece of Spiritual Warrior -- "the sizzle on the steak." I wonder where all those people -- his students year after year -- got the idea that it was the pinnacle event.  No, says Ray to a nodding Piers Morgan, he really wasn't that into it. But you see, people had all these expectations and they had signed contracts. He didn't want to let them down. Some of them were really looking forward to it.

Except that the sweat lodge was only tangentially mentioned in the contract -- which was more of a tissue thin waiver really -- as something that "may" occur. No one was officially told about the sweat lodge until right before it happened. That would ruin the surprise!

Keep in mind that we will be working diligently to make this event memorable. For this reason, it is important that we do not disclose any further information regarding the event schedule or planned activities. However, we will tell you that it is going to be an exciting, unforgettable, and transformational week!

The rest of Ray's performance -- and I do mean that literally -- had about that much relationship to the truth.

He had no forewarning that something like those awful sweat lodge deaths could occur. Nothing remotely like this had ever happened before. Daniel Pfankuch? He just got a little dehydrated. And it's not like anybody -- students of his or a medical doctor, say -- had been telling him for years that he was risking people's lives with those temperatures. Nope. Never happened. That must be why his attorneys worked so hard to keep the evidence from previous years out of the trial -- previous years that looked like this.

Piers Morgan did a good job of looking grave and serious as he lobbed one softball after another and let Ray squirm out of the occasional tough question without scrutiny. But then, this is the hallmark of TV News in America now.

Only near the end did he ask the key question raised by Ray's recent communiques. "What about the families?" Why all the focus on the pain he has suffered? As he did throughout the interview, Ray cranked up the tear machine and talked about how he wished he could trade places with James, Kirby, or Liz. And how he knows he cannot -- which no doubt makes that sentiment a little easier to express, huh.

But I read Ray's self-indulgent twaddle and there is not a single mention of the people who died that day, or of their families, or of the people who were permanently harmed, or of the traumatized witnesses to that hellscape.

There's nothing in his email:

I know it's been quite a while since you heard from me, and I just want to begin by expressing my sincere thanks for staying with me over the last 4 years. For the last 4 months since my re-emergence I've been catching my breath and doing my best to rest, spend time with my family, and integrate the experiences of the last 4 years. Frankly understanding and integration will probably take the rest of my days.

After my birthday yesterday, it seemed the perfect time to begin a new chapter in my life; and continue to find ways in which I can be of service, given all that I've learned and experienced.

I've posted my first blog today and I plan on many more to come. If you'll take a moment and read it when you have a chance, my sincere hope and prayer is that it will be of value to you and your current situation in life.

Again thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued love and support, and I look forward to connecting again soon.

Much love and gratitude,

And there's nothing in his blog post, which is particularly odd because it's all about coming through the adversity of the last four years ("feels like forty"). He actually says that twice. Nowhere is there any mention of what happened that made it so rough. Just that he has been through hell. We're all supposed to be very impressed, I guess, that James Ray suffered the tortures of the damned in some vague, undefined way.

He's born it all stoically, it would seem, and has learned about the transformational power of the darkness. He is, as the title of his post suggests, filled with gratitude.

At the beginning and end of each day, I’m grateful to be alive; to have the gift of life; and to have the opportunity to take all the lessons and experiences and move forward. I believe we should all be grateful for each and every single day of life… regardless of whether we perceive them as positive or negative, up or down.

He's glad to be alive with all the gifts and days of life that we should all be grateful to be living... says the man who was convicted for the deaths of three people.

 photo JARonPiersMorgan2_zps31c8c386.jpg

Ray is just full of gratitude. He's made it through a "spiritual, mental, and physical tsunami."

In the depth of darkness I made a conscious choice to “utilize” everything to my advantage—to facilitate my own development, advancement, and growth. For isn’t that what you and I both really want? The entirety of life and the whole of the Universe are about fuller expression, experience and expansion. Aren’t they?

Yes, it's all about him -- about what he has gone through and what he has learned. Because James Ray can use anything to his advantage... and anyone I guess. 

Perhaps the biggest lie of all came near the very end of his interview. Asked if he'll go back into the self help industry, he says he just doesn't know. Oh, really. That must be why he's relaunched his blog, sent out emails to his list, and gotten himself booked on Piers Morgan. That he could say that with a straight face should tell you everything you'd ever want to know about his sincerity or the lack of it.

Update: Connie Joy has learned that James Ray and Piers Morgan are related by show biz marriage.

"Piers Morgan is represented (and proudly) by non other than Octagon entertainment. As a matter of fact, John Ferriter - who is now the media contact for James Arthur Ray - is also Piers Morgans' manager. Cozy, isn't it? A softball interview indeed. And the quotes Piers chose to repeat on his twitter account certainly make it look like a well-planned PR campaign."

I was just reflecting on how completely Morgan made himself an instrument of Ray's PR, even going so far as to suggest that Ray would make a better teacher after all he's lived through. That wasn't an interview. It was a dance.

And a scheduled follow up with Ginny Brown? Canceled.

Can we stop calling Piers Morgan a journalist yet? And how should we refer to CNN?

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Nov 21, 2013

Colbert's Alpha Dog of Yoga

Stephen Colbert skewered Lululemon's Chip Wilson the other evening, naming him Alpha Dog of the Week. For more background on the yoga tycoon's misogynistic, fat-shaming, racist blather see here and here.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Nov 19, 2013

Da Vinci's Music

Slawomir Zubrzyck performs on his viola organista.

Just when you thought you knew how brilliant da Vinci was, you find out he was even smarter. Painter, sacred geometer, scientist, flight engineer, aaaaaaannnd musician.

As if all his other accomplishments were not impressive enough, it should be noted that according to his early biographers, Leonardo da Vinci was also a “brilliant musician,” who was a talented player of the lira da braccio.

According to award-winning biographer and author, Charles Nicholl, Leonardo must “have excelled” since the biographers “the Anonimo” and Vasari insisted Leonardo:
”...went to Milan, probably in early 1482, [where] he was presented to the Milanese court not as a painter or technologist, but as a musician.”
The lira da braccio was not the lyre of ancient antiquity, but rather a forerunner to the violin. Leonardo excelled at playing this instrument, and was, according to Vasari:
”...the most skilled improviser in verse of his time.”

In addition to all those flying machines, he made up plans for crazy musical instruments, including the viola organista. And Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzyck has gone to the great trouble of building one.

Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.

‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.

. . .

The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Nov 16, 2013

Lululemon's Law of Attraction Fail

What has Lululemon done to law of attract its shrinking stock price?! Numerous ham-fisted efforts to shrink women down to nothing perhaps?

The yoga-wear retailer is both alienating current customers and "making it tough" to get new ones, an analyst at Sterne Agee, Sam Poser, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday. Poser downgraded the company's stock and sent Lululemon shares downhill 4 percent to $66.24 on Thursday afternoon.

"We believe that the core Lululemon customer has been alienated and will begin to look for yoga and active-wear pants from the likes of Nike, Under Armour, Athleta and numerous other brands," Poser wrote.

Lululemon did not respond to a request for comment.

Poser singled out the "mouth of the chairman," pointing to the recent controversy surrounding Lululemon chairman and co-founder Chip Wilson. In an interview on Bloomberg TV last week, Wilson attempted to address recent reports of issues with the company's yoga pants, which customers said were too sheer and easily pilled.

Wilson blamed the pants' problems on women's bodies, sparking outrage from consumers.

Yes ladies. Even women thin enough to fit Lululemon's yoga pants might be too fat to not rip them apart.

"Frankly some women's bodies just don't actually work for it," Wilson said (at 2:40 in the above video).

He didn't stop there.

"They don't work for some women's bodies," he continued. "It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."

Oh, women! With all your nasty, nasty curves. Your bodies just aren't adequate racks for the latest fashions... in yoga.

The poor pants! Will no one think of the pants and what is best for them?! Priorities, people!

It sounds like the problem is that even women in that target size 8 and under market don't have the "thigh gap" necessary to not cause undue stress to Lululemon's lovely, $100 work-out pants.

What is thigh gap? I only learned this recently and I was rather taken aback. This gorgeous, gorgeous, "plus size" model explains.

So it's no longer enough for women to be unnaturally thin. Our thighs aren't even allowed to touch... at all.

What I flashed on immediately was something Callan Pinckney says in the original Callanetics video. She shows an image of the "perfect legs" she'd grown up with. Four coins could be held at the places legs should touch. Note that one of those coins is between the thighs.

While this is also an overly idealized vision of a woman's body, what I can't help noticing is that the fashion industry seems determined to make women thinner and thinner. Ironically, the more public outcry there is against dangerous messaging that contributes to growing rates of anorexia and bulimia, the skinnier the fashion industry standard gets.

Worse still, the burgeoning yoga industry is following suit. Is it me or is there something particularly pernicious about the commingling of spirituality and fat shaming that issues from trendy yoga marketing. As I wrote here, it's just more of the hideous trend toward equating spiritual well-being with our material wealth and beauty. Reminder: Yoga means "union" with the divine.

Chip Wilson responded to the outcry over his odious comments with an equally odious non-apology apology. It's one of those I'm not sorry for what I said, I'm just sorry you got upset apologies.

For what it's worth, Wilson appears to understand that he's bad for his own brand, expressing concern that the cult status of his creepy, cult-like stores may be "chipped away."

So what have we learned? Well, for one thing, that Chip Wilson's apparent attempt to put into practice Rhonda Byrne's stellar advice to not "observe" fat people or think "fat thoughts" may not have proved to be the best business model. And we've learned that controlling your thoughts to attract health, wealth, and success may not be as important as just watching your mouth when you're on camera.

Nov 13, 2013

Who and What is Teal Scott?

Because Teal Scott speaks for God!

Several weeks ago I followed a link to the blog of one Teal Scott, self-described Spiritual Catalyst. I was pulled in for a bit. At first blush it struck me as the very open, honest disclosures of a psychic sensitive in a lot of pain. I can certainly relate to the challenges of being a super-sensitive in a jagged world. Teal was writing about her latest man trouble, about repeating abusive patterns in relationships. Yea verily, sister!

But as I clicked through a few more pages and tried to trace the narrative, things became increasingly convoluted. And was she really disclosing this man's identity? Wait, was he disclosing his identity on her blog? This man she was describing as a psychopath? That seemed most peculiar. And what was she really saying about the workings of spirit? It was something of a jumble, which would be fine, if she weren't relaying it all with such authority and certainty.

My bullshit meter was blinking red. I closed the tab and forgot all about Teal Scott.

A Facebook friend put her back on my radar when he posted one of her video lectures the other day. This led to a very frank discussion about spirituality, sexuality, sexism, and whether or not Teal Scott is a total fraud.

Nov 12, 2013

Massive Heart Integration

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important message.

Breathe into your Heart

I don't usually do things like this but the system is blinking red. Over the past couple of days this has come up in multiple readings as well as in my own process. There is some sort of mass integration underway. I don't know any other details. It's not anything I've read anywhere. I just keep seeing it. It's playing out in different ways for different people, as naturally it would, but it's in every case some version of a massive influx of new energy, soul parts, previously inaccessible components of our SELVES, that can be and need to be integrated now in a new way. Grounding this energy is important but it's not enough. The important thing is to breathe into the heart center whenever we have a few free moments to focus on it.

There are also feelings of emotional and psychic overwhelm for a lot of us. Taking a few moments to breathe into the heart as well as grounding into the earth is tremendously helpful in navigating this new dynamic.

Blessings to you all.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Nov 10, 2013

Once Upon a Time There Was a Voiceless Mermaid

I've told many people through the years that there are two ways to read Women Who Run With the Wolves. The first is bibliomancy, which is to simply let the book fall open to a random page and begin there. The other is to read it in order from the beginning, but to do so on no particular timetable and to take it up only when the spirit moves. To do otherwise is to find the book impenetrable -- nigh well unreadable. This is something many women have told me about their attempts to read it. But trust me, I would say, read it only when you feel it calling to you from the shelf and what had been a thick tangle of far too many words will be magically transformed into the most lucid, meaningful prose you've ever indulged. Read past the point in the book you were meant to read on any particular occasion and it will once again look like something written in a foreign language.

I read the book from front to back. It took me well over a year. But each time I picked it up it was a flawless reflection of that moment in time. Not only was the text the perfect insight into an experience I'd just had or some realization that had only just begun to dawn, it came accompanied by sometimes comical Jungian synchronicities. Like the time a boisterous, eccentric old woman in a restaurant bumped into my table and sent my chicken dinner clattering to the floor just as I was reading about Baba Yaga and her house on its crazy chicken legs. Some were far less humorous. One evening I felt moved to open the book again after I returned from the emergency ward. I had very nearly lost the tip of my finger to a confrontation with a trailer hitch. With my unbandaged hand, I removed the bookmark and found myself staring in disbelief at a story called "The Handless Maiden." A few short months later I was pregnant with my daughter. The day after she was born, the World Trade Center fell down and the realization that her father would almost certainly be heading off to war was inescapable. To anyone who's read that portion of the book, the parallels would be hard to miss.

As I enjoy my new favorite show Once Upon a Time, I find myself once again seeing the line between dreams and reality becoming blurred. After taking in a number of episodes from the first season, it occurred to me that I should grab the book I sometimes refer to as "the oracle" from the shelf and more deeply consider some of the rich themes that emerge between the lines of the show's deceptively pedestrian dialog. Book in hand I sat down to watch the next episode which turned out to be "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter." In it one of the residents of Storybrooke has some very strange encounters with a wolf. It causes him to begin awakening in the dream as the viewer learns that the wolf had been his constant companion during his life as the Woodsman in the Enchanted Forest. I ran my hand across the gold embossed wolf on the cover of my book and just shook my head at the wonder of it all.