Tikkun Daily button
Lita Kurth
Lita Kurth
Lita A. Kurth is a Jungian Anarcho-Syndicalist teacher and writer

How I Spent my Lent


by: on April 7th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

One day in Lent went like this: another scattered stupid day of laundry, a crazy amount of mediocre cooking, bad feelings about myself and my negligible achievements, and attempts to pull myself out of self-absorbed self-criticism. Scurry, scurry, worry, worry, and meta-worrying about worrying. Tiring.

I got simple things done – a haircut, but only after wasting inordinate amounts of time surfing the web for “flattering haircuts for older women,” printing some images, doubting, looking for signs, irked at having to make all these decisions myself without clear divine commands. (Maybe the command I didn’t hear was, “Is this really important? Please live with more gratitude and now-ness.”)

That night, trying to decide whether to add doing a textbook to my list of tasks, I went to a Taize service at a local Church, a ritual I got into last year with my friend, Marilyn. I love to watch the candles, flickering as if they have a soul. Sitting in the dark, the computer well out of reach, I try to spare thought for others, think about Jesus in Gethsemane. Up above the altar, a big, round stained-glass window shows that scene, idealized. Why, I wonder, is Jesus’s face raised to the sky in prayer? Why that posture? Wouldn’t his head be down on the stone in agony and pleading? Around him are brilliant reds like chili peppers, and stunning blues. Closer to the congregation, two white lambs stand guard, one proudly holding a denominational banner, apparently with its leg. I wonder (but not in a harsh way) why martyrs need clean robes and how lambs can super-proud without dirt on their wool. Is this representation of myth an acknowledgment that daily life has so many dirty clothes and animals acting like animals? What would it be like if the lambs in church looked real, silly and fearful with maggots in their tails? What if Jesus looked like an everyday person in a country under occupation? Maybe we would find it hard to hope; maybe we’d resent being reminded of the world too much around us.

I believe in the value of ritual. Though not Catholic, I like to observe Lent in an interfaith way: a little bit of Ramadan for solidarity with the poor, a little bit of Judeo-Christianity for depth in simplicity, a little bit of Native American enlightenment through solitary retreat, a Jungian belief in the balance of feast and fast. In an unorthodox way, I decided to try out the experience of relinquishing several needless things during this period between Mardi Gras and Easter: candy was the first thing. For years, I never ate candy and somehow I’d started eating it regularly. The second thing was crabby negativity, a lifelong habit. You can guess which one was easier to give up.


Occupy Faith: the Interfaith Tent at Occupy Oakland


by: on March 4th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Occupy Faith: the Interfaith Tent at Occupy Oakland

Hate crimes? Robbery? Violence against police? If you Google “Occupy Oakland,” you might miss another deeper story, the story of Occupy Faith, the Interfaith Tent, now metaphorical, though no less strong, that has supported and borne witness to Occupy Oakland since October 24, 2011. Nichola Torbett,Director of Seminary of the Street (“At the intersection of radical love and justice”– my favorite neighborhood!) told me about the origins and activities of the Interfaith Tent which are myriad and moving.

Interfaith Tent at night (photo by Alexandra Childs)

Occupy the Present

Meditation, counseling, nonviolence training, singing, dancing, sharing food and clothing with those who needed them, creating posters -”Remember MLK, radical nonviolence…” “Peace creates kindness creates peace.” “Occupy the Present” and “Occupy Your Own Heart with Love and Compassion” – were all Occupy Faith activities. In Ms. Torbett’s words, they came to “provide a critical spiritual presence that honored and welcomed all religious traditions and people who were non-religious.”

But it wasn’t all warmth and joy

The beating of Iraq veteran Scott Olsen was a decision point for Occupy Faith. Following that incident, they formed a Planning Group and “helped to articulate


Spirituality of Charlotte’s Web


by: on February 19th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

A woman probably has about 450 egg cells available in her lifetime; in the U.S., perhaps one or two of those become children.

Human Egg Cell Gray's Anatomy

A man, of course, has millions and millions of sperm, but again, only a handful become children; even for overachievers, a couple hundred is high – and still a tiny percentage. Most of those potential lives go nowhere or at least nowhere we know of besides the clothes washer. So all of us here have won the big lottery. We held the winning ticket for a life on earth. Here we are. What should we do? A great question, and often surprisingly hard to answer.

Human spermatazoa


When my daughter was four, we watched a not-very-good video of Charlotte’s Web: mediocre graphics, unmemorable music. But one part stuck with me and gave me new thoughts.


A Meaningful Christmas


by: on December 23rd, 2011 | 2 Comments »

Nothing could be less celebratory than having to celebrate. Imagine someone holding a gun to your head: “Sing Christmas carols! And sing like you mean it!” Where does celebration come from? What does it mean? I’m inclined to think that any word connected to “celebrity” has to be suspect. 

The dictionary, source of so much wisdom, tells me something unexpected: “to perform with appropriate rites and ceremonies; solemnize, observe, commemorate, sound the praises of, make known publicly.” No wonder we can feel it’s a heavy burden. Appropriate rites: like holiday cards, Christmas trees, and end-of-year letters. I’m happy to observe and commemorate, but solemnize?

By Lourdes Cardenal (Own work)

In the mall culture, Christmas is light as a snowflake, but some part of it is heavy, as heavy as labor, a forced journey while you’re nine months pregnant, on a donkey yet. And what’s the journey for? To pay taxes. Then the hotels are all full. Joseph must have cursed a blue streak and Mary felt the floor drop out, facing her first labor far from home, from a midwife, from her mother.


Reserving Libraries for The Best Readers


by: on November 10th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

I know most faculty, much less students, will not have time to read the Student Success Task Force Draft that various people in CA are proposing to “reform” community colleges. My general impression is that, with a few exceptions, the measures proposed will be harmful to the poorest and bar them from college by assuming they aren’t making an effort if they cannot succeed within needlessly early deadlines even if they are learning and growing. It is also assumed that every student has a computer. So to illustrate the way it works, I imagined applying it to another realm: the public library. Here is my report.

Reserving Libraries For Those Who Can Make Best Use of Them: those with time, skills, and money


Who Can’t Afford Community College?


by: on September 24th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

What Kind of Person Can’t Afford Community College?

I’m going to begin this blog like a Cassandra, but end it more positively. No one needs another blog entirely dedicated to how awful things are.

Library of Congress public domainSo here’s the bad part:

I was talking with some moms recently and one, disparaging an acquaintance who was saving up to attend a two-year college, asked with an incredulous laugh, “What kind of a person can’t afford community college?”

The remark sent a chill through my bones. First, she was so insulated by privilege that she honestly didn’t know how a decent hardworking person could not afford the bottom rung of the educational ladder, and second, that she seemed to consider it a moral failing to be poor. Finally, she represents the people most likely to vote, most likely to lobby a school board, Congressperson, or Council member.


“Books are actually very expensive,” I pointed out, and later I wanted to kick myself for that answer because even without books, tuition at a community college – the very institution set up to serve all – is too expensive for a worrisome segment of the workforce. I recall talking to a waiter who told me that when the price went up to $20 a unit, he couldn’t afford to go anymore. He had two kids and he couldn’t work a second job. However, he was very interested in books for his kids. It was painful to think that someone willing to learn and grow, wanting a better job, wanting to contribute more knowledge to his kids and capable of contributing more skill, and taxes to the economy, should be barred from that opportunity. How un-American! And how troubling to meet a person with a great deal more power in the world who insists that he and people like him don’t exist.


“This is What Religion Looks Like!”


by: on July 31st, 2011 | Comments Off

Anyone driving through Madison, Wisconsin in April and May would have recognized those nine beeps of car and truck horns, ubiquitous throughout the city: This is what democracy looks like!

Wisconsin State Capitol

The mainstream media focused on unions, of course, public and private, coming together in unexpected solidarity, but not everyone realized that spiritual and religious groups played a significant role as well. And here’s something that will challenge your prejudices: evangelical groups were among them. Together with the religious organizations that form the usual progressive “suspects,” they chanted their own variation on a theme: This is what religion looks like.

Bruno, Hawkings, Dowling at WCSA

Houses of Worship: the new “public” spaces for political action?

Churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques have an ambivalent history with social justice, but a panel at the Working Class Studies conference in Chicago this June offered evidence of deep and innovative support for justice movements, worker rights in particular, which really inspired me. Not everyone knows, for example, that during the Wisconsin Uprising, a Shabbat service was held in the Capitol with Hebrew songs in which Rabbi Renee Bauer played a key role. Or that four hundred clergy signed a statement of support, and one hundred fifty of them marched in the protests. Robert Bruno, author of Justified by Work, moderated an impressive panel consisting of Father Larry Dowling, a Catholic priest from a 50 percent unemployed, 55 percent ex-incarcerated parish, and Rev. C. J., . Hawking, Executive Director of Arise Chicago, and Minister of Social Justice at the Euclid Avenue Methodist Church. Unfortunately, Rabbi Brant Rosen, leader of an activist Jewish Reconstructionist congregation, and a Muslim Imam were not able to come.


Secret Weapon Against Fascism: Ourselves


by: on May 1st, 2011 | 9 Comments »

Wisconsin workers

Happy International Workers Day, everyone! All over the world, on grand and small scales, people are celebrating the majority in every society: workers and would-be workers. Every day, in my work as a teacher, I see that the belief in fairness continues to flourish among the majority, the baristas and servers, the nurse’s aides and clerks, the dishwashers and groundskeepers.

photo by Jonathan McIntosh wikimedia commons

It’s a complex situation, of course. Workers can be hard on one another, proud of their endurance under extreme conditions. As one server told me recently, “If you can’t take abuse and disrespect every day, you don’t belong in the restaurant business.” And yet, in a recent class discussion, both men and women restaurant workers acknowledged that at the end of the working day, they often cried.

There Is Hope

Though the power of the privileged has grown grotesquely and the power of workers has shrunk, commitment to justice is a motion-sensitive light that turns on again when we move.


April 4th and 5th: Catch the Wisconsin Fire


by: on April 5th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

The fires of democracy continue to burn brightly in Wisconsin.

With a Smile, Photo by Rebecca Congo

Recall campaigns are racing along, and a recent community meeting in Milwaukee, usually a sleepy, ill-attended affair, boasted several hundred attendants. When their representative, Chris Larson, one of the “Wisconsin 14″ showed up, they jumped to their feet in a standing ovation. Neighborhood listservs are boiling with activity.

Photo of and by Rebecca Congo+Friend

On Facebook and in a thousand union and church meetings, people solidify their connections with each other and their commitment to recover and strengthen our precious democracy.

Meaningful Individual Acts, Meaningful Collective Acts

April 4th and 5th, there were dozens of opportunities to participate in democracy both publicly and privately. At least five activities were planned for the South Bay (Please comment and post photos if you attended one of these.)


Special Dispatch: Solidarity in Wisconsin


by: on February 19th, 2011 | 11 Comments »

Protest in Wisconsin photo by A. Renner

Special Dispatch: Solidarity in Wisconsin

In Jordan, teachers protested this week for the right to form unions. In Wisconsin, they fought to keep that right. The stakes and the dangers in Jordan are enormously higher, but it’s a sad irony that we find ourselves sliding down to the status of a country that doesn’t even pretend to be a democracy. I wish with all my heart for these dangerous struggles in the Mideast and North Africa to bear real and lasting fruit, that in each of these cases, justice will prevail.

And I’m proud of my home state. I’ve been proud all week. Newly-elected Tea Party Governor Walker proposes to remove collective bargaining rights on workplace rules, safety, pensions, benefits, overtime, and, for salary, more than a cost of living adjustment would require a state referendum! This drastic curtailment of a voice for workers in their working conditions affects teachers, custodians, game wardens, university employees, librarians, health service workers, everyone except firefighters, police, and state troopers.