Tikkun Daily button

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category



When Two Truths Collide

Aug14

by: on August 14th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Minnesota holds primary elections today. One of the most prominent candidates is 11-year congressional veteran Rep. Keith Ellison, running for state Attorney General. A few days ago, first the son of a former partner and then the partner herself, Karen Monahan, accused Ellison of “narcissist abuse,” a term that has come into use fairly recently to describe a pattern of emotional manipulation and bullying in which someone pressures another to ignore one’s own needs to satisfy those of the narcissist, for example. Ellison has denied the charge. Here’s a quick recap.

The charges have ignited a passionate debate among progressives. Many people like Ellison, who has taken consistently progressive positions on issues and who, as the first Muslim elected to Congress, has withstood considerable personal attack himself. So the first contested point is whether the good done by someone accused of bad acts ought to weigh in the balance of judgment.

On one side is a civil libertarian argument that counsels bringing the same commitment to the presumption of innocence that shapes legal proceedings to the court of public opinion. The controversy comes with a raft of text messages and tweets made public by Monahan, some of which allude to a damning video which so far, no one has seen. These voices say that no one should be condemned purely on another’s say-so, that false accusations are possible and to avoid harm, all accusations should be investigated before a determination of culpability and punishment can rightfully be made.


Read more...

The Power of Privacy: A Review of The Oslo Diaries

Aug6

by: on August 6th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

The signing of the Oslo Accords was, to many, a sign that Israeli-Palestinian relations would improve. Photo by Ohayon Avi

After seeing The Oslo Diaries at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, I felt inspired to start keeping a diary of my own. The Sundance-selected documentary, directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, tells the tense and moving story of the secret 1992 peace talks and their tragic failure, using interviews, reenactments, and primary sources to give us a holistic perspective on the historical moment. I recommend you see it too.

 

The film is named quite literally, as much of the film’s dialogue is taken directly from the diaries of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators of the Oslo Accords. And while their journal entries aren’t in literal conversation, they do provide the inner dialogue of some of the story’s most important characters — and frequently overlap in their subject matter, like two sides of the same coin. Without a doubt, the film holds great emotional power, and even, at one point, brought me to tears. Despite the diaries’ centrality to that power, however, the filmmakers fail to realize their practical and symbolic significance. Ultimately, the film paints a beautiful picture, but misses an opportunity to create something more meaningful, condemning itself to the same fate as the Oslo Accords.


Read more...

Feared Than Loved

Aug5

by: on August 5th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

I’ve been thinking about love and fear. Love is a strong force in my life, the thing that heals, the thing that opens my heart to give, the thing that greets me each morning as I open my eyes, grateful for another day. As the Song of Songs – the epic liturgical poem of awe and desire – puts it, “love is as strong as death.”

But love’s opposite – fear, the weapon of the unloved – is swirling all around me.

There’s the ambient fear of racism, violence, poverty, and exploitation, so deeply woven into the fabric of most U.S. cities that it becomes normalized. It takes artists to put a frame around the truth, revealing something of its actual dimensions, actual impact. For a clear-eyed glimpse of the daily fear machine in action and the toll it takes, go see the rich, nuanced, deeply affecting movie Blindspotting, just now in theaters.

There’s the fear that rises in relationship to other threats such as climate crisis. The New York Times Magazine’snew issue consists entirely of a controversial piece, already perceptively criticized by knowledgeable writers such as Naomi Klein and Robinson Meyer for downplaying the economic and power relations behind global scorching. Read all, and do your best not to be overcome by fear.

But my main topic today is another type of fear: the fear that arises in response to extreme state actions, the fear that acts as fuel for fascism.


Read more...

The Coarsening Yet Hope of the American Mind

Aug3

by: Kirk J. Schneider on August 3rd, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Babies being wrenched from parents, disquieting authoritarian alliances, alarming levels of civil and political discord–this is our country in the summer of 2018.

To be sure there are also positive developments but are they reliable, enduring?

While many of us are wringing our hands asking “how in the world we got here?” Perhaps the more accurate question is “Why, given our mercantile-materialist past, shouldn’t we have gotten here?”  In his 1978 book The Illusion of Technique, public philosopher William Barrett forewarned of the damage being done through our reliance on devices–rather than people–to staunch our moral predicaments; and we should have paid more attention.

Today we are stained with the legacy of all those who fell –wittingly and unwittingly –under the spell of a “machine model for living.”  This model emphasized efficiency (or what many called efficiency): speed, instant results, appearance and packaging; and it lured millions to the marketplace–or killing fields. The result however was anything but “efficient” in the larger sense. We created ease and convenience, to be sure.  But the advances were largely external–relegated to how fast we drove, how quickly we ate, how many gadgets we owned or people we manipulated; but our interior life, our capacity to feel and reflect and communicate was left bereft.

The result is that, today, too many of us have become calculative and consumerist giants but emotional and imaginative dwarfs, steely and impenetrable, but bereft of nuance, attunement, and depth;  and this is precisely our dilemma.

Read more...

Review of Steve Herrmann’s Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times

Aug1

by: Reverend Dr. Matthew Fox on August 1st, 2018 | 1 Comment »

This exciting and important book is filled with verve and insight that only Dickinson can awaken. With the help of Carl Jung and the inspiration of his own deep work, including his penetrating insights on Walt Whitman’s launching of an American movement of Spiritual Democracy, Herrmann sheds brilliant light on the spiritual genius of Emily Dickinson. Rightly does the author call Dickinson a “medicine woman for our challenging times,” for even today – 130 years after her death – she still brings forth wisdom and insight to challenge patriarchy. The book is filled with insights triggered by James, Jung, Whitman, Emerson, Everson, Jeffers, Melville, Humboldt, and the author’s own well-traveled soul. Herrmann’s acute exegesis of many poems that sometimes seem opaque is sensible and eye-opening.

Herrmann argues that the crux of Dickinson’s struggle was her wrestling with the archetype of vocation. It was her vocation as a poet that charged her with awe and ecstasy as when she wrote: “Take all away from me, but leave me Ecstasy,/ And I am richer than all my fellow Men–/ Ill it becometh me to dwell so wealthily/ When at my very Door are those possessing more,/ In abject poverty – ” (#1640) Yet she had to sacrifice her career as a public poet in her lifetime because she was excluded for the most part from the male-dominated world of publishing. Herrmann believes that Dickinson underwent a “crucifixion of her ego on the cross of her poetic vocation.” After suffering a breakdown she revealed how she rose not as a wounded bird but riding “the Ether into the air or sky as shamans do.”


Read more...

What Needs Rethinking to Make Another World Possible?

Jul30

by: on July 30th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

Knesset members vote on amendments to the proposed Jewish nation-state bill at the Knesset. Image Courtesy of Miriam Alster.

I miss my optimism.She’s hiding deep in shadow, in a place that has more in common with the Kali Yuga than the messianic era. She’s trying to wedge herself into a future of chaos and oppression in which the old world breaks down, holding onto the hope of rebuilding along lines far more loving and just. I keep hearing this scenario framed as spiritual teaching or political analysis. Either way, the type of encouragement I’m feeling these days says that we are on the bridge between worlds, the old systems crumbling, the new order not yet having taken shape. We are wisely counseled to take heart from history, from those forced to live under the boot of dictatorship who found ways to resist, survive, thrive, and regain freedom. We are wisely counseled to prepare to live through this without forgetting ourselves.

Coaxing my optimism out of hiding, I send her frequent whispers of reassurance. Look at the vast resistance to illegitimate authority and cruel plutocratic policies! Look how far we outnumber those being served by the Present Occupant of the White House, and if only we vote, we will prevail in anything that can be decided by an election! This too shall pass, I tell her, maybe into something surprising and wonderful.

Now I’m starting to get messages in return.”From where I’m hiding,” my optimism tells me, “I see too much certainty about what’s right and true on all sides. If the old order is breaking down, wouldn’t this be a good time to re-examine our ideas about what should take its place? I’m not coming out till that happens.”

She has a point.Consider the action the state of Israel’s right-wing governing coalition took last week, passing a a new law as part of its foundational legislation – kind of a decentralized constitution – establishing Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” Civil rights advocates and Arab Israelis (who make up more than 20 percent of its citizenry) quickly condemned the law as apartheid, racism, and the end of democracy. While the law does not explicitly deprive Arab citizens of rights such as voting, it opens the door to even more preferential treatment of Jews. It flies the flag of dis-belonging, of less than, of unwelcome. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leading the coalition behind this legislation (even while charged with at least two counts of bribery by the police), has lots of support from the White House.


Read more...

Where Is The Exit Out of The Trap?

Jul20

by: on July 20th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

Back in the day, I had a quote from Wilhelm Reich* over my desk:

The nature of the trap has no interest whatsoever beyond this one crucial point: WHERE IS THE EXIT OUT OF THE TRAP?

It was the resonant wisdom of this sentence and not the cult of its author that drew me. As a young activist I had already observed progressives’ delight in analyzing the life out of ideas, to fall into bitter conflict over differing interpretations of the causes and effects of social injustice and their remedies, and often to invest more energy in conversation about such things – in the dimensions, decor, origins, textures, and other characteristics of the trap – than in getting out. Reich made the obvious yet often ignored point that “to break out of a prison, one first must confess to being in a prison.” I had already seen how easy it is to normalize captivity with distractions, rationalizations, creature comforts. I posted the quote to remind myself not to succumb.

Today, sick to death of reading minute exegetical analyses of whether or not the Present Occupant of the White House has committed treason, I was reminded of the quote I had written out to post in my line of vision decades earlier.


Read more...

Matching Resources to Needs: Learning to Receive through Participating in “Money Piles”

Jul18

by: on July 18th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

Embracing the consciousness of togetherness, of caring for the whole, of interdependence, is immensely challenging in cultures that are not based on these values, regardless of where we are positioned on the power map of the world. Most especially, I find that those of us living in modern settings are weak in reclaiming the simple relationship between resources and needs. The concepts of “deserve,” “earn,” and “owe” are so deeply lodged in our way of seeing things that they appear almost natural. That so many in the world routinely don’t have enough for their basic needs appears to many to be unrelated to the global capitalist logic within which we live, which separates resources from needs and allocates, instead, based on concepts and on pre-existing access to resources (money and certain forms of power).

Ever since patriarchy, and especially capitalism, we’ve lived in the horror of no longer being able to receive, without exchange or debt, just because we have a need. We only experience it, and only partially and imperfectly, early in life. This is what I am committed to restoring: a flow from where resources exist to where they are needed, based on wholehearted willingness. I want all of us to be part of this web.

In the rest of this piece, I describe my experience of a process – ‘Financial Co-responsibility’ created by Dominic Barter as part of his pioneering efforts to support system building within communities – that I consider a quantum leap in creating a collective capacity for challenging the hidden assumptions that surround money, and resources more generally, and approximating ever better the matching of resources to needs. This process involves two interconnected circle dynamics, one in which resources are pooled and another in which they are distributed. Here I want to talk mainly about the second dynamic, which Dominic calls ‘the money pile.’ Having now experimented with it a few times over the last couple of years, I am ready to share some of what I have seen and learned.

Read more...

Do Unto Yourself: The Power of Reciprocity

Jul17

by: on July 17th, 2018 | No Comments »

How do you treat yourself as compared to your habitual ways of treating others?I’ve been thinking about the dangers of self-exploitation.

I’ve always thought my radar for being exploited was keenly sensitive, even hyper-sensitive. I always attributed this to the way my young self was used by my family, constantly urged and deployed to live for others as I was entitled to no needs and desires of my own. I thought I was over that form of self-punishment, that I could no longer fall unawares into situations that made me feel used. But not long ago, I found myself talking about my own life-choices – particularly my proclivity to stick where I am needed long after it serves me – and the voice of my mother came into my head. “Do it for me,” she said nearly every day, “it will cost you so little and mean so much to me.”

The shock of realization was visceral, the epiphany loud and clear. No one had coerced me. Driving myself, my fuel had been the very same message I’d worked so long to reject. I had been using myself in precisely the same way others had used me long ago.


Read more...

Some Spiritual Lessons from the Rescue of the Soccer Boys from the Thai Cave

Jul16

by: Matthew Fox on July 16th, 2018 | No Comments »

U.S. Airmen advising the Thai military in the operation to save the trapped Thai soccer team. Photo courtesy of US Department of Defense.

The world breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that the first four—and weakest—of the Thai boys were rescued from the cave where they have been trapped for 14 days. Today four more boys have been rescued; tomorrow the rescue is slated for the last four and their coach who, we are told, is himself very weak having shared his meager rations with the kids before himself.

There are deep and perhaps even archetypal lessons in this powerful story which has captured the attention of so many people around the world and brought many people together in the midst of so much chaos and disturbance in the world. Amidst the disunity, unity. I wish to offer a few reflections on these lessons in this essay.

The power of the feminine.
A cave is an archetype of the womb of the Earth (Francis of Assisi loved to pray in caves). A cave is alluring and fascinating—but also dangerous and even deadly. Mother Earth’s beauty is intoxicating but it can also be dangerous; she has her own laws and must be respected—consider Pele now asserting herself in the wild volcanoes exploding in Hawaii, and the monsoons and floods faced by the boys and their coach.


Read more...