Thursday, June 30, 2016

Take God out...

Take God out of the equation for the universe and so much more makes sense. The universe is then sensibly a place of randomness, luck, evolutionary dynamics driven by the laws of nature established in the first seconds of the big bang. Life is wrapped in the chance of cosmic events, of reproduction of conception. There is no direction. There is no fate. Because there is no God. The universe doesn't give a damn about justice or love or forgiveness.

But enter human life, the human brain and human consciousness. God is back in the equation at every turn. And God is as real and as present as truth, justice and love. The manifestations of God are as myriad as the manifestations of language, art or lifestyle. If God is chased out of the heavens, God takes refuge in the human heart. God does not demand vengeance. God is the yearning for the fullest potential of humanness.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The law

We are taught to respect and obey the law. But we are not always taught to ask the law to be fair or just. The law is not moral, although it deals with moral issues (Thou shalt not kill. Thou shall not steal.) This is why a higher law is often invoked by some.

The law is a human construct with some admirable intents, among them justice. But the law fails and justice is mocked when it is made by those who have self-interest and power as their driving concerns.

The fundamental question is what kind of system laws produces a culture which must have its arm twisted to treat the disabled, the poor, minorities, women equally. Or to allow such an inequitable distribution of wealth. Or to protect the powerful. Or to allow such poverty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What goes in...

Artists never stumble into a great work of art. They may stumble on an idea or a medium or a technique. But never on a masterpiece. That's because nothing can go into a work of art that isn't already in the artist. Emotional, experiential, intellectual or spiritual depth are channeled from the artist into the work. A drive for the sublime reaches the sublime in the artwork.

This is why the preparation of the artist is primarily the preparation of the human self.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Absurdity...a few more thoughts

Absurdity frames the rational.

Absurdity has a spiritual dimension.

Embrace absurdity because it's always outside the box.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


I've found that accepting life as basically absurd is very useful. Human behavior makes more sense. Love makes more sense. The chaos of decision making makes more sense. Creationism makes more sense. Fashion makes more sense. The trickster makes more sense. Human stupidity makes mores sense. Sense makes more sense.

Life might be an absurdity of a fabulous kind in an otherwise rational universe. Mathematics can tame the physical universe, but not life. And that's why it is such an admirable effort by human beings to try to achieve a world of peace, justice, equality and love.

With the acceptance of absurdity, the gauntlet is thrown down. Those heroes who pick it up and meet the challenge of absurdity are the ones who teach us how to right the world.

The Age of the Dead Child

The Nuclear Age? The Information Age? The Global Age? The Age of the Internet? The Space Age?

Try the Age of the Dead Child. The child on the unseaworthy refugee craft. The dead child. The starving child in the African desert. The dead child. The child shot by his playmate's father's gun. The dead child. The child shaken to death by the mother's boyfriend. The dead child. The child kidnapped and forced to live in a cage in the basement. The dead child. The child sex slave. The dead child. The child in the sweat shop. The dead child. The child passed through foster care. The dead child. The drug addicted baby. The dead child. The child yelled at and abused. The dead child. The child starving amid the rubble of war. The dead child. The child starving amid plenty. The dead child. The child soldier. The dead child. The child in the hands of Boko Haram. The dead child. The child without hope. The dead child.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The human heart

Humans were born to tell stories. And many of those stories, from mythology to romance novels are about the human heart.

We live in an age of global, technological, scientific, sexual and spiritual revolution. Global revolution has provoked nationalism. Technological revolution has given us convenience, entertainment and disconnected connectedness. Scientific revolution has given us an astounding wold that we are ignorant and afraid of. Sexual revolution has made love seem more and more like lust. Spiritual revolution has passed most institutional religions by.

All these revolutions have passed the human heart. None of these revolutions can solve the problem of the human heart. The powerful revolution at the root of all religions. Love one another.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Art history

Art history seduces us into believing that that art falls neatly into movements and isms that flow into one another with inevitably and meaning. But that picture makes contemporary art seem all the more and more chaotic, erratic and confusing. The contemporary artist functions in the storm of theory, mass media, social media, marketing, commodity, social schmoozing, grants, curators, self-promotion and the struggle to maintain integrity.

Over time, some great art will get buried in the sheer detritus of images. Some art will be stripped to reveal its vacuity. Some art will persist in asserting its meaning. Some art will continue to survive under a critic's or curator's watch. Some art will will have a voice strong enough to make enough people listen. Some art will... How many fates are possible for art?

In the end it's attentive and loving eyes that make the difference. Generations of eyes that keep looking at the art, keep being pulled into it. Keep finding that it has meaning, new meaning, for them. It defies being a commodity, a status symbol, an artifact, a prisoner of the wealthy.

It belongs to humanity.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My culpability

An ad shows a watch studded round and about with diamonds on the same page a stories about human tragedy and horror.

The style section presents ridiculously outrageous and expensive clothing for men while migrants struggle against the weather.

Decapitated corpses are found in the streets of Fallujah while American women stress over how best to manage their unruly hair.

I sit comfortably in my climate-controlled house while an Afghani family huddles in a house without walls.

Is this the enduring nature of humanity? Is this the best we can do?

And what is my culpability?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

statART 6

USA…We’re #1

(USA ranking among advanced nations)

#1         Child mortality

#1          Military spending

#1          Child obesity

#1          Arms exporting

#1          Child income poverty

#1          Total prison population

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Think about it

What are the mating habits of coral?

What are the Kardashians up to now?

What happens inside a black hole?

Should I buy a new purse?

What's the most healthy diet?

What's the newest flavor of Doritos?

What is the status of child refugees worldwide?

How much is Donald Trump really worth?

How many species are extinct before they are discovered?

Is my arugula locally grown?

What does the monarch butterfly need to survive?

Could drones get my new shoes here in time for the wedding?

What's happening to the ozone layer?

Do I look fat to you?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Watch the right hand

When Donald Trump speaks, watch the right hand. It's body punctuation and oratorial emoticon. The index finger goes up, then the index finger and the thumb form a loop. Then we know he has spoken. No need for facts, statistics, research, policy, argument. He has spoken.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A garden

Cool earth
Cool shade
Sunlight transformed
Honest labor
Insects crawling
Insects flying
living and dying
Eye candy
Metaphors on stems
Me vs. evolution
Dirty hands
And fingernails
Craving water
Pleasure for others

Friday, June 17, 2016

cancerous lump

Ever have a cancerous lump removed from your body? I just did. On my head. That was no fun, and the days after have been no fun.

So trust me. As a boy who grew up recklessly in the sun, I am telling you to take care of ourself and your skin. Tan if you have to, but don't bake or fry. Encourage the same in all whom you care about.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Entertained into submission

Want to learn American history. Try a Broadway musical at hundreds of dollars a pop.

Want to find out the best product for your money, trust an actor or star athlete. They know best.

Want to find a political stance, hear it from the music stage. A rock star has done his research.

Want to pick just the right medication, don't worry about the side effects. Pay attention to the lovely, sun drenched story told by the beautiful actors.

Need a beer. Watch the funniest commercial to decide.

There's entertainment everywhere on all kinds of screens to tell you what to buy, how to spend your time, what to think. It's all wrapped up in humor, drama, glitz, glamour, air-brushed reality. It's all easy when thinking for yourself is so hard.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

statART 5

Annual expenditures in America

Beer                                                    $96 billion

Prisons                                               $80 billion

Soft drinks                                          $65 billion

Lawn care                                           $40 billion

Gambling                                            $34.6 billion

Beauty parlors                                    $30 billion

Sex toys                                              $15 billion

Cosmetic procedures                        $12 billion

Fast food                                             $11.7 billion

Addressing homelessness                $4.5 billion

St. Patrick’s Day                                 $4.1 billion
Halloween candy                                $2.8 billion

Over counter teeth whiteners            $1.4 billion

Monday, June 13, 2016

The day I accomplished nothing

That was yesterday. I didn't start the great American novel. Or save a life. Or make a million in the stock market. Or make an enduring piece of art. Or solve a problem. Nothing.

I read the newspaper. Had lunch. Finished a book. Sat in dappled sunlight. Looked up at the sky, blue as could be. Daydreamed. Chased some random thoughts around. Had a beer. Watched a movie. Felt the breeze.

Accomplished nothing. And that was an accomplishment.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dear Mr. Manliness

I don't look like Ryan Reynolds. I don't have a personal trainer to get me beach ready. I don't have the money for a Calvin Klein wardrobe. I don't look good in tight jeans. I don't have a hairy chest. But I do have a penis. Can I still be a real man?
--Just a normal guy

Dear Just a normal guy,
First, the penis. Use it and enjoy it for what it was made for and move on. Your true problem is that you are trying to be a real man for the illusion of a real man. You need to work on being a real man for real women.
--Dr. Manliness

Heaven bound

If I think I'm heaven bound, then I'm headed up to heaven. So I've been told. But there's the dilemma; because in our current understanding of the universe there is no "up." So do I go "out"? Out where? Same problem then as up.

Maybe I go "in." Some say heaven is in us. But if that's the case, then I don't have to die to go to heaven. I could already be there, whether it feels that way or not.

I can't find it in me now to dump the whole idea of heaven because it helps me keep thinking about the idea of flow and transitions and death as a passage, which humans have thought about since they have been humans.

So for the time being, I think I will just dive into myself and into life and see what answers I might find there.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

statART 4

Do the numbers.

The 2016 United States military budget of $600 billion could eradicate world poverty 12 times over.

Do the numbers.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Pet tricks go viral. Gossip goes viral. Verbal nastiness goes viral. Celebrity faux pas goes viral. Bizarre human behavior goes viral. Dumping ice water on your head goes viral. Stupid videos go viral. Sexting images go viral.

Wouldn't it be nice if love would go viral?

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Of course most people want to avoid suffering. But Buddhism teaches that suffering is inseparable from life. Suffering can build character and lead to becoming more deeply human.

The real issue is not trying to avoid suffering as much as it is trying to avoid creating suffering. Humans create suffering and inflict it on others. Life will bring suffering to us from the world. But we must not let ourselves put suffering into the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

statART 3

Statistically, in the United States, you are more likely to killed by a police officer, a toddler  or your own vomit than be killed by a terrorist.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

statART 2

Do the math.

It would take the resources of 6 earths for everyone on the planet to have the standard of living of the United States.

It would take 1/10 of earth's resources for everyone on the planet to have the standard of living of a poor person in a poor African country.

Do the  math.

Monday, June 6, 2016

statART 1

Do the math.

The United States is 5% of the world's population

Uses 25% of the world's resources

And generates 30% of the world's pollution.

Do the math.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Democracy...another thought

Democracy has allowed for a broader and deeper understanding of personal freedom. But democracy is ultimately based on the rule of law and government.  This is its limit.

And this where true religion practice takes over. It is the source of personal responsibility. Not what the law demands, but what the human conscience requires.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


The very beginning of the emergence of humans seems marked by the awareness of a dimension beyond earthly experience. Whether this became the origin of mythology, the roots of human spirituality, the beginning of consciousness or the means of social order and control is up for grabs.

As religions developed, we began to see them as means to God and the life beyond death. Religion would guide us along the path to goodness and love of our fellow humans. Religion became institutionalized religion.

In contemporary times, it has become clear that institutionalized religion has failed us in large measure. Partly it's in the institutionalization. Partly it's in the failure of its followers to lead exemplary lives. Out of religion has come prejudice, war, greed and sexual misconduct. And yet, what can save us? What can hold the moral high ground?

Of all things,  democracy has presented itself. A democracy based on deeply human principles and values has led us to a more expansive view of love and acceptance. Gay rights, transgender rights, civil rights, gender equality. Democracy has shown us the way to a fuller understanding of our humanity. It has pointed us in the direction we must go.

Friday, June 3, 2016

We all have the competing urges to be our individual selves and to belong. A healthy balance between the two is often hard to achieve in our culture. Belonging to a group says something about who we are; but the group itself can demand a rigid conformity that denies our individuality. The group can give comfort and support but can also make it difficult to take the individual risks necessary to grow as an individual.

Corporate culture and marketing is extremely skilled at wrapping identity, success, desire, style all in neat packages that confuse individuality with conformity, a strategy that works well on young people in the process of searching for personal identity and needing to belong as they move from adolescence and dependency to adulthood and personal responsibility. There are messages galore that individuality is defined by the superficial--clothes, hair, body adornments, shoes, lifestyle.

Where are the messages that individuality and identity are deeper things, measured by behavior, values, personal relationships? How can these essential messages be heard in the cacaphony of mass media?

Thursday, June 2, 2016


In some indigenous cultures drugs were used for spiritual or sacred ceremonies or rituals to bind he members of the group together. Participants moved out of themselves to a higher plane of consciousness or experience. The drugged person is not his normal self, not attuned to normal daily responsibilities. The drugged person is guided and protected by the shaman.

In contemporary America this is surely not the case. The drugged person is not guided, but manipulated by others. The protection only comes after the fact and at great cost to the individual, the family and society. The range of drugs is extensive: opioids, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, mindless entertainment, shopping and more.

All of these drugs offer escape from society, personal ecstasy of some kind. The use of drugs in indigenous societies brings the individual into a deeper connection with his society. Contemporary use of drugs take the individual out of society and his responsibilities to it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A flower's lament

Look. I'm just a flower. No more, no less. You can lay all the meanings and metaphors on me you want. I don't care. I'm just thinking about sex. You know, reproduction. Just like you. I didn't evolve to look beautiful to you or be fragrant for you. It's all about sex.

I don't get to live very long. You lop me off, pinch off  my leaves and bring me into your house. Sometimes you even press me flat. I don't get to feel the bugs gently tickling my petals. I don't get to feels the birds and the bees nuzzling me. I miss the sun and the chance to jiggle a sparkling drop of rain water.

I was only meant to be a flower.