Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Book Review: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

I really liked this book! This is a good book to read during this Pride month. To set the stage, as Wikipedia said, "in the 1970s, an impoverished but intelligent thirty-seven-year-old Mexican-American woman Consuelo (Connie) Ramos, a resident of Spanish Harlem, is unfairly incarcerated in a New York mental hospital due to her supposed violent criminal tendencies."

The book was written during the 1970s and it reflects the social revolution just beginning then and that continues today. It plays with the concepts of what is considered normal and healthy. This is a topic that really interests me. Culture has fluidity on this topic. Just over 150 years ago many people slavery to be normal and healthy. Within my lifetime folks with different sexual orientations were considered to be sexually inverted and needing treatment, sometimes with shock therapy.

Much of the book takes place in the future. The author writes about topics that a narrative did not even exist for at the time of the book's writing. The author explores a future where race, gender, sexual and relationship roles and orientations are seen quite differently and where what is considered normal and healthy is quite different than it is now. The book explores polyamory 20 years before the word existed.

This book is considered a sci-fi, speculative fiction and feminist classic for good reason. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Poly Protection Landmark

Yesterday (December 19, 2017) a measure extending protection due to relationship structure passed by a unanimous vote in the Berkeley City Council. Berkeley City Council is where domestic partnership was first passed and now marriage equality is the law of the land. This law will extend legal protection to sexual minorities (including polyamorous and other people) not covered by existing laws in that city. This is a landmark law and we hope to extend this to other cities and jurisdictions and to add this to the definition of a protected class*. How people love should not impact their housing or employment opportunities.

* Protected classes are characteristics a person has, under the law, that cannot be the reason for discrimination or harassment. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Faith and Moral Compasses

When I think of the term moral compass, I think of this as used in reference to a person's ability to judge what is right and wrong and act accordingly. “New thought” does not give you a set of guidelines that are as stringent and defined as those in Christianity. To me, that’s a good thing. What Christianity gives us is explicit commandments and scriptures that define what is acceptable and what constitutes "sin." This may work good for some folks, but to me they were far too rigid. Plus, these were external, not internal values.

What I often saw was when people lost their religion, their external moral compass, they lost any moral compass whatsoever. All of a sudden they would go batshit crazy. I saw good people go from being church mice to doing drugs, having unprotected sex with strangers and more than once, getting pregnant from casual sex.

I think we all need to have internal moral compasses based upon values that are not applied by any religion. Each of us have to decide what that means for us, inside. That’s what I like. I choose my spiritual center because it did not tell me what was right. It let me live by my own truth, my own moral compass.

The external moral compass I saw applied by Christianity, when I was a regular church gower, said that homosexuality was a “sin” and I saw people who were queer (LGBTQIA) struggling with their own orientations. I saw people try to pray the gay away. I saw other people who exclaimed righteously that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuality. Some even expressed their happiness over AIDS. That’s a moral compass I want no part of!

So, what’s my moral compass? I believe in the concept of if you are harming none, do what you will. Harming none includes harming yourself. It also means consent, it means honesty even with yourself. It means forgiveness, radical forgiveness. To me conservative Christianity violates my moral compass. I have seen it do a lot of harm, in the name of self righteousness.

Sure, people in my spiritual world, like Christian church people make mistakes. Even Christian ministers do too. I know, I don’t need to tell you that. As they say, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Friday, December 30, 2016

Coming resistance events in 2017

Information about events or other actions is provided as unverified information only. Please do your own research before deciding to participate.

Looking ahead into 2017

There is a list of upcoming resistance events here in our South Bay Progressives blog.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

We must move forward

We Must Resist!

Opinion by Steve Sloan

Moving forward we must look forward. We cannot move forward looking back at what should of been, or looking down fearing what might be, no, instead we can only move forward by looking forward. We need to be seizing the opportunity to hold fast onto our values and to build a world that works for everyone.
Some people think that if one side wins the other side has got to lose. But that's not the way this is going to work. We are all on the spaceship Earth together and the only way for this to work is going to be for everyone to win. This is a win-win opportunity.
Building a world that works for everyone means just that. We need to stand by our principles of love and inclusion, including people we disagree with. Everyone has a right to live a healthy life with respect and dignity. We either all stand together or we all will fall apart.
We can't look back. We can only move forward. The best way to do that is to see this as an opportunity to make fundamental change in the world. Shrinking back in fear and/or anger is not going to change anything. We must stand our ground for our principles, but that does not mean we fight hate by becoming hate.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Exercising our First Amendment rights today

Love Trumps Hate March Today at 3 PM - 5 PM Weather: 54° Mostly Sunny Start Location: San Jose Center for the Performing Arts 255 Almaden Blvd. San Jose, California 95113

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Commitment to non-violence

As we enter a period of public protest, and counter protest, both sides need to both show restraint not to let tempers get to them and to be committed to non-violence. Protest is not disloyalty. Protest is part of the process of American democracy. That is why our constitution includes a bill of rights. Take the right to peacefully assemble and protest away and you have killed everything this country stands for. For America to be America the right of citizens to protest has to remain and be respected – by both sides.

This is far from over! There are going to be a lot of protests ahead. There already has been violence and hate speech on both sides. If we do not condemn hate speech and violence on BOTH sides there is a real danger that this could evolve from passionate conversation to civil war.

One trend I have been seeing is a process of dehumanizing those we disagree with on these issues. There are bullies on both sides. That does not mean everyone from one side or the other are bullies. If you look at history, when people dehumanize the people they disagree with, the outcome often is not pretty.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

It's okay to grieve


Click on image above to view video

It's okay to grieve the tragedy that Trump's election as President of the United States represents to many millions of Americans. How I felt when I woke up on the morning of 11/9 (the day after the election) can best be compared to how I felt on the morning of 9/11.

Before 11/9 Racism, misogyny, intolerance of sexual minorities and xenophobia seemed to be on the decline in America. It was like this dangerous monster was being chained up in the corner, still dangerous but chained. After 11/9 it is like the monster has been set free.

It is like waking up and finding the America you loved and believed in, was overnight occupied by a malevolent army – supported by a minority of the American people.

Take Time For Self Care

It's okay... Cry, wallow, watch garbage TV, eat pot brownies, do what you have to do. Remember you have a right to feel whatever you feel. Anger, sorrow, depression, fear... The whole range! Getting it out is good. If we bottle our feelings up they will just come out anyway, perhaps in inappropriate ways.

Do what you need to do to be ready. The time will come to set aside our grief. We are going to have to have the mental space for what comes next, forming the resistance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Political Tragedy of 2016

The Great American Political Tragedy of 2016

Like many progressives I think we have had a huge political tragedy in this country. I believe a lot of people are going to be victims of that. In my opinion it was very undemocratic and yes, I feel anger – among other emotions.
This is democracy?
In any other democratic country this would not be an issue. The majority should select the leader. That's the way "We the People" is supposed to work in a democracy. The American presidential election process is different. The process is broken. It is broken when twice in 16 years a president, chosen by a minority, is forced on a majority, because of the electoral college, a process created to protect slavery. In my opinion that is not democracy.
But, Trump won!!!
Yes, he did. He was lawfully selected. But, that "victory" is nowhere near fair and square. Trump used dirty tricks that would have made Nixon blush!
Those liberal are just "crybabies"
Crybabies, for protesting? Protest is part of the process of American democracy. That is why our constitution includes a bill of rights. This is far from over! "They" may soon control the presidency, the senate, the house and maybe even the supreme court but the right to peacefully assemble, speak and protest is still protected by the constitution.

Take that right away and you have killed everything this country stands for. For America to be America the right of citizens to protest has to remain and be respected.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review, The Price of Salt

This was one of the best books I have ever read. The quality of writing is rich and layered like a glass of fine red wine. It is intelligent and full of passion in and of the story.

Salt, as I read it, is a metaphor for passion, love and companionship - the kind person who we often call "the one." This book is an important book on so many levels. 

The Price of Salt (later republished under the title Carol) is a 1952 romance novel by Patricia Highsmith, first published under the pseudonym "Claire Morgan". At the time homosexuality was a crime and just being a lesbian could be enough to cost a woman custody of her child. The topic was so sensitive the author had to use a pseudonym.

In the book Carol Aird and another woman named Therese become lovers. Carol and her estranged husband Harge are going through a divorce. They have a daughter, Rindy. The book is about Carol's relationship with Therese and how that romance is used as a weapon by Harge, in their divorce, to take away Rindy.

The Price of Salt is a wonderful love story, and so much more. In terms of same sex relationships, it also tells the story of how bad things were for same sex couples, how far we have come and how cultural values can destroy, instead of reinforce, loving families that are not culturally normative.

We can look back on history and say shame on them then. But, these kinds of attacks still go on on people who love differently. My polyamorous friend Gracie (an excellent mom) went through a similar court battle not long ago. One of her partner's ex-wife went after him and tried to block his custody rights because of his relationship with Gracie. This kind of stuff still happens.

Knowing what she went through and knowing that this story is not just history, but in other contexts is political science, made this story especially poignant for me.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Twisted up

One of the things I learned quickly about yoga is that it can do a lot more than unblock sore muscles and loosen tendons. Sometimes it can release things in you that have blocked and backed up for years. I have had some amazing experiences on the mat. Today was one of those times.

Noell's class today featured music from the 70's, 80's and 60's. Of course Noell, the teacher of the class, is young enough to be my daughter. So, my experience with the music she played was very different than hers. She grew up to the music. It was the sound track of much of my adult life.

It was a moving experience, in more ways than one. As we moved through the asanas (yoga poses) the music seemed to reach through my pores to something deep inside.

Memories of youth, family, times gone by and people I loved and lost seemed to seep in as the sweat seeped out. Years ago I learned about the power of pictures and music together. Like in the video above. Today, I learned about the power of music and motion; something like dance I guess, but not.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Me at the pulpit

Sunday, April 26, at CSL (Center for Spiritual Living) I gave my Insight Talk.

It's a feature of the CSL service where a member of the community shares a story of how their spirituality has impacted their lives. I spoke at both the 9.30 and the 11.00 service.  I am told it's well worth watching both, they were off-the-cuff (no notes) so each one was slighly different.

Forward to 26.43 minutes into the service:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Are we to blame for everything?

"A man will always draw to him just what he is..." ― Ernest Holmes

One of the things I love about my spiritual practice, at least as Science of Mind (SoM) is practiced at our center, is the emphasis it places on accepting contradiction: we live in abundance, but people in our spiritual center are getting their home foreclosed upon, is one example...

You can be of any religion and practice SoM even though those religions deny each other by definition. That's because SoM is a philosophy, a practice, not a religion.

Christianity is a religion. In John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me...." Yet you do not have to be Christian to practice SoM. SoM, as a philosophy, tolerates differences in concept of God, it has to or it becomes a religion.

When you say, "I have the answer and if you don't agree with me you are wrong," that is a religion and you have substituted one religion for another. The new "truth" becomes Ernest Holmes is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Ernest Holmes...."

I do not totally agree with the duality concept of spiritual vs. ego and the concept of good vs. evil that it implies. Words are just labels and reducing the complexity of human existence to two forces fighting each other does not work for me.

In 1976 when my oldest was born he was a tiny premature baby and he was moved to an infant intensive care unit. In that ICU was a baby who had been scalded almost to death. This baby boy was in agony, screaming. He was anchored in a brace that held his hands and feet in a locked position. This literally prevented him from any movement at all as his skin very slowly healed. I never saw any parents there with that baby and I have no idea of his story...

If a man will always draw to him just what he is. By this definition was this baby a man? What could this baby have been to draw such a fate to himself?

The reason I reject that "a man will always draw to him just what he is" as a singular truth is it has the effect of blaming the victim. No, no, no! Did every single Jewish person in Eastern Europe in the 1930s draw the Nazis to themselves?  No, no, no! Did every single person in the world trade center in 2001 draw the terrorists to themselves?  No, no, no!

You can live a good life and terrible things can happen. Just being a good spiritual person does not prevent bad things from happening. Life is more complex than that. Life is more complex than an experience that reduces itself to a binary struggle between two forces.

We are spiritual with spiritual truths, and we are ego with ego truths, and we are animal with animal truths and we have genetic natures and orientations that are hard wired into us and that in my opinion no SMT can change; nor should we attempt to change them.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

Within the human experience there are many truths and these truths do not always agree. Life may give us a cactus. But, we chose whether or not to sit on it.

In the Buddhist tradition, the first noble truth is the truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering. In my opinion suffering is a fact of life, not a flaw on the part of the person who suffers.

I reject that "a man will always draw to him just what he is" as a stand alone truth. Even Ernest Holmes followed that statement with the word, "But..."

I am not saying the Holmes quote is not true, but that it is one truth and not a singular truth. Shit indeed does happen I believe. We choose how we see the world and that influences how the world sees and responds to us. I believe in the law of attraction. But, I also believe in the principles of inevitability, impermanence, the possibility of randomness and the principle of holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. I do not believe that we are the cause of every bad event in our lives. I do not believe in blaming victims for violent acts committed on them.

I prefer:  “He who kisses joy as it flies by will live in eternity's sunrise.” ― William Blake

Saturday, March 07, 2015

My Sister Lura's Life

Ten years ago today my sister Lura died of cancer. We are on this life a short time. She is such a part of me. So many memories. Was it just yesterday?