Friday, August 4, 2006

WWMD? (And the Friday Reflections)

WWMD? No: I'm not asking "What Weapons of Mass Destruction?" I'm asking: "What Would Madonna Do?"

The Catholic Church, fresh from its ineffectual boycott of The Da Vinci Code, is up in arms over this scene at the concert tour of Ms. Lick-My-Kabbalah.

"To crucify yourself in the city of the pope and the martyrs is an act of open hostility," quoth the Grand Inquisitor, Cardinal Ersilio Tonini. It's a wonder these guys have time to deal with this stuff, with all the boy-fucking scandals among their priests that must be covered up, the requisite gay-bashing that must be done, the millions of condoms that must be punctured, the women that must be oppressed, the money that must be made, and the racism that must be continually offered its dark and smoky veil.

Give them credit, those Papists: they have the energy of billions behind them, and they know how to accomplish a lot in a another day of corrupt, archaic ideology.

As for me, I kind of like the image. It tells me less about religion than about the way people behave in society. I just came home from work, where another long and pointless meeting had concluded with some dweeb of a manager climbing on his cross and muttering about all the extra work he had to do alone. People do it every day in our culture of sacrifice and victimization.

As for Madonna's music or her sex appeal, they do nothing for me. Give me the Dixie Chicks any day or the lady that sings for Vas.


It's a Civil War, goddamit!

Two American generals and one British ambassador to Iraq are saying "Civil War." Rummy, however, needs evidence: he wants to see still more death before he buys into such a far-flung theory.

Name it what you will, boys, but check out who's opened up a double-digit lead in the polls against Lieberman—all on the strength of an anti-war, anti-Bush stance. You go, Ned. And you CT Yankees, get out of King George's Court—you vote for Ned, next Tuesday and again in November. I promise that if Lamont gets this seat, I'll carry a Huskies banner on my sidebar all through the 2006-2007 NCAA basketball season.


Hell Freezes Over

Somebody pass the Zyprexa—psycho-Pat is going green! Yes, televangelist, born-again Christian, imitator of Christ, and part-time Venezuelan warlord wannabe Pat Robertson has signed onto the environmentalist movement, affirming that global warming is real, and that it feels just like Hell. Welcome to reality, Pat, and enjoy your stay. I'm sure you'll be back in the Limbaugh realm of denial once that cold front comes in from Canada (the source of so many good things in life) this weekend.


And speaking of good things, we have a double Friday Reflection today, thanks to the return of my blogging partner, Terry McKenna, who is speedily returning to good health. He has a few notes on the right practice of medicine (and the lasting human benefits of health insurance); and I have a few notes on position-taking in this our age of anti-diplomacy. First, Mr. McKenna:

I ask your forbearance in letting me give this small tribute to two doctors, and to their commitment to medical care.

For the bulk of my life, I’ve needed little medical care, and what I’ve received has been decidedly middle of the road, delivered by decent but undistinguished family doctors. This is not a knock on any of them (I love my current doctor) but to make a point about high end first rate medicine.

In the middle of last year, I began to experience a nagging loss of hearing that, after time and study, was determined to be the consequence of a benign tumor meshed within my cranial nerves and close to the brain. Care started with my local doctor who referred me up to a local specialist. After her diagnosis, she said I needed to see a real specialist. I started with Dr. Joseph Feghali out of Beth Israel (NY), and then he referred me to his surgical partner (for this sort of tumor), Dr. Chandranath Sen, Chief of Neurosurgery at Roosevelt Hospital.

The entire hospital stay was impressive. But most telling were small matters that were suggestive of the commitment of the two to patient care. On the day of the surgery, my prep started before 8 AM and ended at 6 PM. At that time, Dr. Sen, (who had only met my wife one time) came out to the waiting room, greeted her by name, and gave her a consult with detail and reassurance. He also visited me every day, except the day I went home, including both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Dr. Feghali also took time out on his weekend to visit.

Up until this event, my impression of high end doctors was of highly paid but unapproachable men with egos to match. It turns out, at least for these two men, that their skill and commitment to care far exceeds whatever shows of their ego – which only showed up in their quiet and reassuring confidence.

Of course, I was glad I was well insured!

—T. McKenna


Everyday Diplomacy

Be passionate enough to build consensus; but not so far as to spawn enmity. When you find yourself taking or forming a position, step back from it and detach. Walk around it, examine it from every side and angle, like an animal encountering an unknown object and wondering, "is it friend, food, or foe?" Sniff your position; poke it in the ribs; kick its tires; measure its weight, and assess its cost. It takes less time than you would think, and yields more benefit than you would expect.

Even (or especially) if it looks like truth, keep examining. Don't just look at it with the narrow eye of reason and intellect; feel it with the heart-touch of discernment. The brain working alone builds a box of half-truth; brain and heart working together reveal a panorama of understanding. Listen for its hidden voice; follow it into action and then ask, "how would it affect me, my community, my planet?"

In other words, I am asking that before you take a position, you hold it, with an open, ungrasping hand. If you can carry it within yourself, and it does not break, slip, or become heavy with defense and rationale; then you can let it go.

That is the next, and often the hardest, step: an argument, a position, a platform, is not a thing to grasp and defend; it is something to release to the world in sincerity and openness. If it is truth, then it will resonate. It will also change. It will come back to you like a child who has grown up and learned things that you missed or closed out; it will return from its journey amid humanity and consciousness with a fresh raiment of perspective and depth.

It may also come back having collected the mud of some falsehood, enmity, or distortion: these can be detected and discarded—strained through the filter of discernment. For if you can't trust your own sense for organic truth, what else could you possibly trust?

This is the dance of truth: a living, growing, transforming organism that is never old and is always moving, breathing, expanding. It is the natural action that disperses enmity, creates consensus, and animates the spirit of peace.


If you happen to be in the mood for more of this type of reflection, I have a new article at my I Ching website, called "Biting Through": A Lesson in Growth".

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