The heart-shaking risks of proximity and love
Karen Hering asks how we can cultivate reverence in irreverent times.
We humans have countless defenses against the heart-shaking risks of proximity and love, of reverence and the relationship from which it grows. There is propriety, and politics and plain old pride. Individualism and independence. Cynicism and skepticism. Autonomy and analysis. Freedom or fatalism. Denial, disengagement or difference. Each of these—and more—can hold us many paces out from true encounter with the holy spark inside ourselves and others.
How can we experience reverence—or the love that grows from it—if we are unwilling to humbly draw near, to cross the differences and distances that divide us today? (Karen Hering, December 6)
Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew feels “the ties that bind” in her body in the aftermath of an intense conflict at church.
Religion comes from the Latin re-, again, and ligare, meaning to bind or connect. The word ligament shares the same root. I suppose the word religion developed to describe how the sacred and material world are bound back together, although we associate this word so closely with the institutionalization of this union with tradition, ritual, and polity. As the pain in my feet fanned up my calves to my thighs and lower back, however, religion seemed to me, momentarily, fancifully, as a surprising lattice linking my love for church, my overcharged sense of responsibility, the tightness of my back and the hurt soft tissue of my feet. . . . (Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, December 10)
Jane Dwinell’s partner, Sky, lives with dementia—which means that Jane does, too.
Sky has not been able to be left alone at night for nearly a year now, and we’re soon coming on to not being left alone in the day time. . . .
This isn’t hard. Not yet. Except for not sleeping through the night when he is afraid and wakes me up worrying about all kinds of things that don’t exist. Luckily, Sky naps at least once a day, so I can sleep, too. It’s just like that advice given to new parents, “Nap when the baby naps.” Oh, but I would want to do other things then — like clean the house, read a book, talk on the phone, write in my journal. I know better now, and sleep when he sleeps. (Alzheimer’s Canyon, December 11)
Teo Drake tells their story of being transgender and HIV positive—and the mutually supportive community they have found. (YouTube, December 3)
Crime and punishment
Lynn Ungar wonders, “Why does the US seem to have this completely unfounded and rather bizarre conviction that punishment is the go-to solution for pretty much any problem?”
Thinking about it, my guess is our history of slavery. Work is a fundamental application of reinforcement. You do a thing I want (work), and I give you something you want (money). When you take the reinforcement out of work then all you have left is punishment. And the only way you can use punishment to get a desired behavior is to exert such complete control over someone's life that everything other than what you want is intolerable.
Obviously, this is a horrible way to treat other human beings. (Facebook, December 8)
Doug Muder considers the question of whether the House should issue broad or narrow articles of impeachment.
Personally, I’d go for three articles: Ukraine, obstruction of Congress’ Ukraine investigation, and obstruction of the Mueller investigation. Wavering Democrats could vote against the Mueller article, if they think they must, to give themselves cover back home. (The Weekly Sift, December 9)