Category Archives: Tolerance

In the shadow of the country club

“Let man be noble,

Generous and good:

For that alone

Distinguishes him

From all the Living

Beings we know…

…Let the noble man

Be generous and good.

Tirelessly achieving

What is just and useful:

Let him be a model

For those beings whom he surmises.”- Goethe

(And her too, by God!)

Having finally watched the movie Spotlight, I was outraged and saddened. The movie follows the investigative reporters in Boston verifying the local and then world-wide systematic abuse of children by priests. I remembered a bumper sticker that said, “If you are not furious, you’re not paying close enough attention.” My old roommate used to say that “Things are always much darker than people think,” and I would counter with, “Things are much lighter than people are aware of.”


Religion has often been compared to a country club. It is the smugness of the members of the club regarding this abuse that rots its foundation.  My friend Drake Powe has often pointed out to me that wherever there is a strong light there will be a strong shadow.

Watching the show Call the Midwife, I am moved to tears almost every time at the humanity of the nuns in East London.  This show is taken from an actual account of life as a midwife in the nineteen fifties.  These dedicated women use their faith, not as a smug affiliation that allows them to leave their responsibility at the door but motivates them to roll up their sleeves and provide service, mercy and kindness to many who have never received these things in sustaining portions.

Call the Midwife

My friend Janeen once said if women ran the various religions they would be not only closer to God but beneficial to human beings as well.  While I tend to agree with her, we all have to take responsibility for our shadows.

Yesterday, I read an article * written by a young man who went to a Trump rally, expecting it to be funny and he was horrified at the crowd’s ugly, antagonizing intolerance towards any protesters. Even a man silently wearing a shirt that said, “Love is the answer,” was thrown out and ridiculed.

A group of farmers fought the most powerful army in the world to create the first nation in history that was not ruled by a dictator or a king but by the people for the people.  Here is our shadow abdicating love and responsibility using the word Freedom to justify hatred, racism and greed. We are bigger than this.  We are stronger than this and each of us individually, while not being perhaps as strong or consistent as the nuns in Call the Midwife can make a difference despite our shortcomings and fluctuations.

It is never too late to exercise freedom of choice. May we choose freedom for ourselves and those around us.


Transparently formless in this form

Even now we are still holding back from what we can become.  We are held in place through repetitive habitual thought and action but where we are within the parameters of choice allows for this moment to be pure.
Doubt provides space for new input.  Notice how you feel when things do not come to you right away.  Guidance comes in subtle forms as well as in blaring announcements.  
Figure this into the equation: Once we have committed to believing we can be of service, we are.  
Present yourself to your week as if you are an apprentice. Learn the craft of listening to what your life presents moment to moment and see the pattern behind the scheduled comprehension you have previously trained yourself to expect. 
As we binge-watched Transparent with my folks down in Florida, a notion cropped up. Perhaps people are born into “the wrong body” to teach us both not to be defined by form as well as offering the rest of us the opportunity to become more understanding.  The show follows one families’ journey through confusion and depression towards generational healing and liberation. 
While in Florida I also started to read Rami Shapiro’s Open Secrets, in which he relates that despite being a successful published author with a thriving congregation, Rami got depressed and didn’t know why. He was told by his rabbi that he had to start reaching out beyond his Jewish readers, that he had to bring Judaism to those spiritually seeking outside the tribe.  
We have varying degrees of privilege which will not keep us from sadness for the human condition is temporal.  There is suffering but we are all being called on in our own way to teach one another not to be defined by form while we become more loving.
As we journey into the new year, may we not be seduced by exhaustion and complacency but be lifted up with the possibility of embracing our formless expansion that hugs us beyond our labels, stories and excuses.
Happy New Year