poem: limping to the narrow gate of Eternal Life

poem: limping to the narrow gate
of Eternal Life

this morning, awakening
under a blanket of ice,
more sub-freezing and ice
coming, and then the big snow

covid continues nipping our heels
in a world of political turmoil
and nations divided with
endemic injustice holding steady

in this deep freeze season,
society fragile under cultural dominance
in an era far from the divine consciousness
besieged from all sides

limping into forty days of Lent,
smack in the face of our hubris, conceit,
and sentimentality, reflecting and praying
the plank be removed from our eyes

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
February 15, 2021

photos by Herb Stone
‘Pure Ice with Snow to Come’

 

 

 

poem: one can not serve two masters

poem: one can not serve two masters

to what dominant influence
are you captive
to what master has your life
become like chattel

is your master
fear, greed, envy,
pride, desire, wrath,
power, control, domination

or is your master
grace, love, Self truth,
wholeness, mutuality, healing,
belonging, Cosmic consciousness

who are we,
what is our purpose,
what is our life’s meaning,
what is it we intend to create here

mind your surroundings,
what are you receiving
with open hands and
on what do you stand

truth, beauty, and goodness
or falsity, repulsiveness, and depravity,
what is it you intend to create
on this Earth with this one, wild life

that which is not transformative
for the personal and collective good
is transmitted as suffering from
person to person and generation to generation

choose to be the change
the world needs and
apply yourself through
disciplined practice benefiting all beings

dedicate yourself to
creative expression which
sets all free, liberates, and
connects all in kinship and belonging

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
February 4, 2021

Art images:

1) Harry Sternberg, ‘Fascism’

2) Kate Deciccio, ‘Amanda Gorman, American Poet’

(reader’s note: gratitude to those who have
influenced me and whose influence is
flowing through this poem: Jesus, the Christ,
from his sermon on the mound found in the Gospel
of Mark, Gary Zukav, Mary Oliver, Richard Rohr,
Maya Angelo, and Mark Nepo)

Reflection: The role of the contemporary white institutional church in the rise of alt-right politics in our nation

Reflection: The role of the contemporary white institutional church in the rise of alt-right politics in our nation

The alt-right political movement, emboldened by ex-president X over the past six years, found a safe haven, and in many cases support, in the contemporary white churches of the U.S. With their cheap grace, free of repentance and confession, and their ‘country club’ mentality of catering to members for a membership fee, .i.e, tithing, these churches and their members invoke the name of Jesus in heretical blasphemy.

It is, of course, ironic that the contemporary church offers sanctuary and support to the modern empire and its oppressive regimes. As far back as the medieval church, the doors of churches were painted red to signify they were places of refuge and sanctuary for those needing to escape oppression, particularly the oppression of the Empires, who were all powerful and whose citizens had no rights. And today, it is just the opposite, with the church providing sanctuary to the oppressor Empire.

And so, tragically, we find the contemporary white institutional church simply to compromised and complicit with the dominant culture of power, control, and violence to do anything about this subversion of its’ true mission which is to act according to the Gospels and its’ kerygmatic vision of God’s kingdom, i.e., the alternative community of true belonging of all through radical grace and radical love as proclaimed by Jesus, the Christ.

This interjection of the dominant culture into the churches true mission is called ‘Christendom,’ and more contemporarily ‘Christofascism,’ and has been around in the history of the church since the Edict of Milan signed with Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire in 313 which established the Emperor’s protection for the then persecuted Christians. ‘Christofascism’ is reflected in the Nazi’s political efforts to subvert and control the Christian church in Germany in its’ efforts of ethnic cleansing, mass genocide, and world domination.

And so what does the future hold for these failing churches? The theologian and author, John Douglas Hall, asks in his 2010 article in The Christian Century, ‘ “What then is the mission of a church that can no longer count on its favored status in Western civilization to ensure its meaning and its continued existence?” Hall’s answer is that the church must recognize its failure to act according to the Gospel and begin to witness and serve outside or on the edge of the dominant culture. For the church to survive and be faithful to its message, it must change, or ultimately die, according to Hall.’ (note: the Hall quote is from an article in ‘Sightings’ by Charles Maynard, a professor at the University of Washington).

The role of the white Christian church in the rise of the alt-right political movement can not be over-emphasized, and its’ untenable consequences for our democratic nation and all its citizens must be recognized. Those white churches so complicit and supportive must be resisted at every turn by people of good conscience, and its influence eliminated by those of the true faith knowing truth will overcome the lies of the alt-right.

Book suggestions for further reading regarding Christianity’s complicity with the dominant culture and its’ failing churches: 1) ‘The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance’ by Dorothee Soelle, and 2) “What Christianity is Not” by John Douglas Hall.

poem: writing it down for healing

poem: writing it down for healing

trying to figure things out
finding my psyche and soul
greatly wearied and in mourning
in the postmortem of the culture wars
and efforts to destroy our nation’s democracy

and so I write it down, it is what I do,
until I grow in understanding and feel
I can authentically express myself
as to my witness and truth,
then searching for the right words and
moving them around on the page in composition

while some may be ready to move
beyond these atrocities in triumphalism, I sit here,
on a foggy mid-winter morn during the pandemic,
observing the suffering and waste and contemplating
the challenges, preparing for the work ahead
in the slow recovery from our collective trauma

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 25, 2021

photo by Herb Stone
“On a foggy mid-winter morn during the pandemic”

(reader’s note: Richard Rohr teaches: “If we do not
transform our pain, we will transmit it.” )

poem: ex-president X sounds pleasant in our mouth and in our ear

poem: ex-president X sounds
pleasant in our mouth and in

our ear

the new moniker for the man
whose name is never said
referring not just to one
small man’s official title but also
to their enormous responsibilities

ex-president X was thrust shocked
into our brain resulting
in trauma and toxic shock syndrome
sickening the minds of millions
and radicalizing millions more

like the X factor
ex-president X was
inexplicable and unknowable
bombastic evil personified
and a shadow upon the land

there must never be
another such assault
in our system politic
posing such a threat to
our sanity and way of life

less stalwart souls
and discerning minds
are lost and flummoxed
and the most fragile perish
from the incompetence

now ex-president X is removed
from the world stage
a bad actor and two bit con
flubbing his lines
bombing another gig

may he live out his life
in ignominy and loneliness
far from the world stage
a history lesson learned
never to be repeated

ex-president X rolls
off the tongue, is pleasant
in our ears, and timely
so that the grieving, lamenting,
accountability, and healing begin

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 22, 2021

photo by The Columbia Dispatch
‘The Maddened Crowd’

poem: ode to our nation on inauguration day 2021

 

poem: ode to our nation on inauguration day 2021

today our nation
inaugurates our 46th.
president and vice president
Joe and Kamala
who feel like family
Papa and Auntie

after the past four years
of a president and his administration
bullying its’ citizens
undermining our rights
eroding our democracy
empowering domestic terrorist
cutting off world allies
causing death and confusion in a pandemic
and leading an insurrection
we citizens of good conscience
find some relief and optimism again

fellow Americans
let us come together
in confession, repentance, and reconciliation
healing one another and our nation
that we will finally do the hard work
of forming a more perfect union together

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 20, 2021
Inauguration Day

Photo credits: Vox, AP, AFP

Reflection: Our nation is setting a dangerous precedent with untenable consequences for all its’ citizens

Reflection: Our nation is setting a dangerous precedent with untenable consequences for all its’ citizens

As citizens, we need more protections against Presidents, and other elected officials, who prove to be mentally unstable, including sociopathic narcissist with fascist tendencies, who brainwash and radicalize others through constant hateful lies and disinformation, and who incite others to violence against our government through seditious speech and acts of insurrection.

While the outgoing president may eventually face legal culpability for his crimes while in office, we have had to endure four years of his undermining and attacking our democratic principles as a nation resulting in serious damage to our psyches, our souls, and our social order, and the loss of life through incompetence, neglect, and violence.

One problem we have seen is that the majority of politicians can not be depended upon to police and adjudicate other politicians because they are chiefly guided by their own political self interest, including electability, over the principles of ethics and laws. These politicians are true Machiavellians in their ideology which is called ‘godless. scheming, and self -interested’ in Machiavelli’s book, “The Prince,” which is one of the first works concerning politics and ethics ever written. Apparently things have not changed much as to the behavior of politicians since that book was written in 1513.

Our Constitutional and democratic processes have been put to a severe test which has revealed untenable outcomes in the four year term of a person elected, with outside, foreign influence, to the office of president and who was never fit, and is incompetent, to fulfill that high office with all the powers and influence it commands.

This whole debacle in its’ smoldering aftermath must be reviewed with the objective of not repeating the errors and oversights that led to the election of the outgoing unfit president, and other elected officials, and of identifying triggers and safeguards, and consequences against sitting presidents, and other elected officials, that call for more ready accountability for those who are unfit and who incite anti-democracy radicalization, sedition, and violence.

We are witnessing a trainwreck in the history of our democracy which threatens its survival, and those of us who believe in the non-violent transforming of our democracy to include all persons in a more perfect union, must resist and turn back these dangerous precedents and untenable consequences before it is too late.

Let the hard work begin!

Reflection: Writing about the Insurrection and other national traumas of the past four years and writing to know what I believe

Reflection: Writing about the Insurrection and other national traumas of the past four years and writing to know what I believe

The tagline, “I write to know what I believe”, comes from my poetry blog where I post all my original writing. This has never been so true as for me now.

As I grapple with the recent onslaught of the insurrection and the other trauma of the past four years, I can not help but grieve for the great mortification and ignominy that has been visited upon our nation and its peoples. And thus I write about it. I have written several things recently and posted them, and they have received little response which I attribute to the suffering, shock, and discomfort each of us are dealing with at this time.

In my life I have learned that the worldly and personal suffering visited upon us must be sat with, grieved, and we must cry out and process it before the revisioning and healing can begin. And so I write which is my way to engage all of this and eventually, hopefully, work through it for myself. Sharing our stories, I believe, is the greatest gift one can give and receive, and it is always my hope someone may find my writings helpful in their own journey of authentic becoming and belonging.

Beloveds, I see you and hear you and encourage each of us to collectively share the pain now so we may come together in healing and reconciliation at the appropriate time. First we have much work to do, including accountability, confession, repentance and revisioning before we can heal and reconcile. As for me, I shall continue writing it out towards that end. Much to do! Let us bear one another up and love one another!!

poem: the president that never was suffers his apocalypse

poem: the president that never was
suffers his apocalypse

the president that never was
upon leading an insurrection
at the U.S. Capitol resulting
in five deaths, numerous injuries,
destruction, and desecration

will be be flushed
from his bunker where
the hounds of hell await him
constantly nipping at his bloody heels
as he attempts his escape

and purged from our system,
vomited out, so that the bloody
vultures of history nibble at his
bones, picking them clean, for as
long as he may persist

for his skulduggery and demonic madness
resulting in evil and criminal behavior
which toxicity has crazed millions
a holding cage awaits so that his chant
‘lock ‘em up’ rings in his ears eternally

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 10, 2021

image: ‘The Flag of the Traitor’ by the New York
Times

(reader’s note: A poem of social injustice
and losing our souls. This is the hell that awaits
anyone who puts themself above all else for
their own selfish, private gain. When we become
so separated from the Cosmic Consciousness
and lost in our soul, we suffer in agony and
bring that suffering upon others. In this poem,
I vent my outrage at the events of the past four
years that have allowed a man of such incompetence
and madness to so destroy our nation culminating
in an act of treason which has poisoned the mind
of millions and who is yet to be held responsible for
his crimes. Now is not the time for a stiff upper
lip or silence. We must speak truth to power
and do the hard work of containing this madness.
Only deep personal and collective redemption
and transformation will lead us to reconciliation
now and save our souls and that of our nation.)

Reflection: The White Nationalist Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the Scourge of Privileged Exceptionalism

Reflection: The White Nationalist Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the Scourge of Privileged Exceptionalism

There are two very significant social/cultural mechanisms at play in the white terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol which can help us all understand better what happened, why it happened, and what is to come of it.

One is that the insurrection demonstrates the threat of the raw power and control of a populist narcissistic fascist figure in their ability to brainwash and command control of others who share their toxic values which are always self serving and always end in violence.

Populism is always framed as an ‘us vs. them’ conflict and contains two primary claims: 1) a country’s ‘true people’ are locked in conflict with outsiders, including establishment elites, and 2) nothing should constrain the will of the ‘true people.’ (reference: https://institute.global/policy/populists-power-around-world)

Populism is always a threat to democracy and there are always people susceptible to its’ appeal ‘to fight the elites as one of the true people.’ This brings to mind Benjamin Franklin’s answer, which is so relevant now, when he was asked if we have a monarchy or a republic, and he responded, “a republic if you can keep it.”

Second, the insurrection, and the weak, disorganized response to it demonstrates the ugly truth of white supremacy in the United States, and its’ continuing toxic legacy of hate, social injustice, and violence directed to black Americans.

Robert Jones Jr., author of ‘The Prophets’ and creator of the social justice media site ‘Son of Baldwin,’ puts it this way: “White supremacy ensures that white folks violence is always framed around “rights” and black folks violence is always framed around “crime.” This is so evidently true as witnessed in the law enforcement response to Black Lives Matter nonviolent protest earlier this year and its response to the white supremacist movement involved in the insurrection at the United States Capitol. BLM non-violent protesters, viewed as criminals, are meet with overwhelming law enforcement force, violence, and arrest while law enforcement’s encounters with white supremacist are much more careful to not infringe upon their ‘rights as citizens.’

Bottom line, populism and white supremacy are two of democracies biggest threats. Those that wrongly adhere to these movements will always exist calling for perpetual vigilance by those who wish to keep our republic guided by authentic democratic principles guaranteeing the liberty and rights of all people. We must forever repudiate the sickness of privileged exceptionalism, and as guardians of democracy must ever resist, at every turn, the forces that perpetuate these evils upon others using non-violent means to disrupt their organization and influence through , as John Lewis would say, ‘engaging in good trouble’ for the common good of all who love democracy and wish to see it reach its’ most full potential.
Doing our part as social/cultural change agents and activist for social justice, let us each awaken from our somnambulance and prepare the way for the common good of all peoples loving democracy!