“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God”
Stephen Colbert …
It has been a while since my last installment of Oprah’s Masterclass episodes. And tonight was a special edition of the very popular series revisiting the Masters for pieces of wisdom that did not make it to original air. And so let us begin…
The First Lesson … Knowing who you are …
It is very important for us, as we grow to know who we are and to figure out the road we are supposed to be walking. We gather all this life information as we grow into the people that we are, and so we ask “Do you know who you are?”
The Second Lesson … In order to know where you are going, you need to know where you came from…
We all grew up somewhere, in a family and in that family we learned certain things about life and of ourselves, and depending on the way you were raised you come away from that experience with certain knowledge that will carry you into your adulthood. You have to know where you came from to know where you are going.
The Third Lesson … Learning from Failure …
In life, there are good times and there are bad times. We have known successes and we have known failures. But what did we learn from both successes and failures ? Yes, we probably have seen great heights, and most probably, we have seen great lows. But like Morgan Freeman says, “get back up, and Don’t give up.” Keep Trying … When we fall, we must get back up and dust ourselves off and get on with life. To sit there licking ones wounds and commiserating about our failure, we should get up, look back and learn from that failure so that we don’t make that mistake again, and to learn the lesson that came from that failure.
The Fourth Lesson … Leave Room for Serendipity …
Goldie Hawn tells us that yes, in life we have goals and we make these goals and set them up for ourselves and we point ourselves in that direction, BUT we must leave room for twists and turns, lefts and rights. If we are too rigid in our lives, we might miss the nuance or the gentle stirrings of spirit that might take us in a direction that might lend to our journeys. It is not always a straight shot up, but quite possibly a long and winding road to get to where we are going.It is being able to be adept to hearing the still small voice that might say “this way for now…” It is always about the journey, not in the destination, but the journey to get there.
Lesson Five … Love Liberates …
This is the lesson about letting go. The one thing a mother or father can do for their children is to let them go. So that they can fly, and test the waters of life, to learn and make mistakes. Yes, we might still want to hold on to them, but in essence, we must let them go.
Maya Angelou speaks of the day she left home at 17 with her son saying … “Momma I am going … to which she replied, Once you step over the threshold, you are grown. Take what you have learned here and go on with your life. Don’t let anyone else raise you!” Love liberates, it does not hold us fast.
Lesson Six… Everything begins with an intention …
Everything we do in this life, begins with an intention. And we say to ourselves that, I think I will do this, or Maybe I will do that, and quite possibly, I should do that instead … The thought precedes the action. But what action will we take?
Lesson Seven … Dream Big …
God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself.
If there is one thing we can do well, it is dream. It is the one thing that keeps us on the path of knowledge and learning and experience. It is SOOO important that we dream, and dream big. There is nothing sadder in the words of Jon Bon Jovi that to watch someone crush the dreams of someone else. Go out and do it, and do it BIG. If you are going to do it, do it BIG !!!
Lesson Eight … Do Right …
There is right and there is wrong. And we should know by now, that right is right and wrong is wrong. And once you know what is right, you can do right. Maya Angelou says that “Once you know right, do right, it will satisfy your soul, so just do right.”
Lesson Nine … What Matters to You ???
There is nothing more important than doing what matters to us. We all have a calling in this life. Have we settled for what we are doing, or are we striving to find that one thing that will be the one thing that matters to us the most?
Examine your life, all the good things and all the failures and look at all the things you have done in your life, and see what you will do next. Life is a perpetual journey that is ever changing. And there is always “the next thing,’ Once you climb one mountain or reached a certain summit, there is another mountain waiting to be scaled.
Lesson Ten … Always wake up Curious …
Life is no bore, for many. And if we are stuck in a certain rut, maybe it is time to wake up curious. To relight that fire within us and to find the curious things that fire our imaginations. There must be something that drives you forwards.
Lesson Eleven … Did you make a difference …
If people speak of you and they say damn, him or her or my goodness he or she is this or that, you’ve done it wrong. But if people speak of you and they speak good things of you then you have made a difference.
Did you make a difference in the lives of others that you surround yourself with? Did you take the time to walk with them, to listen to them, to celebrate with them and quite possibly, to mourn with them?
They say that is someone is walking a mile, then walk two miles with them. It is always important that we take the time to make a difference in another life, other than our own.
Lesson Twelve … Life Doesn’t Stop …
Jane Fonda reminds us that just because we are growing older, doesn’t mean that life is over with, that there is nothing left to do or to experience. There is always something around the corner to experience and do. With all the wisdom that you have accrued in your life, now you can take all that wisdom and apply it to the next thing that comes along in your life.
We can look at our lives as they have been lived, and we can see where things were good and where they were bad. We have learned lessons along the way and we figured out who we were and what it is that we were meant to do in this life.
And with all those teachings under our belts, we can move into the next stage of our lives, and if we need to make a change, make that change, but don’t forget to dream big. Oprah says either Go Big or Go Home … There are so many things we can do for ourselves and for each other. If we look at our lives as a class, what is it in our life that we would want to teach others?
What is the one thing that you would like to teach that is the most important lesson to you?
I hope you take something away from this and be able to apply something to your life.
“I thirst,” Jesus said on the cross when Jesus was deprived of every consolation, dying in absolute Poverty, left alone, despised and broken in body and soul. He spoke of His thirst – not for water – but for love, for sacrifice.
Jesus is God: therefore, His love, His thirst is infinite. Our aim is to quench this infinite thirst of a God made man. Just like the adoring angels in Heaven ceaselessly sing the praises of God, so the sisters, using the four vows of Absolute Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Charity towards the poor ceaselessly quench the thirsting God by their love and of the love of the souls they bring to Him.
Mother Teresa writes:
Jesus wants me to tell you again … how much is the love He has for each one of you – beyond all what you can imagine … not only He loves you, even more – He longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy…
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This will be my 2,582nd post…
We begin this tale of the last 365 days at nearly the end, because that is where I think we need to begin. I re-read my end of year 2010 report to try and get a sense of what I need to write about this year. So many things have happened this year and I haven’t written out an outline, I will then free write …
First, we need music. Barbra Streisand … A Piece of Sky …
The winter 2010-2011 school season was a success. I did very well in my courses and finished at the top of my game. Not much happened over the summer so I took off those months. There wasn’t much in classes that I really wanted to take. I went to an inordinate amount of meetings over the summer.
This past Fall, I pursued my education at CeGep this year with as much zeal as I could muster. After two semesters of French, I decided that I would no longer pander to the language police here in Quebec. I would rather eat glass then study French another day in my life. So I gave it up on the first day of the third semester. I sat in the chair and the prof started in and I sat until the break and then I left. Never to return. I had had enough of that …
That night I decided to study Western Civilization instead. So the Fall Semester I studied Sociology, following in my husbands footsteps. Added to that was Western Civilization. Both courses I did fantastically well. I had great teachers and a little help from my friends in the form of free textbooks and occasional coaching from the side. That’s what you get when you go to meetings. People truly want to see you succeed and if they can, play a part in that success. So thanks to Eric and Hubby for their help.
Last year I spoke of Hubby’s doing well in University. And today I can say with a proud heart that he has more than exceeded all of our expectations. He not only was a student in the Graduate Studies program for Sociology, he taught a section of tutorials this past semester. Something he worried about – but to me, looking at it from the outside, it was effortless. He just is the most fascinating man I know. He did it all like a Master…
On the medical front, I lived another year. All my numbers have been above the 1000 mark. My good run has been extended this past year. My doctor never varies from his talk to me whenever I see him. He says the same thing like a litany that never changes. Loose weight, stop eating junk food and exercise. The theme never varies. However I can report that I did lose some weight over the last year. I changed up my diet – hubby is a very health conscious cook.
My diabetes numbers have been nominal to the degree that the last time I saw my doc for that it was for five minutes. He has dispensed with the whole triage, dietician and extensive medical history and check up for a brief looking at the number on my meter – signing off on refills and sending me on my way.
The other night at a Christmas dinner at a friends, I met a man who is diabetic and we talked about our respective situations. I seem to be doing so well and he has all but given up he says “you only get one life, so might as well live it” and not in the good way either. You see this happen with certain people who can’t be bothered to take care of themselves correctly and follow medical advice, and at that I shake my head, I keep my council and I let it go. He takes pills to control his diabetes, but he doesn’t test daily, nor does he do what he is told. Which is a shame, because in the end it may kill him one day and that would be a loss.
The same goes for people with HIV. I get them newly diagnosed and I talk them into a life plan and we find them the next step to survival. Most of the men I have worked with in the last calendar year have dispensed with my advising. It is not something they wanted to continue, so I must let them go. If they live or die is entirely up to them.
Another of my fellows on the HIV train was dumped after a long term relationship by the man who fell out of love with him and over a steak dinner divulged that he did not love him anymore. This sent my friend into a tailspin that almost killed him. I warned him not to use or drink. But what did he do? He went out in a blaze of glory.
Where everyone was pissing and moaning about lost love, I was the only one to warn him of the consequences of a major slip in recovery after being sober for so many years. My counsel fell on deaf ears and he used heavy narcotics in a haze that almost killed him. And with that I took my leave of him. He ended our friendship over this.
One of my guys got sick, ended up in the hospital and had a near death experience. That experience sent him out the door into a drunken drug filled stupor for a few months only to end up in rehab, and in a haze of forgetfulness calls me one night begging my help once again. I can proudly say that today that man is sober and clean. He has a few months sobriety and is actively working his steps with me in a 12 step intensive. One of the only success stories I can talk about on the HIV front.
Another year in the books as year 44 came around this past summer. I am soon heading for fifty. Can you believe it??? Me at 50. Who knew. But we are not there yet. One day at a time … I read the book Aging with HIV, and in the book I am at the near beginning of the scale, not so old as the men in the book, but I am getting there slowly. In reading the book, I learned what concerned men going into their 50′s. Most of the issues I read about, I have already dealt with in my sobriety.
This past year has been one of disappointments in people. As I stated above the theme is recurring several times over. When people show you who they are the first time believe them…
A long time friend who I had been counseling, listening to and confiding in for the last ten years trying to be her friend just pissed me the fuck off. After 23 years of sobriety, she admitted after the fact that she was drinking and lying to me all the time, prior to her return to Montreal this past fall. I am beginning to learn just who is my friend and who paid me in lip service over the past year.
Suffice to say that I held my tongue quite well when she picked up a desire chip after 23 years at my home group. I sat on my feelings and stuffed them until they almost choked me. And one night words were spoken. Words I can never take back. It all came out one word after another …
I am not ashamed that I caved. I mean what are we unfeeling cyborgs? Can’t I feel an emotion and put it out there? Well, that was another ending. I said my piece and she felt victimized and reported me to her sponsor as a bad man. I ended that friendship in a blaze of glory. She went back to Florida. If she is sober is up to her and God.
I am beginning to find my voice as a man who knows himself. I have spent the better part of the year taking care of me and learning all those lessons that Oprah had to offer in terms of Life Class. And I put to practice all those things that she says will help us become who we are meant to become.
Being true to ones self. Knowing and being responsible for the energy we give out and what energy we bring to ourselves. When people show us who they are the first time, believe them. Things like this …
Every day of my life is book-ended with meetings. That formula for success is what I attribute my successes. I have this year crossed a huge mile marker which I will touch on a bit later. If I have a night free, you can usually find me at a meeting somewhere. Tuesday Beginners has been a part of my life for more than ten years now. And it served me well.
Over the summer, my sponsor and my friend Dave, who is a proud daddy today used to travel to different meeting on Friday night. From the South shore to the West End to NDG. We did this for weeks on end until I had enough of traveling from here to there. I wanted to invest in somewhere certain. You can’t invest in a meeting and their people if you are not a weekly attendee. So I decided to go to Friday West End by myself.
I set a goal for myself and that goal was to go and wait for God to tell me what to do. I went, week after week until the voice gave me direction. And I knew it one night when after the meeting I felt the urge that this is where the next chapter of my sobriety was to open. So I joined the group a few months ago. I needed three months of service to become a proper member, and so I did that gladly.
I would go and set up chairs and make coffee. I sat in the same chair week in and week out. People began to notice me, not because of what I was doing, but because of my presence in the same spot week after week. People started talking to me, I learned their names, and made some friends. An old timer and his wife from Dorval. I have spoken about them before.
The next chapter of my sobriety was opening up. I did my time and got into the rotation as a full member. And then everything changed. And it was the greatest gift I have ever been given in sobriety. Firstly there was the night we were in the church for the meeting – it was the first time I was responsible for setting up and doing all the grunt work because most of the group was out of town that night, and the hall was being used the next day for a church bazaar so we were in the church proper and that night we all had a spiritual experience. It was the most beautiful night on my life, listening to a young lady play the piano. It was angel speak. The night was a HUGE success. And it did not go unnoticed.
The fall came and went. I am still doing service every week. Now I am the designated coffee maker. That along with minor set up skills I am an upstanding member of Friday West End.
Weeks before my 10th sober anniversary, I had been in a really deep conscious contact with my God. My prayer life I stepped up. I was reading holy texts and I came across Mother Teresa once again. A book I had once dismissed, I picked up again, just by happenstance. And I was convicted … The story of how she began the Missionaries of Charity with “I Thirst …” I knew that was going to become the marker for my anniversary.
On certain big anniversaries, I was taught in early sobriety, you make an offering to God for your sobriety. I did it on my first anniversary with a piercing. And now at ten, I needed to do something big. I made a few calls and visited a few tattoo parlors in the core and settled on Adrenaline. I talked it over with hubby and he gave me the green light to get the tattoo I wanted. I prayed about it for a week. And on the Friday prior to my anniversary, I got that tattoo. It was all the rage at Friday West End. Since I Face booked it everyone wanted to see it, and so it went. I was really proud of myself.
And also as it came to pass that I was approaching my 1oth sober anniversary, is when God stepped in and gifted me. The Friday before my anniversary, the chair asked me to speak, ON my anniversary. On that same night our matriarch asked me if I would take my cake on that next Friday night. (Now I was prepared to wait until the 13th at TB’s to take my cake) But she had other plans for me.
She asked me if I had my 2 year silver oval medallion. Yes, it was in my wallet. I gave it to her and she took it and sent it off to the jewelers to be Gold Plated and engraved with whatever I wanted on it … “I Thirst…” is on that medallion now.
I talked to my sponsor about sharing. And he said as long as I keep my ego in check, all should be well. That Friday came to pass. I got up there and knocked it out of the park. I don’t remember all of what I said. But whatever I did say made a difference in my life and the lives of the members of the group and others as well who came to hear me speak. It was the most exciting night of my life in recent years. Then I got my cake and my GOLD medallion. It was the most exciting moment in my sobriety so far.
The people of Friday West End gave me a gift that I could never repay. They gave me a memory that I can take to my grave as being had. And I am forever grateful to them for that. We are a great happy bunch of drunks that do good things every Friday night for every person who walks in our doors.
We had our anniversary the following week and we had over a hundred and some odd people. We had food galore and fun, fun, fun. I even got to thank that speaker because the chair thinks I am so eloquent in thanking capabilities. I don’t know if it went over as good as I wanted because of the man I was thanking. Some stories are tougher than others to thank because of content and experience. And he was rough trade… But I did my best.
On the 13th of December I took a second chip and celebrated with Cake at my original home group. To show to newcomer that it can be done. Many old friends came to help me celebrate. We had lots of cake and conversation. So I have a ten year medallion to keep forever, and one to share with someone coming along to their tenth… December has been one very exciting month.
The holidays have come and are nearly gone. The weeks are just flying past, as if to say, let’s get this year over already !!! Christmas was a big BLUR on the radar screen. And it is Tuesday late night once again as I write this. I was so busy over the holidays that I forget that the day came. Our home Christmas was sandwiched in between cooking for home, setting up for an evening meeting and attending a second Christmas dinner all on the same night.
And with great effort the world is going to welcome in the New Year in the way they know how to do… With lots of liquor and celebrations. I talked to a friend on Tumblr earlier and I said that all those young people won’t know what hit them after imbibing copious amounts of liquor and smoking the best weed out there. What a waste … But what can you do???
We will take in the New Year as we always do. With our Crystal Goblets and a little non-alcoholic bubbly. We will watch the ball fall and kiss on the moment and then we will go to bed and listen to Coast to Coast AM and the yearly predictions show for 2012. This year proves to be exciting, with Armageddon knocking on our doors on December 21st 2012.
PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR. TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE SOMEWHERE SAFE BECAUSE IT IS ALL SUPPOSED TO END. WE CAN ALL KISS OUR RESPECTIVE ASSES GOODBYE BECAUSE THEY TELL US THE WORLD WILL COME TO AN END.
At Least the Mayan’s have given the preacher world something to go on about for the last year. And needless to say it will only get worse as the date draws nearer. So we will see who the forgiven/saved are and who is going to suffer damnation, hellfire and sorrow.
And that is how we will close out the year that was 2011.
What did you do this year that is noteworthy? Share those thoughts with us.
I really want to thank all the people who have subscribed to this blog, and to all my readers out there. From all over the world. Especially, Bear Toast, Rod, Vincent and the rest of you. Thank you for a great year. It has been a joy writing for you – and you have helped me polish my voice so to speak.
I am in touch, so you be in touch.
I love your faces.
WC: 3,173 Post 2,582
Courtesy: PBJars aka Daniel
Listening to your life as the whisper comes, so that you don’t get hit with a brick or have the brick wall coming down on top of you.
Life whispers to you all the time. Every single experience is speaking to you.
If you don’t get the whisper it gets louder, and then the thump comes, then it becomes a brick upside your head and the crisis becomes a disaster and the house comes down on top of you.
Are you paying to the signs that are coming at you on any given day? Do you pay attention to your life or are you just going through the motions of living not giving a care to what is going on around you?
When you get that feeling that “Something isn’t right!” that feeling, hmmm…
means Pay Attention.
Everybody has it, we are all born with it. Anybody who pays attention has the ability to feel the feelings that are speaking to you. Who’s around you, what’s around you.
If you’ve never felt it, it is time for you to pick it up and start using it.
You know that voice, that itty bitty voice that speaks to you and for most of us we know it’s there. It is almost like a conscious contact kind of voice … It says, do this, don’t do that … Don’t go there…
It’s happening all the time every day of our lives.
What was the original whisper, what was the sign?
The voices of the world will drown out the voice of God if you let it, so that is your real job, is to pay attention to your life, to lift you higher and to live a better life.
Everything that’s happening around you are signals for you to pay attention. Get in in the whisper and the brick wall doesn’t have to come down on you.
If it doesn’t make sense … IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE !!!
There is a greater force out there, a greater power, a force. And once you tap into that power, you have it yourself.
Only you have the power to make changes in your life. So what are you going to do with that power?
I’ve heard it said that “If we can dream it, then we can do it…” That was the thought behind the Horizons pavilion at EPCOT many years ago. They had a big dream about what the world would look like in the 21st century ….
What kind of dream do you have for your life? What would you like to see change? And if change is necessary, then why aren’t you making those changes? What is holding you back ?
You life is a reflection of the way you think. What you believe is what you become and one person can make a difference and that person is you.
IT IS ACHIEVABLE !!!
You start exactly where you are and you go from there…
It doesn’t just happen, there is a process … It’s up to you to figure out what that process is in your own life.
All life is about growing who you are meant to be. We all get to a point in our life that something has to give. And then change is necessary. It may take a crisis or come in an A HA moment… If you are not where you want to be, then why not? And if why not, then what’s next ? What has to give for you to make that connection and change your life in ways you’ve never dreamed of ?
Everybody has their own time, and everyone gets to that moment that change becomes possible. That we realize that opportunity presenting itself to you.
What is the dream for your life ? If you don’t have a dream, then start having a dream, if you are willing to let every step take you in that direction. You deserve the best that life has to offer you. You deserve the best version of yourself. Because you were born, you deserve the best life possible.
Daniel is joy … and cuteness to boot !!!
How do you find joy in your most difficult times?
I think I find joy in doing for others. To make things happen and to brighten someones day or night, as I am mostly a night person. Tonight Joy rose in the little church of Saint Columba’s. We had a beautiful concerto concert by an aspiring piano impresario who studies at McGill University. Everyone was touched by her playing and for a few precious moments, we were caught up in the joy rising.
I guess I have been in a difficulty free zone for the last little while. Living in the moment and day to day makes things a bit easier. I try not to get bogged down with difficulties.
Can you feel the joy rising ???
Shug: More than anything God love admiration.
Celie: You saying God is vain?
Shug: No, not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it.
Celie: You saying it just wanna be loved like it say in the bible?
Shug: Yeah, Celie. Everything wanna be loved. Us sing and dance, and holla just wanting to be loved. Look at them trees. Notice how the trees do everything people do to get attention… except walk?
Shug: Oh Miss Celie, I feels like singing!
That is one of the gifts of the program of recovery. Because we learn to take the spotlight off of ourselves and to put it on others. We are given a gift every day and with that gift we are to give it away freely of that which we are freely given.
You get involved with a group and do service, you become responsible and for an hour a day you take the stress and strain off of someone else by giving of yourself. You don’t need to get paid or to be recognized all the time, but it is when what you do makes a difference for someone else.
My old timer friend from the West Island comes with his wife to the Friday meeting and we were all sitting in the church listening to Maria play the piano and his wife, several times over was amazed at hearing such sacred music. For a little while I believe that joy rose in every heart in that church.
Two nights a week I get to give it away. Once at my original home group on Tuesday night’s, and secondly on Friday nights on the West End. it is like welcoming someone into your home for an hour to gather with friends and to share in the wonderful gift of sobriety.
That is joy rising …
Are you bringing joy into someone life each day?
And if you aren’t then why not?
Build it into your life, do something joyful for someone else and then joy will come back to you ten fold.
Joy is the fuel of the heart …
Flickr Evan Mischelle
We are to learn from each others pain and to rise up out of that pain.
When tragedy happens, how do you move on with your life?
You don’t have to take giant steps, but little steps, just holding on to what you have is important.
Tragedy … What is that, in my vernacular? Loss, grief ? I don’t know if I have anything that has happened in my life that qualifies as tragedy.
Does losing everything you own in a blaze of abuse qualify? Does the loss of a family member you were so very close to as a child qualify? Does being diagnosed with a terminal disease qualify? Does loosing 164 of your friends to AIDS qualify?
I’ve seen plenty of tragedy in my life…
When tragic things happen you have to create something new. Moving away from tragedy is difficult. And it may take the rest of your life, but we all have a purpose and if we are still here, then we have a purpose. And god knows what that purpose is even if we don’t at the moment.
I don’t know, but a few stories come to mind about tragedy. I’ve told them here on the blog, they are chronicled over there in the pages. Having friends and family walk out of your life because you are sick was tragic for me.
The loss of family and the punishment of eternal damnation and silence has been a tragic punishment for me. And not knowing what to do with that, but I had to, at some point, put it to bed, because I am powerless over people, places and things. For some, I will never be a man, or a friend or a son, a brother, or an uncle. I will forever be seen as that fag that got aids and got what he deserved…
When you see someone rise, then you see that rise is possible.
I lost very crucial people in my life when I was so young. Before I knew what those kinds of feelings were, I had to deal with those losses as I was able. Watching my family crumble around me was some of the most painful times in my young life as a teenager. All I have is memories of who they were, because after the strokes across the board, everything changed. Several lives were snuffed out in a moments time, and I could not pull them back over the veil.
And I think that to this day, my father has never forgiven me for that.
But that may be all in my head, but it is what I feel when I think about it, and why he became so violent with me and my brother and mother. The demon alcohol took hold and he became a monster. So I think of my loss in retrospect to what it did to the adults in my life who had no coping skills to speak of.
Whatever the ashes are, there is a way through, a way up and a way out of it…
I’ve got, in a few week time, a decade of sober time behind me. And I see my life as it was lived, and I am so grateful to have what I have today, the people I have in my life, the experiences I have, and the wisdom of 44 years of life behind me and I can sit here and write to you and to say …. You can rise …
You can rise, You can rise, YOU CAN RISE …
Courtesy: Tumblr Photo
“When somebody shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”
You are responsible for the energy you give out, and the energy you bring in. And you are responsible for the energy you allow into yourself from outside.
When People show you who they are the first time, believe them. This is such a lesson – I should have learned it long ago. There are times in my life in hindsight that I could have used this thought to save myself a lot of heartache and pain.
I have written in the past about the Neon Sign theory. And on tonight’s episode it was confirmed by Iyanla VanZandt. “If you see crazy coming, cross the street!”
Everybody has a neon sign above their heads or directly connected to their foreheads. That show us exactly who you are at any given moment. In sobriety I’ve studied that sign, and have actually seen people change their signs over the years.
Hindsight is 20/20.
When we meet people the first time, we see them from the outside, but we don’t necessarily see them from the inside. And sometimes we get caught up in looking at someone saying, “ah, um, I can deal with that, or, I can change that.”
Love does not change.
And sometimes we engage in relationships that people show us who they are and day by day, every time they come into our space, they take a little piece of energy from our souls and at the end, we end up less a person than we started out with and less a person than we should have become.
I think I have learned the lesson about people over the last decade of my life. I have a group of friends I have grown up with on Facebook. I have the friends I have made in sobriety. And the friends I have because of school and affiliation with certain clubs and groups of people.
All of my friends bring “Something” to my life. Every single one of them, and though I’ve never said anything to them, my friends bring joy, life and friendship into my life. I don’t waste my time with people who aren’t good for me. I learned that lesson the hard way.
My slip comes to mind. Oh yes, that slip. The one that almost killed me.
I met my slip on the internet at school one night, and struck up a conversation and I was learning about him but for months I had never seen him in person. He had built for me a picture that I held onto and thought I needed in my life at the time.
And so I packed my things and sped out of my life in Miami for a trek across the country to a plot of land in the middle of farm country and got out of the cab of the moving truck after traveling 1000 miles, and there before me he showed me who he was from the very moment I said hello and stepped out of the cab.
He handed me a beer and a joint and I drank and I smoked.
I had learned everything that I needed to know right in that very moment.
I was stuck. I had no money to move on. I had no friends there. I had no way out. Even if I wanted to get out, and I thought to myself that I could change the situation and change him into a man I could live with.
I failed at that miserably, because he would not be moved.
So began an eighteen month odyssey from farm to house, drinking and drugging. The abuse started not long after that. And I was stuck in a situation of my own making. I invited that energy into my life from 1000 miles away and then I even packed myself up and brought myself into that energy.
How stupid a decision that was.
The drinking and drugging got worse. More drugs and dangerous situations arose and I found myself, just by the skin of my teeth and but for the grace of God, I escaped the police and incarceration myself. How that happened is a miracle, because if one moment’s hesitation on anyone’s part and and I could have ended up in the slammer and my parents once warned me about jail and that I had never ever find myself in a jail or arrested.
That memory saved me many times in my young life.
That would have been a nightmare ending up in a hokey jail in the middle of po-dunk middle America. Even his parents figured out that I was in a situation that wasn’t going to get better because they witnessed and saved me from many an attack after a drug and drink incited fight occurred.
In the end, beaten and bloody, I had to get out. And thank GOD that a friend I knew online, knew where I was. I had made a crucial contact to someone who I always refer to as my saving angel. He bought me a bus ticket when the cops came to collect me and told me that all I could take was what I could carry.
Everything I owned, my house, my clothes, my memories, my heirlooms and everything that meant something to me were left behind. And to this day I have never attempted to repatriate my things back to me. I never ever want to reopen that door ever again.
I learned that my memories and everything that I hold dear are inside me and I do not need those “things” around me to make me whole. It took me near a decade to get that lesson. I used to look online for names and numbers, I’ve even written letters that were never mailed, thank God.
Had someone warned me in advance, that I was walking into the den of the devil, I might have not made that decision to uproot my life and safety and move 1000 miles from home. And I imagine how different my life would have been had I not done all that. I may not even have gotten HERE where I am today.
Everything happens for a reason and certain things happened in my life that took me to Iowa after that disaster of 18 months to convalesce and then back 1000 miles back to Miami to rebuild my life again.
After a series of events in my life got me sober again, I ended up coming here to Montreal, where I met my boyfriend. I saw who he was when I met him. The first pass through the door of St. Leon’s and then that night at St. James the Apostle.
I fell in love with a man for who he was. Not what he was. And we have been together ever since that first date at Calories where we ate cake and drank sweet tea, and then we went grocery shopping together for the first time and we prepared dinner together for the first time.
He was the man I married. He showed me who he was from the start and that is the man I believed and that I later married.
Over that last decade I have met numerous people. I have met thousands of souls come through my Home Group, some came for a season and got sober and moved on, many came for a season and drank again. Some became my friends and they are my friends to this day. I am grateful and thankful.
When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.
Courtesy: Flickr Evan Mischelle
Lesson 12 – Oprah’s Life Class- Holding on to the past
Tonight’s lesson could have been a topic at any given discussion meeting. Holding on to the past. What are you holding on to that you need to let go of to evolve into a better self ? What are you holding on to that is preventing your soul from moving forwards ?
We are not our bodies or what we are, we are souls on a journey to become better, to learn to love ourselves and each other. And if we are broken or hurt or upset or anything of that sort, it is time to heal those sores and become new.
For decades I medicated my feelings and insecurities and fears with alcohol and at one point drugs, because there was no other option than to participate in a way of life that I had, in the past, felt repellent.
We have learned in past episodes that we are not what we have done, or who we once were. We are who we are in today, right now, in this moment. And holding on to the past keeps us rooted in where we once were, all the while trying to move forwards in our lives. It is time to, as they say “Drop the Rock !”
There are things in my life that I would love to let go of. And for the most part I have let go of things that don’t serve me any longer. Unrequited love, relationships that never amounted to anything but heartache. I have moved on from those things in my sobriety. But I am haunted by the lives of others who have imposed silence on me for more than a decade. Family who have never seen it necessary to come to the table and talk.
On the show tonight we saw a story about family resentments and the decades of silence that family members imposed on each other because of something someone said or did at one point in their lives, and it took a son to die of AIDS to bring those family members together under one roof to reconcile.
Will it take a death to open a door?
I know better than to go rooting in other people’s lives. To bring attention to myself. But sometimes I want to scream it from the rooftops that I am not the boy you once knew. I am not the person you punished with silence. I am ten years older now. And I am moving forwards in my life. I don’t hold on to the past, but I have let it go and gave it to God. And should he seem fit to grant me reconciliation, then so be it. But if he doesn’t then so be it as well.
There is the sad old lesson about expectations … And my sponsor is apt to tell me not to expect great things or just anything of any one person, because our expectations can get us into trouble.
Which leads nicely into my continuing thought about my Tuesday night meeting and my nursing resentment. There are no justified resentments. And as I was watching Oprah tonight I was thinking about my friend. Was I holding on to the person she was, wishing that she still was that person? And have I been blinded by my sorrow and anger not to notice the woman who I know today?
If I follow the teaching, she is not what she did nor the woman she was. She is who she is today, right now, in this moment of time. And I need to come to the point of forgiveness and understanding.
My sponsor said tonight that when it must have been the darkest moment for her and she made that decision to drink, that must have been for someone with more than 20 years of sobriety the most devastating place to be. To have decided that there was no other option but to pick up a drink. And how mortified she must have been after the fact to openly admit that she did it. And we should have compassion for her and for every man and woman who battle this illness.
In my mind, I wanted to know the why and the how? I want to know why she didn’t ask for help, and in the moment, my sponsor suspects that she wasn’t even thinking about asking for help, because it was in that split second of indecision that she decided on the drink.
And now that we have come around full circle, it is time to let go of the past so that she can heal her heart and soul and help her to work forwards into the woman she will now become with that blip in sobriety as a moment of grace and teaching. We just cannot have one.
There is no resolution in one drink, or two or three for that matter, because once you cross the invisible line and drink, all the time you have banked is null and void. You pay for your choice with 23 years of sober capitol. And that is a high price to pay for a moments relief.
Now from 23 years to less than 23 days, she must rebuild. We must thank God that she had the courage to come back and pick up where she left off, well back when she should have stepped back in, but for now that is all ok. Hopefully she learns the lessons of what not to do, because she employed every single “what not to do” that led her to the drink.
I think, had I known this when I was on the way back, I might have returned earlier then I did, but then I was banking on signs and prayers. I returned when God saw fit to guide me back, because at that point I was ready and willing to walk back, I just needed the push through the door.
I know what it feels like to return after a sojourn in the land of “I think I will take a drink.” I had to get past my shame and beating myself up. I had to learn to forgive myself. All these universal lessons that we are hearing from Oprah now, I have employed for the last ten years. And all that work on my body and mind have freed my soul to move on to the next emanation.
We are gearing up for my cake. We have Dave getting his two year cake next month around the fifteenth. He’s got the game on. First his cake and supposedly by Christmas this year his second daughter will be born. A blessing for him, and his family and community. And we are all very proud of him. He is an upstanding member of his community.
I need to make a few phone calls and see some people in the next week and pass out invitations to some of my friends to come and celebrate with us in December. God knows there will be snow on the ground by then and tonight I asked my sponsor if he would drive people home from the meeting for me if I invited some particular people who take the metro. And he kindly said that anyone who needed a ride home would get one because it will be a special occasion.
Well it’s 4 am and I need to get to bed.
More to come, stay tuned …
The week is progressing as it will. The weather has been great these past couple of days. It’s a little cool out tonight.
I ran all of my errands on the way out today before getting to the church. It took me little time to set up. And I was pleasantly surprised to see people show up early for the meeting. That’s why I get there with plenty of time before the meeting starts, not to mention, it takes 45 minutes for the coffee pot to perk.
I usually make two pots of coffee, one regular in the larger perk pot and a smaller 12 cup coffee maker for decaf. Last week I didn’t make decaf and people complained about it. You can never cut a break. If you make 2 pots of coffee usually one never gets drank. It seems, decaf is on the rebound.
If we don’t put out sweets before the meeting, people get ancy. I only bought one box of cookies today and by the time the meeting started, all the cookies got eaten. Which means I need to buy 2 boxes for next week.
My sponsor got to talking with the folks at the other meeting that opened up down the road from us and told them that we are contesting the naming of their meeting because they are knocking off our group and that is causing confusion in the community as to who is really the “beginners…”
We have a call in to our DCM alternate to bring this issue up to the GSO to get this issue resolved before the end of the month. The conflict is within the 4th tradition… “Each group should be autonomous, except in matter affecting other groups or AA as a whole.” This whole naming of a new group is causing consternation in the community.
Last week we had 20 people for the meeting. Tonight we better’d that number with 30 people. Many of them were newbies, and a good number of them were women. A lot of our visitors tonight were new faces to our meeting. It is really great to see so many women coming to our meeting. For the longest time we had been lacking in female attendees.
We opened with a reading from the Twelve and Twelve, step one. It was a great evening. Everybody got a chance to share. We even went a little long to make sure we got everyone in.
It was also nice to see some old faces show up. One of my friends, Bob, is an old timer and I’ve seen him on and off for the last ten years that I’ve been in the rooms. People are getting older some have fallen away, and tonight Bob was on point and talked about getting back to meetings because he is not aging very well and needs to reconnect – it was great to see him tonight.
A good night was had by all …
*** *** *** ***
The other night I watched an episode of Oprah’s Master Class on OWN network, and she was talking about finding your joy, finding that energy from within and working towards your ultimate abilities. And she mentioned the universal power we can all tap into. That power that is greater than ourselves. And she spoke about that connection … The closer you get to that universal power the more in tune you are with yourself to move forwards.
This is not coming across like I want it to as I am typing … I have been a bit disconnected from that universal spirit within me. I’ve been trying to reconnect or move closer to that point within me that is divine. I haven’t been listening very well for that little small voice from within.
Doing the same thing day in and day out, week in and week out it is almost becoming mundane. I have stepped up my game in the areas of prayer and meditation. Getting to meetings on days off from class. And this new format on Tuesday has us looking at things most of us with time, take for granted, because there is distance for us from our last drink to today …
If you forget, there is a good chance that you could go back there …
I’ve been spending time trying to find myself once again. What is it that I am supposed to be doing now? Where is the next puzzle piece for me to find in my journey here? I am trying to find that inspiration that used to fuel my life.
*** *** *** ***
As I grow up and move on in my life, I wonder at times, what the hell am I doing? and Why am I still doing the same thing … I remarked when I took my 9 year chip that I had hoped that something exciting would happen during this tenth year of working on myself and learning more about sobriety at this stage of the game… Maybe I am missing the ball or maybe I am not paying close enough attention to my guide within.
Maybe I am scared of stepping out of my comfort zone to even attempt something grand. There is a Canada commercial that runs on tv here that is very beautiful and it talks about “During your life, make sure that there is at least one chapter that is extraordinary.”
I’ve yet to write that chapter of my life. There are things that I want to do in this life, with the time I have left. There are things I want to see, places I want to go, yet I don’t know what intention to put out there to make these things manifest in my life. I think that if I could find that point of passion within me and pay closer attention to my spirit, that the world would open itself up and all those things I want to do will manifest.
That’s the whole journey of life, to become who we were meant to be, to find our passion and make it work…
*** *** *** ***
I am not listening for the whisper. I have fallen into a quiet place where that voice isn’t making sense. The universe speaks in whispers, if we don’t pay attention to the whisper, the we get thumped on the side of our heads, and if we still don’t pay attention, we get a brick upside of the head, and finally, the brick wall falls upon us …
I have forgotten what that whisper sounds like. And I want to find it again. I need a change. I need for something exciting to drop into my life and really get me going. At times I think that I am just wasting time doing what I am doing, still in school, destined to be a student until the money runs out and I have to get out there and do something with my education.
That’s the one thing that did not happen when I graduated university, nothing happened. Were those six years wasted time and money? Two degrees in religion and pastoral ministry have not served me at all. I have been writing for years here for a few people who come and read, but more for myself.
I am up for a change … How do we get the universe to give up its secrets? Am I missing something? Am I not aligned in the proper way? Do I need to find that point of connection?
Maybe I’ve become a little complacent. Who knew I’d live this long and what really do I have to look forwards to in this life? I think that people who live with life illness get caught in this frame of mind that limits the ability to dream big and expect great things to happen. We step back from the universe stuck in this position of never getting forwards, always settling for right now.
I need to get out of that stupor. I need a life. I need something exciting to happen, or sobriety is a waste of time and effort … I have skills and experience and a university education and years of life experience to put on the line.
I need to find that whisper …
LOS ANGELES, Calif. –
Oprah Winfrey will announce on Friday that her popular daytime talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” will end its run in 2011, Tim Bennett, the President of Harpo, announced in a letter released to ABC affiliates on Thursday.
“Tomorrow, Oprah will announce live on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ that she has decided to end what is arguably one of the most popular, influential and enduring programs in television history,” he wrote in the letter, obtained by Access Hollywood. ” The sun will set on the ‘Oprah’ show as its 25th season draws to a close on September 9, 2011.”
Bennett said he was sending out the letter to keep the affiliates from being surprised at tomorrow’s announcement.
“Before she speaks to her loyal viewers, we wanted to share her decision first with you – our valued partners for more than two decades,” he wrote.
And he urged the stations to “share this news this evening with your colleagues and viewers.”
“Oprah’s personal comments about this on tomorrow’s live show will mark a historic television moment that we will all be talking about for years to come,” he added.
Just a few weeks ago, a rep for Oprah said the TV queen planned to make an announcement by year’s end about whether she was planning to make a leap from her current daytime talk show to her previously announced cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
It appears the decision was one that was made only recently. Just two weeks ago — at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City — Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King, said Oprah was still weighing her options.
“I know she’s thinking,” Gayle told Access. “I know she’s thinking.”
But Gayle said she wasn’t playing advisor over the decision, just longtime friend.
“Listen, Oprah and I have been friends since we were 21 and 22 and now we’re 54 and 55,” she said, citing her and Oprah’s ages, respectively. “We talk about everything but she’s a big girl. She will make the decision that is right for her. No question about that. Whatever that is. It’ll be the right decision for her.”
Previously, at the September Toronto premiere for “Precious,” a film Oprah executive produced, Oprah revealed she was still putting in the deliberation hours.
“I haven’t made a decision yet and I have until the end of the year,” she said. “But you know I think that deserves more thoughtful consideration than a red carpet.”
No details were available about the rumored move to OWN and a rep for Discovery was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Access.
the entire sermon at All Saints Church website. The Sermon, “Infected
by Love,” January 11th 2009 by Rev. Ed Bacon.
The Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena
will make an encore appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show today,
Monday, January 12, to respond to the controversy around his statement
in a January 8th segment on the Oprah Show that “being gay is a gift from God.”
It was no surprise at All Saints Church that the show’s producers asked
for some follow-up time with Reverend Bacon. “The volume of email
we’re getting here in Pasadena tells us that Ed Bacon’s message — the
good news that God loves absolutely everybody — is one people are
hungry to hear,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, All Saints Senior
Associate for Communication.
on Oprah has given this message of love, inclusion and tolerance that we
hear preached here in Pasadena 24/7. We look forward to welcoming
those coming toward us who are hearing for the first time that the
abundant, inclusive love of God includes them!”
For more information contact Keith Holeman, Director of
Communications at All Saints Church, Pasadena,
at email@example.com, or 626.583.2739.
additions Monday Night: From An Inch at a time…
Another hot-button issue that sent viewers straight to our message boards was a comment made by the Rev. Ed Bacon during a discussion on spirituality.
After hearing from Sedrick, who says he had a tough adolescence growing up as a gay teen in rural Alabama, the Rev. Bacon said something Oprah says she has never heard a minister say. “Being gay is a gift from God,” the Rev. Bacon said. “But our culture doesn’t understand that. And consequently, the culture sends messages that you ought to isolate. And isolation is the antithesis of what all of us need.”
To further explain his comment, the Rev. Bacon joins Oprah via satellite. “I meant exactly what I said,” he says. “It is so important for every human being to understand that he or she is a gift from God.”
Just as the Oprah.com message boards were buzzing, the Rev. Bacon says he has been receiving plenty of feedback. The majority of it, he says, is positive. “My e-mail was full of comments, and what I gather is that it simply unleashed a flood of healing throughout the country and Australia and Great Britain, across the continent. It was amazing.”
Stay tuned for further news on this … and do consider logging in to register for the webcast Wednesday night when I guess the panelists from last week’s show — including Ed — will take questions.
What an interesting beginning to the New Year, eh? Who REALLY thought they’d live long enough to see Ed Bacon on Oprah AND Gene Robinson giving the opening prayer at the opening event at the Lincoln Memorial for the Inauguration Celebration of a 44th President of these United States named Barack Hussein Obama?
My, my, my!
I think I used a box of tissues tonight. Of all the stories from this week would have to be Rachael Hollingsworth’s work with HIV + women, giving them a Spa Day and a Dinner party out afterwards. Well done…
I thought that this show was amazing. What would you do with a lump of cash? I am hoping to get my Theology class to GIVE BIG or go home when we host Fr. Pops on the 19th of March for his kids. Fr. Pops runs a mission to street kids here in Montreal and we are having a fund raiser in class that night. Dans la Rue website here.
It thought the show tonight was great,I had my tissues and I wiped a few tears, I am a big softie because I like shows like this including Extreme Makeover Home Edition which proceeded tonights show.
How would you change a strangers life in your community? Who would that stranger be and why? Let’s open this up for discussion. Comments are open…
This is the exact kind of Religious SHIT that I hate – HATE about Christian Fundamentalists. That you believe that you hold sway over the government any more than the rest. This is why America needs a clear SEPARATION between CHURCH and STATE.
In the year 2007, Straight Evangelical Minions are so concerned with Gay Rights, Hate Crimes Legislation, AIDS funds, Gay Marriage, that you are going to spend millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of lobby time to sway the electorate to elect a God Damned President?
Oh the Gays are gonna come and get us, they threaten the sanctity of marriage, Oh the gays want Special Treatment, Rights, and Protection from Hate Crimes!! Oh Oh Oh….
The Evangelicals are on another Witch Hunt. They are going to press the Gay Issue on the Candidates and they will attempt to KILL any nomination of any candidate who is soft on the Homosexuals, Gays and Lesbians. I guess we are not past the wedging of Sexual Orientation or Sexual Orientation issues into a Presidential Campaign.
It is really sad when you think that all Evangelicals do with their spare time is THINK about all things GAY!!! Does this strike anyone as problematic for them and informative for us?
God, We pray for Salvation from Evangelical…
- Osama Bin Laden is still alive [See Video]
- The United States is engaged in a war [Read:IRAQ] that they cannot win
- President George Bush is an idiot – And needs to be IMPEACHED
- Your foreign policy needs work
- People need health care
- There are children going without food
- There is not enough money for People with AIDS across the board
- All you Christians can think about is the GAY AGENDA!! Pardon me while I THROW UP!!! You limey bastards…And God Wept!!!
by The Associated Press
Posted: September 9, 2007 – 3:00 pm ET
(Washington) Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign.
For social conservatives dissatisfied with other GOP choices, the “Law & Order” actor and former Tennessee senator represents a Ronald Reagan-like figure, someone they hope will agree with them on issues and stands a chance of winning.
But Thompson’s lack of a full endorsement of a federal gay marriage amendment and his delay in entering the race are partly responsible for a sudden shyness among leading evangelicals.
“A month or two ago, I sensed there was some urgency for people to make a move and find a candidate,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative Christian group. “Right now, I think people are stepping back a little and watching. The field is still very fluid.”
A loose network of influential evangelical leaders known as the Arlington Group met privately Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to discuss presidential politics and other issues, participants said.
Although the group does not endorse candidates, individual members have done so in the past, and one of the organization’s founding principles is to get the movement’s leaders on the same page when possible.
Some in the meeting shared their presidential leanings, but the consensus was that more time is needed to gauge Thompson’s performance, according to a participant.
A clearer picture may develop Oct. 19-21 during a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington that will include a presidential straw poll.
In June, Thompson met privately with several Arlington Group members, many of whom are uncomfortable with the GOP top tier for various reasons: Arizona Sen. John McCain for championing campaign-finance overhaul and labeling some evangelical figures “agents of intolerance”; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for backing abortion rights and some gay rights; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his social-issue policy reversals and – for some members – his Mormon faith.
With the post-Labor Day primary push under way, the 65-year-old Thompson faces a crucial month to prove he is the best alternative for a key GOP constituency.
“He’s got a real opportunity to be the most credible conservative candidate across the board,” said Gary Bauer, a one-time presidential aspirant who heads the advocacy group American Values. “Whether he can put it all together remains to be seen. But he’s got a real chance to emerge as the major conservative alternative to Giuliani.”
Others are skeptical about whether Thompson can fill that role.
Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist preacher and president of Texas-based Vision America, said that while he is encouraged by Thompson’s strong voting record in the Senate against abortion, he questioned the candidate’s commitment to social issues.
“The problem I’m having is that I don’t see any blood trail,” Scarborough said. “When you really take a stand on issues dear to the heart of social conservatives, you’re going to shed some blood in the process. And so far, Fred Thompson’s political career has been wrinkle-free.”
Thompson’s long-delayed entry is another concern, Scarborough said. “The hesitancy has made us wonder whether he has the stomach for what it’s going to take,” he said.
Earlier this summer, doubts crept in following reports on Thompson’s role in crafting campaign finance reform and stories that he lobbied for an abortion rights group.
More recently, Thompson has come under scrutiny for his position on a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, a defining issue for the Christian right.
Thompson over the past month has stated on more than one occasion that he supports an amendment that would prohibit states from imposing their gay marriage laws on other states. (story) That falls well short of what evangelical leaders want: an amendment that would bar gay marriage nationwide.
Thompson’s position surprised evangelical leaders who say they met with him in June and came away thinking he shared their desire for a more sweeping constitutional change. Now, they wonder if he is flip-flopping.
One person in attendance – Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative legal group – said Thompson described going back and forth about the merits of an amendment prohibiting gay marriage nationwide.
“At one time, he said he was against it,” Staver said. “Then he said in June he was for it. So if now he’s saying he’s against it, to me that’s a double-minded person. And that would be a real concern for religious conservatives.”
Messages left with Thompson campaign were not returned.
Several Christian right leaders said opposition to a broad amendment would hurt Thompson with evangelicals, but not necessarily cause irreparable harm. Others played down the issue, pointing out that their favored approach was politically impossible anyway because Democrats control the House and Senate.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Thompson’s position is consistent with the former senator’s support for limited federal government and giving power to the states.
Land said it is healthy that expectations for Thompson have diminished from unrealistic levels and he does not think evangelical excitement has dimmed for a man he described as a “masterful retail politician.”
Many evangelical leaders said one of Thompson’s biggest draws is his perceived electability. Some are watching whether former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, can build on his second place finish last month in the Iowa straw poll.
Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, said that while he likes Huckabee, Thompson’s better name recognition and fundraising potential is a strong draw for evangelicals.
“This is a dilemma a lot of people have,” Wildmon said. “They want to support the candidate that most reflects their values. “But at the same time, you have to balance that against finding someone who can actually win.”
The sky was leaden as the sun set behind the dark clouds. It was the colors that attracted my camera. I just had to get the shot, before the light faded.
JetBlue and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official, identified as “Inspector Harris,” would not let Raed Jarrar board his flight at John F. Kennedy Airport until he agreed to cover his t-shirt, which read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic script. Harris told Jarrar that it is impermissible to wear an Arabic shirt to an airport and equated it to a “person wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.’” The American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the TSA official and JetBlue Airways.
“It is a dangerous and slippery slope when we allow our government to take away a person’s rights because of his speech or ethnic background,” said Reginald Shuford, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “Racial profiling is illegal and ineffective and has no place in a democratic society.”
I’ve had this blogger on my read list for some time, along with Baghdad Burning, since the war in Iraq began. I happened upon Raed’s blog today and saw this latest entry and I thought I’d share it with you, since it is relevant and appropriate. You can click on the link above and find out more.
Tonight’s offering comes via CNN’s presentation of God’s Warriors, Part 2 and the discussion of Islam, with Christiane Amanpour. Tonight’s presentation was truly eye opening. My area of study is not Islam, so I will share with you my observances from the documentary and tell you about my experience in my own community.
I have nothing against my Muslim community. I have never had issues with the Muslim community here in Montreal – let’s state that from the outset. I have no issues with the living of Muslim life and the practice of Islam as a religion. In fact, I have once written that Islam is truly a remarkable religious tradition because One Must LIVE Islam every day, every moment and every minute. You must observe the laws of the Qu’ ran and you must be a good Muslim and you must pray five times a day. Muslim life is very labor intensive but it is a way of life for millions of people around the world. Hence, I do not intend to make issue with the Muslim community.
If you learn anything about Islam, it is unlike Judaism and Christianity in its practice and requirements. Something I think Christians take for granted for Christianity is a one day a week observance. Unless of course you are a die hard Bible Thumping, Arrogant, Homosexual Hating, Abortion Abhorring, Judgmental 24/7 Evangelical Christian, I am sure you won’t be putting in hours of religious observance as a Muslim person does daily.
Many Muslims, like many people around the world, they “abhor violence.” it is said that militant Islamic violence is but a symptom of a greater problem. That this violence stems from the rage and anger of Muslims around the world.
“That for the extremist, it is an “Us versus Them mentality, that Christians and Jews are expendable.”
The split between the Shia and Sunni Muslim populations fuels the fire that burns in the Middle East and within Muslim countries like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. We know as fact today that in Iraq, ethnic cleansing of occurring. The split between Shia and Sunni Muslims is a raging problem, and the split between the two factions occurred when Imam Husayn was martyred: from Wikipedia
The Day of Ashura (عاشوراء transliteration: ‘Āshūrā’, Ashura, Ashoura, and other spellings) is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month.
This day is well-known because of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). Furthermore Sunni Muslims believe that Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for liberation of Israelites from Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Muhammad fasted on this day and asked other people to fast.
The word ashura means simply tenth in Arabic; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means “the tenth day”. Islamic scholars, however, give various explanations as to why it is thus called.
“It is also said that the conflict between the Christians and the Muslims will not end until one annihilates the other.”
It is with inflammatory statements like this one that gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. It is words like these that remind me that my world has changed. I am no longer insulated from World Issues in Montreal. I know who all of my neighbors are. I have Muslim friends and Muslim teachers. I for one, don’t want to see the world come to a conflict of annihilistic proportions.
For the extremist like Bin Laden and his followers and all those Muslims who fight against the infidel [insert here the U.S.] that the presence of American soldiers on Muslim holy ground is a “Sacrilege.”
Pictured above, Egypt. The beating heart of the Arab – Muslim world. What happens in Egypt trickles down to all the Muslim states in the Middle East. In a country that is oppressed and under rule – “Religion is the antidote to the secular government.” Islam is the cure for the secular government. It is the one thing that the people turn to. It is the energy that fuels the Muslim man and woman.
For the Fundamentalist Muslim, the “Secular state is one without moral purpose.”
Here once again, is another phrase that gets me uppity. I don’t think that I live a life without moral purpose, even if I am a homosexual and that is taboo is Muslim society. But I also understand the “why” behind the moral view of the West, where materialism and arrogance is something that they see from the West. Our lives are so different from those who are Muslim. These broad sweeping statements of conditional extremes would get any society up in arms about just how far the West is going to allow Islam and Muslim people to grow to a number that might facilitate the growth of Islam in a Western location.
Statistically, Islam is the fastest growing religion around the world, spread across the face of the earth. Islam, we know is a peaceful religion, save for the factions that are hell bent on creating chaos, destruction and death in massive proportions. The Iranian expectation of the coming of the Messiah is an apparent fact. The Iranian president is on a holy mission, so he thinks.
We have Iran, and the belief of the hidden Imam. Who is said to be kept alive by God and is hiding like the sun on a cloudy day. The Iranian president has also called for the destruction of Israel so that a Muslim state can be built on that land. I have my reservations about fanatical – Islamic speak and propaganda. Anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel is not someone who I’d support or give any credence to. Speak like this is terrifying and just plain insensitive and fanatical. And we should be wary of anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel. The world should be paying attention to this as they are today.
The Shiite belief that the hidden Imam will return and all will follow him:
“When the hidden Imam comes, Christians and Jews will be told to follow him and if they do not there will be problems. Then Jesus will be asked to come down and mediate and force us all to convert.”
Do we need to fear Islam as a religion? No, I do not think so. Do we need to fear Islamic religious extremism, Yes of course we do. We need to consider where we fit in the dynamic religious universe. Where do we fit on the scale of religious belief? And what can we do to change the hearts of the disenfranchised and those who are fed up with the West’s incursion into/onto Muslim land?
This is where I state my case against the Iraq war. The Mission has not been accomplished and millions of people have been killed, displaced and affected by a Western nation that went to war based on flawed intelligence and wrong ideas. I have never supported the war. Yet I support many of the Muslim writers who have shown us what this war has done to their lives as well the lives of so many others. The arrogance of the United States has put them in this situation, and now they are paying the price for occupation. I can understand why the Muslim world is so at odds with the West. They brought this on themselves. And the world watches this war continue and genocide is occurring as we speak in many places, but especially in Iraq.
And the world does nothing!! Are we responsible stewards of the people of the earth? The longer this continues the more death will occur, until someone comes along and says “ENOUGH!”
There are Iraqi bloggers on my sidebar, go read them. I know the truth about the killing of innocents, the sectarian violence and the ethnic cleansing going on inside the war that rages still.
“There are populations of God Warriors all over the world who see the world through a religious prism and they believe that modern society is trampling on their beliefs.”
What can we do to stop this trend of violence and hatred? Like I said last night the three monotheistic religions of the world are warring with their own and each other, and there is plenty of land to go around. There is always a solution if “ENLIGHTENED” political leaders would rise up and come to the table and negotiate a peaceful coexistent settlement.
Fundamental Islam tells us there are no solutions – that there is no negotiating. They they will conquer the infidel and change the face of the earth, the Caliphate must be installed and the world must bow and fall under the authority of Islamic rule and Sharia Law.
The killing needs to stop – and stop today! Or the world is headed for total collapse and do we want that to happen? Where do we draw the line in the sand and limit Muslim encroachment on all that the West respects as tradition and dogma?
Canada the True North standing free welcomes all, but even in Montreal we have issues of convenient accommodation for different religions. Canada is a very religious country, Quebec is very French – Catholic [Christian] yet people of all faiths live within our borders. We will not back down from our sovereign status and we will not bow to religious extremism. I will not bow to religious extremism be that Islam, or Christianity…
Tomorrow night will prove to be very exciting, because I will be writing on my major, Christianity. So look forward to that… I am sharpening my pen!!!
God’s Warriors – CNN Site
Tonight on CNN – Christiane Amanpour began her series called “God’s Warriors.” I happen to watch the second showing late tonight here in Montreal. This first part covering the Judaism portion of the documentary was very enlightening.
Having grown up with World News as a nightly dinner time fare, I have watched the world change in my lifetime. Wars have been fought, millions have died and still to this day there is conflict in the Holy Land. I am only going to address this first portion of the program as Islam and Christianity follow tomorrow and Thursday. You can visit the site above.
I make no bones about this fact that I am pro-Israeli. This conflict, it is said could be tempered by the “correct political agreements” for all parties involved, if you watched this episode of Christiane’s report. She chronicles the debate, the conflict and the war that rages between the Israeli and Palestinian people to find, colonize and legalize states.
There is a great divide when it comes to the Holy Land as the three major world religions those being Judaism, Islam and Christianity are literally on top of each other in the old city. All three religious groups share common holy ground and all debate the rights of others to visit certain holy sites. This is made clear by the Jews who pray at the Western Wall and are not allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount held by the Islamic faith at the Dome of the Rock. The hallowed location – it is believed that the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.
I am not known for my politics or my political writings because I don’t feel that I own the right to write political commentary on subjects that I am clearly not a master at. I guess I could write my observances as a writer to what I see. The battle for land has been going on since before I was born and this conflict will continue until leaders take the time to negotiate a proper settlement over land, holy sites and statehood. Leaders have come and gone, the few peacemakers of the past were assassinated by their detractors.
It just seems to me that there is enough land in the middle east to go around. The factions of Jewish warriors have made it their life’s goal to see Israel turned back into the land that they say “biblically” was theirs from history as the Torah speaks of. They take their stance from the Book of Ezekiel 37:14
I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “
I have spent my entire undergraduate career in University studying the world’s great religions from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to Buddhism and the far east Jainism back into my own back yard, religions of Canada and Native Studies. I have been granted a scholars gaze at the conflicts that spread around the world. Each major religion, speaking here of Judaism, Islam and Christianity hold certain biblical passages a doctrine and this, in my opinion, as well shown below is the basis for the ongoing conflict. Whether that be Jewish zealots and Islamic and Christian fanaticism. We are not immune to religious debate at Concordia University and we are not immune to religious conflict either.
There is a calm uneasiness on campus during the school year on the Mezzanine when groups rent tables to promote their views and clubs. In studying world religions, I was granted access to the many faiths on campus. I visited the Ghetto Shul for Passover and I attended Friday Prayers at the Concordia Islamic Prayer space in the Hall building. Attendance of these religious ceremonies was part of my studies and I am fully aware of what the facts are concerning land, statehood and jihad.
The conflict between the Palestinians and Jews is long standing. With the rise of Islam and the sad fact of jihad and terrorism, we stare down the gauntlet every day of our lives in many places in the world. This fact was driven home to me when I moved to Canada and began my immersion into community here. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city of millions of people who span the bredth of religious beliefs. I was forced at one point to make my choice of where I called home. I chose to become a brother of the True North Strong and Free. My education in religious conflict began when the United States declared war in Iraq. Living in Montreal gave me perfect vision of inner conflict in my own community.
Do you think that we all took this all is stride? That we did not march in the streets and did we not have continuous dialogue on campus and within all the campuses across Canada dealing with the common threat of war, revolt, terrorism and fanaticism? We faced all these things and much more. People in the United States, namely the south where I grew up did not see Islam make their presence known. I did not know a Muslim soul growing up but I had friends from other parts of the world.
Coming to Montreal was an earth shattering experience. I started university and began my journey into the world of Religious Education. It has been said of me that had I not been born a Christian, I would have been a Jew. And I contemplated conversion more than once during my university career. I love the three great traditions. I studied Judaism and Judaic History. So I am familiar with all the conflict in the Holy Land. We live with that inner conflict here every day. I am part of that conflict, representing the Christian branch of religious scholars now graduated. I use the term “scholar” very lightly, I am still a student of religion, yet above the fray, my degree grants me this title.
I took a unit on Islam, yet I failed the final exam and in turn I failed the class because I was stupid. That was the only “F” I have on my transcript. But this failure was the greatest opportunity that I ever had to learn something form the ashes of my failure. I met the most amazing man of faith – the professor of the class on Islam. He was a Sufi mystic. And he changed my life in ways that I cannot explain, but Islam is for tomorrow nights writing. Suffice to say, there is more to Islam than jihad and terrorism. I will expound on these ideas tomorrow.
There is always a solution, if all parties can come to the table and work out the fine minutiae and details of peaceful coexistence. It can be done, but in my lifetime?
That is the question the three faiths must approach, ask and solve…
You can read the report from News day.com:
We haven’t seen Christiane Amanpour in quite a while – in, oh, like 15 minutes or so. Flip on CNN and there she is, somewhere, though usually somewhere over there, in the war-torn world and far away from our safe, tethered and generally anesthetized lives. Outside of Anderson Cooper, Larry King or maybe Lou Dobbs, she is CNN’s most visible presence and someone who has amassed a pretty amazing body of work at this network over nearly 25 years.
If this doesn’t sound like a reasonable buildup for her six-hour tour of religious fanaticism that begins Tuesday at 9, then the fault is mine alone. “God’s Warriors” is an estimable achievement, even for a subject that has been relentlessly worked over by hundreds of scholars, journalists and book authors in recent years, including Amanpour herself. (It’s even hard to say how much of “God’s Warriors” has been strip mined by Amanpour before, although “Struggle for Islam,” which won her an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2002, addressed similar themes.)
But what’s special about “God’s Warriors” is the sheer totality of it. Over six hours, Amanpour and her team seem to capture the essence of a hugely important moment in world history, and with the exception of the title, do so without hyperbole or histrionics. It’s really the best of Amanpour – and really, dear, old, battered and much-maligned CNN, too.
“God’s Warriors” is about three world movements – though as you watch, you will probably want to come up with a better word to describe them. It’s about the religious zealotry that has forged so much of the global political landscape since the end of the Cold War. These “warriors” are fighting over radically divergent views while bound by some similar ones, too. In a paradox that unfolds over these hours, they are blood enemies on some obvious level yet strangely allied on another.
But Amanpour’s broadcast is far from comfort food. In a style typically restrained though never diffident, she explores the historical roots of these views that have become more pinched and close-ended over time. Offering no all-encompassing or compassionate solutions – at least in her reporting – the religious extremists are instead steeped in dogma and intolerance. Some of these “warriors” abhor violence. Others, of course, resort to it as a matter of course.
“What they have in common – Jews, Christians and Muslims – [is] the belief that modern society has lost its way,” Amanpour says in voice-over. “They say God is the answer.” (Tuesday’s broadcast is “God’s Jewish Warriors,” followed by “God’s Muslim Warriors” Wednesday and “God’s Christian Warriors” Thursday.)
What else do they have in common? Apparently an abhorrence for Britney Spears, who is made to represent Western culture’s over commercialized and oversexed ways. But West Bank militants are probably not deeply concerned about Spears’ recent car-ramming episode, although the “Christian Warriors” – evangelicals – haven’t exactly been advocating her album sales. The title itself is a silly stretch, too, placing under one all-encompassing catchphrase the kids at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with the kids at some madrassa in Pakistan learning how to lock and load AK-47s.
Get beyond these superficial flaws, and a richly layered broadcast unfolds. Tuesday and Wednesday’s programs are the best, and “Christian Warriors” is the most dispensable. Much of the material in that installment has been reported so often – from Falwell, whose interview with Amanpour was the last before his death, to Ron Luce’s Battle Cry, the evangelical youth crusade. – that it’s already numbingly familiar.
But Iranian-born, globetrotting, battle-hardened Amanpour is at her best in the Middle East. She seems intent on interviewing everyone – patiently, at length, and pointedly. Tuesday’s Jewish “warriors” were inspired by the Book of Ezekiel (“Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers”) and refuse to be pried loose from their West Bank settlements spread out over 26,000 square miles. They’re fighting rear-guard with Palestinian militants and a frontline battle with much of the rest of the world, while some of their biggest allies are America’s evangelicals.
Amanpour also interviews author and historian Gershom Gorenberg (“The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements”) who questions the settlements’ legality. She presses Theodor Meron, former counsel of the Israeli foreign ministry, on a “top secret” memo he had once written claiming the settlements violated the Geneva Convention. (He sidesteps the question.)
Wednesday’s Muslim Warriors” is filled with dozens of interviews, too (former President Jimmy Carter appears throughout) and a long historic perspective. It begins with Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian religious leader who inspired Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri and died in an Egyptian prison 41 years ago. She tracks the story of Ed Hussein, a former London jihadi who later published a book on his experience (“The Islamist”). She also travels widely in Iran, where she attends a passion play with Shiite Muslims who weep openly over a 1,400-year-old story.
And her journey ends up in America, with a New Jersey social worker, Rehan Seyam – born and reared in Islip – who insists on wearing a hijab (veil) in public. Like many others of her generation, Amanpour reports, Seyam is more orthodox than her Egyptian-born parents.
But one of God’s warriors? Hardly. She’s squarely in the middle of society’s struggle between the secular and non-secular. The punch line to Amanpour’s story: Seyam and millions more like her are growing in number and have no intention of backing down.
Part 2 – Islam, Wednesday Night… Stay tuned…
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian archaeologists have found what they said could be the oldest human footprint in history in the country’s western desert, the Arab country’s antiquities’ chief said on Monday.
“This could go back about two million years,” said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It could be the most important discovery in Egypt,” he told Reuters.
Archaeologists found the footprint, imprinted on mud and then hardened into rock, while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa, a desert oasis.
Scientists are using carbon tests on plants found in the rock to determine its exact age, Hawass said.
Khaled Saad, the director of prehistory at the council, said that based on the age of the rock where the footprint was found, it could date back even further than the renowned 3-million year-old fossil Lucy, the partial skeleton of an ape-man, found in Ethiopia in 1974.
Most archaeological interest in Egypt is focused on the time of the pharaohs.
Previously, the earliest human archaeological evidence from Egypt dated back around 200,000 years, Saad said.
Egyptian archaeologists have found what they believe could be the oldest human footprint in history in a western desert in the country.
“This could go back about two million years,” said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It could be the most important discovery in Egypt,” he said.
Archaeologists found the footprint, imprinted on mud and then hardened into rock, while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa, a desert oasis.
Scientists are using carbon tests on plants found in the rock to determine its exact age, Hawass said.
Khaled Saad, the director of Prehistory Department at the council, said that based on the age of the rock where the footprint was found, it could date back even further than the renowned 3-million year-old fossil Lucy, the partial skeleton of a human, found in Ethiopia in 1974.
Previously, the earliest human archaeological evidence from Egypt dated back around 200,000 years, Saad said.
From: BBC News Online
Neutron stars form when massive stars exhaust their fuel
Astronomers have spotted a space oddity in Earth’s neighbourhood – a dead star with some unusual characteristics. The object, known as a neutron star, was studied using space telescopes and ground-based observatories.
But this one, located in the constellation Ursa Minor, seems to lack some key characteristics found in other neutron stars.
Details of the study, by a team of American and Canadian researchers, will appear in the Astrophysical Journal.
If confirmed, it would be only the eighth known “isolated neutron star” – meaning a neutron star that does not have an associated supernova remnant, binary companion, or radio pulsations.
Either Calvera is an unusual example of a known type of neutron star, or it is some new type of neutron star, the first of its kind
Robert Rutledge, McGill University
The object has been nicknamed Calvera, after the villain in the 1960s western film The Magnificent Seven.
“The seven previously known isolated neutron stars are known collectively as The Magnificent Seven within the community,” said co-author Derek Fox, of Pennsylvania State University, US.
“So the name Calvera is a bit of an inside joke on our part.”
The authors estimate that the object is 250 to 1,000 light-years away. This would make Calvera one of the closest neutron stars to Earth – and possibly the closest.
Neutron stars are one of the possible end points for a star. They are created when stars with masses greater than four to eight times those of our Sun exhaust their nuclear fuel, and undergo a supernova explosion.
This explosion blows off the outer layers of the star, forming a supernova remnant. The central region of the star collapses under gravity, causing protons and electrons to combine to form neutrons – hence the name “neutron star”.
Robert Rutledge of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, originally noticed the object.
He compared a catalogue of 18,000 X-ray sources from the German-American Rosat satellite, which operated from 1990 to 1999, with catalogues of objects that appeared in visible light, infrared light, and radio waves.
Swift was launched to observe gamma-ray bursts
Professor Rutledge realized that a Rosat source, known as 1RXS J141256.0+792204, did not appear to have a counterpart at any other wavelength.
The group aimed Nasa’s Swift satellite at the object in August 2006. Swift’s X-ray telescope showed that the source was still there, and was emitting about the same amount of X-ray energy as it had during the Rosat era.
The Swift observations enabled the group to pinpoint the object’s position more accurately, and showed that it was not associated with any known astronomical object.
The researchers followed up with the 8.1m Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and a short observation by Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Exactly what type of neutron star Calvera is remains a mystery. According to Dr Rutledge, there are no widely accepted alternative theories to explain objects such as this that are bright in X-rays and faint in visible light.
“Either Calvera is an unusual example of a known type of neutron star, or it is some new type of neutron star, the first of its kind,” said Dr Rutledge.
Calvera’s location high above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy is also a mystery. The researchers believe the object is the remnant of a star that lived in our galaxy’s starry disc before exploding as a supernova.
In order to reach its current position, it had to wander some distance out of the disc.
Hurricane Dean from the International Space Station/NASA