Category Archives: Lent

Lent III: Calling Names

I encountered someone yesterday who was deeply horrified by mental illness. Now, I don’t know that she meant mental illness generally or the particular variety that televise well in a 24-hour news cycle, but I suspect the latter. Her barbs, framed as questions, merely cast around the term “mentally ill” and “you know what they are like” an variations on that theme. To her defense, she was terrified for reasons it took me 45 minutes to draw out, but I feel for her–living in that kind of terror must be exhausting.

As she spoke about mental illness and the inherent dangers therein, she, at one point, assuming I agreed with the discussion generally I guess, called me reasonable. This was the kindest of the name-calling that would happen in this discussion. I sat there, rather unable to say anything directly to her for a few moments. Mentally ill is dangerous. I am reasonable. Even in the midst of my compassion for her terror, that obnoxious imp in my brain made me make eye contact and think: “oh, honey. If only you knew.”

I am pleased that after all the training and medication I have received, I did not say it.

It isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this rhetoric in this particular place. I’ve found it in surprising enough people that I found myself seeking out a trusted, gentle soul to make sure this wasn’t as pervasive as it felt. That discussions of forced medication on a general population were the stuff of misunderstanding, misinformation, and, as with she of yesterday, fear. That the names I heard where only matters of ignorance.

I was shaking after the 90 minutes with her, even as much as I had been months ago when I sought out my friend. While I would like to say that my reactions are about the nature of social justice in this particular realm, many of them are entirely selfish. Self-protective. Hey, what about me? Am I dangerous because? Do I get a free pass for being white, female and well-educated? For being, apparently, reasonable?

Bringing in a diagnosis in the midst of such conversations is merely a gotcha and pretty useless as rhetoric goes. So, I don’t. Or, so I like to tell myself. It is also a matter of safety and of fear–if I tell, what will happen? Consider the framing: lock ’em up, medicate ’em, keep ’em away. I have the privilege of access to medication and medical assistance and the ability to pay for it (I’ve seen what those meds cost without insurance. Yes, privilege–but that seems too weak a word for this). My crazy (usually) can be packed away when it creeps out with a long, fast run. Or a phone call to someone who will call me back to reality. Who knows my name.

Ok, I admit it, I never thought I’d find myself referencing Maxine Hong Kingston in the middle of this (read Woman Warrior. No, seriously. Go read it. Then read Tripmaster Monkey. Because everyone should).

When I was diagnosed, I can’t say anyone (myself included) was surprised. Perhaps the only “surprise” was that I accepted it, since I had fought for years to avoid, deny–I had bought into some manners of fear. I preferred to consider myself odd. Weird. Which is not to say that neither of those is true, mind. When I told one of my closest friends of the diagnosis, her response, in her fine and wonderful deadpan, was, though I have forgotten the exact wording, “you think?” She’d seen it. She could have probably predicted the swings–she could damn sure identify them.

When appropriately medicated and engaging in self care (sleep, for one), I am relatively ordered, mentally speaking. When either of these are not the case, I am various shades of mentally disordered. I have a treatable mental illness and the means to engage that treatment.  But the encounter with this woman leaves me contemplating these gifts–having moved from a place of “you think?” to relative peace.  I am not quite sure where to move from here. Another set of teachings and teachers tell me I need to pass on a message of willingness to seek help–as the mentally ill or as the afraid.

How can I reach my hand in to help to stem the fears? My voice to call their names?

For 90 minutes her entire body appeared to be filled with terror over the images her mind insisted that she see. I could see her trying to hold her shaking body still in spite of that terrible fantasy that she wrapped herself and draped over her face. A fantasy-world built on an event that has come to define her every interaction. Every assumption. Every action. My heart hurts for her. I wish I could give her the gifts given to me–you don’t have to listen to your own head. Let the thoughts go by. Let them go. I hope she has someone who knows her name. Who can call her back to a reality not so soaked in blood and fear.


Zacky Vengeance playing "Seize the Day"

Zack, Knoxville, TN. May 2014

I think I’ll call this one contemplative. It captures more or less how I feel right now, save for the whole onstage with guitar thing. I mean he looks deep in thought, doesn’t he?

Lent II: Still Joy with Crows*

*with apologies to Tom Robbins.

It is entirely possible that I will never get the final song in Sons of Anarchy out of my head. In many ways it captures the joyful spirit of some hymns (not the dirges that are supposed to be joyful but are too mired in minor keys or, worse, choirs and musicians who insist on the funereal, since that is all that they ever heard, even in joyful compositions. See also Eddie Izzard on the matter.  I’m pretty sure I reference him every Lent).

The finale itself was, of course, entirely telegraphed from the beginning, even if Jax had more agency than it ever felt to me like Hamlet did (or not. The biggest what if the show will always be–what if Jax just didn’t listen to Gemma–either the one in front of him or the one in his head– then? Or then? Or that other time?). I’m going to have to parse that one more, since, however much I knew what was coming…I still watched in horror until I could not watch–I covered my eyes.

It’s not surprising that joy can come in lockstep with horror. That’s part of what Lent is preparing for, isn’t it? However much Easter looks to lift up in joy for believers, it still follows horror. Christological symbolism having been rampant in the show, and nowhere more than in the finale, where Sutter took a sledgehammer approach, I wonder how much Lent I just watched.

Watching the finale on Ash Wednesday may have been weirdly appropriate.

The show makes me want to write–to dig and turn over, which is a pretty nifty thing (oh, look, joy!). I’ve not looked to see what has already been pondered over the years, largely because I didn’t want to trip across spoilers. I’m not sure I totally want to now, because I know I will trip into SOA fanfiction, and as much as I love me some fanfiction, I do not want to go there right now.

Maybe because SOA has a alt-universe fan fiction quality to it? What if Hamlet had been in an MC? Should it have come with an alt-universe warning?

As always with Hamlet tales, I am curious about Horatio. The keeper of the stories. The one who survives to tell the tale to the armies at the gates. In this show, it’s the latter (the armies), that give me pause because those who will be getting the story are not the obvious armies. And that they become the vessels is far more disturbing than the armies at the door (since the obvious armies–the other outlaws–will never, if Jax’s machinations are this time successful, know. Granted, most of the other plots blew up in his face).

But, Hamlet. See, I was (and I hardly claim to be alone here, since it was the point of the show) utterly fascinated by Jax Teller, in the same way that I am utterly fascinated by Hamlet, particularly as imagined by Kevin Kline. I don’t know why, perhaps because Kline played Hamlet in the most joyful way I can recall (if a joy covered in derision). He doesn’t play Hamlet as the deep, oppressive, christian-hymn-solemnity that is so popular among those who wish to be counted as a “great” Shakespearean ACTOR. Or someone in high school. Charlie Hunnam usually didn’t play over-the-top unnecessarily (at least as I read the character). He had far longer to vacillate than poor Hamlet ever did, and boy did he let himself do so, right up until he stopped–which is when (as with Hamlet) everything came apart.

But, still, a twisted joy (relief?) permeates Hamlet. It’s over. It’s finally over. One that Sutter mirrors in Jax as the story winds to a close.

I used to love to teach Hamlet (still would). I would love to pair Hamlet with moments from SOA in class, the way I did with Odyssey and Oh Brother Where Art Thou? Not anything born of particularly unusual insight, but ways of seeing the same stories told in image and music. Even when blood runs across the stage, the death itself hidden from view, the music can insist on something more than mere horror.


Since I made the joke about trying to do this…

Joy:

Matt Sanders laughing on stage

Matt, Augusta, Nov. 2011

Lent I: Giving Up, Giving In

I need to write. I need to write. I need to write.

I guess that because I grew up within the Western Christian liturgical calendar, I tend to hit Lent with the feeling that I need to do something. The giving up, the taking on, goodness knows I’ve done both–though I left the institution long ago at this point. But my head still finds its way to that cycle.

Advent is the beginning. Lent is, among others, preparation (as is Advent, in truth). And it is often associated with (or practiced as, celebrated (?) as…) fasting. Giving up.

It is inevitably a period when I do, in fact, give up. Often on whatever it was I gave up or took on, but I often do give up. The same is true of whatever New Year resolution I think I’ve made, but Lent is particularly noteworthy for this.  Possibly obscenely.

Wow, this sounds ridiculously serious. It shouldn’t be. There is something freeing about the giving up. And the taking on. Again. What the hell.

Avenged Sevenfold guitarist smiling

Syn, Honolulu, Jan. 2015.

So, how about a happy-guitarist picture to set the Lenten mood. Looks pleased, doesn’t he? (aside: happy to see him smiling on stage–very different from the mood during the Nightmare tour. Wherein he, of course, was trying to recover from a nightmare and wore the grief so completely.) So, different mood here as well. Happy-guitarist-playing-solo mood. I feel that I have a particularly intimate acquaintance with moods so as to be able to provide a more nuanced accounting than “happy.” So, happy-guitarist-playing-solo it is. Difference? That man is onstage, in the place and space he clearly loves, playing a song of his own making, existing within his passion. And, yes, getting attention for it.

Having said that, I am wondering if I could manage to use my live photos of this band each post to represent a mood…This is probably a terrible idea. I have sufficient photos to never repeat during that time, but I’m pretty sure I’ll come up short on facial expressions.

So, I’ll give up and give in for Lent. Give up, if not the coffee I should give up, then the traditional meat.* I’ll give in and write. I’ve mentioned that I need to write, yes? I’ve resisted this space for months. Written in my journal each morning, but not here. And I like this space. I like that I have–in the past–been able to spread out my thoughts. Turn them over and stare into the connections. Write in some vaguely academic way about the things that excite my head. And I’ve put aside that part of my brain in learning all this new of late in this life I have been granted.

So, give up the easy, give in to the need. The good needs. Some of those needs that saved my life: writing, researching, and meditating. Creatively. Playfully. Because that’s what I have and that’s what keeps me sane. And in the aforementioned mood.

After all, I like sanity. It’s kind of cool.


*Funny–my worst enemy in these efforts is inattention. For instance, the day was all of 12 hours old when I walked into a lunch meeting at which there were chicken wings that smelled really, really good. While I ate none, it was not until I left that I realized that I’d not thought once about the Lenten commitment. I just happened to not get any because I’d brought my lunch with me. *headdesk*

 

I Know it’s (Almost) Lent Again…

‘Tis Mardi Gras today, which means the Lenten Season is almost upon us.  On the one hand, I’m a little surprised that I’m paying the season any mind, cut off as I have been of late from christian religious practice.  But, as Rev. Dean often reminded me, I’m such a dyed-in-the-wool Episcopalian that I could claim atheism and still find myself planning for the spring fasting season.

In keeping with tradition hereabouts (a catch-all summary and links for you), I am committing to two disciplines for the season: one for mind and one for body, the union of which, I hope, will provide fertile ground for a bit of spiritual growth (notice I’m setting the bar kind of low on that measure).  For the mental discipline (stop laughing) last year, I looked over  a theme of Radical Transformation, courtesy of Rhyte’s suggestions.  This year, I can’t say my reading has a particular theme, other than possibly “Somehow this needs to connect to the SACS prep at work,” which is vague to the point of being useless.  But, I have four books I’ll be wallowing in and wandering through for the season:

  • bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
  • bell hooks, Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom
  • Pema Chödrön, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
  • Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

I suppose I don’t need to mention which ones are directly related to work, eh?  But, getting my head around other ways of teaching and communicating seems worthwhile in my personal space as well.  And, yes, the last is a bit of a cheat, since I already started the book, but I figure 6 weeks might give me a chance in hell of approaching a finish, though, given my progress thus far, the halfway point seems about manageable.

For last year’s physical discipline, I gave up consuming meat (the single most oft read piece on this site, Embracing My Inner Hippie: Vegetarian Eating and Barefoot Running [which this week was brought to folks who searched “are all hippies vegetarian” and “vegan hippie eating” (*giggle*)].  This time, I’m picking up a morning cardio and whatnot ritual (like GEB, it’s not new, but it is getting a greater focus as a result of Lent).

I’m going to try to respond to my readings here fairly regularly, along with the occasional complaint about what the heck I think I’m doing to myself at 5 am every morning.  Hope to see some of you all come along for the ride!

Lent: Musings on Control

I have, and this is not an exaggeration, been mulling this post for a week.  I have written nearly a dozen versions in my head, but each time I get to the keyboard, I can’t translate the braindroppings into something even vaguely readable.  In this, an attempt to exert control over even my (want to guess how many times I’ve started and restarted this sentence today?) public face, I manifest one of the most significant, and troubling, aspects of my personality: the absolute need to be in control.  Unsurprisingly, my Lenten readings are already dancing around this topic, much as last year’s seemed to coalesce around anger (significant personality flaw #1).  I finished Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty (I’m not.  But, as she reminds, I am starting where I am) and Al-anon’s From Survival to Recovery last week, and though I am certain I’ll be back to Chodron before the season is out, I have some preliminary thoughts on the particular for radical transformation seems to be coming into shape for me.

Control as Excess

Now, I’ve known for most of my existence that control is both a problem and an integral part of who “I” am.  I joked, even as a teen who was trying desperately to deny her burgeoning addictions, that I’d never be much of a drunk, because I couldn’t stand to be that much out of control (commence laughter now).  The only space I allowed for a modicum of release was in music–particularly live music, because in the atmosphere of a concert, I could, would, and did, let myself physically and mentally, for lack of a better term, flail.  I simply gave into the music.  Part of this was a gift from my years of dancing, screwy as that seems as there is little more controlled than a tap dance routine; dance afforded me a mental connection with music that tends to manifest as a desire to just move and be.

Now, before CD jumps down my throat with CK right behind, I am NOT arguing that music is itself not highly constructed.  I would, however, argue that the language of music transcends the rigor of the music grammar, or, at least, it can.*  And for me, it most assuredly does; I should also add a note of gratitude here: it was the two of you who gave me the gift of that grammar and the rudiments of musical theory that later afforded me the opportunity to study music theory in much more detail as a graduate student.  My thesis (which meant so much more to me emotionally than my dissertation would), in other words, was both a gift from the two of you and an homage to your importance in my life.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When I finally came to the point that I could admit my addictions, I became rather more aware of the ways in which I used alcohol to escape control; moreover, I’ve come to realize that the more I try to gain control over the world, the more likely I am and will be to succumb to addictive behaviors.  Counterintuitive?  No, not really.  When I try to maintain control over life–over which I have NO control, no matter what illusions I allow myself to wallow in, I open myself to a dangerous path of needing to escape the useless control I’ve attempted to assert. As Chodron reminds, “the basic ground of compassionate action is the importance of working with rather than struggling against.” (95).  She repeats in this book, as she does in several others, that another key to compassionate action is to let go of the storyline, rather than trying to shape life into a familiar, comfortable narrative, wherein we can be the victim, the hero, the whatever our desires request in the moment.

Lessons in Control Narratives

I saw a great many connections between Chodron and Al-anon, thought their ends are different: for Chodron, the path is the goal and for Al-anon, happiness (that’s highly, and unfairly, summative, but there does seem to me to be a more nameable goal involved in the 12 steps for Al-anon than the 108 teachings in Chodron, however similar the phrasing tended to be).  When I first read the Big Book for AA, I identified immediately, but, then, I’d already confronted and acknowledged my addictions at that point.  I was far more resisting to Al-anon, though I kept thinking that, “Hmmm….TG should read this.”  But, I also recognized myself in those pages, and not just in the stories of the alcoholic and addict.  I saw myself in the Al-anon stories.  I wasn’t surprised, exactly, though I was (and remain, I admit) resistant.  I am the child of an alcoholic whose own parents exhibited symptoms of the same (though, honestly, I don’t know enough about that set of grandparents to really say).  I was expected to be perfect, in order to relieve my mother’s suffering; I don’t say this to be flip or insincere.  As a then undiagnosed and therefore improperly medicated bi-polar patient, my mother was suffering tremendously.  And through various means it was communicated to me that I was to be easy on her–take care of her, be good, be an excellent student, and so forth.

Was I?  Oh hell no.  I was a bratty, angry teen who simultaneously wanted attention and wanted to be left completely alone and assumed that she was easily forgotten.  But, the direction to be perfect was internalized enough that I felt paralyzingly guilty for everything I did wrong (not that I stopped doing wrong–but I did try to hide most of it).  As I aged, and myself became a parent, I demanded more and more control over my situation and became increasingly angry when that control didn’t come or when the illusions of control collapsed.  I can see in the readings though, that the permission given to the loved ones of alcoholics to NOT be in control (Step One) over the alcohol or the alcoholic, must come as a terrible relief.  I do wonder how I would have engaged the world differently in my 20s if someone had granted me the permission not to be in control of my mother.

All of my attempts to control my world (or my mother or my son or my cats or my “drinking correctly” rules)  not only don’t work, but they create further suffering, not only for me, in many cases, but for those around me.  Since I function in metaphor, let me offer this: what I want for the year, what I would like to learn (yes, still controlling, but starting where I am), is to begin to engage the world in the way my 15-year-old inner rocker girl engages music.  She lets go; she’s fabulous in that way.

2010, so far, as been a model year for lessons in letting go of control.  To say that the year sucks so far wouldn’t begin to describe it accurately, but, for the first time in, well, ever, I’ve encountered each event knowing, without question, that I had no control over the situation.  And, in at least one case, the control I *thought* I had has been removed (I grant, I realized in the end that I never had it to begin with–it was totally illusory).   Thus, I think the lessons in these books are not insignificant right now.   I’m still depressed, but I recognize it, and I recognize that there is nothing I can really do in any of my current situations beyond compassion.  And, if that is all I can be right now, if that is where I am, that has to be enough for right now because there is nothing else, and the constant reaching creates little more than pain.

For all of her troubles–and boy did she have them–my inner 15-year-old rocker chick has something to teach me.  In the face of a depression that would soon manifest as a debilitating physical illness and some incredibly poor choices, she knew how to stop being the center and be carried off into a connection forged by music.  My body still retains memories of those moments; I can feel the pulse and promise in the General Admission pits that I threw myself into in order to be no where other than there in that moment.

Right now, my readings and my year are screaming (even oddly, Attali) I need to learn to be present again.  Here.  Right now–not past, not future.  Present.  All I can offer the world and myself is compassion; control is irrelevant.


*Rather like, um, literature, sayeth the lit prof.

Lenten Tidings

Well, here we are again at Lent.  For the uninitiated, I compiled a brief primer last year.  Also, because it just seems an appropriate yearly tradition, I give you a whole website of Tertullian.  *sigh, wipe tears*

As I mentioned several posts ago, my theme this year is Radical Transformation (h/t to rhyte for the book suggestions and to Duff for the inspiration, even if I can’t recall what it was he said exactly).  I’d like to point out, in my defense, that the entirety of last year (2009) was a radical transformation itself, and I rather like the idea of continuing the path.  It’s true that I typically give something up at Lent, but I was in no particular place to do so last year, not for Lenten purposes, at any rate, since Lent began less than three weeks after I decided to quit drinking again.  Instead, I took up a discipline regarding peace and against anger as an act of spiritual and social exploration that I then chronicled here (also part of the discipline).  So, as with last year, I am picking up a discipline, in this case an exploration of the theme through a collection of books drawn from ones rhyte mentioned and ones I saw as logical additions to the pile. And, I’ll work out the connections that I find (and the ones that elude me, I hope) here.

I’ll begin with an author I read several pieces by last year, Pema Chodron.  Her Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion seems not only an appropriate beginning, but a timely one as well, given recent events around here.  I’ll follow with From Survival to Recovery: Growing Up in an Alcoholic Home, a book from our friends at Al-Anon.  Next up stands to be a radical departure from the preceding two, Jacques Attali’s Noise: The Political Economy of Music, because we all need some philosophy to bend our minds around.  Jumping back into reality, I’ll head into Greg Mortenson’s and David Oliver Relin’s Three Cups of Tea:One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, because I haven’t ever taken the time to finish the whole thing, and I should.  It’s clearly worth it.  And while we are inhabiting that portion of the world, we’ll head eastward to find His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Becoming Enlightened.  And, since we’re on the subject, we’ll wander over to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ, another book in the category of “should have already finished this.”  I have four additional books available as possibilities, should I finish these by Easter (it isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility, no matter how unlikely it looks), but I’m leaving the reserve spaces open in cases one of the books above leads me down a different path.

Niftily, I bought no new books in order to compile this list, which befits one piece of Lent for me–I am buying no books for myself during this season.  Not old, not new, none.  Want to talk to someone who has compulsion problems?  Come visit my library house.  I typically read four or more books simultaneously, and I’m ever on the hunt for a new fix.  So, I’m going cold turkey.  No book purchases for me.  Nor will there be any made “for G” (uh, not that I ever do that).  I practiced reading only what was around this weekend, while sick.  I finished Watchman, Let the Right One In (which I started when the movie came out and hated; I can’t figure out what I hated so much now, as it was quite good), and Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend.  Two were household books and one was a Library loan.

I can do this.  I mean I wasn’t jonesing for a trip to the bookstore or anything.  Really.

ahem

On that same vein, I noted that two of the above were books I have begun (repeatedly in one case) and not finished, either because I got distracted or got wrapped up in one piece of the book and went rabbiting off to the next related notion without finishing.  It seems important to me to work on this habit of mind–write down the ideas that threaten to send me off track and explore them later, after finishing the book or task at hand.  Not surprisingly, that habit of distraction is one that made my dissertation experience such a chore (as is true of so many others).  But, several of my goals for the year involve sitting down and composing articles and redrafting the beast, er, dissertation, so I think I need the practice of being here, being present with this one activity, one book, one moment.

That alone would be a radical transformation.

Yes, so this year, however, I’m taking what will sound like a familiar tactic to many and giving up things for Lent, including the books mentioned above and, to my son’s horror, I’m giving up consuming meat.  Yes, yes, I’m going veggie (vegetarian, not vegan, for those who are concerned about such distinctions).  My muse on the path is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, she of the Post-Punk Kitchen, alongside the Moosewood Collective (of course, my family would probably point out that as muses go, these are hardly new ones for me).  I am not dragging the fam along for the ride (mostly); they get to consume whatever meat G or I happen to prepare.*

I expect this to be a most interesting season.


*G and TG are actually going along partway, given that I accidentally scheduled a few veg-friendly meals along the way.  Usually new recipes, and they do so enjoy being my test subjects.

Radical Transformation

I hold Duff McKagan entirely responsible for this text.

Okay, that’s not quite accurate–he inspires part of my ramblings today, but not all of them. And, hell, it’s not like anyone reading these pages could possibly find the above comment surprising. So, Duff, thank you for providing the board from which I will now gracefully leap, or be shoved, as it turned out.

Last week, for those who don’t (shame on you) keep up with Duff’s various blogs, Duff jokingly proposed (see, yes, I got the joke) a new political ticket: McKagan/Novoselic in a post in which he speculated on some of the current failures in American politics, politicians in general being the most central to these failures.  Krist (the Novoselic mentioned above, should you be wondering), responded with a fantastic takedown of the American public and the need for “we the people” to become “more personally invested” in the entirety of the political process.  Duff then responded in kind.

Got that?

For what it is worth, I agree with both–sort of.  I do think that personal investment and radical transformations are significant and necessary.  Even though my last adventure on the matter rather blew up in my face.  A small, if rather vocal minority, advocated for radical change and were summarily rejected, often in rather vicious ways.  In the end, many of us either stepped down or outright left the church.  Two factions existed, they could not come together, and one gave up the fight.

Do I see a correlation with the current Health Care Reform Bill?  Yes, I do.  In this case, a vocal majority advocates for change but spend a great deal of effort hoping for a better majority.  As my husband often reminds the kids, better is often the enemy of good.  Hell, any one who has ever attempted  a dissertation might agree–there are two types after all: finished and brilliant.

And those categories tend to be mutually exclusive.

Yesterday, I ended my membership at the aforementioned church. That I was struggling with the direction of the church is nothing new to anyone here, and it is true that I resigned my leadership positions in December.  My foot has been out the door for some time.  What changed this week, though, had little to do with the church theology and politics, at least I think so.  What happened was gossip.

Now, I’ve been pondering right speech of late any way in preparation for Lent (I was rather leaning on it as a theme), particularly after reading A.J. Jacobs’ delightful The Year of Living Biblically, which, sadly, I don’t have in front of me right now.  He notes in the course of the year that the need to think carefully before speaking becomes a concern of his almost to the point of obsession (the sections on honesty are just wonderful).  At what point do we abandon honesty necessarily?  What needs to be said?  Will it help or hurt the world for me to speak this particular act?

In the midst of all of this, I was reading slacktivist (granted, I am always reading Fred’s blog, it seems.  Really, I do have a life.  I promise) and this comment struck me:

The authors do a commendably thorough job of debunking and refuting Warnke’s claims. Their earnest, devout perspective makes that debunking even more thorough as it requires them to take agonizing pains to avoid bearing false witness or a lack of charity. You’ll rarely encounter muckraking conducted with such sorrowful reluctance or such genuine lamentation over every bit of dirty laundry uncovered.

And he’s right.  I read those articles and several more besides, as the writers at Cornerstone dismantled Warnke’s stories and others who helped to propagate the hysteria that has come to be known as the Satanic Panic.  Utter commitment to honesty and charity, even whist pointing out the myriad ways in which Warnke lied.

And then Tuesday happened.

I mentioned a few weeks ago (and the events I mentioned are largely why I’ve not been writing as much as I should) that several events had occurred in my life–big ones–but not ones that were mine to share, though they directly affect me.  I pondered laying all the stories out at the time, but it felt unjust.  And, truth be told, it still feels like it would be, so please bear with my vague references for a moment.  On Tuesday, it was relayed to me that one of those events had been shared with a party who had no particular need to know the situation.  The sharer of the story was a church member (who, I’ve no idea, given how few people I’ve told) and the sharee (?) was someone who has been troublesome in my life.

Again, suffice to say that the information was inappropriately shared.  At a time when I desperately needed sanctuary–and I was trying to seek it at the church, in my own small ways–a member of the church took it upon him or herself to tell the story to someone who not only was not a part of the tale but is also someone who I emphatically do not trust.

I wonder if the layers of conversation about gossip and right speech were to prepare me for a response to this mess.

Cue the Duff blogs:  Krist’s remarks in response to Duff made me think more about right speech–and right action.  I can sit back and complain about the ways in which I feel wronged or sad, or I can attempt action.  I can be that change, rather than simply hoping for it.

In other words, did the rugs get pulled because there is a transformation that I need to recognize and have allowed myself not to see?  Have I not been personally invested enough in something I need to pay more heed to?

I’m not quite at a point of action, though I did a damn fine job of running yesterday–maintaining a lovely 7:00 minute mile on the quarter-mile repeats. (Note to self: running fast–yes, this is fast for me–does not suck.  In fact, it rocks).  I am though at the point of consideration–seeking more examples of right speech (clearly, I don’t ever want to–even inadvertently–do this to someone else) and change.

I think, though, the notion of radical transformations will be my Lenten reading.  I’m also going to fast this time–I’m not buying any new books (this is HUGE for me, really) and I’m not going to eat meat during Lent, just to change up my meal structures for a while…see what happens.

I’m looking for book suggestions on this theme–any are welcome.  I’ll be blogging on the readings (and probably kvetching about the fast) throughout Lent.  I’m definitely going to include some political readings (I generally do, this is nothing surprising), but I’d really like to encounter some that deal with transformations of process, not just idea-worship (which I excel at already).

Okay, I promised to write on Beautiful matters, rather than just Disease ones, so to sum up the beautiful here:

  • Political dialogues by favorite bassists who are also willing to think and explore possibilities (what is not to love, really?)
  • Lenten readings
  • A chance to create, rather than receive, sanctuary
  • Running.  Running fast, in particular. Next race is at the end of the month.  Woot!

And while this last is clearly about addiction, it is also quite beautiful:

  • This Sunday will be 365 days