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Category: Reflections

Why you shouldn’t get your news from Facebook

Why you shouldn’t get your news from Facebook

So where can you get your news? In general, one can start with this chart to know the rough bias of the source:

I usually hit up the BBC for general news, then start cross referencing facts between varied sources on a particular subject to get the spectrum of the ‘facts’. If more than a few jive and come from sources on both sides of the left/right bias line – then I consider it credible. I don’t consider sources more than one tick from center to be credible without serious distortion of the facts.

Facebook posts, however, is news curated by your friends. I love you all, but we’re not the most unbiased nor always check our sources and facts when we post (myself included). I must consider my sources.

The comment chain is where you can lose faith in humanity. Some people like posting inflammatory stuff to “circle their wagons”. These things become pits to vilify others, feel better about themselves, as well as become an echo chamber to entrench and deepen their own opinions. I’ve seen downright sexism, racism, threats and recommendations of violence spewed from people on both sides of the far right AND left of the political spectrum. If you’re one of these people – it’s time to check yourself. If your posts are nothing but hate, rejoicing in the destruction of others, and tirades of outrage – you are not helping.

These comment chains are like nuclear reactors. You take enough radioactive material of the same kind together, and on its own, just being close to more of itself, it turns into lots of heat, pressure, and radiation that kills anyone coming near it. The end result is to make everyone reading it more polarized as your circle of ‘yes men’ entrenches – because you’re no longer being challenged to deal in a civil way with others that disagree with you. Not that things aren’t wrong. They are. But a real effect of this last election has been to damage genuine dialog that seeks to understand the other, learning how to make convincing arguments that respect others and might actually change the mind of a reasonable person via facts and logic or building bridges between people that disagree. If you truly no longer believe that’s possible, then please make some effort or find those to help because the other logical courses of action (besides talking) are destruction.

We can still have a very strong personal identity and mission. But just as the bias of these news sources – the way we convey even actual truth can take perfectly good news and make it completely useless or even wrong. Exercise: Take one actual event and find it on each of these sites. Witness how they change wording, titles, and commentary from far left to far right. It’s a fascinating exercise each of us should do. I often challenge myself by going left/right to see the opposite spin – the goal is learning how to listen to a take I don’t agree with but not flip out.

Being outraged is easy. Being angry is easy. Wanting to hurt others or see them hurt is easy. It is harder to use your brain. It’s harder to build a common good. If an article makes me incensed or angry, my ‘Am I being played?’ light comes on and I go to more sources. I practice not immediately been swept up (which makes you easy to control), but to internally learn how to question or make meaningful counter-arguments.

If you believe you’re ‘open minded’ because you consider yourself a Democrat/left-leaning/etc – then I’ll challenge you with the fact I’ve read at least one person I know here in Portland that claimed all these things yet believes they have a right to use whatever means (even physical violence) without punishment because ‘those people are just wrong and I need to resist with everything I have.’ Violence begets more violence – and only makes whoever is physically stronger and willing to do what others won’t ‘right’.

If we can’t learn how to get along and civilly dialog with those we don’t agree with – then we have no hope as a nation nor as a people looking for the common good. As my old history prof said, “Democracy is not about getting everyone to agree – that will never happen. What it does is give us a form of government in which everyone gets some of what they want – enough to get along – without having to kill the other side like we did for millennia.”  Instead, we are headed back to that attitude if it increasingly becomes all about ‘me’. It doesn’t help that our news has learned that outrage sells and fuels the idea of all-or-nothing ideals using inflammatory headlines. If we continue, we will pick even more and more radical people to lead us to our own destruction. All the while controlled and directed by a steady and constant fuel of ‘outrage’ that makes us act emotionally, not with our brains.

It is also not Christian. God does not delight in the death or destruction of even one sinner:

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. – Lk 15:7

Christ came not to judge the world, but to call all to himself:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.. – Jn 3:17

If our job is to continue the work of Christ, we do the same. We do not judge nor condemn but spread the good news. The news each can live in the light and truth without shame. That we do not need to live in the darkness of our past. It can be brought out and healed. We can live free from the darkness of the evil in our lives. Evil has a way of hurting us so that our decisions in the future are tainted by hiding from, or hiding the shame, of that hurt. It breaks up our relationships. And in the light, even if we fall again, that darkness can be healed and forgiven. Nobody is beyond forgiveness. Nobody is beyond hope.

Everything is its own reward

Everything is its own reward

From the book “Everything is its own reward” by Paul Madonna

In hard times, beauty can seem frivolous – but take it away, and all you’re left with – is hard times.

All the places we went.
things we did.
At one point I tried to arrange them,
construct some sort of narrative.
I was looking to find sense in what happened,
fully believing I could.

The days passed slowly, while they years flew by.

Leave a little emptiness
A space
for when what you’re waiting for
arrives.

Right now I’m so damn happy. And I’ve been alive long enough to know it’s all so damn fleeting.

Everything is its own reward.

I kept meeting people that claimed to be artists but never made anything. Always the same excuses: time, money, space. So I decided I’d use only supplies that fit in my backpack. I could draw and write anywhere, anytime, so if I didn’t, I’d be to blame.

In this episode, Michael attempts to construct a time machine to escape debt and dinner party obligations.

He said the only things he regretted was having not written down all the excuses people had given him for not doing whatever it was they had said they would do. “Priceless insights! With them, I could’ve held a mirror to the world”

The portions of his brain not used to imagine her in compromising positions

“What? I didn’t say anything.” “You didn’t have to, you’re saying it in my head.”

He was like a shark of conversation – if he stopped talking he would die.

Words spoken then forgotten
turn up again like tiny shards of glass
from broken bowls
hidden in the rug missed by the vacuum
pierce your toes in the early hours of the morning
as you wander the hall
wondering why it is you can’t sleep

There had been a confrontation followed by a cooling off period. Memories became distorted, imaginings of what could have happened grew exaggerated. It’s what happened in absence, and the longer it went on, the greater the crash that would come from giving it another try. It was like trying to correct your posture. You know that you slouch, so you straighten your back and vow to forever sit up right, only to find a moment later, you’re hunched over again.

It despairs her to know that the world is not flat. That if she sailed off one shore, she would hit another. That she can’t just keep … going.

Sometimes I pack a bag and just walk around the neighborhood.

You were starting to have second thoughts about all the friends who complimented you on being self-deprecating.

There will always be someone who walks into the middle of the street then curses at the cars that have to screech to a halt to avoid hitting them.

They change the definitions of words you believed in slowly, so that what you ended up fighting for was the opposite of what you wanted.

Freedom to act outside the rules is no protection against doing so.

and in my head, I go.

What about those thoughts that say you can do anyeverything?

I am not an industry

I’ve found my hand, but not my voice.
I’ve begun to make my name, but not my fortune.

All my offerings of beauty are little more than decoration
If through them my demons are not set free.

What are you looking to get? To give? What will help you feel closer to whatever it is you feel far from?

It takes perpetual work to keep life simple. There are ways of being that I could return to, but they’d result in little but trouble.

“I think that’s the first thing to rule people out, whether they’d still do it if there was no money.””Reality doesn’t have to be like that.”

“Reality doesn’t have to be like that.”

There are so many things I can do – so I don’t do any.

We want something to tell us how to live (that doesn’t mean we’ll listen)

Are you really sorry, or is that just what you tell people when you can’t tell them the truth?

Revisit old themes

Does the smell of the air today remind you of another time? Inhale through your nose. And the next time a day like this comes around you’ll be transported back to now.

“All this wondering why,” she says. “It’s a pain. Makes you think you’re doing something important, that you’re smart or covering all your bases, when all it does is spin you in ever darkening circles. I’m convinced that why is no longer the question – or the answer. Maybe I’m just progressing through interrogatives, but at this point, the question I’m asking is, how?”

How do you get smarter faster?

How can you know what you don’t know?

I walk around – Touching everything I love once.

Changing because you were caught doesn’t make you honest
Changing because you were forced to confess and now live under watchful eyes doesn’t make you fixed.
Change because you can’t live being who you are – and change alone.

No matter which direction you choose, in 5 years you’ll be happy you did.

We were talking about how you can’t make decisions out of fear, or potential discomfort. That if you do, you don’t really ever go back.

There is a fine line between inconvenience and hardship

In what country do you live? What home?

You got older, and things happened (all windows of the cars on you street got smashed out)

Rich said he felt better after a friend told him, “Everyone has a box for problems in their heads, and no matter what’s going on in your life, the box will always be full.” It made me feel better too – so I’m passing it on.

Trying to turn the disillusionment into cash

All weird camera angles – And no story

I listened to the news of the world too early and so the rest of the morning I walked around feeling that everything was bad. Then through a store window I saw a book of drawings I just had to have. They made me happy so I bought them. Out on the sidewalk I realized that the only thing I can do about the state of how people have to live is offer what I can, whatever I have to offer, and go from there.

Pope Francis gives a surprise TED Talk, calls for a ‘revolution of tenderness’

Pope Francis gives a surprise TED Talk, calls for a ‘revolution of tenderness’

Pope Francis gave a surprise Ted talk this last week

Keeping with the intent of the week-long conference to share strategies to make the world better, Francis’s contribution to that conversation was to urge the people gathered here to use their influence and power to care for others.

“How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion,” he said to applause. “How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.”

Journey to Ixtlan

Journey to Ixtlan

There is one simple thing wrong with you – you think you have plenty of time.
If you don’t think your life is going to last forever, what are you waiting for? Why the hesitation to change? You don’t have time for this display, you fool. This, whatever you’re doing now, may be your last act on earth.

 

Easter morning

Easter morning

At daybreak, it is the women that are first to find Jesus has risen. They are the first carriers of the resurrection story, the first to encounter Christ risen and spread that to the disciples who are in hiding.

Peter and the beloved disciple then run to the tomb. What was that run like? The morning air stinging the lungs while the head swims with thoughts, wonder, and confusion? If someone told you your dearest friend was not dead – would you run to the grave?

Is our love such that we would run with such abandon to Christ where we can find him at work in EVERY heart in our world today? Entombed in the mental illness and addictions of the homeless, those in prison, the refugee, the forgotten elderly, relatives we are no longer speak with, the foreigner with strange ways, someone from the opposite political party than ours, coworkers that are difficult or malicious, the unborn that we are told do not matter and have no rights, the terminally ill, bullied kids, the disabled and disfigured, those with anxiety and depression, anyone ‘not cool’/ugly/unfashionable that pop culture says don’t matter, and yes, even the terrorist or even those that wish us harm?

Christ is at work in each of their hearts. We do not deny the difficulties and real dangers there, but should we not accompany him in the work he is doing there?

Easter vigil mass

Easter vigil mass

Easter vigil mass – the single most amazing mass of the whole year.

As the dark of night descends, the Easter fire is blessed, the Easter candle (the pillar of fire that leads the Israelites out of Egypt) is lit and we make entrance into a dark church. We read the stories of salvation history, sing the ancient exaultet, the Gloria with bells sounds for the first time in 40 days.

We had new converts baptized, we anointed adults with holy oils in confirmation, and the first communion is received by those who have spent a year in preparation. All the sacraments of new life are celebrated as Christ himself rises this night.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

Saturday is the Jewish sabbath day – a day of rest. And so Christ himself ‘rests’ in his tomb while his disciples hide in fear. 3 days he lies in the tomb as they think the worst – that all is lost. A reminder that even crushing defeat cannot stop God – but that things happen in His time.

However, Christ is not inactive. It is long thought this day he descended to Hell and freed the holy souls trapped there before they had a savior. Before Christ, Jews believed all souls went to Sheol. The Harrowing of Hell is depicted in many early icons such as this one by Fra Angelico (1400’s) in one of his fellow monks cels in Florence. 

Good Friday

Good Friday

Good Friday.

Christ thirsts for us so much he offers himself to set us free. This one sacrifice celebrated at every mass throughout all time. And the cross – a sign of capital punishment – is transformed into the doorway to what sets us free.

But more. Michelangelo’s Pieta in Rome was inspired by this day. Any parent that has lost a child has a heavenly mother who understands the unspeakable loss. Today she is entrusted to the beloved disciple – and to us.

We have not only a Lord and savior that knows our human weakness and loves us. We also have a mother and advocate that knows even these pains of loss we can turn to – even when everything seems lost as the first disciples surely felt this day.

May we enter the silence with our Lord to contemplate the great mystery of these 3 days…

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

Today is Holy Thursday – the start of the Holy Triduum.

The Easter Triduum lasts from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The liturgy that starts Thursday goes for 3 days as one continual motion. In the holy land, Christians will often walk and go to the places where Christ himself went during the next 72 hours and re-enact the events that occurred there. The single celebration of the Triduum marks the end of the Lenten season and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil.

Tonight we celebrate the first mass which feeds us and the washing of feet that instituted our Christian ministry to serve the least of all.

Let us not betray our calling to be the salt of the earth – even if it costs us our lives. In the west, this might not mean our physical lives – but the comfortable trappings we use to isolate ourselves from those in need.

Then we too will celebrate the resurrection with joy – a brother of Christ who gave up everything for love of us.

No country for Old Men

No country for Old Men

Sailing to Byzantium
W. B. Yeats, 18651939

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.