Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Big Fat Tuesday

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 28, 2006; 7:57 AM

With more than 1,000 journalists in New Orleans, I wondered what the local press thought of this Mardi Gras invasion.

Not much, it turns out.

Ordinary folks, I'm sure, are grateful to have the national media show up in their devastated city, even if it's to contrast the parades, the floats and the partying with the ruined neighborhoods in places like the 9th ward.

But check out the columnists for the Times-Picayune.

One, Stephanie Grace, writes: "Our Carnival may be just another story to you, but it's much more to us . . . If you're going to talk about money, please understand that the bulk of the cost to stage Carnival is shouldered by private citizens who parade, not political leaders who roam the corridors of Congress with their hand out . . . Although we may look frivolous, the women behind the masks don't pretend for a moment that nothing's wrong . . . All I ask is that you tell our city's carnival-season story with care giving proper weight to both the joy and the sorrow."

Another columnist, Angus Lind, recalls the joys of hoodwinking out of town scribes. After some drinks, Lind would show around a visitor, who would ask: "What's this about? Where are the women baring their breasts? Where's the debauchery? This is dull. I can't write about this. My editor won't believe me."

Lind would explain the more mundane reality: "Write about that, news guy. Explain it. Interpret it. Analyze it. Put your spin on it. Make it deep.

"The problem is Mardi Gras is more than an event. It's a spirit in your soul that is cultivated through time, through music, through bloodlines, through constant parades and festivities. And basically, like a lot of things in New Orleans, it defies explanation."

NOLA needs many things, including money just to keep basic services going and a clear rebuilding plan for those who want to return. But most of all it needs public attention, from a news media that rarely has the patience to stick with a story for more than six months. Some anchors have gone back time and again; U.S. News just did a special issue on post-Katrina life. But the danger is that New Orleans and the Gulf slide onto the back burner. So if it takes a Mardi Gras, debauched or not, to draw journalists there like a magnet, so be it. The real test will be how many keep it up long after Fat Tuesday has come and gone.

But the locals aren't giving up: "Most New Orleans residents say they still face serious problems in finding housing, arranging home repairs, obtaining medical care and getting such basic city services as garbage pickup," says USA Today. "But six months after Hurricane Katrina, three of four of those now in the city say they're optimistic about its future."

Of course, this poll doesn't include the half of the population that had to leave town and hasn't come back. They might be less optimistic. Of those in New Orleans who were reached, and have phones, "52% of respondents were white, 37% black. In the 2000 Census, the city was 67% black, 28% white."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Journal, February 26, 2006.

Thank you, Lord, for today.
Journal, Feb 26, 2006
Great skiing this week.
Knees okay. Three hours of skiing. Wow.
Better fast than slow. Janette says my
form is better than ten years ago.
Amazing recovery from 2 weeks ago when
In West Virginia with family,
I could not even walk.
Arthritis: it comes and goes
and moves around, as Emma used to say.
Blessings, every day.
Plans for OPA conference with Joyce
this October.
New stuff for FF8 Jail program.
Wife’s birthday. Griff good.
Cinderella Man. James J. Braddock.
Great movie.
Still in Love.
Grandchildren a delight every day.
Love is the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
Nobody knows.....
Mahalia Jackson.
Heart man, heart.
Enjoyed the Olympics, esp downhill skiing
snowboarding and women’s figure skating.
Finishing up last class at Midway this week.
And recruiting for new HRM program.
New program for addicts / offenders.
Challenging the professional Justifiers.
Having more fun and joy
than ever before.
Luckiest guy alive: is me.
Paschal Bernard Baute, Thank you, Lord,
I can never give enough back.
Noblesse Oblige. .

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Christian Realism, Assumptions after a life-time of listening.

Assumptions about life and people after 40 thousand hours of listening. Some thoughts by an ancient and wounded therapist, who knows how lucky he is, over 76 plus years and still given opportunities of grace. Noblesse oblige. .

1. Humans are not basically or essentially rational. Rationality is a myth. The most fundamentally irrational are those who believe they are totally rational, such as scientists and fundamentalists of all stripes, and those convinced of the rightness of their own way of life.

We are occasionally rational, hopefully rational at critical times, but seldom objective, rarely objective. When we listen, we listen to what suits us, what we can relate to, what relates to us, our frame, and we listen from our own frame at all times, which is biased and limited, and seldom rational. When is the last time you heard any authentic dialogue between a Democrat and a Republican, or a liberal and a conservative, or a right winger and a progressive?

2. We are more or less close-minded, not open minded. We have hidden lions at the gates of our awareness that actually prevent us from seeing, hearing those aspects of reality we are not ready to see and hear. For example, the racial discrimination prevalent in this country til the Civil Rights movement, and the inequities for women in our society still. We can feel threatened in our most basic identity by values or persons who challenge basic beliefs or values.

3. We do not live a reflective life in our society. No one encourages us to do so. We are never encouraged to discover Who WE are, from inside out. So we live from outside in, reacting to the latest and the most prominent. We also live in such a pace that if we stop we hardly know what to do with ourselves. Consumerism prevails, and we are caught up with things and daily buzz.

4. Because we do not live a reflective life, we are easily influenced by appeals to our baser motives, fear, envy, guilt, greed; and we live in a blame culture, ready to find fault, always out there, in others, never within. We yield to authority, to the expert, to the mass culture, to the trends of today, and seldom find ways to nurture a strong inner sense of self. Our identity is defined and controlled by the expectations of others and our peer group. Seldom are we able to think outside the box. Most are content to go along to get along.

5. We do not know and understand the stories we are living, that is, we are only partially aware of the themes, and how we set up things outside our awareness to succeed or fail. We find meaning in our stories when others listen and when we hear others stories, and sometimes when people ask good questions. We do love stories as we enjoy vicarious participation in others lives.

6. We do not risk ourselves much emotionally. Most of us seek to live in a bubble of comfort and security, safety and predictability. We are seldom open to ideas or reason that would challenge our own Bubble, or deeply held values, or a story we believe in. Most of us also have some areas, some inner closet that we hide from ourselves. We are two faced and do not know it, we do not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Each of us has a blind side and a dark shadow; even the Saints did.

7. We have hearts that crave love, unconditional loving, and often seek it in all the wrong places: distractions, busy-ness, work, acceptance, things, new things, food, drink, taking small risks (lottery) various preoccupations. Only surrender to the force of Divine Love can fill the human heart.

8. Most churches emphasize membership and money, giving, not discipleship and outreach. Few Christians live a costly grace, seeing the gospel as challenging them to extend themselves to others. I had two friends who went home from Sunday morning Eucharist and shot themselves that night. Most services are not open to the actual pain and loneliness of those actually present.

9. There is a force of Love within the universe, that is also Beauty, Justice, Faith, Caring, Tenderness, Hope, Peace, Playfulness and Truth, that can be found everywhere, a subtle Wisdom or what quantum physicists call "Relational Aliveness" always near, ready to emerge. Love is Lord of heaven and earth, and justice will eventually prevail, but not in the short run.

10. Every single human being has a piece of that Wisdom, a spark of Divine Life, every person is, truth be known, an incredible Divine Amazement. There is Hope and renewal is always possible. It is a matter of heart. Until we surrender to this awareness, to be embraced in faith, hope and love, we shall be haunted, hounded and hunted by this Divine Restlessness.

Namaste to my reader, whoever you are.
Paschal Baute, February 21, 2006.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Merton on Individualism and his shadow self pursuit of it.

Merton on individualism and his own Shadow self

From a friend:
"The heresy of individualism: thinking oneself a completely self-sufficient unit and asserting this imaginary 'unity' against all others. The affirmation of the self as simply 'not the other.' But when you seek to affirm your unity by denying that you have anything to do with anyone else, by negating everyone else in the universe until you come down to you: what is there left to affirm? Even if there were something to affirm, you would have no breath left with which to affirm it.

The true way is just the opposite: the more I am able to affirm others, to say 'yes' to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone. "

From Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, selected with an Introduction by Christine M. Bochen

(Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books 2000), Page 142.

Paschal's comment:

Merton is himself, in his life, an example of the unresolved conflict between the heresy of individualism and Jesus command to love, (both human / divine love).

He used his hermitage to pursue not only his writing but also a public and even a forbidden life (breaking vows), and in his writing there is no evidence that he loved a single monastic brother. In fact, he often complains about the community, the abbot and others. He also unused his reputation to seduce a young nurse less than half his age, in order to write about real human love, and then discarded her because he could not give up his fame. All of this in his own words, for anyone who would read them. His idolization by many is a commentary on the lack of models of authentic spirituality we have in the RC system, which stealthily encourages the heresy of individualism by a false theology of marriage and sexuality, and a structure of worship on Sunday that precludes any genuine connection with others.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Muslim outrage over Danish cartoons continues with global demonstrations and new deaths.

Andrew Sullivan. Time Essay, February 12, 2005. P. 100.

Your Taboo, Not Mine
The furor over cartoons of Muhammad reveals the zealot's double standard

It was of a Palestinian gunman astride the local office of the European Union. All the diplomatic staff had fled, tipped off ahead of time. The source of the militanfs ire? A series of satirical cartoons originally published in Denmark. Yes, cartoons.
. A Danish paper, a while back, had commissioned a set of cartoons depicting the fear that many writers and artists in Europe feel when dealing with the subject of Islam. To Western eyes, the cartoons were not in any way remarkable. In fact, they were rather tame. One showed Muhammad with his turban depicted as a bomb-not exactly a fresh image to describe Islamic terrorism. Another used a simple graphic device: it showed Muhammad surrounded by two women in full Muslim garb, their eyes peering out from an ob
long space in their black chadors. And on Muhammad's face there was an oblong too, blacking out his eyes. The point was that Islam has a blind spot when it comes to women's freedom. Crude but powerful: exactly what a political cartoon is supposed to be.
The result was an astonishing uproar in the Muslim world, one of those revealing moments when the gulf between our world and theirs seems unbridgeable. Boycotts of European goods are in force; demonstrators in London held up signs proclaiming EXTERMINATE THOSE WHO MOCK ISLAM and BE PREPARED FOR THE REAL HOLOCAUST; the editor of the French newspaper France-Soir was fired for reprinting the drawings; Mghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the publication; and protesters set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus. The Egyptian ambassador to Denmark expressed disbelief that the government would not prevent further reprinting. Freedom of the press, the Egyptian explained, "means the whole story will continue and that we are back to square one again. The government of Denmark has to do something to appease the Muslim world:'
Excuse me? In fact, the opposite is the case. The Muslim world needs to do something to appease the West. Since Ayatullah Khomeini declared a death sentence against Salman Rushdie for how he depicted Muhammad in his book The Satanic Verses, Islamic radicals have been essentially threatening the free discussion of their religion and politics in the West. Rushdie escaped with his life. But Pim Fortuyn, a Dutch politician who stood up against Muslim immigrant hostility to equality for women and gays, was murdered on the street. Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who offended strict Muslims, was killed thereafter. Several other Dutch politicians who have dared to criticize the intolerance of many Muslims live with police protection.
Muslim leaders say the cartoons are not just offensive. They're blasphemy--the mother of all offenses. Thafs because Islam forbids any visual depiction of the Prophet, even benign ones. Should non-Muslims respect this taboo? I see no reason why. You can respect a religion without honoring its taboos. I eat pork, and I'm not an anti-Semite. As a Catholic, I don't expect atheists to genuflect before an altar. If violating a taboo is necessary to illustrate a political point, then the call is an easy one. Freedom means learning to deal with being offended.
Blasphemy, after all, is commonplace in the West. In America, Christians have become accustomed to artists' offending their religious symbols. They can protest, and cut off public funding-but the right of the individual to say or depict offensive messages or symbols is not really in dispute. Blasphemy, moreover, is common in the Muslim world, and sanctioned by Arab governments. The Arab media run cartoons depicting Jews and the symbols of the Jewish faith with imagery indistinguishable from that used in the Third Reich. But I have yet to see Jews or Israelis threaten the lives of Muslims because of it.

And there is, of course, the other blasphemy. It occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, when fanatics murdered thousands of innocents in the name of Islam. Surely, nothing could be more blasphemous. So where were the Muslim boycotts of Saudi Arabia or Mghanistan after that horrifying event? Since 9/11 mosques have been bombed in Iraq by Islamic terrorists. Where was the rioting condemning attacks on the holiest of shrines? These double standards reveal something quite clear: this call for "sensitivity" is primarily a cover for intolerance of others and intimidation of free people.

Yes, there's no reason to offend people of any faith arbitrarily. We owe all faiths respect. But the Danish cartoons were not arbitrarily offensive. They were designed to reveal Islamic intolerance-and they have now done so, in abundance. The Wesfs principles are clear enough. Tolerance? Yes. Faith? Absolutely. Freedom of speech? Nonnegotiable.

Copies handed out in Midway College SCD Philos 301 class, preparatory to our upcoming discussion on Literalism and fundamentalism.