Friday, August 08, 2008

A Who-wrote-it?

I found the following passage in a book at a garage sale. I bought the book for $1.

A Google search will quickly answer who wrote the book and the passage, but you might take a stab at it before doing the search.

Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism; and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Timbers vs. Sounders: A lucrative rivalry

The Portland Timbers lost to their “arch-enemy,” the Seattle Sounders, tonight in what could be the last game of their “bitter rivalry.” Next season the Sounders move up from the United Soccer League’s First Division to Major League Soccer.

The bellicose quotes are courtesy of Boaz Herzog, Oregonian sports writer, who can write martial clichés with the best (or worst) of them.

While there were more than a few injuries and there was one ejection, no one actually died of wounds. The only person in danger of hooliganism injury was the roundly boo-ed ref for his quick-on-the-draw red carding.

At game’s end, the scoreboard read Timbers 0, Sounders 1, but the most significant tally was 12,332, the evening’s attendance, a record for the season. More than a few fans seemed to be commuter rooters from the north.

“Bitter rivalry”? I’d call it lucrative.

A passing note: the Timbers seemed to play better with 10 men on the field than with 11. Significantly, the one Sounder score came against Portland when they were at full numerical strength.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beyond the Confines of "God"

I came across this passage from Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now," and it speaks my mind perfectly. Or perhaps I should say it speaks my "experience of being" perfectly.

When you say Being, are you talking about God? If you are, then why don't you say it?

The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. I use it sometimes, but I do so sparingly. By misuse, I mean that people who have never even glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the infinite vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is that they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as "My or our God is the only true God, and your God is false," or Nietzsche's famous statement "God is dead."

The word God has become a closed concept. The moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created, no longer, perhaps, of an old man with a white beard, but still a mental representation of someone or something outside you, and, yes, almost inevitably a male someone or something.

Neither God nor Being nor any other word can define or explain the ineffable reality behind the word, so the only important question is whether the word is a help or a hindrance in enabling you to experience That toward which it points. Does it point beyond itself to that transcendental reality, or does it lend itself too easily to becoming no more than an idea in your head that you believe in, a mental idol?

The word Being explains nothing, but nor does God. Being, however, has the advantage that it is an open concept. It does not reduce the infinite invisible to a finite entity. It is impossible to form a mental image of it. Nobody can claim exclusive possession of Being. It is your very essence, and it is immediately accessible to you as the feeling of your own presence, the realization I am that is prior to I am this or I am that. So it is only a small step from the word Being to the experience of Being.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Wake me up in November

The malaise of this election year is setting in and it is only August.

“War room strategists,” “Attack ads,” “Taking the gloves off,” “Hitting below the belt/shooting from the hip/dealing from the bottom of the deck/playing race cards” etc.

Would someone please remind the “strategists” that the economy has tanked, millions are without health coverage and living-wage jobs, the schools are a wreck (or, worse, irrelevant), bridges are collapsing, people are losing their homes, the planet is coming to a boil, greed rules the ruling class and we are still fighting two wars.

End of rant.

Listen, I know this is terrible to say, but just wake me up when it’s time to vote.

Meanwhile, in my dreams I may luck on to a better world.

Even without dreaming, I know it would be governed by better instincts (compassion, civility and forgiveness, for starters) and by innate intelligence.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Bikes for Bureaucrats

I attend a lot of meetings that struggle to make progress, but, alas, don’t.

This past weekend in Seattle at Gas Works Park, I came across the perfect vehicle for advancing meetings. It’s called “the conference-cycle.” As long as someone is peddling, the group is moving forward. If they all peddle, they move forward that much faster.

Note that one person steers. Always a good idea.

Several other odd bikes were out in force at the park. One addressed another meeting goal: setting wheels — a lot of wheels — in motion. You don’t even need a meeting for this one.

Imagine what a hybrid of the two models might accomplish ....

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Don't judge this building by its cover

The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ exterior cover for the Seattle Public Library doesn’t exactly make the 10-story, disjointed collection of trapezoids, parallelograms and triangles a building you’d like to enter — or an architectural book you'd like to read.

But once inside, you realize that you can’t tell a library from its cover.

Not nearly.

The place astounds.

All those dissonant exterior angles create an interior mesh for a wildly rhythmic yet oddly harmonious architectural symphony: the grid of patterned diamond windows (nearly 10,000 of them), the slanting beams and ceilings, the vivid colors (cherry red hallways, cautionary yellow escalators), the spiraling stacks of books. The airy openness of the place. You could spend a day here gawking — and never crack a book.

The folks behind this remarkable building took a $165 million gamble and came up with a monumental, visionary landmark. They, as much as Koolhaas, are to be commended for their bravery and foresight.

The next time you visit Seattle, forget the Seahawks, the Mariners and Pike Place Market .

Go directly to the library, and plan to stay.

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