Hero's Journey

I grew up on the Hero’s journey
from the classic Greek tales
to the story on the silver screen
and I wondered about
my own call to adventure
with its road of trials
and where it would turn.

Then
I discovered counter narratives.
What other metaphors are there
besides a journey?
What other genders are there
besides the masculine hero?
What other roads
and other adventures?

When the Ethiopian lioness
tells the story
what will be
glorified?

(Written for a writer's prompt, read at the Wallingford Poetry Group)

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Obama and Racism

Recently, a Facebook friend posted, "Michelle Obama....your husband is the most racist American there is! Elated you are all leaving the White House!". It seemed a particularly odd post. Why is it directed at the First Lady? What does it mean to call President Obama racist? What are your hopes for the coming administration?

Those who understand that racism is "Power + Prejudice" may wonder how a member of a disempowered group is considered to have power. If you are going to talk about racism, please understand what you are talking about. A good starting point is Race and Racism.

13.2% of Americans are African American, but only 8% of members of Congress are African American, and this is a historic high. Yet President Obama is the leader of the most powerful country in the world. He does have considerably more power than the average black person. So, can we consider President Obama racist?

Perhaps we need to look at the source of President Obama's power. As head of the judical branch, he cannot make laws, only enforce them. Essentially, President Obama's power comes his role in making sure that the laws of the land are enforced. Yet those who are often most vocal, calling President Obama racist are white law enforcement officials.

In fact, the person posting this is related to several white law enforcement officials and in the comments goes on to rant about "black lives matter" saying that we should be talking about "all lives matter".

Recently, I went to the funeral of this person's aunt. When I spoke with family members, I didn't say, "I'm so sorry that all people die." I said I was sorry for their loss. Likewise, when a black person dies, I will say, "black lives matter". When a police officer dies, I will say, "Blue Lives Matter". I won't tell my friends grieving the death of a police officer to say "All lives matter" instead of "Blue lives matter."

Yes, all lives do matter. The lives of Mexicans, Muslims, transgendered people, women, black people, and police officers. When I say the pledge of allegiance, I am focusing more and more on the final words, based on a sermon by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, "with liberty and justice FOR ALL".

Instead of calling one another names, let's work together to make sure that we really do have liberty and justice FOR ALL.

It will be okay

It will be okay
they told her
when the lump,
that lump
turned out
not to be
benign.

Years later
after chemo
after radiation
after therapy
after tears
after unexpected joys
it turned out
to be okay,
not great
not painless
but okay.

It will be okay
they told him
when his mother died
in a car accident
during one of those
freak storms
that seem to be
more and more
common.

Years later
after the funeral
after the grieving
after cleaning out
and selling
the family home
after memories
dredged up
from the deeps
on unknown anniversaries
after tears
after unexpected joys
it turned out
to be okay,
not great
not painless
but okay.

(This is another one of the poems that I wrote in 2016, but never posted. It didn't feel finished. Perhaps I'll come back to it later.)

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English Spirituality and Mysticism

So...

I've signed up to take the online course English Spirituality and Mysticism.

I've taken online courses in the past, but this is the first one that I'm actually paying for since I took Grief in the Family Context back in 1999.

Things have changed a lot in online education since 1999 and I'm looking forward to this class, especially because I'm doing a lot with online education for my job right now.

Anyone up for joining me?

Random Thoughts about Social Media and the Reterritorialization of the Culture Industry.

Recently, I’ve been reading Exploring Videogames with Deleuze and Guittari and thinking about things like the culture industry, reterritorialization, and how it relates to social media and other stuff. I do not claim to have a firm or accurate grasp on these ideas.

With regards to culture industry, I’m talking about those who create, distribute, or benefit from the creation or distribution of cultural norms and artifacts. I’m taking this idea from Exploring Videogames with Deleuze and Guittari where the author talks about the videogame industry as part of the culture industry, along with other forms of art like film or painting. However, I’m wondering if we should really think a bit more broadly to include entertainment, news media, social media, religion, education, and politics, all of which are shaping our culture in new or different ways as a result of digital media. How must artists, journalists, priests, politicians, and teachers adapt to digital media?

The idea of reterritorialization is even more interesting to me. What as the borders of the culture industry shift, as people get left behind, get left in some sort of liminal space, and as others, once liminal find themselves in the center of things.

Prior to writing this, I had put down a few thoughts about things going on in Facebook. It seems somehow related.

I am starting the New Year with just over 3,100 friends on Facebook. Generally, I’ve been pretty lenient about adding friends. If I get a friend request from someone that has shared interests and shared friends, I’m fairly likely to accept the request. Yet Facebook limits the number of friends you can have to five thousand, and various people I know are hitting up against that barrier and starting to trim their friend lists. Different people are approaching this in different ways.

Just as I am fairly lenient about which friend requests I accept, I am loath to unfriend people because of what they write. I hold on to the idea that I can listen to others and learn from them. Perhaps they can learn from me as well. Perhaps we can have a dialog.

Yet over the past few days, I’ve unfriended a couple people. One person said if you are going to post about politics, religion, or sports, he would unfollow. I post regularly about politics and religion, so I saved him the bother and unfriended him. He didn’t have a lot of interest to say anyway. Another person, a devout evangelical atheist, filled his news feed with atheist tracts. He gloated about his unwillingness to consider other opinions and the fact that people who disagreed with him were unfollowing him. So, I unfollowed him as well.

Also, I’ve been seeing a bunch of people saying they are leaving social media, at least for the time being. I can understand the desire or even need to do that. Yet at the same time, it seems important for those who can stick around to remain as a positive influence.

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