Archive for the ‘cycle of hope’ Tag

Remembrance Day, 2015

When do Remembrance Day “celebrations” become a glorification of war?

Ted Schmidt has written a thoughtful reflection on this question; one that can be accessed at:

OR, one can reflect on Matthew 5: 43 – 47

Oligarchs And The People

The increased concentration of wealth in “western” societies invites us to think about the oligarchs around us, and ask whether we are living in a new feudal society. Chris Hedges writes that:

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.

CCPA Monitor, December 2013 / January 2014, page 29

Take Responsibility

Take Responsibility

Preparing for Black Friday

Jesus the Homeless

Jesus the Homeless

” False idols are everywhere these days: in newspapers, on TV ads, on billboards, in magazines, in the margins of every website, even on the phone. They are meant to excite us and arrest us and, they hope, seduce us. It’s not what we pass up because we can’t afford it that counts. It’s what we pass up because we don’t need it even when we can afford it. Then we know that we are free. “

Joan Chittister in her book, The Art of Life, p. 117

Remembrance Day, 2014

“Edith” lives in a nursing home in the United Kingdom, not far from the town from which she immigrated in 1946 from Berlin, Germany. The following quote about her views of Remembrance Day was published in the United Church Observer, November, 2014.

i-remember-for-peaceOf course we should focus on peace, yes, but first we have to understand why it is so important. Remembrance Day, is about remembering how easy it is for any nation to follow the wrong leadership and fall over the precipice into chaos. We remember the horror, the devastation, the depravity and the colossal losses and waste of human life. But most important is to remember what human life is capable of when we lose our way. We all have much to seek forgiveness for.”


Peripheral Growth


By Jim Taylor

Having become a gardener late in life, I have to admit that I get a certain sadistic satisfaction from the sucking sound that roots make as weeds reluctantly give up clutching the earth.
Of course, I’m kidding myself that the entire root mass has come up.
Years ago, an exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre demonstrated that a large part of any plant’s roots are invisible. They’re little tendrils of slime that prepare a path for the rest of the root to follow.
That’s how a boreal spruce can wedge itself into an infinitesimal crack. Slime will infiltrate even the finest of fissures. And where the slime has gone, woody root cells will follow. Until eventually the root splits a four-billion-year-old rock.
Sometimes I visualize trees as surgical stitches that bind earth and air together.
The two ends of trees — roots and branches — share many similarities. Both reach out from a central core. Both divide into smaller and smaller filaments. Both grow only at their farthest ends….

The pattern replicates in many other forms of life. It’s no coincidence that when we draw our ancestral lineages, we call them a family tree. The tributaries of a river make a root pattern as they flow together; when they reach a delta, they branch profusely. Our human circulatory system pumps blood out into smaller and smaller capillaries, then reverses the process to gather it back for cleansing and renewal.
Even our brains may work the same way. An impulse fires millions of axons and dendrites; the brain filters that input to the neurons most capable of handling it, and feeds back a conscious thought.
We ourselves, when born, have only one connection — an umbilical cord to the person whose bodily organs sustained us for nine months. Then that connection is severed, and we start building invisible networks of relationships. Consciousness networks, perhaps. Filaments of shared experience. Which extend farther and grow more complex as we mature.

The pattern seems so universal, I’m tempted to extrapolate from it. For example, to hypothesize that growth only happens at the ends and edges.
In our personal lives, that means we need to keep pushing into uncharted territory to keep growing. We need to send out feelers into untested theories, unfamiliar relationships, unexplored situations. To see if something might take root there.
Also in our corporate lives. Growth does not come from our boardrooms and our head offices. The main trunk of any tree is mostly deadwood. Its sole purpose is to support the growing edges.
The early Christian church, a theology professor once pointed, grew at the edges. The new ideas — whether gentiles must observe Jewish law, whether women could be leaders, whether slaves could be free — got fed back from the new Christian communities to the central core.
Not all new ideas succeeded, of course. Some roots ran into dead ends. But others split the ancient rocks of tradition and created new ways of living.
The message seems clear — personally and collectively, we need to keep branching out beyond our comfort zones.
Copyright © 2014 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Coffee mug wisdom

Coffee mug wisdom

“Humans respond reliably not to information, but to meaning.

Not to knowledge, but to understanding.

The imperative is this:

Tell me if you must, but also show me; this is the ancient way of animals.”

Alanna Mitchell in her book, “Dancing at the Dead Sea”, page 219

Just Imagine …

“If you can imagine something, you can achieve it. One wish leads

to another. That’s not wishful thinking. That’s pragmatic. That changes

the world. And that’s why politics, which can be so frustrating,

can also be rewarding.”

Olivia Chow in her book, “My Journey”, page 301

Posted March 16, 2014 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

Tagged with , , ,

Hope – Advent 1



Hope brings us a different definition of “success”; different from the definition of that of the corporate, consumer, competitive society.

Success is “that which contributes to the well-being of our larger body, the web of life.

This hope-filled definition is from Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s book, Active Hope.

Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

An inspiring and powerful book for anyone seeking to step up and commit to repairing our broken world.

MAR 14 2013

Reviewed in A/J Alternatives Journal by: KELLEY TISH BAKER

Active Hope book review A\J

Climate change, overpopulation, rampant consumerism and other huge problems make it pretty hard to feel hopeful about the fate of the world. We can all rhyme off many ways in which our planet is being assaulted. Yet, according to Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, none of these phenomena are what most imperil our world. The problem is the debilitating fatalism that we harbour when we think of them. According to Macy and Johnstone, “the greatest danger of our times is the deadening of our response.”

The environmental movement’s usual prescriptions for change contain a glaring omission: insight into how our deepest emotional responses to crisis stop us from acting. Fear, anger, despair and anxiety all form “a pivotal psychological reality of our times,” even if this fact is understated in mainstream media or everyday conversation. But we don’t have to let these emotions overwhelm us. We can learn to work with them so they become sources of strength.

Macy and Johnstone are well equipped to show us how. She is a respected author, activist and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology. He is a medical doctor who specializes in the psychology of behavioural change and emotional resilience. Together they present an astute and heartfelt guide that explains how to bolster our capacity to meet our challenges. Fine-tuned in workshops around the world, their approach draws insights from psychology, Buddhism and science to offer a range of ways we can reframe our blinkered and distorted thinking. Their aim is to empower us to play our own unique role in “The Great Turning” – an epic transformation into a sustainable, life-affirming society.

Macy and Johnstone argue that we need to rethink our notion of hope itself. Rather than it being a quality we either have or do not, they maintain that hope is a practice borne of our values:

Active Hope involves identifying the outcomes we hope for and then playing a dedicated, deliberate role in bringing them about. We don’t wait until we are sure of success. We don’t limit our choices to the outcomes that seem likely. Instead, we focus on what we truly, deeply long for, and then we proceed to take determined steps in that direction.

The authors map out four successive “movements,” each involving shifts in our perspective. The first, which they call “coming from gratitude,” teaches us to realize we don’t need what consumer society is shilling in order to be happy.

Following that, “honouring our pain for the world” demands a reframing of our understanding, so we can see pain for what it is – a testimony to how deeply we love the world. In a culture that exhorts us to think positively, a strong response to the crisis we’re in can be seen as negative, if not pathological. But it doesn’t have to be understood as such.

Macy and Johnstone further implore us to “see with new eyes,” to develop a wider sense of self that goes beyond atomistic individualism, and to replace it with an understanding of the world that is inexorably embedded in various overlapping communities of the web of life. Finally, we must “go forth,” and learn how to become (and stay) inspired. We need to clearly imagine the future we want and move towards it.

Active Hope is an inspiring and powerful book that can benefit anyone seeking to step up and own her or his commitment to repairing our broken world. Though some readers might be wary of the authors’ reliance on Buddhist thought, they needn’t worry. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to draw on the rich wisdom of this tradition, just as you needn’t “have” hope in order to embrace it.

Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Novato, California: New World Library, 2012, 288 pages

This review originally appeared in Greenbelts, Issue 39.2Subscribe now to get more book reviews in your mailbox!


Sunrise at Cape Spear - a new day!From a poster at Five Oaks – a United Church of Canada retreat centre:

Live fully in the present

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Honour tradition and the ancestors

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Hear the voice of tomorrow