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SatanMinnesota state representative Rep. Jim Knoblach (R) ended his re-election bid after learning Minnesota Public Radio News (MPR) wrote of his daughter’s accusations of inappropriately touching for years.

MPR wrote the case file is detailed, including written transcripts of interviews, copies of old diary entries and handwritten notes, but makes no mention of law enforcement reaching out to Jim Knoblach to be interviewed. The case file reveals Laura Knoblach reached out to various people throughout her life to express concerns about her father’s behavior, including her mother, Janet Knoblach, but apparently received little to no help.

I thought of Ms. Knoblach after listening to current Republican leaders summarily dismiss Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations, and to a larger extent, how the religious community’s wholesale embrace of Republican norms, including those of Donald J Trump, necessitated the rewriting of personal and moral ethics. But the hypocrisy of legislative staff is not limited to Ford alone.

The Wrap’s John Levine noted Pro-Trump CNN political commentator Jason Miller announced he’s “decided to step away” from the network after a recent accusation in a legal filing that he slipped abortion pills to a former lover without her knowledge.

Lastly, the York Daily Record recorded,

“Found within the depths of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on priest sex abuse is a letter written by a former Diocese of Scranton bishop.

A priest raped a girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion, according to the grand jury report. And then-Bishop James C. Timlin wrote a letter expressing his feelings: “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.””

I remember an op-ed by Jennifer Weiner from October 2017. Weiner wrote of Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who resigned his House seat two days after voting for a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks on the medically dubious grounds that, at that age, a fetus can experience pain.

I was proud both to sponsor and vote for this important bill to clearly stand for the dignity and value of all human life, both the born and the unborn,” Murphy wrote.

Then The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published texts revealing that when Mr. Murphy’s mistress thought she was pregnant, Murphy urged her to consider an abortion.

Sarcastically, Weiner wrote:

“There are a few, rare exceptions that abortion opponents tend to allow to their hard-line rules: rape, incest, life or health of the mother, and “I got my mistress pregnant.

For real life American, it’s become ok to dance with Satan, as long as you’re doing it for God.

You know all those websites claiming Trump has lied 3,000 or so times? No biggie. He’s also pro-life. He’s doing God’s work.

Remember Leviticus 19:33-34? You know the line saying “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.” Fuck that. God now allows us to ‘discern’ which aliens to love. That means Norwegians are in, Mexicans out. After all, white lives matter more than others. Right? Right.

Trump’s closest evangelic adviser, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas told reporters in 2011 that Mormonism is a “cult” and that voting for Romney for president would “give credibility to a cult.” I am sure any one of the Pennsylvanian Archdiocese victims will be comforted by Jeffress. After all, he’s a man of God.

Then there’s Moore … As in former Judge Roy Moore. Moore lent his unsolicited endorsement to the similarly troubled Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Moore came to the nominee’s defense by sharing a supporter’s quip with his 80,000 Facebook followers: “They are Trying to ‘Judge Moore’ Him with Unproven Sex Assault Claim.” Moore, if you recall, is the same Moore who likes to date underage teenagers while simultaneously returning God’s ten commandments to America’s judicial system.

Supporting Kavanaugh is critical. Kavanaugh represents the man from God who can potentially overturn Roe vs. Wade. As such, Kavanaugh supporters dismiss his youthful behavior in a whole range of ways – but not assault. And if true, Kavanaugh’s actions constitute little more than normal adolescent male behavior. Remember, the the columnist from God’s network, (i.e., Fox News) Stephen Miller tweeted, “it was drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven.”

Daniel J. Boorstin, in his piece “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961)” notes.

“We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

Congratulations America. You’re pretty sick.

Never Become the Story

NYTBy all accounts, The New York Times (NYT) is a wonderful newspaper – excellent journalists and usually staunch supporters of verifying truth over perception and innuendo. I’ve loved reading the NY Times and I’ve been a subscriber for years – until yesterday.

By my perception, the NYT has had a lousy month. September 5th, NYT editorial staff published an anonymous editorial, I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. That publication had both critics and supporters. For supporters, the NYT displayed a sense of courage often undertaken in articulating one person’s perception of day-to-day events. Politico.com argued that by not forcing the author to identify her, or himself, the NYT has made that process (being anonymous) more difficult. For me, I saw nothing in the writer’s op-ed extraordinary enough that justifies access to the NYTs’ powerful platform.

In a story destined to alter history, NYT reporters Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt delivered a powerful headline September 22nd: “Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment.” The story focuses on Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, the man responsible for overseeing the investigation into potential Russian collusion. For that reason, he is of tremendous interest to Trump. Getting rid of Rosenstein would be supremely helpful to Trump as he could nominate Rosenstein’s replacement and shut down the Russia investigation.

It’s difficult, at this stage, to assess the story and what really happened. The primary source for the NYT appears to be a series of memos written by McCabe. Additionally, the NYT’s sources were sources who briefed on Rosenstein’s comments and seen memos prepared by someone else. In other words, the NYT are all second-hand – individuals not present during actual events.

In fact, the only direct human quotes are from Rosenstein’s denials.

New York Times reporters are convinced Rosenstein was serious about using wire taps and vetting the 25th amendment. How do they know? According to CNN’s interview, Rosenstein discussed it twice. As in 2 times.

Seriously?

So, Rosenstein stated the ‘25th Amendment‘ twice? Any action to initiate the thought? “No.” Any evidence of secret meetings with cabinet officials that propelled invoking the 25th Amendment? “No.” Any secret memo’s, confirmations or planning by anyone, an FBI agent, the postmaster, Facebook post, Twitter post saying “Meet me at the secret galley,” or even a mic’d up squirrel? “No.” The entire article’s basis is founded upon someone’s inference of another person’s interpretation of Rosenstein’s comments.

The writers should have cited a source for every claim but don’t. Thus, readers have no way of knowing whether the facts are accurate. All of this was irresponsibly shaped and void of important framework.

Key takeaways. First, I have no clue if Mueller’s investigation will bring any meaningful charges against Trump’s inner circle. But it should be allowed to finish. Second, if you’re going to call out the deputy attorney general for instigating a potential coup d’é·tat, better have something more than second-hand sources. Third, if I published something like this, my employer would fire me.

All the NYT did was become the story.

It’s hard to write an eloquent memoriam of McCain when many an author have captured McCain’s and eloquence so much better. Yet, as my friends would note, my view of McCain is complicated. Writer Jeff Barker captured my thoughts perfectly:

“But he [McCain] once told me that Udall naturally possessed something McCain had to continually strive for — grace. McCain could be engaging and jocular but also temperamental, sometimes holding years-long grudges or allowing his passion for a pet cause to override his better instincts.”

Yeah. Been there myself. Truth be told, we all hold grudges.

Still, in the spirit of love, while walking my parent’s dog on the outskirts of Tucson, AZ, I calmly listened to many a resident openly admiring the man who represented the state. However, when querying about what McCain had done for them in the last 5 years, not one could answer. Statisticians could claim McCain was no Maverick, for he voted along party lines approximately 94% of the time. Yet I will focus on McCain, the hero.

I was seven years old when McCain’s Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down over Vietnam. While I played ‘Army’ in the backyard, McCain spent five and a half years in North Vietnam being tortured. He refused to leave the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ without fellow POWs’. Thus, when I think of the rift between a current leader and McCain, I remember Khizr Khan directly addressing a political candidate, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

McCain’s worldview can be paraphrased from his last words to America:

And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

But the uniqueness of John McCain are echoed in Meghan McCain’s tribute.

“In the … years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me and supported me in all things. He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman — and he showed me what it is to be a man.”

… the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations and his love.”

Ponder Ms. McCain’s note“He showed what it is to be a man.”

I was in the military and received medals. But I’m no hero. Borrowing from the Bible,  I am not worthy to untie the strap of McCain’s shoes. Dale Carnegie once wrote, ” The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus.”  McCain is a true ‘once in a lifetime real deal.’ We will miss him dearly.

So my friends … live to his example.

He Remains My Father

As my father hurls toward his final passing, he spends endless hours watching television – in particular, ‘NCIS.’ Until recently, I personally never watched more than a handful of episodes. My father however, spends endless hours digesting this show. Ironically, he doesn’t remember episodes. He could watch the same episode over and over and it would be new to him each time he watched, for as his cognitive abilities become limited, it’s hard to follow plot lines and characters’.

I have no particular dig against many of the of the crime drama television shows. But I will say this, most of them are a goddamn poor form of entertainment. The weekly hashing of death and destruction is awfully depressing. There is no good food for thought. Outside of the occasional humor, it’s frick’n depressing. Still I recognize that one may consider “The Kardashians” actual entertainment while others may not. And again, one who hates ‘The Kardashians‘ may love ‘Criminal Minds.’ Personally, I find neither offering value.

Searching my own values, I have many questions. From a Buddhist perspective, does seeing other people’s suffering gives us a sense of community and togetherness? By watching such shows, are we enjoined by the community with the idea we’re all in this life together? Why can’t we not appreciate what we have without having requiring some frame of reference for both positive and negative? If the goal of any Buddhist is to eliminate suffering, I query, why do I participate in another’s misery? Why am I entertained?

While my father’s situation is dire, watching these shows does not drive me to despair. My father remains an inspiring presence – one whom, even at this late stage of life, I can forge bonds regardless of such ignorance streamed via cable. For the first time in years, I studied my father, his disciplined effort to escape the skin cells that binds him and his personal quest for ultimate enlightenment. I intently studied him, his fractured body—and smiled remembering the Iron Man of my youth. I love him so.

So, in spite of the shows he watches, he remains my father. He is forever my Iron Man.

 

At 86, my father lay at the precipice of passing. He spends nights talking to ‘friends’ – those being his mother, an old friend or angels he claims to be guides. During the waking hours, my father’s life is not unlike Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

For 15 hours a day, I sit in this same chair, totally dependent on someone else coming in here to make me a cup of tea,” Kubler-Ross says. “It’s neither living nor dying. It’s stuck in the middle.”

Watching a loved one pass can be painful, gratifying, even joyous. Seems ritualistic for my mother, for this is not the first time my father died.

May 21th, 2001 was the first time my father passed. During emergency procedures, he claimed to have an out-of-body experience and successfully repeated, verbatim, all medical procedures to every clinician. He briefly entered the brightest white light ever seen, spoke to his mother and was able to identify key angels, ‘helpers’ and ‘takers.’

The above background lays the groundwork for this post. My thoughts are not of the afterlife, white lights, or angels. Rather, I wish to document critical life lessons my father has revealed in the autumn of his.

Lesson 1

One beautiful thing about death is that one’s life circumstances doesn’t determine your outcome. Whatever your life, whatever your mistakes, God probably doesn’t view personal successes and failures as ‘black’ or ‘white.’ All of us are redeemable. All are loved. And in God, there are no ordinary moments, there is no ordinary person.

Lesson 2

We all feel heaven will end our human experience. Yet, my father has taught me heaven is a world where pain is not worth losing every other emotion and experience that makes us proud to be human. Spiritual living is a changing experience that should cause all of us to dig deep and live all the moments we’ve ever dreamed about, regardless whether they be here or in heaven.

Lesson 3

Love is the most powerful purifier of all. When our heart is filled with love, we are healed. God’s love resonates with everything around us that affects the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. True love purifies the spirit and cleanses the soul. Expect nothing less from heaven itself.

Lesson 4

Heaven is probably more like our world than we think. Just as we are a collaboration of energies, heaven is probably reinforces that everyone has something to contribute. Everybody has a purpose and a spiritual life attunes you to the rest of the universe. All the life force energy comes to your aid when your purpose is in attunement with betterment of the universe as a whole. “All energy is only borrowed … You have to give it back.”

Lesson 5

Lesson 5 summarizes 1 through 4. Simply stated, Heaven and life, are very similar to ramen. Maezumi from the film The Ramen Girl summarizes what my father has been trying to teach me for 58 years.

A bowl of ramen is a self-contained universe with life from the sea, the mountains, and the earth. All existing in perfect harmony. Harmony is essential. What holds it all together is the broth. The broth gives life to the ramen.

What’s in the broth? Love.

Pre-accident, my parents were a lively young eighty-year-old something couple. Post-accident, I look through my father’s eyes and see life’s bewilderment. Hmm, the future for both of us is an uneasy fear – an fear of the future and declining health. Pre-accident, my father was lively, inspired and full of wonder. Post-accident, he sits in an easy chair, moves little and stares endlessly into repeat episodes of NCIS.

At dinner, my mother discussed how many members of the 55+ retirement community often commit suicide after receiving terminal diagnosis. “Somehow,” she muttering string through her coffee, “I thought our final years would be different.”

After 14 years in the medical industry, I with certainty that the final years for the majority will be unlike any Hollywood film illusion. In “On Golden Pond,” Henry Fonda’s character, Norman, is similar to my father.

“You want to know why I came back so fast? I got to the end of our lane. I couldn’t remember where the old town road was. I went a little ways in the woods. There was nothing familiar. Not one damn tree. Scared me half to death.”

Many of us in the shimmering landscape of life will seemingly suffer needlessly. Living this life means all of us will have to navigate the constant demand of human growth and change. And what my father is living is fear. It’s the same fear his father lived, and his father’s father. Like Norman, the road for all leads to nothing familiar.

Everyone ages differently. Then if we must age, as all do, we must age differently than our fathers and refuse the role of victim or recluse. We must remain interested in maintaining relationships, remain nonjudgmental and approach our “twilight” with a sense of adventure.

In life, and in death, in order for us to understand the ideals of harmony and peace, a certain amount of discord and dissonance must be endured. Human frailty tests the limits of personal endurance. Yet if we overcome our frailty, even in death, we join the cycle of the seasons and become what God has always wished – perfection.

It seems like forever since I’ve written. In theory, one might say I’ve busy. Some time ago, my eighty-year-old parents collided head on with an SUV trying to cut across several lanes. Or, another friend might blame it on the fact I’ve now moved to a wheelchair. As a result, there’s less stress on my heart.

In truth, I haven’t written due to time and having a lack of anything to say.

I thought of letting my blog just reside there, allowing those who wander across my words to read, partake and ponder. And while visitors still read my posts, the exchange of ideas probably occurs offline. In truth, there is no one ‘right’ way to exchange my thoughts. Enjoy them as needed. Find strength in them as required. My words are not my words, but rather that eternal inspiration that guides all living creatures.

Today’s message is one many have pondered. After having cared for my parents post-wreck, I read of Dale Earnhardt Jr. account where he believed a supernatural being pulled him from a fiery wreck. I wouldn’t have thought much of the account if it had not been for my father. A few days ago, my father stated that during the head on collision, he saw four angels or spirits. He remains unaware of their purpose, except many medical professionals, after reviewing accident pictures, pondered how either of the vehicle occupants remained alive.

The desert southwest, where my parents live, is full of wonder and movement – a geological marvel where spiritual and physical life resides and interact. However, this interaction is not exclusive to only the desert southwest. I believe the spiritual and physical lives and breathes around us each day.

We just need to look and experience. We need to reach beyond our own limitations and believe

On many occasions, I encounter those who make their daily obsession with legalism above real love. As such, they are unable to see beyond their own “shadows of bigotry” and refuse to allow all to experience God as commanded by Christ. To highlight, I offer two contrasting stories: the first from twenty-two years ago and the second from today.

In the fall of 1996, I attended a weekend retreat at a northern California Monastery. During a Saturday night Eucharist, the Benedictine monk explained mass is a privileged time when we offer ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord along with the gifts of bread and wine, and, by receiving him in Holy Communion, allow him to transform us too into the Body of Christ, just as surely as the gifts are transformed.

One-by-one, each retreatant moved from the congregational seats and proceeded to receive the Eucharist. Just before ending, the monk noticed a lone woman remained three rows deep. With offering in hand, the monk stood to the woman’s side as tears flowed from her eyes.

“Please?” the monk gestured.

“No, I cannot” the woman responded.

“Why not?”

“Father, I have immigrated from Iran. I have not Catholic and am forbidden to receive the Holy Communion.”

“My dear child,” the monk whispered. “I am most certain Christ will not mind.” The monk outstretched his arm, placed the communion in his fingers, “The Body of Christ.”

“Amen,” said the Iranian woman as a river of tears flowed from her heart.

Contrast the story above against that which was witnessed today.

An Asian woman was the Taiwanese daughter of a Protestant Pastor. Having spent all her life giving to Christ and to the mission of God, she immigrated and found a home in an eastern Missouri city.

After years of dedication and service, she received her PhD in counseling and Christian theology. As a result, she was highly coveted speaker in the Christian arena and was actively recruited by a local Catholic seminary to teach seminary students, priests and nuns counseling and Christian faith.

As she often does, she attends mass almost daily and receives communion regularly.

Just like all other days, she proceeded to receive communion, but today was unlike all other days. The Jesuit Priest knew she was not Catholic and when her turn for communion came, the priest publicly refused her Communion.

This servant of God was publicly called out, not for her love, dedication and communion with Christ, but simply because she was not Catholic. As a river of tears flowed from her heart none of her peers challenged the priest.

Verily I say, those who pretend to be above it all are the ones to worry about. These are the ones who destroy the relationships of Christ. Be careful, for Christ calls them “blind guides.”

In both stories, Christ witnessed a river of tears. Yet, which servant will Christ honor?

I looked at the yin-yang symbol for nearly a decade and always thought I understood the hidden dynamic. Rooted in Chinese philosophy, are often thought to be opposing forces versus complimentary forces.

Others propose a more defined view, that everything has both yin, the darker, more passive force, and yang, a more active positive force. The message insinuates that yin cannot exist without yang. Vice versus, yang cannot exist without yin. Lastly, some taught that neither yin nor yang could exist without the other.

I refined my personal perspective after watching the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In Rogue One, we learn that the same material used by the Death Star to destroy planets also powered the Jedi’s light saber. In The Last Jedi, Rey learned the Jedi hold no exclusivity rights to the Force, for the Force is in everything and everyone has equal access. Thus, as Christ would say, each one of us has the ability to accomplish what Christ did and more.

Moving forward, I ask the following question: “What if there is neither a yin nor yang?” What if the world’s yin and yang happen to be derived from the same one life force? What if our own personal yin and yang are derived from the very same force? If true, what becomes of yin and yang?

I propose both yin and yang are breathed to life via personal choice. All of us, will at times, choose yin. Likewise, all of us, at times choose yang. Christ talked of such a view in Matthew 15:19,”For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” The challenge lay in choice.

In Rogue One, the blind spiritual master Chirrut Imwe, was in constant dialogue with “the force” as he chanted “I am one with the force, the force is with me.” We must be in constant dialogue with the Father if we want to know what he wants us to do and where to go.

I conclude from the story of a Cherokee grandfather teaching his grandson about life.

A fight is going on inside me,” the elder said. ”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.

So, which will you feed? The yin? Or the Yang?

A little over a week ago, I stumbled upon the movie A Monster Calls.  As noted in my last entry, A Monster Calls is the story of a 12-year-old boy coming to terms with the fact that his mother is dying. Its extraordinary power lies in the interweaving of the fantastical and the everyday. As a result, a tree monster comes to tell three stories, each of which provides a significant lesson for any person could learn.

The second story is a call to faith.

The Story

A conservative pastor follows old Biblical traditions and beliefs is pestered by an older medicine man to cut down an older magical tree for use to make medicine. The parson considers the old medicine repugnant and proclaims as much from the pulpit. In time, even those who been healed by the medicine man turn against the healer. Thus, in time, the healer is nearly destroyed by destitution.

A plague sweeps the land and many die. In time, the parson’s daughters become ill. When all medical resources are exhausted, the parson goes before the medicine man and begs for his daughter’s healing. When the parson promises to renounce his belief should his daughter become healed, the medicine man says he cannot help the parson. Thus, the parson’s daughters die. The magical tree awakens and destroys the medicine man’s home and livelihood. As a result, both men are destroyed.

Key Takeaway

The moral of the story is that the parson was a man of faith, but only when that faith suited him. The parson had no faith of his own and changed beliefs as it suited him. In order for the medicine to have worked, one had to have had faith in the medicine. Without faith, there is no life.

As quoted by the monster, “Belief is half of all healing. Belief in the cure, belief in the future that awaits.”

Two events of my life provide stark reminders of the second tale.

Spiritual Lesson 1

Two events in my life stark reminders of the Monster’s second tale.

First a woman has had two-year long battle of an undefined illness. When traditional medicine provided little relief, she happened upon a cloister of Dominican Nuns. Saddened by the woman’s sorrow, the nuns prayed for her healing.  Several days later, the woman felt the nuns healing had a positive effect, that she was healing. However, the very next day, the woman’s condition slightly changed and she lost hope and of the faith of the nuns.

Spiritual Lesson 2 – My Lesson

There once lived a Buddhist who once was touched by the hand of God. Through meditation, he found he could change and heal the wounds of others. Angered by the lack of faith found in others, he hid himself from the very force that could heal. In time, the power and joy of healing wandered away.  I am reminded to tap into the ‘unbounded spirituality‘ available to all. The personal lesson learnt forty years ago, when I first met God was simple. I thought I was ‘chosen.’ Only now do I realize I was not chosen. I simply had a beautiful gift, that when dipped in the paint of God’s faith, became extremely powerful. Unfortunately, I hid. And those in need suffered from my selfishness to remain anonymous.

If gifted, you must continually renew yourself. Renewal means you must step from life’s shadow, accept the bad, but be reminded to see the good – and the potential for greatness – in everyone.

God calls it faith.

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