Bob Schwartz

Month: November, 2016

Healing and Magic: We Are Not Alone

White Tara

All of our religious traditions—Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and all others—include an element of healing. Healing of body, heart and mind. The Gospels, for example, contain many important stories about healing, from curing chronic illness to reversing death itself.

We invoke the power to heal in various ways. In Judaism, the Mi Shebeirach is recited:

May the one who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless and heal those who are ill. May the Blessed Holy One be filled with compassion for their health to be restored and their strength to be revived. May God swiftly send them a complete renewal of body and spirit, and let us say, Amen.

In Buddhism, White Tara, an important embodiment of compassion, is invoked:

The liberator of suffering shines light upon me to create an abundance of merit and wisdom for long life and happiness.

Is this magic we are engaged in? If you take magic to be a call to illegitimate and evil powers, as some traditions do, then this might have to be classified as something else. If you take magic to be the recognition of a seeming powerlessness in the face of things as they are and an attempt to borrow and employ the power we believe in, then magic it is.

This invocation of the power to heal—by ourselves, in a family, in a community—is a way of practicing that we are not alone. When healing is needed, that is something we want to know.

For JRK.

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Free Your Mind and the Country Will Follow

free-your-ass

Free Your Mind and the Country Will Follow

They say
All tactics
No strategy.
They say
All strategy
No tactics.
They say
No strategy
No tactics.
None of it matters
Without a mind
Clear and open
As the ocean.

This was inspired by listening to Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra (born 1969, reborn 1983). The title is adapted from an album by Funkadelic (above), Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow (1970). In politics and life, the point exactly.

Lincoln Proclaims Thanksgiving: “Penitence for our national perverseness”

“Thanksgiving-Day,” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, December 5, 1863.

“Thanksgiving-Day,” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, December 5, 1863.

The modern Thanksgiving holiday begins with Abraham Lincoln issuing a Thanksgiving Day proclamation on October 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War.

At that point, America was a country of two cultures; in fact, of two nations at war. Even history was the subject of dispute. The North traced our national origin to the Puritans of New England, thus Thanksgiving was their American holiday. The South believed America began with the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.

In his proclamation, Lincoln calls for healing and for “peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.” In terms of union, however, it isn’t clear who Lincoln refers to when he asks for “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” Exactly who has been perverse and disobedient?

One thing is clear. Even with all his divine pleas, Lincoln calls this conflict of principles and cultures inevitable—“the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged.”

Lincoln held a famously and understandably dark view of his American times, shaded by realities and by his own depressive personality. We can and should take a brighter view this Thanksgiving, having come so far from the America of 1863, and having much to be thankful for. But just as we repeat his call for “peace, harmony, tranquillity” we are remiss to ignore the realities of 2016. Like Lincoln, we should be big, open and wise enough to see things as they are, and to change them as needed, always being painfully aware of the cost.

From his proclamation:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

President John Barron

Things happened so fast in this campaign that it is hard to remember everything. I had forgotten, and was just reminded by a previous post of mine, that Donald Trump reportedly had called up journalists pretending to be a publicist for Trump named John Miller or John Barron (Barron is the name of Trump’s youngest son).

This gave me an idea, to help those who are still having trouble with the election results, and may have trouble for a while to come. Consider identifying the next President as either John Miller or John Barron. (Between the two, President John Barron has a very presidential, almost royal, sound to it.)

The news about the next administration may not be easy for some people to accept. But if you think of it as the administration of President John Barron, that might make things just a little bit easier.

Talk

Talk

Breathe
While you talk
And every word
Is silent.

Good Fortunes

fortune-cookies

Good Fortunes

A mountain of fortune cookies
For a feast.
Cracking one then another
All good.
One then another
All bad.
You have missed
The real meal.

Democratic Millionaires and Billionaires To Meet in Palm Beach to Plan the Future of the Party of the People

For a while today, I thought that Kanye West announcing he would have voted for Trump—if he had voted—was the most interesting bit of news.

But this from Politico is much better:

David Brock on Thursday night emailed more than 200 of the biggest donors on the left — including finance titans George Soros, Tom Steyer and Donald Sussman — inviting them to a retreat in Palm Beach over inauguration weekend to assess what Democrats did wrong in 2016, figure out how to correct it and raise cash for those initiatives.

For the Democratic establishment, it is not just that they are pretending that Bernie Sanders never happened. They are pretending that the election never happened, or that what did happen had nothing to do with the party being hopelessly and cluelessly out of touch with the constituencies it needs to win elections.

Thomas Frank wrote about this in his recent book Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? It is an insightful work, and one that presages and sort of predicts the results of this presidential election. It deserves a complete reading, and his multi-faceted analysis is not quickly summarized. But here is one aspect:

ON THE LIBERALISM OF THE RICH

I am pressing on a sensitive point here. Democrats cherish their identification as the Party of the People, and they find it unpleasant to be reminded that affluent professionals are today among their most dedicated supporters. Democrats’ close relationship with the successful is not something they advertise or even discuss openly.

Exceptions to this rule are rare. One of the few works I know of that seems to approve, albeit with reservations, of liberalism’s alliance with a segment of the upper crust is the 2010 book Fortunes of Change, written by the philanthropy journalist David Callahan. The premise of his argument is that our new, liberal plutocracy is different from plutocracies of the past because rich people today are sometimes very capable. “Those who get rich in a knowledge economy,” the journalist tells us, are well-schooled; they often come from the ranks of “highly educated professionals” and consequently they support Democrats, the party that cares about schools, science, the environment, and federal spending for research…

There’s a simple reason that financial firms rallied to the Democrat [Barack Obama] on that occasion, Callahan suggests: because people on Wall Street, being very smart and very well-educated, are natural liberals….

To this honor roll of intellectual and financial achievement, Callahan appends the following observation: “This is definitely not the Sarah Palin demographic.”

No. But neither is it a demographic with any particular concern for the fate of working people.

In addition to Frank’s book, also recommended is the new book from Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. I don’t think Bernie’s going to be invited to the Palm Beach gathering, but boy howdy, that would be something.

By a Captain You’re No Captain

child-captain

There’s an old comedy bit that appears on a bestselling comedy album from 1965, You Don’t Have To Be Jewish. My Son, The Captain is about a rich guy who’s proudly showing of his new yacht and his captain’s outfit to his parents. His father puts him in his place.

Son: Well, Mama, Papa, how do you like my new yacht? Cost me $84,000, with the twin diesel engines, top speed 35 knots. And here we are on the open sea, with the sea and the sun and the wind in our hair. It’s a little different than the Bronx, huh, Mama, Papa?

Papa: Yeah.

Mama: That’s right.

Son: And look at this uniform I’m wearing. Custom made, from Abercrombie and Fitch. How about it, Papa. Your son is a regular captain, huh?

Papa: Listen, sonny. I don’t have to tell you, by Mama you’re a captain, by me you’re a captain, and by you you’re a captain. But by a captain you’re no captain.

First Light

First Light

Night
Weightless or heavy
With dreams.
First light
First word
First wordless thought.
Sinking
Lifting
Waking
No thought at all.

Create a Fragrance by Abraham Lincoln

Trump Success Launch

We know what Donald Trump thinks that driven and confident men should smell like.

Success

“Success By Trump captures the spirit of the driven man. The scent is an inspiring blend of fresh juniper and iced red currant, brushed with hints of coriander. As it evolves, the mix of frozen ginger, fresh bamboo leaves and geranium emerge taking center stage, while a masculine combination of rich vetiver, tonka bean, birchwood and musk create a powerful presence throughout wear.”

Empire

“Empire by Trump is the perfect accessory for the confident man determined to make his mark with passion, perseverance and drive. For those who aspire to create their own empire through personal achievement, this dynamic scent is both compelling and leaves a lasting impression. Bold notes of peppermint, spicy chai and a hint of apple demand attention.”

What would a fragrance by Abraham Lincoln be like? What would he call it? How would he describe it?

Abraham Lincoln

To get started, here is the list of ingredients Trump put in his fragrances, Success and Empire. But please feel free to be creative. You are creating a fragrance for one of our greatest Presidents.

Apple
Bamboo leaves
Birchwood
Chai
Coriander
Geranium
Ginger
Juniper
Musk
Peppermint
Red currant
Tonka bean
Vetiver