Saturday, August 11, 2007

Do They Really Care?

Nothing shows the moral and political nihilism of the right wing more than they're oft-stated desire for another terrorist attack to vindicate they're lack of leadership over the past six years. This is the latest example. It's disgusting, anti-American, and hateful. There isn't even the presence of logic to make it understandable. It is just the wish for greater deaths in order to clamp down even further on control of the country - it is the pursuit of power, pure and simple.

The idea that it "may take another terrorist attack to wake the people up" is ludicrous. The idea that somehow the people of this country aren't aware of the threat of potential terror attacks ignores the reality that the Bush Administration refuses to pursue the terrorists, occupying Iraq and threatening Iran instead. Osama bin Laden is still out there, and we do nothing. al Qaeda is as strong as it was before the original attacks, and we do nothing. The idea that the anti-war and anti-Bush folks will be to blame in the face of an attack ignores simple reality. In fact, it will vindicate everything we have been saying for years. Sadly, the deaths, destruction, etc. will be laid at the feet of people who obviously do not care about human life, even American lives. That there might be a further crackdown on our Constitutional rights in the wake of such an attack (not that there are many left for them to tear to shreds . . .) is scary. That they all seem to want one makes one wonder how hard they will work to prevent it. I might once have dismissed such talk as conspiracy and fear-mongering. Now, who knows?

This is the party of responsibility. This is the party of morality. This is the party of national defense. This is the party of patriotism. They fail at all three, even as they shout ever more loudly that it is we bloggers and anti-war and anti-Bush folks who are to blame. They are a bunch of clowns, and should we survive the next few years, it will be despite, not because, of the Bush Administration.

Post Concert and Saturday Rock Show

The Dream Theater show last night was awesome - the best of the three I've seen. After a harrowing trip in which I drove through O'Hare Airport on a Friday afternoon (I missed my exits, darn it), I got to Rosemont and throughly enjoyed the show from beginning to the end.

They had two bands open for them. The first, a hardcore band from Canada called Into Eternity was, to be blunt, awful. Here's there one video, "Extreme Emotional Distress". The band was not EQ'd, overamplified, and it was thirty minutes wasted.

The second band was another new band. Called Redemption, they showed much promise, although they, too, hadn't been sound checked well enough - the keyboards especially could have benefited from a bit of tweaking from the soundboard. On the other hand, their music was much more melodic, the singer actually sang, and they showed promise as they seemed to sound a bit like Symphony X, Enchant, and other prog metal bands, but carving their own little niche. That was a great thirty minutes, and makes me want to go get their CD. This is a video for their song "Bleed Me Dry".

Here's an older clip, with Kevin Moore on keyboards, of Dream Theater doing a song they played last night, "Surrounded" from Images and Words.

The Limits of Reform

The past week or so has left me distraught. Once again, I have felt that all the months of writing, linking, networking, occasionally getting noticed in the national press - all this has come to nothing because it hasn't changed the fundamental discourse of Washington, or forced through to those who actually hold power and set the agenda that things have changed. I am reminded of reading about the run-up to the election of 1932. While it was clear that Hoover had bungled efforts to deal with the Depression, there was a consensus that Roosevelt would lose. For one thing, his management of affairs in New York as governor was too controversial. He angered the political bosses in New York City, riled up Al Smith at a Jefferson-Jackson Dinner a month before the election, when Smith came out and endorsed Hoover. He was disabled by polio, and a whispering campaign had begun about his relationship, or lack thereof, with his wife. On the campaign trail he was vague, speaking of balancing the budget and revoking Prohibition.

Back then, Maine voted in September. A rock-ribbed Republican state, Maine elected Democrats. Hoover took to the campaign trail and got even nastier toward his opponent, while Roosevelt continued to glide along. The results were the decimation of the Republican Party across the board. The national press acted as if it had occurred out of the blue. It hadn't. It was the result of years of Republican mismanagement, corruption, deference to big money, and a refusal to accept the reality that millions of Americans were suffering.

Flash forward, and we have a corrupt Republican Party in denial concerning the anger of the American people, not just toward an illegal war ill-planned, an occupation with no end in sight that is killing American men and women for no reason. We are angry because our government is destroying the Constitution. With every word from the Bush Administration, it is obvious these people are insisting that we believe them, not our lying eyes and lives.

The situation is made worse by a Democratic Party that seems bent on losing the good will of the voters who put them in office. Rather than demand a showdown with an unpopular President, they keep moving the goal posts, refuse to stand up and call a lie and a liar a lie and a liar. They have removed impeachment from the table - an utterly irresponsible act of political cowardice.

The problem we face is that Democrats are in the awkward position of attempting to work with true revolutionaries. The Republicans are committed to the notion that the rules of politics and public ethics and morality don't apply to them because they have been in the business, for the past quarter century, of overthrowing the political status quo. The Democrats seem to believe it is possible to work with these people, to compromise with them, to have comity and reach consensus with them. Our pundit class refuse to call the Republicans, and their governing philosophy what it is - revolutionary. They continue to treat Republican politicians as if they were not different from Everett Dirksen, Dwight Eisenhower, or even Ronald Reagan. Our chattering classes and the Democrats who listen to them assume the Republicans are open to dialogue and compromise.

They aren't. You cannot treat the contemporary Republican Party as if it was a continuation of the age of Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, or Bush 41. The men and women who currently occupy seats of authority and power as Republicans are committed to principles that do not allow for compromise. They are committed to a vision of the Executive that does not allow for compromise. As long as the Democrats believe they can work behind the scenes to forge consensus, the results will always look more like the horrendous immigration reform bill that died a swift death - it was not so much a compromise as a patchwork of incompatible carrots and sticks, the carrots being not enough and the stick being much too big. As long as the Democrats refuse to force a showdown in the name of Washington comity (I still can't get over Patrick Leahy refusing to put Gonzalez on the spot; this is the guy whom the Vice President of the United States told to "go fuck himself"; he has to know what these people are really like).

The Democrats, and to a certain extent we bloggers who have been their biggest boosters, have been committed to a practice of reform. The problem is reform can't work in an atmosphere in which the whip hand is still held by reactionary revolutionaries. It is a small, weakened hand, but as long as the Democrats continue to believe and quake in fear before the Republicans, it will fail. The first sign of real progress will be when there is no more talk between the White House and Congress over various people testifying. When warrants are issued, then I think I will take them seriously.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why Rush Things?

To be fair, Dream Theater isn't the only concert on my schedule this summer. In September, I'm heading down to the old Tweeter Center between Joliet and Chicago to see Rush. Here's a video from their new CD.

I know this makes me an old fart but I can't help it because these guys are so good. All these young bands are great - I would have dearly loved to see Tool in June - but the concerts are pretty rowdy, and I don't want to get beat up when I go to a show, all that moshing and crowd-surfing makes no sense to me at all.

Outrage Exhaustion, Part II

Digby has two posts, here on the Democrats' cowardly capitulation on the FISA legislation, and here on a Jane Meyer piece in The New Yorker detailing our non-torture of detainees. Both should be read and digested in full, although be prepared to step outside and breathe deeply due to raised blood-pressure levels.

As to the whole FISA betrayal, my only comments center of the destructive role of Dianne Feinstein, fake Democratic Senator from California. I must admit I have never quite trusted her; there was always something about the way she seemed to fake left then run right that reminded me of mediocre running backs. Except, of course, mediocre running backs get tackled, and Feinstein keeps running, first her mouth, then for the Senate. Bill Nelson of Florida is Joe Lieberman Lite; a fairly conservative guy from a fairly conservative state who doesn't appear on television showing the world what a doofus he is. Feinstein, however, likes to have her mug on the networks. That she has failed to do her duty to uphold the Constitution, and for no reason I can fathom by any stretch of reason or unreason is clear.

As an aside, I think digby takes Arthur's comments on her role as a useful idiot too hard. Arthur has long denied any merit to the American political system; like quite a lot of us, digby assumed that the Democrats understood that victory in last November's election, along with the massive shift in public opinion over the previous nine months to a year, actually meant something. Cowardly, craven, self-destructive to a fault, the Democrats have shown themselves singularly inept at governance. With a tin ear for the public mood, their radar kept within the boundaries of I-495, they have failed to do what they were elected to do. At the moment, I am not sure what recourse we have to fix the unholy mess we currently have, so don't look for constructive answers here, folks.

As to the piece on the Jane Meyer article, all I can say is - God Damn Them All. From the President and Vice-President on down to those who bind, strip, gag, give suppositories, and sleep deprive those whom we have illegally detained and held incommunicado. All of them. Anyone who tries to tell me there is some justification for this is aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. Anyone who tells me that this is necessary even if evil is aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. Again, there seems to be no way to stop it, and ranting about it just gets me even more upset, but I don't know what else to do.

Outrage Exhaustion, Part I

Remember the Hamdinyah murder case from a couple years ago? Some Marines entered a village, raped a young girl, then killed her family. First, we were told the murders were actually combat deaths of insurgents. Then we were told the Marines were acting out of rage because a member of their squad had just been killed by a sniper/IED/small arms fire. Then we were told they were revenge killings for the same death, only they occurred a few days later. Finally, we discover the Marines simply did what they did because they could, and a court martial found them guilty. Justice for at least a few Iraqi deaths, while delayed, was not denied, right?

Apparently, not.

I realize that, like Pres. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence for perjury, the Commanding Officer of the 1st Marines was perfectly within his rights to free the two Marines in question. What was achieved by doing so, however? Like Lt. Calley's release soon after his conviction for the My Lai massacre, it has done nothing to clear the sullied reputation of these men. Beyond that, we have sent a very clear signal to the Iraqis that we have no concern for the rule of our own laws, at least when the victims of our criminal activities are Iraqis. Of course, they didn't need further proof of that . . .

I am glad that I have turned from ranting about politics to ranting about religion and getting hyped for the Dream Theater concert in Rosemont on Friday (I think I might have mentioned it once or twice . . .) because I am tired of being enraged by the arrogance of those in power. At least when I rant about my own religious beliefs, I get other people ranting at me for being apostate.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Three Days Til Dream Theater!

The last post tired me out. So, in honor of my excursion Friday to Rosemont to see Dream Theater, here is a video clip from their new album. Enjoy.

No Truth

In comments on this thread, neil and I began a discussion of truth. I asserted that the concept of truth plays no role in the way I think and live, and neil countered that I was refuting myself because I was making truth claims in asserting that truth was not a metaphysical property of objects, concepts, or signs. I just want to clarify my position here, which is nothing more than a restatement of the position of philosopher Richard Rorty.

In the late 18th century, philosopher Immanuel Kant dismissed scholastic metaphysics by asking the question, "What is added to a thing if we claim that it exists?" This simple question threw out hundreds of years of western philosophy by denying the substantive content of the metaphysical examination of the question of being. "Being" adds nothing to a thing; it is not a property that objects or concepts possess in addition to all other properties. Something either exists or not; nothing more nothing less.

In the late 20th century, Richard Rorty asked the question, "What is added to a sentence if we claim it is true?" I suppose, for the sake of clarity here, I should be clarifying the difference between "true" as in factually representative (this is scientific "truth; that which can be plotted on a graph) and "True" as in transcendentally reflective of a hidden order, a property which adheres to a concept giving it universal status across all languages, cultures, and which is in need of no translation. The first way of using the word "true" is common, even necessary. I would be insane if I asserted that there were no such thing as factual reporting of data. The second way of using the word "True" is a meaningless plus ultra that people insist is a metaphysical property of their sentences, granting them a certain privileged status of assertion and repetition. Whether it's the centrality of being, or the coninherence of the Persons of the Trinity or "L'etat, c'est moi", or the importance of race, nationality, the eventual triumph of the proletariat, claims have been made for the Truth of these sentences, a claim that demands they be accepted as transcendent.

The problem is that two hundred years of philosophy has taught us that all language is nothing more than, in Rorty's words, sounds we make or scratches on paper. After Darwin, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Derrida, it is silly to assert that such sounds we make or such scratchings on paper as we do contain some "stuff" called Truth that would privilege them above all other sentences we or others utter. Language doesn't work that way. There is not stuff out there that language reflects, or to which language is transparent, giving us privileged access to some transcendental realm.

As Democracy Lover uses the example of science, I will use our current paradigmatic way of thinking as an example. He claims that science makes assertions concerning certain "truths" that have to be revised due to "evidence". I would claim that science gives descriptions, derived from a statistical analysis of what it considers the most important evidence; the problem, however, is that scientists are constantly arguing about what constitutes "evidence", what constitutes proper statistical modeling, and which description is closest to the factual representation of dots on a piece of graph paper. Science is nothing more than a description of some people's interpretation of dots on graph paper, said dots being pre-determined by a general, always contingent, acceptance of what constitutes evidence. It is certainly not normative; it has a procedure, a "method", that is useful and productive, but the success of the application of what has been called "the scientific method" is not that it gets at what is "True". The success of science is that it works well as a short-hand description of the world that is useful and productive.

The claim that religious beliefs are "True" is on even less sure ground than the claims of scientific "Truth" because, at least with regards to science, we are dealing with intersubjective phenomenon for which there is at any given time a common vocabulary to which most people have access. Religious communities, on the other hand, have no such general vocabulary. Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Shinto - they all have distinctive ways of describing not just the world, but the place of their communities of belief within the world that are incompatible, contradictory, and incommensurable. That they all still exist and function quite well as descriptions not so much of some Divine Reality to which they alone are privileged to access, but of the history of different communities and their struggle to define themselves and the world in which they live even as they are incompatible shows that the question of truth adds nothing to a conversation about religion.

When I entered seminary in 1990, I was thrust in to a two-millenia old discussion on who God is, and I realized fairly quickly that, even within the Christian faith, there are incompatible definitions of who God is. To insist there is only one answer is to deny functionality to all others, and to deny the humanity of those who hold such beliefs. That is to say, if we assert that our understanding of "God" is "True", and all others are false, not only are those who adhere to false beliefs being either deliberately obtuse or are too stupid or ignorant to accept their error, they are also not living fully human lives because they hold beliefs that are not transcendentally normative, in tune with the Nature of Ultimate Reality. Yet, history and common decency belies such an assertion. People can be fully human and assert that Brahma dreams the world for a few billion years, then awakens. Or that there is only Allah and Mohamed is his prophet. Or that the ancestors guide our steps in the Tao of life. Or that any and all such attempts to explain Ultimate Reality are doomed to fail because there is no such thing. These latter assertions provide equally successful ways of living fully human lives, and have done so remarkably well across the life-span of the human race. To invalidate them arbitrarily because they do not have some property called "Truth" is to deny those who assert these beliefs their humanity.

We cannot "get behind" the what Rorty calls the "sentential structure" of reality. All we have to communicate with each other are sentences, all of which are contingent by their very nature. There is nothing to be gained by asserting that certain sentences can or must or should or are bracketed off because they are "True", contingent, yet still having some quality called "Truth" that overcomes their very contingency. Rather than go down that road, it would be much more fruitful if we examined the way beliefs function as contributing to human life and human fulfillment, rather than play a word game designed to eliminate certain players from the human race because they refuse to use them the same way we do.

It is not self-refuting, by the way, to say that I am making a truth claim when I say there is no "Truth", because I am not engaged in that particular language game (to use a wonderful Wittgensteinian phrase). Part of the game called "Truth" is the assertion that certain sentences are not just descriptively accurate, but normative for human conduct. All I am doing is describing the way I believe language functions, including language about Ultimate Reality. William James said that most of our beliefs are true, most of the time. He could say that because he refused to play the game called "Truth", and sought to understand the way beliefs work in human life, and the way different communities negotiate their different understandings of the world. This is a position I agree with whole-heartedly. I make no normative assertions here, no transcendent claims concerning the way the world is, because to do so is inherently impossible.

This is what I mean when I say there is "no truth".

Monday, August 06, 2007

Music Monday

Parklife asked for it, so here it is. Stax Records was the southern, rural counterpart to the northern, urban Motown Records. Their sound was grittier. Their production values high while not putting a premium on the kind of slickness one associates with Motown. Some prefer one, while some prefer the other. I have always liked both because it is like looking at life from two different angles.

Booker T and the MGs were kind of the house band at Stax. They also had a great career that went far beyond "Green Onions". Here they are live in 1970, with a brief glimpse of members of CCR looking on appreciatively from the wings.

In 1967, Otis Redding was invited to attend the Monterrey Pop Festival. His performance blew the crowd away. He was destined to be the next big thing, already having a huge following in black audiences across the south with his powerful, emotional, performances. Alas, it was not to be, as he was killed later that year in a plane crash. He lives on, though, in his music, teaching all of us what it means to put everything you have in a performance.

Isaac Hayes was another Stax studio musician, as well as writer and arranger who had a great career as a performer as well. He won an Academy Award for the music for Shaft. I think that says it all.

Christian Pluralism

I have described myself as a Christian pluralist. I think it's important to say what I mean by that. I do not mean what neil, writing in comments on a thread below said:
But religious pluralism that says "all religions are valid paths to God" is intellectually bankrupt.

Now that is one of the truly stupid things that many people say.

For one thing, to make such a claim is to Christianize other religions. It makes an assumption about other religious beliefs that can be demonstrated as false. Some religions have one God, some have many, some have non at all. To claim that all religions are "path to God" is to reduce the beliefs of others to Christian categories, rather than taking them seriously for and as they are.

For another thing, such a claim assumes that is what religion, specifically Christianity, is about - a "path to God". I'll be honest and say I have no idea what such a phrase means, but it certainly doesn't describe my own faith, or the stated faith of my denomination (the United Methodist Church), so we'll just leave that to one side.

As a Christian pluralist, I believe that all religions are equally valid human expressions of a sense of the depth of reality. There are those, however, probably a majority, who do not adhere to any religious beliefs whatsoever. I believe that, too, is an equally valid way of living one's life. I am not "evangelical" in the sense that I feel it necessary to convince others to live and think as I do. Much of what I write is not so much polemical as it is just me trying to figure things out as I go. I write to make sense for me, not to try and convince other people that I'm right and they're wrong. That's not only highly presumptuous, it implies that I have some key to understanding reality that others are missing. Sorry, but I don't play like that.

I accept and profess the tenets of the Christian faith partly because that was how I was raised, partly because I find it useful for interpreting my own experiences in life, and partly because it reflects my commitment to life outside myself. I can imagine being a Buddhist, say, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Sikh, or even agnostic and still being fully me with the same political, social, and other commitments I have. It just so happens that my life has unfolded in a way in which Christianity has been an aid for understanding my life in a fuller, richer sense. I refuse to make any universal claims for the teachings of Christianity; at the same time, I will defend those claims against those who deride and belittle them precisely because most of the reasons I am a Christian are so personal.

Because I have staked my claim to this little patch of spiritual dirt, I refuse to belittle the religious and faith commitments of those who adhere to other faiths. Why should I? For one thing, I know little about them beyond vague generalities. For another, to say that adherents to other faiths are not just aberrant but actively evading the demands of God ignores the possibility that they're faith commitments may just be true and mine false. I have no assurance that I am right, or that the 2000 year history of Christianity is somehow more true than, say, the five thousand-plus year history of Chinese animism, the 2500 hundred year history of Buddhism, or the 1400 year history of Islam. I am a pluralist out of faithful, intellectual humility.

I refuse to exclude whole sectors of humanity from humanity simply because they live differently from me. How silly is that? I am a pluralist in the broadest sense - while I am committed to a certain way of living, and will defend that way of living against critics who charge me with error, I will also refuse to claim any exclusivity or universality to my own position. That goes for politics, social commitments, and religious belief as well. This isn't "relativism" (to anticipate one possible criticism). It is pluralism. There are multiple, sometimes incongruous, mutually contradictory ways to live a fully human life, and all are equally valid as expressions of a fully human life. Difference is not error. It is always and only just what it says - difference.

The Democrats Cave, And I Am Speechless (Well, OK, Not Really)

It's like the election never happened last November. It's as if President Bush had approval ratings in the fifties, or even sixties. It's as if Tom DeLay was still in charge, Denny Hastert was still Speaker, Bill Frist was still Majority Leader. President Bush actually "demanded" greater domestic spying authority - and the Democrats gave it to him!

I can imagine all kinds of excuses and justifications for it. What I can't imagine are reasons. I can't imagine listening to a Democratic Senator or Congress member explain to me why they decided to support the expansion of power of the Executive at a time when Congress was actually supposed to be reigning in an out-of-control Executive. I am just gobsmacked by it all.

I have been trying to digest this very weird, very out-of-synch event and I just can't. Were the Democrats afraid the Republicans would call them wimpy, terrorist-loving surrender monkeys who want them fighting over here because they're too scared to fight them over there? Were they afraid Dick Cheney would come on television and tell them he has intelligence information that a member of al Qaeda met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague before September 11, 2001, and if only the Executive had the powers granted in this bill that event might never have happened? The only saving grace in all of this is I fear very little the abuse of power by the Bush Administration because they have shown themselves singularly inept at just about everything they do, from No Child Left Behind to fiscal policy to the war and occupation in Iraq. Let them tap my phone; all they'll hear are my wife talking to members of the congregation and me asking when she is coming home and what would she like for supper. I'm sure they'll spin that in to code for the next dirty bomb plot - it's like Monty Python took over national security with these people.

To be honest, I think I reflect a lot of what I've been reading and hearing over the past couple days when I say I feel betrayed. Let down. I don't want to have to wait until next year's election to fix this mess, but I'm not sure what to do about it right now.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Aspects of Evil

The great question that faces all explicit and implicit discussions about God is the reality of evil. Philosopher of religion William R. Jones, writing a critique of black theologies of liberation back in the 1970's, insisted that implicit in all protest theologies are answers to the question of the presence of evil. His own critique, title Is God a White Racist?, gave the answer that they are deficient because they make the traditional mistake of classical theology since Augustine, viz., giving short shrift to the presence of evil in human individual and social life, essentially claiming that evil is a non-existent, indeed is non-existence as a negating force.

Intellectual historian Jeffrey Burton Russell has written a four-volume history of the idea of the personification of evil, the second and fourth volumes of which I have read. He begins each volume with a preface in which he makes his own position clear with a newspaper account of of the potential for radical evil in the world - the account of a serial killer, or a pathological person who destroys the life of a child or children. I like that because it keeps one aware of the reality we all face. Evil is not just one among many intellectual problems facing human beings, to be solved through clever reasoning. It is, rather, the existential problem that refuses reduction and idealization. We are confronted by evil, not just in other individuals and in institutions, but in our own lives. We are most honest with ourselves when we view incidents of evil-doing as a very real, very dangerous possibility for ourselves. This is the first movement towards a healthy, honest humility in all things human.

It is important to make something clear at this point. I have been struggling to make clear in the past weeks my own intuition of what for lack of a better word can be called the Divine. I employ the language of the Christian Church and tradition because it is the tradition in which I was raised, and it is the vocabulary I find most adequate for understanding. At the same time, I must confess that behind the words stands an intuition, a very personal experience of the depth of life and experience that transcends my own ability to communicate. Explicit within that intuition is not just an intuition of the greatness and loving-kindness of God, but of the very real presence of evil. I refuse to personalize this presence by giving it the name Satan, or less personal but still allegedly metaphysically real Devil. Employing these traditional Christian ideas brings along too much baggage from popular thought - all that Exorcist nonsense of horned creatures, puking children looking like lepers, and the rest - to be constructive or helpful. I prefer to de-personalize the reality of evil, but that does not make it any less real. Evil is an active force in the world, at both the interpersonal and social level. One denies this only at the expense of being naive or blind, or both.

When I say that evil is a force, I am suggesting that it exists independently of any and all instances of evil we encounter. I am further suggesting that it has power, although it is always a power of negation. To this extent, I think the traditional formulation was correct; only when they raised this existential, intuitive understanding to a metaphysical principle did they make the error that ended up making evil non-existent and non-existence.

In my own life, I have experienced the power of radical evil in any number of ways and occasions. There have been times in my life when I felt overwhelmed by it. The worst part of these times in my life was the simple fact that much of what happened was the result of my own actions; I succumbed to the temptation to make choices based not upon what was right or even prudent, but what I knew to be wrong. I have known the reality of the demonic in my own life, and have had to live with the consequences. I am not confessing to murdering, or even stealing; I am simply confessing that actions I have taken in the past have been destructive of my own and the lives of others, and there seemed at times no way out from under the weight of guilt and responsibility. That is a further aspect of evil - it leads to inaction due to the acceptance of responsibility.

This is where the mystery of grace comes in. Standing before one's life, viewing the wreckage one has caused, when one realizes there is no way one can get from where one is to where one wants to be on one's own, there can be an opportunity to open oneself to the possibility of living without guilt, but with a sense of responsibility. Grace is not some metaphysical factum that enters our lives, but the mysterious presence of the Divine that presents the opportunity to accept oneself as one is - precisely because one is accepted as one is.

These general comments are only the beginning of some thinking about evil.

Virtual Tin Cup

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