Saturday, December 15, 2012

I am posting this because a classmate of mine from high school sent me a lengthy tome on justifying the continued "right to bear arms" using statistics from Great Britain to justify his point of view. He sent this in response to the tragic loss of life in Newtown, Connecticut. Although I understand the original purpose of this "right" as it was put into place by our founding Fathers, it seems to me it needs some revision at this point in time. We have gone from muskets to assault rifles, and the carnage in our country is devastating to those who have experienced the damage done to human life by these weapons

Here is what I wrote in response:

Last October at a beauty salon directly across the street from my church in Seal Beach, a man who was filled with rage took several assault rifles, donned a vest, and walked in and shot and killed his ex-wife and seven other people, including one man who was in the parking lot in his car. Survivors were brought across the street to gather in our sanctuary until loved ones could come to comfort them and take them safely home. Our community was shattered by this horrific act. Not only were there many grieving families and friends, but there was a young boy who had lost both his parents because his father had taken the life of his mother.
I went into the salon after the tragedy and saw the size of the bullet holes that were all over the salon. I could feel the fear and horror of the place, and knew some of the people who were affected by this loss. 

To me, here are two issues - one, why would anyone need to own  assault weapons that can wreak such havoc? Two, what can we do to find ways to deal with the mental health issues that plague us in our society today? When I hear the arguments against gun control, I wish everyone could see what I saw that day.

Our community came together, we held prayer vigils, there were many funerals, and today the salon has been remodeled and reopened as if to say - "this will not defeat us." But the shootings continue - Wisconsin, Aurora, Portland, and now Newtown - and that is just in the last year.
When our founding fathers wrote the right to bear arms into our guiding documents, they did not know how much this "right" would be abused. I don't know how we can "control" the guns that are already out there, but we must find a way to prevent more of this violence in our nation. Since I am married to a retired law enforcement officer, I am aware of how dangerous it is out there for our own police, and I also know many cops who do support gun control.
In Israel, where violence is an every day possibility, the process to own a gun is lengthy and very successful - it includes background checks, psychological exams, a valid reason to need to carry a weapon, and a waiting period before the gun is delivered. Terry should look at those statistics - no "socialism" there - just good, common sense. Does it rule out gun violence altogether? I don't know - but it certainly reduces it.
I know this issue is a "sacred cow" to many - but when 20 beautiful five -year-olds will not be home for Hanukah or Christmas or family meals, when a mother looks into a laundry basket to see the clothes her child will never wear again, and will never feel the warmth of one more hug, how can we continue to justify this "right" over the preciousness of human life?
I must also say how grateful I am that in spite of people who perpetrate such horror - terrorist acts, if you will, there are thousands more who reach out in compassion and in sympathy for those who have been so tragically affected. Please, let's at least look at a more sane way to deal with this issue than politicizing it - let's humanize it.
Blessings to all,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mondo Migliore Conference Center - somewhere outside Rome --

I haven't written for several days so this post is very long - my apologies -

Last Friday we hired a tour and went to the Vatican. Although the tour meant we didn’t wait in long lines to get into the Vatican Museum or the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s, we did not avoid crowds. I think everyone should visit the Vatican once – but unless it is a day when one can get inside without crowds, I would not recommend it for a second visit.

I was most impressed with St. Peter’s Basilica. When I taught design, I always included St. Peter’s in the church architecture unit, as it has so many beautiful design elements – seeing it and standing inside its beautiful marble columns alongside the incredible baldachin proved that no photograph can capture its beauty or the skilled craftsmen who created it.

Now it’s Monday evening of the second day of the conference. It has been a challenge to have time to write, and the only wireless connection is in the lobby of the conference center, so I will make this a long one, but hope to convey some of what is going on.

We arrived here at Mondo Migliore on Saturday after a very long drive from our bed and breakfast which was near the Vatican in Rome. We rode up a mountain road through a beautiful forest. The road was full of the hairpin turns one sees in a movie with someone driving a Lamborghini at 100 miles per hour. Thankfully our driver only went about 60. He found Castel Gandolfo, which is where the Pope frequently spends the summer. It over looks a beautiful lake, and the village that surrounds it is charming. However, that was not our destination.

Then our driver asked for instructions and we drove back down that road to the point where he had taken a wrong turn, and drove on to our center which also overlooks the same lake. This is a very large conference center which houses very small cell-like rooms with private baths that are really quite comfortable.

We began with a women’s pre-conference which gave us an opportunity to bond and connect with one another prior to the main conference. We have many New Thought ministers here, as well as women from all over the globe who are religious leaders, academics, activists, even a police sergeant from Denver who has a Doctorate in Social Psychology and is studying police culture.  We found that most of us want to do more to support and empower the marginalized women of the world who do not have the advantages of western women. It is clear that their lives in so many cases are beyond difficult. We see and understand that those of us who live a life of privilege can and must find ways to raise up the level of education for women to allow them more opportunities economically. It is clear that educated mothers raise children who are less likely to turn to desperate measures in order to survive.

Now the Awakened World Conference is underway – we are here to explore four major areas in which we see change is taking place. They are Reconciling with the “Other,” Rediscovering the Sacred, Caring for the Earth Family, and Transforming Society. My area is “Reconciling with the ‘Other.” I’m co-facilitating with Kenn Gordon, who is the Spiritual Leader over all of our churches worldwide.

I iwlll save reporting on our dialogue sessions until a later blog when I can synthesize them better.

At this morning’s plenary session, we had several speakers – first being Marcus Braybrooke, a theologian from England – “Faith is a living relationship with the Divine – not a rote recitation of dogma. – Abandon the male image of God who only spoke once and then repeats over and over the same message.”

Joan Chittister – Benedictine nun and outspoken feminist critic of the Catholic church – “Women must be the ones to change the world.  –Referring to inclusive language she said, “ Words that are not in the mind are words that are not in society.

Hyun Chung -  Korean theologian and educator – “The Western view of the world has caused change – and a narrow vision of science – earth has been seen as an object to exploit. The new world view is that earth is a subject to commune with. There needs to be a feminist breakdown of hierarchy – and see earth as God’s dwelling place – learn from nature. Time for the rise of Yin energy with balance – and movement of inclusivity and economic justice.”

Jenny Joe – Native American Grandmother – Our responsibility is to be stewards of the land. Indigenous identity is the land – place where we are born, place where we go when we die. /animals do not draw lines (borders). Taking care of the land means restoring, repairing and blessing.

Brother Ishmael Tetteh – African spirituality – The sacred life is here as me – you – Discover the sacred in yourself and in all others.

Lawrence Carter – Professor of Theology– Morehouse College-“Rediscover the sacred assumes we were once familiar with it. Wherever you go, bestow and confer love – you create an affirming, positive atmosphere.”

Azim Khamisa – Sufi – Father of the boy who was shot delivering pizza to a group of young gang members – featured in film “The Power of Forgiveness” – When making a decision as to how to act, first go to the mind and ask, “Does this make sense?” Then go to the heart and ask, “Does this feel right?” Then go to Spirit and ask “Is this inspiring?” If you have answered yes to all three, it is a good thing to do.

There is so much more I could write about, but it is late and you have more than enough to read. I will write again when possible.

It is chilly and raining here, and I understand it is still hot in LA – could you please send us a little sunshine, and we will happily trade a little rain and cooler air.
I send my love, my blessings, and arrivederci!

Written Thursday, October 11

I am grateful to Aerosoles walking shoes. The cobblestones of Rome can do a number on feet, and we did a lot of walking today!

We arrived in Rome via London on the night of October 10, and were taken to our Bed and Breakfast by a driver who met us at the airport. our lodging in on the fifth floor of an apartment building near the Vatican and the Castle St. Angelo. Our host, Luca, made us a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, croissants, "pizza rosa", fresh fruit, and more. Our rooms are cozy and have everything we need for a comfortable stay.

Today is the first of two days we have set aside for sightseeing prior to the conference. we visited the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and the fountain at Trevi. I threw three coins into the fountain to be sure that I come back here with Don the next time to enjoy this with him.

There was clearly no general plan for the city of Rome. Streets meander, making random pathways as we referred to our maps and found our way to each location we had chosen to visit. Each turn meant another discovery. At one location were two portions of an ancient wall - which stood like bookends between a building from perhaps the seventeenth century. we have no idea how old the wall was, but it clearly had been an important structure in its day.

Look to the right - a beautiful doorway - look to the left, an open archway leading to an elegant building, a park, or a church. Shops carry exquisite handmade goods, restaurants with outdoor seating spilling out onto the piazzas, and did I mention the shoes?

It is a city of hues from buttery yellow to rich sepia tones on multistoried shuttered buildings. Look up and see another spire of a beautiful church or a sculpted statues on a pediment over a doorway. it is a city of art and architecture, beauty and at the same time,  a bit tattered around the edges.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Today is the day I am off to Italy for the Association for Global New Thought Awakened World conference.

If you want to follow along, just check into this space from time to time - my posts will be irregular but hopefully filled with enthusiasm for the work we are going to be doing at this groundbreaking event. If you want to know more about it, go to and click on Awakened World 2012.

My friends Kathe Schaaf and Kay Lindahl leave tonight for Rome to have a few days of sightseeing first, then off to Mondo Migliore where the conference will be held.
 So Ciao for now!!