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Sunday Morning Training

She says she tries to be both tender
and challenging with herself,
to fall less,
to dance more,
to help others fail less
and athletically prance more.

As she drives past the library,
closed for Sunday liturgy,
she sees the Seventh Day Adventists
on the front corner
with their sign
large enough for motorists,
“What is TRUE success?”

Although understanding this question
is rhetorical
with a dogmatic answer
readily at hand
for those with more adventurous
challenging responses
and dialogical interests,
she honks her tender feminist horn
and shouts out to celebrate
“HEALTH!”

White Adventists
turn darker red
and reply
“Not HELL
but Heaven,
each day on Earth God’s patriarchal Sabbath,
for those with eyes to see Trust
and ears to hear Truth.”

“Not HELL,” she returns
while pulling over;
“Health is true success.”

“What about spiritual
and politically empowering success?”
the sign-holder challenges
without much obvious tenderness.

“Mental health
is spiritually empowering health,
at least in my experience.
And yours?”

“I may see your pointedness.
But, what of true economic success?”

“Cooperatively invested financial health.”

“Religious and cultural success?”

“Natural/spiritual synergetic health,
or so it seems to nondualistic
tenderly challenged me.”

“If health is success,
then what is wealth?”
in your challenged tender pathology,
heading toward Hell.”

“You are among those
who segregate sacred sabbath health
from secular business as usual wealth,
in an unhealthy bipolar nature v spirit way
I fear,
without intending blame or shame.”

With your same bipolar challenging division
you could also choose to hear
dipolar tender invitations
in-between hell and heaven,
secular wealth and sacred climate health,
natural informing spiritual questions
like, What is TRUE success?

As she pulls away,
tenderly upward
and challenging onward.

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Uncategorized

Prophetic Water

In the recently published¬†Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s Final Years, Tavis Smiley reminds us that living a prophetic and integral life does not result in winning popularity contests. While prophets may become mystics, saints, and geniuses post mortem, Dr. King was no exception to the historical rule that no prophet is broadly welcome in his own time.

This thesis reminded me of a Taoist aphorism:

Who receives unto himself the calumny of the world

Is the preserver of the state.

Who bears himself the sins of the world

Is the king of the world.

[Translation by Lin Yutang, 1948, Random House, NY]

 

While Dr. King had gained broad support for his positions regarding racism, as he retained a consistent ethical voice in support of equal rights for women and against the culture of violence and war epitomized in the Vietnam War, he would have had increasing difficulty had he ever aspired to elective office. His allies in D.C. resented Dr. King for biting the hand that they believed had fed him more than sufficiently already. His African-American clergy colleagues often did not appreciate King’s views on the rights of women in society, much less within their churches.

Both Mr. Smiley and Laotse speak to the creative tension between powerful prophecy and effective redemption. The strength of prophecy for redemptive effectiveness, to support regenerative change, becomes compromised by cultural dissonance. Too much cognitive dissonance is dismissed as insanity or marginalized as appropriate for the saint and martyr, but not realistic for universal human nature. Yet as redemptive comprehensiveness is softened, contained, diminished, the prophetic voice is softened for more confluent ears.  Regenerative potential can be largely residual potential; less incarnated.

The cutting edge of regenerative optimization is a rationality that ebbs the flow and follows the flowing-confluent edges  around, and eventually through, the ebbing knots of cultural dissonance. Inviting society into a more rational future becomes more effective through the weakness of optimally ebbing and flowing water, energy; both listening carefully and summarizing astutely the echoes and distresses within historical and cultural trends.

 

There is nothing weaker than water

But none is superior to it in overcoming the hard,

For which there is no substitute.

That weakness overcomes strength

And gentleness overcomes rigidity,

No one does not know;

No one can put into practice.

[Ibid, p. 306]

 

Perhaps no “one” can put water’s wisdom into practice because the flow of regenerative energy is intrinsically interdependent, swelling where there is confluent and sure flow, and cautious and much slower, gently inviting more positive and inclusive discernment, where the diverse sprays of mutual dismay remain more complexly knotted. But, gentle invitation is the land of the facilitator, and not the stand-alone prophet. Active peace-making walks between these two worlds–which Dr. King did rather better than most of us.

 

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