Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Four hundred eighty-nine years ago today, Martin Luther posed a series of questions to his community, inviting scholarly debate on a breadth of religious concerns. He would be persecuted for asking questions, refusing to recant, and otherwise deviating from the orthodoxy of his church and the academic community. The confluence of national and religious politics, the proliferation of print, and Luther’s philosophy would become one of the formative events of the modern era.

Every year, this august observance makes me feel proud to have been raised in the tradition of Luther's theology. Each year, I also find that this event raises a host of unanswered questions. I debate theology over beer with Roman Catholic friends, and find myself increasingly concerned over the return to reactionary and exclusive doctrines practiced by believers with whom I share a common name.
This anniversary also turns the lens of scrutiny on continued (or perhaps redoubled) mingling of religion and government. Many of my friends contend that the state should be an atheist and that believers should cloister any opinion related to a religious conviction within the walls of their place of worship. I argue that the state has no more business adopting the dogma of the atheist than it does proselytizing Christianity or Islam or deism.
The attempts of political parties to infiltrate religious doctrine has become an even greater ethical hazard. If we allow politicians to back policy decisions and laws into religious philosophy, then we invite monarchy. In the days when state was coupled to church, autocrats ruled by claim of divine right, making their whims, whatever they may be, morally unassailable.
The assertion that any political entity works on behalf of and with the authority of any deity is as poisonous as it is laughable. Which party is honest? Which is not guilty of skirting (or patently breaking) the law of the land for political gain? Is there a party that has not indignantly decried its enemies for doing something its own members are guilty of? If we cannot trust these organizations to consistently attempt to uphold the secular laws and standards they seek to set, why would anyone invite them to greater authority?
Regardless of your religious convictions, today is an opportunity to question the leaders in your community, both political and religious. Read, question, reflect, act. There are important decisions only a week away.

Your politics are your own. Whatever they may be, register to vote.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My notebook remains a Quaker meeting

The spirit is willing, but the pen is weak.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Friday, October 13, 2006


I believe the last three weeks (and I predict the ensuing month at least) constitute one of those periods in which my blog becomes a little grown-over. Other matters, on which I have little doubt I will pontificate and complain to the reader, have demanded my attention.
Still, I have been ruminating on the idea of influences and connection, and rather than posting yet another haiku or koanic image, I’ll share a list of books that have influenced my thinking and writing over the last year, though I’ve probably forgotten a few. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything these authors have offered in these titles, I can with limited exception recommend all of these to the reader.

A Great Improvisation, Stacey Schiff
The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
Pomes All Sizes, Jack Kerouac
Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Art of Peace, Morihei Ueshiba
Your Backyard Herb Garden, Miranda Smith
Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management, various
The Stolen Child, Keith Donohue
Hands-On Environmentalism, Brent Haglund and Thomas Still
The Gospel of Luke (NIV)
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carol
Organization Theory and Design, Richard L. Daft
Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, Manfred B. Steger
The Brief History of the Dead, Kevin Brockmeier
The Limits of Enchantment, Graham Joyce
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa
Foundations of Finance: The Logic and Practice of Financial Management, Arthur J. Keown, J. William Petty, John D. Martin, and David F. Scott
The Best American Poetry – 2004, Lyn Hejinian and David Lehman

I also read National Geographic, cover to cover, and the journals Science and Quality Progress, as time permits.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006