50/52 – Do Good for Others

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I’ve had a page this last year of where I send my support. I reached out to some friends for their most important charities, and wanted to share them here with you.

If you have spare money throughout the year or time for some of the local volunteer organizations, please use it to do good.

I have listed them alphabetically, and the religious organizations included have as their primary focus helping others. Check their status here

ACLU*

Catholic Charities

CNEWA

Committee to Protect Journalists*

Doctors Without Borders

Heifer International
The Hispanic Federation*

Lydia Place*

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Stroke Association*

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation*

Planned Parenthood*

Random Acts*

Save a Warrior (SAW)

Southern Poverty Law Center

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital*

The Trevor Project*

World Vision

Inclusion is not endorsement. However, the ones with an asterisk are where I have personally contributed over the years.

The Grouchy Historian

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​One of the things I loved about The Grouchy Historian, besides the grouchy historian was how timely it was. It made reference to things that had barely concluded in Washington. I hadn’t heard of this book before I found it in the online library I use, and it was very current.

Which was kind of ironic considering the entirety of the book is looking at and analyzing the intent of the framers, something that today’s Republicans and Conservative justices claim to honor and admire, worship even but don’t often put into practice.

Two disclaimers:

1. Ed Asner is an angry old-time lefty, who in this book, defends our Constitution against right-wing hypocrites and nutjobs, who seem to be crawling out of the woodwork multiple times daily, not even having the courage of their convictions anymore. (See Senate candidate, Roy Moore and who is openly supporting him.)

2. If you are a second amendment proponent I ask you to ignore the snark and facetiousness of the chapter on Guns. Look past his opinions and read what the framers wrote about guns and the second amendment. Please.

Conservative scion, Antonin Scalia even said that there are limits on the second amendment. I think that when you have lifelong conservatives like Scalia and Clarence Thomas talking about the framers’ intent and strict constructionism, but then not actually following what they claim are their own beliefs there comes the time to call out the hypocrisy.

You can’t really say the Constitution is to be literally taken and also call it a living document. Madison called it a living document, so we know how it was intended: to grow and change with the times.

At least as a Democrat I have my convictions, which are really quite simple: equality for all, all means all, medicare for all, and do good for everyone. We lift each other up.

In reading what the framers and founders had to say about the Constitution as it was being written and developed and amended, it is interesting to hear their arguments for and against certain things. What I found really amusing with this (and Ron Chernow’s Hamilton) is how similar their arguments are to today’s arguments in Washington politics.

I laugh when I hear that the founders wanted strong states when it’s clear (in this book and the original writings of the framers) that they wanted a strong central government. With a standing army. Collecting taxes. And forming a bank to put those taxes.

Now you have my opinion as well.

Read this book, and if you’re lucky you’ll hear it in your head with Ed Asner’s voice. Can’t beat that!

The Grouchy Historian: An Angry Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs by Ed Asner and Ed. Weinberger

An Advent Reflection

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​Last year I was all gung-ho about Advent. I think it may have been the first time I had a real understanding of what it was all about. Coming from secular Christmas to religious Christmas took me from the Santa countdown to the more solemn, restfulness of Advent. Or is it restlessness? Having the excitement build without the harriedness of worrying about presents or stockings or dinner was a true revelation. All of that will manage to happen regardless. The realization that Christmas could be had without the crazy or at least with a lot of the crazy at bey was eye-opening and very satisfying.

This year however is, I don’t know how to describe it. I’m not ambivalent and i’m looking forward to the next few weeks of anticipation. I have a wonderful devotional book written by an acquaintance, and three days in, she’s expressing what I’m feeling, but there’s something missing. Is it because my house is a mess? Is it the constant noise of the kids? The never ending “what’s for dinner”, the ‘are we there yet’ of the weekday.1

I wake up each day unsure of what i want from the day. If I don’t attend the 9am mass for whatever reason, I typically don’t do morning prayers. It feels odd to me. I don’t know why that is. It may have more to do with how I’m perceived in my house.l Could I just simply go downstairs each morning, light one of my scented candles, hold a talisman or my rosary and give myself over to G-d? It feels foreign. It sounds so simple and yet in my mind it feels impossible. 

I’d be interrupted. I’d be questioned. Not in a terrible, judgmental way, but starting something new is the impossibility. Seemingly.

Climbing Mt. Everest is impossible.

Running a four minute mile is impossible.

Eating one Lay’s potato chip is impossible.

Spending a few moments in G-d’s presence shouldn’t be.

I could try it out tomorrow, couldn’t I?

Instead of beginning my day with Facebook and Instagram, emails and Twitter as I usually do, instead of bemoaning the state of affairs of this country, perhaps I could pad downstairs, boil some water for a cup of tea, light a candle and read the two minute devotional. When that’s complete, I can read the day’s Scripture readings. Then just sit for a time. Finish up with the rosary.

I think that sounds like a plan. Maybe that’s all I needed – a plan.

I tend to be self-defeatist. It’s too late to start. I started late so what’s the point? Advent is only four days in (at this writing). There are still eighteen days to go. That’s more than four-fifths of the season.

As you read this, today’s Scriptures are:

Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 85, and Luke 5:17-26.

A few thoughts I had on them as they came upon me:

bloom, joyful song, strengthen, make firm. Be strong, fear not. no beast of prey. “They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”

– – –

kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace shall kiss.

– – –

lowered the man on the stretcher – where there’s a will, there’s a way. “we have seen incredible things today.”

– – – 

Don’t we see incredible things every day? Or is just that we’re hyper-aware during Advent?

Is it possible that when we’re told to slow down, we have a knee-jerk reaction and start a new to-do list?

We are our own worst enemy.

We can be self-sacrificing, but we are also so easily self-sabotaging. My personal foible is the television and the clutter. The television can be my therapy, one of my coping tools, but it also keeps me from writing. I get stuck in a vortex of television as meditation. My son clutters my office, and when I see it, instead of simply moving it where he’ll see it and take care of it, I’ll leave it for him and then do nothing productive because I’m being bombarded with the clutter.

Perhaps, if I can be hyper-aware about the incredible things, i can be hyper-aware of these things, and ignore my base instinct of can’t, and just do.

Even just sitting in the presence, eyeing the flickering light of the candle, feeling the warmth of the tea on my palms through the porcelain, hearing yesterday’s choir during mass in my head, anticipating the coming of Jesus, and remembering what he has personally brought to my own life.

It is a short Advent, but it’s not too late to start something positive. It is never too late for that.

(c)2017