Dee's Blog
Fri 10/17/2008
Following "Idols"
Topic: spirituality

A lady by the name of Robin was on the Today show this morning.  Chosen because, for the past year, she's been doing everything that Oprah prefaces with "you just have to do this" or "have to have this."  She's spent about $3000 already buying things that Oprah says we all need--I doubt anything I have is on the list except for low-heel shoes (probably not the ones she recommends, though). 

Robin isn't necessarily an Oprah fan, though it sounds like she admires her about as much as I do.  She just wanted to make a very good point.  Wanted to show just how ridiculous life can become if one unquestionably follows anyone.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:07 AM CDT
Wed 10/08/2008
Security Comes in Many Different Flavors
Topic: spirituality

"As long as there are garage sales, free libraries, and ad matches," I recently told a gracious checker at my nearby super market, "I'm going to do just fine."  Being able to enjoy the simple things of life is one of the greatest securities I know.  And it DOUBLES!

Not talking about doubling coupons here either.  It doubles because that philosophy is what feeds me both economically and spiritually.  It's something the Quakers seem to have learned long ago.  Long before people thought much about the stock market or how to "bail it out."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Fri 09/26/2008
How Stories Grow into Legend
Topic: spirituality

Society wants to shape how our stories are told and sometimes limit how often we tell the same story.   It's like a tug of war.  Society gets bored easily.  OK, I'll admit I certainly do, especially when hearing the same story told by older people in my family.  To me, they seem to tell the same story over and over.

Not so, says Patricia Monoghan.  Each time a story is told, new truths have opportunity to emerge.  We are able to tell and see the story in a new way.  While the facts may remain the same, even those can change without us being dishonest.  Facts do get lost over time, but facts aren't nearly as important as the legend--unless you are in a court of law, where people are so often more interested in proving and disproving the facts than of examining the principles at stake.

Legend is what needs to survive as we make sense out of the story.  Legend is what shapes our cultures and effects changes--in the culture, as well as in ourselves.

Monoghan even suggests that there is no real story until it is reiterated.  For it is with the re-telling, that the real story emerges.   I guess that is true, even if nobody is listening.  For story is powerful even in our own individual hearts, especially the broken ones.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Thu 09/25/2008
The Importance of Stories
Topic: spirituality

One method I like to use, in exploring new ideas, is to take a profound book that gets me going down a new thread of thinking, then to work quite a lot off of the bibliography as the author picks up many strands that she or he has woven into writing to formulate creative thoughts that will stimulate thoughts of various nature in readers.

Real art does not lead us all to the same conclusions.  Nor to necessarily to the exploration of the same strands of thought.  It frees our minds to roam--okay, as Leslie Van Gelder would say, "on the wild side."

Patrician Monaghan is the author that recently caught my eye, thanks to Leslie.  This scholar's work is mind-boggling.  I don't contend that I understand half what she is saying, but I love her thoughts on the importance of story.  You can explore some of her ideas through an interview:  Here's the gem that I bring to you today:

I think that (with) a group of people talking, and really listening to each other, the situation becomes more complex because they note their connections through storytelling. Then they become connected to each other. I told my story last night, because Joe told his. Systems move towards complexity and then to a stasis where you've heard each other's stories....."

Seems to me that stories that are difficult to tell and difficult to listen to so easily get lost in history.  It is SUCH work to keep them alive.  Or even to keep the principles that they illustrate alive!  Yet so important that we become more willing to connect through stories--especially the listening part.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:07 AM CDT
Mon 09/22/2008
Diversity in Thinking--the Way of the Wild Life
Topic: spirituality

When we are comfortable living the "wild life" way, we do not expect everyone around us to think like we think.  Nor do we believe that our way of thinking if necessarily the ideal way to think.  We accept diversity and are content to live in our own section while respecting others.



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:31 PM CDT
Wed 09/03/2008
Begging to Differ with Gandhi
Topic: spirituality

In my own spiritual journey, I've found wisdom and comfort in the words of Gandhi.  I like much of what he says about many spiritual concepts.  Yet I'm not convinced he provides all of the answers (nor did he claim to), anymore than anyone else.  

For example, unlike Gandhi, I do not see God as ever being tyrannical, though I do see God as the most powerful spirit that moves among us to encourage persistent peace and love.  To see God as tyrannical, to me, would mean that God was the one who was supporting the physical wars of the Old Testament, even when the Israellites were on the offense and committing atrocities against their enemies--atrocities that they were convinced God had told them to commit!  While many fundamentalists see it that way, I ceased being a part of that thought back in college days.  The fundamentalists can blame my influential Christian professors back then in Oklahoma Baptist University, all men that many people eventually decided were heretics!

God, as I understand God to be now, stands firm on principles.  Allowing consequences, but not acting as a tyrant against those who do not choose to believe the Truth--Truth being the best definition of God, according to Gandhi.  On that point, as on many, many others that he has, I fully agree.   

Yet, when we step outside the bounds and try to become God or assume a characteristic that God would not--even for what we see as good causes--then WE become the tyrants.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 6:06 AM CDT
Updated: Wed 09/03/2008 6:42 AM CDT
Fri 08/29/2008
Daring to Dream
Topic: spirituality

Forty years, like 7 years,  is a span of time with Biblical significance.  It's the length of time that the Israellites were free from slavery, yet wandering in the wilderness and suffering from the everyday comforts that are often missing in the desert.  All while dreaming of this unseen place where they believed those comforts could be once again afforded.

Just last night, history was made.   As many African-Americans stood crying and cheering--all in the same instant.  Crying tears of mixed sadness and joy.  Cheering for the significance of the moment.   Forty-four years after Martin Luther King, made his famous speech while daring to "see" an unseen place.

As we Americans hope to be at a much better place in our world in the years to come, so the world is hoping with us.  We know that it will take a new kind of leadership.

Yet, just because history was made last night, there is no guarantee that the nomination of a man with African roots is going to actually rise to the political level to which he aspires.  There is only hope.

Sometimes hope is all that oppressed people have.  No matter what the outcome in the election, however, nobody can take away the glory of witnessing history in the making--something that we all had opportunity to do last night.  As the pyramid of power will never look quite the same to any of us! 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:59 AM CDT
Mon 08/25/2008
How Shame and Pride Intertwine
Topic: spirituality

Two of the most destructive elements that work against real spirituality are shame and pride.

As a kid, I often heard that my grandfather had "so much pride."  Those who said this thought it was an asset that he possessed.  Truth is it was a negative pride that is born out of shame.  He was ashamed to let people know when he or his family were in need.   Ashamed of being needy.

Real pride IS an asset.  It comes when there is integrity and a healthy self-esteem.  It produces a balance between asking for help when it is needed and having qualities that deserve recognition.  A person with real pride knows that he or she has reason to be proud.

Destructive pride is what dysfunctional families and institutions possess, and both are filled with people who hide in shame and isolation, unwilling to be honest and often lacking integrity.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Tue 08/12/2008
More on Liberation
Topic: spirituality

Without really digressing from the SNAP conference, I  want to continue in the line of thinking that Tom Doyle left with us.  About liberation.  Yet going to another organization that I found through Catherine Clark Kroeger and advocate and writer who is working hard to address the problems of domestic abuse in the Christian community.

Kroeger has been instrumental in establishing Peace and Safety in the Christian Home   The organization has a wonderful newsletter that I recently began receiving.  The title of the front page of article of  June/July 2008 issue is "Free Indeed."  It's Part 3 of a series, written by Joanna Barr.  Based on Exodus 7:14-10. 

Barr points out that Pharaoh's promises, interspersed with the 9 plagues in Egypt, illustrate well the cycle of abuse.  Because of the persistence and divine power exhibited by the plagues, the abuser was only able to be successful to an extent.  Yet each time there was resistance, he made promises of letting his victims go.  Only to abandon those promises as soon as there was relief from the pressure.

You may believe in the story literally, viewing God as one who uses violence to confront violence.  I saw it that way for many years.  Today I see the story as a metaphor with great meaning.  Either way it holds a message about where a loving God stands.  It's on the side of liberation. 

Psychologically, I do not have to plead with anyone to let me go.  If I am entrapped psychologically by anyone, I am the Pharaoh that is not letting myself be free of the one or the institution that is entrapping me.  Keeping me from being the person that I now understand God intends for me to be.  A person who has truly been liberated.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Sun 08/10/2008
New Definition of Prayer
Topic: spirituality

You may not agree.  Or you may think that this is only partially true. 

Tom Doyle, however, suggests that prayer is sitting still and quiwetly until the negative goes away. 

However you see prayer, if you use that definition, it's an exercise we dare not neglect.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT

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