Sunday, November 19, 2017

Self Portrait

. . . A picture, photograph, or piece of writing that you make of or about yourself.




And deeper . . .


Self Portrait

By David Whyte

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

David Whyte
From Fire in the Earth
(Many Rivers Press, 1992)


For more of David Whyte's writings at The Wild Reed, see:
"To Be Courageous Is to Stay Close to the Way We Are Made"

See also:
The Prayer Tree
Beloved and Antlered
On This "Echoing-Day" of My Birth
The Soul of a Dancer
A Guidepost on the Journey
Thomas Moore on the "Ageless Soul"
"Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"
Called to the Field of Compassion to Be Both Prophet and Mystic
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All

Image: "Self Portrait" by Michael J. Bayly (November 19, 2017).


Friday, November 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

As sexual harassment allegations continue to be made public against powerful men, there has been a theme appearing among male commentators: discomfort. . . . [I]f [as a man] you're feeling vigilant and wary of the opposite sex, and are constantly monitoring your relationships with them in the workplace, on public transport, on the street – you're getting an insight into what women feel like. All the time. Every day. Yes, the stakes are wildly different – because as worried about their reputations as they may be, men don't have to worry about their physical safety around women, as women so often do with men – but it's a badly needed dose of reality.

The atmosphere is indeed a peculiar one. (Though if one more person calls it a "witch hunt" I will scream, because co-opting a historical occurrence that disproportionately, gruesomely punished single women with death as a metaphor for uncovering abuses by powerful men is not acceptable.) The air seems to vibrate with powerful (and abusive) men's fear as more allegations are brought into the public eye, and that's essentially unprecedented. And as new stories come out again and again, I fully encourage men to re-examine themselves and their past behavior. Just like not being racist in a deeply racist world takes work, not being sexist in an environment that normalizes sexist attitudes requires conscious commitment and awareness.

But what you don't get to do is complain about it – because, congratulations, you are now getting a free sample of how women have to act around men all the time.

– JR Thorpe
Excerpted from "To Guys Who Think It's
'Hard To Be A Man' Right Now, I’ve Got Some News For You
"
Bustle
November 10, 2017


Related Off-site Link:
Trapped in a "Man’s World" – Robert C. Koehler (Common Dreams, November 16, 2017).

Image: Kristen Solberg.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Australia, "Love Has Had a Landslide Victory"


Good news from the country of my birth: Australians have voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry in a landmark national survey.

The Yes vote triumphed with 61.6 percent of the vote, while 38.4 percent voted No.

I take this opportunity to thank all my family and friends in Australia who voted Yes in the survey. And an especially big thank you to my Mum who, after Mass one Sunday evening, gently yet firmly challenged her parish priest over the Catholic hierarchy's support of the No campaign (despite the fact that Catholics themselves comprise one of the largest groups in Australia supportive of same-sex marriage). Of course, my mother's support isn't that surprising given my parents' loving and proactive support over the years of me and of gay people in general. (See, for example, here and here.)

Following, with added images and links, is Michael Koziol's report in The Sydney Morning Herald on this "landslide victory."

Australians have emphatically voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, saying "yes" to the historic social change by a substantial margin of 61.6 per cent to 38.4 per cent.

After years of political stagnation, the public has now tasked the Turnbull government with changing the law before Christmas to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Almost 80 per cent of eligible voters participated in the unprecedented voluntary postal survey, giving the verdict an authority unmatched by most elections globally. It means Australia is poised to join 25 other countries that have granted marriage equality to gay couples, including the US, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

At street parties across the country, gay and lesbian Australians cheered, danced and embraced as the results were announced by the chief statistician on Wednesday.



Above: People celebrate in Melbourne on Wednesday after Australians approved same-sex marriage. (Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)


It is a landmark moment in Australia's mixed civil rights record: it was one of the first countries to give women the vote, but still struggles with Indigenous reconciliation and is one of the last English-speaking democracies to legalise same-sex marriage.

The result is also a significant victory for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, of the ruling centre-right Coalition, who is a longstanding supporter of same-sex marriage and firmly believed the "yes" vote would prevail.

"Love has had a landslide victory," declared Alex Greenwich, co-chair of the Equality Campaign, from a public gathering in Sydney, where John Paul Young's classic "Love Is In The Air" was played. "Getting to this point has not been easy, but rarely in your life can you celebrate with such pride overcoming adversity to make history." Mr Greenwich said the campaign's support and momentum had exceeded all expectations, and the result had delivered "an unequivocal mandate" for politicians to vote through the change by the end of the year.

Every state and territory voted "yes" by more than 60 per cent except for NSW, where the "yes" vote was 57.8 per cent, and the "no" vote was 42.2 per cent. The ACT had the highest "yes" vote in the country at 74 per cent, followed by Victoria at 64.9 per cent. Participation in the survey exceeded 70 per cent across all age groups, including younger voters. Almost 80 per cent of 18- and 19-year-olds voted, the ABS revealed, with the lowest turnout (71.9 per cent) among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Mr Turnbull, speaking shortly after the results were announced, heralded the "overwhelming" support Australians had expressed for same-sex marriage. "They voted 'yes' for fairness, commitment, love," he said. "It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming. "And now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia, to get on with it - to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do, and get this done this year, before Christmas. That must be our commitment." The PM's electorate of Wentworth, in inner-city Sydney, recorded one of the highest "yes" votes in the country at 80.8 per cent.

The results surpassed the expectations of many "yes" advocates in the government, who were eyeing a figure of 55 to 60 per cent. It almost matched the 62 per cent recorded at the Irish referendum on same-sex marriage in 2015.

Gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, who spearheaded action for same-sex marriage within the Coalition but opposed the public vote, declared it "the most important electoral mandate" Australia had ever seen. "This is by any and every measure a huge democratic achievement for our country," he said. "I have never been more proud to stand up and represent Australian people than I was this morning when I listened to that result."

Gay Labor frontbencher Penny Wong, who pushed her own party to change its position on same-sex marriage, was hugged by colleagues in a room in Parliament House as they watched the results announcement. Later, she thanked Australians for their "resounding" verdict and spoke of how difficult the public vote had been for the LGBTI community. "I hope from this you can take a message of solidarity, of support, of decency from your fellow Australians," Senator Wong said.


Above: Labor senator Penny Wong, one of the most prominent advocates of the Yes campaign, breaks down after the announcement of the same-sex marriage survey result on Wednesday morning. (Photo: Mike Bowers for The Guardian)


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, speaking to a jubilant crowd in Melbourne, said the emphatic verdict was "not just good for marriage equality" but showed "Australians have voted for a generous view of themselves, for a modern Australia, where diversity is accepted, supported and respected. "Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate."

The de facto leader of the "no" campaign, Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton, conceded defeat and said he accepted the democratic decision of the Australian people. But he said "in a democracy, no question is ever completely closed", and held out hope of one day changing Australians' minds and redefining marriage as being between a man and a woman. "There may be a time in the future when we can persuade our fellow Australians to that position once again," Mr Shelton said.

Debate inside and outside Parliament will now turn to the legislation to enact the change. A bill by Senator Smith, endorsed by Mr Turnbull, will be introduced into the Senate this week, and fierce argument is expected over religious exemptions in the coming parliamentary fortnight.

The PM said he expected a "very lively debate" that would showcase "Parliament at its best".
– Michael Koziol
"Same-sex Marriage Postal Survey:
'Love Has Had a Landslide Victory' as 'Yes' Wins
"
The Sydney Morning Herald
November 15, 2017




Related Off-site Links:
"They Voted Yes for Love": Turnbull Vows to Legalise Same-sex Marriage by Christmas – James Elton-Pym (SBS News, November 15, 2017).
Australia Says Yes to Same-sex Marriage in Historic Postal Survey – Paul Karp (The Guardian, November 15, 2017).
Australia Votes for Gay Marriage, Clearing Path to Legalization – Adam Baidawi and Damien Cave (The New York Times, November 15, 2017).
Same-sex Marriage Victory: What Happens Next? – Michael Koziol (The Sydney Morning Herald, November 15, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Saying "Yes" to Marriage Equality in Australia
Thank You, Frank!
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 1)
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 2)
Thoughts on the Australian Catholic Bishops' Latest Ploy in Their "Struggle for the Very Soul of Marriage"
From Australia, "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality"
Lanae Erickson on Taking a Lesson from Down Under
The (Same-Love) Dance Goes On

Opening image: An outline of Australia with both the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Rainbow Flag.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Quote of the Day

Gentlemen's Quarterly is not typically the defining mechanism of a man's work. At least it shouldn't be, not by my narrow concept of what is still a predominantly style-based magazine.

But when it named Colin Kaepernick its Citizen Of The Year, as told in the words of other admiring celebrity mavens, it recalibrated a lot of things we have taken for granted.

Like conscience. He had one. He exercised it at considerable personal cost and became a national touchstone on the real beginning of the new century. He put a cleaver to our national pretense of "one country" and made it plain that football isn't meant to be the be-all and end-all of a football player's life. A man must have a code, after all, and human decency for all under an umbrella of America-as-it-ought-to-be is his.

But his code was revealed in rejecting football (or actually, having it reject him), and while the national tide has swirled around him, he also helped reveal the slowly but discernibly rotting underpinnings of the National Football League which is responding to all this external struggle by eating itself. The NFL's power and resources are vast, so the cannibalism will take a decade and likely more, but it is happening right where everyone can see.

. . . Kaepernick decided one man's voice wasn't too small, and one man's platform wasn't too rickety.

And he wasn't even going after football. He was going after social inequity and cruelties, the way a good citizen should.

– Ray Ratto
Excerpted from "In Naming Kaepernick 'Citizen of the Year,'
GQ Recalibrates What We Have Taken for Granted

Yahoo! Sports
November 13, 2017




Related Off-site Links:
Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced – The Editors of GQ (November 13, 2017).
Colin Kaepernick Is Named Citizen of the Year by GQ Magazine – Chuck Schilken (Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2017).
GQ Honor a Fitting Tribute for Colin Kaepernick – Rochelle Riley (Detroit Free Press, November 13, 2017).
ColinThe Leveret (June 22, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on Colin Kaepernick and the "Take a Knee" Movement
Welcome to America . . .

Images: Martin Schoeller.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thomas Moore on the "Ageless Soul"



Author and psychotherapist Thomas Moore was recently interviewed by Jim Walsh for my Minneapolis neighborhood paper, the Southwest Journal.

In this interview, Moore (author of the spiritual classic Care of the Soul and the recently released Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy) shares his thoughts on, in Walsh's words, "the somewhat ephemeral notion of soul."

I share today Moore's understanding of soul. His words are accompanied by some of my photography of the urban wilderness around Minnehaha Creek, close to my home in south Minneapolis.

Soul refers to our mysterious depth and substance, what remains after medicine and psychology have analyzed and explained us. It is a profound sense of self, far beyond what they call ego, and it helps us connect with others. The soul offers a strong sense of identity and individuality, but at the same time it includes a felt awareness of being part of humanity [and all of creation, I'd contend]. In some mysterious way we and others share an experience of what it is to be human, and we do this so deeply that, according to many traditional accounts, we share one soul.

. . . I've always felt that a good way to get soul is through loss, and in failure. Soul comes more from having something taken from you than being given something. . . . I don't want to say it's unimportant to gain knowledge and have god experiences and make friends and all of these positive things, which are important. Bt life itself, at least half of it for most of us, is loss and failure. So I think to be a human being, you have to be able to handle both and see that they're mixed up with each other together and don't separate them. That allows you to be who you are. You're not your real self if you avoid or just ignore and leave out the bad times. Because they do things for you, too. The bad times [have the potential to] really make us more ourselves and bring out our capacity and power and personalities more than the good times. Good times tend to be surrounded by unconsciousness; you don't think much about them.

But when you're going through something that's challenging, you have to sort everything out. You have to have deep conversations with friends and family members [and with yourself, I'd also say]. You don't do that when you're just having a good time. So there's something about the disturbance of life that encourages reflection. . . . All of us have experiences of various loss, making mistakes, and you really have to process them and talk them through and look at them closely.

These days, I'm talking about soul in terms of the aging process. And by that I don't mean just getting older, I mean becoming somebody. That aging is [is all about] going through experiences that make you into a real person and bring out your potential and your individuality.

– Thomas Moore









See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Soul Deep
The Soul of a Dancer
The Soul of My Love
In the Garden of Spirituality – Andrew Harvey
The Source Is Within You
"Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"
Called to the Field of Compassion to Be Both Prophet and Mystic
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
Autumn, Within and Beyond
Photo of the Day – November 9, 2017
Autumn By the Creek
The Prayer Tree

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Things Do Change and Things Do Get Better"

The Wild Reed's special countdown to tomorrow's release of Buffy Sainte-Marie's new album Medicine Songs continues with Stingray PausePlay's 2016 interview with Buffy one year after her album Power in the Blood won the 2015 Polaris Music Prize.

For me, one of the most interesting things about this interview is Buffy's response to the question about what artist she'd like to see record one of her songs. She answers Adele. And the song she'd like Adele to record? It's "To the Ends of the World," which happens to be one of my favorite songs from Buffy's 2009 album Running for the Drum!

And, of course, as always, Buffy offers words of insight and hope, including those that make up the title of this post!





For previous posts in this series, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "I'm Creative Anywhere"
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, "One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today"
The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement"



For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood


For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind"
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy!
Actually, There's No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"

Recommended Off-site Link:
The Unbreakable Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Candid Conversation with the Resilient Songwriter and Activist – Whitney Phaneuf (Acoustic Guitar, January 18, 2017).


Photo of the Day

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Phillip Clark on the "Karmic Wake Up Call" of a Year Ago

A year ago today, the United States received a karmic wake up call from the cosmos.

After purporting to spread democracy around the globe for decades, our presidential election reminded us that entrenched racism, bigotry, and white supremacy remain active ingredients in the American experiment; variables that have only been changed in brand, rather than substance, throughout our history.

The glaring insufficiency of the nominees from both major parties substantiated that our two party system no longer serves the collective aspirations of the American people. Instead, money, special interests, and oligarchs' privilege continue to hold away.

The U.S. is experiencing a taste of its own medicine. Our nation has peddled imperialism and capitalistic dominance as a mainstay of its foreign policy as the beacon of the "free world." Now, with an increasingly fascist administration in our own backyard, we understand exactly how precious true freedom, human rights, and the rule of law are for any democracy.

In these days, our energy must be harnessed by focusing on the nation we want – one that respects the inherent human dignity of all citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, affirms the possibilities of love and safeguards the value of men and women of every sexual orientation or gender identity, celebrates and empowers the talents, drive, and ambitions of women as well as men, and welcomes the contributions of all who wish to call the United States home, whatever their religious creed may be.

We are capable of embodying so much more power than we can imagine. We are all divine expressions of humanity. It is in our hands to create a vision for the nation of love, justice, and freedom we desire.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committee citizens can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead.

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
November 8, 2017


For my thoughts on election night in the U.S. this time last year, see the previous Wild Reed post, Out and About – Autumn 2016.


See also the following posts in the lead-up to election night 2016:
Something to Think About – February 4, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Hope, History and Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton
Quote of the Day – June 9, 2016
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Carrying It On
Election Eve Thoughts
Quote of the Day – November 9, 2016
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as U.S. President

For more of Phillip Clark's writings at The Wild Reed, see:
In the Wake of Trump's "Catastrophic" Election, Phillip Clark on the Spiritual Truths That Will Carry Us Forward
Heartening

Recommended Off-site Links for THIS Year's Election Night:
"Tsunami" of Progressive Victories Delivers Massive Repudiation of Trumpism – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, November 8, 2017).
Democratic Socialists Win Big in Nearly a Dozen Races – Anton Woronczuk (Revere Press, November 8, 2017).
Socialists Just Showed the Democratic Party How to Win Across the U.S. – Miles Kampf-Lassin (In These Times, November 8, 2017).
How a Socialist Beat One of Virginia’s Most Powerful Republicans – Graham Vyse (New Republic, November 8, 2017).
Republicans Suddenly Fear Disastrous 2018 – Katie Gluec (Tribune News Service, November 8, 2017).
The Trump Administration’s Looming Political Crisis – Steve Coll (The New Yorker, November 13, 2017).
Election Night Brings Historic Wins for Minority and LGBT Candidates – Madison Park (CNN, November 8, 2017).
"I'm Everything Trump Hates," Says the New Mayor of Hoboken – John Nichols (The Nation, November 8, 2017).
Four Somali-Americans Win Local ElectionsBartamaha.com (November 8, 2017).
New Jersey Official Who Mocked Women's March Defeated by Candidate He Inspired to Run – Jacqueline Thomsen (The Hill, November 8, 2017).
Black Lives Matter Activist in Viral Photo Overwhelmingly Wins Charlotte City Council Seat – David Edwards (Raw Story, November 8, 2017).
St. Paul Elects Its First African-American Mayor – Brandon Carter (The Hill, November 8, 2017).
Transgender Democrat Danica Roem Makes History, Defeats Notorious Anti-LGBTQ Incumbent – Mark Joseph Stern (Slate, November 8, 2017).
Meet Andrea Jenkins, the First Openly Transgender Black Woman Elected to Public Office in the U.S. – Marwa Eltagouri (The Washington Post, November 8, 2017).
Minneapolis Will Soon Have Two Transgender City Council Members – Melissa Turtinen (Go MN, November 8, 2017).
A Trans Man Has Also Been Elected to the Minneapolis City Council – Neal Broverman (The Advocate, November 8, 2017).


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Saying "Yes" to Marriage Equality in Australia

.

Above: Rikki Mason and Waangenga Blanco of the
Bangarra Dance Theatre. (Photo: Tiffany Parker)


In Australia today the same-sex marriage postal survey officially closes.

You may recall that I previously wrote about how the conservative Coalition government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in August a $122 million postal vote (or plebiscite) on the issue of marriage equality. Ballots were sent out to every registered voter in September, with a final decision set to be announced next Wednesday, November 15. According to SBS News, close to 80% of Australians chose to vote in the survey.

How exactly will the plebiscite work? Well, if marriage equality is supported (by a "yes" vote) by a majority of registered voters, the government will facilitate a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage before December 7. Such a vote is expected to be in favour of marriage equality. If a majority of voters oppose marriage equality, there will be no parliamentary vote and civil marriage rights and benefits will continue to be denied to same-sex couples in Australia.

Right: The Sydney Opera House, lit up with rainbow colors to mark the November 6, 2017 launch of the city’s 40th Mardi Gras celebrations in 2018. I also think it's no coincidence that rainbow colors grace this landmark building in the lead up to the December 7 announcement of the marriage equality postal vote result.


On this last day of voting, here is how SBS Australia's Chloe Sargeant sums up her feelings and the feelings of many LGBTQIA+ Australians and their loved ones.

Australia's $122 million, non-binding, non-compulsory postal survey on same-sex marriage . . . [was] was completely unprecedented, and I know that personally, I felt mentally unprepared for the onslaught of campaigning, social media posts, rallies, attacks, homophobia – and much more. It was unrelenting, and I felt emotionally drained within days of it beginning.

Today, the voting period for the postal survey officially, and finally closed. On one hand, I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. "It can only get better from here, surely," I said, internally. But then, the realisation set in that this was just the first hurdle: the announcement of the results will occur on November 15, at 10 a.m.

If the result is 'no', it will break the hearts of millions of Australians – both the LGBTQIA+ community, and the people that love us, our allies. If it's 'yes' – then we will cry tears of joy, we will dance, we will ask our partners to marry us, we will set dates, and we will hold one another in our arms, silently thanking some higher power that we were not lost in the hatred, and promising one another that our queer joy will return ten-fold.

An Essential poll released today told us that the 'Yes' campaign looks set for victory, with 64 per cent of respondents saying they voted for same-sex couples to be allowed to marry. However, that also means that nearly 40 per cent voted for us to remain second-class citizens.

– Chloe Sargeant
Excerpted from "The Postal Survey is Officially Closed:
How Are LGBTQIA+ People Feeling?

SBS
November 7, 2017


Although I was in Australia when the postal vote was announced, I returned to the U.S. soon afterwards. Accordingly, I did not witness nor was I exposed to the contentious debate around marriage equality that has been playing out in Australia for the past two months. I am aware, however, of some really erroneous, misleading, and downright ugly things said by the "No" campaign. But I'm also aware of some really beautiful and powerful sentiments and statements expressed by the "Yes" campaign.

One of my favorite statements from a supporting organization of the "Yes" campaign was from the Bangarra Dance Theatre, whose powerful and mesmerizing production of Bennelong I saw in Canberra when I was back in Australia in August. When this statement was shared on Bangarra's Facebook page, it was accompanied by the image that opens this post, one showing dancers Rikki Mason and Waangenga Blanco. Following is the Bangarra Dance Theatre's YES to Marriage Equality statement in its entirety.


Bangarra Dance Theatre was founded on values of kinship, cultural integrity and respect. These values are embedded within our artists, our Board, and our executive and administrative team.

Collectively, we must make it known that as a company, we fully support the marriage equality vote and are urging our incredible audiences to vote YES.

To stay silent on this issue would be a great disservice to the legacy of the many LBGTQI artists, collaborators and staff who have made such an extraordinary contribution to Bangarra over 28 years.

It would also contravene the spirit of reconciliation and togetherness that is the foundation of this inclusive and diverse company.

The motion to support marriage equality is unanimously endorsed by Bangarra Chair Michael McDaniel, Artistic Director Stephen Page, and Executive Director Philippe Magid; and the entire Board and staff.

Love is love.





I close with some photos taken at Sydney's Tamarama Beach during the October 8 event known as the Rainbow Walk – Bondi to Bronte – Supporting the "YES" Vote.








Related Off-site Links:
Same-sex Marriage Postal Survey Returns Hit 12.6 Million as Voting Closes – Natasha Christian (SBS, November 7, 2017).
Yes Vote on Top as Marriage Survey Closes – Katharine Murphy (The Guardian, November 6, 2017).
Australian Same-sex Couples Waiting to Get Married Tell Their Stories – Chloe Sargeant (SBS, November 14, 2017).
Two Australian Bishops: Respect Consciences in Vote Over Marriage Equality – Robert Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 25, 2017).
Stirred by Same-sex Marriage Vote, Australia's Youth Gets Serious – Colin Packham (Reuters, October 5, 2017).
Students Resist Catholic School’s Anti-Marriage Equality Program – Robert Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 15, 2017).
Churches Who Campaigned for 'No' Must Apologise to Gay Community – Keith Mascord (Sydney Morning Herald, November 7, 2017).
As Australian Vote Concludes, Catholics Should "Vote Yes" on Reconciliation and the Common Good – Robert Shine (Bondings 2.0, November 8, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 1)
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 2)
Thank You, Frank!
Thoughts on the Australian Catholic Bishops' Latest Ploy in Their "Struggle for the Very Soul of Marriage"
From Australia, "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality"
Lanae Erickson on Taking a Lesson from Down Under
The (Same-Love) Dance Goes On





Monday, November 06, 2017

The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement"



The Wild Reed's countdown to the November 10 release of Buffy Sainte-Marie's new album Medicine Songs continues with an appreciation by Andrea Warner of Buffy's 50+ year-long career and her unique contributions to music, including "the vast wilderness of [her] interests and influences, and her fearless cross-genre experimentation."

Warner's appreciation serves as a preface to her "essential guide" to the music of Buffy Sainte-Marie, published September 13, 2016 by Exclaim!

After spending years delving into Buffy Sainte-Marie's pan-genre discography — seriously, she's done it all, and she's done it better than most — there's no good reason why Sainte-Marie shouldn't receive the same level of worldwide recognition and acclaim as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Why isn't she revered as a powerhouse, like Janis Joplin, or as the voice of the folk movement, like Bob Dylan? Systemic racism has played its part; Sainte-Marie, a Canadian-born Cree woman who was raised in America, has always used music as a tool of passion, protest, advocacy, resistance and decolonization.

All of the things that folkies were supposedly singing about and protesting, Sainte-Marie sang those things, too, but she went deeper, digging in and uprooting the sources of disenfranchisement: white supremacy, patriarchy, racism, sexism, colonization. Massive inequality is, or should be, a universal concept. But even if record executives and music fans were put off by her political side, Sainte-Marie also tackled all the "softer" things, too: love and loss, sex and desire, grief and joy were common thematic explorations of hers, and they co-existed alongside narratives of protest, Indigenous identity — past and present — and Native American rights, of folklore and nature and spirituality, and all the metaphors between heaven and hell.

The thrilling thing about a Sainte-Marie record, particularly through the late '60s, '70s and this decade, is the multiplicity of possibilities, the vast wilderness of Sainte-Marie's interests and influences, and her fearless cross-genre experimentation. Despite two lengthy breaks from recording, from 1976 to 1992 and then again from 1992 to 2008, Sainte-Marie's career spans more than 50 years.

– Andrea Warner
Excerpted from "An Essential Guide to Buffy Sainte-Marie"
Exclaim!
September 13, 2016

___________________________


Following is "The Uranium War" by Buffy Sainte-Marie, from her award-winning 2015 album, Power in the Blood. When being interviewed in May 2016 by The Huffington Post's Mike Ragogna, Buffy acknowledged that the song was the "official prequel" to her earlier song, "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" (from her 1992 album Coincidence and Likely Stories).

It is, really. It’s about the same people, there really is a Cordell Tulley and there really is a Norman Brown and Annie Mae really was a friend of mine. It’s the same story but it’s before “Bury.” I actually dedicate it to the family of Annie Mae. I know her daughters. It’s such a tragic story, but I wrote it almost like a little three-act Broadway play. It’s a little bit different.





The Uranium War
By Buffy Sainte-Marie

Ay ha ay ha yo ho

There was a Cree and a Sioux and a Navajo,
and an Arapaho and a Hopi hiyo
We were stranded, snowbound, eh-ho well I don't know
Sleeping on the floor like the best of friends
Living on tea and odds and ends
Ah, were we lucky? Now it all depends

There was Cordell and me and Norman Brown
sittin' around away from town
And me I'm listening, hey ho, Big Mountain guys
Watch the sunrise in your eyes;
taking care of the Elders' pride
Hey hey, Mother Earth; Hey hey, Father Sky

And me I watched it grow:
corporate greed and a lust for gold
and coal and oil and, hey now, uranium
Keep the Indians under your thumb;
pray like hell when your bad times come
Hey, rip 'em up, strip 'em up, get 'em with a gun

She was a friend of mine –
Annie Mae in the snows of the wintertime
We were running cross the fields of Indian land
Ducking bullets from the guns of the pale men
Ay hey ay hey ah

Patriot Woman, hunted in the land
– what did you say about uranium?

She come to see me one day I was living in a little place in L.A.
She was running from the feel of the jailor's touch
Singing Heyo ha ya I think I know too much about uranium

Ay ha ay ha yo

And me I watched it grow:
corporate greed and a lust for gold
and coal and oil and, hey now, uranium
Keep the Indians under your thumb;
pray like hell when your bad times come
Hey, rip 'em up, strip 'em up, get 'em with a gun



For previous posts in this series, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "I'm Creative Anywhere"
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, "One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today"



For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood


For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind"
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy!
Actually, There's No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"

Recommended Off-site Link:
The Unbreakable Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Candid Conversation with the Resilient Songwriter and Activist – Whitney Phaneuf (Acoustic Guitar, January 18, 2017).


Opening image: Justine Edwards.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Autumn Snow


This past Friday, November 3, saw the first significant autumn snowfall for this year in Minneapolis. It's a taste, no doubt, of the winter approaching.

I took the images you see here today on my way home from work on Friday. As I've mentioned previously, part of my getting to and from work each week day involves walking along Minnehaha Creek in south Minneapolis, to and from my home and the bus stop on 51st and Chicago. It's a beautiful way to begin and end my work day.

My walk home on Friday afternoon was made especially beautiful by the autumn snow.











See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Taste of Winter
First Snowfall
Autumn, Within and Beyond
Just in Time for Winter

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

At Hallowtide, Pagan Thoughts on Restoring Our World and Our Souls



Today is Halloween, which here in the U.S., has become an abhorrent commercial spectacle. This despite the fact that the day has roots in the Catholic celebrations of November 1, “All Hollows' Day” (or “All Saints' Day”) and November 2, “All Souls' Day.”

Deeper still . . . elements of both these Christian feasts are grounded in a pagan holy day, the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was the eve of the Gaelic new year. It was the time when it was believed the veil between this world and the next was at its thinnest, and people and spirits could “cross over,” could pass back and forth between the two worlds. Huge bonfires were lit on hilltops – some say to frighten away evil spirits; others, to warm the souls of the departed. Perhaps both.

Personally, I like to gather up all these names, origins, meanings, and dates and speak simply of Hallowtide, and emphasize the transformative power, the witch power, the time calls to mind.

As you might have gathered from recent posts (for example, here and here), I've been exploring a deep affinity that I'm discovering I have for paganism. This evening's post continues this exploration by highlighting a piece by Thomas Moore from his book Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality. In this particular piece, Moore contends that modern life and thought have been severely weakened by a chauvinistic attitude toward paganism. We have to let go of this attitude, one that many hold as precious, in order to make holy once again the insights of paganism. Such a reinstatement of pagan sensibility, Moore says, will "restore to us our world and our souls."


Pagan religion is the great shadow of Western culture. For almost two millennia we have identified with a monotheistic world philosophy. It isn't simply that we have favored a Judeo-Christian religious life, but that all of our institutions and our individual way of life have developed precisely to exclude the religious piety of our pagan ancestors [and neo-pagans of today]. Paganism is not a belief system; it is a way of life in which one appreciates the holiness of every facet of experience and honors that holiness with specific rites and images.

Pagans saw [and see] sacredness and depth everywhere. . . . [And yet] when I was growing up Catholic, we were told that we Catholics had the truth and needed to convert the poor pagan souls to our way of seeing things. Just recently I wrote an essay on the virtues of pagan spirituality, and I received letters from Christian pastors telling me how wrong I was and how dangerous it is to speak on behalf of paganism. Ours is supposedly an age of ecumenism, but apparently our largesse doesn't extend as far as pagan piety.

Without the insights of pagan spirituality, we divide our lives into two separate categories – the sacred and the profane. The first is given over to the church, the second to the rest of existence. We talk about how our religious practice should influence our daily lives, but it does so at a distance because the two are imagined as fundamentally different. Our lives would be radically transformed if we could perceive, in good pagan fashion, religious issues in business, for example, and spirituality in our sexual relationships.

We are pleased with some of the achievements of the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures. We still benefit from their inventions in logic, language, and law, but we stop short of their theological insights. We love the practicality of Aristotle, even if his influence on our work is only implicit, but we don't know what to make of the mysticism and poetics, the focus on soul and the therapeutic life, in Plato and Plotinus.

A few theologians, such as Hugo Rahner and David Miller, have explored some of the ways pagan spiritual insight lies behind Judeo-Christian motifs and beliefs. They demonstrate that our frontal beliefs still lie on the ground of a worldly spirituality. The Celtic world, too, still shows evidence of an implicit blending of pagan and Christian. Paganism still lives, but as some say, it now thrives in the arts, and maybe that is why the most unpagan among us chastise the arts.

We are so accustomed to imagining spirituality without body, sex, and imagination that when we see them linked, we judge them spurious and treat them as a threat. For too long we have lived in the gray anti-pagan world of abstraction, where our God has fallen out of love with his creation. We have become too acquainted with self-restraint, so that we don't know the holiness of indulgence. When acknowledging the spirit, we look up into the emptiness of space, whereas once the pious pagan gazed down at the earth, full of animals, trees, and rivers, to make sacrifices and offer prayers.

The word sacrifice means "to make holy." Indeed, we would have to sacrifice something precious to reinstate pagan sensibility, but then we would have restored to us our world and our souls.

– Thomas Moore
Excerpted from Original Self:
Living with Paradox and Originality

pp. 111-113


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Pagan Roots of All Saints Day
Halloween Thoughts
An All Hallow's Eve Reflection
A Hallowtide Reflection
"Call Upon Those You Love"
All You Holy Men and Women
Our Sacred Journey Continues: An All Saints and Souls Day Reflection
An All Souls Day Reflection
"A Dark Timelessness and Stillness Surrounds Her Wild Abandonment"
Magician Among the Spirits

Related Off-site Links:
Halloween – Summer’s End, a Feast for Remembering – Kieran Bohan (A Brave Faith, October 31, 2015).
If a Druid Rings the Doorbell – Michael Tortorello (The New York Times, October 30, 2013).
The Secret History of Gay Saints the Catholic Church Doesn’t Want You to Read – Tris Reid-Smith (Gay Star News, December 22, 2016).
Why The Witch Is the Scariest Historical Film Ever – Melissa J. Gismondi (The Conversation via Slate, October 31, 2017).
How the Dead Danced With the Living in Medieval Society – Ashby Kinch (The Conversation, October 29, 2017).
What Ancient Cultures Teach Us About Grief, Mourning and Continuity of Life – Daniel Wojcik and Robert Dobler (The Conversation, November 1, 2017).

Image: Cernunnos, the Antlered One (model and photographer unknown).