Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NCAA athletics

NCAA athletics, what a mess. 

Regulating athletes and underregulating athletics is nonsensical. 

Some say the University President system of leading each school in the way they will go athletically is in need of updating. Perhaps. But, realistically, nothing will change given the will of the people involved, people paid by the university system.  

Some advocate a rounded out leadership team, with different interests at the table. 
This means putting those that have experience as athletes or coaches onto the leadership team. Not a ridiculous thought. But will this change anything for the better? These ex-jocks will, through self love (we can generously call it love for the game), advocate the hell out of allowing sport to have an even larger, more lucrative presence. And why wouldn't they? They will, in most instances, seek a better monetary deal for their constituants (themselves in an updated version): the athlete. 

The 'team of leaders' will be in a collusion of self interest, and nothing will change. NCAA sport will only grow bigger. 
Better? Doubt it. Better is about simply the thrill of competing, teammates, in short, experiencing the relationships of the sport. 
We can do that in leather helmets sans human growth hormones, transcontinental flights, elite facilities, multi-million dollar contracts to coaches, and so on. 

We could offer the option of restructuring athletics into a proper human proportion. This is a good lesson for 'student-athletes' as it is the lesson we all need to learn so that we don't tank the world with our over-consumptive ways. 

Sport could play a starring role in leading the way forward. Or not.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Right worship. This is the meaning of the term: Orthodox. Quite an imposing term. Quite a statement of certainty. One might presume synonym phrases, such as: Truth, Righteousness, The Right Way, The One True Way, We Have It All Together, We Have It From the Source. The term Orthodox conjures in my mind's eye images of men in black with beards, either Jewish or Greek, or maybe Russian, but then, the Russian ones are always in white robes and have white beards to match. In my mind's eye mind you.

As of late, the word Orthodox is a coveted term. And it is hardly wonder why it is a coveted word, in a world groping for answers and moorings.

For some this flail for certainty and 'right' answers sends them off trotting in one of many directions, often in circles, trying on many ideas and exploring a bevvy of behaviors, in pursuit of the relativley firm feeling that they have finally put the pieces of their working philosophy together and can now begin the "praxis."

For others, this means laying hold of what has gone before, perhaps "first", in their chosen tradition/religion. Nevermind that "laying hold" of intellectual or spiritual property is a subjective act in itself. Nevermind again that the intellectual property was subjectively gathered.

Take for instance the Russian Orthodox Church. I'm a fan of it, to whatever degree I can be, given that I have never darkened the door of a ROC Church. My fan-ness comes mostly from having read The Brothers Karamazov and really liking Father Zosima and the youngest brother Alyosha who is so influenced by him. Other than this, my only exposure to the ROC are the strange documents I found while hiking in the mountains west of Boulder near an old ghost town named Caribou. The documents were yellowed and crinkled and water stained and stuffed into one of several vw beetles rusting as invalids in the yard of an old unfinished hippie shack with three still handed clocks that faced out from a window with a sign that read: All humans who enter will not leave. Three stools were visible through the curtain and a piece of coal sat atop the middle stool. In the big room sat a large pipe organ. Silver pipes if I remember correctly. Clothes and furniture were strewn haphazard. Nothing orthodox about the house that I found the Orthodox histories and understandings of various Saints.

If the Russian Orthodox are Orthodox in the Christian sense of the word, then do their differences with the Greek Church matter? For the ROC was certainly born from the Greek Orthodox Church - which is perfectly fine, as far as I'm concerned, but what about all of the cultural embellishments? Is that Orthodox? Or does Orthodoxy not depend on cultural influence? If it did, then perhaps the Greek Orthodox would not be orthodox, for the first Chrisitians were not primarily Greek.

T-Rex and the fish

The common fish bumper decal has morphed in many different ways. Each morphing another ontological perspective using a plastic stick-on decal to do the lifting.

Today I saw a decal that was only an allusion to the fish. It expanded the fish shape riff - it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex holding a little fish and no doubt just about to gobble it up, as any T-Rex would naturally do.

Not a big deal, just another fish riff. We have seen the big fish eating the little fish already. Same idea. But, it struck me in a different way. Here was the baddest predator on land with a little damn christian fish in its claws. Sort of said to me, "Fuck you and your little piss-ant, make believe religion. The real deal is a terrible predator."I'm no doubt exaggerating the sentiment intended just a skosh, and I get the irony (whether the owner of the decal does or not I'm not sure): T-Rex is a predator that is extinct. How can an extinct predator hold a fish?
It unnerved me in that this person would prefer to champion extinct T-Rex over make believe fish story. Mind you, a fish story, make believe or not, that has incredible wisdom and themes, not to mention motifs and leitmotifs, such as love, mercy, forgiveness, humility, peacemaking. These are not make believe qualities, these are qualities we are in desperate need.
Championing the terrible extinct T-Rex, and the modern day equivalent, over the christian fish, is, well, strange to me. It is not really a scientific point. It is tedious and frankly boring to relive, seemingly everyday, the all Christians, all believers in God, are enemies and disbelievers of science. Please.
So what is the modern equivalent for T-Rex? A tiger? Not ferocious enough and the tiger is nearly extinct too. Lion? Same thing. Great White? Yes, maybe in the water. But the big fish eating the little fish has already filled that role (which is why the T-Rex is not really a novel idea).
No, the way T-Rex was used in this little decal was more like an Atomic Bomb, or a Bushmaster set loose on an elementary school. It was screaming to me, "Power and might is the only thing that matters, the rest can go to hell."
Red in tooth and claw is not the victorious way, not even in evolution. Cooperation is more in the direction of successful evolution and successful relationship and I dare say, happiness.
Just as the T-Rex.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Because the soul is vital

The other night I was at a party and someone asked me what I did. Instead of mumbling out something about working at a church (like I might usually do), I sort of had a renewed energy. I said something like - "I work at a church because our souls need to be cultivated and inspired to action.  We live in a society that emphasizes politics and business and entertainment - mostly to the exclusion of the soul. And why wouldn't we? It doesn't make us any money. It doesn't usually make you famous (and if it did, it would require too much for most of us [think mother teresa]). All the while, the things we say we care about: the forests and the mega-mammals, are dying off as we go about our business of raping the earth and one another. All the while our children are born into toxicity. I think we need to put some more emphasis on cultivating the soul. On finding our soulful intuitions and following them and taking action, so that our politics and business and entertainment are seized by the soul and not the other way around, because the other way around brings us selfishness, greed, hubris, mass extinction, exploitation - you name it."

The person I was talking to, at a big fancy party in an absurdly large and self exalting house in Boulder, acknowledged that yes, they supposed this was true. I sort of felt like I had just put them on the rack and asked for a confession. The beer made it feel better to both of us.  
And so this brings me to the why of Alt C, the thought of emphasizing soul in community. Commonly called church or sangha.
Reason for being: Because the soul is vital - to:
love others
                  be kind
                                    be generous
                                                      seek the common well being
be sacrificial
                  be wise
                                    be a peacemaker
                                                                        live in hope
seek justice
                  be humble
                                    mourn for suffering
see and cultivate the good in others
                                     be a force for good