Thoughts of Peace, Love, and Politics

As we near another “most important election in our lifetime” cycle in the U.S., I’m left wondering where we are heading as a country. So much vitriol, anger, and fear. I refuse to believe that we are as divided as a country as so many pundits and politicians make us out to be. I base this on my own personal experience.

I’m non-partisan and have lived long enough to be disappointed by both major parties and even some of the non-majors (i.e., Libertarians, Greens). I’m suspicious of people who seek power and the cults of personality that arise all too often in national politics.

To be blunt, I’m not a fan of Trump and I’m equally leery of the majority of the Republican party that is following his lead. But that does not make me a Democrat or Biden fan. And therein lies my point: I try very hard not to view things (politics or otherwise) through an either/or, dualistic lens. Life is more nuanced than that. I believe most people, deep down, think this as well. There is just so much bullshit from the halls of power and the media that fosters division and some people tend to follow the bullshit without thinking critically. But my own experience, having travelled millions of miles around the world and meeting people from all over, tells me that people have way more in common than not. And whatever differences are largely superficial.

I have some friends that are staunch Republicans and have views on politics that I don’t agree with. But they remain my friends because what bonds us is more substantial. There is love and respect that has been fostered over time. The same holds true with me and my radically liberal friends. I don’t necessarily agree with them on many matters but not so much as to disqualify them as friends because of our commonality. This may sound like I’m a “centrist” (i.e. wishy washy or luke warm). I am not. If I’m to label myself, I’m a “non-dualist”. I choose to try to look at the whole of life, not the convenient “compartments” we get placed in, I believe this is what Jesus was getting at when he suggested “love your neighbor”.

Steve Von Till

Steve Von Till @Rumba Cafe in Columbus, OH 6-July 2022

I got to see Steve Von Till, best known as the guitarist and vocalist for Neurosis, do a performance of his solo music in a very intimate setting. It was wonderful! He was accompanied by some fantastic musicians including the celloist Helen Money who also opened the show. I summarize the vibe with the words “ethereal”, “organic”, “haunting” and “beautiful”. The music demanded a reverence and emotional engagement from the audience.

I’m very grateful to have been there, especially as I have missed two opportunities to see Neurosis, the last miss was due to my fathers failing health in 2019. I was determined not to miss this opportunity to see Mr. Von Till display his more contemplative side and he did not disappoint.

If you are unfamiliar with Steve Von Till or Neurosis, please check out https://www.neurotrecordings.com/, the record company he co-operates. There, you can learn all about Neurosis, Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly (the other guitarist/vocalist from Neurosis), and a variety of cool artist.

The Abbey of Gethsemani

New entry regarding a recent trip to Gethsemani.

10-April 2022: On Friday, I visited The Abbey of Gethsemani which is probably best known as the monastery where the late Thomas Merton was cloistered.

This visit was long overdue as I’ve been an admirer of Merton’s for many years. My book shelf is filled with his books. He left an example of a contemplative life that resonates with me greatly. As such, I’ve been meaning to visit Gethsemani, perhaps as a pilgrimage of sorts, since I moved to Kentucky in 2004 but never made the time until now. 

Honestly, it was too brief a trip as I had my infant grandson with me and it was very poor weather. Walking around the grounds was not possible. I did spend a bit of time in the gift shop and welcome center. This trip was more a “recon” visit for a future retreat I plan to take. This retreat is something I have wanted to do for years and almost did in 2020 before COVID-19 changed plans. It is something that my late father encouraged me to do a few days before he died. From a perspective, it will be fulfilling a dying wish. 

I suppose I’ll have more to share about this place in months to come. I do encourage anyone to explore the life and works of Thomas Merton…..and, on a lesser high minded item, I encourage everyone to try some of the fudge that the Trappist monks make. DELICIOUS!.