Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Jimi

Jimi Hendrix (Nov. 27, 1942 - Sept. 18, 1970). Dang.

California Baptism

I already posted this picture below, but I remain fascinated by it. It really captures the essence of the time and place I first became a Christian in 1981. It reminds me that my spiritual journey has such different roots from those I know who currently share the journey with me. That time was full of so much inner and outer beauty and wonder, which I found incarnated in my encounter with the living spirit of Jesus, not necessarily the church. And that has carried me to where I am today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Amado @ Lake Bernard

...this past summer. (Of course, now we would likely have to chop through the ice to get a picture like this.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's Groove: Abakua

Joaquin Pozo Calderon offers a tropical demonstration of the Abakua rhythm in Cuba. From the grooving YouTube site of Rudy Quesada.


"Once more a revolution has been betrayed from within." --writer José Saramago

Something very twisted is happening in Nicaragua and it is starting to look like Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas have become tinged by the very evil they fought against for so long.

We have a good friend who lives in Managua and his reports from the streets have not been very comforting to say the least.

"The Parisians" by Alfred Eisenstaedt

This is one of my all-time, favourite photos, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves it.

Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped this in 1963, at the climax of Guignol's "Saint George and the Dragon" in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. Just as the dragon is slain, some children cry out in a combination of horror and delight, while others are taken aback in shock. Every child is consumed with emotion, masterfully captured by Eisenstaedt's camera.

From the LIFE photo collection.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Brain on Blogging

Apparently, this is the image of my brain while blogging here at Alma's Soulfood. Yes that's right. Here are the notes from the findings about me and this blog:
The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Most of this I can relate to I guess, although I believe this is the first time anybody (anything) accused me of being "logical and analytical." I have always excelled at "imaginative models of reality" though.

You can get your own blog analyzed at:

First Snow 2008

First Snow 2008. It always looks like there is less snow than there really is when viewed from this height... but, to my peeps in California, we're chillin' while you're sunning

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LIFE Photo Archive

Google has posted the entire LIFE photo archive, which they claim to include all LIFE photos from 1750s (!?) to today (OK, I'm sure they didn't even have photos in 1750, did they?).

This picture from the 1960s was always in big hit in our family, and not just because it's of somebody smoking marijuana. But this was somebody WE KNEW smoking marijuana. At least that's what the story was. The man in the pot experiment was a friend of my parents from LA.

(Now is the time I need my Mom to "pipe in" and confirm this. Mom, do you have any idea what I'm talking about, or am I the only family member who can still remember the 60s?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cut Your Credit Card into a Christmas Star

Sojourners' Martha Stewartesque, "Cut Your Credit Card into a Christmas Star" video. Very funny. They should do a whole series like this!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's My Birthday!

Here's a picture of me on my 8th birthday, so many years ago....

I see my brother Sol's hand sneaking in the picture. Also, I notice my left ring finger was still bandaged after I got it crushed in my classroom door. I still have a scar from that one. And there's my grandmother's typing table in the background where she tapped out the poetry collection, Mixed Emotions, which I have an original copy of.

But I digress....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lonnie Frisbee

"It's like John the Baptist walked through Southern California and nobody wants to talk about him because he died of AIDS."

-- filmmaker David Di Sabatino.
Lonnie Frisbee, besides having a great name, was a prophetic, charismatic "Jesus Freak" who ministered in California in the late 60s and early 70s. He was a primary -- but mostly unrecognized -- influence in the founding of two of the most important evangelical churches today, Vineyard Christian Fellowship and Calvary Chapel.

Frisbee led innumerable young people to Jesus, his presence sent crowds around the world into convulsions through the Holy Spirit, and he is said to have healed a blind man.

Frisbee was the source for much of the post-denominational charismatic Christianity that came out of California in the 1970s, which is the stream in which I first became a Christian.

He was also a gay man.

What a fasinating life, and truly a sign that God works in mysterious ways....

Here's more:

Lonnie Frisbee Wikipedia entry: Frisbee was an American Pentecostal evangelist and self-described "seeing prophet" and mystic in the late 1960s and 1970s. Despite his hippie appearance and being a closeted gay man, Frisbee had notable success as a minister and evangelist. Contemporary accounts attributed his accomplishments to his incredible anointing of the Holy Spirit.

"Frisbee" by Erik Davis: Frisbee had an authentic, infectious passion and spiritual intensity that Christians would call the Holy Spirit, but which in this context had as much to do with the mystic counterculture as it did with all but the most Pentecostal wings of American Christianity.

The First Jesus Freak, by Matt Coker, OCWeekly: Lonnie Frisbee put the freak in Jesus freak. With his long brown hair, long craggily beard, dusty clothing, scent of Mary Jane and glint of his last LSD trip in his eyes, he showed up out of nowhere, at the height of the '60s, literally on Chuck Smith's doorstep.

Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher. An Emmy-nominated documentary by David Di Sabatino.

Lonnie Frisbee in the early 70s, baptizing people in the ocean as hundreds look on.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Green Tara

Somebody I follow on Twitter (12-Step Buddhist) is always mentioning "doing Green Tara." Though I knew it wasn't about tea, I couldn't get the image of him sipping green tea out of my head, so I looked it up...

Tara means "star," "planet," or "she who ferries across." She is a bodhisattva embodying compassion in the female form of a young goddess. She is often considered to be such an advanced bodhisattva that she is actually a Buddha.

Tara’s name is said to derive from the verb meaning "to cross" or "to traverse". In Pali the verb tarati means "to get to the other side." This word is cognate with the Latin "trans" (across). The word Tara also literally means "star."

Green Tara (Shyama Tara or Dark Tara) is seated on a white moon-disk. Her green complexion symbolizes the active function of the fully-enlightened being. The moon symbolizes her peacefulness. The moon is resting upon a lotus. The lotus symbolizes her freedom from any defilement, just as the lotus rises out of the mud of the swamp, but the blossom itself is pure and undefiled. In the same way, Green Tara arises in the world but is completely undefiled by the world.

[More here...]

Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix's incredible drummer, has died at 61. One of my favourite drummers, Mitchell incorporated jazz rhythms into Hendrix's psychedelic blues.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Hate War

Battle of Somme, Northern France, 1916. More than 1.5 million casualties.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clouds on Mars

See them move at Phoenix Mars Lander.

33 Months Old!

I've let a couple of months pass by, but just to let you know, we're still counting!

Now Reading: Pillar of Fire

"...truth requires a maximum effort to see through the eyes of strangers, foreigners, and enemies."

Now reading, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65. An amazing book with powerful lessons for our times.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

After Prop 8: A Way Forward?

There's a good -- and as outgoing President Bush might say, 'spirited' -- discussion going on in the LBGTQ community about what to do in response to Prop 8. Some (like Dan Savage) say it's time to confront the bigotry head on and press the matter in the courts. Others (like Andrew Sullivan and Cindy Rizzo) believe great gains were made (almost 50% of California voters supported the right to same-sex marriage) and more progress will only be made through more education and engagement with those who oppose gay marriage (esp. African Americans, Latinos, and Christians of all stripes).

I confess to leaning toward the former path (confrontation) more than the latter (engagement) because at this point I think there's been an awful lot of energy spent on education and engagement and it doesn't appear to helping much in some communities. As one of the commenters to Cindy Rizzo's article pointed out, there lots of people with gay family members who are still never going to be convinced to support same-sex marriage.

But after reading the blogs of those who believe continued engagement with opponents of gay marriage is the best path, I'm started to see their point. There is nothing to be gained by a confrontation between the LGBTQ community and African Americans or Latinos. Approaching the problem as a racial issue is in fact totally counter productive. Of course, it isn't people's race that causes them to oppose gay marriage, but in most cases it's the particular take on Christianity they follow.

While these beliefs may be hard or impossible to change (and that in itself is an important issue, but probably one for a later discussion), I believe there is an increasing opportunity to argue the case with opponents of gay marriage that this is a question of human rights, not a religious issue.

Some Christians may never believe homosexuality of 'ok', but I believe it is possible to convince them that because we live in pluralistic society, accepting the beliefs of others is not harmful to one's own beliefs. In fact, supporting tolerance for beliefs other than your own may even help create greater tolerance for those things you do believe.

Helping to argue this point is an area progressive Christians can really help. Socially conservative Christians may not be especially open to listening to the LGBTQ community, but could possibly hear the case when made by other Christians.

For a long time, I thought I didn't have the time for churches and other Christians who still had an issue with gays and lesbians. The debate in the church was going nowhere and only causing deeper division. But after 11-4-08 it's a new time. And now may be the just time for progressive Christians to re-engage in the debate in a new and non-confrontational way.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Seasons of Change

White House, Nov. 6, 2008

Did We Vote on Your Marriage?

When you start allowing the majority to vote on the rights of minorities you are asking for trouble. That's no way to run a democracy or a free country.

Gay-marriage proponents filed three court challenges Wednesday against the ban. The lawsuits raise a rare legal argument: that the ballot measure was actually a dramatic revision of the California Constitution rather than a simple amendment. A constitutional revision must first pass the Legislature before going to the voters....

The high court has not said when it will act. State officials said the ban on gay marriage took effect the morning after the election.

"We don't consider it a 'Hail Mary' at all," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "You simply can't so something like this — take away a fundamental right at the ballot."

[From MSNBC, "Thousands in L.A. Protest Gay-Marriage Ban"]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Can

No on Prop 8

Okay, I hate to politicize my own Mom's wedding, but such are the times we are in.

We are SO PROUD of my Mom (right) and Irene (left) for finally tying the knot last week -- rushing to the altar after a whirlwind engagement of just 28 years. They are different from most newlywed couples in that they already own a home, have raised four kids of their own, are grandmothers, and have a dog named Annie Bones.

Still, until this summer they did not have the same rights or benefits as other Californian couples. Now, because they are legally married, these rights can't be taken from them. But there are still some people who want to take those rights away from other couples by voting yes on Proposition 8. Does this make sense?

Some say "8 ain't Hate", but when you limit the rights of my family, deny that we are equal, and say we shouldn't have access to the same benefits you have -- then, yes, it sure feels like hate. You can believe what you want, but it's never right to try to legislate inequality.

Of course, this marriage could not change our great love and support for my Mom and Irene. And a government stamp does not make their love and life-long commitment any more legitimate than it was in the first place. But as a son, I'm glad to know that at this point the law is on my parents' side, protecting their rights and benefits just as it does those of other people's parents, no matter what some may think about it.

So if you're a Californian, please vote NO on Prop 8 today and support families like ours.