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“Rap” through the ages

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whatever things are true, honest, just, of good report

I’ve been thinking a lot about the absence of positive thoughts in the world today. I know everyone is obsessed with this pandemic, and that is a good thing. A lot of lives are at stake and it’s only right that we give a great deal of attention and effort to seeing that as few people suffer because of the pandemic as possible. That being said, there are other things going on and we cannot give up on living just because there is one major glitch in our life.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that the things you think about are the things that make you into who you are. Yeah, there is a verse in the Bible that says that, but there are a lot of other people and sources that have said the same.

We all can find our own inspiration about how to be more positive about ourselves, our world, but there is a simple biblical idea that gives a very brief and yet practical process — after all I’m a big lover of process.

whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Phillipians 4:8

The thing is, a great many influences around us would really rather have us thinking about negatives, about divisive, about problems and troubles. No one makes any money off of people who are content. People who are upset are people who can be moved, manipulated, controlled.

I said that I’m a “process” guy. I’ve always been fascinated by the “how” part of how things get made. One of the reasons I loved truck driving was that in those days I had the opportunity to get inside factories and businesses and to see how things happened: how manufacturing worked, how distribution worked, etc..

It ought not to be surprising then if I tell you I like to watch TV programs about where things come from. Lately we’ve been watching a series about food manufacturing and one of the episodes followed flour from the truck to the grocery store shelf in the form of Matzoh crackers.

While I’m not Jewish, I learned about Matzoh crackers a long time ago. They are a form of very simple bread containing only flour and water, no leavening or rising agent at all. They are baked under the supervision of Rabbis to insure that they meet the rigid religious requirements of the Jewish religion.

So, during this TV program one of the details that was mentioned is that Matzoh are supposed to be UN-leavened. Leavening is seen by them as a form of impurity, a form of sin, as it were. The supervising Rabbis say that in order to meet the standard the bread has to go from flour to completed product in under 18 minutes.

A few days ago I wrote about having baked my first sourdough loaf at home. I didn’t talk much about the process but sourdough starter is a leavening agent that is made from nothing more than flour and water. The “yeast”-y stuff, the stuff that makes the bread rise into a lovely air-pocket-filled loaf comes strictly from the air. There are little yeast-y thingies floating around in the air all the time. You only need to cultivate it in order to make your own.

That’s the sort of thing that happens in our brains when we don’t make a concerted effort — as if we were baking an unleavened bread — to think about good, positive, powerful things. If we don’t make our brain think about them, something else is going to fill the void. If you aren’t diligent putting good stuff in there, the bad stuff is going to fill you brain without your having to do anything at all.

There is no referee on the sidelines to make sure you aren’t cheating in the game of life. No metaphorical Earth-Mom is forcing you to do good things for the earth. You can be kind, or you can be mean — no one is going to police your attitudes. But if you don’t put good thoughts in your head and in your life then the negatives that are all around — just like the “yeasties” in the air — are going to settle down into the dough of your life and you’re going to have a different life than you expected.

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Sometimes Good Does Come Out Of Evil

This is just an anecdote but I thought it worth sharing as a reminder.


“𝐌𝐲𝐫𝐧𝐚 𝐋𝐨𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐲𝐰𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫, 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐲𝐰𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫, 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐥𝐮 𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐨𝐟 𝟏𝟗𝟏𝟖. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐚, 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐚, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝟏𝟗𝟏𝟖 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐥𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐳𝐚 𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐡𝐢𝐭. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐚, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐥𝐮, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐚𝐝, 𝐃𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐝 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐦𝐬, 𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐧𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐀𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐧𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡, 𝐃𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐥𝐮 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐝. 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐥𝐥, 𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐌𝐲𝐫𝐧𝐚 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐢𝐦. 𝐇𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐖𝐚𝐫 𝐈, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐢𝐭, 𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐝. 𝐒𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐮𝐩 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐋𝐨𝐬 𝐀𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐌𝐲𝐫𝐧𝐚 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐦 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐲. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐚 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐞𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦, 𝐬𝐨 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐑𝐮𝐝𝐨𝐥𝐩𝐡 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐨. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐚𝐝’𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲, 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝-𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫, 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐟𝐭.” -𝐁𝐞𝐭𝐡 𝐉𝐮𝐝𝐲, 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐁𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐖𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐚 𝐇𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲, 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟕.

Myrna Loy poses in front of her parents’ home in Radersburg, Montana, fifty-four miles outside of Helena, in the late-1930s.
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Racism is still racism when it’s your faves, it’s still racism if it’s not meant maliciously, it’s still racism if they didn’t know.

And it’s still racism if it’s you. 

You may not have meant it. You may not have known. 

But you know now. So continuing to practice or excuse racism is no longer acceptable. 

I don’t believe in cancel culture, but I do believe in facing your mistakes honestly and humbly and growing with maturity. 

Racism is still Racism

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Room for Compassion

Scene of Beirut explosion

It is unspeakable.

There are no words.

No matter how bad things might be for many of us, they are not as difficult or as bad as conditions are for the poor souls living in Beirut Lebanon who are living through a pandemic and a major catastrophe simultaneously. Where do they even begin?

Think for just a moment about how lucky you are that you didn’t happen to be born there or were transferred there.

Soften your heart.

Amid your inconvenience, let yourself feel and grieve for others….

Think about what happened in an instant.
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