To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
by Robert FrostO Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud—
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, ‘I burn.’
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost
by Adam Weinstein / gawker.com
God is love, right? It’s sort of a cornerstone of the Christian faith: He “so loved the world” that He gave his son Jesus up to save us all. And if God is love, then a sociopath who pickets dead soldiers with a “God Hates Fags” sign can’t really be Christian, right? Well, the answer is complicated.
Fred Phelps is dead. The founder of Westboro Baptist Church, the litigious head of this hateful community, will soon be in the ground, and the media consensus is to be joyful and happy for the misery of a hate group that brought so much misery to others.
In the longstanding furor over their reprehensible tactics—a furor I, too, have indulged in over the years—few commentators have ever taken a moment to come to grips with the WBC’s theological foundations. That’s a shame, because WBC’s belief system is intellectually consistent in many ways that the “mainstream” religious right is not. And it’s based in a uniquely American theology as old as the colonies—a Christian paradigm that’s influenced our culture in myriad respects, but is seldom addressed by anyone but its most devoted adherents.
The broad theology of WBC can be summed up in one basic statement:
Only awful, terrible, despicable, depraved people would cause a political hatemongering ruckus at a funeral or an elementary school. That’s absolutely true. The thing is, the faithful of Westboro Baptist Church would be the first to claim that they’re depraved—and so is everyone else. This is the bedrock of their belief system, laid out on their website:
These doctrines of grace were well summed up by John Calvin in his 5 points of Calvinism… Although these doctrines are almost universally hated today, they were once loved and believed, as you can see in many confessions of faith. Even though the Arminian lies that “God loves everyone” and “Jesus died for everyone” are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn’t always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn’t teach what the Bible teaches.
“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
As part of Twelve-Step programs, they act as support, friend, mentor, and advisor—but they’re also former addicts and shouldn’t be treated as experts.
A haunting writeup in The New York Times Thursday detailed how actor Philip Seymour Hoffman spent his last days after relapsing back into heroin addiction and leaving the home he shared with his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.
Though he was surrounded by people as the end drew near, the Times piece describes how Hoffman was ultimately “a man who died alone”—which is sadly not uncommon for addicted people. Notably included was a quote from a member of the Twelve-Step program Narcotics Anonymous (NA) regarding what the actor said at a December meeting. Though speaking about what was said by a specific person meeting is an unusual breach of protocol, the incident has got people thinking about what goes on in NA meetings and the idea of members “sponsoring” each other to support recovery.
As a former heroin and cocaine addict who has covered addiction and recovery for over a quarter century, I’d like to stress that I am writing here as someone with knowledge of the field and not as a member of any program. There are many routes to recovery and Twelve-Step programs are just one.
Although touted as an essential element of Twelve-Step recovery, the guidance given to sponsors is extremely vague. There is no requirement for having a certain amount of time drug-free, although at least 90 days is typically required and, most commonly, at least one year. Moreover, there are no specific guidelines related to the amount of contact people should have with their sponsors and the type of advice that should be given at any particular time. An NA pamphlet puts it this way:
Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees. Some describe their sponsor as loving and compassionate, someone they can count on to listen and support them no matter what. Others value the objectivity and detachment a sponsor can offer, relying on their direct and honest input even when it may be difficult to accept. Still others turn to a sponsor mainly for guidance through the Twelve Steps.
From the outside, the idea that a more experienced member should sponsor someone who is new or has recently relapsed looks like a way to help the newcomer. But, in fact, Twelve-Step literature explicitly says that this is not the purpose, although it is obviously a welcome result. The sponsor-sponsee relationship is predicated on the assumption that “‘the heart of NA beats when two addicts share their recovery,’” and “sponsorship is simply one addict helping another. The two-way street of sponsorship is a loving, spiritual, and compassionate relationship that helps both the sponsor and sponsee.”
In practice, of course, this means that sponsors do give advice and support to newcomers—and anyone who has spent time around people in recovery knows that they will often go to enormous lengths and spend much of their time to try to help.
During his “Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating Our Differences” segment Monday night, WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen issued a near perfect public takedown to the the anonymous NFL officials in Sports Illustrated’s much-criticized Michael Sam story.
From Hansen’s speech, via Towleroad:
“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.
You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome.
Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome.
Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?
You lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that.
You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!”
Hanson acknowledged his own faults but welcomed Sam, saying it was “time to celebrate him.”
“I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay; I don’t understand his world,” Hansen said. “But I do understand that he’s part of mine.”
By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer | December 31, 2013 07:56am ET
Planning to exercise more or eat fewer sweets in the New Year? If so, you’re taking part in a tradition that stretches back thousands of years.
Ancient people practiced the fine art of New Year’s resolutions, though their oaths were external, rather than internally focused. More than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in March, when the spring harvest came in. The festival, called Akitu, lasted 12 days.
An important facet of Akitu was the crowning of a new king, or reaffirmation of loyalty to the old king, should he still sit on the throne. Special rituals also affirmed humanity’s covenant with the gods; as far as Babylonians were concerned, their continued worship was what kept creation humming.
Roman New Year
Centuries later, the ancient Romans had similar traditions to ring in their new year, which also originally began in March. In the early days ofRome, the city magistrates’ terms were defined by this New Year’s date. On March 1, the old magistrates would affirm before the Roman Senate that they had performed their duties in accordance with the laws. Then, the New Year’s magistrates would be sworn into office.