Richard Rohr Meditation: Dying by Brightness

But the human ego prefers knowing and being certain over being honest. “Don’t bother me with the truth, I want to be in control,” it invariably says.

Most people who think they are fully conscious or “smart” and in control, have a big iron manhole cover over their unconscious. It does give them a sense of being right and in charge, but it seldom yields compassion, community, or wisdom.

.. Divine perfection is precisely the ability to include imperfection; whereas we think we must exclude, deny, and even punish it! The flow of grace is an increasing ability to forgive reality for being what it is—instead of what we want it to be!

.. The beauty of the unconscious, whether personal or collective, is that it knows a great deal, but it also knows that it does not know, cannot say, dare not try to prove or assert too strongly. What it does know is that there is always more—and all words will fall short and all concepts will be incomplete. The contemplative is precisely the person who agrees to live in that kind of blinding brightness. The paradox, of course, is that it does not feel like brightness at all, but what John of the Cross (1542-1591) called a “luminous darkness” and others identify as “learned ignorance.”

We cannot grow in the integrative dance of action and contemplation without a strong tolerance for ambiguity, an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety, and a willingness not to know—and not even to need to know. What else would give us peace and contentment?

Why Paul Ryan needs Donald Trump so badly

This proposal was crafted trying to thread a needle between two competing corners of the House GOP Conference: the far-right blockade and a much larger, less vocal crowd from states where their governors accepted the expanded Medicaid provision in the 2010 ACA.

Some Freedom Caucus folks have been strenuously opposed to the proposed tax credits for purchasing insurance, saying it’s a new form of entitlement, and many want to more quickly phase out the Medicaid expansion

.. If Trump ever fully leans into this legislation, giving it the full-forced endorsement that he’s proven capable of on other issues, Ryan and House GOP leaders believe that the conservative opposition will dissolve quickly.

.. not once but twice he said he wouldn’t sign any bill that “didn’t take care of our people.”

.. Some politicians let bygones be bygones if they win ([Chuck] Schumer is very much like this; he wins, there’s no grudge held, it’s water under the bridge). Trump strikes me as someone who holds grudges, but I’m not certain.

.. But if this disintegrates, if there’s no repeal of Obamacare, it’s bad, very bad, for both men – and what it does to their relationship for the next few years.

.. most House Republicans are more afraid of not approving a bill to repeal Obamacare, any bill to repeal Obamacare, regardless of its fate in the Senate, than to simply do nothing.

.. The way the districts are drawn, the way the funding mechanisms of campaigns now work, the activism of the two bases of the parties – it all pushes members to the extreme.  They now act almost entirely at the behest of their base rather than what they believe is the right thing for the country.

.. McConnell has to come up with his own bill that will tilt more friendly to the [Rob]Portman/[Shelley Moore] Capito crowd, which might upset Ted Cruz and Mike Lee but I’m still not certain that in the end Cruz is willing to be the guy who blocks Donald Trump’s first big initiative.

..  I think the two worst character traits in today’s Congress are fear and contentment.
.. You just have to be willing to work hard, willing to go home as much as possible to explain yourself and to run a really disciplined, well-funded campaign if you get a primary. Folks like Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cole, Jack Reed, Frank Pallone — these are are all people who’ve done more than their fair share of bipartisan deals in the Senate and House. Some have faced down tough primary elections.

They’re all still here. 

.. The “contentment” character trait is that too many lawmakers are content with what they have: a tiny fiefdom. They’d rather not rock the boat because that means they might have to work really hard to win re-election.

.. The biggest change that I’ve seen over those years is the shrinking number of leaders on Capitol Hill; not the actual elected leaders, but the men and women in the rank-and-file who commanded the policy brigade and through the sheer force of their character made themselves players. They weren’t afraid and they weren’t content. 

What cats can teach us about how to live

We should celebrate the solitary hunters among us.

.. Seldom doing anything unless it serves a definite purpose or gives immediate satisfaction, cats are arch-realists. Faced with human folly, they simply go their own way.

.. The independence of cats is one of the features most admired by those of us who love them.

.. Preying on other animals attracted by stored seeds and grains and harvesting waste meat left behind after slaughtered animals had been eaten, they made human settlements into reliable sources of food

.. Having entered into close proximity with human beings, cats were quickly recognised as being useful to them. Employing cats for pest control on farms and ships became common.

.. For Peter P Marra and Chris Santella, cats are “environmental contaminants like DDT” which spread diseases and disrupt ecological balance.

.. One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state. Unlike human beings – particularly of the modern variety – they do not spend their days in laborious pursuit of a fantasy of happiness. They are comfortable with themselves and their lives, and remain in that condition for as long as they are not threatened. When they are not eating or sleeping, they pass the time exploring and playing, never asking for reasons to live. Life itself is enough for them.

.. If there are people who can’t stand cats – and it seems there are many – one reason may be envy.
.. “When I play with my cat,” Montaigne wrote, “how do I know she is not playing with me?”
.. Certainly they have a sense of dignity: they avoid people who treat them disrespectfully, for instance. Yet cats do not struggle to remake themselves according to any ideal self-image.
.. The human animal never ceases to strive for some higher form of life. Cats make no such effort. Without any process of laborious cogitation, these lucid, playful and supremely adaptable creatures already know how to live.