Something I’ve noticed recently is that when taking about mental illness and psychological/spiritual struggles I/others tend to be apologetic, as if to say, “Sorry I’m like this. Wish I wasnt. Will endeavor to do better. Gonna take a pill. Gonna go to therapy. Gonna be different.” I have exactly one friend who is definitely not what you’d call neurologically typical but who also has zero shame about himself, his condition, his coping mechanisms. Talking to him about depression, adhd, anxiety, etc is literally the freest and most comfortable I ever feel.
When we talk we might talk about things being hard but we don’t talk about “health” because, I think, he’s rejected the idea of health as a normative model of social control that ultimately reifies the pain of depression, anxiety, etc in the sufferer. I don’t know that he would frame it this way—I think he’d just say health is fuckin bullshit.
I’ve long been critical of “self-care” and I’m slowly coming around to view health itself as a category harmful to anyone who could be branded as neurologically atypical and frankly probably harmful to anyone who experiences pain (read: everyone). Anyway this is all half baked nonsense probably but I’m tired of apologizing to myself and the world for being the way I am.
Thanks, TL, for showing the way.
“But @MayorHancock changed his mind”
Mayor Hancock stood in the way of Safe Outdoor Spaces in Denver for 9 months during a global pandemic until those of us who planned, designed, and advocated for the model realized what we were really dealing with and decided we would make it happen whether he liked it or not. After nearly implementing Safe Outdoor Space on city owned land only to have Mayor Hancock back off a third time at the last minute after receiving pressure from his well-heeled backers, we engaged churches for land which is what we should have done in the first place. It’s possible Mayor Hancock has changed his mind now that SOS exists in Denver but it doesn’t exist because he changed his mind. Most politicians can only imagine things that already exist. It takes prophetic imagination to believe in a better world.
I’m just a pastor. I’m not a politician and I don’t work in government. I don’t have to worry about political donations or optics or bureaucracy. But I knew SOS was a good model before it existed. And I knew that it was more humane than sweeping people trying to survive outside.
It’s wonderful that Mayor Hancock will get on national news in support of Safe Outdoor Space now that he knows what’s right. I hope he keeps getting opportunities to be a booster for the model and that his good example spreads to other great cities just like Denver.
The Internet is only tolerable when confronted with Instapaper in one hand and a RSS reader in the other.
The first mission in No Man’s Sky killed me 20? 25?? times before I completed it. Absolutely brutal old school approach.🕹
There used to be cool, curated sites where you could grab wallpapers for your computer and later your phone. They all seem to be gone now. What happened?
In 1951 Issac Asimov explained why heading off the effects wrought by global climate change is so difficult.
I want to be furious at the governor for sweeping a big homeless encampment in front of the Capitol building today but while it was happening I was managing chaos at the service provider I work for and being told I’m a fucking cop while I asked the most chaotic individuals to take a walk. I’m not saying this to justify the actions of the Governor, which are foolish and counter productive, but in general I think the discourse/imagination about this issue is totally shallow and reifies the structures of meaning and power that leads us here in the first place.
I need a grace I cannot even ask for from the individuals who I personally denied access to the resources Network has to offer today. In my experience they eventually do extend this grace to me, if they remember our encounter. We probably cannot extend grace to Governor Polis without it being cheap. But I wonder if we can imagine a world without need for a Governor, without widespread enclosure of public space, without deprivation and degradation of all kinds.
I think if we hold up certain individuals as the enemy that our imaginative capacity will be too limited for us to move toward a world where the flourishing of all is possible.
Mr. President felt himself pressed into the generous seat of the black Secret Service special order 2020 GMC Yukon Denali with its head-turning three-dimensional grille, HID projector beam headlamps and distinctive chrome accents. During the short drive he looked out the tinted windows of the vehicle, tugged on his blue tie and readjusted his suit jacket around himself. He pulled the seatbelt away from his torso and let it embrace him. The smell of sweat and aftershave of the Secret Service detail assigned to keep him, the leader of the free world, safe mingled with the smell of the perforated leather-appointed seats which featured a unique Fractal stitching.
The country needed him he knew. He was told that he needed to show the country leadership in this trying time. From his study of Fox News over the years, Mr. President knew that religion was important to the people who elected him. So he told his staff he would go to the nearest church and give a short speech about what was going on and how he would respond.
Mr. President didn’t quite know what people did in a church, though he had been to churches, stood with pastors and had them pray for him and for the country. But he wasn’t very comfortable with it. Whatever it was it had something to do with something much bigger than him and he had trouble with that. He liked to be in control of what was around him and even in churches full of his fans there was something out beyond him that he couldn’t describe.
Still, Mr. President would go to the church. He was glad he had a Bible with him and he absently leafed through it now. His supporters talked about the Bible and how important it was a lot. He felt they would like to see it now. He would be standing outside of a church after all. The two things went together. The GMC Yukon Denali rolled to a stop on 22-inch bright-machined aluminum wheels with painted accents. He tugged his tie and adjusted his jacket. Waited for the go-ahead from his Secret Service detail to exit the vehicle.
Mr. President held a Bible in his right hand and felt its weight as he approached the place that was prepared for him in front of a sign reading, “SUNDAY SERVICES ONLINE ALL ARE WELCOME.” The June day was hot and muggy and the leather binding of the book in his hand was moist and slippery. No matter how he moved his fingers to get a better grip on it, the book slipped and shifted in his grasp. As he waited for the signal to begin from his staff he inspected the book. Does this thing have a front, he wondered. There was no title. Shouldn’t it say “Bible?”
He quietly held the book aloft, near his head, in his hand and showed it to the people who were allowed to be there. Look, see. I have a Bible here in front of this church.
A woman shouted, “Is that your Bible?”
“It’s a Bible,” he said.
“What are your thoughts right now,” asked another person in the gathered press.
As he composed his thoughts and took a breath to speak, suddenly his breath caught. He thought it was strange. He felt the need to cough or to clear his throat. He tried but couldn’t quite catch his breath. What’s happening, he wondered. Just be calm, it will pass.
He coughed a little and dropped the Bible at his feet. Mr. President looked down at the book open where it had tumbled to the ground. He glanced back up to check the reaction of the press and was shocked.
Suddenly, there before him was a gigantic woman. Like the Statue of Liberty, he thought, except she was dressed in a white robe and a sky blue shawl, like his tie. He craned his neck to look up at her. Her head was covered and her deep brown skin glowed. The sky darkened as light seemed to gather around her. His vision narrowed until all he could see was her hugeness before him. She tilted her enormous head at him and raised her eyebrows, considering him standing there before the church sign. She made a pained face and Mr. President felt he would like to know her better, to ask her what it was like to be so big. Then she quietly lifted her calloused, sandaled foot and stepped on him.
There’s no upside to this thing.
COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the US and I don’t see resurrection in it. You’re free to look at your life however you wish but most of what I hear and read from religious people and spiritual but not religious people is look-on-the-bright-side-thinking disguised as mindfulness or contemplation and it rings hollow to me.
Have you cried and gnashed your teeth over the senselessness of it? Have you cast around for meaning and found none? Have you mourned the death and wide disparities again revealed to exist between the poor and rich, black and white, between material scarcity and abundance? Have you shouted and cursed in a Zoom meeting and said, “To hell with it all and to hell with all of you and this goddamn sonofabitch bastard virus?”
I haven’t. Not really.
But I should. I ought to. We all ought to cast aside our pathetic search for meaning and cloying positive thinking. We ought to dig our fingernails into our scalps and scream; “What the fuck is going on!?” until we can’t scream anymore.
Then we might make space for a question about what we owe to each other now and after and what we always owed each other before. We might ask how we could do better next time if we could get a measure of grace. We might dream about a time and a place where we don’t fear death, where we freely bear each other’s burdens and feel each other’s pain, and where when a beast stalks us we turn to each other first with mercy and the confidence that when the complete comes the partial shall come to an end.
This morning I am reminded of the homeless service providers and government agencies that came out against the Right to Survive Ballot Initiative—aka 300—last year. The initiative would have confirmed the human right of people experiencing homelessness to seek shelter and stability, even when that effort looks very different from those of us with white picket fences. At the time, these providers argued that we couldn’t know the unintended consequences of passing the initiative and that we could “do better” than leaving people to shelter in public.
Today, the city and aforementioned service providers are doing their best to provide shelter under extraordinary circumstances, for which they should be commended. Of course, social distancing is impossible in an emergency shelter, so we might rightly expect many individuals to instead find their own shelter, to the best of their ability, in public. And yet, today homeless folks on the streets of Denver are being subjected to police sweeps, their encampments broken up, the “social distance” they had established destroyed by city policy.
The emergency we’re all experiencing is doubly impacting our homeless neighbors but because of the nature of the virus, this impact will be felt by us all.
Small service providers, like the one I work for, focus on relationship, connection, and learning the stories of people who find shelter in public spaces. Because we learn these stories, we know that homeless folks use their agency to the best of their ability to stay safe, to support each other, to work for the health of their community. Because of these relationships, small providers unanimously supported the Right to Survive Ballot Initiative.
It seems to me that one of the unintended consequences of failing to pass 300 is that, now, people’s ability to act responsibly in this crisis has been removed along with their agency. All of us will bear the cost of this failure of imagination.
I’m not all for sharing every sermon I preach. This one is pretty good though, I think. Includes some very questionable, loosey-goosey translation work. networkcoffeehouse.org/urbanmerc…