GNL number 115

a report of doings at meeting #115, Sunday, February 19, 2017

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.

—–Mark Twain

If I cannot swear in Heaven, I shall not stay there.

—–Twain, of course


Today’s discussion on Saints/Heroes/Spirit Guides was opened by Gail, and so fittingly in this moment in history, as in noting how inspiring those in her own family have been to her, she also reminded us that local ‘heroes’ are in our midst. She cited her dad first, a war veteran who didn’t want the hero label, and her mom, who is 88 and blind, but has lost none of her curiosity and zest for life and learning. And then how her younger sister had inspired her too, bouncing back from many misfortunes, doing new things. She also cited a friend whose life serves to remind Gail, that yes, she can too. See AFTERWORDS for a bit more

Marge said right off the top that she was not prepared with a list of saints or heroes, but she did bring a show-and-tell: a magazine she gets, called Eating Well. And from a regular feature in it, she told us about a program in a city that uses foods donated by supermarkets and food banks to make burritos to help feed the hungry and homeless. And this sounded to us like a humble but heroic local program that should be emulated. M also gave us each postcards from womens’ for our own HearOurVoice messages to officials

Cynthia began by saying she hadn’t done her homework, as they’d just learned that their son’s next review for parole would be happening next month, which meant lots to do. But she did speak of recent time at her daughter’s, where she rediscovered the latenight comedians, who are doing such a great job reporting on DT, that they inspired her to begin her own artistic version of Comix, on DT’s First 100 Days. Needless to say, we earnestly urged her on, and asked that this be conveyed to us in our need soon. C was also an early fan of Rev. Billy.

Ann read her findings from the dictionary on saint and hero, and named some of her own, like our late, dear friend Jack Daniels—Peacemaker patriarch, Skippy member, and model of a loving life. She also cited not technically human heroes, like all the dogs she’s known (and was it Ann, or Cynthia, among all us bird lovers, that credited birds too as saintly?) And of course she cited Dr. Seuss, especially about the birth of the famous Cat in the Hat, and had some fine quotes, and her own 6-wordies. See AW for all these.

Nancy said the topic took her over, and she’s still finding S/H/SGs almost daily. So far she had 5 bunches to cite, starting with saints Dr. Seuss, Rev. Billy, Kurt Vonnegut, and Mark Twain. Then heroes Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, Jon Stewart; poets Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver; musicians Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and all the African-Americans who took misery and turned it into beauty, the Blues. Then Spirit Guides, like the Haudenosaunee, the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Thich Nhat Hanh, and many Buddhist sages. And group heroes, YES! Magazine and the Syracuse Cultural Workers. See AW for the whys


May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

—–George Carlin

Frisbeeterianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.



Sunday, March 12, 2017, at Sue’s house, on Quarry Street, if she feels up to it, or Marge’s, if not. The subject is Spring Ahead. (And we’ve vowed to plan a spring field trip to the Syracuse Cultural Workers’ office/store.)


from Gail:

A bit more on Dad and Mom: Dad’s thought is that he/they are not heroes, just doing their job. And Mom, at 88 and blind, turns on the TV and listen/watches NOVA , about Origami, and how they can use it in medicine and space and protection. I want to be like that and always find the wonder in things.

We have people right here who are the central figures in events of this period or moment.

from Ann:


  • 1 – one officially recognized especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness

  • 2 –  one of the spirits of the departed in heaven

  • 3 – a one of God’s chosen and usually Christian people    b capitalized :  a member of any of various Christian bo1dies; specificallylatter-day saint

  • 4 – one eminent for piety or virtue

  • 5 – an illustrious predecessor


Origin and etymology of SAINT:

  • Middle English, from Anglo-French seint, saint, from Late Latin sanctus, from Latin, sacred, from past participle of sancire to make sacred

  • First Known Use: 13th century

My saints/heros:

Dr. Suess (/Geisel) In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. William Ellsworth Spaulding was the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin (he later became its chairman), and he compiled a list of 348 words that he felt were important for first-graders to recognize. He asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and to write a book using only those words. Spaulding challenged Geisel to “bring back a book children can’t put down”. Nine months later, Geisel completed The Cat in the Hat, using 236 of the words given to him       

Jack Daniels – Purpose, in being committed to the 10 commitments for the survival of mankind (although human flaws existed), he was a presence of compassion and  connectedness, showing  joy in all.

Dogs – All I have known have been saviors and saints, with challenges mixed in.

George Carlin – my take is that George is not likely to be in heaven because no one there would understand him, and not likely to be in hell because those souls would be laughing so hard with tears in their eyes that the flames would go out.

Hero – a person of courage.  We all have heroes because we get to define what courage is.


I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.

—–Nelson Mandela 

 Saints are sinners who kept on going.

—–Robert Louis Stevenson

Saint: A dead sinner, revised and edited.

—–Ambrose Bierce

We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.

—–Mark Twain’s autobiography

Morality binds people into groups. It gives us tribalism, it gives us genocide, war, and politics. But it also gives us heroism, altruism, and sainthood.  

–-Jonathan Haidt  a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Six Wordies

Saint/sinner, good/bad, who decides?

Sainthood bestowed on the living burdens.

from Nancy:

And some reasons why all of these uplift and inspire me—


—Dr. Seuss, for so many books that center on fairness, fear of the “other”, like the Sneetches, Horton (“a person’s a person…”), and especially The Pale Green Pants With Nobody Inside Them (…”then those pants began to cry…and I began to see that I was just as strange to them as they were strange to me”)

—Rev. Billy, and his Stop Shopping Choir, for outrageous musical satire/activism on the consumer culture. (New song: Monsanto is the Devil, new book: The EARTH Wants YOU)

—Kurt Vonnegut, for his many novels, but esp. for Slaughterhouse Five, which told the story of our destruction of Dresden near the end of WWII. And esp. for such quotes as “I asked my pediatrician son Mark a while back what life was all about, since I didn’t have a clue. He said, “Dad, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” (Armageddon in Retrospect) And “If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was Music.” (A Man Without a Country)

—Mark Twain, for his wit of course, but if he had written nothing other than Huck Finn, and The War Prayer, enough.


—Bill Moyers, for all the years of fine journalism he’s been unable to retire from, esp. for the interviews, and esp. the 3rd in a series, Moyers Journal: the Conversation Continues, in which I was reminded about:

—Jon Stewart, who insisted he was only a comic when Bill said Jon was doing real journalism (Well, say I and Bill, then the best kind of both). Which also led to more appreciation for the inspired, essential job people like Colbert, Oliver, Baldwin and other late night comic/ journalists are now doing.

—and Howard Zinn, for his heroically real People’s History of the United States, which should be required reading in every U.S. high school (and which renewed my admiration for Frederick Douglass, and MLK, among many others).

3—Other Heroes in the arts

—poet Wendell Berry, especially for The Mad Farmer Poems, and the M.F. Manifesto in particular, where among much sound instruction, we’re told to everyday do something that won’t compute.

—Mary Oliver, for all her many volumes of nature-loving poetry, and esp. for the recent collection of prose, Upstream.

—Pete Seeger, whose songs and banjo for so many years “surrounded hate and forced it to surrender”.

—Woody Guthrie, for anthem “This Land Is Your Land,” and many others that sing justice, and then the kids’ songs.

—African-American inventors of the blues, for that original gift and all the blues’ descendants—jazz, R&B, rock and roll, hiphop, and on.

4—Spirit Guides

—Iroquois/Haudenosaunee, for their Great Peace, Peacemaker legend, Condolence ceremony, and daily Thanks-giving Address to all beings. (The White Roots of Peace, by Paul Wallace)

—Dalai Lama, who says “My religion is kindness”.

—Pope Francis, for his fearlessly humane, wise example in a world that so needs it.

—Thich Nhat Hanh, for his many writings, from the wonderful Peace is Every Step from almost 30 years ago, to a recent book, Silence.

5—Group Heroes

YES! magazine, for its monthly inspiring good news

—Syracuse Cultural Workers, for its catalog/store, full of peaceful and ornery calendars, books, posters, bumperstickers, buttons, cards, shirts and more

GNL number 114

a report of doings at meeting #114- Sunday January 15, 2017 at Cynthia’s home

including notes from all attending, sans presence of Skippy Leader {we’ve studied & learned to make this work under her guidance} THANK YOU NANCY & BE WELL!!


From Ann- “We are the other of the other.”  Marcus Aurelius


STRANGE (ers) (ness) (ly) (ETC)

After sharing Nancy’s email notes which are included in our AFTERWORDS section, Sue opened our discussion with many, many definitions of “STRANGE.”

A few favorites: “NOT US”, “SINGULAR” and “EXTRANEOUS”…

SUE spoke eloquently of her research into this subject and shared her thoughts about Biblical/Torah references to our treatment of STRANGERS, with translations of the story of Rebecca, connections to Torah with Freudian theory and defining the Jewish word for ‘stranger’- “ger”. As always, Sue’s profound knowledge and amazing ability to tell the story was too much to compress into a few sentences so her notes will follow in our AFTERWORDS section. Her description of personal experiences of “strange events” while spending time with her father as he spiraled through dementia provided us with insight into the ‘other-world’ of an altered state of mind- a place our where brains know the unknowable. Sue shared a poem she wrote in 1988 and gave each of us a copy…  “The Poet Visits the Schoharie County Board Room, to Discuss Garbage” written February 5th 1988.  It resonates with our topic and she will share it with you by request.

LOUISE believes we need to reach out to the “STRANGERS” (i.e.- Trump supporters) in our communitiy, work locally to build a connection for healing and understanding one another. She spoke about her persistent search on-line to find the truth in news reporting, which has led her into reading more about unraveling WATERGATE and 9-11 and the history of ONE WORLD ORDER as planned by Kissenger, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Her prior experience as a teacher made her hyper-sensitive to the power of propaganda and the reality of our general acceptance of “FAKE NEWS.” Louise’s deeply scientific  convictions led us into conversations too numerous to convey here, but we did agree that  “truth is stranger than fiction.”

CYNTHIA spoke about the ‘STRANGER’ within herself… waking up each day with weird hair, new aches or stiffness in a joint or muscle that wasn’t there yesterday- all the strangeness of aging and getting to know her “older self”. She also talked about keeping in mind the evolution of generations before us- and how STRANGE the world must have been to our ancestors as each new invention arrived to make our lives better/easier/faster…. Perhaps ‘strange’ equals ‘change’.

ANN suggested Holly Near’s song (SEE AFTERWORDS) “I am open…. lift me up to the light of change” as she talked about coping with the STRANGE political landscape. She offered quotes and  bits of wisdom from her readings of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980, the second book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction trilogy by Douglas Adams and other insights from her wonderfully open mind – and her concise collection of “6 WORDIES.” As a dedicated pickleball player, Ann spoke of the phenomenon of ‘loser’ vs ‘winner’….wondering how someone could get so upset about losing a GAME? Ann spoke of the public education system as our generation experienced it and questions the “normal” assumption of reality- and she ended with an observation from Chris Hedges…. to be ‘optimistic but not hopeful’ as we enter the age of the Donald Trump presidency. This instigated much discussion about being hopeful.

VIJAYA expressed her need to know how to feel about this ‘STRANGE’ man who will be leading the country – “do I need to be fearful because I am a dark-skinned female?”- much as she felt when she became an American citizen…. Sue suggested perhaps returning to her homeland will help VJ untie the knot of being a “stranger in India because she is American” vs the feeling of being a “stranger in America because she is a native of India”. Vijaya spoke of an incident when she and her new family were riding a bus on a visit to India to introduce her relatives to her young son when she was reminded of a time long ago-  her parents were involved in a hit & run accident. Two young men helped her mother & father survive that night but she did not know them…. so when two young men caught her attention on that bus, it made her think of her parents’ saviours. She instinctively covered her baby with a scarf just before a sudden accident kept shards of glass from harming her and her infant son….

MARGE arrived a bit later and shared her thoughts about the STRANGE effect of the dyeing process: after the  dye agent has been absorbed into the new fabric, the water becomes almost clear! How strange and amazing to leave almost no trace of color behind!


from Sue- “The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.”   ~ Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West



We agreed to donate today’s offering to House of Flowers {MEPO}.We received a thank you from Doctors without Borders for our donation in December. We reviewed and took flyers from Sue about the upcoming event, Standing Together for ALL Women, on Saturday January 21, 2017 at the corner of Main and Division Street from 1-2pm. We wished Vijaya safe travels and restful days in India.


Sunday February 12th, 2017 {10:30 am} at Sue’s home. The subject will be  SAINTS, HEROES and SPIRIT GUIDES. We recalled an earlier meeting when this topic was raised and caused great hilarity with some proposals for CofS Sainthood: George Carlin, Reverend Billy, Mark Twain and Dr. Seuss…hmmm…. We asked Vijaya if there were Hindu Saints and she nominated herself! She said India is a nation of Gods and spirit guides.


(AA)  Six Wordies:

Strange begs the question of normal

Bizarro Lane is very well traveled

Strange can be wonderful or woeful

If it’s not even it’s odd


From Middle English strange, from Old French estrange, from Latin extraneus, “that which is on the outside.”

Some quotes:

To see the world for a moment as something rich and strange is the private reward of many a discovery.” ― Edward M. Purcell – an American physicist who shared the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics for his independent discovery (published 1946) of nuclear magnetic resonance in liquids and in solids

From Holly Near’s CD Show Up, song: “I am Willing”

I am open and I am willing

For to be hopeless would seem so strange

It dishonors those who go before us

So lift me up to the light of change.


“Life is stranger than biology textbooks.” David Rains Wallace – published more than twenty books on conservation and natural history.

“Fling arrows at all the strange things you see out here, and all you do is run out of arrows.” ― Scott Lynch, is an American fantasy author

“At this point I think we need to embrace the weird. High-five it. Give it our phone number.” – Jim Zub is a writer, artist, and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. He juggles his time between being a freelance comic book writer and program coordinator for Seneca College’s award-winning Animation program.

“In an infinite Universe anything can happen,” said Ford, “Even survival. Strange but true.” ― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist. Adams is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. It would not perhaps be too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen known to science. If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated.” ― Wilfred Trotter  a British surgeon, a pioneer in neurosurgery. He was also known for his studies on social psychology, most notably for his concept of the herd instinct, which he first outlined in two published papers in 1908, and later in his famous popular work Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War. Trotter argued that gregariousness was an instinct, and studied beehives, flocks of sheep and wolf packs.

“The main point about civility is…the ability to interact with strangers without holding their strangeness against them and without pressing them to surrender it or to renounce some or all the traits that have made them strangers in the first place.” ― Zygmunt Bauman, (19 November 1925 – 9 January 2017) was a Polish sociologist and philosopher.


*{NS} via email —Here are some quotes and thoughts on the topic from me:

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. ~~~Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.  ~~~Francis Bacon, Of Beauty

For I have hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in.~~~the Bible, Matthew 25: 33-36

Oh, born in days when wit were fresh and clear,

And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames,

Before this strange disease of modern life,

With its sick hurry, its divided aims,

Its heads overtaxed, its palsied hearts, was rife.

~~~Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), The Gypsy Scholar


And some thoughts: —that, if strange means unfamiliar, that we’re all strangers in a strange land trying to do our life without a script, making it up as we go along.  And that we can, and need to, recognize each other as our self, or at least as siblings in this trip. —that my faith in it, life, is constantly getting revived by strangers who give me their eyes or smile, a gesture, kindness, connection, and this, so often unexpected.

—A case in point happened yesterday here in Virginia when I visited a walk-in urgent care clinic with daughter Nora, and was cared for so kindly not only by her but by three different health professionals.


*{SS} Oxford Dictionary: Strangeness The state or fact of being strange.  Also, oddity, eccentricity, oddness, peculiarity, curiousness, bizarreness, weirdness, queerness, unexpectedness, unusualness, abnormality, atypicality, unfamiliarity, unaccountability, inexplicability, incongruity, incongruousness, outlandishness, irregularity, singularity, freakishness, surrealness, & from Physics:  One of six flavours of quark.

from : late 13c., “from elsewhere, foreign, unknown, unfamiliar,” from Old French estrange “foreign, alien, unusual, unfamiliar, curious; distant; inhospitable; estranged, separated” (Modern French étrange), from Latin extraneus “foreign, external, from without” (source also of Italian strano “strange, foreign,” Spanish extraño), from extra “outside of” (see extra). In early use also strounge, straunge. Sense of “queer, surprising” is attested from late 14c.


“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.” ~Werner Heisenberg, Across the Frontiers

“Tis strange,-but true; for truth is always strange;

Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,” ~George Gordon Byron, Don Juan


“Dare to Differ” ~ Matthew Goldfinger

“The truth was stranger than the official fiction.” ~ Dean Koontz

from Torah: “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.” Leviticus 19:34

“The second thing the sages noted was the repeated emphasis on the stranger in biblical law. According to Rabbi Eliezer in the Talmud (Baba Metsia 59b) the Torah ‘warns against the wronging of a ger (stranger) in thirty-six places; other say, in forty-six places.’” ~Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Mishpatim (5768)

& “Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.” ~Rabbi Jonathan Sacks  – Loving the Stranger,

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.  ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“The world is a crazy, beautiful, ugly complicated place, and it keeps moving on from crisis to strangeness to beauty to weirdness to tragedy. The caravan keeps moving on, and the job of the longform writer or filmmaker or radio broadcaster is to stop – is to pause – and when the caravan goes away, that’s when this stuff comes.” ~David Remnick

“In Greek the word for ‘guest’ and ‘stranger’ are the same.” ~Elisavetta Ritchie, “Softspots: a Memoir for a Deaf Siamese Cat,” Earth’s Daughters Magazine- Stormy Weather, #79, 2011, p.47


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