Enlightened Conflict

Anniversary 1: disneyland and the matterhorn

August 3rd, 2015


disneyland cafeteria 1961

Disneyland Cafeteria

“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”




Walt Disney









As a kid my first memories of Disney were the movies … and then my parents took me to Disneyland in California <Disneyworld in Florida was not open yet>.


I struggle to think of a better experience as a young boy.



pirates disneyIt’s a Small World hadn’t been beaten into the ground yet … Mr. Toad’s ride wasn’t silly but a ride with Mr. Toad … Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise were funny. Scary, interesting, eye opening and always worth the incredibly long lines to get into <Disney hadn’t figured out the whole ‘line management‘ thing yet>.






And then there was the Matterhorn <but I will get back to that>.



Disneyland is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.



Coincidentally … we also celebrate the 150th anniversary of the day someone first stood atop the Matterhorn <or Mont Cervin in French>.




Whenever I think of Disneyland I think of the Matterhorn ride.matterhorn disney



The first time I went on it … after I picked my stomach back up off the ground at the end of the ride … I dragged my parents immediately back to the line to ride it again.



In its day … at that time … there was no ride like the Matterhorn at Disneyland.



And apparently … there are few mountains like the Matterhorn.



Englishman Edward Whymper ascended the Matterhorn 150 years ago, on 14th July 1865. It was one of the last major Alpine peaks to be conquered. He was joined by three British climbing partners and three Zermatt guides.



It is a bittersweet accomplishment.


Having successfully reached the summit, the climbing party began their descent. On the way down, novice climber Douglas Hadow slipped, dragging three members of the roped-up team with him.



Whymper, Zermatt guide Peter Taugwalder and Taugwalder’s son clung to the mountain, but the rope wasn’t strong enough to hold those left dangling. It snapped, and the trio looked on helplessly as their companions fell to death.



Speaking of the bittersweet quirks of history.


The disaster gripped the world and the Matterhorn went on to lure climbers in droves. Nowadays some 3,000 people attempt the summit each year.



And then 60 years ago Disneyland opened with its own Matterhorn.




Rides come and go, Disney has improved the concept and each new park becomes a newer version of what that particular generation sees in childhood entertainment.



But throughout time, the original Disneyland Park has stayed one of the world’s most popular places to visit and still captures the sometimes simple joy of childhood <even though it feels a little old when visiting these days>.




Capitalism sneaks its way into even the greatest, simplest, most joyful things in the world … and Disney is no different <albeit they are maniacally protective of its concept and characters>.



Nowadays many of the charming things that you used to only be able to experience at the park are available in different forms and things closer to you.





And this is a big but.



Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can beat actually walking the steps toward the park as the castle looms in front of you … and entering into the Magic Kingdom.


disneyland california_07

And despite the lines … and the throngs of people & kids … if you take a moment and see the smile of the child who just had their picture taken with any of the characters walking around the park … or the older children tugging their exasperated parents back to the front of the line of the Matterhorn so they can go for their 3rd ride of the day … or … well … pick your tired day memory … Disneyland let us touch the bigger world which sometimes we had only read about thru the eyes of a child. And, I have said this many times before, thru those eyes we tended to see an unfiltered wonder of what was, is, and could be without the cynicism of adulthood.



And maybe that is why we should celebrate the 60th anniversary of Disneyland.

spiritual young adults

January 23rd, 2015



Despite the staggering statistics on our non-belief, I am continually awed and humbled by millennials’ faith.

religion subtle


I love being a millennial.

We are creative, daring, playful and intelligent.

We are making the most of a deeply troubled world and finding new ways to express ourselves and spread love at every turn.

Antonia Blumberg










This post is mostly to share this millennial “letter to faith leaders” which is awesome <see full letter below … after my rant/ramblings> which I came across awhile back.




But, first, some rant and rambling thoughts on religion and millennials.







The label ‘millennials’ and what it seems to mean to religious leaders.



I am tired of seeing all these religion presentations addressing “how to engage the millennials.”


It’s crazy.



The issue is not about being relevant to young people … it is about addressing relevant issues.



Quit worrying about ‘millennials’ and worry about issues.



religion belief







About ‘being relevant to young people.’




I am tired of seeing all these religion presentations on ‘how to engage young people.’



Things like ‘go to them.’


Coffee shop meetings.


Happy hour gatherings.





Any social gatherings.



Look <part 1>.



I am not opposed to social interaction but it seems to me that engaging with religion has some tie to the, or a, church.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

A place of worship.



I am not suggesting you cannot have faith without a physical place of worship but I will suggest that HAVING a place of worship is an underpinning to faith.




Look <part 2>.



I don’t want to get into some debate on churches and idolatry and religious politics … I am simply suggesting having some coffee talk is not engaging someone in religious spirit.


It simply ignores the bigger issue.








Dear Religion, please, stop with the apologies.


no excuses-no-apologies-no-regrets

In fact.


Just say ‘no’ to apologies.



I am tired of seeing religious presentations, and discussion, issuing apologies.



Does religion have its flaws?



Sure <what doesn’t>.



At its core … religion is faith.



Can the faith be used incorrectly or abused?





But I have a choice … apologize for my flaws or celebrate my attributes.



Stop apologizing. Stop defending. Stop compromising.



Start celebrating. Start promising. Start reminding people of the relationship between faith & hope.







Done with my rant like thoughts.



Let me share a wonderful letter to faith leaders from a young lady named Antonia Blumberg.



Fabulous piece of writing and thinking.





A Millennial’s Open Letter to Faith Leaders:

Antonia Blumberg

thinking ideas


Over the weekend I attended an interfaith conference on climate change and the role of religious communities in caring for the Earth. Some of my idols were there — leaders, teachers and activists who live the tenets of faith-based action that inspire me to do the work that I do.

I felt honored to walk among them.

But as the weekend progressed and speakers took to the podium one by one, I began to feel a creeping sense of unease.

Where were all the young people?

Where were the millennials?

I waited hour after hour expecting a representative of my generation (defined by Pew as 18-33 year olds) would approach the stage. But the moment never came. I left at the end of it feeling grateful for the genuine interfaith fervor I had witnessed but sad for the missed opportunity to engage millennials on a topic they feel passionate about.

You may have heard: Millennials are leaving religion.

Roughly one-third of us are unaffiliated with any religion — the highest percentage of any generation, at any point, recorded by the Pew Research Center.

We’re leaving for different reasons, probably in large part our fatigue with outdated social mores. But I imagine it also has something to do with our marginalization in many religious organizations.

Rachel Held Evans, a prominent Christian blogger who is 33 and says she identifies as a millennial, has written about this dilemma. In her own faith, evangelical Christianity, Held Evans says young people are leaving the church because they find it to be “too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

She goes further to say that “style updates” aren’t going to fix the problem. We don’t want church rock bands and fair-trade coffee — because such offerings only makes us feel pandered to and not really valued for our contributions.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance,” Held Evans writes.

What is more, we want a voice in our faith communities.

Held Evans offers the simple suggestion that religious leaders actually sit down with millennials and ask them what they are looking for and what they would like to offer.

I could not agree more.

Despite the staggering statistics on our non-belief, I am continually awed and humbled by millennials’ faith. Throughout my work with religious communities in college, my interfaith activism, my own explorations of faith and now my work as a religion writer I have had the pleasure of knowing dozens of spiritual young adults. They come from all religious and spiritual traditions, from all over the world, from diverse races and ethnicities.

pew religion survey all

We are not passive receptacles of ancient wisdom but active practitioners of faith in a world that seems to grow less certain and more hostile by the minute.

We are optimistic, freedom-loving and largely liberal.

We forge new networks of social connection and, although many of us avoid traditional religion, nearly 80 percent of us believe in miracles.

Including millennials in a conversation about faith-based climate activism — and any other spiritual and social topic for that matter — is not only logical but necessary. We make up a quarter of the U.S. population at 77 million strong, and we have come of age in post-9/11 world where religious literacy is more crucial than ever.

Not only that, but we are a generation raised on green education, recycling programs and environmental awareness. We are deeply committed to caring for the Earth — as demonstrated by the more-than-50,000 students who turned out for the People’s Climate March on Sunday.

Despite our best intentions, millennials are routinely written off by older generations as superficial, lazy and entitled. We often get blasted for our lack of civic fervor (especially when people forget that the youth vote was instrumental in electing the current president.) But these stereotypes miss the crucial ways in which we are engaged — including our faith.

I love being a millennial. We are creative, daring, playful and intelligent. We are making the most of a deeply troubled world and finding new ways to express ourselves and spread love at every turn.

If any religious leader or conference organizer would like to invite us to the table to discuss matters of faith, ecology, politics and social justice, we would be happy to join. It would no doubt be a fruitful discussion.


<originally found in Huffington Post:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antonia-blumberg/millennial-letter-faith-leaders_b_5868294.html?utm_hp_ref=religion >



hopeful street art




Just a note from me.



For the vast majority of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, Islam is a religion of peace.




For the vast majority of 13.9 million Jews around the world, Judaism is seen as a religion of peace.




For the vast majority of 2 billion Christians around the world, Christianity is a religion of peace.


religions together


Yet people of each of those religions have committed atrocities in the names of their respective religious texts.




What is happening in the mid-East and beyond is more tribalism than religion, as it has pitted those of the same religion against each other.




Violence has been vocally condemned by leaders and followers of all the major religions.




Difference in faith will always create friction … but friction does not always translate into violence.


We should never confuse friction & violence.

life, chess and choices

January 17th, 2015

choice sometimes one


“Man’s exile is ignorance; his home is knowledge.”



Honorious of Autun


“This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn.

We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous …

 indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.”


Richard Dawkins






Let’s talk about Life … choices, ignorance, knowledge … and that some things happen because Life is an indifferent purposeless, neither good nor evil, player in your Life. And let’s be clear … it is a game and Life not only plays an active role but it is clearly an opponent.



Which leads me to Life as a chess game.





Maybe better said … the voyage of the soul is often like a game of chess in which you …




Move … counter move.


Rarely move in a straight line.
You dictate some moves.


You react to some moves.



Throughout we gain knowledge forward, backward, diagonally and even by moving chess life choices potter 1sideways.


I note that thought because so often people discuss ‘moving forward.’

chess life potter 2


“Keep going” <with an implication that is always ‘ahead’>.



And yet Life, like chess, is about facing the entire board and obstacles & opportunities which lie all around you … not just in front of you.






In chess … “ahead” come in a variety of directions and moves.





The chess metaphor suggests Life is lived by unlocking different paths in which you make counter moves and moves against Life.




The metaphor also suggests our fate is inevitably made of the sum total of all choices already made <which means fate is neither fickle nor some amorphous concept but … uh oh … rather derived by our choices>.


I thought about this thought after reading the following words in a book:



“In exile men are captured and enslaved while in their homeland they can be free men and beneath their own roofs may reign supreme.

Yet in what does human freedom consist?

The voyage of the soul is like a game of chess.

The object of the game is to entrap the opponent’s king by limiting progressively the opponent’s freedom to move his pieces about the board.

At the beginning of the game each player enjoyed an infinite number of choices.

But with each freely chosen move each player decreased by one an option of his own and perhaps as many as several options for his opponent.

There is a rapid diminishing of free choice for both sides so that as the end of the game nears the players realize their fates has been made by the sum total of those choices already made.

So it is for all men.

key to lifeOnly by foreseeing the ultimate consequence of all decisions and by foretelling the decisions of Life <your opponent in this case> can a man choose wisely and freely.

Yet freedom adheres only to the individual act itself and not to one’s life as a whole.

That being said … this suggests that each person is a lawgiver unto himself, his own magistrate and … ultimately … his own executioner.











This means we are lawyer, magistrate … and executioner … of our own Life?



<insert “yikes” here>




And while the chess pieces are black & white … how about the thought that Life is neither black nor white?



Maybe it is simply indifferent to anything but the move or counter move you make.


And if ignorance is exile … and knowledge is your home … your home is simply the square your piece currently resides on.

At the moment.



Only to move on again and again.






That is some deep shit.



Here is what I like.


Life is neither preordained nor is it assured that Life is a better chess player than you <albeit it has significantly more practice>.


Life is about moves and counter moves.


And all the moves occur with multiple pieces on the board.


And you can move in any direction … even pausing on occasion.



I say that last thought because I believe we far too often see ourselves moving in some line … straight, diagonal, jagged or smooth.


Maybe instead we are a number of pieces each of which are being moved against Life.




You can purposefully sacrifice one piece to attain your objective.

chess life tumble



You can lose a piece <even one you really didn’t want to lose> through a wrong move.



You can win a piece because Life wasn’t paying as close attention as it should.



But what I like most is that choices become more finite over time. I like that dose of reality. A dose in a world where so many positive psychology gurus espouse ‘ infinite choices‘ and ‘you can do whatever you want’ trite crap.



This is a fairly simple concept <with a shit load of complex repercussions>.


Life is a game of chess. As time goes by you win pieces and lose pieces and progress across and around the board.


But you will inevitably have less pieces and a diminishing number of free choices.






That sounds a little … well … forbidding? Maybe a little ‘tough lovish’?





That’s Life.



It takes some hard choices … and some smart choices … to play the game of Life.



Here is what I do know for sure about every move you make:



“Nothing that we do, is done in vain.

I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph.”


Charles Dickens




Life is the voyage of the soul.



Each move and counter move you make is one you choose seeking for a triumph … of the soul.


corners of mixed up soul


We may lose sight of that on occasion but as the once infinite choices become diminished and they become more clearly finite … you could be the village idiot … but you will recognize that the remaining choices become more and more about the soul.




Finiteness … or an inevitable ‘end’ … has an amazing tendency to provide some clarity on what is important.



I think the earlier you recognize this the better you play the Life game of choices.

Enlightened Conflict