The Transparent Self by Sidney M. Jourard Revised Edition (1971)

Self-disclosure. How much actual self-disclosure is there today? This thought-provoking book is well over 40 years old but feels relevant at this juncture of “now.”

I purchased it decades ago and periodically return to this and other works for a better understanding of human relationships. Today’s political, social and cultural environment offer opportunities to further explore the human mind through different perspectives… see Irvin Yalom in his work on Existential Psychotherapy and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

 In The Transparent Self, Jourard observes, “Love is scary, because when you permit yourself to be known, you expose yourself not only to your lover’s balm, but also to the hater’s bombs! When he knows you, he knows where to plant them for maximum effect.”

In his research Jourard discovered a paradox. Our expectation of disclosure in the family unit is not what actually happens…we are not open with each other. Self-disclosure requires courage and it also reduces the mystery that one person is for another. He restates Shakespeare’s Polonius’ advice to his son “ in the play Hamlet, “And this above all – to any other man be true, and thou canst not be false to thyself.”

The author relates his role as a professional psychologist in very personal terms. He discusses what it means to be true to oneself and maintain a healthy personality. In some form, sickness in body and mind is viewed as a link to non-disclosure – not being true to one self and ultimately others. Life becomes a lie. The sickness of one’s spirit and body in a real sense is a form of protest against lying to self and others.

Though some of the material, considered dated within the context of newer theories and findings, the core is of value. Our mental and physical health are directly linked to our honesty with our self….what and who we are and our relationships with others and how we treat them. This is not about the nature of false information promulgated in realty television and propaganda by those with “self-designated power and privilege,” rather it’s the values at stake we have in being humane with our self and each other and the downstream effect on people’s lives. How much time does it take to be honest with the person that greets us in the mirror?

“Shall I permit my fellow-men to know me as I truly am, or shall I seek instead to remain an enigma, and be seen as someone I am not?” Disclosure may be unsettling if not terrifying when applied to one’s self.

American Oligarchy, The Permanent Political Class by Ron Formisano (2017)

 Formisano is a scholar who takes no prisoners regardless of political affiliation when it comes to America’s rising exclusive aristocracy. Wealth has the final say in the power structures of government. The public is spoon-fed what the power structure wants the people to know.

In a thoroughly researched work the author describes in detail how democracy has failed and the increasing number of impoverished will remain so as obstacles and barriers are in place to restrain them from rising above their state. The author provides insights into the problems, origins and possible outcomes in the continual rise of the aristocracy.

This work could be read on conjunction with Matthew Simonton’s, Classical Greek Oligarchy, A Political History, and his insights into how oligarchy came into existence as a reaction against democracy and how “affluence brings influence.” The author writes how in the Greek form of democracy every citizen felt obligated to participate. The elite though opposed the idea of equality. It was about money and power. The wealthiest opposition toward equality has been underway for decades as outlined in Formisano’s work.

In his American Oligarchy, the reader encounters similar issues within different contexts than the Greeks, yet the same process, whereby the ruling elite buy power and manipulate all those they consider not their equal – self-entitled by virtue of their money.

The idea of an oligarchy is to stack the judicial, economic and political system in your, the ruling class’s favor. Corruption is not new, the degree and the parasitical nature of it is formidable. This reviewer not surprised – still, the depth of the arrogance and ignorance among members of the right leaning Supreme Court remains disturbing. There are other works that offer in-depth descriptions of the court’s workings and prejudices. (See Cass R. Sunstein”s work on the Supreme Court))

The mounting student debts, the economic measures in place where such debt is inescapable and the list of ill-fated political decisions concerning environment, budget, the military and the inner workings of a now former democracy is not astonishing. The tragedy lay in the misinformation, propaganda and outright lies by those in power and the pervasive institutional corruption. The disturbing insights increase with each page as the author offers provocative detail and assessment the challenges the country faces.

In the end I sense the author’s only hope is that this will be cyclical or a “node”…meanwhile, millions will suffer and never realize a sense of integrity, dignity and self-respect a job that helps one arrive at place above mere survival, brings with it, let alone participation in an advertised “democracy.”

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

I should have known better. On the other hand, why should I have?

I opened my eyes, looked around the room, slowly got out of bed and walked over to the window and peered out at the landscape. I suppose one could say it was an ordinary morning with the earth in familiar rotation and the sun poetically appearing to rise from the East. There was nothing to suggest that anything was amiss. So I didn’t give the hour serious thought and proceeded with the same ritual as I had done the day before. And yet I might have used more caution at such an early hour. One never really knows for certain.

I tried it once before years ago but then reversed my opinion on the entire matter after listening to those few remaining inner voices that are resistant to change along with side remarks made by my peers and others that I had but a mere acquaintance with, in my day-to-day affairs. One never really knows the effect of a simple act or perception thereof until one commits the act whether it is with little or much thought. Then once committed is it too late? I sighed.

The moment one does something one hasn’t done in years if not decades, then one has to step back and consider the possible downstream effect of one’s actions. It’s generally considered wise to have a personal strategy or even a “business plan” of action, even if only mentally inscribed in outline form, while acknowledging life happens in a non-linear fashion. I mean, what is there in life that’s true to form every moment of its existence? Hm.

I suspect a majority of men, if indeed they have an opportunity or option to do so, might be hesitant and reconsider about how they approach the situation while being cognizant of its varied meanings and knowing that all is vanity, while wondering what might appeal to those whose intimate and feminine opinion personally matter.

That all said, it happened in the following manner: After I took a shower I was lathering my face and began the daily task with its particular motions of shaving and caught a small portion of my moustache with the sharp edge razor blade and watched strands of hair, like past romantic and poetic phrases vanish before my eyes as water from the bathroom faucet flush the distinguished characteristics of my face down the drain. My face was no longer in philosophical balance.

I decided perhaps to finish my moustache’s denouement, so I moved my face closer to the mirror with one eye open wider than the other to inspect the damage. I held the razor in my right hand and steadily guided it toward that place above the upper lip for seemingly good reason – to reshape the imbalance or eliminate it all together. But I stopped as I felt like someone was looking over my shoulder.

Then it happened! The French film La Moustache directed by Emmanuel Carrère flashed through my mind and sent chills up my spine for what if after all there was in reality, no one watching me shave? In fact, there were no witnesses. What would I do if those who knew me best, said, “You had no moustache in the first place,” and denied the fact of its very existence and would my mind’s sanctity come into question? What misfortune and disappointment is greater than when one changes one’s looks with its profound though vain implications and nobody takes note, or worse – denies the previous existence of a countenance that you invested so much effort to create?

It wasn’t after all just hair, but perhaps a statement made more complex with transcendent implications. The famous artist Salvador Dali once said, “Since I don’t smoke, I decided to grow a moustache. It’s better for the health. However, I always carried a jewel-studded cigarette case in which, instead of tobacco, were carefully place moustaches…I offered them politely to my friends – Moustache? Moustache? Moustache? Nobody cared to touch them. This was my test regarding the sacred respect of moustaches.”

Needless to say, with existential emotions at bay, I trimmed my moustache to a minimum knowing that I had the free will to grow it back rather quickly, if indeed that was the tactic I decided upon, for ultimately it’s only hair in passing, and possesses an existential quality which in turn means – things actually exist only in the present physical moment, and recorded for the future to look back upon in reflection and organized and placed, according to an unofficial grapevine, in the “ADPF” or the “Archived Database of Previous Faces,” and digitally stored in a classified location.

So as I stepped back and looked in the mirror and seemed to recognize the man who shrugged his shoulders, “Isn’t the moustache’s existence but a brief facial interlude of the mind?” I asked. Or, is it indeed?

“There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.” James Baldwin

Query: In the United States we appear to have the option of “choosing to cultivate” our attitudes towards our world and it’s ideas and it’s variety of beliefs. They are ours to ponder at our leisure if we so choose. Do these philosophies hold up if we live in the war-torn areas of Iraq or parts of Africa decimated by disease and famine? Is it possible to have “Hope and faith without letting go?” How much of that is possible when all you can hope for is that your children make it through another night or find another meal. Is there one set of rules/choices for one country over another?

Link: Gestalt and Interconnectedness

Johnson: Three answers to your question: one is to address the assumption that those of us living in the United States are granted more opportunity than other parts of the world to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. And the second answer that addresses the principle that the strength of one can bear the afflictions of many if it understands the principle of interconnectedness. And the third, which addresses if it is possible for someone who lives in another country, you named Iraq and Africa, or any other country riddled with strife, war, poverty, etc., to have the “leisure” to cultivate compassion.

There are many countries, and the United States unfortunately is amongst those countries, which experience disproportionate rates of chaos and strife. However, the rate of suffering one country has over another, or one person may experience over another, does not preclude or exclude the ability to control one’s heart and mind and for suffering to be alleviated by intentional acts of cultivating compassion. (I will give very specific examples of individuals from various parts of the world that are models of how a conscious mind can peacefully influence an entire nation.) If we see the world as a planet full of boundaries and borders, then we will fall into a mindset that could undermine our ability to use the practice of compassion as a vehicle to heal the planet.

Here are some statistics that cause me to question if conditions for many in the Unites States are less threatening or more peaceful than other countries.

  • Child Abuse: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017), the United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average almost five (5) children every day to child abuse and neglect.
  • Sexual Assault: Every 98 seconds someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. That means EVERY SINGLE DAY more than 570 people experience sexual violence in this country. (HuffPost, April 2017).
  • Domestic Violence: On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2015).
  • Poverty: Despite the recent decline, the United States still has a far higher child-poverty rate than other high-income countries, with devastating short- and long-term effects. The poverty rate for children of color is TRIPLE that of white children (The Atlantic, 2017)
  • Gun Violence: In 2015, 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured (those figures exclude suicide).

(Suffering does not respect boundaries or borders – Johnson)

Experiences of violence, trauma, chaos, war, poverty, rape, murder, starvation…these are deeply unfortunate examples of human suffering and when someone is subjected to any atrocity and adversity for any length of time, he or she will have a much more difficult time attaining peace of mind. That is without question. But suffering does not respect boundaries or borders. Any amount of human suffering on this planet impacts all of us.

Of course, it is much easier to sit on a zafu and meditate for an hour when one does not have to worry for food or shelter or is in fear of one’s life. But cultivating inner peace and compassion are not experiences or states of being restricted to environments or situations that are ideal. There is a potential within every human mind to achieve high levels of compassion and tranquility through the circuitry that is hard-wired in the brain. The septal nuclei are part of the limbic system linked to empathy, compassion, and the development of prosocial behaviors like bonding. (I can give another discussion on this point at some other time but for now, it is quite possible for anyone who is interested to research the information that addresses this concept). Your brain is something that you can train no matter what the external circumstances are that abound.

If you are fortunate to have the leisure time to meditate, to cultivate compassion and send that energy out into the planet, then you are in an excellent position to help someone who may be too afflicted to do this for himself. The practice to develop is called LoJong. That is a very lovely and deeply transformative practice that you can do for anyone, anywhere and at any time. An experienced Teacher would help you to learn the principles and techniques of LoJong (a mind training practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition).

Now to address, how can someone succeed at cultivating attributes like compassion and inner peace if living with adversity is his day-to-day reality? Researchers have identified several qualities that seem to be protective factors that certain individuals possess, which are inherent, and which may be due to either genetics, personality, environment or all of those. One trait is called “tenacity”. Another is called “grit”. Tenacity is an attribute that is close to what we might describe as “persistence” but even persistence does not quite explain the combination of passion, resilience, stubbornness, that contributes to this incredible trait. Grit is very similar to tenacity except that it adds this extra element of courage, a drive fueled by fortitude that seems to be linked to the individual’s sense of purpose. Research has linked these traits to achievement more consistently than any other trait, including I.Q. If someone reads this article and a spark of interest flares up in her spirit and she takes it upon herself to look up some of the terms I am mentioning…like “LoJong”, for example, she is demonstrating enough tenacity and grit to take the next step…which is to find a qualified teacher or a sangha or ask questions until she finds a way to learn what she needs to do to begin a practice of cultivating the mind.

There are numerous examples of human beings from diverse backgrounds who have modeled for us the ability to cultivate compassion and inner peace despite the challenge of adversity. I only list a very few. We have been fortunate in this dispensation to know or hear of many people who show or have shown us the manner in which the attributes of loving kindness and compassion are developed into powerful vehicles for change:

Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for conspiring to overthrow the South African government. He became the country’s first black Head of State.

Thich Nacht Hanh worked relentlessly to reconcile peace between North and South Viet Nam. He was banned from Viet Nam. In 1966, both the non-Communist and Communist governments banned him for his role in undermining the violence he saw affecting his people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

Oprah Winfrey was born in poverty; raped at the age of 9. She became one of the first African-American and female billionaire and is one of the greatest philanthropists in the world.

Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights activist; was imprisoned for publicly criticizing her country’s hierocracy and in 2003 won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in fostering the rights for Muslim women, children, and refugees. She was the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She is currently in exile.

Benazir Bhutto in 1984, founded an underground organization to resist military dictatorship in Pakistan and at the age of 35 became Prime Minister of her country, making her one of the youngest political figures in the world. She was assassinated in 2007.

Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned several times for his non-violent protests against the British domination in India. Through his personal practices and modeling of non-violence, he ignited a revolution of peace amongst the people so powerful that India finally won independence in 1947.

Rigoberta Menchú’s younger brother was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by a military death squad in 1979, and her mother was kidnapped, raped, mutilated, and murdered by soldiers the following year. She escaped to Mexico from Guatemala and continued her campaign for human rights against the Guatemalan government, rising to international acclaim. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her continuing efforts to achieve social justice and mutual reconciliation in Guatemala.

Tulku Sang-Ngag Rinpoche was 12 years old when imprisoned by the Chinese government for practicing Buddhism. For the next ten years he would continue to work under the brutality of the prison system, not knowing from one day to the next if he would be the next to be slaughtered or randomly hung. He admitted to struggling with feelings of hatred towards the Chinese and because of the teachings of an elder monk, chose to train his mind and heart towards compassion for his captors. Upon his release from prison, he went into exile, continued his studies in Buddhism and had the fortune to meet and receive direct guidance from the Dali Lama. He is now the founder and spiritual director of the Tibetan Ewam International Centers around the world.

*Gestalt Ann Arbor

He’s distinguished and well-connected

so it’s alleged

he knew the greater the lie, the greater the reward

there was a joy to his world cloaked in fake news

denying you said, what you said moments before

words are meaningless in the Neo Wave of Truth,

some things are beside the point

as a bright young man fell to the storied office floor

he was merely collateral


all he had to do was request aide

but how does he ask

with a silver bullet logged in his chest?

the money keeps flowing,

The Lobbyist shrugs.


How does one learn to think for one self

in a dystopian world of post modern capitalism

where love is garnished in feel good rhythms

to assuage those who are mindful but unconnected

and the “ambassadors” and “leaders” of the plutocracy


for they will tell how and what to think

about the inner peace of being a true believer

while negotiating at their country club

and the private dining rooms of mischief

down the Street

with The Lobbyist.


The powerful will mentor

stroking patriot pride

in historical symbols now tasteless

the core it seems is now missing in action

for there are gold linings in deep pockets

there’s never too much wealth for the wealthy

while the number of those misled and without

grows disproportionately

as does their credit and loans,

like a hollow tipped bullet lodged in their heart

but who do they seek for aide,

an inability to reconcile

plutocracy’s debt is adeptly cultivated

the journalist is paid off, the secrets kept

for the Lobbyist is just doing his job.

The Economist

Why is America more tolerant of inequality than many rich countries?

Ignorance about the scale of the problem is part of the answer

Sheree Johnson is the founder and Director of Gestalt Ann Arbor. She is a licensed psychotherapist and certified alcohol and drug prevention specialist. She has developed extensive expertise – Women’s Issues, Domestic Violence; Sexual Abuse; Intimacy and Relationships; Spirituality and Self-growth. Sheree holds a B.A. in Social Work; a M.Ed. in Clinical Counseling; and is completing a Ph.D. in Health Psychology. She has studied with the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and is a graduate of the Advanced Gestalt Couples and Family Program. Sheree also sponsors and leads workshops and retreats throughout the United States and Canada.

NP:  You have a thoughtful background. How did you arrive at where you are today in terms of your philosophical outlook?

Johnson:   It changes, hopefully its evolving, becomes more inclusive, kinder…It’s quite an organic process. There are three points – apexes – that sparked this process within my mind. When I was very young I would have a very clear vision of a Blue Shape, an entity of some sort. Very human in appearance and always seated at the foot of my bed facing me. Child psychologists would say that the Being was my imaginary friend. But even as I speak to you about Him, He was quite real. The Being would communicate to me, and again, even now, my memory is alive more with the “feeling” of the communication. The striking aspect of the phenomena was the clarity of the image and that our conversation was telepathic. There was a kindness, softness and wisdom in the exchange. I decided at some point that the Being was a Christ-Like Entity.

As I grew older, the second apex formed. I began watching David Carradine, the American actor when he played a Shaolin monk in a Kung Fu series. I noted his character’s actions. They were choice-full actions amid events in which choice was uncertain. It helped opened the door to my interest and study of Eastern religions.

The third apex was formed within my experience of family and community. I was the oldest of eleven children in a rural community in which kindergarten through twelfth grade was all in one building. The ability to learn new things was instilled as one of the greatest and exciting of opportunities. In my community, no matter if the person was the town drunk or the village Sunday school teacher, respect of elders was deeply valued and taught. In my little school, teachers modeled fairness, equanimity, commitment, loyalty, and self-responsibility. My socio-cultural and educational experiences created an imprint on my mind inspiring belief in self, the value of community and helping those less fortunate, while being calm, patient and loving.

NP:  Life is a struggle even its most benign moments.  Do you see an interconnected to things in life – such as oneness?  Also, what are your thoughts about whether our internal wiring has the ultimate say in how we respond to the world around us?

Johnson:  Nature has been my Greatest Teacher.  Watching birds fly and change direction in a split second; the transition of seasons; the cycle of birth, life, death; witnessing the constant degeneration and regeneration on a daily basis right outside my window, offers deep insight as to our interconnectedness. Regardless of who one believes himself or herself to be; regardless of our attainments; how we might define “success”; despite the infinite ways we have created to try to keep ourselves on “the other side”- there’s an infinite organic processing and interconnectedness in nature that is reflected in and through all living things which for me is my definition of God.

As to our internal wiring (heart and mind), I think all fundamentally healthy humans possess a predisposition towards “Being-ness”. We possess a blueprint that includes tendencies towards harmony, interdependence, and self-actualization. Out potential to become self-actualized is ignited through acts of love towards the self and others and can be cultivated when we offer ourselves in service to others. We also become self-actualized through the practices of self-observation (what am I doing right now?); self-assessment (is what I am doing right now helpful or hurtful?); and self-correction (I take full responsibility for my thoughts, speech, and actions). Our quest for inner peace and happiness is part of the nature of our being human. An example of a true being living in her true nature is seen in a healthy baby who, from belly laugh to crying, is fully in the moment

If we are unable to realize our predispositions or true nature regardless of gender, sexuality and so forth, we become depressed and experience self-loathing and anger. We live on the surface and not in the moment. Further, if we try to override our innate tendencies towards harmony, balance and interconnectedness, and “will” ourselves into a world of say narcissistic greed, we run the risk of falling victims to our own illusions of self-importance. self-righteousness, or superiority or whatever the antonyms are for “kindness” and “compassion”. Conflict and dissatisfaction in life will ultimately envelop the mind and self-inflicted suffering arises. The opposite of power-seeking is learned helplessness. The victim mentality takes over when we abdicate our own power by failing to accept responsibility for our experiences of thought, speech, and action. We wind up trapped in a mind filled with fear, isolation, and despair.

Self-responsibility, self-awareness – choosing to cultivate a nature predisposed towards kindness and compassion – are behaviors and attitudes that will create a fuller sense of purpose and inter-connectedness. The word “mindfulness” is almost common in American language now and probably best describes the attitude that creates the process of self-actualization that I am describing. Mindfulness is the manner in which true inner power and self-love are effectively cultivated.

NP:   How does your spiritual view affect your everyday outlook? How do you meld together your Buddhist and Christian thinking?  Where are you at this moment in time philosophically, spiritually and sensually?

Johnson:  I find an un-necessary divisiveness between individual religions and their respective dogmas.  Conflict appears inevitable when one group or individual suggests their belief is superior to others. I find it somewhat illogical to ascribe to believing in the concept of “interconnectedness” if I am unwilling to explore other forms of theology or spirituality. As a person who has delved deeply into Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, I have discovered the greatest truths and wisdom through the words that are repeated, regardless of what language or culture they are echoed from.  I see the interconnectedness of all things in the world around me, and dogmas become disharmonious to that worldview.  I like to challenge myself by embracing the world around me with curiosity and enthusiasm. Truth reveals itself to an open, inquisitive mind.

NP:   Is hope and faith part of your internal dialogue? If so how do you express that hope in your everyday actions?

Johnson: Hope and faith serve as catalysts for action. Attachment to hope and faith as a means to an end can create stagnation, however. So, while the two can motivate, you cannot stay in either spaces too long. Hope and faith without adding the conscious choice of letting go will negate intention and action. We must live in the present and that’s a learning process. We must cultivate a clear understanding of our interconnectedness which will, through its own volition, yield powerfully responsible actions.

NP:   We live in an age where fear, insecurity, intolerance, greed, ignorance and poverty are forms of violence against the wholeness necessary for understanding our human interconnectedness.  How does the person change to realize that wholeness and interconnectedness?

Johnson: My outer reality reflects my inner reality. When I fully accept responsibility for my thoughts, choices, emotions, and actions, I reclaim my inherent power and will make choices that benefit every living thing. Alignment with all living things becomes effortless. Living in the present moment ultimately circles back to understanding and embracing my true nature. Each breath I take is an opportunity to choose thought, action, and speech that reflects responsibility and care towards myself and others.

It’s a relatively simple attribute of control

to chastise a pawn and knight errant lower on the totem pole

the colorful paper work of career moves

for those further up the ladder realize the delicacy as a whole

between the love of the sacred and the profane.


The rich soil of background checks

fingerprinting, even in a cup,

extracting blood

a license written

and the sign of the cross is given,

the pawn gingerly steps across the chessboard

the intense scrutiny of the players

under the shaded camera lights of political theater,

competition is like a dark chocolate appetizer

it’s good for the heart

with the frosting made of real estate drippings

the players move their chess pieces quietly

the background music of a fugue,

brain mining arrives at a critical stage

before technology reveals the intent

of the King, Queen, Bishop and a mysterious sage.


Measuring the brain electrical pulses

forensic techniques legalized

brain fingerprinting tests the reliability

of others ‘guilty knowledge,’

thoughts imagined

magnetic resonance imaging a useful tool

while a software program determines

a visual and emotional awareness,

policies implemented while looking the other way

no surprises today,

the brain’s fingerprinting is now the future rhythm of work

and a billionaire guffawed as he boarded his private jet

to his vineyard in South America,

a sense of humor is just a smile away. 


The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death.

The New York Times. State of the Art. November 29, 2017    Farhad Manjoo

CreditIllustration by Doug Chayka, Photo via Library of Congress

The internet is dying.

Sure, technically, the internet still works. Pull up Facebook on your phone and you will still see your second cousin’s baby pictures. But that isn’t really the internet. It’s not the open, anyone-can-build-it network of the 1990s and early 2000s, the product of technologies created over decades through government funding and academic research, the network that helped undo Microsoft’s stranglehold on the tech business and gave us upstarts like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix.

Nope, that freewheeling internet has been dying a slow death —


Jerusalem The Holy City in the Eyes of Chroniclers, Visitors, Pilgrims, and Prophets from the Days of Abraham to the Beginnings of Modern Times by F. E. Peters   (1985)

I read this monumental work in the early 90s and having stayed in the Old City of Jerusalem for a spell (longer in my mind then the actual number of weeks). I’m reminded of it by recent events designating the city as the Capital of Israel through political manipulation rather than knowledge of history, diplomacy or theological underpinnings and cultural diversity.

The story of Jerusalem is one of theology, sociology, psychology, culture, poetry, poverty, wealth and a multitude of intrigues both enlightening and unsettling. Power, money, God and blood are ingredients in its history.

Jerusalem came before Israel. So begins this epic work of an ancient city with foundations and influences from the Jews, Greeks, Muslims, Christians among other cultures over the centuries. What is sacred to one faith is not sacred to another.

Peters’ insightful and provocative work offers the reader first hand accounts over the centuries of those people visiting the holy city. Man (who claims he is inspired ultimately decides what is sacred and holy whether a piece of writing or a place or a person) is the force behind the city and all the beliefs he brings with him.

Did “God” render Jerusalem “holy” through His perceived acts filtered through the minds of men and women? … Is Jerusalem, “now a kind of freehold to be measured, sounded, dug, rebuilt, restored, and recolonized under appeals to science, theology, or tradition that barely masked the political, military, and financial force majeure that lay beneath.”

Jerusalem is the “Holy City” to different faiths and is “Capital” to those faiths.

This work is told objectively and judiciously. It is a reference tool for understanding Jerusalem’s history and foretells the issues for those who claim they are the rightful heirs. The Torah, the Bible and the Koran were written by men and made sacred by men regardless of how inspired they were by their God. Belief is a subjective experience as is the Holy City of Jerusalem. I felt the subjective experience laying on a cot and writing in my diary many nights and wondering what century I was in.

The Atlantic    APR 7, 2014

Greed Is Good: A 300-Year History of a Dangerous Idea

Not long ago, the pursuit of commercial self-interest was largely reviled. How did we come to accept it?

Cartoon from a 1909 issue of Puck magazine. A caption read, “Dedicated to the states where child labor is still permitted.” Library of  Congress”
“Greed has always been the hobgoblin of capitalism, the mischief it makes a canker on the faith of capitalists.”    HN PAUL ROLLERT  


The old man read every day since childhood

his appetite voracious for knowledge

the hunger never left him after years of voyages and treks

studies and experiences around the Earth

verses in the geography of the soul

knowledge was core to his existence

nothing else was equal to it,

yet all was temporal including what he had known

and what he thought he knew.


The mirror didn’t reflect the vitality within

though the noise of culture affects hearing

while the quality of vision alters bearing,

strands of hair turn gray


affecting another’s smile

words spoken sideways to his face

ageism, no disrespect intended

some call it “Elderspeak”

with a potion to de-accentuate the wrinkles

a spirit pleading it was not there yet.


Another day passes by

and the mindful teacher within asks,

can you hear me now?

The Muse by L J Frank

The Muse – unearthed in the tomes of ancient literature seemingly without preference with whom she might offer her wisdom. She may appear devoted to her craft while her presence may offer little as to her inner thoughts.

She is found among the pantheon of Greek Goddesses while some have roots in the woven genealogies of Egypt, Assyria-Babylonia, Asia and further back the Muse’s origins are unknown except for etymological etchings in stone and fragmentary papyri that appear seeded in “she who inspires.”

There is the sophisticated modern Muse who enters and mysteriously vanishes from one’s life and who appears in the ephemeral shadow of a morning dream or in the text of high technology for she arrives in different shapes and forms.

To surmise and otherwise hear her voice as she entices and wages a claim to one’s soul one may encounter the Muse in the moment she lures one’s heart only to find she was merely the excited breath of one’s imagination too anxious for an answer to an ambiguous life.

To gaze, to sense, to touch, to taste and immerse oneself in the enigmatic marrow of the Muse’s essence is a journey to the other half of one’s soul. One may move toward the illusive horizon where the sky meets the earth and the path one pursues may disappear beyond the edge of sight, but not the subliminal vision.

Emotions stir with anticipation for the inspirational voice and the whisper of unspoken words conveyed in the swaying of leaves in a spring breeze or the creaking of branches in an autumn wind sweeping across the waters.

In the brevity of a moment the Muse tempts like the Sirens of Odysseus, yet rises above the enigma of her song, for she enchants and seduces even in quiet, an eternal beckoning.

What is the value of money? Will paper money be replaced by electronic money? Who will control the electronic databases? Is the citizen a mere pawn on the chessboard devised by the wealthiest and most powerful?

Sixty years ago the following observation was made:

“Money bewitches people. They fret for it, and they sweat for it. They devise most ingenious ways to get it, and most ingenuous ways to get rid of it. Money is the only commodity that is good for nothing but to be gotten rid of. It will not feed you, clothe you, shelter you, or amuse you unless you spend it or invest it. It imparts value only in parting. People will do almost anything for money, and money will do almost anything for people. Money is a captivating, circulating, masquerading puzzle.” — Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, “Creeping Inflation”, Business Review, August 1957.

Is the pleasure of wealth to found among the wealthiest who circulate most of the wealth among themselves while masquerading it as something else?

What is the value money when you don’t have enough to live on and you are no longer a partner in the circulation of it?

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