consensus

Perceiving Reality Differently: #Dressgate and the Church

Photo via swiker / tumblr
Photo via swiker / tumblr

If you thought I was going to be one of those bloggers who was above using the recent viral #dressgate as blog fodder, you would be wrong. In fact, as soon as the dress started trending, I knew I would be writing about it because it so perfectly encapsulates my message.

By now you have seen the dress, and gone through the stages of denial, bewilderment, and acceptance of how your perception of color differs from the next person. You may have even read The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress. But you may not yet have had a faith writer exegete the profound spiritual significance of the dress. Do not fear, I am here to deliver. Below is a simple Christian Guide to #Dressgate:

A. If you see blue/black: you are a solid Christian. Like a rock, you are steadfast and unchanging. Because rocks are often black.

B. If you see white/gold: we all know only true Christians can see white/gold, as gold signifies the color which paves the streets of heaven, and white, the color of angel’s robes.

C. If you see BOTH colors: you are one of those progressive, liberal, hippie types who is so politically correct you can’t even exclude a color set of a dress.

D. If you can only see one set of colors, but you’re so convinced you can trick your brain into seeing the other that you will spend an entire span of family dinner twitching your face, blinking and winking furiously, twisting your head at ridiculous angles at the photo, then you are just my husband.

I’m C, of course. The freaky dress does crazy mental magic on my brain, switching colors on me spontaneously, forcing me to existentially question every life decision I have ever made with my faulty, cognitive synapses.

And I’m kidding. Please, don’t be sending me hate mail about the true Christian thing, I’m kidding.

Too Much Talk?

BY THE TIME you read this, the Occupy Wall Street campaign may have fizzled or frozen, but even so it stands as the most significant truly grassroots, outside-the-system political eruption since the Great Crash of September 2008.

Some pundits have been calling Occupy Wall Street the tea party of the Left. But that’s not fair to the Occupiers. The tea party never mustered this many people for such a sustained effort, and the tea party has never been a truly independent, grassroots movement, not with former member of Congress and Big Pharma lobbyist Richard Armey pulling strings from the beginning.

The closest the Occupy movement has come to “establishment” support has been some help from organized labor. But the unions aren’t really a significant part of America’s power structure anymore, and the fact that they were willing to help the Occupiers shows they’ve finally begun to realize that. In fact, the leaderless DIY movement in Lower Manhattan has done something the labor movement should have pulled off years ago—a mass confrontation with the plutocrats who are steering the economy toward greater deindustrialization and inequality.

The unions are famously in decline, but they still have more than 14 million dues-paying members, and that dwarfs every other social force in the U.S. The Occupy Wall Street website proclaims the movement’s kinship with the revolutionary tactics of the Arab Spring. But the Occupy movement lacks the organic connection to the mainstream population that animated the streets of Egypt in February 2011. However, if the unions ever mobilized even 10 percent of their membership for an “occupation” of the seats of power, we really would have our own Tahrir Square.

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#OccupyWallStreet: Hand Gestures, Health Care and the Birth of a New Paradigm

generalassemblyThroughout the day here at the #OccupyWallStreet mass demonstrations in New York's financial district, you can find small and often somber groups meeting.
They have agendas, a facilitator, a time keeper, and someone to keep track of the "stack" -- the list of people waiting to make a point or ask a question.
And they also have a system of hand gestures -- a sort of gonzo sign-language adaptation of Roberts Rules of Order -- designed to keep the discussion and decision-making process both democratic and efficient.
When someone agrees with a point the speaker is making, the crowd raises two hands in agreement. When the crowd disagrees, hands quickly go up, making a downward pointing motion. To call a "point of process" crowd members shape their hands into a triangle to stop discussion. Speakers who wander off topic are quickly redirected and reminded of the point being discussed in the agenda.
These working groups bring their recommendations to the #OccupyWallStreet General Assembly, which takes place once a day. A vote is taken to determine consensus before a recommendation is passed along to the G.A.
Anyone participating in the General Assembly can block a proposal by forming an X with their arms. Participants make their case and then a revised proposal is put forth. The revised proposal can then be passed with a 90/10 consensus.

Isn't the Keystone XL Pipeline in Our National Interest?

Won't it reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? Won't somebody else develop the Alberta tar sands if the U.S. doesn't do it -- someone like China, perhaps?

I've been wrestling with many of these issues as I contemplate risking arrest as part of two weeks of sustained protest by leading environmentalists, climate scientists, and faith-based groups at the White House forth to pressure the Obama Administration to block the Keystone XL Pipeline. This pipeline project will connect Canadian tar sands -- containing the second largest and dirtiest oil reserves on the planet -- with the oil refineries in Texas.

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