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The Politics of Life and Faith

My friend from India, Reji, a Coptic Orthodox priest gave me this message when I left an ecumenical conference. I asked him, “If you could say ANY THING to the people in the US what would you say?”

I expected him to give me a beautiful spiritual quote on Christianity or living in peace together. He was an Orthodox priest and we were there to study, talk about religion and how we CAN get along even with differences. Here is his response:

“Tell your people to get out and vote. You may not think your vote matters, but for India, it decides whether or not many of my own people can afford to eat. We grow bananas near my town but we ship them to the US and then prices are raised so high we cannot afford to buy our own bananas.”

When there are no more hungry people,
When there is no more poverty (LOTS of artists in poverty)
When there are no more wars or violence against women, children, and those of different beliefs or different races…

Then, and then only will I quiet my voice.

When an artist can make a living doing what an artist does
When a painter can paint AND feed her family
A singer can sing and not have to compromise his or her integrity to make a living

Then, and only then will I quiet my voice.


The above post is from a writing that I did in October of 2008 on my Redbubble Journal. I was new to the “blogosphere” and trying to find a safe place to write politics. Had hated them all my life until my friend from India gave me the above message.

I can’t say that I like politics any better, but what I do understand now is how political actions or statements can have far reaching effects. I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s journals as a nighttime meditation. His concerns about the political situation in the 60s resonates with now. Some of the things he discusses, I remember from the things I experienced as a child. Politics have always been a part of the life of what it means to be human. The word “polity” implies civility. Yet, our discourse is far from civil.

Mystics, contemplatives, and other spiritual greats of history always call for non-violent change. Choose justice, mercy, peace is a message that dates to Micah in the 8th century B.C.E.

[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

 Micah 6:8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

We can no longer be silent about what is happening in our world. At the same time, we must stop pointing fingers at each other. How can we change the conversation? Justice, mercy, kindness is my responsibility. Each of us must look in the mirror of our soul and start there. The only change we can truly “control” is how we act or react to life, events, and those around us. I can only begin political activism by starting with me. I choose to love my neighbor in respect, dignity, and mercy. Make your choice. Are YOU willing to change and “… do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

“There is no consolation, only futility, in the idea that one is a kind of martyr for a cause. I am not a martyr for anything, I am afraid. I wanted to act like a reasonable, civilized, responsible Christian of my time. I am not allowed to do this. I am told I have renounced this – fine. In favor of what? In favor of a silence that is deeply and completely n complicity with the forces that carry out oppression, injustice, aggression, exploitation, war. In other words, silent complicity is presented as a ‘greater good’ than hones conscientious protest – it is supposed to be part of my vowed life, for the ‘glory of God.’ Certainly, I refuse complicity. My silence itself is a protest, and those who know me are aware of this fact.”     ~Thomas Merton March 3, 1964[1]

[1] Merton, Thomas, et al. “Part V: Seeking Peace in the Hermitage 1963-1965.” The Intimate Thomas Merton: His Life from His Journals, Lion Publishing, 2000, pp. 215–216.

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Lightning Strike – on the loss of a relationship

Lightning Strike

©Kandis Glasgow 2017


Strike Me
Strike me,
burn me to the ground.
I hear you rumble
and grumble behind the cloud –
over the mountain.

Show your face.
I am not afraid
of you or death.

Death would free me
from heartache.

A lightning strike
show the tragedy
playing out in my soul.

What is love?
I thought I knew,
but my love is lost again.

Strike me.
Lightning Strike me.


©2017 J. Robin Whitley

Please check out Robin’s poetry in her book, More Than Knowing.

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Brave enough to say “Queer”

A video posted by JRobin Whitley (@robinsradio) on

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Drawing a Blank

Speedy's Pizza, Sylva, NC

Speedy’s Pizza, Sylva, NC

Every time I come to write, this blank page causes me to draw a blank. If I was as devoted to the practice of art as my artist friend Robert Rhodes, I would draw something (besides a blank). Another artist friend of mine tells me to just draw anything. Of course, Pamela Haddock is a prolific and great painter who encourages anyone who wants to paint. She doesn’t say to compare my art to hers, only to show up to the canvas. Any writer teaching about writing says to just sit down and write. Show up! The same is true in all art, you have to show up. When the artist, writer, musician, believer, etc. doesn’t show up, nothing can happen.

The artist Degas, said that when he was beginning his craft, his master painter talked to him about drawing lines. Always draw lines. Or in Degas’s own words:

“Make a drawing, begin it again, trace it; begin it again and trace it again.” (Edgar Degas)

We all have to start where we are. What am I here for in this place, now? If there is an art I want to pursue, what does it mean for me to show up to that art? What does it mean to show up for my vocation? My family? The goals or people that matter most to me?

While this won’t be one of my best posts, I had to start to blog again. I needed a picture and chose one that was fun. While I’m not brave enough to share my doodles, I even drew some items on a blank sheet of paper after mentioning Rhodes’ name. He inspires me because he is consistently showing up for his art AND he’s brave enough to share those drawings/paintings with us. I also found out that he writes! More inspiration. Who are the people who inspire you?

One of the reasons a blank page is so hard is that a blank page forces us to reach into the depths of our being. Sometimes there’s nothing to be said. That’s okay. Write it, paint it, pray it, and let it go. It’s the process of showing up that matters. We don’t all want to be famous and success is only a “success” when it makes you happy or fulfilled. To be faced with a blank anything causes us to feel vulnerable. That’s not a bad thing, even if it’s a scary thing. All we have to do is be brave and show up. Okay, and START.

I had no idea what I was going to write when I started this blog. I only knew that I had to be brave enough to start it with something and also have the courage to let you see that I don’t know what I’m doing. Yet, it makes me happy to write. Even if no one reads this blog, it makes me happy. Why? I didn’t just show up to this blank page. I showed up for myself.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
― Brené Brown

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead


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