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October 27, 2004


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Chris Corrigan

This is right on the money Phil. No pun intended.

It's interesting to try and describe giving in the context of a number of political philosophies and economic systems and document their shortfalls. How is it that humans could evolve all of these streams of thinking and leave out the fundamental impulse towards community? Or perhaps these philosophies evolved to explain away the shame of moving from heart connection to market connection...once folks discovered wealth and power it was clearly more fun to be rich than compassionate, but it needs a pretty rigourous justification.

I'm speaking about both the left and the right here, and the ends of libertarian and anarchist thought too. It's a question only of to whom the riches accrue: individual or community. Compassion and altruism are lost in all equations.

And so we find ourselves amongst these great minds and hearts you link above, Finding our way through. Quo vadis?


Thanks, Chris. Your posts on your blog awhile back about Havel and "living in truth" struck the right note. "Heart connection," when it happens you can see it in the donor's whole demeanor. No going back once it happens. It is like the difference between reading a book about love and falling in love.

Roy Kay

I am rather at a loss as to what is gained by not sprinling the insence on Caeser's pyre - absent some revulsion about that particular Caeser. It secures the cohesiveness of the community, to be sure. However, communities can be narrow or expansive, but there is nothing intrinsically ennobling about them.

Likewise, transformation can go in either direction. One can gain an attitude of graciousness or one of pity and contempt in giving. In either case, however, the recipient does get fed or housed or clothed for yet one more day. Measuring transformations can be one way of simply denigrating this degree of good.

Besides, isn't the exaction of transformation simply another way of masking power and the desire for power? Here, I speak of community powers as well as individual powers. People have manifold agenda, and it is not wise to hide selfishness. There have been selfless martyrs to all causes - just and unjust, freeing and enslaving. It is better to ratify some selfishness as a measureable good for the benefactor; and give that some fair play, lest such revert to self-abnegation. This harms the benefactor and may lead to a disdain for the elan that lightens graciousness itself.


Not sprinkling incense - what is at stake is truth, bearing witness, rather than false witness.

Transformation can indeed be for better or worse on many dimensions. The point of talking about transformational giving is to win the discussion back for qualities than cannot readily be quantified in a business calculus of profit and loss. To preserve the possibility of poetry and the sacred as languages of giving.

Yes, martyrs and givers and soldiers have all sacrified in causes good and bad. And their desire to ennobled has been used by Machiavels for sordid ends.

Elan - what a wonderful word for it. And "graciousness." Yes.


Any allegory that puts giving at the tip of a sword is about survival, not charity. To choose death is to deny one's self and community of future possibilities for giving and transformation.

When we are asked to 'sprinkle' on someone's alter we are at choice as to the meaning we apply to our action. Do we listen with our head to our ego and externally imposed meaning; or, do we listen to our heart, the still, small voice of our spirit. Sprinkling then and now is a transformational opportunity to be led by the spirit and heart rather than succumb to the mind and ego. Giving up their lives over an externally imposed meaning, an illusion, was, for these ancients, easier that giving up their egos. Then as now, transformation of the flesh is somehow perceived as easier and safer than following the path of the true spirit.

Where might we be today had those early zealots sprinkled the alter with incense representing heartfelt blessings of love and forgiveness, in fellowship with their God who, according to their belief, sprinkled the ancient world with these blessings with the incense of holy spirit in the manifest form of his Son.


The god in question was Caesar. Would you worship Bush as God if it kept you out of GITMO? Would you renounce eternity, in front of those who look to you for solidarity, to save your own skin? I guess you just said, "Yes absolutely." Truth telling is hard, bearing witness much harder. I do not see many Americans today with the heart for it. The response is, "Yeah, well, whatever...."

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