Monday, January 31, 2005

Monday, Jan 31, and catching up.

Working intensely on several projects.
Completing a Blogging 101 for Psychologists for possible inclusion in the next Ohio Psychologist Review, and much search of internet for references, precedents, views, on use of blogging. We may have something distinctive and valuable for the profession emerging in the research and writing.

Getting my Midway students registered as members of my Paschal's Elearning Journal Midway.edu.4u blob, so we can complete the class work missed because of ice last Saturday.
Some difficulties, but it seems all okay now. Twill be interesting.

Back into skiing, Perfect North, as of last Friday., with wife and friend. Had a great day, slopes, in temp of 20s, were terrific. Best day skiing so far this year.

Visiting some psychologists blogs and leaving a few messages. Curious is the diversity of the self-presentation. Adventurous bunch, I presume. Do not find many by psychologists.

Wedding Saturday in Frankfort. Flower girl, looked about 2 years of age, pitched a fit and refused to cooperate, had to be dragged down the aisle, and stood in place, still wailing by the bridesmaid. Luckily she shut up soon, or I would have asked someone to take her out. (outside, I mean ;)

Regular SGN Sunday meeting yesterday. Continues to be a source of strength and reflection.
now in our 16th year. Visitors here can visit our home page at www.lexpages.com/sgn.
Also had a prayer meeting with our Fierce Landscape unit at the county detention center yesterday. Told my story of the Four Holy Persons who came out of the desert, each with a different agenda and a different following, until an Angel of the Lord appeared to them.. . . . .

Blogging art draft is posted, partly, at BloggingforBeginnersbyAD andPB. End of January upon us already. Time flies when you're having fun.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

BLOGGING 101, and a new form of ministry

I have been intensely engaged since the second week in January in researching Blogs and Blogging, for a article, planned with Alan Dix. I think we have put together a valuable and readable intro. We also created a special blog for the shared writing and editing , and this final draft is now posted there.

Here is the first paragraph:
BLOGGING AS A NEW FORM OF MINISTRY
By Paschal Baute and Alan Dix

Is there something you are passionate about? Do you enjoy sharing a conversation about that with friends, possibly even with strangers? Have you ever written or wanted to write a letter to the editor? Are you confident enough putting your ideas down in writing, just to see if you can find a “soul friend� on that topic or simply another curious person who might respond? Do you use the internet for anything, mail or news?

Go to this link.
Blogging for Beginners, AD and PB

Friday, January 21, 2005

Quiet Revolution Underfoot, but unstoppable

Draft
What if there is a quiet revolution underfoot that can bring democracy to the totalitarian corners of the world far more effectively that American imperialism–cultural or military– now in Iraq under the guise of "liberation?" What if, in addition, this movement is virtually unstoppable.

Just as the web helped bring one million Ukranians to the streets of Budapest weeks ago to protest first and then prevent a rigged election. Just as the web helped organize 35 million street protesters last year around the world in hundreds of places to demonstrate simultaneously against the US war against Iraq.

Blogging is the new web tech-use exploding that promises to give power to the people, ordinary folk everywhere, regardless of government and media Powers That Be (PTB). It is already changing the media, both print and broadcast media and journalism.

It was the Bloggers who brought down Trent Lott after the main media ignored his unwise racist remarks in the Senate. Other brief examples (to follow). It was the Bloggers who brought down CBS and Dan Rather. etc.

Our society usually trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses. Yet New Yorker business columnist Surowiecki argues and demonstrates, IMO, that in certain instances, it is the group that is smarter than the smartest ones in the group. The TV audience of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire guesses correctly 91 percent of the time compared to the experts who guess correctly only 65%. (Surowiecki, Wisdom of the Crowd, Doubleday, 2004)

Even if, says Surowiecki, group members don’t know all the facts or, individually, choose toacti irrationally. Four conditions, according to S are necessary. I would add another to make five.
(1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions.

Diversity brings in different perspectives and data; independence keeps people from being swayed by a single bias or dominant talker; people's errors balance each other out; and when all opinions are included, smarter results are guaranteed than if a single expert had been in charge. My number five is that we need a few bold, creative, risk takers to stir the pot. The American Revolution started with a few patriots. Bloggging revolution started with a few hundred nerds who loved to surf the net and connect and challenge one another. It did not take off until 9/11.

Guess what? With those 4 conditions, you just stepped into the Blogging world, or blogosphere. All of these conditions match up.
Diversity of opinion - Bloggers publish hundreds of thousands of posts daily, each one charged with the writer's unique opinion.
Independence of members - Bloggers are not controlled by anyone else.
Decentralization - Publish your blog anywhere you want with any tool you want. There is no central authority.
A method for aggregating opinions - Internet syndication of your post (or Blog feeds ) make aggregation easy. There are multiple services that take advantage of that fact.

See, for more discussion.
http://www.blogger.com/knowledge/2004/07/wisdom-of-blogs.pyra

Thursday, January 20, 2005

FORGIVENESS Act or Process?

Looking back on my doctoral training after some years of practice in marital and family counseling, it was hard to believe that "forgiveness" had not been addressed--particularly since my training was clinical at the Marriage Council of Philadelphia.)

Listening to hundreds of people, I realized that not only are we all wounded--too often deeply wounded--but that we keep on wounding each other, mostly blindly and innocently--yet still hurtfully. I began to think and write about forgiveness. I realized from my own case, deep family hurts, forgiveness was not merely an act, but an ongoing process that needed to be continued. I began to have some insights about my own process. Forgiveness, therefore, consisted of new awareness and some steps. I finally came up with 14!

Maybe this was one of the reasons, when Peter asked Jesus "How many times, Lord, should we forgive a brother who sins against us, seven times?" he answered "No, Peter, not seven, but seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:22)

Browsing a bit yesterday on the web, it seemed as if my short piece on "Forgiveness: Steps" had become my most frequently quoted article. Under my weblog topic "Healthy Spirituality," I will today update and post these steps. You should be able to click in the sidebar and go there. Your comments are invited.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Good Morning, Wednesday, Jan 19, 05

Today I begin a new challenge of writing an article about something I only discovered several weeks ago. Imagine!? (Request of an editor friend for a new journal he publishes.)
Web logging, or blogging. Fortunately I have recruited another friend, an IT tech, Alan Dix, to help and we shall do this together. Actually he has been helping me collate and integrate my personal blog with some topical blogs on favorite subjects and for special projects. So you will see his name in the sidebars on all my blogs. Alan is willing to become a resource for other new bloggers.

I am curious and fascinated enough about this new web feature that seems to be exploding. Enough to study it and write about it as way to get my mind around it. Here are a couple of our introductory paragraphs to the new article (first draft):

"Is there something you are passionate about? Do you enjoy sharing a conversation about that with friends, possibly even with strangers? Have you ever written or wanted to write a letter to the editor? Are you confident enough putting your ideas down in writing, just to see if you can find a "soul friend" on that topic or simply another curious person?

". . .Even if you are retired (mostly), sofa bound, restricted in mobility by your vintage bones or physically impaired, you can still have a barrel of fun, if you have a PC, like visiting the internet, have a closet to work from, have ideas and time to share, and are passionate about one single subject. Even if you are on a tight budget. Available now is an easy way to create your own newspaper or journal online, or your own magazine.

You do not need to become more efficient with pdf’s and attachments. A new invention called web logs is now so user-friendly that you will be coaxed into risking more of yourself online with your own personal web site that you can use anyway you choose.

What is a web log, or "blog?" What does it do? What can it be used for? Why is this form of communication growing ("value for us" )? Why I should do it? How do I get started? How do I get help? How do I promote my blog (include maintain)?

Tune in here again. Leave your comment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Overstretched, 2 grandkids, 24 hrs straight!

We overstretched ourselves this past weekend. The title above should suffice.
Love the kids, but managing their wall-to-wall energies and need to play for 24 hours straight is a stretch. We always agree that we will not do that again, and then later end up agreeing to do it, to give adult children a respite.
Don’t know how daughter does it: demanding career, two small ones, etc. So we try to help out when we can. Janette is on call for a sick child day care, and last week it happened three days. I help as much as I can. They both love to play with "Poppy," but I do not have the patience that she does.
Still what a blessing to have them so near, about 15 minutes away that we can frequently enjoy them. We often watch the bird feeders here with them and sometimes chase away the squirrels, as they have another feeding place, but won’t stay away from bird feeder. Long weekend needed and restful. Coordinating new web logs, trying to move from Dial-up to DSL.
Is all of Life a kind of Upgrading? A stretch for loving? Maybe trying to grow us bigger hearts?

Friday, January 14, 2005

QUOTE OF THE DAY Jihadists, Enemies, Liberals and Courage

"Freedom of thought, community and faith, civil equality, and the rights of due process, are meaningless unless they are universally valid. They are also non-negotiable.

As Salman Rushdie himself said shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the things that the jihadists are against -- 'freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women's rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex … even the short skirts and dancing … are worth dying for.' Rushdie's maxim holds true all the more in light of Theo van Gogh's murder.

The viciousness of our enemies -- and they are our enemies -- remains undiminished. We liberals had better find the courage not to be intimidated." - from Daniel Koffler, a junior at Yale.
QUOTED ON
www.andrewsullivan.com Daily Dish January 14, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

To Protect Nature

"To protect nature is to follow a moral path, but ultimately we do it not for the sake of trees and animals, but because our environment is the infrastructure of our communities. If we want to provide our children the same opportunities for dignity and enrichment as those our parents gave us, we've got to start by protecting the air, water, wildlife, and natural treasures that connect us to our national character. Therein lie the values that define our community and make us proud to be Americans.

"As the nation moves forward in tackling our environmental challenges - and we must - it's important to remember that all faiths teach us to protect our environment. In that sense, we can consider safeguarding the water we drink, the air we breathe, the wildlife and wild places we cherish, and the natural heritage owed to our children as the most important of the moral values that reportedly weighed heavily in this year's presidential race."

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and author of "Crimes Against Nature."

For more on this go to
ECO FOCUS: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Nature: A Real Moral Valuehttp://www.truthout.org/docs_05/011305X.shtml

Speaking Against the Status Quo not only scares others but can also paralyze effective timely action

Today's news, AOL

Thai Tsunami Forecaster Was Clairvoyant
By SUTIN WANNABOVORN, AP
BANGKOK, Thailand (Jan. 11) -

Until two weeks ago, Smith Thammasaroj was a prophet without honor. As chief of Thailand's meteorological department in 1998, he was accused of scare-mongering when he warned that the country's southwest coast could face a deadly tsunami.

He retired under a shadow, dismissed as a crackpot, accused of causing panic and jeopardizing a critical tourist industry that grew up around the tropical resort island of Phuket.

Today, Smith is being lionized for his foresight after the devastating Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 150,000 people around the region, including 5,300 in Thailand, where 3,600 more are listed as missing.

Less than a week after the tragedy, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appointed Smith as a vice minister and put him in charge of the newly established National Disaster Warning Office, which will work with seismologists to establish a tsunami early warning system.

For more find source, taken from AOL news here.
Worth reading for the lack of cooperation revealed
and the need for community thinking that we need today.

Journal, January 12, 2005 Hello God!

January 12
Well, here I am again, Lord, Force of Love in the world,
Relational Aliveness, Possibility of Each New Moment:

One more day, precious day, given this old donkey.
Yesterday, another wondrous serendipitous happening.

Last week in preparation for participating in a weekend
workshop for Ohio psychologists on Spirituality and Psychology,
I began several web logs to post and discuss what is a
healthy spirituality and notes on Sex and the Sacred,
two subjects I have been writing about for years.
I want potential participants to be intrigued by the
subjects and possibly be spurred to attend.

Now guess what?
Time magazine this week comes out with a special issue
on the Science of Happiness, covering the waterfront
of the portal. Excellent articles on Joy, effects of faith,
how we psychologists are beginning to change our mission
from understanding dysfunction and misery to the why
and how of happiness, zest for life, the power of faith and
meditation.


Wow! Could I have even dreamed of such serendipity?

So I was able to post the references on my new web log on
Healthy Spirituality, besides having much food for musing
and wondering more about the incredible giftedness of
all there is. Why is there anything at all? Why do we have
such holes in our hearts, mightily desiring love, loving
and being loved? The last page of the Time issue is on Whence
Exuberance, or zest for life.

I feel most humbly and gratefully that this is a gift I
have been given. I live with wonder, zest, playfulness,
energy, new ideas spilling out like a tap that will not be
shut off. Dribbling, dribbling and then turn your back and
it is actually running wateri--the gasket will not hold.

Why should it not, if our hearts and minds are open to all the
hidden and diverse ways we are sustained? We are
haunted and hunted by this Mystery that surrounds us.

Praise God. "My soul magnifies the Lord. . . ." I sing that
favorite "magnificent" song from the gospels daily.

Coincidences, someone said,
are God’s way of remaining anonymous.

Yes.

Any here can become members of any of these web logs,
post and receive directly the new posts there. Email me.

My initial dream of eWisdomU when I started that discussion
on the web some five years ago was FREE ACCESS
to spiritual / religious / pastoral / theological discussions
for anyone in the world. I am always impressed with the
diversity and depth of pastoral wisdom and experience o
married priests and spouses when I have attended FCM.

I crave making that wonderful rich pastoral wisdom
developed in the trenches and via marriage and family
more available to the entire world
.

Distance Learning for degrees and First world fees doesn’t cut it.
We have much Love and Experience
and some Wisdom to share
not just in our local ministries which
are many and diverse, but to the larger
world, the Mystical Body, the Communion
of Saints still here on earth.

We are, in fact, I suggest, in our marginalization,
and experience part of the Third World emerging theologies
speaking to deepen the meaning of faith and ministry.
I am sure that some of you will agree?

Now, just now, we have the technology to do just this,
free for us and free for others!

I could easily start an eWisdomU log just for
FCM posting? Ongoing reflections by FCM
members and other interested persons.
In fact, right now, I will see if I can reserve that
name for a blog.

Discussion, anyone?
My personal web log address is
PaschalBaute.com/blog/

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Art of Political Framing, George Lakoff

I have been telling friends and progressive clergy for several months now that George Lakoff is the person to read and know for these times.

George Lakoff is the author of the new book, 'Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate' (Chelsea Green). He is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a Senior Fellow of the Rockridge Institute.

I talked on line about this book several months ago. For understanding how the values frame was co-opted by the conservatives and what progressives much do to win the political chess board, Lakoff is the best.

Feedback welcome.

Mike Moore v. Mel Gibson? Not so fast. . .

Truth Out
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 02:48

Ever since 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and 'The Passion' won People's Choice awards, there have been people trying to incite some kind of left-right public crunch between them: On the left, the anti-Bush anti-war 'crazies,' and on the right, the righteous pro-Bush fundamentalists.

Well, it doesn't look like Gibson is interested. "I feel a strange kinship with Michael," Mr. Gibson said. "They're trying to pit us against each other in the press, but it's a hologram. They really have got nothing to do with one another. It's just some kind of device, some left-right. He makes some salient points. There was some very expert, elliptical editing going on. However, what the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there, and why we're still there."

So there's that.
See web www.truthout.org/fyi/

Monday, January 10, 2005

I Write Because. . .

I write to keep my balance, to preserve my sanity (whatever remains). I write to explain myself to myself, to give my life some meaning in the face of contrasting views of misery, promise and glory.

I write because I love and feel and need to love mightily. I write because I see. I write to understand this world and to probe my relationships. I write much that I never share.

Probably the first reason I write, starting some fifty years ago, is to guide this heart of mine through some chaos, through truth and fiction and the great summons to love. I know I am a "walking contradiction," a mixed bag.

I write because I am climbing a mountain and want to share the views along the way. I write because I am now standing on a mountain top and the landscape is both awesome and scarey. I write because now the mountain moves and has become a volcano ready to explode with fire, fury and lava, and some steam must escape.

I write to calm my soul so that when I read what I have written, I can say, "Ah! There! That’s not so bad. That’s more clear. Now I can see more clearly what before was troubling or crazy, boiling or just stewing."

I have journaled for many years and have thick notebooks. I have employed the habit of writing to keep my sanity (whatever is left) while I survived or tried to survive listening to people’s problems 30 hours per week for forty years. I added up this career time once to be about 45,000 hours of attending to all their Ifs, ANDs and BUTs and often tortured explanations.

The last ten years of that, honestly, I felt trapped. I had family, wife, house, chores, demands, and a lifestyle to maintain via spending 30 hours per week as a Professional Listener and Problem Solver–Zorba’s "Full Catastrophe!"--while pretending sanity. Hah! I was probably "burned out" ten years before I happened happily to transition fully to organizational consulting in 1997.

Writing has probably saved my soul. I write to discover meaning and beauty and grace. More than before, I discover beauty and grace everywhere even in the face of evil, denial and blindness. I write to explore my heart and to discover my core values.

What we see is our own reality. What we focus on becomes our world. "Appreciative Inquiry" (The Thin Book of), makes the point that we have two ways to view challenge. We can see ourselves, our company, our marriage, or faith as a problem to be solved. Then we focus on what needs fixing.

Or instead we can see ourselves, our company, our marriage, or faith as a mystery to be embraced. This second view has very different outcomes. We focus on what works, and how to make it work better. Two entirely different approaches.

I usually approach the end of the year and the beginning of a new year with some inventory. What the year was like, where my energies went. Some self-exam has always been part of that.
But often--not very happily. "Gads, I am still doing THAT. . . After all these years. I can’t believe I have made so little progress in . . .whatever."

This year, different. What is it that I am good at, where do my strengths lie, where is "my bliss?" Ah! That is what I will do. Now I will do it in spades. Yes!

Part of my bliss is in the process of writing. I write because I love life. Life itself is such a precious gift. This one life given me cannot be appreciated enough. Writing claims it, as my own. I cease being a passenger, an observer, a voyeur, a lurker, and become an actor discovering a role, a place, a function, even "God willing and the crick don’t rise," a plank over the crick, a footpath among the rocks, a bridge, a lever.

I become, by writing, more of a straw, a vessel, a glass, a cup. For me, it is an exercise in "Servant Leadership," also a favorite book by Robert Greenleaf (Paulist Press, 1977).
By risking to make myself vulnerable, perhaps others can risk and make themselves vulnerable.

"Oh, if my enemy would write a book!" said Job somewhere. My wise and distinguished Moral Theology Professor (on loan to us from St. Meinrad's Abbey) loved that quote. "Don’t put it in writing," was his dire warning in major seminary to all of us young aspiring candidates for priesthood.

In the first days of this new year, I have started seven blogs on topics that intrigue and fascinate me. I offer writing on these topics to others. My webmaster, Alan Dix is preparing a new page to introduce those blogs and a way to coordinate them for the reader.

"Bless me, Reverend Father, for I have sinned. . . ."

Namaste.
Paschal
January 10, 2005.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Are You Feeling Lucky?

Last Night I downloaded the free Google Desktop Search engine . One of the button choices given after installation by the creative Google guys was "Are You Lucky?" Later I wrote:

"I am feeling lucky tonight. Lucky in faith, lucky in marriage, lucky in children, lucky in grandkids, lucky in many choices made (not ALL), lucky in life, lucky in love. INCREDIBLY LUCKY.

I have no right to have any of these blessings. Every single one is undeserved. Each, without exception.

The greatest gift I have is faith. It is undeserved, but still a mandate. I cannot not follow where it leads. I live inside this mystery we call God, surrounded, and therefore in a kind of graciousness and humility scarcely grasped but still to be found everywhere.

Noblesse Oblige. I can never give enough in return.

To live in this country with all the many blessings we have today is an incredible blessing.

I am commanded by God to love God totally, unreservedly, heart, mind, soul and strength, and my neighbor as myself. The scarey and risky part is that I know I am given the grace to do that. Even when I know I will fail, mess-up, flub it, but this awareness is not a stopper. I must risk, push the envelope anyway.

This is both humbling and awesome. Amen."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Blood on His Hands?

Go to Original


Alberto Gonzales Has Blood on His Hands
The Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial
Thursday 06 January 2005

When the White House announced in November that Attorney General John Ashcroft would depart and be replaced by presidential counsel Alberto Gonzales, it was a good news-bad news sort of day: good news that Ashcroft, enemy of the Bill of Rights in this war-on-terror era, would be departing; bad news that he would be replaced by Gonzales, enemy of the rights of prisoners of war and architect of policies that led to the abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Since November, the bad news has gotten large amounts worse as horrific abuses of prisoners have been documented, especially by the American Civil Liberties Union and documents it forced into the public domain. Which leaves us to ask: Why in the world should the United States be saddled with an attorney general who, from the White House, framed cockamamie legal policies that sought to make it permissible for American forces to commit war crimes?

Approving Gonzales is Approving Torture

Also NY Time, today, Maureen Dowd

The Associated Press headline that came over the wire yesterday said it all:
"Gonzales Will Follow Non-Torture Policies."
You know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore.
Alberto Gonzales may have been willing to legally justify something that was abhorrent to everything America stands for, but it's all relative. Given that Mr. Gonzales is replacing the odious John Ashcroft, Democrats didn't seem inclined to try to derail the Hispanic nominee, even though his memo fostered the atmosphere that led to disgusting scandals in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.
Just to get things started on the right foot, though, Mr. Gonzales planned to go the extra mile and offer the quaint, obsolete Senate Democrats a more nuanced explanation of why he called the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and "obsolete."
Before he helped President Bush circumvent the accords and reserve the right to do so "in this or future conflicts," you had to tune in to an old movie with Nazi generals or Vietcong guards if you wanted to see someone sneeringly shrug off the international treaty protecting prisoners from abuse. ("You worthless running dog Chuck Norris! What do we care about your silly Geneva Conventions?")
How are you to believe Mr. Gonzales when he says he's through with torture? His mission is clearly to do whatever he thinks Mr. Bush wants.
All gall is divided into parts, so what's next?"

Dowd is not the only one objecting
See www.truthout.org

and columns by Robert Sheer, LA Times
"Backing Gonzales Is Backing Torture"
That is the central question the Senate Judiciary Committee facesThursday as it begins hearings on the confirmation of White HouseCounsel Alberto Gonzales as the next attorney general of the UnitedStates. At stake is whether Congress wants to conveniently absolve Gonzales of his clear attempt to have the President subvert US law inorder to whitewash barbaric practices performed by US interrogators inthe name of national security.

Note: "Gonzales ignored the objections of State Department and militarylawyers to strongly endorse the determination of Justice Departmentlawyers that neither the Geneva Convention nor corresponding US laws onprisoner protections should be applied in the "war on terror."

____
Taking Liberties by DAVID COLE

Cabinet nominees are not known for going out on a limb. So when WhiteHouse counsel Alberto Gonzales intoned at the press conferenceannouncing his nomination to be Attorney General that "the Americanpeople expect and deserve a Department of Justice guided by the rule oflaw," observers could be forgiven for suppressing a yawn. Except that in this day and age, a Justice Department guided by the rule of law is a positively revolutionary concept.

Under the leadership of JohnAshcroft, the department has spent the past three years treating therule of law as at best an inconvenient obstacle, at worst a source ofnitpicking that "only aids terrorists."
. . .
Think about it:

Approving a man who used his White House position to bypass international treaties in approving torture, for the highest position of justice in this country, when we have such evidence of the resulting brutalization of prisoners, widely broadcast by every Muslim media, says what to the Muslim world?

Are we the bully we appear to be, or will we be governed by law and justice?

To sign a petition
Declaration Against Torture
Sign the petition to Gonzales and Congress at

http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/petition.cfm?itemid=18313

Can the Law be Fair? False Testimony

Sometimes the Law can be fair!
N Y Times today
January 6, 2005
Woman's Convictions on Drowning Children Are Overturned
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HOUSTON (AP) -- Andrea Yates' capital murder convictions for drowning her children were overturned Thursday by an appeals court, which ruled a prosecution expert witness gave false testimony at her trial.

Yates' lawyers had argued at a hearing last month before a three-judge panel of the First Court of Appeals in Houston that psychiatrist Park Dietz was wrong when he mentioned an episode of the TV show "Law & Order" involving a woman found innocent by reason of insanity for drowning her children.

After jurors found Yates guilty, attorneys in the case and jurors learned no such episode existed.

"We conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dr. Dietz's false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury," the court ruled. "We further conclude that Dr. Dietz's false testimony affected the substantial rights of appellant."

Copyrighted article
Go to the article, via NY Times site for rest
Sometimes the law can be fair.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Sentencing Reform in Kentucky, Addiction and Drugs

One interest that has emerged from my prison ministry is the imprisoning disaster we are creating and ignoring in Kentucky. We have filled our jails, particularly small county ones, with jail offenders. Some, in Eastern Ky, built to hold 150 are now housing 600. We are trying to control the exploding drug problem by punishing the addicts.

It is a human disaster that is affecting many and few seem to care. We need to examine sentencing reform, as a few other states are doing. Moreover, the counties are making money on these numbers: the state is paying them because the state correctional system cannot handle them. So there is no incentive to change. The larger numbers in the county jails, the more money the county earns for its other financial needs. Crowded jails are money-makers for local officials. Yes. Believe it or not.

Today I met with Dr. Robert Lawson, Law Professor at UK, who is completing a long study of the problem for a law journal, which paper has already received some pre-publicity interest via the Louisville Courier-Journal. Lawson was one of the authors of the original sentencing code completed in the early 70s and enacted in 1975. Society has greatly changed since then, and he
is gathering information on actual conditions and wants to start another task force to examine these issues.

Some 80-90 % of crimes are now drug related, but there exist no or few treatment programs simply because we are spending so much money on warehousing there is nothing left for treatment. Two thirds are back in jail within three years, so most there now are multiple repeat drug offenders. Our system is simply punishing the addict. Usually only a few volunteer programs exist. Although there is sometimes a Drug Court and funded Drug programs, but often far too few. Drug use makes our correctional system a revolving door. We do not cure addiction by punishing addicts.

You may or not know, but the federal billions per year spent on interdiction of drugs coming into this country is a waste. We have not reduced the amount coming into this country one percent in 30 years, because the appetite for drugs has multiplied.

I and a few others will be dialoguing with him and others, and considering a quiet effort to build a consensus for change. Moe Mercier and Becky from OWL also met for part of our lunch time at I-Ching in Hamburg Pavillion today. We shall be gathering data. My sense is that this problem is not simply Kentucky. A few other states are taking steps toward sentencing reform.

Since the "three strikes and you're out" approach began in California, that state has built 20 new prisons and not a single new university in the last 20 years. Plus there is no money for anything else in corrections, not even half-way houses. One of Reagan's first acts as govenor of California was to defund the half-way houses. That is the time when the national move in toward warehousing only in Corrections began, with fewer funds available for any rehabilitation programs. At that time, I was still consulting with the Federal Correctional Center on Leestown Road here in Lexington.

Consider checking this out in your own locality.

One problem in generating energy for this is the huge drop in community involvement in the current generation. From the high involvement of those now in their sixties and seventies, those in their 20s and 30s are simply not stepping up.

Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam illustrates this by hundreds of studies. What he also discovered is something really fascinating: Those states with the highest volunteer community participation, like some in the Northeast and Northwest, also had the best ratings on every single measurable index of health in their communities, from premarital pregnancy, to juvenile crime, to rate of crime, etc. Those states in the south, with the lowest rates of volunteer community participation had the worst rates on those same measures. In other words,
the overall health of the community depends upon the care and nurture by the adults in the community for their community. Measurably so.

Does this suggest any activity for us who aspire to leadership in our communities?
For those who want to help make our communties a healthier place to live?
Discussion, anyone?
Wednesday, January 5

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tuesdays with Paschal

Becoming a Spiritual Warrior in a Fierce Landscape
Tuesdays is my morning with my inmate pod (residential unit) at the county jail.
We are now in our 23rd month of a new program that teaches inmates to welcome jail as the "boot camp" they desperately need to face and change their lives. We have a lesson almost daily by a volunteer who gives one hour per week to this ministry, all recruited by me, and all diverse in their approach to the journey into this Mystery we call God.

This program is a real spur to my own spiritual life, helping me become more reflective, more energized, and more inclusive in my loving. Other volunteers report the same effect. We are the gainers. We are always needing volunteers, even those who cannot come weekly.

This is no softhearted, soft handed approach. We do not coddle, console or counsel them, but give them a program of behavioral change to radically change their entire life style, by everything they do. We respect all the Wisdom traditions, although most profess a Christian faith.

We listen to no gripes and are not interested in anyone's criminal history. We accept each as a child of God, lost and needy, and share ourselves, our own struggles, telling stories and challenging each of them to change.

We use the spirituality of the desert fathers, the early monks, so we teach the urgency of self-discipline, meditation, listening, bible study, self-evaluation, feedback, sharing, learning friendship. We call the program "The Fierce Landscape..." as noted above.

The response is very positive. We have now built over many months a strong community presence where they are meeting daily on their own, taking turns in leadership, with openness, courage, forgiveness and some tears.

The workbook we have developed consists of many inventories, checklists and reading to help the offender face themselves and change. I have some 17 years experience in consulting in correctional settings, and a number of handouts and checklists developed from that.

Screening to join this group is required. Each completes an inventory of five questions and an interview before transfer. Selection is necessary. We also are developed a program of transition to job, training, follow up support, place to live, etc. , via Lexington's own Opportunity for Work and Learning, Inc.

Here is the introduction for the inmate, outlining the program's philosophy:

You, each of you, have been placed in a "DESERT."
The DESERT is a solitary and fierce landscape that is unforgiving and rude.
You either respect the desert or it will punish you. It can punish you severely.

Jail or prison is a kind of desert.
You survive by respecting the total environment. Which is a solitary, fierce, unforgiving and rude landscape.
Here, you will either grow in spirit
or die in spirit. You choose. Daily.
Actually you choose minute by minute
by what you choose to focus on.
If you grow in spirit,
you will leave a better person.
If you die in spirit, you will leave more angry, and in reality, less able to cope and survive in the real world.

One of the reasons you are here,
most of you, maybe not everyone one of you, is because you have not respected others, the feelings & rights of others.
You were determined to do it Your Way...
Regardless of how others and loved ones and family-others felt.
You were headstrong, maybe even arrogant, in claiming your needs were urgent, more important than those of others.

For anyone to do this is to remain in a stage of adolescent rebellion, fretting and pushing against the way the world is, because it does not meet YOUR needs.
Now here is the paradox for each of you. You are in a place where you will either learn and grow OR you shall become more bitter and self-centered. It is a kind of fierce landscape.
You are in a spiritual desert --
You either face yourself and learn what you have neglected to learn up to now;
Or you continue downhill on the private easy road which will cost you and your loved ones even more in the future.

Many men today are still emotionally adolescent, stuck in a teen-age immaturity. Are you one of these? Still a boy?
The desert forces us to choose.
You can keep to yourself, go along to get along, get by, fake it, and reserve to yourself your angry and bitter thoughts,
OR
You can begin facing yourself.
You can begin to pay attention to the feelings of others. You can begin to grasp what kind of cage your life up to now has kept you in by your blindness to others.

Funny strange, isn’t it?
One of the reasons you are here is that you have ignored the feelings of others, and perhaps many others.
Now the only way you can grow and learn is by learning to listen and pay attention to the feelings of other around you. And by continual self study and self-examination.
A key question is whether you are still a "boy" emotionally, in a man’s body, or whether you have decided to grow up.

Many men are still "boys" inside.
Are you one of these?
Unless you use this opportunity, face yourself and seek feedback from others,
you are sure of nothing. Nothing.
How will you know?
How open are you to feedback from others? (This is one secret key to the Mystery of your life) © Paschal Baute. 11/04

Have a good day!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Projects for 2005

Monday of the first week of January.
I decided to use this new blogging for my writing development projects in several topics. What is a Healthy Spirituality? Spirituality: Whence the Wind? (asking readers to listen to where they find the Wind / Breath / Presence of this mystery we call God), and lastly, The Human Shadow: Discovering. Each of these I will introduce briefly. I expect to be posting on these sites regularly and inviting comment.

I also completed and posted my personal profile for review of the reader. A longer curriculum vitae is found at my business web site: www.paschalbaute.com

Healthy Spirituality
Religious belief has been the cause of enormous human suffering. True believers often refuse to examine this misuse of faith. Here we examine this blindness among faithful adherents of all Wisdom traditions. We aim to develop awareness of the many subtleties in the misuse of faith. Your editor is Paschal Baute, psychologist and pastor. You are invited to read and comment.
"Take care lest the light in you be darkness." Luke 11:35.

Visit this site at Healthy Spirituality

Spirituality: Whence the Wind?
"The aim of the Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky is to empower others to pursue their own respective journeys." Here we invited people to explore the inner sources and awareness to assist them to discern the Spirit wherever, whenever, however. --facilitator of this web log project is Paschal Baute. SGN of Ky is a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational corporation established in Kentucky in 1989. www.lexpages.com/sgn

Visit this site at: Spirituality: Whence the Wind?

The Human Shadow: Discovering
The Human Shadow, its presence and prevalence in Western Society, both secular and religous, both conservative and progressive, remains the major missing blindness today. It can sabotage every undertaking and every benevolence. Here we will explain, discover and discuss. Paschal Baute is the editor. His book Hidden Lions is on this subject and he has taught this in a Midway College course on the Pitfalls of Leadership.
"We have met the enemy and he is us." --Pogo.

Visit this site at The Human Shadow: Discovering

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Prayer

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the I.R.S.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your portfolio not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.

May New Year's weekend find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. May you find the company delightful, the food better, the environment quieter, the cost cheaper, and the pleasure more fulfilling than anything else you might want to do that night (especially when you were younger.)

May what you see in the mirror continue to please you, and what others see in you delight them more each year. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be overlook your blemishes, appreciate your good intentions and tell the world about your virtues.

May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, may the commercials on TV not be much louder than the program you have been watching, and may your check book and your budget still balance - while including something for those less fortunate than you.

May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parent, your siblings; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your trainer, your minister, your hairdresser, your tennis instructor or teammate at work.

And may we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God's love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, every personal search for meaning, every Wisdom tradition and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our own hearts.

...Therefore, may we grow in wonder, gratitude, delight, courage and compassion every day.

~Extracts from a Prayer by Rabbi Jacob Pressman, adapted~