New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Raw Diamonds

July 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Being Changed With Every Breath…

by Mary Sojourner

“… the Jeweled Net of Indra, a metaphor from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, which portrays how all beings are interconnected across time and space.  The image, a vast net of inter-connecting threads, describes how at all intersecting nodes there is a diamond-like jewel that represents all sentient beings — human and other — that exist in the universe.  Each jewel reflects every other jewel in the vast net.  Whenever suffering occurs anywhere in the great, luminous net, a tear appears.  In times of trouble, people respond, and their compassionate response helps the net to reweave around the places of suffering.” — Olivia Hoblitzelle, “Get Your Dyin’ Done Early,” Inquiring Mind, Fall 2008

An older friend is afraid for his mind.  I am seventy-two and have been afraid of losing my mind since I was eighteen.  Olivia Hoblitzelle’s husband, Hob, had intended to give a talk on Indra’s Web at the Cambridge Insight and Meditation Center.  He was more than qualified.  He’d trained in Buddhist meditation and was a lay monk in the Tiep Hiep Order.  He’d taught for fifteen years. (more…)

A Brighter Alternative

January 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Michael N. Nagler

Do We Live in a Meaningless Universe?

by Michael N. Nagler

“Ours is not an empty, disorderly world, but an exquisitely structured web whose design embraces and affects all living things.” — Sally Goerner

Western civilization could be considered a grand experiment, culminating in the three-plus centuries of the industrial revolution, to see if the universe could be accounted for without resorting to the concept of a Supreme Being or an overall purpose.  The experiment was a huge success.  It proved without a doubt that the universe can not be accounted for without introducing the concept of purpose; life could not have come about by chance — as Ervin Lazlo puts it, “pure chance … does not appear to be a significant factor in the evolution of life;” the human being cannot be described as a separate, finite, physical fragment doomed to compete for diminishing resources, but a (potentially) conscious actor in the fulfillment of the design that biologist Sally Goerner alludes to above. (more…)

Change of Heart

November 01, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

Jesus Never Asked if the Poor Were Deserving

by Pat LaMarche

Homeless Christ used by permission of artist deb hoeffner: www.debhoeffner.com

All across the United States homeless advocates are busily working to prepare for their most hectic season. You might call it the holiday season, the time of cheer — or as Charles Dickens explained in his epic A Christmas Carol — “a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

While many homeless advocates would never compare themselves to Charles Dickens they would agree that because people “open their shut-up hearts freely” their work loads get a whole lot heavier. You likely don’t know this because you’ve never heard them complain. And they never will. Many agencies make six or seven months of their budget on what kindness comes their way between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But proof that otherwise uncaring folks suddenly give a damn at Christmas isn’t just found in anecdotal accounts by relief workers. A British study conducted by City University London in 2009 shows that charitable giving increases by 19 percent in the month of December and not because the same people who donate the whole year through give more, but because more people give. (more…)

Coming Home in the 21st Century

August 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

Pathologizing War, Prioritizing Peace

by Michael N. Nagler

The recent British film, In Our Name, is a returning-soldier drama featuring a married woman, Suzy, who leaves her husband and little girl to fight in Iraq. Because she’s involved in the killing of a little girl during her tour (this part is based on a true story, but it happened to a man) she returns home only to steadily fall apart under the stress of soul-destroying anxieties.  Apparently not much has changed since Coming Home, the Jane Fonda film of 1978.

In real life, Ethan McCord was involved in a now-infamous episode that took a strangely similar turn. It became one of the most shocking (and hopefully awakening) revelations by Wikileaks: the video now dubbed “Collateral Murder” that was taken from an Apache helicopter as its gunners massacred a group of civilians in a Baghdad suburb in 2007. Addressing a Southern California audience about his role in the episode this past June, McCord described how he saw two small children mangled by gunfire from the helicopter and thought of his own two children at home. (more…)

Painting for Justice

August 12, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Jordan Flaherty, Politics

A Mother’s Art Brings Attention to Wrongly Convicted Young Men

by Jordan Flaherty

As the date approaches for the 10th anniversary of her son’s conviction, Sheila Phipps is hard at work completing a powerful and moving series of paintings that tell the stories of wrongly-convicted young men in the U.S. prison system.

Phipps, a self-taught artist in New Orleans, has been selling and displaying her work for more than 20 years. Her son is Mckinley “Mac” Phipps, the legendary New Orleans rapper who was convicted of manslaughter in 2001 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In collaboration with the Innocence Project, Phipps contacted prisoners across the nation and researched their cases. Once she read enough evidence to convince her of their innocence, she communicated with the prisoner and then painted an image of them.

Now, Phipps is unveiling a series of ten works, for a show called the Injustice Exhibition. Her use of color and framing varies with the inspiration, ranging from muted portraits to bright explosions of color, often capturing small details like focusing on a subject’s feet or hands. In the portrait of her son she highlights the gentle features of his face. (more…)

Beyond Belief

May 26, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Finding Common Ground on Climate Change

by Rick Chamberlin

“They loved each other beyond belief; She was a strumpet, he was a thief.” — Henrich Heine, “New Poems,” 1797-1856

The vocabulary of religion is not serving us well when it comes to battling — or even discussing — climate change.

Recently a friend sent me a link to a video of Karen Armstrong accepting the TED prize in 2008. In her speech the former nun turned world-renowned scholar and author had this to say:

“Belief is only a very recent religious enthusiasm. It surfaced only in the West in about the 17th century. The word ‘belief’ itself originally meant to love, to prize, to hold dear. In the 17th century, it narrowed its focus … to include, to mean, an intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Credo, ‘I believe,’ … did not mean ‘I accept certain credal articles of faith’. It meant ‘I commit myself. I engage myself’…. So if religion is not about believing things, what is it about? What I’ve found across the board is that religion is about behaving differently. Instead of deciding whether or not you believe in God, first you do something, you behave in a committed way, and then you begin to understand the truths….” (more…)

Violence Is Not Greatness

May 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Brian J. Trautman, Culture, Current Events, Politics

Restoring National Unity Through Collective Compassion

by Brian J. Trautman

My reaction to news of the targeted assassination of al-Qaeda founder and most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden was unlike many Americans’. Celebrating killing and death felt wrong, and to witness my fellow citizens cheering jubilantly and chanting nationalist slogans with joy and pride was disheartening. Instead of reveling in more militarism and murder, our energies should be devoted to bringing home the roughly 150,000 American soldiers still deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq and in harm’s way every minute of every day.

National unity shouldn’t be born of and driven by acts of aggression; it should be shaped and inspired by individual and collective compassion and an altruistic desire to advocate for and alleviate the suffering of the tens of millions of civilians around the world, especially the children, who live in conflict zones and engage in a daily struggle to avoid the inhumanity and indiscriminate brutality of oppression and war. (more…)