Charles Eisenstein to Speak in Westchester

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Passing along what looks like a really cool event:

Charles Eisenstein — visionary, philosopher, social critic, and author is speaking Holy Nativity Episcopal Church on Saturday, March 21 at 6:00 P.M. Charles is giving a talk based on his latest book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. In it, he sagely describes the emotional, social, civilization-wide “between” that we’re in right now. It’s the space between the old — worn-out, flawed, unfulfilling, and unfulfillable — story of what society and humanity is about and the new story of interconnection.

The talk will be preceded by a vegetarian potluck dinner at 5:00 P.M. in the Community Hall. There are “real/reusable” dishes and utensils as well as cloth napkins. Please help make this a zero-waste event.

In keeping with Charles’s “gift economy” concept, in lieu of an “entrance fee,” we ask that you donate a value equal to what this talk is worth to you. That might be $10 or $20 or $100. All funds will go to support Charles’s ongoing work.

You don’t want to miss this important event.

Holy Nativity is located at:

6700 West 83rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Leisure The Basis of Culture

Brueghel left out the mobile device.

Brueghel left out the mobile device.

Lately, I’ve been pondering that horrible state of mind that happens when I turn on a computer. You all know the story. You check your email. Then Facebook. You respond to an urgent Twitter message. You send an invoice. Then, somehow, an hour later, you’ve fallen down some deep click bait hole, “This Dog Was Rescued from a Sewer Tunnel. Within Hours He Was Transformed.” You’re what our culture describes as “busy” and even “productive.”

And yet this “busyness” is actually a form of inactivity. It’s a way of looking like we’re doing things without actually doing anything. A remarkable book I’m in the middle of, Josef Pieper’s Leisure The Basis of Culture, paradoxically, connects this false busyness with sloth:

At the zenith of the Middle Ages, on the contrary, it was held that sloth and restlessness, ‘leisurelessness’, the incapacity to enjoy leisure, were all closely connected; sloth was held to be the source of restlessness, and the ultimate cause of ‘work for work’s sake’. It may well seem paradoxical to maintain that the restlessness at the bottom of a fanatical and suicidal activity should come from the lack of will to action; a surprising thought.

Bruegel, anticipating our addiction to mobile devices by several centuries, depicts this state of Acedia, or restlessness, in the engraving above.

It should be noted that Pieper calls “leisure” is not the same as “taking a break.” It’s a state of deep contemplation:

Leisure is not the attitude of mind of those who actively intervene, but of those who are open to everything; not of those who grab and grab hold, but of those who leave the reins loose and who are free and easy themselves — almost like a man falling asleep, for one can only fall asleep by ‘letting oneself go.’ Sleeplessness and the incapacity for leisure are really related to one another in a special sense, and a man at leisure is not unlike a man asleep. Heraclitus the Obscure observed of men who were asleep that they too “were busy and active in the happenings of the world.” When we really let our minds rest contemplatively on a rose in bud, on a child at play, on a divine mystery, we are rested and quickened as though by a dreamless sleep. Or as the Book of Job says, “God giveth songs in he night” (Job 35:10). Moreover, it has always been a pious belief that God sends his good gifts and his blessing in sleep. And in the same way his great, imperishable intuitions visit a man in his moments of leisure. It is in these silent and receptive moments that the soul of man is sometimes visited by an awareness of what holds the world together:

vas die Welt
Im innersten zusammenhält

only for a moment perhaps, and the lightning vision of his intuition has to be recaptured and rediscovered in hard work.

Fr. Mark Kowalewski, who tipped me off to Pieper’s book, describes this state of leisure as “profoundly counter-cultural.”

And yet I hear Gmail calling me. Time to update my Facebook profile and get out some tweets.

How do you deal with life’s distractions? How do you carve out some time for true leisure?

Landscaping Lightly 2015 Calendar

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I think we can pretty much close down this blog now that the Council for Watershed Health has summarized all or our creeds in their 2015 downloadable calendar (pdf). The calendar offers “tips and techniques for sustainable landscaping” and sharp graphic design by artist Edward Lum. Each month you get a new exhortation: everything from installing a greywater system, to welcoming pollinators to, gasp, using a broom instead of a leaf blower. The last two pages are a handy list of California-centric resources.

If we all worked to implement the simple steps in this calendar we’d pretty much be living in Eden.

My Favorite Podcasts

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There’s a lot of repetitive manual labor to do around our household this year. Kelly and I are in the midst of re-doing our garden and fixing up a few rooms of our old house. While I could execute my duties in a contemplative and mindful silence, the fact is that I’m not that type of person. I’m also not the audio book type, so when I’m working I like to listen to podcasts. Here’s a selection of what I subscribe to:

C-Realm Podcast
This is the first podcast I ever subscribed to and it’s my favorite. It’s hard to pin down exactly what this show is about other than that the “C” stands for “consciousness,” but in no way would I call it “new age.” The topics vary widely, everything from resource depletion to singularitarians to heady economic theory. The talented, thoughtful and compassionate host goes by the pseudonym, “KMO” and it’s been interesting over the years to hear his ideas change. Lately, KMO has come out of a doomer phase and has shifted his focus to a new set of guests who are articulating the problems and possibilities or our time. KMO also has a paid subscription podcast called the C-Realm Vault, which I also enjoy.

Futility Closet
A romp through historical curiosities. Recent episodes have covered the 1925 serum run to Nome, a 19th century attempt to balloon over the North Pole and Victorian children’s author Favell Lee Mortimer’s offensive travel book.

In Our Time
Host Melvyn Bragg corrals a posse of academics to discuss topics in history, religion and philosophy. When guests drop big words like “hermeneutics” and “teleology,” Bragg always brings them down to earth and makes them explain things in plain English. This show has filled in many gaps in my education and functions as a reminder that not all of the media in this world is fixated on Kim Kardashian’s derriere.

On Being
Like Bragg, On Being host Krista Tippett has an almost supernatural ability to tackle difficult subjects, in this case religion and spirituality. I’m especially fond of a recent episode, a rare interview with poet Mary Oliver.

Radiolab
A highly produced NPR show. Readers of this blog will especially enjoy the episode, “How do you put a price tag on nature?

Reply All and Start Up
Two podcasts from a new podcasting network founded by This American Life producer Alex Blumburg. Reply All tell stories about the people behind the internet and Start Up is a recursive look at founding a podcasting network.

99% Invisible
An short and to the point show on design and architecture.

Grow Edible
Homesteading advice from Seattle blogger Erica Straus.

Do you have a favorite podcast? Leave a comment!