Love and hate for Christmas


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Love and hate for Christmas

Jessica Wise

founder – The Litas

Devin Townsend

recording artist

Pat Bagley

Pulitzer finalist political cartoonist

Sean Whalen

men’s coach

Robert Clark

National Geographic photographer

Kurt Bestor

Composer, pianist, trumpet player Kurt Bestor


Richard Dutcher

black and white portrait of filmmaker Richard Dutcher


Marianne Willamson

author & spiritual teacher

Steven Wilson

Grammy nominated musician & producer

Peter Breinholt

Singer / songwriter Peter Breinholt photographed by Paul Duane

singer / songwriter

Genpo Roshi

black and white portrait of Zen Master Genpo Roshi

Zen Master Genpo Roshi


A link to that interview with Adam Simon “just keep going”…


much love,

Paul Duane

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The Parable of McSashimi

There are some religions that claim to have special power from God that allows people to do really cool things like heal people, tell them what God wants them to do with their lives, endow them with extra power to overcome difficulties, etc. This power and privilege is often called “priesthood”. It’s almost always given to men and denied to women.  In this article, I am going to be discussing the Ordain Women movement that has happened within the context of Mormonism / The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).


While I am, in some sense, very much in support of the Ordain Women movement, I must confess: I can’t get all that excited about it. While the Ordain Women movement has the best of intentions, I think it’s missing the bigger point.  It’s a bit like trying to issue licenses to people – in this case, women – for the “privilege” of breathing.  If a special power to heal, manifest, discern, exists in any human, then ALL humans come with it. It’s like that anti-virus software that every computer comes pre-installed with.  The only question is, are you going to activate it and use it?

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Can we talk about Jesus for a minute? While I do find myself swimming around in a certain kind of mysticism, and while I definitely feel a connection to the Divine (whatever that is), there are certain things that don’t make sense. Let’s start with one of the foundational ideas behind Priesthood: Jesus Christ.  I believe in Jesus Christ as one of the most brilliant teachers of human wisdom, one who mastered the laws of dimensions 1, 2, and 3 and had a solid understanding of our relationship to dimensions 4, 5, 6, and 7.   In his recorded teachings, many brilliant truths hide in plain sight.  His Father, however, did not ask him to suffer infinitely so that you and I can be let off the hook. There IS NO HOOK.  When I take a few cosmic steps back, I see an inherent perfection in all things, even though to our 3 dimensional minds, they can seem like a massive pain in the ass at times. Growth and progress are inevitable. Cosmically speaking, I do not believe in “good” and “evil”.  Certainly we all have our sense of “preferable” and “not preferable”, but to relabel them as “right” and “wrong” is cosmically presumptuous.  If there’s no cosmic construct of “evil”, then there’s no need for a Savior… particularly if you believe in a God that’s not a score keeping passive aggressive jerk like your mother in law.  On the other hand, if you do believe in a mother-in-law God, it’s not a stretch to believe in a God that plays favorites.


Those in the Ordain Women movement are rightly offended by the notion of special privilege and their view that God doesn’t play that game.  I argue that they are merely making an expansion onto special privilege. Instead of demolishing the abominable building, they’ve just remodeled and added a few extra rooms. I’m just asking Ordain Women to take their good idea and run with it all the way into the end zone.

The argument that women should be ordained into the priesthood gives entirely too much credit to the divisive notion that God gives selectively permits some people to have special powers. It CERTAINLY gives entirely too much credit to an organization that claims to have the patent on that power. This is somewhat like picketing McDonald’s to begin serving sushi when there are three excellent sushi restaurants on the same block. They COULD do it, but do you really want a McSashimi?

The question, “Should women be ordained to the Priesthood?” is the wrong question to ask.  It’s like believing that it’s politically significant to vote Democrat. The Democrat / Republican question is the wrong question. They are both “wrong”, in the sense that they both serve the same master and lead to the same place. It’s a false question and a false choice. So it is with the Ordain Women movement.

If you are serious about this business of Women having the Priesthood, take a step back and realize the truth – you already have it. ALL of you. It came pre-installed in your being.  Stop asking an invalid institution – or ANY institution, for that matter, to recognize it.  Go alone to a mountain top, in a cave, under a tree, or in the desert, like so many great gurus who have gone before us and make your own personal connection to The Divine – and then get on with using your power to serve your fellow man. And woman. 😉


You are the CEO

 Have you ever had those times in life where things around you start speaking to you in a new way? You start hearing new meaning in things your friends say. New friends with special qualities come along in serendipitous ways.  Certain TV shows take on special significance. Song lyrics jump out at you. Random strangers say things that make you stop and think. That’s what’s been happening to me recently.  I’ve realized that I’m still hurting and angry over some things in my past.

I am tired.

I want to get rid of it.

I know that I’m meant to spend energy creating amazing things, not carrying around horrible things.

But first, let’s talk about video games!

In April 2011, Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) was hacked. Of course, the gaming service was unavailable for a few weeks, but the grave concern was the loss of personal information of 77 million users, making this one of the biggest data security breaches in history.  Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer apologized: “As a company we — and I — apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack…. Let me assure you that the resources of this company have been focused on investigating the entire nature and impact of the cyber-attack we’ve all experienced and on fixing it,” he said. “We are absolutely dedicated to restoring full and safe service as soon as possible and rewarding you for your patience. We will settle for nothing less.” To make up for the attack, Stringer offered affected users a 1 million dollar identity theft insurance policy, free of charge, along with other PSN membership perks.” In an attempt to right the wrong, Stringer offered users free identity theft insurance and some free PSN membership perks.

Shame is a corrupt imitation of healthy stress

Should Sony CEO Stringer feel personally shamed and guilty for the data breach? No, of course not. He didn’t really have anything to do with it.  He may have hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy that made the mistake… but his personal accountability is diluted by these realities.  He certainly didn’t have anything to do with the hacker’s malicious desires, either. Shit happens.

Is it reasonable for him to feel stress about his responsibility to craft an appropriate amends?  Sure. But there’s a difference between stress and guilt / shame. It’s his job to follow up and lead the clean up effort. And once he’s employed every reasonable measure to clean up the mess, should he be able to sleep at night?  Of course.

When I was in college studying psychology, I gained a profound appreciation for the power of social conditioning in human beings.  We are irrefutably the products of our environment. Clearly, we are some combination of nature and nurture.  Every behavior has a rich history of influences that helped cause it:

When you graph it out, your own thoughts really aren’t even that big of a part of the pie – ESPECIALLY considering that your own thoughts are largely a product of the various other components of your environment.  But this doesn’t excuse you or I from responsibility – it just explains the mechanics of our behavior. There’s a profound and important difference between explaining and blaming.  If you accidentally drop a bottle, WHY you did it doesn’t change the fact that it’s your job to mop it up.  BUT – there is an important lesson in parsing out the difference between explaining and blame / shame.

We just commemorated 9/11.Deep feeling of retaliation and anger were stirred up in many Americans. It’s important to understand that the  9/11 hijackers believed they were being obedient to God’s edicts.  Suppose you or I were born into the same time, city, family, social, political, and religious situation that these hijackers were born into. Is it possible that you or I would have helped hijack a plane?

We are, to a large extent, shaped by our environments. But that doesn’t let us off the hook per se – it just changes our understanding of the hook.

It’s important to give credit where credit is due. Not only will a good CEO step up and lead the effort to right wrongs committed by the company he represents, he will organize the party and pass the glory along to all involved when the company succeeds.

Guilt and gloat are fundamentally the same error: the Ego believes that it is solely to credit for an event.

Some call this a “sin of pride”. Pride is a funny term, it is usually associated with boasting. It’s a bigger concept than that. Pride and boasting are very different. Pride is the misappropriation of credit, good or bad.

Here’s where I’m at in life at the moment: It seems that guilt and shame are totally unnecessary.  Responsibility is the key. When things go right, it’s my job to turn around and spread the glory to those that helped make it possible. When things go wrong, it’s my job to step up and be the solution to the problem. Just like Sony CEO Stringer. It’s no longer my place to walk around suffering for things that I can no longer change and that I couldn’t have even controlled fully when it happened. 

Sometimes it’s easier to apply standards to other people than ourselves, so let’s do that for a second…

In some brands of christian mythology, the story goes like this: All of the spirits of humanity existed in a state prior to becoming humans on Earth. They were created by a master creator, God the Father. These spirits (which included you and I) desired to become more like our Creator. Inhabiting bodies on earth was seen as the next step in our evolution. One person volunteered to assist the human race in “succeeding” on earth, by forcing everyone to do the right thing. He wanted to take full credit for everyone’s “success”. That being is referred to as Lucifer.  Another candidate – one referred to as Jesus Christ – came forward and volunteered to come to earth and do his best to show people the right way to live, but he’d never force anyone to do anything To the extent that people succeeded, he would convey the glory of that success to The Father (and obviously, the succeeding individuals would enjoy the fruit of that success, too). Jesus wouldn’t partake in any of that glory – he’d just pass it along, like a good CEO would to his employees and shareholders. Since problems were going to be inevitable, He would come down be the face of the solution.

Jesus’s 3rd to last sentence may have been the most profound he ever uttered.  As he was hanging crucified on the cross, being taunted and tortured, near death, he said:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

Stop for a moment to think of everything that this means. Jesus recognized a truth- the people who were not just slowly and cruelly killing him, were a product of their environment.  They were like the 9/11 hijackers.  They were just doing what they thought was right at the moment.  They had good intentions.  Even in his moment of the most exquisite physical agony, even as people stood around yelling insults at him, he comprehended this truth so deeply, that he yelled out this amazing expression of compassion and understanding. 

Time has a way of shifting our perspective on things. Have you ever had the experience of looking back on a part of your life and realizing that you really didn’t understand things as well as you thought you did?  How powerful would that be to shrink that amount of time down, so that you can have a real-time awareness that when you make “mistakes”, you “know not what [you] do”?

If Jesus, under such incalculable emotional and physical pain, could have this compassion for his murderers, might it be possible for you and I to have this same compassion and perspective about ourselves?

Such understanding would cleanse us of the self inflicted crucifixion of guilt and shame, and leave us fully imbued with response-able dignity and power to create good in the world. 

Let us all be good CEOs in the corporation of our lives. Just like Jesus.

*** Addendum:

This morning, it dawned on me that all this letting go of shame business I’ve been talking about, is the precursor to what Marianne Williamson meant when she said:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.”

And there is no higher calling that we can aspire to than this.  This is it, folks.  This is the essence of the fully expressed and well lived life.

Thanks for stopping by.




Another preview to “The Uttermost Farthing”

This is a shot that I took as we were getting ready to leave.  This was not planned, but was completely serendipitous, as if mother nature and the Gods knew the whole of what I wanted to express that evening.  Again, I cannot thank Abi and Omeid enough for perfectly expressing my vision.  More to come soon….