Linda Neale's Blog

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Forgiveness

Linda Neale - Monday, March 02, 2015

Recently, I was invited to participate in a panel presentation on forgiveness sponsored by the Oregon Jewish Museum and Holocaust Remembrance Center.  The discussion was based on The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Weisenthal.    If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.  In the first hundred pages of this book,  Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal recounts his encounter with a dying German soldier who asked to speak with "a Jew" in order to seek forgiveness. Wiesenthal then invites everyone into the discussion, throwing open his personal experience for judgment in a series of short essays offered by philosophers, theologians, scholars, and religious leaders who offer their thoughts on what Wiesenthal should or could have done. On Sunday a rabbi, a Catholic lay minister, a Muslim woman, and I were invited to weigh in on our various perspectives on forgiveness. I found it interesting that I was included in this esteemed panel, partly because I do not have an “official” religious position, and partly because I’ve always had a problem with the concept of forgiveness. It was a good discussion, and raised many issues for me.  I hope it does the same for you.  The following are highlights of my own personal perspective on forgiveness.  I invite all readers to share their own perspective in the comments section -- I'll print your response.
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The Problem of Evil

Linda Neale - Sunday, January 05, 2014

    A  close friend of mine had a handicapped brother who was recently brutally murdered.    Another friend has a beautiful son who is unable to function, or even walk, because of chronic fatigue syndrome.  Adolf Hitler annihilated one million Jewish children during the Holocaust of World War II.  I was sexually abused by my own father.  At age 8, my husband Rod was told by his boarding school teachers that his Pima traditions were "of the devil."  In 1968 American troops massacred 504 men, women, and children at My Lai in Vietnam.
   The "problem of evil" is everywhere, and is one of the most serious objections to the existence of God.  Simply stated, the problem goes like this:  If God is all-knowing, all-benevolent, and all-powerful, why does He/She let bad things happen? 
   I don't pretend to have an answer, but I do think we should all at least consider the question, because eventually we will be faced with some horrible situation that we consider evil.  Or, some very good person in our lives (in my case, Rod) will get seriously injured, or die prematurely, or  be killed. Because shit happens in life.  We can't get away from it.  When very bad things happen, lots of questions arise, like, "Why did God allow this?", "Am I being punished for something I did?",  "Didn't the Great Spirit hear all those prayers for protection?", "Do I believe in the wrong thing?"
   Because of recent events in my friends' lives and that of my own, I've been re-examining my understanding and feelings about evil, and have learned some more about various Native American and Christian beliefs that I want to pass on for your consideration.   I'm going to start with a series of quotes, and then continue this discussion in another blog.  You're welcome to chime in with your stories, opinions, quotes, or beliefs about evil in the "comments" section. 
   Please think about it.  Read More

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Mother Goes to Sundance

Linda Neale - Sunday, August 11, 2013

I’ve invited my 88 year old mother to one sundance or another for the last twenty-two years, but there was always a reason why she couldn’t attend. I wondered about those reasons, and assumed they had something to do with what she’d heard about the ceremony.  Most people tend to exaggerate the physical aspects – the piercings, fasting, and suffering that goes on – and forget the joy, support, love, and connections that are present.  Over the years I said little to my mother about my involvement in the dance.  The sundance ceremony is both beautiful and intense and there’s really no way to describe it.  It must be experienced.  After 22 years of rejected invitations, I almost didn’t invite her this year.  Sometime in May I mentioned it in a rather backwards way, after she inquired about our plans for the summer.    Read More

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Songs in Ceremony

Linda Neale - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A member of our Women's Medicine Wheel ceremony recently asked me to write about songs.  She is not a singer...yet. Thank you, Carolyn, for encouraging this post.

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Hope and Heart

Linda Neale - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What gives us the hope and heart to continue to work on what is best for the Earth in the face of difficult changes?  This is the central question for Earth & Spirit Council's Earthday 2012 conference to be held on April 20 and 21 in Portland.   Read More

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Japanese Tea Ceremony and the Sweat Lodge

Linda Neale - Friday, November 04, 2011

Please remember that I welcome your comments and insights.  If you're a student of Tea, or attend sweat lodges, feel free to post a comment.  Read More

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The Giveaway.

Linda Neale - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recently we celebrated my husband Rod's 80th birthday with a barbecue and giveaway.  I've learned to love the giveaway as a way of saying "thank you" and showing appreciation for an achievement or honor. This ceremony demonstrates values that are 180 degrees from American ideals of individual achievement and consumerism.   Instead of individualism, the giveaway honors connection.  Rather than consumerism, the giveaway is  based on what appears to be an almost Buddhist-like philosophy of non-attachment. 
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Vision Quest

Linda Neale - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recently Rod and I participated in a vision quest camp in a remote region of SE Oregon where seven men and women sought direction for their lives.  The vision quest ceremony is common among tribal peoples of North America;  there are similar ceremonies in India and Persia, and within the monastic and ascetic traditions of Christianity.  Jesus did a kind of vision quest, when he retreated into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.   Read More


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