One size fits all. The shape or coloration of the god or high heaven matters less than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite the widow brings tot eh temple, A child alone with horrid verities cries out for there to be a limit, a warm wall whose stones give back an answer, however faint. Strange, the extravagance of it ”who needs those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste, those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books Moroni etched in tedious detail? We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail. – John Updike Updike was both a prolific writer and consummate art-literature critic. Of his six rules for reviewing a book, rule number six hits home with me. Normally, I want to review a book because (1) I love it, or (2) I passionately disagree and want to present a balancing viewpoint. I’ve never been good at remaining the dispassionate reviewer when reviewing a topic of deep personal bias. Updike’s Rules are a reminder of criticism done right, and apply broadly to life in general. To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in any ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never… try to put the author “in his place,” making of him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys of reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that  

The 18th Camel (15,000 Tribes)

William Ury’s brilliant TEDxTalk on the mediation of conflict. The solution to global mistrust? Invest twenty minutes and find out (as we meet on the balcony). I also want to share one of the comments from addressing William’s talk… “From this moment on I will no longer identify myself as a member of any group which is in opposition to anything, anyone, or any other group. I will focus my energy on the creation and maintenance of a ‘balcony’ perspective. My position will be one which surrounds issues, my view will be one which includes the right of all views to be represented, my action will be to embrace US ” all of US ” on behalf of the enlightened future we can grow together.” -Puran Lucas