Bullough, Oliver. Moneyland. St. Martin’s Press. NY. 2019.

In August of 2011 I rode the AmTrack to Colorado. It is the best way to experience the mountains up close. On that ride there was a person who explained why all the trees were dying. She had a jar with a black mountain pine beetle in it. Later I found this information on the beetle. “For many years, Diana Six, an entomologist at the University of Montana, planned her field season for the same two to three weeks in July. That’s when her quarry — tiny, black, mountain pine beetles — hatched from the tree they had just killed and swarmed to a new one to start their life cycle again. Now, says Six, the field rules have changed. Instead of just two weeks, the beetles fly continually from May until October, attacking trees, burrowing in, and laying their eggs for half the year. And that’s not all. The beetles rarely attacked immature trees; now they do so all the time. What’s more, colder temperatures once kept the beetles away from high altitudes, yet now they swarm and kill trees on mountaintops. And in some high places where the beetles had a two-year life cycle because of cold temperatures, it’s decreased to one year.” Oliver, in his thorough examination of how “moneyland” came into being, mirrors the spread of the beetles.

This tiny beetle was killing the trees which would later be the kindling for so many of the fires that have raged through the mountains ever since. On page 271 of Moneyland you  will read; “Offshore (and onshore) bandits are looting the world, and this looting is undermining democracy, driving inequality and sucking ever-greater volumes of wealth into Moneyland, where we can’t follow it.” These bandits, will someday find that the world they have sucked the life out of will become inhospitable to even their own lives.  All through reading this book I kept hearing that sucking sound and was surprised to find on the last page my intuition was shared by the author himself.

This fear based living which is a thinly disguised bravado tries to drown out the truth created by the egoic mind   “But if you don’t believe that infinite love is the center of the universe, you live in a scarcity model where there’s never enough—food, money, security, health care, mercy—to go around. You can’t risk letting go because you’re not sure you’ll be refilled. If you’re protecting yourself, if you’re securing your own image and identity, then you’re still holding on. Your ego remains full of itself, which is the opposite of kenosis. This is the nature of almost all human institutions and systems created by the egoic mind. You can take such a pattern as a sign that one lives in God. People filled with the flow will always move away from any need to protect their own power and will be drawn to solidarity with the powerless, the edge, the bottom, the plain, and the simple. They have all the power they need—and it always overflows, and like water seeks the lowest crevices to fill. No wonder Christians begin their spiritual journey by being dipped into water.”

Ultimately, unless we turn around and accept our individual complicity with this banditry we will certainly create the conditions for the growth of this sucking system becoming like the rapidly growing hordes of beetles.  In an article in Aeon recently I read; “Collapse, then, is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s a boon for subjects and a chance to restart decaying institutions. Yet it can also lead to the loss of population, culture and hardwon political structures. What comes from collapse depends, in part, on how people navigate the ensuing tumult, and how easily and safely citizens can return to alternative forms of society. Unfortunately, these features suggest that while collapse has a mixed track record, in the modern world it might have only a dark future.”  

I encourage you to read this book so as to be able to navigate the tumult that is certain to come. When the moneylanders finally suck the juice out of the system they have created, my hope is that those drawn to solidarity with the powerless will help to avoid the dark future that might await our children and grandchildren.

Winners Take All

Winners Take All by Anand Diridharadas is the latest attempt to ask the right questions, so we learn, belatedly, that asking the right questions is pivotal to getting the right answers. This process often comes only when former answers proved to be either wrong or provisional at best.

As I write this, the annual gathering at Davos is going on. It includes an offering called “Trust Pays Dividends” It is ironic that one outcome of our current choices is a radical lack of trust. Trust in government, trust in churches, trust in technology, you name it.

Michael Massing asks Who is more dangerous: El Chapo or Carlos Slim?   Videos like this one on Walmart points the finger of blame back at all of us who rush to take advantage of the new low price of something. Another on The New feudalism helps to uncover graphically what we are all feeling intuitively, something is very wrong with the picture being drawn by the current realities.  So while the Elites Gather In Davos To Rich-splain Poverty As The World Spirals Into Crisis  each of us has the opportunity to ask new questions. If I am one of those whose job is making me sick like Monica Torres describes, or if I are losing my faith in the system that keeps me running in place or even falling behind, I might want to look to my faith founders for some insight.

The earliest Christians were called “the people of the Way”—bettered existence for countless ancient believers. . . .Christian defenders, such as Justin Martyr (ca. 100–ca. 165), used the example of Christian practice to make the case that Jesus’s way “mended lives”: We who formerly . . . valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to everyone in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies . . . . Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter 14   This was before Christians became coopted by the “Davos of the second century, i.e. the Roman Empire.  I suspect people of whatever faith did their due diligence, the same truths could be discovered in their origins also. Now is the time for each of us to do our own due diligence and with more consciousness discover the ways to opt out of the systems that are bringing the world into the state we find ourselves now.

The Library Book

Whew! I just finished “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean in an almost non-stop three day session a where I squeezed in the necessary things of daily life. I have always been a bookaholic. For most of my life buying books because I wanted to make notes in them or have them listed in my database so I could refer easily to ideas in them that I could retrieve at will. But having to downsize in my later years I donated a lot of those books to many places and now try to discipline myself to borrowing books from the library. Susan Orlean has given me a deep reverence for the notion of libraries, their missions, and the awesome amount of time, talent, and resources that go into that effort. She has written a book that is part mystery, storytelling, and so much more. I will enter the doors of my library with a reverence deepened by this book. My local library is so good at receiving my requests by email and alerting me to when they have them. Twice in the past few months they didn’t have one available in the system and bought them for me. When I review them on my web site or add my review on Goodreads my hope is that others will discover something that will delight them like I was. You can view the interview of Susan Orlean on Book TV at (Note: if you also watch book TV you probably will be put on a waiting list because a lot of others must watch this CSPAN treasure also) I am waiting for 8 books right now. But whatever you do get this book and plan to black out your schedule for a few days because you won’t want to put it down. Here are a couple of quotes to tempt you. On the bottom of page 11: “In the library, time is dammed up-not just stopped bus saved.” Then on page 309: “The library is a whispering post. You don’t need to take a book off a shelf to know that there is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you, and behind that was someone who truly believed that if he or she spoke, someone would listen”

What do we do with the Bible?

What do we do with the Bible? Is a 64 page book by Richard Rohr packed with easy to assimilate truths about reading the bible. It should rest alongside your favorite translation and be a companion as you take time to be present to the Word. Fr. Rohr, in plain language, unlocks the treasures by freeing you of the need to use it to prove you are right or in control. The Sneaky Spirit emerges as you give yourself to an honest engagement, not unlike when you approach another person as a gift to unwrap. Try it, trust me, you will like it.


Cory Doctorow’s novel Walkaway is for this hardly ever reader of novels a stretch. If it weren’t for the in-depth interview on Book TV I would never have been tempted to read it. The first chapter felt like reading something in a foreign language in a yet to be imagined space/time for this 81 year old great grandmother.

For over a year now I have been wearing one of our sons diaper pins or other safety pins on my clothes to remind myself that I cannot just drift off from the mess our generation has helped to create comforted by the thought that I will be ‘gone’ when the worst happens. I remind myself of all those who have to live with my choices in the years to come and then own my choices in a way that is painful at times. It is my way of walking toward the future that I will never see.

The growing recognition that the ways we currently use to find meaning are not working like we want them to. Articles on the demise of the nation state work with these same questions. Doctorow weaves in all the issues confronting us personally and corporately into a si-fi novel. He attempts to explore all the ways that those choosing to ‘walkaway’ use to create a reality that is worth living for. The age old quest for eternal life runs in the background in all their efforts. He creatively engages the human (meat stage) and post human stages. This was made possible by computer backups of people with the post human stage of emotions vs non emotions, which awaited the day these backups could be uploaded to a meat version again.

I will be ruminating a long time on this book. It was a slog for someone not used to novels yet alone si-fi ones, but it encourages me to see that others are looking for viable ways to move into the future.

The Truth Matters

I just finished Bruce Bartlett’s “The Truth Matters” It is a handy little reference guide with many insights gleaned from a lifetime of reporting. The last few pages lists many resources with their links so that you can hone in on what you are checking out as true. It will fit in your cargo pants pocket or purse and at the ready if you are tempted to go with what seems too good to be true. In these ‘fake new’ days it is like being vaccinated against a virus that is proving deadly these days. You can read it in a hurry as he has chapters a few pages long on each flash point of the day. Worth the few bucks to own.