Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Religion at Burning Man: Exploring the holiness that unites us

Following is the second in a three-part series on Young’s experience as a Christian pastor at Burning Man, the annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

Burning Man, the weeklong festival in the northern Nevada desert, is one of the largest religious rituals in the western world.

We danced, created and destroyed things together. We talked, cried, yelled and sat in silence. We came to the holy desert from wildly different places, but even in our ecstasy and despair, mostly we were one – like the future city that John of Patmos calls the New Jerusalem.

Burners greet each other with hospitality, saying, “Welcome home!” For me, this means, “Express your wonderful uniqueness, because we act as a kind of family for each other.”

I talked about God with Vedic priestesses, Unitarians, yogis, Quakers, entheogen voyagers, Episcopalians, Hindus, Roman Catholics, shamans, atheists and Zen teachers. I met people there who hate Christianity, people who, often for good reasons, associate it with bigotry and condemnation. But this was a minor part of my experience. Mostly in that holy desert, we shared what we have in common. In outlandish costumes, creating breathtaking works of art, building friendships, we tried to express more completely who we genuinely are. Perhaps for a short time we even became more visible as children of God.

This year’s theme, “Cargo Cult,” refers to religions established in the Pacific theater during World War II, when islanders first experienced the tremendous wealth and material power of American soldiers. After the war, these peoples designed ritual acts and stories hoping to bring back the cargo that had disappeared.

In our context, this anthropological phenomena concerns the connection between the things we own and what we believe, the relation between spirituality and science; the primitive and the modern; superstition, technology and the holy.

The massive structure at the heart of everything was the Burning Man, standing on a spaceship, inviting participants to imagine an encounter with a vastly different culture and how it might change our self-understanding.

Among the 300 different official art installations, many explicitly employed religious symbols. On the Playa this year, artists constructed at least four churches (including the very Protestant-looking “Church Trap” and the more Catholic “Photochapel”), along with a variety of temples and pyramids. The artists may not have intended it, but I felt strangely at home in each of the churches as they gestured to the poverty, grandeur, oddness and ordinariness of our longing for God. I enjoyed playing a church organ in one at sunrise.

Perhaps the most spectacular place we shared in common was called “The Temple of Whollyness.” By the end of the week, this pyramidal holy space, for prayer, meditation and yoga, had thousands of inscriptions written on it. These could be funny and thoughtful. Often they expressed pain like, “Let my dad be happy, and don’t let me go down the same path,” “I’m done living in my anxious past” or “Mom and Dad. Please find it in your hearts to forgive each other. I love you.” People wrote about searing losses. In this place, they cried together and realized again that everything we know and love will one day die. The temple seemed like a physical embodiment of the line the priest says in the Ash Wednesday liturgy, “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”

A young woman mourning the end of her eight-year marriage asked me to come and pray with her as she left a box of wedding memorabilia at the temple to be burned. The next night, as the shamans leaped and the chanters droned and the flames devoured the temple, she experienced this as a divorce ritual, a way of laying down burdens that she no longer needs to carry.

What if churches could be more like this? Could they be less segregated by belief and family background? Would it be possible for them to bring together all kinds of people into an experience both of our mortality and our connection to God? Perhaps instead of always building for eternity, Christians should do more to make visible the temporary holiness that unites us.

The Rev. Malcolm C. Young, author of “The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau” (Mercer University Press, 2009), is on sabbatical from Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos. For more information, visit ccla.us.

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