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News

Electrical shutdown scheduled today, tomorrow

PG&E is installing new electrical service to the 400 Main St. development project today, which will require the temporary interruption of electric services to several businesses located on First, Main and State streets in downtown Los Altos. PG&a...

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Schools

Community support pays dividends

Community support pays dividends


As a recent cover story in The New York Times Magazine revealed, getting low-income students into college is not enough to close the achievement/income gap. The percentage of low-income students entering college who actually earn a degree lags far ...

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Community

War veteran to visit D.C. memorial on Honor Flight

War veteran to visit D.C. memorial on Honor Flight


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos resident and World War II vet Earl Pampeyan is preparing for an Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., next month.

Los Altos resident Earl Pampeyan is scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C., next month to vis...

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Sports

Making a splash

Making a splash


Courtesy of Clarke Weatherspoon
Stanford Water Polo Club’s under-14 boys team earned the bronze medal at the Junior Olympics. Front row, from left: Corey Tanis, Larsen Weigle, Nathan Puentes, Walker Seymour, Alan Viollier and Jayden Kunwar. B...

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Comment

Whom can you trust?: Haugh About That?

Waving my pink poodle skirt with all the fervor of a matador preparing to tease a raging bull, I blinked my 20-year-old eyes and gave a come-hither look to indicate, “I’m ready!” Little did I know that the blind trust I had in this ...

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Special Sections

Getting right by eating right: PAMF doctor's book addresses South Asian health risks

Getting right by eating right: PAMF doctor's book addresses South Asian health risks


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Ronesh Sinha, a physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, promotes healthful living among the South Asian population. His new book, “The South Asian Health Solution,” includes nutritious recipes.

When you think o...

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Business

From Google to First Street: Massage therapist sets up studio in downtown Los Altos

From Google to First Street: Massage therapist sets up studio in downtown Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Upuia Ahkiong is slated to open Kua Body Studios next month at 106 First St. Ahkiong is sharing space with Evolve Classical Pilates.

A massage therapist with ties to Google Inc. is slated to open a new – and shared...

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Books

"Jack London" chronicles author's adventurous life


Much has been written about American author Jack London, primarily known for his early-20th-century Western adventure novels, including the classics “White Fang” and “The Call of the Wild.”

In Earle Labor’s biography of the literary icon, “Jac...

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People

TIMOTHY WARREN WATSON (TIM)

TIMOTHY WARREN WATSON (TIM)

Born June 2, 1935, died peacefully on August 11, at home in Mountain View, surrounded by his family. He died of complications of Parkinson’s Disease after a courageous 15-year battle.

Tim was the beloved husband of 55 years to his college sweethea...

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Travel

Bergama bound: A visit to newest World Heritage site

Bergama bound: A visit to newest World Heritage site


Photo Eren GÖknar/ Special to the Town Crier
The amphitheater in Turkey’s ancient city of Pergamon, now known as Bergama, overlooks the Bakirçay River valley, left. The city’s ruins also include the Temple of Trajan.

It was 90 F during t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks offers 'Spoonful' of drama beginning this week

TheatreWorks offers 'Spoonful' of drama beginning this week


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Three strangers – “Chutes & Ladders” (Anthony J. Haney, left), Odessa (Zilah Mendoza, center) and “Orangutan” (Anna Ishida, right) – come together in an online support group in TheatreWorks’ regional premie...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Meditation group meets at Foothills Congregational

A Weekly Meditation Practice group meets 7-8:15 a.m. Tuesdays at Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos.

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Burning Man renews sense of intimacy with the divine

This is the final article in a three-part series on Young’s experiences as a Christian pastor at Burning Man, the annual art festival and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

At times, one could not help but wonder why we chose to go to Burning Man. We left loved ones behind only to be stuck in two of the worst traffic jams of our lives, waiting five hours to move one mile on our way in and out of Black Rock City.

The elevation, dust storms and extreme daytime heat wore everyone down. The wild colors and scenes overstimulated us. The action and the beat of the electronic music never stopped. Without enough water to bathe, 68,000 people lived practically on top of each other in a harsh desert of extremes.

Still, one could not help but feel a sense of elation on arriving. Signs along the roadside prepared us for the society we were entering. One said, “Finance is your religion.” Another quoted Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Together we were getting free from our shared religion of finance with a social technology that seemed like magic. For an entire week, no one tried to sell me anything, and no one talked about jobs or the economy. There were no phones, schedules, email messages, advertisements, brands or logos. The only things one could buy were coffee and ice. The pace of Silicon Valley makes it difficult for us to be generous with our time. Out there, it seemed we had infinite reservoirs of time and attention to share even with strangers.

What did I learn? Mystical experiences in the desert renewed my sense of intimacy with the divine. In the solitude of early morning, red slivers of cloud intersecting the rising sun made me feel like God was baptizing me in dust. Bicycling at sunset with the wind at my back flying past extraordinary artistic creations into the gray-water sky, this vast, mysterious universe seemed like a home for our peace, gratitude and love.

Most of the people I met were younger and helped me to see the world in a different way. I realized how sheltered and naive I am. Usually when I talk to people in their 20s, it is on my terms, in my world – and this constrains our conversation. At Burning Man, I got out of my suburban church box and met people who do not even really know what Christianity is, people whose motivations and most basic assumptions differ from my own. They deeply blessed me and helped me to appreciate our shared humanity.

Finally, perhaps it took getting out of my church sphere to discover what I have to offer to the world. The people I met showed me the value of being so deeply immersed in an ancient spiritual and intellectual tradition.

On one of my last nights, in the middle of a dust storm, I met a woman named Susan. She had sought God when she was young and had given up. We wondered whether everyone might know something about God, even if we use different religions and language to describe the source of meaning. Perhaps truth is the collection of ways that God is speaking to all of us.

In that conversation, I realized that churches offer ancient practices (prayer, service to others, the study of holy writings, music, various rituals, a calendar, aesthetic experiences, etc.) that help us to be drawn more deeply into the divine. At its best, church functions as a community and a technology for recognizing our place in the universe, for loving other people in the confidence and intimacy with God exemplified by Jesus.

Burning Man helped me to see that spiritual practices from the past have no value unless they can be connected to the concerns and aspirations of the present. Of any group in society, the churches I know should be speaking to exactly the people drawn to Burning Man. Their openness to the future, their divinely inspired creativity, their idealism in seeking to transform society so that it is fair and accepting and their spirit of generosity and concern for others is exactly what churches need.

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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