It’s important. From Richard Bode’s Beachcombing at Miramar:
“I have a choice, the same choice that faces every man. I can live a frivolous life, trying to impress others with the house I live in, the clothes I wear, the car I drive. I can strive to be a success in the way of the world, seeking the admiration of others, reveling in their jealousy. I can seek domination over my family and fellow workers in a vain attempt to hide my own deficiencies. I can seek fame, which is the most elusive pursuit of all, for it has no substance and soon vanishes in the air.
“I can indulge in endless prattle about my friends and neighbors, dissipating my life’s energy a little at a time. I can wallow in self-pity, refusing to accept responsibility for my own circumstances. I can manipulate others into taking care of me, which is the way of all petty tyrants. I can complain about boredom, as if it were up to those around me to inject excitement into my day.
“These are the patterns of the living dead, people who have forsaken life, who are willing to squander their most precious gift, because they refuse to face up to the reality of death. If they wanted to live, truly wanted to live, they would rise up in a resurrection of their own making and commit themselves to the life they have.”
Like most people, I’ve looked at the rooftop of every place I’ve ever lived, flown from Texas to Paris a dozen times, and tried to see what my kids were doing in NYC and Boston. Google Earth never ceases to fascinate.
And apparently, it never will. Recently added to the program is the ability to explore the skies. (And you can get it here: google earth (and sky!)) You can choose specific coordinates, a particular planet, star, or region. Or, you can see the sky directly above wherever you happen to be at the moment, as I’ve done in the pictures below:
Here’s where I live. Right in the middle of the picture is a fairly empty block, with a D-shaped driveway. That’s me.
Directly above me, is this:
And deep, deep above me is this. To get there involved flying through what looked to be a snowstorm of other galaxies. But, I made it:
I don’t know much about the sky, but I’m learning. And Google is helping- a lot, from my layman’s point of view. Google is continuing, from my point of view, to “not be evil.”
A collection of letters from Mother Teresa to various confessors is due out next week. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, is already fueling many blogs and other on-line commentaries, the writers of whom are attempting, from quotes already published in Time, to use Mother Teresa to support their deep, solid, and impenetrable beliefs.
In her letters, Mother Teresa expresses doubt- in her faith, in her calling, and in God. “Where is my Faith,” she writes in a confessional letter to Jesus, “ — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith.”
To a friend and confidant she wrote, “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”
Fundamentalist Christians are weighing in already, pointing out that the Roman Catholic Teresa was trying to worship a “false” Jesus, a non-biblical Jesus, according to their strict standards of biblical literalism. Hers was a Jesus, they say, which was false to begin with- a caricature perpetuated by a Church bent on survival.
Some atheists have already begun to claim Teresa as a secret supporter of their position of non-deistic rationality. Some have already called her a hypocrite, giving lip service to belief, while harboring doubt.
Both groups are making the kind of mistake that is easy to make when the world is viewed in the mechanistic manner both groups base their viewpoints on. Most fundamentalists see the universe as a machine, manufactured piece by piece, by God, for the benefit of humankind; and many atheists see the universe as random collection of stellar accidents, devoid of transcendent and sacred meaning beyond the moment.
Mother Teresa, on the other hand, lived down in the mire with the rest of us. She lived where the call to alleviate suffering in the lives of others felt so real that she could ascribe the voice of Jesus to it. But she worked in the arenas of life where it seemed impossible for a God of love to have ever been present.
“I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?”
Hers was not an either/or position. Her doubts did not rise from the rigid and moribund philosophies constructed of doctrine and paper and words etched in rock, that both the accusing fundamentalists and the Teresa-claiming atheists live their lives within.* She was human, a human filled with doubts just like the rest of us, but one who had the courage and vulnerability to write of them. Unlike many of us, however, she poured herself into that “emptiness” anyway. She didn’t flee from it; she didn’t reject it. She alleviated suffering. She waged peace. She acted in human, healing love, as her Order still does.
Mother Teresa may well have felt ignored by God. But, because of her, many many have not.
*For the record, I am speaking here of those fundamentalists and those atheists who are making the Teresa-noise at present. The strident ones of both camps are making fools of themselves (I think) and do not reflect those fundamentalists who truly do try to follow Jesus, nor those atheists (and there are many, many) who couldn’t care less about adding new trophy heads to their walls, but just live- congenially and rationally.
You’ve listened before (here), so I beg your indulgence again. It’s about my Mom.
My niece, her granddaughter, is getting married next Saturday. We had successfully (we thought) kept all information about the wedding from Mom, so that she would forget about it and so we would not have to take her.
But she found an invitation. Apparently it had been in that place where her hearing aids disappear to weekly, and from which they reappear after she makes call after call after call to my wife and me to help her find them. We look, we give up, then tomorrow they are back in her ears. Another of the endless Alzheimer mysteries.
So now, she wants to go to this wedding. She called six times yesterday to tell me that.
“Do you know who’s getting married?” I ask.
“Oh, you know, is it your cousin? You know, those people we visited one time,” she answers.
“Do you know when it is?”
“It’s tomorrow, I think, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s the 1st of September.”
“No, the 1st. Write it down.”
“OK, the 3rd.”
This morning she called with a terrible headache. She has “never had one this bad before” which is an almost daily refrain. I’m screaming into the phone, because she has lost her hearing aids- again: “There are aspirins in the top drawer of the dresser.”
“Let me look.” Three minutes later, she returns to the phone. “Where did you say they are?”
“In the top left drawer of the dresser. In a white dish.”
Another two minutes pass during which I can hear dishes being moved around, which are nowhere near the dresser. “I’m sorry, I just can’t find them.”
“I’ll be right there.” I hang up. I curse.
She stays about ten minutes away in an assisted-living home. I go into her room. I find the white dish sitting now on top of the dresser, and the aspirins are spilled everywhere. I give her two of them. She chews them and says immediately, “That’s better already.”
“See you later, Mom.”
“Thank you. I’m going back to bed. Do you have my hearing aids at your house?”
Driving back, I think the only way I can get through the next several months or years of this terrible goddamn disease is to consider Mom to have died about two years ago. I know-“horrible, horrible”- but this woman is not my Mom. She’s not the woman who made cakes and cookies for everyone in time to send them for birthdays, Christmas, and out-of-the-blue days when she just simply felt like saying, “I love you.” She’s not the woman who would send cards to a hundred different people, always on time, or who would arrange Monday lunches at the church for the 50-60 people who just needed a place to eat, in community with others. She’s not the woman who drove every Saturday to sort out clothes for needy people at the welfare building, or who visited shut-ins almost every day, or who would walk two miles every day in the woods with neighbor ladies.
I miss that woman- my Mom- terribly. And I’ll treat this woman who is left lovingly and with respect, but I just don’t know what to do some days. I want my Mom back, and I know she can’t come back and I don’t want this woman to suffer and so I am left to pray and to hope for that which sounds so awful that I can’t even write the words here.
This is a fascinating compilation of Hollywood actresses from the 20s through today..It is the same format as the collection of women in art which was popular several months ago. But it is revealing in some interesting ways, too:
1. There is a “sameness.” These are beautiful women, but they are within a narrow definition of beauty. It is a standard that has more to do with genetics, but there are millions of teenage girls who struggle outside of that standard, and millions of teenage boys on fruitless quests to find it.
2. Sophia Loren still wins. Hands down. Don’t even try to argue with me.
I’m adding another blog to which I will occasionally be adding pieces. Whatever else I may be writing about, I believe the stuff there will reflect my greatest passion: the need for me, you, all of us- all of humanity- to begin or continue changing the ways we see and understand the Earth and the universe, and our own places within them.
All I can do, all any of us can do, is let loose memes into the imaginations of each other, and pray that some of them take root, and grow. Our old answers have cumulatively led to a world on the brink of nuclear and/or biological catastrophe. It is time to either re-think our viewpoints, or remember the attitudes buried deep within our DNA that enabled humankind to flourish cooperatively with the Earth for over a million years.
The underlying reasons for my doing this blog- Thou– and for the mindset which gave rise to it, are what follows. However you can help me understand and participate in this Great Story, as Thomas Berry has called it, please let me know.
Martin Buber’s book, I and Thou, published in 1923, examined the language of interpersonal relationship and dialogue, and how that attitudinal language can affect the nature of our personal realities. He said that humans have the opportunity of adopting one of two attitudes about themselves in relation to their world: I- Thou, or I- It.
The I- Thou relationship involves the individual engaging the world in its entirety. That relationship does not isolate the individual within a special set of circumstances and characteristics; rather, the individual is in a dialogue, a mutually enhancing, learning and growing relationship with everything, with all people and all things.
The I- It attitude isolates the individual into a special, usually higher category of circumstances, which makes an equally and mutually beneficial relationship between that individual and their world, more difficult. That attitude is the gateway to all types of exploitation, abuse, and injustice, as the individual is prone to regard all of that which is outside of himself, as lesser than himself.
I am not a philosopher. I can barely hang onto most philosophical treatises and esoteric philosophical discussions. But Buber’s ideas resounded in me the moment I first read of them, many years ago. I began to feel a sense of liberation, which continues and expands to this day, from attitudinal chains around my mind and heart that would bind me to a particular role or place; from color-leeching filters over my eyes that kept the world’s true vibrancies from being seen by me; and from particular lies of self-perception that were hindering the world’s love for me, and my own love for the world.
To be in dialogue with the world is not easy for anyone who lives within the predominate cosmology of the day, even as we are aware and learning about that cosmology. It has shaped us, as worldviews have always shaped the consciousness of humans, even as human consciousness is shaping, or reinforcing, the predominate worldview. Humans have a long, long history of regarding themselves as set apart and special, the apex of a Creator’s intentions and artistry. But they have a much longer history, before that present and predominate worldview, of regarding themselves as arising from, in communion with, and vital to the world, as the world was to them.
I believe that that ancient interaction with our environment- with other humans, animals, the seas, the trees, and all things, in community- is our true nature. And it is in re-establishing that dialogue, that regard, with all that is, that we as a species will be able to survive. Our course, right now, is one hell-bent in opposition to, and exploitation of, all that is It.
We must begin, and many have, to speak to the world and the universe as we would speak to those most intimate to us- as Thou.
This is a comment I made to another blog, Whitticisms. I include it here, because it describes some of my underlying motivations for doing this blog..
When I was a child, I believed food came from my parents, I didn’t care or need to know how. As long as they were alive and able, there might have been no need for me know otherwise.
But I was curious. Grocery stores were the next answer. More curiosity led to farms and ranches, and elaborate transportation systems. Further curiosity took me into plant and animal sciences, and now- at 57, and not a scientist- I see the sources of that food, and all things, in the exploding stars and formations of new galaxies. I am also sure there is more and more to be discovered.
I have heard so many people, and have even collected some recordings from the Creation Institute in Glen Rose, saying they believe in Creationism because “it is easier to believe than evolution.” Indeed it is; in exactly the same way it was easier intellectually to believe that food came from my parents. The frontal lobes of human brains, however, will not allow humans to stop wondering and asking questions. So I kept looking for the origins of food, just as specialists look for other things and, thank God, in the case of the polio virus and other maladies, find them.
Intellectual pursuits can be stopped by religionists who make the imagination and the asking of too many and too deep questions, into sins, in an attempt to “protect” their territories. The Dark Ages of the Church are historical proof of that! They told others that it was vital to believe only what they could see- a flat earth, an earthcentric universe- because that is all the ancients who spoke Creation stories could see. Well, again thank God, not all of their ’subjects’ bought into that nonsense.
I cannot make God fit into my limited abilities to speak of God. Neither could Moses. If I think I can define God by what I know today, let alone what the Hebrews of 1500 BCE knew, then I will either be terribly surprised by new information coming in tomorrow, or I will have to disregard- play dumb- about that information, and take the “easier” route through it.
Bottom line, we are discovering our God to be bigger than it is possible for humans to imagine or write about God. That should not threaten us at all. It should be making us feel the awe that most people are now able to discover and feel only through the work of scientists. Science and spirituality are not separate pursuits; they are both part of the same human consciousness that wonders, “Why?” and “How?”
Religionists and politicians share this basic operating maxim:
Tell a Lie often enough, and it will become the Truth.
Both religionists and politicians also depend on this subset of that truth: When caught in a lie, deny it often enough and your slave-like followers won’t care.
When politicians lie, we end up with higher taxes, fewer freedoms, or at war. But they’re not my nemesis here; they’re everybody’s nemesis, all the time. My object d’scorn are the religious charlatans, those foul manipulators of spiritual seekers and blasphemous betrayers of the divine. And among the many scoundrels fighting to lead that pack of dogs is one-time radio star, now mere shadow of former sleazy self (but I don’t think he knows that!), Bob Larson.
Bob Larson Ministries’ web page, in all of it’s 1995-era glory, may be found here. The whole front page is, of course, a hustle, for Larson’s books which will tell you all about the dangers of Islam and feng shui, and for his Spiritual Freedom Conferences. No surprise there; every time Larson opens his mouth it’s a hustle. For which, amazingly, large numbers of devotees continue to fall.
What is fascinating to me is the disclaimer found at the bottom of the front page:
“SPECIAL NOTICE… In your effort to locate our web site, you may have encountered other sites devoted to attacking our ministry. Be aware that these sites contain misinformation, disinformation, twisted facts and outright lies. Many of these accusations are sinister distortions of reality and fabrications designed to look truthful. Our response is that of Nehemiah: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you (Nehemiah 6:3)?” To those who maliciously malign our efforts to reach the lost for Christ and see those in demonic bondage set free, we respond as our Savior commanded us. We “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).”
Go ahead, try it and see what he is talking about. Google “Bob Larson” and you’ll find site after site of former employees, legitimate news organizations, and Christian organizations of all stripes who have experienced or investigated Larson, and found him (caught him!) lying about his background, his affairs, his finances, and his claims, again and again and again and again. Here are two, of many:
So what is the niche within the overcrowded Christian ministry industry that Larson has developed into a feed trough for both his ego and his finances?
You know, those “spiritual entities” that can’t be seen but can only be discerned by those specially trained to do so; those “angels of Satan” which provide a ready excuse for anyone caught in abysmal human behaviors; those modern day versions of State Fair midway geeks who bit the heads off chickens to the delight of countrified adolescent boys and their hardy-har-harring daddies who’d drunk way too many beers under the hot summer sun.
Those demons. The ones that some Christians believe they’re able to identify in everyone around them the day after the night they walked that center aisle and gave their lives to Jesus. The ones that reappear in the same persons at Spiritual Freedom Conference after Spiritual Freedom Conference. The ones that Bob Larson can talk about with an air of believable authority that rivals any presidential candidate’s claim that “If I’m elected, things are gonna change!”
Those demons. Those human conjured spirits that fueled the Inquisition as the Church lusted after and found a way to legitimately grab the property of countless Spanish, French, Italian, and German land-owners, accused and convicted of cavorting with Satan. Those demons, grabbed from preacher’s arsenals of fear, when words about God’s love will not suffice. Those demons, still being used as ushers when the collection plate is passed.
The pleasure I take is writing about Larson is, I discover, a perverse pleasure. He is too easy to make fun of. The sarcasm he inspires from me is masking the real sadness I feel for those whom he has brow beat and lied to in his quest for their money and adulation. So here, let these video clips do the talking. Then pass them on to anyone you may know whose pockets and hearts are being ransacked by spiritual parasites like Larson.
Case in point: The national media has followed him and found him wanting. Pretend otherwise, often and loudly. The lemmings will continue to come.
The Spirit of Jezebel, always the Spirit of Jezebel..the evil, conniving, seducing Woman Spirit..Oh, Please..!