Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thoughts on the Bible from a homeless guy

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I ran into this on the Internet. It speaks volumes to me about my search to say or find what I think are both the stumbling blocks and possible foundation stones of the future of a Christianity that travels along the road of life into the 21st century and beyond.

The words out of context hit me between the eyes and I have to consider them as something to think about on my travels on that road of life.

I also have to consider them as from a “homeless guy”, not unlike Jesus or the Apostles – and on that homeless man’s blog.

The line that struck me most and as a Cultural Christian that I took greatly to heart was about the Fundamentalist Christian messsage:

“...Instead of having a relationship with God, they have a relationship with the Bible...”

That is something worth repeating in any conversation these days about the road that Christianity travels into the future or into oblivion.

More from the article and the article itself for your reading:

“The Bible is not perfect, and there is plenty of reasonable proof of its imperfection. But, really, does the Bible have to be perfect? I don’t think so. God is still God, with, or without it. For some, though, their faith is founded on the Bible... Instead of having a relationship with God, they have a relationship with the Bible. And instead of developing a life in relationship with God, they spend all their time trying to defend the Bible, defend their faith, defend “Christianity,” etc., etc. But, God needs no defenders. God is perfectly capable of defending himself, and desires for us to instead spend our lives doing His will. A real Christian is not one who makes signs to the world that they are Christian, but is one who feeds the hungry, shelter the cold, provides for the needy, etc. A person who spends all their time trying to convert the already converted, and ignores or neglects their needs, is nursing a dead faith.”

- Kevin Barbieux

http://thehomelessguy.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/thoughts-on-the-bible/
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Awakened


How joyful to look upon the awakened
And to keep company with the wise.

Follow then the shining ones,
The wise, the awakened, the loving,
For they know how to work and forbear.

But if you cannot find
Friend or master to go with you,
Travel on alone –
Like a king who has given away his kingdom,
Like an elephant in the forest.

If the traveler can find
A virtuous and wise companion
Let him go with him joyfully
And overcome the dangers of the way.
Follow them
As the moon follows the path of the stars.


-from the Dhammapada
translated by Thomad Byrom,
Teachings of the Buddha
edited by Jack Kornfield
- -




Thursday, August 21, 2008

Opening The Heart

When the eyes of the heart open, we can see the inner realities, hidden behind the outer forms of this world. When the ears of the heart open, we can hear what is hidden behind words; we can hear truth.

Opening the heart means coming closer to God. God said through Muhammad, ‘I who cannot be fit into universes upon universes, fit into the heart of the sincere believer.’ The heart is a temple that can house God. All hearts are temples, and to open our hearts is to allow in the divine presence.

The heart of hearts in each of us houses a spark of the Divine. This is the meaning of the biblical (and also Koranic) quote, ‘And God breathed the breath (ruach) into Adam.'

The primary meaning for the Hebrew word ruach is ‘spirit,’ so this sentence might be more accurately translated ‘And God breathed divine spirit into Adam.’ As our hearts open, we come more in touch with the wisdom, love, joy, and inspiration from the divine spark within.

All wisdom is already within us; all love is already within us, all joy. Yet they are hidden within us until the heart opens.“


- Essential Sufism,
by James Fadiman, Robert Frager
HarperSanFrancisco, 1997
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

He walks with me - He talks with me -

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I have not necessarily felt good in the things I wrote about the R.C. church in the preceding articles. I do not, should not judge anybody specifically. “Judge not lest ye be judged”. (Matt 7:1)

I do not put myself up on a pedestal. I feel for people, small people, old people, who will be lost in the chaos of some economic downturn that takes a lifelong place of worship and it gets tossed into a trash bin. An economic decision, a mere pencil mark on a spreadsheet moves with the force of an earthquake for some. The sacred can turn into the secular in a quick and ugly way.

What would Jesus do with spreadsheets? He would tear them up and find a human solution to deal with any problem. Human is not divine but in many ways we can achieve God’s work on earth if we try together. Together as male and female, young and old, sacred and secular we can be an instrument of God’s plan for this planet. In any age it is difficult to define that plan. Most definitely, God's universe has a plan and function.

A tree has many parts: roots, base, trunk, branches, leaves. The tree of life is life. We are life. How a tree grows depends both on nature and how we treat the environment in which that tree grows.

There is no hiding from the global culture anymore for anybody. It is best to deal with it from a local point of view, make up local rules and a local mission statement and push back. This corner of the world is not so easily, no longer, available to your global exploitation.

Age old institutions should recognize where they are, where they stand, what they represent in this modern world. If you stand on a thousand year old mission statement and cannot see the new, the vitality, the change, maybe it is best to fade into the dust and history and be forgotten.

If you and or your institution cannot help to integrate the human element into an interdependent world, or help move humanity to it greatest potential as an element of God’s creation, then godless is the right word and let the godless fall and be forgotten.

I, in an allegorical and or metaphoric sense, am putting my feet in the shoes of prophets past without claiming divine sanctions. I claim as my right as a believer in the one true God and in his special Messenger Jesus, the right to knock on the Temple doors and yell “foul” whenever I see foul things about in a world sacred or secular run amuck.

You all in your own way, in the fight, must push back godless globalism. You must take a stand and defend yourself and others not as strong as yourself. It is the Christian way.

Those prophets, those critics of old were immensely unpopular with the wrongdoers and those in power of their day. They were also immensely popular with the little people before the printing press, freedom of the press etc. and in the confining realm of living in dictatorships and fascist states ruled over by cronies and kings.

In a modern age there is no need to sit back and take it especially when all this blog stuff is there to let off steam, express opinions and in a unique sense gauge the pulse of the population. We all have our rights and responsibilities. Let us exercise these elements wisely.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

No shortage of priests - just penises

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One of the first lines of the standard boiler plate news releases in these R.C. dioceses that are closing churches is that there is a “shortage of priests”.

There are appeals for priests to be allowed to marry as an incentive to recruit a few more good men into the priesthood. Yeah right. Good luck on that point.

There is no shortage of priests, there only is a shortage of penises. There are more than enough women who want to be priests. The only problem is that these women do not have a penis. There are some programs on BBC America following transsexuals and or transgender human beings around and apparently with plastic surgery they can sculpt one of those pingo things onto a female body.

Can you hear the little Deustche boy in the Vatican saying that a phony pingo is not good enough, you have to born that way? Honestly you can’t please some of these bureaucrats.

Before you think that my ranting and raving is the sign of a bona fide lunatic (and it might be), I would like to interject some historical thought about where we are today and where we were one hundred and forty years ago.

The longest serving pope, Pius IX, hung on, I don’t know if served is an appropriate word, from 1846 t0 1878. Before I get to my timeline, this pope invented infallibility and no meat on Friday at the Vatican I council that started in 1868 and broke up because of invading armies into Rome.

(Invading armies – the Italians taking back their homeland, their property, from the papacy.)

That Mess of a Council was never formally closed until the beginning of Vatican II in 1960 – a second disaster to follow the first.

I look at this historic timeline thingy and think about where the United States was one hundred and forty years ago in 1868. The USA was picking itself out of a ditch and recovering from a really big Civil War that was fought to free black men and women. You glide to the present. One of the likely candidates of one of the two political parties in the presidential election is black, African-American, or whatever term is PC these days.

Same timeline, Pius IX is staying up nights dreaming of ways to prove that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread at Vatican I. (Sorry, sliced bread came later.)

Well anyway in 1868 is about the time that Pius IX sends personal autographed photos to two civil war vets Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

Pope Pius IX was disappointed that his side, the Confederate States of America, lost their bid to break away from the American union and perpetuate slavery forever. Pius IX was the only crowned head of Europe to politically recognize the Confederacy.

America has come from civil war to civil rights and may even have an African-American president in the near future.

The Vatican still clings to infallibility, the papal states, and bitter disappointment that slavery could not be perpetuated to protect its investment in cotton in the southern American states.

Things change. The world changes. But the misogyny, hatred of women, practiced by the V.C.S., goes on and on and on. And worse than that, the sheep keep taking the incredible mismanagement of church property and spiritual property by these bum bishops in America. Bureaucrats!

Of course, the Vatican these days does not openly admit anything that is not PC except that women don’t have what it takes to become a priest (and that is a penis).

Sorry girls. You know I have read the first five books of the Greek Testament, The Christain Torah, the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. I do not see anywhere in print that specifically says that “women cannot be priests” but then again I don’t think the term or the function of priesthood had got officially invented yet. That had to wait for General Constantine and his church as opposed to the Christian Church founded by Jesus of Nazareth, Holy land, not Nazareth, Pa...

So when I read about massive church closings in the Allentown diocese and Schenectady and elsewhere I have only two things to say to the R.C. bureaucrats.

One is that there is no shortage of creatures with souls, women, willing to become priests.

Two, in case you are hiding any assets, and money laundering, which is illegal, if you send ten million to the Vatican in cash, make sure that the bearer bonds that come back to you are not marked “Confederate States of America”.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Christ - the homeless man.

“...
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up
.”
- Martin Niemoeller

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/all-churchclosingphotos-0713,0,6083684.photogallery

The Christian Church was founded by Jesus of Nazareth, a homeless man:

Matthew 8:20

“And Jesus said unto him, a scribe, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

It is kind of fitting to talk about Jesus as being homeless as the R.C. Church is having a going out of business fire sale with the closings of so many churches, schools, hospitals nationwide. Of course we know about the altar boy fund to pay for expensive lawsuits and clergy misconduct. But that more or less has reached a zenith and leveled off or has it?

It seems to me that this fire sale and liquidation of assets is a ploy to hide assets, to launder the money through the Vatican or elsewhere, but definietely not park it here in the USA where it was created by the sweat of the brow of laborers and immigrants. Day laborers. Jesus knew about day labor.

With this epidemic of church closings and the R.C. Church getting out of the religion business, where do you park your assets? I don't know. Tell me. There are good rates of return on capital in the new godless global market place and no accountability to anybody, not even to God –

- that is if you still believe in Him or the Son of man, Jesus, who sits at his right hand in the heavens above and over all of the universe.

This is the cynic in me speaking. You hide your assets because you, with all your dark secrets, know what’s coming down the pike? What is it? What spikes on what graphs and spreadsheets predict more unthinkable horrors in the male only R.C. Church hierarchy club?

The R.C. church is like big business. Incompetent cronies covering up the incompetence, corruption and kinky habits of fellow male club members. I've seen it all my working life. So it goes and then the cash flow stops. The party ends.

I think of all the big monster corporations I have seen wither and die on the vine, past, present and ongoing into the future.

Why not put a hockey rink in Saint Peter’s Basilica? That’s the modern business sense of things – everything and everybody must constantly provide more income.

More income! More capital! More profits! More change! More global misery!

Where is man or God in any of these new global economic equations?

The homeless man’s equation - his words - will never die.

- even with the skirts in the Vatican continuing and scurrying around the money changing floors and global exchanges via the Internet.

Jesus wrote something once in the sand to deliver a sinner from her fate. I know what he wrote. He wrote his favorite word. “Hypocrites!”

Take your money you money changers. Take your churches. The first Christians celebrated the early church in private homes. They prayed, they broke bread, they felt the spirit of God within and surrounding them.

The church, the People of God, will not only survive this disgraceful epic in the history of God’s church. The People of God will endure and prosper in the faith and grace and love of God here and forever.

God forgive you - you bureaucrats - and your abominations that have caused this desolation - by your total lack of simple humanity or common horse sense!
- -


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rekindling the Hearth

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I envy Rosie O’Donnell. She has the money and the panache to say anything that strikes her fancy. She is not discombobulated or out of joint. She is in many ways fighting for a comfort niche in our bewildering new global culture.

Her communication style is sometimes out of context or that is how she is often quoted. She in a fact a symbol of much of what has been happening to the American woman on the periphery of and in the center of the changing twentieth and twenty-first century role for American womenhood.

First the vote. Then the pill. The right to try and or choose an alternate lifestyle? To marry or not to marry? To have a career? - Then Vatican II drops the ball. Tries to put the genie of hope and possible freedom back in the bottle.

The biggest radical change for women at V-II was taking the kerchief off the head and labeling that protestant saint, St. Paul, as anti-female in his writing. Then they turn around and want to impose the ancient, obsolete (promiscuous male) Saint Augustine view of sexuality on the modern womb with no regard to advances in chemistry and science.

The radical turn about on abortion and to stop all birth control by Paul VI, the pope with the mail order seminary degree, wanted to put theoretical sexuality back into its medieval scheme of things. Theoretical to him, but real to the rest of us.

You do not or should not get driving lessons or articles of faith from someone who has never driven a car or received his priest’s diploma in the mail. Translate that into some pious sounding Latin and there you have the epitaph of the pope who mopped up after John XXIII and Vatican II and thought that life would go on the same as before. Forgive me Jesus for being so blunt. Thank you Rosie for inspiring me to say what I think.

There is a religious quote by this famous American original:

“Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like the United States.”

Many times this quote has been repeated in a propaganda and political context on I.H.A.T.E.U. radio by U-no-who.

I fear radical American Christianity and it's potential to take away my freedoms for the sake of some of new twisted fascist Jesus hybrid religion thing. Not every evangelical is to be feared - its the politco-s, phony neocons and former used car salesmen in sheep's clothing that you have got to keep an eye on.

Her strong reaction and perhaps fear to the potential of religious abuse by the far right is not without merit. Her words have a lot of push in them. Her small sound bite covers a lot of territory. I think she may not cover or consider other aspects of American Christianity when she formulates a publicly expressed opinion.

American Christianity is at the mall these days or within driving distance of the new American Town Square. Mega Churches fill defunct anchor Department Stores in nearly defunct malls or use obsolete sport stadiums to sell their new, mall-like, air-conditioned, feel-good, sometimes archaic Jesus brand of sales and marketing of the product. It is all about money - and - in many ways – it’s the parking stupid.

When was the last time you saw a new mall with a chapel? You occasionally find one in an airport and only in a Christian hospital. A time to pray or to reflect is a good thing and in the middle of what now serves as the town square would be even better.

American Catholicism is entrenched in the nineteenth and early twentieth century real estate linked on the east coast and to an immigrant past – and did I mention – no parking. White flight to the suburbs is an American phenomenon that the clerics in the Vatican could not quite understand, that and privacy and human sexuality.

Radical Islam is about trying to equalize the playing field in the Islamic world with a twist that it first must attack the west rather than look inward and clean its own house first. Radical Islam reminds me of a dysfunctional family. Dysfunctional families have another quote by Rosie.

O'Donnell recently commented about her role on the TV chick talk show The View and how working there "was like one big dysfunctional Irish Catholic family. Do anything except tell the truth. That doesn't fly for me."

Rosie says a lot of things with ideas too dense to be conveyed in a five or ten second sound bite. But even if she polished her communication skills she would still be a Lesbian, a loose cannon who believes and expresses her view of conspiracies at the World Trade Center etc.

There are all kinds of negative tags on this woman, but I love her. She reminds me of all the strong Irish Catholic women in my youth who had kept the hearth fire of the home going through the thick and thin of economic and personal times.

Those strong women are gone and so too is that past American family in many ways. Family and the hearth has been the foundation of man and woman kind for literally a million years. No virtual imitation of reality can replace that which is perfect or gone. New forms of the family are merging and evolving into a hopefully better future global reality.

It was this dousing of the hearth by Vatican II that has changed the R.C. church forever. You can’t have seminarians and priests handing out instruction manuals about the home and birth control and ignore advice and or gossip from the local housewives. These housewives used to congregate before and after Sunday mass in the old town square of my youth. Where have they gone? Many have gone to better places I dare say than the kitchen and the seeming drudgery of the slave-like trap of housewife-ism.

Women in the R.C. church have put up with a lot of bullcrap since Constantine disenfranchised them in the church thingy. Women have been the backbone of the civilization forever. Forget that and you lose your battle little vatican boys with your fingers stuck in the holes of the levee dikes and trying to hold back the sea of change in the 20th and 21st centuries.

In the early Christian Church, if I was a tiny frail little yeshiva overachiever like Saint Paul and I wanted and needed protection when I stood up and pronounced the radical ideas of Jesus, I would have liked to had a local woman like Rosie to take me out of the fight that was beating me up and taking me home to the hearth to heal. Putting aside private life style preferences of Saint Paul and or Rosie, the early church was ideas from Saint Paul and brawn and protection provided by the local matriarchs.

Rosie O’Donnell is as American as Apple Pie. Her sometimes angry, bellicose approach to the bull---- of the non-verbal Irish Catholic culture in which she was raised and the present nonsense, dysfunctional-ism, and dishonesty masquerading as American culture and journalism makes her a precious and rare commodity, like it or not.

In the present state of local and world affairs, all of us in our own secular and or sacred ways must keep the fire of the faith and family hearth burning in real time, in memory, in our hearts.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Keep the Message Simple

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I did not know when I started this blog how much I did not know about Christianity. It has been a learning experience. I learn new things everyday.

My perception of the subject matter has changed. Touching and working with the product has given me new insights.

It is like being a stage manager backstage and watching the play and knowing how it all is just a play and just an illusion at times. Or like being an elder at a monthly elder’s meeting and seeing how in so many ways a church is a business in terms of cash flow, memberships, goals, following the party line etc.

If I had the time or money to waste on biblical scholarship and research, my obsession, like so many I have met so far on this life journey, would probably be to cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s of acceptable scholarship and protect my reputation and pension. (Yawn!)

My greatest disappointment to date is in the realization that many great biblical scholars including Luther questioned certain parts of the NT as antilegomena. That certain books, epistles, are in contrast to good or believable scholarship and should not be a part of the official “sacred scripture”. Luther had his doubts about four works including Revelation and modern Lutheran scholars have expanded that "factory-second" label to another three epistles.

Of course there will never be a church council to re-evaluate the official NT. Constantine’s Bible stands forever.

Church hierarchy seems to exclude the common folk on every level. Too comfortable with the cash flow to do anything radical or rock the boat even if the matter at hand has to do with truth or the humanity of recognizing alternate life styles as valid in the eyes of “God”.

Christianity in a metaphoric sense these days seems destined to be an eternal Garden Party for Christ (of, by and for the hierarchy only), a daily press release, as at the recent Lambeth fiasco/corporate convention with little humanity or black and white LOVE to be expressed to or by God’s children.

Will the last person to leave the Christian church please turn off the lights!

My disappointment also lies in the fact that if I asked a question of a pastor while I was an elder, I did not get a straight answer on some theology questions. Ask the right question and get an answer. Ask the wrong questions and get a dumb stare.

Christianity since the Council of Nicaea is more about a dictatorship of the spiritual proletariat than about the basic philosophy and message of a Jewish goatherd named Jesus.

I have never liked Revelation, the last book of the bible, and have always wondered what it had to do with the basic Jesus. Coked up visions and killing your enemy’s children is a little bit I would say “unchristian”.

Love and tolerance and recognition of faults and forgiveness of self and a new start is the most basic form of the Christian message (and a super highway to heaven).

It is little wonder that Islam has its five pillars and the Buddhists have their five precepts as well.

K.I.S.S. “Keep it simple stupid.” goes the cliche.

K.T.M.S. Keep the message simple.

Somehow layer upon layer of propaganda, reworked script, and layer upon layer of horse crap has piled up in the stables aka basilicas aka churches of the Christian religion over the centuries and it cannot be easily translated into a modern age message.

The struggle between the sacred and the secular seems to favor the secular in the modern world.

Christianity seems a dying religion and maybe that is a good thing.

I believe in God and put my faith with the simple message of Jesus.

I don’t put much faith in religion anymore.
- -


A Vision of 911


The seventh anniversary of the tragedy of 911 is upon us shortly in another month. No great resolutions or finished monuments or buildings are there in downtown Manhattan.

The hole in the ground at "gound zero" is in a way a microcosm of the greater hole in the moral or neighborly way that is missing in the new godless economic global equation.

Until I see or touch the rebuilt World Trade Center, I feel that the world has a gapping hole in its side and a crown of thorns sits upon our future global vision of things to come...with the words of Yeats ...” what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? “

People deal with death and grief differently. Here in New York City, we still in many visible and sometimes in silent ways walk around the ghosts of the tragedy of 911. No friend, acquaintance or relative of mine died that day. I have heard a lot of stories about friends, acquaintances and relatives that bit the dust that day.

Forgive me for using that word dust but many did not have so much as a grain of dust or a positive DNA test to take to any graveyard or memorial. Many have nothing to hold on to, nothing to plant for a seed of hope for some future day when memories would not be clouded with a tragedy or a media event in a greater historic footnote.

One of the most detached and archival things I witnessed regarding that event was a death certificate of someone who died that day. It was a sterile looking NYC form with at least a three or four dozen boxes to place a check mark next to. The two marks next to (x)“murder” and (x)“at work” summed up the bureaucratic statistic of that day for many.

I could go on and on as to how real friends and real relatives dealt with the tragedy. I can only deal with this as something of an outsider’s view even though the event happened within my touch or grasp of things living here in New York City, living in one of the outer boroughs.

“Each man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.” wrote the poet Dunne.

In a way of tribute to the many that died that day, to the many known and unknown souls who met their fate that day, I grieve with others at a distance and as part of a greater community. We here in this city, directly or indirectly, were shell shocked by the event. I wrote the following as tragic relief and or tribute some one to two years after the event:


Thoughts do travel.

…and if only in a second, a thought occurs, it then fades. All is black and yet the mind does wander in thousands of possibilities to label the moment. The mind cross-references and distills. The moment projects common, already acceptable explanations and then begins to search hidden archives on the fringes of reality. It is in this far reaching realm that fear and or fears often hide or live if that is the word and then…?

A blinding distraction appears on the retina. An essence, the crystal of light, of inspiration, flashes a bulb giving temporary brilliance. Outlines appear in levels focusing out away from the former center of brightest whites. These outlines disappear and seem to be reborn but less brilliant with pulsating, diminishing energy traveling down through grays and finally to the darkest shades of dark into blackest black.

A mindstart; a thought.

Is this dream or is this death?

A heartbeat. A throb. A thunder from another world. Silence!

Silence and the echo of the last heartbeat, of the last sound, of the last verbal human moment.

Silence to reflect. Silence to wonder. Silence and the dreaded fear realized, dealt with, melted and dissolved away in an instant of time.

No time here. How long is a second of time where there is no time?

A flash of the shades of gray emerging from the black anti-thought, anti-time, anti-self world are suddenly present. Grays merge backwards into the original flash of inspiration.

Blinding light. Pure white. Inner sight is born.

I am trapped, no, suspended in a single moment of time. No past movement; no forward.

The image emerges.

I am sitting at my desk trying to sign onto the companies e-mail system. The system is slow and was no doubt expensive. Computers and software are the tribal magic of this modern age. Nobody is ever quite sure if Bill’s voodoo is better than Blue’s voodoo.

My head is turning. It senses something. Something unbelievable. I can hear screams from the Mexican counter staff in the coffee shop where I usually buy my coffee and bagel. How can I hear screams? That coffee place is floors above me or is it below me. I am in space. I am on the what floor? My mind races for facts to justify ?

Justify what?

What am I seeing outside the narrow slit of glass across the room. What is that object? That round circle both dark and reflecting light like a highly polished metal …?

OH MY GOD! HOLY SHIT!

IT’S A PLANE!. A JET.

I DON’T BELIEVE IT!

IT cannot be!

The moment, a split second before and after presentation of a universal law of physics. The moment passes with my limbs frozen in the last thought of what is it, it cannot be etc. The final moment was real. The last moment existed. But there was no follow up moment to savor or analyze the previous moment. The previous moment was a bitch!

Locked into some disreality of thought. Or perhaps it is a previously unused or unrecognized way of seeing things.. I am outside myself and looking down at some ?

…and if only in a second, a thought occurs, it then fades. All is black and yet the mind does wander in thousands of possibilities to label the moment. The mind cross-references and distills. The moment projects common, already acceptable explanations and then begins to search hidden archives on the fringes of reality. It is in this far reaching realm that fear and or fears often hide or live if that is the word and then…?

I am in comfort. A truly comfort zone enwraps me. I am enveloped in some great benign spirit of the moment. I am merged with dozens of similar hearts and minds thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same feels, realizing the same new realities or possibility of realities.

This must be a dream.

Calm.

I am floating above some child’s play area. Below hundreds of ants are scurrying out of a broken ant farm. The tiny bits, the dark colored entities are fleeing. Some are fleeing in every direction. Others are following others in predictable patterns. Pieces of the clear plastic ant farm cover are falling down on the ants as they try to escape. I focus for a closer view. These are not ants. They are people. They are not fleeing an ant farm. They are trying to escape the wounded entity. Entity? The entity’s name is World Trade Center One.What an unusual name for a creature? Entity yes. Creature? I don’t understand.

A blinding distraction appears on the retina. An essence, the crystal of light, of inspiration, flashes a bulb giving temporary brilliance. Outlines appear in levels focusing out away from the former center of brightest whites. These outlines disappear and seem to be reborn but less brilliant with pulsating, diminishing energy traveling down through grays and finally to the darkest shades of dark into blackest black.

The flash of light was the impact of a jet onto the outside skin of WTCONE.

In a same measure of time, my skin, my former skin merged with the skin of WTCONE (a name? – an entity, a creature? Has to have a name, a label? How human to label things. Was I once a thing???)

Our skins merge in a force of energy, the crash and the instantaneous spark of fire. Fireball. FIRE. LIGHT. HELL!

I withdraw back into my comfort cocoon. Best to replay this tape from a distance. Yes a distance. A safe marked boundary from that other world. That other world?

A mindstart; a thought.

Is this dream or is this death?

This is not a dream.

This is death. ---

What an artist thinks…No…What an artist feels is what I perhaps now feel. I am connected with all the chaos below. I am floating. No I am standing in the midst of screaming, of blood dripping, of detached limbs and heads and emptied torsos, crushed oozing bodies, flames, of sirens sounding, of a thousand screams, no, ten thousand prayers to a living GOD. Where is God today in all this confusion? No answer. Perhaps an answer later. Perhaps.

Valley of tears is a phrase from a childhood prayer comes into focus to label this instant. Life on Earth can indeed become a trek through a great valley of tears. Lord have mercy. Amen.

An artist inspires. An artist touches the souls or is it the spirits of others when they look at his creation, his painting, his music, reads his book. At this moment I want to look away. I have no choice. I am part of this moment. The moment sculpts reality into eternal pictures.. Thoughts and photographic images, real in the human sense, real in the spiritual sense are being formed.

The living and the dead will no doubt in their own time stand back and admire or not understand or may even despise the art of this present moment. Where is the museum? It is here. Time stands still on this planet or at least slows down. Time pauses from second to second. A hundred lives passed in one second. Then two hundred lives passed on not the next second but the second after that. And so on an so forth. Statistics amass.

Amidst the screams and sighs and puzzled thoughts of the unexpected dead, a silence comes. I slip from this macro of life and fade into some micro aspect of my former existence.

I come to a bright sun filled prairie. A simple wood clabbered, white washed house stands in stark contrast to clear blue sky and rich green vegetation textures. A woman with her back to me is hanging wet laundry on clothes lines a short distance from the house. A small barn is also in view. On a short stone wall sits an old woman in a plain white robe. She is watching a small child, a girl in a gingham dress walking about the yard area. The old woman looks in my direction. I recognize her. She is Myrtle. I had been her elder in a church I belonged to. The last church I had belonged to. Haven’t been to church for a long time.

She smiles a faint smile at me. I never made it to her funeral. She never had a funeral when she died at 94. Her body had been willed to science.

The thought occurs to me that she is perhaps dreaming about some scene from her own childhood in early twentieth century rural Illinois. Myrtle gives me non-verbal nods to my questions to her. She had made it to the other side. I would not consider donating my mortal coil to be entrusted to the likes of some smirking first year medical students…

The smell of charred meat. How I always hated that smell. Leaving the roast in the oven too long to dry up and then to burn.

More like a barbecue smell. The teacher in eighth grade wrote in chalk on the slate blackboard common American words that originated in other languages. Barbecue had Spanish origins I think. I remember this as the pungent smell of burning meat rolls off the olfactory senses of a wandering creature all bent over as if in pain. Clothed in a thick dark outfit, he climbs stairs, step after step after step after bloody, dusty step.

The fireman’s breathing is labored. He occasionally reaches for assistance in breathing from the tank hanging off his back. Crackling noise of walkie talkie sounds mix with breathing, and hisses and the smell of burned meat dance around senses in a misty fog of smoke coming and going. The smell of burning petrol and plastic add to this undefinable barbecue sauce.

Why do I smell human smells if I am truly dead? Why am I suddenly connecting in consciousness to the senses of one living man, this fireman? Why am I connected back to the world of the living?

People push by on the dark stairs.

The fireman’s flashlight wavers back and forth to give momentary assistance to the descending surviving refugees of terror.

The fireman’s goal is upward, ever upward. A ladder to heaven is not possible but in this behemoth structure heaven might in fact be at the top of this arduous climb.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jesus Never Laughed

-
Jesus never laughed.

What a pity!

Does that mean that God does not laugh either? (In the genes so to speak.)

Christianity does not seem to be a religion of quips or one liners. It is all too serious. Christian love stops at the corner and rarely crosses the street. Ask Mel Gibson.

I do not mean to be irreverent but I have reached a signpost and a turn in the road in regards to my spirituality. I am getting older. Got to finish and polish my spec script, my take on the whole matter.

The road to truth in Christianity, in terms of legitimate documentation, seems like a ride in the funhouse at some roadside carnie festival. Lots of twists and sharp curves. Lots of air bellows in your face, lots of pop up skeletons, screams, reactions, dangling knives and a quick push back out into the harsh light of reality and an end to fantasy.

The overall effect seems sometimes to me like a black and white silent movie spliced together from different movies on the cutting room floor.

One begins to think that when they got to the Council of Nicaea and had to wonder how Judaism turned into Christianity, maybe they had to invent a Socrates or maybe even a Saul of Tarsus character in the script room.

We will never know.

Getting back to Jesus and his never, never, never having laughed, not even to a good fart joke – (sad) – claims of humanity and in fact little humanity at some points of a story-board life. The story line was written in a much different age, one in which the state and not the individual counted.

Speaking of spec scripts and from someone who has attempted to write a play or two in his time – The Book of Revelation, I have never been able to read it in a single sitting – which makes me think that it has an energy flow of a script for a staged propaganda play with narration, bells, whistles, and the mechanically produced illusion of fire for non-believers etc.

I recognize a recycled Greek Play (spec script) when I see one – or so I think. This book is the backbone of so much fundamentalist thinking (oxymoron) these days.

Forgive me, but all this ancient history, spec history, opinion, punditry, wars, murders, heresy, might have to do with Jesus being an evolved creature that his most ardent followers at present would crucify given half a chance.

All this stuff about Jesus does not take away from Jesus but who is the real Jesus? I think that he came to enlighten us. Other than that, my words fail me.

The destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. and the need to cling to Judaism or to conveniently deny it by Christians – to suck up to the Roman masters etc. is at the heart of this Jerusalem artichoke conundrum about various scripts and storylines. Got a good vinaigrette recipe? Or a paid scribe?

Very few words in the official General Constantine approved Greek Testament I take as literal fact these days. It’s all mixed up with recycled Isaiah who I think was talking about the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (and events at another specific time) and having little or nothing to do with Herod’s boondoggle project or historical era.

Where do I go from here? I don’t know. My faith is bit thin today.

Peace.

(please try to laugh today – life is too short to not even chuckle)

- -


Friday, August 1, 2008

the great dark



A great dark bird (B-1)
circles above.

It is hard to ignore as I
approach and park, then go
do a late day routine.

Lines in the desert seem
more crisply defined with
clear blue sky overhead.

Black silhouette
against electric blue
is hard to miss.

Driving here everyday sees
training flights all the time
as they round the city.

Oddly comfortable,
a nation’s ready defense
against who or what
I sometimes wonder.

My errand is done.

The image returns as
I start up the car and
look through the windshield.

The great dark bird
continues to fly.

It casts large shadows
while it coasts on solar winds
slowly maneuvering near
its unseen home mountain
(Davis Monthan Air Force Base).

This while four young chicks,
training jets in standard gray,
(not the usual A-10’s)
keep careful speed and distance
to the mother bird.

This all, with nearby
afternoon football play
in a still green autumn park.

Long shadows, fading sun.
A warmth of Sol on the face.

Driving away from the park
and daycare retrieval
I notice (and am part of)...

The great dark’s spread
of larger wings,
casting its personal shadow
on us, my son and me,
as it seemingly glides to conquer
near ground in landing.
over a house as horizon line.

Momentary illusion, partaking
interrupted by reality and
a sobering thought.

The cost overruns had
nothing to due with grace
or beauty.

Haunting end day images
mix with Oppenheimer’s
Hindu recitation. – echo
“ I am become death...
...a shatterer...”

(be not death! I reply)

Where there is life, there is God.

Power. Power.
A dropped egg?

Potential death.
There or here?

Hopeful design
never (a prayer)
to be fulfilled.


(11-29-95, Tucson)
- -


Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Poison Tree

When I chose the title for this short story that I wrote for my wife, I was unaware of a similar title of a poem by Wm. Blake. Can't be too original these days as all the knowledge of the world seems to be at the tips of our fingers on the Internet. Are we smarter?

Since I have been writing these cultural christian entries, I notice how many things can be broken down into the sacred or secular side of an equation. Interfaith matters touch the sacred end of the spectrum. Cross cultural matters are not at the other extreme but most definitely within the secular side of any analytical gauge of life.

Here is the story. I think it self explanatory. As always, part of the education of this person along the journey.

THE POISON TREE
Her grandfather, who had raised her, was exclaiming something loud in the back garden as we toured all the structures that now were built on the once empty patch of land.

The old man had been allotted this fairly large plot of land by the state. It had been sold to him very cheaply. I estimated the original lot to be about three quarters of an acre.

On that lush tropical landscape had once been many more trees than were now present and situated in between structures. Even so, the existing species of large trees grew avocados, mangoes and bananas. These had helped feed a large family on a state road worker's salary.

The main house was plain. Large dormitory like rooms were where the boys and girls had sleep. There was a common room or living room and a small kitchen. This structure had been built wall by wall, room by room, over the years. Extra savings went into concrete blocks on a regular basis.

The back of the property had once housed a large pig sty. Pork had been the cash crop that supplemented tropical fruits and the staple rice and beans diet. Pork had helped purchase the blocks. Piglets had been temporary play companions to poor children.

In fact, she had told me that as a child, the only dolls she played with were homemade things made of corn husks, the corn of which had fed the pigs. Corn silks adorned the corn husk dolls as hair.

The old man was quite animated.

The land now held five houses where at one time stood one.

As the nearby town grew outward, modest houses started to dot the countryside. Streets were paved. Second generations built a second story onto parents' houses.

Zoning laws changed in the expanded town. No pigs could be raised within the new city limits. Now only a few old hens pecked at the ground and made the occasional stew.

I asked for a translation. What was the old man shouting about?

Her cousin had inherited a one room house on the back of the property. He had recently married and his new bride had planted some shrubs to decorate this desolate corner of the original lot.

The literal translation of the bride's plantings came to words translated as "poison tree".

"It is a poison tree!" was what he repeated over and over again in Spanish.

The old man was upset. Everything on his property in terms of plants had been always been edible. Now, a stranger, the wife of a grandson was planting a decorative plant and not an edible one.

The old man's bubble had burst. The world outside his front porch could have changed in some measurable way over the years but it somehow had not touched a chord.

His sons had gone to college. One daughter was a registered nurse. The ones who had emigrated to the mainland had their own measure of material success in the post World War II boom in America.

He had at least thirty grandchildren and umpteen great grandchildren. All the changes over the last half a century registered in some proportion that matched the land that he stood on and owned.

Now, on this day, paradise seemed corrupted and lost. The people on the land now did not understand his vision for the land. The land must feed his family. A tree from the outside world had invaded.

The seeds of the destruction were planted. His vision, his temporary footprint in the scheme of things, was disappearing before his eyes. So he shouted in his own way.

His time had passed. Now he knew and recognized that fact.

This he expressed with great passion.

-

P.S. This story is reflective of a visit to Puerto Rico in 1990. It is one thing to learn to deal with your new in-laws. It is still another to learn to deal with the situation in a cross-cultural situation. My advice is to listen and observe and try to translate both language and emotions into something you understand and feel comfortable with. Passion and how it expressed itself was something I would learn about over time.


http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Poison-Tree&id=1066528

- -


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Perception as a Building Block of Reality

-

We each build our own reality amid a stark universal background.

What came before came before. Only the present, the now, seems to matter most.

The culture surrounding us - instinct and mother's milk - sustains us or we drift to other perceptions of reality.

How big or small the universe is perceived relates to how we see our place in the scheme of things. The size of the building blocks of reality does or does not matter. It all depends on the individual to determine the measure.

Recognition and comfort with self flows into and out of cosmic tides, like our breath keeping time with the heartbeat of THE ALL!

It is so easy to miss a beat.

We all live our lives in canyons of sorts - small walled off areas with a small view of the world.

Sometimes the water is in a difficult place to reach within our little canyons.

Sometimes the water is within reach.

How difficult sometimes to perceive, to see, to reach or to touch.

If we travel away from the canyon and into another canyon we keep on seeing the first canyon in our brains since most canyons tend to look alike.

Some can see beyond the personal prejudice that states that all canyons look alike. While others, no matter where they travel, only see the one canyon.

We all build our own reality. Nobody really knows what is inside the next guy.

Go with social flow or get jettisoned into the storm.

Wash up on a deserted beach and start all over again.

And what might we find there?

New perceptions?

New faith?

New realities?

- -


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dreams and Cosmic Flows

-
A flutter of eyelids,
ah, a quick path to sleep.
How long until, if at all, to
dreams and cosmic flows?
(Does one have the soul
of an artist?)
-
The canvas of night unravels
in less than predicable or
perfect forms.
-
Dreams. -
Cosmic flows.
What is the answer
to my - ?
I forget the questions.
-
Oh boy, here comes the ride.
The flow of brushstrokes
and sculpture's clay shape
a new beauty.
-
Faces of people are
seen and unseen.
-
Past residents of earth depart
while future friends assemble.
Memory is a tricky thing
in sorting out which is which.
-
Familiar faces blend with
faces masked.
Do I, did I, know, this,
these other people?
-
While a favorite time
can paint a backdrop
of night or day,
nothing seems focused
or even noticed.
-
Strange words. Noises.
Conversations repeat.
Am I hard of hearing?
Oh boy, a loop.
A loop repeats cosmic
messages?
-
Flow and freedom from care.
One's daytime, earthbound spirit
must soar while dreaming.
The energy flows.
Dreams are such wondrous things
most times,
almost like magic.
-
Colors do not greatly matter,
nor temperature,
so much as textures,
smooth walls, rough touch
faint adobe hues,
can sometimes frame
my dream picture.
-
Do I dream in black and white?
-
Noises. Conversations
with eloquent people,
those with whom I
might want to meet.
They are just like me
perhaps.
-
Is their spirit on furlough too,
in a dream as well?
Have our paths in essence
really crossed the way?
-
Is there a mission? A
purpose to this dream -
any dream?
-
Does the mind truly
wake not to another
but to true reality?
-
The mind does wander
besides wonder.
-
Is daytime - awakeness -
true reality or
the reality in another
realm of perceptions
full blown, of, from
cosmic connections?
-
Questions later, though
rarely during the process,
of the personal artform known
as this, the (my) dream?
-
All too soon as a favored niche
in repose is found,
all too soon the muse wears off.
Stardust, dreams, whatever
are shaken off with eyes
fluttering and blinking
into focus.
-
What is at hand is at hand.
Dreams or waking
all seem to fit perfectly
as they occur
and part of some
present and perfect now.

- -


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Matt 15:21-28

It is Sunday and maybe anyone who reads this is not in a church today. There is something not working in the formula for perhaps some of us that has worked in Christianity for hundreds of years.

I believe there is an adage of sorts that says that the best way to learn a subject is to teach a subject.

I am fumbling with my faith in my quest to do something or get someplace other than where the (forgive me for saying this) cookie cutter religions what us to go, accept, purchase and not complain about the product etc.

This practice and or theorectical homily was assembled in accordance to a one year lectionary and in conjunction with the second Sunday of Lent.

A bit abstract for me but a great learning tool for myself and for one who in retrospect being so painfully shy in his youth as to think he could not get up and deliver somthing like this.

It also got a large number of hits on another site. Odd/Curious thing?

---

The opening reading from Psalm 121 is something that really brings home some very specific memories to me.

I had been, and very briefly, an elder in a congregation that used this Psalm as the cornerstone of it's being.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth."

That congregation started over sixty years ago on the edge of the desert. It had then a majestic view of mountains to the north. Now it is sandwiched in between parking lots, fast food joints and office buildings.

Though I can visualize when in something like 1948, a dozen families made a commitment to buy a small parcel of land. On that land they built a church and a grade school. I have met some of the children educated at that school over the years. One stands out in memory as having been in the Peace Corp.

If you think of all the good that affected the human race and coming from the children educated there, well the possibilities stagger the imagination. I think of the promise of God to Abraham about how the number of his descendents would number more that the sands of the earth or the stars of the sky.

For those of you, who have never lived and worked in the desert, let me tell you something. It can get hot. How hot? Very hot. But they say it is dry heat.

Ladies and gentlemen. One hundred and twenty degrees in the desert in the summer is comparable to being a dressed up Thanksgiving turkey coming out of the refrigerator at five in the morning and being rudely placed into a preheated three hundred and fifty degree oven. And they call it dry heat.

The desert reduces you and your psyche to some bare minimums. There is a line from a popular song "A Horse with no Name" of many years back. "In the desert you can remember your name, cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."

Little wonder God chose Jesus to wander about a desert for forty days to get his head on straight for the difficult task of his brief but revolutionary mission to preach the good news of the coming more freely of the spirit of God into the human race.

And following through with the reading of Roman 5:1-5

"Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought us that blessing of God's grace that we now enjoy."

Romans is always very simple and clear in saying what we as Christians are all about.

I could stand here and talk about faith or grace. But most of you know what those things are about. Or so we think we know.

Today's gospel reading is an obscure passage. I say obscure because when I read it to make comment, I did not remember this text with any clarity. I probably read it once, was speed-reading or the like. It did not strike a chord in my gut. It is not the most familiar or popular group of lines in the Christian testament.

In fact I had to read this passage several times and went back and forth between my New Century Version Bible and then back to the old standard, a rock of ages, the King James version. Even then, I only got a light feeling about what seems very not in character with our familiar view of Jesus. I finally got some insight from a few lines of Martin Luther in one of his sermons to feel comfortable enough in my skin to talk to you about it.

A woman of Canaan, a non-Jewish woman, comes to the miracle worker Jesus to beg a cure for her sick daughter. Jesus ignores her. He does not answer. She makes a big fuss and his followers want him to send her away presumably with her request fulfilled.

Jesus stands pat and states that "God sent me only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel".

This harkens back to Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill."

So here is this predicament. Jesus does make exceptions as to who he might help outside his primary faith of Judaism. But here I think he is reading the mind and heart of the woman badgering him for a small miracle for benefit of her daughter.

Jesus quite ungraciously calls her or refers to her as a dog in the line "It is not right to take the children's (of Israel) bread and give it to the dogs."

But the woman is persistent. She wants a favor. She loves her daughter. How can she, a gentile and a pagan, reach into the heart of this very Jewish rabbi?

The woman concedes that she is a dog when she says that "Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table".

Jesus liked her response. And so he replies "Woman, you have great faith! I will do what you asked." The woman's daughter was cured.

We can knock at God's door and hope that he opens that door, or he can stand on the other side of the door and say that he doesn't know you. If one, or any of us, in our true hearts, can prayer long and hard and request grace to get through the day or a difficult phase in our lives, it is only God who can bestow grace.

Faith, faith, faith in our hearts opens the door to grace and the peace and love of God.

Never forget that.

Always remember that.

- -