Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Imagine



Of some of the direct comments I get as e-mail from an occasional reader – some are not quite sure what I am trying to say. I do try to say things in a manner that does not offend any occasional reader. I try to communicate as clearly as possible.

What I also hear is that we are all “looking for something” or that (we) “think we all essentially want the same thing in life”. Many of us see the world differently but perhaps we are listening to some same “collective unconsciousness” that Jung tried to describe.

Nobody seems to have many answers to the many questions regarding life.

I ran into the following some time back.

“It seems to me that the only true Christians were (are?) the Gnostics, who believe in self knowledge, i.e. becoming Christ themselves, reaching the Christ within, the light is the truth. Turn on the light. All the better to see you with, my dear.” John Lennon – Skywriting by Word of Mouth

Of course the so called Gnostic gospels were discovered in a clay jar near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. The Nag Hammadi library is the Christian era equivalent of the Dead Seas scrolls found two years later in 1947 in caves near the Dead Sea.

I find the coincidence extraordinary that these two lost repositories came to light in an age when they would be treasured and not ignored or destroyed by sheer ignorance.

I will not comment on the Dead Sea Scrolls but rather on the Gnostic gospels which represent more a philosophical and cult approach to the ministry of Jesus. As an amateur reader of the NT, I did not feel comfortable the first time I tried to read translations of these lost texts. The ministry of Jesus is far clearer in the Constantine Bible (NT).

There is one Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Thomas that I think more readable than the rest but it is short and only a listing of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Some of the sayings you recognize as being in the synoptic gospels of the NT. One saying in particular stands out for me.

That is:

His followers said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
"It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here
it is,' or 'Look, there it is.' Rather, the father's kingdom is spread
out upon the earth, and people do not see it." - Gospel of Thomas 113

Of course many would debate if Jesus truly said this.

Getting back to John Lennon’s quote about being Christ-like and being responsible to what one sees or feels like the divine spark within, I am reminded of a word from the Buddhists – Bodhisattva.

A Bodhisattva is supposed to be an enlightened person on one well along the road to Enlightment. This individual takes the time and energy to share wisdom and help others on the road to enlightenment.

Perhaps somewhere on the road to the future of Christianity is a mix of Sacred and Secular, of Jesus, John Lennon and Jung, and the spirit of Bodhisattvas everywhere.
- -


Saturday, August 30, 2008

To Serve Man

There is a thing called karma in eastern philosophy and religion. It speaks of your energy being sent out into the universe and following a law of physics, that energy and or your actions eventually come back to you.

In other words, if you send out a negative energy, that same negative energy will come back to you, in some way and in some time. So too if you send positive energy out there, then that is what comes back to you.

Of course this karma thing is attached to a concept called reincarnation whereby your soul makes many journeys through many lives and bodies on this prison-like planet. I do not believe in reincarnation. It is not nor has it been taught as part of the basic Christian religion package.

I also do not want to come back if that is the deal. Once is enough. For me. Why must we constantly be tested as to our loyalty? If we must, then God seems quite imperfect and insecure.

What is God's plan for the universe? I do not know. But I confess that sometimes I think I feel I know what that plan is and it is a simple plan to just live a simple life and enjoy the simple pleasures of living. Sounds like the French who got so fed up with religion and exploitation over the centuries, they just ground an irritant into the dirt.

There is a book out there called “The Secret”. It talks about the energy thing and about success. Like all you have to do is find the right words and make the right wish and zingo – Magic happens. This book is secular. No where is there a mention of God or other basics. Is the book godless? Secular is not necessarily godless. I pass regarding judement on the matter.

This blog has in many ways enlightened me and it has also presented me with challenges. Looking at the American culture, this subculture of religion has become some sort of code word or code project to test the sheep and see what sheep are worthy “To Serve Man” – a recipe book of sorts or just another rule book.

That what you believe is somehow a DNA test of sorts if you are the right sort and have the right stuff to be about this land. It is a lingering eternal delusional cabin fever hangover thing from the crazies that came off the Mayflower and started to chomp through forest after forest until they got to nowhere which is the Pacific Ocean. The drive is still there but there are no more virgin forests to rape and plunder.

I have not addressed the concepts of atheism and agnosticism in this blog and I am not ready for it. I have over time shied away from atheists because most of those whom I have met or see on telelvision all seem to be seething with anger against religion. The whole God debate is a laborious thing with them and I for one do not want to waste my time here on earth on riddles, ideas and unsolvable matters. For me, my faith in God is inate. Also, there seem to be few atheists in America comfortable in their own skin. Little wonder with quasi witch hunts that the loonies can’t give up on to kill time or fill their purpose driven lives.

I do believe that in this secular society, you are allowed to believe anything. Considering the mental dearth of the Jesus freak crowd, less is far better than more.

What do I tell my children? I believe that they, if they are near college age, have already formed their own opinions. It is their life to examine and explore.

How you view religion, God, yourself seems to differ greatly depending on what side of the east-west dividing line you happen to be on of this planet’s geography.

Getting back to the karma thing. If it truly exists, then I believe that you get feedback in this one life from the deeds and energy you manufacture. I also give myself a discount and karma debts not paid in this life just don’t get paid – period. Enough is enough.



-

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thoughts on the Bible from a homeless guy

-
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/
-


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
- -


Sunday, August 17, 2008

He walks with me - He talks with me -

-
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.
-

Saturday, August 16, 2008

No shortage of priests - just penises

-
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”.
- -


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

-
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.

- -

Monday, August 4, 2008

Keep the Message Simple

-
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.

- -