Monday, October 27, 2008

OMG Are you a Wal-Mart Christian?

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OMG Are you a Christian? What kind of a Christian? How about a Wal-Mart Christian?

I mentioned earlier in one of my articles about how Christianity is assembling in a number of abandoned department store buildings in malls or in obsolete sports stadiums. Something about bigness in the American way of thinking that spells success. I don’t know how fundamentalism is spread around in other countries but I cannot but feel that the secular nature of American culture presently dictates some of its spiritual culture.

Looking at a TV evangelist in an auditorium of 15,000 souls, I am struck by the fact that Jesus in his entire lifetime probably did not preach to 15,000 souls. That Size and Success are the basic factors in the new Evangelism. Not enough to be a big church but we must build a medical center or a university in the name of our success. I mean in the name of Jesus and God. Whatever.

I listen to the telly and wait to hear the preacher’s words of wisdom since he has an audience the size of Jesus and his first century marketing capacity. I listen and all I hear is Pop Psychology. I don’t think psychology comes out of the spiritual side of any equation as much as it comes out of the secular side.

You are successful because you are successful and God would not dare to keep you from more success. Come again? Where are the thee-s and the thou-s and the Jesus part and the soul and the reward in heaven thingy?

Like I said, what passes for spirituality these days is a Sunday morning at Big-Mart, a cathedral of materialism and commerce. The old church buildings of the nineteenth century are being converting into condos and fitness spas and mini grocery marts. In the comfort of seclusion and the bubble of my home and armed with a channel changer as my only defense against evil, I listen and must turn off the preacher in wolf’s clothing.

Jesus’ message is simple and understandable and not something automatically discounted hour per hour. The secular nature of America is closer to the myth of Satan these days with it’s greed, envy, covet ness, and empty material non-spiritual success.

I sound a bit pompous but forgive me. I grew up in another age and have my own set feelings about God and spirituality. New is not better. Repackaged is not better. Big is definitely not necessarily a better thing.

Where ever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Lady of Tucson


A rather unknown form of folk art from primarily Mexico is the Retablo.

Originally, this art form was a primitive, religious icon painted onto wood. These items became more commonplace in the nineteenth century when most icons or sacred images were painted onto small squares of tin. These images adorned many a house with a small votive light in front of the image.

The image above is reminiscent of the standard Christian icon image of Mary. I label the image both in the English and Espanol – Our Lady of Tucson, Nuestra Senora de Tucson.

Having lived in the southwest for a number of years, one gets used to the standard pastel colors and desert themes of cactus and coyotes and Kokopelli petroglyph style images. In a way the sacred petroglyphs of some ancient unknown but native American culture such as Kokopelli have been reduced to the present secular culture that inhabits the same land as the ancient and greatly unknown and greatly undocumented culture that has come before.

The above image was suggested to me by a connect the dot sort of thing I saw on the side of a mountain. Only a Christian might see the image of Mary, not a vision, in a french fry or on dirty window panes or the shadows on the side of the mountain as I once witnessed for a moment. People from other cultures do not see through the same lense of interpretation. Standard iconic images suggest divinity but are only really a reflection of it. We see, feel, out from our soul and in a Christian iconic prism to interpret the universe.

Every culture in every time and place sees and hears the universal message of God but such images, if allowed, or such words, if interpreted correctly and in a cultural context manner only reinforce the local culture’s view of the world and beyond the world.

Every culture in every time and place has a valid but small and seperate focused interpretation of the eternal.

As the global culture expands, the things of similarity with the universal common message or program will reveal a new window, image, interpretation of us and the meaning of us against the current backdrop of the universe.






Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mary - Mother Earth


In the back stair unofficial R.C. story telling culture of nuns in my youth, the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe was one of those strange but miraculous stories that sticks with you the rest of your life. Stories, myths, legends come and go and bind cultures. Mary fills a lot of niches in our global diversity.

Through my casual studies of esoterics and myths over the decades, I keep coming back to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Wikipedia makes mention of the concept that Mexicans have faith in only two things, the National Lottery and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Of course eggheads and historians will tell you that the Marian apparition of Mary on a hill just outside Mexico City is in fact an overlay of the Mexican goddess Tonantzin, or Mother Earth. Etc. One has to wonder sometimes why one image, one icon sticks out and stays with the human spirit and culture.

As being pretty much a Cultural Christian from the Protestant side of the spectrum, Mary, the mother of Jesus has been relegated very little space, comment, devotion since Martin Luther’s reformation.

In my Catholic youth, the Mary Icon, (not an idol) was a major part of all R.C. church architecture and devotion.

I do not venerate saints. I pray directly to God.

Some years ago, I thought that from a cultural or an artistic point of view, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe would be a great idea if you scraped away a lot of the added on silver paint and cherubs which were added after the appearance of the original image.

A streamlined Virgin of Guadalupe I thought would be a good cultural christian icon. It would be something to match so much of the pagan add-ons since the early church and the basic Jesus – to be a useful secular, cultural, not sacred image.

The above image would fit into that agenda image concept of mine.

Of course I do not feel comfortable with Marian apparitions especially when people see Mary in a french fry or on calcium stained windows on an office building of I think in Florida.

Icons in Christianity are part of the mysticism of getting into a spiritual mood or feeling. This is not unlike breathing exercises in yoga or Buddhism. What ever works in a spiritual sense changes from geography to geography and culture to culture.

In any case, I show great respect to the beliefs of other people, cultures and religions. I expect the same measure of respect in return.

Have a thoughtful day.



Sunday, October 5, 2008

Prayer of Francis of Assisi

Lord,
make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Lord,
grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Cornerstone of the New Global Village

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Jesus said, “Show me the stone that the builders rejected. That is the cornerstone.”

Gospel of Thomas 66, Psalm 118:22-24, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Acts 4:11-12, 1st Peter 2:6-8

We travel further away, some of us, the older of us, from the village of our youth.

Some of us carry that image in our minds and our hearts till we die.

There will always be generational gaps as there are now between the manual past and the new improved and current virtual world of today. It is hard for someone such as me to recognize and try to travel between the different worlds and cultures and the times we encounter in a lifetime.

Most people do not seem to make any effort. They seem to just blend into the times.

I believe that Jesus as a native of Nazareth or as the Son of the Most High had a strange to us but normal to him view of the village of his origin.

As we get more complex in our interface with so many ideas, concepts, feelings, and results of an increasingly complex existence, we should take time out to think and wonder as to what we are in the midst of it all.

At the center of Jesus and his simple message, is the message of the village, planting and harvesting and the everyday joy of living. Sometimes I think that Jesus was more French in his outlook on life than we Americans. (That is a bit of Jesus related irony or humor – I am trying to see Jesus as a man of many dimensions and humor - is something that does not translate from age to age and especially from millennium to millennium – over all human nature has not changed – so humor is valid - is good. )

The modern western world seems at times to be out of sync with the new sterile global village already built but not easily lived in.

The past half century of extended family has in many ways replaced the nuclear family, a concept coined in the nuclear age, to denote the old fashioned concept of parents and children and to be in contrast to current realities. The new extended family of the west, rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes of traditional family concepts, came about because of divorce and step parents, step siblings, and weekend visitation rights. Our present culture, if you look hard at it, isn't the same fabric of Norman Rockwell paintings and idealized bygone eras.

Looking all about at the cultural flux, the collapse and building of many carnival like structures, economic and social, of post WWII America, and the new global culture, one has to wonder if Jesus in his primitive age could understand all the economic or moral challenges of this brave new world.

This new age is built on the concepts of the brain. The mind can calculate money, figures, enterprises, legal compromises with traditional morality.

The heart more than likely touches the soul. Jesus in my view would seem to be more of heart kind of guy than a braniac.

The point is that no matter where you live in time or space, in a village or a city, in a moral or amoral society, the individual must and usually does carry the village of one’s beginning in one’s mind and in one’s heart. So much else does not matter in the scheme of things.

My choice, my heart tells me what is fair or right or wrong or moral.

The individual, as opposed to the traditional group, is the building stone the builders of the past rejected.

The individual is the cornerstone of the new global village.

Today, the decisions of mere individuals affect not millions but billions of others in our new global reality – the New Jerusalem – of Heaven present here upon this earth.

Be mindful and of heart in the everyday decisions that affect both ourselves and our neighbors.
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