Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Man Jesus

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I think that a certain theme has developed in this blog as time goes on, as I examine or question all the many aspects of the Christian faith in a lifetime that has seen many changes and great upheavals.

I do go back to the basic Jesus, the community organizer. That title “community organizer” was a term sneered at by “me christians” at the Republican Convention in ironically the city of Saint Paul in Minnesota in early September.

What I have learned over the years and or felt important is the concept of empathy in the gospels telling the story of Jesus and his ministry. I think that the true christianity of this or any age should be that of “we christians”. Empathy is not specifically mentioned in the gospels but implied with the concept of love thy neighbor or going the extra mile so to speak.

There is a whole bunch of cultists out there that believe in some “kool-aid christianity” and believe in some rapture and escape from reality at the end of a world that they do not like or cannot handle living in on a day to day basis.

The real christians, the real people of God, who believe in one God and try to live a decent life within the context of a greater community are down here on the ground and not up in the air with any fantasy Jesus or strange prophesies in the questionable last book of General Constantine’s approved testament.

Getting back to community and community organizing is the hint in the gospels that Jesus was more feared not as the son of God but as being capable to overthrowing the dictatorship of pagan Rome by inspiring and inciting the masses to secular justice. Jesus had a divine mission and God was, is, the author of that mission on Earth.

In that context, Jesus, the man who would be messiah or savior or deliverer of an oppressed people, he started the spark of present Western Civilization whereby the individual, with a soul and worthy of dignity, is the most important part of any political, religious, economic or moral equations.

Of course, Greece had its democracy of elites. Jesus was, is and will always be the basis of hope and human dignity, the spokesman and soul for all people and all times. He is truly the alpha and omega, first and last and one of the people always.

Get out today and vote with your conscience.

God bless our democracy!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

In Search of Jesus


In one of those rare moments of coincidence, I ran into an old copy of U.S. News and World Report April 1996 in the laundry room of my apartment complex about a month ago. The title of the magazine was In search of Jesus.

A great deal of the article had to do with the Jesus Seminar, a group of christian scholars who with their various historic research and linguistics decided by committee vote what parts of the New Testament seem more valid than others.

If you in fact get some new bible and words in red denote the words of Jesus you probably have this professional elitist meal ticket christian enterprise to thank.

It is quite easy to dissect the faith. I have done it here and as a hobby for many years. I want to know the basic Jesus. I try to live the simple Christian message.

What irks me most about finding this magazine is how it got published and how only a few elite made a significant mark on modern cultural society and then blended back into the academic woodwork. That I on my own personal journey was perhaps mirroring some clues spewing out of the Jung’s cosmic unconsciousness related to the same subject.

What irks me is that as an elder in a Lutheran church, over a decade ago, I mentioned to the Pastor how I had read something in the past about this red balling and black balling of the so called words of Jesus. He did not throw any crumbs back to this dog in any part of the dialogue as if he was ignorant of the Jesus Seminar. He was not. I did not have a collar and was not part of the comfy smug club member’s only section of elites in the Christian church.

Well so much for elitism. I believe there is a job application out there on the Internet if you want to join the Jesus Seminar to add prestige to your scholarship and resume. First question is how many PhDs you have and in what areas are they in. That leaves me out in the cold for that job. Of course it may not pay anything to speak of. It is the prestige.

Why if you can chop the Lord’s prayer into three or four iffy segments of who was likely to have said this or said that – isn’t the Jesus Seminar more an autopsy of the Constantine Christian church and if so – why are some of you elitist ministers attached to this project – why haven’t you taken your collars off if all that is left of Christianity is you and your sterile academic input? Salaries and pensions would seem more valuable than the simple words, message and heart of Jesus’ ministry of so long ago.

Where is your faith?
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Unity of Diversity


The unity of all things diverse

( in the universe

of things too great to count )

is God





Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Secular Holiday (Halloween)

Halloween is a secular holiday – corruption of original language Hallowed Eve of a holy day - All Saints day - November 1. I see that that the Swedes do the weekend thing making all saint’s day on the first Saturday of November, a secular manipulation of a once sacred day in the past.

The Church in the past has merged local customs and let the pagan festival stuff outside the church building proper. In many ways the church did not convert totally so much as it coexisted on certain levels with local customs and local religions.

Halloween came to the United States via the Irish immigration in the mid nineteenth century as a part secular and part sacred tradition. The costumes children might wear on all hallowed eve would be of angels and saints and the like. Kids like dress up and an excuse to stay up late and whatever.

The custom in the USA grew with marketing from regional custom to national custom via the old 5 and 10 cent stores and Woolworth’s selling cheap costumes – anybody remember that defunct chain of stores?

For some reason, the Brits or the Brit kids got a hold of Halloween – kids, trick of treat – candy – the American culture is addictive in many ways wherever it spreads. I’ve have heard some Brits complain about how their traditional Autumn festival Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, is watered down with a merging in time, close dates with Halloween. I guess British children cannot get too much of good things.

In many ways, the problems the USA has in its foreign policy has to due with secular culture, marketing and such interfering with the sacred and in many cultures where sacred is indistinguishable from the secular. These other cultures might call themselves theocracies but in the bottom line of any government is power, taxes and crowd control. They have their own secular festivals and any thing foreign might be misunderstood or considered taboo.

Growing up in Philly, Halloween was no problem to the religious community. It was a local and a kid’s thing. I have seen in the past decades how some mentally ill fundies want to turn Halloween into some sort of Satanic thing. No doubt, the child in many fundies is an eternal prisoner of fear. This end of the world stuff and wanting the power and money of medieval popes is what I think is behind the drive, attempt, at banning a secular kid’s custom such as Halloween.

Great thing about Halloween, is that it spreads year to year, century to century and country to country. It must be a good and a human enterprise. Joy and fun should not be only in the realm of children. Or celebrated only one night a year.

Happy Halloween.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inspirational Drawing #9


"Aura of Four Trees and other Life in a Garden" - an inspirational drawing (#9)

Perhaps you can print it out and use it as a focus point in meditation as I do.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama and Nostradamus

I am of course fascinated by the prophets of the Old, New and Arabic Testaments. They tend to deal almost exclusively in the realm of the Sacred.

On the Secular side you have many carnie trained wannabe prophets like Edgar Cayce and some aging TV evangelists - but I won't go there.

And then there is Nostradamus.

For your reading pleasure/displeasure. Take of it what you will.

I ran into some incredible bullshit on the Internet with fake so-called bible codes about Obama (masked rascism and hatred) – from the fringe element of the human condition.

Then I ran into this quatrain from Nostradamus in his first century grouping that might fit the bill of present world history.

Century 1 : quatrain 76

"D'vn nom farouche tel proferé ƒera,
Que les trois ƒœurs auront fato le nom :
Puis grand peuple par langue & fai¢t dira,
Plus que nul autre aura bruit & renom."

"The man will be called by a barbaric name
that three sisters will receive from destiny.
He will speak then to a great people in words and deeds,
more than any other man will have fame and renown."

I researched a bit and found this synopsis segment of a published book.

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=35978

"Obama went to Kenya hoping to learn more about his dead father. His half sister Auma and his aunt Zeitumi met him and took him to meet Aunt Jane and other African family members"

The “three sisters” I look at are African sisters. One half sister and two aunts, sisters of his father Obama Sr.. Oh well it was a very rainy day yesterday. Too much time on my hands so to speak. I put both the French and English versions down for you French scholars. “Barbaric name”, I define in its most generic definition as a name of foreign or alien origin.

Prophecy is something that the modern age has not applied too much scientific analysis to. Prophecy belongs in a nineteenth century parlor game category to many. Who is to say if some of us do or do not have gifts to see beyond the day to day struggle of human living.

Belief systems are varied and of all colors of the spectrum. In most cases, we all believe want we want to believe and sometimes find so-called "proof" from ancient texts or medieval almanacs.

Whether the above is an accurate prophecy from the past- Whether it is about present events- It has been a very long vetting process for the Americans to choose their father/leader.

The future is what you make of it- Just like the present. If you are searching, you may:

"Seek and you shall (might)find".

Bless us all.


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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