Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Prayer for a New Day and a New Year

Prayer for a New Day and a New Year


Heavenly Mother, heavenly Father,

Holy and blessed is your true name.

We pray for your reign of peace to come,

We pray that your good will be done,

Let heaven and earth become one.

Give us this day the bread we need,

Give it to those who have none.

Let forgiveness flow like a river through us,

From each one to each one to each one.

Lead us to holy innocence

Beyond the evil of our days,

Come swiftly Mother, Father, come!

For yours is the power and the glory and the mercy---

Forever your Name is All in One.


(Parker Palmer, Quaker writer and teacher, Wisconsin)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

HDGF – How does God feel? – Climate Change - Cancun

Adam and Ever were the first humans with God given souls or so I was taught in a relaxed modern RC way of looking at ancient history, literature and dogma.

In a way the story of Adam and Eve, not appreciating what was given to them, is a story that describes mankind to this day.

God created a beautiful, intricate world and mankind is only lately content to harm and destroy it. Climate change would cost money and even beyond that make some abandon the extremes of greed, and ignorance attached to blatant greed, all over the planet.

One only has to see the pollution cloud constantly over some major cities on this planet to know that progress has its price. To step back and try to imagine as God imagined a pristine world, one knows that God, against his better judgment, created man and let him have, by default, dominion over this planet.

There is a saying these days in mod language WWJD – What would Jesus Do? Well I have been thinking too much and HDGF – How does God Feel? – about what man has done and is doing to harm the environment of this gift to the human race.

I think that God feels sad about at least part of the bargain in his creation of the human race, through evolution, within the framework of his greater creation plan for the universe and not just earth.

There is a hidden clause in the contract of this whole creation thing and man in relation to God and his planet. That clause is that you only get one planet and once you use it up – the intelligent design of the whole matter is that mankind, in spite of a kind gesture of a living creating God, becomes extinct.

Intelligent design is common sense to some and should be looked at with a lot more intricate side effects than wishful bible thumping thinking. Don’t expect miracles along with mythical raptures to clean up this dirty planet any time soon.

Some religions preach a middle way. This middle way is supposed to not reach to extremes of belief one way or another. Extremes also apply to practices.

As I observe the secular American world, I have to say that a middle way is not visible. The extremes of Secularism or throwing out the rule book by those who should have known better is what has brought our economy to great waste.

Rather than point fingers, I have to say that a godless adherence to the goodness of greed is what we in America suffer from - too much extreme secularism at the moment. Being your brother’s keeper is not considered very often on a micro or macro level these days. The secular myth destroys the sacred myth time and time again in practice.

Economic bubbles popping may slowdown the human race’s sprint to self destruction. Which bubble next to pop – Gold and precious metals once corporations start “investing”? Perhaps there is a silver lining to this present “great recession”.

What I keep coming back to is the fact that no banker or mortgage finance company higher up has ever sat through the process of making an old fashioned mortgage, its paperwork, from inception to closing. This is one of the core reasons for the present economic meltdown worldwide – a dependence on note paper that is not even kept in the original mortgage file anymore so to speak. The servicers of loans have outsourced clerical oversight overseas on this one as well and all to save human scale costs and boost bonuses – greed – greed- greed.

As a person who use to loan process and all the way to close with a title company, I cannot believe any of these turd bankers have a clue. The back office has been outsourced to Asia and the front office has nothing better to do but get drunk on greed while Rome burns.

Greed Yes. Incompetence Yes. But where does this mess finally play out. Slowly over a decade or does this thing unravel more quickly. And beyond that is the environment that cannot sustain us forever if we choose to ignore common moral sense in the management of this world.

These big bank bandaid solutions in Greece, Ireland, Portugal are only time killers and not solutions. They are only indications of a half assed approach to common sense or secularized versions of right and wrong in everyday living. A balanced budget, a middle way, should be a moral budget in the scheme of things. There is a place for sacred and or moral approaches to secular problems.

The danger of more bubbles bursting in the speculative investment world are nothing compared to the great plagues and ultimate destruction of our planet that is supposed to be prophesized here and there in sacred literature and dogmatic myth. Mankind in its enlightened position can change the equation dramatically when necessary. It is possible to change a negative future into more things positive.

We are what me make. We are what we are able to keep of the bounty of nature. Nature seems to be tired and worn out. A current climate change conference in Mexico is not likely to change any government or corporation’s mind about how we should treat the environment in order to keep it a sustainable life giving force to humanity.

One can pray and ask God to put men and women of courage into public office. Like I said miracles are not likely to happen soon in our extremes of the need for proper caretaking of this earth.

In the end of the old story, Adam and Eve are thrown out of Paradise for not thinking, for not obeying a rule book, for ignoring their situational common sense. God was perhaps not unreasonable for creating free will and testing it. From the beginning, He knew that the human experiment was just a crap shoot. He seems to be something of a gambler and the stakes are always high.

But hey, He is God and He has a plan. Hopefully the children of earth wake up soon and decide on a middle way between the extremes of Secularism and Religion and recreate the world in the image of God – betting too on what He saw as our potential and not what He undoubtedly knew were our failings.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Condom Head No More ?

I have to suppose that in dealing with the Roman Church, that traditions or rituals that are thousands of years old must outrank ideas from a modern age.

No doubt a lot of internal shouting from bishops to the seat of Peter within the very thick walls of the Vatican has finally registered a small amount of modern common sense on a pontiff steeped in the past.

The pope, far from changing any official church doctrine, has in a way and in an unofficial sense commented on the use of condoms to prevent the spread of disease, as in the case of Aids in Africa where it is of epidemic proportions in some areas.

Without changing anything, everything changes on the comments Benedict XVI make in an upcoming book due out this week - Peter Seewald - The Light of The World.

Pope’s remarks on condoms
It seems a turnaround from the pontiff’s stance on the issue in March 2009 during a visit to Africa, when he went as far as saying that condoms “aggravated” the Aids problem.

“In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality,” the head of the Catholic church said, giving as an example a male prostitute having sex with a client…

“I think it is very good that the pope sees the discussion in the worldwide church and he listened to other bishops who said there had to be discussion about condoms when we speak about Aids,” Florian Flohr, spokesman for the Catholic church of Lucerne, told swissinfo.ch.

“It’s very important now that the pope says the same thing.”

Can the pontiff’s remarks be regarded as a revolution? “It’s going too far to say it’s a revolution, but it’s a change of view. There is no more taboo of speaking about it and I think that is very good because the condom is not the most important thing,” he said.

“The most important thing is that people are responsible for their sexuality and that they think about it.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Dark Age Here in America?

I have been trying to not be too political lately in this blog but this is what is on my mind of late from observation of all things TV and NET.

Are we in a Dark Age and don’t know it?

I called several times the other day to get a doctor’s appointment. Get put on hold forever, hung up, next time the phone rolls over to a message service and (thank God not a robot answering machine).

The telephone thing bothers me. We have been putting up with it for a few decades now. Time was when progress and technology was thought of as a good thing. Creates jobs.

I heard a stat from Olbermann the other night that nearly everyone in Congress is a millionaire or close to it. That on a day that the f*cks in the GOP shot down an UI extension. Perhaps the history books will label this Congress “the millionaires’ Congress” in retracing the events that lead up to riots and the downfall of yet another Versailles.

Are we in a Dark Age?

The Chinese are upping banking reserves in response to Quantitative Easing QE2. Too much “hot money” from speculators is suddenly showing up on Chinese shores coincidently with the recent QE2 from Bernanke. That easing is supposed to cause inflation which is a “good” thing as opposed to deflation which is a “bad” thing. Economists are such professional bullshit artists and ponzi masters IMHO. The money eased up by the Fed is supposed to trickle down to be loaned out to American businesses to create American jobs. Yeah right.

Getting back to robots such as telephone answering systems, you have ATMs, no more human tellers, and of course the computer (another robot of sorts) which eased millions of American jobs into being outsourced overseas. Local talent is obsolete these days especially if it needs healthcare as an benefit. A very unchristian attitude toward local workers and their families IMHO.

Just a few gripes from a person old enough to remember when without robots, the systems and the factories and the people worked and idiots with Ivy League degrees did not pretend to run the boardrooms, the FED or the nation.

Is the term "globalization" just a technical term for system rot and or "Dark Age" for some (most) ?

Are human beings obsolete in this brave new corporate (non-producing/spreadsheet) world? If obsolete, what do we do with them ???

Are we in a Dark Age or what?

We here reading know that the first and second world of looking at things is dominant. There is a whole third and fourth world still out there as well.

Perhaps my fear of a dark age is my own slipping into a lower level of everyday economic hell caused by the present faux "great recession" - (real depression).

At one time I had this futuristic vision in terms of all our communications being a unifying thing for the planet. I had envisioned European shows with English or English subtitles being shown in America. But all we get here are a few Brit Coms, decades old, and BBC America which is sanitized of indelicate items.

These to compete on cable with Fox and MSNBC. I see this fascination and ratings with something like "Dancing with the Stars" as some throw back hunger for people TV - like the fifties and sixties and like what I have witnessed of some Euro-vision programming... mine is not a complete window to see and or comment on these things?

Now the GOP and their "moat around America" mentality seems closing in with the new Congress. I fear the lights are going out all across America and they shall not be turned back on in my lifetime.

To me, despite all the possibilities of a golden age, it is a new dark age here in America.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Secularism, Sadducees, Age to Come

I am using a Year C lectionary for the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost and the Gospel passage Luke 20:27-38 to scribble a few thoughts.

If anything, the historic Jesus did not like all the rules, the written rules of the old Judaism. It is not surprising that he gets into conversation with members of the Sadducee sect that some say was more a political party than a true branch of religious belief. They only believed in Mosaic Law and did not believe in what they could not see.

You might say that the Sadducees were the prime Secularists of Jesus’ time and place.

Anyway, this sect did not believe in resurrection of the soul after death. To make a point, they pose a question to Jesus about seven men married to the same women over time, dying and having no children. The question is which husband will have the woman at his side in the next life if resurrection is real.

Jesus replies that there is no marriage in the next life. The resurrected are “like the angels” meaning they have no sex or permanent body in the “age to come”. The spirit or the soul is without exact matching human or earthly qualities. We become “children of the resurrection” to God the Father.

This is where Jesus is the real deal. He does not write things down. He responds with the insight of the divine side of his nature and seeing a different way of looking at the great beyond is born. This is a paradigm shift in western thought.

Those of Islam will say “the Koran teaches us that…”. No Angel Gabriel is needed to deliver a written message to Jesus’ crowd from the Almighty over and beyond what is already written through the generations since Moses. Jesus is the word made flesh.

Jesus is the real deal and discloses, reveals, looks through the veil that separates us from our ultimate nature in close proximity and union with God.

So too, the nature of a timeless eternal God is revealed in that we may view history through the lens of our mortality - As for God:
37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Luke 20:27-38 (New International Version)

The Resurrection and Marriage

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sabbath Tales

I have met and know of some remarkable men in my life.

The man who baptized me or more accurately the man who was founder and pastor of my parish in Philly was a fanatic of sorts. He started out life as an Episcopalian, changed Christian registration to R.C. when in the seminary and went on to start a new R.C. parish. The parish was sort of in between a lot of other established parishes and the land in between those other churches began to be developed, houses built, and there was a need for a new church, school etc. in the first decades of the twentieth century in that part of Philly.

Let me call this man Father Ed. He was of the old “God is to be feared” school of beliefs. He was an Old Testament kind of guy.

He was dead by the time I reached first grade. I have heard stories about him. One from a home inspector who related the story about being an altar boy in my parish and being five minutes late for mass. Father Ed ranted into him at the end of service about how you can’t be late for God. The priest also made the boy serve everyday for a year at 6:00 a.m. mass as punishment. That priest made an impression on that guy but I don’t think that Father Ed made a friend.

Then, as it happens sometimes in life, a lady knocked on the door and said that she had been raised in our house and asked if she might get a quick nostalgic view inside. She then got into some stories about the neighborhood. The one story I remember most was about Father Ed.

There was a Russian tailor in our neighborhood. He also did dry cleaning and his store was a block away from our house. We did business with the man. In the story of the visiting lady we finally understood why some of our neighbors took their dry cleaning three blocks away and not use the local guy. The Russian was also a Jew and a good tailor I might add. My parents, for working class, were flaming liberals. Being Jewish did not matter to them. That and my father liked to haggle.

The lady went on to say that as a child, she and her friends used to taunt the man. Let me say anti-Semitism was rampant in America back then in the 1930's, at least in this neighborhood. Well Father Ed got wind of the fact that some of his parishioners and children were harassing the man and boycotting his business. Father Ed made it a point to visit the tailor and bring his dry cleaning four blocks from the rectory. In good weather, Father Ed sat on the store stoop and smoked a cigar together with the tailor as a means to make a statement of sorts to the neighborhood. Apparently Father Ed and the tailor became good friends as the result of this local anti-Semitism.

Which leads me to the story of my next door neighbor in Arizona. Perry had a remarkable life. Left home and dairy farm in Minnesota when he was fifteen in the middle of the depression and headed west. He wanted to be a cowboy and that he became for some years. Then when World War II broke out he went up to Canada and joined the fight. He hit Juno beach on D-Day as a lieutenant in the Canadian army. He married a Brit, brought his war bride home and settled into life in Arizona B.A.C. (before air conditioning).

Perry joined the post office and then worked his way up to postmaster before retirement. I got to talk to him over the fence as a neighbor. Good stories. Went into his house a few times and vice versa. All in all, he was a great neighbor.

Then one day his wife came to us to tell us that Perry had skin cancer, that they did some necessary surgery but that the disease may have spread. I am not sure how all this got started. Perhaps my neighbor’s wife was talking to my wife and then the topic came up about me being an elder in a local church. Apparently Perry had no religious ties. I would have assumed that he might have attended church in his youth in Minnesota. His wife asked if I would talk to him.

I went over to the man in his house and tried to give comfort. I don’t think he wanted me there. Perhaps he was in denial of his own mortality. No doubt he sensed how green I was in giving comfort. I admit it. I couldn’t do him any good. Between his resistance and my inexperience, I did not serve his needs very well sad to say. Perry died suddenly about two weeks later while working in the garden. We went to give comfort to the wife next door that night and then we attended a graveside service a few days later.

This is where I get some reality checks put into my little bubble world of beliefs. I met Episcopal nuns at the graveside. I never knew such an animal existed. They had educated Perry’s children. There were lots of neighbors, relatives and co-workers from the post office. The most interesting person I met was a female Rabbi. Perry was Jewish?

I was a bit taken aback. I had heard the story about how Perry and his war bride had built the second house in this desert housing community in 1948. When I closed on the house next door, I got my deed of title or whatever and included in the paperwork was a covenant of restrictions set on the property when it was built.

That covenant was of course stamped with a label “Null and Void under Federal Civil Rights Act of...” The nasty thing about that covenant was the few pages that made it quite clear in a long range of specifics that no ...”Jews, negroes or dogs...” were allowed in this housing development etc.

As it turned out, Perry had no religious affiliation. His wife was Jewish. I chuckled about how a man like Perry, this cowboy, this war hero, this postmaster must have laughed at the WASP covenant of restrictions. Here was a real individual. Here was an old fashioned American. Here was a man.

Perry had made arrangements with the rabbi to be buried in solidarity with his wife’s belief system. Was Perry a believer, an atheist, an agnostic? I don’t know. In retrospect I don’t care. I knew the man. He was good ethical man. I prayed for him.

Part of being a cultural Christian is that you can embrace people of other beliefs, respect them and still retain you basic feel for yourself and not compromise your basic faith.

America’s greatest strength is and has always been its diversity.

Amidst this eclectic graveside audience, I had an epiphany. I also think that that paradigm shift thing happened.

It was fascinating to hear the twenty third psalm read in Hebrew. I am not certain that the Kaddish was said there but I realized something about my own belief systems. Christianity is wrapped up in a lot of layers of traditions, sacred tradition, faith, grace, propaganda, love, hate and on an on.

There under a blistering Arizona sun, prayers for a Jew were said in the desert. Were these the similar prayers that Joseph of Aramathea read over Jesus’ broken and lifeless body on Good Friday at twilight, eve of Sabbath?

You could be surrounded with stone cathedrals, and stained glass and the gospels could be read from a Gutenberg bible and the minister could be wrapped in gold cloth. But could you get any more from prayers at the end of your life than my neighbor got that day or when Jesus was interred and they rolled the stone in front of the tomb?

It makes you think. It made me think.



http://thisculturalchristian.blogspot.com/2008/06/sabbath-tales.html
 

June 13, 2008

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Wealth of People

While the Americans were plotting a revolution with England in 1776, a Brit, Adam Smith was publishing his book The Wealth of Nations. That book is a first of sorts and the basis of all economics since. It dealt with forces of free enterprise, supply, demand and production.

Little has changed in economics since then except that the forces of a market can be manipulated by the juggernaut of computers and their undue influence on markets by a handful of market hedge fund speculators. Only numbers matter and not people.

The point of this is to point out that fact and to remark that Mr. Smith did not seem to value humanity in his equations because the book should have been called The Wealth of People – taking into account the true value of human life within nations.

People are not commodities. But …

People produce wealth. People have talent. People have experience. People work creating wealth. That is, when they are allowed to work. The formula these days is for big banks to make big loans to big companies and for big paper profits reported on big electronic spreadsheets. And the big media reports the big economic news. Smoke and mirrors.

More than the value of wealth produced by labor is the wealth of the individual soul that will live passed this grubby economic state of affairs called life.

There seems to be a great dividing line in the media these days between perceived PowerPoint reality and the everyday reality of us the people – and our economic and spiritual well being.

Valuing people is Christian. Not valuing people is anti-people, anti-Christian or at least as some post modern definitions of Christianity go.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Secularism and the Tea Party

Christianity and the Tea Party = zero.

It does not take rocket science to notice the underlying unchristian message of the so called Tea Party political movement.

The primary underslying message of racism accumulates evidence with birthers who claim that the President was not even born in this country. Obama was born in Hawaii, one of those last two strange states that entered the union in 1959. Hawaii is the one with a bunch of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Alaska is the large chunk of ice west of Canada.

Alaska has bred a favorite daughter in the form of Sarah Palin, a half term Governor. Palin’s Tea Party appeal of uttering words, verbal clutter onto the media airwaves does not make her a media whore but she is trying. While no direct racist, Palin buddies up to every screwball idea that comes out of the seemingly disenfranchised white middle class movement. In a way, her’s is part of a populist movement that springs up in hard times in America. The times make Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin shapes nothing and just stands there signing American flags for fans.

Together or separately, the Tea Party represents dissent. Big government is a problem if it is mismanaged. It is. But it is mismanaged by the Congress that puts politics first and fiscal responsibility second, third or wherever.

The Tea Party comes at you with more angles than a hand cut diamond. Birthers, anti-large government, get rid of minimum wage and social security, eliminate citizenship for the children born here of illegal immigrants etc. This makes for a stew of many flavors and textures. Nothing but fiscal responsibility and a good economy will get America out of its present economic hole in the ground.

Politics need to change to cooperation, a Christian virtue, on both sides of the aisle if that is the stated goal of a future together and not the future separate and splintered into a thousand petty interests. Chaos. Chaos is definitely a breeding ground of things unchristian.

When I use the word unchristian up front, I am talking about the lack of empathy that the average Tea Party-er has for the other guy in America. Eliminating the minimum wage or social security is kinda anti-human – would you not say?

Social safety nets help keep the big ball of wax together and moving along. Draconian nineteenth century ideas need not apply to the present situation which is what most Tea Party ideas end up sounding like.

So in the midst of entrenched secularism and atheism, the Tea Party sits waging its own agenda using standards surrounding them, namely secular, and definitely not Christian.

The GOP, having been the Christian Party these past twenty odd years now waits for Tea Party dissent to translate into votes for what is now a secular agenda of the moneyed few against the masses it would appear to me.

The media is partly to blame for this. The corporations that own the media are also part of some at present grand conspiracy of everyone having America shooting itself in the foot on real issues rather than cooperate and get back to being a reasonable great country again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tastykakes and the Like


Orange candy slices

Dusted in confectioner’s

Sugar

Call to mind a childhood

Treat sold without

Wrapping and handled

By the candy store

Owner’s bare hands.

The world really was

Unwrapped at one point.

No apology.

Things tasted better too

No time expiration date.

If it was good, it was gone

Before you knew it.

Global does not mean good

It just means bigger –

Not better than before.

Potato chips and pretzels

Were sold by the pound

And dispensed out of tin

Cans with glass and metal lids

At the grocer’s main counter.

Put into plain brown paper bags.

More hand work. No gloves.

You knew the grocer. He was

Your neighbor too in a way.

The world stood flat and small

And secure. Which brings me

Back to Tastykakes in Philly

And the exoticness of eating

Pie without a slice in a pan

But getting the essence of pie

In a paper package. Oh the

Calories of pure sugar.

Pies and chocolate cupcakes.

Mom’s never tasted as good

As packaged heaven in a

Lunchtime snack.

And the soda pops

Frank’s had real flavors

All full 12 ounces

Orange, cherry, grape

Even pineapple (yuk)

Got talked into that one by

The grocer trying to move

An unfavorite flavor.

Can still taste disappointment

On my tongue to this day.

Oh well. Potato salad was

Also sold by the pound.

Bring your own dish

And I brought it home

On my tricycle. Can’t imagine

How I did not break the bowl?

And rye bread on the weekend

No paper package – just a paper

Union made stamp glued onto the

Crust. Consumed on Sunday

For breakfast with bacon, eggs

And home fries. Amazing how

Much memory sings when you

Bite into a Tastykake

Or the like that has

Not changed that much over

Some decades back to your

Childhood.



Raymond Burke - Pope Pius XIII ?


Perrhaps this is all petty on my part. But I have to say something.

Joe the Pope has just named 24 new cardinals, bishops to the red hat. Two Americans, two bureaucratic hacks, Archbishop Wuerl of Washington D.C. and Archbishop Raymond Burke of the equivalent of a Vatican Supreme Court have scored an appointment.

Wuerl’s witch hunt for gay spouses, domestic partners, on healthcare for diocese employees and Burke’s remarks, demands, cold steel in John Kerry’s back during the 2004 Presidential campaign have not gone unrewarded. Burke as “Scalia of God”, possibly changing the outcome of an election.

I called Wuerl’s witch hunt “creative hate” as directed to a minority that has no sanctions with the church. Those are strong words but I felt them at the time of the incident in March.  I still do.

I don’t see anything happening for Donny on the Pope scene. I do see a behind the scenes American conservative plot to get Latin mass Burke elected as an ultra-conservative and first American born pope.

Ray and the Vatican hierarchy only represents themselves and not the vast majority of all shades of Christianity, myself included.

Part of the Abuse scandals in the RC church began and ended with Vatican procedures which did or did not exist over recent decades. Where was Donny or Ray? Unity of doctrine is a necessary part of any institution but the church fumbled every step of the way on the abuse issue and is still fumbling.

I fear great damage to or the end of Christianity as we know it if Ray Burke ever gets elected as Pope, a Pius XIII.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Atheism - defining it

Without God. Without Religion. Without sensitivity to human values. A great big ugly me only world. Greed. Progress. Secularism. How do you define atheism?

No easy or simple definition. The civilization that has evolved since the last ice age is strutting somewhat sans many of the ancient belief or superstition operating systems these days.

Cold, mechanical, soulless. The modern age is the modern age. Some of us see the lack of culture everyday related to a lack of respect for centuries old traditions that many times are also the local culture or the local religion.

A burger from a Yankee fast food place is symbolic of the changing face of global culture, capitalism and human values.

The American middle class model, which the whole world seems to desire, will strip the planet of all dignity and resources unless we somehow learn to not only conserve but preserve traditional ways.

Global integration to some godless model or ideal stands side by side with long standing models. Tomorrow is as bleak as we individually choose to make life. That, without outside forces of economics pushing us along an uncharted untraveled road of life.

The message of Jesus in his Gospels is as real and raw as it was two thousand years ago. A man’s soul is perhaps the sum of all the values that a man holds in life. If we serve ourselves, do we serve others as well? How to live in the world and to be free from the outside forces of change that want us to conform to somebody else’s model of living.

Some Christians may fear atheism as a belief system. Some Christians do not practice what they preach or understand the message.

The message is not to sell your soul in this life and to prepare for a kingdom not of this earth after we pass away. Godless, soulless atheism has always existed in the selfish ways of men and women.

The capacity to bring heaven to earth has always been there. Trick is in trying to focus on the goals of Jesus’ message to love your neighbor as yourselves and in equal measure to attachment and love for the Creator God.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Angela Merkel - Racist?

A new round of playing to the paying masses.  Multiculturalism does not work according to the Chanchellor of Germany.  Shades of veiled 1930's German rhetoric???  Racism?

Amidst the politicians catering rhetoric to the xenophobic masses of Merkel’s Germany is a brief article denouncing her opinion.  

Why Angela Merkel is wrong about ‘multiculturalism’
As a religious and cultural atheist that grew up in a Muslim family I admit to being somewhat torn.

Torn between meh, it’s not me they’re targeting and oh crap, it’s my mum they’re targeting. What is clear, however, is that the inflammatory words of craven politicians hoping to exploit fear of another to secure their arthritic grasp on power misses the damn point.

I grew up in a society that allowed the son of an immigrant to turn potential into ability and into achievement. It did so, broadly, free of any prejudice based on my religious upbringing or ethnicity.

The global future demands multiculturalism to work much in the way it has worked in the United States up until this point.  Bad economic times may turn opinions gray but the truth is that there is no going back to the world of the 1970’s and before.

Mary MacKillop, Saint of Oz


There is a certain magic in the RC church when they do the old thing right – proclaim saints of common people. These dead holy saints are supposed to inspire us spiritually and make us more spiritual as well.

In the case of Australia’s first saint, Saint Mary MacKillop, 1842-1909, a lot of the nitty gritty of founding and managing a religious order down under is secondary to her having routed out an abusive priest in the ranks of the faithful.

Nun whose order fought abuse becomes saint
 
Mary got excommunicated in retaliation for her initiating the courage to speak out against an abusing priest. Politics in the church remains the same then as now. Only later, in retrospect, do we see what a lifetime of prayer and sacrifice can do and what effect it has on the life of Christ’s Church and the life of a nation, Australia.

Indeed, Mary, Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop today, shows us how hard work and spirituality can make a difference in so many lives.

The RC church as the largest arm of the Christian faith continues to proclaim saints of the deceased as examples of spirituality or how it should work in everyday life.

The pictures of Mary MacKillop show an intense look. One has to wonder sometimes how saintly one was really in life as opposed to looking at the whole matter post mortem.

In any case the life of the RC church goes on despite human nature and the human nature of the church behind the divine founding and reasoning of a large institution that brings spiritual success stories to the forefront of everyday endeavors.

I don’t necessarily pray to saints as much at to God direct. It is interesting however the RC tradition of trying to attract a saint to be your middle man or woman with God.

The Christian faith is diverse and ancient and ever seeking a new way of expressing “thy will be done on earth”.

Amen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Morality, Gravity and Foreclosures



This week the banks backed off of foreclosures because the paperwork involved in 19th century protocols that 21st century computers did not have a clue about.

The morality of foreclosure never existed. The legality of having the right papers to sign in mass foreclosure brought even the mighty banks to a temporary halt. Or at least until a judge somewhere says go ahead with the process.

The computer speeds things up and creates volume. It does not however create quality or accuracy. These front office jockeys who have outsourced half our jobs off to China and India do not know how the back office works or is supposed to work.

It is as if corporations are all sitting in luxury carriages and have dismissed the horse and coachman mainly due to the expense of the horse and the coachman’s meager wages. It all goes unnoticed if the traffic is all down hill which it is at the moment. Does gravity really run our largest corporations at the present moment and not common sense???

God save us all from the U.S.S. Titanic mindset of the idiots in charge of business and government.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Age of Disappointment (in us)

Age of disappointment


When them that has – has

And thems that don’t have – Don’t

Anymore.

No increase COLA, Social Security

Cost of Living Adjustment,

won’t go through again for next year.

Starve the elderly and the Disabled

Shouts the press (obsolete).

Functions the Gov’ment

(dys-func-tion-al)

Oh well. Horatio Alger is not dead.

Was he ever really alive?

A nation’s social obligations stop

At the door to the Senate.

Powerful guys and “C” street pagans.

Oh well again. It is an age of

Disappointment in the waste of brains

It takes to not run a corporation right.

People were factored out a long time

Ago in any economic equation.

Tax equation especially.

Anybody with an MBA knows that.

Business, the new secular religion

What does that mean?

Worship of the buck – oh f**k

That what that means.

Religion is dead. Christ too by

Last count – oh Christian church

What do you stand for?

Sin and Salvation.

What ever happened to people

To life, to day to day living?

Wholistic life - medicine???

Yeah right!

One hundred odd words to go.

Age of disappointment

In people, institutions, religion

Where do we turn this thing around?

When???

Too many college degrees (aside)

Practical, manual, labor used

To build nations. Other nations,

not us Anymore.

Now spreadsheet jockeys only Jockey

(don’t know the horse)

And make paper profits on computers

Computers. Another disappointment.

The ability of a robot to make a

Better world. Whose world-

middle class world?

Shrinking class. A disappointment.!?

Boomers mostly, then X

What did I do to change the world?

Very little. Just Death and taxes

To fall back on. That’s my excuse.

What’s yours?

Taxes. Taxes. Taxes.

Age of Disappointment

Crash coming - of faith -

In the system, in the day -

In the flow of it all.

What does the world look like

Feel like tomorrow?

Blah! America.

Age of low expectations.

Age of disappointment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wayback Machine

“Wayback Machine”


The photo on facebook

Was labeled as “Wayback Machine”

It was a group photo

Of the Choir at some

Ancient catholic school

I went to as a child.

Posted by Lou Gould.



The group of the choir

Is of children, were we

That really young or

Small as well?



Don’t remember a group photo

Of the Altar Boys ever being taken.

Ashame not to be able to see

Myself as so young and small

And wearing the best dress

Of White Cassock and

Red Cape, Gloves, starched Collar

And red silk bow. How Formal!



Standing on the main staircase

Of Saint Joan of Arc in

Philly is a revelation to me.

The staircase does not seem

As wide as memory would

Have me believe.



Atop many steps of many

Boys in Black Cassocks

And White Surpluses

Are the eighth graders

Attired in White Cassock

And Red Cape.



The Altar Boys also wore

White and red on

Special occasions. Easter,

Christmas, Bishop’s visit.

And the pastor used to

Whistle through his teeth

And he spoke and gave

Homilies.



And “Spongy”, Sister Sponsa Regis,

In charge of the altar boys.

Her favorite line to the Altar Boys

Who got too rowdy in the changing

Room was “You are convenient but

Not necessary” for the service

About to start. Silence. Dead

Silence. Got us every time.



The school is closed now

Designed by George Audsley,

A renaissance man by any

Standard. 11 Broadway,

St Joan of Arc and the

Wanamaker Organ. What

A mind!



Memory to refresh, reboot

Sometimes to see a final

Perspective. A lot of eyeglasses

On a lot of kids in a

Crowded picture.



Memories don’t remember

Sometimes until one sees

The facts, the photo, the past.

Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Micah Challenge - Praying for the poor

Micah Challenge - Praying for the poor

An article from Britain and the worldwide prayer for justice tomorrow.


In the light of recent discussion of prayers, it's worth considering that 60 million evangelical Christians around the world will be praying tomorrow for justice around the world in the hope of abolishing extreme poverty. Leaving God out of it, as they would not wish to do, this is still an impressive and potentially important ritual, because it marks a turn towards social justice from one of the most traditionally conservative kinds of Christianity.
The prayer will be used in churches around the globe on 10.10.10. A children's prayer is also available.

O Lord, our great and awesome God, loyal to your promise of love and faithful to all who honour and obey you, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who live in poverty,

we cry out for those who are denied justice and

we weep for all who are suffering.

We confess that we have not always obeyed you.

We have neglected your commands and have ignored your call for justice.

We have been guided by self-interest and lived in spiritual poverty.

Forgive us.

We remember your promises to fill the hungry with good things, to redeem the land by your mighty hand and to restore peace.

Father God, help us always to proclaim your justice and mercy with humility, so that, by the power of your Spirit, we can rid the world of the sin of extreme poverty.

As part of your global church, we stand with millions who praise and worship you.

May our words and deeds declare your perfect goodness, love and righteousness to both the powerful and the powerless

so that your Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Repurpose, Emerging, Christ

The word “repurpose” came up on TV as a substitute for the word recycle and reuse. I heard the word and thought of the emerging church movement that wants to adapt to a post modern way of doing things in worship.


The word repurpose touches something in me that says that maybe the emerging church movement should step back and look at the original purpose of Jesus and his gospels and look less at institution(s) that have in fact emerged around Jesus and his message over the centuries.

Indidvidually, people should decide what is needed in their hearts in response to the message of Jesus. Then institutions should recycle tradition around repurpose together with the individual and grow into the next centuries long phase of the Christian Spirit and Church.

Amanpour and the “Radical Mosque”


In her approach to reshape her new anchor of This Week on ABC, Christiane Amanpour should be applauded for her efforts to increase the dialogue in the public forum. No statue of George Will this week to parrot the right view.

The “radical Mosque” is a term used by evangelical Gary Bauer on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour to describe the average place of Muslim worship infiltrated by “radical Islam”.

The show this week was a forum format – a “digital town hall” - with many people in the news discussing among other things the proposed Islamic Center proposed for two blocks from the new World Trade Center.

In the move forward toward the future, there is still a lot of anger in America and fear toward the religion of Islam.

I have no answers. The act of violence of 911 opened a door to America whereby its basic beliefs among them the concept of the freedom of Religion was brought to the forefront to include a once foreign to Europeans belief of Islam.

Time will hopefully heal the wounds of 911. Time will hopefully make it okay to have an historically alien to European culture religion exist in Ameria.

I believe that the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan will be built. The original presentation had too many loose ends that eventually invited dissent on the matter. Too many things to mention. The location of two blocks from the old WTC is the main trigger for a lot of people who are still lingering in the past and have not addressed the new world of post 911 reality.

A globally small world of the future will have to feel comfortable with all beliefs and religions. It is hard ground to take or shape in that possible new Global Village reshaped after 911.

America’s traditional isolation ended 911 and a brave new world was born. Practicing one’s religion will continue in America. Tolerance has to make a notch or two upward on our scales of recognition. The whole thing to heal takes time and effort. Think positively.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

thoughts of the day

Shades of color and subtlety count.

Metaphors and symbols matter.

Gelt lends credence to any idea.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pew Forum Test on Religion

More on the Pew Forum Survey regardng ignorance about religion in America.  Take an abbreviated test from the same longer survey.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What do you know about God?

An interesting article about stats and who knows what etc. about God and religion.  The numbers are an interesting insight into the whole complex matter of ideas and realities regarding religion.

Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn't identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.


Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren't sure — were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Beloved and Respected Teachers"

A lot a talk about improving education these days.  Here is something from the past regarding something perhaps missing in the modern education equation.



Boston English High school is listed as the oldest public high school in the United States founded in 1821.




Most notable among its alumni are J. P Morgan, financier, Louis Sullivan, architect, Leonard Nimoy, actor, Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam and two American Generals, William H.C.Whiting CSA, and Matthew Ridgway.



The school started out to give a practical no frills Yankee style education for those going beyond grade school in the early part of our republic. No frills meant that it taught English but no Latin as in a more traditional academic setting of the time.



I was not familiar with the history of the institution until I ran across some documents in a flea market. The penmanship alone of one bygone document overwhelmed me. I will shortly share some of the words attached to that bygone penmanship.



You can look back on your own education. You can look at the education your child is receiving. You see many discrepancies in how a newer generation is being taught and wonder what values taught to you have been discounted in the process of the progress of American civilization.



Your child's homework makes them busy. Assignments on the Internet and cardboard story boards that the parent should not but does invariably finish for the child seem the norm. But is the child being taught? What do teachers do these days besides measure your child in standardized tests and following the current flavor of the decade teaching modi operandi?



Let me step back and not take away from anyone's credentials or their attempt to educate in this bizarre new global existence.



I was taken aback by the Valedictory speech of a graduating student from "English High School" in July 1852. The words here say a lot about teachers and the gratitude that students should return to efforts made on their behalf. The following is an example of Yankee no frills education.



Valedictory:



"The class of which I am a member, has now completed the usual academic course, in this Institution. We are about to separate and enter other spheres of duty. But before that separation takes place, one last office still remains to be performed. It is to take leave of our friends. It is to testify our gratitude to those who have helped us onward during our past lives and to encourage each other, in the onward path, which each of us may have chosen.



Beloved and respected teachers -To you, who have so faithfully attended to your arduous duties, we must first testify our gratitude.



You have endeavored to instill into our minds, those principles, and form in us, those habits, which would most securely stand against temptations and evils by which we may be assailed. You have instructed us on those things, which would qualify us for pursuing an honest and useful life. You have in all things, sought our good.



Nor, under Providence, shall your labor be in vain. If successful in our future lives, much of our success must be attributed to your aid. We are now to redesign your guidance and instruction. The happy hours we have here enjoyed, will never be repeated.



But though removed from your immediate influences, yet the lessons you have given, will still continue to teach us. We shall hear their echo, telling us what path of life and duty to choose. We shall feel their influence, continually urging us forward in all good deeds, and warning us to reflect, when temptations shall beset our paths. In more advanced periods, when we come to reflect upon our past lives, we shall refer to this portion, with pleasure. We shall recall the many pleasant hours we have here enjoyed, and the many valuable instructions we have received. Our teachers will be remembered with feelings of gratitude and respect.



We shall remember this devotedness to our happiness and welfare. We would say then, - go on in the work , the noble useful work, in which you are engaged.

Continue your endeavors to improve the young, and although your reward may not be immediate, yet it will be certain. And you, who are to continue your studies in this school, especially you, who are so soon to occupy our places in this room, we would exhort, to make the best use of your time, improve every opportunity and you will not regret it. Your advantages for obtaining a good education, are unusual.



Do not then, by neglecting them, bring regret and sorrow upon yourselves, in after years. Consider that, although one neglected advantage may seem but a small loss, yet it serves to swell, and may very seriously increase the aggregate of losses. Remember, that the cares of your teacher are very great. Do not, therefore, multiply them, by misconduct on your part, but rather alleviate them, by your attention to his instructions, and to your duty. And when, in future years, you come to look back upon your school days, may you be comforted by the reflection, that you have, in all things, endeavored to do your best.



Fellow Classmates, we now part with this school and with each other..."



Valedictory. Composed and spoken by C.F.Wyman, July 26, 1852, Boston, Mass.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Church vs. Facebook and Social Networks

There is a movie out about Facebook, “The Social Network”. If you know anything about Facebook you know it is a place where people hangout with “friends” on a computer and not necessarily in real life. Though photos of a party or two appear, this is the modern version of the town square for a lot of young people.


Don’t know is this electronic trend to know people on a tube will last. It seems to me that if you want to meet people, the best place still available is in a church setting and not just on a Sunday. Church is real. Facebook is a social blur. The pendulum may swing back and people may want to touch other people for real in person like the old fashioned way.

Church or churches if they still are open may be the place in the future for reality and a real true social network for many as they grow older and as they continue to be for many more to this day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More excuse – Less abuse ?

Pope expresses sorrow for abuse

The pope has done his mandatory apology for institutional and personal failure in the ongoing breakdown of abuse in the church.


Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "deep sorrow" Saturday for the child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, the first time he has publicly addressed the issue on his four-day trip to Britain.

"I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the church and by her ministers," Benedict said during Mass at Westminster Cathedral. "Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ's grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives.

"I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of victims, the purification of the church, and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people.
The apology was made during his current trip to Scotland and England.

The circus continues.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Joe the Pope does England and Scotland


You don’t need a copy of the show business magazine Variety to know that Joe the Pope’s floating circus is about to arrive in Great Britain.


A trip that looked promising mining for women hating COE priest types has gotten down to the nitty gritty stuff of everyday life.

Remarks from Cardinal Kaspar comparing Britain to a third world country has seen him pardon himself out of the pope’s entourage.

Remarks about wearing crosses on British Airways and getting discriminated against coincides with talk of the so called aggressive Atheism breeding on British shores.

The pope should promise to get more info out about the Church’s abuse scandals.

There’s all sorts of goodies to give out and receive in the media in the next few days.

Pope's Visit

Saturday, September 11, 2010

911 Again – Flawed Perfection



Remembrance is a good thing. But all this again and again 911 remembrance is a bit too much.




It has become a secular/religious orgy of death and not life. Three thousand died tragically yes. But millions more survived.



I am putting a ten year cap on all this mourning for the dead. The memorial for the dead is apparently on schedule to be opened in time for that tenth anniversary.



The new WTC is a bit bizarre, expensive and out of this world in terms of design.



It has not lived up to America’s best standards. And with people fighting a mosque center two blocks from the center of American construction Greed and awkward design – it completely baffles me.



Did the Arabs really win on 911 – NO



Has America lost it’s Christian way – I have to say YES.



War on Terror???



War on Moral Values – where are they America?



Time to stop pretending to rule the world. Time to bring all troops home.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Koran and Burning the Book


There is a whole sense that banning or the burning of any book(s) is a bad thing.

Some yahoo in a shanty church in Florida is planning on burning the Koran on Saturday, anniversary date of the 911 attack on American soil by Saudi fundamentalists.

That no matter how you see it, burning the religious icon or religious content of a book cannot in any way destroy that religion.  Words are words.  Ideas trump words anyday.

History has shown us since the Reformation, no matter how many books you ban or burn, those books in one form or another survive the attack on them.

That the world is focused on one petty Christian fundamentalist preacher for his daring to burn another religion’s sacred scripture is an interesting thing. That insult across borders boils down to the intolerance of a few here there and everywhere and the ability to spoil things for the many.

Don’t know if preacher man will change his mind before Saturday but I fell certain that the solitary of politicians, generals, even the Vatican to not burn the Koran for any reason is solid ground for the concept of respect in a global sense being born right in front of our eyes.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tea with God and Stephen Hawking


It is perhaps overflow from the British Press into the American MSM that makes this new Atheist movement among Brits with some science credentials seem like the Wittenburg bulletin board of our time.

Stephen Hawking says there's no creator God; the twitterverse reacts
But Thursday, the acclaimed physicist and mathematician shot to the top of the list--and not because of another hilarious wheelchair-bound appearance on The Simpsons. Hawking hit the news cycle because The Times of London excerpted his new book, The Grand Design, on Thursday. In the book, which releases this week from Bantam Press (and which, admittedly, I haven't read), Hawking concludes that a Creator is unnecessary for the universe to exist.

Is this news? Not really. Hawking has made it clear in the past that he's not religious, and his ex-wife, Jane, outed him as an atheist in her biography about their marriage. But Hawking has always been careful to delineate between religion and science, and his past writings seemed to have left open a window allowing for a God-like creator.
The Brits still dysfunctional sixty odd years after their Empire fell and still stuck with the Queen at Tea are off on a tangent about God and belief again.

Hawking, while toated for twenty odd years as an Einstein – ain’t.

Personal opinions, belief, science and a charged media should stand back and reflect. One momentary headline from a famous Brit personage changes nothing in the universe which is or is not created.

IT is.  (the Universe)

Amazing how the wonder of the U can be reduced to a pile of used wallpaper for the sake of publicity on one minor book.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FYI - The Muslim Calendar

From Wikipedia:

The Islamic calendar or Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries (concurrently with the Gregorian calendar), and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic holy days and festivals.

The first year was the year during which the emigration of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred. Each numbered year is designated either H for Hijra or AH for the Latin anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijra).

Being a purely lunar calendar, it is not synchronized with the seasons. With an annual drift of 11 or 12 days, the seasonal relation is repeated approximately each 33 Islamic years.
This is why Ramadan or the ninth month falls on different days each year a little bit looser than the Christian season of Lent also based on lunar calculations.

I would assume that the Gregorian calendar is used for global scales in Muslim countries. Seems a bit of a time warp but we in the west look at everything through different eyes sometimes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mosque - Definition


From the free on-line dictionary a definition for mosque and its origin.

A Muslim house of worship.

[French mosquée, from Old French mousquaie, from Old Italian moschea, from moscheta, from Old Spanish mezquita, from Arabic masjid; see masjid.]
Mosque is quite a European word and seems to have been in the language forever. Little strange wonder how the idea of a Muslim house of worship anywhere is an idea that offends people.

With empty churches for sale and the like, and a large immigration influx, the nation turns from Christian to multi ethnic and multi cultural and global.

FYI

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cordoba House - WTC - Columbia College - NYC

College and University is a place to broaden one’s knowledge of the diversity of the world in all its aspects.

Some American universities such as Harvard started out as places to study theology. While a degree in Theology at Harvard is a noteworthy thing, it does not say much about the individual that holds the degree.

Life is about Experience. The experience many had on 911 at the World Trade Center effected all of American culture including its thinking. While the theme behind 911 was anti-American, it was also anti- western Christian Culture. 911 began as a domestic American day. It ended as a day of global reflection.

The Cordoba House/Mosque complex in New York City to be built in an office tower structure of 13-15 stories sits exactly on part of the foundation stones of part of the original King’s College building – later to become Columbia University uptown. Literally, this is true.

It is rather fitting that a place, a Muslim culture place, be part of the world and or global culture and that it is to sit on a place dedicated to learning that goes back almost two hundred and fifty years. The beginnings of a Global Culture, of a new human race, I believe starts at the New World Trade Center rising from the ashes of the old.

So like the secular colleges of today, the Cordoba House/Mosque center will be a place of learning and broadening outlooks from the very narrow focus that began the day of 911. The end of that day sent us looking for many answers.

Sometimes the answers are right there in our midst. A mosque in downtown NYC is as natural as the wind as a place to be. And a place for cultural growth.

Tolerance. Learning. Diversity. Just a few global words to throw out there today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deepak Chopra on Cultural Christianity

Anne Rice’s few lines in Facebook has done a lot to make people think. Also, left many searching for new definitions in Spirituality.

Real belief is personal search for truth
Faith lingers, one way or another, in every society. For those who have given up on Christianity, there's a newly coined term, "cultural Christian," to describe the half-hearted believer or the timid atheist who doesn't want to be labeled as such. Unlike being pregnant or dead, which holds no middle ground, fence-sitting about God is so common that it might even be the majority position.

The question is whether being a cultural Christian, accepting the trappings of faith without the substance, is viable. Or must a person take stronger, more positive steps toward a different kind of spirituality?...

The teachings of Jesus are staggeringly difficult to carry out in practice, as anyone knows who has tried to turn the other cheek or loved his enemies. But if you approach Jesus as a guide to higher states of consciousness, which is what he meant by saying that the Kingdom of heaven is within, then being a cultural Christian could open the door to true transformation in body, mind, and soul.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gandhi on Religion and Spiritualism


I am running into opinions about beliefs and believers and how the two exist, co-exist or do not blend together at all.

Gandhi said religion and spiritualism are distinct
According to my grandfather, M. K. Gandhi, religion and spiritualism are distinctly apart -- that is, it is possible to practice one without believing in the other. Religion, as it is commonly understood, is the practice of a set of rituals based on the interpretation made by human beings. Since we humans are imperfect, our interpretation too is imperfect.

On the other hand Spiritualism, according to him, is achieved when one comes to one's own understanding of the Power that we call God. When we truly accept all religions as simply different roads to the same destination and respect them all equally.

Ultimately whichever religious belief we may follow we are all going to the one destination. We call God by different names but that does not mean there are so many different Gods. There is only one God with many names and, according to Gandhi, God is not someone sitting in heaven but in the hearts of every being.
So it goes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Anne Rice Continued...

Anne Rice Continued…

I am not a fan of the author but she is saying some really heart felt emotional statements about religion.

"When does a word (Christian) become unusable?" she asked. "When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?"…

Yesterday, the author reiterated that her faith in Christ was "central" to her life. "My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me," she said. "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become." Guardian UK, July 30, 2010, Alison Flood
Interesting fodder for thoughts in a faith that has so many sects that it seems sometimes not to be a coherent faith but more of a cultural label.

This follows my own thinking in that you should follow the teachings of Jesus first before you serve any other purpose including organized religion that sometimes only gives lip service to the words and meanings of Jesus.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More Etouffee - Anne Rice on Religion


An interesting quote from Anne Rice after her veiled slap at Catholicism (Christians?) in previous days.

Pick a new religion for ex-Catholic Anne Rice?
But maybe Catholic theology was less the problem for Rice that the very human institution, particularly the U.S. Bishops. Rice told the Associated Press:

She was troubled by the child abuse scandals in the church, and the church's defensive reaction, and by the ex-communication of Sister Margaret McBride, a nun and hospital administrator who had approved an abortion for a woman whose life was in danger...

I believed for a long time that the differences, the quarrels among Christians didn't matter a lot for the individual, that you live your life and stay out of it. But then I began to realize that it wasn't an easy thing to do... I came to the conclusion that if I didn't make this declaration, I was going to lose my mind.
It is hard in today’s 24/7 media sabe world to ignore the imperfections of man-made institutions such as the church.

Anne Rice, apparently felt uncomfortable being a card carrying member of a religious body. She should realize that as Jesus said of Peter – “Upon this rock, I build my church” that Peter the rock had many human flaws and so do all institutions.

It takes sometimes an almost mystical strength to see through to the heart of the matter and to the grace at the center of it all, seeing through to the Creator and the Creator’s plan.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anne Rice - Heretic or Areligionist?


Author Anne Rice’s strange twist on belief, recently announced, is not an easy knot to untie.  Her brief return to Catholicism has turned her off to the whole Christianity title and religion thing.

Novelist Anne Rice ditches Christianity for Christ
Novelist Anne Rice says she's quit being a Christian but she's hanging on to Christ. She's just fed up with his followers.

The author, whose vampire books (i.e. Interview with a Vampire) were huge sellers long before Twilight and whose return to her childhood Catholicism dominated her more recent works, posted a series of comments on Facebook (confirmed by her publisher as authentic, according to Associated Press).
Is this author a heretic – wanting to follow Christ without being one of the followers of a religion and a rulebook?

Or is she now Areligionist – without religion? Believes in a higher power and does not want or need a rulebook religion.

Perhaps the true flaw in all or many religions is that every generation lays on perceptions that future generations do not understand or see. In other words, belief can be as individual as the individual themselves.

This all reminds me a bit of a quote from evangelist Brian McLaren.

I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts …Wikipedia

Friday, July 30, 2010

Congratulations - Good News of Miriam


The novel Good News of Miriam is being published on Kindle/Amazon.

Good News of Miriam

The novel, set in the Holy Land, is an alternative historical fiction of the life of Mary Magdalene.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WikiLeaks – “stateless organization”


An interesting article from the Guardian UK that shows the trail of how the WikiLeak organization first brought video, earlier this year of a US Apache Helicopter attack, to the public's attention, releasing it showing the death of a Reuters photographer and his driver as well as other civilians.

The video had it impact but WikiLeaks had no credibility as an organization. Its recent release of what are being called the Afghanistan war logs to overseas newspapers made it impossible for the US government to stop publication of these top secret documents.

There is a give and a take among its members within this organization at present that sprouts from hacker traditions and experiences. Julian Assange has published free software for the web, some of which and its encryptions can be used to protect whistle blowers. 

Why WikiLeaks turned to the press
Around the time that the video was released, hubris among the WikiLeakers was thick. In the New Yorker piece, we hear from a friend and supporter of Assange's, a Dutch hacker named Rop Gonggrijp, who smugly says that "we are not the press" and "the source is no longer dependent on finding a journalist who may or may not do something good with his document".
WikiLeaks is stateless (sounds very global) and suddenly a household word and concept. How long before it conforms to acceptable journalistic standards in its quest to make an impact on the modern mind and media? Being stateless at the moment has what impact on imitators down the road? Will these imitators be for the good or bad? Who is to say.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks – Living in a Non-Secret World


Putting aside the recent revelations of a failing war in Afghanistan, the organization Wikileaks :

is an amorphous, international organization, based in Sweden, that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of their sources. Its website, launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press. The organization has stated it was founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

Wikileaks states that its "primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations."

Wikileaks went public in January 2007, when it first appeared on the Web. The site states that it was "founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa". The creators of Wikileaks were unidentified as of January 2007, although it has been represented in public since January 2007 by non-anonymous speakers such as Julian Assange, who had described himself as a member of Wikileaks' advisory board and was later referred to as the "founder of Wikileaks". Source: Wikipedia ( no relation to Wikileaks )
Not since the “Pentagon Papers” got released during the Vietnam War has so much negative real information been dumped into the public sphere. It takes a free press in free countries to disseminate all this “secret” information. With close to a million people in the U.S. government priviledged to “Top Secret” information clearance, the Federal Government is a sieve. Anybody on the planet that wants the info can find it.

With the power of the computer, Internet and free press, there are no secrets left to be hidden in our growing global culture. The big task now is in getting governments to bend to logic and truth and to end wars that even Alexander the Great could not win.

A.S. – Age of the Secular - 1961


Looking as I do at two totally different things and finding a thought, I have decided that 1961 A.D., C.E. was the first year in the Age of the Secular in the Eastern United States.

I remember the beginning date/year of the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey. I visited there as a child on a Sunday no less, but after church. Cannot remember if the mall had officially opened yet or it was gearing up in its final stages of preparation.

It still had work to do on odds and ends of its interior. I remember plastic covers on a window of an unfinished store. One of the big anchor stores was Strawbridge and Clothier, stalwart pillar of the age old “carriage trade” in Philadelphia, where my aunt worked.

It would have been all grand to visit inside these stores but it was Sunday and no business was allowed as I remember in this new mall on this sacred Christian day.

That must have been the last time the stores in a Mall in America were closed on what is now considered a busy premier, weekend secular sales day – Sunday.

Cherry Hill Mall
Cherry Hill Mall opened on October 11, 1961. At the time, it was the largest mall in the nation and the first enclosed, climate-controlled mall in the Eastern United States.
People were strolling about looking at the new stores and the idea of an enclosed shopping space connecting stores simply fascinated everyone. The one lively thing in the whole open, not for sales, interior space was a huge Parrot in its giant cage on the walkway, sitting as something of a pet, showpiece or simply living piece of art and chewing on sunflower seeds. Rather a dull bird, white and gray, and limited language. Cutting edge entertainment at the time.


Funny how memory roles out in time.

The date of the Age of Secular depends on different people and different geographic places but my suggested start date on a timeline is 1961 – First Year A.S. - (zero) 0 A.S..

I cross reference this with the then in progress or upcoming Vatican Council around 1961. The Church was going one way and the rest of the capitalist world was headed into an entirely different direction. Bad/Good timing?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Globish World


There is a small amount of words used as a new working business English called Globish. Globish stands for global and English.

I saw this on PBS last night. Wikipedia is split between two branches of the new language.

Globish (Nerriere)
Globish is a subset of the English language formalized by Jean-Paul Nerriere. It uses a subset of standard English grammar, and a list of 1500 English words. According to Nerriere it is "not a language" in and of itself, but rather it is the common ground that non-native English speakers adopt in the context of international business.
And:

Globish (Gogate)
Globish is an artificial language created by the Indian Madhukar Gogate using the English language and simplifying it. It was presented to "Simplified Spelling Society" of Great Britain in 1998. According its creator, it can be considered an artificial dialect of the English language, proof of the possibility of simplification of orthography and pronunciation of standard English.
With a limited vocabulary of approximately 1500 words and many connected to business terms, the world has a crude common language. Don’t know if this is good or bad toward the global cultural model but it is step in that direction. But you get the idea. FYI.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A New Global Future Priced at $35


The idea is not new. It has industrial models to draw upon.

Potentially, the way the whole human race sees itself will have profound effects into the future. This modern adaption of the computer to put in every person on the planet’s hands triggers an immeasurable amount of possibilities.

Computers have freed us from useless labor and ripped the heart out of the West’s traditional middle classes. The ability to use some of the tasks listed below is a smell of the future. Why does this idea and concept happen in India and not China? Good question? I don’t know.

Certainly India’s new middle class will expand faster than China’s class system and its recent industrial progress? Friction or cooperation is on future political and economic menus?

Individuals will now have more opportunity to define themselves against a global norm of other peoples and cultures. Peoples and cultures in some areas will dissolve away into a Global category of all things human.

Is this part of Intelligent Design and or the chaos of evolution making new species?

India's $35 PC is the Future of Computing
The Indian prototype is impressive--especially at a $35 price point. The device runs on a variation of Linux. It has no internal storage, but it is capable of storing data on a memory card. It has a built in word processor, video conferencing capabilities, and--most importantly for a cloud-based workforce--a Web browser. Oh--it can also run on solar power.


At $35, the Indian tablet is virtually disposable--far exceeding the $100 laptop developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and used in the non-profit One Laptop One Child program. In fact, in many ways the $35 tablet also makes the $500 iPad seem significantly over-priced.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jolie and Pitt get Serious about Religion

Is this a novel approach? It certainly is global in scope if you want your children to take a possible interest in religion. A famous couple is doing just that with their many children.

I do not normally post all of another’s article. But I found this story fascinating.

Jolie and Pitt get Serious about Religion
ANGELINA JOLIE and BRAD PITT encourage their six kids to show interest in all religions - but refuse to steer them towards any particular faith.                                             
The actress has revealed the family library is stocked with religious books and the couple never misses an opportunity to take the kids to places of worship all over the world.

Jolie tells Parade magazine, "Brad and I are raising our children to respect everyone. We have a bookshelf in the house that has the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, everything.

"We will take our children to church, temple, Buddhist ceremonies, Mosques, teaching them about all faiths. Whatever religion they choose, the choice will be theirs."

And the movie star insists religion is very important - because to some of the most desperate refugees she has met on her travels, it's the only thing they have left.

She adds, "I respect all religions. What I don't respect is when people use religion to attack others. I've met people across the world, in the middle of nowhere, who are just trying to survive and all they have is religion. In some way it helps them, and I wouldn't take it away from them." (KL/LAFR/MT)
Somethings you just do not expect but are sometimes pleasantly surprised by.