Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Paul II – King Maker – Edward Piszek

An old friend, a Catholic in good standing, recently told me that the “Catholic Church is all politics”. The friend, in the middle of some sort of annulment of a previous marriage thing, is going the distance with the RC bureaucrats because of love. Love is a powerful energy in this world. As for the politics thing, I bit my tongue. A friend is a friend.

Being a cousin of the late Bishop of Allentown Pa, I have heard the family stories not published and the stories of the internal Vatican politics it took to carve five counties in upstate Pennsylvania out of the archdiocese of Philadelphia to become the private fiefdom of my cousin who, when his chances to become a Cardinal of Philadelphia got blown in the 1958 election of John XXIII, the consolation prize from his powerful friends in the Vatican was Allentown.

Getting on with the politics in the RC church, they are Beautifying John Paul II, who is on a fast track to sainthood. Of course JPII changed the rules for sainthood, cut out the long bureaucratic wait thing, in favor of streamlining a thoroughly medieval process. And of course, saints and relics and such went out of fashion with the Reformation for us Protestant types. Whatever.

Here is a story of the man, the Polish American Edward Piszek, who was not so much a king maker as he was pope maker in the case of John Paul the Great.

I don’t know if it is not PC to call Edward Piszek a Polack. There was a time when perhaps Polack had a negative connotation in the immigration pecking order of things here in America. The latest ethnic group to arrive always seemed to be at or near the bottom of the pecking order of society. I heard that word used in my youth for the Polish amidst the still strong ethnic enclaves of Philadelphia. More later on that term.

It is perhaps out of a need to succeed as the son of immigrants that John Piszek succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. I remember an article in the Sunday Magazine of the Philadelphia Inquirer in the mid 70s that specifically was tracing out Edward Piszek’s philanthropy role in the great white (papal) hope of Polish Americans at the time in the person of John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia.

Here you have two Polish Americans, both originally from the midwest and both ambitious and successful in their perspective fields of business and religion in Philly.

The magazine article had its liberal, perhaps cynical, but definitely Wasp-ish, bent openly analyzing the ambitions of two Polacks on the make in a still then Wasp society pecking order of things in Philly.

The article seemed to emphasis how Piszek was upset that the wasp name Mrs. Paul, his business partner wife's name, had the success whereas in the beginning he did not think that a Polish name like Mrs. Piszek’s fish fingers or sticks had much marketing potential. So it goes. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

Anyway, Cardinal Krol was campaigning to be the next pope as the article outlined. He was not buying votes. He was however making frequent trips to East Asia and Africa and making financial donations to the building of schools and hospitals in the five and six figure money category, which was a lot of bread or fish sticks back then. And of course, the philanthropist Piszek had the check book to make Krol a viable candidate for the papacy, even though he was American and not Italian.

From a source, I cannot remember who in Philly told me this story, this Philly urban legend of sorts; it had to do with the papal election in 1978 after the death of Paul VI. I am told the Italians put up a good and or dirty fight to get a fellow Italian, Albino Luciani, elected John Paul I.

The story goes that when the Italians seemed to be getting ahead on votes in the papal election, votes committed to distant runner Cardinal Krol got released by Krol, asking those released voters to consider, closing up fast runner, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla over Luciani. The story goes that Krol, when he released the votes, told, urged his cronies, to “Give it to the Polack”. Or so I remember the story.

John Paul I only reigned as pope for something like thirty three days. The runner up in the first papal election, Wojtyla, had the momentum and or mojo going to push him across the finish line at the next papal election.

The rest is history. Not much about Piszek on Wikipedia. His role in the politics of making Karol Wojtyla pope and now saint is forgotten in history.

Ed Piszek Obits
Piszek, 87, a Fort Washington resident who died of bone cancer March 27, also told his son to "give God the credit. I was under his tutelage. I was his messenger. I was his Johnny Appleseed."

Two cardinals presided and a procession of priests participated in Piszek's Funeral Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, where hundreds came to pay their respects.

Among them were baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who teamed up with Piszek to bring Little League baseball to Poland, Piszek's ancestral home; and former Phillies pitcher Larry Christenson, whom he called "my best buddy."

Pope John Paul II, Piszek's friend for nearly 20 years, said in a note from the Vatican that he was "deeply saddened" by his death. "I am confident that his memory will inspire others to give of themselves freely and charitably," he added.

A self-made man, Piszek turned a mistake into a multimillion-dollar business when he made too many crabcakes during his shift at a Kensington bar in 1946, and decided to freeze some.

He launched Mrs. Paul's Kitchens with partner John Paul. In the 1950s, Piszek bought out his partner and ran the company for about 30 more years before selling it to Campbell Soup Co. in 1982.
I always say you learn a lot more about somebody from his Obituary than you probably already thought you knew. That is not true in this case. In the above Obit articles, I only see Cardinal Krol in one sentence that also mentions Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, a very small understated footnote in history.

Edward Piszek died in 2004 at age 87. He called himself the “Polish Ben Franklin” considering his considerable patronage and philanthropy to the City of Brotherly Love.

If Piszek were still alive, he would be 94, and sitting in the front row as Benedict XVI Beatifies the Polish Pope.

Whether alive or not, I have no doubt that his spirit as pope maker and now saint maker will be in Saint Peter’s square on May 1.

It’s is a hell of lot of story associated with one lonely fish stick or I should say billions of fish sticks.

And so it goes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Franklin Graham and the Pagan Birther Movement

Birthers (Birchers?) are pagans!

In the strict interpretation of the ancient concept, Pagan means rustic and or country dweller in their religious beliefs system.

Birtherism is a fanatic form of secularized religion. Absolute belief and or faith in air is indeed a religious orgasmic event for some in the rural parts of fly-over America.

The original Jews in Rome or Christians in Rome would have first been called pagans by the established official faiths of the Roman Empire back when.
Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "country dweller", "rustic") is a blanket term, typically used to refer to polytheistic religious traditions. - - Wikipedia
Once the head honcho of all Roman religions recognized Christianity as the official religion, the coin flipped and anything not Christian became pagan. Believe it or not.

While I do not know much about this rural populist movement that seems to be both racist and anti-Semitic in terms of Obama’s right to citizenship by birth and 2/3 of his name from the Semitic branch of languages, I have to say that with this KKK Redux - birthers seem to be both sans sheets and sans brains in this ridiculous Pagan rural obsessionism.

Now that Franklin Graham is tired of Sarah Palin, he is now endorsing Donald Trump, a man who can’t keep a fortune together as much as he can’t keep his dick in exclusivity with Christian marriage/faithfulness in his promiscuous lifestyles and business practices.

Who appointed Franklin Graham spokesman for the Birthers? God – who or what god???

What next for you Franklin?

A real job???

(so-called) Christian hypocrite!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Habemus Papem – Moretti - Piccoli

I ran into an article in the Guardian, a Brit news source, about the mixed reviews of the new movie in Italian – Habemus Papem – (We have a pope.)

Alas, cannot find a video with English subtitles. The storyline is about a newly elected pope with panic/anxiety attacks who requires the services of a shrink.

The best of the best shrink available is played by director Nanni Moretti. I think that the storyline has the pope ending up going to the shrink’s ex-wife, Margherita Buy, for therapy and in the end the pope resigns a job he did not really want and could not handle.

That is a very human theme. (If popes cannot be human, then how could Jesus have been human? Myth reflecting reality or reality reflecting myth?)

Habemus Papam

There is some catholic fanatic jihadist trying to sue director Moretti for blasphemy under terms of the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Mussolini and the Vatican.  The usual stuff. 

Pope film sparks Catholic controversy
Traditionalists say that the film, by the acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti, is “an instrument of Satan” and is particularly offensive as it has been released in the approach to Easter.

Bruno Volpe, the Catholic lawyer, has launched suit for defamation against Moretti and the producers under the terms of the Lateran Pact, which extends the same protections to the prestige of the pope as to the Italian president. Mr Volpe said Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), never mentioned the current Pope by name but it was nevertheless clear that it was a parody of Pope Benedict XVI and dishonoured the figure of the Pontiff in general. Salvatore Izzo, a Vatican expert, branded the work disrespectful and boring in an open letter to Avvenire, the Catholic bishops’ newspaper.
No word yet from the Catholic League condemning this film?

I am eagerly awaiting this film’s debut on cable TV with English subtitles. Looks like an interesting flick about a slice of Roman life in and around the Vatican thingy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday - 2011 A.D./C.E.

On this so called sacred day of the christian calendar – Good Friday – when all the workers who took off the day to supposedly pray in their temples but in reality were rushing off to a sale at Macy’s…

To the greatest myth, to the greatest faith, to this cultural christian tradition:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

All religion is politics. All religion is local.

Judaism, Christianity, Islam are not religions so much as political parties. Their founders - Moses, Constantine and Mohammed were all generals.  Politics and war came first in the founding of these ideologies.

If an outer space alien could communicate with me in English, a language I am a master of, and ask the 64 trillion dollar question about what is all this religious strife on planet Earth about, well here goes.

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same abstract idol and or God? NO!

Definitely not!

A Muslim’s mother’s beef stew is not the same as a Christian’s mother’s beef stew.  

Only momma knew how to cook beef stew. 

For you to compare my mother’s beef stew to your mother’s beef stew is an insult to my mother and to me. 

And there you have modern religion; same as ancient religion.

All religion is local – just like politics.  All belief in God is local as well.

That’s the point with ancient paganism when it went up against the corrupted form of Judaism aka as Christianity.  They were going up against the abstract of One God in One Temple in Jerusalem.  There were no annex temples in the ancient holy land.  God had no vacation homes.

The Jews had one God and he along with his consort Asherah were worshipped in the great temple of Solomon until the Babylonian captivity. 

When the Jews did come back from Babylon, along with their Babylonian concubines, they rebuilt the mud hut, the great temple of Solomon.  They discarded Asherah.  The feminine side of their god disappeared.  God evolved, he then had a male side only.  Christianity is based on Judaism and Islam is framed on these two previous male only gods/politick/religions.  

Of course the Jewish god only talks Hebrew.  The Christian god only talks Aramaic, Greek and Latin.  And the Muslim god only understands Arabic.  One idea.  Three different gods.  E Pluribus Unum?  Hardly.

So when the Roman Nazis come along and could not impose Roman politics onto Jerusalem, they destroyed the Temple.  The genie was out of the bottle.  Because once you remove the geography of the abstract Jewish god, anybody including the Christians or the Muslims can add on their mom’s recipe for beef stew to the traveling ghost of a concept of one God in that god’s diaspora.

Yahweh was destroyed in 70 A.D./C.E..  All the kings horses and all the kings men could not put Yahweh back together again or at least serve the same beef stew ever again.

While the Jews, as the object of their inspirations and prayers, point back to a temple god of two thousand years ago, the Christians point back to general Constantine’s mom’s beef stew recipe, the Nicenian  heresy, and the Muslims look to the Kaaba.
Hinduism, which absorbed all local gods as it evolved as a political entity, let the local deities stand and evolve too along side the poltical “religion” etc..  Ironically, here is a quote from what appears to be a polytheistic culture about the weird unrealistic concept of a one god – a one size fits all deity.  

Why are there so many Gods in Hinduism?

God is one. There is only one Real and True God who does not have any form or a name. It can neither be described, thought of or conceived through human faculties. But since we are so many, each one of us conceives God according to our attitude, view points and state of life -- just as a woman can be looked upon differently by different people: mother, by her children; wife, by her husband; sister, by her sisters; daughter, by her parents; granddaughter, by her grandparents; sister-in-law, by her husband's brother, etc. The woman is one and the same, but she is viewed differently by each one of her relatives. Similarly, we look upon the same God in many ways.

I believe most Hindu’s are vegetarians.  I therefore probably cannot compare their politics/religion with my mom’s one true authentic recipe for beef stew.

In most ancient cultures, the heart was the center of intellect and intuition.  In their hearts, Jews, Christians and Muslims perhaps understand and commune with the same God. But using a scientific metaphor – language, words, geography  – in other words, a form of gravity is introduced into the equation  – which confuses the perfection of the human heart with the questions and imperfections of the human brain with its tags and labels.

If man is both part beast and part angel, the question of - do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? – who is asking the question - why - and in what force of gravity present? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Agora – Alejandro Amenabar – Hypatia of Alexandria

I caught an interesting flick on cable the other night.  It is called Agora (2009), (the Greek name for the Latin word Forum).  Set around the year 391 A.D., it is about the last days of paganism in the historic city of Alexandria in Egypt.

While it plays tricks with history, it is a beautifully filmed cinematic wonder, but not quite in the league with past big Hollywood blockbusters like Ben Hur and Cleopatra.  But close.

The grittiness of the sand and sun in Egypt is everywhere in this film.  And even if the Agora or Forum with its public buildings, markets and temples are probably made of paper mache, the sense of recreating these buildings is itself a refreshing attempt to reenact ancient history.   One has to wonder how much of this movie set is real and temporarily built and how much is computer aided design illusion.

While the set satisfies me as to accuracy, the history depicted in the film is questionable.

Because real history back then comes down to us in sparse pieces, historians have speculated and added to those sparse fragments to paint a picture that can be interpreted in many ways and at different times in history.

The film is directed by Chilean/Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar, whose Oscar winning best foreign language film in 2005, The Sea Inside, was based on real life quadriplegic Ramon Sampedro’s almost thirty year struggle to have an assisted suicide.  That movie starred Javier Bardem in what I believe was his breakout role that got him his next big exposure in the American flick No Country for Old Men (2007).

Director Amenabar is openly gay in Spain.  I do not know if he is an atheist.

Much of the criticism of this movie Agora in the catholic blogosphere is shaped as “anti-Catholic”, presumably anti-Roman Catholic which is the predominate Christian sect in western Europe.  If anything it is framed as anti-Christian.  The pagans are now a minority in Alexandria in 391 and the Emperor in Constantinople outlaws all religions except Christianity.  You know what hits the fan.

There are of course riots.  Pagans against Christians and Christians against Jews in this final push for power of Constantine’s church here on this earth.

There is a certain anti-clericalism in movies made in Europe.  I am reminded of the German movie about the first female pope, Pope Joan (2009), or so the legend goes.

Agora is bent to show the final victory over the victory of the Christian faith over the disillusioned declining pagan faiths of the old Roman and Egyptian empires. 

Rather than do some scholarly history about what is what in 391 Alexandria, a lot of myth is repeated and no doubt a great deal of what the public might perceive in the historic female philosopher/mathematician Hypatia comes from modern sources such as the Atheist American Astronomer Carl Sagan in his TV series Cosmos in 1980. 
Cyril, the Archbishop of Alexandria, despised her because of her close friendship with the Roman governor, and because she was a symbol of learning and science, which were largely identified by the early Church with paganism. In great personal danger she continued to teach and publish, until, in the year 415, on her way to work she was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril's parishioners. They dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes, and, armed with abalone shells, flayed her flesh from her bones. Her remains were burned, her works obliterated, her name forgotten. Cyril was made a saint.(Sagan, p. 366)
Is this movie anti-catholic?  Not really.  Is it anti-Christian?  No.  Is it perhaps a bit anti-Byzantine Orthodox or anti-Coptic?  But you must remember that many sides in the day had to have their own thugs to protect their own interests in the day.

Even the last segments of a Roman Army cannot control the mobs that control and swarm over Alexandria

Hypatia (played by Rachel Weisz) is out of her league in terms of probable history.  Hypatia was likely over sixty when she was killed by a mob.  Hardly the likely love interest of a young Christian slave boy.  

That the mob happened to be Christian and she was a well known member of the pagan Alexandria aristocracy, so she was well known enough to incite anger, jealousy or political rage. 

Besides the age thing, the movie has Hypatia researching gravity and the sun as the center of the solar system.  Possible but not probable. 

There is of course one scene where the supposedly surviving annex of the previously destroyed Library of Alexandria is sacked by a Christian mob.  This is what I see most mentioned in blogs.  The Catholics don’t like that scene in particular, though in reality a small defunct library had once probably existed in the Serapeum, a temple complex devoted to the Ptolemaic Greek/Egyptian fusion/invented god Serapis – and destroyed after the Byzantine Emperor’s anti-pagan edict.

I may be just another dumbed down American who was taught no real history in twelve years of catholic education before George Washington and his cherry tree or Ben Franklin and his kite.

Never heard of Hypatia before a few days when I saw the flick Agora on cable TV.  I am a Rachel Weisz fan.  Loved her in that Kabbalah inspired movie The Fountain (2006).

The Movies from day one have fractured history in order to get the story into an allotted time along with standard movie story telling technique.

I like revisionist history.  The first time I hear about history stuff is usually in the movies such as the Inquisition lasting in Spain until the nineteeth century – Goya’s Ghosts (2006).  Etc.

It stimulates me to research the moments mentioned and get a better handle on the reality of the fantasy depicted in the movie.

Movies can be powerful things.  Powerful tools of entertainment and also potentially powerful tools of propaganda if you don’t like the way your ancestors are depicted by a director passionate about his craft.  That craft is telling a story.

I see that Agora was virtually shut out of American theatres with maybe a dozen screens going through a season.  Have to wonder if the Catholic League got through again and got their way again in suppressing ideas more so than cinematography in this very interesting piece of visual “cultural” history?

Looking at the bottom line and the lack of interest of the Vatican and or the Catholic League in this film, I would guess that Amenabar was not looking for or could not find an American distributor for this small gem of film in 2009.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hereafter - Review

This movie, Hereafter, touches upon the subject of the possibility of life after death.  It primarily focuses on one near death experience of a hip young sexy female French newscaster caught up in a natural disaster.

Without being a spoiler if you have not seen this movie here is the storyline. 

A drama centered on three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. George (Damon) is a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (de France), a French journalist, has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren), a London schoolboy, loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each on a path in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might-or must-exist in the hereafter. Written by Warner Bros. Pictures
I like Matt Damon from the Bourne series.  One of his many acting masks is that of a strong silent loner type who of course happens to be handsome.

The movie is long but not boring to me.  It is laid back, subtle and not totally cohesive until the three main characters cross paths near the end of the movie.

The hip young sexy French newscaster is distracted by her recent near death experience.  She takes a sabbatical from TV to write a biography of some typically corrupt French politician.  She gets sidetracked and instead starts to research and write about the possibility of life after death.

As I said the movie is somewhat slow but not really boring.  All the threads eventually tie together.  You should be ready to spend a lazy afternoon to see this flick by yourself or with a loved one.  Two bowls of popcorn and two liters of Pepsi required perhaps.  It is not a thriller as sometimes advertised but just a cinematic slice of life of people living in Paris, London and San Francisco.

On many subtle levels one sees how hip young male dominated atheist French culture is afraid of death.  That the mention of death or an afterlife leads to some standard rebuttal of religion or such.  An independent opinion of the possibility of an afterlife even sans religion is verboten in polite French society.

The subtitles in English of the French in ten to fifteen percent of the film are small and probably designed for a large movie theatre screen.  Small but readable.  The French are so expressive in their body language to compensate.

The studio storyline puts Matt Damon as a blue collar worker.  While it is true he works in a sugar processing plant on the San Francisco waterfront, he has a past as a rather successful psychic dealing with the specialty of talking with the dead.  He has left that all behind because he considers it a curse rather than a blessing. 

He lives in a bubble world of hard work and evenings either taking adult education courses or listening to tapes of Charles Dickens’ novels.  Not much of a life.

The third character or characters are two British twins, boys, living in council housing, with social services trying to separate them from their drug addicted mum.  

Don’t want to be a spoiler here but I like the movie.  It is intellectual, which is not typical American movie fare.

Clint Eastwood directs.  His hallmark here is the subtle, focused and intellectual analysis of people in life and people looking for answers about an afterlife.

If I was a general TV movie critic I would give it a thumbs up with the improviso that only people interested in the subject of death and a hereafter would enjoy this movie perhaps better than a general audience. 

Acting, writing, cinematography, directing - a plus.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Perspective on God, the Universe and my place in It

It is an overcast spring day.  It has been a long winter.  Buds are on the trees.  Grass is in need of first trimming.  And I have to think about how the universe is unfolding…  

In a way, as a man in middle age and transitioning away from the things of youth, I have to adjust my point of view or perspective of it.  It, in this case, represents many things.

Rather than foster a fear of death, which statistically I am getting closer to, I must foster a new understanding of my present life.  I am in life.  Death is still a constant unknown.  
If you are a minimalist in beliefs as I am, you might want to cling to the mythologies attached to an afterlife.  The tail end of most pie eating preachers is a Disneyesque fairy story land of the hereafter.

Even though I believe in an afterlife, I have no idea what form it might take.

Do I believe in reincarnation?  Was not raised in a culture that fosters such beliefs.

Is there reincarnation?  Do not know.  I will find out when I get there so to speak.

My own interpretation of an afterlife has to do with a perhaps spiritual experience that took place six months after the death of my father; I somehow sensed a message received from that other side.  The message was something to the effect that “I’m okay” wherever and thereafter.  

Kind of like an old ancient texting thing called a telegram.  You pay per word.  Must be expensive to send messages from the other side if you only get an occasional “I’m okay”.   Still, brevity in good communication is truly an art form.

If I must wander with my mind as to what the other side is like, I borrow a minimalist view of Native Americans who called their paradise the “happy hunting ground” under the protection of the “Great Spirit”.

Whether the afterlife is eternal or temporary, I cannot tell you.  All that I feel for certain is that it is there somewhere down my road of life, passed this life.

Putting aside complex ideas and or simplistic minimalist versions of things, I have to paint a fuller picture of what I believe. 

A lot of really unanswered questions.  Why am I so unkind to mention them?  Well, if you reject what ninety eight percent of religion has accumulated in these many centuries; you have to feel some comfort in cleaning out the attic so to speak.

Rereading some of my past postings, I have to agree or disagree, if what I said in the past still sounds valid to me after time.  Has the wine aged right or will it be a poor vintage?

Looking back I agree with everything I stated in:

As Holy Man and Prophet, he is first among equals of all men born of women, and is the way, truth, light and path to a higher level of understanding of things human and spiritual. 

(A little bit formal or stiff, the creed that is.  Needs a little better grammatical polish and word flow?  But basically correct from my point of view since I choose to frame my spirituality within some old Christian ideas and ideals.) 

As for Jesus being a holy man and prophet.  The bottom line is that we do not know very much about who he was or what his mission in life was.  If you start writing about him thirty to a hundred years after his time on earth, there is an awful lot of gaps and speculation in the Greek play like setting of his story.

To save the world by his teachings as we know them?  Most definitely.  All good and true prophets try to share what is in their hearts with others.

As a divine son of God?  We are all children of God.  More on than later.

I could write several books on the speculation that keeps piling up in my mind regarding what I, by default, call him as Holy Man and Prophet.

There may not be much conflict on the idea of him as a holy man.  The problem I think lies in the question of what really is a prophet.  To which I refer to another of my other postings.

From two homilies delivered at St. Mary’s in Exile (SMX) in Brisbane Australia.  
First from the homily of Dermot Dorgan –SMX- July 4-5 2009 
A biblical prophet is one who conveys a message from God to a particular time and place. They’re not, contrary to popular belief, people who can foresee the future. They are rather people gifted with an ability to see deeply into the present, to look below the surface of society and see the undercurrents and hidden realities that determine what is happening or will happen. The word “Seer” is a good description. … 
Next from the homily of Peter Kennedy –SMX-July 19, 2009 
…Most of all, I think that our seeking to find new ways of speaking about God is a prophetic act. We do this in baptism when we use the words creator, liberator and sustainer of life. It can be seen as a recognition that all the language we use about God has to be metaphorical language. The one thing we know for certain about God is that God is Other, God is different. God does not belong to this universe of which we are a part. And yet the only language we have is human language.  
We know from ordinary conversation that we sometimes have to say things two or three times in different ways before we can adequately express a feeling or an experience. There must be a million ways to describe the experience of being in love, all of them inadequate. But if some authority were to come along and say, “Look, all this multiplicity of words is downright confusing. From now on, we’re going to have one formula for expressing this experience, and here it is – blah blah blah. 
From now on this is the only orthodox way of expressing this experience. All other expressions are inaccurate and invalid. Well, we can see how ridiculous this is. But we’re tied to certain fixed expressions of the experience of God, and I believe it is a prophetic act – the act in fact of adult Christians - to look for other ways of expressing our experience…
In a sense if you look at the world as I see it, God the creative force set the Universe in motion.  God in the form of a Holy Spirit still keeps and orders inventory from time to time but comes and goes most times like the wind as described in sacred text.

The idea that God set the world in motion is called Deism.  That he, she or it is distant leaves the gap in between that beginning event and my present spot on a timeline away from that event.

As such, in the world where I believe in the divine spark of creation, I have to believe in what thousands of preachers, holy men, theologians and prophets have been searching for -  I have to believe in the possibility of a divine spark within.  

As such I am not so much a surrogate of God as creator in a cold distant Deist existence as I am a temporary holder, safe guarder of the divine spark within during this temporary timeline existence.  Whether we had that spark within before birth and keep it afterwards passed death, I do not know. 

I refuse to let fear of death make me believe in fairy tales and stone age mythology regarding God and God worship and God financial accounting which is what most spiritual beliefs seem to  transcend into after a few generations from the founding of any new idea about God.

We are all or have the potential of being prophets just like Jesus - or dare I say it, like a Moses, Mohammed and even Joe Smith.  Of course, I don’t believe in magic texts appearing out of nowhere.  Whatever.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  

Of course nothing I say or speculate about can be proven.  The very creation of the universe cannot be proven.  It is not that religion and scientific theory are incompatible; it is just that neither can be disproven either. 

Compatible?  Hardly.  More like apples and oranges.  Or kinda like two small fingers on two hands of the same body.  

Depends on how you look at it and or want to scream at the other side in a debate.  Which is what a lot of so-called pro or anti-atheism is presently about?  A modern perspective on God?

I do not want to get too deep here.  It was just that some of my thoughts past and present seemed to have merged together on a cloudy spring day with buds on the trees and grass in need of first trimming – as the universe continues to unfold, with or without us, here, now, and into future tense.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Right Behind You – Brandon Flowers

I ran into this music video and was impressed by its simplistic minimalist performance.

I was also struck by the lyrics.  My own interpretation of the lyric “touch the stone” reminds me of the stone the builders once rejected.

Brandon Flowers is lead singer of the new wave rock group The Killers out of Las VegasBrandon is a member of the LDS church.

As by the door to get to Heaven
Seven trumpets big and bright
You hear it coming in the middle of the night
A caution to the children
Time to turn your crimson white
We’ve all got reservations
Trials will come suddenly
And without explanation
But you were born with goodness
You were born with goodness
Wherever you go now
I’m right behind you
In the light of hope
I’ll be beside you
On that dusty road
And if you get blind, well that’s alright
Wicked winds blow with grace and might
Cling to the ways of my name
When you touch the stone
Break your word over me
Sinking in the quicksand
Break your word
Don’t you see?
You’re breaking me down now
I’m right behind you
In the light of hope
I’ll be beside you on that dusty road
When no one expects you to deny
And no one accepts your reasons why
You cling to the ways of my name
When you touch the stone
No one expects you to deny
And no one accepts your reasons why
You cling to the ways of my name
When you touch the stone

Brian O’Hanlon – SMX – Homily March 26-27

Again, down under, an interesting homily from the St. Mary’s in Exile (SMX) community in Brisbane, Australia.

Faith community versus belief community is mentioned as well as the future of the faith in terms of a community living the word (God) through justice, compassion and love…

I was fortunate enough through the enthusiasm of my wife, Angela, to discover this community a long time ago – 1988 I think, and I have been a fairly regular attendee ever since.  Certainly I have been a constant attendee since, to borrow a term from the Irish, “since the troubles”, the troubles of exile. 
Peter in a homily towards the end of 2010 when restating his vision of this community, emphasised that we are a faith community not a belief community. A faith community is one developing a spiritually of Justice Compassion and Love. More recently he restated the value of the mystical contemplative tradition in Christianity traditionally suppressed throughout history. This implies  a letting go of, a freeing up from,  much if not all of our classical conditioning of religious tradition,( Recently at a friends wedding-a nuptial mass, I was sitting next to a women , who at the end of the ceremony commented “ that was scary- I have not been inside a catholic church for 25 years, yet I just knew how to do everything), or there could be a shifting of the core of our traditional stories and belief systems; if this is so what do we have left, what do we replace it with? What do we develop as the core of our own practice. According to Fr Richard Rohr OSM the oppositional mindset that was set in place after the reformation of the 16th century, and after the enlightment of the 17th and 18th centuries meant that the ancient tradition of gaining spiritually through meditation was lost. We lost the older tradition of praying beyond words. I want to propose that this is what we can develop, praying beyond words, meditation-a vehicle for our spiritual pathway.
For a long time I have thought that the Book of James was the most useful, social and practical of the gospel writings; James warned against taking the Pauline view of Christianity to an extreme where Paul urged his followers to put their faith in Christ (i.e. what to believe, one who would deliver them).  James called his listeners to action, “Faith without works is dead, be doers of the word and not hearers only.  Religion that is pure and undefiled is this – to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep ones-self unstained from the world” – to keep ones-self unstained from the world – what is this? Christians are very good at relieving the struggling and suffering of others-there are helping missions in every part of the world, just look at the community support provided during our natural disasters, out of this faith community Micha arose, and I am sure that nearly all of us are caring for family, relatives or friends; visiting the widow in her affliction, and as well there does seem in our community a growing interest in the spiritual/contemplative tradition, through the transformative experience of meditation, a way of remaining unstained from the world, our pastors refer to it in various ways, the Eckhart Tolle CD’s are taken home each week, and many books referring to the subject are sold, at  the drop in shop, the existing meditation groups are regularly attended. 
Jesus, it now seems, was primarily a teacher, a sage who bequeathed to his followers principles by which to live, not a body of eternally fixed doctrine that he expected people to believe. 
The teachings that Jesus bequeathed to us focused not on believing but on doing.  Even before the term ‘Christian’ (originally with a derogatory meaning)  came into use, the first Jesus-followers were attempting to practise the kind of life he taught.  They called it ‘The Way’. 
An ancient book called ‘The Didache’ (a Greek word meaning ‘teaching’) throws considerable light on this. 
It is interesting to find that the Didache has preserved the primitive label, ‘The Way’.  This is how it starts off: ‘There are two ways , one of life and one of death, but there is a great difference between the two ways’.  In its short description of the Way of Death we find listed all the commonly acknowledged human crimes and misdemeanours that are condemned in almost every culture.  But the emphasis of the Didache is on the Way of Life.  Listen to how it continues:
The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbour as yourself, and not do to another what you would not want done to you...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Koran and Obama burned - Global War fatigue

Well.  Pastor Fundamentalist H. A**hole went ahead and burned the Koran in Florida a few days ago. He and his congregation went and pissed on a belief symbol of over a billion people on this planet.  Talk about dissing, showing disrespect, to your neighbors! Not very kosher and or "Christian".

Dozens of people are dead in Afghanistan and hundreds hurt and the white racist good mister pastor is safe on American shores in his swamp trailer trash church in Florica preaching his white - “Christian” hate (an oxymoron – emphasis on the word moron). 

His congregation stood around, had a trial of the Muslim Book and decided that it was of Satan.  And with like any good medieval mindset, they burned the book, just like good Christians have been doing to heretics for centuries.  The same thing the Romans did to the Christian heretics etc.  And on and on back into history.

First of all, this printed book shit started in the Renaissance/Reformation era in the west.  This worshiping ink on paper is idolatry of sorts for fundamentalist of all faiths.  

Whether as a Biblist or as a Koranist, it is still book and or word worship – a thing, not a person, or the living breath of God.  It is like a lab specimen preserved in formaldehyde.  It is a poor substitute for real humanity and a real God in real time.  Whatever.

I use the Koran spelling here instead of Quran.  I am perhaps disrespecting Muslims with this spelling and pronunciation. Tough! But I have this information fatigue thing in this age of communication which is more noise than a learning experience.  I am tired of being politically correct.  Who invented this PC bullsh*t anyway?

I learned the word Koran in my youth.  Koran stays in my mind as the Muslim holy book.  Peking stays Peking and is not Beijing and Bombay stays Bombay and is not Mumbai. I am an old dog.  Know all the tricks necessary for survival.  Am not in the mood to learn or stomach any new current topic of the day/Spin. Etc. Period. Sorry.

But putting the book aside, whatever book it happens to be, the book is merely a symbol of the culture, waving whatever idol is sacred locally.

When it come right down to it, culture is verbal and immediate.  These c*nt pastors and mullahs are just stirring up their own redneck culture up against whatever they choose to be against.  They can jump up and down like monkeys in Florida or in Afghanistan.

The Koran burning is America is more a statement against a Black President with a Muslim ancestry than it is about what anything the Corporations are doing in mid-Asia.  (like stealing the resources of ignorant Muslim tribesmen?)

The tribals in Afghanistan are rising up against their Karzai/Obama government using religion as an excuse to protest and kill.  They don’t have a clue about how to protest politically.  The 18th century western enlightenment is light years away for those poor devils.  Or perhaps the Jasmine Revolution of 2011 has jumped out of its chess board square over there.  Is it coming here too to these shores soon???

Officers and protesters skirmished for the second straight day in the city of Kandahar, leaving two officers and 18 civilians hurt, provincial health director Qayum Pokhla told The Associated Press.
In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block the highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani said. 
Resentment has been building for years here over the operations of Western military forces, blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.
Coverage of the ongoing trial of a group of U.S. soldiers' charged with killings of Afghan civilians and the publication of photos of some posing with dead bodies fueled that anger, which violently erupted Friday in a protest over the little-publicized destruction of the Quran last month.
Has the “Welcome Liberators” sign outside the Kabul American embassy faded yet folks?

This is not about religion.  This is just human nature and tribalism.  Us against them.  Turf wars and such.  Framing it with pictures and media words doesn’t change much in terms of local realities. 

It is perhaps just plain global war fatigue.

Have a nice day.