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.
 
Whatever. 

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.




Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Prayer, Desiderata, Max Ehrmann












Desiderata (Latin: "desired things", plural of desideratum) - wikipedia

* aridity - - I looked up the one word I did not totally understand - "aridity" = "the quality of yielding nothing of value" from the Free Online Dictionary.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Terry Fitzpatrick – SMX – Homily March 19-20


I was touched by the beauty and simplicity of this written homily from Oz, at St. Mary’s in Exile (SMX)  community/ congregation in Brisbane Australia.  Here is the middle portion of that homily.  Full homily on link below.


Terry Fitzpatrick – SMX – Homily March 19-20 
 The message of Jesus in today’s gospel challenges such attempts to guarantee an encounter with the divine or the ground of our being. Peter in today’s gospel wants to make camp on the mountain. He wants to build 3 tents, 3 material structures, and capture this experience for as long as possible. As Jesus demonstrates, this encounter cannot be contained or restrained within any structure. As he says to the woman at the well in John’s gospel, we don’t need a temple to worship God. Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship God neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. The hour is coming when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth.
 For God is spirit, and those who worship, must worship in spirit and truth. A central message of Lent is demonstrated in the opening ritual on Ash Wednesday, when we are signed with Ash with the words, “Remember you are but Dust, and unto Dust you shall return. A sharp reminder, that all of life is impermanent. All is passing away. If we embrace this, says the Buddha, then we let go of most of our suffering. Constantly embracing this knowledge that all is impermanent, we embrace a life of letting go, knowing that “This too will pass”. The Buddhist Pali word, Anicca, this too will pass. As we look at all of life, we might say to ourselves, this too will pass, “let go”.
 As Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely shares “If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent, It is because you believe things are permanent”. Life is constantly inviting us to Let Go – don’t cling to this – this body, this house, this job, this relationship and this everything – it is not permanent.
 It is not an easy thing to do for us humans, who seek for security and happiness in the external material world and again need to be reminded, Over and over – don’t cling to this – it too is passing.
But there is another aspect to Lent, to the universal story, the spiritual journey. We could equally be signed on Ash Wednesday with candle wax, with the  words, remember you are light and unto light you shall return; or with sea water “remember you are the wave and unto the ocean you shall return”.
 A reminder that behind the form is the formless, one life, the ground of our being, God.
As Peter says in the gospel today “It is good for us to be here”-experiencing the ground of Being, the one light. It is something we can experience at all times, not just on mountain tops, but in all places; this, the formless one life behind all form. This is our true nature, who we really are.
For 12th century mystic Meister Eckhart there are few aspects more important in the spiritual life than to awaken to this divine ground within, to flow into it and merge wit it, like the wave into the ocean. The light of God dwells within us, which means that we, like Christ, are also the light of the world (Matthew 512). The discovery of this inner radiance that saturates our very being is the one important taste in life, according to Eckhart, who calls out to us from the 12th century, “ Awaken, discover who you are ! Close your eyes and see the radiant light within you.”
Behind the impermanence of our life is the permanent one life that we really are immersed in-life, like the wave into the ocean…

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Deadbeat Donald Trump not born in America



Deadbeat Donald Trump has now moved over into the racist anti-semite column of the GOP party with his announcement of his belief that Barack Obama is not a real American citizen.

Trump who has been restructuring his mythical billion dollar fortune for thirty years still owes more than he actually in theory has. Con artist, fraud, deadbeat, and now birther.

The fool published his so-called birth cirtificate in the MSM yesterday in the hopes not of baiting Obama but in joining the money men at the GOP into conning them out of cash and PAC funds. Cashflow must be slow in the economy even for the Donald.


I have heard tales over the years about how he stiffs contractors and architects out of fees. They feared the fact of Donald ripping them off would cause negative publicity and it just wasn't worth the effort in most cases to collect their honestly earned wages.


Of course the birth certificate published is a hospital issued certificate which is invalid to prove American citizenship or get a passport or driver's license issued. Rules changed by Homeland Security after 911. The journalists who publish this tripe never bother doing any homework.

In fact Donald's handwritten document was issued by “The Jamaica Hospital”. What city in that country were you born in Donald? Kingston?

This Birther movement is of course racist because Obama's skin is black. I use the term anti-Semitic even though that term is often used against Jew haters but in fact it is a reference to language and not race. While Obama is distinctly African in origin. The names Barack and Hussein are Arabic in origin and as such are part of the semitic branch of languages.

Poor Donald, in his old age doing a dog and pony show with a cup out begging for attention and pennies from the stone age birther movement.

Have a nice day. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hitler in Heaven, Gandhi in Hell?

I am seeing a lot of white, for profit Christian ministers, money changers at the temples of fundamentalist bullshit, who think they are somehow the gatekeepers of God and his evolutionarily perfect child/son/creation Jesus of Nazareth.  A lot of Prot preachers and “theologians” like Russell D. Moore are out there on the blogosphere doing mandatory articles condemning a hip preacher from Michigan over the mythical place called Hell.

Like the many good people and (some) perverts who taught me in the ROMAN FAITH, the one true faith, this air of absolutism about authority over what in their hands seems more and more like a mythology of God, make it up as you go along with their imagined market share of that product.

One sometimes wonders who in who or what is what in Christendom.  Has the Reformation returned?  The only thing missing in some of these fundy ministers closets and their so called difference with the RC church hierarchy are the black, purple and red dresses. 

As for theology, the gospels are far from a perfect and exact detailed life of the preacher man Jesus.  The Prots have done little since the invention of the printing press.  They obsess over the print type and the ink of the bible rather than the spirit of it all.  In some really mean stingy climates they even came up with predestination.  Which means only if you are in the club, you get into heaven.  All others go to hell, whatever that is.  How do you get into the club?  Have to be born into it?  Sounds like a pretense to royalty to me.

Oh I know there is a description of a fiery lake in the book of Revelations for non-believers.  But get a life.  Revelations draws a picture in black and white of a mean and nasty thug deity in some cheap pulp quality comic book.  In the gospels you have the hint of love and redemption from Jesus, the supposed equal of God.  In Revelation, it is pay your dues in cash or get out of the exclusive club of the saved. 

Revelations is the last book of Constantine’s authorized bible. A year after he forces the bishops to hammer out his Nicene Creed and orders the first copies of his newly authorized bibles, he murders his co-emperor and son and then his wife over rumors of a love affair.  Talk about the mean nasty old testament style God in Revelation and the mad murderer in charge of it all (the church) in its official beginnings.  Well let’s not judge Saint Constantine the Great; he must have had his reasons.  And anyway, he was saved by Jesus. Right? Full of the grace of God. Etc. You know. In the club. Wink. Nod.

While on the subject of sick perverted catholic dictators, Hitler is in heaven.  The Irish nuns who taught us reassured us that all Hitler had to do before he offed himself was say an act of contrition.  Hitler was saved by Jesus.  He was a baptized catholic.  Educated in some catholic schools and never publicly challenged the church.  Though there is a mix of sometimes contradictory statements public and private, he was most assuredly a catholic when he died and went to heaven.  Of that, I heard and was taught.  I won’t repeat the stuff the good Irish nuns used to say about the Jews.  The Irish in America are very anti-Semitic I think – or were so in my little Irish American ghetto.

Which brings us to brown skinned Mahatma Gandhi.  Mohandas, according to most fundamentalist Christians, was not saved by Jesus.  You have to be a card carrying member of the exclusive right to heaven for all Christians only. Heaven I think is visualized in modern terms as some sort of exclusive whites only country club by most American fundamentalist “Christians”.

Gandhi could not have possibly had the grace of God to be saved.  He was Hindu and did not pay his poll tax to heaven.  End of story.

Only good acts by Christians are good acts.  The other things like feeding the poor, raising human dignity out of economic and political slavery just don’t count unless they have the Christ seal of approval.  There is no point in some devils trying to be good.  It is a waste of time if they are not predestined by God to be saved.  And God does not consider anybody who does not recognize his son as God’s gift to humanity. Period.

So it is all right to hate Muslims according to Franklin Graham.  They are not white and they are not full of Christian grace, the poll tax thing to heaven.

When somebody comes along and challenges the absoluteness of a real estate deal down south called Hell, well count him out.  I don’t know who this Prot pope/godfather John Piper is.  But his tweet dissing an honest young preacher keeps getting mentioned over and over again by men kissing and licking his sacred ass in their recent writings directed against Rob Bell. 


Well F*ck em.  Excuse my Latin. They can go to hell too whatever that really is.  In fact I think they are already in hell on this earth if you consider their mullah like worldview.

Christianity is love.  Jesus died and redeemed all humanity or he did not.  The far right fundamentalist Neanderthal politics and voodoo religion of exclusivity for the white race is over in the new global reality.  Get a life.

Have a nice day.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rasta Jesus

I am not sure why I took notice of this sect.  I think I got interested in the timeline similarities to early Christianity.

I find the Rastafari movement and or religious belief system quite fascinating. 

No doubt the references to Ethiopia in the old testament gives it great credentials as an established African political entity.  As such the country has history that predates most European countries.  Ethiopia as a metaphor for the promised land in Africa, were black men have a proper and historic place in the scheme of things, is a metaphor mixed in with a kind self-love in the Rastafari philosophy.

Centuries of colonization in Africa and America along with various forms of exploitation and slavery is a starting point to understanding why a basic belief in the superiority of black men over white men is a means to try and negate centuries of negative self image and self worth.  

From historic roots and one of the longest surviving Orthodox branches of the Christian tree we find the person of the late Emperor Haile Selassie as a convenient metaphoric symbol. 

He (Selassie) was, some would say still is, descendant of that claimed Solomon/Queen of Sheba bloodline.  From a need arising in late nineteenth and early twentieth century for some central global African identity comes the Rastafarian belief that Ras Tafari (Lord Tafari), the birth name of Selassie, was, is the incarnation of Jesus and or a human manifestation of God on earth.

Selassie and his kingdom became a logical symbol of respect that an African and or Black Pride movement was looking for in the 1920s and 1930s.  Selassie was considered legitimate old royalty by all the monarchs of Europe at the time.

There is a lot of metaphor, cross condensed religious beliefs coming out of the basically African culture coming out of Jamaica.  Out of poverty and out of a “Pan Africanism” spirit of native Jamaican Marcus Garvey came a religion home grown and hand spun in Jamaica.  It is classified as monotheistic in the Trinitarian sense of monotheistic Christianity but itself is more a form of cultural Christianity than anything officially so.

Reading the background on this localized native belief with worldwide chapters or mansions, I get the sense of the early Christian church and how it all came together over time.

The traditional founding date of the Rastafarians is 1930 with the crowning of Haile Selassie.  Some native Jamaican preachers started preaching this mix of politics and religious metaphor as a grass roots reaction to British colonialism and the negative self image of people of African ancestry.

The movement has had its ups and downs but it preaches a be as simple as you can be philosophy with an eye to ignore the Babylon of modern beliefs and life style.  It also believes that God is within and not with out. 

You also have three main branches or mansions.  One I would say is orthodox in believing that Haile Selassie is Christ all the way to one mansion where you don’t have to believe that at all. 

I can picture a similar belief system in its eightieth year around the year 110 A.D. that was not a religion yet.  It was still a belief system.  It had the far right and the far left in beliefs and those beliefs had not yet been written down to begin the long dry descent into useless, meaningless dogma.  I am thinking of the Jesus movement, a social people movement that had not yet made a pagan god out of a simple country preacher from Galilee.

And while the Rastas don’t preach the end of the world stuff like the early Christians believed, they preach the here and now mixed with a little sacramental ganja. They live the simple life of poverty; watch their diets and dream of a heaven and a place called Ethiopia after the freedom of all peoples in Jamaica has been achieved.  Big talk. 

I was also attracted to the way of looking at the modern world as one big evil Babylon.  There is much talk these days in many secular and religious quarters of a return to a real Sabbath and withdraw from the media and electronics of the world one day a week to keep one’s sanity and balance.
Babylon” is often equated with Western Civilization and is also understood as an artificial affluent society of self-absorbed individuals who worship idols and live decadent lifestyles at the expense of the poor. -  Prof David Smith 
Interesting thought.

Rastafarian

Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement is a "messianic religio-political movement" that began in the Jamaican slums in the 1920s and 30s. The most famous Rastafari is Bob Marley, whose reggae music gained the Jamaican movement international recognition. 
There is significant variation within the Rastafari movement and no formal organization. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life than a religion. But uniting the diverse movement is belief in the divinity and/or messiahship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance of oppression, and pride in African heritage. 
The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one's hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism… 
Followers of the Rastafari movement are known as Rastafarians, Rastafaris, Rastas, or Ras Tafarians. The movement is named for Ras Tafari Makonnen, who was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1930. 
Rastafaris dislike the term "Rastafarianism" because they reject the "isms and schisms" that characterize oppressive and corrupt white society. The movement is referred to as "the Rastafari movement," "Rasta," or "Rastafari."…Rastafari developed in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1920s and 30s. In an environment of great poverty, depression, racism and class discrimination, the Rasta message of black pride, freedom from oppression, and the hope of return to the African homeland was gratefully received.
I quote from the first link because I think it is a better thought out and written piece.  It differs with the second link in Wikipedia which disputes the direct Marcus Garvey connection with Rastafarian(ism) as its founder.  Though some of his writings and ideas worked their way into this movement.
 
So eighty years into its founding, this sect of Christianity has no formal written dogma.  I guess if some rich Park Ave billionaire widow comes along to document this sect and starts to throw some money around, the various factions would no doubt start to write down who the founder was and what the founder said etc.


And the mysterious death and disappearance of Selassie, and or murder by the Russians, follows the Christian myth of a leader who has not died and disappeared or is waiting to come back and reveal himself to the true believers.


Various ideas and themes would emerge that do not match up what has already been written in the sources used above.


What will Rastafari look like in a century?  It might be as different from first century Christianity as that sect was with second century Christianity.  A work in process.

Worth a read to get and see another slice of life in the worldwide eternal growth of the Christian mythology leading always back to the potential divinity of mankind found in the teachings of Jesus.