I’d like to start something new, this week, wherein one of us – every Monday – comes up with a quote for the week and adds a bit of our own insight to it. Of course, it’s already Tuesday here on the East Coast, but that’s beside the point.
The quote I’d like to share this week is from Gandhi:
Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
They always seemed to appear out of nowhere, those two old women, my mother’s sisters. I would lift my head from a task to glance out a window and there they’d be, out in the yard, waiting. I’d never hear their vehicle pull up the drive or car doors slam shut as they got out. Most times they would just lounge against the car hood, hips pressed against the fender of the old Chevy, waiting for me to notice their present location. Seldom did they knock at the door. They just waited for me to notice they were there. Crazy old ladies.
Then again, sometimes they didn’t come to visit me at all.
Sometimes all I would see was the car, empty, and I learned to scan the field behind my place where I’d eventually see them emerge from the wee woods in the far back, then walk towards the house at a slow pace; every once in a while they would stop and point and I’d see their heads nod up and down or be thrown back in laughter. Then, I would know they hadn’t come to visit me, but to visit their childhood. I lived on the property where their childhood home once existed, where the barns and sheds of the family farm once existed. So, they weren’t pointing and laughing at nothing, but at memories, at ghosts, at the place dreams were realized or left unlived. It was all good, whatever it was they were doing. Crazy old ladies.
It was from one such visit from the aunts that I was taught about the Golden Place. In fact, it was the formal beginning of my informal education.
I was urged to post anything here. By our host. And I’m taking him at his word. Plus, this post has come into existence in large part due to his words. It’s a crosspost:
Nailed to the Sacrament of the Present Moment
This blog is following allusions. Taking side turns to consider turns of phrase and words that provided linkages from one thing to another, thus gradually deepening understanding of all of them. Thus the circuitous route I am taking in tackling these subjects here.
Allusions to the title above: I got the idea for this title from Pima Chödrön because of a comment by another trope, which was very helpful. So I took the book off my shelf and started to read. Pretty soon she mentioned, with regard to insight meditation (being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, while accepting them), the words: “nailed to the present moment”. That set off a lot of thoughts for me: One blog. Now this one. Nailed, of course, made me think of Jesus. The cross. Suffering. Redemption. Lifting up, as prayer. And the words “present moment” reminded me of a French spiritual writer, a very helpful one actually, whose book, published long after his death I think, is called: Sacrament of the Present Moment. That title relates to the genesis of my new blogs and the reason for this post. Sacrament. Priesthood of the Faithful. Our task in order to grow into that priesthood.
First, let me say right here and now how much I love Buddhism. And how much I revere the Buddha. Eastern traditions, and that includes the Orthodox, have long delved into the psychology of the spiritual path. They’ve nailed it! In my book. Indeed the part of the early church that most interests me is the church that developed in northwestern Iraq. Yes! Where East meets West. Lots of similarities in some ways between insight meditation and what the Orthodox call “guarding the heart”. It’s practically the same thing – to me. Though I find the word “guarding” to be a mistranslation. Or maybe I’ve been too much influenced by Buddhism. To be honest my interest in Buddhism seems never to have dissuaded God from radically breaking into my life. So I take that as a comfort. Unless the inbreakings have some other meaning… which I am missing.
LUTHER’S CONCEPT OF CLARITY
There is confusion at times:
It was inevitable. A millionaire Russian politician who claims to have been abducted by aliens, and also happens to be president of the World Chess Federation, has offered $10 million to buy the site of the proposed Cordoba House Muslim cultural center in downtown Manhattan. Like we said, inevitable. …
“I believe that religious conflicts are extremely dangerous in complex times such as ours,” Ilyumzhinov wrote in his letter to Bloomberg.”
There is obfuscation most of the time:
We have all had a taste of this Christine O’Donnell and her insanity:
Meanwhile, reporters are still combing through Lexis-Nexis. O’Donnell thinks of homosexuality as an identity disorder. Homosexuals are “getting away with nudity.” And, yes, she once warned Bill O’Reilly about mad scientists creating human-mice hybrids.
Yeah? Well her web site has vanished
She has ‘matured’ and all those crazy things she said ‘years ago in my twenties’ have gone by the wayside:
Oh, and don’t worry about Big Brother monitoring what you do alone in bed. O’Donnell, who is on videotape denouncing masturbation, cleared that up in response to this question: “You have taken a strong stance as to people’s private sexual behavior. What do you think is the role of government in regulating that?”
“It’s personal,” a woman in the audience called out. “I agree, it’s personal,” O’Donnell said. She said her 1996 comments on the issue came when she was in her 20s and excited about her “newfound” faith. “But I assure you my faith has matured,” she said. “And when I go to Washington, D.C., it’ll be the Constitution on which I base all of my decisions, not my personal beliefs.”
AND BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.
But once in a great while there is clarity. A repub actually stands up and says exactly what is on his mind:
It sounds so good, and it’s such a warm message to say we’re not gonna deny anyone from a preexisting condition,” Huckabee explained at the Value Voters Summit today. “Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, “I’d like to buy some insurance for my house.” He’d say, “Tell me about your house.” “Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I’d like to insure it today.” And he’ll say “I’m sorry, but we can’t insure it after it’s already burned.” Well, no preexisting conditions.”
A moment of candor from the evangelical former Arkansas governor. Hard to say how that comports with voting on values, though.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that the health care law’s individual mandate is in large part meant to make sure people don’t wait until they get ill until they buy insurance. But Republicans want to do away with that part of reform as well.
BARBARIANS AT THE GATE
The word ‘barbarian’ comes from the ancient Greeks. It simply meant anyone who is not Greek.
There once was an award winning historian by the name of Richard Hofstadter. Evidently the powers that be are reprinting a book of his. I read this quick review at Salon today-
That said, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (along with most of the essays in the collection) never seems to get old. The John Birch Society, the state of the art in anti-Communist fringe groups in 1964, was, as Hofstadter pointed out, merely the latest iteration of a mentality that cropped up every generation or so, each time with a new supervillain. Over the centuries, America’s political paranoids have fomented scares about the Bavarian Illuminati (a European anti-clerical movement — “it is uncertain whether any member of the Illuminati ever came here,” Hofstadter remarks), Catholics, Freemasons, Mormons and international bankers (often characterized as Jews) before finding the ideal antagonist in international Communism
The reason I cite this book review today is because I witnessed all of this; that is the development of the right wing talking points over the years.
I am a Christian woman. I used to be pretty proud of that. Not so much these days. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed of my Lord, but I am ashamed of what is done in his name.
Take burning Korans, for instance. I’m pretty sure there is no place in the Bible where it says this is a good idea. But it does say that adulterers and fornicators should be stoned to death…Now here’s an idea. Let’s take all the fornicators and adulterers in congress and stone them to death. We can’t seem to get rid of them through the ballot box, so why not use their weapon of choice, the Bible?
But seriously, I did my share of fornicating back in the day, and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m pretty glad we’re not using that part of the Bible anymore.
Now, how about the Koran? Is it possible that just like the Bible calls for things we don’t do anymore, that the Koran does, as well? So if there are parts of the Koran that are a little gruesome, can we agree that parts of the Bible are, too? And just as we gloss over those things in the Bible, can’t we gloss over the ones in the Koran, too?
Many Christians in America are letting fear of Islam interfere with their rational thought processes (I know, Christians and rational thought in the same sentence is a reach for some, but go with me on this.) And you whack-a-does who are advocating burning Korans are motivated by fear, I get that. But good Lord…are you not even considering the danger you are putting your own missionaries in with stuff like this? If this radical wing of Islam is nearly as crazy as you think it is, do you honestly think that burning their Holy Books will change that? Make them more rational? Or are they more apt to respond by beheading Christian missionaries?
*cross posted at Dagblog, stillidealistic.wordpress.com
Just like about everybody else on this planet, I am at the very least thoroughly disgusted by Pastor Terry Jones and his followers. Now there seems to another in Tennessee who thinks burning Korans is an idea whose time has come. I have to remind myself that these whackjobs don’t represent our country, or even the region in which they live. Yet for every one that actually carries out or talks about carrying out such hatred, there are probably another six or seven, if not more, who feel exactly the same way.
In the performance of Swimming to Cambodia, Spaulding Grey discusses the conditions and events that led to descending of the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge upon the people of Cambodia. Spaulding ends the scene with this:
So five years of bombing, a diet of bark, bugs, lizards and leaves up in the Cambodian jungles, an education in Paris environs in a strict Maoist doctrine with a touch of Rousseau, and other things that we will probably never know about in our lifetime. Including perhaps an invisible cloud of evil that circles the Earth and lands at random in places like Iran, Beirut, Germany, Cambodia, America, set the Khmer Rouge out to commit the worst auto-homeo genocide in modern history.
It would seem that we in the U.S. has had that invisible cloud of evil land here, stirring up religious bigotry and racial hatreds that were just beneath the surface.
From today’s Huffington Post comes a very thoughtful piece by Deepak Chopra on the way our country perceives Islam. The poll numbers he cites are upsetting, to say the least.
But it his closing statement that gave me much to ponder today: “…emotions cannot be entirely separated from reason. So our duty isn’t to join right think — however abhorrent wrong think is — but to be self-aware and honest. Being able to hold mixed feelings at the same time is known as the capacity for ambivalence. Mature people have this ability; immature people don’t. Self-aware people speak openly about their ambivalence; people who prefer to be unconscious hide their prejudices until it is safe enough to haul them out. Which camp you belong to is your choice.”
From the book on Islam that Hesham A. Hassaballa co-authored, there is this line, describing Muhammad, “In the eyes of Muslims the Prophet’s life exemplifies a combination of qualities that include sanctity, wisdom, faith, integrity, strength, justice, generosity, magnanimity, nobility, humanity, and modesty.”
What are Americans so afraid of?