Saturday, May 30, 2015

Death & Eternal Life: Important if true

I have long wanted to do a review of a book I found on Amazon a couple of years ago. It's by John Hick who was a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Research in the Humanities at the University of Birmingham in England and Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, Emeritus at the Clarmont Graduate School in California. The book is out of print but can still be bought through the Amazon page. It goes for anywhere from $2 to $35. I think I paid around $11. It was recommended by a facebook friend that I met online who is now a Professor and I really think it is a good, strong book although it is dense and I can't say I agree with everything in it. But it's a really good overview of Christian, humanistic and Eastern thought on the  subject of life after death.

It was published in 1994 and comes in at around 490 plus pages. I slogged through it slowly over a period of weeks while drinking coffee or taking a break. I can't really do the job I would like to do in this review without reading it again and making notes. To be honest I'm not going to do that. But, I will look back and try to do the best I can since it did make an impression on me.

As I age the question of life after death becomes even more important. I can honestly say that I have pondered that one from a young age. But, it just isn't as far away and out there as it used to be.

I don't look for guru's and I don't endorse everything this writer thinks or his conclusions. But, it was a very good overview and I really got much food for thought from it. So, here goes:

The writer appears to be well versed and maybe even a little biased toward the Christian view although not in a conservative or absolute way. He discusses the Christian view of resurrection. for instance there is the gospel view where Jesus rose bodily from the tomb and bore the scars of the cross. There is the view from Paul in Corinthians where the resurrection body comes not from the animated corpse but from a seed that falls to the ground. He also discussed the Greek view that later came into the church that saw the body, mind and spirit as parts of the same whole.

Catholic view:  He discusses purgatory and how that makes sense to some because of the goal of growing into union with God. For instance a young child who dies would still be able to grow into union with God as a goal.

He also discusses humanism which sees life after death as a myth showing us how we should live our present lives. He doesn't spend to great a time on atheism since in all honesty it's a negative (no matter what your own thought on it might be) and this is a book on the possible and the hope of an afterlife. Still, you have to discuss the negative to understand how the hope is shaped and the argument is framed.

He also discusses Buddhism. I personally have an interest in this because I love the meditation practices of Buddhism. However, I find the worldview and the nothingness of the Tibetan view to be bleak and not really worth pursuing. But, that's me and I really can't help putting my own thoughts in here from time to time. I do have much respect for Buddhism.

He discusses reincarnation and he doesn't really land on the side of it but does give it serious thought and provides good discussion. I personally lean toward reincarnation since it does make more sense "to me" than a seed and an egg magically producing an eternal soul. More sense to me than a bunch of brain chemicals magically producing a whole universe of reality and personal being. But, again we all have our worldview and I just insert things from time to time. Like just then.

The author also talks genetics and makes some really good points along the way. For instance we know that our genes and (if I can say it without sounding two faced concerning my above statement) our brain chemistry along with our family, physical defects and even nutrition contributes to how we act and live. Then it would seem very illogical for God to eternally judge and place us in eternal bliss or torment based on one short life and (my words here) how we did in the sperm lottery. This alone is worth the read.

The author also talks about forgiveness and the burden of putting the stress on the victim that some religious people seem eager to do. For instance if a being murders a loved one then the loved one is not obligated to forgive that act. In eternity that murderer may see the error of his/her ways and repent and become a shining spiritual being. That's wonderful. But, at that moment in time the victim or the loved one is not obligated to forgive the crime. They can one day accept the person who committed it and in eternity there can be healing. Anyway, it's quite a conversation and I really can't do it justice here.

The author also talks at length about other philosophers and thinkers. One that I really thought had some relevant thoughts was the late HH Price a Welsh Philosopher. Price thought that upon death a person will find themselves in a dreamworld of memories from life. For instance this from Wikipedia:
According to Price after death the self will find itself in a dream world of memories and mental images from their life. Price wrote that the hypothetical "next world would be realms of real mental images." Price however believed that the self may be able to draw upon its memories of previous physical existence to create an environment of totally new images. According to Price, the dream world will not follow the laws of physics just as ordinary dreams do not. In addition, he wrote that each person will experience a world of their own, though he also wrote that the dream world doesn't necessarily have to be solipsistic as different selves may be able to communicate with each other by dream telepathy.

The writer does a really good job of looking at the history of ancient people and how they seemed to view death. From prehistoric evidence that points to a belief in some sort of afterlife all the way through the various cultures both east and west ancient and modern. I really do recommend this particular book if this sort of thing is of interest to you.

Now, since I have no desire to be a fanboy of anybody these days. I will close out this review with a disclaimer. I have my own thoughts of God, Spiritual reality and my own hard earned worldview. My worldview is still evolving. Although, I have a steady foundation as to the things I give credence.

So, there ya have it. A Saturday Morning Book Review.

Peace!





 
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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rants and Dreams!

  This internet thing is really interesting. I find so many different worldviews and ways of looking at the world. Interact with people that I could never know or be around in person. Still, I also notice so much one sided yelling going on. I was wondering about that. I thought: Has anybody, anywhere, ever changed somebody else and their core belief by yelling at them? Calling them an inbred right winger, Godless left wing communist, pervert, screaming "Scripture says, Science says, reality says." blah, blah, blah. I don't like polemics (that means a one sided long winded non original rant that knocks down strawmen instead of dealing with the many facets of human experience.)

1. No, I do not believe the president is a Muslim. But, even if he were I am still not sorry I voted for him.

 2. No I don't believe atheism is more intelligent than a belief in a higher purpose and I also don't believe it makes you more scientific.

3. There is no single "entity" that answers to the name of Science.

4. No, I don't believe the bible was handed down with no error as one single entity by the Lord God Almighty and that we have to leave our brains at the door when we discuss it.

5. No, I don't believe gay people are going to hell. I believe you are who you are. and if you try to be something else you will be miserable.

6. No, I don't need to watch a movie called "Dear White People" Black or white if you want me to know something about you then talk to me, not at me.

7. No, we don't fight the civil war in our minds all day in the south. Most of the reference to it I hear comes from people from the north.

 8. Yep, Alabama is indeed in need of better leadership. But, it is still a beautiful state and I hope we can wake up.

9. No, conservative middle and upper class white people "You" can't take back America because it doesn't just belong to you.

10. No, I don't think a plant that grows in the ground and is natural should be illegal while the drug lobby pumps our kids full of stuff to make them behave.

11. Please, don't say you love Jesus and then in the next breath call a young person who is killed (no matter your politics) a "justified" killing. Don't troll the internet calling people thugs and bowing to the police just because they are the police.

Also, don't degrade the very real need of a police force. I happen to know that the police are people who have a very complicated job. Putting on a badge doesn't automatically make you a hero but it does give you a special responsibility and it's awesome to see so many who take their responsibility seriously. God Bless them. I hope this isn't just a one sided long winded none original rant that knocks down straw-men instead of dealing with the many facets of human experience. Wouldn't want to be a hypocrite. :-)



I work in a field where we have lots, and lots and lots of oversight. Extremely aware that I have to be really careful with what I say or even what I post on the internet. In some way the internet thing is true of everybody these days. You get labeled and then you are in trouble. I have absolutely no problem with not revealing my everyday work or encounters with people. I like social work but at the same time I don't define who and what I do for a living with who or what I am inside. I work for an agency that although they are very Christian on some level it has never been a requirement for the job. Still, my core belief and the things I really feel would have some look at me weirdly or even try to "save" my soul. My soul is fine.

"Stevie, if you have accepted Jesus then you can never be lost no matter what"....Paternal Grandmother from way back in the day...Altoona, Alabama.

I always wondered about how people portray God. You have this being who loves you but on the other hand if you mess up you are out of the club. Anyway, that's not where I was wanting to go right now. Just popped into my head. :-)

I see so many polemics these days from people who are so self righteous and to be honest it turns me off. I know they mean well but really. Who is going to listen to somebody yelling at them unless it's the choir? Standing up in front of the so called Free Thinkers Society and slandering people as stupid for having the audacity to believe in God is not brave. Standing up in front of  the First Baptist Church on Sunday Morning and calling gay people sinners is not brave. Pulling scripture and beating people over the head. Yelling Science while all the time you are simply the same thing (religious fanatic) while screaming at people that they are nothing but brain farts does not make you intelligent.


 Id love to spit some beechnut in that dudes eyes
And shoot him with my old 45
Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive...Hank Jr.

I hate Duck Commander....err excuse me "Duck Dynasty. :-) Maybe because I'm from the south and grew up with all the pseudo macho crap of the region. The Jesus loves you...but I will kick your ass crap. Truth is that saying something in a long drawl doesn't make you tough. It doesn't make you stupid either, for all the folks up north y'all need to understand that. But, I don't need some long bearded dude telling me how  to live my life or calling people "sinners and perverts" who you've never even met or walked in their skin for a day.


 I keep my visions to myself...Stevie Nicks


I have become a Jesus Follower in my later years.  It fits me better than the term Christian these days. Here is a link to a blog by Benjamin Corey that says it much better than I can.
 http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/5-ways-you-can-spot-a-jesus-follower/

But, here are some of the things that I feel and that I follow. I truly believe how you treat others is more important than all the other stuff and ritual and who you vote for and who you hang out with. Everybody you meet is important to somebody even, if it's only to God. I try to give everybody no matter if they are homeless or my boss at work or my friend or family or just somebody I pass on the street the dignity that a reflection of the "Divine" deserves. That's it. That's my religion.

I also believe that we are eternal. I don't think an eternal being is magically created when the egg and sperm meet. Not belittling the miracle of human or any other birth. It's just that I, because of certain life experiences and thoughts truly believe we are on an eternal journey.

“To be in any form, what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)” - See more at: http://blogs.cofc.edu/whitman/2010/09/01/afterlife-and-rebirth-in-song-of-myself/#sthash.XJ0M0x1Q.dpuf
“To be in any form, what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)” - See more at: http://blogs.cofc.edu/whitman/2010/09/01/afterlife-and-rebirth-in-song-of-myself/#sthash.XJ0M0x1Q.dpuf
"So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see, Where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me." —General George S. Patton

I think getting older is something that I really didn't think would happen so fast. :-) I don't feel like I'm decrepit but I also can't run the hundred yard dash these days either. I find myself at night thinking "God, let that just be heartburn." "Oh, my goodness, I hope that's just a harmless mole." "Now where did that come from? I don't remember getting cut, scratched or bumping up against something." "Wow, I ate too much, again." ;-P

Still, as I look out of these eyes I am still very much "Me." I Am. Some people say 'I'm not the same person that I was." Well, I am very much still myself. I have learned some lessons. I hope I'm wiser about some things. I have more knowledge of some experiences. But, I'm not a different person. I just express myself differently due to time and experience. Also, because I really have been touched by grace and I am thankful that I have been allowed to peep just a little behind the curtain from time to time.


I remember a dream from my childhood. It has stayed with me through the years. It's one of the things that keeps me in times of confusion, stress, cynicism, and days when I really don't "believe" or feel that I do, in anything.

In the dream I see a staircase. I hear "walk up these stairs and every time you make a mark on the stairs you belong to God. ...I start to walk and every time I look down I see the impression of my foot on the stairs.....I get to the very top stair. I look down to see if I really do belong to God. Yes, there is the mark of my foot. I belong!

So, I'm not real into religion these days. I don't recite creeds or attend church or try to save the lost. Some days I don't even feel sure that this whole thing even means anything at all.

Except: I have this dream!

Peace!






Sunday, April 26, 2015

Music

I was thinking today about some of the albums that have influenced me. Growing up as the youngest part of the baby boomers (which still puts us in the mid to late fifties age range) We grew up on music that would become classic. But, before talking about albums I have some confessions to make.

First, I have never gotten into Bruce Springsteen! To use a phrase of a younger generation "I know, Right?" :-) Everybody loves Springsteen. I just never have. I always found him to be depressing. I always just started searching the dial back in the day when his stuff would come on Q104 in Gadsden, Alabama or WGAD! Even if I was tuning in late night to WLS in Chicago. Yeah, we had super stations back in the day. I also never liked the Grateful Dead much. I just don't think Jerry Garcia owned a song the way Janis Joplin. Listen to "Jim Dandy Mangrum" and the fun Black Oak Arkansas had with "Jim Dandy." Still, it's a matter of taste so there isn't really a right or wrong way to be a musician.

Another little admission before I get started on my album list. I love Patsy Cline. I think lyric wise Hank Williams Sr. is tremendous. "

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
The midnight train is whining low,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry.

If  you are from or have ever been in the rural south on a summer night then you know what I mean. That paints a picture. 

But, the music of my youth tends more toward Foghat and Eagles and a little Poco and later Heart. Linda Rondstadt is my muse. I loved and still enjoy the crossover sound made famous by Eagles. but pioneered by others such as The Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco and touched on at times by the Stones and so on. 

Final admission before I start my list. I don't like to constantly listen to music. I remember an interview with Tina Turner where someone said to her. " I bet you have a sound system at home with music constantly playing. "No, I don't constantly play music." I like to think and get quiet at times. I played it and I love it but I don't want it constantly drowning out my thoughts. (This is my paraphrase from memory, so it's not a word by word account.)

Now, I am no Tina Turner. :-) Or even  Bruce Springsteen for that matter. I do like to get quiet at times and I find my own company (see introvert) is quite enough for long stretches of  time. I also play music and I had rather listen for a minute and then try to plunk it out on a piano or find the chord pattern on my guitar than passively listen. No, I'm not a great musician but I can manage to entertain myself for a little while. :-) I chord along with a chart when I'm at the piano. I'm not able to read much music or simply do a concert. :-)

With all that said I do like to think of some of my favorite songs. I enjoy hearing people talk about pop culture. I hate that right now as much as I love sports, the only thing on Tuscaloosa radio right now during drive time is either sports talk about blah,blah,blah or far right wing good ole boys blathering about how Obama is the Anti Christ and the Muslims are coming. I also don't care for the far left so don't get mad. I'm just sayin. :-)

Anyway, first songs and then albums. I know there is no reason anybody should care about what I like. It's just that I started this blog as much as a place for me to vent and unwind as anything else. If you are doing me the honor of reading it then I truly thank you. If not then that's OK too. I'll talk to myself. I have always been good at that. :-) These are not the only songs I like or even always my absolute favorites. But, they have stayed with me over the years. They made an impression either by the artist performance or the lyrics.

1. Midnight Train to Georgia: Gladys Knight and the Pips. Original version. I love this song. She is so into the song. She is owning it and the vocals and harmony of The Pips is awesome. I can just see her face and that Gladys Knight expression while they move perfectly to the beat. I've always said the I would like this played at my funeral. Seriously. I'll be on that train and heading home. :-)

2. Desperado: Linda Ronstadt version. There is a certain video from the seventies. Hard to find the exact one but I think it's from Don Kirchners Rock Concert of one of the other late night rock shows of the era. Linda absolutely nails it. Then at the very end the camera comes up on those big brown eyes and she hits that last note and I'm in love. 

3. Good Day in Hell: Eagles from On the Border: Not my favorite Eagles song. But, it did have an impression on me as a teen. I was going  through some junk both real and imagined and this song summed up my feelings at that time.

4. Day After Day: BadFinger: General Forrest Jr. High. I am still in the gym looking across at a girl I grew up with in Walnut Park. We were really good friends (no, not that kind) Actual friends. :-)

5. Dizzy: Tommy Roe: Walnut Park Elementary and the first pop song that I really wanted to remember all the lyrics and it brings up my childhood.

6. Ahab the Arab: Ray Stevens: Summer in Altoona, Alabama and a certain long ago unrequited love. :-)

7. Slow Ride: Foghat: See number 6. :-)

8. Sweet Home Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd: God, I'm tired of this song. :-) But, it was something back in the day. (funny story about Skynyrd and my youth.) A cute girl is talking to me "gasp." She asks me if I have heard the newest Lynyrd Skynyrd song and if I like Skynyrd. I said yeah "he's" good. Later, I discovered the group. Explains her funny look. "Red Face" once I figured it out. :-) Ahhh, youth and high school.

9. Hang on Sloopy: the McCoys: Really, really young. But, I remember yelling out the lyrics with my childhood friends. Also, a nod to 1910 Fruitgum Company. One of the best names ever for a rock group from my childhood.

10: Hotel California: Eagles: Anthem of my generation. Although, it's becoming a little like "Sweet Home Alabama" to me. I've heard it a lot over the years. :-)

Now, for the albums. Anybody remember the old Birmingham, Alabama station that played the complete albums every night? Wow, talk about the good old days. Nothing like that now. Anyways, albums were an important part of my youth. Here are some of my favorites.

1. One of These Nights: Eagles: My favorite and the last original Eagles release. Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner are on the way out to be replaced by Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. I remained and remain a fan. But, this is the turning point and the apex in my opinion of the band. I played this to death on the old eight track. I wish you Peace. :-)

2. Rumors: Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks coming out party as a star. Greatest hits of the popular band know as Fleetwood Mac? Pick up this album. "I keep my visions to myself" Stevie Nicks. 

3. News of the World: Queen. Freddie Mercury in full throat  vocal glory: Another party's over. And I'm left cold sober. 

4. The Grand Illusion: Styx: So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because your neighbor's got it made
Just remember that it's a grand illusion
And deep inside we're all the same. 
   "Almost reminds me of facebook and social media that was to come." :-)

5. Kiss: Destroyer: Listened to this as an adult and found it lacking in musicianship. :-) But, it was something to me back in the day.
You've got something about you
You've got something I need
Daughter of Aphrodite
Hear my words and take heed.

Anyway, that's just a fun little run on a Sunday Morning as I think back over the years. 

Peace! 




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rambling along.

I was just thinking about how fast life goes by. I remember being in a classroom at General Forrest Junior High in Gadsden, Alabama. Don't know why I remember that particular day. It was raining so hard outside that I could hear it. Maybe the windows were open. Forrest was the same building as the first Emma Sansom High so it had the big early 20th century look of an "institution." so hearing the rain the way I remember it was more than likely not the case. I was hearing it from an open window in a classroom. But, in my mind it seems like I hear it from the front door of the school. Funny how that works.


Looking out of my lonely room, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you...BadFinger.

That song is playing as I look across the "new gym" at Forrest in the 70's. I remember because my sisters best friend is on the other side and I was thinking how cute she looked. We were pals in the old neighborhood of Walnut Park but right then she looked a little different to me than just being my sisters friend.


Now you're messing with .... a son of a bitch......Nazareth.

So, there I am in Altoona, Alabama after my mother's divorce and this isn't the big city of Gadsden anymore. :-) But, I'm with a friend and he's got some pot and he's pretty sure if I try it I will put the beer I'm drinking down and chill out. Just one toke...I wait to see if God is going to strike me blind or dead. Neither, wow. Anyway, it will take several years before I really start to wake up from this part of the journey.

I'm so dizzy my head is spinning / Like a whirlpool, it never ends / And it's you, girl, making it spin....Tommy Roe

1969 give or take. I'm in the lunchroom at Walnut Park Elementary. All the kids seem to be singing "Dizzy." WGAD is playing it everytime I turn on the radio. But, the big thing is I'm sitting here and "she' is actually talking to me. ....Ever hear Charlie Brown talk about the little red head girl on Peanuts? Well, this was the little blonde haired girl and she was awesome to this little brown haired boy. This was not going to happen again in this lifetime. But, I didn't know it  then so that was okay. :-)

So, why the trip down memory lane? I think it's just how people are when they think about how fast life goes by. Much has happened in my life. From jobs to watching my wife to be come down the aisle to the awesome, scary moment I hold my newborn son. Life has been a journey. It's gone fast. 


"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? ...G-d

Lessons learned:

What have I learned in my over half a century journey on the earth? Well, I've learned that you can lie to people and people can lie to you. But, somewhere in my core at the center of my being there is no way or reason to lie. Maybe, that's the main thing. That God is honest and that before pure being I am honestly myself. 

I've also realized that life isn't a movie and other people are not just bit players in my movie. That I really do believe in treating people the way I would like to be treated. Of course most of the time I just treat em the way they treat me. Which isn't the same thing. :-)


 
 Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?...Don Mclean



I realize as I look back how much my generation depended on music as a way of expressing ourselves. Even those of us with:

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say, "come dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...Janis Ian

Still, remember haunting the Record Bar in the Gadsden Mall for the latest 8 track.

One of these nights
One of these crazy old nights
We're gonna find out
Pretty mama
What turns on your lights
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
And moans

You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own....Eagles

I played that one night all night long after buying it at the Record Bar. Some long forgotten teen angst had me driving around. But, I never forgot that album.


Still like that old time rock 'n' roll
That kind of music just soothes the soul ooh
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock 'n' roll
Won't go to hear them play a tango
I'd rather hear some blues or funky old soul
There's only one sure way to get me to go
Start playing old time rock 'n' roll....Bob Seger

Maybe that was it. We bought my son a used piano to see if he will continue to play and enjoy it. I was plunking around "chording a little of the above song" when my wife walked in this evening. The fact that at least she could tell I was actually playing a song in the midst of my banging on the keyboard gave me a little encouragement. She couldn't  tell which song but at least she knew it was a song. :-)



Last thing I remember I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man, "We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like but you can never leave".....Eagles
 
 
Maybe life is a little like the "Hotel California" I really don't know. :-)
 
I was raised on country music. Give me a guitar and name a song by George or Conway or Merle and more than likely I can at least strum the tune and know most of the lyrics. But, country (except for Willie and Waylon and the boys) was my mothers music. I was a captive audience as a child. But, rock was mine. 
 
 
I wish you peace when times are hard
A light to guide you through the dark
And when storms are high and your, you dreams are low
I wish you the strength to let let grown on
I wish you the strength to let love flow on
I wish you the strength to let love glow on
I wish you the strength to let love go....Eagles

Peace!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter

John 11:39
Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh:

King James Version. No, I don't think it's the best or the most holy. But, sometimes it gets to the root of it. "He Stinketh." Whew, that's rough. I can remember as a younger person getting tickled at that one. Sorry, but it's true. At a certain age everything seems funny. Then you get really serious and everything is urgent. Then one day you notice the lines on your hands and the gray in your hair, little crows feet at the corner of the eyes and all of a sudden you start to laugh at life again. Why so serious? It Stinketh at times. :-) But, ya gotta laugh and then you gotta cry so you might as well laugh more and cry less while you can.


 One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin' downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line...Brewer and Shipley

Now, I've done some things that I wouldn't do again. Some, I'd do again but in moderation. :-) I'm not one to sugar coat it at this late date. My mother had a lot of sayings. One went something like this: "God knows everything about me so why should I care what you think?"

 Me and Jesus we got our own things going
Me and Jesus, we got it all worked out
Me and Jesus, we got our own things going
We don't need anybody to tell us what it's all about....Tom T. Hall

I have a life long relationship with the source of my being. I don't feel the need to be in the club these days. I struggle with dogma and I don't look for a guru to tell me how to live or what to think or who to love or how to be kind.


There's times when I trembled
When my mind remembered
The days that just crumbled away
With nothing to show
But these lines that I know
Are beginning to show in my face

Oh Lord if you hear me
Touch me and hold me
And keep me from blowing away ....Linda Ronstadt


Lots of days gone by. I thought the road would seem longer by the time I reached this age. Instead it seems like yesterday and I wonder who that little old man is when I look in the mirror. Still, I think it's an eternal journey so I expect my spirit is still intact somehow in all these journeys and travels.


And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars....William Butler Yeats.

Still, I think love is eternal. We are all "Pilgrim Souls." But, I think we are going at our own rate of speed and discovery. 

“God says, "Sure, take away the safety net. And when that's gone, take away the tight rope too.” ...Stephen King "Desperation"

Feels like it's a free fall at times. I think about how it must have been for Jesus. 
First the Sunday School version: Get thee behind me Satan for My father owns all of this. 
Pow, Biff, Pop. Holy Messiah Batman, that's telling him.

However, it could have been closer to this...
I'm going to make it through and keep my hope. 
"What?" " are you crazy?" :"What hope?" 

Now that's a strange thought. What hope. Why the hope that God will provide.."Really?" "Kind of like he provided for John?" "I hear a certain king had his head on a platter." "Anyway, what if there is no god?" "You can't be sure ya know." "You might be crazy." "Wouldn't be the first poor deluded idiot to die and go out into oblivion with the name of god on their lips now would you?"

Life, even for those with hope and faith is rarely the clean sanitized Sunday school version. Still, he did keep going, kept hoping and looked the fear of oblivion in the eye and walked straight ahead. 

Name it Claim it...God wants me to have riches and you too. A jet and a mansion? Well, that's because I'm faithful....T.V. Evangelist (many of them.)


"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered...Matthew 20:22

Just be careful. I don't think the cup he's offering is quite the same cup the evangelist is talking about.
 My son is approaching 12 years old. I had him late in life and now I am 58 years old. I plan on writing a letter to him to be opened after I shuffle off this mortal coil. I think about what to put in the letter. I think the one thing I'd like to tell him is "It all counts." Everyday and everybody. Life isn't your own private movie and the people around you are not actors and stunt people or characters in a video game. So, treat people the way you would like to be treated. We are all manifestations of "I Am." I don't do religious dogma these days. I don't think God is so casual with the human soul as to "save" someone who happened to say the sinners prayer but to burn someone else for eternity for simply being a human. Trust. In the end that's all that you have. Trust that the love you feel and the love you have known isn't a myth. The universe isn't insane and at the center of your being you know this. 


 “Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out,
swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing...
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still
red, his eyes not yet extinguished.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
"For God's sake, where is God?"
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
"Where He is? This is where--hanging here from this gallows..."

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.”
Elie Wiesel, Night
Here he is. Not way up in the sky being so pissy that he can't bear to look at you. No, that's the thing. He hangs on a cross. He suffers in the hold of a slave ship. She feels the sting of abuse and hopelessness. 
My grandparents on my mothers side were a product in many ways of the Great Depression. My grandmother would put water in a ketchup bottle and shake it before she would throw it away as empty. She was Southern of (as she told me once) Shanty Irish. My granddaddy was Dutch and Cherokee. She was religious and he was a hard drinking coal miner in the Etowah, Blount County area of North Alabama. They had a tough life in many ways. But, here's the thing:
I went to the graveyard in Altoona, Alabama some years ago. I stood there looking at the graves. As I stood there a single wonderful sentence came through my mind. "Happy Easter!" 
It didn't end at the grave yard or at cancers door. It didn't lead to oblivion. It led to Easter. It led to life.
 "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."...The Beatles


“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”...Saint Teresa of Avila


I get more holistic the older I get. I find more connections and less separation of people and creatures and nature. I think in many ways I am a little less afraid than I used to be. Not to say I'm fearless. But, I am headed for Easter Morning when this part of the journey is complete. 

Peace!









Saturday, March 7, 2015

My little sins!

I use this blog for my own meditation and even as a form of prayer as much as I use it to say "Hey, look what I think." I do that too but I also use it as I said to talk to the source of my being and contemplate my place in the grand plan of "being." With that said I have been thinking of the things that make me feel farther from God.

Now, one thing I have learned in this life (imo) that means in my opinion for all you old folks. :-)  Is that God is not far away in another realm looking at me from the outside. Still, I'm Christian. I was born and raised in the bible belt. So, as much  as I yell "Progressive or Liberal" Christian (which I consider myself to be) my roots are still very much with the Father, God personal Savior form of the faith. I might not "believe" all the dogma anymore. But, I might move to Maine and drop my southern accent. But, I still am southern to the core. It would come out at times when, I least expected it to come out. :-) My Church of God, Southern Baptist, Vinyard Christian Fellowship roots (Told ya I got a good dose of the faith through my years) comes out at various times in my day to day experience.

So, I think a good bit about sin. What it is and what it isn't. I hear people who profess the love of Christ talking about a "justified" killing of another human. Calling people who disagree with them snarky names and making cutting remarks. Mainly, on facebook pagers where they are preaching to the choir and can remain smug. In the church where they can get an "Amen" or in a political gathering of like minded people. Only watching Fox News and demonizing other networks as demonic.

On the other hand I hear people who are "progressive" or agnostic calling people of faith idiots and un-scientific. Talking about flying spaghetti monsters and sky elves. Calling people who honestly don't agree with a political view a racist or a inbred hick. Trying to censor Fox News while yelling that conservatives are killing MSNBC.

Still I digress. When do I not? :-)

I think a lot about my life these days. Getting older and discovering that I can't take off running across a field or throw a ball or make the ole jump shot. It's frustrating at times. I  remember an article a long time ago in my home town paper. Somebody had written about God and they called it "The Wild God." I think alot about the wild God. I think about what that means. I think it means that we are really not able to place the maker of all being or the source of all being in a box.

Now, I'm not a bible scholar. But, if I remember correctly there were certain Jewish beliefs about not even spelling the name of "God." I think one of the reasons is that a creature in a universe can't really absolutely know "pure being" which is outside the universe.

It's one reason that orthodox Jews and others have a hard time with the incarnation as described by Rome. (yes chillun, even you who are the chosen few evangelicals are influenced by Rome) To even think that the Almighty could be contained he, who is the very source of being and not a creature in a human house of clay was and is blasphemy to them. It's hard because of the law and even because of logic for them to accept such a concept.

I have come to know the source of my being as outside the universe also. After all even Paul and early Christians and mystics say that "God" is unknowable or that the ways of God or the being of God can only be seen through a glass darkly.

Now, where I am in agreement with the Christian faith of my upbringing is this. I truly believe that "Source or God" Pure consciousness, "Love" does incarnate and is incarnate in the person and being of Jesus Christ. That no greater love can be shown than to actually participate in the dance of what we call physical life by "One" who is not bound to what we call physical life.

Now, where I am heretical is that I also believe that I am an incarnation also of my source. No, I'm not God or god :-) But, the very essence of my being is within the very essence of all being. Anyway, it's hard to put into words.

Now, my little sins. I'm not really going to "list" my little sins here. I would be totally embarrassed to put my whole being before my fellow travelers the way it is open before God. A wise woman once told me "Steve, don't tell anybody but God everything." :-)

So, this is my offering today. My source sees me and knows those things in me that "smack" the very concept of being spiritually mature or awake in the face.

So, this is just a self indulgent, boring post that I am putting down right now because I don't have "time" this morning or opportunity to draw away by myself and meditate or pray or do other spiritual stuff. :-)

I offer this to my source and my journey. I hope to one day be where the worries and the doubts and the losses of this world are put in perspective. Where the terror of not knowing if everything is really "alright" will finally be swallowed up in love. But, right now I am still on the journey. I think if I can get up this hill there is a little bit of straight road ahead. Until the next hill. :-)


 Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah:

 I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah





Thursday, February 19, 2015

Passings!



I turn 58 next month. I still look in the mirror for the long haired bright eyed youth and I still see him in there somewhere. At least I feel him when I look out from this side of my face.  I was browsing facebook today during a quick lunch. I came across an article about Oliver Sacks. The Neurologist who if I remember correctly the Robin Williams movie was based on Dr. Sacks. Anyway, he is into his eighties and has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the last days of his life. Truly, we are all in the last days of our lives but until an authority such as a medical doctor tells us we are able to live the illusion of endless days ahead. 

He wrote a short blurb and I thought “Oh, boy” here comes the humanist bull crap about it not mattering that we go into oblivion that we will live on in memory. Thankfully, I was wrong about that. Instead he wrote of the wonder of walking this planet and the privilege of being a human on this world. He talked of how he is tuning out the political stuff. Not, because he doesn’t care. But, because he is maximizing his days and not worrying about that stuff that is beyond his control and soon beyond his concern. He also talked about his confidence in the coming generation present and future. About his generation and how when they are gone (as  with all of us) there is nobody else exactly like them and they can’t be replaced. 

I think about my own life. I’ve just had a little bit of an edgy day at work. I look in the mirror and see this older man looking back at me. I  think about some of my own peers that have gone on so soon and I realize this goes so very fast. 

Those of us with faith always feel especially, when we are young. That we will have confidence and an easy transition when it comes. But, the truth is we are whistling past the graveyard. I have seen people who  are so quick to judge others. Quote the bible and call down the wrath of god on sinners. Praise god and they know they will be in heaven as soon as they die. But, once the pain or the growth or he diagnosis is in they are (as would and more than likely I will be unless I go so quickly I’m not aware of it.) Anyway, once the diagnosis is in they are scared to death. No, glory I’m going home. No, wow I’m about to get my reward. Instead they face and we all face the same questions. What does it all mean? Does it mean anything? 

I notice when people die it doesn’t matter how old they are. Even if they have been in a nursing home for years and have had loneliness and pain. The first response is I’m so sorry. How horrible. We are not comfortable with death. We are not comfortable or sure of who and what we are. So, we distract ourselves with sports and politics and even religion. 

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

The above quote is from Paul in 2 Corinthians . 

Now, I know a man. Surely in the body but also at times in dreams and meditations seeming to find something more. This man believe in a personal source of all being. This man honors the reality of love taking on flesh. Not to save from tribulation but to endure it alongside those who are loved. Which is everyone. To sit beside you and me in the burning building. Not to be superman and carry you out. That is heroic and might or might not be love.

 But, to be willing to experience the situation personally when no physical or emotional rescue is possible. Not run out and save oneself or to say I’m sorry for you. But to stay with you, even to experience the same fate. That’s love. 

Still, the religion of this man I know. It didn’t hold out much when life experience reared and the years went by. The platitudes of the preachers and the certainty of the chosen when the storms and questions arose. Still there was and is this relationship. 

Thing is this relationship had become broken and worn. 

But, as the years went by it started to strengthen in the broken places. All of a sudden it was strong enough to say “I don’t know.” “I’m not sure.” “I’m afraid.”  Even, strong enough to say “I don’t believe that anymore.” 

So, what will I say if I have a diagnosis and have to accept death before I should? Which in my mind is never. I don’t know. I know what I have come to experience and I have my way of looking at life. I have confidence that the universe is sane and meaningful for each of us. The needs of the many Do Not outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. That’s the great thing. 

I looked into some Buddhist writings during my journey through the planet. I found some wonderful meditation and letting go of attachments. But, I also found a certain bleakness that I just couldn’t and wouldn’t come to accept. So, I respect the part that I found helpful and kept my own mind on the part that I found unhelpful. 

So, what about the faith of my youth. Christianity. Well, as I said before. For me the part that makes sense to me isn’t the dogma and the insistence of some to apply a little understood scripture as a measuring stick to politics and other people’s sexuality. I think that is a misuse. Still, everybody has to be honest with their own spirit.

 The part that I hold onto is the part where love becomes like me. Stays with me in the burning building and leads me at last across that river. 

Finally, I knew a man in the body or out of the body it was still and is still one thing. This man stood in a dream on the banks of a very cold and narrow running river. Looking across this man knew he had to go through the river to get to the other side. “I’m afraid” he said to one there both beside him and on the other side. Such is nature of dreams and unlimited mind. “I’ll die.” You have to go in. I’m here. “But, I’ll die.” Go in. Go across.
It was so cold. So intensely cold. The body was dying, it was freezing. It was wonderful!

Peace!