Tuesday, May 30, 2006

YOU HAVE TO EARN RESPECT TO RECEIVE IT

We;ve been having a medium sized tempest in a teapot in my neighborhood. There are a couple of newspapers run by students from the U of O. They aren't affiliated with the university, but do recieve some student activity fees. They may also have bulk mailing privileges but that's suddenly open to interpretation. Anyway, one is self proclaimed conservative and the other is, well if the name Student Insurgent suggests that this is tends to be a bit on the liberal, ok anarchist side of the fence you'd be right.

The self proclaimed conservatives published the infamous Mohammad cartoons from Denmark. The Insurgent responded by putting out a request for cartoons about Jesus. I've only seen two of them and yeah, they're pretty offensive. I'm not sure how many of the papers actually made it out the door becuase the university suddenly announced that the paper had been using the wrong bulk mail permit or something and held up seven hundred copies. 

Anyway, the battle was joined. You'd think this is the absolute worst thing to happen in the last 2000 years. Several of the letter writers on the "you wouldn't do something like this to anybody else and get away with it side" don't seem to understand why no one else is as upset as they are. The U of O has been attacked by spokesmen for the Catholic church in Boston and by none other than Bill O'Reilly of Fox (That's almost a badge of honor) among others.

I don't know if this will end up in the local paper, but this is the text of a letter I wrote on my break this morning.

"Is it possible that those of us who call ourselves Christians would get more sympathy when we claim discrimination if we hadn't already shot ourselves in both feet over the centuries.

Constantine legalized Christianity within the Roman Empire and we haven't allowed each other a peaceful day since.

We've hurled heresy charges against each other in the early centuries. Split the church between Roman and Orthodox in the Great Schism. Preached a crusade against our own in southern France in the 1200's, followed by the Inquisition, and the European wars of religion. Protestant denominations have split and split again over perceived purity of doctrine, or the lack of it. The Southern Baptists are the latest in a long line to purge their own from any position where they can preach or teach.

Perhaps if we showed more charity and understanding for each other, we'd receive the same from others."

One good outcome from thesejournals is that I finally feel like I can express myself well enough to even send in a letter, much less hope it might appear in print.

Monday, May 29, 2006

VOICE OF HEAVEN?

Pope Benedict visited the remains of Auschwitz during his visit to Poland. He spoke eloquently of the horrors that happened there and asked the eternal question, “why didn’t God say anything.

 

I have something to share, for what it’s worth.

 

I have a copy of the series World at War. The set includes an extensive documentary on the Holocaust. There are several detailed stories from survivors of the camps describing what they experienced. Some of them asked the same questions. “Where was God?” “Why didn’t He say something?” “Why didn’t He do something?” “Why didn’t He stop this?”

 

I believe God/dess however you conceive Him/Her tried. We are the eyes, ears, hands and voice of the Creator. Many tried to stop what was happening. More than a few of them died trying or joined the people they were trying to save in the same anterooms of Hell. More spoke, shouted, screamed and cried trying to get the message out.

 

Those who could have stopped what was happening weren’t listening or seeing. And since they didn’t see their victims as human beings, if they had heard they would have insisted that the message didn’t apply to them.

 

Too often it’s impossible for God/dess to be heard of the crash of bombs and the screams of the wounded and dying. Even worse He//She can’t be heard over the justifications of ambitious politicians who are too eager to send others where they won’t go themselves. Or perhaps worse, there’s a sort of censorship from those who have the job to report the news but pull back for fear of losing advertising dollars.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES

I don’t know if I’ve told this particular story before, but it ties into my last posting so here goes. Back in the eighties I taught a Sunday school class of 4 and 5 year olds. I’d started out helping my sister and sort of inherited it when her life got too busy to continue. And I was very thankful to find a stack of old brown around the edges paper in the stock room. I immediately appropriated it. It takes much longer to work through a lesson from scratch than it does to just fill out the workbook. Oops. Slightly off topic.

 

One week I did the story of Jesus healing the blind man at Bethsaida. I was doing my schtick with the “there are still miracles, sometimes they aren’t as obvious,” when out of the mouth of a five year old came this. “Some people are blind with their eyes open.” After I picked my jaw off the floor, I very carefully asked enough questions to realize that the kid knew exactly what he was talking about.

 

Talk about out of the mouths of babes.

Monday, May 22, 2006

NO ROOM IN THE INN?

I owe a lot of this to Joseph Campbell. Joe, wherever you are, I think someone just wiped the grime off that little pane of glass over in the far corner.

 

Christian apologists find something special in “God entering history” at a specific time and place. Somehow, this is unique and never to be repeated. That is, on a certain date and in a specific part of the world a specific person we now identify as God entered time and space. To enter the world, the Creator would have to have been absent, and I’m not sure the Creator was ever out of the world. Was a Gone Fishing sign left over the door or something?

 

This discrete identity doesn’t make the Creator any more accessible. In fact I believe it cuts us off. By confining a manifestation of the Creator to a discrete time and place, you get a freeze frame. THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE END OF THE STORY. IT’S FINAL, UNALTERABLE, AND NEVER TO BE QUESTIONED. This to a species that pokes, prods, touches, sniffs, tastes, takes apart everything in its environment, and (this is the irritating part) asks why. And as soon as one why is anwered another one pops up. At least until the world of the big people convinces you that this “just isn’t done” or “we don’t have time for this right now.”  Not only are we confined to a specific time and place but to one face of Creation.  We are told by too many who claim to speak for this unique face of creation that we are no longer free to find the other faces of the Creator in the here and now. And I believe we’re choking on it.

 

By claiming that this is what God said for now and all time, too many have put blinders on themselves and limited their freedom to perceive the changing face of Creation and left no room for any other creatures at the inn. Not only do they put blinders on themselves, they insist that the rest of us have to wear them too.

 

Now that I think about it, this is a powerful metaphor. I got what I can only describe as a jolt when I realized this. Talk about no room at the inn. Not only no room for Mary and Joseph, but no room for the rest of Creation either.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

TOTALLY DIFFERENT

Speaking of the more spectacular sisters. These azaleas are side by side. They will look better viewed larger. The tiny pink ones look like the tiny silk rosebuds they use for bouquets. I swear I almost expect the garden fairies to be using the purple ones for trumpets.

WE MAY BE SMALL

I've never gotten a shot of the English daisies before. At least not a close up like this. And the little ground cover geraniums are a treat. Their robes aren't as spectacular as some of their sister's but still a gift of creation.

VISITOR

I was taking pictures in another part of the yard when I spotted one of the Mother's smaller children using the day lily as motel.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

IF I COULD SEND A CARD

 If I could find a card to send to the mother of us all, I'd hope it would have verses like this one from Earth Medicine by Jamie Sams.

MAKING FAMILY
 
Earth Mother teach me of my kin,
Of Hawk and Dove and flower,
Of blinding sunlight, shady knoll,
Desert wind and morning showers.
 
Teach me every language of
The creatures that sing to me,
That I may count the cadence of
Infinite lessons in harmony.
 
Teach me how to honor
The Sacred Spaces of all,
Gently melding with the whole,
Answering the whippoorwill's call.
 
Steamy tropics to glacial ice,
To thundering ocean tides,
In every grain of desert sands
Your beauty forever abides.
 
Oh Mother of every kingdom,
Let me claim my family's love,
From the whales of deepest oceans,
To the Winged-ones high above.
 
To bad honoring our Mother the earth gets dismissed as Nature worship. We wouldn't be here without her and this is one mother we'll never outgrow. So Happy Mother's Day to Mother Earth. Thank your for all my brothers and sisters.

Monday, May 8, 2006

THE SKELETON AT THE FEAST

Anger

 

“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is probably the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations yet to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain your are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

 

This is from a book called Wishful Thinking-A Theological ABC. It’s a skinny little book with entries from Abraham to Zaccheus. I’d read it years ago and finally managed to track down a used copy a few years ago. This particular entry has always stuck with me.

 

The author's entry on bread reminds us that there is an emptiness that even the most elaborate feast won't satisfy. I think that the feast of anger that we're seeing around us is one of the results. Darned if I know what the answer is.

 

Blessed be

Friday, May 5, 2006

STILLNESS

 

By Thursday nights during the week my brain is usually passing medium rare and well on its way to char broiled. Concentrating on anything for more than a few minutes at a time can be nearly impossible. I was leafing through the small, rotating library by my chair and found myself leafing through similar passages from three different, very different books. The authors included a Bhuddist, a Presbyterian who also has ties to a Benedictine monastary and a Native American. All of the passages had to do with silence and listening. Listening not only to other people, but to the earth and everything on it and in it.

I've been dipping into a couple of books by Jamie Sams. She claims Seneca ancestry and works within the Native American tradtions. From some of the material I've picked up on the 'net I get the impression that not all her interpretations are accepted by all Native Americans. Perhaps her 13 clan mothers are metaphors for all the teachers who came before. And maybe in a time when so many of us are talking at the same time and listening seems to be limited to finding the pause in what someone else is saying so we can jump in with our own voices maybe there should have been a real Listening Woman.

Her book Earth Medicine is organized like a day book around the lunar months. Some of the entries are prose, some are poems. This is the one for today.

 LISTENING TO THE WHISPERS

Listening to the whispers
That come through time and space.
The voices of the Ancestors
Of every creed and race.
Our silent spirits are waiting;
Inspiration is our desire.
The spark of understanding
Will set our hearts on fire.
Within that fiery vision,
The whispers call our names,
Asking those who listen
To carry the Eternal Flame.
The flame is illumination
Of the love that lies within,
All creatures, Tribes and Nations
Become family once again.
Are we really listening
To the whispers all around?
The voices in the circle
Are calling for common ground.
Where peace is the message,
Where no child stands alone,
And no hearts are broken,
Because we've all come home
 
And the lady doesn't take herself too seriously. An earlier entry for this month reminds us to be careful what we're listening to. If you listen long and carefully you may hear the sounds of the All unfolding. Just be sure you don't mistake all those little interior gurgles we all have for the sound of the All. :-)