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Posts tagged Heresy Moves West


78 bar falls 30.03 4mph NNW dew-point 53  sunrise 6:05 sunset 8:31 Lughnasa

First Quarter of the Corn Moon

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of them are stupider than that.  George Carlin, RIP

Finally.  The first drafts of Heresy Moves West and Heresy Moves West II are in the digital file cabinet.  They did not end where I had  hoped though they cover in very broad strokes the topic I set myself in the beginning.  There is a third, unwritten piece that will continue the Heresy, adding one of my own, or, at least, one articulated in my own voice.  I will not start on that one anytime soon, however.

Tomorrow AM I plan to take shovel in hand and get to work moving day lilies.  This is so I can clear a raised bed of its iris and true lilies by moving them where these hemerocallis live right now.  Kate wants hemerocallis to fill the bed out front because she’s tired of weeding that large island east of the driveway.  Can do, and I’ll get a start on the morrow.

Onto the treadmill.

Just When I Discovered the Meaning of Life, They Changed It.

64  bar rises 30.00  0mph NNW dew-point 60 sunrise 6:05  sunset 8:32  Lughasa

Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon

Just when I discovered the meaning of life, they changed it.  George Carlin, RIP

Kate takes off tomorrow for Grandparent land.  In our world that means Pontiac Avenue in Denver, just across Quebec Avenue from the old Stapleton Airport now enjoying a rebirth as Yuppieville.  She will visit with Gabe whom she hasn’t seen since his birth and Ruthie.  Ruthie runs up to her and says, “Grandma!”  Enough to make a grandparent keep coming back for more.

An electronic distress signal has sounded three times since I came down to make this post.  It finally dawned on me that it might be my cell phone.  Yep.  It needs juice and has used some of its last to tell me so.  Good boy!  Since I have a computer, a UPS, a router, two printers, a weather station and a modem all close by, it took a bit to sort out.

Writing has occupied me three days in a row full time.  That’s draining, at least for me.  I’m about 3/4’s done, perhaps a bit less.  As always, I have learned far more than I can compress, in this case even into two presentations.  There is a tendency to use all of it, or at least try, but that makes the piece turgid, reportorial.  It needs to have drama and depth, not breadth and length.

There is a cosmology kicking around, a soteriology, an anthropology, an ethic, a tradition with an American twist and the energy to work on it.  This is the stuff I tried to get at when I took the Paul Tillich course a couple of years ago.  Not yet finished.

And, to finish this post, an alien reaches for the sky.  (our wisteria)


Qin Shi Huang Di

67  bar steady 29.97  0mph NNW dew-point 58  sunrise 6:04  sunset 8:34  Lughnasa

Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon

Last night I stood outside for a while and listened to the wind rustle the leaves of the poplars and oaks, an invisible hand caressing these giants.  Tonight stars dot the sky and the air is quiet, the temperature a cool 66 (dropped a temp since I added the info. bar above.)  These nights, summer nights, have stories that reach back in time, memories of cars pulling into neon lit drive-ins, dances in school gymnasiums and midnight rides through the countryside seeking bliss.  A special place, the summer night.

Heresy Moves West will have two parts, I see no other way unless I perform drastic surgery on the introductory material, now seven and a half pages.  My plan is to finish the second half, the stories and threads of thought that directly result in the building of liberal congregations in Minnesota.  This is, of course, the assignment I originally gave myself, but I did not know then the complex of political, theological, institutional and intellectual lines necessary to make the story comprehensible at anything more than a superficial, potted history level.  After I finish part II, then I’ll see what can be done with the whole.

The last piece of the whole considers the future, projecting a possible trajectory for the liberal faith tradition in a time of what I perceive as thinness and altogether too disparate a theological base.  Here I will begin to answer the problem I addressed in my late night post August 3rd.  Ideas have come to me of late and I have a way to go forward, at least one that makes sense to me.

In the build up to the Olympic Games the History Channel and National Geographic have run programs on Qin Shi Huang Di, the unifier and first emperor of China (Qina).  His story makes for conflicted reading or watching since he brought the dreadful warring states period to an end by subduing the seven larger states that had survived.  He also standardized weights and measures, the width of axels, coinage, language and law.  As Chinese history developed after him, both the unification and these measures of standardization contributed to China’s long continuity in culture.  In these ways he is the father of China.

He was, however, a cruel man who killed millions to achieve peace.  He killed at least a million more building the Great Wall and at least hundreds of thousands building his mausoleum. The legal system he instituted was draconian and ran against the grain of the Confucian thought world that preceded him.  His dynasty lasted only one generation beyond his and even that, from his perspective was a failure since he spent the last years of his life in a desperate search for an elixir of immortality.

This Whole Enterprise Needs A Rethink

71  bar rises 29.77  0mph N dew-point 64 sunrise 6:02  sunset 8:37  Lughnasa

Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon
This website + $100, 000 will get you your very own jetpack.  Advertising says it can fly for  30 minutes.  Almost enough for the commute, but how will you refuel? 

When I quit writing at 5:30 pm today, I had four single-spaced pages done and I had not gotten off the east coast in this story of the move west.  This may be a two-part presentation.  As I said below, for me, context is everything.  Nothing happens without relationships.  In this case understanding the planting of liberal religion in Minnesota requires an understanding of interreligious conflict in the midterm past:  the Reformation and the long term past: say, Abram and the voice of YHWH facing down the Gods of Chaldea.  The near term past, the history of colonial America, the young United States and the westward expansion have their own threads to weave in this story.  It may be that the mid and long term past will require one Sunday and the near term a second.  Not sure yet.

As I wrote the above, I kept thinking about Buddhism in which the now is everything.  We are not, in Buddhist thought, the same self from moment to moment so how arrogant is it to lay out patterns over millennia?  Maybe a lot, but it is a contradiction I’m willing to risk.  If I can talk about it, this narrative has some meaning, even if, in the end, the now is all that matters.

My hope is that by the end of this work I will be able to illustrate five things.  1.  The conflict of orthodoxy and heterdoxy goes back at least as far as Abraham in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.   2.  The expansion of liberal religion had as much, if not more, to do with religious freedom guaranteed by the first amendment and spawned directly by the Reformation than it has to do with liberal religious thought in Europe.  3.  The westward expansion of liberal religion created a nurturing climate for its increasing radicalization, partly due to accidents of history and partly to the nature of the frontier.  4. Liberal religion in the west has a long and distinguished record of support for heresy.  5.  In the end all the conflict outlined in this presentation has at its roots the question of religious authority.

I have ended up in an odd place.  In the late 19th and early 20th century liberal religion in the west took risks, challenged both religious and cultural norms, but it feels to me like the latter part of the 20th and the early part of the 21st find us in trough.  Our faith does not quicken hearts, nor does it create much change.  It seems to me we fail on both important measures of a faith tradition, i.e. the ability to nurture the inner life and the power to affect change in the culture.  This is a finger of blame not extended from my hand or wagging in shame, but curved back at me and the leadership of this generation that I represent.

This whole enterprise needs a rethink, a radical redo.  We have gotten thin and liberal, instead of profound and prophetic.

Onion Drying, the Next Stage

72  bar steady 29.81 1mph NE dew-point 65  sunrise 6:00  sunset 8:37  Lughnasa

Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon

A writing day so far.  I have started writing Heresy Moves West.  It will take a bit longer than I imagined, maybe quite a bit, because I have this propensity to place things in context, deep context.  In this case for example I have established the Protestant Reformation as the sine qua non of the development of Unitarianism and its westward expansion, at least I have established that to my content.   Not too much further along I intend to swing back to Abraham who listened to YHWH and left his Canaanite Gods for monotheism.  Since you can not just go back into the past and then jump into the present, the intervening time takes a paragraph or two (at least) to describe, and all this in service of the actual topic, the history of Unitarian and Universalist churches in Minnesota.

Why do I do this?  Sheer cussedness in part.  Simplistic explanations that ignore real historical paths irritate me.  I do not like to emulate them.  That means rooting my thesis about U-U expansion in Minnesota in the soils from which it sprang.  They have lots of topsoil, gathered from diverse times and places.  The process is sort of like archaeology.  In order to explain the top, most recent layer of artifacts requires continuing to dig down, down, down until the physical culture either stops or changes to something completely different.

Anyhow, all this means I’ll be writing for some time, maybe as long as 2 or 3 days.  That eats into posting time.  So, for the next few days it might be a little sparse here.  Might not.

In the past week AncienTrails had 2100 unique visits, about 300 a day.  You are not alone.

Kate and I carried the old sliding door screen into the front shed.  We had to take all the onions off it to get it inside, then move the onions back on it.  In addition I had to remove the remaining stalks so my hands smell like onions.  The onions must remain in the shed for two to three weeks, then they will go in tangerine crates.  Once in the crates the onions will await their turn in the kitchen on an old book shelf in the furnace room.  The garlic hangs not far from their future home.

When dead heading the last of the Lilium today, I found one that had bulbils.  These form at the junction between stalk and leaf.  They are another means of propagating lilies.  I will cut this plant down and use the bulbils inside to create stock for next spring.

Spaghetti Squash and a Scimitar Cucumber

81  bar steady 29.93 1mph NE  dew-point 51  sunrise 5:59  sunset 8:38

New (Corn) Moon

Tao is the way without a way;
It is the path with no tracks.
You start walking the way of Tao when you erase anything – good or bad – you learned about Tao.

“If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.” – Wilson Mizner

This quote from Mizner amuses me since I’ve just read many authors to tease out the history of Unitarian and Universalist churches in Minnesota.  Research, not plagiarism.   I put down Freedom Moves West this morning after read it, mostly, from beginning to end.  It is rare when researching a topic as outside the mainstream as this one to find a whole book exactly on point by Freedom Moves West is such a book.  It offers up the history of the Western Unitarian Conference from 1852 to 1952, the period when Minnesota churches came into being and the context nationally and regionally that surrounded their creation.

Of course, such a lot of material on point requires a good deal of sifting and weighing, matching with other sources, like church histories written by individual congregation, still it provides an overall narrative that makes the whole task better.

After my nap, I plan to sit down and organize my notes and thoughts on Heresy Moves West (yes, I sort of borrowed the notion from the book).  If I can, I hope to get to writing.  If not, tomorrow.  That will feel good.

Last night I harvested a spaghetti squash and a long, scimitar shaped cucumber.  This morning I pulled golden beets and Nante carrots.  Later on I’ll pluck one of the drying onions off the screen and a head of garlic to use in cooking supper.  This will be a vegetarian meal, one made in  honor and celebration of Lughnasa.  Celtic holy days lasted a week or more, occasioned as they usually were by markets, dances, rituals and general collectivity.

A lovely, blue sky day with reasonable dew-point and temperature.  Good deal.

September 2017
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