• Tag Archives God
  • Breaching the Walled Garden of the Self

    Fall                                               Waning Harvest Moon

    Prepping for a presentation on Spiritual Resources for Humanists.  Reading books, articles, letting ideas slip past as I get ready to sleep, keeping my antennae out for what feeds me now.

    The book I mentioned before, All Things Shining, has convinced me of one thing.  It’s important to know why we need resourcing in the first place.

    The title offers a rationale, unpacked.  Humanism embraces a world shorn of its medieval metaphysics; the Great Chain of Being has met Nietzsche’s Bolt Cutter, God is dead. God is dead, of course, was not an argument, but an observation, a sensitive man’s awareness that the God drenched era of the ancien regime had been drained by the empirical method, reason and the strangely acidic effect of the Protestant Reformation.

    This world, a world with a strangled sense of the sacred, gave birth to the angst and anomie of the existentialist 20th century, a world with no center, or rather, a world with millions of centers, each person a godhead struggling with their own creation.

    What can buttress the Self that must navigate these empty places?  Does our supernatural vacuum hold enough air to nourish the isolated self?

    We stumble toward wonder, toward joy, hope for a glimpse of the sacred, of the moment that can lift us out of our isolation and put us in communion with others, with the natural world, with the stars which birthed the very atoms which constitute us.

    These things we seek not out of some vestigial institutional memory, an anachronistic impulse to live again in a God drenched world.  No, we seek these things because the essential paradox at the heart of our lives is this:  we live alone, the only one with our world; yet we live together, up against galaxies of other worlds, sometimes with other worlds so close that they seem to intersect with ours.  We seek the venn diagram, a mandorla labeled self and other, where the other is another person, a flower, a sky, a lightning bolt.

    So, spiritual resources in this context, then, would be those fragments of culture that can weaken or penetrate the walled gardens of our Selves, not in order to breach the walls, but to let in companion armies, allies in our quest.

    The quest seems to similar to the one Sir Gawain faced when he beheaded the Green Knight and, in a year and a day, had to bend his own neck before the Green Knight’s sword.  That is, we somehow must will ourselves into a vulnerable, ultimately vulnerable position, to those we have beheaded.  Interestingly, as the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight proposes, this vulnerability is not only, perhaps not even mostly, a human to human one, rather, it is human to the whole Green world.

    So we seek allies who will keep us strong in our vulnerability, mighty in our humility.  We seek at least love.

  • Is there life after birth?

    Spring                                            Awakening Moon

    Resurrection makes sense on a day like today; as it happens, Easter Sunday.  66 degrees, green popping out all over, pachysandra continuing its green invasion (planned) of the third tier of our perennial gardens, daffodils in bloom and many, many throwing up their green spears toward the sun.  Tulips and garlic and parsnips.  Buzzing bees.  Dogs running and jumping.  The air moved around with light, warm breezes.  Who says the dead don’t come to life?

    In spite of the easter bonnets, the died eggs, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow ducks this is the key event in the Christian liturgical calendar.  With no resurrection the other claims are nothing more than interesting two-millennia old ethics and culture.  With resurrection all the other claims take on a sacred aura, through them you too can participate in the life after death.

    This is such an odd thought, once you step outside the hermeneutical circle.  Not so much that a God could bring the dead back to life, I mean, God, right?  Not so much that people could believe it, many strange things are known with or without philosophy, after all.  No, for me, the strange thing, in retrospect, is that the club has so many convoluted rules.

    A loving God who retrieves his own son from the ferry and returns him to life.  OK.  A loving God who promises the same thing to others.  OK.  A loving God who seems convinced that many won’t make it and end up either vanished or in gehenna, the burning waste dump outside the city walls?  Geez.  Of course, His game, His rules.  Yeah. But why go through the motions for only a few, a select few. That’s not only weird, it seems perverse.  We can’t understand God’s logic?  Boy, is that true.

    Anyhow, enough about Him.  Me, I’m in for the resurrection that comes from mixing my essential elements back into the soil, providing a little food for the fungi and micro-organisms in the soil, the soul?  What if that’s what the after life really is, our souls collected in the mass grave that is this earth to become food for the worms?  Works for me.

    It’s possible, of course, and I like to entertain the idea that death is a process like the cocoon, a time of incubation when our cells become, like the butterflies, imaginal.  They reshape themselves into a new think altogether, a Swallowtail from a caterpillar.  It happens here.  I’ve seen it.  Or, maybe we’re like water, in this shape in this state, but in a gas or a  solid, something related but different.  Or, and this  one seems the most plausible to me, the many worlds hypothesis turns out to be true and we pass from world to world, inhabiting this body, perhaps another, on and on and on until last syllable of reported time.

    Resurrection is so important a possibility, is my point, that it shouldn’t have a morals clause or be dependent on what we believe.  If it is, it just is and we will be swept up into something new, something different and have another go.  I like that idea.

  • The Judgment of the Universe

    There are times when the judgment of the universe becomes inscrutable.  At best.  The complex interplay among our nature, our nurture and the actual facts muddies the whys of life.  Always.  It is no wonder that humans seek answers, we are pattern seekers, probers, wonderers, wanderers.  Yet, there may be no answers.

    I know a family, a small nuclear family.  A man, a woman, a daughter.  Since January the full weight of heaven has fallen on their home.  The man, in his fifties, a government employee, a sailor, an astronomer, a fixer.  The woman, also in her fifties, a quirky domestic with an honesty and unflinchingness that marks her as  unusual.  The daughter, bright, also quirky, a maker of angel wings.  A student of costume.  A lover of the
    Renaissance.  Finished college early with a degree in history.

    In January the man had a spell, a stroke they thought at first.  Some improvement.  Another spell.  An MRI.  Neurological.  Holes appeared.  Demylenation, a stripping away of the insulating layer of the nerve fibers.  At first, a guarded diagnosis.  After a second and third episode.  MS  Multiple Sclerosis.

    Various treatments, but none working very well.  Then, again some improvement physically.  With the realization though that work had come to an end and life as he knew had vanished over night.  The man has become sad, angry, depressed.  He hits the dog with his cane.  The dog will go to a new home this week.  He wakes up at 4 in the morning and wants to argue.  Considers suicide.  Has gone from a detail guy, a traveler and friend to an invalid and a miserable invalid.

    Then.  Continue reading  Post ID 11681