Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Super Storm Sandy

Lost power. Dealing with loss, in times of hurricanes, in electoral years. We endow our lives with stories, if the power in the ideals of a mother/father – the bonds, the identity, and all the belief – is gonna survive. If the identity in a name is going to survive at another level. The essential lesson to pass on to the next generation is that there was no illusion that your fertility was sacred. Or was meant to be sacred.

Power was the first of all pleasures… passed down to little kids. In both trying to deliver people, like the truth or the news in the Information Age, and to save the people stuck, even in the Age of Technology. When systems were collapsing. And so the movement in the story dealing with loss – exile, banishment, journeys outside the garden. As the promise to give each other experiences of waking up to each-others’ truths. Whether dealing with loss when something was taken away from you, or when you simply lost: belief, possession, power. When you seemed stuck, and nothing was moving.

Shakespeare wrote that knowledge maketh a bloody entrance.

TO camouflage how scary the real world is. When you were forced to somehow start over. With each generation. Lou Gerhig had it all wrong when he confused luck with Providence, in calling himself one of the luckiest men on the face of the earth. Maybe that was the precursor of things to come in the tradition of Germans in the 1930s.

To lose your intense dedication. And the cause was? Or when you just lost your power over something or someone.

Dealing with loss. Those biblical stories of famine — or flood. Chosen people, those wandering restless beings, actively pursuing a duty on earth to survive – those every day threats of death, extinction, genocide. Over and over the leaving, the coming back. Joseph, the dreamer. The things that led to 400 years of slavery, the melodies that italicized the words.

Illusion is the first of all pleasures… passed down to little kids. What happens in a famine to people? Under the pressure of coping, the ties between people wither. Starvation produces – the ironic use of language – a pragmatic desperation which too is a human coping mechanism. As people and their relationships wither.

“Self-acceptance depends on self-awareness; self-donation depends on self-acceptance.” To have a home to escape to, from the tumult. From death and extinction. (The intense dedication was not some illusion.)

“One cannot accept what one does not know,” Larry Gillick writes. And a Swedish-American female responds: “I believe and strive for self-awareness, self discovery, self-empowerment through music, nature walks, bon fires, festivals, ocean, boating, yoga.

Inheritance. Very spiritual …possibly on the mystical side.

“You cannot give what you do not have.” You can never go back. After tasting even more freedom. No child could ever really go back home because “you cannot step twice in the same river.” When you leave dependency and become independent, whether as a woman, or in China. To be caught up in the world. Those Biblical stories are about when you get so caught up in the world and its storms.

To confuse luck with Providence, and then to pass on the concept in a secular world. When it was really about being chosen, to try and love better. So what is spiritual beauty? “What is wisdom?” is the better question. It starts with knowledge, moves to loving and ends in serving. The responsibility that comes with gifts: power. This power to love was the deepest thing about me. And sex was to be used to overcome extinction.

When you worked in the scary world and came how to the emotions? And suddenly I was supposed to responded to all of the emotions? To have a depth of understanding which developed over time about people. In an election year, power and might. Kings and queens. And presidents.

Chosen people. Creating, sustaining the illusion. The connection to pride — the basic sin of pride — in the expendable world. The world of fertility at harvest time, in a year of drought). When you lost your job. Without unemployment, without pensions and social security, when your job was it. But people do not feel sorry for you after a certain age. And instead you would face punishment.

Illusion is the first of all pleasures… passed down to little kids. By this time in my life – based upon what time does to a spirit – I think I am cultured. I enjoy the twenty-six basic themes repeated over and over in all the stories. When the power of a culture is based upon a shared literature. In stories. “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker.

Lost power and The FAMINE SONG: Take our hearts…take our lives. We are the signs of Your life, with us yet. In a relationship. Take our bread, take our hearts. . . We are Yours.

In times of hurricanes, in electoral years, in ivy towers far away. When God seemed so distant. As people without shared beliefs try to pray or try to vote, the production seems more stilted or staged, like at a political rally over human power. Yet no one in the audience knows how strong the bond is in this community, when belief is shared. Between people.

I have a pet peeve in people who communicate in the vagaries of languages. Using “this” and “it” and not defining the subject in a sentence. And so the state in 2012 of the English praying Catholic world with leaders preoccupied with untouchable “spirit” this Halloween. With the war fought over the preoccupation with translation, there was a loss of the established concept of base – that God is love. There is a beauty when people with shared belief pray – that is what comes from a familiarity from this group. “God be with you.” Not His Spirit, but God!

Feel the emotions left in the wake of the winds of Sandy: the fear, the denial, the soon to come anger. There is a beauty when people with shared belief act on behalf of each other, during times when power was lost. If the power in the ideals of a nation – the bonds, the identity, and all the belief – is gonna survive



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The “Nones”

When whatever was reeking from her mouth had by now caused anosmia. In this case, the absence of the sense of smell had come by neglect of her teeth, infiltrating her sinuses.

When she lost his sense of smell, it led to other loss. There was evident the disorientation of people wearing perfume who suffered with this anosmia.

This U. S. election – the choice between an insider or an outsider, when it came to the system – is going to be decided by women. It was four years ago when the nation had to decide about overturning the system, or propping it up. As banks failed, when credit was the air that business breathed, and there was nothing but pretend banks everywhere.

The threat of it all. Of loss of human systems. Of a past which affected the future. With the rise of “The Nones” next to that of “the uns.”

Listen to the dialogue which revealed the deepest fears of a nation. Fear and its antidote. Amid all the dysfunction in the world, belief. As if either candidate would take away the fear.

To associate with innocence, or with the guilty. When you were born innocent, as well as so ignorant, just as your very own child would be. And it was left to the parents to form a child with an imagination connecting the real world of fear to sacrifice. As if the parent would still be there forever.

Ignorance. The news. Communal and/or religious participation. For and with others. Within the past thirty days the Pew Research Center had come out with two distinct studies — one addressing how Americans received the news, the other about religious affiliation in the United States. One-third of Americans under the age of thirty — one out of five of all adults — do not identify with any religion. As the next generation ages there will be an affect on bonds between neighbors, and caring about neighbors.

With this generational change has come other signs of a gradual softening of commitment. The generation which did not believe in the necessity to marry. Sociologists might identify a new alienation in this society which came out of the softening of commitment.

There was the rise of “the nones,” in protest by the younger generation in the United States. At the All Smith Dinner this week, with the two major presidential candidates finished cracking jokes, host Cardinal Timothy Dolan concluded the night by asking the audience to remember the “uns”: the unemployed, the uninsured, the unwed mother, all the unwanted, the fragile unborn baby in the womb, the undocumented. “Government, Al Smith believed, should be on the side of these “uns.”

Specifically, the Pew Research Center survey reports the 19.6 percent who identify themselves as unaffiliated equal the percent of Americans who identify themselves evangelicals. The Pew Research Center survey identifies a rise in the last five years of the unaffiliated from 17% to 24% of all registered voters who are Democrats.

The Pew Research Center for People and the Press reports that 29 percent of people living in the United States indicated reading a newspaper in any format the day before; 23 percent of people living in the United States said they had read a print newspaper the day before — half the number who had in 2000, when nearly 50 percent read a paper the day before.

Gladys Kravitz, watching the neighbors. The jealousies and the envy of the neighbors. About what I had. With no idea of the cost of the deepest thing about me — in my fertility. When contraception becomes a neighborhood concern, and should now be a shared expense. When it always had been privately spoken about in a relationship, before insurance, and before this became a welfare issue and a neighborhood concern. And argued by candidates for office. When it had always been a political issue between two people, but now it was a concern of the neighborhood.

Listen to the obsessions. Over Curious George. Over American Girls. Or the obsession of adult women about contraception. The fear of conceiving. And the deep fears associated with fertility.

The Deutsche Mark

While traveling in 1992 to Czechoslovakia in the last days of unification between what is now two separate nations, I asked a tour guide about St. Vitus Cathedral: how dd it survive the Soviet era, with policy toward religion? I was aware of Lenin’s atrocities directed at organized religion. In the next ten years, I visited Germany two times, but never picking up the particular distinctions of the religious system at work in their country.

Last week, a German high court ruled that the state recognized the right of Catholics to leave the church — and therefore avoid paying the tax supporting religious institutions. In its ruling, the court avoided addressing what happens when a parishioner formally quits a parish, stops paying taxes, but wants to attend a liturgy. Over the past two decades, “three million disgruntled parishioners,” according to the New York Times, believing their tax payments were better spent elsewhere, left the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church saving the cost of this tax. The court said that their departure was a matter of religious freedom, in a decision which upset the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Germany. Facing the reality of a reduced revenue stream, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Germany issued a statement, endorsed by the Vatican, indicating that a Catholic who refuses to pay taxes will no longer be allowed to serve as godparent, hold office in the church, make confession, or receive Communion. What was not made clear was if practicing Catholics in German now have to produce an identity card or a tattoo in confession or when approaching the altar at Communion. The Catholic bishops “made clear, right away, that taxes are the price for participation in the church’s most sacred rituals: no payments, no sacraments.”  And I was left dumbfounded, thinking of those Jesuits who taught me, after they had vowed their own poverty.

The clear tone presented in the article, in the way of placement and use of adjectives by the writer, if not adversarial is one of religious bigotry. In a ruling obviously challenging the financial structure of the church, the bishops’ response is similar to what any chief executive officer might say, even if, say the New York Times was facing economic collapse in the new world order, in having to count the cost of the system by building a paywall, limiting free visits.

There is a universal problem of formulae which produce unengaged leadership if not unengaging leaders. Churches are financed by the state in Greece, Norway, and Belgium. Spain and Italy allow congregants to decide whether they would like a percentage of their income to go to religious organizations or be directed to civic projects. Belonging to a congregation in the Netherlands or France is based on tithes, not the predetermined charge levied by the government. Churches in Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria use the state to collect taxes from church members, with contributions either one to two percent of the annual assessed income tax, or predetermined, per the New York Times. In Germany, all members of the country’s Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, as well as approximately 120,000 Jews, pay a predetermined charge — 8 to 9 percent of annual income — tax levied by the government on behalf of their own church/temple. Muslim organizations rely on alms-giving that includes zakat donations, or support from outside sources. In Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, zakat is obligatory on the citizen, paid and collected in a centralized manner by the state based on on the net wealth. In Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, the zakat is regulated by the state, but contributions are voluntary.

The six hundred eighteen Germans who have read this blog since the last days of February – with many pieces written about the challenge to pass on belief and a way of life which contribute to national identity – surely have a better idea of the cost of belonging and the contribution that a church makes to their individual lives. The court ruled that the right to leave, as opposed to excommunication, was a matter of religious freedom, while Catholic bishops saw the decision as a threat to their power and influence in the modern German state — a modern state when men and women no longer did things based strictly on traditional impositions.

And so the punishment back and forth. Exile. Banishment. Inquisitions. What happens to the kids, when you have banished the parents? A child left to produce an identity card or a tattoo to all the impersonal holy men put in charge, to indicate how you really do belong? In a literate world, how many missed age to age, from East to West, the theme of this so very personal God discovered in the stories? Like in the highly readable, contextually sensitive, theoretically astute story of Adam and Eve, in the ethnography of a moral system in change. “Hence you no longer belong here?” Always the spiritual awkwardness, in front of God. In the strangeness of Germany.

Yeah, I was there in the last days of West and East Germany in what is now one united free-at-last nation, where a German court in June 2012 ruled that circumcision is bodily harm and contravenes a right to choose religion in later life. Note the name and thinking of public prosecutor Frau Müller for pursuing charges against a physician for performing a circumcision. Note the name and thinking of the Cologne presiding judge, Herr Beenken; note the name and thinking of the two presiding lay judges Bernd Boettcher and Hans-Jurgen Neuenfeldt. Note not only was the doctor prosecuted in Cologne but the acquittal of Doctor K had been appealed to the high court. It is what happens in secular countries where a holy father or mother tried to leave a mark on you — like in the story of Abraham and Isaac, much like the story in the Quran of Abraham and Ishmael, when Muslims were recommended to use different routes to and from the prayer grounds on the day the end of Ramadan was celebrated — based upon the story, and not for their own personal safety. When the young, when it came to imposed sacrifice, were never going to exactly do as the elders were doing. So how soon before religious practice is outlawed in the European Union, and maybe Jews as well as Muslims are banished once again from German soil?

This innocence theme meeting annihilation: When a son did not share his father’s beliefs. Yet. About religion, about government, about the world.  Bodily harm?   So compare this thinking to the reproductive rights espoused in other courts.  And what happens to the kids, when you have punished the creators?  

Or when a woman did not.

Dealing with strangeness. When women were estranged, anywhere, in the age of liberation, when you were Catholic, in the days when some were still better than others – or not. Like molecules left behind from what previously had been cooked in the same German oven – and so what was government, or popes, serving up today?

Breathtakingly faster — when you were born into a totalitarian state, in the aftermath of war. Or just in the aftermath of another kind of totalitarianism, in times of revolution. Trying to run breathtakingly faster, and the food tasted the same. The conflict was much like in Vienna in 1815, deciding between Restoration or Reformation. And that was the problem for old men, when currency crises are still currency crises–but move breathtakingly faster than in the days  of the Weimar Republic.

In stories about the survival of all the great European Cathedrals.


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To Bear

The conflict of the old ways with the new mind. Nomads and their children, fighting for independence.

The narrative device communicating not information, but an instinct about goodness. The serial work by encoding key ideas into a kind of formulaic element, trains a reader to understand the key ideas in a kind of emotional shorthand — in a search between the lines for both the seen and the unseen.

First. Order. Before there was any law. In the beginning. Chosen first. In the serial stories there are the personal and/or nostalgic associations. Not for the light-hearted, the debate is over goodness in what, for so many, were just kid stories. Over whose sacrifice was best, in the debate over how to worship God which began as Abel, “for his part, brought the fatty portion of the FIRSTLING of his flock.” In the theme of “firstborn” and of chosen, with inheritance. When you assembled the children to hear the stories. In the beginning.

Emigrants having to leave. In what had already happened to the keeper of flocks, the tiller of soil. The first job descriptions after just the one bite. Of the apple. Cain and Able both who honored God from the work of human hands. And so the conflict, over whose work was better. The movement in the story, to move populations again, into the outside world, through righteous anger. One day to a promise land. With one refugee now tied down to the land. The anger at the unfairness of the system of old, or new systems which replaced them. The quiet irony in the later chapters about inheritance for the first born son, when Cain was the real first born son. And Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? (Though there are no quotation marks in the text.)

Repetition as the narrative device: Repetition, used carefully as a narrative, can enhance a written work as effectively as in a musical score or in photography.

So for this culture of force, stories which reflect something in the way of goodness for people made in an image and likeness. The repetition in the well-designed serial stories serves not as a thematic device—but like a scientist looking for patterns. Humans arrive with formulae since if something has worked once, likely it might work again. When you recognize the people in the story to be so much like you. That charting of repetition was also the basis for most science.

When your life becomes a formula, with personalities, plot structures, and noble character within, in order to develop comfort, with consistent shapes, often reaching consensus over right and wrong if not goodness over evil. When there did not yet exist a rule of law.

Cain: The estrangement. In a story about the second born being killed. The restlessness as the first born son tries to own if not the earth, the Creator. The jealousy was over the love of the Creator — or really human perception of the Creator. Based upon all the expectations of the first-born, like his mom and dad.

The pressure and stress of first-borns to keep it all going. Note the restlessness in the stories of wandering people, before the transformation sequence involving the Creator. After killing his brother, God sentences him to wander the earth – as a bit of a prelude to the stories of exile, for the ever wandering Jew. The theme when you were forced out. The restlessness of Eve, of Cain, of Abraham. The craziness? The inherited restlessness as renters tried to own the earth, with a forced fight for freedoms and independence. (The precursor stories of the conflict between Jews and Christians, between Islam with the west?)

Cain lived on, had intercourse with his wife, and became the founder of a city that he named after Enoch his first born son. And to Enoch was born Irad; Irad became the father of Mehujael, Mehujael became the father of Methusael, Methusael became the father of Lamech. Lamech took two wives – the first was Adah, the second Zillah. After Cain’s wife conceived and bore his first born son.

Bear: To bring forth; to hold up. To both try to reproduce and then produce. A transitive verb, taking an object. From Middle English beren (“carry, bring forth”), from Old English beran (“to carry, bear, bring”). In the burder of bearing a child, to both conceive and bear. To concentrate with a specific purpose – to bring to bear. To accept and deal with. Nautically, to steer.

To bring forth, out of the garden. As Cain, looking for attention, with his own self image and all, was in the unraveling world. Who could see the unraveling, as it happened in my world?

In what was the second of a long serial story that dealt mostly with love and fertility, the mystery was in determining who was heroic, and who was not. With an awareness of a missing bond at the beginning between the keeper of the flock with not only his Creator but with his brother. I think by the end of the story, with love and fertility, that Cain had become a lot more heroic. When the most difficult aspect of Cain’s role was in the dislocation from Adam and from Eve. A woman on the Creighton online ministry website last week wrote: “Throughout my life I have moved, relocated, and been transplanted. I have lived under the ‘authority’ of my parents,” relocating in her own life as a military dependent – a child – or a wife. Joan Blandin wrote that she had relocated 13 times until she became an instructor in a Spirituality Program, with her own certificate in Spiritual Direction. It is so difficult to run a national company to get your brothers, as equals, to relocate, to move-on with the mission, she was surprised to hear a provincial of a religious order say, about that the most difficult aspect of his role.

Nomads and their children in conflict with the old ways, with a new mindset, fighting for independence, who one day come to belong.

Copyright © 2012.

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