Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category
Union. Relationships. That you might have, should have, what Adam had, what Eve had. Information, knowledge, or a personal experience – a family experience – of God’s love. When there still was only the commandment about the apple, focused upon knowing God, supplemented with a command focused upon knowing Eve, ‘cleaving’ in either bond, or in a kind of separation.
Was it worth your time, creating a relationship? In developing a common point of view, about an overall aim of the relationship. In enhancing connectedness to this world. When there had been something missing in my life?
The anger of Cain. Yeah, kids often seem oddly numb. About the hard questions. About these unexpected living arrangements, unprepared for growth. Over why Adam and Eve had been kicked out of the garden. When your kids did not feel so bad about something that they had never done. Like eating fruit, from one long lost tree. When the world was so unfair.
To be so dependent on the Promise Land, despite all of this freedom. Was it about expectations – my expectations about the world? About where an independent nomad might go? Because greatness was so lonely by one’s self. Descendants of believers who did not ask, did not dare ask this generation whether the one true God would seem relevant to them now in such an overcrowded world. Did not dare even ask if God, amidst all of the personal pronouns used, had ever been relevant to the parents. These Tree of Life stories about Chosen People, when God always met a person one on one, as someone developed their own relationship to the Tree of Life narrative, set in a world with enough people.
About your greatness. Get organized. Prove it. In a relationship. And then in the world. In the united state. My first ideals or the past and of “saving” the past, was based upon the world that my ancestors had given me. I had inherited it all. Like Isaac would. Like Jacob stole. Some, through the people I was related to. Some, through material wealth. From their DNA. Earned or inherited.
Looking for acceptance. When in the under-populated world there had to be movement in the story, by Adam and Eve. After the denial, the fear, and the inner conflict of nomads who wanted to keep moving, to bring goodness into the world, with the expectation to put down roots.
Acceptance about the garden. About the Promise Land, when there was a planet to inhabit. Those living arrangements. When you were just for the most part unconscious, navigating closeness, with a degree of cognitive love, beyond the involuntary cognitive and emotional state of your family life – broken. Then the Lord called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?“ The winds of change. How fast things happen. After just one bite of the apple.
To slowly think and understand. Who was this God? Wanting your own kids or grandkids to think. About their past. And the custody rights. Before all the unraveling. Emigrants having to leave the Garden. Through no fault of their own. Recognizing the distance in the story. When both men were heroes in the story, as Eve, as Adam, had been heroes. Waiting, to know more about the custody rights to God. To the God of Adam and the God of Eve. But not understanding yet how to pray?
To slowly think and understand. After Adam, what was the point of view of the next generation, in the search for the divine? About fertility? The keeper of flocks. The tiller of soil. The first job descriptions. Cain and Able. When they both honored God from the work of human hands.
And then after Cain, what was the point of view of the next generation? Were we all really related to him? When he was born into his job description. With Cain’s hostility in his part in the food he was eating every day. When it was his brother who was the nomad. Who got to tend the animals. Long before the day when the Egyptians thought shepherds were the lowest form of existence.
“When you should have what we have.” Freedom. Human rights. Free will. And original sin. Even when you had lost everything – the garden – which had seemed to provide meaning, which connected you to God. The lost birthright, in Chapter One, to the garden. And then you were forced to one day leave it all behind.
The anger at the unfairness. Of systems of slavery, or new systems that replaced them, with the sweat of human brows. As the tiller of the soil, tied down to one place. Not all that dissimilar to the anger at having to bear children? The imbalance in “relationship work,” and a resulting anger? More conspicuous – but not to me – that these were my kids, inheriting my sins.
In the Promise Land. In America. Now the missing bonds. The anger at the unfairness of the world. Homeless sons and daughters of immigrants. The ones who left the Old World behind. And now years later these children mostly of divorced parents? And God, sensitive to the dominant culture. Sensitive to the gap in the living arrangement. And more attuned to all those gaps, and the inequality of the gaps in the living arrangement – than the insensitivities of an old world, with the ideals or the past and of “saving” the past, based upon the world that my ancestors had given me which I had inherited.
So this child left wondering, how could such great parents be kicked out of the garden? For just eating the apple? And why should they lose custody rights? To the garden. Over a simple apple. How can God not love my mother, or father? Even if, in an updated story, they had been divorced? And why lose custody rights to the garden. Over one simple apple. Simply for eating an apple. Who could believe?
The living arrangements. For refugees. For nomads. With a delicate balance between separate identity and a connectedness, was God homeless in His world? Did God identify with nomads and shepherds, created in His image, formed in His likeness? In a world that is rich with possibilities for connectedness and attachment, the heart and soul of intimacy, the lifelong challenge, begins with a home. And an identity which came from a home. And then it was gone.
To move populations through righteous anger. Because, as Chaim Potok writes, “Something that is yours forever is never precious.” So a promise land. With freedom and safety. With an overall aim of the relationship – in a marriage, in a home, in a homeland — developing a common point of view, about an overall aim of the relationship. But you had to work at it.
Was it worth your time? When marriage was really about about trying to find a moral consensus. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about themes of youth, beauty and riches. And that was the world of modern pop culture, of America today, ruled especially by beauty and wealth. All the things glamorized by the media, of modern America. Fitzgerald wrote with characters that keep trying but at the end of the story, never really found themselves, in this country formed by people who left the Old World behind.
And so in this land of immigrants, the ongoing struggle for an identity,when you moved away from your ethnic group.
Killing your own brother? When Cain was at the end of the story still my own son, in the eye of Eve and Adam. And all that they had left. Did you ever wonder what happened to Cain at the end of the day, after he had killed Abel?
Banishment. Exile. Excommunication. ‘Who in the name of God do you think you are?’ Cain and Able. The intent to take a life. Ishmael and Isaac, with their father. Jacob, with his brother and his own father. In the story of FIRSTS, taking a life. And the ongoing struggle with the refugee question, in this land of immigrants, dealing with nomads.
And so Cain, in his quest for mercy. And perhaps in his struggle, in his own “relationship work,” to learn how to pray. In a leadership role in his own heroic quest for salvation. When prayer always re-cast the human image of God. And Cain, so badly in need of God.
The landscape of dating. Over the past 20 years or so, as town centers completely destroyed by bombs in World War II in Eastern Europe have been, over time, stone by stone, restored. In my lifetime, and in the lifetime like the contemporary artist I met, who was three years younger. Her family had left and had spent their time elsewhere during the Reconstruction.
In the sign of the times, the woman still looks like a a cheerful hippie, with a restlessness on display, over time perhaps becoming more visible. Getting perspective from an artist who liked to paint landscapes of the far off, and generally avoided the things up close. The divorced mother, now at war with her son, looking for a lasting relationship, talking with great honesty about her life on Yom Kippur. To me.
After being banished from the territories in the 1980s, with an art degree from the University of Illinois in Champagne, she had gone to San Francisco. She landed in Minnesota in 1982, where she remains. When she married in 1991, she said that she knew on her wedding day she had made the wrong decision. Her marriage lasted until 1997, with six years of marriage counseling. Her husband, she said, was shocked when she asked for a divorce. At the time she had two kids, the youngest having been born in 1994.
Unsettled. To tackle the deeper problems, with perspective, after a deep sleep, of the daughter of Ukrainian Jews who had never returned home to Chicago. The woman who seemed on Yom Kippur to want to come to grips with her sins. The main one concerning that she never really had loved the father of her kids. Perhaps not knowing about “the last clear chance doctrine” to be used in her own defense. On issues of contributory negligence, in her life.
People do not really say, to strangers, what is most true, like this. Living day to day, struggling economically ever since her divorce, making a living as a sign painter. Recognizing all of the restlessness, in her story of detachment. At a time when clearly, with perspective of time, she had not really known herself. THEN the remark of a stranger recognizing her for her modeling for his art class, naked. This was, most likely, no big deal for an art major, though the stranger hovered over our table way too long.
The landscape artist who bared her soul to me in an Irish bar, owned by a Brit, about what she hopes to be building upon. Six years ago she had become Christian, with no mention on how that affected her relationship with her kids. Having gone to Guatemala to build homes, the divorced mother with one daughter away at college, with her church group, in her restlessness. But now at war with her high school age son who lives with her – perhaps playing the game by something other than the official rules – but he would be asked to leave when he turns eighteen.
The divorced mother, hoping to build on a lasting relationship, talking with so much honesty about her life on Yom Kippur. Giving me the once over. Just once, in this Irish bar that was not really Irish, with bagpipe music airing. Despite her claim of being an artist, who now liked to take commercial jobs closer to home but with her free time she likes to paint landscapes of the far off, generally avoiding the things up close. Expecting pain in any relationship, expecting such little joy.
Life in Minnesota. People want to live here; they don’t want to leave. We don’t have high turnover.
After a provided quote from me by another landscape artist –“I have always worked and pulled my hair out simultaneously, but the higher motivation is the sheer pleasure and joy found in the depths of perceptual engagement.” — she then said she did not want to see me again. Perhaps coming to learn, in her continuing education, that that you could not love others, until you settled first upon really a known self, before moving on. After giving me the once over, moving to the the art of loving yourself.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Mediawatch
Who is Kirsten Varley?
Tuesday this goy was invited to a Seder dinner, as a family tries to comprehend their own tradition and its meaning in their own lives, in the reality show called daily life, with the movement in the story – the movement in the story of Passover and Jews. What did it mean, this Jewish identity? With your DNA, within this creation, you were related to Him, in your image and likeness?
How can you know God, without understanding Judaism? Tuesday night I learned about the customs of a Seder dinner, in removing all leaven from a home – and maybe all the other things which inflate the egos in the rest of the year – in preparation for this day. That preparation had taken the host’s father seven days, in the old days, in removing the leaven from his home. Recognizing an underlying spirituality, about the ego in the story of Moses, about being Chosen People – perhaps because of the issues of inflation and bubbles of our times – I recognized the underlying spirituality about Chosen People, taming their egos, sharing so much with the rest of the world. Part of the ritual of the dinner was to read of the origin of Jewish women and people “like us,” not, as told in Greek myth or like the story of Romulus and Remus in Rome, as a people descended from on high. From the start, there was this sprinkled blood on the doorstep, as you let your God into your home … or in this case, a guest had dropped a bottle of red wine there, unexpectedly. When you married within the culture, with a tradition of blood in animal sacrifice.
With the always present issue of blood, in a living arrangement, as you marry someone within your tradition and passed a tradition on. You come to realize the continued existence of the tradition – your tradition – was up to you. As you made the discovery that the institution was somehow you. When you had somehow become the school, the temple…. the Chosen. You discovered the social meaning, in the age of social networking, when the conflict in the story was over more than shared belief, but shared blood.
The conflict in the story. With all of the movement in the stories comes the fear. And the primary fear was over fertility. Every fear concerning the next generation, about survival… and maybe the survival of tradition. Like the Passover story. When you go in Exodus, a bit uncertain when it came to your direction, after four hundred and some years in Egypt, and trying to get traction in the sand. In a certain involuntary cognitive state, and with high emotions over the intense unfairness in a system of slavery. But commanded with your life to know your God. With all the unknowns about would happen to the tradition, being caught in the desert. And all the emotions over survival… In Exodus.
The emotions of life over survival. Over the Promise Land, and your loved ones. In the Age of Divorce. Surrounded by other clans, which had such difficulty with concepts of union, in the your present day lives. And the primary fear was over fertility. In the earlier chapter.
Sarai. The laughter of Sarai, who needed a new name after the circumcision of Abram, in a scene which only Bob Newhart could try to explain. Over the phone. So because I always wanted to be a comedy writer:
Abraham, coming home after a long day at work, explaining circumcision to Sarah, at the age of 99 or 100. Like a Bob Newhart script, as Abram undresses.
“Uh, Abram. What’s eating you? You are moving kinda slow.”
“Well, I had minor surgery for something that had been causing me some trouble. “
“What is this word ‘surgery?’
“Well, I went under the knife.’
“Just outside Hebron. Away from the crowd. In a need for privacy.”
“No…I mean WHERE. Oh my God…. who did this to you?”
“I… um…. got circumcised yesterday.”
“You did what?”
“I am calling it a circumcision.”
“Really? Are you crazy? And who exactly did this for you?”
“I did it myself.”
“You? You? You can’t even fix the latrine. Why, in God’s name, did you do that? You know, we are gonna need new names after this, Abram. Both of us. New names.”
There had to be a reason for Sarai’s infertilty…and Abram thought it was due to him? So with a certain pagan view of the world, he took extreme measures? Maybe to remove something that was coming between him and his wife. To live and communicate now unconditionally. When you knew something and wanted to leave to the world this knowledge. The knowledge that took a lifetime to acquire. When something had been missing. Maybe when you were fertile. Maybe missing in your own childhood, or in your own neighbors. When something had been missing, and the plan then was to try it over. This time with maybe some spiritual direction. And maybe change, Norman Borlaug-like, the world.
The developing bonds. The lifelong challenge in the bond of a relationship. With the anguish that came to those who spent time trying to know, taking it to the deepest level within. And then creating something out of that knowledge. Before you died. Stories about the different levels of comfort, in relationship. When you wake up one day and hear that your wife wanted more in the relationship? And you did not have a clue what the heck she meant.
The movement in the unsettling stories. About Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The stories about the different levels of comfort, in relationship. Emotional stories about life and death. Over the Promise Land, and your loved ones. Stories generation after generation about fertility,about leaving and coming back, and death. Did you ever note the ages of Adam, Noah, or Seth? To recognize the anguish which came out of the search for God, and the attempt to get comfortable with each other. For eternity. When prophets climbed mountains, with all of the emotions in a relationship. Or in one dimensional relationships. Over the quality of union. Or not. When perhaps God had not been ready quite yet to be around Adam, Noah, Seth, forever.
Union. Enhancing connectedness. To this world. Developing a common point of view. Union. When there had been something missing in the union, if not my life. About an overall aim of the relationship, with a delicate balance between separate identity and a connectedness– when the going gets rough, to stay together.
Fertility. The emotions. Fear. Death. God. Coming to an acceptance of God, like the acceptance level a couple reaches with each other. “Lord, let me get on with my business. Because I am not fertile.”
And so the fertility of Sarah, at the age of 89 or 90. “Laughing” was the meaning of the name of her first born son. Like Eve, nothing ever belonged to Sarah of this creation until she had kids. And so the battle within for any woman, over pride, when she was yet to have kids, with a man who wanted the the old world back, after the banishment.
Like a nomad, navigating closeness, with a degree of cognitive love, beyond the involuntary cognitive and emotional state of intense romantic desire, when you were just for the most part unconscious … or really just trying to figure it all out. With American men too often just numb. When those neurons just did not feel the things we were supposed to, about the hard questions, beyond the involuntary cognitive and emotional state of intense romantic desire. For men too often just numb, about the hard questions, like greed. All men had it … some women. People throughout the world wanted to live like I had lived, like they saw in the movies. Greed fueled by media, for money and modern conveniences. Where It seemed there was not enough to be fairly divided.
SO after the public spectacle, for Eve and the apple, there was need for a wider audience. For Eve and her wider perspective about creation? Was there a need all along she felt to get out of the Garden? When nothing ever belonged to you of this creation until you had you firstborn child?
Passover. The unsettling story really more about the descendants of Sarai. With all of the work that went into this commemoration. The discomfort in the story about fertility. With the developing concept of sacrifice, of the best animal of the flock. Concepts over shared blood. Maybe why the blood of animals had been used in worship. To hear the story in Exodus, one year later, where the lamb was sacrificed and the people were to eat, “in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.”
Keeping kosher. The anguish of keeping kosher. To recall the time during those four hundred and some years when virtually every aspect of daily life was connected to your life being a slave. With the sprinkled blood on the doorstep, when you let your God into your home. When you tried to keep things somehow sacred. With the always present blood, and issues of orders, when you marry someone within your tradition. With an origin of Jewish people “like us,” not, as told in Greek myth or like the story of Romulus and Remus in Rome, as a people descended from on high. With the tradition of blood in animal sacrifice, the so very personal commemoration of Passover as a vehicle to celebrate the very nature of God, and His work in the world. Through fertility.. . shared.
With all of the anguish. Maybe like childbirth. Or in the 613 orders related to keeping kosher. With all of the dishes and pots and pans. The sacrifice that comes trying to maintain a tradition. With a certain amount of discomfort if not pain. When you work all week and came home to prepare the Seder. The anguish in being Chosen People, generation after generation.
Passing it on. The work of deliverance of the next generation. Nietsche wrote that the meaning in life, the memory of loved ones, is conveyed only through real stories about palpable heart-beating pain. Stories of deep love, of deep hate, with layers of suffering that would lie in memory forever. Great literature of a civilization was based upon such stories carrying a people, somewhere.
The unstated part of Passover, in the setting, if you were lucky enough to have inherited a tradition, is in this unsettling.The Call to leave!
The carrying, of a people, like the ones you were related to by blood. Measuring the progress, one generation to the next. Passover was the paramount generational thing, THE family thing, not just a family thing. In the beginning. The movement in the great unsettling story. With all of the first born dead, and the blood on the doorstep saved you. On the original Passover. After Moses asked the the Pharaoh, at the Lord’s stated request. “Let my people go to worship me.” With all of the firstborn dead, concerned about the unraveling of the next generation – the one which seemed to be losing hope, or looking to the identity of the dominant culture, like in the Egyptian world.
For Chosen People, and the fertility part of the story. Generation after generation, in stories about this inheritance, carrying a family somewhere — with a way of life –not so much as protection from the plagues, but about the solemnity of worship. To be deeply moved by worship by this God to whom you somehow were related. When children ask questions, to get things moving. To try and do right, generation after generation. With a certain anguish over knowing God. And to then try and do right, in virtually every aspect of daily life. Somehow carrying a burden of God, in a living tradition, with food. With a degree of anguish in being Chosen People, in trying to remain kosher, in the ever changing world. Not a story of survival, Passover was the story of freedom and salvation: how a people, in a story of first-borns for a people whose identity was repeated in the story of the first born sons of Abraham, of Isaac, were saved for history.
Passover. “And you shall tell your child,” …..about Passover and then this issue of inheritance. The reason why this night is different. Looking for meaning in it all.
The underlying tempo of movement, in all of these sacred stories, of the unsettling movement toward a freedom potentially as vast as all the stars in the solar system, against a conspiracy of the systems of the world they were born into. Children gradually learning to recognize a shame in living unquestioning lives. With memory of Passover conveying only through the personal anguish, the reason your were different. At one home defining Passover, the significance of a visible God and the significance – in bloodlines- of a Chosen People, to their God. And in the unsettling sacrifices freely given to this God.
Copyright © 2011.
Copyright © 2013.
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Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
Kids. The step progeny. Those one sport specialists. In this specialized world.
The specialized world. The specialist working at the Board of Trade. During the hockey season. The never ending hockey season. Or name the sport. And then hockey camp. Traveling teams and these one sport specialists. Hockey moms. Married to hockey dads. For a while.
In a world without relationships. It had now become a world of polygamy, just without the vows. Awesome. With a generation which did not know how to place adverbs. Or where. Those step progeny.
“I didn’t marry nearly as many times as I could have.”
The state of the world as described in Tom Wolfe’s Hooking Up. These grown kids. The conflict in a megabyte world that kept moving fast. The desire to stay. The attraction. The urge to go. Into such a profane world. In the specialized profane hockey world. Or the real world. Of relationships. Or lack thereof.
Seasons. Ritual. Stirred or bored.
Stirred in relationship. Not for money. For others. Mr. Law. Allan Law.
Cared for. Mostly just those with a blood relationship. Or those in one way adopted. Mr. Law. See
Stirred or bored. By the seasons. The choice to either ritualize the seasons or to one day face snowballing boredom. The choice to ritualize in relationships.
Hooking Up. The specialized world was in recovery. The specialist. Even plumbers and repair people. Paying for all those $30,000 to $50,000 weddings, for kids of mostly common people. Or not. Tom Wolfe. Hooking Up.
Tom Wolfe. Back to Blood was the working tile of Tom Wolfe’s book scheduled to be released in 2009.
The desire to stay with an author, or to move on. By a reader. His literary agent. His publisher. Somewhere in the last few years, Tom Wolfe was unable to agree on terms for a new novel with his publisher of 42 years.
To write. For the profane world. Stirred to express an understanding. Stirred in relationship. When hooking was no longer a two minute penalty.
With now a number closer to 7 billion than 6 billion, what was happening at this point in history? With this generation? I wonder what God had learned with the human population explosion. I had read that the Philippines ten years ago had 71 million people. The current population estimate there is 91 million people. So how had that Passover instruction, the one how to eat the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it, affected life there? Or here. in all of this traffic?
I greatly admire the scholarship of Jack Miles, a former Jesuit who won the Pulitzer Prize for his non-fiction work, God: A Biography. His curriculum vitae includes study at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, beside his Ph.D., in near Eastern Languages from Harvard. In my reading in either God: A Biography or to his approach to the Christian God in in his sequel, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, there is nothing heretical in the Christian perspective — if heresy could ever come out of a truthful attempt of discovering God, with no directed end to that of selfish use of power. I have read both books.
There was this nobility of human kind in that Genesis motive, God’s confession for existing: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” It was a mutual endeavor, when God was quoted by the author in use of what is called the royal “WE.”
God wanted an image, it was written. God needed an image to conquer that sense of loneliness? In creation? That underlying calm in a world was shattered. Yet day after day, most of the 6.7 billion do find food to eat.
With diffuse anxiety came war. Divorce. The ensuing dysfunction in family, with all that trouble communicating. And then the lies which ensued from the dysfunction. That was quite an aftermath to creation.
I wondered if He expected all of this aftermath? He had had a lot of silence before He set out with His creation plan. And any sense of loneliness, any sense of silence, was long since shattered in the prayers that must storm heaven every new morning.
God as a writer, looking for character in characters. And not getting a lot of cooperation. In the aftermath of all the discussion over the last 12 months of “too big to fail , how prepared is any author for the task of creating, I wondered? In the human writer, the writer has immense power along with self-ignorance, when self-ignorance has a lot to do with the need to create in the first place. At the start most authors have no idea for what he/she wishes. After taking pen to hand, Jack Miles asks, how prepared was God for what ensued? Is that why it took a few millennium to revise His plan? So God needed creation to realize what exactly he wished for in the first place? This was a lot like marriage….when a guy has no idea what he was in store for?
When it comes to women, there was a lot of talk these days about self-esteem. I have a friend with a Ph.D., who counsels young women all the time about their self-esteem. No one has ever gotten involved in procreation without some sense of self, to some degree, first. So with the education process, knowledge comes before any sense of self-esteem.
So once God bestowed the power to create, it was a lot like watching your own kids, and crossing your fingers, as they dealt with their powers to procreate, hopefully with a sense of good and evil. That second creation, with Noah, seems to have been an attempt to start over with some sense of morality, good and evil, to pass along to humanity. And so began the story of a Chosen People. A search for a Chosen People. Based upon blood.
In some parts of the world, this desire to procreate seems to have waxed and waned. Just as over time, Jack Miles writes, God’s desire to create subsides. Miles thought that this was the reason God has gone silent in the modern world. “The desire for potential carries within a tragic potential. Once you have seen your image, will you want to keep looking? Once you know who you are, will you lose your purpose?”
Wondering at some point if God did not expect more from humanity. In his book, Miles does address things like the different number of books in the Old Testament, as counted by Catholic and Jews. He addresses, as in any literary criticism, things such as point of view. But he never addressed the change from one book to the next, with all of these different authors, voice. Things like active or passive voice which can quietly change. When the authors never again captured God quite like the author had in the Book of Genesis.
There was a need for relevancy in the world. When you wrote for others. When you work became a prayer, in writing a book. When over time, in a generation, you discovered the meaning of a phrase. Yet when generations were so different from each other. In music. In prayer. So that was why the reference to the God of Abraham. The God of Isaac. The God of Jacob. This monotheism with one God who was so different over time. So that was the difficulty of those Catholics who knew God before Vatican II with those Catholics who came after?
On the eve of Labor Day. An author in search of the collective voice, in a world of iPhones and iPods. Amidst the need for relevancy, when as a writer, your work became a prayer. Whatever your work, there was still this need, this collective need, for a collective voice for a generation, in the search for relevancy. In an age where labor unions had died, only a faint collective voice in protest could be heard, in a need to be rescued. To cry out in protest. Over hunger. Over unemployment. Over sickness, without health insurance. Over abandonment. Crises in identity come over the erosion, the changes, with the times.
So what was happening at this point in history? Wondering at some point about this who-dunnit, if God did not expect more from humanity. The book, God: A Biography, stops at the end of the Old Testament. Were the answers back at the beginning of a story? In this nobility of human kind, in that Genesis motive? With a sense of good and evil? When God changed His theophany from individuals, like Adam, like Eve, to community leaders like Moses?
Wondering at some point what was happening at this point in history? If God did not expect more from humanity. With that generation in Egypt. His Chosen People. Remembering the Passover instruction. About the lamb that must be a year-old male. The lamb which shall “not be eaten raw or boiled. But roasted whole…None of it must be kept beyond the next morning. Whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.”
Thus the instruction that came with the Passover. Which still applied to my generation. In these traffic jams. “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight.”
So what was happening to this, with this, generation. To this nobility, in this mutual endeavor? With my generation? To that sense of identity? In the “too big to fail” world? With all this talk about self-esteem? At this point in history when the teaching on how to pray has long since been combined with instruction how to cook the lamb, with instruction on how to eat it, roasted whole, if we were to somehow survive? Together. “In proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.”
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Oriented. That milk in the fridge. Expiration date. It said July 5th on the plastic jug. The date today… was …..July 18. Hey! It tastes okay.
Doctors liked to begin a patient evaluation by mentioning the overall mental status of the patient. In the real world. “Oriented times three.” To this place, in this time. It was a comment on recognition of the patient’s place in history. Today. The elderly seemed all too often to lose this sense. In my view, it had a lot to do with the same situation as that milk in the fridge.
Expiration dates. That stoplight with 10 seconds to the change. The restlessness that I felt towards dates on the calendar. I was not paying much attention. To the diminishing sands of life. As if I was 15 years old.
It seems very many young people seem to be living on the hype amongst familiar friends in their own youth group, until the day that both the hype and these friends eventually lose their influence.
Spiritual health care. If as Muslims, Jews and Christians believed, to say nothing of Hindus and Bhuddists, why were so little resources directed at spiritual health? As quoted in Christless Christianity, Christian Smith has researched teen spirituality in America, noting the lack of ability today to state, examine or reflect upon their beliefs. And with the inability to articulate and communicate their ideas comes the inability to relate belief to daily life. Smith is a sociologist who expressed the working theology of the current age:
• God created the world.
• God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and most world religions.
• The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
• God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when needed….
• Good people go to heaven when they die.”
Smith concludes that there is little sign that those engaged in the religious socialization, those who had dedicated their own life attempting to put God into every American day life, were highly effective and successful with the majority of their young people as to the actual content of their faith. In the real world.
God in everyday life, in His role as the regulator. The regulator of the interactions among the organs which constitute the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (LHPA), a major part of the neuroendocrine system which controls reactions. The neuroendocrine system regulates the storage and expenditure of energy. The neuroendocrine system regulates reactions to stress. The neuroendocrine system regulates the process of digestion, as well as moods and emotions. The neuroendocrine system regulates the immune system. And the neuroendocrine system regulates sexuality. The neuroendocrine system is involved in the relationship between libido and testosterone levels. God seems to be involved silently in everyday life, in His role as the regulator.
There was a demographic problem in the western world, as indicated with sky-high mortality rates among Russian men, a dwindling birth rate over the last 40 years in Spain, in Russia, in much of Europe. It was not just in Europe, but over all the Western world. A study had been released in 2006 the testosterone level in American men had declined over the last 20 years. Significantly.
I ran into 2 nieces the other night. They did not know much about family history. Oh, they had both heard the great stories. They had been at a family celebration 5 nights before. Yet they did not know of the tension along the way, which added so much drama to the celebration. Especially the youngest. She had been about 2-years old at the time. Without understanding the history, they could not understand the tension in the celebration. There had not been a lot of fairness in a relationship. Between an employer and an employee, in a fast changing world.
The neuroendocrine system operates with the release of corticotropin-releasing hormones (CRH) from the hypothalamus which is influenced by stress, by blood levels of cortisol, and by the sleep/wake cycle. Every day, the sleep/wake cycle is operating in healthy people. So reproduction of the human species is affected by who you are sleeping with, in your reproductive years, mostly by the reactions to stress within 30 to 45 minutes of waking. Cortisol rises rapidly after wakening, facilitating an adaptive phase to the world.
That one niece I had met the other night. Yeah, the one who has been living with her boyfriend. I don’t know if she knows what I know. She made some very unspecific reference at the end of a discussion to the ideals which her parents, aunts, and uncles go by. I was out of time, and did not let her carry forward to whatever depth there was in her vague comment. She had already had an education about the meaning of things in her young life that she never before recognized, as a result of an accidental meeting. The restaurant was closing.
Real people were about the neuroendocrine system operating as we speak. I half expected that my niece was going to talk about what happened when someone could not meet the standards of God. For life in the real world.
Her world. Those nieces would never know what it was that they had witnessed unless someone gave them an over view. In the real world. But they had never had an interest to ask how something had come to be, until that night.
Relationships were really about the future. The future of the world was about my part about shaping the future. It began in relationships. Who I was sleeping with. Stress levels. Who I would bring into the world. How they would be raised. And the general adaptation syndrome, with alarm reactions including the suppression of immune response, allowing the body to attempt countermeasures. It was all about how someone was oriented. Times three.
Oriented. To this place, in this time. Like that milk in the fridge.
Listen to the words of intimacy.
I am sorry. I am heartly sorry. For having offended you. I detest everything I did. Most of all, for having offended you. You who are all good. You who are deserving of all my love. With the help of your grace and presence. I firmly resolve. To change. To share myself better. To communicate. To amend my life. To be more intimate. To merge my identity into yours. To do good. To offend you no more. And to seek to avoid the nearer occasion of things that made me selfish in the first place. I am sorry. I am heartly sorry.
To be moved, in this world with all of its dysfunction, to act.
The 40% of American Catholics that had moved to different churches, amidst the dysfunction. The European Catholics who just plain quit worshiping. The leadership which by the way was supposed to believe in the Gospel of “I am the Good Shepard,” failed to respond to the dysfunction. Mostly it was left to the parish priest. The leadership, which seemed to called to go looking for its lost sheep, were lost in their own spiritual golf game.
To be moved. When creation had become chaos. Golf games. The priests to whom I was related had loved to play golf. Simple parish priests.
Dysfunction. The dysfunction. I saw it not far from my home in the black community. I heard it on a walk the other night where one woman never took a deep breath in the 120 to 180 seconds I just stood listening to an uninterrupted rant inside a house. When another neighbor came along from the opposite direction, I felt like I had to move on. It might have been the television but if it was, a commercial seemed over due. To this passer-by, it was not funny. It was hilarious.
Uninterrupted rants. There were a lot of them in the world. Creation had become chaos. All that the Good Book says is that Noah submits to God’s will and nothing more;uninterrupted rants. About the ongoing effects of World War II. When you elected leaders who had lived through it all. It was not just what Adolph Hitler had done to all of us, Jews and non-Jews. It was what Stalin had done to all of us. When so much of the media was ready to offer canonization, what had the leadership of John Paul II done to the church? How could anyone lived a life through all of this and not show affects of dysfunction?
Gdansk in 2001. People coming back to claim property wrongfully taken. Gdansk is about my favorite historical place in all the world. On issues of freedom in that shipyard. Following September 11, there were not many travelers looking at the Gdansk museum, where I learned that Gdansk represented much more than just Lech Walensa. The fight for freedom that arose there under the leadership of Lech Walensa came from events that had happened at the shipyard over a 10 year period. Massacres really. This was the successful Polish uprising, a lot like the ones that had ultimately failed in Warsaw in response to German occupation.
Where was the accountability in Rome to all the lost sheep? It was not just the abuse of the 20th Century and the lack of response from Rome. It was about addressing the status of women in the church for the 21st Century. Men born before World War II did not see the need to address it. Not when nuns were still ironing your vestments, making your food, and cleaning your apartment.
With a dysfunction seen in the corporate world with board of directors appointed by CEOs. When those boards did not question executive compensation. With politics as usual, without a concern for the real world. The real world of Bernard Law. And archbishops like that all over the country, not much different than the world of Wall Street.
When there was a laziness that came from your habits, without thinking. Going back to the same staid ways. When things quit working. The culture will soon be demanding even more reparations for these sins, if they had not already. The juries made up of women were a scary scene when they were going to sit in judgment of this church, on issues of damages against the church.
In this dysfunctional world, with all of the lost sheep
That party in Omaha. “What did you think about John Paul II.”
To be moved. Beyond words of apology. To be moved to change. It was time. This Penecost Sunday.
A good manager learns to lead by asking, “Will you do it for me?” My first manager in the world of business said that his job was to make his boss look good. I figured out that my efforts were to be directed to making my local boss look good, so his boss would look good.
It was a lot like post secondary education. Dunwoody Institute has this commercial. Something in the commercial made me hear a discussion with an 18 year old and a parent. Because even this school cost something like $15,000 a year. “You know why you want to go there? You know the resources there? You know what you are after? You know what it cost? You are ready to pay the price for the years without income? Do you know how “we” are gonna pay for it? You have a plan to absorb knowledge there? You know what you are going to do with it when you are done?”
It seemed a Christian thing. A Jewish thing. And those Moslems prayed 5 times a day.
Those prayers. And the Moslems I knew then got back in their cabs. And mostly waited. For the next fare. You prayed for this. And when your prayers were answered, most went on with life. Not knowing the next step. Turning it on. Turning it off. What was the next step, when your prayers were answered?
I seldom have heard discussion of the in depth thinking that went into prayer.
Maybe it was the questioning, about the next step after prayer why secularism was growing. Maybe it was the questioning of the modern world, that secular world to dogma, to religious institutions, and the lack of response by institutional religion to suffering. What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Why are you so slow to move?
This lack of movement: What have I done? What have I failed to do? There was no script on the how. On that last commandment, to go baptize all nations. “Do this in memory of me.”
My first manager in the world of business said that his job was to make his boss look good. Making someone off in the distance look good. Passing on the lessons. Of this place and of this land.
How can anyone miss the tension of the times?
Shoes. Movement. Places. Location. Parishes. Looking for a point of view.
A local church. A funeral. The Hughes. Five daughters. A burial plot.
Location. Ground shifts. Water level. Flooding. Minnesota. Where I walked.
Locations. Rome. Going to the seat of political power. To change public policy. To affect the leaders there.
The Roman Catholic Church. To miss the tension of the times. The brutality of the Roman Empire. There was a reason Peter had gone there to Rome.
Looking for a point to view. To find something to say. And then how to say it. Without stage fright.
A ‘moment of silence.’ Grieving and all of its wake was nothing but the giving of thanks and praise for a life. I had been stunned at what had happened and at what was here. And at what had always been here and now was gone. Kaddish. The mystery was in the questions.
Where does your identity come from? What gives you identity? A group? Your family? Your parish? Your political affiliation? Your fraternal organization? What gives you identity? Your beliefs? What is your identity? Who are you? What do you do? Now? In the past?
Looking for a point to view. Going to the seat of political power. To affect the real world and its people. To affect the leaders there. There was a reason Peter had gone there to Rome.
The tension between a people who felt the way toward Rome as Poles and Czechs had toward the Russians, too easily forgotten over time. The tension in the old Austrian-Hungary Empire, if you did not happen to be an Austrian. It was an unremembered cause of World War I. The stories of the capo in concentration camps in Dachau. One of their own, working in the system, for personal benefit. The Sandhedrin and Pilate. When you had been colonized, the culture of the domination of the conquering one is affirmed all the time. Or there is an under current from the tension. Ask a soldier back from Iraq.
There had been a reason to a Roman Catholic Church.
Hoping to find a human answer to all of this. God asking: “What am I going to do? With you? In a world with 6 billion others. What are you gonna do? Now? What am I gonna do now? Because I am done making personal appearances. For the cameras.”
Hoping to find a human answer to all of this. As a reaction to the world and its poverty. Its illiteracy. All of the unfairness. Amidst all the denial. The anger. The bargaining. The grief.
Acceptance and growth. “On Death and Dying.” There had been a reason for a Catholic Church in Rome.
Places. Location. Looking for a new point of view.