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The Joyful Mystery

‘El misterio gozoso’
Carravagio's The VisitationYesterday was the annual remembrance of “The Visitation” as recorded in story, in the Christian Bible. With words and phases that almost rhyme, would any of the more than 20,000 branches of Christianity ever compare Elizabeth to Sarah? In old age? Would any of the more than 20,000 branches comprehend much about Judah, and the given  split, in history, with the kingdom of Israel? Would any of the more than 20,000 branches connect the saving ….associated to Judah? What was most true was the loyalty of Judah to Yahweh, after the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians in c.722-721, leaving Judah as the sole remaining kingdom, with the old language.

“The Visitation” by 17th-century Italian painter Mattia Preti.

To be a companion, bringing new life, with Elizabeth, so alone.  In the “Hill Country.”  Note the invisible in the story – Zechariah and Joseph. The quiet in the house.  Mostly, Elizabeth needed someone to talk to? Do you know the history of the Hill Country in Judah?  Did Mary even know Elizabeth was pregnant, or was she only looking for a place to escape?  In the start?  Some scholars refer to this period as an independent kingdom of Israel, fully independent. Taking, according to Wikipedia, the title “basileus” and expanding into the neighboring regions of Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea.

In any story there is TIME and PLACE, like the independent kingdom of Israel, in a story of freedom, just before the Romans arrived, with the installation of Herod the Great.

Breath-taking. Leaving. Like Abram, only more suddenly. Move. Letting go! Sacrifice. Behold the connection of leaving to the sacrificial.  Did Mary tell her betrothed? Or her parents? That she was going? What about the personal safety of Mary and the fetus, in Hill Country? Was this the first? Had another woman in the history of the Hebrew Bible been in her situation, only to lose the fetus? Was Mary alone, traveling into Judah, under the leadership of the Pharisees, with their continued adherence of the Pharisees to the purity laws and tradition. Yikes!

Zechariah, a priest at the temple in his town, in Judah. With this protected status … in the beginning, closest to home. With all the history, in Hill Country, to arrive with a muted Zechariah.  When noticeably pregnant, with other noticeably pregnant women, there is an extra thrill when you missed your period and wanted a child.  Only unmarried Mary did not, at this point of her life, want a child or she would have been stoned to death!  Enthusiasm? Excitement and mutual congratulating?  Mary left home, to move into the home of Zechariah, a priest, with all of the emphasis to the purity laws and tradition.

Due dates. Single unmarried Mary. Before the Visitation, was the LEAVING in the story, by Mary, like the Call of Abram? Or more like the sudden leaving, like Jacob? In either saving or being saved, locate the sacrifice in leaving, with the sacrifice of a protected STATUS, from home.  Leaving for Hill Country, as quickly as Moses had the Hebrew slaves leave Egypt, only for Judah? Where cousin Elizabeth lived with the priest Zechariah.  Not just an inherited but his given priesthood, based upon his branch of the 24 branches of priesthood in his time. [As the invisible becomes visible]. So would Zechariah turn her in?

Did the fetuses listen with tiny, eager ears to all the concerns over purity?

A “given,” based upon what you don’t know or think that you do, about the MYSTERY in the mountainous southern part of Israel. There is always the unknown of a present age about all the “givens” a child is born into.  Like the “givens” lost when you knew the end of a story.  How did Elizabeth even know she was carrying a male? Concerning “the [MALE] prophet and One to be proclaimed, yet to be born?  I can imagine it [her own pregnancy] is similar to Mary and Elizabeth’s joy and enthusiasm,” writes Colleen Chiacchere on the Creighton Online Ministry website which got me challenging her perspective. The unquiet ghosts, “leaping between and among you, those two frisky fetuses.”

More like morning sickness? There is this great unsettling, with the loss of this protected status, when you live in a town and your own pregnancy becomes more apparent over time. Did you ever learn the history of the tribe of Judah which alone remained loyal, at first, to the house of David, though the tribe of Benjamin would join Judah?. The two kingdoms, Judah in the south and Israel in the north – according to Wikipedia – co-existed uneasily after the split. But in the beginning, for 60 years, the kings of Judah tried to re-establish their authority over the northern kingdom, with perpetual war between Israel and Judah. What was most true was the loyalty of Judah to Yahweh, after the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians – compare the Babylonian captivity to the Egyptian slavery – with the siege of Jerusalem – including the destruction led by the King of Babylon of the first temple built under the fourth-born son of Bathsheba [was he the eleventh son overall, like Joseph?] by David, born in Jerusalem – leaving Judah as the sole remaining kingdom, in c.722-721.  According to Wikipedia.

Is there the missed theme — the same one found in the The Book of Genesis — of gut-wrenching separation much later to come, in this fully developed kingdom when measured against the culturally-related-but-politically-distinct northern kingdom of Israel. With the olive industry there, in Hill Country.  Did they [the fetuses], asks Colleen Chiacchere in Creighton University Online Ministry, swim and sway with your voice?  John and Jesus?  Did they feel the love of your hospitality? Do you even KNOW the history, Colleen?  Why does understanding of the past look so inevitable?  Why do you steal the mystery, about the lingering conflict over power and shared dominion in Judah, in having to choose between being king and being High Priest?  With The Visitation, in Hill Country, did you comprehend the sudden fear in having to choose, with the suffering to come? So did Zechariah even know Mary was pregnant, when she arrived?

“Does he know how we are related?”

Mother and son. Husband and wife.  Cousin to cousin. “Does HE know? About what you are carrying?”

The prophet. Make ready the way. In a place with the tomb, as well as an unsettling concern about purity.

After you left home, there would be the day Mary would have to return after the VISITATION.  Did you feel the shared aloneness of Mary with Elizabeth?  In either saving or being saved, locate the comeback in the story …. Surrounded by Sadducees and Pharisees, as well as Zechariah. And the Sadducees did not believe in Resurrection.  In stories of comebacks, in stories of authentic sacrifice, with the continued theme of separation, note the theme of the competition between Church and State over purity laws. And Mary seemed to be in violation of purity laws that Elizabeth surely understood.

The split between Judah and Israel. The air on the mountaintop. Light air. Hill Country. Prior to the gut-wrenching destruction of the Temple, one of the factors that distinguished the Pharisees from other groups was their belief that all Jews had to observe outside the Temple the purity laws (applicable to the Temple service). As Josephus noted, the Pharisees were considered the most expert and accurate expositors of Jewish law.  According to Wikipedia, “during the Hasmonean period, the Sadducees and Pharisees functioned primarily as political parties. The major difference was the continued adherence of the Pharisees to the purity laws and traditions of the Jewish people in the face of assimilation. The Pharisees demanded that king Alexander Jannaeus choose between being king and being High Priest.”

Behold The Visitation!  In Hill Country.  In the conflict of Church and State, the fidelity of one to the other, the Pharisees demanded that king Alexander Jannaeus – the Hasmonean – choose “between being king and being High Priest.”  According to Wikipedia, “Alexander Jannaeus openly sided with the Sadducees, in adopting their rites in the Temple which caused a riot in the Temple and led to a brief civil war that ended with a bloody repression of the Pharisees. On his deathbed, Alexander Jannaeus called for a reconciliation between the Sadducees and Pharisees; he was succeeded by his widow, Salome Alexandra whose brother was a leading Pharisee.  In the conflict between her first born son Hyrcanus who sought Pharisee support, and a younger son, Aristobulus who sought the support of the Sadducees, the nation was drawn into, after 90 days of Hyrcanus’ rule, civil war which was ended when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem in 63 BCE and inaugurated the Roman period of Jewish history, with the infamy of Herod. Herod was victorious in 37 BCE.  Antigonus was delivered to Antony and executed shortly thereafter. The Romans assented to Herod’s proclamation as King of the Jews, bringing about the end of the Hasmonean rule over Judea, according to Wikipedia.

Aristobulus III, grandson of Aristobulus II through his elder son Alexander, was briefly made high priest, but was soon executed, allegedly due to Herod’s jealousy. In 36 BCE. His sister Mariamne who was married to Herod, also fell VICTIM to the notorious jealousy of Herod, the proclaimed King of the Jews. The sons of Herod by Mariamne — Aristobulus IV and Alexander — were in their adulthood also executed by their father, according to Wikipedia.

 In stories about Homeland Security, about all the “givens” in Judah, after the perpetual wars over purity,  over what side you or your family were on, would you anticipate some vengeance by the victors – these Pharisees – in choosing between being “Jewish”  between a king and High Priest?  So Hyrcanus II lived amid the Babylonian Jews, who paid him every mark of respect, as he was held by the Parthians … since 40 BCE.  For the next four years, until 36 BCE, when “Herod, who feared that Hyrcanus might induce the Parthians to help him regain the throne, invited him to return to Jerusalem.  The Babylonian Jews warned him in vain.  Herod received him with every mark of respect, assigning him the first place at his table and the presidency of the state council, while awaiting an opportunity to get rid of him.  As the last remaining Hasmonean, Hyrcanus was too dangerous a rival for Herod.  In the year 30 BCE, charged with plotting with the King of Arabia, Hyrcanus was condemned and executed,” according to Wikipedia.

So what year had Mary been born? And since the birth for Zechariah, his years had included all of this history and maybe a change in the Culture.  The duty as people of faith is not to disconnect from the real world the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, from your idea of Mary and Zechariah — as Colleen Chiacchere did yesterday on the Creighton University Online Ministry website.  And to leave home is always the first sacrifice, in building upon and confronting the great Unsettling Sacrifice.  In the face of assimilation, in a society seen as oppressive.  And note the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – not to be made into a statue.  With the command, “Do not be afraid!”

So in her world at the time, why did Mary leave?  How did she know Elizabeth was pregnant, except from her own Call, like Abram’s.  Or did she know?  But there was the Obedience, to move forward, if she did not know quite why.  Otherwise the threat was in a conflicting belief – by those who knew that you were betrothed – between the issue of fidelity and a betrayal, as seen in adultery.  Go!  To Hill Country.  Behold – for those dealing with the loss of independence in the kingdom of Israel, under the Roman Empire, under Herod the Great – the Genealogy!  In the conflict over belonging, in a society seen as oppressive!  Note the conflict over power in the story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, with this shared idea of independence and purity.  But what is the connection of purity and dependence – relying upon Someone else or something else for your safety?  Behold the handmaid, living with the reduced set of circumstances in the inheritance, dealing with loss… of purity?  Pregnant, living in the home of a priest, with the gut-wrenching tension between Church and State.  Were the Pharisees now allied with Herod, so the God of Abraham might survive?  Was the birth right passed on by Sarah and Abraham connected to purity?  Behold all the tension over purity, over paternity.  As Mary is taken in as the insider, not outwardly challenging the law of purity, but would she be stoned?  And how well did Mary even know Zechariah? Was he a Pharisee? Or a Sadducee who did not believe in Resurrection? What had become obsessive to the Pharisees, when there was only one way to think, to worship, would become the threat of the very same human condition, whether as the last person on earth — or the first — and feeling so all alone.

God. The stories. The secret immensity of God’s fertility. People like to read about themselves, besides knowing what horrors happened yesterday.  History up close, in the news. But not history far away. Did you ever hear the command, in the story of The Visitation, given LOT, with his own virgin daughters? “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.” The HILLS saved Mary? Surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen — as your loving cousin, immersed into the culture of Hill Country, with all the ardent desire for a child of your own.  To pass on the invisible.

In the conflict over to whom Your son would belong, over who would be saved, with involvement – some kind of personal involvement – with the use of Your fertility, in times of annihilation as You were so personally threatened, from having been immersed into a culture during this gestation period, when purity became, in the conflict of private and public lives, an obsession greater than life itself? Pharisees, thinking about the method of punishment which left most readers gasping! In this incredible story of The Visitation, there is this companion, Elizabeth also so alone.

Behold the weeping mentioned in “The Visitation” in a poem by Joyce Rupp, from her book Out of the Ordinary:

Elizabeth wrinkled and wise, weary from the child kicking inside, (already a hint of wildness in him),
The two of you, meeting at the door, weeping and laughing at the same time, each one GASPING at the other’s fertility.

Behold the gasping, at the same time.  Elizabeth over her aged fertility so much like Sarah.  Behold at the same time, a gasping over the innocent purity of Mary! In the first half of life? In the last half of the creation process? Bringing new life, in the saving connected to Judah, did you feel the gut-wrenching fear at this point of life, in creating, for each woman, giving birth into the forces of these times?  Each one gasping!   With even all the “givens” to a pregnant woman or to a chief priest — to any Creator — with a protected status.  Just as Moses was taken in by the Pharaoh’s sister, Mary is taken in by Zechariah.  In Judah. 

What was always true about Judah was this loyalty to Yahweh, as Church and State now co-existed uneasily, within the Roman Empire.  Where cousin Elizabeth lived in Judah, with a need, while carrying something, based upon age for a handmaid [like Hagar].  Behold this joyful mystery, connected to the Fear of the Lord – a fear at this point of life, in creating, for each woman!  Behold each woman, finding a safe place, to gestate, though at least the first trimester – or the last trimester – with God present in the world, hiding in plain sight, in the home of a priest.  A son of Abraham who had obsessed over purity, in an obsession to the birth right, which becomes somehow connected to “saving.”  So what does happen to those who obsess, who are not open to amending their lives, over all the “givens” of Creation? So much like Sarah, too, left with human wondering.  Would you be there at the end, for what you created?  Or Whom?  In Hill Country, where Abraham buried Sarah.  In Hill Country, in the early part of David’s reign, Hebron reached its zenith serving for the first seven and a half years of his rule as his capital.  In Hill Country, behold Judah and the split, in history, as the sole remaining kingdom, with the handmaid who says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”  In a story, as the Lord becomes much more than simply MY God!

Copyright © 2016.

God. The post script to the stories, with the Invisible, almost secret immensity of God’s fertility. Before birth. Before the “given” separation from a mother, with loss of this protected status. As insiders become outsiders.   As women become mothers, with new Identity … given.  Did you ever locate the invisible saving in the story of the Visitation? Before the saving of others, with all the Sacrifice connected to saving others.

So like the living symbolism of the comeback in the stories of Victims, for Isaac and Ishmael after their journey to Mount Moriah, there would be, after her journey to Hill Country, Mary. With these comebacks into the real world after. . . in the world split between Church and State. Living with the reduced set of circumstances in the inheritance, of purity. In ‘the above’ and ‘the below,’ with the purity still somewhere. To be found.

So did Zechariah even know how his silence, imposed, came to save? As the gestation period of his wife certainly disrupted his prayerful life …. in the beginning? And his son then was born to save others, connected to a saving of the mother of God? The quiet part of the Visitation story was as Zechariah figured out the mystery in his own muteness? Perhaps with the words of Psalm 46. “Be still ….. and know!”

Copyright © 2016.

Larry Gillick, SJ


Mordecai PaldielTo give birth into the force of these times, each one GASPING at the other’s fertility … in these perilous times.


Top Secret America

Living in a dystopia, outside the system. And so the media organizations like Strafor.

There is this worldview under the American guise of being an utopia, of this society in a repressive and controlled state. The evidence is brought forth by Wikileaks because the broadcast media supported by the system was not really telling the truth.

In the Garden There was a smugness of a nation which believed in giving up freedom in return for the Department of Homeland Security, without addressing the underlying problem of privilege. As the rich kept getting richer. Trying with a greater difficulty to defend its borders from outsiders.

It was Vincent Punzo who said: “Every affluent society experiences a guilt that is connected directly with its privileged circumstances.”

Accusing Stratfor of involvement in wide range of legally or morally questionable research activities for private corporations, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said upon the release of five thousand emails of the Texas-based subscription-based publisher Stratfor: “On the surface it presents as if it’s a media organisation providing a private subscription intelligence newsletter,” the activist, who is awaiting extradition to Sweden on rape charges said in London. “But underneath it is running paid informants networks.”

What happened when you lowered yourself to the same immoral tactics that the oppressors used to retain power? David, with his armies. Killing, as Cain, as Moses, maybe as God did in the story of Noah. So you were this underground movement, using Acts of God, taking life?

And torture. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope, with technology which has progressed far more rapidly in different kinds of repressive social control systems – various forms of active and passive coercion – than humanity’s spiritual evolution.

The revelations, in the secret world of intelligence, included that Israel had last year carried out a successful covert attack on Iran’s secret nuclear facilities.

Did you note the disconnect in the dialogue? In the disconnect between the Creator and the offenders, who had heard God moving about in the Garden at the breezy time of the day. And the offenders hid themselves amongst the trees of the garden. And so the discussion:

“Where are you?”

“I heard you in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked,” said Adam, never really answering the question, apparently coming out of hiding. “So I hid myself.”

And God, exposed to them in their nakedness. Did you ever note at what point in the story Adam and/or Eve ever do get named, in the Tree of Life story? Was it, with Adam and Eve together exposed directly to God, not until after the punishment? It was Adam who called his wife Eve, in this Divine Comedy, well after all the rivers get names. Eve, in addressing God directly for the very first time in the story – at the sentencing – blamed the serpent. “The serpent tricked me.” And the serpent had been at the scene of the crime. Eve, never identified by name, at this point in the story, only as “the woman.” Note always the nameless characters in the Book of Genesis, for what they did.

In the secret world of intimacy, of intelligence, as you lowered yourself to the same immoral tactics that the oppressors used to retain power, did you ever note the very first commandment connected with the Tree of Knowledge, involved knowing God?

It was just bad base-running? Running on his/her own. Missing signs. The disconnect in the dialogue. Misinterpreting the indicator, from the Creator. With now the need to get back to home plate? After being sent outside the borders of the Garden.

Or striking out. Banished children of Eve, living in a dystopia, outside the system. In a private sector without rules … without any constitution. Like all of the subcontractors for Top Secret America. On the Fort Meade Army base, there are 80 government tenants on the 6.3 million square feet campus which are surrounded by 112 acres of parking spaces. That abbreviations for “top secret” and “sensitive compartmented information” – means few people are allowed to know what information the cable there transmits. TS/SCI.

Originally hacked last year by the network Anonymous, these five thousand emails would reveal private details of individuals who had worked or given information to the Stratfor organisation, the Texas-based subscription-based publisher providing political, economic and military analysis to help customers reduce risk.

Rejecting claims that there was anything improper in the way it handled information gathered, Stratfor released a statement which said: “Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do. We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”

What went on between the Creator and the offenders who had heard God moving about in the Garden at the breezy time of the day, when there had been two people but only one rule. And so their sense of guilt. And wanting back in.

Anonymous account said about its overall five million hacked emails: “There’s a treasure trove of nasty details in those emails. We think there’s something for everyone. We promised you those mails and now they’ll finally be delivered. Five million emails at your pleasure,” said the Anonymous network.

Living outside the borders, with agencies living both inside and outside the system.  With Platte River Networks.  With SECNAP Network Security Corp.  With Datto, Inc.  Living  outside the borders, inside at the Fort Meade cluster, businesses is conducted in top-secret work with an estimated 30,000 people reading, listening to and analyzing an endless flood of intercepted conversations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Global Positioning System on my car dashboard suddenly begins giving incorrect directions, trapping the driver in a series of U-turns, because the government is jamming all nearby signals, nearing the epicenter of Fort Meade. And the sub-contractors are not limited by the shared belief in the foundation document called the United States Constitution.

On the surface it is presented in the interest of the security of these borders, of the government of the United States. But the operations work beyond the NSA perimeter, in the private sector where the motive is only to make money. With companies which thrive off the National Security Agency and the other fifteen intelligence organizations. At 681 locations.

There was a fierceness of children and grandchildren who have been deprived of liberty all of their lives. When parents were banished from the Utopian Garden. When the tiller man son killed the hunting son. Because the hunting son’s nomadic way of life looked to be so much better. To the man whose line of work tied him to one place.

Vincent Punzo who said: “Every affluent society experiences a guilt that is connected directly with its privileged circumstances.”

The exile away from the Promise Land. Debate about the role of intelligence in protecting an utopia occurs only when something goes wrong. The government then is forced to investigate. Or when an unauthorized disclosure of classified information turns into news. Like with WikiLeaks.

“And that’s how I became interested in charting not only the changes that were triggered by different limitations.”

To record, by words, all of this. To put, in my own words, the sacredness of life. Of liberty … and free will. And the cost of free will, in an age when kids were using cameras in their phones, as a substitute for words. All of this, with or without feeling.

Places …. In the beginning. In stories about Genesis. Utopias: No Place Else. In the story of the Garden … before utopias become dystopias.

“Oh that could never happen here.”

Police states. Living in police states, with unlimited power over its citizens. Like with the German affect where a planned economy is planned and controlled by corporatist and fascist elements. As goods are more difficult to obtain, or are dangerous. Like with health care… with wants and needs, but characters totally at the mercy of the state-controlled economy which is taking over properties, perhaps at the time of death. Or decisions about life and death.

In the addicted world, you came to learn that the person who distrusts themselves has no touchstone for reality – the touchstone can only be oneself. A labyrinth of attitudes is interposed between such a person and reality itself. A human who cannot trust himself, trusts no one and consequently has no mercy.  And that is what comes out from living in top secret.

The Land of Liberty. And Free Will. And Human Rights. It was the season of year to reflect on gratitude and to recognize your own sins. To seek mercy. And to change.
Copyright © 2011.

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In the Garden of the Beasts

Trying to profit with all of those laying the foundation for the new police state, building the best police state ever. Google. Apple. Yahoo and all who collaborate for profit against the principles concerning the human rights that I was born into. In the Bill of Rights. And me along with them.

On The Day of The Dead

In the world of Chinese Astrology, the Mayan long calendar will come to an end on December 21, 2012. It is a pretty big deal when any 26,000 year astrology cycle (the Precession of the Equinoxes) comes to an end.

The primary purpose of Chinese astrology was fortune telling, with a focus usually on what will happen to people in various stages of their lives, on a particular day or in a certain month or in a certain year. In this case those Chinese astrologers were suggesting a transition period was believed to be coming, a lot larger than the Y2K problem.

The intrigue. Just when I was coming to grips with the intrigue over the transition to Y2K that seemed to involve the age of terror and the conflict of the western world with followers of Mohamed. Now comes the Chinese and the intrigue over the coincidence that the Year of the Dragon and the end of the Mayan calendar fall within the same year. 2012. The real question was whether after the Year of the Dragon, in 2012, whether the world end?

All of us where I lived had come out of schools where the purpose was to teach us how to think, to piece together all the fragments of life until they worked to form a picture, like on the old game show “Concentration,” where you could figure out the puzzle. Somehow the pieces seemed smaller and smaller, and to figure out the big picture was much more difficult and taking this generation more time. And the puzzle was a lot larger than I ever comprehended.

I had never studied ancient Maya. I now come across some internet expert who tells me of these dedicated stargazers. During the 26,000 year astrology cycle (the Precession of the Equinoxes), the Earth moves approximately 2166 times through each of the twelve zodiac signs. I did not ask who was doing the counting. But this expert indicates that it was the belief of the Mayans, the Sumerians, Tibetans, and Egyptians that the coming of a new world begins on December 21, 2012. Large monuments as a warning were left to society that people might prepare for the transition. Their calendar ended on December 21, 2012, if not the world.

The good news was that no documentation, at least from a Chinese astrology perspective, indicates in 2012 the world will end, after the Year of the Dragon. The year of the Dragon is the grand Karmic sign, typically a year of positive developments. Or large disasters. So what does this all mean in the world of astrology? Or to me?

Chinese astrologers believe that a person’s time and place of birth set parameters, boundaries within which a person has more or less freedom. What happens within these boundaries is influenced not only by “free will” but also by external factors such as financial status of the family, the culture, and the local economy. Though not a strict determinist, balance plays a central role in Chinese thought. A Chinese astrologer will address a specific duration of time, or what people should do. A Chinese astrologer does not believe a person’s fate is sealed in stone at the moment of birth.

The struggle from generation to generation of off-spring. With the external and the internal world. To have the courage to write the story for these times. To raise a family in these times. In the quest for a Living God, I was fortunate enough to have had a good tour guide.

Significance. Meaning. The life of a Chinese astrologer as a tour guide was not going to be as easy in 3 years. Those Chinese astrologers who had relied on the Mayan calendar were going to be the ones in transition. Somehow I expected this was not going to be very funny the sooner the date approached.

When we are all in exodus. In exodus, from our origin, trying to recapture a past. To explore what may occur in 2012 – The Year of the Dragon – when “2012 could be a most auspicious year indeed,” states one webmaster.

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Human Expression

That abyss. People who once upon a time who had been in the abyss and now spent time pulling others out. In my education, by teachers. Or writers. To use perspective like artists once had in the Renaissance. In the dark, with the use of light. They used shadows to make a point. The conflict, in art. The tension in literature, in life. All great writers wrote about the abyss. To emerge out of the dark

Like a complete unknown, as Bob Dylan wrote when he was at such a young age, I had embarked this week on a work, a book, to address the issues of identity.

Starving artists. It was becoming the theme of my life in 2009. This week I was beginning to write a book about junior year abroad: the radiance of self-discovery of a student. For young men or women in search of answers. Through study. With the need of a young adult to be liberated from the tribal lien, so that religion would not become the source of disdain and aggression.

Issues of identity. Identity is just such a slow process. A lot like education. A lot like a career. Setting off in the real world. And being offered some pay.

The “what am I worth?” question. In this marketplace. Starving artists, starving novelists. Throughout the modern world, individuals and institutions grapple with the ongoing struggle to find out what they were worth. It was all part of the search for identity. In high school Latin class I struggled to learn Latin by translating Homer’s Iliad and then The Odyssey. Never in my lifetime did I think I would return with interest to The Iliad and The Odyssey. To the theme of that abyss. Trying to escape back home.

My desire at the age of 22 was to be in the real world. Was it a waste of time reading? In that first job everyone realizes how little that they know. I was done wasting time contemplating, rather than doing. Until that realization how little I knew.

In a world with so many begging for help, in search of answers. Unconscious in that 4-year island of time called college. Of the gift to be there. Watching so many squander the gift of time.

Trying to escape from the abyss. It was the same story found in myth from every culture throughout the world. The search and trying to escape from the abyss.

Now unless the gifts were shared, everything was squandered. Education was a waste unles passed along.

Presenting in fiction the present day struggle about spiritual quests. Iliads and Odysseys, and the struggle to pass on tradition in the current age. The struggle from generation to generation of off-spring. And to not fall into the abyss.

Starving artists. It was the theme of my life in 2009.

In that other quest for the Living God in a world full of people that seem to have that same ancient fear found in Judaism, where God’s name was seldom sounded, and spelled Y*w*h out of respect if not fear. To avoid the abyss.

That quest for a Living God. And the abyss. Women leading men into an abyss. Men leading women to the abyss. Generation after generation.

I think I had come to some form of acceptance about trying to present in fiction the present day struggle about spiritual quests. Iliads and Odysseys. The struggle to pass along a tradition in the current age. The same struggle from generation to generation, of starving artists to stay out of the abyss.

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How Are Things in Glocca Morra

These were times of fear. It came during a sense of great loss. Over wealth. Over freedom. Over loss of life.

Mob rule. Politics. The devil in history.

Addictions. Issues of liberty. Russia Mafiya. Evil. The contract killing. In the wake of the KGB. The devil in history. All the things that came together as a system collapsed.

Mob rule. Politics. The devil in history. In the wake of World War I. The laws passed. Politicians who exploited constitutions, in times of fear. Evil.

Times of fear. The aftermath of genocide.

A lot of the world carried a disbelief in the devil. Evil seemed to be asleep, in the popular view in 2000. Then came September 11, 2001. It was much more than the current American view that evil was directed against one nation. It was much more than those 19 people from overseas? It was what had happened globally. In Spain. In London. In Saudi Arabia. In Morocco. In Kenya. In Yemen. In Somalia. In Turkey. In Mumbai. In Bali. In Jakarta. In the Philippines

Terror. Times of fear. Power. The fight in the north of Ireland. The fight of Basque separatists. The battles within China and within Russia over ethnic minorities that desired power.

The patterns are present which reflect deep currents in global sociology which work against any effort to transcend divisions.

Division. Divide and conquer. It was the mantra of terrorist and political parties.

Hunger and politics were inter-connected. So was politics and religion.

Ireland. Today there was a story in the Boston Globe about the Irish returning once again to Boston. The writer presented an update on how fast the world could change. For ex-patriots returning home in the 1990s. And now headed back to Boston.

Ireland. I have commented in the past about the title one of the more popular books sold in Ireland in 2007, Vanishing Ireland. Technology had changed generation and a nation, so much that the Vanishing Ireland book became a best seller. There seems to be a silent grieving, an expressed longing, a spiritual-type hunger, expecting things to be the same. And in all of its wake, returning to your life, carrying on, amidst the change. All that the Celtic Tiger had done was to get the romance out of the system. When Ireland had conquered the ghosts of the past, with jobs, with peace, a secularism had come in which changed the nature of the Irish. And with it had come a new division. Welcome to the European Union. Where everything seemed based on wealth. And in all of its wake, expecting things to be the same, when everything is based on wealth. The devil in history.

The Ireland these ex-patriots returned to was not the place that they had known. There was no comment upon any ill-will directed at the European Union that had poured money into the place to help the economic boom, which had become an economic bust. Deflation was close to 6% over the past 12 months. There was just an unstated acceptance, about everything, as these ex-pats returned to day to day Irish life.

Wealth and technology. Technology had changed a nation, so that there seemed to be a silent grieving, among the ex-pats. Still with a longing. Nostalgia was also some kind of spiritual hunger, for what forefathers and foremothers always had had. And with silent grieving, the same type of conflict of the hungry with the well-fed. That was always the conflict within religion, a conflict over those who strongly professed religious belief, in conflict for what ever reasons with those others without.

These were times of fear. Over the void left. It came during a sense of great loss. Over wealth. Over freedom. Over change and the effects of change. Over how the void would be filled. Over what had in the past had always been there, at least before many native-born had left the first time. They were now leaving again for Massachusetts.

When you left for economic necessity, how could these former ex-patriots complain? Yet theirs was a witness to how the world had silently changed. Even in a place like Glocca Morra. Or Camelot.

The past is always with us. Sometimes it was not even quite past.

Visual Web Search

The Storm Predictor Center

Change. The theme was always about change. Most of us fought change. Yet we were called to be changed.

Storm Predictor Center. Storms changed lives.

Unease about the economic outlook? There was a lot of restlessness out there. Beyond the stories coming out of Iran.

Tribes. Settlers. Nationalized settlers. Whether Israel or Ireland or anywhere, people everywhere show inner beliefs are strong, based not on materialism, not on nationalism. But there was the new found clash of secularism with religion and the inner beliefs which will never change. All they will do is become civilized. People marry, settle, look for jobs. The clash of the developed world with the tribes of the 3rd world.

Tribes clashing with the settlers. Unrest. And more unrest.

That 3rd world that had become radicalized. By occupying foreign armies. By death and destruction. And the anger never subsides. The Turks and the Armenians. The Bosnians, the Serbs, and the Croats. Not in one hundred or 500 years.

Diaspora. Tornadoes and June. The hurricane season started again on June 1st. The unrest between water temperature and air temperature. Hurricanes seemed to be related to the unrest between water temperature and air temperature. And the flooding that resulted. Unrest. And more unrest.

Diaspora and Pakistan. It is said that there were 3.5 million people displaced by the pursuit of 5,000 Taliban. The tribes of the Taliban. While as fate would have it, people now in the throes of the worst post-World War II recession everywhere. I think we all saw the unrest in Pakistan as the threat. Where the currency exchange was 50 rupees per dollar in 1999, and now was 81 rupees per dollar. Unrest in the market. When political parties based on the Taliban, the old tribes, hope to secure power from the settlers there. A power that would include nuclear weapons. In a world that witnessed the hostility of the disenfranchised against the developed world that never listened. To those without cars. Without educations. With only the bond of kinsmen. Pakistan was in trouble.

Money and the times always provided the ambiance to the story. The story of life. Or the lack of any money also did. Coming to grips with it all. Diaspora, but with people stuck in homes they could not afford. One story of change, amongst the settlers.

The story of change and eventual death. The stories of destruction. Belief or disbelief. About what had happened. The social texture which grows out of its religious ground. Out of tribes and settlers. About whether death could be changed into life. Coming to grips with fear and change. Coming to grips with it all.

Changing fear into something else. Unease about the political outlook? There was a lot of restlessness out there in coming to grips with it all. The theme was always about change. When most of us fought change.

That Storm Predictor Center. And diaspora. Those storms changed lives.

The Fear of Weiner Dogs


Because the immediate future does not look very perfect, there is a lot of palpable fear around these days.  There is a lot less use of the future perfect tense theses days.  Fear generally should be written about in the future tense.  Fear of the Lord is written about since the time of the Torah.  Fear almost always involves the future, sometimes the present, and never the past. 


Fear was a lot like the people I knew.  Once you knew someone, there was, more times than not, nothing to fear.  Now if you knew the people in charge, and had done nothing wrong, that is.  The majority would seem to agree that the fear for the next 6 weeks was about the people in charge.  I was fearful about the affect on bailouts.  And more bailouts. 


Fear and failure go hand in hand.  If you never have failed at anything, you might not understand.  But self-fear is the worst fear, something that grows over time.  It was the fear of the aged when they can no longer care for themselves.  Maybe that was the fear around today.  A fear we can no longer care for ourselves. 


Since I was 12 years old, I took great pride that we had one of the best lawns on the block.  I cared for that lawn.  My grades then were always splendid, though in college I should have studied harder.  Years later, I was always proud of my work product.  I have worked with people whose thinking, whose work, I wondered about.  Often the innocent were pulled down with the guilty.      


Joe the plumber seems symbolic of the past few months.  He was someone who actually could fix something.  Like all those financial leaks on Wall Street.  How in a democratic country could taxpayers be asked to provide financing for all those private Wall Street ship repairs?  The ones that should have been allowed to sink. 


Faith & values:  the interconnection.  For the past 15 years the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has had a Faith & Values section of the newspaper.  On Saturdays.  So did the Charlotte Observer.  Karl Marx is credited with calling religion the opium of the masses.  Whether it was the value of your home, where you kept your money, there always was faith that it would be there when you went to get it, went to sell it.  Suddenly, belief if not faith was being challenged.   This was all an illusion? 


Values.  Based upon a faith.  Maintaining value was the basis of the current crisis.  That and forgiveness.  As in debt forgiveness.  I heard following a curling match that the values in my neighborhood aren’t falling.  Yet. 


I heard a piece on NPR about a teen-age kid sailing alone around the world.  So far he has learned that once every 3 days there is a storm in the Pacific.  From one storm he just met in the Indian Ocean, he also has gotten acquainted with his God.  I think with all the fear around, we were all going to get better acquainted in 2009 with God.


Belief.  Fear.  The religious leaders I knew never really preached fire and brimstone.  I think it was because they weren’t strangers to this God.  And their knowledge reflected a certain amount of understanding.  Like in the old days when most politics was local, when candidates had to look for support from around here, when the newspaper was locally owned, when we were all pretty familiar with each other.  The world seemed a lot friendlier then.  People never had as much money, but there also was a lot less fear.  True value never really fluctuated, and you never could put a price on it. 


As a young kid, I had a fear about dogs.  Big ones anyway.  And weiner dogs.  Until I got to know them.  Then my fear evaporated.  Except of weiner dogs.  Fear almost always involves the future, sometimes the present, and never the past.  Except of weiner dogs. 

Larry Gillick

The New Millennium

It was a very, very frightful time.  We are told that this new century was the age of terror.  And it seems more and more that the foundation of capitalism was also threatened by mismanagement of business, with less and less governmental oversight.  The stories this week involved the FAA.  Last week it was a rescue of Bear Stearns.  The week before was it Elliott Spitzer?  The week before that it was Roger Clemens’ testimony on steroid use of his wife but not him.  The month before that was a rescue package for Countrywide and other mortgage backed securities to companies that had forsaken underwriting standards and fundamentals.  Then there was the fundamentalist president, with his vice-president showing disdain for public opinion.  “So?”   Inflation was at the grocery stores in 2008, as some kind of spillage or spill over from the cost of barrels of oil.  The dollar’s value was in free-fall, yet seemingly more available with the Fed lowering interest rates to avoid either panic or a sudden collapse of Wall Street.  Gradual collapse over time was more easily spun psychologically by a government going out of office.  It sure was starting to smell like the German economy after the Great War, the war to end all wars. 

Fear in a Perfume Shop

Strategic planning while Christmas shopping in a crowded fragrance store…. Standing in line … Containing a fart. How badly would a fart stand out in a perfume store? Would anyone notice my inner spirit freed? Would I be asked to leave the fragrance store? 

Thanks to you Captain Obvious … I went paperless almost 5 years ago.