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Woodstock & Stardust

Woodstock. The musical world was remembering what happened near Woodstock, New York 40 years ago.

I had watched the documentary “Woodstock: Then and Now” last night. And I woke up hearing Van Morrison sing “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

I was in high school 40 years ago. Perhaps I was an idealist at the time, but the world had seemed a lot more equal. Those Woodstock musicians had helped with a sense of vitality to point out a few problems with the world. With the Jimmie Hendrix improvised version of the National Anthem, which had seemed to address a war in Asia, race relations in the United States, or maybe the state of the union between men and women.

There was a lot of soul in the music. The documentary seemed to me to point out in its ending what was missing in the music today, watching kids today try to emulate the past, as they learned to make music. The music today which all looked like a Disney production. To make money.

The vitality of Woodstock: Kids listening to music, shouting “What the hell is wrong with you?” back at their parents. It was the same lyrics they had heard since they had emulated the hairstyle of The Beattles. Educated long-haired kids who had to go back home. Kids who for a longest time had been asked the same question, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kids who still loved their parents. Despite the world.

I watched the documentary “Woodstock: Then and Now” last night. About songs of protest and songs of love. And I woke up hearing Van Morrison sing “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Woodstock was all about vitality. About having fun. With little concern for making money. It was about a rain storm that humbled the crowd to equality. It was about a time of innocence. When musical artists were not concerned about impressing the audience as much as each other. Woodstock was about the muse. And about the true meaning of music.

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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.

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Memorial Day. Remembering the past. The great tradition. Amidst all this change.

Amidst the change. Searching for God. And searching for love. Amidst all the change.

Was there honesty in my prayer? In my words? Which reflected my actions? Amidst the change in equity. In my house. The changing valuations. The fluctuating currency value.

About that sanctity of marriage. How many times?
There were commissions involved with security. And exchange.

Movies. The Russian Revolution. History was not an illusion. Nor was God.

Real fear. As an export.

The currency. Amidst the change in equity. In my house. The changing valuations. The fluctuating currency value.

Equity markets. Falling equity in my home. When everyone felt secure with equity. It was as if equity was the purpose of life.

Memorial Day. Remembering the past. The great tradition. Amidst all this change.

Beliefs. Opinions. Memorial Day. Prayer.

History was not an illusion. Nor was God. Slavery. Sex. Gentleness. That Filipino guy the other night. That guy, wanting to have sex. Just sex. The nightclubs were filled with people like this. Without concern with equity in a relationship. Without concern for real love.

How to teach the souls of the young? Graciousness. Teaching the “gentle” part of “gentlemen.”

Choice. The choice beyond just having sex with someone in a relationship. The choice to marry someone.

As to those outward signs: you had to be looking. A lot of people passed them by without a clue as to what was going on.

Some got lost in the search and gave up.

Learning the kind of God to believe in through religious education.

Was there honesty in my prayer? In my words?

Opinions? Or beliefs? Communal beliefs.

The Ascension Gospel: Why are you standing there? Go! Spread the news of God’s love.

Communal beliefs in action were more than just opinions.

10,000 Maniacs

Capitalism was on trial. It was in the news each day.

Communism had been tried and found guilty a generation ago. What now the system here?

The relationships were still there. Think of those vows. In good times and in bad. For better or for worse. We never really had witnessed ‘worse.’ Not my friends. Only a few had died. I was a baby boomer.

How was yours? The relationship. The loyalty. The test. Noli Me Tangere and the ‘Don’t touch me.’ Well, mostly the suffering had missed me. I never really had witnessed ‘worse.’

These were the days. When all those bankrupt banks were going to end up owning even more homes of financially bankrupt people. There were now a lot more than ten thousand maniacs. TO BE CONTD…

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not!)


I purchased this book entitled Noli Me Tangere , at Easter time in the Philippines three years ago. With little understanding of the title. Up until now I had been thinking this language was some kind of Tagalog expression. And I still have never completed reading the book

This past week, 3 years later, I discovered a piece of art work with the same title. It was Lavinia Fontana’s “Noli Me Tangere,” which was mentioned in this week’s edition of America magazine.

Noli Me Tangere. Up until now I had never recognized the Latin phrase. This week I discovered that Noli Me Tangere is a Latin translation of the original scrolls of Scripture from the Easter Sunday morning description in the Gospel of John (20: 14-17) which has been translated “Don’t touch me.” In Fontana’s work of art, Mary Magdalen is not even trying to touch the Gardener. A Filipino might tell you that the translation is “Touch me not.”

Now about the author, Jose Rizal. He was a Filipino, educated in Europe, who became an ophthalmologist. He lived in interesting times when Spain had long ruled over the Philippines. His novel was written in 1887 when he was 26 years old. Today his novel is taught to help establish a sense of national identity among a people divided by dialect, social class, ethnic group and ideology on 7,000 islands.

The novel created so much controversy that when Rizal returned to the Philippines after completing medical studies, he quickly was exiled only a few days after his arrival to an island a 3 day journey away from Manila by boat. With charges that Noli was full of subversive ideas, with the portrayal of corruption and abuse by both the country’s Spanish government and the clergy, government officials were pressured by the Church to take action against the book. A character, Father Dámaso, impregnates a woman, when the fathering of illegitimate children by members of the Spanish clergy was a reality.

Now about that title: Rizal’s friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, stated that Noli Me Tangere is the term used as the professional nickname used by an ophthalmologist to describe cancer of the eyelids and tear glands. Rizal was executed in 1896 following a military trial, so he was not around long to offer his own explanation.

“Noli Me Tangere” is also what the Resurrected Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene on the morning in the garden, 3 days after Good Friday. The phrase did not exactly resonate until yesterday. Hearing another Gospel account of that same day when the Resurrected Jesus met Mary Magdalene, also in the Gospel of John, with this Doubting Thomas apostle. About one week later from this Noli Me Tangere story, Christians hear of an invitation by the Resurrected Jesus inviting the now famous Doubting Thomas to touch him. So why is Thomas invited to touch the Resurrected Jesus and Mary Magdalene was not? And what exactly did this Noli Me Tangere really mean? What exactly is going on here?

In Noli Me Tangere: Mary Magdalen: One Person, Many Images, there is a discussion by Karlijn Demasure and Hannelore Devoldere of the Greek — the preceding language of Scripture, and of the Greek verb of movement. The writers explain “Noli Me Tangere” was a commandment to join with the others, in a grieving. The interpretation is not ‘do not come to me’, but ‘go’ to the apostles. ‘Go join the community.’

In this “Noli Me Tangere” story, there is absolutely no mention of the Resurrection. In this “Noli Me Tangere” explanation, Karlijn Demasure and Hannelore Devoldere are much more observant about this personal encounter in the garden, with no announcement of what has happened. There is Mary Magdalene’s recognition of the voice of Jesus, without realizing what really has happened, without an understanding of this New Life to Jesus that Mary had witnessed.

With all the knowledge of the modern day Christian, insight is lost of the fear and confusion on her part.  Especially the fear.  When Jesus said “noli me tangere,” Karlijn Demasure and Hannelore Devoldere suggest, the interpretation was about only approaching Him now through  a holy Spirit; ‘You don’t have the understanding yet.’ To get the understanding of what is going on, “Get to the apostles!”  With your eyelids and tear glands and tears.

“Noli Me Tangere” is an instruction about a change in a relationship that was about to happen. Mary Magdalen finds the Beloved only to be immediately asked to go share the news, let him go again, and to stop clinging onto her idea.  Her way of thinking about past relationships. Thus, most miss out on the instruction to join with the others; miss out that this business in a new creation soon to be called Christianity is never to be a solo pursuit.

The other emphasis in the story is on closeness. In the “breathed into” part. I am “breathed into” only by those I allow to have a closeness. It is the companionship part of life. It is the companionship part that moves me beyond myself to others. By those who knew how bad I smelled. Mammals in the story in the evolutionary process. Join with the other mammals, with their innate fears surrounding decisions about death. The surrounding fear of wild mammals –‘Touch Me Not” –which was about to change.

‘You don’t have the understanding yet.’ Explaining who you were all along. These were still the days when the understanding was not there yet of what the personal side of Jesus was all about, before the passing on that name, Christian, and the personal subtle side to His companions.  There first was this need to join the others.  In explaining who you were all along, there is this need for a community.

One sent. The headlines will be explained over time, and the most important part of the story was yet to come. ‘You don’t have the understanding yet.’

And how did all of this apply to the history of the Philippines, by an author who happened to be a physician, who was put to death?  I wanted to finish my reading of Noli Me Tangere , of that book addressing a bit of the history of the Philippines. That book with the title encompassing cancer of the eyelids and tear glands, in a story about revolution and a sense of national identity, among a people who that line, ‘You don’t have the understanding yet,’ had quite an application at that point in history.  And today.

And like the New Testament instruction of “Noli Me Tangere” about a change in a relationship that was about to happen, the Philippines was then under the dominion of Spain.  The Inquisition in Spain which began with fervor in 1492 was still alive.  Had there been a separation of Church and State in the times written about by Jose Rizal, with the government fear of a story about revolution and a sense of more true identity?

I had seen where Rizal was held on the night before his execution. But I never understood the spiritual connection that the Filipino people had for this national hero. Or to this book title. Or of the truly spiritual part of my trip to that nation at Easter time. And I never saw the author’s understanding of what was going on, with idea about past relationships, about a change in a relationship that was about to happen, or about the meaning of this title. I had never understood the importance of the instruction to join with the others. And I never had comprehended the method of how — the reason how.  In the how to come together.

How to form a community.  How to grieve correctly together. . .with others.

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