In just a little bit I’ll have my most recent sermon posted in the Documents section. “What I Learned During My Years with the Hare Krishnas.” Check it out.
Seeing Things as They Are Produces Natural High
Greg Stone describes the perfection of creation in Natural High: Exactly as they are. I’ve heard that expressed by Native Americans as something like, “There is nothing unnatural or spernatural in the world. If it exists, it must be natural.” This is the spirit of the affirmation that all things are connected in an interdependent web of life. This is the meaning behind “Mitakuye Oyasin”. I believe it is also the translation of Tao.
The Eastern concept of Maya, or illusion, is simply missing this point, or acting apart from this realization. That is the original sin: seeing ourselves as separate from each other, from creation, from God. Greg has my kudos.
KEEP RELIGION OUT OF POLITICS
I was downright outraged this afternoon when I heard NPR’s report of the Bill Pryor nomination by the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee. How dare Republican’s use a candidate’s religion to intimidate Democrats? It is clear that the power-hungry in Washington will stop at nothing to get what they want. No bigotry is beneath them.
To say the Democrats are opposed to Pryor because of his Catholic faith is like calling me a white supremacist because I’m white. (That also reminds me of the comparison that saying everyone who tries marijuana will end up addicted to harder narcotics is like saying every child who rides a bike will grow up to join a biker gang—but that’s another soapbox.) Let’s look at the facts: the nominee has criticized prior rulings of the Supreme Court, yet also said he would do everything in his power to uphold those same laws. An op/ed piece in The New York Times criticized the Democrats and accused them of blocking Pryor based on his religious affiliation even though one of the Democrats on the committee is a Catholic.
Be the Bread
Talk about blending preaching, prayer, and blogging, I’m going to have to read more Real Live Preacher. Here’s a sample:
If the wafers are going stale for you, be the bread yourself. Break yourself open and nourish the world.
If the communion table seems cheap and tacky, become a table yourself. Be a resting place for the weary.
If you feel there are no more angels, pick up the phone and spread your own tidings.
Gather your bread. Set your table. Shout your good news.
Do these things in remembrance of HIM.
Across, Beyond, Through has also posted a bit of his odyssey. I stand with many who wish to follow the teachings and example of Jesus, not to use him as a scapegoat. I’m looking forward to my upcoming Intro to New Testament class, so I can learn more about him.
Blogging as Prayer?
The antic muse compares and contrasts prayer and blogging
Now that’s where I want to push religious and theological focused blogs: blurring the line between prayer and blogging. Sure, we can debate the whole reverential language thing, but are we actually getting anywhere with it? We can do the political journalism bit, but there are others who are already well-established and quite good at that. (Heck, I was reading the Drudge Report and Tom Tomorrow long before I even knew what a blog was.) What if we were to do, say, A Course in Miracles, entirely via blogs? I’m not the only blogger who’s posted poetry. It’s not that far off to posting prayer(s). If blogging can be considered your spiritual discipline, shouldn’t your blogging be spiritual? People could turn to your blog to get that little boost in their day, to keep them going in times of distress, or to inspire their soul to greater heights. Why not? Isn’t a blog of this type a database of roadside pulpit quotes and short homilies?
I’m very curious to see how this blog develops as I move into a full-time engagement with a congregation (at least a year or two off) and I’m writing formal sermons on a regular basis. How will the two activities enhance each other? How will topics in one relate to topics in the other? How will the congregation receive this blog? How will my technological skills and Internet savvy fit into my parish ministry? It’s the grand adventure, the path to ministry, for me to look forward to.
Interfaith End of July
This morning’s sermon, by Rev. Susan Ritchie, was on Buddhism: how it came to America and how it compares to Unitarian Universalism. Rev. Ritchie is the minister of the church where I will be doing the lay worship next Sunday. I told them they were getting an Interfaith end of July, since my service will be on Hinduism and what I learned of it during six years with the Hare Krishnas. The outline for that sermon will probably be the next document that I post. I just need to update the outline.
From V.V. Raman’s article 55, MYSTERY: SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVES…*
Aside from the puzzles of nature that tease the human mind, there are at least two other types of mystery that one may experience in the scientific mode. First is the congruence of aesthetics with truth. Nature is orderly, for sure, and understandably so: or else, it is difficult to have a stable universe for a long stretch of time. But why should so much beauty be associated with order? Precise and inexorable laws are enough to keep the cosmic clockwork ticking away for eons. But why on earth (some pun intended) should they be so beautiful? Anybody who has reveled in the equations of Maxwell, Dirac, or Einstein, and contemplated the diagrams of Feynman must be touched by their aesthetic dimension no less than their explanatory prowess. As we behold the rich patterns and coloration in the landscapes and life forms that have evolved, whether birds or butterflies, mountains or lakes, we sense endless visual delights. On purely rational grounds, these are quite uncalled for. This could strike one as mystery.
Finally there is mystery in a mind that reflects, creates, sees the world in a grain of sand and scribbles eternity on a scrap of paper. Many scientists, in some of their reflective moments, have considered intelligibility of the phenomena as a great mystery. It is as if the whole universe becomes aware of itself through sparks in the human brain.
Thus, whereas religious vision sees a Mystery existent beyond perceived reality, it would seem that science is a mystery in itself: for it is a palpitation of the entire universe in a cerebral network under the human skull! This, to me, this is the most mysterious mystery all.
Once again, V.V. Raman has instigated deep reflection and creative gurgling. Why is the peacock always seen with Krishna? Surely all that colorful splendor isn’t a biological requirement. That’s Darwinian evolution full of itself. There is abundant beauty in the world, much beyond the point of survival of the fittest or biological imperatives. And it stretches well beyond visual beauty. Do foods really need to taste as delicious as they do? Who can deny the aesthetic attraction of a forest glad with babbling brook and twittering birds? It’s almost as if—and I’m sure others have tossed this idea around before—the whole universe was designed or came to being centered around more than just the pleasure principle, but bliss.
In the second mystery he mentions the human ability to recognize and experience this. The Hindus taught that bliss is one path to the Godhead. Joseph Campbell picked it up as “Follow your bliss.” And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin stated simply, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” An ancient proverb is that evil cannot exist in a place of laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. Ecstasy is often associated with divine trance. It is here that religion and science can meet and dance hand in hand as we celebrate the wondrous pleasantness of life and our capacity to enjoy it.
*I couldn’t find that article when I last checked on Metanexus.net, 3/7/2021.
I’m aquatinted with the Incompleteness Theorem. Within any closed logical system there are certain truths in the system that can’t be proved using only the axioms & theorems of that system. I think all truths are there for our conscious knowledge but we must look inward to our multidimensional self. Logic is only one of myriad ways to find truth. What we are is far more than anything logic could prove.
I hadn’t thought of using Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem on ourselves. I was content to use it as a argument against using logic to prove the existence or non-existence of God. It seems rather zen to turn that around and use it to argue that logic can never find the limits of being human or of life itself.
I love beating around the (burning?) bush that you can never come out and speak directly of because our language doesn’t quite go that far. There is always something else just beyond words, just past the tip of my tongue, that I can sense strongly but have a real hard time describing without using elaborate metaphor and poetic imagery.
In my earlier days I created a sticker that said, “The Grateful Dead: if you have to ask, you’ll never understand.” I don’t believe that to be true–nor did I then–either about the Grateful Dead or about anything else. I believe asking questions can be a good thing, but I also believe that there are more questions than there are answers. Life is a question, not an answer; enjoy the asking.
“‘Nature always wears the colors of the spirit,’ Emerson wrote, by which he meant we never see the world plainly, only through the filters of prior concepts or metaphors.” ~Botany of Desire
“The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we CAN suppose.” ~ J.B.S. Haldane
“The meaning of life? More for the savoring than the solving.” ~ Anonymous
“Don’t overeat, speak no mean words, and don’t kick no one’s dog.” ~ Herbert ‘Hub’ Miller (on his 100th birthday)
“Consciousness fulfills itself by knowing itself. The knowledge changes it,
in your terms, into a greater gestalt that then tries to fulfill and know
itself, and so forth.” ~ The “Unknown” Reality, vol. 1 pgs. 48-49, A Seth Book (Jane Roberts)
Bells and Whistles
More features have been added: a blogroll which I’ve just realized that I can use as a portal to all of my favorite blogs, and a “Currently Reading” link with a Powell’s search box below it. Enjoy!