Monday, May 30, 2011

The Window

I like the way that in the morning, when the light’s just right, I can look through my window and see a deep reflection of what’s behind me. Oh, I can see what’s in front of me through the window as well; the outside, the forest, the meadow, the sky, the sunrise, but the window holds another dimension that allows me to see what’s behind me in the house. I see what’s in back of me, but I see it in front of me, if you can picture that. It’s deep in the foreground of the glass. It’s different than standing in front of a mirror. In the mirror, I see myself, and what’s behind me, but I cannot see what’s in front of me. The mirror is in the way. The window, however, offers a blending of the front and the back, the future and the past. The present even.

It’s a good perspective to have in our lives. If we see what’s ahead of us, and forget what’s behind us, we will probably make the same mistakes we made when passing through the first time around, but they’ll get worse with repetition. And, if we only see the past, but fail to see the future, we will never rise from the ashes of regret. I believe that’s called depression. A place where many people end up being stuck these days.

Our culture conditions us to be enamored of the image we find of ourselves in the mirror. And we cultivate that image incessantly, like a cat grooms his own coat. That’s called narcissism. But Narcissus, from Greek mythology, enamored of his own image in a reflection pool, could not tear himself away from that image. Much like we’ve become today, more concerned with how we appear, than with character, or with what we actually accomplish.

Personally, I prefer looking through a good window.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rapture Ideation

Just as I suspected, I was left behind.
And so was everybody else.

As Pastor Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio, had determined, and many more believed, the Rapture, as Christians call it, was supposed to have happened on Saturday, May 21st. That it did not happen comes as a big surprise to no one outside of that particular bubble. It is a bubble that has reached across the globe to encompass many hundreds of thousands of people, but it is a bubble nevertheless.

I am not going to make fun of Pastor Camping, as many have been doing, but I am going to put his feeble, and self-misguided faith into some context.

So, what causes a man to espouse a belief system that puts his own credibility so directly at risk? Well, mental illness comes to mind. But clothe mental illness in religious doctrine and it becomes legitimized in the minds of many, as we have seen over the past few weeks.

Suicidal ideation is a concept that also begs to be examined in the context of such a persons predetermined, and hoped for, exit from this earth. Because Pastor Camping can no longer make his own life work, that is, that he can no longer reconcile his feeble faith with the realities of real life, he prefers, instead, to make a grand exit, one that will solve all of those problems for him. And not only solve them, but ensure that he ends up being right as well. After all, being right is more important to some people than actually being well. The things the mind will do to justify one’s own psychosis.
I also suspect, in the Pastor’s case, that there is a pompous, and self-aggrandizing, need to lead, a need to be right in the eyes of many, rather than in just his own. When one, however, does not actually have any credible thoughts worth following, you can see why that person would appeal so strongly to those whose own faith is equally feeble.

The problem with the kind of suicidal ideation that Pastor Camping entertains is that he does not have the moral courage to actually carry it out himself. Instead, he spiritualizes it, trusting God to remove him from his own inadequacies, from his own failures, and from his own disappointing, probably guilt-ridden, life here on this earth.

Don’t be misled into thinking that I believe suicide is a courageous act. I don’t. I just think it’s more courageous than hoping God will do it for you.
I heard interviews with several May 21st, Rapture doctrine inductees who stood in their back yards waiting, hoping to be taken. I heard them express heartfelt grief, and disappointment, at being left, pained beyond words that they would have to remain here on this earth even a little while longer.
Says more about our world, than it does about their faith.
Don’t you think?

One could argue that the fact that these people believed so strongly in the May 21st Rapture, is evidence of their faith being unusually strong, rather than feeble. Yes, one could argue that perspective.
And one would be wrong about it as well.
I think these people have faith and hope confused with each other.
Faith is not the hope that all your problems will be solved, absolved, dissolved, or mitigated, in the swoop of a divine hand.
That is wishful thinking, at best.

Faith is something you have to find on your own.
And it will not require you to follow someone else’s lead.

By the way, the Pastor is now in seclusion, where I happen to believe he should remain since he was not supposed to be here today anyway.

My thoughts. I’m sure you have your own.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hey God, Stay Off The Pot

It snowed last night, and again this morning. It’s actually still snowing right now. It’s not supposed to snow here on May 15th. It’s supposed to be spring weather. We’re only at 3,300 feet elevation. It’s not like we’re at 7,000. But, the weather gods are not taking that much into account. They’re going to send snow wherever they feel like they want to see it. And when.

The weather has been wacky all over the United States this year, the world, even. At least that’s how it looks from watching the news. Tornadoes, hurricanes, unexpected ice, and snow storms, floods, wildfires, and various other natural calamitous events, temper tantrums really. Makes me wonder if the weather gods might have finally discovered crack cocaine, or methamphetamine. Which makes me think, ‘What if God was in the habit of ingesting mind altering substances, like so many of us humans are’? Can you imagine God on LSD, on ecstasy, on pot, or Chivas Regal? How in the world would he ever hold things together?

Maybe, because he’s God, he wouldn’t be subject to addiction. Maybe he’d just enjoy those drugs recreationally, a way for him to relax. God must have a major need for relaxation. When you think about it, what would he do to relax? Would he sit on the porch and listen to a baseball game, like I might do sometimes? Or take a walk in the woods, or watch an Airborne Toxic Event concert on TV? Maybe God would hang out at the beach for a day just to enjoy some of the beautiful women he’d made. Or go soul-surfing on a long board.

But, God on drugs could be kind of scary. Can you imagine what a mind as complex as His would be like behind some of the stuff we lose ourselves on?
Drug users are not normally the people you can most count on. Oh, they might be very nice, and they might be some pretty good people, but, everything else being equal, you’ll most always be able to count on a sober person ahead of a stoner. I didn’t design it that way, that’s just the way it turns out. So, imagine if God were getting stoned a lot. My faith in Him would gradually erode, as would my hope that things would be addressed by Him in a timely fashion, and in a reasonable manner. He might spend more time laughing, and less time looking after his responsibilities. It could be kind of cool to know that God was taking things a little less seriously, but in the long run, I want the guy that has my back to be a guy that I can trust will actually have my back.

So God, if you want me to be able to trust you for the weather, or to adequately take care of all of your children, you’re just gonna have to stay off the pot, no matter how much you might need to relax.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Please Don't Say That Anymore

OK, we know you’re going forward, we’ve figured that out.
Everything is ‘going forward’. Except, of course, the past.
And the past is getting farther away.

What it is to you is not necessarily what it is to me.
Yes, it may be ‘what it is’, but that is not all that it is.
There are usually many layers of what something is.
But, whatever it is, to reduce it to such a simplistic cliché is an insult
to the person with whom you happen to be speaking.
People are capable of determining for themselves ‘what it is’.

Well, unless there’s a ‘Keep Out’ sign,
I’m probably going to go there.
Unless someone has designated themselves to be a Private Reserve (Preserve),
I won’t bother avoiding the space.
Do you really want to fence other people out, or just fence yourself in?

Next week is not the ‘end of the day’.
Next month is not the ‘end of the day’.
Next year is not the ‘end of the day’.
When you die is not the ‘end of the day’.
When you finish eating your lunch is not the ‘end of the day’.
THIS EVENING is ‘at the end of the day’.

Usually, only said if there’s a problem.

Yeah, solo free-climbing Half-Dome in Yosemite, like an idiot.
Never mind that he left his Grandparents without a grandson,
his Parents without a son,
his wife without a husband, or an income,
two Kids without a father,
a Sister without a brother,
and a Niece without an uncle.
Never mind that it didn’t need to happen,
‘he died doing what he loved’.

No, no, no. Don’t try to acknowledge what I’m saying before I’ve said it.
Don’t let your caffeine, and technology, induced impatience
rush me through my thought.
And don’t try to cut me off, pretending you know what I’m going to say.
You don’t know what I’m going to say until I finish saying it.
Now have a cup of decaf, and sit on the porch for a minute.

The only thing I can say about that is,

Presupposes that my experience was shared by you,
even though it wasn’t.

Exactly which day would you be referring to?

That’s just unmitigated bullshit,
most often used by pseudo intellectuals
trying to seduce college girls.
No, it’s not ‘all good’. Almost nothing is ‘all good’.

Gag me, Kaiser Permanente.
Have you all had about enough of that obnoxious woman in the Kaiser ads
talking to you like she’s your own personal enlightenment advisor,
and you’re some kind of idiot male in need of feminizing?
“Follow me,” she seems to suggest, first to the granola bar,
then to the yoga studio, and then to the spiritual spa.
Oh, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the cosmetic surgeon
where you can be made-over to look ‘as good as you feel’.
Summation of the ads: Fix yourself, be your own self-absorbed best friend,
but pay Kaiser for the privilege of inspiring you.
Thrive on this!

Can we just go back to ‘Thank you’?
That seemed to work just fine for, oh, I don’t know,
maybe several thousand years!
Not everything requires a ‘soooo much’, y’know?.

Going forward it is what it is, so don’t go there.
At the end of the day it’s not a problem,
because he died doing what he loved.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, been there, done that, back in the day.
But, it’s all good, so thrive.
And thank you sooo much (with air kiss).

Just havin’ a little serious fun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden Is My Brother

This is a repost of my January 3, 2009 entry. I rarely, if ever repost, but in light of the recent killing of Osama bin Laden,
and the celebrations following the announcement of the news, I thought it would be appropriate. I, too, am glad that he
has finally been held to accountability, but it disturbs me when I see Americans celebrating in the streets, chanting
"We're Number One", as if it were some kind of sporting event that we won. As I said, I'm glad to see Bin Laden taken down,
but I do not necessarily take any joy in his death, or in the deaths that will follow.
If you're going to read this repost, I would ask that you read it in its entirety.

Osama bin Laden is my brother.
I know, that’s a very weird thing to say, at least by most standards. But OK, now that I have your attention. . . . . . . .
what I have to say is not about most standards. It’s about a greater standard, a standard beyond what we readily, and commonly, acknowledge to be our responsibility to one another. Bin Laden is merely representative of a dynamic that is fueled by each of us, and that each of us is ultimately affected by. It is the domino theory, that every action is affected by an action preceding it; that every motion sets additional motion in play. It is a law of nature. If I turn on a fan in the room it stirs up the air around me, which unsettles the dust in the room, which aggravates my breathing, which gives me the sniffles, which leads to a cold, which I pass on to someone else from the shake of a hand or the knob of a door, and so on, and so on, and so on. An unremarkable example, and one you could argue the medical/scientific merits of, but I think you get the point. Every action produces a direct effect of that action.

Prior to 9/11 Osama bin Laden (and his friends) failed to take into account the fact that we are his brothers. I will say that again. “Prior to 9/11 Osama bin Laden (and his friends) failed to take into account the fact that we are his brothers.” Long before that we failed, you can be sure, to take into account the same about him. I’m not talking about our government, or our country, I’m talking about us as individuals. 9/11 did not just happen. I believe that disrespect is the most profound shaper of negative ideology in the world today. Disrespect for one another on a minor scale always translates somewhere down the line into disrespect for one another on a major scale. I am certainly not blaming the U.S for the attack on the World Trade Center, it was an horrendous and unconscionable act. I am merely using the event to illuminate a broader personal responsibility that each of us needs to embrace if we are ever going to achieve peace on this planet. We rant and rave about countries provoking one another, waging war with one another, hating one another and why can’t things be different, but on the other hand we continue to use, slight, abuse and disrespect one another, in a myriad of ways and circumstances. “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.” I’ve used the flow of water before to describe the cycle of wealth and poverty, and I use it here again because disrespect, like water, always flows downhill. It gathers in lakes and oceans, evaporates to form storm clouds overhead, then rains on us when the clouds can hold no more. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. Someone once said ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, and expecting a different result.’

I believe that if we want to call Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi, or Jesus our brother, or the guy sitting next to us in church, we are also obligated to consider Osama bin Laden our brother, or the guy preaching hate on Air America, in the mosque, or with a bullhorn on a university campus. For all the perpetual George Bush haters out there who now want to embrace Barack Obama as their brother, they need to consider the Bush’s of the world in like manner. Can they do that? If not, their own disingenuousness will continue to subvert the very principals they supposedly stand for, and perpetuate, you can be sure, the horrendous divisiveness they create by their own behavior. Those on the ideologically opposite side of things need to do the same. I am not saying we need to agree with, or excuse behavior, but I am saying that love is the greatest moderator of behavior. Forgiveness is the greatest liberator from that behavior.
We are only as spiritually authentic as the measure of our love. Our love is measured in reverse proportion to our capacity for hate, and indifference falls squarely on the side of the negative.

We do not have the luxury to pick and choose who is a member of the human family, and who is not; who we would like to sit next to at the banquet, or stand behind in the food line. Unkindness comes dressed in superlatives far more often than it ever comes dressed in rags, but it comes, dressed in every pair of pants imaginable. If our exclusion of some, and inclusion of others, in our love is based on faith, ideology, political party, country, color, or social grouping, then we really amount to little more than a college fraternity rather than the supposedly enlightened and ever-evolving citizens of the world that we have all become so fond of claiming to be. Lets face it, the earth is a big house, but with more rooms than just the few that you and I happen to occupy. It holds an ever-increasing population of related individuals? If it is true that we are all Gods creatures (and I believe we are) then we must account for that reality, and not merely continue to pay lip service to it. For every major offense, or indiscretion, committed by someone, somewhere, in the world, a minor offense, or indiscretion, can be traced directly back to me. I am me, that is very clear; but you are me as well. Think about it.

Hate, disrespect, dishonor, and neglect spread like a virus to our faceless, unknown, and unimagined brothers and sisters right on down to the end of the line.

We have been commissioned to love our neighbor as our self.
If you say, ‘yeah, but my god doesn’t teach that’, then brother,
you just need to get yourself a better God.

Osama bin Laden is my brother.