Tag: spirituality

Super-heroes

click here “Superhero movies are like fairy tales for older people,” continues Lee, whose voice envelops the listener with a raspy, lilting warmth. “All those things you imagined –if only I could fly or be the strongest — are about wish fulfillment. … And because of that, I don’t think they’ll ever go out of vogue.”

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=comprare-levitra-garanzia This is from article in today’s WaPo on Stan Lee’s take on super-hero films. The article is, as usual, puerile and unenlightening which is not the author’s fault who I know writes to the general standards of the WaPo that is militantly middle-brow-superficial. Still Lee’s insights say a lot.

best way to use levitra Let me parse what he said just a little. First of all “fairy tales” are not just for children. I think it’s been pretty well-proven by now that these tales are the remnants of ancient teaching stories that go back millenia in one for or another. The most obvious of these stories (or collection of stories) are the Mahabharata, the Illiad and Odyssey, and the Bible are stories crafted over time to have resonance with children, average adults, and those that aspire to or have achieved a higher state of consciousness. These themes can be shown to have deep resonance in the human psyche. None of these stories were “wish fulfillment” stories though some contain elements of wish fulfillment. The modern super-hero myth, like the fractured modern version of fairy tales aimed at children, has no depth of wisdom. At best, as Lee later explains in the article the heroes have “personality” i.e., they are just like you and me with the usual life difficulties. This is a device to connect us viscerally with the characters and it works–but it is not wisdom it’s just a device.

The Ultimate Spiritual Way

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Hat tip to Jeralyn at TalkLeft

Should Societal Judgment Be Time Limited?

The impetus for this post was a most unlikely subject. I’ve been recently deconstructing my own uneasy feelings towards disgraced NFL Quarterback Michael Vick. My partner, a native of Philadelphia, is a huge fan of the Eagles professional football team and is thrilled at the its recent success with Vick at the helm. When the dog fighting revelations surfaced, I admit that I wanted to see him banned from the league for life. Instead, Vick served nearly two years in jail, filed for bankruptcy, missed two full seasons, and was blackballed from his original team. His stunning return to form was highly unexpected. And as much I try to be a forgiving person, I simply cannot extend it to a player who is nonetheless a strong candidate to be eventually awarded the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player for a most impressive season.

Personal Inner Strength and Collective Action

I wrote a little diary on Friday urging people on the left towards what is often called self-realization or living in the now. I do that because, ironically, it is the basis of the warrior spirit. To be focused and centered and at one with the yourself with no-thought is an important component of the samurai code. To be effective politically this spirit needs to inhabit the culture of the left.

Without a solid basis for action both in the personal sense and in the philosophical sense nothing can get done and progressives are doomed to gnash their teeth at having no say in the politics of this country. So far, in this decade, the left has, other than a source of funds for Center-right politicians, disappeared from power. There’s a game being played but the left isn’t in that game. Why? Because few understand what power and politics really is. I’m not sure how it happened maybe its that so many on the left buy into the American Exceptionalism cult maybe it’s just the decline of courage that is a general trend in this society.  

Revolution Through Good Vibrations?

This feels like a crazy time. Almost nothing political in this country seems to make sense. I feel a little crazy too. Maybe this whole diary is nuts but it comes from my heart.

I think there are reasons for this crazy time here are a few of them:  

  1. There is little correlation between what is reported in the mainstream media and anything we might agree to call “reality”. This fact is true because there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead the public through mind-control techniques which are partly engineered and has partly emerged from the logic of public relations and advertising.
  2. We have,right now, a population that is, for the most part, addicted to “entertainment” and amusements almost as if they were the essence of life. This creates a need for meaning as a matter of fantasy. If it feels cool then it is true or desirable. We take positions on public policy, for example, based on messages from our lower brain. While this is normal for human beings the fact that the stakes are so high right now makes this a catastrophe. We are headed for a world described by the movie buy viagra us Idiocracy
  3. Those people who ought to know better and who have had a liberal education and are reasonably cultured have lost, as Yeats said, “lost all conviction.” In other words the educated are dealing with the influence of modernism and the scientific view of the world where you cannot, by definition, be convinced of anything. You must hold all judgement until you have all the facts and it is hard to know when that point arrives. So the point gets pushed somewhere far away and that becomes a habit. Ultimately this form of modernism is value-neutral. It is hard for a modernist or post-modernist to say “here I stand” even when the question is to abolish the modernist project. This can be seen by the astonishing quiet on the part of the American intelligentsia (other than derision and wry asides, with some notable exceptions) in the face of several decades of active and unrelenting work on the part of the right to institute a return to religious fundamentalism, American Exceptionalism and feudalism with all its comforting certainties.

Let it Be

I’m moving away from thinking. Not that thinking isn’t useful but, rather, that it tends to take up too much space in my brain and limits my ability to perceive. The problem with out of balance thinking is that it feeds “stories” and makes the ego stronger (I’m right and you’re wrong, or they’re wrong). We need a balance and I find balance by focusing on this moment right now–and that’s the only time I feel truly happy and sane.  

Worldly Accomplishment or Spiritual Satisfaction?

Nine months spent in Washington, DC, has provided valuable insight.  Beltway insiders and area professions are their own breed.  As I’ve gotten my sea legs, more and more of their world makes sense to me.  Once I arrived here that I was immediately given some particularly infuriating advice, namely that other people were just as smart as I was, if not smarter, and that I ought to get used to it.  I think he assumed I was just like everyone else—the latest newcomer eager to play the game in a town with more than its share of naked ambition and power plays.  Perhaps he was the latest candidate for burnout, having recognized that institutional idealism is often an exercise in minutia.  Though my background and my academic career may be relatively humble, I am no stranger to elitism when I see it, and I am just as repulsed by it now as I ever was.

Removing the Bushel and Revealing the Light

With the passage of time, fellow Friends at meeting have come to me with helpful suggestions.  They insist I should read this book, or this epistle of George Fox, or this collection of essays by one of our Society’s notables.  Obligingly I have read these one by one and am certainly fortunate that I now have a better understanding of Quaker history and how everything came together in space and time to make the faith the way it exists today.  It is always helpful to see the intersections and make the connections throughout time that link the past with the present.  Indeed, as history was my major in college and has been a lifelong passion, my interest already leans towards such pursuits.  Certainly nothing I read was ever taught in any history class I took, even in graduate school.  Each have been fascinating reads, but as I dug deeper and deeper into them, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why have we hidden our light under a bushel?”

Beyond spiritual functions, I’ve gotten the same treatment from people who feel as though I need to do my homework first before I step any further into any activist group, association, or organization.

If you’ll forgive the archaic sexism of the passage, the King James Bible renders Matthew 5:15 as

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

This passage has given rise to a familiar idiom, the act of hiding one’s light under a bushel.  It doesn’t matter what gathering of believers I attend nor whichever secular group that receives my membership that I don’t see something along these same lines.  Assuming you talk to the right person or persons, you’ll uncover much that is inspirational and fascinating.  Yet, why not extend full understanding or full comprehension to all without the need for intermediaries?  Is that which I speak merely an oversight of habit that must be corrected by whomever speaks up loudly enough?  Or, is it some deliberate distrust of those who have yet to suitably prove their mettle or commitment?  The intentions may not be sinister, but they are certainly detrimental, regardless of why or how.    

As always, I find the beginning of any movement the most fascinating—the first efforts where, in this case, one man’s vision became adopted and advanced by other believers.  This initial flowering appeals to my senses most keenly.  Likewise, my favorite musical songs are appreciated for the moment at which the opening chords and melody blossoms into the hook.  I am drawn to the instant at which the attention of everyone is drawn to this new creation.  I am also drawn to the promise of wholesale fulfillment and with it the incredible possibility of that of that which might lie beyond.  I extend this same interest to a desire to build from the ground up in my own life and by my own example.  The passage has particular resonance with a Quaker audience, particularly with our belief that the Light of God exists within each of us.  

To provide some contrast, in my activist work, I keep a close eye on the issues in debate within Feminist groups, particularly those issues which pertain specifically to Young Adults like me who wish to contribute to the movement.  A week or so ago, an articulate and intelligent voice wrote a highly pertinent but also very critical essay taking aim at The National Organization for Women, known to most as NOW.  The post took the organization to task for its failings to stay current to the existing political debate while expressing no small frustration that it seemed like there was nothing the author could do personally to make the internal changes necessary.  Even from within, the author’s voice had fallen on deaf, or at least uncomprehending ears.    

The essay was, I am happy to report, received in the spirit in which it had been intended, and a response by NOW was drafted and posted.  In it, the reader was greeted to a very well-researched narrative detailing how the organization had been founded, providing the names of the people instrumental in putting it together, and documenting well the great struggles of those who expended the time and energy to build it up from the roots.  It was a fascinating read, but as I dug deeper and deeper into it, bouncing from the story and contribution of one largely unknown person to another, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why have they hidden their light under a bushel?”  Certainly nothing I read was ever taught in any history class I took, even in graduate school.    

If it be modesty or shyness on the part of those who have the strategies and wisdom, then this can be corrected.  If it be to avoid attention, others more comfortable can vocalize that which needs to be shared with a larger audience.  Friends and friends alike, what if the solution existed within us?  What if that solution could be realized and put into place so that we could best attack a lingering problem?  What if we didn’t we didn’t hide our lights under a bushel—all of us?  What sort of world would we live in then?

A Spiritual Awakening in the Most Unlikely of Settings

A few years back my depression flared up again, and it became necessary for me to make the long-practiced, but always demoralizing trip to the hospital to regulate my medications and in so doing stabilize my illness. The hospital close to my apartment had no beds available, but the law indicates that those who require hospitalization for any reason must be taken somewhere, no matter how far away that may be. After waiting for several hours, an ambulance arrived for me and I ended at a psychiatric hospital that I eventually came to discover was very badly managed and severely understaffed. Daily existence was trying enough, particularly when in such an emotionally vulnerable state, but I reached my breaking point when it came down to separate into groups for discussion. Substance abusers headed in one direction, and psychiatric patients went in another.

Before that instant, I had no idea I was about to have a spiritual awakening. This setting would seem the least likely of all regarding spiritual insight. To be taught a lesson with application well beyond the immediate was something I recognize now I needed desperately. The most potent image that stuck with me most was that of sitting in a room with ailing people, many of whom were clothed in the barest of scrubs, some of whom did not have their own clothes to wear. The nominal leader began a rambling devotional which then moved unskillfully to a denunciation of the sins of humankind. It was not until well after it concluded that I realized the leader was not a staff member, but was a fellow patient. As this delusional prophet spread a message of hellfire and brimstone, I saw heads droop lower and lower to the ground, believing that God must be punishing them for having mental illness. There was a time, and not that long ago that those with psychiatric disorders were seen as being either possessed by demons or being cursed by the Devil.

It took an experience that viscerally jarring for me to get the point. At that precise moment I vowed that I would never stand for such a thing ever again. The God I believed in then and believe in now was a God of love and a cool healing touch. I regret to mention how uncomfortable I had been in the presence of so many souls whose poverty and crippling condition rendered them a truly pathetic sight. Now, my heart was filled with pity and concern, as well as anger at the man who had encouraged them to curse themselves for a condition which they did nothing to create themselves. The world is full of much ignorance and much misguided advice, but since that day I have vowed that those who attack the most vulnerable among us for whatever reason must be challenged and ultimately defeated. That I had allowed my own prejudice to judge unfairly and harshly these people who had taken me outside of my comfort zone I regret to this very day. They lacked the intellect and the privilege I took for granted regarding how to advocate for themselves and how to even form the words needed to aid the doctors assigned to treat their case.

The story also highlights the shortcomings of our supposedly world-class health care system. The hospital upon which I was a patient had clearly seen better days and much of its dysfunction was due to the fact that it had close to twice as many beds as it did staff to manage the load. I saw a psychiatrist for no more than five minutes per day, at which point I had barely enough time to describe my symptoms and have my medication regimen modified. Those who could afford to leave did so, and those whose insurance or lack thereof would not pay for something better were stuck there. As for me, I claimed a miraculous recovery to escape after having been there a mere three days. For many, however, three days was but a drop in the bucket. Psychiatric hospitals are often merely a way station for the severely ill to remain until the court rules whether they should be committed to a state-run institution. Once there, a patient lingers for several months, upon which he or she is turned back out into society. Yet, few only manage one tour of duty in this whole sordid process. The homeless or the desperately poor spend years in and out of hospitals with such a variance in quality of care that it is no wonder this revolving door is the rule, not the exception.

I recognize how lucky I have been, but I know also that my role is to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Though whatever means I can manage, the indelible impression left on me by this story and others I have experienced in the course of several hospitalizations have allowed me to recognize that I have an obligation to serve those with limitations that would otherwise leave them worse for wear.

Some are fond of stating that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper, but what often gets obscured is the original context in which this quotation is found. It is in Genesis, shortly after the the world’s first homicide. Cain intends the phrase as a childish retort full of scorn, but the phrase has often been taken literally.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

It would be just as easy then as now to refuse to look out for the vulnerable ones among us. Christmas, promising goodwill to humankind just passed us, a New Year yet to come, it is easy to forget high-minded ideals once the halls are un-decked and the time comes to roll up sleeves again and dive into work. If we are really to do the season justice, it would be for us to recommit ourselves to the process of reaching beyond our own selfish preoccupations. That it took my own direct observation to take into account the completely needless shame and fear felt by fellow patients only renders me exactly like the throngs of Doubting Thomases with whom I associate regularly. It is this gift I wish I could impart to those who have opposed reforming our broken health care system. It is this experience, horrible though it is, that opened my eyes and I feel certain it would do the same for many others.

   

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

   Blessed are those who mourn,

   for they will be comforted.

   Blessed are the meek,

   for they will inherit the earth.

   Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

   for they will be filled.

   Blessed are the merciful,

   for they will be shown mercy.

“In This I See God”

(“TRUE BLOOD” SPOILER ALERT)

When True Blood started, I quickly tuned in to the way they were using discrimination against vampires as a metaphor for our society’s attitudes towards gays- (even “God hates fangs”, during the opening credits)- most obviously in the evangelical Christian movement’s overt and hypocritical hate-mongering. But the show is about more than that, now. It’s really exploring our entire societal approach to sexuality and love. As a friend just pointed out, we even find Eric intriguing and exciting, even after we saw him mercilessly torture the wonderful Lafayette. So, what does that say about us, and our own, perhaps latent, sado/masochistic tendencies? Even Bill, with his tortured conscience, can be nakedly vicious. He hates that part of himself, but it’s still there, and when it serves his purposes, he uses it. But it’s much more than any of this.

“Spiritual But Not Religious” Parenting 101 ?

Apologies for making this a quickie. I have “company coming” this afternoon and I have to superclean  cleara path prepare. :-/

So. My daughter is 12.5, just finished 6th Grade. For a variety of reasons, I’m feeling like… well, it’s time. I’d like to take her to “Church” at least once in a while and so I’ll be doing some Church Shopping. More important, I’ll be talking to her, more than I have thus far, about all things God.

I’d love to hear from any of you who might have, uhm, an opinion, some experience, suggestions, or just stories if you feel like it. It’s Sunday after all.

A few more details below the line.

the mind-body connection is working

more specifically, the mind stomach connection for me right now. I am continuing to notice that I am stopping eating something halfway and putting it away, or not taking seconds when I would have before, or just not snacking at all sometimes at what used to be a time of day I would feel hungry. Now there are results,too, I lost an inch off my waistline at last! Aero, however ,looks as round as ever though I am reducing her portions and treats.

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