Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Yesterday I spoke of "alchemy" and employing it so don't we become nihilistic. Here is an example of what I meant.

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north
wind lays waste your garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.

~Kahlil Gibran The Prophet

To insist on a predetermined outcome lies outside our province. So we develop abilities to meet, react and integrate our experiences. We learn to say yes knowing all the while it may mean heartbreak. We say yes to our inherent right to say no---I don't wish to participate, despite appearing uncharitable or anti-social. We say yes to our heart, our instinct, our intuition, our dream. We say yes to Life on its terms. We say yes to loving ourselves so that our love for others becomes authentic. We say yes to honoring ourselves so that we understand what it means to respect others. We say yes to honesty because we've experienced the pain and confusion of being lied to. We say yes to being gentle because we have learned clarity through patience with our errant self. We say yes so that we are transformed from what we are to what we wish to be.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Some religious scholar's can't embrace the image of Jesus (God) being in such extremity. They suggest that Jesus is quoting Psalm 22 with the entire Psalm in mind rather than (just) the first verse. I don't agree. Be it Mark relating "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death," as Jesus reaction in the Garden of Gethsemane or Luke having an angel come to strengthen him because, "being in agony.. his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground," the picture drawn is "if it be your will, remove this cup from me." Jesus is in crisis.

Are we to take these events "literally?" What difference does it make? What is important is whether or not you can relate to it on a personal level. Have you ever been tested to the point you have declared that there is no God? That if there were, this couldn't possibly be happening to you? That the senseless loss, tragedy, anguish or death is empirical truth that there couldn't possibly be a God? Then I say, fine. How you feel and where it takes you is where you need to go. What I would ask of you is this; don't stop there. Don't quit in the middle of the dynamic. Because there is one element I haven't discussed with you yet---"not MY will but YOURS be done."

Think on this: every culture in recorded history has resurrection stories. Every single one! Why is it that this is intrinsic to the human experience? Do we simply dismiss it as wishful thinking? Or does it suggest something more profound? Do we sink into nihilism and declare that "nothing that then existed found favor in their (our) eyes?" ("Nihilism" Douglas Harper Online Etymology Dictionary) Or can we imagine a response of embracing Life as it is, and not what we insist it be? ("A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist." Nietzsche)

The are a number of links on this site that speak of "tragedy turned to triumph." There are countless stories in our everyday life that demonstrate the same. What is the "alchemy" that one employs that avoids Blaise Pascal's dread? (When I see the blind and wretched state of men, when I survey the whole universe in its deadness and man left to himself with no light, as though lost in this corner of the universe without knowing who put him there, what he has to do, what will become of him when he dies, incapable of knowing anything, I am moved to terror...) The answer is apparent, we choose a different course. We trust Life. We accept events. We define ourselves by that which moves us, compels us, demands of us a reaction, and we demonstrate our values. I am _____. Pascal was terrified. I on the other hand, I am persistent--I am fearless--I am courageous--and, I AM ETERNAL.

Ask any scientist how many atoms existed after the big bang and how many atoms in the universe now? The only answer I've found is; the same amount. How can that be? I don't know. I just know that is the scientific answer. Assuredly atoms change form. It is only when a star goes nova that other elements than hydrogen and helium (carbon and oxygen are created. But there would be no life if not for the death of a star. Think of that...and then observe nature itself. What death doesn't promulgate life? All of existence speaks in accord.

So where does that leave us? Always and ever, you'll be the judge of that. Your experience is going to determine what you do, how you do it, and who you become. How do you see yourself? Whatever that may be, trust your vision. Despite all (apparent) evidence to the contrary, what you are going through is exactly what you need to experience to enable you to achieve that vision. Though strangely wrapped it is a gift, and once you can perceive it in gratitude, its inherent nature will start to emerge. Even death is not exempt.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

As A Muslim

This happened Friday July 26th, 2013 on a MAJOR news station.

The show was Spirited Debate and the host was Lauren Green. This is the level of "debate" that goes on from the conservative right in America. If you like, pick it up at the 8:02 mark where Lauren says; " are quoting yourself as a scholar" and winds up (8:18) by declaring he (Reza) is "not being honest."

As the Irish would say: Jaysus, Mary and Joseph! I guess he can quote himself as a scholar. He has BA in Religion from Santa Clara University; a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity; and a Doctorate in Sociology of Religions from UC Santa Barbara. (He also holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University Iowa but what the hell does that have to do with religion, right?) This took me ALL of 10 seconds to google on Wikipedia. It (Wikipedia) also states he is a Muslim (Shia) but looking into this fellow I found he resonates more with Sufism.

I tried with all my might to find the quote(s) attributed to William Craig Lane but could not. Here though, is the Op Ed piece by John Dickerson that Ms. Green referred to.

Both Mr. Dickerson and Ms. Green seem to have a problem that Reza Aslan is being disingenuous and hiding his Islamic background. They keep hammering the point home. Apparently in their mind this invalidates any "scholarly" work done by Mr. Aslan (at least regarding Christianity and Jesus). The next link is from March 26th, 2011; two years and four months before the interview.

Reza sure goes out of his way to hide his religious affiliation, doesn't he?

Update 7-31

Note, beginning at the 2:57 mark, that a "conservative" (unknown) wants to shift the conversation to Reza not being a "historian." An insightful example of cognitive dissonance.