Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I've been around the block and back again twice over, if I might liken the passing of a year to a civic measurement. So I think it's time I talked turkey.
To be fair, the history books don't paint it all with a rose-coloured brush. We know that starvation, cold winters and illness plagued the intrepid Brits and Europeans who dared carve a life for themselves in this brave new world. A small sacrifice, however, when compared to the Native Americans who suffered much slaughter, disease and plundering of land and women as a result of white man's arrival.
But I like her logic. Upon hearing my hints of battle and war and death and territorial conquering, she said, "But I don't get it, Mom. Why didn't they just play rock, paper, scissors?"
Out of the mouths of babes.
They did play rock, paper, scissors, of course. It's just that the rocks got piled into fences, forts and catapults, the papers were non-negotiable notarized deeds, and the scissors became weapons.
Canada shares chapters in this tale, too, of course. We had our own British and French invasion, Squanto spent some time in Newfoundland, and our own First Nations peoples didn't exactly finish first either. But instead of calling it hegemony, which is a bit harsh, we like to call this shared history commonwealth, denoting, if you will, a win-win agreement. God save the Queen and all that jolly good stuff.
There are no winners in such games but the point is, we have no less a contested history. In many ways, I think it was smart that we moved our Thanksgiving up a month (from the second Monday of November to the same in October). All the better to distance this day from thoughts of war (Armistice/Remembrance) and adopt an air of reverence more in keeping with what Thanksgiving should be, which is a harvest celebration. Harvest time in Canada is most definitely October, not November, when the snow usually starts flying.
And yet at the heart of Thanksgiving, as it is celebrated by this generation in this age, is something extremely sacred. It is not sacred myth but time. It is a time to feast and a time to reconnect with family and friends, because for everything, there is a season, turn, turn. And first and foremost, it is a time to be grateful and to heed Meister Eckhart's words: "if the prayer you said in your whole life was 'thank you,' that would suffice."
It's not always that pretty - Holly Hunter probably has Thanksgiving nailed better than anyone - but when you ask people what they love most about Thanksgiving, they aren't thinking pilgrim stuff - they're thinking pilgrimage. To happy holidays in their childhoods, or back home to Chicago where Mom & Dad are. They're thinking Grandma's pumpkin pie and juicy succulent turkey and cranberry & sage dressing. Or they're relishing down time at home to recharge batteries. They wear their avoidance of Black Friday mall avoidance like badges of honor, and they speak wistfully about this being their favorite holidays - perhaps because it anticipates Christmakwanzikah and all that December festivity. But most likely because for most, it means four precious days off.
Thus, within the Thanksgiving myth - the holistic one - we have visions of fun, feast, and frivolity, even if that's not really how those early Thanksgiving dinners really went down. We have this need to be inspired by the possibility that we are greater than we are, and to fantasize that our North American history was a cooperative rather than contested one. And given that this is a Christian nation, we have this little myth of the eternal return thing going on, wherein we unconsciously think we might be able to re-create and replant prettier perennials in the garden myth.
And so be it. All that much better to be humbled by our less perfect humanity, so that we can aspire to slightly higher ground than the rock at Plymouth. So that the myth can one day fulfill all that we project upon it. Or not. Who but knows what is to be or not to be - that age-old divine question.
Let's face it - when stripped bare of all those layers of myth, Thanksgiving is not much more complicated than Rabbi Heschel's words above, and yet because it is a constructed and human ritual, it is necessarily so.
And so it is in the spirit of grace and with an attitude rather than altitude of gratitude that I shall approach these next few days, in redux and re-connection to all that is sacred. Sadly, said re-connection and redux is something I need to be reminded of every day, such that there is much I continue to learn and re-learn, again and again, about sacrality, hallowed-ness, thanks and giving from the "red man" who has always known and embodied that thankfulness is irrefutably the most sacred way of being.
Happy Thanksgiving. Blessed Be, Shalom. Salaam. Amen.
Every hill-side, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed
by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe.
Even the rocks that seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun along the silent seashore in solemn grandeur thrill with memories of past events connected with the fate of my people,
and the very dust under your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours,
because it is the ashes of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch,
for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred.
The sable braves, and fond mothers, and glad-hearted maidens, and the little children
and his memory among white men shall have become a myth,
these shores shall swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe,
and when your children's children shall think themselves alone in the field, the shop,
upon the highway or in the silence of the woods they will not be alone.
In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude.
At night when the streets of your cities and villages shall be silent,
and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts
that once filled and still love this beautiful land.
The white man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people,
for the dead are not altogether powerless."
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The dog and pony show has now packed up and left town and with it, the many lurkers who tiptoed and traipsed through the tulips this past week have also vanished. The Holy halls, once again, echo with the sound of silence.
And no surprise there - the big dog took best of show. A few of us small mixed breed types looked OK ~ we clean up well if nothing else - but it was no contest. It woulda coulda shoulda been though. The Deacon's Bench was by far the best blog of the bunch but sadly, he failed to win the purple ribbon.
That doesn't matter though. The 'real' contest was happening over here in Holy land. And if you entered my contest, you are no doubt, waiting with "bated breath and whisp'ring humblenesse."
Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen, the contest votes have been tabulated and the results are official. In strict accordance with ANUS rules (Academy of Novelties and Utilitarian Souvenirs), the ballots were carefully placed into the Tupperware container with the least amount of orange spaghetti sauce stains ringing its belly, before being painstakingly crumpled into origami-like creations, in order that a Gelert entry ballot might be of the same inscrutable nature as that of a Jeri vote. It was then shaken and stirred, in bruised and Bonded fashion, and all was completely apropos; that is, until that one renegade slip attempted to jump ship to the hardwood floor and had to be plunked back into the ballot pool. I can't be sure, but I think it was Brenda having a guilt moment that she voted for me instead of the big Catholic blog frontrunner.
The award-winning ballot was then hand-selected with sticky hot chocolate fingers at 13:58 hours by Holy Daughter, Managing Director of Earnest Young Incorpserratedging. (How big did you think this holyschmidt.org group was anyways?)
But not before she dared question the very integrity of the prize.
"What are you doing this contest for anyways, Mom?"
"It's a contest for my blog, sweetie. For everyone who voted for me in the Best Religious Blog
"Oh. Cool. What do they win?"
"The holy toast stamper, just like the one we have."
"Oh." Thinks a moment. "That thing. I thought you were doing like a real prize."
Out of the mouths of babes. But real schmeal. This is cyberspace, where surreality reins supreme.
Anyways, it was all auspicious and above board, or should I say, bored, because Holy Daughter had to stifle a yawn as she chose the lucky entry from the container. OK, so it's not exactly the Emmy's, but without further ado, drumroll please....
The winner of the Holy Toast stamper is.....
If you could please hold your applause until the end. Here to accept the award on his behalf is...Holy. His name isn't really Pilgrim. That's his surreal name, but old habits die hard. He's actually a man of many pseudonyms ~ Pilgrim, Captain Rotundo and Bloggeezer (BG for short) are but three of many. Take a moment though to stop by his blog and congratulate him on his holy winnings.
To be fair, there were a few names, Pilgrim's included, that claimed a handful of spots in the ballot bowl, as befit their daily voting status. I was actually teasing him the other day via e-mail about how many ballots he had stuffed in the box and even gave him a Holy handshake and wished him luck. I didn't really expect him to win though. I actually thought one of the one-vote wonders (it only takes one) would claim victory in this auspicious contest.
So there you have it. Thanks to all of you for voting, aiding and abetting my meteoric rise up the ranks to 5th place, with 212 votes and 6.1% of the vote.
And for all my capital R religious friends and family who have been expressly avoiding my blog this past week in light of the sacrilegious scandal of my finalist status, you may now come back and visit, and even venture to drop a line. The contest is really and truly over, the coast is clear and as of this writing, I have no plans to start my own religion anytime soon.
But look for more contest kitsch in the future. Another friend of mine, Sam, pointed out that Archie McPhee, my favorite Seattle shop, has a new patron saint chutzkah. I like it. I like it alot. So perhaps I'll run a Hollydays and Holy Days contest in December. For guttsiest God story or conversely, ungodliest guts tale.
Speaking of holidays and the spirit of love and light, happy belated Diwali.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
What's your eschatology?
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|You scored as Moltmannian Eschatology |
Jürgen Moltmann is one of the key eschatological thinkers of the 20th Century. Eschatology is not only about heaven and hell, but God's plan to make all things new. This should spur us on to political and social action in the present.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
But I have something they don't and that's Kitchen Kitsch. That's right - it's perhaps one of the most beautiful examples of the overlap between the sacred and profane.
It's not too late to add kitsch to your kitchen though. Place your Holy Vote and you, too, could be eating Special K in the morning. A vote for Holy is a rabbit toehold in the drawing for you to win that lovely mediatrix bread stamper, featured in all its glory a couple of posts below. And it only takes one vote to win and/or be a Holy Roller.
Actually, from the looks of the polls, there are a decent amount of born-again voters spreading their love amongst my various competitors, but none come close to the resurrected Christendom that is Father Z's Roman Empire. He's literally beating the Pope to the altar with 41% + market share of fans.
It makes me think that maybe I really do need to get off this small soapbox more and do some cyber-evangelizing and planting and tithing and passing of the Holy hock plate and all that fun stuff that goes along with amassing converts and disciples and white fluffy sheep.
Speaking of collection plate, I hate to keep picking on the good padre in Italy (who bears an uncanny resemblance to both Kevin Spacey and Bobby Darin), but his paypal pandering kinda sorta brought a smile to my face.
To be fair, I banter his name about when really, I'm actually poking metonymical fun at the machine behind the man - his blog institution, as it were. But I couldn't help but notice he has a rather clever, if prominent, procurement appeal on his blog. Check it out. He put his collection plate right on his blog. You can't miss it. Upper left hand corner.
Now don't get me wrong, I admire a priest with chutzpah....it's so, I dunno, JC (Judeo-Christian) of him. Said donation button actually makes great sense from a cyber church perspective. It's bound to be way more lucrative than the paltry revenues Adsense generates. But he doesn't stop there.
He's also got an Amazon book wish list link. Now I know I'm not supposed to be coveting thy neighbor's schtuff, but I'm digging this book link idea.
More on this in my next post though, when I blog about prophets. I mean profits. I mean prophets and profits.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
There were roughly a dozen boys and even a couple of curious girls who attended the late service Lego workshop on Sunday, which I think was most impressive. Holy Son isn't the only boy who drags his feet at the thought of attending Sunday RE, and little wonder. Religious education tends to be geared to girlie interests, generally speaking. Classes are traditionally oriented so as to encourage captive audience storytelling, theological discussions, cooperative games and arts & crafts. It's all very sugar and spicey, which is to say that it is the structural antithesis of what boys want to do. They need kinesthetic time. They like to engineer things and they need to really get behind something. Which I suppose is why our RE Director embraced my little Lego idea when I pitched it to her last spring.
We fashioned it, to a small degree, after the ever-popular workshop rotation model that is alive and well in many mainstream Christian churches. We then identified the key teachings and themes our children, parents and teachers wanted to see included - be these of history and mystery, social justice, or prophetic teachers - and then set about determining where and when to plot the noted priorities into the RE calendar. Last but not least, we looked at how we could then overlay the core UU principles and sources, as well as important rituals and service projects, whilst still honoring the sacred wheel of life that lives liveliest in seasonal holidays and holy days, not to mention other annual festivities and events.
Monday, November 5, 2007
(a) I don't have nearly as many readers as voters
(b) I don't even know as many people as there are
votes for my blog, and;
(c) I don't pigeonhole very nicely into a quantifiable round
hole, being a square peg and all.
Good thing commenter Kent (do take a moment to scroll to the bottom of the comments in the CF link above for his worldview on LBGTs and other inferior souls - I supplied a few of his words in 'scare' quotes above) wasn't a member of Fr. Brennan's parish. I sometimes marvel at the etymological divide between small c catholic and Big C Catholicism. Only sometimes though because every Catholic I know, close friends and family included, is bi-atholic. That is to say, they swing both ways.
I shall die erect, like the trees.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
One particular group of Christians attempted to follow in Jesus' footsteps more literally than most. They worked to master the secret of walking on water. Diligently, day by day, the group tried to be closer to God by making a sincere effort to walk on water. These Christians continued their unorthodox practices until the leader of this small Los Angeles group unexpectedly died while practicing in his bathtub. His wife said James spent many hours trying to perfect the technique of walking on water, but had not yet mastered the ability. He apparently drowned after slipping on a bar of soap.
Note from Giles Read -- "These people obviously haven't realised that anyone can walk on water. I've done it myself. Just wait until the lake freezes..."