Showing posts from 2017

God, Music, Language, Art

Given the notion of a creator God, it can easily be guessed that it--this creator-god--would communicate with its creation, yes? One might imagine a less collaborative deity, I suppose, one that just exists, theistically, and that was the view of many of our own founding fathers. That view, however, seems such a blind alley. A creator without the interplay, the teamwork, of its individual creations, that is just a stifling thought. So what would this communication be like? Would it be in language, in words, that men use? How could words work to convey the mesh of a creator’s inner-workings? Can language hold that much meaning? Even if so, the best language can do is to hold it within one language at one time. Anyone who has attempted the fool’s errand of translation knows how impossible it is. But I guess it is possible for a creator to speak in one language. Maybe he chose Hebrew, then Greek and Aramaic. But what of the native tribes out there? Where is their Bible? What of the Slav’s…

The Museum of the Bible

The new Museum of the Bible  has officially opened in Washington, D.C. It does not proselytize (openly). It does not apparently teach Creationism. It seems to be fairly open about certain narratives that ended up being, shall we say, in disrepute (slavery, ahem). It attempts, in the words of one of the directors, to make the Bible “cool.”
Nice location, right near where the Smithsonian sits, not far from the Mall, so it takes in the gravitas of a serious museum along with a near hand-holding with government. One might be forgiven for thinking the Green’s (the Hobby Lobby family and chief funders of the museum) are acting within the Dominionist ideology, which states that Christians (meaning evangelical Christians, not those of the baser mainstream denominations, thank you very much) must integrate themselves into government. Can you say, “theocracy”?
There is likely not going to be an exhibit showing visitors how the Green family stole artifacts, and was fined $3 million dollars. It se…

Leonard Cohen's Sufi Mysticism

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch be my homeward dove
And dance me to the end of love.--Leonard Cohen

and this made me think that this could easily be a Sufi poem, something like

Suddenly the drunken sweetheart appeared out of my door.
She drank a cup of ruby wine and sat by my side. Seeing and holding the lockets of her hair My face became all eyes, and my eyes all hands.--Rumi [Translator: Shahram Shiva]
Mary Blye Howe's book, Sitting With Sufis, instructs us that: "For the Sufi, Love is the path to God. Rumi tells us that only the person whose garment is'rent by the violence of love' can be be wholly pure from covetousness and sin." And this love is not the "agape" love that protestants like to portray it as, or rather, it is and it isn't. Agape love is a general term, one that can also include the passion of a lover (it is used in the Septuagint to descri…

Mental Health and the American Problem

Emil Kraepelin, who in the 1880s helped cement how the West deals with schizophrenic individuals (he is called the father of biologic psychiatry), eventually came to see psychotic thought not as merely a "nature" problem, but also as a "nurture" issue. He saw culture not as causative, but as contributing, especially in its treatment. Nev Jones, PhD, has begun to delve into the ways in which culture exacerbates the lives of individuals with mental disease. 

Jones, who herself has had schizophrenic episodes, is now the leading advocate for re-thinking how the West must treat these individuals. Rather than simply rounding these people up and locking them away in a padded room, or--not much better--walling them off from friends and family and employers and classmates via society's ostracism, she sees a reinventing of treatment to allow for inclusion of the individual into their current culture. She isn't, as far as I know, an advocate for eliminating pharmacolog…

The Third Man

We recently hosted a movie crew for five days. Twelve film students from the New York Film Academy  used our house as a film set--and hostel--to complete what was the final project for the year. The director/screenwriter/producer was a vivacious, very intelligent girl from China, who we had hosted a couple of years ago while she matriculated at a local high school.
The project was fascinating to observe. Movies are omnipresent in our culture, but little is known of them outside the industry, as to how they get made, what is involved in their construction. What most people know about movies consists of the actors. Movie buffs will also wax on about this or that director, and you occasionally will hear something about some cinematographer. Nothing about the writers (there are always many, many writers, as in plural, within just one film), or the costume designers, or set designers, or the guy in charge of lighting or sound or editing. These people are anonymous, but nothing goes on with…

The Message Bible--A translator's conundrum

“Poems are not perfect crimes. Too often, meaning is reduced to a feat of amateur detection which assumes that a poem is a kind of murder or a jewel theft, with a corpse, a hidden weapon, and a blueprint of the plumbing, all of which can be logically deduced by any Englishman with a large magnifying glass and credentials from Scotland Yard. But poems are not perfect crimes, for all their apparatus of passion, intention, and obsessive ingenuity in transforming fantasy into experience and experience into fantasy. Their procedure is vascular or sonal, rather than rational. They move like snails under a shell, carrying the coiled weight of their language over a sensitive paraphernalia of sticky horns and protoplasm in little bursts and thrusts, leaving the glistening accident of their chemistry behind them. Meaning is the trail of the snail.”--Ben Belitt
“The translation of poetry can never exceed the enigma of it, and be true.” --Ben Belitt
I’d like to discuss The Message Bible, a translat…

What is reality?

What is reality Joining religion to science IntroductionQuantum Gravity Research, based in Los Angeles, has created a video uploaded to YouTube here, that attempts to explain Emergence Theory. Emergence Theory is based on the idea that our reality has a foundation of a crystalline “language” of geometric shapes of which our 4-dimensional reality is but the shadow or projection. Time is thought of as illusory, at least they do not see it as a moving arrow into the future.  It is more likely to be like a block of the ultimate crystalline shape: no past, no future. More of a Now. QGR appears to me to think time is still something, something that influences the whole. Here is where I cannot agree, or cannot understand their view, which is to say that time is in flux, but not showing the normal arrow into the future. Yet science does not show the future influencing the past. QGR views reality as information, information as reality: and it is, further, a reality that needs consciousness to “r…

The Broken Bible

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is executed on the Day of Preparation for Passover. As lambs went to the slaughter so Jesus went to the Cross. In Mark, he was executed on Passover. Fundamentalists have contorted their minds over this for centuries; all have convinced themselves that no error has been made, and no inconsistency presents itself. Well.
Obviously there is a problem here, but only if you view the Gospels--the entire library of the Bible, really--as history, as recorded moments, verifiable through archaeology, and historical accounts. Something else seems to be going on in the Bible, but here we are in the 21st century and Christians still feel timorous discussing the possibility that the Bible is not history, and that many things contained within it simply did not happen.
These fundamentalists fear that if people knew of the discrepancies held within the pages of the Bible, that people would run hither and yon, away from the preachings of the Good Book. What they fail to grasp …

The Processed Church

To process: the performing of a series of actions to change or preserve something.
Michael Pollan’s documentary film series, Cooked, ends with the final episode on Earth, which describes the culinary act of fermentation. The penultimate episode dealt with Air, and mainly featured the baking of bread with an inspection of what process is involved with changing wheat kernels into flour. Previous episodes dealt with Fire and Water.
To watch as food is changed from form to form, by the action of fire, or bacteria or yeast, or simply time, makes you aware of how far we have become separated from original methods of processing food. How we now substitute manufacturing processes in order to produce cheap packaged products that last a very long time on store shelves. We know we lose something for convenience, and for costs.
What is that something?
Maybe we hide something. Or substitute something for another. Is this a kind of game we play, a trick? A pretense?
A loaf of genuine sourdough bread…

The Old Church

The church that I belong to seems old. It has lost the ability to grow and it deteriorates with age. But it isn’t old just in the sense of losing its capacity to grow, in its energy; it is old in the sense that it imagines itself as old, and places itself at a time more than one hundred years ago, around the time of 1850 or so.

That was the time when science never heard of natural selection. A time that was still pre-industrial and climate change was far into the future. It was a time when race was solidly understood by the majority of people as a great divide and a biological imperative. It was a time before the age of mass destruction from warfare and mass shootings. It was a time before even the term “homosexual” was known and used, and certainly not other terms such as “trans-sexual,” “queer,” “gay.” It was pre-dispensationalist, and so end times were not given so easily as an excuse for inaction. It was a time before the landmark collection, Essays and Reviews, was published, whi…