Saturday, May 30, 2020

a curious gladness shook me

D. sends Kunitz from garden to garden, two bodhisattvas near a flowering patch of color.
The Round 

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.  

So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
"Light splashed . . ." 

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day. 

-- Poem by Stanley Kunitz 
(from Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected by Stanley Kunitz, W. W. Norton, 1995)

Friday, May 29, 2020

altogether too much privacy

The great ignorance, they say, is belief we are separate.

It is the belief of the false self. 

The false self kneels on a handcuffed man's neck until he is dead.

The false self lies and lies again in its own self-interest.

The false self blames everyone for one's own failures.
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.
This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy. 
My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love—outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. 
We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves—the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin.    
 (—Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New Directions Paperbook: 1972), 34.) 
We have not understood what sin is.

We have not comprehended the error of our belief.

We do not see or feel who we are.

We are blind, being led by the blind, in an unseen world.

God help us

Thursday, May 28, 2020

nigra sum, sed formosa

It’s no surprise that most of us have little interest in God other than dispatching desultory prayers from time to time.

We’re not much interested in finding God or allowing God to find us. Not to mention the annoying qualities and habits official God-preachers throw our way.

Here’s why:
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance  
19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” 
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” 
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. 
(—Exodus 20: 18-21, NIV)
It’s the thick darkness. Who wants to wander into that?

Seems inhospitable. Like a neighborhood to avoid.

The problem with God is us.

Thick darkness. Emptiness. No sound. No feel. No thought — why not keep things light and breezy, chatty and familiar?

Thick darkness?

Not our cup of tea.

Besides, who likes tea? 

anthropo, logos; theo, logos

God is

what is

looking for

the human.

Be human --

give God


to find.

hard ride forward

I’m not sure the American people, me and you, have the ability to discern essentially depraved speech and writing from clear dispositive facts.
Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow."
 (—Hannah Arendt, in “The Origins of Totalitarianism”)
  It is increasingly hard to fathom the roadmap the president and his explainers are taking from here and now to the November election. The judicial cramming of right wing federal judges, the maddening obfuscation of reliable COVID-19 response, and the desolate demeaning of truth and those looking for it — all seem to be a chaotic ride through stop sign and crowded crosswalk.

A black man is murdered by police knee on neck and we are outraged. People sorrow. Some loot.

And those who sorrow the loss of competency, truth, and common decency on the part of an intransigent president, wily attorney general, senate majority leader and stiff-necked party caucus? What looting occurs in their high class desperation of arresting political power?

Those sorrowing the escape-less alley of virus, political impotency, joblessness, and hopelessness — what looting will explode onto the public square when time runs out on our measured philosophies of self-containment and tolerance of being played by cynical and uncaring people in power?

Arendt also argues that modern totalitarian regimes are defined by their use of terror. Totalitarian terror is used indiscriminately; it is directed at enemies of the regime and obedient followers without distinction. Arendt argues that, for modern totalitarian regimes, terror is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. Arendt states that modern totalitarian regimes used alleged laws of history and nature that noted for example, the inevitability of war between chosen and lesser races, to justify terror. Arendt also argues that the bourgeoisie’s rise in power eroded the political realm as a space for freedom and deliberative consensus and contributed to the amenability of populations to totalitarianism.
According to Arendt, the appeal of totalitarian ideologies is their ability to present a clear idea that promises protection from insecurity and danger. After World War I and the Great Depression, societies were more receptive to these ideas. These ideas are fictional and the success of totalitarianism hinges on the regime’s ability to effectively obscure the distinctions between reality and fiction. One way this is accomplished is through propaganda.
(—from, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of TotalitarianismCali Slair)
 Or tweets.

Or simple bald face lies.

Or disinformation, distraction, disingenuous pandering to resentments, grievance, or false victimization.

It is going to be a hard ride forward.

right there

These times nothing satisfies


And yet, there is a breeze

It rings the wind chime once

There, right there, something...

Something sounding true

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

looking to a new source

Numbers are numbers. Pythagoras of Samos, (c570--c495 BCE) thought numbers were the source and basis of all things.
According to Aristotle, the Pythagoreans used mathematics for solely mystical reasons, devoid of practical application.[123] They believed that all things were made of numbers.[124][125] The number one (the monad) represented the origin of all things[126] and the number two (the dyad) represented matter.[126] The number three was an "ideal number" because it had a beginning, middle, and end[127] and was the smallest number of points that could be used to define a plane triangle, which they revered as a symbol of the god Apollo.[127] The number four signified the four seasons and the four elements.[128] The number seven was also sacred because it was the number of planets and the number of strings on a lyre,[128] and because Apollo's birthday was celebrated on the seventh day of each month.[128] They believed that odd numbers were masculine,[129] that even numbers were feminine,[129] and that the number five represented marriage, because it was the sum of two and three.[130][131] (--Wikipedia
This is the sad tally as of 2:35pm Wednesday 27may2020.

I read Edith Stein:

„Wir wollen jeden Tag ein neues Leben beginnen.“ (We want to start a new life every day.) —Edith Stein

Yes we do!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

this kind of lived thinking

Is there an emerging intersection between the questions “Who are you?” and “What are you doing?”

One seems to concern “ being” and the other “action.” Our reflection on them is our "thinking."

We are drawn into a new landscape where these seemingly separate modes of thinking/being/acting arrange themselves into a perspectival phrasing that creates a new inquiry into what we are thinking, who we are being, and where we are doing.  The phrasings can shift around the interrogatory pronouns, eg: who are we... thinking? what are we... acting? and, where are we... being?

Here's what occurs to me about this -- despite the fracturing into separate realities of thought and matter by Descartes in his "I think, therefore, I am" where the res cogitans (the thinking thing, ie thought) and the res extensa (the extended thing, ie matter), are irretrievably split and separated into a dualism that has troubled the way we view existence and the world and one another -- there is a new call for reintegration and non-dual apprehension of what it means to dwell in the world.

In other words, who we are, what we do, and where we think, is a secular and spiritual perichoresis.
The word perichoresis comes from two Greek words, peri, which means “around,” and chorein, which means “to give way” or “to make room.” It could be translated “rotation” or “a going around.” Perichoresis is not found in the Greek New Testament but is a theological term used in three different contexts. In the first, perichoresis refers to the two natures of Christ in perfect union within the same Person. In the second context, perichoresis refers to the omnipresence of God as He “intersects” with all creation (see Acts 17:28). In the third context, it refers to the mutual intersecting or “interpenetration” of the three Persons of the Godhead and may help clarify the concept of the Trinity. It is a term that expresses intimacy and reciprocity among the Persons of the Godhead. A synonym for perichoresis is circumincession.  (--from, What is perichoresis? |
And this from Music and Dancing:
The theologians in the early church tried to describe this wonderful reality that we call Trinity. If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance. The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. The perichoresis is the dance of love.(–Jonathan Marlowe)  (--from, The dance of love: perichoresis) 
The most important difference between Christianity and all other religions (is) that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance… (The) pattern of this three-personal life is . . . the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality.(-–C. S. Lewis ) (--from, The dance of love: perichoresis) 
In what ways would our dwelling in this environment with one another be changed if there were to emerge a synchronous circumincessional appreciation of reality that exemplified the deepest longings and affections of personal and cosmic existence?

I am what I am includes I am what I do, I am what I think, I am what you are thinking, being, doing. It is not difficult to calculate how foreign and frightening this kind of realization might rise up within us. We've cultivated a long narrative, personal and cosmic, that I am not you, your thoughts are not my thoughts, your acts not my acts.

This opportunity to "turn about with" (ie. L. conversatio = conversation) is one beckoning us to follow.

Because I am fond of philosophy, I call this turn a function of the life of philosophy. It is also the functional aesthetic of poetry. (My meandering this morning put me in front of the words of the song "I'm Not Gonna Miss You." written with/for Glen Campbell as he began his descent into Alzheimer's and death. d.8aug17)

Richard Kearney approaches this univocality of integrality in his work of religious philosophy.

This from an interview:
AF: ...You are, I think, actualizing what Pierre Hadot intended – philosophy as a total experience. Hadot was retrieving ancient and Renaissance models of the Platonic academy, and Marsilio Ficino’s Florentine academy where people lived out what they believed. That is unique and timely, we do need such an academy for our world. 
RK: I am very honored by what you say. But while I do try to apply philosophical thinking to the world of action, I would not, in all honesty, consider myself either a real philosopher or a scholar. Let me explain. I think there are philosophers, scholars, and thinkers. By “philosophers” I mean the original great minds: Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Kant, Leibniz, Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein...people who devote their lives to really important questioning and usually have one single world-changing idea. Then there are the “scholars” – brilliant academic commentators who provide detailed analysis and exegesis on the work of the great philosophical minds. Think of Aquinas and the Scholastics or some of the best continental and analytic commentators of our own time. And finally there are what I would call “thinkers”: minds who try to apply philosophical ideas and scholarship to concrete practical matters of living and being-with-others in just com- munities – in other words the lived worlds of human existence, religion and society. I would count as “thinkers” people like Kierkegaard, Pascal, Nietzsche, Kristeva and most existentialists. When Heidegger says that Kierkegaard is not a philosopher but a “religious thinker,” this is what he has in mind. Kierkegaard was not a university academic but someone who took on society, the church, the market place, what he called “the present age.” He was a sort of modern Socrates. If I were to place myself anywhere, it would be as a humble clerk to this kind of lived thinking, or thinking for life, thinking as healing, thinking in action. 
(—from, THINKING IN ACTION: AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD KEARNEY, by ALINA N. FELD, The General Theological Seminary and Hofstra University, in Review of Contemporary Philosophy 16, 2017, pp. 150–171, ISSN 1841-5261, eISSN 2471-089)

Monday, May 25, 2020

giving way

So many die in war.

Forgiveness is no longer forgiveness.

What is forgiveness?

Go through. Let go. Go on.

1. There is the fact of things.
2. There is the looking at, and letting be what is taking place, what has taken place.
3. There is the stepping out and through, the stepping beyond the fact of, the letting be of what is.

This is what forgiveness has become.

Nothing you give me. Nothing I give you.

It is what is given.

It is the stark looking, the dropping of thought, the taking of the next step to engage the new reality.

What would you give for freedom?

What is there for the giving?

Disappear into that which is there.

Become what is here.

Now move, act, do.

Be next thing needing to be done.

Absolution gives way to resolution.

decoration, memorial, this day

      We remember, honor, and pray for all dead and deadened by war.

                                                                   known and unknown

war zone, Syria

Vietnam Veterans Memorial ,by David Morefield

Sunday, May 24, 2020

as we consider memorial day, this poem

(No Wind, No Rain)


No wind, no rain,
the tree
just fell, as a piece of fruit does.

But no, not fruit. Not ripe.
Not fell.

It broke. It shattered.

One cone’s
addition of resinous cell-sap,
one small-bodied bird
arriving to tap for a beetle.

It shattered.

What word, what act,
was it we thought did not matter?

(Source: Poetry, September 2019)

perhaps this is a prayer

The quote is: Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde)

Trump is a no-mask guy. He nearly never tells the truth. He occupies that fictitious patch of ground between verifiable facts and mystical intuition. That soggy ground is called “Who cares! Make stuff up! It’s all me and mine and it’s all phony!”

That wobbly soil and sucker-baiting piece of Trumpian real estate is isolated from historically solid data on one side, and intuitive aesthetic visionary wisdom on the other side. It is what he is selling the country and the world these days.

Investigative solid reporting on one side of us and transcending ridges of art, poetry, music and thought on the other side of us, we, unfortunately, are stuck in the middle sewage of blatant and brazen groundless untruth emitted daily onto the landscape by this quicksand smirk and sneer, unmasked and faceless, draining ordinary human feeling dignity.