Sunday, March 29, 2009

Well, I Met a Witch in Phoenix Just to Watch Him Fly

I know. It sounds like a bad parody of a Johnny Cash tune. Actually I did meet a Wiccan whose coven name means sun god. He was a calm, accessible person. He read my aura, said that I had a highly-developed spiritual chakra, but that I kept too much to myself. He loaned me a book about healing by redirecting energy fields: Hands of Light. He also introduced me to the writings of Starhawk, a wiccan eco-feminist and activist. Her epic utopian novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing, contains some of the most beautiful writing I've read.

If you believe that today's practitioner of true withcraft is an ugly crone with a crooked nose, who wears black, worships the devil, and places curses on people, you've fallen prey to Hollywood's penchant for misinformation and sensationalism. Wiccans include men and women from all walks of life who celebrate the wonders of our natural world and the seasonal cycles. They believe that whatever they do comes back threefold. Only the most masochistic person would open him/herself to a "hex" times three.

Can a pagan and a Christian co-exist or become friends? I explore this question in the short story, "Sacred Death", which is available through Echelon Press e-books. In Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience, Dr. Gus DiZerega states that "Neither [Christianity nor paganism] need be intrinsically better than the other, so long as they are followed with a good heart."

For a long time at the expense of protecting Mother Earth, many Christians have focused on eternal salvation found in the afterlife. With the current environmental crisis, perhaps we all need to more fully embrace our inner pantheist and expand our vision of the sacred.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prayer and the Problem with Orgies

First, I've never participated in an orgy. Nor have I attended one, although I have dabbled in sociological research and am a member of that most noble group of voyeurs--writers.

From limited reading on the subject, it seems that focus of attention would be problematic in such endeavors. I think sex or lovemaking works best between two partners. In a group situation, how could either partner of a given pair concentrate on each other? Sounds and movement would distract. Inevitably Joe would sneak a peek to see if his ministrations measured up to Jim's. Barbara would want to know is she or Ethel were having the best time of it. Add to this, the questions of physical endowments, and the whole effect--rather than pleasure for self and partner--would be a blurring cacophany of sensations with all reduced to nothing of value.

So, I wonder if public prayer can escape some of the same drawbacks. As a worship leader intones aloud, how much does s/he attend to the Almighty and how much does s/he perform for the listeners? There are various kinds of prayers and a whole host of praying situations. Rightly, many public prayers can benefit the listeners.

Maybe, it's my introvertive bent that looks at prayer this way. But, I see it as similar to making love with God. This, we cannot do if we draw in an audience with "See how eloquently I can speak to the Almighty."

In the best of prayer times, we go nakedly to our Creator, and we merge spiritually. Our focus is on God. Only God can attend to all the petitioners at once.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Google is after me.

After writing my third post Saturday, I received a warning that my blog has run afoul of the algorithm robots. (I shall henceforth view Fox's Sarah Conner Chronicles with deeper respect and fear.) I have been flagged as a possible spammer. I don't know what I've done to warrant this charge.

Hell, I don't even like Spam.

My sainted mother was a fine cook--mashed potatoes, corn pudding, pimiento cheese, chicken salad, stewed tomatoes (when she splurged on Ritz crackers and sugar instead of saltines). But when it came to some meat dishes, well there was some abuse involved. I never knew why people raved about steak until my sophomore year in high school. Our basketball banquet featured Swiss steak. A new world opened up for me--one which did not include fried steak ... or Spam. I have to hand it to Mother. She did try to dress the potted innards up with brown sugar.

Well, it seems I have not escaped these many years later: the Spam-intolerant now a "spammer." There is some poetic justice in this, I suppose. Thomas Wolfe has been over-quoted that "you can't go back home." It seems I've never left.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Green and Read

Our book club is reading one of the most important books I've ever encountered. I hope President Obama, along with millions of citizens and policy-makers world-wide, will read multiple-Pulitzer journalist Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

Let me say at the outset that Friedman supports his thesis and sub-theses ad nauseum with example after example. His work is redundant, and some readers would find it boring and tedious. That said, this book is more than just another treatise on global warming and the fact that it is bad.

Friedman points out that emerging economies, such as China and India, will doom the world to environmental extinction unless we all make drastic changes in how we live. The United States is the world's single largest user of oil and other pollutants. (1) We need to reduce our consumption and waste, and (2) we need to choose leaders with environmental vision. Contrasts between national environmental policy during the Carter and younger Bush administrations show the impact of governmental attitudes on alternatives to fossil fuels, for example. Additionally, new approaches can be financially and politically profitable. We must aid developing nations in how to advance without damaging the earth as we have.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded builds upon some of the foundation presented in the author's previous bestseller, The World Is Flat: we're all in this together; what is done in one nation impacts the rest of the world ... and quickly. I discovered that I could catch his main points and skim the examples to read faster. However, I found the examples from articles he has culled and experts he's interviewed to be as interesting as they are varied.

The last chapter opens with a speech delivered to the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit by a 12-year-old Canadian girl named Savern Suzuki. If you can read this 1992 address, a plea for generations mostly yet unborn, and not be moved, you either lack a pulse or heart, or both. We have become rather fluent in greenspeak, but Suzuki reminds that "You are what you do, not what you say."

It may be fitting that this book is difficult. Its message is not pleasant (although Friedman believes we have the potential to save our planet). The task is daunting, far beyond the PC feel-goodism of the token recyling or planet-friendly light bulb purchase. The work will be hard and expensive. Work your way through this book. Everything earthly hangs in the balance ... and perhaps so does soulwork beyond.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lent from My Navel

I used to enjoy Easter.

As with most so-called Christian holidays, the spiritual and secular intertwined. This special Sunday featured bright colors on clothing and Easter eggs, an anticipatory and often chilling sunrise service, family gatherings, inspiring church anthems, the earth's springtime renewal, and hope for a general resurrection and second chances.

Then, our church began to emphasize Lent, the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The Wednesday night soup suppers were nice (cheese, crackers, various soups, fruit, water, and fellowship), and I'm nothing if not gluttonous. But again, excitement grew muted. The lenten services were pretty much downers. We were sent inward to reflect on our basic moral depravity and to ask forgiveness.

Maybe I'm odd. (I'm sure I am.) But, don't a lot of us--basically decent folks--spend too much time beating ourselves up over things we've done or things we didn't do, but should have? Do we need official religious sanction to wallow in our weaknesses and to obliterate self-image even further?

Perhaps such introspection on personal negatives would do an ego-maniac good. Psychopaths and sociopaths could well stand some downsizing of their aberrant thinking. Yet, somehow I'm afraid the ministrations of Lent might be lost on them.

To all this, Mel Gibson has given us a new opportunity as voyeurs to mankind's darkest depravity in The Passion of the Christ. I admit I haven't screened the film, but from impartial reviews it seems like an extension of the climactic torture scene in Braveheart.

True, as a friend once remarked, "You can't have two mountains without a valley in between. You can't have resurrection and rebirth without death. What would spring be without winter?

Still, I long for Easter of brighter color, of ascenscion from a high plain rather than a deep valley, self-actualization up from a normal thriving rather than from depraved existence.

Even our soup suppers have been downsized--no more cheese or fruit. I'll still introspect anyway and expect much from myself. But to regain the splendor of Easter, I might just have to give up Lent for Lent.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spirit Moves

Welcome to my first blog.

I will include what the Spirit moves me to talk about. Sometimes, the content will be spiritual, in the conventional sense. On these occasions, the blog will indeed be a spirit-ual movement. On other occasions, whatever spirit moves me may seem decidedly un-spiritual. I may rant, vent, complain, or even whine a little. It will still be what I'm "moved" to say.

What moves me in a positive--even peak experience sort of--way? Certain scenes: kindness shown, a radiant sunrise or sunset, dolphin leap (dolphins doing anything), lovers hugging, the beach, a hot air balloon floating, multi-generational groups. Certain music: easy listening, a powerful ballad, an old hymn, a song with profound lyrics. Probably nothing unique to me. But, I hope many of my posts are inspirational and make your day a little better for having read them. Or at least, may they help you to ponder something in a new way.

I write. Fiction. Poetry. I'll share some of this, as well.