Monday, July 24, 2017

cities as "solitary places that are populated by millions"

photo credit
"I was riding the subway on the way to the studio and noticed a man walking along the carriage leaning forward into the motion of the train.  Life is always a question of balance and orientation--even in New York where everything is signposted, it is still easy to lose your way.

Cities offer many distractions away from our essential needs which feed the hungry soul; It may not be the nourishment for which we are really searching,  but when hungry we search for that which is closest.

Losing yourself and finding yourself are separated only by a thin line; in New York that line is especially thin.

There are solitary places that are populated by millions."

-David Fields, liner notes for "The Planet Sleeps"

See also:


Friday, July 21, 2017

Bruce Cockburn on faith

I highly recommend Cathleen Falsani's writings and interviews. Here's audio (transcript here) of a 2006 interview she did with Bruce Cockburn

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Kingdom violence: WWSD?

Here is audio of a message I gave several years ago at a home gathering on an intriguing text:

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,
and the violent take it by force."  Matthew 11:12 least, that's  how the NRSV styles it.

One of the  several  "gnotty" issues with this text is that translations take it in several different...even contradictory... ways.

Of course, "Whatsup with the violence here?" must be tackled.  How do we deal with the violence in the text without doing violence to the text?

This was
my  somewhat successful tab at looking at this text sans versitis, catching the context,  giving midrash  a voice in the mix, and throwing out a working interpretation of a tough text.

One thing I do here,  as I have done for some time now--even in much more formal "sermons"-- is letting the saints speak.. so Kevin,  Ivana, Scott, St John,
 Bobby, Sonya and Keltic Ken et al drop into the message vital points that would have been missed had I just been the talking head.

I love open source/open sores church.

Eugene Peterson: "megachurches are not churches"

Eugene Peterson:

"I think the thing that’s most disturbing is the megachurch.
                                   because megachurches are not churches. 
My feeling is that when you’re a pastor, 
                         you know the people’s names.
 When 5,000 people come into the church,
                         you don’t know anybody’s name.

 I don’t think you can be a pastor 
                       with just a bunch of anonymous people out there. 
In the megachurch, well, there’s no relationship with anybody.
 I think the nature of the church is relational. 
If you don’t know these people that you’re praying with
                                                                      and talking with
                                                                      and listening to, 
                                                                                      what do you have?
 I feel pretty strongly about that."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

I almost made the Guinness Book of World Records for shortest sermon ever..

Posting this article  here, since Salt Fresno website went offline.
If you need to enlarge, click/right click, open new tab  and click again

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

building a fence around the law..or a hack around the elevator

As a follow-up to my sabbath elevator post--

  • I'll never forget taking the elevator from our towering Jerusalem hotel room down to the lobby for breakfast one Saturday.

    Not only could I not push the lobby button,

    but the elevator stopped automatically on every floor.
    I wondered if I would make it down for lunch.

    When I ordered, I realized that the waitress was not writing down any orders;
    even the most complicated ones.

    Writing was "work" on the sabbath,
    as was pushing elevator

--I should have known there was a way to --as the rabbis say--

"build a fence around the law" of no regular elevators on the

 Here it is below... it's a hack!

 See also:

Halakhot of Lakeview: Elevators on Shabbat

Can You Really Skip Floors on EVERY Elevator with this Life Hack?


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Kultur and Quixotism; epistemology and esthetic, comic and cosmic

I can't  even explain it,

 and don't have the right and rapt metaphor for it,
but reading Unamuno in English
                       --as rewarding as it is--

pales compared to reading the original Spanish.
(I've been that way ever since I was in the Spanish Musical at Liverpool High School, and wrote my first Poe-ish limerick en espanol ..It's  St. Bobbi's fault).

Es una menita como una catedral...


I must agree that all translation is largely messianic, betrayal...

                           and AT WORST is actual  messianic betrayal.

Translation is inevitably una mentira  como una catedral, ese.

(for fun, see these links on my misadventures in  bilingual life:
See this section below, for example..

I love Unamuno's insights on Quixote

 (BTW, how ironic...quixotic, rather... that after 17 years of false strarts and endings, the famous/infamous Quixote film is finally finished),

 So here it is, a loaded section in Unamuno, From "The Tragic Sense of Life, pp 288-87 
(or better yet,  en espanol at the click:"Del Sentamiento Tragico de La Vida" pp, 265-66):

Don Quixote journeyed alone, alone with Sancho, alone with his solitude.  And shall we not also journey alone, we his lovers, creating for ourselves a Quixotesque Spain which only exists in our imagination?
And again we shall be asked:  What has Don Quixote bequeathed to Kultur?  I answer:  Quixotism, and that is no little thing!  It is a whole method, a whole epistemology, a whole esthetic, a whole logic, a whole ethic—­above all, a whole religion—­that is to say, a whole economy of things eternal and things divine, a whole hope in what is rationally absurd.
For what did Don Quixote fight?  For Dulcinea, for glory, for life, for survival.  Not for Iseult, who is the eternal flesh; not for Beatrice, who is theology; not for Margaret, who is the people; not for Helen, who is culture.  He fought for Dulcinea, and he won her, for he lives.
And the greatest thing about him was his having been mocked and vanquished, for it was in being overcome that he overcame; he overcame the world by giving the world cause to laugh at him.

And today? Today he feels his own comicness and the vanity of his endeavours so far as their temporal results are concerned; he sees himself from without—culture has taught him to objectify himself, to alienate himself from himself instead of entering into himself—and in seeing himself from without he laughs at himself, but with a bitter laughter. Perhaps the most tragic character would be that of a Margutte of the inner man, who, like the Margutte of Pulci, should die of laughter, but of laughter at himself. E ridera in eterno, he will laugh for all eternity, said the Angel Gabriel of Margutte. Do you not hear the laughter of God?

The mortal Don Quixote, in dying, realized his own comicness and bewept his sins; but the immortal Quixote, realizing his own comicness, superimposes himself upon it and triumphs over it without renouncing it.

And Don Quixote does not surrender, because he is not a pessimist, and he fights on. He is not a pessimist, because pessimism is begotten by vanity, it is a matter of fashion, pure intellectual snobbism, and Don Quixote is neither vain nor modern with any sort of modernity (still less is he a modernist), and he does not understand the meaning of the word "snob" unless it be explained to him in old Christian Spanish. Don Quixote is not a pessimist, for since he does not understand what is meant by the joie de vivre he does not understand its opposite. Neither does he understand futurist fooleries. In spite of Clavileno,[68] he has not got as far as the aeroplane, which seems to tend to put not a few fools at a still greater distance from heaven. Don Quixote has not arrived at the age of the tedium of life, a condition that not infrequently takes the form of that topophobia so characteristic of many modern spirits, who pass their lives running at top speed from one place to another, not from any love of the place to which they are going, but from hatred of the place they are leaving behind, and so flying from all places: which is one of the forms of despair.

But Don Quixote hears his own laughter, he hears the divine laughter, and since he is not a pessimist, since he believes in life eternal, he has to fight, attacking the modern, scientific, inquisitorial orthodoxy in order to bring in a new and impossible Middle Age, dualistic, contradictory, passionate. Like a new Savonarola, an Italian Quixote of the end of the fifteenth century, he fights against this Modern Age that began with Machiavelli and that will end comically. He fights against the rationalism inherited from the eighteenth century. Peace of mind, reconciliation between reason and faith—this, thanks to the providence of God, is no longer possible. The world must be as Don Quixote wishes it to be, and inns must be castles, and he will fight with it and will, to all appearances, be vanquished, but he will triumph by making himself ridiculous. And he will triumph by laughing at himself and making himself the object of his own laughter.  Unamuno