Search This Blog

Showing posts with label Divine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Divine. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Shining


A beautiful smile
A flash of brightness, darling
Behind soft red lips

We dance in our dreams
Float, waltzing with the Sandman
Asleep and shining

A terrible smile
A flash of brightness, daring
Sharp-white, pretty teeth

Light up the heavens
The divine constellation
Jewels in the night

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Drifting


Consider existence
Consider the river of life
I question in my ignorance
The coming of a god

What a being that must be
To achieve the dominion of
Worship, wield the scepter of law
The center of all things

I stood on the mountain
A dust mote in the whipping wind
Chaos robbed me of my reason
In the eye of the storm

The infinite and I
The world appears beneath my feet
As I birthed the endless event
The path of eternity

Though I crossed the heavens
Yet still, I lacked the sight of god
Swimming in the endless ocean
My mountain, become sand

Consider the rivers
That shaped my world, and carried me
I searched, but I did not find God
In the flowing current

Only the evidence
Of the divine passing, that has
Reduced my world to dust, drifting
Between the constant stars

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Benediction

Peace from the Divine
Blessings hang in the thick air
With a static crack

Over the TV
The radio signals peace
From the all-mighty

Pouring through my flesh
Waves penetrate every cell
Attenuated

Peace from the Divine
Preachers-preaching for war, death
God loves the victor

God favors the dead
Open the gates, Valhalla
Heaven is waiting

Green Elysium
Honor the sacrifice, eat
Pray for each victim

We spent them cheaply
On the altar, the battlefield
Pouring out their blood

The cheapest of wines
Hot and tainted, filthy lees

Sour as vinegar

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Melancholia

An ocean of tears
Shed in sorrow and silence
Voiceless agony

Angel, have mercy
Sing, wash me in your echo
Your cleansing music

The withering world
The divine presence binds me
I will not perish

Free me from myself
Intoxicated by light
Memories of love

Calm me with reason
Soak me in lucidity
Lift me from sorrow

A brief affair, love
Perpetuate the moment
Being, in silence

Falling, I will not
Make a sacred offering
In the deep abyss

Fall back into dreams
Ethereal perturbations
Slipping past the waves

Set the world on fire
Raise me to your orbit, lift
Set me in the stars

#Poetry

#Haiku

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 5: 38 - 48 ©



The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.02.19


The Law of Human Making

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
  
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’


The Law of Divine Aspiration

The old law was the law of retribution. There was no room for mercy in it. Whether you do good deeds or bad deeds you are paid back in kind. You are paid back in equal measure.

Most of the religious systems in the world are based on this concept. The laws of Karma from the Hindu system, being the most highly articulated and widely conceptualized.

Every religion that points its believers to some kind of afterlife, has some variant of a mythology that shows the individual adherent being weighed or measured, on the scales of justice, before receiving their eternal reward.

In the aforementioned, Hindu system of beliefs, the individual remains on the wheel of life until the scales are balanced, and then they are released.

The Jains, the Sikhs, the Baha’i, they all imagine something very much the same. They imagine that the soul enters the world in a state of purity and light, but life in the flesh entangles them in the dirty business of existence. They become soiled. The task then is to move toward the light, avoiding all things that contaminate the soul. Until, at the end they are once again burning pure and bright.

The old law was a law of retribution.

It was one stage better than the law of terror which read:

Not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a head for an eye and a tribe for a head.

The law of the divine way, is the law of mercy. To sacrifice is to forgive, that is the path to holiness.

Jesus taught this, go beyond what is ordinary, surpass the conventions, teach love and mercy, by being loving and merciful, even to those you would shun or fear.

This is the way and there is no other.

Both Jesus and the Buddha believed that a person could balance the scales in a moment. It did not take lifetimes, we are not in bondage to our past, to our history to our station, tour ancestry. We are good when we are doing good, burning with the bright light, when we burn with the light of compassion.

When we choose the divine way, we are free, at least for a moment, for that moment we are free.


7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Saturday, December 26, 2015

On Jesus and Mithra, Part Two (Pages 3 - 5)

In the ancient Persian form Mithraism; Mithra is demi-god. He is viewed as the incarnated scion of Ahura-Mahzda, and Ahura-Mahzda is believed to be the source of all goodness, creator of the Universe, God of light, and source of life. Some scholars believe that in its original form; Mithraism was strictly monotheistic (perhaps the first truly monotheistic belief system), naming Ahura-Mahzda as the only deity. However, it is evident that if Mithraism was originally monotheistic, at some point in its evolution the belief system became dualistic. Another deity was set up as a counterpart to Ahura-Mahzda; forming a pantheon of sorts. This secondary deity was given the name Angra-Mainyu (whose name has given us the term anger). Angra-Mainyu was believed to be the “uncreated” source of evil in the world, whose agency was in diametric opposition to the light and life of Ahura-Mahzda, and that the drama of our lives on Earth was a reflection of the struggle between these two cosmic powers. This clearly defined dualism would be of great relevance to both Judaism and Christianity in the centuries to come.

In the later form of Mithraism, the Mithraism of the Roman Empire; the demi-god Mithra is again depicted to be in the same relationship to the high God. In this cultural context, the high God is given the name Sol Invictus, and is iconographically represented as the sun.

In both the ancient Persian form of Mithraism and the Roman form of Mithraism, the demi-god Mithra is seen as being sent to Earth by the deity responsible for the creation of the universe; in the former tradition Ahura-Mahzda, in the latter tradition Sol Invictus. In the Roman form of Mithraism the purpose of sending Mithra to Earth is for him to slay the “Primal Bull.” Upon slaying the bull, Mithra and Sol Invictus feast together from its flesh. This feast has the effect that afterwards Mithra and Sol become con-joined. They have dined together, they are now “as one.” They are joined together as one being with coextensive attributes each sharing the title Invictus, meaning unconquered. In Roman Mithraism this meal was considered to be the effective means of salvation for all human beings, and that by participating in a recreation of the sacred meal, through the rites of initiation the individual would become one with Mithra, therefore one with Sol Invictus, and thereby gaining a place in the heavenly paradise of the afterlife.

As I indicated earlier in my reference to Ulansey’s work; Persian Mithraism did not depict Mithra as the “bull-slayer.” The narrative from Persia is as follows: Mithra does not kill the primal-bull, rather Mithra and the bull are sent to Earth by Ahura-Mahzda, where they are assailed by the “evil-one.” Angra-Mainyu slays Mithra and the bull together, in an act of violence. Angra-Mainyu attempts to utterly destroy Mithra and the bull, but his efforts are frustrated by Ahura-Mazda. Through the power of the god of light, stalks of wheat, and the grape vine spring from the carcass of the bull. All manner of good things, and creatures flow from the bull to fill, and populate creation, and to be used by human. Ahura-Mahzda trasforms the violence of Angra-Mainyu into a new creation. New life springs from the bull, Mithra is restored, and returns to Ahura-Mahzda in heaven.

In my view there is no significant discrepancy between these two forms of the myth. In both versions Mithra is sent to Earth by a God of greater authority than himself. In both versions the bull is slain and its death is productive; both of new life, and of all good things on the Earth. In the Roman version the slaying of the bull is an explicit sacrifice. In the Persian version the intentionality of the sacrifice is implicit. The Roman version is not etiological, it does not address the origins of life on Earth, the Persian version is. The Roman version it is primarily a teleological myth having to do with human destiny, salvation, and the life of the immortal soul. The Persian version balances these two concerns. In the Persian account Mithra and the Bull are sent to Earth by the creator deity; their death is a vehicle by which the drama of life on Earth begins, making it a myth of origins. Their death, while being the result of violence perpetrated by the “evil-one” does not serve the interest of Angra-Mainyu, but does serve the interest of Ahura-Mahzda. Mithra of course does not die, because his soul is immortal and he returns to heaven. From the body of the bull comes an abundance of life, demonstrating that Ahura-Mahzda is greater, not only having the power to create goodness sui generous (in itself), but also having the power to bring good out of evil; making the fruit of the labor of Angra-Mainyu effectively nothing. This made Mithraism in Persia ostensibly dualistic, holding that Angra-Mainyu would eventually be overcome by Ahura-Mahzda; overcome in totality. This profound hope is apparent within the structure of myth itself. In both the Roman and the Persian versions of the death of the primal bull is emblematic of life; it is the creation of life itself, and also it is life restored. The principal actor in both versions of the narrative is God, the creator figured as either Ahura-Mahzda or Sol Invictus; respectively. Whether it is Mithra who kills the bull, or Angra-Mainyu; it does not matter. The slaying of the bull serves the purpose of the principal actor, Ahura-Mahzda/Sol Invictus, God of life, God of light, God of good.

And so I reiterate the assertion; what is significant and most consistent in the worship of Mithra from c. 700 BCE through c. 400 CE, from Rome to Persia, is the belief in the immortality of the soul, and the notion of personal salvation. In Mithraism, this theology underwent a profound development that it would have a lasting and significant impact on other faith traditions.


Friday, December 25, 2015

On Jesus and Mithra, Part 1 (Pages 1 - 3)

Everything we know about Jesus is tangled in myth. It is certain that the narratives of his birth, and childhood are works of complete fiction. Even the narrative of his adult ministry, beginning around the year 30 C.E. is imbued with metaphor and allegory. The narrative that we have received from the tradition is so thoroughly syncretized to the broader cultural context of the Near East that we do not even refer to him by his given name; Joshua, but instead we call him by a Greek variant. Therefore, if we desire to understand this story, (as we should) how it came to be as it is, we must engage that broader narrative, the complete societal and theological context from which the Christian story emerged. We must journey beyond the Palestinian crossroads that was ancient Judea, and beyond the Greco-Roman world, we must go to Persia; because the story really begins there, with Mithra.

The “Cult of Mithras” is understudied, but to the extent that it is, it is commonly regarded, merely as a competitor of the early Christian Church, but it was much more than that. Mithraic worship, as it was practiced by the Romans, principally by members of the Roman army in the first four centuries of the common era, has its roots in ancient Persia; as an offshoot of Zoroastrianism (c. 700 BCE), (1) evolving through the centuries until it reached its final form as a “mystery cult” movement with the Roman army. Through its evolution, propelled by the extensive influence of the Persian Empire, Mithraism had a significant impact on every society it encountered, and every form of worship in the Mediterranean region, the Near East, and Southwest Asia.
This essay is an attempt to communicate the multiple ways by which Mithraism has influenced the development of other faith traditions, most importantly the Judea-Christian tradition, and our images of Jesus. 

Scholarship on Mithraism is scant. Most scholars research tends to downplay the connection between the form of Mithraism that was practiced by the Roman army, and the ancient form of Mithraism that was practiced in the heart of Persia. To justify this, these scholars will site some obvious iconographic and liturgical differences between the two forms of worship, as if to say that the presence of a few subtle differences is enough to mark a complete separation and distinction between the traditions; despite the much greater body of similarities. The following paragraph from David Ulansey’s book The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries illustrates this point clearly. He says:

"The Western mystery cult of Mithraism as it appeared in the Roman Empire derived its very identity from a number of characteristics which were completely absent from the Iranian worship of Mithra: a series of initiations into ever higher levels of the cult accompanied by strict secrecy about the cult’s doctrines; the distinctive cave like temples in which the cult’s devotees met; and, most important, the iconography of the cult, in particular the tauroctony. None of these essential characteristics of Western Mithraism were to be found in the Iranian worship of Mithra."(2) 

Some of his Ulansey’s predecessors have suggested that the differences between the Persian-Iranian form of Mithraism and that of the Roman army are the product of natural transformations that occur in all belief systems as they move from one cultural to another, across great expanses of geography, and time. His particular criticisms have to do with extrinsic matters of form, and ritual activity, which are the structures that we would expect to change over time and distance. The seven stages of initiation, the tauroctony (slaying of the bull), the codes of secrecy, and the type of temple worship have little to do with the central tenets of Mithraism; closely held beliefs that had existed from the earliest times in Persia, through its final incarnation as a Roman mystery cult. The central theme remains the same; a belief in the immortality of the soul, and the notion of personal salvation.

(1) By 700 BCE the Royal court of Persia had fully converted to the religion of Zoroastrianism and its demi-god Mithra. However, Zoroastrianism likely emerged sometime between 2500 – 1200 BCE. 

(2)  The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, by David Ulansey, pg. 8, par. 4 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Homily - The Gospel of Luke 3: 10 - 18

The Gospel of the Day – 2015.12.13 (Sunday)

The Wisdom of John

When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’

 A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.

(NJB)

The Annointed

The authors of Luke, want to tell us about something about Jesus, through a narrative about Saint John the Baptist.

Let us take a moment and reflect on the wisdom of John given to us here.

The spirit of truth was in him, as it is in all of us. The people then, God’s children, were as we are today; created in the divine image.

We are all formed in the image of God; with innate capacities for reason, wisdom, and love. It is these qualities that we are referring to when we say that we are made in the image of God; creator of the entire universe.

Everyone, and everything in the universe, every moment of time flows from, and is sustained by the providence of God.

We did not then (in the time of John), and we do not now need to wait for an anointed one, for a Christ to preach to us and tell us the truth. The truth is spoken all around us, in ordinary moments, in normal conversation, the truth is speaking to you in your own heart, at the core of your being, from that seed of God’s Word that is germinating within you; just as it was spoken by John to those that followed him.

“What must we do?” The people asked.

Give.
Share.
Act mercifully.
Be kind.
Act justly.
Be well.
Act lovingly.
Do no harm.

Execute your offices, and fulfill the trust that has been placed in you faithfully; without corruption.
There is nothing extraordinary in these precepts. This is the ordinary way of life that we are called to.

And yet it was stunning for the people to hear the truth spoken so simply; with such conviction, so alarming that those who listened to it thought John might a divine being.

Why is this our response to the truth when we hear it?

It is precisely because the solution to the world’s sickness (sin and the love of evil) is so simple, that when we try to imagine these solutions coming to fruition in our own lives, we get lost in the overwhelming reality of what is. As if we were trying to hold back an ocean of greed, hate, and fear with a wall made of paper, as thin as a wish.

In the here and now we all know what the solution is, and yet we have no faith in one another that each of us will do our part, and worse yet; many have no desire to do their part at all. The realities of sin and evil are so vast that when we try to imagine resolving them with the only solutions that are available (love and mercy), the scope of the problems takes on a cosmic significance.

Remember this, no matter how great the reality of sin and evil are; they are rooted in time and space, they are finite, and as such they are infinitely less than the infinite love of God.

John was wise when he set aside a claim to divinity; the expectation that he was himself an anointed being come to solve the world’s problems. He knew that they would not be solved in his lifetime, not in the final sense, because it is part of the human condition. He also knew that another would come to pick up his mantle, and carry on that work, because h truth is spoke in every generation, in every community, in all times. Again John was wise to point his followers to the future, because we are led into the place of justice and mercy only by our desire for it, and by the power of hope, through the expectation of it.

It is not necessary for us to believe as the Gospel writers did, that John was pointing to the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, because, if it had not been Jesus, it would have been someone else, as it will be someone else in our own future. This is because God’s redemptive work never ends.
When we are on God’s threshing floor, we came their as we are, a complete person, we came as the whole stalk of wheat. That is how we encounter God, in our entirety; each of us a whole person. The wheat and the chaff are not separate people, sinners and saints. We are each of us the wheat, and the chaff together.

It is the encounter with the divine that frees us from the qualities that bind us to our own sins. Gods winnowing fan blows against us like the wind, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit blowing over us and flowing into us; freeing us from the fear, and hate, and desire they cause us to lie, cheat, steal, and harm our neighbors, even those we love. The Spirit ruhah carries us to the fire where all of that doubt is burned away, not in a fire of prosecution, judgement and destruction, but in the fires of 
transformation, and purification, and hope.


The Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Homily - The Gospel of Luke 21: 25 - 28, 34 - 36

The Gospel of the Day – 2015.11.29 (Sunday)

The End of Days?

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

  ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’ (NJB)


The Trouble with Prophecy

The authors of Luke report that these are the words of Jesus. In so doing they place lies in the mouth of their friend and their teacher.

Jesus never spoke about the end of the world, because Jesus spoke the truth, and he did not seek to motivate with fear, but with love.

When the sun spends the last of its nuclear fuel; that will be a sign of the end of the world (billions of years from now).

If the moon were to slip in its orbit, that would be a sign of the end of the end of the world (the world as we know it).

The stars are in fact so distant from us, that what happens with them can have little to do with what happens here, but before our sun burns itself out, our galaxy will collide with another, and that will radically change life on this planet (billions of years from now).

God, the creator of the universe, made us, our world, and our universe free. God does not interfere, or intervene in our lives and our choices. Because that is true, the only futures we can predict are those that flow naturally from their antecedents that are present in reality, right now.

We can predict global warming; because it is happening, and the antecedents for it were laid down decades ago.

Just as we can predict the continuation of wars, terrorism, and economic injustice, they are present realities, and matters of statistical certitude.

We can predict these things, not because God has decreed that these things will come to pass, but because we have.

The only liberation we will have from the vicissitudes of this life, will come at the end of. God will not stretch out God’s hand to save you from any danger.

Pay no attention to those who use fear to shape your faith.

They are liars.

God wills that you live a life without fear, and the things that flow from fear; hate, anger, greed, and violence.

To the extent that any of us are drunk, or debauched, it is certain that we will pay for it in your own ways; through the loss of monies, the loss of opportunities, the loss of friendship, the loss of dignity. 
These habits, (the nature of sin itself), is not that they are traps that will prevent you from reaching your ultimate destiny. They may frustrate you in this life (to one degree or another), but they will not separate you from God. Anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something.   


The first Sunday of Advent

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, according to the Via Negativa

Today is Thanksgiving, a secular holiday to be sure, but a sacred one for Americans.

Many of us are writing about the things that we are thankful for, and that is nice.

The expression of gratitude is always welcome, even gratitude expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, that make our lives more comfortable, more challenging, more meaningful.

To express gratitude in this way is to, is to make one’s self humble, to acknowledge our reliance on others for making us who we are.

In theology there is something known as the apophatic tradition. In this tradition it is understood that God, the creator of all that is, that God dwells in a place beyond all human understanding, shrouded in mystery, in the great cloud of un-knowing.

According to the apophatic tradition, no one can speak affirmatively as to what or who God is, because God, the infinite will not be circumscribed by language. There are no positive assertions about the nature of the Divine, there is only the via negativa; the way of saying what God is not.

This year I will forgo the giving of thanks, even though I am truly grateful for everyone in our lives. I will be selfish and tell you all what I am not thankful for.

I am not thankful that there is no peace in the world,
In Syria, from where millions of people are fleeing their homes
In Palestine, where there is apartheid
In America, where we are divided by class, culture, color

I am not thankful for white supremacy, and domestic terrorism

I am not thankful for terrorism anywhere
I am not thankful for the religious fundamentalism that drives it
            I am thankful neither for the fear that spawns it, nor for the fear it creates

I am not thankful that there is hunger in our bountiful world
            I am not thankful for the greed, for the sloth, and for the bad public policy that foster it

I am not thankful for willful ignorance, for anti-rational, anti-intellectual, demagoguery
            I am not thankful for the cultural relativism that has promoted it, for anti-objectivism
                        I am not thankful for liars

I am not thankful for Donald Trump, for Ted Cruz, for Ben Carson

I am not thankful for Fox News