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Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

"Structure of Color Perception"
48'X96' acrylic on board

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Acrylic on board 24" X 34"  1981



Bound for Glory. A Children’s Jubilee poem by Daniel Imburgia

Jesus was seen riding on a train from Quintana Roo
They call this train ‘La Bestia’ (The Beast)
Wretched snake of death, some believe
The devil dances in the boiler as the train
Twists and turns, whistles and roars
Belching choking black smoke and fiery sparks
Jesus hangs on to the roof of the train car
Smoking his pipe and singing songs to
Comfort the hearts of the frightened children

“Corre, corre niños” He sings
Pajarito vuela
Que las estrellitas, ya están en la escuela

La maestra luna dicta la lección
Y las estrellitas ponen atención

Una estrella chica se pinta de tiza
Y las estrellitas se mueren de risa*

Jesus was dressed up like a payaso
And to take their minds from their hunger he
Performed magic tricks or told them stories
About a blessed land of faith and plenty
A country built upon the literal words of god and
Eagerly waiting their Messiah’s second coming
Behold I am coming swiftly he announced, then
Jesus stood up and stretched out his arms
His body swaying with the motion of the train
I am the king of the universe he shouted into the wind
Follow me all you who are weary and heavy laden and
I will lead you through this desert wilderness all
The way to paradise
Core, Core, niños, y vuela!

From a thousand miles away they could see the wall
From a hundred miles away they could see the wall
From ten miles away they could see the wall
For the wall rose until it reached the clouds yet
Workers still piled more stones upon stones
More welded steel and barbed wire
More broken glass and surveillance cameras
For the people hiding behind the wall were very afraid
Jubilee is not good news for everyone

Fear not, I have returned!
Jesus proclaimed to the border guards
This is the event of Jubilee
Let your hearts be filled with joy
I am good news for the poor
I have come to set your prisoners free
I cause the blind to see and the lame to walk
Everyone’s debts are forgiven
No more banks, no more loan sharks
Homes and lands will be returned to
Their first peoples
Widows and orphans will have a favored portion
Rejoice! Rejoice!
The children began praising God
Police dogs began praising God
Street vendors selling chicharrones began praising God
Whores began praising God
Drug addicts began praising God
Rocks began praising God
Even the cockroaches began praising God
But the border police were not praising god
And the gates to paradise stayed shut

You can not cross the wall the guards said
Your papers are not in order
Your skins are too brown
Your language is foreign
Your customs are strange
Your laughter is painful to our ears
Your songs are not our songs
Your foods are unfamiliar
Your needs are too great
Your gods are not our gods
Our gods are fat
Your gods are skinny
Our gods are rich
Your gods are poor
Our gods are strong
Your gods are weak
Our gods are plush
Your gods are wretched
Our gods bless and protect us
Your gods curse and despise you
Our gods are mighty warriors
Your gods are helpless victims

Then Jesus got pissed
And as he looked up into the surveillance camera
The Spirit came upon him and he opened his bible
Prophesying from the book of Ezekiel:

“The day of the Lord has come
Not one stone of this wall will rest upon another
He will strike it down with great vengeance and furious anger
The inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men is over
Though the path of the righteous one is beset with inequities
The Lord comes in the name of charity and good will
He is the keeper of the innocent and the finder of lost children
Shepherding them through the valleys of darkness
And when all of your walls are torn down then you will know that
My name is the Lord.”

But the border police just murmured among themselves saying
Is this not the son of Juan and Concheta
Is this not the son of Pilar and Agipito
Is this not the son of Guillermo and Ofelia
Is this not the son of Pedro and Evita
Is this not the son of Gabriella and Xavier
Is this not the son of Fatima and Rafael
Is this not the son of Ximena and Esteban
Is this not the son of Jose and Maria
How then does this coyote call himself “The Lord?”

The police phoned their captains for instructions
The captains phoned their generals for instructions
The generals phoned their superiors for instructions
Keep the gates closed the superiors told the generals
Keep the gates closed the generals told the captains
Keep the gates closed the captains told the guards
The gates stay closed the guards told Jesus

And because of their unbelief
Jesus could do no miracles there
So he went out into the desert to pray
And the children followed behind him
They walked for 40 days in the hot sun
Feet blistered, skin burned, lips cracked, but
They finally came to the end of the great wall
Look said Jesus, just as I foretold
The great wall is no more
But still blocking their path to paradise
Was a wide and swift river
Jesus stood silently praying on the shore
The children whispered among themselves
Will he part the rushing waters?
Will he cause the river to dry up?
Will a bridge miraculously appear?
Will angels come and carry us across?
Will he simply walk over the top of the water?
Jesus heard all of the children’s questions
His heart was filled with compassion for them
He blessed their faithfulness and innocence
Today you shall be with me in paradise he promised them
He took one giant step forward
His foot hovered over the troubled water
Then he leaned forward and as his foot pierced the surface
The children held their breath and prayed, but
The water did not part
The river did not go dry
No bridge appeared
No angels came
His foot sank into the soft muck
Ooze squished between his toes
Jesus turned and said to the children
Follow me
And they did.

Obliged.



Note* Translation of the song above:

Run, child run,
Fly little birdie,
For the little stars already are in school.

The teacher moon dictates the lesson
And the little stars pay attention.

A girl star is using chalk as make-up
And the little stars die of laughter...

And here is a link to the documentary "La Bestia"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdzLzhTfdoI







Thursday, June 12, 2014



                          Klediments:  Frankenstein in America:


‘And his power of leading astray the inhabitants of the earth is due to the marvels which he has been permitted to work in the presence of the Wild Beast. And he told the inhabitants of the earth to erect a statue to the Wild Beast who had received the sword-stroke and yet had recovered.‘  The Book of Revelation 13:14


The man with the gun slung casually over his shoulder orders a ‘Carmel Macchiato’™  ‘COEXIST’ urges the bumper sticker on the electric Prius parked by the window.  ‘Irony,’ David Foster Wallace says, ‘was just what the U.S. hypocrisy of the fifties called for.'  I am reading a book of poetry by Gregory Corso and nursing a decaf ‘Americano.'  ‘He that hath no sword,’ jesus commands, ‘let him sell his coat and buy one.'  The man with the gun funnels his small change towards the tip jar.  At the table on my right 3 evangelicals hold hands and thank Jesus for their muffins.  ‘Irony,’ Hannah Arendt argues, ‘can be found in the laughter of death-camp survivors.'  They are ‘Frankensteining Christ in America,’ Corso warns.  ‘Be thankful in all things,’ I overhear an evangelical urge.  It’s called an ‘Americano’ because during WWII american GI’s watered down their espressos quotes wikipedia.  The man with the gun misses the tip jar and the coins clatter to the floor.  Frankenstein’s stitches seem ready to unravel.  The quiet man next to me looks up from his ‘USA Today,' His wife(?) talks loudly into her cell phone oblivious.  The man with the gun bends over and gathers up the spilled coins, the barrel of his gun inadvertently sweeps the entire room.  A quarter rolls under my table and I trap it with my foot.  The quiet man reading the paper notices the man with the gun.  ‘Frankenstein’ was the not the monster, as many believe, but his creator.  Corso died of cancer in Minnesota instead of overdosing on tequila and dying alone in the desert.  ‘Irony,’ says Hannah Arendt, ‘is an escape route from the dead ends of existing traditional conceptions of the world and the human being.'  The man with the gun starts coming towards me.  The woman on the phone says, ‘I have finally eliminated all my tan lines...’  ‘The great thing about irony is that it splits things apart,’ says Wallace.  The evangelicals are taking turns reading aloud their favorite bible verses.  ‘Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful,’ boasts Frankenstein’s monster.  “Nazi’s,” Hannah Arendt argues, ‘were quite ordinary and banal.'  *Awesome* is the word most repeated by the evangelicals.  I hand the man with the gun his quarter back and he thanks me politely.  The woman on the phone is now intently watching the man with the gun.  My father fought nazi’s at the battles of Anzio and Monte Casino.'  ‘They are driving old ladies mad with Christ in America,’ Corso insists.  The nazi’s drank their coffee in the same ways that the Italians did my father told me before wikipedia was invented.  ‘Irony is the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage’ someone says.  ‘The Word,’ an evangelical shares loudly, ‘became flesh and dwelt among us.‘  ‘Accursed creator!’ cried Frankenstein's monster, 'Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned away from me in disgust.' If nazi’s had watered down their coffee would Starbucks™ have labeled them *Nazianos?*  The man with the gun hits his mark this time, the barista smiles nervously.  The man who was reading the paper whispers something to his wife(?) while she furiously tweets with her thumbs.  Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the holocaust, was a vacuum cleaner salesman.  Some believe that a new sincerity may challenge the hegemony of metafictional and self-conscious irony.  The man with the gun sits down next to the evangelicals.  Galvanism is the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current.  ‘They are putting the fear of Christ in America,’ Corso exclaims.  Eichmann declared himself a ‘Gottgläubiger’ just before he was executed.  ‘Irony is useful for debunking illusions’ adds Wallace.  ‘Lord, look, here are two swords,’ Peter says; and Jesus replies, ‘It is enough.'  ‘I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all,’ declares Frankenstein’s monster; ‘but I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.‘  ‘The U.S. constitution,’ says the man with the gun to no one in particular, ‘is a sacred covenant.'  ‘Most of the illusion-debunking in the U.S. has already been done,’ says Wallace.  ‘I came not to bring peace,’ Jesus exclaims, 'but a sword.’  ‘They are driving old ladies mad with Christ in America,’ Corso says.  The woman is now videoing the man with the gun on her phone and posting it on facebook.  ‘Our God’ squeals an evangelical, ‘is an awesome God.'  ‘All sorrows can be borne,’ says Arendt, ‘if you put them into the form of a story.'  ‘I am telling you the American way is a hideous monster,’ Corso declares.  ‘If you do that which is evil,' cautions an evangelical, 'be afraid for he doesn't bear the sword in vain, Romans 13:4.’  ‘I was never an anti-semite,’ says Eichmann, ‘I was a nationalist.’  ‘If I cannot inspire love,’ says Frankenstein’s monster, ‘then I will cause fear.'  The man and his comprehensively tanned wife(?) rush out and drive off in their Prius.  ‘Most of the evil in this world,’ says Hannah Arendt ‘is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.'  ‘Satan has his companions to admire and encourage him,’ laments Frankenstein’s monster, ‘but I am solitary and detested.'  The man with the gun finishes his macchiato with a loud ‘ahhh’ of satisfaction.  ‘Irony,’ Hannah Arendt says, ‘involves holding more than one meaning in your mind at the same time which still makes people in America uneasy.'  ‘They will fall by the edge of the sword,’ Jesus says, 'and will be led captive into all the nations.'  ‘Life,’ proclaimed Frankenstein’s monster, ‘may only be an accumulation of anguish but it is still dear to me, and I will defend it.'  ‘I am telling you the devil is impersonating Christ in America,’ swears Corso.  ‘Germans liked to think of themselves as good people,’ says Hannah Arendt.  ‘Simon Peter therefore, having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest's servant.'  ‘Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving’ Wallace argues.  The man with the gun stands up and announces to no one in particular, ‘Well, I guess it’s time for me to get to work.'  ‘Postmodern irony and cynicism’s has become an end in itself, the problem is that once the rules of art are debunked, then what do we do?’ asks Wallace.  ‘There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand,’ confesses Frankenstein's monster.  'It is true that storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it,’ says Hannah Arendt, ‘storytelling brings about consent and reconciliation with things as they really are, and we may even trust it to contain that last word which we expect from the Day of Judgment.’  ‘Irony is an agent of great despair and stasis in American culture,‘ asserts Wallace. ‘All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things!’ asks Frankenstein’s monster, ‘yet you, my creator, detest and spurn thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.’  ‘And at that very moment,' says an evangelical, ‘God turned his back on Jesus.’  And yet, I am still clinging to my religion, I thought out-loud to no one in particular.

Obliged.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

video


The Tree Of Life:

“And so man, as existing transcendence abounding in and surpassing toward possibilities, is a creature of distance. Only through the primordial distances he establishes toward all being in his transcendence does a true nearness to things flourish in him.”  From Martin Heidegger’s “The Essence of Reasons.”  Translated by Terrence Malick.

This video is my attempt to perhaps reignite my failed career as a film-maker.  One might notice some affinity with the works of Terrence Malick, especially the provocative swaying of the grass moved by the invisible wind.  I have 2 1/2 hrs more of this video footage but I think that this 12 seconds provides a good introduction.  Let me add that this video is filmed at a job site where I am helping to build a new house and the view from this house is perhaps one of the best on the West coast.  Of course the whole concept of a “view” is worthy of deep reflection (in between hammering, drilling, shoveling, etc.) and I think that “The Essence of Reasons” (as much as I understand it) speaks, in part, to these concepts and asks of us, ‘how do you see?’  ‘What is your view?’  Perhaps it would be helpful to engage some of these questions by adding some narration to this video?  “The Tree of Life” begins with these words:

“The nuns taught us there were two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow. Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.”

I am not as eager to pose “nature” and “grace” as binaries as Malick’s narrator is (and parts of the bible, many fundamentalists, and maybe even Augustine/de Sade, or perhaps even Kit and Holly, the two mad serial killers in Malick’s earlier movie, “Badlands”).  But that tree in my video, I want to believe that we behold each other and are pleased to do so, that is, if it is actually possible for a tree to behold in this way, in the Hebrew sense of the word “Hineni,” which has no reference to “seeing” but rather is a mutual presentation of ‘being here’ or ‘dasein’ if you will, but with a more Levinasian understanding of ‘being infinitely available to an-Other.‘  This is how Abraham in Genesis 22 at the binding of Isaac answers to the voice of God, he responds to God by saying,“hineni.” 

And so the tree and I regard each other without any desire to lord over one another but only to be present to the grass, the sea, the wind and landscape.  I find grace in that tree and I hope that it may find the same in me, in us.  However, given our present circumstance, a pertinent question may be: is that tree the view or does it stand in the way of the view, of seeing?  The property owners, the architect, the landscape designers have all been discussing whether the tree is blocking this panoramic vista and if it should be taken down.  The excavator is on site and ready to push it over when a decision is made.  My view is that the tree should stand and live, but of course no one asks me; I have no actual authority, no standing, but then neither does the tree I reckon.  So I am praying for the tree and when I return later I will know what has been decided, whose view has prevailed.  If the tree lives I will reckon it an event of grace, which is how I hope the tree will regard me.

Obliged.


Update:  The "view" with no tree:




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

video




Klediment:

30 Day vegan Challenge:  Day 6

“The filth of Saruman is washing away...”

That’s Tom the owner of “Thrive” vegan cafe here on our island in the video.  He is a joyful vegan zealot.  But in case y’all think that all vegans (or wannabee posers) are all a bunch of squeemish, limp-wristed, pacifist, anemic, weakling, hypocritical, X-flower-children, like me, Tom went to Penn state on a football scholarship and was a pilot who served two tours during the Vietnam war.

Now ever since lunch I have been working on this Joke but I just can’t come up with a funny punch-line.  Maybe y’all have some ideas:  ‘A Jewish Yogi, an Anishinabe/messianic nature-child, a New York refugee from Basilicata, and a third-order Franciscan/Roman Catholic (under temporary suspension), all walk into a vegan cafe....’

Anyway, when I went to the bathroom at the cafe I saw my reflection in the mirror and realized that I had a big chunk of ham from the delicious Denver omelette that we all had shared for breakfast still stuck in my beard!  I can only hope that Tom assumed that that cube of ham was tofu marinated in Tamari sauce and paprika.  Although, one need not be an actual vegan to eat at a vegan cafe, sometimes I think that when I walk through a room of level 5 vegans they can smell the carnage emanating from me (*note, one might be interested to trace the etymological roots and connections among the words, ‘carnage,‘ ‘carnivore,’ ‘carnival.’ and ‘incarnation’).

Blessings and obliged.

Thursday, May 22, 2014






“30 Day Vegan Challenge, Day 4.”  *Apocalypse Cow*

"The Fuhrer is a convinced vegetarian, on principle. His arguments cannot be refuted on any series basis. They are totally unanswerable."  From the diary of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda (who, btw, was also a failure as a poet, as so many of us are, but who also happened to hold a PhD in German Romantic literature!).

Until I began this 30 day challenge I was unaware of the many deep doctrinal and ideological differences among vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, lactos, ovos, and lacto-ovos, etc, and that there were so many levels of practice (and status).  This dialogue from the Simpson episode “Lisa the Treehugger” where Lisa comes under the sway of Jesse, a jailed leader of the environmentalist movement, “Dirt First,” and who has attained the highest level of veganism, seems to sum up a lot of the contentious issues involved:      

Lisa: You do Yoga? 
Jesse: Yeah, but I started *before* it was cool. 
Lisa: My name's Lisa Simpson. I think your protest was incredibly brave. 
Jesse: Thank you. This planet needs every friend it can get. 
Lisa: Oh, the earth is the best! That's why I'm a vegetarian. 
Jesse: Heh. Well, that's a start. 
Lisa: Uh, well, I was thinking of going vegan. Jesse: [chuckles] I'm a level 5 vegan -- I won't eat anything that casts a shadow. 
Lisa: Wow. Um ... I started an organic compost pile at home. 
Jesse: Only at home? You mean you don't pocket-mulch? [takes out pocket stuff for Lisa to feel] 
Lisa: Oh, it's so decomposed! Do you think I could join Dirt First? 
Jesse: Well ... we might have an opening at the poser level. 

Yep, that sounds about right, whether it’s my diet, my art, my poetry, my ‘spirituality,’ I think that “Poser Level” is a fair estimation of my degree of enlightenment so far.

Obliged.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014


 Day 3 of my “30 Day Vegan Challenge.”

2 more books on veganism arrived today and they seem very authoritative and compelling.  The library of books that I have been amassing on the subject is becoming quite impressive!  And yet I still think that my difficulty in experiencing a more dramatic transformation towards a demonstrative practice of actual veganism is probably due to a lack of a fully comprehensive, intellectual, and theoretical foundation upon which to base my actions.  I have been seriously studying vegetarianism/veganism for most of life, but I think that my research and gathering of data, recipes, testimonials, apologetics, etc., still needs further work and a more fully conceptualized framework.

I have been meeting informally with other enlightened souls on this same righteous path towards a healthier and more ethically responsible diet, and many of them are also facing a lot of the same challenges as I am.  However, there was one person attending our gatherings for awhile who was an actual *practicing* vegan for many years but we found that rather than inspiring the rest of us with greater zeal towards our professed commitments, we usually just felt guilty and a bit ashamed about our own lack of fortitude.  Not that she ever actually judged or criticized any of us for our apparent lack of progress, although I’m sure that I once noticed a condescending look from her when I arrived at one of our monthly vegan potlucks with my own inspired version of ‘pigs in a blanket,’ (beef sausage stuffed with with gorgonzola cheese and chicken livers, wrapped with bacon, and deep fried in goose fat--I mean, why even bother with a spelt and rice flour ‘blanket‘ at that point, that would seem a bit pretentious and hypocritical to me).

i will admit that having a more evolved conscience and elevated sense of the kinship of all being often seems like a heavy cross for me to bear.  I sometimes envy all those un-informed and spiritually adolescent souls who seem to wander through life without paying the least attention to the deeper metaphysical realities that undergird our material existence.  This would include, of course, all those Hindus and Buddhists that live their entire lives as vegetarians, respecting the vital life-force of all sentient beings.  Sure their eating “practices” are impeccably rigorous, but unfortunately their doctrinal foundations are technically quite unorthodox and suspicious and are subject to higher forms of criticism if not explicit condemnation.

In a way their ignorance and lack of critical and theoretical rigor seems like a kind of child-like bliss and they are almost as unburdened by any sort of interior conviction or self-awareness as the cows, pigs, and chickens, whose life force I have (at least on a abstract and theoretical level) come to revere and cherish and have taken a vow to embrace!

Day 3 has had it’s challenges, but I sense that I have made real progress, at least in exposing a lot of the fallacies of all those Others that have not yet embraced this higher calling.

Namaste and Obliged,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down!

Abba Vaccillo Mentiens, an island eremite, has been reading this book on veganism and decided to take the ‘30 day vegan challenge.’  Today was day one.  For breakfast he ate quinoa porridge topped with raw walnuts.  It wasn’t bad and he really thought that he might just pull this radical transformation off.   But by 10 o’clock break he was feeling a bit peckish and while he was snacking on his celery sticks and raw pumpkin seeds and feeling a bit smug and self-righteous one of the devil’s minions appeared in the form of a general contractor with a box of bacon covered maple bars.  



The abbot all too quickly succumbed to this very first temptation and surrendered to his gluttonous urges.  To his credit he shared half of his bacon with the carpenter’s dog Kaiya.  At lunch time the portly abba V realized that he had forgotten his salad topped with tofu tempeh at home so he went to ‘Pickles deli’ intending to only have one of their green salads and plain water with lemon wedge.  Again, a demon probed him for weakness.  It was the last day of the year for their Vietnamese beef Pho soup which was on special and whose exotic aroma enticed abba’s taste buds as much as the bulbous regions of the young serving vixen tempted his eyes.  Still, perhaps the remainder of the day could be dedicated towards an austere and holy abstinence.  But by 3 o’clock it seemed that Satan himself had determined to completely vanquish this feckless monk and he caused a mighty hunger to arise within him.  So abba Vaccillo frantically scrounged through his work van like a heroin addict without a wakeup until he discovered a bag of gourmet beef jerky that had escaped his pre-vegan purge of forbidden delights. 



Feeling guilty and ashamed abba rushed home to his hut and away from all temptation while reciting the Lord’s prayer and pleading with saint Rupertorious for the strength and faith to overcome his frangible resolve. However, once again the forces of the dark-side confronted him in the form of his grand-daughter who appeared with a bloody fresh 24 oz. porterhouse steak and asked for instruction on how best to cook it.  Abba Vaccillo only intended to instruct his young novice on how to make a pepper crusted steak spiced with Israeli zhatar and garlic roasted potatoes accompanied by double cream chocolate gelato, but alas, Beelzebub sifted his soul like cannoli flour through a colander until all thought of his compostable dinner of baked carrot patties on a gluten-free bun spread with veganaise and topped with fake cheese completely vanished from his mind as he gorged on seared cow flesh and a frozen nectar that must have been secreted from the devil’s own udders.  As we speak the dejected monk is wallowing in guilt and self-loathing.  His inability to actually practice and live out his many spiritual commitments and convictions weigh on his heart as heavy as that double-cream gelato.  Abba Vaccillo is a weak, dithering, and silly old man, please keep him in your prayers.  Much obliged.





Monday, May 5, 2014

Tlingit Raven 

***  Klediments:

***  Lack Of Faith.  A poem by  Anna Kamienska

Yes
even when I don’t believe
there is a place in me
inaccessible to unbelief
a patch of wild grace
a stubborn preserve
impenetrable
pain untouched sleeping in the body
music that builds its nest in silence

We don’t realize that we live atop a quagmire of cults. Every gesture, understood rightly, has its roots in some sacred archetype. How much of me is that primeval man yearning for heaven, waiting for some sudden opening of the skies and another, true time, in which everything remains and nothing passes?

***  When I was working in Alaska I learned about an Orthodox church in a Tlingit native village at the foot of the Saint Elias Mountains where one Sunday a large raven transgressed the sanctuary and ate the bread left on the altar. After that the raven began returning every sabbath and the Tlingit figured out just when the raven would come and they made its presence part of their ceremony.

***  Movie of the week:  “The Broken Circle Breakdown.”  My rating is 2 thumbs up (It’s about Dutch bluegrass musicians and enthusiasts in Holland and a bunch of agonizing tragedies that befall them).

***  Unfinished story of the week:  “The Light Bearers,” by Daniel Imburgia.  Spring qtr. 1992.

Chapter one, page one:

And so Jesus and Lucifer came together again.  There is a new creation, the old worlds have passed away and they beheld together an astonishing new universe. There was no more time to reckon with and no compulsions so Jesus and Lucifer simply sat together in silence.

A star shot past them leaving a multi-colored trail of light.  Occasionally a baby would be heard gurgling and laughing.  Overhead Lucifer saw two giant solar systems swirling across the blue-black sky.  Their trajectories would inevitably result in a massive collision and a tremendous reordering of matter.  Lucifer looked at Jesus; Jesus was looking and smiling at a new born baby.  Lucifer said:  “Always this beauty, and love too, but...” Jesus crossed his lips with his finger.  “Shhhh,” Jesus whispered, then he leaned in close to Lucifer and said, “watch this....”

***  On Meet the Press last Sunday I witnessed Rev Franklin Graham praise Vladimir Putin for his state repression of gay people in Russia.  Graham called this repression, “Gospel.”

***  “Where your pain is, there your heart lies also.”  Anna Kamienska

Much Obliged.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014




Klediments:

We must love the hand of God that strikes and destroys us.”  Fenelon.

I very much liked the movie “Noah.”  I actually prefer it to the story told in the bible.  Of course neither story makes sense, how could they?  And when we try to force stories like Noah’s or Job’s to make sense then we are likely to miss something important in these myths; that is, we are likely to misunderstand something important about ourselves.

Genesis 6: 5. The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”

This is the only time in the Bible the word “grief” is used in reference to God.

Even so, we still give ourselves over to arc-building.  I can’t say how many arcs that I have built in my lifetime, hundreds I suppose. I have of course built arcs for my family like Noah, but I have built larger arcs too, arcs for my religion, my “race,” my ideologies, my money, even an arc for my ego, but these arcs have always floundered and cast me back into the dark threatening sea.  A coffin is a kind of arc too.  But a cross isn’t.  A cross is the antithesis of an arc.  I have built a lot of crosses too, but they were usually for other people.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31.
“And God saw the earth and behold it was corrupt.”  Genesis 6:11.

Arc-builders and cross-makers, is that who we are created to be?  Maybe it only seems like god is waiting for us to make up our minds?
 
“Noah is the Old Testament on acid. It's the movie equivalent of Christian death metal. It's an antediluvian Lord of the Rings, fist-pumping, ferocious, apocalyptic, and wet - very wet.”  Stephen Rea, The Philadelphia Enquirer.

The Talmud tells a story that when Noah went to send the raven to find dry land that the raven refused to go and argued that because he was an unclean animal and there were only 2 ravens on the arc that if he was lost it would mean the extinction of his species.  So Noah relented and sent a dove instead.  But why didn’t Noah argue with God about destroying humanity?  This is part of why I prefer Abraham over Noah (even though he was ready to kill his own son).  Many critics complained about Noah trying to whack his entire family like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” but that seems to emphasize the essential injustice and irrationality of god deciding to destroy all animal life.  If it was human actions that were offensive then shouldn't only the evil-doers be punished and not everybody and their dogs?  But if human evil is some sort of genetic imperfection then Noah is correct and leaving any humans alive will only allow the evil to re-propagate itself.  But if it’s mercy and compassion that stays Noah’s hand from killing his grand daughters then where does that leave god in this story?  I think that is one of the central questions that I like about Aronofsky’s take on the story, that is, does the compassion of Noah supersede that of god?  Or was this whole narrative just one horrific theo-drama and test, and all the dead folks and critters just collateral damage like in Job?

Von Balthasar wrote:  “If God wishes to reveal the love that he harbors for the world, this love has to be something that the world can recognize, in spite of, or in fact in, its being wholly other.”

Not far from where I live and without warning a massive mud-slide wiped out the entire community of Oso Washington.  Rescuers are still digging out the bodies but the death count is up to 38 as of today.

“Noah was a preposterous but endearingly unhinged epic.”  Observer film critic Mark Kermode.

“To be faithful to God, one must be aware that he is nothing more than a drop of water in the sea, and that, even to be faithful to himself, he has to do everything in order to become such a drop, which is to say that he has to exist in a way that is almost similar to disappearing.”  Fenelon.

"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below."  “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” by Thornton Wilder.

On Saturday morning, March the twenty third, 2014, the community of Oso was buried under a mudslide and a number (known only by God) of its inhabitants were entombed beneath a mountain of mud and wreckage.

The fortunate people of Peru crossed themselves and whispered prayers of thanks for their own deliverance. But in the heart and mind of humble Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, who witnessed the catastrophe, their burned the question, ‘Why did this happen?’"  Wilder.

“Darren Aronofsky's film about the Old Testament shipbuilder has been sparking controversy - but there's no denying that the Great Flood, digitized, is a pretty great flood.”  Bob Mondello, NPR.

“The one who really loves God knows he is nothing and, consequently, has to do everything he can in order to really become nothing:  Be a real nothing, everywhere and in all you do; do, however, do not add anything to that pure nothing. Of that nothing, no grip is possible. It can lose nothing. The real nothing never resists, and it has no ‘I’ to worry about. So, be nothing, and nothing beyond; and you will be all without supposing so.”  Fenelon.

"We can confirm that we have recovered 2 more bodies, bringing our total to 38, and believe we have located an additional 8," the Snohomish County Twitter feed said.  John Pennington from the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management said the most recent incident happened without warning.  "This slide came out of nowhere," he said.”

“Some say that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God.”  Wilder.

“Miraculously, Aronofsky has spent $130 million of Hollywood money on a visionary art film that asks us to examine what we believe. In this flawed, fiercely relevant film, wonders never cease.”  Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.

On Saturday, rescuers dug through the rubble while survivors cried for help underneath debris. Rescuers heard voices around 11:30 p.m. and considered trying to reach the possible survivor or survivors, but "the mud was too thick and deep."

“If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.”  Wilder.

"Mother Nature holds the cards here on the ability of ground personnel to enter the slide area. It is essentially a slurry," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters Sunday.”

“If nothing else, Noah succeeds as pure spectacle, offering up nightmare sights and sounds of Old Testament reckoning that top anything previously brought to the screen.”  Peter Howe, The Toronto Star.

“The people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing, athirst for compliments, hearing little of what was said to them, unmoved by the accidents that befell their closest friends, in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires. These were the sons and daughters of Adam from Cathay to Peru.”  Wilder.

“Though rescue teams will keep looking for survivors, Pennington said it's less likely by the day that anybody will be found alive.  We as a community, as a county are moving toward a recovery operation," he said. Chief Travis Hots told reporters that "the situation is very grim."  "Total devastation. I mean, it's just unbelievable.”

“But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”  Wilder.

“Suffer in peace, abandon yourself; go, like Abraham, knowing not where. Receive from the people the comfort that God will give you through them.  We must love the hand of God that strikes and destroys us. Oh, excellent use of our substance! Our nothing glorifies eternal Being....Let us be the holocaust that the fire of love reduces to ashes.”  Fenelon.

The point to take home is the message the movie leaves you with, which works regardless of your faith (or lack thereof). Humans are inherently flawed. How we deal with those defects is what truly matters.” Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald.

Arc-builders or cross-makers?

Obliged

Friday, March 21, 2014

The artist by my Mentor, Rabbi Mordechai Rosembaum

Once there was a simple man, a crazy man, a strange man, a fool.  Some said that he was a religious man, others said that he despised religion.  Some said that he loved god, others said that he was a-theist.  It was rumored that he had once studied to be a priest, but others said that he was a worldly man and much given to the temptations of the flesh.  This same crazy seeker wandered through the streets on Sunday mornings holding high a lantern and looking for the church of his imaginings and for a god suited to his own strangeness.  Maybe he was searching for a church which might be served and guided by married women priests who were called forth by Divine Sophia as revealed to the whole people of God?  Perhaps he sought a truly universal church divested of all it’s material possessions and worldly power and whose only authority comes by way of it’s suffering service to the poor?  Or did he hope to discover a church willing to martyr her own existence in pursuit of living in the spirit of sacrificial grace and universal equality through a freely chosen life of gospel inspired community?  Maybe the fool imagined a stateless church, a powerless church, a church without rights, values, moral codes, flags, constitutions, ethics, integrity, wealth, color guards, or guns.  A church-less church, a god-less church whose un-god cannot be found or lost, controlled, administered, spoken for, or (mis) quoted.  A god without gender or sexual orientation.  A shameful god.  A weak and worth-less god.  The kind of god that is useless for founding nations, establishing institutions, preserving empires, blessing business ventures, leading armies, or destroying one’s enemies.  The kind of god that you could beat the shit out of and murder without worrying about any payback.  A strange and crazy god.

And so the foolish seeker went from building to building, spire to spire, week after week.  He sat alone in the back and kept his lantern under his coat and his mission to himself.  And when others sang, he sang with them; and when others prayed, he prayed with them; and when others listened he listened with them, and when others wept he wept with them; and when others laughed he laughed with them, and when others closed their eyes, he closed his eyes; and when others said “amen” he said “amen.”  And every time the offering basket was passed to him he kept nothing back but surrendered all that he possessed.

There now, and look, I’m almost late for tonight’s Lenten mass.  Much obliged and all possible blessings.