Tag Archive: religion

side-by-sideIn the 1950s a mathematician/entertainer by the name of Tom Lehrer created a song called “Poisoning pigeons in the park.” The song in its opening verse posits the observation that with the onslaught of spring comes life. “Life” is described as full of skittles and full of beer.

I digress. Many today would think that Mr. Lehrer is referring to rainbow-coloured confections but would in fact be incorrect. Skittles first emerged in the early 1970s and the song is 20 years the elder. Skittles in this case is referring to either a pickup game of chess or a game of lawn bowling. this life is being compared to being full of thoughtful, strategic warfare or triumphing at knocking things down. Eitherwise (sic) it is not ‘tasting a rainbow ®.’

Sadly, we are not at the beginning of spring; life cannot necessarily be described as receiving it’s endowment of beer; but mayhap the metaphor of conquest and destruction may not be too far off the mark.

So, here we are at the beginning of autumn (also known as fall). This is the season where we harvest what we have sown so far this year and prepare for old things to die in the hopes of every birth in the coming spring. The Church that at one time I was heavily involved with has a series of rituals called initiations. (I would like to point out here that “Church” is both an accurate and inaccurate term. I use it for simplification and will not go further on that specific topic.) Members of The Church often describe these rituals with the term “karmic acceleration.” Personally, I have not attended one of these rituals in probably close to five years. Further, I have not personally gone through an initiation ritual in my Church in about a decade. One could hazard that I have spiritually hit what one could call “karmic stagnation.” I however would not. I have spent a good amount of time living life while at the same time trying to understand my direction, my failings, and my personal growth.

My personal growth has been around a philosophical analysis of one idea:

“For pure will,unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

For quite some time I have wrestled with the concept of actions ‘delivered from the lust of result.’ While I could write on this topic for pages and pages; suffice it to say that after a great amount of time; I find myself focusing on the act for the motivation and purpose of the act; and not a desired outcome.

In some ways I could believe that I am ready for a personal initiation, but that must be brought about on my own at my stage of life and spirituality. This being said, over the weekend of the equinox I attended an initiation ritual presented by a branch of my Church. I have not actively participated in The Church in about five years. Oddly, it would seem that the “karmic acceleration “that is often felt by those taking the ritual is not limited to those individuals involved in the ritual. To say that my life changed overnight would be a gross misrepresentation, however I would be remiss to say that far too many coincidences have occurred within a short period of that event.

Surprisingly to me, I have felt murmurs of change in just about every aspect of my life over this weekend.  It would seem; all of these changes are helping to improve these aspects of my life.

About five years ago I found myself moving away from being active with my Church. Between moving around the country and having a new child, certain things reprioritise in your life. By the time the family had resettled in Pittsburgh I’d drifted into inactivity that was further exacerbated by no official outlet in town. While at one time I’d been a champion supporter of my Church, now I had neither the time nor the energy to try to motivate a local presence.

About a month ago I took what I referred to as a Drive-about. (Walkabout at higher speeds) I found myself driving from Pittsburgh, through Columbus, to Chicago, and back by way of Cleveland. At each stop along the way I saw someone from different parts of my past. This unto itself was an experience because there are so many pieces from my past that I have changed in myself by either walking away or sweeping under the rug.

In each case, each old friend welcomed me with open arms. There is something special about people you were close to that you haven’t seen in time that can be measured in decades. Each one, in their way, gave me back a piece of my own history. The last one… a person that I had not seen in almost exactly 10 years was a member of my Church. They invited me to ‘come back’ when there was an event.

I wish I could say the invitation settled easily on me; however, it was in fact a difficult process. Time and distance weren’t the only motivating factors influencing my lapse of participation and turning that around was also going to be a huge fight against momentum and cynicism.

Over the next month I put thought into the invitation and decided to accept. At the time I believed it was for two events: Initiation rituals for some new members of The Church and a private Mass. There was an irony in attending in Cleveland as this local branch was the place that I first was introduced to The Church over 15 ½ years ago. An introduction that would lead to my own process of learning to be a better teacher, person, Church Officer, Ritual leader, and eventually Ordained Clergy.

At the time of the weekend, I really didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Honestly, I still don’t; but I feel the need to write about it and my personal observations. With the exception of family, and the officers of The Church I was visiting; few people were notified that I was coming out of my personal tomb of hibernation.

The initiatory ritual was as beautiful as I remember it. And I was utterly surprised at myself at how much of the ritual I remembered verbatim. Granted, I have also performed this ritual several times. I remembered my own experience as the recipient of the experience, which again was over 15 years ago. I remember how much the experience spoke to me internally as well as externally. And I was very touched to be there for three strangers who took their first steps in The Church.

That evening was a general social event/dinner for the public at the temple to celebrate the Equinox. When I opted to visit, I did not realise that the weekend was over the Equinox. I have found a wonderful passage that I think deserves to be included. This is from an excerpt from “The Path of the Spiritual Sun” by Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard:

The autumn equinox is a mysterious time. It marks an essential passage in the process of enlightenment that is often overlooked, misunderstood, and mistaken as dark and heretical.

It is the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings the coming winter, a time of darkness and death. This duality between light and dark exists within humanity, and in the work of spiritual transformation. All things must die before they can be born, all spiritual ascent requires descent first, and all those who long for light must firstly face their own inner darkness and overcome it. The autumn equinox symbolizes a stage of inner preparation in the process of enlightenment—to make way for the Son to be born within at the winter solstice.

That evening was a level of kinship, fellowship, and fraternity that I think had been missing from my life for potentially too long to even note. Granted this kinship included an extended game of “Cards against Humanity” which is always an open chance to push your own morals and ethics to the edge against your own tolerance for humour and political incorrectness.

The next day was a private Mass. And here was the full circle of my spiritual process in the Church. The branch that had shown me the Mass as my first event was now the branch showing me Mass after a long hiatus. And it was amazing to see both how much it had changed in the eyes of one who had travelled from Tabula Rasa to Traveled Ordained Clergy while at the same time how much was innately the same.

I was so taken with the ritual that I have to admit that I actually stumbled through the process of communion. Granted, in my own defense, I am used to branches of the Church that offer small (shot glass sized) communal cups, and the branch I attended was offering full glasses of wine. As a communicant I don’t think I have felt the mass as a whole so deeply as I have since being a communicant under the clergy/church officers that taught me in Los Angeles. Again, despite time and practice, the liturgy was sharp in my memory.

With the mass over, I had to bid farewell and make the solo drive back to Pittsburgh. You’d think that I’d spend the several hours while driving mulling over the experience; but there was no need. It was what it was and to elevate it beyond what it was would be to give it unnecessary power. In retrospect a few weeks later, I think that this mindset it what makes these rituals so strong when left to their own devices.

Earlier, I mentioned that the “Karmic Acceleration” inherent in these rituals, especially the initiation is often quite powerful to the participants. This ritual can also have a profound effect on the officiator(s), the congregation, and on the local branch itself. I would be greatly surprised in short order how quickly the effects of this would be felt.

Upon arriving home without going into too many details, I find myself completing several work projects and taking others onto new levels. One new implementation project that had hit several blocks opened up very quickly and is for lack of a better term blossoming.

The continual process to improve home financing and budgeting turned a major corner. This corner includes not only finding more available budget starting… nearly immediately, but also the realization that several longer-term debts are close to closure (our 2nd car for example becomes paid at the end of the year) I give immense props to my MiL (also an ordained member of my Church’s clergy) for giving me a lot of advise, smacks to the back of the head, and support on the rebudgeting.

I also was able to bite the bullet and clean and arrange parts of the house that were still lacking in move-in organization. And as of this past weekend have expanded my DIY talents by replacing an old, rusted mailbox. (See the picture at the top of the post.) Similarly, I was greatly surprised to see a crossover of hobby and work when one of the other Architects told me he was looking into exactly the type of electronics I have been experimenting with.

Some might think… well, that’s easy. Obviously you need to re-embrace your Church. I’d obviously be lying if I didn’t indicate that the temptation is high. Happily motivated by a series of potentially corresponding coincidences; one could easily let resultant accomplishment drive faith. However, to do so, solely on this, would undo most of the personal work I’ve done. To jump on this with this motivation would be a lustful pursuit of result.

When I was an exchange student to Europe (which was a long time ago) there was effectively a contract that the American students (at least) had to sign with the organisation. The rule was that you would not travel back to the country you were in for a period of time. My memory seems to believe it was a year; it may have been shorter. The idea being that it was so easy to be seduced by a short taste that you do not take a fair consideration of the seduction and lose sight of a normal life.

I’m by no manner suggesting that it would be a year before I return again. The emphasis for me is understanding what has motivated me away; what I’ve seen that motivates me back; and most importantly, what is are all the things in the middle that I’m not seeing that will pull me in both directions?

So, the bottom-line: The leaves have begun to change. Some older parts that wither while turning colours are going to fall away. The bitter night must be given its fair chance to wipe the slate clean with a dark yet pure white blanket. As the spring approaches, life begins anew. Life built on the survivors of the dark, cold winter, but also Life grown new from the old giving way to start fresh.

The future is as it always is… an unwritten book. But now I have some old books and binders put away on forgotten shelves to find and read again. Some to influence my next chapter and some to be reminders that everything is always new again.

For those of you outside Seattle, you may have missed this season’s “World Crisis”

So a recap.

A Rabbi requested a Menorah (that the local Jewish league would pay for) be added to the Christmas Tree display at SeaTac airport. For 2 months he was given the run around and blown off. It would be too complicated to put a Menorah up. The Rabbi’s lawyer then brought up the fact that there was a potential for lawsuit over this. Rather than opening talks, the airport quickly stripped the trees down crying lawsuit. As a result local Jewish league began getting hate mail and abusive calls and threats from angry residents. The Rabbi finally stated he wouldn’t file suit and the trees came back. SeaTac will examine their policy after the first of the year (read: after the ‘holiday season’… read “Rabbi loses”)

Now… here are some of the reasons this whole affair has me really oiked off.

First: The stupidity of the people towards the Jewish community.

The following comments have actually been made by the local media:
Christmas Trees aren’t religious symbols.(Thus the sudden push to call them holiday trees) ((And don’t get me started on the symbolic origin of said Yule items))
I’ll put this quite honestly. If you want to represent the season… then do it with snowflakes, coloured lights, and presents. Maybe some photographs of some rather unethical behavior towards your fellow man inside malls. Otherwise, you are representing a subset of our societies religious observances (no matter how far the symbols may actually have travelled from the actual holiday celebrated)

Threatening to sue over this issue during this time of the year misses the whole spirit of Christmas
You know.. with this one… I was absolutely waiting for some moron in the media to finally pronounce that the Rabbi had lost sight of what it meant to be a “Good Christian”… Granted style of comment always amuses me because 99+% of the time it comes from someone who not only isn’t one but wouldn’t know a “Good Christian” if he blessed him on the leg. I know some very wonderful Christians and even they would get riled up over the stupidity of this.

Pushing back against the tradition misses the spirit of the holiday
Were I not in Washington state where I’d be committing a felony for betting online, I’d offer money that 90+% of the non-Jewish media has no idea what the whole idea of Chanukkah (I’m in a pi&#y mood, don’t argue the spelling) is even about. Just a note here, Hannukahh is a holiday commemorating a miracle to help preserve faith in the eyes of a time when others were out to roll over the Jewish faith and leave them without a way to observe their beliefs. (hmmn, let’s think about that in context)

Finally on this issue… The fact that everyone got angry at their fellow man for wanting to be heard in a season of celebration rather than at the Airport administrators for waffling and not doing anything beyond inciting anger… strikes me as ‘most people missing the spirit of the holiday’

But lest you think I’m just sticking up for the religion I was brought up with… there is yet more OIKAGE.

I’m really oiked at how this was handled by the Rabbi and especially his idiot lawyer.

Listening to the Lawyer interviewed directly, I’ve never heard a wash of bad stereotype, avoiding the issue, legalese bul#@hit in my life. This guy couldn’t answer a question directly. Are you suing? “Let me explain the situation… the holiday…”
Did you threaten a lawsuit? “You’re not letting me explain the situation… we came to ”

Repeatedly the lawyer explained that he’d drawn up papers for a lawsuit to show the airport the potential of the situation.

No offense… Wait.. No. Complete offense meant here. When a lawyer comes up to you and says, “Here’s what a lawsuit I’m researching from us will look like”… You’re threatening a lawsuit.

The rabbi was no better on this issue.

The Rabbi performed the ultimate backpedal. In an interview he acquiesced that “Christmas trees” aren’t religious icons and neither are menorahs… That’s right… A Rabbi (Read: Religious leader in a religious community) would like to add a symbol from his faith’s holiday in the holiday season that isn’t really a religious symbol, next to the trees representing Christmas.. which aren’t really symbols of a religious holiday.

WHAT THE F&#*??!?

Is this where Judaism has gone? Double speaking their religion with the same finesse as a Falwell or other Televangelist. If I loop the truth in double speak it’s all okay now? Political Correctness be thou hallowed?

Okay folks really simple like. TREES are up for CHRISTMAS. Because it sure as heck isn’t the Buddhists complaining when they get taken down. MENORAHS are for CHANUKKAH. Because most non Jews don’t know what it means. They are icons of your (ir)respective religious holidays. Grow some balls and admit it. You’re supposed to be a religious leader. Be one.

Then the Jewish league told it’s local synagogues to step up security due to threats received because of the ‘non-lawsuit-threat-of-no-action-maybe-causing-the-not-really-christian-trees-go-away’… which was okay.. because the city hadn’t really seen any deadly violence toward the Jewish community for at least 4 months

Well, with all this Christmas Spirit of loving one’s neighbor, the Rabbi said officially, “No, there will be no suit”

The Airport which had made the statement that putting up a menorah would be far to complicated… quickly replaced the trees that they removed. Because we know that 10 trees are far easier to remove and replace than one candelabra.

What really oiks me off about the situation was that… despite a grinch like demeanor on this whole thing; (and if you watch ‘How I met your mother’ I revel in being a Grinch today)… the Rabbi should have sued.

Now to be honest… I am a quiet little anarchist. I can say that with a straight face because any one of those three terms would get people laughing at me, but together they are true.

I would love to see a lawsuit brought by one major religion against one state institution in the name of the first phrase of the first amendment. If it were the Randians, or the Scientologists, or {pick your own deity} help us the Moslems… the state would really hem and haw. But despite whatever you consider about the Jews. They are a real, religious organization. If they wanted to stand up and protest 1st amendment violations… the truth is… they’d win. I’m not saying the others aren’t. I’m saying that U.S. society recognizes Christi-olicism, Jewdaic Inheritance, and now begrudgingly is acknowledging that Hinduism/Moslem is practiced by people other than extremists. (This latter fact really is screwing up the government’s propaganda campaign to support our involvement in someone else’s civil war… but that’s not the point of this post). Anyone who’s pagan… well, they still need to wait their turn.

But the real reason I’d love to see that.. is because of the immediate chaos that would cause. Because the one thing the gov’t has so dearly tried to avoid (and Arlington Cemetary is the place the battle is being quietly fought) is the inrush of religions claiming legitimacy.

I want to see this thing go to lawsuit so that either the “Christmas based” iconography has to be struck (which I really don’t want) OR any religious icon MUST be displayed regardless of religion. See I want to see a day where the seasonal affectations come out and someone has put out a Baphomet, or a Green Man (in it’s proper season), or even a Hot Dog on Friday.

Religious protection is only religious protection if we really want to protect people believing in what they believe in… regardless if we believe in it or practice it ourselves. Otherwise, personally, I think we’re being more destructive in the name of freedom than constructive.

A Pax on you in this season.


My Heros!

The Testament According to the Prophet Treynmatt:

Chapter I: South Park airs “Out of the Closet” – an episode that skewers Scientology
Chapter II: Issac Hayes (Chef) leaves in a huff that South Park would demean a (his) religion.
Chapter III: Tom Cruise pressures Viacom (Comedy Central’s owner) to not re-air “Out of the Closet”
Chapter IV: Trey Parker and Matt Stone file a response in Entertainment Industry Trade, “Variety Magazine”

Parker and Stone’s Public Response:

I get pithy online

If there is one thing I love to chat about it is philosophy. Especially philosophy dealing with the concepts of God, faith, etc. Now, I have one tenant rule for anything I ramble on about. 93==YMMV. (I defined this after many posts using it back in March of 2003).

Understanding “93==YMMV”, here were some wonderful questions and how I responded.

So, today I got randomly asked a question.

In your Opinion – why does God (higher power) choose to leave everything ‘broken’?

This got my mind churning. I had to say simply:
balance and growth.

Now granted, I come from a definition of God which can be oversimplified to:
The limitless single totality of all things that are, were, and can be.

I then tried to explain the progress of the emanations of the tree of life from the one (one) to the two (not one) to the three (that which differs one from two), and so forth.

This culminated in me seeing Kether as like Hadit while seeing Malkuth as Nuit. Kinda my morning’s “Gnostic Clang”

This led to her next question:
So, do you think that is where the “illusion” exists of there ‘not being God’?

I chewed on it for a while and responded: