what is our world doing to me?

I’d ask each of you to ask the question:   What is our world and culture doing to me?   Is it making me more human or less human?

I recently watched the excellent and possibly most aggressive film Ingmar Bergman ever directed.   It’s called SHAME.  Even though the setting is an imagined Civil War it is a reflection of his thoughts and feelings about WWII and the Vietnam War.   It is one of the better anti-war films because it graphically shows what happens to “third parties” in a conflict (i.e. not the principal players) On the Criterion Collection edition DVD there is an interview with Bergman’s muse at-the-time,  Liv Ullman.   She recounts what Bergman said at the time:

“He said, ‘What we have to be aware of for ourselves is coldness, indifference, looking down at other people, lack of contact with other people….'”

I love that quote and I think it is a perfect thing for us to meditate on in these times in which we live, where there is rapidly rising partisanship, greater ideological divides and an onslaught of excessive blame, cruel judgement, harsh criticism, hatred, lies and extremism in every format (even advertisements – I’m thinking of a weed killer commercial where a woman shouts “Kill em ALL”).  And when extremism is presented as humorous or justified as mocking and we laugh – we add to the problem and become insensitive.  We need to THINK and think critically about what we consume in media and advertisements.    It’s easy to get caught up in all the reporting about this and that twitter feud but as we do we also become more emotionally trapped by that.   We begin to choose sides.   We are blind to the fact about how that is slowly stripping away our humanity.   We cease to see people, who disagree with us, as human.   We desire to see them treated as the animals we perceive in their reported and confessed behavior.  It’s the old trap:   An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth……  Before you know we become the animals ourselves.

 

So how do we rise above?   And even though I don’t identify as Christian anymore – I’ve always loved Jesus Christ and am amazed that religious people (especially in America), who seek positions of power in their religion and in politics, fail to see that what they seek is what killed their Savior to begin with.   It was not the Jews (as a race) who killed Christ it was religion and politics.   Politics because of Roman leadership that refused to get involved and handed Christ over to the religious leaders; it was then religious moral high-mindedness, protectionism and fear that finished the job.  Both politicians and religious leaders wanted to maintain control of the people and how did they do that?  They killed love.

So back to my question how do we rise above it?  First we need to come down to earth.   How do we stop ourselves from becoming the thing we hate?  I think the answer lies in Bergman’s quote.   We need to remain warm in our observations of others and realize that those in the news, twitter, facebook, youtube or whatever other outlet that allows their dehumanizing hate to be vomited out into the world,  are still human.   Human in spite of the latest outrage.  We NEED to find a way to see them as human beings that are worth saving.   We need to reach out to hear them, understand them and meet them part way.    If we criticize them and ridicule them, judge them, shame them and embarrass them we do nothing to win them over.  We only become more like them and when we realize that – then shame sets in and we are filled with shame and self-loathing.  Lost in a cycle we can see no way out of.  It takes someone to step outside the self-perpetuating cycle and say, “Wait….   I’m sorry,  while I disagree with what you are saying or how your are expressing it I’d like to hear more about why you feel that way and see if there’s a way we can work through it together.”   And when they say something you disagree with ask them, “Why do you think that will work or how will that help the situation?”  There is NOT one way to do things.

That sets the stage for dialog – it’s the beginning of change.  We cease to be lost in the coldness of our own defenses.   When we stop the polemicizing and start listening to other peoples stores we cease to be trapped by the indifference we feel toward others.  We stop looking down on others and take steps to heal the contact, the bond between us that makes us uniquely human.  We stop defining the other person as “them” or “the other”.  We also need to stop being offended by criticism.  Remember offense is something you take = it’s not given to you.   Accept criticism and respond lovingly and appropriately.   And if you give criticism and the other person is offended you can be the salve, the healing balm with a simple “I’m sorry, I did not mean to offend I was just trying to express what I feel.  Why does that offend you?”

So are you tired of the “ball of confusion” that perpetuates modern society?

If you are, I dare you seek out difference and find a way to meet it and meet with it. You can rise above it all. WE can rise above it all.  When we help others rise up – especially those who are different with different ideologies, beliefs, moral centers, values ….. when we help others we help ourselves.  I dare you.  Will you dare?  You might be surprised who will come along.

RISE UP

STAY HUMAN – “All I want to do is stay human with you…..”

It’s not going to happen unless we (you and I) make it happen.
BE THE CHANGE

BLACK AS NIGHT “I believe in the good things coming…”

Pass it on.  Link this post to your blog, tweet it to everyone!

“I don’t make mistakes”

“I DON’T MAKE MISTAKES”

“I don’t make mistakes!”

Hmmmmph!
arrogant, ballsy fraud.
Elitist, cock-sure punk.

The claim
itself a mistake
waiting to humble
the utterer of lies.

Pop the balloon
of ego
(or is it id?).

Beat the
empty piñata
there’s no sweetness within.

Drink the curdled milk
soured by
time in the slow
heat of ignorance.

Remove the clothes
made dirty by
the ejaculation of foolishness.

Wash clean
the soiled
soul.

Rinse the body and
dress it in the clean
fresh clothing of
righteous humility.

Walk out into
the quiet morning of
birdsong
welcoming you
to a new life
where others sing
your praises,

as you practice
patience
for the mistakes
of others,

when they look
fearfully to your
criticism
only to find

the warmth
of the sun,
blue skies of kindness
green grass of compassion

in the welcoming embrace
of
forgiveness and understanding.

Choices

in memory of Rod Geiser December 2018

Choices: How Long Does It Take A bullet To Kill?

Choices: Years
It takes years of modeling behavior and molding thought
inspired by wrong perceptions and misplaced values

Choices: Months
There are months of despair
Choices: Weeks
There are weeks of frustration

Choices: Days
Persistent anger for days

Choices: Hours
Decisions made over the course of hours
Choices: Minutes
Actions taken over the course of just minutes

Choices: Seconds
It takes only a second to fire a gun

Choices: Instantly
In an instant the bullet will pierce the body

Choices
…and the destiny of shooter and victim
are irrevocably changed.

Choices
Change MUST come
Politically
Socially
Culturally
spiritually

Choices
Choices I must make
Choices You must make
Choices We must make
The time is NOW.

… on… becoming….

58 years ago at this time I was in the second trimester before my birth.

In only a few months I will come into being for the 58th time.

So much has happened since I was first conceived.

I continue to change and evolve –

Into a being who is genetically predestined by choice.

I am the paradox.

I am the quandary.

I am the essence of joy and sadness –

Working out my own salvation with care and understanding.

My own manifest destiny.

 

… on… knock, knock….

Behind caged bars
restless heart, fearful mind
murmurs of changeKnock Knock

This image is one of the not-so-hidden spaces in downtown Akron.   Just on the other side of this building is South Main St.   And it is adjacent to the Akron Civic Theater.   This entire area has been under a slow renovation for several years.  Just behind me is the popular LOCK 4 of the canal which runs through this area. It is already repurposed as a wonderful outdoor entertainment space with live jazz, blues and gospel over the warmer months.  When I peered though the windows on South Main and between the bars through the cracks in the plywood I did see construction lighting and various clean-up tools as if this structure is under renovation.   I just hope they  don’t tear it down like they’ve done other historic buildings downtown.

Your musical moment to help digest this post is provided by FORQ (yep it’s pronounced fork). The track is titled THE HARD WAY from their self-titled album.

….on…. beauty of imperfection

Autumn is the season of imperfection. Yet it is also, strangely enough many people’s favorite season. I say “strangely enough” because most people are resistant to change, yet in Autumn, there are more changes crammed into a short time span than any other season. We may see summer temps, foliage color changes, rain, and even freezing snow. It is one of the most difficult times to forecast the weather because of these rapid changes. Even scents change; the autumn flowers carry a dryer less sweet scent and there is the scent of fruit and harvest. In the cooling air sounds themselves seem to have more clarity….
Perhaps it is these rapid changes that cause us to really sit up and take note of natures beauty. So maybe Autumn is truly an “awakening season” for many (even though many see Spring as a season of awakening).

fallen-angel-evn-smlr

If we look closer at what makes Autumn so beautiful we will see it is full of imperfections. In fact nature seems to celebrate these imperfections. A yellow leaf is never truly a solid yellow and a red leaf is never a solid shade of red. There are subtleties and flaws in all these changes that occur. Leaves are mottled or spotted and eventually fall from the trees as they lose their ability to cling to life. They clutter and clog our drains and gutters. Branches become brittle and break off from their life source. Fruit that is being harvested is rarely perfect; it is not uniformly colored and is filled with the scars or bruises caused by hard weather, insects, birds etc. The changing weather requires us to be more aware and dress accordingly. Yet this is often declared the most beautiful season of the year. Why are we more accepting of imperfections in the natural world outdoors than we are of the imperfections in each other? What would happen if we would accept the imperfections we perceive in others and accept those imperfections as part of what makes that person beautiful? Has the quest for perfection and comfort made us completely intolerant to the beauty of imperfection? Have we finally become at odds with nature and our own mortality?

The image above is titled “FALLEN ANGEL” and is simply a photograph of autumn leaves on a hiking trail. I loved how the large leaf seemed to be in the shape of an angel.

Did Jesus suffer from hype?

(from the Concordant Literal New Testament) – Mark 11: 1-10 tells the story of what is often referred to as the “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem to great and seemingly spontaneous and positive crowd response.   But was this manufactured?  Was the crowd egged on?  Was this the result of hype?

It is a possibility.   Of course we may never know for sure because our way of perceiving now is so different from how perceptions were formed during the time that Jesus lived.   But let’s look at the text.  On coming into Jerusalem Jesus tells his companions to

“Go into the village facing you, and straightway, going into it you will be finding a colt, bound, on which not as yet, any man is seated.  Loose it and bring it.  And if anyone should be saying to you, ‘What is this you are doing? say that The Lord has need of it….'”

And it happens exactly that way.   I have always been a bit mystified by the use of the title “Lord”  when referring to Jesus, the Christ.    Lord is a title like president, viceroy, chairman, etc.   It is given to people who have power, and authority, influence like a ruler.    Now Jesus was not born into any of this and he cannot be said to be of that class at that time.   It is a title conferred on him by those who believe he is the Messiah (another title).  So I have many questions.   Why did Jesus tell his disciples to tell a “white lie”?   He was not a Lord in terms of class and position.   Was it just a way to get what he wanted because people wouldn’t question taking another persons property if it was done by a Lord?  When he then rides the colt entering Jerusalem, and people are shouting and laying their cloaks on the road and waving palm branches, were they just caught up in the hoopla because someone had prepped them saying that “someone special, a lord, is coming to town.”  Were his followers egging on the crowd whipping them into a frenzy of adulation?  Was it all manufactured?   Was this one of the reasons people turned on him?  Did the people thinking he was a Lord of the land come to see that he was just a poor homeless man that wasn’t going to change their world?   Did Jesus play into the hype because he knew he could never live up to others expectations for him?

Of course that is entirely possible and while many Christians would read this and start shaking their heads in disappointment I would postulate that if this is what happened then the lesson from this story is very different.   This story is typically told as a justification for the Godhood of Jesus, the Christ as a Celebration of his Godliness.   But the Greater lesson is that Jesus did not come to change the world but to change individual lives through a change of perception, thinking, and being.   This is the true miracle.   The miracle is not that Jesus is the essence of God but that he paved the way for all individuals to be the same, to save us from ourselves to find the essence of God in our own lives.   We were created in the image of God.  We have access to the essence of godliness.   It is time to wake up!  Don’t suffer from the hype of God changing the world for you.   Let God change YOU for the world.  It’s not something we make happen, it’s something that happens to us.