Honestly, who can stay out of the theatrics that make up American politics?
What a more painful procedure could be devised? It reminds me of the "dialectics" with a liberal I have been through. And yet, somehow, America remains the land of the free, or does it?
One's response to it all, could truly be to bury one's heads in the coloring books. I don't blame anyone for finding their relaxation in innocent activities.
And still, the coloring books seem like a retreat--a retreat from reading, thinking, researching, collaborating, working, working-through. Part of me blames it on the Yoga-revolution (again, nothing against stretching and breathing--I have tried it; it does me good.) The Buddhist/ mindfulness meditation techniques are good for zoning out and regrouping or even marshaling your resources, but in themselves they don't deploy any energies into useful directions. They are therapeutic and reactive in a sense, not productive or pro-active. When we think that mindfulness in itself is going to fix the world or my need or my neighbor's need via whatever conceived cosmic convergence notion, we are taking the easy way out.
I am little too young to have been a Hippie, and in any case, in Germany that movement sort of passed us by completely. When I was young, there was an art project competition our teacher entered us in: make a poster with the title "Don't dream. Do something."
Some people have tried to turn this around. "Don't just do something. Dream! Think!"
I suppose, we need both, and most false dichotomies collapse. So maybe you can even draw a mandala and then go out and vote for Trump. Whatever. Try to think while you color.
First, of all as a Lutheran, I am not a "Protestant", and I have never called myself that. I will happily go by Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical. Anyways, our understanding is very much not like Zwingli's. So, yes, Marburg is definitely the place to see the spirits dividing.
With that clarified, let's see what the writer of the article comes down to at the end.
O'Connor once expressed her desire to write stories that would sound “like the Old Testament would sound if it were being written today.” Her sense of what that meant was indebted to the Jesuit scholar William F. Lynch, who argued in his Christ and Apollo that “The opposition here is between Christ, Who stands for reality in all its definiteness, and Apollo, who stands for the indefinite, the romantic, the endless. It is again the opposition between the Hebraic imagination, always concrete, and the agnostic imagination, which is dream-like.” Approaching the infinite “directly without the mediation of matter”—it describes the “modern spirit” perhaps, but equally and perhaps better it describes the spirit of Zwingli, the Zwinglian spirit that Luther could not recognize as his own. Insofar as Protestantism is infected with various strains of the Manichean virus, to that extent modern evangelicals are incapable of discerning the theophanies that surround us on every hand. Hence: contemporary Protestants can't write. Blame it on Marburg.
For some reason, we always come to Flannery O'Connor. It does baffle me a bit. She is said to be indebted to Jesuit scholar William F. Lynch, of whom I have not heard. My guess is that he is an American.
From the internet:
Secondly, Lynch was suspicious of the Romantic exaltation of aesthetic imagination as something special or as a rare capacity for the privileged few, such as poets and others. Instead, he viewed imagination as incarnational: it is ordinary and universal, indeed our daily way of encountering and creating our lives. He often quoted Martin Buber as saying that the vocation of the imagination is to imagine reality, both disclosing and creating it.
Thirdly, Lynch had little patience with a tendency of imagination that he described as ‘angelic’ or ‘gnostic’. Here the danger was to cultivate unreal fantasies that avoid the drama of life. In Lynch’s words, Christ himself did not ‘march too quickly’ into ‘beauty, the infinite, the dream’, and a genuinely ‘Catholic imagination does not force me to imagine that I must free myself from all human society to unite myself with God’. In the introduction to his 1960 book, Christ and Apollo, Lynch remarked that he had three abiding friends from whom he had learned: Plato, St Ignatius and Newman. They nourished in him a certain compassionate realism. They taught him to distrust any escapist idealism in life or literature or spirituality, tendencies that he symbolised in the figure of Apollo.
Lynch wrote eloquently about Christ as ‘the Lord of the imagination’ and as having ‘subverted the whole order of the old imagination’ that imprisons us. Contemplation of Christ should give us freedom from distorted images of ourselves, whether induced by superficial culture or part of our personal woundedness. http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20120410_1.htm
Martin Buber, I know.
The aversion to gnosticism, I share.
A compassionate realism is a good thing. Plato, St. Ignatius and Newman, I don't count as close friends.
“We are searching everywhere for poets,” shared Martin Luther in a letter to a friend, “so that the Word of God may be among the people also in the form of music” (AE 49:68).
Centuries later, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is looking for rising, talented writers too! Our hymn competition in honor of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary is your opportunity to create a brand new hymn text that will bless the Church around the world.
- See more at: http://lutheranreformation.org/worship/hymn-competition/#sthash.XTrszLAk.dpuf
There are two hallmarks of the New Atheism which have been there from the start: a rigid commitment to the advancement of scientific rationalism to stamp out any vestiges of primitive superstitious thought and the establishment of a secular agenda. Not merely the “separation of church and state,” but the total isolation of the church from any aspect of the state: hence campaigns to remove plaques with the Ten Commandments from various courthouses, to disallow nativity scenes in public locations during Christmas, to have the phrase “In God We Trust” removed from United States currency, etc.
Of course, laudable or not, religion isn’t just so much garbage occupying the veranda of American soil. It has classically served a function in society, and as it is tidily swept away to the corners, something must rush in to fill the vacuum left in its wake. When one surveys any classic moment of American history, whether it be the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech or the words uttered at the moon landing, people have traditionally grounded values in references to God.
Another persistent trend within the New Atheist movement is the threatening treatment that women within that movement have received. In his devastating 2014 expose, “Will Misogyny Bring Down the Atheist Movement,” Mark Oppenheimer details a vast undercurrent of misogynistic behavior present within the mainstream Atheist movement, including the worst kind of chauvinism at Skeptic conferences and cyber-bullying of women and feminists; all of this while the movement, as a whole, pays lip-service to the absolute sanctity of women’s rights. Understandably, as Oppenheimer points out, this has pushed many women away:
“For the past several years, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and online forums have become hostile places for women who identify as feminists or express concern about widely circulated tales of sexism in the movement. Some women say they are now harassed or mocked at conventions, and the online attacks — which include Jew-baiting, threats of anal rape, and other pleasantries — are so vicious that two activists I spoke with have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
But perhaps the complaint that has the most considerate of atheists distancing themselves from the movement is that New Atheism tends to caricature and blindly attack that which it designates as a target without any attempt to understand or interact with the ideas. This torch-and-pitchfork waving tendency has a fundamentalist – almost religious – zeal to it which is exactly what these thinkers were attempting to escape in the first place.
As we get older we need less stuff, and we give each other consumables--wine, cheese, chocolate, candles... And hardly anyone thinks about your interests anymore and what might be a suitable item to provide a pleasure for you (that is not a consumable item).
Well, what did I get? A young man, a pastor with the first baby on the way, gave me two Moravian hymn books! Not that I need more hymn books, exactly, but it was thoughtful. He probably has old hymn books stacked somewhere not knowing what to do with them, but nevertheless, it was thoughtful.
"Thoughtful" is good, something like "prayerful", having spent a certain amount of love, care and seriousness.
Perhaps, I will give him a brand-new Lutheran Study Bible.
Netflix throws some interesting shows in one's way. Several we have seen lately deal with the older/aging/dying demographic and their adventures or lack of adventures. I don't recall having seen movies like this before, either because I am moving into this age group slowly but surely myself, and am now suddenly taking notice, or because we belong to the coming Grey Tsunami and society as a whole is working on this topic.
There are some extrodinary, experienced actors in these shows acting as the aging population: Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Blythe Danner and so on.
The performances are worth watching, the story lines are quite compelling and fresh, the frustrations are familiar.
"I will see you in my Dreams" I had watched one third through while doing dishes, and got my husband to watch the rest of with me. He was surprised. He said for a "chick-flick" it was pretty interesting to him. (I suppose anything without murders, detectives, bloodshed or car chases counts as a "chick-flick".)
I have a lot to say about it, but I don't have time. Just one thing. There is a young man in "I will see you in my Dreams" who wrote the poem and sang the song to the heroine of the show, but he sings out of tune--not terribly badly, but just bad enough to see that he has little practice nor training. This is a good observation. The new generation may write its own songs but it cannot sing. The young man also went to college to study poetry but now he works as a "pool boy". He feels like a failure but just wants to live a decent life. Still he wants to find his true, fulfilling vocation. The heroine tells him "When is that?" In the end we all get it: death. She is joking but Not, no, joking aside.
In the end she is comforted by the song the young poet wrote and sang badly. But she is comforted by the fact that he performed a simply duty for her in catching the vermin in her house. Maybe helping an old woman is his calling for today. Maybe the vermin stands for grief and loneliness. Grief and loneliness need bearing but they can be ameliorated--maybe by seeing the lost persons in your dreams. But really? It that it? Why do we get attached and then face loss? Can we live on the memory?
At Stefan's funeral the pastor preached: you will not be able to live just off the memories. And indeed, we keep going over memories to a minimum. The pictures are painful. The events are hard to digest.
In Canada, we don't celebrate Martin Luther King day--but, hey, why not. We can celebrate all good things. There was a good movie recently, also: "Selma". I saw it on Netflix.
The new book from Larry Siedentop, acclaimed author of Democracy in Europe, Inventing the Individual is a highly original rethinking of how our moral beliefs were formed and their impact on western society today This ambitious and stimulating book describes how a moral revolution in the first centuries AD - the discovery of human freedom and its universal potential - led to a social revolution in the west. The invention of a new, equal social role, the individual, gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe and caste as the basis of social organisation. Larry Siedentop asks us to rethink the evolution of the ideas on which modern societies and government are built, and argues that the core of what is now our system of beliefs emerged much earlier than we think. The roots of liberalism - belief in individual liberty, in the fundamental moral equality of individuals, that equality should be the basis of a legal system and that only a representative form of government is fitting for such a society - all these, Siedentop argues, were pioneered by Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, who drew on the moral revolution carried out by the early church. It was the arguments of canon lawyers, theologians and philosophers from the eleventh to the fourteenth century, rather than the Renaissance, that laid the foundation for liberal democracy. There are large parts of the world where other beliefs flourish - fundamentalist Islam, which denies the equality of women and is often ambiguous about individual rights and representative institutions; quasi-capitalist China, where a form of utilitarianism enshrines state interests even at the expense of justice and liberty. Such beliefs may foster populist forms of democracy. But they are not liberal. In the face of these challenges, Siedentop urges that understanding the origins of our own liberal ideas is more than ever an important part of knowing who we are. LARRY SIEDENTOP was appointed to the first post in intellectual history ever established in Britain, at Sussex University in the 1970's. From there he moved to Oxford, becoming Faculty Lecturer in Political Thought and a Fellow of Keble College. His writings include a study of Tocqueville, an edition of Guizot's History of Civilization in Europe, and Democracy in Europe, which has been translated into a dozen languages. Siedentop was made CBE in 2004.
After watching several shows now on the subject from the Tagesschau Newscasts, it makes you wonder.
This yellow piece of paper was found after the, let's call it what it is, "attocities" of a mass of Arabic men against women who were out to celebrate New Year's Eve in public with their friends. From eye-witness reports these men, right in front of one of the world's largest and most famous cathedrals, massed themselves together to render women, their accompanying friends and the police helpless, through simply outnumbering them. The facts are being laid bare as we speak. We don't need to repeat them all.
The yellow paper gives phrases in Arabic and in German: "You have large breasts." "I want to kiss you." "I want to 'f' you" and even "I kill you", etc.
You get the idea. Since the newly arrived men don't know how to say these things in German they are being coached from the Arabic. Eyewitness say that the men spoke no German. Some told a bodyguard at a hotel entrance that he should quit protecting women, that they were "our girls" (in English). How could a recently arrived man, or rather masses of men, think that a woman that he, or they, had cornered was "his girl"? It really is a frightful dehumanization, one that rattles me just to contemplate it.
The chief of police has had to go because he did not come out with the information that the crimes had been committed by recently arrived immigrants and asylum seekers. But the why and the wherefore of this organized attack? Not only was this event planned and orchestrated for Cologne, it also happened in other cities in Germany and in Europe. Some where foiled through advance intelligence and better handling than what happened in Cologne. Through the internet, all kinds of things can be co-ordinated world-wide. And who can read Arabic?
Again, we are finding that the national media do not want to tackle this in any kind of depth. The Tagesschau today has a very banal commentary asking: "Does Cologne really change everything?" In essence, it is a pull-up-your-socks talk admonishing people to stay the course of open immigration and the work of trying to integrate just about anybody.
Islam's problem with women is profound and systemic.
Luther told us about it centuries before, when the Turk was at the gates of Vienna. The average Muslim may be a good husband, father and business man, and pious in his own way, but there is something wrong with Islamic teaching itself. It needs to be confronted and discussed.
In the morning, we go on the treadmill more now than before. While on it, I am finding that I am catching up on the News, usually watching the German Tagesschau. Usually, I watch the 20:00 o'clock version, and then parts of the later version Tagesthemen with interviews by Thomas Roth. Thomas Roth I magnificent interviewer. He has the beautiful soft baritone and manner of a teller of fairy tales, the kind we had on vinyl records when young. He looks a bit like Santa Claus, too. But the kindly, warm and sage manner belies the skill of a very sharp, experienced, well-travelled and multilingual journalist.
Having watched the two shows, I am usually finished with the treadmill. (What would we do without our I-Pods...) Sorry, you have to learn German to get the full effect of the shows. Of course, the current thematic deals with the events of the New Year's evening problems in Cologne and other cities. Today, there also was a lengthy interview with British Prime Minister Cameron in a beautiful, snowy setting in Bavaria, meeting with a conservative party, discussing British demands regarding European Union. It was a well-done interview. Roth conducts it in English and then also provides the German voice-over for himself. Cameron says that Europe needs to be a "network" not a "block". In essence, he does not want any more people arriving simply to just get onto welfare. The openess of the EU rules, allows immigration from practically anyone with immediate access to supports. (In fact, I have seen a show where an Imam advocates Muslims doing just that, calling the free welfare a kind of Jizya due them from unbelievers.)
However, one rarely sees actual Islamic beliefs and sermons by preachers analyzed in the media. For some strange reasons, this is off-limits, altogether. In any case, British society has had it, and if the rules can't be changed, then they want out of the EU. There.
January feels better, now. The days are getting longer. We have hit the treadmill more regularly for cardio-workout. This also feels good.
I have added new Fitbit friend, a woman who works out a lot. This should be motivating. She averages 15,000 steps a day. She walks her dog twice a day, even in this winter weather. The other day we walked together.
Better weather is only four months away...
My heel still hurts some, so I have taken to wearing a pair of sandals on the treadmill, a cheap pair form Walmart but one that I find most comfortable. I think it allows me to roll the foot better in action. It's an "Earth Spirit" sandal. (see pic.) The back sling is an elastic band.
On one of them, several years ago, I sat down and wrote my annual letter and it began "We are still alive..." That was the day before Stefan died in an intersection that had not been sanded because nobody did work on January 1st.
We have not been the same since. And if we have seemed serene and composed through it all, it belied a constant and fierce battle with grief. We are a medical/dental family. We know how to soothe people through painful treatments and get the job done, stay cool,calm and collected and help all the others.
So, we are facing another Anniversay, as we have done every Jan. 1st for six years now. Its approach darkens the time right after Christmas every year. There is a deepening gloom that begins to descend right after Boxing Day. And still, we are not prepared when the day comes. It is amazing what can be unleashed, even with the advance knowledge. It is hard to communicate and most people don't want to know. There is an isolation associated with it that hurts just as much. This is the sort of thing, when people call out to God in anger, terror or search for comfort. But even our pastors hardly know what to say or how to pray with us. How do you descend with someone and bring them up. It really is something. Jesus did it.
I have felt ostracized, at times. It is like you have been marked with a sign. And you find new companions. There are those, society would do away with, the grieving, yes, also the infirm, the lonely, the handicapped, the aged, the ugly... It's quite amazing. We have been maimed to fit into a new society.
The Lord be with us all and you.
"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.