Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Realization

I don't want no more
Facebook friends;

I've done enough
Show and Tell.

If you want to talk
I'd like to listen

but if you'd rather just
dress me up in doll clothes
I'm not looking
for some puppet show to join.

I'm not talking
just to say how hard
I tried. Go away.

Friends find themselves.
Nothing closes them.

Friday, June 06, 2014

temporary link...

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7caeqrgt1inp7su/AACubgml87HN_ZVFgkosR7uZa?n=246027486

[This is not a post, but a note to myself on another confuser..]

Okay, if you really want to know... I've been given the Edsel of Android tablets and can't get an app store to recognize it. I can, however, write my own limited apps & copy them to a place I can download them from, and it's working, yay!

[The dropbox site in question is normally for my musical efforts, so my app attempts will be removed as soon as I pick them up, unless & until I get something worth passing along.]

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An Old Poem [revised]

I want to go home to America;
they taught me about it in school.

We were a rich country,
generous, compassionate --
brave champions of everyone's rights and needs.

Everyone welcomed our soldiers,
and we, in our turn, welcomed foreigners
who came here for Freedom and garbage disposals.

The young were the hope of the future
and everybody wanted us to learn.

So I learned, and came to realize
I yearned to return to that fantasy.
I've missed it so!

Forrest Curo
[revised (c)2014, permission granted for free noncommercial use, as written, with attribution.]

Thursday, December 26, 2013

That Rapture Notion...

This isn't a world for staying
if you've got a heart to break.

If you look forward to 'the Rapture'
you simply aren't going.

So brace yourself,
don't worry;
God is kinder and wiser
and so were many people
we've been losing lately.

About the Exam; it isn't one but
you should study the material in
that Sermon on the Mount;
work all the problems you find
and you'll be fit to die if you must.

Monday, December 02, 2013

God's Self-Disclosure Through Rebecca Trotter

My never-met beloved friend Rebecca Trotter keeps writing well about her life, producing a sort of modern, ongoing Book of Job. Poverty, kids, difficult husband, difficult self, friends & relatives eager to explain what she's been doing all wrong... In her latest piece she looks to be on to something.

The gist: It doesn't matter what she prays, does, says, thinks, believes, feels -- in that God will simply give her what she needs, whether that happens to be bliss, peace, agony, mental anguish, or indigestion. Well, yeah. & no.

In one sense, we wouldn't want it any other way. If we could control God by sacrificing one candy bar in the toaster-oven every full moon, we might really get out of hand. It's a relief to have a fuse between our wishes & what we get, because without one we'd be in serious trouble. At best, we'd be wording our prayers as carefully as contracts with the Devil, lying awake all night wondering what should/shouldn't have gone into the fine print.

In another sense, no! We want to count for something, have power to affect the world somehow, to help and please our friends. We want a handle on our fate, even if that handle is fated to fall off at an inconvenient time. We want the world predictable and controllable to some extent; to be a world and not just a chaos -- not even a benevolent, nurturing chaos. God has accommodated that need as well, putting in all sorts of regularities, tricks we can learn, etc.

Dependable machines are good for what they do; but that's not exactly what we want in our friends. 'Undependable'? Uh, not that either. Do we want God to be the sort of Parent we can push around or manipulate? Do we want God to be inflexible, implacable, a rock we can always count on to be painfully resting on our feet?

It's those thinking minds that make this difficult, trying to fix things-as-it-is [Suzuki's term] with a definition through its little thorax like a butterfly in a case. Life becomes livable only because it's stretched between a complete set of paradoxes.

And God? Utterly dependable, as the Bible says. Predictable, controllable, no. Not even controllable by our ideas of God's job description. If you need Him, He will show up in a funny hat and pull your nose. And everything will be all right!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Self-Disclosure of God and Me # II

And now, how to know what to say next? What does God self-disclosing have to do with me self-disclosing?

Well, this is a complex endeavor for one poorsoul, with only one muddled lifetime to sort and display. Any one detail about me, by itself, is as likely to mislead as to clarify. What complexities, then, does God face?

"Hi, I'm God! We need to talk!" Hmmm, that's not it -- But how can God best start Divine Courtship Behavior? Not born anyplace, doesn't have a favorite team, doesn't do anything for a living. "Lord of the Universe"? -- too many contemporary readers are inclined to respond, "Get out of here, you Imaginary Creep! I wouldn't like You even if I believed in You!"

That, as it happens, is basically how I thought about God through much of my childhood, from then into early college.

My mother, whom I didn't respect, had grown up among the Mormons, had left them, believed in "a Supreme Being" but didn't think God wanted anything from people except for us to be painfully self-sacrificing in an annoying sort of way. My father was a flat-out atheist who'd enjoyed singing, as a child, in a Methodist church. Therefore they sent me to the nearest one, every Sunday.

No 'Sunday school' -- This was straight into grownup church, sometime fairly early in my elementary grades. I rather liked it, still fondly remember mumbling along to songs like 'Old Hundred'.

Hearing about "The Flood" was exciting, but that "fire next time" sounded scary as well. At the time I was also reading  my father's set of popular science books, had read that the sun would bloat up to swallow the Earth in about 7 billion years, found that even more worrisome!

But the Bible! My parents kept one in their one small bookshelf; and at some point I got into the book of 'Revelation'! God throwing fiery rocks out of the sky! Dead lambs walking about. Creatures made of eyeballs -- which could symbolize some interesting things, but I just imagined myself living as a sort of mobile tapioca pudding, which sounded downright unpleasant! And that curse at the end, against anybody daring to add or subtract one word from the book! [If only I'd known about the sort of copyists a writer had to deal with in those days, I might have been more sympathetic, not been so upset.] Mostly, it was the bits about people having to stand around praising God forever, without even a bathroom break -- Those were terrifying!

But I liked what I heard in church, about God making us all "in God's image."

What did that mean? We were all different, said the preacher. Male, female, big, little, fat, skinny, dark & light... but all these were "made in God's image." That image, he said, must be "a spiritual image." What we look like 'inside', what it is that lives, thinks, feels and all -- That's what God looks like!

It's clever to reverse this, to imagine that people have created [an illusion of] God in our own image. This image, of course, would be an illusion, not a working model of God.

The truth of it?-- People do have great difficulty disentangling whatever is actually there from whatever they've imagined. If God didn't want to be known, the effort would be futile -- and even so, it's been a persistent struggle with human presuppositions.

We've been given good metaphors. What? A 'metaphor' isn't 'a pretty literary comparison'; it's what a mathematician would call a 'mapping' or a scientist would call 'a model'. It doesn't give direct knowledge; to be useful at all a mapping has to be smaller than a country, can't show every loose pebble, has to be 'less than" but must mirror some significant structure of what we're studying.

One major metaphor -- that "People are made 'in the image of' God." The other one: that we're God's 'children.' This one is really tricky to examine!

"Children." We are "like" our parents, sometimes painfully so. There's supposed to be an affectionate relationship. We're supposed to develop into distinct people, characterized by our varying talents and by whatever things we come to love for their own sakes, not just self-assemble into dutiful robots.  And we have to start out less than complete, relatively helpless and confused. Examples from the animal kingdom even suggest: The more helpless in the beginning, the greater the potential!

People will assert ourselves, will sneak into attics, will find interesting and dangerous new toys and playmates. We will rebel, try more or less consciously to run away from home, will make mistakes and feel guilty.

And above all, whatever mistakes our own parents will have made -- will cast their shadows on our images of God.

That has been occurring for thousands of years, and is very much evident in those works various peoples call "Scripture." And such works also represent how God has self-disclosed -- and been necessarily misunderstood -- in human history through the present.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How To Worship God

I've recognized God at work teaching me for some very long time; and yet I seem to keep needing the same lessons. This one is on the edge of my understanding, stretching me into areas that, like more typical modern Quakers, I've wanted to dismiss safely out-of-hand.

Why, when I discovered his writings, did Anthony Bloom, high in the Russian Orthodox clergy, remind me so thoroughly of early Friends? For one thing, he was clearly one who had encountered the living God, but beyond that, it was as though every word threatened to call up the witness of God against me. "If you look at the relationship in terms of mutual relationship, you will see that God could complain about us a great deal more than we about Him. We complain that He does not make Himself present to us for the few minutes we reserve for Him, but what about the twenty-three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer, 'I am busy, I am sorry' or when we do not answer at all because we do not even hear the knock at the door of our heart, of our minds, of our conscience, of our life. So there is a situation in which we have no right to complain of the absence of God, because we are a great deal more absent than He ever is.

"The second very important thing is that a meeting face to face with God is always a moment of judgment for us... Thanks be to Him that He does not always present Himself to us when we wish to meet Him, because we might not be able to endure such a meeting. Remember the many passages in Scripture in which we are told how bad it is to find oneself face to face with God, because God is power, God is truth, God is purity."

Now as I understand Jesus, God's demands on us are not aligned to rigid human abstractions, but directed to making us human beings, humane beings as God himself is ultimately humane. God is not as judgmental as all that -- but we are; and it is this measure we fear will justly recoil on us, find us innately condemned by our failure to fulfill the obligations we can't help expecting of ourselves. What considerations might we be failing to consider, for reasons not necessarily above suspicion? What might come to light, if we were to truly face the Light?

Sitting in a Saturday 'worship-or-meditation' session with a small group of Friends & acquaintances, I remembered being in teacher training at a continuation school. My supervising teacher had taught math (also ceramics, occasionally sailing) on an individual basis as any particular student showed up (or didn't) and while I'd liked his approach, I didn't have his rapport with the kids. One kid in particular was giving me nothing but contempt, and my teacher's comment was: "You may not care whether or not he respects you, but you can't do a thing for him until he does."

I told the group about that as a Message, because it seems to explain why so many of the Friends I know have not been coming noticeably closer to God. At one time, people were too afraid of God to dare know Him; now they've become too contemptuous to learn better.

But I myself was still immured in a long dry period, feeling I was no longer being much help to anyone else, nor learning anything new myself. This was an obvious time to consider, had I become like that kid in my relation to God -- not with that same conscious disrespect, but still approaching God with a heedless attitude that rendered me unteachable?

Giving this Message, I was knowingly asking God to let me know. I knew it might take some fairly unpleasant sort of experience to straighten me out. I wasn't easy about accepting that, but it seemed like I'd need to take that chance.

The next day I had a moment of heedlessness, at a wrong (right?) time, and took a short flight with a bad landing from my bicycle. I barely made it to Meeting afterwards, needed a ride home, had to borrow a pair of crutches to stumble upstairs to the apartment. "I told you to ride carefully!" said my darling Anne. I would have plenty of time that evening, to think about why I had made that particular mistake, when I did, and what it was telling me...