Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Piece for Quaker-L

As I said during in a recent fuss, I'm not required to answer every objection posed by a habitual objector. But the objection, taken as a question, was a pretty good question: How do I explain God's failure to consistently intervene in this world--while insisting that God can and does intervene? Doesn't this make God responsible for events and conditions we all consider utterly inhumane and wrong?

This question is bound to arise so far as people consider God as merely an outside force, "wholly other" as some like to put it, a maker of physical law and enforcer of their moral judgments. "Why doesn't HE get on the job?"

The problem disappears if one imagines God to be merely psychological: "Take One a day, internally, and call me in the morning!" But this is untrue as well as unpleasant.

What we have, and what we are, is God expressing into everything we know and experience, including our knowing and experiencing anything whatsoever.

Raw experience can have a random flavor--as we know from various chaotic dreams. The fact that we do remember having had such dreams indicates that whatever was going on, even if it violated our normal sense of logical interconnection, included a continuing causal thread in which we formed and carried the memories--even though the details probably soon slipped away from lack of memorable structure for us to grasp them by.

So human experience is intrinsically "experiencing plus structure." A world without the "act" of experiencing would not be a world, merely a big pointless machine. A world without coherence would be only a blurred dream. Rather than (not) finding either of these things, we _are_ each a window into a world of experience (including such "active" experiences as wanting, intending, doing.)

It is not emotionally safe for us to know ourselves to "be" God so long as we are alienated from ourselves.

It can not feel safe to grant ourselves divine power so long as we are alienated from ourselves. And so far as we imagine God as "wholy other," we can hardly feel safe from God. Therefore we cling to the belief that "we" have (somehow) independent power; those who suffer worst from this are forced to imagine God as harmlessly imaginary.

Some people imagine God as imaginary for other reasons, having been taught that this is the "only common sense rationality" ("Thou shalt put no other rationality before it!") That limited sense of what is possible can be expanded; this can be exhilarating (as well as scarey!) and the result does not have to be a mind too open to hold anything. What one gets is a roomy (Rumi?) mind that accepts far more of what people actually do think and experience in their lives.

Some people "believe in" God but in practice imagine Him limited to some theological function or other. But what we've got, in fact, is "The Living God" (You don't have to trust Him--but if you can't, this must be a very dark place indeed!) The God we've got, in fact, is willing to surprise us, but is generally gentle with our need for a predictable, dependable environment.

Beliefs, then? Where do they come into this?--What you believe is largely what you get, because the alternative would be profoundly disturbing and disorienting.

A common behavior pattern for battered women, we are told, is to attach themselves to the kind of guy they "understand"; this leads them into a relation that feels "natural" because it's familiar--and the result is not a matter of "getting what they deserve," but of preferring to think they understand--preferring to think that their experience, however unpleasant, at least makes sense.

The more fearful we may be, the harder it is for us to tolerate uncertainty. Atheism is a comforting belief that offers a world in which nothing can go wrong go wrong "because that crazy mean Tyrant all those crazy people believe in doesn't exist." But that crazy mean Tyrant is us.

We'd prefer a world without a Holocaust. ("Bad Hitler! Stop that!") But the world which gave birth to us included the Holocaust, and we prefer existing, as we are (in a world, the best way to exist) to not. Our war against Iraq goes on, and we don't like it, but we'd rather live, and see this world (eventually) come out right, than just discorporate, and see how that turns out.

A notion I get from reading Joel Goldsmith lately: God is present everywhere and always, but the manifestation of God we receive in any occasion depends largely on what we are consciously prepared to accept.

So far as we "believe in" a mechanical universe, God manifests as the Perfect Referee (but then there's nothing for us down that road but decay and death, after which we'd have to figure out "What am I doing here?" all over again.) So far as we believe in a God who does our will, we can only muster limited belief and only see limited results. So far as we're open to God as wiser, kinder and more creative than our personal selves, miracles come.

Forrest Curo

Monday, January 22, 2007

Show & Tell

I think this is pretty good for a poet who needed to be dragged to an art class a few years ago.

I picked up the idea for this technique at
but fudged considerably; playing with eggs sounded too messy and I didn't get around to sanding, probably haven't been getting the layers thin enough or even enough. Doing it wrong like this makes for nice effects--though looking around her site makes for an embarrassing comparison. Maybe sometime next life...

I used casein & oils on 5X7 canvas, with a no-hair brush (alligator clip on a disposable chopstick, holding a thin sliver from a stiff rubber pipe.)

Old Poem May Say It Better

Something I wrote for a rather sweet little woman shortly before I met Anne. (I write fewer poems when I'm happy.)


Here, my sweet, is a magic
chemical to give you
historical perspective,
a certain glossy distance
between you and the news.

Sometimes it makes you laugh
to see the clowns in their
robes of shoddy royalty
doing the verbal tap-dance around
and around and around.

Sometimes you see high drama,
something to give you chills
about somebody telling the truth
who hasn't been shot yet.

Sometimes it gives you panic
terror to be at the mercy
of armed madmen, and fools
playing like drunken gods
for gold stars and party hats
and our lives.

Let me caress your nipples
gently, a touch that resonates
deep into your body. Close your eyes.
Ignore the strident ravings
distracting you from my body
and hold me; hold me.

Forrest Curo
maybe 1982(?)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nuff of All That

I'm tired of old Saddam just hanging around here. What's that boy in the White House been up to since then? I think I might just die of boredom before he kills us all. But it wouldn't make me happier if we hung him too, and the gang he rode in with. Better I should go to the zoo and watch monkeys.

Blessed are the fools, for we grow hardened to embarrassment and feel free to blather out truth.

In the Main Ring of this circus, we have the monkey show. Some people look on uncomprehendingly as the monkeys cleverly pick pockets and rip out throats; others wonder if they should be worried; are these critters going to get loose and do us harm out here in the audience? It's all just fuss.

Yes, the Wrath is loosed on our world; the fact that we can take this show seriously is just more evidence of our condition. "Pay no attention to Caesar; Caesar doesn't have the faintest notion what's really going on" says Bokonon, Kurt Vonnegut's holy false prophet in the jungle. Who calls himself a liar, but got that one right.

We are organs of God's pleasure, folks. (Quakers might rather think of ourselves as God's work-callused hands, but trying too hard just makes us twitch. And some people consider themselves born to lie about and be caressed, but that's not the sort of organs we are...) Martin Buber quotes the Hassidim about a man who keeps all the commandments, but has no yearning... He is admitted to Paradise, but doesn't care much for that, either. After awhile he says something like "Paradise, so what?" and they kick him out. I say that's not a punishment, but a mercy. Now he can yearn for Paradise.

Each of us is God telling himself a story. Let's make that a story about waking up and looking truth in the face. (If you think you can't face it, you're just scaring yourself with somebody's false notions.) The real truth is God. It's bewildering; it can be overwhelming (if you like) but there's more of this truth in a quiet voice than in a nuclear bomb. We've had enough horror flicks on this planet.

We don't have to be a hero; we don't have to save the planet; we just have to look truth in the face. It'll tell us what comes next...

Monday, January 01, 2007

For Saddam

little man!

Strutting in a
djinn's palace on
a slippery heap,

of ruthlessness,

Photos with
American satraps--winks
and handshakes.
You were smarter
than them but

you never understood
your place.

Saddam, you married a
whore. Beware
the dagger in
your nuptual bed;
you should have known.

But you've had time,
since, to see
the other side
of atrocity.
Did you learn wisdom?

He should have given you
your knife fight:
some recognition of
your underlying

but he never will
and that's the most
significant difference
between you.

Forrest Curo, December 31 2006