Saturday, January 26, 2013

Embellishment


An End to Religion



The following first appeared in "Reflections" in the St. Andrew's Lutheran-Bellevue WA newsletter, "The Voice."
 

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a, NRSV

I know.  I’m taking a big risk by titling an article for a Lutheran church’s newsletter in such a manner but please hear me out.  In the wake of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook (and the many that came before and have followed) I was browsing through the notes app on my smart phone where I jot down ideas for, among other things, this column and came across this one from last March:  “Seen on a bumper sticker: ‘Clinging to my gun and my religion.’”  It troubled me greatly when first I saw it and it continues to make me ill.  Now lest you think that this article is now going to expound on gun control, rest assured, it’s not.  But the more I think about it, even though I was fairly confident that the owner of that vehicle and that bumper sticker was one of a garden variety of conservative Christians he might just as well been sporting that same slogan in other parts of the world.  Every major religion seems to have—and use—its guns. Much evil has been perpetrated using guns in the name of religion.  Since doing away with guns worldwide seems like a dream reserved for Coke commercials I started wondering if the answer might be to do away with religion.  If the two are dependent on each other as in any symbiotic relationship then stamping out one might result in the demise of the other.

Heresy you say?  Not so!  Nowhere in the Bible (and I can’t be sure but I’m pretty confident the same holds true for the Koran and the Torah) is there any mention of the word or the concept of “religion.”  Religion is a man-made principle and like all things man-made it has flaws—sometimes serious ones.  And religion does not prescribe a path to God. Mind you, I’m not talking about the end of faith or the end of belief.  What I’m talking about is putting spirituality back in its rightful place as the way to be in relationship with God—the God that every religion claims as its own.  Religion and guns.  A way to God?  I think not!

On the other hand, can you imagine anyone spewing venom such as, “Clinging to my gun and the spirit”?  Doubtful!  First of all, notice that religion seems to be something we have possession of, whereas, spirituality possesses us. Religion gives us rules, responsibilities and a strange sense of superiority.  Spirituality gives us gifts.  How freeing!  And we don’t need violent means to defend those gifts.  We don’t need laws to control them. They are just there, for the taking: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The gifts of the spirit need no defense; no one will or can take them away. We need only to embrace them, to “cling” to them.  Praise be to God!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I never said I was a poet

My darling son asked me a few months ago if I would consider singing a song on his upcoming electronic music album.  I felt honored and flattered...until I found out that I had to write the song!  I mean lyrics and melody line!  Eek!  I am not a poet.  Lyrics are basically poetry.  I can--sort of--sing but writing the words?  That's not my line.  But now I was committed; how could I turn him down?

Okay, think logically:  first, what was his inspiration for the piece, the working title of which was "god particle"?  That seems like a good place to start--until he began rattling off the following: "...the god particle aka Higgs boson as well as science, dark energy/matter, voyager 1 and 2, origins, humanity, progress...basically recent innovations and discoveries of science/technology coupled with humanity evolving...Also creation, mother/god=goddess/giver of life, what make us human, where we come from"

Phew!  What?!  Okay, that plan didn't help much.  Now I was stumped and confused.  What the heck is "Higgs boson"?  I didn't know I was going to have to study for this.  So I started doing research online, beginning with "Higgs boson" which led me to the book, "The God Particle," by Leon Lederman which led me to studying writings of Anaximander and Democritus which led me to Gregorian chants and the Taize community which ultimately led to this (with my thanks to all of them):

god-particle

Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in homine
Nihil est innoxium

 Without your spirit
Nothing is in man
Nothing that is harmless

Giver of life...who are you?
      What are you?   Where are you?
Giver of life...
      You are so close, everywhere and yet so hard to find.

Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in homine
Nihil est innoxium

Without your spirit
Nothing is in man
Nothing that is harmless

Are you particle or God?
Substance or spirit?
      The earth was a formless void
       And darkness covered the face of the deep
      While a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Here we stand at the edge of a precipice
Looking down into eternity.
Are we indeed looking at the face of God?
Or is that our face staring back at us?

Immortal and indestructible
Surrounds all and directs all
Immortal and indestructible
Surrounds all and directs all

There is some comfort in this, some peace
God or particle, substance or spirit
There is some comfort in this, some peace
God or particle, substance or spirit

Dona nobis pacem
Grant us peace    


 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Handicapped Accessories

No, that was not a misprint--or mis-type--I actually have a "handicapped" accessory.  It is my mobile phone.  I have an iPhone 4. The model number proves that this phone is less than 2 years old (perhaps even just about 1 which in mobile phone years is anywhere from 40 to 80 years.  (I use the industry standard: 1 human year is equal to 40 mobile phone years; otherwise known as "near death.")  At 40+ it should not come as a surprise that my aging phone is starting to fall apart a bit (not unlike me).  It is starting slowly--most everything still works except for the "home" button.  For those of you unacquainted with the iPhone (there are still some of you out there?!) the "home" button resides at the center bottom of the face of the phone and it provides access back to your home screen whenever you have wandered away from home to explore applications ("apps"), the internet, games, music and...the actual phone.  Without a working home button you can get permanently stuck in your weather app or your tide app and are unable to access anything else basically relegating your phone to an electronic weather reporter.

It wasn't that my home button didn't work exactly; it just didn't work all the time.  It would start out working and then suddenly, without warning, while I was cruising the internet, it would leave me stranded on the internet highway.  It was as if it had dozed off while I was driving.  Sometimes I could coax it awake by continuously pressing the button several times.  Sometimes I had to actually turn the phone off and back on again just to arrive back home again.  Needless to say, this was a very annoying habit but what can you expect from the elderly?

 Well, I'm not about to buy a replacement yet (even though that is what the industry would like me to do and even though not doing so is thoroughly un-American!) because other than that one little quirk my phone works perfectly fine. (I know.  What does that have to do with my decision, right?)  It turns out that there is a workaround.  It is not known to the general public but it exists right there in the bowels of the phone.  It is a home-assist button and once activated it provides a virtual button on the screen, a cane if you will for my handicapped phone.  Now I can press that button and get "home."  Me and my phone, just a couple of gimps.