Friday, December 30, 2016

NewYear hope despite chaos

Since the election I have been veering back and forth between fighting despair and being the one to console others near despair. I counted ten Trump appointments of persons apparently committed to destroying the departments they should manage. They threaten justice, labor, money policies, environment, education, energy, commerce, housing, and health care.
We are on the cusp of change coming from chaos. I fear the center cannot hold.

William Butler Yeats, a poet of yesteryear, has a poem for our time:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Looking for hope, I had a talk with a mentor/friend of mine who would hesitate to call herself a psychic, but significant images come to her. I was not surprised to hear an optimistic message from her. Twice she saw the image of the sun rising—right before the election and right after. The sun was farther over the horizon after the election of Donald Trump.

Her interpretation of the images:
  The recent images just before and after the election are saying we have reached the tipping point and the light will begin to be on the ascendant. I realize it sure doesn't look like that at the moment.
   There is a lot of inertia.  Doing a mass 180-degree turnaround "socially, or culturally"  is like turning around the biggest ship imaginable. As an analogy, the engines have been put in reverse to slow the ship down enough so it can gradually be turned in the opposite direction.
   Among all the influences and feedback we've been getting for decades, Trump's election seems to be the final weight that is tipping the balance. He is apparently "the straw that will break the camel's back." Seen from within the culture at the moment, it sure looks like chaos.
   "The center cannot hold.” From my perspective, the center is already rotten to the core. Trump is just bringing it into very bold, can't-be-missed, focus. Every single person, wittingly or (mostly) unwittingly, is complicit to some degree in the present situation.
   Every thought we think, every belief we act on, every single purchase we make, every interaction we have—with another person, animal, plant, institution, whatever –is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.
   Look at the food people buy: fake food loaded with harmful chemicals, devoid of minerals and nutrition to keep them healthy. Meat from animals who are treated horribly, and loaded with body-destroying chemicals. A vote for industrial agriculture.
   Then, when sick, there are lots of votes for a medical system that only treats symptoms, not causes. A vote for the pharmaceutical industry, which turns out drugs at a prodigious rate that they know can make you sicker.
  The voting goes on and on in every moment of your life.  And it all has resulted in the present world situation.
  We've all had our input on both the light and dark sides. Now we are almost forced to become conscious of our daily votes and start making wiser choices.
I cannot believe we are headed for doom. Our country is strong enough to survive a Trump presidency. I take heart from the promise of the images.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Spirit

Parker Palmer offers a song that can appeal to both religious and non-religious people. Scroll down to the lyrics of Sara Thomsen with the guitar. 

 I cried when watching this next video. 
A young Arab-American sets himself up across the street from a Trump Tower, blindfolded with a sign saying that he trusts passersby, inviting them to give him a hug.  Nothing happens for a while, and then . . .


I ended my reflection on nones by asking, “Why [in our increasingly secular culture] does our entire culture embrace the religious feast of Christmas?”

Don’t we all love newscasts of people being exceptionally generous during this season? Don't we love stories of spreading love and cheer? 
I do. I think we all need these stories even more because of growing secularism with its despicable focus on buying stuff to stuff people who already are stuffed with stuff.
Spiritual values during the Christmas season provide relief from mandatory gift-giving and ferocious consumerism.    And there’s more to our love of this season.

As a fan of mythologist Joseph Campbell, I found innumerable myths around the world like the Jesus story, all telling of transformation. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice engendered sun gods. 

The Roman Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun”) was seen by Christian leaders as a powerful rival of Jesus Christ. To counter the popular birthday celebrations on the winter solstice in honor of Sol Invictus, Christian leaders declared Jesus Christ the real sun god and the winter solstice his birthday. Despite some calendar adjustments since then, the feast of Christmas does not fall exactly on the solstice.

No historian claims to have the slightest idea when Jesus of Nazareth was born. It would be good for Christians to know the history behind their birthday celebrations for baby Jesus.

Joseph Campbell and other authors place Jesus in the context of many Christ-figures. At first, this seems to discredit our Christian story, demoting it from history to myth. But we have to realize it’s not a demotion. Religious myths contain honorable symbolism disclosing the spiritual Source beneath outer phenomena. Gods and goddesses should not be seen as rivals, but as enriching the myth of Christ. They are alternative Christ-figures.

Mythologists reveal example after example of pagan deities prefiguring the Christian God-image. In Egypt the main God-image was Isis, the Great Mother, and her child was Horus. When Christianity pushed out other religions in the third and fourth centuries, figures of Isis with Horus on her lap were conveniently renamed “Mary with Jesus.” In this way was retained the popular Mother-with-Child motif, one that strikes strong chords of sympathy in the human breast, whatever one’s feelings about religion. Thus the appeal of Christmas.