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Thursday, September 30, 2010

UNWRITTEN SCRIPTURES

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A missionary once undertook to instruct
a group of Indians in the truths of his
holy religion. He told them of the creation
of the earth in six days, and of the fall of
our first parents by eating an apple.
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The courteous savages listened attentively,
and, after thanking him, one related in his
turn a very ancient tradition concerning
the origin of the maize. But the missionary
plainly showed his disgust and disbelief,
indignantly saying:
"What I delivered to you were sacred truths,
but this that you tell me is mere
fable and falsehood!"
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"My brother," gravely replied the
offended Indian, "it seems that you have
not been well grounded in the rules of
civility. You saw that we, who practice
these rules, belived your stories; why, then
do you refuse to credit ours?"
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Every religion has its Holy Book,
and ours was a mingling of history,
poetry, and prophecy, of precepts and
folklore, even such as the modern reader
finds within the covers of his Bible.
This Bible of ours was our whole
literature, a living Book, sowed as
precious seed by our wisest sages, and
springing anew in the wondering eyes
and upon the innocent lips of little
children. Upon its hoary wisdom of
proverb and fable, its mystic and
legendary lore thus sacredly preserved
and transmitted from father to son,
was based in large part on our
customs and philosophy.
*
Charles Alexander Eastman
[Ohiyesa] Santee Sioux
THE SOUL OF THE INDIAN
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THE SPIRIT ROLLS ALONG

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I have always been sympathetic with
the early notion of a divine power that
exists in a particular place, or that
travels about over the face of the earth
as a man might wander - when he is
"there" he is surely not here.
You can shake the hand of a man
you meet in the woods; but the
spirit seems to roll along
like the mythical hoop snake
with its tail in its mouth.
*
Annie Dillard
Puliter Prize-winning American author
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

HOLY NOW

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This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half there
Heaven's second-rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
'Cause everything is holy now.
*
Peter Mayer
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

HOW ABOUT THOSE MONKS!?!

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Monasticism was actually an immense and
multifarious series of experiments in alternative
community lifestyles. The monks prayed and
meditated (directed fantasy), sang, read, composed
music, copied and illuminated manuscripts,
studied every classical language and discipline,
developed new agricultural techniques, provided
solace and hospitality, worked, ate, and drank
together in thousands of different communal
patterns. Nor were they wholly "withdrawn" from
the everyday world. They interacted with it at a
hundred different levels. They served, taught,
nursed, prayed for, and contributed to the life
of the commonweal. The different monastic orders
displayed numberless fantasies of how human beings
could live together in love and mutuality.
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The monks understood their relation to the
rest of Christendom within a theological
worldview that seems implausible to us today,
at least on the surface. They were praying for
the people who had less time to pray because
they fought, ruled, or toiled in the fields.
The monks lived out a longing for spiritual
perfection that was hardly possible for all men.
Their communities, in other words, were
contributing in their own distinctive way to
the future everyone in Christendom expected
or at least hoped for, a blissful reward in
heaven after death.
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Though this theology eludes us today,
the monks were really more accurate than
we often think. They were in fact contributing
to the future of the whole civilization, though
not quite in the way they understood.
The seeds of the Renaissance and the Reformation
were cultivated in the monasteries. Luther and
Mendel were both monks. The Benedictines
practiced participatory democracy before it
became a political issue. The idea of a
disciplined work schedule and of work as
service to God began with the monks, and
without it the entire Industrial Revolution
could never have occurred. Max Weber was
right when he said that during the Reformation
"every man became a monk and the whole world
a monastery." Life styles, discipline, and
communal patterns that had been born,
nourished, and refined in small communities
now supplied the pattern for a whole civilization.
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From The Feast of FoolsHarvey Cox
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

FROM THE I CHING

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Thunder and rain set in:
The image of DELIVERANCE.
Thus the superior man pardons mistakes
And forgives misdeeds.
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A thunderstorm has the effect of clearing
the air; the superior man produces a similar
effect when dealing with mistakes and sins of men
that induce a condition of tension.
Through clarity he brings deliverance.
However, when failings come to light,
he does not dwell on them;
he simply passes over mistakes,
the unintentional transgressions,
just as thunder dies away.
He forgives misdeeds,
the intentional transgressions,
just as water washes everything clean.
*
The I Ching or Book of Changes
From Hexagram 40 "Hsieh/Deliverance"
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FROM GERONIMO

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When a child my mother taught me the
legends of our people; taught me of the sun and
sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms.
She also taught me to kneel and pray
to Usen [God] for strength, health,
wisdom, and protection.
We never prayed against any person,
but if we had aught against any individual
we ourselves took vengeance.
We were taught that Usen does not care
for the petty quarrels of men.
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Geronimo (Goyathlay), 1829-1909
Apache Medicine Man, Seer, Warrior
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

JEWISH PRAYER FOR PEACE

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Come let us go up to the mountain
of the Lord, that we may walk the paths
of the Most High. And we shall beat our swords
into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation -
neither shall they learn war any more.
And none shall be afraid, for the
mouth of the Lord of Hosts
has spoken.
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From the World Peace Day ceremony
in Assisi, Italy - 1986
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MUSLIM PRAYER FOR PEACE

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In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful.
Praise be to the Lord of the Universe who has
created us and made us into tribes and nations,
that we may know each other, not that
we may despise each other.
If the enemy incline toward peace,
do thou also incline toward peace,
and trust in God, for the Lord is the one
that heareth and knoweth all things.
And the servants of God, Most Gracious
are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
and when we address them, we say "Peace."
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From the World Peace Day ceremony
in Assisi, Italy - 1986
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Monday, September 13, 2010

THE BLESSINGS OF FISHING

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You will find angling to be like
the virtue of humility, which has a
calmness of spirit and a world
of other blessings attending upon it.
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Izaak Walton
17th century British Writer
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

SAINT PAUL, POVERTY, AND SEX

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From THE URANTIA BOOK
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.Poverty was just a part of the ritual of the
mortification of the flesh which, unfortunately,
became incorporated into the writings and teachings of many religions, notably Christianity. Penance is the negative form of this ofttimes foolish ritual of renunciation. But all this taught the savage self-control, and that was a worth-while advancement in social evolution. Self-denial and self-control were two of the greatest social gains from early evolutionary religion. Self-control gave man a new philosophy of life; it taught him the art of augmenting life’s fraction by lowering the denominator of personal demands instead of always attempting to increase the numerator of selfish gratification.

These olden ideas of self-discipline embraced flogging and all sorts of physical torture. The priests of the mother cult were especially active in teaching the virtue of physical suffering, setting the example by submitting themselves to castration. The Hebrews, Hindus, and Buddhists were earnest devotees of this doctrine of physical humiliation.

All through the olden times men sought in these ways for extra credits on the self-denial ledgers of their gods. It was once customary, when under some emotional stress, to make vows of self-denial and self-torture. In time these vows assumed the form of contracts with the gods and, in that sense, represented true evolutionary progress in that the gods were supposed to do something definite in return for this self-torture and mortification of the flesh. Vows were both negative and positive. Pledges of this harmful and extreme nature are best observed today among certain groups in India.

It was only natural that the cult of renunciation and humiliation should have paid attention to sexual gratification. The continence cult originated as a ritual among soldiers prior to engaging in battle; in later days it became the practice of “saints.” This cult tolerated marriage only as an evil lesser than fornication. Many of the world’s great religions have been adversely influenced by this ancient cult, but none more markedly than Christianity. The Apostle Paul was a devotee of this cult, and his personal views are reflected in the teachings which he fastened onto Christian theology: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” “I would that all men were even as I myself.” “I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them to abide even as I.” Paul well knew that such teachings were not a part of Jesus’ gospel, and his acknowledgment of this is illustrated by his statement, “I speak this by permission and not by commandment.” But this cult led Paul to look down upon women. And the pity of it all is that his personal opinions have long influenced the teachings of a great world religion. If the advice of the tentmaker-teacher were to be literally and universally obeyed, then would the human race come to a sudden and inglorious end. Furthermore, the involvement of a religion with the ancient continence cult leads directly to a war against marriage and the home, society’s veritable foundation and the basic institution of human progress. And it is not to be wondered at that all such beliefs fostered the formation of celibate priesthoods in the many religions of various peoples.

Someday man should learn how to enjoy liberty without license, nourishment without gluttony, and pleasure without debauchery. Self-control is a better human policy of behavior regulation than is extreme self-denial. Nor did Jesus ever teach these unreasonable views to his followers.
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THE URANTIA BOOK
Part III, 89, 3
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Friday, September 10, 2010

RIVERS IN THE DESERT

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I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert, to give drink
to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
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Isaiah 43:19-21
(All images are from the Rio Grande River
in New Mexico.)
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Friday, September 3, 2010

INDECISION

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There is no more miserable human being
than one in whom nothing is habitual
but indecision.
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William James (1842-1910)
American physician, philosopher, and
 psychologist
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 Evil draws its power from indecision and concern
 for what other people think.    

  Pope Benedict XVI
 

 “Having made the decision, do not revise it
 unless some new fact comes to your knowledge.
 Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and
 nothing is so futile.”
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 Bertrand Russell
The Conquest of Happiness
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