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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A PRAYER FROM ST. EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN

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The Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian
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O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, vain curiosity, lust for power, and idle talk.
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But give to me Thy servant a spirit of soberness, humility, patience, and love.
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O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to condemn my brother:

For blessed art Thou to the ages of ages.
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 Amen
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Ephrem [or Ephraim] the Syrian (Aramaic / Syriac: ܐܦܪܝܡ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ, Mor/Mar Afrêm Sûryāyâ; Greek: Ἐφραίμ ὁ Σῦρος; Latin: Ephraem Syrus; ca. 306 – 373) was a Syriac and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially in the Syriac Orthodox Church, as a saint.

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Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the church in troubled times. So popular were his works, that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphous works in his name. Ephrem's works witness to an early form of Christianity in which western ideas take little part. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition.
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From Wikipedia
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

THE FATHER AND HIS KINGDOM

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Jesus never called the Father a king, and he very much regretted that the Jewish hope for a restored kingdom and John's proclamation of a coming kingdom made it necessary for him to denominate his proposed spiritual brotherhood the kingdom of heaven. With the one exception—the declaration that "God is spirit"—Jesus never referred to Deity in any manner other than in terms descriptive of his own personal relationship with the First Source and Center of Paradise.
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Jesus employed the word God to designate the idea of Deity
 and the word Father to designate the experience of knowing God. When the word Father is employed to denote God, it should be understood in its largest possible meaning. The word God cannot be defined and therefore stands for the infinite concept of the Father, while the term Father, being capable of partial definition, may be employed to represent the human concept of the divine Father as he is associated with man during the course of mortal existence.
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To the Jews, Elohim was the God of gods, while Yahweh was the God of Israel.  Jesus accepted the concept of Elohim and called this supreme group of beings God. In the place of the concept of Yahweh, the racial deity, he introduced the idea of the fatherhood of God and the world-wide brotherhood of man. He exalted the Yahweh concept of a deified racial Father to the idea of a Father of all the children of men, a divine Father of the individual believer. And he further taught that this God of universes and this Father of all men were one and the same Paradise Deity.
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From THE URANTIA BOOK
Part IV, 169, 4
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The complete text of the essay above, along with
graphics and some excellent music, is part of
our LENTEN SERIES from last Spring.
Father's Day can have spiritual overtones.
See it here:
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Friday, June 17, 2011

SOME PRAYERS ARE AN ABOMINATION

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 That prayer which is inconsistent with the known and established laws of God is an abomination to the Paradise Deities. If man will not listen to the Gods as they speak to their creation in the laws of spirit, mind, and matter, the very act of such deliberate and conscious disdain by the creature turns the ears of spirit personalities away from hearing the personal petitions of such lawless and disobedient mortals.
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 Jesus quoted to his apostles from the Prophet Zechariah:
 "But they refused to hearken and pulled away the shoulder and stopped their ears that they should not hear. Yes, they made their hearts adamant like a stone, lest they should hear my law and the words which I sent by my spirit through the prophets; therefore did the results of their evil thinking come as a great wrath upon their guilty heads. And so it came to pass that they cried for mercy, but there was no ear open to hear." And then Jesus quoted the proverb of the wise man who said: "He who turns away his ear from hearing the divine law, even his prayer shall be an abomination."
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From THE URANTIA BOOK
Part IV, 146, 2
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MODERN LIFE IS GEARED FOR A FLIGHT FROM GOD

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In order to spiritualize our lives and
make them pleasing to God, we must become quiet.
The peace of a soul that is detached from all things and
from itself is the sign that our sacrifice is
truly acceptable to God.
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Bodily agitation agitates the soul.
But we cannot tranquilize our spirit by forcing
a violent immobility upon the flesh and its five senses.
The body must be governed in such a way that it works peacefully, so that its action does not disturb the soul.
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Peace of soul does not, therefore, depend on physical
inactivity.  On the contrary, there are some people
who are perfectly capable of tasting true spiritual
peace in an active life but who would go crazy
if they had to keep themselves still in absolute
solitude and silence for any length of time.
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It is for each one to find out for himself the
kind of work and environment in which he can
best lead a spiritual life.  If it is possible to find such
conditions, and if he is able to take advantage of them,
he should do so.  But what a hopeless thing the
spiritual life would be if it could only be lived under
ideal conditions! 
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Such conditions have never been within the
reach of most men, and were never more inaccessible
than in our modern world.  Everything in modern
city life is calculated to keep man from entering
into himself and thinking about spiritual things.
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Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds
himself exhausted and deadened and debased by
the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers,
the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and
shops, the everlasting suggestions of advertising
 and propaganda.
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The whole mechanism of modern life
is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit
into the wilderness of neurosis.  Even our monasteries
are not free from the smell and clatter of our world.
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From NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
by Thomas Merton
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

PLAINS INDIAN CEREMONIES - THE SUN DANCE

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video
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From THE SOUL OF AN INDIAN
by Charles Alexander Eastman
(Ohiyesa)
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[Charles Eastman was a Santee Sioux born in 1858.
Educated in white schools, he eventually received degrees
from Beloit College, Dartmouth, and Boston University
Medical School.  He became an advisor to presidents
and worked actively to bring the voice of the Indian
into the American intellectual arena.
His story is fascinating, as are his writings.
Amazon has a large number of sellers with
books about and by Charles Eastman
 (Ohiyesa was his Santee Sioux name);
  used prices start at a penny plus shipping.]
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The public religious rites of the Plains Indians
are few, and in large part of modern origin,
belonging properly to the so-called "transition period."
That period must be held to begin with the first
insidious effect upon their manners and customs
of contact with the dominant race, and many of
the tribes were so influenced long before they
ceased to lead the nomadic life.
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The fur-traders, the "Black Robe" priests,
the military, and finally the Protestant missionaries,
were the men who began the disintegration of the
Indian nations and the overthrow of their religion,
seventy-five to a hundred years before they were forced
to enter upon reservation life.  We have no authentic study
of them until well along in the transition period,
when whiskey and trade had already debauched
their native ideals.
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During the era of reconstruction they modified
their customs and beliefs continually, creating a
singular admixture of Christian with pagan superstitions,
and an addition to the old folk-lore of disguised Bible
stories under an Indian aspect.  Even their music shows
the influence of the Catholic chants.  Most of the material
collected by modern observers is necessarily of
this promiscuous character.
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It is noteworthy that the first effect of contact
with the whites was an increase of cruelty and
barbarity, an intensifying of the dark shadows
in the picture!  In this manner the "Sun Dance"
of the Plains Indians, the most important of their
public ceremonials, was abused and perverted
until it became a horrible example of barbarism,
and was eventually prohibited by the Government.
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In the old days, when a Sioux warrior
found himself in the very jaws of destruction,
he might offer a prayer to his father, the Sun,
to prolong his life.  If rescued from imminent danger,
he must acknowledge the divine favor by making a
Sun Dance, according to the vow embraced in his
prayer, in which he declared that he did not fear
torture or death, but asked life only for the sake
of those who loved him.  Thus the physical ordeal
was the fulfillment of a vow, and a sort of atonement
for what otherwise might appear to be reprehensible
weakness in the face of death.  It was in the nature
of confession and thank-offering to the "Great Mystery,"
through the physical parent, the Sun, and did not
embrace a prayer for future favors.
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Friday, June 10, 2011

THE SKY REALLY IS FALLING

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(The music above is good background for the read.)
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THE SKY REALLY IS FALLING
By Chris Hedges
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter

Originally posted on truthdig.com May 30, 2011
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The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming,
 which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even
 the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago,
 has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of
self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected
 office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false.
 There are others who accept the science surrounding global
 warming but insist that the human species can adapt.
 Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted pied pipers and fools.
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Those who concede that the planet is warming but insist
we can learn to live with it are perhaps more dangerous than
 the buffoons who decide to shut their eyes.
It is horrifying enough that the House of Representatives
 voted 240-184 this spring to defeat a resolution that said that
 “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human
 activities, and poses significant risks for public health and
 welfare.” But it is not much of an alternative to trust those who
 insist we can cope with the effects while continuing
 to burn fossil fuels.
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Horticulturalists are busy planting swamp oaks and sweet gum
 trees all over Chicago to prepare for weather that will soon
 resemble that of Baton Rouge. That would be fine if there was
 a limit to global warming in sight. But without plans to rapidly
 dismantle the fossil fuel industry, something no one in our
 corporate state is contemplating, the heat waves of Baton
 Rouge will be a starting point for a descent that will ultimately
 make cities like Chicago unlivable. The false promise of human
 adaptability to global warming is peddled by the polluters’
 major front group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which
 informed the Environmental Protection Agency that
 “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of
 behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.”
 This bizarre theory of adaptability has been embraced 
by the Obama administration as it prepares to exploit the
 natural resources in the Arctic. Secretary of State Hillary
 Clinton announced recently that melting of sea ice
 “will result in more shipping, fishing and tourism,
 and the possibility to develop newly accessible
 oil and gas reserves.”
 Now that’s something to look forward to.
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“It is good that at least those guys are taking it seriously,
 far more seriously than the federal government is taking it,”
 said the author and environmental activist Bill McKibben of
 the efforts in cities such as Chicago to begin to adapt to
 warmer temperatures. “At least they understand that they
 have some kind of problem coming at them. But they are
 working off the science of five or six years ago, which is still
 kind of the official science that the International Climate
 Change negotiations are working off of. They haven’t begun to
 internalize the idea that the science has shifted sharply. We are
 no longer talking about a long, slow, gradual, linear warming,
 but something that is coming much more quickly and violently.
 Seven or eight years ago it made sense to talk about putting
 permeable concrete on the streets. Now what we are coming to
 realize is that the most important adaptation we can do is to
 stop putting carbon in the atmosphere. If we don’t, we are
 going to produce temperature rises so high that there is 
no adapting to them.”
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The Earth has already begun to react to our hubris.
 Freak weather unleashed deadly tornados in Joplin, Mo. and
 Tuscaloosa, Ala. It has triggered wildfires that have engulfed
 large tracts in California, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
 It has brought severe droughts to the Southwest, parts of
 China and the Amazon. It has caused massive flooding along
 the Mississippi as well as in Australia, New Zealand, China
 and Pakistan. It is killing off the fish stocks in the oceans and
 obliterating the polar ice caps. Steadily rising sea levels will
 eventually submerge coastal cities, islands and some countries.
 These disturbing weather patterns presage a world
 where it will be harder and harder to sustain human life.
 Massive human migrations, which have already begun, will
 create chaos and violence. India is building a 4,000-kilometer
 fence along its border with Bangladesh to, in part, hold back
 the refugees who will flee if Bangladesh is submerged. There
 are mounting food shortages and sharp price increases in basic
 staples such as wheat as weather patterns disrupt crop
 production. The failed grain harvests in Russia, China and
 Australia, along with the death of the winter wheat crop in
 Texas, have, as McKibben points out, been exacerbated by the
 inability of Midwestern farmers to plant corn in water-logged
 fields. These portents of an angry Gaia are nothing compared
 to what will follow if we do not swiftly act.
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“We are going to have to adapt a good deal,” said McKibben,
 with whom I spoke by phone from his home in Vermont.
“It is going to be a century that calls for being resilient and
 durable. Most of that adaptation is going to take the form of
 economies getting smaller and lower to the ground, local food,
 local energy, things like that. But that alone won’t do it,
 because the scale of change we are now talking about is so
 great that no one can adapt to it. Temperatures have gone up
 one degree so far and that has been enough to melt the Arctic.
 If we let it go up three or four degrees, the rule of thumb the
 agronomists go by is every degree Celsius of temperature rise
 represents about a 10 percent reduction in grain yields.
 If we let it go up three or four degrees we are really not talking about a planet that can support a civilization anything like the one we’ve got." 

There's much more....read the entire article here:
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http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_sky_really_is_falling_20110530/
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

DREAMING

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Early in evolution sleep was regarded as
 proving that the ghost soul could be absent from the body,
 and it was believed that it could be called back
 by speaking or shouting the sleeper's name.
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 In other forms of unconsciousness the soul
 was thought to be farther away, perhaps trying to escape
 for good—impending death. Dreams were looked upon
 as the experiences of the soul during sleep
while temporarily absent from the body.
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 The savage believes his dreams to be just as real
 as any part of his waking experience.
 The ancients made a practice of awaking sleepers gradually
 so that the soul might have time to get back into the body.
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All down through the ages men have stood in awe
 of the apparitions of the night season,
 and the Hebrews were no exception.
 They truly believed that God spoke to them in dreams,
 despite the injunctions of Moses against this idea.
 And Moses was right, for ordinary dreams are not
 the methods employed by the personalities of the
spiritual world when they seek to communicate
 with material beings.
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From THE URANTIA BOOK
Part III, 86, 5
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