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Friday, September 30, 2011

BEETHOVEN'S PRAYER

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O God give me strength to be
victorious over myself,
for nothing may chain me to this life.
O guide my spirit,
O raise me from these dark depths,
that my soul,
transported through Your wisdom,
may fearlessly struggle upward in fiery flight.
For you alone understand and can inspire me.
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Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827) Germany
(Written after he discovered that his deafness was incurable.)
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

ISAIAH SHOULD SEE WHAT'S GOING ON NOW

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The ox knows its owner,
 and the donkey its master's crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.
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Isaiah 1:3 
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

CHRIST IN THE STRANGER'S GUISE

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"Never treat a brother like a passing stranger,
Always try to keep the love light burning,
Listen only to this song, and watch his eyes,
For he might be the Prince of Peace returning,
Yes, he might be the Prince of Peace returning."
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Leon Russell
"Prince of Peace"
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I saw a stranger yestreen,
I put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place,
And in the sacred name of the Triune,
He blessed myself and my house,
My cattle and my dear ones,
And the lark said in her song
Often, often, often
Goes the Christ in the stranger's guise.
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Iona Community
Scotland
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SHOPPING CART CULTURE, COPS, AND JUSTICE IN L.A.

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"THE UNIVERSE BENDS TOWARD JUSTICE"
by Jeff Dietrich, an L.A. Catholic Worker community
member, and editor of their newspaper the Catholic Agitator.
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It looked like an anti-terrorist takedown; five cop cars,
ten police officers, a yellow skip loader, and a five-ton dump truck.  They screeched to a halt and blocked off Sixth Street in front of our soup kitchen.  But their target was not a suicide bomber or a hidden nuclear device; rather it was the four red shopping carts parked in front of the Catholic Worker soup kitchen.  Those of us who have worked on Skid Row for a while were not surprised; we have seen it all before.
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Despite numerous court rulings, police and city officials continue to act with impunity, destroying personal property, seizing such things as pillows, milk crates, and "excess blankets" as contraband because they are "comfort items."  Like a battle-weary soldier, your heart gets hardened sometimes.  But on this particular occasion, one of our soup kitchen volunteers from the suburbs also observed the entire procedure.
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Richard was shocked.  "Can't we do something about this?  They just took everybody's stuff.  They were just eating lunch and when they rushed out to grab their shopping carts, the police said 'No, this is abandoned property.'"
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It is embarrassing when volunteers come from the suburbs.  They think that the same rules that apply there apply everywhere.  But that is not how it works on Skid Row.  If you are gone for five minutes to wash, eat, or relieve your bodily functions, you lose all of your possessions.
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If you leave a friend in charge of your shopping cart and the police suspect that your friend is not the actual owner - boom, gone to the city dump.
  I felt like the cop in that old Jack Nicholson movie.  In my mind I imagined myself saying to our suburban volunteer, "Jake, this is Chinatown; just let it go."
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So inured  had I become to the way things are on Skid Row,
I did not even bother to contact our civil rights attorney, Carol Sobel, who years ago in Federal Court affirmed the right of homeless people to security in their person and property.  Fortunately, mutual friends did contact her.  She came, took depositions, collected photos, and took it all back to Federal Court.
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I was heartened, but still did not expect anything in the way of results.  The way city officials and police articulate their story of Skid Row is that everyone on the streets is either a drug addict or a drug dealer, and those people do not actually have a constitutional right to security in their person and property.  When we gathered in the federal courtroom, I was expecting an affirmation of police immunity.
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So, I was as unprepared as the City Attorney was for the announcement that Judge Gutierrez made: "Before we begin today," he said, "I need to inform the court that in 1980 I was a summer intern at the Catholic Worker soup kitchen.  I chopped onions, I served food, I cleaned toilets.  But I have had no contact with them since.  Therefore I see no reason to recuse myself from this case."
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Whoa!  You could have heard the City Attorney's jaw drop to the table from here to Santa Monica.  And quite frankly, mine as well.  We were all shocked; none of the old-timers at the Catholic Worker recognized Judge Gutierrez's face or his name.
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Two days later we got a permanent federal injunction, affirming the right of homeless people to security in their person and property.  Richard was elated.  For him, it was an affirmation that the system works.  For me, I am in a state of shock.  Where did this come from.
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We are all formed by our own individual life experiences.
We were all raised Republican or Democrat; Protestant, Jewish, or Catholic; pro-life or pro-choice.  But Judge Gutierrez, however improbable, was formed in some measure by his experience of chopping onions, cleaning toilets, and serving food to the homeless at the Catholic Worker soup kitchen.  All formations being equal in the eyes of the law, it was appropriate that he did not recuse himself from this case.  From our perspective, and the perspective of the folks who push shopping carts containing the last of their earthly treasures, it is like one of those unlikely biblical stories.  Just when you had given up all hope, just when you thought that the authorities had the final word, just when you thought that the rules of the suburbs did not actually apply on Skid Row, there is a
"parting of the waters," and "The Universe,"
 in the words of Dr. King, "bends toward justice."
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Monday, September 19, 2011

THE ETERNAL AND DIVINE PURPOSE

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There is a great and glorious purpose in the march of the universes through space. All of your mortal struggling is not in vain. We are all part of an immense plan, a gigantic enterprise, and it is the vastness of the undertaking that renders it impossible to see very much of it at any one time and during any one life. We are all a part of an eternal project which the Gods are supervising and outworking. The whole marvelous and universal mechanism moves on majestically through space to the music of the meter of the infinite thought and the eternal purpose of the First Great Source and Center.
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The eternal purpose of the eternal God is a high spiritual ideal. The events of time and the struggles of material existence are but the transient scaffolding which bridges over to the other side, to the promised land of spiritual reality and supernal existence. Of course, you mortals find it difficult to grasp the idea of an eternal purpose; you are virtually unable to comprehend the thought of eternity, something never beginning and never ending. Everything familiar to you has an end.
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 As regards an individual life, the duration of a realm, or the chronology of any connected series of events, it would seem that we are dealing with an isolated stretch of time; everything seems to have a beginning and an end. And it would appear that a series of such experiences, lives, ages, or epochs, when successively arranged, constitutes a straightaway drive, an isolated event of time flashing momentarily across the infinite face of eternity. But when we look at all this from behind the scenes, a more comprehensive view and a more complete understanding suggest that such an explanation is inadequate, disconnected, and wholly unsuited properly to account for, and otherwise to correlate, the transactions of time with the underlying purposes and basic reactions of eternity.
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 To me it seems more fitting, for purposes of explanation to the mortal mind, to conceive of eternity as a cycle and the eternal purpose as an endless circle, a cycle of eternity in some way synchronized with the transient material cycles of time. As regards the sectors of time connected with, and forming a part of, the cycle of eternity, we are forced to recognize that such temporary epochs are born, live, and die just as the temporary beings of time are born, live, and die. Most human beings die because, having failed to achieve the spirit level of Adjuster fusion, the metamorphosis of death constitutes the only possible procedure whereby they may escape the fetters of time and the bonds of material creation, thereby being enabled to strike spiritual step with the progressive procession of eternity. Having survived the trial life of time and material existence, it becomes possible for you to continue on in touch with, even as a part of, eternity, swinging on forever with the worlds of space around the circle of the eternal ages.
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 The sectors of time are like the flashes of personality in temporal form; they appear for a season, and then they are lost to human sight, only to reappear as new actors and continuing factors in the higher life of the endless swing around the eternal circle. Eternity can hardly be conceived as a straightaway drive, in view of our belief in a delimited universe moving over a vast, elongated circle around the central dwelling place of the Universal Father.
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 Frankly, eternity is incomprehensible to the finite mind of time. You simply cannot grasp it; you cannot comprehend it. I do not completely visualize it, and even if I did, it would be impossible for me to convey my concept to the human mind. Nevertheless, I have done my best to portray something of our viewpoint, to tell you somewhat of our understanding of things eternal. I am endeavoring to aid you in the crystallization of your thoughts about these values which are of infinite nature
 and eternal import.
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 There is in the mind of God a plan which embraces every creature of all his vast domains, and this plan is an eternal purpose of boundless opportunity, unlimited progress, and endless life. And the infinite treasures of such a matchless career are yours for the striving!
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 The goal of eternity is ahead! The adventure of divinity attainment lies before you! The race for perfection is on! whosoever will may enter, and certain victory will crown the efforts of every human being who will run the race of faith and trust, depending every step of the way on the leading of the indwelling Adjuster and on the guidance of that good spirit of the Universe Son, which so freely has been poured out
 upon all flesh.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

INCA - YOU WILL SING WITH THE VOICE OF THE LARK

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The music below is from a great album
of traditional music from the Andes that
came out in '95 on the Legacy International label.
The song is titled "Perdonaguangoi."
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With rejoicing mouth, with rejoicing tongue,
by day and tonight you will call.
Fasting, you will sing
with the voice of the lark
and perhaps in our happiness,
in our delight, from some place in the world,
the creator of man
the Lord All-powerful,
will hear you.
"Ay!" he will say to you,
and you
wherever you are and thus forever
with no other lord but him
will live, will be.
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From Prayers, Praises, and Thanksgivings
Compiled by Sandol Stoddard
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Below is a short (:48) example of the
song of a lark - in this case a 
wood lark from France.
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

FALSE TEACHERS

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They are blemishes on your love-feasts
while they feast you without fear,
feeding themselves.
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They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds;
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autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted;
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wild waves of the sea,
casting up the foam of their own shame;
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wandering stars, for whom
the deepest darkness has been reserved forever.
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Jude 1:12-13
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Reggae master Lucky Dube sings about
"False Prophets" in this release from
1990 on the Rhino label.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FREUD AND GOD - PSYCHOBABBLE AND FAITH

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From A HISTORY OF GOD
The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam
by Karen Armstrong
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Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) certainly regarded belief in God
as an illusion that mature men and women should lay aside.  The idea of God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology.  A personal God was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever.  God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness.  Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity.
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  It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society.  Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind.  Science, the new logos, could take God's place.  It could provide a new basis for morality, and help us to face our fears.  Freud was emphatic about his faith in science, which seemed almost religious in its intensity:  "No, our science is not an illusion!  An illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give we can get elsewhere."
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Not all psychoanalysts agreed with Freud's view of God.
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Alfred Adler (1870-1937) allowed that God was a projection
but believed that it had been helpful to humanity; it had been a brilliant and effective symbol of excellence. 
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C.G Jung's (1875-1961) God was similar to the God of the mystics, a psychological truth, subjectively experienced by each individual.  When asked by John Freeman in the famous Face to Face interview whether he believed in God, Jung replied emphatically:  "I do not have to believe.  I know!"  Jung's continued faith suggests that a subjective God, mysteriously identified with the ground of being in the depths of the self, can survive psychoanalytic science in a way that a more personal, anthropomorphic deity who can indeed encourage perpetual immaturity may not.
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Like many other Western people, Freud seemed unaware of this internalized, subjective God.  Nevertheless he made a valid and perceptive point when he insisted that it would be dangerous to attempt to abolish religion.  People must outgrow God in their own good time: to force them into atheism or secularism before they were ready could lead to an unhealthy denial and repression.  We have seen that iconoclasm can spring from a buried anxiety and projection of our own fears onto the "other."  Some of the atheists who wanted to abolish God certainly showed signs of strain.  Thus, despite his advocacy of a compassionate ethic, Schopenhauer could not cope with human beings and became a recluse who communicated only with his poodle, Atman.
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Nietzsche was a tender-hearted, lonely man, plagued by ill health, who was very different from his Superman.  Eventually, he went mad.
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He did not abandon God joyously, as the ecstasy of his prose might lead us to imagine.  In a poem delivered "after much trembling, quivering, and self-contortion," he makes Zarathustra plead with God to return:
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No!  come back,
With all your torments!
Oh come back
To the last of all solitaries!
All the streams of my tears
Run their course for you!
And the last flame of my heart -
It burns up to you!
Oh come back
My unknown God!  My pain!  my last - happiness.
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Like Hegel's, Nietzsche's theories were used by a later generation of Germans to justify the polices of National Socialism, a reminder that an atheistic ideology can lead to just as cruel a crusading ethic as the idea of "God."
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