Monday, December 29, 2008

naked theology; mutilated "god"

The Naked Theologian, in only her second post, quotes Martin Buber on the word "God":

"['God'] is the most heavy-laden of all human words. None has become so soiled, so mutilated. Just for this reason I may not abandon it...We must esteem those who interdict it because they rebel against the injustice and wrong which are so readily referred to ‘God’ for authorization. But we may not give it up...We cannot cleanse the word ‘God’ and we cannot make it whole; but, defiled and mutilated as it is, we can raise it from the ground..."

As I wrote earlier, here, our movement needs a column like the Naked Theologian's in our UUWorld magazine/site. Wherever we are able to find it, I celebrate NT's existence.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Warren and Ahmadinejad

Wait, we approve when Obama says he will work with Iran's President Ahmadinejad, but we disapprove when he wants to work with the Rev. Mr. Rick Warren? Now, I understand that inviting someone to negotiations is different than inviting them to give the Invocation at the Inauguration, but I do see it along the same spectrum. Obama campaigned as an organizer, a bridge-builder, not as a leftist totalitarian. We should absolutely hold his feet to the fire, and work for real equality for all (asexual, bisexual, gay, heterosexual, lesbian, transgendered, and other) people, and we should support him as he does what he said he would do.

The Republican party is digging its own grave by moving farther to the right. We don't want to do the same thing, on the left. Relevance is achieved by talking, working and connecting with the majority of our country. Demonizing people does not help; naming our differences and still working on common ground does.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, R.I.P.

First as Nurse Chapel--later Dr. Chapel--then as Lwaxana Troi, and frequently as the voice of a Star Trek computer, Majel Barrett Roddenberry was the only person to appear in all five Star Trek television series. She was almost the second-in-command in the original series, but the TV executives could more easily see an alien than a woman in that powerful a role. As Betazoid Ambassador, Lwaxana Troi, she played a character perhaps more powerful--both in feminine, earthy ways and in masculine formal ways. She was every bit the match for Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

She died yesterday, of leukemia. I did not ever meet her personally, but I miss her.

Read more here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

holiday animations

Follow this link to find four short holiday animations from the good folks at StoryPeople (Brian Andreas, et al). "Angels of Mercy" is my favorite, but they each have their own charm.

Friday, December 12, 2008

silver packages

Scott Prinster suggested I read Silver Packages, by Cynthia Rylant (and masterfully illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet), when he answered my Facebook request for good holiday stories to read aloud to people. Another person suggested "The Little Fir Tree" (thanks, Elba!). I bought "Silver Packages" today, and recommend it, and also Lemony Snicket's Lump of Coal (for those who are tired of too-sweet Christmas stories, but still want a nice message with their edgy humor.

I am happy this year, and always looking for more good stories. Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

about discomfort: teaching the body

Buddhist teaching is that humans suffer all the time, although much of the time it’s so low-grade we don’t notice. Even when we get what we want, nothing is perfect, so we feel some discomfort. When we’re sitting for a long time, we get pain in the knee. Or we itch! Also, we know we’re going to die. All kinds of reasons for discomfort. Here’s the formula:
pain (physical or psychological) + resistance = suffering

Every time the mind and body tightens against pain, the level of suffering grows many times greater than it would have been. If we can teach the body to fully experience the pain/discomfort WITHOUT resistance, suffering is reduced and finally goes away completely.

How to do that, when resistance is primal? The amygdala sends signals of fear, resistance, retreat, etc., before the reasoning brain has a chance to consider the issue. How to train a part of the body that doesn’t respond to reason? What we do is, we sit for a long time. The mind quiets down, so that the wordless primal functioning is able to “listen” with as little interference as possible from the reasoning, chattering brain. When pain arises, we greet it with equanimity, not resistance. We let it be. We “watch” it as it plays itself out, if it does. If it doesn’t, we stay fascinated with the intricacies of its throbs or twitches. The body resists as long as it can, and finally gets tired. It lets up on its resistance a little. The suffering lessens. Gradually, the primitive brain begins to get the idea that suffering increases with resistance, decreases with acceptance. The level of whole-body resistance drops, sometimes very quickly, and the pain actually dissolves into a wave of energy. That energy then becomes available in the same way that eliminating psychological repression makes a person more lively. Gradually, one becomes sheer energy, not tightened lumps of resistance.

written by Fleda Brown, who gives credit to her teacher, Shinzen Young.