Monday, March 11, 2013

Haiku Monday:Bloom

 Our hostess this week is Fleurdeleo
Jes' a whole lotta fun to go see what all other's did wif' the theme.  Come join us!
His chill morning kiss
Burned: Scarlet efflorescence 
Stained thy cheek...with shame.

'Midst Autumn's moldy
Witherings of lost glory,
Hope! Amaryllis.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Inspiration an' Eternity

Last week, Aunty mused about how Early Man, cave dwelling Homo Sapiens, all seemed to "know" that thar's an infinite  realm beyond what he could touch.  A simple reflection on Cave Dwellers' art and funeral rituals prompts big questions--How did Homo Sapien even git the idea of eternity in his haid?  All life struggles to survive--worms to wooly mammoths--but all die.  Rocks and sand doan die, but all that wuz animated died. Only Man has the idea that some form of his being will survive death.  Can we think the concept of eternity sprang from some observable phenomenon?

 Thas' not a viable supposition. Ain't the idea of eternity a most  unique concept?  One marvels that a primitive could nurture such a complex hypothesis.  Nothin' in the earthly cycle of life--birth, growth, death, decay--suggests anything remotely akin to eternity.  Why did Early Man not resign himself to this observable cycle of life?

"How could it be possible that we were only natural creatures, but that nature was felt to be insufficient for our needs? Either nature must be in some (old-fashioned) sense evil, or we have misconstrued our needs." (Adam Phillips, Darwin's Worms).

How did hope and expectation of an after-life germinate  in the mind the Primitive Man?  What gave rise to religion in the first place?  Why din't Cro-Magnon jes' stick to science, that is, the observable reality?

Because man was inspired to "know" eternity. Inspire--the literal meaning from the root is  "to breathe life into"  Pneuma, breath, Spirit.   "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) (yes, Aunty is fine wif' idea that this is poetic language, though I ain't bothered by an actual Heavenly Breath)

During this Lenten season I thought it might be fun to share some  of the readin' I'se doin' on the near truce thas' bein' formed a'tween science an' faith.

As science soars into outer regions of the "known"--a star hopping seeker who fantasizes about riding light saber highways into unknown galaxies--- to uncover relic radiation (leftover from the Big Bang)*, or, quantum this an' that, the billion pathways of Man's own mind is the inner frontier.

Y'all know that we still doan know exactly how a thought is thunk?  Why does this thought occur from that stimulus? Is it all jes' chemical?  How did a primitive Sapien git the idea of a wheel in action?

If two people look at the same ONE item in an otherwise stripped room, they have different thoughts, but we ain't sure why. The association each makes when viewing the same stimulus ain't identical, an' leads to different thoughts. On account of that quirky truth, it is possible fer many new ideas (in many brains) to suggest new lines of inquiry that arise from one short, it can be said that the possibilities are infinite, not limited to some uniformity of response. Two Nobel scientists examine the same data, but may arrive at two very diverse inspirations for a future exploration of the edge of the world we know.

I am reminded of the quip about why God created so many kinds of butterflies when one wuz enough to pollinate plants. Why? Because He wuz havin' such a delightful time creating the beauties!  For the sheer joy of it, thas' why--not because it wuz needful, but JOYful.  Or, because He could, thas' why--He could make a world whar' beauty fer the sake of beauty wuz reason (if you must have a reason) enough.

In like manner, it seems, He endowed Man wif' innumerable neurons, synapses, an' all manner of inner possibilities whar' no two inspirations need be the same--fer the sheer joy of our individuality. Some will paint, or sing, or invent, or dance, or write, or hypothesize,  or explore. However, the mechanics of inspiration is still unknown, otherwise the Lefties woulda inspired us all  right now into their  planned Noosphere.

Man jes' HAS to know--his curiosity becomes passion,  an' next thang ya' know, Hubble constructs the mighty spyin' eye on the cosmos--because? Because somethin' is out thar'.  Because we'uns feel called, pulled, beyond this known into the unknown.

 But, passion?  A scientist  declares himself "passionate" about disproving  any human need for the transcendent.(S.Jonathan Singer, The Splendid Feast of Reason)  Really? Passion suggests purpose and meaning, not a dispassionate scientific methodology  of inquiry open to the  discoverable truth.

 It's a dance, a glorious dance of discovery, not because it is needful, but because "it's there."  An' we know it is there, unlike the lesser primates, we know it is there, but we doan know What is there. Man has a sense of awe, of sheer wonder, for the universe that is there, a marvel we din't make by our ownselves or dream up but in which we's free to frolic...or, seek the source of this unfathomable mystery.

Molecular biologist Robert Pollack (The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith):  Irrationality does not necessarily contradict rationality, it lies beyond it. "The unknown is not thew edge of everything. The unknown itself is wholly bounded blurring into intrinsically inaccessible and immeasurable  unknowability... Science itself depends on the periodic emergence of the unknowable for its own progress."  Hence, scientific insight--we might say inspiration-- is not strictly scientific: "Scientific insight is not a phenomenon subject to prior scientific analysis."


Mystery is at the heart of the religious impulse--the first Cave Dwellers understood that. But this impulse to know the mystery ain't a religious escape from reality, but, seeing the vastness of reality, religious impulse is a movement toward the ultimate reality.

Non-scientific Seekers abound, but ineffectively for the most part. Book racks have dozens of versions  of  Chicken Soup for the Soul where more nourishment is had in The Cloud of Unknowing.  Folks is spiritually hungry, even Material Girl(s), an' they seek a connection to their spiritual inner-self  by  burnin' aromatherapy candles around the hot tub. This ritual is supposed to aid the seeker in communin' wif' the cosmos, to find a connection to the Ultimate Connection.

Seems to Aunty that in direct proportion to the rise of a Nietzschean "God is dead" sentiment, man, though existentially sated, is starvin' for God.  An' his passionate exploration of the cosmos is a plaintive wail, "Oh God, where are You?"

*Images of the Cosmic Microwave Background are set for unveiling at a conference scheduled for Paris on March 21st, 2013--in case any of y'all is curious. Or jes' want a decent croissant.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Allure of the Infinite

Last summer Aunty went to Spain, whar' one can 
visit the astounding' caves along the northern 


When  ya' lose yore breath gazing in sheer wonder 
at  how them primitive folks could paint their world on 
rock caverns with nuthin'  but firelight yore idea of 
"primitive" shifts a bit. Some research I done when I 
arrived home turned up another marvel: modern  
scientists   agree that  these cave dwellers,in whichever
location over the globe and in whatever era, all had some
sense of a "Great Spirit", an awareness that beyond them 
was God (however named). 

Ain't that a puzzle?  How on earth did it git into the haid of a 
Cro-Magnon that thar wuz a god-like dimension somehwar'? 
Now, afore ya' start down the trail of modern nihilism, thinkin' 
"Aw Aunty,  OF COURSE they had  such ideas because the 
idea  is primitive, but we's sophisticated now (an we know we 
doan need  God-Who-is-dead-anyhow-cause-professor 
Thickeskull taught us Nietzsche an'  Darwin an' Marx).

Please help me think this through. Iffin' them Cro-Magnon's an
other cave dwellers was "natural" man, doan ya' think that the
natural (by which Aunty means nuthin' outside the realm of the 
visible, experiential, solid, short, somethin' 
scientifically confirmed as existin') would be all they knowed about? 

But somehow they--an' others in far flung caverns--git into their 
haids the idea of somethin' "out thar'", somethin' divine (to judge 
by the artwork, graves an' adornments).  How? Why?  Darwin 
didn't make  no case fer belief in the other worldly as an
evolutionary necessity to cave-dweller survival, did he? 
How come Cave Dweller buried his daid wif' ceremony, as if 
he knowed' that death heah ain't the finite thang
that post-modern Cro-Magnon thinks it is? 

So mah puzzler is puzzled (an' charmed) to know that Early 
Man somehow had in his heart ( brain? spirit?) that somehow
thar's more to existence than what's observable in the natural. 
In short, how did that idea happen? Whar' did it come from?
How does an  idea,(inspiration?)fer which thar' ain't no 
observable proof, git thought up in the first place?

What is it about Man that he yearns for that which is infinite? 
That which is beyond the natural world which is itself incredible? 
Auntyhas her own theory, of course (of course!!) An it be this:
God is infinite. And Man, made in His image, also "knows" his
 destiny lies in the infinite, not the the finite. Some of y'all may
have a different angle of view. 

Herman Wouk (Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War) wrote The Language God Talks in 2010. It's a fun read, a slim volume that looks at scientists looking at the God possibility
via quantum mechanics or electro-something--or- other. Not a 
God of dogma or commandments, but God as an intelligence 
beyond what our science has yet to discover.  He makes a witty
case for calling a truce a'tween science an' faith, since they 
both hope to arrive at truth. They jes' come from
different directions.

I want a front row seat. 


Hope y'all find the topic as intriguing as Aunty do.
 Please share your ideas, links, insights.

Next week: The infinity within--a look at neurotransmitters and human inspiration and intuition.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Haiku Monday: Triumph

Winter field's blood smeared
Years yield Camino poppies.
Oh Iberia!

(Y'all, this pretty Dutch chile ain't none of mah kin--jes a filched photo from the outernet)

Anyone trekkin' the Camino de Santiago  is jes' charmed by the poppy strewn fields--where in the 1930's Spain's civil war gashed the land ...and hearts.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Moses the Black (unlikely saints)

  Roamin' around readin' some Roman fellas an' I fell upon this--too good to keep to mahself.

"The Saint Louis Tribune was not alone in casting doubt as to whether Dorothy Day could become a saint: They asked, "Could a bohemian journalist, who had a failed marriage and an abortion, be a candidate for Catholic canonization?"

This, it seems to me, is a bit of a strange question because in reality aren't all saints unlikely?
I did a little research and came up with a few saints that jumped out at me as some of the most unlikely.
1) Moses the Black - Besides having one of the coolest and most ominous sounding names in the history of Christianity his story has to be one of the unlikeliest saint stories.

Moses the Black (I just love saying his name) was a slave of a government official in Egypt who fired him for pure badassery. Think about that for a second. Dude was so bad he got fired from being a slave. Internalize that for a moment, would you? Turns out that his owner suspected him of nothing short of thievery and murder. And knowing that he himself was human and was required to close his eyes for 6-8 hours a night and Moses probably didn't have any such weakness like sleeping, he thought it best to simply fire him. Politely.

But it doesn't end there. Moses the Black quickly joined a gang of bandits and was almost immediately made their leader and probably not just because he had the most awesome name. recounts a story that would make Chuck Norris uneasy and PETA would most assuredly file lawsuits:
On one occasion, a barking sheep dog prevented Moses from executing a planned robbery, so he swore vengeance on the owner. Carrying out his threat, he approached the hut of his victim from the opposite side of the Nile and, placing his weapons between his teeth, swam the river. The owner of the dog heard the approach, so he hid along the river bank, thus escaping disaster, Moses, not finding the shepherd, took four rams from the flock, towed them back across the river, flayed them, sold the skins for wine, cooked the best parts, and feasted before walking back 50 miles to his camp.

When the law seemed to be catching up with Moses the Black for assorted mayhem he decided to hide from the authorities in a monastery in the desert. And that's where MtB found Christ. So then, Moses the Black became a humble servant of God, right? He did experience a true conversion but he was still Moses the freakin' Black. Proving that you can be both Catholic and hardcore, Moses performed one of the most amazing conversion stories

Four of the stupidest robbers in the world decided to rob the monastery where Moses lived.

 This is one of the stupidest decisions in the history of the world for two reasons:
1) Monasteries are typically the poorest places in the world.
2) Moses the Black was living there.
Moses completely overpowered them, tied them up and dragged them to the chapel. He announced that he didn't think it would be Christian to beat them into gruel which so moved the robbers that they reportedly repented and became monks as well.

He was later martyred as an old priest, allowing himself to be martyred by bandits after sending many of the other monks away.

2) Wilgefortis and her Dad didn't get along all that well. While the acrimony likely stemmed from her father actually naming her Wilgerfortis, it only got worse when her father promised the Catholic teen to a pagan king.

Wilgerfortis, however, had taken a vow of virginity so she did what every teenager with a vow of virginity who had been promised to a pagan king does. She prayed that God would make her unattractive to the pagan king. Well, we all know that God sometimes answers prayers in funny ways but this one takes the cake.

In answer to her prayers she sprouted a beard, which pretty much ended the engagement. For this, her father crucified her which is also an effective (and permanent) way to ensure you're not reluctantly married to a pagan king.

3) We are all guilty of piercing our Lord and Savior in some sense. But only one saint actually pierced the side of our Lord and Savior. St. Longinus is the centurion who pierced the side of Our Lord while He was hanging on the Cross. That's a pretty bad moment in life when you put a spear into God. You'd think some pretty nasty eternal comeuppance would be coming his way.

But no.

 Longinus, who reportedly had some bad peepers, was healed when some of the blood and water from Jesus fell into his eyes. It was then he exclaimed "Indeed, this was the Son of God!"
Longinus then converted, went AWOL from his gig as a centurion, took instruction from the apostles, and became a monk.

He was later arrested for the crime of being a Christian. They pulled out his teeth and cut out his tongue. (Hey, but his eyes were still 20/20.) But none of that stopped Longinus who miraculously continued to speak and destroy several idols in the presence of the governor. The governor immediately went blind only to have his sight restored when St. Longinus blood sprayed all over him when he was beheaded. (How awesome is that?)

And while becoming a saint is pretty much the bomb, you know Longinus must have thought it was pretty awesome when he was portrayed by John Wayne in The Greatest Ever Story Told.
You know Pope Julius II brags sometimes about how Rex Harrison played him in the movies but Longinus totally has the trump card. "John Wayne played me." Yeah, that probably keeps everyone quiet."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Haiku Monday:Covers


Leafing through years of
Spring to winter, Fifteen cents--,
Six dollars today.