Have you ever heard – or experienced – the saying, “The only thing that’s really permanent is Change”?
That’s emblematic of this thing called Process Theology.
I won’t try to explain it, as it’s mind-bending and maddening stuff (though, show me anything someone has written about G-d that isn’t).
Suffice it to say that the first notion of this idea was with Heraclitus.
“No man ever steps into the same river twice.”
It’s been refined, changed, and argued ever since, but Alfred North Whitehead comes up more often than not when discussing it. The general gist is that everything is a process – an event, if you will, instead of a thing. (You, reading this, are not a person but an event in time).
The one line I wanted to share with you from the day’s brief overview comes from (of all things) the rock opera Hoop of Flame that was written about the subject by John Mabry and his band, Mind Furniture. In the opera, God has been put on trial because, well, you know… if I may be so bold, there’s a lot of fucked up shit that goes on, no?
Anyway, to hear John tell it, God finally gets to testify in God’s own defense and we find out that God isn’t all-powerful after all. (It turns out that in Process Theology, we’re all a part of God… sort of like the cells in our bodies are all part of us. We can take care of our body, and we can try to create the right conditions for everything to flourish, but despite our loving best intentions, shit sometimes happens, right? Cells die, organs get diseased, we get sick…)
The only thing God can do is whisper to all of existence. I think of it as intuition. What if intuition is really something more important? From the *human* end of this divine phone call, we can choose to listen to the whisper from beyond, or we can choose to have another drink – or turn Netflix back on for the 26th consecutive episode of…
So here’s God on the witness stand testifying in his own defense:
I can’t pluck planes from the sky
I…. can only whisper
I can’t stay any arms
or prevent anybody harm
If you won’t listen.
I know it’s not much help,
and I don’t mean any harm.
It’s just that the only hands I have
are at the ends of your arms.
I came here (to seminary) to find the meaning of life. I came here (chip firmly glued to shoulder) to prove once and for all the hypocrisy of all the various images of God/god/Allah/Adonai/Buddha/Krishna/Vishnu/etc. that are in the world.
What I’m finding, instead, is a sense of commonness with all these flawed attempts to describe where it is we come from, where it is we go, and what the hell we’re supposed to be doing while we’re here. I admit to being so gloriously lost and tangled up most of the time it’s stunning.
The God that says pleadingly “…the only hands that I have are at the ends of your arms.”
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Jelaluddin Rumi
Yes, the world hurts, but there is power in those hands of yours.
Yes, the world hurts, but there is power in those eyes of yours.
Yes, the world hurts, but there is power in that heart of yours and on those lips.
We are not helpless. We are, each and every one of us, here with a gift to share.
Even if we have broken our vows a thousand times, may we start over and share a smile with someone, use our hands to do something nice, use our eyes to actually see someone – in their eyes, and use our lips to lift someone up with a kind word instead of tearing down.
Sometimes when it seems there is too much to possibly fix, too much madness to possibly bear, remember that it’s okay to pull back in. It’s okay to not solve all the problems or block all the heartache. Sometimes all you have to offer, all I have to offer is the tiniest of gifts.
They’re not tiny. Your gift – that smile or kind word is exactly what is needed then and there. Please don’t dare keep it to yourself.
You have a unique gift that nobody else can give the world.
A gift that isn’t shared is not a gift. It is only a burden. It doesn’t become a gift until it is given.
So in the words of Rumi, ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, yet again come.
By what name do 2 million Christians refer to God?
It’s Arabic for “the god” – or more correctly, “The God” or “THE God”.
It’s also Aramaic – the language of Jesus (“Allah”, “Elaha”, “Elaw”).
Is it not interesting how we conflate religious meaning with political & cultural meaning?
Is it even important what we call God? Is it even important that there is a God?
Here’s an article that that got me thinking about all of this. Meanwhile, I think I’ll try “Trixie” for awhile instead of God or Allah. I met her last week while on vacation with my wife and daughter. I’ll attach a picture.
I’m here in Berkeley, California to get my Master of Divinity degree. A sweet irony for me is that I don’t have to be enrolled in any school to find divinity. It’s on stark display daily in this beautiful place.
Tonight as I walked west from campus toward home, I was watching this spectacular sunset unfold in front of me so instead of heading to the apartment, I headed straight to the rooftop deck area.
I can’t afford an apartment with a rooftop deck, but then again, plenty of shitty things have happened to me over the years that I also didn’t deserve, so yeah… I’ve got a rooftop deck…
This sunset even smelled good.
Check out these pictures and then turn off your computer and go hug someone or call someone and say “I love you.” or “I’m sorry.”
That, my friend, is the best advice a first-year divinity student can give you about how to find the Divine.
We planned our travels around mostly local culture, flavor, and minor or less-well known sites. Angkor Wat is an exception. I couldn’t rightfully travel through Cambodia with 2 young kids and not take in this historic site. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.
Located about 2 miles north of the city where we were staying, Angkor Wat is only one of the many impressive temple ruins located around the area. Much like Mayan sites spread throughout the Yucatan, Guatemala, and Honduras, the Hindu-turned-Buddhist temples here are mostly undisturbed ruins. For every restored and tourist-overrun temple, there are who knows how many that are vegetation-covered mounds in the jungle, slowly being reclaimed by nature over a thousand years after they were built.
I went out to the site solo at around 5am to try and capture the sunrise over the main temple complex. Well, when I say “solo” – that is if you don’t count the few thousand other tourists who had the same idea. It was insanely crowded, and this was a quiet day – just after Khmer New Year – a major holiday here – saw the park full with 10 times the number of people. Wait – I wasn’t a tourist. I was a photographer. It’s different.
After my early morning sortie, I returned to the hotel for breakfast with the girls, and then headed back out with them to actually tour the temples and ruins.
What follows is only the briefest sampling of the hundreds of photos I took.
First, the sunrise trip:
The walk to the gatehouse…
Now beyond the gatehouse looking at the temples of Angkor Wat. These photos are taken over about a 40 minute timespan as the wolf-dawn light transitions into full-on sunrise.
Believe it or not, just out of frame to the left were about three thousand people all doing the same thing I was doing.
Even with all these people, the atmosphere was every bit as reverent and quiet as it seems as you look at these. You could almost hear a pin drop. In the grass.
And then we went back. We spent another nearly 4 hours touring all the other temples – believe me, this is only a taste. You could easily spend a week here exploring, wandering, reflecting…
I took a shower this morning in the hotel in Kuala Lumpur. A pretty long one with lots of steam and sudsy bubbles everywhere. If you read my post over on BlueSkyAcademy, you know that we started off in a rented local apartment this week. It had a more typical setup for plumbing.
The government turns the water supply on and off depending on how much there is to go around. Right now is the dry season, so the supply is unpredictable. The way people cope with this insecurity is by hoarding… you have a tank located up as high in your house or apartment as you can get, then you run your water supply from the city to that tank and leave the tap open. When the water is turned on by the city, the tank fills nonstop, even overflowing down the drain when overfull. When the supply gets cutoff, you have a certain amount of water to draw from for cleaning, toilet flushing (if you have a toilet), cooking, etc.
You would be shocked if you knew how much water you use in a day’s time. One easy way to find this out is by pouring it out and dispensing manually every time you use it.
The previous apartment we were in had a tiny (TINY) wall-mounted water heater in the bathroom. It had a handheld shower head on it. To bathe, you turned the switch on the heater and waited while it made a blender-like noise and began to dispense water feebly. Wet yourself down, turn it off. Lather up, wash yourself, then turn it back on and wait for the warm trickle to commence and rinse off.
If you want to learn why we left, head over to the post I mentioned above. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t because of the water.
I am thinking about how much water I use, though – both here while traveling and back at home in the US. That shower I took probably used 25 gallons of water.
This pool is less than 200 yards from the apartment building pictured above.
Because of the dodgy quality of the water supply here, it isn’t safe to drink. Enter the plastic water bottle. As a family, we are buying drinking water in 1.5 liter bottles of water each day. At 3 per day, we’ll use 90 of these bottles in a month. They are recyclable, but there isn’t any infrastructure here to recycle them, so they get thrown away.
I’m struck by the waste of this whole setup and by the challenges facing us. Not to be overly doom-and-gloom here, but it takes a lot of oil to make and ship these bottles of water around. Millions of them get used each day and discarded. Seems like there should be a better way to do this.
For now, we have one Katadyn refillable bottle that filters out filthy bits and other contaminants, but it isn’t a viable long term solution. The cartridges it uses are themselves made from plastic and nasty chemicals (and they’re expensive). I’m considering getting a UV filter called a Steri Pen so we can use local water, but if you’re a parent, do you take the chance and give your kids water that you think you filtered well enough? Maybe.
At any rate, don’t think the hypocrisy escaped me that I thought about all of this while taking my hot, steamy 10 minute shower.
I’m wasting water right alongside you, my friend. I’m thinking about it all though.
What might we do?
Click on the graphic below for a link to some info by the Natural Resources Defense Council about the effects of using bottled water.
by heck14. Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.