Thursday, 22 July 2010

682 - Tetrahedral Spirituality?

It might be that God is love should be read "And even God is created by Love (even as Love allows that it is being created by God)"?

So that it is impossible to set oneself against love, because one is love, even if one sets oneself against God (but because one is love it is not that one is set against God so much that one is with God?

It might be?

Try replacing 'love', capitalised or uncapitalised, with 'consciousness'. Or maybe 'light'. Jesus, the light of the world? Perhaps in some sense this is other than fact or metaphor, but a third thing? Spiritual?

Perhaps there is a universe of this kind of light. So many specks linking and unlinking - a communion of Spirit. Perhaps, like factual light, this light can be particle or wave, in two places at once, or one, or three, to make a plane, or four, to make three planes, a tetrahedron.

In a tetrahedron each of the four points allows the others to pull their ways, each three support the fourth. If the four have equal pull, there is no distortion. Perhaps in every discussion of Christian theology, one should speak not only of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but of a fourth? Humanity? Each Personhood holds and allows the others their place. If no humanity, endlessly reproducing, which new ears would there be to hear the wonderful gospels, which new voices to join the choir, which mothers and fathers to nurture and let go their children, or elder kids to do what is right the whole time, or prodigals to range from home and return (and range again perhaps, this time full of meat, with the love of their life met at the party their parents threw, to risk the pain of childlessness for the joy of a new generation).

I always feel Jesus, being the firstborn, in his telling of the parable would have had compassion for the older brother of the prodigal son, as well as the father, and perhaps the fatted calf too! This is a story in which nobody loses: though the older brother becomes angry and refuses to come to the family party, and severs his own links with his father, even he is not rejected: "'My son', the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. ...' So the question is, what does it mean to be always with the father, and to have everything he has. Everything including, presumably, the love for, joy at the return of, and celebration with the prodigal? He who has ears to hear, let him hear, as is said.

The parable of the prodigal son sounds like an icon of the Trinity, with the wilful Holy Spirit blowing where it will, including home. The three points are the father, older son, and younger son. But a fourth is provided by the storyteller as he speaks, and his audience, the speed of sound later, as they listen. In the same way, Rublev painting his icon would have felt a part of the encounter, just as you or I do standing or seated in his place today.

Such an encounter reveals love and compassion in us. We are seeing the love and compassion of the trinity, and sharing in it. There is great pain in turning away to the next thing, anger bubbles beneath (and on) the surface. We are like the elder son.

If, however, the story never ends, there need be no turning away, no cessation of love and compassion. Or the minute we turn outwards, away, we become part of a new tetrahedron, and anger, though seemingly present, has no opportunity to break before it is gone. Perhaps it never fully formed at all. What we thought was anger was the effort, mentally, to break away from a trinity we didn't want to leave, because our mental quest is not only to God, but to each other. And each other's others - the fatted calves, perhaps; or the spirituality of the religious East. Then maybe those parts of creation that have not evolved on Earth, or at all.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

683 - Upstarts

[thanks to]

As Firefox has it, inviting you to clothe your browser in a chosen skin: Choose your persona.

Christianity is Trinitarian, which in conventional terms has rounded edges. At least, of the three personalities, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each has been assumed to bind in, or at least, mutually support the others.

Jesus, by his life, is seen to have left this family to redeem a fallen humanity: those who choose his path are bound back in, where previously, presumably, they were Hellbound. Heaven is seen as mutually supportive, safe environment; Hell as feral, where the beasts that are bigger than you bite, and those that are smaller burrow. It is possible to read the scriptures as promising universal salvation, but only if you assume the storyteller has a twinkle in the eye when the story is told: Oh , the sheep will get to heaven, but the goats will be cast into outer darkness [*But we know, listeners, that no-one will really turn out to be a goat*]. Christianity has, somehow, to incorporate a fall, even if it is wholly happy with evolution as a concept.

But what if the Trinity were a little more ranging? What if, for example, the Holy Spirit were a bit of an upstart, blowing where it will, including in all the awkward places?

If any of these were true, there might, despite the scriptures, be a cause for believing a person, or people, could exist who were perfectly happy to live their allotted span on the Earth, be called into existance at birth, and out at death. Somehow at the end they might become part of the firmament of Love in which dwell all others: they might for the duration be the Holy Spirit, and explain an anarchic streak in humanity, and perhaps elsewhere.

Such a people might live by pre-fall myths, as Hugh Brody, delicately unpicking Genesis, and interpreting its creation stories as wholly agriculturalist (even Adam starts a gardener, and the first murder is by a herdsman of a farmer) suggests Hunter-Gatherers continue to do. Or somehow they might dwell in myths of the new Jerusalem, with the old heaven and earth passed away already. Or not dwell in myths at all, but in the conscious heart of the universe, expanding despite the odds, or expanding and contracting continuously from and to a point of singularity, as Einstein's scientific poesis defines it.

They might find each other out, or simply recognise each other by the twinkles in their eyes, and know they are somehow one, even though the myths, beliefs and practices they have been shaped by are wildly different, even mutually contradictory. It would be for them to wrestle meaning out of the primordial mud, and watch it sink back again (or not watch, as their senses depart despite themselves).

These people would be neither good nor evil, might dream they are deific, but wake to the demonic (remembering that dreams can occur in waking reality, and waking reality in dreams). Finding enough succour in each other and the anarchic Spirit of Holiness, they might be borne by each other through the hard times, and be blessed in the good, directing their blessings to their friends in the dark till roles are perhaps reversed.

They might find wisdom comes midway through such a life, so that they no longer need rely for absolute being on the support of others, but shine their Spirits, enflamed by Love, for the benefit of all. They might even appropriate the myths of others, but only to enfuse the myths with compassion, expanding them past the realms of feasibility till all are redeemed, so that they need not hand the myths back, because they have already given the fruit of them to those they have taken the myths from. (And these in turn have grown their own myths, with which to feed their anarchic friends.)

A model by which we might see such interactions could be the networked domes of the Eden Project, which contain and make possible the ecosystems within them. You go to see the plants, but you also go to see the star-crossed architecture which makes them possible.

Some may be called, from time to time, to explore each other's worlds. The anarchic trinitarians might lower a friend into the ecosystem, or an archaic Trinitarian might fly a kite to the anarchists. A touch of realism, however: of course (of course) each would return to their kind: Model 2 might be deep sea diving, or aeronautics: no-one could remain anywhere without the support of their fellows. (A network of tetrahedrons, extending upwards and down, might just perform the job.)

In conclusion, beyond the calls demanded by individual religions might be a further call, to each and everyone, to which each and everyone responds. I (who am biased in this) might phrase it thus: Choose your persona. Go and Story!

Monday, 19 July 2010

684 - Christian

The deepest, toughest, most demanding week of my life, the week just gone. I will draw on it for the rest of my life, and write about it honestly here from time to time.

Suffice to say, for now, that I've concluded that being a Christian means ending cycles of abuse. No more, no less. And if you have to stop being a Christian in order to do so, then stop being a Christian.

But as for me, now, I no longer feel that is necessary. So from now on, I'm happy to wear that label, and will do my utmost to wear it well.

I am a Christian.

Friday, 16 July 2010

685 - Indomitable

Whitley Bay, Tuesday.
[new camera!]

686 - A Pernicious Idea that by our choices we can live a life that adds more good or evil to the world than any other person.

It's not that life isn't a fantastic adventure (or that adventure doesn't seem cold and disheartening when you're in it). But authentic spirituality has to embrace pain as well as pleasure, death as well as life, thwarted ideals as well as miracles, including ideals we hold about ourselves.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

687 - Birth, Sex and Death

One sweeps you into the world.
One sweeps you up in it.
One sweeps you out of it.

Not sure there's anything sensible to say about any of them!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

688 - A Fair Deal

It seems to me a fair deal that a seer should spend half their life mad. A civilization at the birth of itself has no knowledge, certainly no medical terminology. Observation would perhaps have led to the understanding that humanity, like 'pigness' or 'oakness', is its own value, separable from the distortions it suffers through growth in a restricted (or overly rich) environment. Long before DSM IV, the American diagnostic manual for mental disorders, the seer would observe, internally as well as externally, the mechanics of consciousness, and, from their location within the community, offer testimony that others undergoing fluctuations of sanity, with all that entails, were still wholly human (neither devilish nor divine).

The seer, then, performed a vital role within a group of social animals, and if his or her watch really promoted the integrity of the herd, it is not hard to see how such qualities as 'seer-dom' might evolve naturally, in the same way that symmetrical features evolve, and strength, and other aspects of physical health.

Perhaps we are all seers to a greater or lesser extent. And perhaps civilization, if it fails to acknowledge that we are all as mad as we are sane, is blind to the possibility that it is possessed, intrinsically, of the same divide. Divide? If it is located in the ebb and flow of consciousness, as David Lewis-Williams and others suggest, this is perhaps an artificial distinction. As Daniel Everett, in Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes points out, at least one tribe in the Amazonian jungle, the Piraha, sleep a maximum of two hours at a time, and talk through the night. At a recent seminar on sleep that E attended, it was reported that one in ten of us are naturally nocturnal.

Myths arise out of our experiences in altered states of consciousness. The clarity of science allows for certainty that the twin poles of deepest sleep and wakefulness coexist but do not impose on each other. In the same way, perhaps, the experience of a myth fulfils the same function, from the opposing pole. Karen Armstrong and others divide cultural discourse into two streams, one logos, one mythos. Their work teases at the implications this division has for societies, religious and secular, as they grow and split.

The division of action, and its precursor intentions, into good and evil, is another artificial distinction. Perhaps it is relevant solely in our waking domain, and maybe not even there. In any case, if there is no useful distinction we can make (even religious texts that accept the dualism, like Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43, leave the judgement to God), perhaps it is better to abandon talk of morality for talk of mental health, and of mental health for the flow of consciousness?

In such a transition, the role of seer is as relevant as ever, be it one that we all share , or one that some undertake on behalf of others, or a bit of both. Either that, or we all act, waking, alone, and dream in silence. That might be possible, too, though whether, given an evolutionary basis for see-ing, it would achieve anything apart from a massive exercise in repackaging, is debateable, and perhaps, therefore, better left undebated?

689 - After Faith

[Work in progress]

That I am an extraneous man
Is (is it?) no doubt. That you
And I have met, on the intersection of
Love and doubt, is
Our hopeful declaration of marriage:
We will, I'm sure, make it work.

But in my thought sphere (my world) I
See two trajectories: I am
Falling away from myself,
Falling together. One two - Outside
The cradle in which all is borne,
Sinking centripetally; or, in the cradle,
The cuckoo, becoming legal,
Only by correctives
Applied by in- or external hand.

Caught in the fall upstream, in
The bounds of this flesh, perhaps
You enkeep me, as I try to keep you:
Necessity nest me, and I will
Garland you in my superfluous words.
(Morning I chase them away;
Evening I welcome them back.)

I say instead: life, be our guard;
Evolution our holding cell; church our
Sentence, a palindrome. Restitution, fly
In dissipating threads, quickened
By black holes. But in this instance, if only this,
Be love.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

690 - Stars

In the end, all we are, all we can give, all we can give to, is stars.

Monday, 12 July 2010

691 - Pottery is Poetry With Typos

Hmm. Self-identity as an artform? Midlife must be the point in the creative process when you want to ditch the clay and start again.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

693 - Reluctant Shifts

Funny how words don't appeal very much any more. A bit dramatic, perhaps, and tough given the vast neurological networks I am, as well as possess, dedicated to language and its written form. Like being a typewriter of great insight, aware that it is being asked to perform like a word processor - a mix of joy that its visions can be better expressed, and despair that the job is beyond it.

The Christian vision, which I bought, then rejected, until a mystical experience convinced me there was a deeper truth beyond the words, gave me great hope that everything I wanted to do or say could find creative expression within its remit. But alongside the hope is a great despair, and as ruts form, and I physically age, and as I test the boundaries of the vision, the despair has overtaken the joy, recently, too often.

The appeal is then to revert to word-level truths, or even abandon words altogether. A spirituality that takes evolution seriously, that allows a place in heaven, or whatever might follow, if anything does, for everyone, shouldn't have a problem with choices like these. A sick animal dies, or recovers to die later. Too much pain and anyone is let off the hook. Everyone breaks down sooner or later.

But a third option is to sense oneself as part of an evolutionary shift through words to a state somewhere beyond. It would be Lanarckian to claim that exposure to the information age is inducing an evolutionary shift within a single generation. That's not what I mean. But it is possible that our societies are demanding, or inviting, new responses from us, to which some may be better suited than others. And those of us with a predeliction for words, like me, might find ourselves brutally tested, and failing, if societal shifts of too great a moment occur in our lifetimes.

That might not mean that we cannot catch the vision, and run with it as far as we are able, like the aspiring word processor that collapses in a jumble of levers and lead typeface, but has sensed, at least, the shape of things to come.

What might a post-verbal world be like? One where people communicate not just by sound and text, but by total performance? That's surely already happening. And come to think of it, maybe it's been there all the time anyway. Dance, drama, ancient ritual, being what they are. Maybe I'm chuntering on about nothing. Probably, okay definitely, am.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

694 - Spanish City Dome

A sketch of the Dome for use in the logo of our new games-making company - Bay Games Ltd.

(Overheard yesterday that they've plans to divert the coast road behind the Dome, presumably so that the area can be pedestrianised. That'd be cool!!)