Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Of Memes and Chihuahuas

I was methodically dissecting a rather perplexing paper on memes when I overheard Bro. Theo recalling one of his earlier epiphanies: "The temperaments of man and the correlation to canine temperaments are remarkably telling." With that I let go of the memes and joined the discussion, adding my thoughts, "Just as chihuahuas must scamper to their drummers, the basset must trudge to his." Then Bro. Theo added, "it takes all kinds ... even among the university crowd, the physicists a tad more excitable than the somewhat free spirited biologists." And then Bro. Juniper turned to me with, "Why must we be soooo politically correct with every 'group/gender/variant' under the sun, yet we feel free to chide the decent chihuahuas?" My retort, "A chihuahua scampering to a different drummer is a blessing from God, for without our scampering, yappering, nipping at the heels friend, the chihuahua, we would already be in heaven, and then, what would become of hope?"

Bro. Bartleby

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A good word gone bad?

The problem is that the word myth has evolved from meaning the traditional story telling that served as 'history' in oral traditions, those stories that served to explain a world view of a people, to the rather throw away word of today: myth equals falsehood. A good word gone bad. Using the original meaning of the word myth, I feel it is a good and proper understanding of many of the Biblical stories, but using the modern usage of the word, I think it only distorts the conversation.

Bro. Bartleby

Reflections after lamb chops and wine

At first reading of Bro. Vernon's missive this morning (over bacon and eggs) I felt swayed by his thoughtful reply to Bro. Joseph, and still after a 'very' hot afternoon in the vineyard, I find his reasoning to be persuasive, yet ... after supper (lamb chops) some of the brothers gathered round the Macintosh and began questioning this and that and before long I had to pull the plug. Now that the others have retreated, I'll try to raise their concerns.

Bro. Theo questioned his depiction of Christ 'the Son', noting that Bro. Vernon seems to be depicting Christ the 'Holy Spirit'. Bro. Theo reasons that Christ the Son should be thought of as 'Christ the Man.' Christ the Man was born, lived and died on this earth. Christ the Son/Man was God's only way to experience the experiences of His creation: man. And as 'Man-in-Christ' God gained firsthand knowledge that He, God of the Universe, could never have obtained. In Christ, God the Creator experienced the laughing, crying, feeling, hurting, loving, hating -- all that makes us humans. God the Creator could never have felt those 'limiting' feeling of us humans if it were not for Jesus -- God made flesh.

I'm sure some may have as hard a time in following Bro. Theo's thoughts as I have. But after re-thinking his thoughts, I think I'm beginning to get his drift. What do you think? Well, before I forget, let me add Bro. Juniper's comments.

Bro. Juniper thought that Bro. Vernon placed this in the wrong category, saying: "The Son represents God with a Face ... in the mugshot faces of friends and strangers wherever we go." Bro. Juniper felt this should be in the "Holy Spirit" category. He put it in these words, saying: "The Holy Spirit is the invisible, uncomprehending, love that can be 'seen' in the actions and feelings of those around us. The Holy Spirit is 'God the Invisible' that CAN communicate with that 'little voice' we all possess in our heads. That 'little voice' in our heads that never quits commenting, fretting, detracting, analyzing, and even rearranging our thoughts." Bro. Juniper believes that God, the Holy Spirit, can enter into 'dialogue' with that 'little voice'.

And finally, to Bro. Vernon's statement, "I think a reverent agnostic will likely appear on Judgement Day with better credentials than most of the rest of us." -- Bro. Sedwick added, "So, after creating his 'cut-and-paste' Bible, I suppose this means we'll be in company with our founding sceptic, Thomas Jefferson." Please forgive Bro. Sedwick for his frankness, for that's his nature.

Bro. Bartleby

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Spike Verity

I was mulling a problem while awaiting lunch time and strolling in the courtyard and Spike, Bro. Juniper's feisty mongrel (a mix of fox terrier, beagle, Dalmatian, and poodle) began, as he often does, to chase his tail. And around and around and around he went, when finally he completed the circle and snatched his tail with a grrrrr-ing snap of his jaw -- "Eureka!" I burst out. The circle was complete! The grrrrr-s ceased, the endless chase ceased, and a sort of calmness fell over Spike as he slumped down, with tail still in mouth, and soon a peaceful slumber overcame the once bedeviled dog.

With that I couldn't help but slap my forehead, a dazzling display of truth before my very eyes! It all fit together so quickly in my mind that all that was left was for a name, a title for this dog chasing tail metaphor, at first I thought the "circular motif" ... but that was quickly replaced with "The Spike Verity" -- with a grin on my face that I could not wipe away, I rushed to the dining hall and quickly seated my self. With a plate of hard-boiled eggs before me, I whispered to Bro. James and requested the megaphone, which was resting on the seat beside Bro. James, and unused at the moment. Bro. James obliged, and I took the megaphone and related my observations of Spike in the courtyard, then wishing the brothers to hold that image of Spike chasing its tail in mind, I presented my Easter epiphany.

The Spike Verity

Acknowledgement/realization is a segment of the circle,

repentance/remorse is a segment of the circle, and

forgiveness/grace/mercy is a segment of the circle --

any one segment missing and the circle is incomplete/broken/wanting.


Bro. Simon presents his take on the matter:

The Spike Revelation:

Mystery/Seeking/Seized/Holding Fast/Harmony

Mystery: the tale spotted, yet not identified

Seeking: the chase begins, the mystery just beyond grasp

Seized: the mystery seized, with blinding pain

Holding Fast: the mystery brings comfort, the chase ends

Harmony: unity restored, the circle complete, time for dreams and visions and flights of fancy

Monday, April 10, 2006

Which nobody can deny!

Bro. Simon announced at the break fast table that our nameless visitor had left a farewell letter, and to Bro. Simon's surprised, he found it nailed to the monastery front door. Of course several of the brothers raised their eyebrows upon hearing of a missive nailed to the front door, but Bro. Sedwick raised his hand to keep silent any premature speculations. At Bro. Sedwick's urging, Bro. Simon read from the letter, first, announcing that our "nameless" visitor was in fact, John Elksboy. He noted that the signature was printed: Brother John Elksboy (with "Brother" underlined twice). In the letter Bro. Elksboy thanked us all for the meal of ham and eggs and especially the mealtime discourse, and he noted that he recorded in his journal some of the words from that afternoon discourse. First, he said that the brother with the grizzly-grey beard (we think he means Bro. Bartleby) said, "Evil fears humor." That he recalls sparked a rather animated discussion among the brothers, but after thinking about these words, he confesses some truth to them. For in his travels, he recollects that among those who are most cheerful and with easy and hardy laughter, evil never seems to be present. These words he will remember, and in addition, he will continue to practice his own humor. Next, he recalls the brother with the patched robe (we think he means Bro. Juniper) said some words of great interest, they being, "Ham and eggs, which are you?" Bro. Elksboy said he was puzzled upon hearing those words, and could not speak an answer, but upon 'reading' the brother with the tiny chalkboard (we think he means Bro. Carl, who that day was silent), the words he remembers as, "Ham and eggs, which are you? But of course, if you produce the eggs, you are the chicken, the one who is somewhat involved in matters; whereas, if you produce the ham, you are the hog, the one who is fully committed to the matter. So, so to speak, we at the monastery are the hogs of life -- committed fully." Bro. Elksboy wrote that he too will be a hog of life, no more trepid involvement, but now will live with an enthusiastic commitment! With that, Bro. Simon refolded the letter and seated himself, but not before all the brothers broke into applause, with a rousing "For he's a jolly good fellow" dedicated to our formerly nameless visitor.

Bro. Bartleby

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Visitor

Yesterday, at noon, a visitor came to the monastery to "look around" as he said. Of course we welcomed him, and allowed him to wander the grounds. Bro. Simon strolled with him and later they both joined all of us for our noontime meal. When asked his name, he would simply smile, and for most of us, that was enough. Bro. Simon urged the visitor to tell all of us what he had told Bro. Simon on their stroll, and with that the visitor related his interest in Native American cultures, and noted that he too was of one of those cultures, and told us a bit about his recent travels. With that he produced a tiny notebook that he said were his collection of proverbs and sayings of his people. Here are a few that I hurriedly scribbled down, but I can say that hearing them with your ears is such a different experience than simply reading my hasty notes, but nevertheless, here they are. (I should note that the visitor departed with a promise to share some of our proverbs and sayings with whoever again invites him for a noontime meal.)

"Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you." --Hopi

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." --Crowfoot, Blackfoot

"Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back where they were." --Luther Standing Bear, Teton Sioux

"Before eating always take a little time to thank the food." --Arapaho Proverb

Thursday, April 06, 2006


"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants to fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer