Archive for January 5th, 2010

Psuedo-Dionyseus, the Areopagite

The muse draws me to the keyboard. Let fly the random sparks of a quiet afternoon to allow my soul a moment to depressurize:

  • To love what you eat is appreciation. To eat what you love is a rut. The former makes us grateful while the latter makes us fat.
  • When I am bored, I long to be doing something different. When I am busy, I long to do nothing.
  • Over and over, I hear “change is the only constant”. If it’s changing, it’s not constant.
  • Just when I get hooked on a television series, the network takes it off the air. It must mean something.
  • Gray hair is said to be a distinguished look for men. Hmm. I just thought it meant you’re losing pigment. If it’s so distinguished, why don’t young men rush out and gray their’s?
  • In the “new” barbershops, stylists often ask me, when finished cutting and blow-drying, “do you want product?” In other words, do you want your hair to stay put or blow around like the head of Medusa?
  • CNN repeats the news incessantly. The BBC is worse. Never has so much been said about so little by so few.
  • The real value of that first cup of coffee: it gives me something to balance in those early morning moments when critical parts are still fast asleep.
  • I long for the old days when a large cup of coffee meant its LARGE. In the universe according to Starbucks, large is small, and “Venti” is the big one. Apparently, that justifies the price.
  • Three things I love about getting older: senior tickets at the movies, senior price discounts for Tuesday dinner at Ihop, and approaching more affordable healthcare coverage (not too far off). It’s all good.
  • Proof positive that we all live in “the Matrix”: pharmaceutical company ads urge us, “ask your doctor if X is right for you” just before telling us that side-effects may include embarrassing and unnatural conditions ( you can guess), strokes, fainting, or death. Clearly, they are banking on the fact that, either no one is really listening, or, more likely, no one is really thinking.

Spiritual living is a balancing of the via positiva, or cataphatic theology ( the way of the positive acts and disciplines that are of G-d and Spirit), the via negativa, or apaphatic theology ( what is NOT of G-d & the Spirit) and piercing through empty cliches, and the via purgativa ( the way of the penitent heart).

Let us dance with Sheva and grapple with our fads, follies, fumbles, and funny side along with our more serious celebration of  luminous moments.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A Statue in Bangalore, India of Shiva Meditating

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Illustration by Dan May

As an ordained Bishop, the color of my ecclesiastical vestments is violet, or so-called episcopal purple. This is also the proper color to apply to all U.S. states and Congresspersons at so serious a time in our Nation’s history.

In political parlance and symbolism, purple is the blending of the so-called Democratic blue and Republican red. Over the last year, there has been a complete breakdown of dialogue in Congress, and exchanges  have been dominated by partisan rhetoric. Authentic dialogue would be signified by a purple disposition, suggesting dedication to preserving common ground and serving a greater good. Doing so is as much the work of mature citizenship at a time of ongoing global and National urgency as it is spiritual practice.

As a political independent, a politically purple creature, joining the swelling ranks of purple critters, I am free to make hybrid choices in elections without running afoul of either organized political party.  Of course, once in the voting booth, I can do whatever I want in any event,  but acting independently while claiming to be a member of either party would be intellectually dishonest. Involvement with the body politic is an important part of engaged spirituality. To sit on the sidelines of history is both too easy and too comfortable. Without active engagement with the issues of our day, spirituality remains an abstract and solipsistic exercise.

I confess to being something of a political junky, taking in as much of the news of the day as I can stomach, until the theater becomes too noisy or absurd. The spiritual discipline in all of this revolves around right thought and right speech. It is easy to listen to points of view with which one agrees. It’s another thing altogether to listen when in passionate disagreement. Cultivating the capacity to do so is a  matter of spiritual importance and is the true test of one’s capacity to genuinely listen, learn,  and appreciate diverse viewpoints.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

By contrast to the enlightened definition of intelligence offered by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the above quote, the political rhetoric in Washington lacks the maturity, collegiality, and insightfulness that our times demand. While both sides of the political aisle have contributed to this disappointing state of public affairs,  the Republican minority, fully commanded by the more extreme right, has injected the harshest, most unseemly, and destructive poison. The agenda on the “Right” takes the form of  ad hominem attacks, innuendo, fear mongering, and hate speech. This loud minority has the dubious distinction of having mastered the arts of pitching inflammatory talking points, demagoguery, deception, and distraction.


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