Ranting about American Culture

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One of the errors of modern American culture is the presumption that if we pay for something, we can do whatever we want with it. This happens to be the line of thought presented by the ignorant redneck (I want to make that “ignorant redneck fuck”) that ended up making me hate him within a short span of time.

 

But no, here’s the reality check: just because you pay for something, just because you own something, does not mean you get to treat it however you want it.

 

Read that again carefully.

 

We don’t get to do whatever we want to whatever we buy; we have the freedom and right to purchase what we want, no matter how terrible or ridiculous it may be, but to waste it, to abuse it, to misuse it, is not something that comes with the territory.

 

Tonight, I went out to eat with friends, and they ordered pizza. Two sets of friends left pizza- parts of a large pizza for which they had paid money they earned working- just sitting there, instead of doing the scrupulous thing and taking the leftovers with them.

 

I’m not suggesting I’ve never wasted food; I have wasted food in my lifetime, but most often, if I do waste food, I’ve done it for good reason, as in, the food has gone bad or something along those lines. I don’t just leave food sitting on my plate or throw away food that I’ve dipped out.

 

But it isn’t just about food; it’s about so many things, it’s about the deeper issue in our culture, and invariably, the deeper issue is the real issue.

Just because you produce kids does not mean you get to treat the kids however you please.

 

Just because you earn money does not mean you get to waste it however you please.

 

Just because something belongs to you doesn’t mean you get to treat it however you please.

 

And I’m sure that will piss people, most notably, Americans, off in a way that you can’t even imagine. “I earned it! I can do whatever I want with it!”

Grow up. No, you can’t. That’s not how life works. And it’s unfortunate that you should be so silly as to think that it does.

 

In the end, we must consider that ultimately, this is God’s world, and that ultimately, no one can own anything, nothing belongs to anyone but God. So that food you waste, those products you waste, that money you waste- that belongs to the Absolute Reality, and what you’re doing may as well be considered an affront.

 

Just a little common sense thrown out in these trying times.

 

Beaux

 

 

 

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Music

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Currently, I’m going through my iTunes library and deleting files.

My MacBook is an older model- the lowest end model from 2009, making it 120 Gig hard drive. Last year, I acquired a huge amount of music, and I now have about 30 Gigs left on it.

I also have the Sims 3 on my Mac- I could delete Sims 3 and free up 12 Gigs, no problem, but I plan to get around to playing it again at sometime in the near future.

As I go through the music, I see a complete change in heart of how I used to feel. Somehow, I like more music, more varieties of music, and identify with them in a deeper way, than I did when I was younger.

Now, I’m reluctant to part even with rap and country music. But this is for the sake of the greater good of my Mac.

Music is a good thing. I love it. I adore it. I embrace it. I celebrate it. Maybe I’m just in a good mood. There are certainly songs that play these days that I absolutely despise, songs that I will hear on the radio and immediately change the station.

Beaux


An Idea to Kick Around

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The unfortunate aspect of blogging is that blogs that aren’t just random journal entries have to have a certain kind of theme and focus in order to be more successful.

Holy Poached Eggs initially worked as a sort of catch-all for everything but had a theme of Southern Food. Because my religious writings and ramblings needed an outlet, I produced Craving Aletheia.

Needless to say, Craving Aletheia isn’t exactly established in the same way as Holy Poached Eggs is. I did take a break on HPE earlier in the year because I was going through a rough emotional patch and kind of plunged into one of the darkest levels of my life that I’ve ever seen, but then I decided to bounce back and really put myself into my writing.

After all, I am a writer. This is what I do. This is what I love. This is what I know how to do, this is what I’m good at.

I know I ended that sentence with a preposition, but the technicality in the English language is that you can end sentences with prepositions so long as it doesn’t conflict with the overall flow of the sentence.

The point of it was this: Holy Poached Eggs gets views every day. Not very many views, given, and when I have thirty people viewing it and get two comments, I’m ready to break open a big keg of root beer and celebrate and dance around the room like a drunken person even though I don’t really drink. Craving Alethia doesn’t get nearly so many views, but it exists out of necessity, and typically the people who are interested in mysticism and spirituality in the way I am are bound to search out and find it anyway. And I can live with that.

The question is whether or not I should start a third blog, a blog dedicated to mundane life experiences that exist outside of cooking and outside of spirituality.

Of course, some smart-ass will naturally jump in at this point and try to point out how the mundane and the spiritual aren’t necessarily separate or something along those lines and try to be all “I r Zen Buddhisting” on me, but let me just go ahead and point out that I’m well aware of that fact and am just trying to express things in terms of, “Be that as it may, most people don’t have a conversation with Jesus fully appearing to them on a daily basis,” and allow that to solve the matter.

Having a third blog, in a way, seems superfluous. Two blogs are already a lot to handle, in addition to any other writing that I’m doing (and believe me, I’m doing a lot this year- 2011 is the Year of Writing for me. I WILL write, I AM WRITING!), and my blogs aren’t technically even as great as they could be. I blame that on the lack of a decent camera and a lack of the best kinds of resources, but I won’t worry about it for now.

I have good comrades who have given me a lot of advice (thanks, Logan) and I know that there’s a specific audience that will understand from where I’m coming in the midst of my ramblings, people who are naturally gifted with the ability to extricate from my tangle and mess of words precisely what I’m trying to give to them.

Whether or not I’ll actually begin a third blog is still up in the air. I definitely don’t plan to make it a resolution for the new year. In fact, I haven’t made any full-blown resolutions this year, though I thought about giving up sugar. This may not be the best idea, though, because writing a food blog actually kind of requires that I cook and eat things, and I know sugar isn’t everything, but I’m writing about Southern food, and we do use a lot of sugar and grease and such.

Lately, I’ve had dreams about enlightened people. Last night I dreamed about Bernadette Roberts, and she was trying to explain to me various things about the mystic’s journey and what occurs in it. She also had a British accent and reminded me of an actress, though I can’t remember which one. I’ve also discovered that when I don’t dream much, I awaken in a rather cranky mood.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens with 2011 and the writing. I pray for inspiration, I pray for dedication, I pray for discipline to write, write, and write some more. I even took the postaday2011 challenge for WordPress. I may cheat on this and say that a post on either of my blogs counts as my post for the day.

Beaux


Go Ahead, Christianity!

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Go ahead and split yourself off a little more.

Cast out the women priests and the non-celibate gays, along with all the so-called heretics and whatnot.

When they take all the crucifixes, stained glass, candles, incense, good singing and music, vestments, ancient Bibles, reverence for Christ in the Holy Eucharist, coffee and donuts with them, you’ll finally be left with the Church of Ultra-Conservative-Old-Fogeys-Who-Sit-Around-in-a-Puritanical-Service-and-Smugly-Revel-in-How-Orthodox-They-Are.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be worshiping God at a Solemn High Mass in the Church of Fabulous.

Beaux


Working Towards a Definition of “Catholic” and Some Observations

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Within certain traditions, notably that of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, there is huge debate on the meaning of the word “Catholic” and the means by which one can identify specifically as Catholic.

With no doubt, there are a number of people in the Anglican Communion which identify as “Anglo-Catholic,” and the official position of the Communion is that it is both “Catholic and Protestant,” or more appropriately, “Catholic and Reformed.”

But within the Anglican Communion, there is a wide spectrum of worship styles: the High Church, which is no less than a Mass and Catholic, and Low Church, which is rather evangelical and would identify with being Protestant, and the Broad Church, which incorporates elements of both.

The actual word “Catholic” means “universal” and refers to the Christian Church as a whole. In the common language, people use it to mean “a member of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Initially, during the 1500s and the Protestant Reformation, the term “Protestant” referred to someone who was anti-papal; this came because of the continued abuses of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church in those days. These days, however, “Protestant” has come to mean more so “anti-Catholic.”

If we should suggest that the Episcopal Church is anti-papal, in the sense that Anglicans as a whole do not recognize the Bishop of Rome/Pope as the absolute pontiff or having authority over their church but rather as a Bishop of special honor and recognition among other equal bishops, we might rightly use the term “Protestant.”

However, if we should suggest that the Episcopal Church retains the historical episcopate, that is, the Apostolic Succession, that the Church retains the Sacraments of old, that the Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Christian Faith, that the Church relies on the councils of the Church in the past and on the writings of the Church Fathers as well as on the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed as the sufficient summary of the Faith, then we might rightly deem them, unabashedly, to be Catholic.

The Episcopal Church under this situation cannot be deemed “Roman Catholic,” but certainly “Anglo-Catholic” or “English Catholic” may suffice.

On another note, it is oft-quoted that Henry the VIII “founded” the Church of England.

The Church of England was founded, strangely enough, in the 600s. Henry the VIII, in his political debacle with the Pope, declared that he, not the Pope, was the head of the Church of England. Thereto in addition, we must also consider that the concept of the Pope having primacy above and beyond other Bishops was a doctrine defined later in Christianity, around the year 1000 or so. It is, in fact, this very doctrine that contributed to the Eastern Orthodox Church breaking with the Roman Catholic Church. As I understand it, the concept of the Pope never did completely become accepted in England.

Many Anglicans also subscribe to what is known as the “Branch Theory.” The Branch Theory entails that the Original Church is comprised of three denominations- the Anglicans, the Roman Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox.

When religious debates begin on online forums, many snide Roman Catholics will claim that the Anglican Holy Orders are simply invalid. The Anglican Holy Orders are, however, recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Anglicans issued a statement back as to why their Orders are valid.

One thing to also consider is that there are, believe it or not, Independent Catholic Churches. That’s right, Catholic Churches that are not Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Orthodox. This is part of a movement known as the Independent Sacramental Movement. The Ecclesia Gnostica and other Gnostic Churches recognize the validity of the Holy Orders of the Church of England, and therefore it is the Roman Catholic Church’s ancient prejudice and political agenda that is invalid, not the Anglican Holy Orders.

Just some more thoughts.

Beaux


How Oddly “Conservative” of Me!

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Under most circumstances, I don’t like to have all kinds of labels attached to me. For many years, I understood labels as being nasty constrictions on the True Soul which underlies all things, and that to label ourselves was to become “attached” to something in the world, to some aspect of our transient selves.

Laying aside the Buddhist dogma and focusing on things from a practical angle is also an option.

The reality is, practically speaking, that we must necessarily identify ourselves to others in some way if we are to live in the world. This same rule does not apply equally to a monk living in a monastery among other monks.

But I am not a monk. Have I considered it? Sure. But I am not a monk, and I cannot live my life as one.

Perhaps the middle road of labels should be taken as well- accept labels when they are useful, as in social situations, but do not sit around and twiddle your thumbs thinking about the label when you are not socially engaged. Labels are simply reference points of convenience; use them as such.

The preface being said, I’ll get to my point- under normal circumstances, someone might label me as being “progressive” or “liberal.” This holds especially true in south Alabama.

I found myself on the other side of the spectrum concerning a recent situation (early 2009) that happened in, of all places, the Episcopal Church. A woman Priest by the name of Ann Holmes Redding claimed to be both a Christian and a Muslim.

They defrocked her.

(Wait for it.)

AS THEY VERY WELL SHOULD HAVE!!!

There you are, the “conservative” statement that I was planning to make the whole time.

Whereas I feel that a person can identify with the Beauty, Truth, and Holiness of a given religious tradition that is not one’s own, and in many cases, one can adopt certain practices from that tradition and its culture that are congruent with one’s own, I think that it is also intellectually dishonest for someone who is a representative of a particular tradition and not merely a lay practitioner to try to represent multiple traditions.

The situation of the layman varies from this. Depending on the religious tradition, a layman may be able to practice more than one religious tradition. Layman represent the tradition, but not in the same way that the Priesthood does.

True, I think that the core of religious traditions are the same- the internal essence remains the same across most of them, the Holiness, Love, and Bliss that are God.

But think of it this way: Alabama elects Jane Doe to be our Senator, so she goes to the US Congress to represent Alabama.

Not Georgia.

Not Florida.

Not California

ALABAMA.

Now, some might argue that the political situation differs from the religious one, but the point I’m making is that this Priest came from a specific religious “territory” but was attempting to hypothetically represent two different religious “territories,” which in this case are separated by a wide gulf of theological opinions and commentary.

Another situation that is similar but offers a solution is the Kevin Thew Forrester, an Episcopal Bishop who has a decade-long history of practicing Zen Buddhist meditation. Having reading his statement on the matter, the difference is that Forrester was led full-circle to the mystics and contemplatives of the Christian Tradition; in essence, he took a method, found it in his own tradition, and went on his merry way. The so-called “lay ordination” he received merely means that the Buddhists recognize that he’s trying to alleviate suffering in the world, and what could be more Christ-like?

The difference is remarkable, as well- the Zen meditation isn’t exclusively owned by Buddhists, and that particular practice is not incompatible with Christianity, as meditation is a huge part of the Christian Tradition (unbeknownst to many Christians themselves who would argue otherwise.)

This is not about “my God is bigger than your God” or “my religion is better than your religion,” in case you’re wondering. Rather, it is a matter of integrity and consistency; it is a matter of the preservation of certain traditions that we already represent and finding fulfillment in our being representatives of that tradition without having to take on the traditions of others as well.

There. I’ve said my piece.


The Experience of Identity Loss

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Under everyday circumstances, we talk about the loss of one’s identity. Often this is tied to something such as the loss of one’s career or a partner, something that definitely put you in the realm of social affairs and distinguished you in relation to other people.

However, the week before last, while journeying with Tyler and my friends somewhere, I had a more frightening version of losing my identity.

Without warning, suddenly I was quite confused as to who I was and how it was that I came to be who I am. No doubt, I could identify things such as my name, age, all the usual things; instead, there was something more crucial that suddenly seemed odd and strange and completely out of place in the scheme of reality.

This is certainly an “awareness of being aware,” a strange state of affairs where one’s own awareness stands in contradistinction to one’s personality and identity, a separation of Mind and Name might be a way to explain it better.

The first time I recall ever having such an experience as this was when I was a child, sitting in the bathtub. Suddenly the same oddness and out-of-placeness of myself hit me, of who I was, of my distinction as a person as opposed to other people in terms of individuality.

I do not mean to state that I was unaware that others exist; of course I was aware of that, and of course I am now aware that others are aware. This is a wholly different experience, one that is confusing at best and likely anxiety-provoking at worse.

Perhaps one might call it an awareness of being who one is. Perhaps it is the remnant of a child-like impression of who I was, an outside imposed notion of who I was as opposed to who I really am on the inside.

I realize that stating all these things is quite subtle, and only those who have been through the experience can begin to fathom and relate on what I mean.

The truth is that experiences that others have not had, perceptions and differing degrees of awareness, are ultimately the very “business” I’m in, for want of better terms. Mysticism revolves around this sort of ineffability.

I do want to make it clear that what happened was not the same as the disappearance of the Ego, which is the sudden and blatant absence of the “I” that normally resounds most loudly in the mind. That, too, is an experience that mystics all the time mention, and yet until one encounters it for one’s self, it sounds like pure rubbish.

Perhaps someone out there can give insight into what exactly this experience means or refer me to others who have had it.

Beaux