In catching up on the news today, I came across a pagan article titled “Who Would the Goddess Vote For?” Because I think it’s a little closer to our collective cultural understanding, I’d like to change the question to How Would Jesus Vote? The CA primaries are over, so I’m a little more interested in general political leanings or November election proclivities; if there’s a primary near you, or some other area relevant to you, please weigh in. If you like, change it to “Joseph Smith” or “Buddha”, but I’m curious to know how everyone thinks religious figures (or atheist, perhaps What Would Richard Dawkins Do has a place on someone’s wrist) would vote. (We’ve already covered what some of them would drive.)
NB: someone in the comment thread of the article I linked to has already said “My own suspicion is that most Goddesses wouldn’t vote in a US election. Better things to do. Better ways for Goddesses to do them. All that.” If your religious figure of choice did vote, how would they?
Happy Hallowe’en, everyone! One of the dominant themes of the holiday is to turn the scary into something safe. Often this is done by turning the scary into the funny or the cute: dressing children up like ghosts or monsters. Sometimes this is done by inuring ourselves to the scary by participating in it in a safe way: watching scary movies that we can turn off or walk away from.
For today’s challenge, I want you to think about what scares you & confront it. Like the riddikulus spell of Harry Potter’s world, force it to lose its grip on you by thinking of it in a funny way. Alternately, immerse yourself in it until you’ve built up an immunity to it and it no longer scares you.
Bonus: one of the major fears in our society is not death but age. How will you overcome the fear of aging?
I had occasion, a long time ago, to drive to Santa Barbara with a friend. We had our iPods (of course!) and traded off driving and DJing. And we both sang along with the music. Halfway there, I realized that my husband rarely sings along. This struck me, because, I am self conscious about singing along to music in the car, but only when there are other (strange) people around. By myself or with my husband: not so much. After I mentioned this to him, he started tentatively singing along with songs he knows. He never belts it out like I do when I’m alone (but I, too, reserve that for being alone), but he sings, now.
And there’s such a joy to singing, it just takes over your whole psyche. If you’re singing a happy song, you can’t help but be happy. If an angry song, you can’t help but be angry. I’ve been told that St. Augustine said that “who sings prays twice” and I still enjoy singing at church. I’ve been known to sing in the shower, although I don’t make it a habit (but the acoustics are pretty fun!) and I fully admit to singing in the car, while cleaning, with headphones on, and others. I’ve had people at stop lights make comments about my singing. Even when I was a kid & heard a song I knew, I would sing along in my sleep.
This week: Sing. Sing as if no one was listening (that old cliche), sing as if your soul depended on it. Break out with a favorite CD of musicals, a radio station with songs you know, a recording of your favorite opera (classical orchestral music won’t work for this unless there are words), or a memory of a favorite song. Sing in the shower, if you’re so moved, or in the car (a good way to be away from people). Let the song consume you and feel it down to your toes. Choose a song that fits your mood, to enhance it; choose a song with a mood you want, to change it. And sing.
It looks like I’m fighting a GI virus, so it may seem ironic for me to propose a food-related challenge. The (wanting to succumb to) death part fits though.
I had a little glimpse into chef culture today, thanks to Melanie Dunea’s My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals. Apparently chefs have been asking one another for ages, “What would you like to eat for your last meal on earth?”
I thought I’d play along, and I challenge you to do so as well. You might be surprised at what you learn about your own sense of mortality and your life’s priorities.
What would I eat for my last supper?
I’m torn between wanting to enjoy something simple or going for something extravagant. But because this is my special meal, I want this to be a celebration! And every sumptuous mouthful will be that much more powerful because it would be the last.
I think I would want a potluck, with some coordination on my part. I would want everyone to prepare something to share, or go out of their way to pick up something especially nice. If I could manage to make the meal some fusion of French country cuisine and Japanese home cooking, I’d do it. That might be asking for a bit much, though, even for one’s last meal.
Who would you want to prepare the meal?
I love cooking, but sometimes I spend too much time in the kitchen and not enough at the table. That’s why I suggested the potluck–then I can get the best of both worlds.
Also, we Remys love cooking and experimenting with flavors together.
Finally, my greatest successes have been eliciting surprise (of delight) from my guests. When conversation stops dead because they’ve really noticed what they put on their tongues and they have to bring their full attention to bear on the culinary experience.
Who would be on my guest list?
The guest list would be self-selecting: Anyone who considered my life one worth celebrating. Everyone who loves me for who I am, in spite of my septillion faults. Each of you make life worth living, and I’d want you with me at the end.
Living in LA, by most counts a hotbed of liberalism, I often feel rather conservative. I’m married, heterosexual, and I’ve never been on TV, nor have I such a desire. But in the few days I spent this weekend in Oklahoma City, I feel very much the liberal.
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I’d often heard that the lotus flower symbolizes the enlightenment of a human mind. The seed (a person), planted into the murky depths of mud and water (this world), after striving towards the light it can barely sense from the bottom (meditation, living life), blooms into a beautiful flower (happiness, enlightenment). But it was pretty academic until I saw the lotus flowers at the Huntington last week. The picture does not do them justice, but seeing the murky ponds, with scum floating, and bugs jumping, juxtaposed next to the pure white lily of the blossom really drove it home. It inspired me to renew my meditation practice (which is always shaky at best).
What inspires you toward embiggening yourself, mentally, spiritually, or physically?
One of the oldest “sciences” in the world is astrology. It operates on the principle of “as above, so below”, which is to say that the movements of the heavens affect the movements of people here on earth. The majority of it is probably bunk, but sometimes it’s fun to read a horoscope and laugh about it.
It’s also not bad as a “know thyself” tool: while reading through a description of “me” either as a rooster or an aquarius, I will often have several “aha!” moments. “Wow, I totally do that, I should change.” or “Wouldn’t it be great if that was how I responded to adversity?
I like to think of it like I think of the tides: the positions of two major planets affect lakes and oceans and inlets in different but obvious ways. They could very well affect us, too. That their affects are sewn up in any newspaper horoscope that you read is unlikely.
So this week: read your horoscope for a few days. Think of it less as a road map of your life and more as a tool for looking within. Most horoscopes are written broadly so could apply to anything that happens to you. This, too, could be an opportunity to step out of your everyday and look at something mundane that you do as something extraordinary.
Bonus: read your horoscope in conjunction with that of your spouse, child, best friend, or arch enemy.
Most Western showers (at a length of about 10 minutes) waste 60 gallons of clean, potable water. [I have no idea where that number came from or how accurate it might be.] In contrast, a “Navy shower” can use as little as 3 (I’m sure I use more than that when I do it). Although I love the feel of hot water sluicing over my body, it does sometimes make me feel guilty. And I don’t think I average 10 minutes in the shower when I’m doing that. Because I spend more time thinking about soaping up, I feel cleaner when I take a Navy shower. And I use less water, which is a nice way to start my day (I’ll drink half a gallon of water when I make my tea, anyway). Try it! Try it a few times a week (that’s the most I’ve gotten up to). You won’t want to do it as often in the winter, but it’s a great summer shower!
I was listening to Gimon& Sarfunkle recently and one of my favorite songs came on:
Old friends, old friends:
Sat on their park bench like bookends.
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
of the old friends.
Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun.
The sounds of the city, sifting through trees,
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends.
“Can you imagine us years from today?
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy!”
Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears…
“Time it was & what a time it was! It was:
a time of innocence, a time of confidences.
Long ago it must be; I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.”
I wish I had had the opportunity to dissect this in a poetry class. To me, the beauty of the poetry mirrors the beauty of the subject: friendship. I see a central-park-esque scene (influenced by the fact that the album I first heard this on was the Concert in Central Park) and two teens or twenty-somethings (maybe older) walking, passing two seventy-somethings (maybe younger). The two couples look upon each other with familiarity: each is the other, or was the other, or will be the other.
The segments that are (or seem to me to be) spoken are their conversations: first the younger couple, with and to each other but at the same time with and to the older couple. There is only one thread of thought, but these are friends, & who says each word may not be the same as who says the word that came before. Then, the older couple, in the same respect. The two older (men in the song, but it need not be) friends discuss with themselves what a time it was! while at the same time warning the younger friends that this! this is the time, the time that will be the time that was.
Aristotle is credited with saying that a friend is a soul who dwells in two bodies. Today, remember the other pieces of your soul. The men & women who you talk to every day, or who you don’t, the men & women who you count as true friends. I remember friends who, even if we haven’t spoken for years, I could sit with in comfortable silence, sharing thoughts, on a park bench, or on a walk through a park. Friends whose houses I don’t knock at, but simply open the door, and who likewise feel at home in mine. Friends who may now be only memories, but all the more special for their absence.
“We are surrounded by beauty,” I read somewhere recently (I think it was Rumi, but I can’t find substantiation for that), “Sometimes we just have to be in a garden to see it.”
I thought of this as I sat, tea in hand, cats on either side, looking out my front door at a concrete courtyard, the urban desert; a hateful sky; and three desolate palm trees just higher than the roof. “Not a great view,” I thought, “I wish I had a garden to gaze at, so that I could be surrounded by beauty when I take my morning tea.” Which of course reminded me of the quote above & made me feel guilty. I have beautiful cats, a sunny day, and friend’s houses to look upon.
What’s the beauty that surrounds you?
At AX (that’s Anime Expo, not Armani Exchange) a few days ago, I bought myself the cutest little murderous monster ever. And I started thinking about why I like the fake religion of Cthulhu (see this treatise to prove I’m not the only one thinking about this in a vaguely serious manner). As stated in its FAQ at it’s campaign site (why vote for a lesser evil?), Cthulhu devotees are awarded “the following priveleges: They will die last”. It suggests to me the impermanence of this life and the unlikelihood of the next.
The only reason these religions seem less authentic to me than “real” religions is that they don’t take themselves seriously and they were invented more recently. And, maybe, because their adherents don’t care if there are any other adherents.
While in Church recently, I remembered that, as I began to feel that I didn’t really believe, I left out the bits of the Nicene Creed that I didn’t actually believe. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even start the Creed anymore when it gets to that part of Mass (the only responses I give these days are “Lord, hear our prayer” if I’ve agreed with the part before it; even “Amen” means “I believe”). There are, of course, other creeds that are acceptable for Catholics, like the Apostle’s Creed.
What are some creeds from your [former] faith? If you were to make one up that defines your belief, or what you hoped the whole world believed, what would it be?