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Sound and Silence

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longing

Self Portrait : David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
Or many gods.

I want to know if you belong — or feel abandoned;
If you know despair
Or can see it in others.

I want to know
If you are prepared to live in the world
With its harsh need to change you;
If you can look back with firm eyes
Saying “this is where I stand.”

I want to know if you know how to melt
Into that fierce heat of living
Falling toward the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing
To live day by day
With the consequence of love

And the bitter unwanted passion
Of your sure defeat.

I have been told
In that fierce embrace
Even the gods
Speak of God.

Reposted from the Emergent Village Facebook Page

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Karen Armstrong’s long and winding road.

God, rid me of God [Meister Eckhart]

Former nun, lapsed Catholic, unsuccessful academic, undiagnosed epileptic, fired schoolteacher, failed heterosexual, cultural ignoramus, unlucky in love, ex-Christian, post-atheist, faded TV personality, turned author, sage and freelance monotheist: these are some of the milestones on Karen Armstrong’s long, hard road.

Very rarely does an autobiography remain a gripping tale throughout, without succumbing to egoism. But Karen Armstrong manages this admirably in “The Spiral Staircase” (2005) in a litany of misadventures starting out at age 17 when she excitedly decided to enter a cloistered lifestyle in the hope of finding transcendence and happiness. Continue reading “Karen Armstrong’s long and winding road.”

Is ekke beter as Jack Parow of Die Antwoord? ‘n Soutie praat.

Ek’s original, jy’s ‘n copy, ek’s ‘n flashdrive, jy’s ‘n floppy [Jack Parow]

In English, that’s:

Am I better than Jack Parow or “Die Antwoord”? (“The Answer”)
I’m original, you’re a copy, I’m a flashdrive, you’re a floppy [Jack Parow]

WAARSKU! WARNING! De-tox in progress! If you are easily offended, let what lies in shadow lie… Continue reading “Is ekke beter as Jack Parow of Die Antwoord? ‘n Soutie praat.”

Review: Pádraig Ó Tuama’s “Hymns To Swear By”

“I’ve fucked it up so many times
I’ve fucked it up so many times
I’ve fucked it up so many times
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.” [Maranatha]

These are the facts:

“Pádraig Ó Tuama’s debut album “Hymns To Swear By” blends poetry, spoken word and song in an achingly beautiful way. Many of the poems and songs have been spoken and sung in the context of Ikon in Belfast. They mix prayer and longing and raging in mystical fashion. The album is stripped back with just voice or voice and guitar which somehow makes it all the more potent.”

And here is the truth:

I ache. I yearn. I am comforted. And spellbound. Continue reading “Review: Pádraig Ó Tuama’s “Hymns To Swear By””

avatar cloud

luminescence

AllMother

universe organism

deep ecumenism

mandala congregation

post-gravitational

sky roots

Sawubona

Wise Wilderness Wild Wisdom

cosmic tribe

Toxic Apocalyptic

“ngumuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”

Grace

scintillation

Tree City

pansacred

terrestrial reef

magnificent diversity

myopia 

betrayal

trojan horse

Sky Tree

light of the world

Aho Mitakye Oyisin

“I see you”

At One

suicide machine

OneField

“From wild man to wise man” session 1

Sergio Milandri and Richard Rohr

The Wild (Wo)Man

We introduced the idea of wildness, presenting it not a negative and destructive force, but as the path to wisdom. The scriptures and the prophets have been read through the eye of civilisation, but on deeper examination are “a wild bunch” (Rohr p 3).

It was established that the preferred way of masculine communication was control oriented, involving the rational and the egocentric approaches. It was more “feminine” to feel empathy and be compassionate, and this generated the surrender, trust and vulnerability which lead to aliveness. It is imperative we make authentic contact with our “unexplored wildness”, taking this risk in order to be ultimately free to love. Continue reading ““From wild man to wise man” session 1″

Dream Forest

Last night I dreamed:

  1. David Bowie, older but statuesque and charming, is in our midst. I open conversations with him and he demures, chatting briefly, but ultimately remains aloof. He turns in for bed, perched loftily atop a triple bunk, out of reach.
  2. I go into a supposedly familiar general store expecting to see a supposedly familiar Indian shopkeeper behind the counter, but the Indian has been bought out by the Chinese. In his place are 4 Beijing-Olympic-style hostesses in shiny canary yellow dresses, all smiling. Alienated, I leave the shop and see the old owner who looks like Mac Maharaj, in a coffee bar sipping a latte.
  3. I enter a decrepit, Orwellian room with about 20 light switches, only 2 of which actually work, and dimly at that. An apocalyptic news bulletin comes on the radio from an Indian politician talking about mass outbreaks of an incurable virus. I panic, and yearn for the Brubecks (my university lecturer Darius and his wife Cathy), an earlier life where I knew what was what, who was who, and what I had hoped for. The soundtrack could have been Bowies “Five Years”, although it seems like it was only 5 weeks. Shades of Cloverfields, 1984, and I am Legend.

What sayeth the soothsayers?

one punk under god

“I do not feel shame, I AM shame.” [Jim Bakker]

“As Christians, we’re sorry for being self-righteous, judgemental bastards.” [Jay Bakker]

I have just watched the Sundance Channel series “One punk under God”. This features Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, the disgraced televangelists. It is a tale of the truly miraculous – how one man survived being a PK (Preacher’s Kid) in severely twisted evangelistic subculture, and has gone on to proclaim a heartfelt message of grace and forgiveness.

Jay is in many ways the antithesis of his media-, religion- and money-crazed upbringing. Of course, things have moved on, Jim served 8 years of his 45 year prison sentance for fraud, and reinvented himself as the “New Jim Bakker”, but somehow never saw much life beyond television. Tammy, she of the false eyelashes and guarenteed-to-run-mascara, died last year of cancer. Despite it all, and approaching the end, she said (paraphrased) “A son needs his Mom to tell him everything is going to be OK, but his Dad to tell him he’s proud of him.”

Never denying his parents, Jay nevertheless places himself in a very different mileau. He is essentially postmodern punk: piercings, cigars and cigarettes, tatoos. He seems quite at home in his skin, too. His wife of 7 years, Amanda, similarly has almost as many tatoos and a shrieking vermillion hairdo. She just wants him to be happy (but does wish he’d quit preaching and find another career).

Jay took the bold step of declaring his belief that homosexuality was not a sin, which cost him the support of a major backer. Of course (especially in the USA) homosexuality is a big political issue. But perhaps the main story running through the series is Jay’s attempt to reignite a relationship with his father.

With great pains, after several ignored calls, he eventually manages to visit him in his studio and appears on his show. Clearly strained after a pre-airtime summit in which his pro-inclusion views are discussed, Jay diffuses the situation and appeals to the basic need for love and acceptance. Jim (who knows with that guy what is real) breaks down at one point and confesses that Jay is doing what he should have done, but cannot.

This conflict epitomises the deep tensions which underlie so many lives: generational, theological, political and cultural, but most of all, with attitudes of the heart. And one pressing difference has to do with Inclusion, or ones ability to live generously and non-judgementally. Clearly, religion, and specifically Christianity, has failed miserably to live up to the inclusiveness of its founder.

I marvel at the grace that has allowed Jay be himself. At how he walked the narrow path, holding the tensions between breaking away from what he loaths and yet honouring those he loves, and seeing them for who they are … such discipline is the deep stuff of the spirit.

Jay … to merely be who you are, a punk and a christian, goes a long way towards the meaning of Incarnation. Holding that “disgrace” who is your dad so in mind, though left bereft of his affections yourself, is a true act of courage.

See Jays church website, Revolution NYC .

the smaller picture

UnderwaterI spent the weekend with family and friends at Betty’s Bay, towards the southern tip of Africa. I used a handicam to gather about 2 hours of images, video footage for my new VJ project. The environs are spectacular, and for one whose traditional icons of contemplation are mountains and horizons, I was surprized to find myself drawn not to panoramic grandeur, but inwards.

TaillightDrawn towards detail, closeness and simplicity, and away from overview, remove and the large scale. Aware of close-ups, where the essential nature of objects is revealed. Seascapes and big cloud draped mountains just aren’t sitting well with me at the moment, at least in the context of imagemaking.  

And so I ask, why is this? I’ve always been a big big-picturist, always thinking globally, scouring the universe for meaning, and tirelessly surveying eternity. I’ve not been one for smalltalk. Ask any haridresser. And I have always been disparaging of the tinyness of my own attempts to engage the world.

MarblesMaybe the inner person is weary of grandeur. It’s well accepted that the soul seeks psychological balance. Whereas I might harp on about the History of Western Music, or the Greek influence on the Enlightenment, perhaps my soul is saying, snuggle up and enjoy your little space, your time, your family. 

But I suspect there is yet more to this. I think there is a move afoot by a subversive, backdoor G-d who says, yes, Bono and Anita Roddick taking on Globalisation are alright by me, but I am doing a new small thing. Bishops, priests, politicians, leaders, just let them be, you just pay attention.  Prophetic blogging elements such as smallritual or smallfire echo this sentiment. I saw a superb, if somewhat intellectual posting on HauntedGeographies called “Let us space”; I quote  

This is the idea that a fragment or torn segment of map can somehow speak for a whole territory, the rent in the canvas that reveals a universe. The macro understood through the micro … To some degree, fractals already contain the DNA of their parent– the shard that refracts a universe. 

MoonI think there’s a difference between images for ritual and images for other purposes, such as narrative or feature film, study and documentary, or to drive home a message as in advertising. Ritual lends itself towards repetition and contemplation, and moves into a space rather than along it. It is not goal driven or justified via entertainment, education or communication, although it can be any of those.

As far as music goes, I’ve also wondered why repetitive, pattern-based music has currently got such a hold on me. Underworld – trance, techno and ambient, Massive Attack – downtempo and triphop, Propellarheads and bigbeat, and the (classical) minimalist Steve Reich, provide a wealth of groove-oriented sound.

I started out my musical life with a few implicit rules such as “Non-repetition is good”, “Simplicity is stupid” and “Many notes are superior to few”. I don’t really know where those rules came from, but it’s taken a lifetime’s journey to unlearn them.

GreenGlassAnother facet of this discussion is that the world has over the last century shifted from an object based view to an energy based one, spearheaded by the newer and emerging  cosmologies (Einstein – Hawking etc). Furthermore, in the world of painting, light-based Impressionism and beyond took us away from the classical enlightenment notions of objects. As such, it is appropriate to explore energy (and the effects of energy) in our imagemaking. Images of the elements are for me a very powerful source of ritual. I spent time shooting wind, water, fire, and light.

 “The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”
– Thomas Berry, quoted from Rob

WindwiresWind is especially poetic and pertinent; for according to John 3, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

For me, it is the time for small ideas. Away from Grandness, Marketshare, Acceleration, Accumulation, Influence. 1 Corinthians comes to mind –

He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

But this is more than a lesson in humility, or a moral observation. It is rather an aesthetic, a design principle for life. It is something to celebrate.

Fire

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