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Monthly Archives: November 2010

bursting

coming out of the dark
moving on from the shortfall
standing against the spew
turning over the silence
joining the dots to the high line
ripped up

relocated

bursting waters flow
waiting for the green

getting with the grow
bursting
not the dark
dry and floating

flying
on their knees

necks exposed
spotlight on the standing

while the bent burns

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Research seems to suggest that in our communication a very small percentage of what we convey is verbal. The vast majority is nonverbal. Facial expressions, body language and other seemingly intangibles seem to convey the bulk of our communication. Context, culture, possibly physical proximity, maybe even smell, touch, voice tone, physical appearance, all these seem to be in there in larger chunks than our spoken, articulated speech and the exact meaning it is intended to convey.

We live in a predominantly textual world where written communication is so prevalent and indeed, important. Precision, articulation, definition, accuracy, reference, all these are extremely important to us.

Thousands of years ago a man called Moses is recorded as climbing up a mountain and spending a very large amount of time alone with God. He allegedly brought down the exact detail of this time speaking with God and what he heard was later written down also in exacting detail, and these teachings have influenced the world possibly like no other in history.

Interestingly, the only small section of this dialogue that was written whilst up on the mountain was that which has come to be known as the “Ten Commandments.” These words were written down by the hand of God himself, chiseled out on tablets of hard stone. The biblical narrative tells us that these two stone tablets were thrown to the ground and broken by Moses in a rage at the disobedience of the people waiting at the base of the mountain. Shortly after this event a duplicate was re-chiseled.

This duplicate is now lost.

Now, if I had stood in front of you and instead of writing (or typing) these words, I had instead spoken them to you and then suddenly asked you to move immediately away and under strict examination conditions I had asked you to write down in exact detail what you have just heard from me I am convinced that most would get a very low mark. Possibly much less than 40% would be totally accurate. If the test was repeated 30 minutes later the mark would very likely be even lower, maybe 20%? what about a repeat test a day later? In a week? a month? in a year? Now this is not because you are stupid or uneducated, but simply because you are human. You and I are made this way. This is the way we are and it reflects the reality of the limitations we have in the way we process and retain information. Vocal (non-literate) cultures utilise repetition and combine this with various physical acts like dance and song, story, myth, drama, etc. to optimise retention, entrench values and history and successfully preserve culture. The Hebrew people, even though they were a literate culture (also having spent hundreds of years in Egypt), did a lot of this kind of thing too.

However, from what it appears Moses walked down the mountain to join the people with what God had said. It was conveyed that the exact detail of all the words given to Moses had to be adhered to under fear of death. Even to this day the same devotion to detail is present.

I cannot help but marvel at the events just spoken of. Without trying to appear being disrespectful I wonder how realistic this all really is? Some questions and thoughts immediately spring to my mind. Without dishonouring or insulting anyone it might be interesting, and I believe very helpful to entertain some of these (and possibly many others) and see how it might impact us.

What happened up there on the mountain? What was done? How did God speak to Moses? Did Moses just listen or did he also speak? What about the fact that Moses was human just like us, with the same basic communication skills and biological makeup? Surely Moses processed communication like we all do (with only a small percentage being accessed and absorbed through verbal communication)? I’m really not trying to be controversial or disrespectful at all here but what else did they do? Did they dance? Was anything actually said verbally? If it was, what would have been Moses’ limitations? Surely God knew that Moses was made like he was? I mean, God made him didn’t he? Moses is recorded as being up there for days, even weeks at a time. That’s a whole lot of communicating especially if it was all speaking and listening. I’ve said that Moses was up the mountain with God for a long time. It doesn’t take weeks to read through every word that is recorded in the teachings of Moses. It would take less than a few hours even if one reads quite slowly. So what happened the rest of the time? Maybe they just hung with each other? Did Moses sleep a lot? or at least a whole lot more than usual? Did he dream a whole lot? What form did the communication take? was it conceptual? abstract? linear? random? lateral? Like the process of osmosis was it absorbed?

Elsewhere in the biblical narrative it is written that God personally spoke to Moses face to face and not in dreams and dark sayings like he spoke to others. What was this ‘face to face’ communication process? Did it entail dialogue? Did they discuss the details of God’s legal requirements? How much if any of the detail was Moses’ idea? Did God ask any questions? Did Moses give any advice? Were they good friends or did Moses sit very, very still and not dare say a thing? Was it a monologue or a dialogue? Did they laugh? Could God have been far less prescriptive than we could ever imagine? As a lateral example, could the chiseled ten commandments have been all that God actually prescribed and the rest given to Moses to take the liberty of filling in the gaps, thereby building up a culture of honour around God and what Moses had ‘absorbed’ about God and his ways whilst up on the mountain? Like Adam was included in the process of designating the animals was Moses included in the cultural outworking of God’s spiritual requirements?

This may seem like meaningless speculation to some but what could it possibly suggest or possibly say about the way that God might want to communicate with us? It may seem to some that I might be trying to suggest that Moses simply made up some stuff and told the people that God had said specific things and that it is all a hoax, well, not at all. What I am saying is that to my mind approaching these possibilities very possibly expands and amplifies the beauty of the biblical narrative and explodes all manner of possibilities into so many wonderful arenas. It could serve to open up the way we hear from as well as speak to God and each other. Instead of digging our heels in on the textual specifics we could rather explore and experience just what Jesus might have meant when he said that if we are set free by him we would be free indeed. Surely the freedom Jesus spoke of is not explained by the way the present day church has embraced the singing of popular rock songs in worship and going to church in informal attire? Surely God’s liberty is not summed up in his children being able to copy the pop culture that surrounds them and embrace high-end technology as a legitimate form of worship rather than the old pipe organs and acoustic guitars?

In our modern social culture we focus on such a literal medium of information transfer. Most of our communal gatherings are dominated by a single speaker who delivers a non-stop monologue for as much as an hour or even more. How effective is this really in terms of information transfer and retention? Is this really God’s choice pattern? One talking head and a multitude of nodding ones? Is this what happened up on the mountain?

What really happened up there on the mountain? Who might have the courage to try explore the possibilities?

Now that the mountain has been removed and cast into the sea shouldn’t  we be asking what could be happening now?

When Christ’s work was done on earth the veil was torn from top to bottom. This was clearly not done by the hands of men. Could it be that we have been unwittingly sewing it up again?

Why, if Jesus was and is the fulfillment of all God’s promises to mankind and the exact representation of God Almighty as so many devout followers believe did he not personally write down detailed textual instructions for us to follow? Why did he speak and teach in the way he did? If anyone had the right to be legally and literally formal and meticulously demanding it was Jesus, yet the gospel narrative paints a very different picture. What message might this contain for us?

What really happened up there on the mountain?

What is really happening on the mountain right now?

Who might have the courage to boldly try explore the possibilities?

 

please see:  http://wp.me/p10VG6-3

 

For a full day, throughout the whole world,

as the globe spins on its tilted axis

the world unites in an act of communal worship.

As the time zones roll on in their endless track of spiral momentum the clock strikes midnight,

for what seems to be a full 24 hours.

So too, mankind spins out and down in their own spiral of momentum.

Some accelerating, some decelerating, but spinning nevertheless.

“Let’s remember and do it better!”, “Lets forget and start again!” we all cry.

A confused yet united shout of worship to the god of human endeavour.

“To times past!”, “To times to come!”

we remember with nostalgia the folly we have called achievement.

We exalt hopefully in a hopeless time of hope in hope,

for what we would like,

but in ourselves cannot.

 

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The intimacy of divine detail
is painted with bold sweeping strokes
The broadness of divine truth
with the fine point of the pen

The flow of infinite thoughts
cascade in a trickle
The specific object of divine attention
blends into focus

When will we ever get to truly know?

________________________

when the vacuum increases the perimeter caves in.

the ground crumbles underfoot

the sky withdraws

darkness sets in

like the incision of a cold, blunt blade

never breaking the surface but piercing what lies beneath

while an icy hand grips the heart

a dull ache of empty, vacuous pain seems to strangle the heartbeat

a gasping catch of breath, but not for long

waves of thought with no reference

fear cascades

anxiety swirls

falling inwards, running on clouds

the stampede of frantic arrest

the seduction of the pursuit

an ever evasive temptress mocks and taunts

a game of hide-and-seek with the horizon

now you see it, now you don’t

a faint, hovering whisper,

a suggestion of peace

we hold on to that which is not yet in our hand

that underneath are the everlasting arms

and peace comes if the day can but dawn

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(*)

so many voices

so many sounds

the roar of nothing much perhaps?

mouths wide open

but air is scarce

thoughts are full

but truth evades

so many angles

crisp, geometric reason

limited resources

limited results

just when we think we have it

it has us

the hand opens

the horizon retreats

a desire for meaning

a hope for truth

but even that which appears true

floats

away

just out of reach again

so we reach out

again

we have what we have

no more and no less

before us we stand again

with that which seems to be

and what it really means

the constructs of our mind

as real as real is

stresses and groans

the foundation beams creak

and we must still decide between

a pill

bitter so long ago

still remains as alluring as it did then

repulsive at times

beckons once again

but we have hope

hope is what we have

prisoners of hope

we can be no other

there can be no other way

(*) picture – album cover “King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King”

Painted by Barry Godber (1946–1970), a computer programmer, painted the album cover. Godber died in February 1970 of a heart attack, shortly after the album’s release. It would be his only painting, and is now owned by Robert Fripp. Fripp had this to say about Godber:

“Peter brought this painting in and the band loved it. I recently recovered the original from EG’s offices because they kept it exposed to bright light, at the risk of ruining it, so I ended up removing it. The face on the outside is the Schizoid Man, and on the inside it’s the Crimson King. If you cover the smiling face, the eyes reveal an incredible sadness. What can one add? It reflects the music.”

watchmen watch

they are positioned where they can sit and see

they watch with their eyes but they hear with their hearts

their heads remain still

though the eyes may only flicker

the mind races

 

watchmen are seers

the eyes in their heads see the world going round

and they spin with it

they watch as seasons are formed by time

they watch as time in turn is transformed by seasons

they see the roads more travelled

as well as those less

 

they watch who travel the roads

those who come and go

they see the roads and the loads on them

loads carried in

loads carried out

they see that these too form seasons

and seasons form them in return

they watch as men travel in and out

Creating wealth – a statement brandished around by so many global leaders, social activists and economic commentators.

What is wealth? Is it an inexhaustible resource?

How does one create wealth?

Can we?

It sounds so grand, almost divine.

So, can we create something out of nothing?

Anything?

Or does whatever we say we can ‘create’ come from somewhere, something, from some place and from some time?

Create?

Can we really create?

Maybe it’s not creating but merely rearranging, redistributing, rediscovering?

So, if we rearrange wealth where does what we are rearranging come from?

If we only rearranged, redistributed or rediscovered it, who held it in their hand before we had it?

….. and if we now have what someone else had, what do they have right now?

Suppose we did create it, …. then where did it come from?

Imagine that.

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In the city where I now live there is a man who stands with a piece of cardboard held with both hands and covering his heart. It says in a hand written scrawl,

“UNEMPLOYED! PLEASE HELP, ANY DONATIONS WELCOME. GOD BLESS YOU”

He stands on the white lines between passing cars at traffic light intersections and sometimes on the side of the road if the traffic is too fast and furious. People drive past him every day rushing here and there attending to the demands of their daily schedules. He is tall and bearded and appears somewhat stocky with slightly unkempt dark hair. Mostly he wears sandals and his uncut toenails seem to curl up towards the sun and away from the sweltering tar beneath his dusty, dirty feet. His face, hands and legs are deeply burned from much time standing in the sun. He often wears a grey-green track suit or Bermuda long shorts and loose fitting shirt and his tummy extends out a bit so that his shirt flaps and hangs over his waist line. His face is well rounded and his cheeks are slightly chubby under the mop of dark hair that hangs and swirls around his head. He has a sombre, seeking expression on his face which does not really reflect an overtly defeated or desperate expression. Instead it seems to reflect a sad, searching gaze as he scans the people in the oncoming cars. Sometimes he makes eye contact with those who pass by, sometimes not. Most seem to ignore him, either staring straight through him or fixing their eyes straight ahead to avoid his gaze. But some roll down a window and place some money into his outstretched hand.

On occasion I have seen him striding meaningfully on the side of the road as if clearly on his way to get to his next appointment at some other strategic destination. Often he has a shopping bag hanging from his one hand seemingly filled with stuff that I cannot see. Unlike many who beg on street corners he is often standing at different traffic lights and sometimes I see him 5 or even 10 km’s away from the last traffic intersection I recall seeing him at. It strikes me that he may even have a strategy as to where he stands at certain times and on certain days. Perhaps he has worked out the optimum exposure for himself? Perhaps he does not want to be overexposed to a certain sector of people who pass by a given intersection regularly? Perhaps he has decided that certain intersections yield more rewards at certain times than others do? It is a mystery and not something I have felt the liberty to stop and ask him about. Isn’t it amazing how this type of person seems to bring out mixed emotions in us?

I was having a regular coffee with a bunch of good mates one Tuesday morning and one of us spoke of how a beggar had cursed him once when he never gave the beggar the desired hand-out. A passionate exchange of views followed after this. Opinions were made about how we should or shouldn’t treat street beggars, the rights and the wrongs of it all. The motives of the beggars as well as the motives of us who either do or do not respond by giving. We went on about how manipulative beggars were, playing on our emotions and trapping us into a response. Some felt sorry for these rejected souls, others felt anger and violation at their insistent presence cluttering our regular daily lives. Some expressed concern at how these people were victims, trapped by a heartless society into a desperate lifestyle of pain and suffering. Others felt that it was indeed their individual choice and that they could do other things if they only had the honest desire to do so. It was an interesting exchange.

I personally just couldn’t see any difference between the man with the board and all those in his beggarly tribe and the white collared marketing strategies, motives and techniques employed in modern everyday business.

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String Theory

Design of the Universe

3-D Altas of the Universe

There must be more to all of this!
I have said it many times and I have heard so many say it too.

Well, is there?

Must there be more to all this?

Do we need this to be true for us?
Amazingly there IS more to all of this … at least in terms of scientific exploration and some of the evidence it suggests …. but it’s mostly empty space..

…empty space out there, expanding all the time …… with apparently the (hopeful?) theory as well that it will all shrink back again sometime and compress back into ….. what??

…. and on the other frontier there’s lots of empty space “in” there as well.

Lots and lots more space going on and on and on as we look deeper.

And here we all are trying to fit everything into tight little boxes …..

… is it fear that drives us not to embrace that it might be all far too ‘out there’ for us to ever really comprehend?

…. is it fear that it might be all “in here” that drives us to keep searching elsewhere, outside of ourselves to the vast, expanding beyond?

Perhaps fear closed us down in our quest for meaning and understanding in the adoption of religious dogma?
Perhaps the pursuit of understanding through science and technology is doing the same?
Could it be all a type of Animal Welfare/S.P.C.A./local dog pound cosmic swop-shop? …. one dogma for another?

Has our karma driven over our dogma? …. perhaps that silly old joke is coming back to haunt us?

Could it all be faith and hope but only from two apparently opposing angles?

Could it be all the same? Just faith and hope …. with us faithfully filling in the blanks to hopefully make it mean more to us …. at least till something new pops up as a great idea?

What do we think?

Maybe we think what we would like to think?

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