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Monthly Archives: April 2012

“South Africa’s ANC party bans minister from eating treat in front of supporters”

What level of ethic is at wok here?

Are we really meant to swallow (pun intended) this and align to a view that because it is not done in public it is ok? …. and that making an external show of something deals with the root cause of it?

The ANC seems to be running the country (and our lives) according to a mocking satirical lyric line in a funk rock tune written by “The Tower of Power” :

“It’s not the crime,

and it’s not the thought,

It’s not the deed,

It’s if you get caught”

How about considering some possible tabloid Headlines to help place this kind of reasoning into a context that might perhaps encourage us to see this from another angle shall we?

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* “South Africa’s ANC party bans ministers from corruption in front of supporters”

(The country’s ruling party has decided its senior members should enjoy the sweet treat only in private amid fears it could appear elitist.)

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* “South Africa’s ANC party bans ministers from raping and/or committing acts of sexual harassment on women and minors in front of supporters”

(The country’s ruling party has decided its senior members should enjoy the sweet treat only in private amid fears it could appear elitist.)

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* “South Africa’s ANC party bans ministers from “tenderpreneuring” in front of supporters”

(The country’s ruling party has decided its senior members should enjoy the sweet treat only in private amid fears it could appear elitist.)

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* “South Africa’s ANC party bans ministers from stealing and pillaging in front of supporters”

(The country’s ruling party has decided its senior members should enjoy the sweet treat only in private amid fears it could appear elitist.)

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* “South Africa’s ANC party bans ministers from committing acts of sexual harassment on women and minors in front of supporters”

(The country’s ruling party has decided its senior members should enjoy the sweet treat only in private amid fears it could appear elitist.)

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* “South Africa’s ANC party bans ministers from committing acts of immorality in front of supporters”

(The country’s ruling party has decided its senior members should enjoy the sweet treat only in private amid fears it could appear elitist.)

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 So it’s okay to beat your wife just as long as it’s not in front of the children? … and fathers should never do this in front of the children for fear of appearing violent and disrespectful?

God bless Africa, for we surely have no stomach for it.

I’m an avid internet user.  I post and read blogs all the time.  I love to gather information. I work online and communicate online.  I also play online.

Recently I have been made more and more aware of how big a part the internet plays in my life.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

However, I am fast coming to realize that there is dangerous illusion in all of this.  I feel like I’m in touch with so many but am I really?  Even the data, the facts I hunger for and seek after, are they really the facts?

And then I saw this short TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-04-03&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

Some time ago I posted on the topic of making contact https://alalohwhydee.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/making-contact/ and once again I am brought back to a nagging reality in my life.  How real is my reality?  And is the way I do things really helping?  I’d like to think so.  I’d like to believe so.

I look at the life of Jesus and with all the data he must have had at his disposal and alongside the huge importance of his message he seemed primarily focused on simply making contact.  But not just intellectually but basic, demonstrative, interactive, physical contact.  He had a message sure enough but it was his life and his example – his physical example that was the main thing.

He did speak and a lot is focused on and recorded about what he said.  However, he seemed content to speak almost exclusively in parables and live in a realm of mystery to those he was with and even still to us this day.

It makes me wonder about the data driven world we live in.  Even in our spiritual space and spiritual places we tend to major almost exclusively on the cerebral, the intellectual.  We sit docile and respectfully silent and listen to one person preaching, teaching.  Then we leave.  And we call this community, fellowship.

Online social networking means we don’t ever have to leave … or join.

Online there is no real us, …and no real me either.

But we choose to believe there is.

From reading and pondering I understand the life and times of Jesus to have been very noisy and even disruptive.  However, they were full of physical contact.

He touched, laughed with, cried with, walked with, talked with, loved, hugged, lay next to, ate with, rowed with, even died with.

Informal, very physical, tangible, close, unsafe, risky, messy, even smelly.

Physical contact, full physical contact.

For me the internet promises this, but it’s all merely a virtual reality.

And we seem to invest disproportionate amounts of energy to make it seem like we are actually making contact.

But are we?

it does seem that life is all about striving to be what we are not

and trying to grab hold of the very thing that is not us

God Caught Backing Multiple Candidates for President

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/06/god_caught_backing_multiple_go.html

Seriously speaking, – we’ve got to be less serious about ourselves…

No, hang on, … maybe we should be more serious about ourselves?

I mean, are we really serious?

I’m being serious here! … we’ve got to take ourselves less seriously!!

This is clearly just an inane play on words but doesn’t it look like this is what our theology has become? … no more than an inane play on words?

 

In the article above a cynical jab is taken at the religious nonsense of the USA political scenario.  Especially at the religious manipulation deployed to justify personal ambition as individuals get on the glory treadmill.

We can laugh in disgust and say that they are radical lunatics, idiots caught up in delusional self-promotion and superficial, unscrupulous manipulation.  We can respond by saying that that’s them and we are not like that.  They are laughable and they make God laughable.  They cause people to mock God… and us.

But are we any different?  Are we not exactly like them?

Yes, these politicians are effectively maligning the character of God.  They are manipulatively using God to further their own selfish ends.

Yes, they are a disgrace and understandably we want to immediately distance ourselves from them.  And yes, they clearly appear to be an extremely vain minority, a radical, lunatic fringe of self-seeking fools.

But are they really any different to us?

Do we have the courage to ask ourselves if we do the same thing?

If we asked this of them they’d skilfully give hundreds of justifications for their actions.  They’d feel justified after having done so too.

After all, they’re human just like us.

I too get upset when I read these things.  I am angered and want to speak out.

No, I’m being a little  false here, … actually I want to lash out and be a part of humbling them.  I want to expose them and strip them of their vanity.

However, when I am finally willing and able to reflect on my own life I see exactly the same thing.  I see exactly the same thing in me that I despise in them.

I see the way I so conveniently shape my beliefs in God to suit what is expedient for me and my career, what serves my chosen path in this world.  I see how I can so easily justify whatever I am doing, thinking, believing and saying… even justify my own “calling”.

Could the way we use the name of God as leverage in the things we say and do make us on a par with these embarrassing politicians?  Do we hide behind what we declare as God telling us to do or not to do?  Do we brandish the highest trump card we can pull from the deck to further our own ends or to conveniently enable us to participate or not to participate in something?

Maybe they can’t see what they’re doing just like we can’t see what we are doing?

Maybe we’re all caught up in the same delusion … only perhaps on slightly different levels?

But then again, maybe you’re different? … not like me or them?

That’s your call.

But just maybe we’ve got to take ourselves less seriously? … or maybe we need to take ourselves more seriously?

Maybe that’s your call too?

 

 

 

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

 

Charles Bukowski

 

US (German-born) author & poet (1920 – 1994)

 

 

 

I saw this quotation posted on Facebook recently.
It is a statement made by a great American poet, novelist and short story writer.

 

Mr Bukowski was a regular type of guy who led a somewhat rough life and wrote prolifically in and from that perspective. Most of his life he battled to make ends meet and wrestled with himself and his environment almost constantly. He had a drinking habit as well as a series of love affairs and one-night trysts.  As I said, he was a regular, normal type.

 

Charles Bukowski was clearly no paragon of virtue yet somehow what grabbed me most on reading this quote was not his weakness or his fallen nature but his description of his own state, even openly a self-professed non “God formula” adherant, was for me more in line with the radical example of passionate activity that I would interpret as Christlike than anything I see in the church circles I am exposed to today.  I see Jesus clearly portrayed in the scriptures as a revolutionary, someone who was so radically different and challenging of the status quo that it warranted them killing him.  The way he asked big questions and in so doing challenged the church of the day, the political authority and also the social system and the general education systems of the time.  The scriptures reveal to me the way Jesus was a dangerously radical peacemaker whilst simultaneously staring death fully and defiantly in the face, even perhaps mockingly.

 

In contrast, when I think about us Christians today, the way we live, our complacency, our institutionalised religious ways and our tendency to conform to convenience and self-centeredness, it makes me wonder.

 

It makes me very sad but it also makes me angry.

 

At the same time it humbles me profoundly and forces me to revisit the “big questions.”
for me birthday wishes are much the same as memorial statements and sentiments at funerals
things are said and felt that are socially sanctioned, which seem to be appropriate. …culturalized memes in dealing with life and death
we say things that are acceptable and even respectful but perhaps we say the things that we would like to be heard said about us rather than what we really feel is true or the reality of the situation
birthdays and funerals may well be one of those things, in this case a ritual, that says more about us than the one we are mourning or celebrating?
perhaps we go to be a part of another’s event but in reality we go to our own event… or perhaps at least a projection of our own?
if we could be brutally honest with ourselves we might just be able to admit that we are profoundly confused by death and life… that we understand neither
most of us will declare that we are sure of these things but often those who shout the loudest do so to cover the deafening silence within
we are vexed by it all… yet we cannot acknowledge this publicly, not even privately to ourselves
so we lose ourselves along with everyone else in a socially acceptable ritual much like mist in a valley of confusion
we stand together in a shared hope and make declarative communal statements as if the louder we speak in unison the more we will determine another outcome in reality and in our own understanding … that perhaps we long to be seen to be known as a significant contribution in life and death, a meaningful, constructive and eventful part in it all
we’d love to be wished well at both as if this act might endorse our validity and cover the mist of the obvious illusion…
so in it we say not what is but what we’d like to hear
we act in accordance with the way we’d like things to be rather than the way things really are
maybe to be honest is unbearable for us to say or to hear being said. … so we tacitly agree to agree for our own sakes
and we choose to celebrate the illusion rather than align to the reality
… and if so, what does this say about us?
what would this reveal about our grasp on reality?
what would it say about our desire in the pursuit of truth as best we know it?
do we really seek after truth, or do we seek after an environment that endorses our preconceived belief systems?
what does it say about ourselves and our belief systems in general? … about the way we choose to place our faith in things?
is this act of communal ritualized faith the way we desperately want things to be like rather than what we deeply fear things really are?
… or is it what we have concluded for ourselves in unsubstantiated hope as the best we can wish it to be … as what we have chosen to settle for as the closest possible link to what we can come up with as a desired reality for our perspectives?
perhaps the reality of it all is that not to play this game of illusion is profoundly unbearable?
… and that it is indeed wisdom to be a participant?
… or not?

a dear friend posted on his blog ‘what if God was someone?’

http://sevencitys.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/what-if-god-was-someone/

I replied, ‘and what if God wasn’t someone, … what then?’ …to which he replied,

‘that is a good question, Lloyd. i suppose if God wasn’t someone, he wouldn’t be able to talk or interact or share life. i suppose then there would be many who would freely speak on his behalf, in contradicting voices working towards a similar outcome, control instead of freedom, subjection in stead of relationship, force instead of cooperation.

a world unaffected, since there is no affection?’

… to which my response was,

‘as I read your reply I can’t help but think that is more or less exactly what we have right now…
… maybe we created God in our image? maybe we created God as a ‘someone’ … conveniently, for our sakes … and this has inevitably been hijacked by many who speak on his behalf, … with words of contradiction, … working towards an outcome of control instead of freedom, subjection instead of relationship, force and coercion instead of cooperation…?
did not God have it written in our sacred scriptures that ‘he’ is not a man like us, … does not reason like us, think like us, act like us,…
is this not perhaps why we now have those who stand before us and would have us believe that when they speak, think, feel, decide … it is God Almighty who speaks, thinks, feels, decides for us right before our very eyes?…. seducing us to abdicate our rightful place in the balance of life and eternity and live unaffected lives…?

why would it be so important for us to have such a belief in place …that God is a humanoid type … a personified entity who thinks like us, feels like us, reasons like us, defines concepts like love, like, right, wrong, justice, good, evil, etc. etc.

could it be that this belief system is almost exclusively for our own convenience?
could it also be that our faith is not in a supreme creator, but in ourselves almost exclusively?’

… and what would your response be?

We are strongly encouraged not to allow anyone to judge or even put pressure on us regarding issues and choices such as food or drink, nor regarding any festivals, seasons, holidays, new moons or even the observance of religious rituals or even holy sabbaths.

All of these things are merely a temporary type, a incomplete and suggestive pointer, a mere shadow of things to come.

The fundamental reality, the underlying foundational substance of all these things is not in us nor in the systems and processes we create for ourselves to establish anything.  It is all beyond us.  It is all wrapped up and sealed in Christ.

No amount of huffing and puffing on our part, however sincere, will suffice.

It’s not even whether we believe in the easter bunny or not.

It’s whether the easter bunny believes in us.

We live in an era saturated with branding, slogans, memes, pop iconography, subcultures, rampant pop media, fashion obsession, subcultures within subcultures within cultures, and a dominant worldview of citations, quotes, references – whether they be scientific, religious, literary, social, or even tribal.

Of late I’ve been thinking about what percentage of what we think is what WE ourselves actually think and what percentage of what we think is what others think?

I throw this out even though personally we may very strongly not think we think what others’ think influences us to think, say and do things?

… what do you think? … do we, or don’t we?

And what would it mean if we are offended at this thought or if our immediate response is that we haven’t really thought much about it?

the view is always internal

and upside down to boot

the external, merely an illusion

all conclusions remain moot

 

but yet we stand on soapbox top

uttering impassioned cries

to try to turn the minds of men

when all we trade is lies

 

we only see what we can see

and very few agree

the cost of seeing otherwise

will be the death of me