20 October 2010
18 October 2010
“But those masterful novels are life-giving. They enchant us. They help us to live. They teach us. It has become necessary to come to their defense and promote them relentlessly, because it is an illusion to think that they have the power to radiate all by themselves. …
“We want necessary books, books we can read the day after a funeral, when we have no tears left from all our crying, when we can hardly stand for the pain; books that will be there like loved ones when we have tidied a dead child’s room and copied out her secret notes to have them with us, always, and breathed in her clothes hanging in the wardrobe a thousand times, and there is nothing left to do; books for those nights when no matter how exhausted we are we cannot sleep, and all we want is to tear ourselves away from obsessive visions; books that have heft and do not let us down …
“We have no time to waste on insignificant books, hollow books, books that are here to please.
“We want books that are written for those of us who doubt everything, who cry over the least little thing, who are startled by the slightest noise.
“We want books that cost their authors a great deal, books where you can feel the years of work, the backache, the writer’s block, the author’s panic at the thought that [she] might be lost; [her] discouragement, [her] courage, [her] anguish, [her] stubbornness, the risk of failure that [she] has taken.
“We want splendid books, books that immerse us in the splendor of reality and keep us there; books that prove to us that love is at work in the world next to evil, right up against it, at times indistinctly, and that it always will be, just the way that suffering will always ravage hearts. We want good novels.
“We want books that leave nothing out; neither human tragedy nor everyday wonders, books that bring fresh air to our lungs
“And even if there is only one such book per decade, even if there is only one … every ten years, that would be enough. We want nothing else.”
from A Novel Bookstore, by Laurence Cossé, Europa editions; copyright © 2009 Éuropa Editions Gallimard,
09 September 2010
But, once having received “The Call,” there is little that can be done to monitor what comes out of the mouths of these people, particularly, apparently, if their last name is "Jones." Nothing much to stop them from flying hundreds of people to a foreign country, stealing their social security and welfare checks, and giving them poison to drink, for that matter. My mother was a moral compass for my father, carefully reading his sermons as she typed them out on Saturday afternoon, so he was a pretty good guy with all this. Misguided into thinking he might do some good and help people. But a pretty good guy.
Be that as it may, my personal experiences as a preacher’s kid, albeit for only a couple of years, gives me a large block of salt with which to evaluate the pronouncements of these “religious” folk who believe they speak for their boss, whatever they choose to call it. Even politicians get called on the carpet every four years or so. But these boys with their shiny shoes and dark suits? Not so much. While these "men of God" do claim Jesus keeps an eye on them (and sparrows in particular, for some odd reason), there's simply no "higher authority" regulating their behavior, as anyone watching the Catholic choir boy scandal should know. (Compared to the Catholic Church, protestant church organization in the US is a real wild wild west.) And, as for Jesus doing annual employment evaluations of these self-appointed characters, I wouldn’t know. Never met the guy, being as how the one thing I’m pretty sure of is, if he existed at all, he’s been dead for millennia. But if anybody else is calling them to task, I’d be surprised. They all have the potential of being loose cannons.
I personally think we should bury all these "religious" books in a very large hole and start over, because these characters, like this tiny little man in Florida with 50 followers who want to burn one of them, have pretty well wrung any real meaning out of the rituals and readings of their Sunday meetings. And go back to nature and listen, really listen to its teachings. Because if there is any spirituality that is going to take us forward through this morass, that is where we'll find it.
That’s the thing. I think that’s what Whatever That Is behind all this tried to tell Moses (according to one of these books, anyway). That Which Is (or, as the eastern folk like to call it, The Tao) pretty clearly instructed ole Moses (and the rest of us for all eternity, I suspect) to not call That Which Is by any name because we’d get busy then and claim we were the ones who really had the 411 on That Which Is and then pretty soon we’d be off to the races, fighting and discriminating and killing each other over which little set of papers we declare holy and The Real Deal. So, what did Moses do? What all these "prophets" do. Sigh. He wrote down what he thought happened and what he wrote became the basis for deciding who were innies and who were outies. Huff and puff.
Now we have this little clown in
My poor papa was so horrified, he just put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Never, never ever forget this day.” And then he didn’t say another word all the way home.
So now the Irani folks are stoning this woman because of their little book, and the Taliban are acting out blowing people into hamburger because of their little book. Some people believe you draw a little red dot in the middle of your forehead, and other people believe they should kill you because you do. Then there’s folks who believe they should be able to kill gay people because of their little book. Men in
As for this little man in Florida and his merry band of 50 followers "sending a message to Islam," well, fella, look. First of all, I have more than 50 followers. Virtually every blogger on the world-wide web has 50 followers. But you? For one thing, why in Christ's name would anyone live in Florida not live near water? But that evidence of insanity aside, now there are a whole lot of dangerous people who know your name. They know where you live. And they know what you stand for. You've gone and called out some really crazy people who now want you dead. That was really smart. Good job. Please note I did not say Muslim people are crazy. Or dangerous. Because, just like Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, or any other group, there are nutty, dangerous Muslims, and saints among 'em. And a whole lot of middle. Folks who are a mixture of "good" and "evil," and mostly just trying to get through life, just trying to live. But now you've told the whole world you stand for hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and poverty of spirit. Among those even interested, Mr. Jones, in what you have to say, are people who make bombs and blow up things. As my kid brother has observed in other circumstances, this just might well be natural selection in action.
16 August 2010
Okay, okay, so, a, b, c, 1-2-3, a very young girl is “given” by her parents to this man when she is oh, what, 9? 10? And somehow, mysteriously also, it never occurs to those who are so very vitriolic in their criticism of her that perhaps she was actually one of the victims of this sexual abuse? Instead, somehow, mysteriously, Muktananda’s (and her brother’s) sexual misconduct with devotees is supposed to reflect on Gurumayi’s integrity as a teacher. Excuse me? How exactly does THAT work? And why is it that those “accusing” SYDA and so on never once (and believe me, I have looked!) suggested that this woman herself might have been abused as a child by these people. (Certainly I do remember how very rude Muktananda was toward her when she’d grown up to be his translator. And I’ve heard others notice that.)
As to my thought that she was possibly abused, I certainly don’t know that this is true. How on earth would I know? But what I can’t understand is, why has no one else asked the question? Just like why is everyone so up in arms about Catholic priests sexually abusing young boys, but not the women or nuns in their charge? Does anyone with a lick of sense actually believe women in the Catholic Church have not been abused? (Or any other place, such as prisons, protestant churches, the workplace, etc., where unchecked influence and authority are given to men who simply aren’t questioned?) So why aren't all these armchair critics of Gurumayi stumbling over these totally obvious questions?
I heard one rumor that Gurumayi actually beat her brother with a ballbat in Hawaii upon discovering that he, as Co-Guru, had been sexually involved with devotees. (Please note, again, I said rumor. So, nobody sue me, okay? Believe me, it wouldn’t be worth your time.) If, in fact, she realized that her beloved younger brother had raised by Muktananda, Werner Erhard, and the other men running the show, to become a sexual predator, couldn't that just enrage her to the point of violence? Ya think? And yet, again, mysteriously, in all the innuendo, and “exposure,” “evidence,” and so regarding this teacher and her movement, nobody but nobody but nobody has raised the possibility that as Malti, a young girl under the charge of a bunch of randy old men, far from home and sanctuary, might have been, oh, I don’t know, at RISK? What a concept! Whether or not my ponderings are based in fact is not the issue here. The issue is, why are people who live in America in the 21st Century not asking what to me seems such a totally important and obvious question? In their determination to to “expose” the Guru, are they truly unable to see what to me is a very large gray Indian elephant in the living room? And if indeed my wonderings do have some truth to them, wouldn’t that just explain a whole hell of a lot about why, in the end, she might simply walk away from the whole mess?