Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Remember who brought us to the dance of life

In Cincinnati’s Community Press & Recorder, Father Lou Guntzelman’s column, "Don’t forget who brought you to the dance" says spiritually undeveloped people "... see life more as chance than dance, a vain jest rather than a holy feast. They harbor a sense of entitlement, not gratitude." Father Lou introduces the concept of numinosity in Rudolph Otto's book, The Idea of the Holy, and continues,
"Otto said that becoming aware of the numinous involves an extraordinary sensation that stretches our idea of religion beyond ethics and belief to include a deeper appreciation of the holy. It leads us to recognize the existence of a mysterious God as well as our creatureliness. Numinosity brings with it a sense of awe, wonder and sometimes even dread.

Colloquially, this kind of philosophical talk means that sometime in our life we'll come to the personal realization that we have been brought to the dance of life by God. We'll know that our creation and invitation to the dance of life comes not because we've earned it or impressed God by our deeds or goodness - but just because he loves us and wants us here.


Otto became so deeply appreciative of our being seized by the numinous, that it led him to define God in the celebrated words mysterium tremendum et fascinans - a tremendous and fascinating mystery. Notice how his understanding transcends the pitiful attitude toward legitimate religion today!"
Father Lou then quotes Thomas Moore, "With its emphasis on efficiency and practicality, modern life works against sustained appreciation of the numinous," writes Thomas Moore. "Although at times nature overwhelms us so that in spite of ourselves we have to consider it seriously, as when an earthquake, flood or eclipse of the sun stirs us out of our forgetfulness."

Father Lou says Carl Jung also wrote about numinosity, "In an essay shortly before his death, Jung warned against our loss of appreciation of the numinous. He cited the example of primitive societies that fall apart when the numinous disappears: "They lose their raison d'etre, the order of their social organizations, and then they dissolve and decay. ...We are now in the same condition. We have lost something we have never properly understood."

During this period of thanksgiving, he recommends we remember who brought us to the dance.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Time of gratitude and thanksgiving evokes soul

In Sunday’s entry on her news analysis and opinion blog, Virginia Bergman shares the presentation she gave at Groveland Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in St. Paul, Minnesota. She tells a family story about the blue bird of happiness, acknowledges the power of imagination, and quotes Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul.

Bergman describes how she honours soul, especially at this time of thanksgiving in the U.S.: "Rituals at home and in community help. I’ve mentioned my dream journal, keeping fresh flowers in my apartment, and recent efforts to meditate regularly. Preparing for Thanksgiving has reminded me of long-practiced family rituals. Our dinner menu is handed down from the previous generation. Along with turkey and homemade bread stuffing, it includes required items such as watermelon rind pickles, black olives, rutabaga, and cranberry sauce (the jellied kind that comes in a can)."

She observes, "Turning the pages of The Care of the Soul in the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of the person I was at my first reading some ten or fifteen years ago compared to who I am now. And what delights me most is the discovery that wherever we are in our lives we are free to nurture our souls and experience healing and growth."

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Erotic kissing contributes to the body's health

In Friday's Sexpert column for The Daily Colonial, Merry Jessica Fuerst answers a question about kissing and libido. She writes:

"The connection between our libido and kissing is pretty obvious. We all acknowledge that the first kiss can be important, and we often take it as a first sign of compatibility or sexual prowess, but once our sexual repertoire expands it seems we begin to discount the significance of kissing. After all, sex scenes may be scintillating, but it is the kissing scenes that make us ooh and ahh at the TV screen. To quote Thomas Moore from his book The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love, "The pleasures we may find in sex - sweet sex, aggressive sex, inventive and explorative sex, sadomasochistic games, dressing and undressing, body parts and kinds of kissing, places and settings - all of these preferences tie so closely to passion, and show us who we are, where our soul wants to lead us, and what our inhibitions look like. In sex we see private parts of the soul, with all its particulars."

Fuerst then talks about the origins of kissing and the influence of hormones on arousal and energy.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Force of violence has role in soul's expression

The RBG Street Scholars Think Tank Zine recently posted about the book The Soul Knows No Bars: Inmates Reflect on Life, Death, & Hope by Drew Leder and Cornel West, published by Rowman & Littlefield (2001). The same post is available at Assata Shakur Forums. According to the featured review by Joy James, a professor of African American Studies at Brown University, the book consists largely of edited transcripts of sessions with men convicted of crimes including rape, armed robbery, and murder. Discussions appear in six parts, each focusing on different individuals:
Power - Simone Weil and Friedrich Nietzche
Architecture - Michel Foucault
Space and time - Martin Heidegger
Sex and race - Cornel West
Journeys - Joseph Campbell
Beginnings and endings - Martin Buber and Malcolm X

An excerpt from the book, included in the post, is based on Thomas Moore’s "Violence and the Soul" in Care of the Soul. Moore says the word violence comes from the Latin word, vis meaning life force: "It would be a mistake to approach violence with any simple idea of getting rid of it. Chances are, if we try to eradicate our violence, we will also cut ourselves off from the deep power that sustains creative life."

Inmates' reflections about Moore's comments include:

"John: But it's a force that has to have some degree of control. My bad temper was my downfall. I don't really think I'm a bad person, but I had the tendency to react when I would feel like I was being threatened. And I'm better at handling that reaction now than when I was out on the street. Because I didn't have any thought about how to control or direct it--just to react, and react as strongly as possible. That's the way I learned on the street. If you're going to be violent, you're going to be all the way violent. There's no "a little violent"--you go the whole nine yards or you're not going at all.

Wayne: I liked the reading because it helped me understand a particular scripture. In Matthew 11:12 it says that "From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." I never really knew what that meant. Then I realized that when I come to the knowledge that what I did was wrong, it takes as much violence not to do it, an opposite violence going in the opposite direction. Now I use that same energy to redirect the anger. I come up with creative ideas to keep from doing a drastic thing I'll later regret. It's funny, really funny--the same energy that you use to do something, like commit a murder, you have to use to not commit a murder."

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Enjoy the fullness of creating empty time

TherapistPlace offers a brief article about the importance of idle time. Before suggesting ways to develop this art and to keep this daily commitment, the article includes:
"We seem to have a complex about busyness in our culture," says Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul. “Most of us do have some time each day to devote to simple relaxation, but we convince ourselves that we don’t."

And yet, the harder we push, the more we need to replenish ourselves. As Stephan Rechtschaffen, author of Timeshifting, says, "Each of us needs some time that is strictly and entirely our own, and we should experience it daily."

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