Spirituality Past, Present and Future

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Why are my thoughts drawn so much to the past
where pleasure and pain of remembering doth last?
How is it I struggle to ponder the Now
where life is most vivid but wrinkles my brow
 
in confusion and wondering just why there is haste
that moves days so swiftly — and they have no taste?
The future is also approaching with speed,
with oblivion’s grave and the thing I must heed.
 
So into the past I find anchor to slow
the pace of the march played by Now’s singing bow.
The music remembers the living while young
and vibrates the harp from which thinking hath sprung.
 
A time that was strengthened by youth in its age
of vigor and wishing outside of the cage
that aging doth bring with its ups and its downs,
its joys and its pleasures with smilings and frowns.
 
Experience teaches a spiritual tune
that prompts us to seek from the holiest rune
a whisper of God in our mid-life-tuned ear
that something else needed is coming quite near.

© 2000 Arthur Ruger

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69 going on 70: The mind, the body, the spirit.

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Three months ago I finished my 7th decade and embarked on the first year of my eighth. I seem to have come to a greater intimate friendship with more folks ahead of me than behind me. In fact, most folks behind me with whom I share something of an intimate relationship are family members. Most of those ahead of me are social friends connected with the neighborhood, my lodge (which has more younger members than older), the Order of the Eastern Star chapters and of course the local senior centers (In 3 of which we maintain membership.)

It’s the older ones who concern me; not because they are older and more frail, but because for the most part they remain enthused and animated about many of their life activities. I admit, I don’t know what goes on when they are not on a public “stage” and act without a public script in the privacy of their homes or marriages.

I guess that is what I do too. I have a public persona with which I inform most people of what I want them to believe me to be. However, only my dear Lietta knows what I’m really like in the intimate privacy of our home and marriage. I suppose that for the most part such things will remain private through our coming end times.

We’ve had a major transition in process going back to the time of my retirement now five years back. She used to ask me what I saw myself doing after retirement and insisted that I get used to the new mode by being off the clock and off the agenda for at least six months.

How did that work out?

Depends on how it is defined. Not having to go to work every day was wonderful and my most initial reaction was that each day felt like Saturday did when I was working.

Coping with the reality of fixed income and uncertainties of our future health was meaner.  This proved to be more provocative and stressful than I anticipated. Almost immediately I commenced awakening in the middle of the night and became conscious of the fact that I seemed to be counting money in my head in anticipation of meeting bills and making all the ends meet. It would be almost four years before I achieved an internal state that allowed me to get away from my thoughts … and that not necessarily completely.

Then of course the curse of awakening out of habit at 4:30 or 5:00 am – something I began doing years before retirement because for me the most creative and alive time of my mind was early in the morning. I would leave for work at 7:30 but by 8:30 my mind had essentially gone to the dull side as I labored in the public assistance office, from which I’d arrive home grateful to be with my wife but mentally exhausted.

That was in 2011.

By the end of 2012 we had moved out of our 120-year-old home in Pacific County which had proven to be too much for us to repair and maintain on fixed income.  We were renting in Spokane.  We eventually moved into a condominium that has proven to be totally more enjoyable than we’d anticipated and in a small urban setting that totally elevated our community life as compared to retirement in a fishing village of 200 souls in Pacific County.

There have been ups and downs, wonderful experiences in the city and traveling about – especially camping and yurting during the summer months. We’ve driven back and forth to the West side of the state for family activities and to relatives in Idaho and Montana and have encountered interesting alternative locations that remain tempting and inviting.

However … back to a 70-year old body, mind and spirit. My health is quite good for my age. My dear one persuaded me to enter into what is called a paleo diet by which I have lost a lot of pounds, lowered my blood pressure significantly and have subsequently felt more “lubricated” as in a well-oiled functioning machine even if it is 7 decades old.

So why do I often awaken in the mornings with a sense of dread that seems to originate in the context of whatever I was doing in my dreams. It’s as if I woke up and suddenly remember that someone near and dear to me had passed on or that I would be going in that day for a root canal. Some sense of unease without having something specific about which to worry.

Actually, beyond a vague sense of dread or uneasiness, I’m more aware of losing interest in all the things I used to be driven about and planned on doing when my career wasn’t competing for my time and attention.

What’s with that?

Is this what aging is about?

I still love to read and write, blog on line, but other activities like sports don’t do for me what they once did. I used to gorge myself on fantasy baseball and basketball and in some years maintained upwards of 20 separate teams at sites like Yahoo Fantasy and ESPN Fantasy Sport. I’m down to 8 teams which is not something facetious for me and that’s enought to hold my interest.

The most consistent interest that seems self-sustaining in my love of music and enjoyment of playing the piano. Lietta gifted me with a second instrument, something I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s a recorder, made of wood, plays mostly like a clarinet and is best played gently. No hard blowing as in saxophone or clarinet both of which I played well in high school. With some motivation from my siblings (Randy and Adrian Ruger) last April, I’ve upgraded my piano-playing and find myself serenading my sweetheart with a bunch of new songs as well as all the old pieces I’ve played for her for years.

I composed a piece for her as part of our wedding gifts to each other in 1996 and am of a mind to compose more. As for the recorder, I want to learn to play it the way Native American musicians such as Coyote Oldman play it. With available electronics I can play along with any piece I can find and am looking forward to it.

16 years ago while on vacation, I began writing poetry using what for me was a mystical device combining two separate phrases from my collections of thoughts and quotes. My poetry is mostly lyrical and I’m drifting more to writing poetry as competition to my not-running-down desire to write.

I’ve authored a historical novel and an assortment of blog articles and that part of me has not faded much. I still want to write on spiritual matters and opine about what’s going on in the world.

I’ve come to think of aging as an awareness and experience of my body and mind getting older and possessing the right to slow down, get rusty, start aching and creaking along. Arthritis is my daily companion but it is not now and does not seem to be on a path to debilitating pain, discomfort and ability.

I thought I’d lost my hearing in one ear but a visit to the VA medical center corrected that with a cleaning of a large wax deposit that had accumulated with my constant abusive use of Q-tips. I had concluded that as I got older, my hearing was disappearing.

Not so.

Energy and stamina aren’t what they used to be my wife and I know I will never single-handedly move us from one location to another again.

So I still get up early, sometimes in a bad or sad mood, warm up as soon as my sweetheart awakens smiles and me and rings the bell I gave her as a signal to bring coffee, come back to bed, and read our electronic devices like smart phones and kindle.

I’ll get chores done during the day, cook a meal or two, and fall asleep in the afternoon in my recliner and again in the evening while watching a TV program before bedtime.

Growing Old Ain’t What I Thought It Would Be

It’s all about cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.

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Science Just Discovered Something Amazing About What Childhood Piano Lessons Did to You

Back in the 7th grade (1958) while walking across the tracks to Mrs. Hayes’ piano lessons I had a revelation:

Eureka!

Of course!

It’s all about cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.

Just wait til I tell my little brother!

If your parents forced you to practice your scales by saying it would “build character,” they were onto something. The Washington Post reports that one of the largest scientific studies into music’s effect on the brain has found something striking: Musical training doesn’t just affect your musical ability — it provides tremendous benefits to children’s emotional and behavioral maturation.

The study by the University of Vermont College of Medicine found that even those who never made it past nursery rhyme songs and do-re-mi’s likely received some major developmental benefits just from playing. The study provides even more evidence as to why providing children with high-quality music education may be one of the most effective ways to ensure their success in life.

… “What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument,” Hudziak told the Washington Post, “it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.”

How a new spiritual culture developed in America.

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Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation

We finished this audio book today. Well worth the time and a survey that covers many fascinating aspects of what spirituality has come to mean in the United States over more than just the 240+ years since the founding. Recommended reading or listening (audio should be available at libraries).
“Occult” is not written about as something akin to satanic rituals, evil combinations, conspiracies or religious nut jobs. Occult simply defined is something hidden of which discovery through human effort is possible.

Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich
Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People
Og Mandiono:The Greatest Salesman in the World
Tony Robbins’ silliness
Prosperity Gospel doofuses like Rev Joel Osteen
Ouija Boards
Seances, Divination Spiritualism and Spiritism
Course in Miracles
Entire New Thought movement
American embrace of Eastern Religions like Buddhism, Zen and the like
Most of the Self Help publishing genre
Most of the How-To religious advice books where writers pretend to know the mind of god in ways us run-of-the-mill humans don’t. (Such pretended wisdom has led to the rise of every American religion, spiritist and new age movement coming out of the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries)

all these and more are addressed

From Publishers Weekly

America has provided fertile ground for alternative spirituality, particularly the form known as occult, whose American leaders, unlike their more grandiose European counterparts, sought to remake mystical ideas as tools of public good and self-help, says Horowitz, editor-in-chief at Tarcher.

Looking back at the growth of the spiritualist and utopian movements, he introduces the reader to a parade of personalities, both familiar and obscure: dreamers and planners who flourished along the Psychic Highway.

He begins with Shaker Mother Ann, who arrived in America in 1774 followed by, among many others, pioneer prophetess Jemima Wilkinson; Poughkeepsie Seer Andrew Jackson Davis; Madame Blavatsky, who founded the Theosophical Society in 1875 and popularized the word occultism; Frank B. Robinson, the Mail Order Messiah; and Edgar Cayce with his past-life readings.

Horowitz covers a wide variety of topics, from voodoo to the tenets of the New Age, psychics in the White House, Rosicrucianism, Wicca, arcane Masonic imagery, Tarot cards, the controversial reincarnation of Bridey Murphy and the origin of the science fictional Shaver mystery. Employing extensive research while writing with an authoritative tone, Horowitz succeeds in showing how a new spiritual culture developed in America.

 

Left to our own devices

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The moment to moment of living …

Which is best, encounter with each moment according to a schedule or surprise at what happens next? What is there about routine that engenders a sense of secure stability or stable security while at the same time devolves routine into staleness?

What do devices for me? In this moment or out of this moment would I be able to experience the day without devices? Or, being addicted to my devices, would living in their absence drive me crazy?

There are implications then to the idea of being “left to one’s own devices.” I begin with a question, “which devices?” Mechanical devices we use to rule our days. Creative devices we use to nourish the heart. Is there a point past which we stop thinking about what we do, both mechanically and creatively? Past that point do we become mechanically mindless or creatively mindful?

Do boredom and melancholy dwell within the mindless? Is the mindful the only context where flourishes imagination and excitement? Does the mind have a locking device as part of its design? Or, do we install a locking device at some point when reason, passion and imagination are challenged by chattering scattered thoughts at the expense of contemplated ideas and the desire to find ways to express them?

Does thou mind pout when it doesn’t get its way, taking it out on the heart? Perhaps there’s more of a contest between entertainment and creativity. It is not difficult to find entertainment once one learns the means. It is however more challenging as well as satisfying to imagine a creative that also entertains. Entertains whom? Whomever … but first and foremost the entertainment and satisfaction of one’s self.

Such is when the heart parents the mind; the way things ought to be.

What is in the mind makes things possible. What is in the heart makes things worth it. If the mind is satisfied, the path to the possible remains open. The heart will not also be satisfied in the presence of the mind’s open path because the heart isn’t primarily about satisfaction. Rather, the heart’s purpose is the continuing powerful beating for aspects of beauty that can be imagine, expressed and brought to fruit in a variety of forms.

Devices then are or can be one’s friends. They may as good friends be in a closer relationship that one realizes. In some cases, close friends – such as drinking buddies – may never know when you’ve had too much. So long as you are imbibing they are supporting and participating in your consuming activity.

In other cases there are devices that are like loyal and trusted friends. In this mechanical and electronic age of friendship, trusted devices – from cars to refrigerators, to working tools, vacuum cleaners and the like – are what we trust to help us get things done. Another is the word processer with which I write this and it’s access to the Internet where research and questions with answers are almost without limits; a writer’s absolute necessity.

Then there are instrumental devices – in my case, the piano, the keyboard, music players that enhance the creative mood.

And there are devices for pure entertainment and information via films of all kinds and television.

What then about life with devices? Let them not be dominated by mind addicted to routine and struggling with boredom. Rather, let them best be utilized by the heart seeking expression through a venue of creativity and imagination.

The heart, the mind and the sources.

SpiritMindedness

When the time is right, make your meditations.

When another time arrives, perhaps then it is time to move forward

… or perhaps retreat.

You will know by your meditations.

Do not think before you dream, but dream before you think.

Do not request of your dream carriage a specific thought about which to dream.

Rather, let you dreams carry you where they will.

I you believe that you must think more than you must meditate your vessel is landlocked.

Consider then in your thoughts the far reaches of your journey;

all the places you may decide to visit, observe and experience.

Let not your mind dominate your heart with its mental contrivances

that say, “I am more important than you.”

Those are concoctions by the mind for the mind.

Such are the childish notions

that challenge the wisdom of your heart.

Search far and wide for the sources of your secrets

… and you will understand that those sources are within,

not without.

Search there.

Your heart knows of poverty and can wear it like cloth worn and frayed.

Your heart knows of luxury and can wear it like a warm coat.

It is your mind that knows only avarice.

My eyes get more out of words on a page than Words With Friends and Online Scrabble

Of COURSE He Does!!

Of COURSE He Does!!

What?
Put down my techno-hypnotizer and read actual books?

From the library?

Well we could compromise and I could read on my Kindle or something.

But ain’t reading books a much harder entertainment than the little doofus I put in front of my face most of the time?

Found these guys this morning: Brain Pickings … and immediately subscribed to their weekly updates.

Gabriel García Márquez’s Formative Reading List: 24 Books That Shaped One of Humanity’s Greatest Writers

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“Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.”

The most reliable portal into another’s psyche is the mental library of that person’s favorite books — those foundational idea-bricks of which we build the home for our interior lives, the integral support beams of our personhood and values. And who doesn’t long for such a portal into humanity’s most robust yet spacious minds? Joining history’s notable reading lists — including those of Leo Tolstoy, Susan Sontag, Alan Turing, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Stewart Brand, Carl Sagan, and Neil deGrasse Tyson — is Gabriel García Márquez.

Woven into Living to Tell the Tale (public library) — the autobiography that gave us the emboldening story of Márquez’s unlikely beginnings as a writer — is the reading that shaped his mind and creative destiny. “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it,” Márquez writes, and kindred-spirited readers instantly know that memorable books are the existential markers of life’s lived and remembered chapters.

Here are the books that most influenced Márquez — beginning with his teenage years at boarding school, of which he recalls: “The best thing at the liceo were the books read aloud before we went to sleep.” — along with some of the endearing anecdotes he tells about them.

I have a Plan Fer God’s Plan Fer Me

Ask a score-keeping Christian to define his belief system.

Keepin the Lord’s Books

More’n likely you’ll get some sort  of recipe or formula about some kind of plan that was figured out from readin scripture. You might also hear that God has revealed such a plan to man for his eternal salvation. And that means that you better listen, cause in the mind of the score-keeper, conformity to that plan is the hinge that connects eternal happiness in God to man satisfyin that dang plan.

But if you ask a mystery-mnded Christian to define his religion, he’s liable to give ya some sort a answer that the kingdom of God is within you,  “the Father and I are one, … and so are you.”

Now ain’t that just a little bit better?

Like trying to grab and hold onto pudding, score-keeper Christians don’t seem to understand the impossibility of possessing God. Fer such folks, owning God is not distinguished from any sense of God as the source of how we experience the mysteries of living. They’re gonna tell ya that be’in religious is mechanical – like mowing the law with the correct riding mower.

By them kind a mechanical of living by creeds, score-keepers are focused on fixed ways of seeing and believing instead of the state of yer mind.

Another way of sayin it is that whatever the heck “God” is, The Almighty’s made real only by somehow owning His Almightiness …

believin imaginatively that you can and are havin a connection to Old Wrathful as a function of something called “faith.”

There’s a smarty-pants way of sayin that. Fer me one of the best smarty-pants was Mr. Alan Watts who wrote,

    …man is frightened of this living, ungraspable mystery, and is always trying to have it securely boxed up in some philosophical, ethical, theological, or psychological formula, where its vitality is destroyed  …
    
    In trying to hold God in one fixed form, we exclude him from all others, and, so far as our apprehension of him is concerned, “devitalize” him in the one that we hold. We lose his immanence because we try to grasp and draw down his transcendence.

So ya got yer score-keepers and they need to figure out and promise themselves to score-keepin theologies. And that of course sinks humans to congregations in communities in which worryin about yer personal score is what it means to be .. you know … a godly human being.

Well, I’ll tell ya … Life ain’t no dang formula and it sure don’t recognize and reward score-keepin religious doofusing.

Life is spontaneous (Hey! i used a big word in a sentence without gettin my laces untied!)

God is spontaneous.

And we – whether we like it or admit it or not – are spontaneous … even when we work like the dickens to try not to be. Either conscious or unconscious we think about most of the stuff of life ebbing and flowing within our thoughts. We do it according to what smarty-pantses call our attention spans.

Then there’s our own playfulness … you know, when we listen to the whimsical nature of promptings, hunches and impulses.

Living Dangerously

Some folks are more doofus  than others cause they think those promptings, hunches and impulses are from something religious … something from outside of us … like space invaders . Score-keepers are mostly in that crowd and they don’t call the source “space invaders” … that’d be you know … supernatural … so they call it something natural … something that makes sense … like … are you ready for this? … like the “Holy Ghost.”

Well, I’ll tell ya. Score-keeping religiousizers seem ta think they have to move up the stairs of eternal climbing by pretending there’s a big Score-Keeper with a big Plan and that they got to demonstrate by cooking with the recipes of the plan … maybe cause they’re scared in their pride and want nothin to do with God being all mysterious and stuff.

Only way then is to set it in cement … believing in the formula and not the real thing.

Ain’t it more seductive to be mysteriously connected with God through yer own within kingdom than to live constantly worrying about yer score?

Ain’t it more adventuresome to live by trusting the spirit of spontaneous God and human stuff?

Ain’t it more exciting to feel them promptings, hunches and impulses … and trust em … and act on em?

Ain’t that better than fixin yer mind on “commandments” as if the score and the reward is what it means to live a good life?

Truth is … all that score-keeping ain’t justified by something solid. It’s all imagined itself and can’t be proven or established in some real way. And that’s why there ain’t nothing but weakness in all that old-time guess work about original sin.

And if ya ain’t got yer original sin, the god-talkers’d have ta leave out sin, atonement and redemption from their sermonizing. None of them concepts are now nor ever been real in a supernatural, let alone spiritual, sense. Only in the mind’s eye’s of those early Roman guessers did such weeds sprout and grow up to be noxious for the rest of us.

Now why couldn’t those scribes

have added a concordance

so I could look up original sin.

Once they guessed out the plan and the score sheet, the rest of us became mushrooms. And you know how mushrooms are raised … kept in the dark and thrown nothing but poop. But then only in the mind’s eyes of score-keepers who was afraid of the mystics among them could greater weeds in bigger fields be sewed and reaped.

So what ya got is yer imagined environment where a score-keeping God who is somewhere outside of humanity like maybe the moon. And it’s imagined that this invader created rules as an emperor – as if we needed such a divine emperor – with rules, wrath and punishment fer low scores.

The score-keepers got nothin.

Why I Write

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                                     Click on image to get novel details

Who are we really?

In the late 70’s and early 80’s I concluded that I might have it in me to write and get published.

What followed were hours and hours composing stories – remembering biographies I’d read of my first literary heroes, the early writers of science fiction. And reading somewhere, “the best way to learn to write is to write, write, write.”

Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Harry Harrison, John Campbell and Frederich Pohl, whose article on writing fiction I found way back then and copied from a library book.

Pohl’s writing suggested to my inner thinking “you can do this, Arthur.”

In the mid-80’s I set out to write what in my mind would be my version of a “Louie L’Amor” western complete with gunfights, secrets revealed and violence exploited.  However, the novel that finally emerged in the late fall of 1986 that – although its setting was the Western United States of the mid 19th century – looked nothing like a L’Amor novel and looked nothing like something publishable.

I’m the child of a culture dominated by fundamentalist religious thinking. Though no longer an actove church member, I was born and raised within the Mormon version of reality founded as it is on they idea of chosen generations, elects of God and growing to maturity inside the “one true and living church on the face of the earth.”

In retrospect, for me the most enduring treasure of that earlier life is the spiritual sense of living that seemed to permeate every aspect of my life – a life asset that remained in place even after I had rejected the uncomfortable shackles of literalist religion.

That spiritual sense included an internalized confirmation of teachings about a God who communes individually with human beings – who does not restrict himself to chosen “prophets” or the contemporary holy icons of Mormon culture in particular and Christian culture in general.

Early on I believed those who said God would prompt if I would listen.  When my eventual mid-life crisis of faith commenced, I certainly did not feel bereft of God’s promptings despite the fact that the literalist culture had constantly and confidently predicted that those who fall away suffer the loss of the spirit.  They described what I then came to perceive as a pouting  God no longer speaking to me because God is displeased.

The novel continued on into over 600 pages of historical fiction set within the context of the handcart immigration program launched by the Mormons in the mid-1850’s. The particular immigration event was  that of the Martin Company, memorialized by tragedy in both Church and secular histories of the American West.

Almost from the get-go, as I became immersed in my writing processes, the gunfighter story began to evolve and, as I had been given to understand from reading Pohl and other publications on creative writing,  my characters began to take over not only my attempts to portray them, but also the plot and direction of the story.

From my perspective, what finally appeared was a novel prompted and inspired by personalities who seemed to have come out of solitary inner places whose doors I had finally unlocked by activating my writer’s imagination. The world might say my muse woke up.

The watershed moment came when I indavertently discovered that my own family heritage included direct involvement in the Martin Handcart Company. To my shock and dismay, I discovered that my mother’s side of the family had come to Utah as English immigrants in that company that walked across the American plains and mountains, suffered privation and the loss of a loved one along the way.

This discovery changed things internally in an extremely powerful way. Suddenly it was personal … my story about the Martin Handcart Company was no longer idle fictional speculation. Never having known this history, I contacted other family members and quickly obtained copies of family journals and writings of my own ancestors who made that trek.

Somehow, with the story now so deeply personalized, the writing and events that had already been written – birthed, I assumed, in my creative imagination – began somehow to feel much more real, more vivid and definitely more intense … as if I were recalling experiences I myself had known back then.

It was then that the characters stepped out of two dimensional plotting and took over every word, every thought and every action I assigned them.

My experience suggests something more than an awakened muse.

Characters come to life:

Start with five awakened muses.
Five individuals with five perspectives,
five temperaments
five voices all insisting that their stories be a part of the unfolding revelation of a novel I had titled “And Should We Die.”

The novel was finished after what seemed like countless editing and polishing actions of the entire draft involving some 2000+ pages using an IBM Selectric typewriter and white-out. I then sent in a draft of 650 pages to Scott Meredith, a New York Literary Agent and paid him a feed to assess it.

The agency staff considered the novel too long for a first novel and sufficiently complex to make it an impossible publishing. As Meredith wrote to me,

“you made most of the mistakes all first-novel writers make … I don’t suggest you try to fix this one.”

However, he added,”your writing skill is considerable,” and made the suggestion that I start a new project and send it to him as soon as it was ready. All this was probably routine and generic responses that his agency sent out all the time. But for me it constituted validation of at least a few hopes. permitting me then the positive illusion that I was on the right track … that writing as a craft was an area of personal development worthy of my time and effort.

I have yet to write a second work but continually dabble in starts, restarts and scrapped novel-length projects. In the meantime, I’ve contented myself with non-fiction articles on politics and religion and blogging on the same topics.

But the muses who were freed from my inner closets/dungeons have remained liberated and active … now for sufficient length of time that I seem to have taken them for granted, never separating one voice in my head from another.

Yet, recently, with the onset of weariness from  years of intensely opposing Republicans, Bush and his insane lie-based war, the muses call me back to a more spiritual and introspective time.
Creativity awaits and becomes impatient it seems.

Fer all yew fundamentalists: Beelzebubba Ain’t Makin Ya Do It!

Whys Everybody Always Pickin On Me

Why’s Everybody Always Pickin On Me?

In the culture of my upbringing and in later life my dragging around, Mormon beliefs about this fellow Satan are quite specific. Satan is the villain in the LDS drama theology. Without this eternal Oil Can Harry, a lot of what is offered in the name of good versus evil would have much less substance.

However, Mormons are not unique in bearing a literal-minded acceptance of an belief in the reality of Satan, known elsewhere as Lucifer among other handles. I use the Mormon sample because that is the Satan in whom I sustained a literal belief for half my adult life.

There’s the official LDS PR statement about Satan/Lucifer – buttressed as usual by literalistic scripture reading:
Answering Media Questions About Jesus and Satan

This statement has been expanded since it was originally released on 12 December 2007.

Like other Christians, we worship Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel, diametrically opposite from Christ in every attribute.

As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

The Apostle Paul wrote that God is the Father of all. This means that all intelligent beings were created by God and are His spirit children.

Jesus Christ represents all that is good, true, virtuous, merciful, just and godly.

Lucifer is the adversary of everything that Christ stands for. He embodies all that is evil, false, immoral, and devoid of any trace ofgoodness or divine light.

He is the enemy of God and of every human being who seeks to follow Christ.

There’s an endless roster of ecclesiastic sermonizing against Oil Can Harry. Some of the more recent, and mind you, these are verbally dispensed with few if any smiles, in an almost funereal gravity and in full assertion that Harry is no laughing matter.

O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One – Apostle Ballard

Withstand Every Temptation of the Devil – W. Rolfe Kerr

Satan’s Bag of Snipes – Richard C. Edgely

Dare to Stand Alone – President Thomas S.
Monson

From my perspective, a case could be made that Satan is the biggest myth – not only of Mormon theology, but across the entirety of atonement-based Christianity.

However … and if I must start my “however” with holy scripture, I could begin with that trouble maker that God authorizes in Job … and I can see mischief in the tradition of other points of view.

To wit …Them pesky Pagans and their more grown-up and believable evaluation of resistance, temptation, allure and mark-missing. (Notice, “mark-missing” is my mistake-descriptor of choice. I do not believe in “sin.”) …
Wow.
Wouldn’t it be hard to be terrified and wary from someone whose actions and motivations are better explained and understood, and accurately compared to Lex Luthor, Oil Can Harry, Captain Hook and the Gremlins?
And this from what I consider to be a superior class of mythology upon which to base a reverence to reality system of belief.
There ya have it.
So here’s my guy … and as my current tactic for internally responding in my own knee-jerk way to the tossing around of the Satan/Devil/Evil-One like ketchup and mustard at a barbecue.
The following is the internal image I cultivate every time some sober-faced or tear-stained testifier preaches about The So-Called Adversary:
 

Cynthia Giles on the Tarot

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Cynthia Giles

To understand its nature, one must begin where the Tarot begins – in the realm of imagination. Imagination is the faculty that allows us to experience the immaterial. Ordinary perception operates through the senses, and so is confined entirely to experience of the material world, but imagination is not bound by the rules of space and time which govern materiality. Through the mode of imagination, it is possible to travel instantaneously into the past or future, to other lands, beyond the earth, and even to realms that don’t exist in the material dimension.

When people journey into imagination they commonly keep themselves on a tether held by the conscious mind. For some this tether is so short they never wander far from the world of facts and matter.

Tarot, Runes and the I Ching: An Esotericist with the Diviner’s Fire

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The Tarot, I Ching, Runes and me … oh, and my own home-made divinator/muse.

I collect Tarot decks and Rune sets and have three different Books about the I Ching and a 4th on my Kindle Fire. They are an extremely appreciated tool I use mostly for entertainment and self-knowledge.

I don’t read my fortune with any of them and do not believe in such things. If I did I would probably resort to more historical and pagan or prehistoric notions by killing and gutting a chicken and drying out its bones for tossing on a blanket and looking for portents. Course I’d have to let my hair and beard grow to excessive lengths, quit bathing, wear camel hair and eat grasshoppers and dates … but I digress.

For starters though I’d like to address the superstitious ideas of an extremely superstitious segment of our society:

Start a conversation about Ouija boards and you will invariably encounter active Christians who react instinctively with rejecting, considering such things dangerously occult – a tool of Satan.

Mention the Tarot, The I Ching, Runes and other forms of divination including astrology and you’ll encounter the same knee-jerk reaction that these also are tools of the Devil and must be avoided.

Yet many of these same believers will not hesitate to talk about moments when they’ve felt spiritual guidance in their lives through the same divining process; even occasionally coming to tears in relating their own experience of the mysterious from within a literal Christian mindset.

On more than one occasion I have heard practicing Christians tell me that they’ve opened the Bible to a random page, run their finger down to a verse picked randomly and found a specific verse timely to their question and purpose. For them it was God’s spirit moving them to find God’s truth for their issue of the moment. On more than one occasion I have seen quoted the biblical injunctions against divination, wizards and familiar spirits that cannot and should not be trusted.

Yet these same quoting biblicists seem to remain unconscious of the fact of their own conscious acceptance of spiritual divination by trusting written words in a book they have come to accept as containing a spiritual communication of God to each person.

“God doesn’t communicate with people in that manner”

Oh yeah? In the 24th chapter of Genesis Abraham’s servant blatantly requests God’s help in an act of divining – from God – who is to become Isaac’s future wife.

Divination by dreams occurs in a righteous context in Abimelech learning that Sarah was Abraham’s wife in a dream,

… Joseph’s dream interpretation for the well being of Pharaoh’s Egypt and his own Israelite tribe,

… Gideon’s acting upon a dream to defeat the Midianites,

… Daniel’s dream interpretations,

… Joseph’s dream assuring him it would be okay to take Mary to wife, and again later to take the child Jesus to Egypt.

In Numbers, righteousness was the singular purpose and intent of the use by the priests of the Urim and Thummim, the mechanics of which must have had a similarity to those of modern workers with divination.

And yet there remain those strong words against wizards and familiar spirits from which now we live with a contemporary popular interpretation that condemns all divination as occult and a tool of the Devil.

Could it be that there is a genuine tangible and palpable difference between superstitious divination and the real thing as spoken of favorably in the Bible?

Acceptance of superstitious divination reflects people’s willingness to trust the mystic revelations of anyone purporting to foresee specific future events both general and personal. From a negative standpoint, what comes to mind nowadays is the carnival fortune-teller who through use of a crystal ball or cards will declare something significant concerning the querent’s future – selling entertainment for a price.

The idea that God would warn Israel about wizards and familiar spirits as a protection against being deceived into harmful, rash or self-destructive actions based on gullibility makes sense. But the idea that God was saying that divination in its purest sense, something available as a spiritual tool for all human beings, is evil and of the Devil is for me a false notion.

Our contemporary world is full of the results of contemporary Christian divinators: the prime practicioners being Rapture proclaimers like the prophets LaHaye, Jenkins and the vunderbar Hal Lindsey who gave us the late great planet earth. Like the Fat Texan John Hagee, these superstitious seers claim to have “divined” the meanings of the Book of Revelation and other Bible passages to construct a Rapture and End Times scenario that has impacted millions.

Divination itself is a function of communion between God and human beings. It is the essence of promptings by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, many people keep journals and diaries. Journaling, when it avoids mere recitation of meetings, appointments and events, cannot help but be introspective and divinatory.

The act of writing out one’s thoughts on a daily basis is a powerful means of communion with one’s inner spirit – the mind is the place where the majority of human activity takes place – the mortal home of the soul. Taking journaling one step further by setting aside time to write thoughts as they spontaneously occur without time for editing for propriety’s sake can be very revelatory.

Such writings need not be shared with anyone else, but if kept and pondered with questions such as:

“Why did I write that?”

“How come I wrote it that way?”

“Why am I so angry … so pleased … so offended … so happy?”

The effect is both healthy and instructive … a movement further along one’s own path.

Divination and Me

Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines God-approved divination by lot as occurring in the choice of scapegoat by Aaron in Leviticus, in Numbers 26, in Joshua 7 and Samuel’s selection of Saul as king, in the choice of Mathias as Judas’ replacement in Acts.

Divination by lot seems to be that which most similarly resembles popular contemporary divination methods. It began for me one day years ago when out of boredom in a book store I began reading a book entitled “A Guide to the I Ching,” by Carol Anthony.

My eye was caught by the following under a paragraph entitled “On being led” as “necessary to establish the relationship between the student and the I Ching:

A willing suspension of disbelief

A sincere effort Perseverance”

This was a tiny powerful moment because I found myself reading the definition of how I had earlier in my spiritual life started on a different path wile still retaining my use of scripture – and coming to the spiritual place in which I now live.

I did not buy that book then, but as I continued scanning that “New Age” shelf I came across a marvelous book by Cynthia Giles, “The Tarot: Methods, Mastery and More,” a followup to here introductory The Tarot, History, Mystery and Lore

Expecting at first a Tarot “how to” what I discovered was that Giles, who has a Ph.D. specializing in Jungian Studies, was touting the Tarot as a means of self-exploration rather than a means of telling one’s own and other’s futures.

Among other things, she wrote of divination as a means of expanding ways of knowing one’s self, of wellness and rejoining body and mind, of growth uniting body and soul. I bought that book and read it … and reread it.

For the next 2-3 years in the 1990’s I bought a set of Runes, a Tarot deck, the I Ching book, commenced my exploration … and found myself amazed. In all three contexts, that which I learned as “revealed to me through divination tools” was essentially identical -the same information – in each context.

I realized then that journaling and techniques that task the mind and imagination creatively became a fascinating and enjoyable labor of love.

I found a means of exploring the inner self in a deliberate absence of seeking external mystical sources as portrayed by others who also used these tools.

I was not seeking to know the future, or some sort of channeled wisdom. Carried on independent of the need for outside religious approval based on someone else’s magic or assumptions, I found myself further down my path toward a more direct communion with the reality of God – as I have exprienced God – than I’d ever intended or anticipated.

And then, with a greater understanding of myself, I designed another device for divination more in line with how I seem to be wired.

It’s a book I built in which I’ve collected what I consider the most important grains of wisdom I have found. It is also dominated by but not limited to the words of Jesus which I believe to be authentic or close to it. It’s a living book in that it grows when I encounter something new that merits inclusion in my Muse Book.

Some who read this article are probably not aware that something they’ve written may very well be in my special collection. When I use it, I refer to it slowly and in a patient, almost leisurely manner, exercising faith in spiritual communion with the divine and trusting the process.

In closing, I’ll say this. There are millions who know this stuff – many who are younger than I and yet knew it long before I did. I join with them in a path toward greater understanding of self and mystery.

One more thing, every single poetry item I write is done using that same homemade collection: Arthur’s Muse

Dying minds among us commoners … entertainment murders imagination and curiosity.

Don’t tell me more! I don’t need that. Just entertain me … and don’t make me work for it!
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”

What a society we’ve become!

The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things change the more they stay the same. The more we pride ourselves on invention and the progress of civilized society and it’s technological wonders, the more our majority loses its innocence and the most vital aspect of living … imagination.

We trust what the legalistic thinking minds tell us in terms of science, technology, gadgets and consumer pleasure.

We trust what the legalistic thinking minds tell us politically, replacing our own abilities  to imagine peace, justice or community with assumptions based on some persuasive legalistic mind whose theories represent the ultimate bookishness.

We trust what the legalistic thinking minds tell us  in the pseudo-spiritual realm of religion, this time replacing our own abilities to imagine a loving non-judgmental God of compassion who is not interested in power, control, authority, or spiritual warfare against a satanic banshee that does not exist.

We retreat to our books – be they hard-cover or entertainment versions of someone else’s magic.  Is there any difference between one compilation of laws and another in our conformity-addicted mental processes?

Laws and the Books Where They are Worshipped

Let’s see now, ya got yer laws of gravity, planetary motions, conservation of energy, thermodynamics, and on … and on … even a law of motion that had to be replaced by a theory, of all things, of relativity.

Where do these laws accumulate, hang out together, fester like bats in a cave? Why in sacred science volumes; textbooks, treatises, and the journals of the priesthood of science.

The notion of a cutting edge of research and development of new science and technology breakthroughs is offset more and more by the death of imagination and creativity as a prevalent consciousness among humans. The more we become satisfied with some level of entertainment the greater the death of that restless spirit the moved our predecessors across unknown oceans.

We become dominated by an imaginative and creative few who … willingly and knowledgeably or otherwise … work themselves into a monopolistic dominance of what we as an entire race are willing to attempt, imagine or accomplish.

This because those who’ve done that very thing have now become willing or unwilling gurus who are looked to for advice as to whether or not “it can be done.”

And then ya got yer laws from the One Who Created It All … more frequently expressed as “commandments” although the legal aspects can be found in the guise of “theology.” Ya got yer God-laws upon which all of God’s good will and blessings are predicated;

the law of no other Gods

the laws against killing, stealing, adultery and lying

the law to keep Sunday sacred

the law to love the Lord with all heart, soul and mind

the law to love neighbors in like manner

The only difference between where these laws accumulate, hang out together and fester like bats in a cave is that the books are limited … almost entirely to The Book, The Bible, the scribe-idolater’s textbook and manual of shoulds, shouldn’ts, cans and can’t-dos, and if you do you will die and God will slap you around.

The notion of a cutting edge of research and development of new spiritual breakthroughs is severely restricted by a traumatic fear of non-conforming heresy. Spiritually, biblical literal-ism is flat out the perpetrator of the death of imagination and creativity as a prevalent consciousness among humans. The more we become satisfied with some level of literal belief the greater the death of that restless spirit the moved our predecessors across unknown oceans of seeking and finding God.

Many among the literalists are then like children in the shallow end of the pool supported by their biblical water wings … terrified by a fear of deep water where learning to swim is a requirement.

We become dominated by an unimaginative and non-creative biblical authoritarians who – willingly and knowledgeably or otherwise – work themselves into a monopolistic dominance of what we as a religious society are willing to attempt, imagine, believe and accomplish.

This because those who’ve done that very thing previously are stuck on pedestals the bases of which are now granite-like inflexible and immovable doctrines from which the common terror of heresy enforces conformity.

In both venues an understanding of these “laws” which were never really legislated (although commands from a Boss of the Universe could be construed in the same either-or manner that we mortals tend to worship the laws we make) is not a bad thing.

However … lives constructed totally around a blind acceptance of someone else’s definition of non-existent laws is a process of our own deterioration from a society of courageous explorers, doubters, and adventurers to a cowardly collection of believers seeking safety in the restricted confines of books.

In that regard there is no difference between which book you live by … if your imagination has died or dying because of your fear of being thought of as marching outside the parade … you have lost … and then we have lost you.