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.

 © Arthur Ruger 2015

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: