Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wise Men

I read a sign outside a local church today:

"Even wise men constantly strive toward a closer communion with the savior."

Sage advice to ring in the New Year. The parent-child connection between the good god and man means it is worthwhile to keep our hearts and minds open to new relationship advice. He only wants our hearts to be open and loving but there are times when we lose our temper. In those times he can give compassionate assistance in helping us detach ourselves from the situation to look at it from broader perspective.

In the grand scheme of things I think we may get too worked up over some very silly stuff.

And on that note, I think this would be a good time to list my New Year's Resolutions!

1) Yell less.
2) Listen more.
3) Fully understand that others are capable of solving their own problems and I don't have to be there to kiss every boo-boo just because I can.
4) Go easy on the Nutella. That stuff is addictive and I don't plan on buying a new wardrobe this year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Breasts! OMG!

Defiantly lactating in public, women across the USA have united and decided to go out to their local stores and feed their babies in order to show their support of a woman who was harassed in Texas.

Oh we have such horrid hang ups over the female body....
I can understand the act of procreating as something not to be seen in public but naturally feeding a child? Hey, the baby has NO problem whatsoever with it. All they see is foooood. Not booooob. Well, maybe they do equate the two in their mind and start furiously salivating in response to seeing one but seriously- WHAT is the big deal??? It's not like a woman is flashing you in a sexual way or anything. We have milk bags and sometimes they're used for what they were created for. Most moms hang a small blanket over their shoulder for privacy anyway and to keep their baby comforted.

The accompanying vid to the article is more informative but here's the article itself:

By Cory Perrin 12/29/2011 10:06 PM ET

Breastfeeding Flash Mobs – Breastfeeding moms are so upset that they are taking their anger out in a protest against 100 Target stores. The mothers have created a flash mob and have joined the cause to support a fellow nursing mother who had an unpleasant experience.

Yesterday mothers around the US went to their local Target in full participation.

This was an act to support Michelle Hickman, a Texas mother, who felt she was being harassed by Target employee’s last month when she was nursing her infant son in the Fortune 500 retail store.

These flash mobs took place in 35 states following the story of Michelle Hickman being aired. According to the mother of four, she was nursing her baby in a remote area of the Target store in TX when employees approached her and asked her if she wanted to use a fitting room.

Hickman is receiving way more support than she ever imagined she would. She feels hopeful that the actions taken yesterday, December 28, will encourage Target to educate their employees about their breastfeeding policies.

________________

Good for you, moms!!! And according to Target's corporate offices, they do allow breast feeding mothers to do so anywhere they wish so it was the employee who was out of line, not the mother.

The more women push back and fight for what is natural and right then our laws will reflect this. My mother never fed me in a bathroom or a closet at work when I was nursing; she fought for the right to be comfortable and the men in her office spoke up in her defense as well. At break time and lunch she'd come and get me from the office nursery and feed me while chatting with co-workers. She fed me in restaurants and stores. And when another baby cried nearby, yes, my mother was the one running out to the car to change her shirt because she let down in a flood. It's natural.

Hilariously, my own husband thinks public breast feeding is 'indecent.' I told him that if our boys were still at that age I'd whip a breast out anywhere I felt like it and feed them. He looked at me like I had two heads. Then again, he's never had a great relationship with his own mother or the mother of his children so.... perhaps more a more prudish attitude was the result? I love him anyway but wow we butt heads on some weird stuff! lol

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bugs, Infections, and more Internet naughtiness


The above lolcat photo accurately depicts my frustration when dealing with my mother today who, Pleroma love her, has the common sense of a mouse when it comes to dealing with technology of any sort. I had to set up her address book for her with her cell phone, show her how to work her cable box remote, and now... NOW I have to figure out how to reformat her computer because she clicked on one of those antivirus protection program pop-ups which are, in fact, an invitation to download the virus itself which will wipe out your hard drive. We've done this twice now in the past year. It's a tad bit frustrating.

So that was my day. I am about ready to rip out her computer and chuck the damn thing out the window.

And in other news my in-laws are starting fights with my husband, yet again, trying to get him all riled up so that he'll divorce me(snickersnort) and complaining about his children supposedly being used for slave labor around our house because I make them do all their laundry, clean their room, and their bathroom. Oh and heaven forbid they vacuum the living room once a week to help me out because if I use the vacuum cleaner it makes my whiplash flare like hot pokers are being shoved through my neck. Heaven forbid a ten and an eleven year old take care of their belongings and help take care of the house. We wouldn't want to teach the poor little dears how to have responsibility, now would we?

Is it a full moon or something?

'Tis the Season to royally make our blood pressure go sky high. I am really starting to despise the holidays. This happens every year with my husband's family and I swear that next year I'm considering hibernating my way from October 15th until January the 5th with the help of tranquilizers. I wish my husband had the same option. I really feel for the guy. His side of the family just plain likes fighting. I don't know why but they do. All I know is that after the past two days of their shenanigans we are both so emotionally exhausted that we turned our phones off.

The kids will come back in two weeks with attitudes from hearing all that crap and... ugh. Every. Time. I hate it.

Why can't we all just get along?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day-to-Day Gnosis

Everyone's journey is different but there are key insights which all gnostics can agree on:

1) Make love not war, it's so much more fun. *wink*
2) There is no One Way toward gnosis. There is no certified Correct way which will earn you points in Heaven and you're not damned to hellfire and brimstone if you 'screw it up' a few times. Those bumps in the road on your path toward gnosis are all lessons learned and have far more worth than what you may see right now. Consider them the 'flavor' in your pot of gumbo you call Life.
3) We take ourselves far too seriously- LAUGH! Life is the most hilarious rollercoaster ride we could ever imagine experiencing. We're all imagining it together and that is what makes it more fun.
4) Live lucidly; minute by minute and hour by hour. This lifetime is fleeting so live life in the moment and enjoy whatever we can whenever we can. Count your blessings by the ounce, not the pound.
5) Living is not the same thing as learning. Learning takes effort and mindfulness to the task. Just because you see something happening doesn't mean you've learned from it. Seeing and doing is not the same thing as retention.
6) All living creatures are connected through pleroma(the fullness/the totality). Respect ourselves and one another. We are one another. If we remember this and live like this then we can
truly be at peace with ourselves and one another. Big Love is the answer.
7) There is no such thing as a coincidence. Irony, yes. Comedy a
nd poetic justice, most definitely. The All does have a wicked sense of humor. But there is no such thing as a coincidence.
8) Everyone talks to themselves and when we do we are reinforcing our own innate wisdom. It's something we do by instinct. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are wise beings so we don't get bogged down in the day-to-day crap that we forget our divine heritage.
9) Past is not prologue! We can learn from our mistakes and our bright sparks will shine all the more brightly for it. Dare to break the mold of what your friends/family members may tell you is your fate. It's your life. So live it!
10) Dream. And then share those dreams with others. Communicate your visions so that others can know they are not alone.
11) And if you're really depressed take a look around at Nature. It'll always give you a good chuckle. Take this cat for example:




See, you're laughing and already further on your path toward gnosis than you were five minute ago!

If we can't laugh at life and the quirky creatures and situations we're surrounded with then truly, what can we laugh at? We tend to get angry with other human beings but animals.... animals show us what we need to see. Like for example: the not-so-subtle hint that you're out of toilet paper; a priceless lesson in humility.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Love You Always Forever

Here's an adorable blast from the past- 1996 to be specific. I heard this song playing in a store today and it's stayed with me all evening. Listen to it and see if you can feel Someone trying to give you a nudge to smile more today. Because He really does love you. Always and forever.

I Love You Always Forever
By: Donna Lewis

This vid I've embedded below has the clearest sounding lyrics but doesn't have the original television visual clips. Linked here is the original vid from back in '96 if you'd like to see it but the vocals are too soft really to be clear. Heck, I was unsure of a few lines and had to look them up so I could post them for you below! She speaks quite softly in several verses. Link



Feels like
I'm standing
in a timeless dream of light mists
Of pale amber rose
Feels like
I'm lost in a deep cloud of heavenly scent
touching
Discovering you.

Those days

of warm rains
come rushing back to me
Miles of windless
summer night air
Secret moments
shared in the heat of the afternoon
Out of the stillness
Soft spoken words

Say it, say it again


[Chorus:]

I love you always forever
Near and far closer together
Everywhere I will be with you
Everything I will do for you
[Repeat]

You've got

the most unbelievable blue eyes I've ever seen
You've got
me almost melting away
As we lay there
under a blue sky with pure white stars
Exotic sweetness
a magical time

Say it, say it again


[Chorus x2]


Say you'll love love me forever

Never stop, never whatever
Near and far and always
And everywhere and everything
[Repeat x4]

[Chorus x2]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beautiful Heavens

In the Boötes constellation there is a celestial reminder that grammar counts: VV 340. Beautiful, yes?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Australia's Uranium Deal

http://news.yahoo.com/video/business-15749628/australia-set-to-sell-uranium-to-india-27482406.html (vid)

Oh Australia.... I weep for what I see in the future for this deal. Some crazed people a little north and far west of India will be more than happy to take those wonderful barrels of uranium off your hands. They'll give you a fair deal, too. They'll wait at least a decade or so before taking out the really big population cities.

If there was ever a time to decline a business proposition for the sake of peace and prosperity of the human race long term then I'd say this would be it for Australia. Does India need the uranium? No. They want it. But someone else who thinks they need it and who has a stronger will to survive will likely start WW3 because of it.

Folks, what happened to solar, wind, and water energy? Hell, my ELEVEN YEAR OLD just came up with the plans last week in his Science class for a neat energy alternative-- harnessing sound waves and turning it into electricity. The boy will be in highschool by the time he's twelve(that is true, he's doing all of middle school in one year) and he'll probably be in engineering school by the time he's sixteen or seventeen. There are bright minds in this world today; bright sparks who know beyond the shadow of a doubt there are peaceful alternatives besides being so arrogant and prideful with our chemistry prowess that we outsmart ourselves straight into extinction.


Let us hope the worst does not happen. And in the meantime let us also make ourselves heard. We do not need nuclear energy to thrive as a species. We need to use our common sense and say no to death and destruction.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quiver Full

In honor of the Duggar family announcing their twentieth pregnancy I am posting a link to a wonderful letter from an ex-Quiverfull mother. I found it a riveting read. Hope you enjoy it.

Holy books are great if you read and comprehend them for the METAPHORS they are. I think the Quiverfull cult is pretty sick in that regard. I'm not concerned with the world's population, honestly. We tend to thin ourselves out fairly well with wars and diseases. I think the Quiverfull movement is sick because of the convenient patriarchal societal expectations set for the women. I have a helluva time virtual schooling my two demanding kids and they get all the attention they could possibly crave from me!! And sometimes I just have to tell them that it's time for Mommy to be alone for a while.

How someone deals with more than four kids is absolutely mind boggling. I only have two and this is with the support of a husband who is not only financially supportive but my own emotional Coach in the 'honey, please don't tear your hair out. I love you. I'd hate to see you with bald spots just because the kids are trying to drive you insane' corner of the ring. He goes to bat for me every day and I don't bow down to him.


Reading that woman's story made me feel quite a bit better about how well I'm holding it together here in our house. I might go a bit foamy-at-the-mouth some afternoons trying to cook dinner, wash clothes, get grading done, play interference between brothers who're trying to provoke a fight over whose friend should come over, etc.... But we survive. And we THRIVE! But you add another kid in the equation here and I'd be needing some pretty hefty tranquilizers. (For me, not the kids.)

I'm not saying that some people can't make magic happen in their house and manage to make raising ten kids look like it's nothing but I do wonder how much Xanax their popping behind that bathroom door a few times a day. And if you're so stressed out how can you tend to your own spiritual needs when you have God's Army waiting to be instructed, potty trained, and tucked into bed at night?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

State vs. Fed Marijuana Laws

This is pretty saddening. There are people who really need marijuana for a variety of reasons and to go through this nightmare of fighting Uncle Sam the same time your state says you're in the clear.... my heart goes out to you.

To those who are in the middle of this: Stay strong! Keep up the good fight. Personally, I'd much rather smoke a joint than pop pills to stay calm. There are too many side effects with Xanax and those other Big Pharma drugs.


Calif. pot dispensaries told by feds to shut down

U.S. prosecutors send letters even though state law allows

By
updated 10/6/2011 7:56:13 PM ET

Federal prosecutors are cracking down on some pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state's 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation's burgeoning medical marijuana industry, at least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters this week stating they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The state's four U.S. attorneys were scheduled Friday to announce a broader coordinated crackdown.

Their offices refused Thursday to confirm the closure orders. The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to at least 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law "takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana."

"Under United States law, a dispensary's operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions," according to the letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego. "Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States ... regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary."

The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors' recommendations.

The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The effort to shutter California dispensaries appeared to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.

"This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The administration is simply making good on multiple threats issued since President Obama took office," said Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the president's drug czar and a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Substance Abuse Solutions. "The challenge is to balance the scarcity of law enforcement resources and the sanctity of this country's medication approval process. It seems like the administration is simply making good on multiple statements made previously to appropriately strike that balance."

Greg Anton, a lawyer who represents dispensary Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said its landlord received an "extremely threatening" letter Wednesday invoking a federal law that imposes additional penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds.

The landlord was ordered to evict the 14-year-old pot club or risk imprisonment, plus forfeiture of the property and all the rent he has collected while the dispensary has been in business, Anton said.

Marin Alliance's founder "has been paying state and federal taxes for 14 years, and they have cashed all the checks," he said. "All I hear from Obama is whining about his budget, but he has money to do this which will actually reduce revenues."

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the warnings are part of what appears to be an attempt by the Obama administration to curb medical marijuana on multiple fronts and through multiple agencies. A series of dispensary raids in Montana, for example, involved agents from not only the FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, but the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

Going after property owners is not a new tactic though, Hermes said. Five years ago, the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush made similar threats to about 300 Los Angeles-area landlords who were renting space to medical marijuana outlets, some of whom were eventually evicted or closed their doors voluntarily, he said.

"It did have an impact. However, the federal government never acted on its threats, never prosecuted anybody, never even went to court to begin prosecutions," Hermes said. "By and large, they were empty threats, but they relied on them and the cost of postage to shut down as many facilities as they could without having to engage in criminal enforcement activity."

Besides the dozen dispensaries in San Diego and the one in Marin County, at least three shops in San Francisco already have received closure notices, said Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The San Diego medical marijuana outlets put on notice were the same 12 that city officials sued last month for operating illegally, after activists there threatened to force an election on a zoning plan adopted to regulate the city's fast-growing medical marijuana industry, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. A judge on Wednesday ordered nine of the targeted shops to close, while the other three shut down voluntarily, Goldsmith said.

Duffy, the U.S. attorney for far Southern California, planned to issue warning letters to property owners and all of the 180 or so dispensaries that have proliferated in San Diego in the absence of compromise regulations, according to Goldsmith.

"The real power is with the federal government," he said. "They have the asset forfeiture, and that means either the federal government will own a lot of property or these landlords will evict a lot of dispensaries."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Infinity takes a backseat


When you read this article think about all the possibilities which could have existed in the past two thousand years but didn't. Think of the technological death which occurred (several times, in fact!) due to literalist religions stamping down any new ideas and stringing people up in a noose, tossing them on a bonfire, crucifying them, or pulling them between two horses(or trees) until their bodies fell apart.

It is sobering to see just how far the human mind pushed itself, willingly, testing boundaries of the physical world on paper or animal skins because we had no other way to do so physically. So naturally now that we have the ability to test the physical world the majority of us sit on our asses and play XBox360 numbing ourselves to the infinite possibilities which exist all around.

We need more Archimedes and Einsteins to wake us up.



Date: 17 February 2009 Time: 05:49 AM ET

CHICAGO - The first mathematical use of the concept of actual infinity has been pushed back some 2,000 years via a new analysis of a tattered page of parchment on which a medieval monk in Constantinople copied the third century B.C. work of the Greek mathematician Archimedes.

Infinity is one of the most fundamental questions in mathematics and still remains an unsolved riddle. For instance, if you add or subtract a number from infinity, the remaining value is still infinity, some Indian philosophers said. Mathematicians today refer to actual infinity as an uncountable set of numbers such as the number of points existing on a line at the same time, while a potential infinity is an endless sequence that unfolds consecutively over time.

The parchment page comes from the 348-page Archimedes Palimpsest, the oldest copy of some of the Greek genius' writings, which were hidden for centuries because a monk partly scraped them off the animal-skin parchment in the 13th century A.D. to clear the pages to print a prayer book. Also, a forger painted pictures over the prayer book hundreds of years after that.

A scholar named Johan Ludvig Heiberg in 1906 studied the written remnants behind the religious words to discover the Palimpsest, finding evidence of Archimedes' systematic use of the concept of infinity in a portion of the document called the Method of Mechanical Theorems. In the past few years, the Palimpsest was re-examined at a far higher level of detail using multispectral imaging and also a hair-thin X-ray scanning technique at Stanford University's Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource in California. The scanner can image a million pixels in less than one hour.

With one of the X-ray images, Stanford classicist Reviel Netz made out the edge of a torn page, where Heiberg had figured just one line of text was missing. The X-rays produced images of iron from the ink used on the document.

Netz examined the scan and was able to deduce the presence of previously unseen Greek letters, kappa and alpha, which were likely followed by an iota to spell the Greek word for "and." This led Netz to conclude that two lines were missing, rather than one and to arrive at a new reading of the passage, physicist Uwe Bergmann of the Synchrotron facility told a small group of reporters here Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"Scholars are now talking about some new words which are emerging in the reconstruction of the evidence in introduction to the Method, that Archimedes' concept of infinity was rather different from what was previously thought," Bergmann said.

In fact, the new reading reveals that Archimedes was engaged in math that made conceptual use of actual infinity, as Netz describes on the Web site ArchimedesPalimpsest.org. The calculations involved adding infinite numbers of sums, such as the number of triangles inside a prism, as well as the number of lines inside a rectangle. Archimedes tried to argue that these values are equal to each other, making a statement about actual infinity, not just potential infinity, Nets writes.

The Palimpsest resides at the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore.

The Archimedes Palimpsest project forced researchers to come up with a new system to scan large objects, Bergmann said. A commercial-grade X-ray scanning machine might take a year to complete a scan that the Stanford Synchrotron now can complete in half a day, he said.

"It is now taking milliseconds rather than seconds to get each pixel — that has been for us the great novelty," he said.

Gnosis in the News

Ahh Valentinus! How gnostics are rejoicing now!

Some beautiful verses were found. Enjoy, Readers!


Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 30 September 2011 Time: 10:09 AM ET

Researchers have identified what is believed to be the world's earliest surviving Christian inscription, shedding light on an ancient sect that followed the teachings of a second-century philosopher named Valentinus.

Officially called NCE 156, the inscription is written in Greek and is dated to the latter half of the second century, a time when the Roman Empire was at the height of its power.

An inscription is an artifact containing writing that is carved on stone. The only other written Christian remains that survive from that time period are fragments of papyri that quote part of the gospels and are written in ink. Stone inscriptions are more durable than papyri and are easier to display. NCE 156 also doesn't quote the gospels directly; instead, its inscription alludes to Christian beliefs.

"If it is in fact a second-century inscription, as I think it probably is, it is about the earliest Christian material object that we possess," study researcher Gregory Snyder, of Davidson College in North Carolina, told LiveScience.

Snyder, who detailed the finding in the most recent issue of the Journal of Early Christian Studies, believes it to be a funeral epigram, incorporating both Christian and pagan elements. His work caps 50 years of research done by multiple scholars, much of it in Italian. The inscription is in the collection of the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

"Assuming that Professor Snyder is right, it's clearly the earliest identifiable Christian inscription," said Paul McKechnie, a professor of ancient history at Macquarie University in Australia, who has also studied the inscription.

As translated by Snyder, the inscription reads:

To my bath, the brothers of the bridal chamber carry the torches,
[here] in our halls, they hunger for the [true] banquets,
even while praising the Father and glorifying the Son.
There [with the Father and the Son] is the only spring and source of truth.

Details on the provenance of the inscription are sketchy. It was first published in 1953 by Luigi Moretti in the "Bullettino della commissione archeologica comunale di Roma," an Italian archaeological journal published annually.

The only reference to where it was found is a note scribbled on a squeeze (a paper impression) of the inscription, Snyder said. According to that note, it was found in the suburbs of Rome near Tor Fiscale, a medieval tower. In ancient times, the location of the tower would have been near mile four of a roadway called the Via Latina.

How was it dated?

Margherita Guarducci, a well-known Italian epigrapher who passed away in 1999, proposed a second-century date for the inscription more than four decades ago. She argued that the way it was written, with a classical style of Greek letters, was only used in Rome during the first and second centuries.

After that, the letters change; for instance, the letter omega, Ω, changes into something closer to the letter w. The letter Sigma, Σ, changes into a symbol that resembles the letter c.

Snyder essentially added more evidence to Guarducci's theory. He analyzed a 1968 catalog of more than 1,700 inscriptions from Rome called "Inscriptiones graecae urbis Romae." He found 53 cases of Greek inscriptions with classical letterforms.

"Not one case is to be found in which, in the judgment of the [catalog]editors, an inscription with the classical letter forms found in NCE 156 can be securely placed in the mid-third or fourth century," Snyder wrote in his paper.

In addition, Snyder analyzed an inventory of inscriptions from nearby Naples, published in a series of two volumes in the 1990s called "Iscrizioni greche d'Italia." He found only two examples that might date into the third century. "In sum, Guarducci's case for a second-century date for NCE 156 is stronger than ever," he wrote.

McKechnie said that, after reviewing Snyder's work, he agrees with the date. "The first time I read his article I was far from sure, but the second time I read it I was convinced by his argument about the letter shape."

Who was Valentinus?

The author of the inscription likely followed the teachings of a man named Valentinus, an early Christian teacher who would eventually be declared a heretic, Snyder said. The presence of the inscription suggests that a community of his followers may have lived on the Via Latina during the second century.

"We know that Valentinus was a famous Gnostic teacher in the second century (who) lived in Rome for something like 20 years, and was a very sophisticated ... poetic, talented, thinker, speaker, writer."

His teachings are believed to be preserved, to some degree, in the Gospel of Philip, a third-century anthology that was discovered in 1945 in the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt. That gospel is a collection of gnostic beliefs, some of which were probably composed in the second century, that are written in a cryptic manner. However, like the inscription, it also refers prominently to a "bridal chamber."

One example, near the end of the gospel, reads in part:

The mysteries of truth are revealed, though in type and image. The bridal chamber, however, remains hidden. It is the Holy in the Holy. The veil at first concealed how God controlled the creation, but when the veil is rent and the things inside are revealed, this house will be left desolate, or rather will be destroyed. And the whole (inferior) godhead will flee from here, but not into the holies of the holies, for it will not be able to mix with the unmixed light and the flawless fullness, but will be under the wings of the cross and under its arms...

(Translation by Wesley Isenberg)

"It's not quite clear what it [the bridal chamber] is, it's explained to some degree, but explained in cryptic terms in the Gospel of Philip, it's a ritual involving freedom and purification and union with the deity," McKechnie said.

Perhaps rather than an actual ritual, the bridal chamber is a metaphor.

"It may be a metaphor for something that happens in death — maybe it's a kind of ritual that happens when people are still alive. That you achieve a new kind of existence or spiritual status based on this kind of wedding with your spiritual ideal counterpart," Snyder said.

"Some groups may have celebrated it as a concrete ritual, others perhaps sawit in metaphorical terms. I like the idea that it is connected with the death of the believer, who has cast off the mortal coil and enjoys a new life in the spirit," he added in a follow-up email.

But there were some important differences between Valentinians and other early Christians. "Valentinians in particular, and gnostics more generally, most of them wouldn't, for example, get martyred," McKechnie said. "They wouldn't think it was wrong or unlawful to do the things that Christian martyrs refused to do, like take an oath in the name of Caesar or offer incense to a statue or that kind of thing."

The reason for their lack of bias has to do with the Valentinians' beliefs about all things physical. "They believed that not only matter and the physical world was evil, but also that matter and the physical world was unimportant," McKechnie said. "Therefore, it was unimportant what you or what your body did in the physical world."

"It's mostly about the world of the mind."

Valentinians were also likely influenced by earlier Greek philosophers such as Plato, Snyder has found, though he doesn't think they would have interpreted the story of the resurrection of Jesus in a literal way.

"It's certainly not the case that they would have considered that to be a physical resurrection," he said. "Christians of this particular variety (who incorporated Plato's philosophy) generally speaking saw the material body as something not so desirable, not so good."

Christian and pagan

When analyzing the inscription, Snyder also noticed some similarities with funeral epigrams composed for non-Christians. In those inscriptions, the wedding imagery is used in a tragic way.

One example, written about 2,100 years ago, reads in part:

I am Theophila, short-lived daughter of Hecateus. The ghosts of the unmarried dead were courting me, a young maiden, for marriage, Hades outstripped the others and seized me, for he desired me, looking upon me as a Persephone more desirable than Persephone. And when he carved the letters on her tombstone, he wept for the girl Theophila from Sinope, her father Hecateus, who composed the wedding torches not for marriage but for Hades...

(Translation by Gregory Snyder)

"Typically, that wedding imagery is tragic," said Snyder. "Here's the promising young person entering into the prime of life, suddenly snatched away, and betrothed, married to Hades."

What the second-century Christian inscription does is turn this convention on its head. "They're playing with that... it's not decline, it's looking forward to a new life."

Snyder said that the mix of Christian and pagan traditions in the inscription is striking. He told LiveScience that he's studied early Christian paintings on the Via Latina that mix biblical themes, such as the story of Samson or the raising of Lazarus, along with figures from classical mythology, like that of Hercules.

"Those kinds of things I find particularly interesting, because they seem to suggest a period of time in which a Christian identity is flexible," Snyder said. "Is it just a simple either/or between pagan and Christian?" he asked. "Or is there really something rather like a spectrum? Or are you really sort of both in certain respects?"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hearing The Phone Ring

"He didn't believe in anything real. He only believed in what he saw."

I don't know who that message is for I just know that I am supposed to post it here. Someone was being cryptic today and blurted that out when I was on the edge of sleep. If it's for you then I hope it helps you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Procrastination And Living With Blinders On

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's book The Laughing Jesus talks about 'living lucidly' in chapter ten. I equate this task with removing the blinders and getting up off our spiritual butts. It's very difficult to stay disciplined with the way ordinary life slips in, demanding our immediate attention. The authors had interesting things to say about procrastination concerning gnosis:
"Life is a game of awakening and the way we win is remarkably simple. We live or ordinary life, just as we have always done, but we choose to live consciously. We recognize that even the most seemingly trivial events are opportunities to enjoy the moment and love others. We embrace the stranger who serves us at the local shop with big love, because we no longer see them as just a cashier, we know they are also the mystery made manifest. And when we love others we may help them wake up and become more loving. In this way we can send out ripples of kindness wherever we go.

We wake up by approaching our everyday existence as an ongoing spiritual exercise. Not in some overly serious way, but like a game we enjoy playing. Yet it does also have a serious aspect. Life will naturally present us with the challenges we need to become more conscious, some of which can be hard to face, and the best way to avoid being pushed is to keep moving.

We tend to think that it is when we feel bad that we need to wake up and when we feel good everything is fine as it is. But actually it is often when we are enjoying life that we become most unconscious. When life is bad we are impelled to do something about it and we may take a step forward on our journey of awakening. But when we feel good it is tempting to settle into a comfortable unconsciousness. We need to pay attention to waking up all of the time, not just when we are pushed into it because we felt bad.

Once we understand that the game of life is about waking up and that what we really want is to love this moment, we will cease distracting ourselves with the relentless quest for transitory satisfaction, through accumulating material possessions, acquiring social status and attaining personal power. We will stop numbing the pain of separateness with TV and trivia. Instead we will give our precious attention to the process of awakening. We will stop seeing lucid living as an attractive idea and make it a reality. We will stop procrastinating and go for it."

As I write this my ten year old son is sitting out at the dining room table sobbing his little heart out because he procrastinated all day long on school work and now here it is only a few minutes before Daddy gets home and he swears he's going to be killed. It's always just before Daddy gets home that the kid looks at the clock and freaks out.

I've given him pep talks ten times a day. I've taken away all his toys, electronics privileges, had him write papers concerning procrastinating, and even had him write essays forcing him to give HIMSELF a pep talk to stop procrastinating; listing all the reasons it's not such a good idea and specifically what he loses by doing it. But we still haven't broken through that barrier in his mind.

As the two good authors say, "you have to want to wake up more than you want to stay asleep."

And as I've asked my youngest time and time again, "why are you stopping yourself?"

Children teach us patience in surprising ways. I look at him and at times think, 'why can't he do this?! It's easy! If he gets done then he gets free time. What's the issue? I got done with my school work in a reasonable amount of time when I was a kid. What's the big deal?'

But to him it is a big deal. So I get to watch him overcome this demon and in the process learn more about him and myself. Can I be patient enough to not scream at him every time I see him staring off into space or 'accidentally' dropping his eraser on the floor for the thousandth time? Can I be compassionate enough to let him learn from his mistakes? Can I be strict enough to enforce that no work will carry over to the next day and watch him sit, miserable, at the table until 11pm? It's no fun for me or my husband. We don't get anything out of it. This is a roadblock of our son's making and his life is his own journey. But our journeys sure do intersect an awful lot!! And that's where loving others with Big Love comes in handy. I can give John a big loud kiss on the cheek, hug him tightly, tell him that I love him with all my heart... but afterward I still have to nudge him toward the table to get his school work done.

We're only human

"Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for."

Earl Warren
1891-1974

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Keep looking for those 'answers'

Einstein said, "the important thing is to not stop questioning."

But does the Right Answer exist? .... I don't think so. I think it's all subjective to our own mindset and circumstances. In most cases there's going to be someone who feels they were Wrong and the Right person is just a jackass. Or vice versa.

I don't want to be in a coma, metaphysically or physically. Or religiously. But the past few months I've been questioning things that are more mundane and it leaves me truly befuddled how disillusioned we can become (and continue to be!!) just to continue to 'not rock the boat.'

I am speaking of relationships, obviously; one I can't change easily. Like I tell my two stepsons, "you can't change people, you can only nudge them or influence them." I wish I could take my own advice sometimes. I feel like I've got a big fat granite boulder sitting on top of my neck instead of a real cranium with a brain contained therein.

So now the question evolved into, "what am I going to do?" I can't change this person. I can nudge, influence, shout and scream, but at the end of the day nothing will change this person's behavior because they don't see the danger in it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Anti-Gnostics

A few months ago I found a Christian site devoted to rooting out the 'scourge' that is Gnosticism. Great read! I really enjoyed it. It's always nice to know what ten layers of hell people are wishing on you. Or just how confused they are about gnosis. This was their home: (http://www.intotruth.org/apostasy/NewGnostics.htm) This is the only link I have. It's dead now. The whole site is gone.

I did a search for some of the following quotes from a particularly enlightening article but found pieces of it all over the place. Narrowing it down I discovered that it was part of a sermon called "Understanding the New Gnosticism" by Don Clasen. It is now listed in its entirety on the SermonIndex.net site here: http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=11018 The portion I am quoting below is found about ten paragraphs from the bottom in the full length sermon.

Mr. Clasen's sermon is cringe-worthy. He jumps all over the place between the literal interpretation of holy scripture and what he thinks gnostics believe. You have to be really careful about how you read it or you'll get lost in the maze of his rationale. (I think I found our modern Irenaeus, btw.) He says:

"It's interesting to note that after Adam and Eve ate of the tree, the first thing they noticed was that they were naked and they hid themselves. The implication is that until then they had the glory of God clothing them, the very presence of God. That removal of Himself from them was when they spiritually died, as it ruptured their walk with Him.

But it also had another consequence. They now were stuck with an undue self-consciousness, a consciousness of their own selves. Before this, they were conscious of themselves but the presence of God was an even stronger consciousness. And to this day, people partake of an endless quest to "get back to the Garden". They will take drugs, meditate, dance, chant--do lots of repetitious things, in order to enter into an "altered state of consciousness".

Why? Because they want relief from the tyranny of self-consciousness for a while. Perhaps it's because we instinctively know we're unworthy, and that there's Someone or something out there worth plugging into."

_____________________________________________

Unworthy?!! RELIEF from the TYRANNY of self-consciousness?!! You mean relief from responsibility. That's what this ultimately boils down to. If you don't have to THINK then you can't be held responsible for your sheep-like actions.

That's it. You've convinced me and converted me. I'm throwing all my sins on Jesus and leaving my brain behind. I am 'washed in his blood' and am now sinless. I draw the line at voting Republican, though, just because that's what my church says I should. My ballot is between me and the Lord.

The fact that Mr. Clasen believes gnostics are to be vilified because, "They're always seeking for some newer and deeper revelation of God and His Kingdom" says a bit about what he believes a relationship with God should be like: one sided and boring as hell.

He also says: "Gnostics generally tended then to one of two extremes in dealing with life. Either they became ascetics, in an attempt to starve the flesh to death so to speak. Or they became libertines because since the flesh was evil, it is not part of the "real you" which is spiritual because it's been "enlightened" by Gnostic "revelation".

And that, my dear readers, is a line straight from the infamous Irenaeus himself.

From a masochist to a hedonist? ...Yes. I have to agree with him on this point. It's all about finding a balance. We do tend to veer off to extremes at times. And so do the Literalists. The Franciscan order is quite comfortable with the concept of ritualized self-flagellation and I haven't seen any skeletal looking clergy in quite a while; most are pleasantly plump. Pot/kettle, much?

Picasso's Vision

Pablo Picasso said, "Painting is just another way of keeping a diary."

On that I feel I must agree to a certain extent. As a sporadic painter I most often feel driven to pick up a brush when I am at my most sensitive and vulnerable. Most of the time I am not quite sure what I want to express until after it's already out there and on the paper/canvas/board. And as this quote of Picasso's jumped out at me from the tag on a bag of tea this afternoon(Good Earth brand, Black Tea "Tropical Peach" YUM!) it has stayed in my heart the rest of the evening.

As I dug through my files of art I tripped across this old painting and I wanted to share it with you. I think it would be closest to what Picasso is talking about, at least for me personally.

When I was a toddler I drowned in a pool. I lay there on the bottom staring up at the sky. This is what I saw(click on it for a better view):


This watercolor painting/collage on board was done in 2007. I don't have the original any more. Once I was done with it I scanned it and then destroyed the actual painting. I felt free. So here you go. Here's a page out of my 'diary.'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Islamic Words of Wisdom

"What is the best type of Jihad [struggle]?" He answered: "Speaking truth before a tyrannical ruler."
This contradicts the following scriptures in such a stark way that it seems impossible the same person(or group of people) wrote the Qur'an.

  1. "Whoever desires a religion other than Islam in the next world he shall be among the losers."
  2. "One may be negligent toward God but one must be respectful toward Muhammad."
Megalomania has no place in gnosis and warmongering prophets are always suspect. Especially when promises of several baker's dozen virgins are dangled in front of a sinful man as if he were in a bakery and not about to blow himself up to fight 'the infidel.' What happened to 'speaking truth'? It has been replaced with totalitarian sparked violence and this is truly distressing. Literalists pitted against literalists. There are no winners here- no matter what sect of religion you profess faith in.

Universal love is invisible, it seems. Like 'magic' ink it disappears on paper and if it's not visible then it can't possible exist. But if it's written on the heart it is eternally visible.

And so seekers of gnosis are left picking piecemeal bits of wisdom from the Qur'an just like any other spiritually inspired text.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Heavy Words of Gnostic Wisdom From Socrates

"There is a doctrine uttered in secret that man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away."

"Wars and revolutions and battles are due simply and solely to the body and its desires. All wars are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth; and the reason why we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in its service."


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pre-Christian Era Gnostics

The Roman Vitruvius writes: "Let no one think I have erred if I believe in the Logos."

Orpheus was claimed to have said, "Behold the Logos divine. Tread well the narrow path of life and gaze on Him, the world's greatest ruler, our immortal king."

Logos is described by the earliest Church fathers(whose doctrines directly stemmed from gnostic ideas!) such as Clement and Origen, as being the "Idea of Ideas," or God's primal thought. As if the Oneness of God were a thought or idea that we can barely describe because the actuality of it is so complex. Or so simple and profound that it does not yet have the ability to be described in any spoken language we possess. It's like saying that you remember the first breath you took once you left your mother's body. Was it conscious or not? What were your first thoughts? Again, the idea of the birth of life itself is so immense that most gnostics are left writing poetry and riddles.

It's interesting because gnostics across the globe who have come to gnosis alone and in solitude, once they begin talking to one another they speak the same language. They use similar metaphors to describe their journey or the feeling of closeness to the All. So there is something they all share; something innate, intimate and abiding; patiently waiting for the right moment to spring forth. I believe it is the very thing Orson Scott Card wrote about in his line of Ender's Game books: the philotic web theory.

Heraclitus said in the sixth century BC, "Logos is shared by all," and "Having hearkened not unto me, but unto the Logos, it is wise to confess that all things are one."

Origen also said, "As our body, while consisting of many members, is yet held together by one soul, so the universe is thought of as an immense living being, which is held together by One Soul- the power and the Logos of God."


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse = Nina Simone Reborn?

Veering off the road a bit from the topic of gnosis I'd like to pay tribute to two wonderful singers.


Beyond listening to the song "Rehab" and watching the crazed news blurbs about her drunken and drug induced states of mental instability, I honestly have not followed much of Amy Winehouse's career. However when I learned of her death today I took a few hours to look back over her life and work. I came to the stunned realization that Nina Simone had been reborn! ....and then we lost her again. It happens like that, though. Musicians flit in and out of this world in the blink of an eye and most of the time are only appreciated after the gravestone has been set in the ground for a good decade or so.

LinkNow Amy's career was nowhere near as prolific as Nina's, however her look, deep vocal tone, flare for the bold and dramatic.... it's all there. Even right down to the abuse of her patrons, unfortunately. If only she could have stayed away from the drugs and booze Amy might have had a fighting chance.

Wiki: Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, opining, “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy."

Yep. Sounds a lot like my beloved Nina!

Financial success does not make a person happy. But I don't think that financial success would have made either woman happy because their desires so drastically clashed with the reality of what they were being offered and had access to.

I look at Nina's life and it is one royal disaster after the other. Her biography reads like the worst sort of fate that the three bitch Fates could have possible concocted out of sheer spite. Combine undiagnosed(for at least 20 years)schizophrenia with a pair of golden lungs and a con-artist for a record label manager and.... you've got a recipe for disaster! Fortunately for her fans Nina did not succumb to despair, she just strapped on her boots and kicked in doors that much harder.

What makes my heart hurt the most when reading about Nina's history in the music industry is how little she is appreciated for her contribution. Ask most any jazz fan who their top five favorite singers are and they'll give you the same old generic list. Ask them who Nina Simone is and you're lucky if one of them says, "Oh, that crazy lady who died hiding out in France?" erm.. yes. That one. And the same lady who is known as the High Priestess of Soul.

And the worst part is that she HATED being linked to the jazz genre!! She wanted to be known for her talents on the piano, not her voice. I fell in love with her from the very first time I heard a strangely neuter voice singing "Wild is the Wind," a sad ballad in the movie Point of No Return. To hear "Sinnerman" in the Thomas Crown Affair always makes me want to stomp my feet and clap in time. Nina is
everywhere now! But she is still not covered anywhere near as much as she deserves. In any jazz or soul compilation album you're pretty much out of luck to see anything at all of Nina. She was burned by the music labels and she burned more than a few bridges with them with her bad behavior. I think that her absence from compilation albums is in direct relation to these labels still being irritated with her past fall(s) from grace.

"Four Women" will make you cry and "Pirate Jenny" will have you grinning and cheering for Jenny as she 'scrubbing these floors while you're gawking. Maybe if you tip me and it makes you feel swell in this crummy old town in this crummy old hotel.. but you couldn't ever guess to who you're talking. No, you couldn't ever guess...' Jenny gets her revenge in the end. I think Nina did, too.

Nevermind that "Pirate Jenny" was written in 1931 for a GERMAN opera! - Nina managed to bring this extravagant tune to life once again and gave it relevance in the 1960-1970 era of intense civil strife. It is to this day one of my top five favorite songs.

If Nina's "Mississippi Goddamn" was boycotted back in 1964 and Amy's "Rehab" (and various other adult themed songs)was met with uneasy acceptance then I think our society has at least matured enough to embrace singers and song writers to show us what we makes us squirm to see in the mirror. We may not like it but we are forced to at least acknowledge it; to confront our sense of unease and analyze it further.

If you read this blog post and do nothing else today, please listen to Nina's live recording of "Mississippi Goddamn." This 'show tune... but a show hasn't been written for it... yet' is still so very relevant today. Nina tells us to Wake Up! Act! ... and it isn't such bad advice.

Rest in peace, Nina and Amy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gay Marriage in NY

I think I woke up in the Twilight Zone this morning. This article greeted me on the front page of MSN. New York state passed gay rights marriage laws.

excerpt:

That shift was precipitated by the emergence of a growing constituency of pro-gay-marriage operatives and donors in the Republican Party, whose direction on social issues is still largely set by its culturally conservative base.

“There is an important change going on among Republicans and conservatives,” said Kenneth B. Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Mehlman, who acknowledged his own homosexuality after his tenure at the national committee had ended, was among a group of Republicans who helped raise money from prominent Republican donors to support the same-sex marriage effort in Albany. Those donors underwrote much of the cost of the same-sex marriage advocates’ advertising and lobbying campaigns.

Among increasing numbers of conservatives and Republicans, he said, there is the conviction “that freedom to marry is consistent with conservative values.”

ermm... last I checked Republican was synonymous with anti-abortion, upper-middle class white people from suburbia who still believe the Vietnam War was justified, who look around saying, "Agent Orange what?" Maybe I'm oversimplifying this a bit but this political shift is too damn shifty to say exactly what is going to happen next.

Some good:

“They’ve shown a way to actually get a bill through a Legislature,” said Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a Democratic state senator in Maryland and sponsor of the marriage bill that was shelved. “And I think we’re going to use some of the same lessons, the same tactics, in Maryland over the next six months.”
Good... and yet- I'm still scratching my head over this. The Democrats had the majority and they couldn't manage to pull it off. The Republicans get put in the Big Boy Chair and all of a sudden it passes?!!! The Republicans voted against it the first time around! Why the change of heart?

Ohhhh! Yeah. The money. Some big money gay Republicans have finally come out of the closet and have used their checkbooks to buy votes.

If the cause wasn't a worthy one I'd be slamming my head on my keyboard right now in frustration with our money-bag-gagged political system.

In any case, congrats NY! This blogger is happy that couples finally have the choice to be together in whatever committed way they see fits their needs and desires.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reflecting on Death

It has been two months since my last post. Between my two kids finishing up with final school projects, my side business needing remodeling, my husband driving me insane from being home due to short term disability..... my head has been spinning. I've barely had time to breathe let alone write anything cogent here.

So the kids get done with school, we pack their bags so they can go up and spend the summer with the first wife, hubby is healing and on his way back to work.... and just as I'm getting settled in to get this house in order again I get one phone call after another giving me bad news after bad news. I'm wondering when it's going to stop. Deaths happen in threes, it seems.

Last week my grandfather died at the age of 82. I just went to his funeral today. Military honors and all. It was sweltering hot, everyone was sweating through their clothes and I have to say that we were (all 150 of us) holding up quite well until the Taps was played. Then we discovered there was a severe shortage of tissues. My twelve year old niece was sitting on my mother's lap and when the three shots were fired she screamed and had to be taken to the car. She and Grandpa were close and she was just plain devastated and traumatized by the whole thing.

My nephew(by marriage) was killed in a hit-and-run this past Saturday. That funeral will be this Friday. My poor brother-in-law drank himself silly the day after it happened. Mother and I took food over and sat with him and my sister. He started yammering on and on about killing the guy who killed his son and then sobbing about how wrong he was so say such things. All I can say at this point is that our whole family has gone slightly psycho this past week.

THEN tonight, only hours after getting home from my grandfather's funeral Mom calls me and tells me that a longtime friend of ours died on Monday. He was living with family in Joplin, Missouri when the tornadoes broke out. He had cirrhosis in his liver among other things. He'd been bed bound for a while. Well when the tornadoes hit, he jumped out of bed to try and get a bag together and get to a shelter. He never made it. He fell to the floor in his bedroom and went into multiple system failure, dying two days later in the hospital.

This past week has been filled with nothing but death. I hope these are the last funerals I have to attend for a while.

Any followers of this blog who've read my posts on grief know already that I believe that the 'grief' of a loved one's passing from this material world is ultimately a selfish expression. And a subconsciously jealous one. Sadness they're gone from us(if we allow it to) tends to spiral into a selfish circular logic which is all about what the survivor has 'lost' and not what the recently deceased has gained. An aunt of mine said it best today, "I'll see Daddy soon and I guess I'm just jealous, really." She gave a silly laugh and smile afterward and we shared a knowing look with one another. No one else at the table got it. They looked at her slightly horrified.

I had a wonderful experience just before Mom originally called me to tell me about Grandpa's death. She woke me up from a sound sleep with her call and only a short time earlier I remember dreaming that Grandpa and I were talking. It was almost like a phone conversation but ... closer. I can't tell who initiated the 'call' but he asked me some sensitive questions; things I don't think I could have had the nerve to explain in person. He hugged me and told me that he understood everything and why I made the decisions I did and that he loves me. And, "everything is ok." More questions were asked but- it was easier and more efficient that he just take the information he wanted and then he said good-bye. I felt like he pillaged parts of my soul with that last bit but it wasn't intrusive in a bad way. Just... efficient.

I told Mom about the dream and she said she was so thankful that grandpa and I got a chance to talk. I was so sick during Easter this year that I didn't get to see him during that last holiday get-together. We made our peace with one another. I was still pretty numb that day but you know what? I had my one cry-fest and then I was done with it. I remembered what grandpa said to me and just like that- my sadness was gone. It evaporated like morning dew on grass when the sun comes up hot and bright. I felt his presence for a day or so and then he was gone, at peace at last, lying beside his wife who he'd been missing for more than twenty-six years.

From the Nag Hammadi scrolls in the Manichaean literature section, I'd like to dedicate these verses to all our loved ones:
Come, spirit. Death has fallen, and sickness fled away.
Let there be no desire for the house of affliction,
which is wholly destruction and anguishing death.
You were cast out from your native abode. You suffered in hell.
Come nearer in gladness. Don't turn back
to regard the shape of the bodies. See, they return
through every rebirth, and through every agony
and every choking prison where they burn and sigh.
Come nearer. Don't be fond of perishing beauty
in any of its forms. It withers
and fades like a broken rose that dries in the sun,
its grace destroyed.
Princes and dead souls lie shackled in the tomb
where all is blackness.

My soul is saved.
I am dressed in light.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life Sucks Like A Freshly Unclogged Toilet

Couldn't really think of a different title to this post. My apologies. But it is accurately descriptive of my state of being at the moment, unfortunately.

Lemme go ahead and get the whinefest out of the way then I'll try to weave some sort of gnostic wisdom into this somehow.

Gripe #1: My stepsons have been driving me batshit crazy and I'm tired of fighting with my husband about their behavior; thank the All that they are at their birthmother's the next two weeks. She is trying to virtual-school them for one of those weeks so that she can keep them a week after Spring Break and quite honestly I have to say that as a substitute Learning Coach she sucks! Ugh. I'm watching the boys grades go down the drain.

Granted, it's been funny from our perspective(mine and my husband's) watching this all happen in their gradebook online. We can accurately tell when she's trying to be firm with them and when they're tap dancing all over her head like she's an idiot. I even wrote her a five page Guidebook for heaven's sake, describing in great detail all the stunts they'll try to pull and how to deal with it! Does she call and ask for help? Nope. I offered. And it was sincere. If she called I would honestly put the crackdown on those boys if she asked me to; however then of course Daddy would have some serious questions for them when they came home about why they act like such jerks. .. oh wait. That was last week. And that discussion didn't really lead anywhere. I feel like I'm caught in the Groundhog Day movie.


Gripe #2: discovered my cat is bulimic. Our carpet cleaner has been getting quite a workout lately. Only made the logical diagnosis when I spotted him wolfing down his food then sauntering his fat ass over to the Siamese's bowl, shoving her out of the way, gulping down half her portion, and then walked over to the carpet to hurl it all back up. I swear this cat is just about too damn stupid to live. (And no he doesn't have an allergy to the food.)

So now I have to feed the Siamese in our bedroom and el stupido gordo in the kitchen, effectively locking the two apart from one another until the bowls are empty or they lose interest. Then pick the bowls up. Otherwise, the male speeds his butt on over to her bowl and digs in. Then I have to shoo him away and that's just a sad dramatic story all in itself because he's really a very stubborn cat and this argument of ours tends to get a bit loud. He's not very good at taking no for an answer. My foot on his face and shoving him in the opposite direction is usually how we settle the disagreement. Even then sometimes he has to be the masochist and come running back for some more yelling and foot action on my part. He is seriously demented. Sweet and cuddly. But demented.

The few times my mother has watched him for a couple of days she always drops him off early saying, "that cat is a jackass!" and who am I to disagree? I have literally woken up to his bad cat breath in my face, wondering what the hell he was doing in the house, and then found a Post It note on the inside of my front door saying, "Honey, your cat is a jackass." No joke. She really does this.

And he is a pushy little jackass. I'm sure our neighbors think our cats are starved and beaten. Au contraire. They just have their humans wound around their little kitty paws and oh boy do they know it. I open a can of tuna in this house and the Siamese sounds like a baby who hasn't been fed in a week. I swear, I'd wire her jaws shut if I didn't love that little brat so much. Her name isn't Little Big Mouth for nothing. A pedigreed brat. At least she isn't bulimic. She does have that going in her favor. And she is the absolute best movie critic. The more blood and gore she sees in a movie the harder she switches her tail across my face and chatters at the TV. She loves scary movies.


I'm just really sick of cleaning up orange colored puke stains in the carpet. Why do they have to put so much food dye in animal kibble anyway? Then again, why do we have white carpets in this apartment??

Gripe #3: My fish died yesterday. I really miss him. Beta. Off white with red fins. He was gorgeous. I think he had an albino somewhere in his lineage because at first glance you'd swear he was a female. I bought him because I thought he was a cool looking little cross dresser and anyone else would just plain make fun of him. I wouldn't. I like the misfits and the outcasts. He was a real sweety.

The boys are coming back next Thursday and I honestly don't know how to reconcile myself with that fact. I feel like locking myself in my own closet and reading a book all day just to get away from their attitudes. And anyone who wants to comment, please be aware of this first: yes, the kids know me. I've been in their lives for more than a few years now. No, they don't need 'divorce therapy,' they're just regular kids who will take ten miles if you give them an inch. With ADHD. And lungs. And the ability to turn my hair gray with their reckless shenanigans. Hubby says that if they both keeps this crap up he's going to have to switch to the night shift. (I'm not quite convinced that he doesn't fear I have homicidal tendencies.) Nah. Xanax + iPod. Problem solved. But that doesn't mean my roots don't need constant touch ups from the stress. I'm giving Clairol a lot of my money lately.

If it was legal I'd put them both in a box, turn on a camera, sell tickets to the fight, and let them duke it out like a pair of pissed off chinchillas. I think that sometimes that's just what siblings need- to kick the crap out of eachother and be done with it. That'd be stress relieving for all of us, don't you think? The masses are entertained, money flows in the bank, and the kids end up so tired that they actually don't have the energy to run their mouths and piss anyone off.

About that gnostic wisdom bit I mentioned in the beginning? I just ain't feeling it. The closest I've come to any kind of rational thought the past few days is today when I finished reading Anne Rice's "Vittorio, The Vampire" book. (First edition, ya'll! My first edition collection of Anne Rice's books are my only materialistic vice.)

Page nine of the book contained such a piece of eloquent drama I feel compelled to recount it for you here. Simply magnificent!!

Vittorio is talking about how he may be a blood sucking revenant of a monster but that makes him no less a human being with human feelings with an equally important life story to tell. Then he began reciting a passage from Sheridan Le Fanu's story called "the Familiar."
"Whatever may be my uncertainty as to the authenticity of what we are taught to call revelation, of one fact I am deeply and horribly convinced, that there does exist beyond this a spiritual world-- a system whose workings are generally in mercy hidden from us-- a system which may be, and which is sometimes, partially and terribly revealed. I am sure-- I know... that there is a god-- a dreadful God-- and that retribution follows guilt, in ways most mysterious and stupendous-- by agencies the most inexplicable and terrific; -- that there is a spiritual system-- great God, how I have been convinced!- a system malignant, and inexplicable, and omnipotent, under whose persecutions I am, and have been, suffering the torments of the damned!
Vittorio then begins speaking to his Readers again saying,
"What do you think of that?

I am myself rather mortally struck by it. I don't think I am prepared to speak of our God as "dreadful" or our system as "malignant," but there seems to be an eerie inescapable ring of truth to these words, written in fiction but obviously with much emotion.

It matters to me because I suffer under a terrible curse, quite unique to me, I think, as a vampire. That is, the others don't share it. But I think we all-- human, vampire, all of us who are sentient and can weep-- we all suffer under a curse, the curse that we know more than we can endure, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do about the force and the lure of this knowledge."

This curse Vittorio bears is indeed unique among vampires: he can see the divine glow of the human Spark in every person on the planet. Vampire, human, doesn't matter. Anyone with a human soul has this gold aura to his eyes.

So as he's killing to feed he has to acknowledge that his actions are slowly snuffing out a spark from the Divine. He literally sees the light dim and then die altogether. That is the unique suffering he must bear. And why? Because he broke a deal with three angels.

The angels agreed to help him physically enter the vampire coven's(this is when he was human still) castle if he himself will do the actual slaying in order to avenge his slaughtered village. The angels cannot kill without divine command so Vittorio has to do the actual killing. The angels fulfill their part of the bargain but Vittorio grows a conscience and backs out when it comes to the last coven member, Ursula, with whom he is unfortunately infatuated.

He argues with the angels saying that if Ursula repents of all her past sins then he will kill her-- IF they swear that her soul will go to Heaven. But the angels cannot say whether or not her soul will go to heaven and because they see his conflict they back away and let Vittorio do what he wants. In the end, Ursula tricks Vittorio into becoming like her and he's so pissed about it that they go on a killing spree but that's not really the point.

The real kick in the pants is that two of the angels Vittorio first sees are the very guardian angels of a painter he adores. And because he happens to glimpse behind the veil of reality and spy on the guardian angel's activities he changes(or does he??) the painter's future. When your guardian angels aren't around and are helping other people what kind of mischief can a person get into?!!

Fra Filippo Lippi ends up kidnapping a nun from a convent, her sister, and then setting up a house with all three of them! His vice was women and without his guardian angels to steer him clear of temptations he apparently said to hell with it and royally screwed the pooch. The town wanted to lynch him.

A whispering came to Vittorio's ear, "One might wonder where were his guardian angels on the day that Fra Filippo did such a mad thing?"

Vittorio whirls around and sees no one.

Finally, after much running about he is allowed to see all the angels he brokered a deal with. As a vampire he could not understand why he could still see them. They explained his newly(and uniquely) damned status: he would forevermore see angels when he viewed Fra Lippi's paintings and he would always see the bright divine spark of God within humans to remind him of his bad decision to linger on earth longer than a human should have a right.

Technically, he was tricked, right? But he wouldn't kill Ursula unless she was repentant and she wasn't so..... he's just plain out of luck.

A few points of interest I found particularly intriguing was that Vittorio mentions it's not just Fra Lippi's paintings which take on a lifelike quality when he views them; his son, Filipino's paintings of angels are quickened in his presence as well.

The two angels who first attract Vittorio's attention are portrayed in Fra Lippi's "Annunciation" series of paintings. I managed to find one of the angels. He talks about the one with 'peacock feathers in his wings.' I have not been so lucky to see the second angel.



Vittorio's parting words to his Readers :

"Gold. that is what I see when I look at you.

That is what I see when I look at any man, woman, and child.

I see the flaming celestial gold that Mastema revealed to me. I see it surrounding you, and holding you, encasing you and dancing with you, though you yourself may not behold it, or even care.

From this tower tonight in Tuscany, I look out over the land, and far away, deep in the valleys, I see the gold of human beings, I see the glowing vitality of beating souls."

..... "I am not saying I am a great painter. I am not such a fool. But I say that out of my pain, out of my folly, out of my passion there comes a vision-- a vision which I carry with me eternally and which I offer to you.

It is a vision of every human being, bursting with fire and mystery, a vision I cannot deny, nor blot out, nor ever turn away from, nor ever belittle nor ever escape.

Others write of doubt and darkness.

Others write of meaninglessness and quiet.

I write of indefinable and celestial gold that will forever burn bright.

I write of blood thirst that is never satisfied. I write of knowledge and its price.

Behold, I tell you, the light is there in you. I see it. I see it in each and every one of us, and will always. I see it when I hunger, when I struggle, when I slaughter. I see it sputter and die in my arms when I drink.

Can you imagine what it would be like for me to kill you?

Pray it never takes a slaughter or a rape for you to see this light in those around you. God forbid that it should demand such a price. Let me pay the price for you instead."

Vittorio may be a fictional vampiric martyr but I think there is a lesson to be learned in this poetic bit of prose: Anne Rice is a closet gnostic. And she, like all of us, is perpetually 'under construction.'