Sunday, May 30, 2010

Miracle Mug!!

There are only a handful of Saving Grace episodes left and then the show is gone forever. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. This is definitely going to be a series I buy in the disk set format.

Last weeks episode, which I just got the chance to sit down today and watch taped on my DVR, concerned three different topics.
  1. Neely moved into the house next door and Earl is desperately trying to get her to stay off meth. Detox with an angel bitching at your side. Sucks to be Neely!
  2. A musician's girlfriend was murdered and that case needed to be solved.
  3. Earl(the angel) shows Grace how much God is impressed with how she handles a difficult situation that day by redecorating her bathroom with Chinese lamps, candles, and flowers. Guess God realized that Grace needed a bit of r.e.l.a.x.a.t.i.o.n. And hey, why not? When she does good she does really really good. God is playing games with Grace concerning a dog she keeps seeing everywhere. And I mean EVERYwhere! First time he shows up is in her bathroom right after she thanks Earl for the makeover. Grace, weirdo that she is, leans down to the dog and grabs his tongue. Dog just sits there and looks at her. Because of the dog's calm demeanor with being grabbed, Grace knows that this isn't an ordinary dog. When she looks back at him he's disappeared, slobbery tongue and all.
The next day at work she sees him sitting on the side of the road. Then on a milk carton. The mother of all endings(is it?) to this dog's tale is that his face winds up on Grace's tea mug. She's so freaked out that she drops it. It bounces. The tea mug bounces. Tea spills everywhere and the ceramic tea mug is intact.

All her co-workers are looking at her like she's had an epileptic seizure. Grace starts laughing and points at the mug. "Hey, watch this!" She picks up the mug and slams it down toward the floor. It bounces again. "Miracle mug!" she announces and everyone starts laughing. They're all used to the wacked out heavenly interventions in her life. Grace and a co-worker dash after the doggy mug and pile up in a doorway on top of each other playing.

Only two(?) episodes ago Grace jumped off a building and didn't break a bone when it should have killed her. The clothes she wore to the hospital wound up on eBay being auctioned off as holy relics.

While Hollywood has a wide variety of visions concerning religion, I believe this playfulness is one they got right. I mean, come on. What's not to laugh about here? A stalker angel dog? An unbreakable cup? Holy eBay panties?! Grace's sense of humor is in the right place. Why not laugh about the truly absurd? And if it's God who's doing the intervening then obviously He's got a sense of humor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thunder - Introduction & Evolution

Thunder is a one of the most perplexing gnostic texts and worth its weight in gold. A worthy read and an even more worthy collection of verses to meditate on. Because its verses contain such contradictory descriptions(sometimes in the same line!) it is necessary to nibble on it instead of trying to digest it in one sitting. It really will give you a splitting headache. I've been 'nibbling' at it for a few months now and finally have a grasp of most of the broad concepts explored therein.

Among Nag Hammadi experts it is most commonly thought that Sophia herself speaks through the voice of an author(unknown) to create a powerful but complicated feminine persona who traverses a thousand years of ancient literary equivalents. There are parallels in Thunder's literary styles with Sanskrit, Egyptian, and Jewish literature devices and forms. Thunder as a historical religious text and Sophia's mystery aren't that mysterious when taken into those contexts, then. The poetic form is timeless.

A few related verses from Thunder has fired my imagination to blog today. In no particular order:

"I am silence incomprehensible
and an idea remembered often."

"I am the utterance of my name."

"I am hearing for all,
and my speech is indeciperable.
I am an unspeaking mute
and enormous in my many words."

"Those unconnected to me are unfamiliar with me,
and those in my substance know me.
Those close to me are ignorant of me,
and those far away have known me.
On the day I am close to you, you are far,
and on the day I am far, I am close to you."

"Hear me, hearers,
and find out about my words, you who know me.
I am the hearing all can reach;
I am speech undecipherable.
I am the name of the sound
and the sound of the name.
I am the sign of the letter
and the designation of the division."


"Come to childhood and don't despise it, because it is small and tiny."


The last line seems to be the icing on the cake, for me anyway. The punctuation at the end of a sentence. A gentle hug after a good long cry. Because you know we all royally pissed off our parents during childhood. It's not easy being a parent. It's hard to know whether to let your child suffer for a bit in order to learn or to help them right up after a fall.

And along the lines of Night Reflection's post concerning FEELING and recognizing that divine connection to God in our lives, how can we write about these conversations with the All? At times I am so stumped for words I cannot even think of where to begin. This is why having eloquent verses like Thunder available in print is so vitally important for those of us who strive to learn and feel more than what is available for common consumption on CNN and with our cup of coffee.

In my own struggle to come up with an adequate description of what this divine connection and communion feels... I feel inept and not up to the task. My conclusion is that this is because I am such a visual person. And my relationship with Pleroma seems to be one of fewer words and more emotional surges. There's only so many words in a thesaurus to describe warm, fuzzy, loving, adoring, universal, all encompassing, endlessly compassionate, endlessly forgiving...

And I have arrived at a solution while writing out that paragraph. In one word. My search has ended.


Now of course I can come up with a dozen more synonyms for that. Boundless. Eternal. Infinite. Unceasing. Etc.

But endless seems to cover it.

Like an endlessly overflowing cup of joy. When I was a child I recognized this. Instinctively. And it was terrifying! I didn't know what this visualization was(cup of overflowing substance) or what it represented. I had nothing to hang onto. There was no edge to that cup. It was just me in my little bitty body floundering in that emotion. All I knew was that I felt too much, knew too little, and had no one to help me with such a thing.

It took me another twenty years of living to discover what it was. Him. Her. Them. The All. Everything!

Picture a continually overflowing cup. Our very analytical human minds will constantly try to grasp at ideas of where the substance is being sourced from. But here's the answer to the riddle: there is no Place where it resides. There is no Beginning to find. It simply is. And that is what we find so unfathomable. And outrageous in our narrow human view, therefore we make up and even accept the most absurd allegorical stories to be fact to stop us from being faced with that endlessness. It terrifies us. Deep down, it terrifies us. We don't see an edge to that great big swimming pool. There are no life rafts for us to grab onto.

Occam's razor isn't just a mathematical term. And we shouldn't believe myths to be facts simply because it's easier to bear. We cannot evolve as truly responsible adults in the eyes of the All if we shackle ourselves to these literal interpretations. By releasing our bonds we are letting go of the edge we have superficially created and float free in His substance; content and liberated in our spiritual growth. Endlessness doesn't make us tremble anymore. We dive into that tranquil sea and don't touch bottom.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Teaching Children Gnosis?

Oy vey. I had a truly mind blowing moment today.

Long story short(describing incidents spanning over five hours) my oldest stepson tried to shove silly putty down his younger brother's throat and this younger brother sprayed his silly putty wielding brother in the face with extra strength ammonia Windex.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'd had it with the non-stop bickering and whining over everything imaginable. They were having a truly Bad Day.
Now eight and ten year olds don't always make the wisest of decisions. I know this. But I really felt the need to teach them the seriousness of what they tried to do. The youngest boy could have choked to death and the oldest could have had damage to his eyes and needed hospitalization.

My knee-jerk reaction after five hours of their tantrums? "Keep it up and I'll make you write two pages front and back of the Ten Commandments!"

*slaps self* What was I thinking?!
Why would I want those two precious kids to be indoctrinated any more than they already are by other well meaning family members during Summer Vacation and other Holidays? After shaking my head a few times at my outlandish statement to the boys I resolved to combine the most meaningful aspects of those Commandments into one statement and yes, the boys wrote two pages front and back. I meant business and was tired of their behavior.

The one sentence I had them write was: "Family members honor, protect, and teach one another."

Afterward, my ten year old thanked me for teaching him a lesson, apologized, and hugged me.

Go on. Do that double take. You know you want to. Read the sentence again. It's true. He actually thanked me for explaining just how dangerous his actions were and letting the punishment for it revolve around honoring, protecting, and teaching one another instead of just spanking him and his brother. The above sentence directly contrasts what his actions were, ergo, he sees just how wrong he was. Is he going to do something similar in the future? Absolutely. And we'll talk about it all over again. Such is childhood.

Is outright teaching gnosis to children advisable? Not really. It can't be taught in your stereotypical Sunday School fashion. The basic outline of the gnostic vision of our world and universe is tricky to teach when mainstream religion dominates the family outside your own home. I haven't been able to do it successfully for this reason. They look at me like I have two heads and regurgitate what is crammed in their heads by their birth-mother. One thing I have to give her credit for- she really teaches with consistency. Hellfire this and damnation that. (And have her "lessons" changed their behavior? No. If anything it has gotten ten times worse. When they come home from visits with her we have to break the kids back in to recognizing the house rules and to act like human beings again instead of animals. The longer they're with her the longer this process takes. Turns the house upside down for a month.)

The last resort is, of course, to teach by example. Let life be a child's own professor. Problems come up every day which are wonderful opportunities for us as parents! Gently guide them to see other options and solutions, not just the easiest one. While you are building additional flexibility in your child's mind by doing these exercises you are, in fact, giving them room to grow and come to gnosis when they are ready as adults and on their own terms.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Managing Stress, Part 2 - Dolphins!

Click Play and sit back. Turn up your volume.

Can you feel your shoulders relax yet?

By the end of this video I had a goofy grin on my face. Couldn't help it. Dolphins are such amazingly intelligent animals and to see one of them so happily PLAY with something as simple as a bubble ring is soothing.

Looking at the video several times what I can deduce so far is that the dolphin spits out a bit of hair through their mouth and then uses their blowhole to push a hole through the center of that bubble, making it separate into a very thin doughnut-like shape. Toward the end of the vid, when you watch the cluster of three dolphins around the bubble ring you'll notice that the one who blew it is slowly turning over onto their back and then glides through the center. That dolphin is truly enjoying him/herself!

I think when the bubble pops it tickles their sensitive skin.

Why can't most humans be this happy without resorting to buying This and That and Every Other Thing in the store which appeals to them? Heck, my two cats get more enjoyment out of a trash cardboard box than any store-bought toys I try to entice them with.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Managing Stress

Last night I dreamt I was talking to a therapist. This therapist alternated between asking me questions that a literalist Christian and a gnostic cleric would. Quite confusing for the patient! I answered honestly and with no reservations.

The ending epiphany was that although I went in to talk about managing stress I left(woke up) to discover that it was really my own choice in having that stress and some of the bodily pain which resulted from it.

The literalist asked me why I didn't call out to God to ease my pain and to take the burdens off my heart. I replied that I don't really think that's in his job description. I made every decision in my life which led up to where I am now. Why should he bail me out? I can't do that myself?

The gnostic cleric asked if I felt like an infatuated infant or an adolescent in my relationship with the All.
I replied that I don't need to be given a bottle anymore and don't feel the urge to run back to him the very instant things get rough so... an adolescent.

Does the comfort I receive from the All feel different now than in the beginning, the gnostic asked?
Yes. Does that bother me? No. In the beginning it was an all encompassing warmth, like honey seeping down between the joints of your bones, type of relief. Now it's a gentle pat on the shoulder and a kiss on the cheek. I don't feel the need for more.

When I feel frustrated with my husband/kids/family and want to lock myself in the closet and scream(and I do sometimes!) I do give in to tears. Crying does relieve the body of stress. And then I have to ask myself after this tidal wave of emotion leaves once again: why do I feel this stress? Why do I feel this angry? My conclusion has remained the same time and time again- I cannot control other people. But that means that I also should not feel badly for their rotten decisions or ignorant behavior.

This is harder than it sounds. My mantra lately has been, "Detach. Let them make their own mistakes. Back off." And this even goes for my husband. Just because you can do something for someone doesn't mean that you should. I can't fix everyone's boo-boos and I can't anticipate everyone's needs or desires. It's not my place to. If people don't fall they can't learn to get back up on their own.
I'm finding that letting go feels good. Sure the house is messier than it was before. Yes, the kid's homework isn't always done to perfection and their grades are falling. But letting someone realize how much more they are capable of doing on their own instead of being prodded along like a child is a priceless gift.

Sometimes doing less means getting more positive results for and from people you love.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Legion" Movie Review

Watching this movie last evening left me feeling a bit dazed. Boredom in the first half hour was soon replaced by picking my chin up off the floor and then laughing like a hyena. I couldn't help it. It was ridiculous.

In "Legion" we see literalist Christianity at it's very best: the premise that Jehovah has lost His faith in humanity and thus sends all his angels to Earth in order to exterminate us. The archangel Michael chops off his own wings, falls to Earth, and then tries to save us-- with machine guns! Gabriel is Jehovah's right hand of doom and sets out to follow God's orders. Oh and wait! There's an eight month pregnant woman who's child supposedly saves humanity simply by being born?

The loopholes in this plot are astounding. The rationalization is comical. So because Mommy agreed not to abort the baby said baby's birth somehow negates God's anger? Baby's birth "rewrites" history or some other such nonsense. How is it that God can't control some pesky sperm from fertilizing an egg, that's what I want to know. Isn't He this omniscient deity we've been told about in Sunday school? What happened to all His mystical, magical powers?

The first clue that something isn't quite right: A little old lady walks into a diner, sits down to eat a bloody(medium-rare my ass! This meat is bleeding like the Ganges after an Indian massacre.) steak and says to her pregnant waitress, "But honey, your baby is going to burn." Turns out this seemingly demonic granny with pointy teeth who crawls on the ceiling isn't so demonic after all. She's an ANGEL!! This is where the gnostic sadly lowers his/her head into their palm and sighs at the crazed imagination of Hollywood directors and producers.

The only part in this entire movie which was intellectually stimulating, or remotely redeeming, occurred at the very end right before Michael beats down Gabriel for the last time. Michael was supposedly killed already by Gabriel so imagine old Gabe's surprise when Mikey shows back up to save the day. Michael's response? "You gave Him what He wanted. I gave Him what He needed."

Hmm... now that did make me pause.

Long story short the demiurge threw a temper tantrum because humanity just couldn't play by His rules, He tries to exterminate us, and one of His own angels(Michael) has to teach Him that humanity is worth saving. What, is He still a toddler in need of a time out in the corner? Because that is exactly the rationalization the writers of this movie attempt to portray here: God is a spiteful and egotistical bastard who gives up on us when we decide we want to play by different rules. Toys break so you throw them out. Makes sense, yeah? To a THREE YEAR OLD!

Why are we worth saving? Because we love and are kind to each other even when we don't have a real reason to, even when there is nothing going right in our lives and we feel hopeless. We still love and have the capacity to love.