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THE SEED CATALOG 2008

AUTUMN 2008

 

 

 

"Passive resistance is an all-sided sword, it can be used anyhow; it blesses him who uses it and him against whom it is used."

- Gandhi

 

 “Try and penetrate with out limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

 

– Albert Einstein

 

WHAT IS THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT?

 

I was asked this question point blank some time ago by a close friend. The most complete answer I know of is contained within the pages of Bruce Bawer’s book, STEALING JESUS: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity. He explains in detail the background, development and current manifestations of the Religious Right, defining the movement as The Church of Law. “To members of all legalistic Christian faiths ... what matters is that it be harsh, exclusionary, preached with zeal, professed without a hint of doubt, and regarded as the key to all truth and to eternal salvation.”(p.244)

 

Bruce Bawer asserts that “people who believe and live by legalistic Christian theology are by definition extremists who feel that the state should be run according to God’s law as they perceive it.” Contrasted with the Church of Love, he says that “the Church of Law ... encourages worshipers to play a passive role, listening obediently as the preacher tells them what the Bible says and what they are expected to believe, to do, and to condemn.”

 

In addition to STEALING JESUS, by Bruce Bawer, another prime source for answering the above question is Chris Hedges’s 1970 book, AMERICAN FASCISTS: The Christian Right and the War on America. (Both can be sampled extensively through Google on the Internet)

 

 

NIRVANA

 

On the very first page of Corita’s 1968 book, FOOTNOTES AND HEADLINES, is this saying: “he repeated the letters of the alphabet over and over, beseeching the Almighty to arrange them into the appropriate words of the prayers.”

 

We all need an inner rosary or mantra, a verbal band of beads to make us worry less.

 

For me, such a mantra is breathing out the ABCs. I usually fall asleep that way, but I find that  the practice enhances wakeful meditation, too. It helps create a sense of patience and concentration during stressful activity – like driving in thick traffic. It’s not just a matter of mentally reciting the alphabet. It’s a physical discipline, too, an act of blowing out, which Alan Watts said is the essential meaning of nirvana.

 

Our minds are usually, I think, full of chatter and concern – perhaps as a result of too much news, or just the common daily blues. Peace of mind is eroded by nervous questions -- “What should I be doing?”, “How am I feeling?”, etc. The noise of such internal doubt must cease if we are to hear “the still small voice”of divine wisdom and be restored to a condition of balance and calm.

Actively breathing out a series of basically meaningless letters or words may not immediately accomplish that objective, but it can only help and holding the breath will only make things worse.

 

 

Every moment matters. I may not like where any particular moment lands me. I may not find myself in the best, most productive mood. But this is where I am. Emotionally, I cannot be anywhere else.

 
       

The knot is tied, love blooms anew amid pledges of forever.

 

Meanwhile, the world rolls on through its own weird trajectory to who knows where. Me, I can hardly find time to tie my shoes. So I’ve started wearing comfortable flip flops more often. And heading for the shade whenever I can.

 

My front yard of crawling wedelia is robust and green with little yellow flowers. Down below and up above (from a towering gold tree),

yellow blossoms everywhere.

Bill Joyner

 
       

. . . it is we who have be­trayed God. We have become a militarized nation of apostates and hedonists. We ignore the evil we commit, from the war in Iraq to the torture we carry out in our offshore penal colonies. We sanctify our own power and wealth as a final good We turn inward, ignoring our apostasy, and wonder why bad things happen to us. We are not called to avoid suffering. We are not promised a rational world. We are not offered explanations. We are called to act. There is no promise that this will be easy or painless or free us from suffering.

- - Chris Hedges

 

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACCEPT LIVING IN “A MORALLY NEUTRAL UNIVERSE”?

Chris Hedges’ article A HOLLOW AGNOSTICISM in the current issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. (accessible through Google) is, to me, a profound consideration of what it means to accept living in “a morally neutral universe.” It’s something of a tough read, involving many scholarly references, but this piece is well worth the effort as it deals with basic existential matters such as how to reconcile the reality of human suffering with the concept of divine compassion. Here’s a sample:

 

“The question is not whether God exists. It is whether we contemplate or are utterly indifferent to the transcendent forces that cannot be measured or quantified, those forces that lie beyond the reach of rational deduction. We all encounter these forces. They are love, beauty, alienation, loneliness, suffering, good, evil, and the reality of death. These unquantifiable forces in human life are the domain of art and religion. ... God ... is that which works upon us and through us to find meaning and relevance in a morally neutral universe.”

...

 

“Detachment without withdrawal, Ecclesiastes wrote, is one of the secrets of wisdom. Death awaits us all. We must give up on the notion that one is rewarded for virtue, that we can save ourselves from our human predicament or that we can morally advance as a species. We remain trapped by human nature. The evil and the good endure the same hardships and blessings. But Ecclesiastes also reminds us that God has put ‘olam into man’s mind. ‘Olam means eternity. It denotes mystery or obscurity. We do not know what this mystery, this eternity, means. And once we recognize it and face it, simplistic answers no longer work.”

 

 
     

 

“Know thyself” is one of the wisest suggestions ever made, but, as C.J. Jung elaborates in his wonderful short book, THE UNDISCOVERED SELF, self-knowledge, though vital to personal and universal well-being, is extremely hard to come by. Karen Horney stresses the difficulty, as well, delineating the consequences of NOT resolving our inner conflicts, among which are:

“a devastating waste of human energy,” “general indecisiveness and ineffectualness,” “inertia, a paralysis of initiative and action,” “unconscious arrogance,” “inability to take a definite stand, undependability,” and an unholy host of rampant fears – “of exposure, ridicule, disregard, humiliation, and of changing anything in one’s self.”

 

A Brief Review of OUR INNER CONFLICTS by Karen Horney (horn-eye)

 

  

Following are words directly from OUR INNER CONFLICTS:.

 

   “Each of the basic attitudes toward others has its positive value. In moving toward people the person tries to create for himself a friendly relation to his world. In moving against people he equips himself for survival in a competitive society. In moving away from people he hopes to attain a certain integrity and serenity.

 

    All three attitudes are not only desirable but necessary to our development. ... It is only when they appear and operate in a neurotic framework that they become compulsive, rigid, indiscriminate and mutually exclusive.” (P. 89)

 

   “ ... blind rebellion, blind craving to excel, and a blind need to keep away from others are all forms of dependence.”  (P. 100)

 

Reading this book is, to me, like looking into an uncompromising mirror that clearly reveals the hidden corners of our personal existence. Every sentence is jam packed with meaningful content about neurotic (that is, unbalanced, obsessive) behavior – and with information that could lead to deeper self-understanding.

 

Wickepedia.com provides a summary of the author’s 3 “basic attitudes toward others” and 10 accompanying characteristics that could indicate neurotic tendencies:

 

Moving Toward People

·    1. The need for affection and approval; pleasing others and being liked by them.

·    2. The need for a partner; one whom they can love and who will solve all problems.

Moving Against People

·   3. The need for power; the ability to bend wills and achieve control over others -- while most persons seek strength, the neurotic may be desperate for it.

·    4. The need to exploit others; to get the better of them. To become manipulative, fostering the belief that people are there

simply to be used.

·    5. The need for social recognition; prestige and limelight.

·    6. The need for personal admiration; for both inner and outer qualities -- to be valued.

·    7. The need for personal achievement; though virtually all persons wish to make achievements, as with No.4, the neurotic may be desperate for achievement.

Moving Away from People

·   8. The need for self sufficiency and independence; while most desire some autonomy, the neurotic may simply wish to discard other individuals entirely.

·    9. Lastly, the need for perfection; while many are driven to perfect their lives in the form of well being, the neurotic may display a fear of being slightly flawed.

·    10. The need to restrict life practices to within narrow borders; to live as inconspicuous a life as possible.

 


From the Archives Autumn 2006 

CHICKEN FEED

 

According to a TV program, the Amazon rainforest is not getting enough rain these days to sustain it’s vital biological contribution to the earth’s ecological well-being. This ongoing condition of drought, they say, is attributable in large part to deforestation efforts made by growers of soybeans, the bulk of which are shipped overseas to be used as chicken feed.

 

Of course, it’s about more than just chicken feed. It’s about planetary degradation! I hope I’ll remember that the next time I’m tempted to eat a chicken sandwich. After all, there is BURGER KING’s veggie burger and WENDY’s baked potato with broccoli and cheese.The whole thing is, we don’t really have to eat chicken, or any meat, at all! Such a simple concept, yet it would do a lot toward saving our world (the only one we’ve got).

 

Henry David Thoreau once observed the irony of a farmer loudly proclaiming that a man could not live on vegetable matter alone, even as he guided his huge vegetarian oxen on their laborious way. So, after all, you know, it could be done. Oxen can do it, mullets, too, and manatees. Most likely, I expect we’d rather not think about eating meat at all, especially while enjoying our favorite chicken dish – and, we may reason,  many of the animals and lots of fish are chasing each other down for lunch throughout the ecosystem anyway, so why not us, as well? And yes, you can’t really beat the good taste of chicken or beef, so why not just chow down and enjoy!

 

 At one time in the South Sea islands of the Pacific ocean, cannibals had human meat markets, and the product was said to have a superior taste, a lot like chicken, I bet. But we have evolved beyond such cullinary cruelty. Perhaps eventually, if only because of environmental necessity, we will have to evolve beyond our current worldwide craze for burgers and chicken and such. We do not have to be addicted to chicken!

                                                                                                      – Bill Joyner

 


     
     



 

Some things I have heard about

THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL

from initial readership:

"Ït touched me."

"Provocative"

"Nothing in there is boring."

Some people report their pleasure in being able to look at just one thought or page and put the book aside 'till next time. Others have expressed appreciation for the variety afforded by the inclusion of quotations from different writers and sources. Hey, I read it myself now and then, and in my opinion, it's a great little coffee table or gift item book, good looking and substantive. If you'd like a copy, just send $20, which includes mailing costs. Plus, I'll autograph each copy that goes out.

 

Kiki Joyner Michaelek

 

 

 

THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL (A Circus of Spiritual Discovery)

By Bill Joyner

This baby is born, weighing in at 51/2" X 81/2" and 91 pages. Thanks to each of you who have invested in this endeavor. The first edition of only 125 copies is sold out, but the current printing is available for a donation of $20, including postage. Just let me know by mail (POB 3411/Sarasota, FL 34230), phone (941-355-4050) or e-mail (joynerbill28@gmail.com) if interested.

 

 

THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL: A CIRCUS OF SPIRITUAL DISCOVERY

William T. Joyner

The Celestial Carousel is a collage of original text, social commentary, quotations from American literature, and artwork by noted cartoonist, Christopher Browne.

In this "Circus of Spiritual Discovery," poet William T. Joyner explores secular experience and biblical ideals as a natural/Taoist response to the uneasy rise of worldwide fundamentalism in the 21st Century.

 

 
 
 Bill Joyner

POB 3411

Sarasota, FL 34230

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THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL

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The Seed Catalog
William T. Joyner, Editor
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