BillJoyner’s Rock ‘n Rollin’ Log


SPRING  2010


Dear Friends (actually & potentially) of THE SEED CATALOG,

I always intend this publication to be a communal letter from one heart to another, although there exists, in many cases, no history of personal contact, other than these occasional mailings. Terry Porter, of Video Renaissance fame, has called it "mail art," and I do thank him profoundly for that!

Receptivity is hoped for, but never assumed. My conceptions and conversations are mostly internal ruminations, offered freely for any who may wish to tune in. At present I am digging into my own ancient past as an alleged purveyor of truth, seeing what I can put together as an interesting blend of once upon a time "pontifications" and current realizations. For instance, on the opposite side of this page, the synopsis of a sermon I was invited to present in 1980 at the Congregational United Church of Christ here in Sarasota.
In our time of chaotic, destructive theological distortions, it seems relevant to critically analyze the original sins of some highly revered founding fathers of major faith communities, like Jonathan Edwards, Martin


Luther, and even Father Abraham himself, whose interpretations have often been less than helpful in contributing to human well-being and self-understanding. So I hope you will consider the work of such scholars as Erich Fromm (ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM), Bruce Bawer (STEALING JESUS), and Bruce Chilton (ABRAHAM'S CURSE) in the context of today' s religious confusion.



Escape from Freedom


---ERICH FROMM  page 81


Luther's relationship to Cod was one of complete submission. In psychological terms his concept of faith means: if you completely submit, if you accept your individual insignificance, then the all-powerful Cod may be willing to love you and save you. If you get rid of your individual self with all its shortcomings and doubts by utmost self-effacement, you free yourself from the feeling of your own nothingness and can participate in God's glory. Thus. while Luther freed people from the authority .of the Church, he made them submit to a much more tyrannical authority, that of a Cod who insisted on complete submission of man and annihilation of the individual self as the essential condition to his salvation. Luther's "faith" was' the conviction of being loved upon the condition of surrender, a solution which has much in common with the principle of complete submission of the individual to the state and the "leader."  


Love is rising from the dead; and blooming everywhere.





Seeds of a Sermon delivered In Sarasota

at First Congregational (UCC) on Sunday, June 22, 1980

 WiIIiam T. Joyner \ Bachelor of Divinity

"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours."


In his classic sermon

of the late 1700's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"


The study of divinity is not a very precise one. Almost everyone has their own version of the deity, and very often the version most authoritatively expressed is the one most respected and believed, because "We want a strong leader!" One that Is all wise, like The Wizard of Oz; one who will build better bridges, like Mussolini one who will always be right and who will always have the right answer to everything! Jonathon Edwards is a case In' point. His vision of the human race "through the eyes of God" was not poorly received. It was crucial to the popular mass evangelism of the late 1700's called "The Great Awakening," a real hang-over from medieval religion, which, although it might have in some sense purged the population of demons, surely had the effect of creating a lot of bad press for God, not to mention ourselves. But what would you expect from someone who would hold spiders over a fire because they are" loathsome"? I n short, we can all be thankful that Jonathon Edwards is not God!
Why is it that "the end of the world" seems to have a great appeal for some of us who are deeply into religion? What joy is there in a rapture wherein God sweeps away all the "decent folks" into a heaven of bliss while others with whom God is less impressed because they couldn't get their theology together and recite "the right answers" are consigned to hell? Maybe we
are trying to cast the Almighty in our own mold. Maybe we are projecting some of our own anger upon a God who, In my reading of the scriptures, is
a suffering God, an unrequited Lover, one who turns to us as we stand in the angry mob screaming "Crucify!" and says with the gentleness of the Lover that he is, "It's all right. I forgive you. I'll step aside and let you have your way, because I value and respect your integrity and your freedom that much. I love you that much." "Father, forgive them, they
know not what they do," is the eternal expression of a divine commitment
to the human enterprise. It Is an expression of the nature of a suffering God who yet weeps over Jerusalem as a mother or a father weeps over the.
plight of their children
We seem to have some problem relating to a suffering God, as depicted in Isaiah 53: "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." We seem to desire always a militant messiah, an angry God, perhaps really because we are so angry, so frustrated at having to deal with a situation that seems beyond the control of everyone.
But God suffers our growth, allowing us the freedom we must have to resolve our differences and to "come of age" as the Body and Being of
God here and now. Love demands that we take control of ourselves and of the world, rather than resign ourselves to the apocalypse. And in order
to take control, we must suffer ourselves to be a part of the family.



My favorite saints tend to be ones who never were officially sanctioned as such. Corita Kent, for instance, who, when interviewed following her departure fro~ the sisterhood of her faith by someone who said she sounded like a Unitarian, affirmed that she no longer had any relationship with organized religion. And even Mother Teresa; after all of her saintly services to the poor and dying, has to wait for official recognition as a saint until it can be proved that she performed a "miracle." Soren Kierkegaard wanted to be a minister, but he didn't qualify. Nikos Kazantzakis came within a hair of being excommunicated from the Eastern Orthodox system for such profound works as The Last Temptation of Christ, and the list could go on and on. The saintly acts of creation by such individuals, nevertheless, testify to their enduring validity. And let's be fair to established religion; it has nurtured and sustained true saints and reformers within its strictures and structures. Look at what Andy Warhol meant when he said, "I go to church. It's so pretty." And don't forget Alan Watts' eternally sage advice, that " ... when you know that you don't need to have a religion at all, it can be fun to have one."

So whether you're in or out, or half-way, "keep the faith." - Bill Joyner


Leonard Cohen is a saint to me, and I love his description of what one might be:


"A saint'is someone

who has achieved

a remote human

possibility ...

"I think it has

something to do

with the energy

of love.

"It is a kind of balance

that is his glory.

He rides the drifts

like an escaped ski.

His course is

a caress of the hill ...

Something in him

so loves the world

that he gives himself

to the laws of

gravity and


- Leonard Cohen



So ... love abide[s]. (I Corinthians 13: 13)
Yes, God be praised, love abides! Whatever the world takes away from you, though it be the most cherished, whatever happens to you in life, however you may have to suffer because of your striving, for the good, if you please, if men turn indifferent from you or as enemies against you, if no one is willing to admit acquaintance with you or acknowledge what he nevertheless owes to you, if even your best friend should deny you-if nevertheless in any of your strivings, in any of your actions, in any of your words you truly have consciously had love along: then take comfort, for love abides. - Kierkegaard



Corita Kent




When Corita Kent died here in Boston last month, the first. thing I thought of was a splendid evening we . , shared sometime around 1970 which we called "A Peace of Bread" The title, of course, was one of her puns. We invited lots of people - many hundreds came to a gathering for song, poetry, art, and the sharing of bread, all as a celebra­tion of life and a protest against the war in Vietnam.

It was a great evening. Micki Myers, Corita's talented young protégée, had done a lot of the preparation. The lighting was c1assicallate-sixties. The mood was upbeat. People obvi­ously wanted to say and do something positive and affirming, not just continue to say "no" to the war. It was also the time when the vague oriental wave had already crested and many young people were looking to Christianity again.

Dan Berrigan was there, reading his poetry, 14 garland of carnations and daisies around his neck. Judy Collins, Corita's friend, threw back her head and sang a couple of her best songs, including - as I recall - "Clouds." I was a sort of master of ceremonies. But the high point was Corita. High because it was so low profile, so unassuming, so matter-of­fact. She simply showed some slides and talked about a dis­turbed and painfully shy little girl she had helped to lead out of her pain and withdrawal by teaching her ho~ to draw a large sunflower. She ended by saying something which, when I write it down now, sounds hopelessly trite. But when she said it that night it was anything but ordinary. I forget the exact words, but it had to do with bringing out  - into visibility and color and texture and light - the flower Inside each of us.

Why is it that I forget almost everything about the rest of that evening, but ( remember Corita - small, fragile, earnest, speaking almost shyly about something which, at least on the surface seemed to have little to do with the bombing of Hanoi?


I think it is because Corita had a complex kind of simplicity.

She combined a childlike innocence with the kind of wisdom one finds more often among very old women. She mixed being serene with being high-strung. Above all, she had a certain indefatigable resiliency. She was a fighter who not only sur­vived the scarring battles the Immaculate Heart Sisters lived through but did it with verve. Of all her slogan posters I think I like "Survival with Style" the best. That's who Corita was, a survivor with style.

Corita Kent also won my heart because she had an urban sensibility. She loved the City. She reveled in the junk and handouts and throwaways and labels and ads that most people experience merely as a suffocating wave of mind-deadening trivia. For her they provided the endlessly fascinating material for her lively and playful art. In this sense Corita was pro­foundly sacramental and very, very "Catholic." The world of signs and sales slogans and plastic containers was not, for her, an empty wasteland. It was the dough out of which she baked the bread of life. Like a priest, a shaman, a magician, she could pass her hands over the commonest of the everyday, the superficial, the oh-so-ordinary, and make it a vehicle of the luminous. the only, and the hope-filled.

Every time I drive to the Cape I go by the huge oil storage tank she splashed with her famous, colossal squiggly daubs.

There they are, assertively antic, endlessly making gentle fun of the bizarrely inappropriate structure they are splashed over. When I see them I always smile. No matter how horrendous the traffic is on the Southeast Expressway, no matter how bad a day it has been, my spirits are always lifted. For Corita  "art" did not belong under glass. Art meant transforming even the ugliest parts of the urban environment into testimonies of joy. She was an urban guerrilla with a paint brush.

I have not driven by that tank since Corita died. The next time I do I know I'll feel a stab of sadness. There are so many girders and stanchions and dreary warehouses and pipelines that still invite her magic touch. She's gone now. But I hope somewhere little girls and boys are letting the flowers within come out, and some adults are remembering that even some­thing as banal as  Wonderbread can taste great if you know how to serve it up.

Corita did not survive her last battle, but she lived - and died - with style. For that I'll always be thankful..


(Harvey Cox teaches at Harvard Divinity School. His most recent book is Religion in the Secular City, published by Simon & Schuster.)

Commonweal: 550









Bill Joyner

P.O. Box 3411

Sarasota, FL 34230

This is the tough part, the pitch for continuing seed back support. But, as Van Morrison says in his song, "I'm real real gone," and "I can't stand up alone." Just kindly let me know by checking the form below, whether and/or how you'd like to respond to the ongoing 3 times a year publication of THE SEED CATALOG:

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Thanks, too, for any financial or moral support. ($5 donation suggested) Bill Joyner


1210 E. M.L. King Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33603

The Seed Catalog
William T. Joyner, Editor
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