January, February, March, 2006


Just Before Christmas Ď05

Bill Joyner

Itís the season of ten thousand things that must be done by yesterday. No wonder weíd rather cop out and sail off to the Bahamas, or just drift endlessly into our fabricated illusions of safety and distance, as though it had little or nothing to do with poor little innocent me. But itís all connected, isnít it, intricately and inevitably?

Some people feel that Iíve become apolitical, inasmuch as I do not so freely "pontificate" on issues of the day as I once did. We are in a time of extreme, often fixated, opinions, and very limited worldviews, mainly our own. My own mind and heart these days is consistent with the thought of writers I would call neo-liberals, New York Times columnists Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman, and the author of Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman.

In an earlier book, A Tale of Two Utopias, Paul Berman discusses reformed French Communist leader Andre Glucksmannís conclusion that there should be an eleventh commandment amended to the biblical ten: to know thyself as capable of being a monster. "The new humanism should begin," he says, "by recognizing what is inhuman in man." To "know thyself as capable of being a monster" is to open the door to being aware that, no matter how sure we are of being absolutely right, we could just as possibly be absolutely wrong. Call it relativism, if you will, or self-doubt, but critical, objective self-judgment is necessary, because it is the pathway to self-corrective behavior and to deeper, more realistic levels of self-acceptance.




"Relativism," by the way, is one of those words, such as "liberalism" and "secularis

m," that have been maliciously distorted and demonized by the far right spin factory of the present fundamentalist/evangelical regime, a system of brainwashing that is masterfully exposed by George Lakoff in his slender, brilliant "guide for progressives," DONíT THINK OF AN ELEPHANT. The danger of absolutism is far greater than any risks posed by relativism, as the late great Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams suggested when he said to graduates of Harvard Divinity School in the 1960s, "You will end your careers fighting the Christian Nazis." And what an accurate, prophetic prediction that has proven to be!

The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is so comprehensible.

-- Albert Einstein

Existence is a tricky substance, subject at any moment to revision and surprise. "God is afoot, magic is alive" (or vice a versa, according to Leonard Cohen). Imperious and boastful assumptions about reality should be taken for exactly what they are, fallible, tentative speculations. We adapt and evolve by faith and experimentation, not by making absolutist, unproven claims. -- BJ

THE SEED CATALOG / POB 3411 / SARASOTA, FL 34230 // 941-355-4050

January, February, March 2006 tscwtj@hotmail.com /www.seedcatalog.cc

Bill Joyner

Everything is just happening to us, right? Not quite. Remember the slogan, "What happens to us is 10 %, the other 90% is attitude." Victor Frankl, writing about his own imprisonment in a Nazi death camp, said that when everything is stripped away, our possessions, out clothing, our dignity, and even our right to live, we still have the freedom to decide our attitude and response to what is happening to us. In his book, MANíS SEARCH FOR MEANING, Victor Frankl also says that our attitude can make all the difference as to how, and/or whether, we will survive. -- BJ

Just After Happy New Year Ď06

I overheard one of my dearest friends say, "I wish I had never been born!" Yes, it was said at a moment of extreme pressure and abject fatigue, just at the height of the great holiday letdown. Still, it chilled my soul and even now concerns me greatly. It could just be an expression picked up from the media, oneís peers -- Iím fishing for a lighter interpretation. Too, itís possible that such a shocking expression of rage and frustration could be a helpful release, much more so perhaps than just keeping it all in and "making nice."

Chiefly to myself, but to one and all, my advice is this. Stay active, compress your world into essentials (focus), and keep on actively, physically helping yourself and others achieve greater balance and stability. As was said to me, in so many words, at Duke Divinity School, circa 1962, "we are saviors to each other" -- and yet, our ability to save anyone, ourselves included, is severely limited. We are not programmed to always do the wise or right thing, but we are gifted with the burden of choice and responsibility. God help us, yes! But Godís help takes practical form as we reach out and help each other, thereby immeasurably and miraculously helping ourselves. Thatís when we discover that "the yoke is easy and the burden is light."

-- Bill Joyner (1-5-06)

THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL (A Circus of Spiritual Discovery)

By Bill Joyner

On or about January 15, this baby should be born, an evolving creation of long duration. Thanks to each of you who have invested in and patiently awaited this arrival. The first edition is only 125 copies, but many are yet available for the initial 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 SEED CATALOG is a continuing quarterly newsletter promoting understandings of secular spirituality, available annually for a $5 donation. Additional contacts are appreciated should you wish to provide names and addresses of any who might enjoy it on an exploratory basis.

 Bill Joyner

POB 3411

Sarasota, FL 34230

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The Seed Catalog
William T. Joyner, Editor
THE SEED CATALOG is available by mail for an annual suggested donation of $5.00
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