Category Religion

Ecstasy Fast & Slow

A modern wedding scene on the dance floor, amidst the mostly late ’20s-early ’30s crowd that are peers of the newly betrothed. It’s been a couple hours since the vows and dinner and multiple, somewhat long-winded toasts that seem to have become an obligatory feature of weddings today. (“I first met Sam in third grade when…”)

Then comes the new hubby-wifey dance to their own special song, its dying notes prompting the DJ to finally crank up the music and the pace as all the waiting young’uns and no small number of old’uns stream onto the dance floor. (It’s early yet, and everyone feels young and renewed at a wedding—at least for a while.)

Their single-minded goal: to commence the dead-serious ritual of celebrating the young couple and expressing all the good mojo they feel in bearing witness and immersing fully in such a joyous occasion.

And “immersing fully” is what the dancers most definitely do.

As the...

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Bobby McFerrin May Be the Richest Man in the World

I have no idea about Bobby McFerrin’s net worth. A quickie Google search tosses out an estimate of $4 million as of 2019. That means he probably won’t have to be busking on street corners to feed himself in his old age, but if even close to accurate, it is certainly no great shakes in the firmament of the uber rich, even within his own rarefied world of popular singers and entertainers. (Bruce Springsteen: $500 million, Jay-Z: $1.4 billion, Tom Hanks: $400 million).

But capital comes in many forms, and to survey McFerrin’s life and body of work is to behold wealth of such staggering proportions as to make a lie of any list proclaiming “The World’s Richest People” that does not include his name.

There we were, bouncing around the kitchen, caught up in McFerrin’s infectiously playful spirit that is unafraid to bend music to his utterly unique sensibilities of vocal play.

Freed from material want and able to ...

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The Poet Plants His Flag: Mark Doty’s “Homo Will Not Inherit”

We were talking of the body and its sanctity last week, through the lens of the poet William Everson, he of the manifestly heterosexual ardor, steeped in the unity of opposites, the phallos becoming one with the womb. Everson had been deeply influenced by his immersion in the work of Swiss archetypal psychologist Carl Jung, which, like Everson’s poetry, concerned itself almost wholly with heterosexual life.

But what of homosexual relationships and their own religious, worshipful, archetypal underpinnings? I found myself wondering about that matter and almost incorporating discussion of it into the post on Everson before deciding to leave it for a later time.

That time came quite a bit sooner than I anticipated and quite by accident, as I was simply browsing poetry resources last week and came across the website of Faith Shearin, a contemporary poet I had never read.

An interview there posed the question of...

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A Virtual Sermon on “The Dynamics of Faith, Belief and Hope”

In a year of previously unexplored firsts, the deadening and depressive effects of the pandemic have been countered to at least some degree by human adaptability as our minds stretch for new modes of communication and relationship.

Among those adaptations has been the virtual church service, increasingly refined to stand in for the currently silenced and empty sanctuaries that await the return of live, in-the-flesh worship.

It was my privilege two days ago to make my first such presentation as a guest preacher at one of my longtime spiritual homes: the Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County, tucked into an old country church it shares with a Methodist congregation in the hamlet of Kelseyville, some 70 miles north of my former home in Santa Rosa.

I’d been making the trek to share thoughts with the good people there for the better part of a decade, and figured to continue doing so after my move east...

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Iceland’s Awesome Volcano and “The Idea of the Holy”

When restaurants open fully up again and we can begin to enjoy all the familiar rituals such as our server exclaiming “Awesome choice!” when we order the chocolate truffle rather than crème brûlée off the dessert menu, I will suppress the urge, being the generally kind person I try to be in most every circumstance not involving Ted Cruz, to snag my phone out of my pocket and click onto the You Tube channel featuring the video footage I am going to show you below.

That will include refraining from even light-hearted but definitive commentary along the lines of, “Oh, you poor sheltered child, you don’t know from awesome! HERE is Awesome!!”

I am moved to share these sentiments after spending a good part of my morning marveling at the sheer, well, awesomeness of the volcanic eruption that began lighting up the mountains some 25 miles outside the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik on March 19...

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