Ubi Caritas

Bob Griffith of Hypersync posted a link to this YouTube video of a boy in the Netherlands singing about the love in his unconventional family. Aside from the obvious questions it raises, such as why the Christian Right is apoplectic over the idea of letting everyone have the right to marry whomever they choose, there’s something deeper here besides.

As I commented on his post, I remarked that ironically, as Europe has become less “Christian,” and church attendance has plunged, Europe may be becoming more “Christian” in other ways, not associated with religion. So where is God in “post-Christian” Europe?

For me, the answer is a universal one, found in an ancient hymn of the Church:

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

(Where there is charity and love, there is God.)

Something in the boy’s song gives me hope. Not just for equal rights for gay people, but of something far more profound. God is love. Love conquers all.

Ice Cream Truth

Millions of voices of the world clamor for belief. You are asked to believe that 123 is a better cable channel than 234, that Sandscrape is a better toilet paper than Scratchroll, that M.T. Promisiz is a better leader than I. B. Lyin.

Then you’re asked to believe “in” pure abstractions, for instance that the area called Rolling Hillarity is a different “country” than the area called Dulland Flatlandia. And whether you are Rolling Hilarious or Dulland Flat, you need to believe that your country is the best one!

But the belief-net isn’t finished entangling you. To be “really” complete, you must have a “belief system,” too. In other words, you need to cram an elaborate mental superstructure into your head comprised of numerous associated concretized thoughts—that is “beliefs” about things you can neither see or touch. And you need to believe that it’s right, and preferably believe that all others are wrong. If that sounds like hard work, it is.

But fortunately, some have tried to make it easier for you. The most popular belief systems have come in ready-to-use packages, and luckily for you, a mere a half-dozen or so brands have satisfied fully 90% of the people of the world. Some have strong incentives if you buy this brand, you will enjoy bliss forever, and if you don’t, you’ll be in agony forever. (If that’s not incentive, what is?)

Occasionally, though, people come to the point of wondering what is true, what is real. Is it the belief system, or is it something else, maybe something the belief system is trying to describe, no matter how awkwardly. I propose a simple test:

Does it help you enjoy your ice cream more?

It’s amazing how irrelevant beliefs are when eating ice cream (or calamari, for that matter). An evangelist whose name I forget, despaired of trying to get ministers of different denominations to associate together through “ecumenical events.” He found that it worked quite well though when the occasion was getting ice cream. Belief systems don’t eat ice cream, but people do!

And for God’s sake, don’t believe a word of my beliefs here. Just see what makes your ice cream taste best. That just might be real. Taste and see (Psalm 34:8). If it does, it’s probably more real than a belief.

Happy Birthday, World!

Zach, at Monakhos, reminded me with his post today that Archbishop James Ussher’s calendar put the creation of the world at October 23rd, 4004 BC.

May the world have a very happy birthday, with many joyous returns!

BTW, this is also the birthday of my good friend, Gama Cartagena! Happy Birthday, G! Maybe all those Firefox parties were about something even bigger, eh?

I’m back (and panting)!

Firefox 2OK, sorry for the obtuse joke in my last post … it was an “off the top of my head” sort of thing. I knew no one would get it, but I thought it sounded like a koan, so I couldn’t resist. Yeah, a lame excuse for a lame post. Sorry!

It’s been very busy for me, but I’m getting my feet back on the ground. And what do I discover except that I’m nearly a month behind on reading some of my friends’ blogs!

Talk about feeling overwhelmed! I’m also studying PHP, and trying to get my head around multi-dimensional arrays. I just seem to have some sort of block there; but the good news is I feel like I’m on the verge of breaking through it.

I also breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when the official release of IE 7 was made available. I was largely responsible for making sure our sites survived the change without breaking, and up through the last beta, it looked like Microsoft was tampering with their Quirks mode rendering, a potential nightmare.

But who cares!? Firefox 2 was released today, (in conjunction with Firefox parties around the world)! If you aren’t already using Firefox, start! You’ll be glad you did. It’s a vastly superior browser; for one thing, it’s spell-checking this post as I type it! (No more illegible posts from the Frimster!) Beyond that, its flexibility with add-ons and customization is unbelievable.

I’m still going back through old posts and removing the old Textile markup. I disabled the Textile converter on my WordPress engine, so although recent posts look better, those from my first year of blogging may look pretty weird, especially the links, but this will be fixed soon.

I want to write so much, but as I mentioned, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. One thing I especially want to do is write some more detailed movie reflections, such as Dune/Children of Dune, and Peaceful Warrior. I also have a short story I wrote a few years ago, which will be ready for submission after just a bit more fleshing-out. It’s a dystopian science-fiction story with a “rage-against-the-machine” feeling. When I visited it again, it reminded me how I’ve neglected that area of my talents.

But:
I am catching up. Slowly.

Where have I been?

Sorry for the quietness here. I’ve been extremely busy at work the last couple of weeks, and have had much less free time. But that’s a poor excuse for not posting, and it’s not the main reason.

Honestly, I’ve been fighting a deep inner sadness. It’s a strange thing to know that the world isn’t real, yet to live in it, and love it. And it’s simply painful to know how simple life is, and see the amazing nets of pain we spend weaving for ourselves and each other around the world.

Today, the first scientific estimate of the deaths in Iraq was released, and the news was shocking: that as many as 655,000 Iraqis have been killed in the violence ensuing directly and indirectly from my country’s “liberating” war. And my country’s ruler can’t fathom why inserting the “Democracy” disk doesn’t result in instant peace and harmony in Iraq.

My spirit feels like it could weep for days.

I feel tired. Tired of countries, tired of religions, tired of philosophies. I’m just tired of all the shit. All of it.

PW II

I’m so sorry that I haven’t had much time for blogging and reading blogs this week. We’ve had a major project going on at work . . . I’ve been putting in 11-hour days for a week, and it’s not over yet. However, this weekend I did get the chance to relax a little. No time for loneliness this week.

I saw Peaceful Warrior for the third time. Iit’s been years since I loved a movie so much that I paid full admission to see it three times! And I actually began writing my long-promised review of it, but a power-surge knocked off my computer and destroy my unsaved work. (I know, I should know better.)

Part of me wondered why this superb film seems relegated to occasional arthouse screenings. Then I realized that PW‘s higher level of meaning is inaccessible to people who aren’t ready it yet. Hence, most critics and non-seekers see Peaceful Warrior as a familiar sports movie of the well-worn “dramatic comeback” type, sprinkled liberally with vague New-Agey platitudes.

The mind acts as a kind of a filter, almost as a safety valve in some ways, that keeps itself from grasping any truth before it is ready. In a teacher-disciple relationship, it kinds of goes like this:

Teacher: You are not the body. The world is an illusion. God is all there is.
Student: Yeah, cool.

Teacher: You are not the body. The world is an illusion. God is all there is.
Student: Whatever.

Teacher: You are not the body. The world is an illusion. God is all there is.
Student: Got it.

Teacher: You are not the body. The world is an illusion. God is all there is.
Student: Holy Sh*t! GOD IS ALL THERE IS!

Peaceful Warrior portrays the learning process beautifully.

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