About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Seaside Surprise

Would you know what this is? This isn’t a frozen over little puddle. When I took this picture, it was well above 80°F. I was on a lonely stretch of Pacific Coast, by the ruins of Lapakahi - a long abandoned Hawaiian fishing village. Basalt rocks, actually, there it is solidified lava, are covered with holes, cavities, dents and pits. And by the shore, just above the high tide line, those pits in rocks were filled with these glittering mirror-like panes of sea salt.
    Hopping over sharp edged cliffs and loose boulders and using just my small pocket knife I started to collect these white gem-like crystals. In less than fifteen minutes I had enough salt to serve our family for a full year. And let me tell you, it tastes unlike any other salt. It might be just Sodium Chloride but for me it has that deep umami savoury taste.
    It might be because it is not over-purified and still contains some other parts of the ocean. Or perhaps it might be just all in my head, because I collected it myself, I know where it comes from and I love and respect that historic place. This salt mining experience from Lapakahi village taught me to appreciate the humble salt and opened my mind for some of its spiritual significance.
    This Sunday we enter the Advent season and in Advent and Christmas this year we will seek inspiration and strength in some of Jesus’ early parables. As you can guess we will start with salt logion (saying).


Election in Forestan

A full week after elections we still had these voting booths stored in the corner of our community hall (Rutgers Church is a polling place). They looked lonely and abandoned, waiting to be picked up by board of elections truck. Today I looked closer and in-between two boards I discovered a folded half sheet of paper yellowed by age. I instantly recognized the handwriting I knew from other fragments of “Manhattan Bible of Henry Rutgers”. The old missive read:

Long ago, there was a far away land called Forestan inhabited only by trees. And it came to pass that trees decided to select their king.
First they considered a Sugar Maple of New England, yet dismissed this idea because it was too sweetly optimistic for their bitter souls.
Then they thought about an Apple Tree from NY, but they abandoned this idea because the apples’ symbolism did not fit their ideology; although they were in great need of education and health they were completely oblivious of this fact. 
The fruits of Georgia’s Peach Tree were dark skinned so the peach tree was left out. And here you must remember that bluntness is not racism, oh no! 
For a moment they looked even at the prairie grass; its ability to bend to every wind looked promising, but then they realized it protected the soil and waters of prairies and so even the grass was dismissed as an unfit candidate.
Florida’s Orange Tree was nice, but definitely not native, arriving from somewhere south and without documents. The mighty Sequoia from California, on the other hand, was patently native but was clearly overqualified to stand above all the trees and thus also left from consideration. And the Banana Tree from Hawaii was one of a hundred different species therefore such perplexing broad diversity was quickly distrusted.
In Forestan they were running out of options. Then a scrubby, twisted, thorny bush arose and proposed himself as their future king. “I will make our Forest into a Garden Again - a great wall all around is what is needed.” Mr. Brumble volunteered and started to make plans, “We will weed out all who do not fit in with our vision of a bristly monoculture forest.” He promised “I will cover you and protect you with my thorns and brambles and no one will touch you anymore.” Many were bewitched by this vision and thus it happened that Forestan selected its future king.

And if you think that Henry Rutgers wrote this fable all by himself, just read Jotham’s Fable in the Bible, Judges 9:7-21.  It is a gloomy reading but thankfully the Bible tells us also about other kings and other leaders with better credentials and real aptitudes to serve. On this Sunday, the last one in this Church Year, join us as we rejoice and receive strength from Christ the King!


No laughing matter

I am convinced that God has a marvelous and healthy sense of humor. You have heard this and read this from me a number of times. Prophets can be sharp satirists, poking fun of pompous emperors, potentates and their empires. Also, any good storytelling, biblical literature not excluded, is composed of elements of suspense, surprise and comedy. And in the New Testament, Jesus’ parables are prime examples of subtle use of humor; they are short, surprising, to the point, yet often open ended...
    God has a marvelous sense of humor and wants to infect us with humor to keep us sane. Why? Because religious people have a tendency to take their religion and especially their religious-selves way too seriously. Religion without humor quickly degenerates into boredom or intolerance or even fanaticism. Humor is essential for our psychological as well as spiritual well-being.
    Of course, as always, there is a fine line between healthy and off-color jokes. The sharpest humor is found right on the edge. The Bible contains jokes which could go too far for many of us; take for instance profane (1Sam. 5), grotesque (1Sam. 18:25ff), and even toilet humor (1Sam. 24) to mention only a few borderline examples from just one biblical book. As always it is a matter of our personal upbringing, sensitivities and tastes whether any of these are up to or across the line of acceptable.
    Thus the Bible contains a number of what could easily be considered off-color jokes, but one kind of joke is clearly rejected, repudiated and reprobated. It is when the able and the powerful are poking fun of and ridiculing the disabled, the poor and the powerless. This kind of “humor” God does not find funny at all. And Jesus clearly shared this sentiment. This Sunday in the lectionary reading we will witness and will be able to rejoice as Jesus denounces the powerful for their political and religious ridicule of the powerless. Clearly God’s sense of humor is quite wide, but it is governed by the principles of divine justice.