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."

2019/08/26

NRA apocalypse

Last week I was grappling with an issue on how to explain the original nature of apocalyptic literature. For centuries it has been abused to frighten good little people into obedience of the church or more often of different cults. It was used to make people put up with oppression and abuses of power. Apocalypticism was uprooted from its original context and made to promise afterlife (or after-history) rewards for the faithful.
    How to undo centuries of these misinterpretations? How to return, or at least outline, its original radical meaning? And then, in the pile of old newspapers I found this folded parchment with another writing from The Manhattan Bible of Henry Rutgers:  
-------------------------------------------------
An angel came to me, took me by the hand and told me, “Come I will tell you what is going to transpire. Those with ears, listen, those with eyes, watch and see. 
    Be prepared and ready, the time will come when there will be shootings on almost a daily basis. Shootings in bars, in concerts, in churches and houses of worship, shootings in shopping malls and in workplaces and shootings in schools, even shootings of children in elementary schools. All of it will take place because the evil and death will have its reign. Little bodies torn by high power bullets, children bleeding to death and a grinning orange monster would suggest to arm teachers. Some of those shootings will have a direct inspiration from the highest office in the land.
    But take heart, that is not the last word over this world! The lamb will come and usher a new and safe world. In that new kingdom there will be no semiautomatic and automatic guns, no bump-stocks, no high capacity magazines. The NRA will be banished to the ever burning lake together with all its corrupt political henchmen, banknotes stuffed into their gaping power-hungry mouths. Even the 2nd amendment so blatantly misinterpreted and abused will be eventually blotted out and the angelic police will be armed just with smiles and shooting ranges will be detoxified from all that lead and turned into playgrounds.”

-----------------------------------------------
This fragment clearly does not date to the first or second century CE but nicely conveys  some of the aspects of an apocalyptic genre into our current idiom.
How do you feel? Does it really frighten you into obedience? Does it sound like a promise of the pie in the sky? Does it make you dull and submissive with the promise of a happy afterlife?

2019/08/22

King in disguise

All around the world you can find a common folklore motive in which the king disguises himself and travels incognito among his subjects.
    There are many fairy tale examples, legends, sagas, examples in literature and even modern TV versions of Undercover Boss. This motive of a powerful figure in disguise goes back as far as we can see, for instance Odysseus returns to Ithaca just like that.
    But the true origins of this motive are as old as mythology and present themselves as divine visitors in disguise. Zeus and Hermes visit Philemon and Baukis (I wrote about it several weeks ago) or Demeter also visits Eleusis in disguise as an older Cretan woman Doso to be a nanny of unfortunate Demophon.
    The same trope is known also in the Bible. YHWH visits Abraham under the holy tree of Mamre (Gen 18), an incognito angel visits Gideo and the future mother of Samson has a similar encounter.  And of course in the New testament there is a famous story about Jesus walking unrecognized with two disciples to Emmaus.
    The primary purpose of this folklore motive of an incognito king or god is to reveal or test the personal character of those unsuspecting hosts. 
    Join us this Sunday as the folklore studies help us to solve an old theological conundrum between salvation by faith or salvation by deeds. Join us as we rejoice as the community of Matthew 25 and meet our Lord in those most vulnerable of our world.

2019/08/13

Very Hungry Caterpillars

This spring we decided to plant on our balcony not decorative annuals but just different green herbs. We planted oregano, parsley, two different kinds of thyme, marjoram and sage. I watered them faithfully and all were doing very well except for one lemon thyme. The parsley had been doing exceptionally well, growing into a lovely thick pillow overflowing from the planter.
     But then last Sunday morning a disaster struck! I opened the door to inspect our little herbal garden and our exuberant parsley turned into a bunch of stems and sticks. I looked closer - our parsley got all consumed by about a dozen hungry caterpillars. I quickly identified them as swallowtail caterpillars. By pure coincidence a day before on my hike in Bear Mountain photographed some beautiful adult swallowtail butterflies.
      On Sunday after worship the hungry caterpillars on our balcony were just about finishing the last few remaining curly leaves. I quickly ran to our nearest grocery store and bought them another bunch of organic parsley and one small bunch of dill. I triple checked that the greens were organic, this time not for our family’s health sake, but for the health of those "pesty" caterpillars. You know, without those hungry caterpillars, there will be no beautiful butterflies, after all!

Why am I sharing with you this environmental fable? Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Jesus once told a very similar parable warning people against our zeal to eradicate what we so eagerly label as pests without even thinking about consequences. Try to guess what parable it might be? Come this Sunday to celebrate the intricate interconnected beauty of our world and divine as well as natural purpouse for pests and misfits.  

And here is an adult Eastern tiger swallowtail



2019/08/07

Pedestrian Jesus

Just as we were hearing about the prosecutions of Scott Warren in Arizona (for giving water to migrants in Arizona deserts) and the arrest of captain Carola Rackete in Italy (for rescuing drowning migrants in the Mediterranean Sea), pastor discovered in the box of one of our church defibrillators yet another fragment of the Manhattan Gospel of Henry Rutgers. It is just a fragment starting in the middle of sentence.
... they would not stop accusing him and attacking him.
So Jesus stood and told them. Imagine for a moment that you are not in New York City but somewhere deep in Mid-America on a busy street. And now there is a person who runs into the street at the stop light or even outside of a pedestrian crossing while running from a mugger or from a burning house. And that person gets hit by a truck and is badly injured. Now, what would you do? Would you call the police to give that person a ticket for breaking traffic rules? Or would you rush to give them first aid and call the ambulance?”
They darkly grinned and responded - just don’t try this on us you little clever Jesus! Aren’t helpers also stepping into the road and breaking the rules? They shall go to jail too. Under our government according to our taste, no acts of kindness will go unpunished...
 
Here the fragments suddenly brakes again.

It is unlikely, that this fragment dates to the New Testament times. But we know that Jesus had similar arguments and we also know that any threats would not stop him from helping those in need. Come this Sunday to hear what Jesus did, when he met distressed and hungry multitudes far away in the wilderness.



2019/08/01

Folded prayers

In March 2017 we folded origami cranes in worship. We invited Janet Aisawa a dancer, choreographer and performer to teach and help us. We took several pews from our sanctuary and put in tables and chairs around them. While folding origami cranes we experienced that prayer can have different forms.
    This was a form of prayer for Sadako Sasaki who died of leukemia in 1955 as a consequence of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. In the Japanese culture origami is indeed a religious practice and art.
    Not everyone is good with words or public spoken prayers. Origami is different. It is about calmly folding and creasing paper step by step and at the end, blowing up the crane, giving it a three-dimensional form and thus bringing it to life. It certainly has spiritual calming and a reassuring dimension.
    And our cranes which we had folded in March made it all the way to Hiroshima. Janet Aisawa took them there for the annual remembrance of the bombing on the 6th of August.
    Although this Sunday we will not be folding cranes, in close proximity to anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing, we will learn from Jesus how to subdue and overcome our current religious, racial and national prejudices.