Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Evolution's Purpose

Author Steve McIntosh's site; Evolution's Purpose: An Integral Interpretation of the Scientific Story of Our Origins on amazon

evolution's purpose book coverAs I began trying to read this book, I wondered why I opted for it from The Speakeasy; I generally can make my way around fairly dense theology, but this is more speculative and suggestive philosophy that may have taken more words than necessary to explain, but then again, possibly not. The author defines Integral Philosophy as "essentially a philosophy of evolution that emphasizes the evolution of consciousness as a central factor in the process of evolution overall; ... it demonstrates the connection between the personal development of each person's values and character and the larger development of human history." On xxix we read, "evolution is an [unrolling, as in a parchment scroll] overarching process of becoming, partly due to choices consciously made by creation itself (thus, evolution's - or the evolving creatures' - own "purpose") that shapes physical, cultural, conscious, social, and every imaginable aspect of life imaginable.

From that perspective of integral philosophy, the book discusses values, human agency, freedom of choice, beauty, truth, and goodness. Humanity, creation, nature... I wouldn't necessarily describe Evolution's Purpose as densely written, but it does seem to ramble on without much purposeful direction. The book is at least semi-scientific, and somewhat spiritual; to me it's also not very engaging. However, it might be more interesting and more accessible to someone trained in the physical and biological sciences than in theology.

"not exactly in my field of endeavor," my amazon review

Friday, April 26, 2013

April to May 5

For this April's last Friday 5, "April Showers Bring May..." Jan hosts and suggests, "With the old adage 'April showers bring May flowers,' let's look at the weather and vegetation in our home areas to see if any May Flowers will be blooming.

1. What spring flowers and plants do you see? Or will see sometime in the future?
Spectacular local spring specialties include the Carlsbad tulip fields and the Anza-Borrego desert in bloom.

2. What kinds of weather are you experiencing in April?
As much as I love hot weather in this coastal desert, that brings with it some interesting heat-dryness-humidity combinations, I've been enjoying our overcast, sometimes foggy mornings, frequently sunny afternoon, along with relatively cool rest of the days. "May Gray" and "June Gloom" probably will happen next, but occasionally neither does.

3. What are the stereotypical harbingers of spring in your area? How about where you grew up?
I love hearing the endless vireo songs! Just as during early spring everywhere, longer days, changing quality of ambient light, are pleasures, too. Spring means local tomatoes! We've been getting blackberries from Baja California since early December, but recently local strawberries have been showing up. Where I grew up, I particularly loved those occasional crocuses sprouting through melting corn snow slush, the surprise of warm sunshine, the sense spring truly was here, winter a fading dream.

4. What season do you like best in your home area?
All of them, but…summer wins the Blue Ribbon with its long, warm days, beckoning beaches, and overarching sweetness. I also like autumn, because that's when hot, dry, Santa Ana winds charged with positive ions that make some people crazy, give others (like me) a sense of intense well-being.

5. What is sprouting or blooming in your life? What do you wish for?
In my life I wish, long, hope for a real life again. Yesterday I enjoyed attending the vendor exhibit (please see pic, and I'm planning to blog about it soon) for our annual local Print Week. That gave me hope and inspiration, but I want and need so much more that only can be given as gifts of grace.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Print Week Expo

Print Expo / Print Week | Thursday 25 April 2013

city of San Diego skyline
1. city and palm trees, sky and flags outside the San Diego Convention Center on the way to the print week expo

city of San Diego skyline
2. Embarcadero sign along the San Diego waterfront


Embarcadero sign along the waterfront
3. view of San Diego Convention Center, sky, palm trees


view of san diego convention center
4. almost there


inside the convention center
5. inside the Convention Center


print expo sign
6. nice event signage!


city of San Diego skyline
7. city and banners, palm trees and sky outside the Convention Center on the way out

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Juxtaposed

Juxtaposed: Finding Sanctuary on the Outside on Amazon

Daisy Rain Martin's site... includes resources and hope for revealing and healing from abuse.

As we walk through this world – and as we engage scripture – we discover countless juxtapositions of seemingly polar opposites: sin and grace; evil and good; brokenness and redemption; oldness and newness. Daisy Rain Martin reminds us, "The universe is random. This is Earth where sad things happen. And God wastes none of it."

Juxtaposed book coverDaisy spent her earlier years "between the sanctified and the insane," ultimately becoming humanly whole in spite of the horrific direct sexual, emotional, and physical abuse she endured from her mother's husband, the silent and tacit abuse she suffered because of her mother's complacency. From cradle on, Martin lived in patriarchal, secretive, self-righteous, Pentecostal Christian setting that mightily contributed to her attempts to hide and to justify the abuse as it happened to her. The first part of her first-person narrative moves at breakneck speed through stories of her childhood, then onto her college years at what's now Vanguard University. It slows down some to offer long and closeup views of her life today with her son and husband; finally at the end of the book, Daisy describes the type of redemption her once-devastated life now offers the inner-city youth she teaches. "A Daisy Flower with a Rain of Hope" sets possibilities and alternatives before those kids, challenges them to grasp newness and a future in their hands. She exclaims about what hope can do for a kid, for any one!

I loved listening to her recount stories of the ultra-conservative, highly legalistic church experiences of her youth; learning about her and her husband's (in the end) negative times with a new church start that appeared to begin in a positive manner heartened me, too. As the author points out, people have survived and thrived beyond far worse than she has; comparison's typically are a bad idea, though placing yourself, your past, present, and possible future into the story is a big part of the value of a biographical book. As I read, I wondered how much of my own past I still needed to shed in order to testify as Daisy does, "I enjoy a life of abundance and hope and freedom beyond anything I could have ever thought or imagined because I have let go of my past. Literally. That includes people." That's a tough one: not only deciding to spend less time with a particular person, more time with people who are healthier influences, but zapping people completely out of your life? I feel that's what most of the people who were part of my former life did to me, yet despite my behaviors and attitudes never achieving perfection, I still cannot fathom how and why I was so not okay to them.

Despite the literal atrocities Daisy experienced, the biological heritage from her birth father definitely contributed to her ability to endure, as did her apparent ability to view goings-on with some detachment. I love her description of finally getting beyond denial, raging at God, and opening a path to start healing. Snippets of this story could be almost anyone's, and God wastes none of what happens to us―none of what we sometimes cause to happen to others, either.

I read the digital version of Juxtaposed, but we'd call this book a page-turner if it were analog. "Raw!" and "powerful!" are book review clich├ęs, but Juxtaposed is those and more. I want to meet and talk with Daisy Rain; I'm waiting for her to come to a town near mine. Soon.

my amazon review: the history and the hope

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Answering the Contemplative Call

Another wonderful discovery via The Speakeasy! Answering the Contemplative Call on Amazon

You also can find author Carl McColman on Facebook, and on his blog.

Answering the Contemplative Call is a primer, a guide for first encounters, a kind of Contemplative Practice 101 textbook, so it's not comprehensive. Like most introductory texts, the book covers a lot of territory, and attempts to define and describe a lot of concepts.

answering the contemplative call cover Basics:
Recognize the call
Prepare for the journey
Embark on the adventure .... of

"...the mystical path [which] is the path of love between you and God." (page 10)

Straightaway author Carl McColman cautions us how the lifelong practice the mystical journey, of engaging the mysteries of God, the mysteries of our lives, is more of a spiral than a straight line. The text of this book spirals around a lot, too, but that's part of what makes it engaging and fairly easy to read.

I won't attempt to list the many historical and more contemporary lovers of God the author cites, but they include Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, Julian of Norwich, the desert fathers and mothers, English and Spanish mystics, Augustine of Hippo, Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila, C.S. Lewis. We can place ourselves in their company!

At the beginning, on page 6, McColman insists thinking about God or having spiritual thoughts is not the first step along the way. In fact, I never ever would have guessed or imagined his root concept―it is "beholding." He lines out the initial sequence again:
God calls us
The call makes us restless
we wake up (respond) to the call
we behold the mystery
"and only then―do we start thinking about it."

On page 38: "To behold implies a profound engagement with that which you see. It implies paying attention and truly being present. It implies not merely seeing, but holding―in your mind, in your heart, in your soul―that which you see. ...We have to be awake in order to behold. But we also have to be silent and present. It’s not something that a distracted heart or an anxious mind can easily embrace."

As everyone who has walked alongside Jesus of Nazareth for any length of days realizes that in some ways the journey is solitary, but you still need to find companions, people to break bread with along the way. (page 65) A Spiritual director? Maybe. But also reach out and serve others in various ways. Related to those other people we need, on pages 80-81, McColman reminds us, "social / external /activist" dimension of anyone's relationships with Jesus Christ is essential.

Essential for myself and also for most thoughtful, educated, activist, urban people in this 21st century, the "Befriend Silence" chapter (page 89) begins by saying we need to make a home for silence in our hearts. Silencing that incessant inner noise, blocking out cacophony from streets and peeps. I love that he says on page 94, contemplative silence "gives us the space to find wonder..."

For sure I would like far more emphasis on scripture itself, but two-thirds of the way through we read, (page 117):
Christian meditation is not about letting images or thoughts go; rather, like other forms of kataphatic spirituality, it is all about immersing ourselves in the Word of God. "In the beginning was the Word," begins the Gospel of John. And ever since the apostles wrote the New Testament epistles and the evangelists wrote the Gospels, the Christian wisdom tradition has been associated with the mysteries of language. ... To use language is an essential part of being human, and so the exploration of Christian wisdom includes a strong focus on the words of the first Christian teachers, as well as of the great saints and mystics throughout history.
Finally, where does this twisty, turning, roundabout path of God's call to us, our awakening, beholding, and response to that call in contemplation lead? It's all about bringing heaven to earth, helping transform the world by being, demonstrating, and living the love of God. Answering the Contemplative Call is a smorgasbord of ideas and possibilities, one that could be an excellent gift for yourself, for a friend or an acquaintance.

my amazon review: God's Call

Monday, April 22, 2013

earth day 2013

from the deuteronomic historian we constantly hear the refrain, "into the land, into the land, into the land..." Deuteronomy 28:1-3 cautions and promises:

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.

earth day 2013

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Easter Saturday

Today is the 8th day of Easter 2013; This is another of my "life stuff" blogs, particularly the series I began during late Epiphany 2013.

life stuff buttonLate, great, Preacher to the University at Boston University's Marsh Chapel Howard Thurman had essential advice for anyone trying to figure out what to do with their life—for the first time or two, or for the twentieth time or so: "Don't ask what the world needs, ask what brings you to life, because the world needs people who are fully alive." Another commonplace observes a person finds their calling – not always their career, job, or working life – where their gifts and passion intersect. At this age and stage, I'll add education and experience to the mix. I had every expectation I'd again have opps to engage world and church at levels related to my abilities. For a moment I'll discount the housing crash of September 2008 and the financial dominoes that tumbled in its wake, but anyone with my gifts, education, vision, ambition, (and hard work) could have expected to have a financial choice to attend symphony concerts, or jazz fests, a trip to Greece or the Pacific Rim every two or three years. This is not a hunter-gatherer society! Given how a shrinking, stuttering economy has caused everyone but the super-rich to cut back on everything, I'll add September 2008 and its aftermath back into the mix and say whatever the $$$ and employment markets, I still fully expected eventually to find a welcome place of embrace and participation. By 2006 or 2007 or so, I'd started to, and then it evaporated. At Good Friday lunch with the then interim pastor at North Minster, I told him Lent and Holy Week 2007 at North Minster and at North Park finally had shown me what might be possible. It's now six years later!

Over these years I've had watersheds galore. Besides major rejections, disappointments, and other "stuff" I maybe need to look at and through, I'm also reading the literal plethora of little things I'm not getting done as symptoms of too much that needs to change. "Not getting done" not because I've been so busy and involved in more important activities... In one of her early books, Kay Jamison mentioned aging so during a certain period of her life (exactly as I have over the past decade); she said it was inevitable, "with such loss of self, such distance from shelter, such proximity to death."

What brings me to life? What makes my heart sing? I enjoyed preparing notes and class handouts for Thursday bible studies at Church Around the Corner a couple months ago, but I truly loved interacting with the class. I felt like myself again; I was alive for that short time! Thinking of ways I can help make that happen again... I easily can make a simple list of ways I'd love interact with world and church again on a regular, ongoing basis.

In my blog and review of The Outermost House, I observed:
Walter Brueggemann insists much of life is sabbatarian, spent in the interstitial, liminal time between Good Friday afternoon and Easter Sunday dawn. During winter in a four-season climate like Cape Cod's, there is a simply being who we've become thus far that has a sense of Sabbath about it. We almost hang suspended in time waiting for gifts of birth, of spring, of new life to ready themselves.
I'm talking about moving to Los Angeles. But to where, and to what? And how?

On the eve of Easter 2 I'm still in winter's holding pattern, still suspended in time waiting for new life to spring forth.