Friday, October 3, 2008

Job in the Desert: Transcending Suffering Through Prayer and Meditation


PROLOGUE

Psalm 37 (New International Version)

Psalm 37

Of David.
1 [a] Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous

and gnash their teeth at them;

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish:
The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
they will vanish—vanish like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;

22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be cut off.

23 If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;

24 though he stumble, he will not fall,

for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.

26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.

28 For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
They will be protected forever,
but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;

29 the righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.

31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
seeking their very lives;

33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,

36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
there is a future [b] for the man of peace.

38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future [c] of the wicked will be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 37:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
  2. Psalm 37:37 Or there will be posterity
  3. Psalm 37:38 Or posterity
BACKGROUND

The Sacred Site:
There is a little chapel west of Toyahvale and Balmorhea. It takes its name from the early 19th century ghost town there and is the town's only survivor. It continues to evolve slowly - ever so slowly - into some preordained destiny agreed upon by the esoteric community of the saints who maintain it but for whom organization and planning are conditions perceived as something "of the world" of which those obsessed with a now corrupt received culture and secular system of social controls seem to suffer more than others. These unfortunates are welcome -- one can sense it on visits -- for Calera Chapel is only a gateway into the Sublime, a door upon which fellow travelers and desert mendicants knock.


APOLOGETICS

The Apologetics of Prayer & Meditation: The method of prayer and meditation suggested in the video is one of many. While the editor places great devotional value on the Rosary as Method (I guess that makes me a "Methodist"), he does not solicit an authoritarian following or make any demands for its use to the exclusion of others -- hollowed others -- such as zen meditation, the recitation of mantras, praying in tongues, contemplation, lectio divina, dance, song, yoga, whirling with Dervishes, bows & prostrations, kneeling on handcrafted rugs facing eastward to the holy lands or Kensho.

Contra Summa Theologica: The "Under the Threat of Hell" crowd of Dominionists and Evangelicals would scoff at the use of the Rosary anyway. They habitually do so in their ironic displays of ignorance concerning spiritual matters, a world altogether esoteric in nature and oftentimes hidden from the religious.

After four-hundred years of "reformation," during which someone decided that there was entirely too much sex going on inside Medieval monasteries, which resulted in the "casting out" of the baby along with the bath, authoritarian Christianists have determined for the rest of us that they alone are the keepers of the keys to the kingdom and that we should pray as they pray, do as they say and prey as they prey. Just call that 1-800 number at the bottom of your television screen and ask them. The rest of us have to sneak by their guardians at the Temple gates in the dead of darkness -- that Dark Night of the Soul -- when they are not looking.

Do you want to kill a moose or not? It's not that the right-wing fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Millenarians, Pentacostalists, Rushdoony Reconstructionists, Christian Nationalists, Christian Identity movers and shakers and the assorted mix of other authoritarian Dominionists who threaten the world with one Armageddon after another -- usually of their own making -- are the arch-enemies of The Enlightenment because they are "Christian" or because they are the "righteous Children of God." The victimstance of that argument, in fact, would gag a moose. It is that they are not. Neither are the "Catholic" poseurs of this nefarious ilk.

In Truth, they are neither practitioners of the ancient disciplines of righteousness -- even as Paul of Tarsus, the apostle to the Gentiles, challenged the conservative origins of righteousness [cf. Romans 4] using his argument of Abrahamic faith versus the Essene system of "works" used to develop it [cf. references in James 2; 14] -- nor are Christianists, with the exception of saintly notables among them, the Children of the Light. This becomes especially clear when juxtaposed with the historical standards for righteousness set by the Essene monastics of Judea and the 1st Century Christian Party [cf. Hebrews; James; Pesher to Habukuk; Psalm 37] who became their spiritual heirs.

"Well of the Essenes" ('Ain Es-siah), was the source of all life in Wadi Essiah (Essene Canyon). Flowing from an oven shaped opening in the southern Karmeliya ("Carmelite") Ridge and thence flowing through covered rock channels to all other areas of the ancient Nazorean Monastery. Yeshua and his disciples would have drunk deeply from this pure flowing "Essene Well", and would have drunk wine and eaten fresh garden produce produced from its healing waters.
That Yehoshua ben Yosef was a Monastic Essene is becoming more and more evident as archaeologists and bible scholars work in cooperation to decipher the secrets of Qumran and Nag Hammadi.

If recent biblical scholarship can be trusted with the sacred mandate given it by John XXIII and Vatican Council II, these authoritarian souls represent in all the
ir doctrines and political manipulations the very "spirit of the anti-christ" they claim to be fighting in you, you ungrateful sinner, you unrepentant alcoholic, you sociopathic faggot junkie, you. For they are the Zealots who we now know were the militarist national partisans who betrayed Jesus and turned him over for torture and execution. During his ordeal, he gave up no secrets, betrayed no Zealot or Essene to Pontius Pilot or discussed the Zealot insurrections. Yet because he was a pacifist, he did not satisfy their messianic expectations and was therefore rejected as the foundation stone of the Kingdom of Heaven. Rev. Pat Robertson, who has lobbied for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the untimely deaths of liberal Supreme Court Justices and the promotion of his Power Shake he claims gave him the strenth to leg-press 2000-lbs at age 75, would have been the go-to guy for the crown of thorns, strung across and tightened upon his head in mockery of his kingship until they dug into his skull.

Did you ever hear Pat Robertson condemn Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo? Have you heard any opposition from James Dobson? John Hagee? Ralph Reed? Even Benedict XVI squeaks like a mouse about "justified wars," no doubt those we lied ourselves into in order to surround the former U.S.S.R. with a missile system and abscond with their Caspian oil and gas while fomenting a "war on terrorism" against Iran and keeping Venezuela in our sights. All in the name of an apocalyptic Jesus come to spread mayhem along with that particular brand of justice that only Christianists and Islamists seem to prefer to peaceful negotiations.

When was the last time you heard Rev. John Hagee encourage anyone to "send money to the poor?" Heh. Enough said.

A Resentful Aside
Last week, my unemployment insurance benefits ran out. I'm having to scramble to find a job -- any kind of job. The fundamental issue at the core of my recent job loss is that chemical dependency services now privatized by the federal government under a corporatist administration are no longer available in quantity or quality that would satisfy the actual needs of our client base.

The administrators with whom I pleaded for the last several years could care less about "the widow, the stranger or the orphan." And you can forget about drug addicts and alcoholics. They are of the sort who are supposed to pull themselves up by their own boot straps like George Bush and Richard Cheney did [wink, wink].

The "bottom line," of course, is determined by those who profit financially and to hell with your so-called "disease of addiction." This is laissez-faire capitalism -- the free market system of Adam Smith. Yet, as I write this, negotiations are ongoing to determine which bank, investment house or insurance company gets the $700-billion your working and middle class grandchildren will pay off on behalf of the Corporatist Welfare System.

The latest I've heard from our TV preachers of the "Christian" Right -- and I'm not joking about this one bit -- is that the current threat of financial collapse was caused by "homosexuals." Isn't that a queer thing to say? No matter how you toss it up, it still translates as "Go to your Phone and Call Me Right Now -- Send me money! The Number is at the Bottom of Your Screen and if You Call Within the Next Ten-Minutes We'll Say an Extra Prayer Just for You So that You Can Go on That Casino Ship Retirement Cruise in the Caribbean You've been Dreaming about."

When it helps us, it's called "socialism." When it helps them, it's described with all the paranoiac propaganda necessary to "prevent the imminent collapse of the free market economic system." Now, there's a twist! Or as someone said to Alice, "It's not the name of the thing that matters; it's what the name of the thing is called."

That leads us back to the Prologue above -- Psalm 37. I'm already broke but I'll try not to cheer for the sake of Schadenfreude. [You'll love this link.]
Intolerance: Please do not mistake my rant against Christianist authoritarianism for "religious intolerance." After all, what is religious about wars for empire and the monipolization of the energy markets? In fact, these absolutist control freaks have fomented persecutions, pogroms, inquisitions, religious war and fascism throughout history. In a sardonic twist of the rational, it is to them that we owe the human rights, civil liberties and democratic freedoms delivered through secular humanism and The Age of Enlightenment. And it is upon these Zealots that we should place accountability for the current attacks upon these blessings of liberty. It is not because our founding fathers were not men of faith that they erected "a wall of separation between church and state." It was because they were.

Spirituality is not the same thing as religion [cf. The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James]. While religion can point to The Spirit as a finger pointing to the moon, it is, first of all, not the moon. Secondly, religion has just as often been the perpetrator against The Spirit -- "the anti-christ" of war and famine, of graft and corruption, of Straussian and Machiavellian manipulation of the Conservative Christian Movement and of economic plunder by the corporatists of Wall Street from within The Shadow of the White House.

If you expect at all to beat your swords into plowshares, to affect "surrender" against all ineffectively human forms of "acting-out" or genetic-based addiction -- whether given vent and negatively expressed through drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, overeating, anger-as-power-over-others, power for power's sake, or the building of empires and other worldly power bases -- prayer and meditation is a vital step in the process of letting Go, of becoming, of being in the world and not of the world, of Experiencing and of sharing the Wisdom and Compassion that can only come from within and above -- The Sublime Glory.

San Solomon Springs, Balmorhea, Texas


-=cliffhammond, MEd, LCDC




APPENDIX






No comments: