Category Archives: Philosophy/Theology

Oh Mercy

via Daily Prompt: Mercy

Oh Mercy was the 26th studio album by Bob Dylan released in 1989, which seems a lifetime ago now. It was a return to moral, social and political themes following his turn to Chrisitanity and three overtly religious albums, and two mild productions. Oh Mercy carries religious and political themes but more in the usual style of the understated Dylan. For me the two significant tracks on the album are ‘Political World’ which decries any attempt to segment or compartmentalise life sealing off anything political. Dylan makes it very clear that everything is political and we are political, thus the world we live in is unavoidably poltical because we are in that world. We make it political because we are. But there is a hope for a differnt world because politics dominates and poisons our world. Thus, ‘Political World’ is a typical Dylan muse about life and a tirade against the corruption of politics.

The second track I love is ‘Most of the Time’ which a song about lost love, another Dylan genre. It is both whistful, biting and grieving in one. The rest of the album is as good.

And the title says it all. a desire to be rescued from the forces of the world over which we have seemingly little control. There are no solutions, but a deep listening and resonance with life as we know it. The solutions are in our understanding and response as we deal with life and listen deeply to our needs and purpose.

Courtesy of Youtube: Official Dylan Site – ‘Most of the Time’

 

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Filed under art, life, music, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, politics

Faint

via Daily Prompt: Faint

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There we were at Uluru, and in a part I hadn’t been to previously some years ago. There was, and not uncommonly, an overhang or shelter in the rock, and on the surface of the shelter there was this faint art work, which is ancient. I just cannot remember the meaning of this particular piece (others will remind me), but in every way it holds a significance and beauty I cannot put into words – you had to be there to experience it. What moves is the age, the simplicity (in my perception), the depth of meaning behind the simplicity, and just the simple fact that here I was, in 2017, close to this work which was ancient. Who had communicated this, what was it like, what did it say about them. However, the author of this work would probably ask no such questions. For me it was faint and faded but precious. And a faint call that turned to a roar,  of something about relationship, otherness, community, and life through time. Life in presence, attention and awareness. Strange how something faint, something beyond my experience, could be so profound and powerful.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under art, Country, history, life, Philosophy/Theology, Spirituality, Uluru 17

Panacea

via Daily Prompt: Panacea

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Photo from – unusedwords.com

Many years ago I knew someone who was working hard to get a hospice in the city of Perth. They and others achieved that aim, and now there are several facilities offering hospice care around the metro. Hospice care is for when there is nothing more that can be done for an ill person. It is holistic in that it covers more than just patient care and medication. It is all about reaching out to the family of the dying person (so that children are included and so that pets can also be included). And in regard to the person dying it offers spiritual guidance (which can be independent of a religious affiliation); social worker help; volunteers to sit with the person, allowing family to take time out; pain management, and general care.

I’ve had cause to visit people in hospice over the years. It is hard to accept death, but even more so for those who are family and close friends. Often they desire a miracle, a cure, something, a magic pill. I guess we’d all like a panacea that offers a comfortable exit.

But in my experience there is an alarming avoidance of pain to the point that death is sanitised. Now I’m not wedded to any view of assisted dying (euthanasia) or opposed to it in principle, but assisted dying is an avoidance of pain, perhaps a fear of pain. A common statement I hear often is “I’m not afraid of dying, but …. I don’t want to end in pain.” But who does?

I need to tread carefully here, but there is something about how pain is part of our journey as humans. This life is not a constant pleasure ride. Yet we desire to be rid of it, to avoid it, to never have pain. I’m struck by people who live with all sorts of pain, Maximillian Kolbe the Polish priest who gave his life in place of a young Jewish husband and father that this man might have life. Martin Luther King Jnr. who knew that death and discomfort was a real risk; the many people I have been privileged to journey with through terminal ilness and dying. Pain cannot be romanticised, nor should it be glorified, but yet it must be faced. Elisabeth Kubler Ross in her groundbreaking work of 1969, wrote passionately about dying and grieving.

Two things she has said:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. these persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”

Hospice is no panacea, it simply manages pain, among other aspects of life and death. Somehow I believe that we shouldn’t rush to end pain, not so that we can build character or grow, but so that we can face ourselves, our body, and all that goes with pain and death. And maybe we’ll overcome our fear of pain if we face up to it, and take a different route. In some ways, I’d like to see my carvings, my beautiful scars and know them. So don’t search for a panacea for me, just sit with me when the time comes, and rejoice in the beauty of the carvings of my life.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Neighbours?

via Daily Prompt: Neighbors

I’m tempted to say Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, for those of you who have encountered that TV show that began in 1985 and hasn’t stopped since.

I’m more interested in the ethics of who is my neighbour? In the gospel of Luke, there is a wonderful story of when a teacher of the law tries to test Jesus on his knowledge of the law. Jesus quotes to him the first two commands, love God and love your neighbour. The teacher of the law tries Jesus again and asks “And who is my neighbour?” And Jesus tells that famous story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ to illustrate loving your neighbour. The story focussed on the rivalry between the Jews and the Samaritans and the vast cultural gulf that alientated them, but on this occasion a Samaritan is the only one to stop and help a victim of robbery, a Jew,  who is wounded and laying in the road. The story ties with another ethical dilemma from Matthew 5, where Jesus asks his followers to love their enemies. In essence, the ethical principle here is love everyone, even your enemies (which raises a question as to the nature and perception of who or what an enemy is, so a dig back at reframing is the way here). The outcome would be that love goes around, and thus we too will be loved, even by our enemies, or, what goes around comes around.

For me there is a further connect with the Buddhist principle of non-harming.

And in Deep Ecology – my neighbour is my neighbour, my sisters and brothers across the world, but my neighbours are also my lemon tree, the red gum out front, the silver beet out back, the family cat, the parrots eating off my fruit tree, the rats in the ceiling, the ducks in the diversion drain, the river nearby, the moon, the planets ….

If we loved our neighbours as ourselves, imagine the difference it would bring to the whole of life.

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G’day neighbours.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

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Brave

via Daily Prompt: Brave

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Roman Catholic (Franciscan) priest Maximillian Kolbe, born in Poland in 1894, and following taking his final vows in 1918, was ordained a priest, and in the 1930s he served in both China, and then Japan where he helped establish a Franciscan monastry. He returned to Poland in 1936. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and occupied it. Kolbe refused to sign papers that would have granted him immunity as he was of German origin. He was, as were many Polish people, arrested. He was later released and allowed to return to work at the monastery where he managed large numbers of refugees, hiding and helping relocate many Jewish people, and writing anti-nazi propaganda. Eventually he came to the attention of the Gestapo and was arrested and imprisoned, eventually ending up in Auschwitz. He was regularly beaten and treated appalingly by the camp guards. In this he was no different to many inmates of Auschwitz. Where I think Kolbe defines what it is to be brave is where he one day stood in another person’s shoes.

At some point there was an escape from the camp, and the commandant ordered reprisals from among the prisoners. Ten were to be chosen at random. One young man cried out that he had a wife and children. Kolbe asked to stand in his place, and the commandant accepted his offer. The commandant ordered that the ten prisoners be starved to death in a cell, and as eye witnesses testified later, Kolbe was the last to die, and with dignity and calm.

I don’t know how you stand in the place of death for another, but Kolbe did. I have stood inside his cell at Auschwitz, an eerie place, and felt that a light had shone briefly here, that one person had been a beacon of hope for humanity in the midst of evil. For me Kolbe personifies what it is to be brave. He was powerless, yet he used his gift of life powerfully.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Loyalty

via Daily Prompt: Loyal

I support several local coffee shops and businesses, all of which provide a loyalty card, like, buy nine and get one free. Works well for me as well as for them. I guess I’m loyal for tenth cup, or the tenth treatment, or the tenth product, whatever it is, I’m going the distance. In this I’m simply buying loyalty. My loyalty is predicated on that tenth gain. So what does that say about being loyal? Not much! I’m only as loyal as the promise of the tenth free item or coffee. I’m depending on their honesty, if you like, their loyalty to me. It can’t be one way. And loyalty is only ever between parties, often two, but sometimes more, but never just oneself.

Trouble is, loyalty sounds like the standard behavour of the family dog, a sort of committed fondness come what may, unthinking, based only on the simple gains or loving care in a platonic sort of way. But I seek more. I demand integrity. Loyalty seems more surface, more about transaction. Integrity goes to your very core, it doesn’t seek fidelity because there might be something in the relationship, integrity is about being true to who you really are rather than wearing a mask, or being surface, or being in it for the gain, the promise of the tenth thing free. I like my tenth cofee free, but from you I need more than bait, I need you and all of you.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Believe

via Daily Prompt: Believe

Socrates comes to mind, naturally, when he says: “I am wiser than anyone else because I know I don’t know.” Belief is a strong, determined word. In the hilarious movie ‘Dogma’ (1999) the character Rufus, the thirteenth apostle (played by Chris Rock), asks “Do you believe, or do you have an idea?” The film was a criticism of the institution of the Church, which tends to foster sound doctrine, black and white beliefs, and in some corners of the Church, fanaticism (albeit, fundamentalism).

The issue of religious belief is always objectivity trying to defeat and ridicule subjectivity.

It might be that faith is a better word, but even that is a loaded word. But as author Ann Lamott says: “Faith begins with experience, and our faith is our reaction to that experience. Science begins with intuition and not logic.” And she also adds: “You have to experience something before you can know something.” And, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” and so, back to Socrates.

I prefer to speak carefully of the experience of soul work, the contemplative life, and my experiences of Other. Do I believe? Well, I don’t disbelieve, but I prefer to say, I have an experience, which is something more than an idea.

 

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Filed under Alt-Religion, life, Philosophy/Theology