August 3, 2007
The time has come…for magic.
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Other animated shorts can be accessed from the left sidebar, with appropriate descriptions on the right.
You are going to want to bookmark the page.
August 3, 2007
As we have noted earlier, Robert ‘Gagdad Bob‘ Godwin has been reposting his answers to a series of questions we had posed about faith, God and the human condition/potential.
Two subsequent posts offer further insight.
One of the cultural problems that has arisen since the 1960′s is a persistent misunderstanding of the notion of freedom. For example, if you ask me if I am free to play the saxophone, the answer is “no,” the reason being that I have not put in the requisite time to study music and practice the instrument. Of course, I am “free” to pick up a saxophone and randomly blow into it, but what kind of freedom is that? Only through intense discipline and long years of practice am I free to produce something musically satisfying on the instrument, that is, to achieve aesthetic depth.
All meaningful human freedoms are analogous to that. Freedom is not just the absence of constraint or the ability to indulge one’s whims in an aimless fashion. Rather, real freedom always involves discipline, boundaries, and most importantly, a higher goal or standard toward which the freedom is directed. Otherwise, mere freedom itself is by no means a morally or spiritually constructive thing. In the absence of higher goals and standards, people are abandoned either to a passive, rudderless, aimless existence or to a more impulsive acting out of various psychological patterns…
We have heard from the wise that a Creator supposedly endowed us with “liberty,” which is to say free will. But every leftist knows that we don’t really have free will. Rather, we are victims of our environment and our genes. For example, poverty causes crime. Unless you happen to be rich. Then greed causes crime. Unless you haven’t committed any crime. Then it’s just a crime to be rich. But don’t be confused — there’s no objective right or wrong anyway. Multiculturalism is the doctrine that race, not values, determines consciousness and truth.
In reality, as expressed by Frithjof Schuon, “There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence” and “no freedom without objectivity of the will.” Freedom is a paradoxical thing, for if it simply means that we are subjectively free to do or believe whatever we want, what good is it? It’s just another, more subtle form of tyranny, the tyranny of unconstrained, arbitrary, and ultimately meaningless choice on the horizontal plane.
…In order to know the divine, humility is a key that opens many mysteries. But as we begin to receive genuine gnosis (which simply means spiritual knowledge), we are humbled by it…
It is also important to point out that humility hardly equates with “low self esteem” or being a shrinking violet. To the contrary, low self esteem is just the other side of narcissism, and will likely produce similarly bad results. Humility is really just accurate self assessment. It is seeing oneself as one is, not better or worse than one is…
God is a fisher of men, but first there must be a fissure in man where God can operate. Man is not a given fact, but a possibility, and the possibility of a divine-human partnership takes place in the transitional space between you and your highest aspiration — between you and your future self. This is a polarized space, and it is the polarization that creates the dynamic electricity. If you like, you can think of it as analogous to the sexual tension that fills the space between man and woman. There is a spontaneous, natural, innocent, and idealistic form of this energy, as well as many perverse and deviant versions.
Our review, The Hands Of Esau, The Voice Of Jacob: SC&A Review Robert Godwin’s “One Cosmos Under God,” is posted below.
One of the most dramatic scenes in the Old Testament takes place on the deathbed of the biblical patriarch, Isaac. As his strength wanes, the now blind patriarch sends his eldest son, Esau, into the fields to trap and then prepare a game animal in celebration of the blessings about to be bestowed.
Rebekah, mother of both Esau and Jacob, decides that it is Jacob and not Esau, that deserves the ‘blessing of the firstborn.’ She concocts a plan to do just that. She slaughters two goats, and prepares a favorite savory meal and encourages Jacob to serve his father the meal. Jacob protests- he tells his mother that his father will be able to see through the deception. Undaunted, Rebekah fashions sleeves of goatskins that Jacob is to slide over his smooth arms and a scarf of goatskin to wrap around his neck, so that when the blind Isaac embraces his son, the smooth skinned Jacob will feel like the rougher skinned and haired brother, Esau. As the drama unfolds, Rebekah’s plan works and Jacob is bestowed with the blessing meant for his older brother, much to the consternation of Esau.
Many religious commentators and theologians have written on the episode, but one nagging questions remains: Once Isaac knew he was deceived, why did he not simply bestow the appropriate blessing on Esau? Why not admonish Jacob for the deception?
While there are many lessons to be learned from the story, some lessons stand out.
Firstly, it is clear from Rebekah’s action that blessings from God are to be earned. They are not simply handed out by reason of protocol or belief. While the acceptance of a religious creed is important, the deeds of the individual are more important. Rebekah understood that it was her second son, Jacob, by reason of his behavior, who was more worthy of Isaac’s blessing. Isaac realized that his wife’s motivation for deceiving him was more significant than his own desire to reward his firstborn. Isaac comes to realize that the reality of the moral worthiness of Jacob supersedes the significance of birth order.
It could not have been easy for Rebekah to choose one son over the other. Nevertheless, Rebekah does exactly that because she understand that there are some things bigger than her own motherhood. By reason of her own faith, she came to understand the legacy of Abraham’s covenant with God was not to be measured by protocol or birth order, but rather, by the legacy of the kind of deeds that God intended for man to elevate himself, to be worthy of having been ‘created in His image.’
One Cosmos Under God, by Robert Godwin (author of the blog One Cosmos) is a marvelous and profound book that illustrates the simple truth that real faith serves to elevate man and that the struggle for that faith elevates our potential, because our behavior and deeds can influence and author our collective and individual destinies. The book is satisfying and rich. That said, it cannot be read in a single sitting. Godwin expects his readers to contemplate his ideas and to challenge him with their own long held beliefs.
Godwin’s ideas are the result of a fresh look at the world around us. He looks at parenthood and ‘babyhood’ and the mystical process of acquiring ‘humaness.’ He discusses the nature of knowledge and the nature of experience and where they converge to become recognized and elevating of universal and spiritual truths.
In science, Godwin sees the exquisitely transcendent and choreographed ballet of the life and the universe and he challenges those who believe the lonely and cacophonous notes of science are the point of our existence. Perhaps most importantly, he deconstructs the stridency and literal interpretation of religious doctrine as well as the contemporary desire to make religion an abstract manifestation of self expression. That is no small matter. Are we answerable to God or is God answerable to us? These are the questions of our time.
Godwin sees the struggle with and for faith as a kind of conversation with God- and that is a good thing. He sees the meaningfulness of that conversation enhanced by elevating behaviors negating those behaviors that only serve to lower our humaness. By way of example, he notes that
The cultivation of humility and gratitude serve to oppose covetousness and envy.
If we are to elevate ourselves and our conversations with God, we must first understand and then work on our own weaknesses. As Rebekah understood, it is through our deeds and personal struggles that we become worthy of our potential destiny.
The book is not about religion. Godwin is comfortable seeking truth wherever it might be found. His treasure map is the world, drawn with the pen of history and colored with the universal wisdom of the cultures of the ages. The approach is refreshing- no matter our religion, we come to see the elevation of man by way of faith as something to rejoice. Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr or the Imam in Paris that called out to save the Jews in Nazi occupied France, are all examples of how an elevated sense and understanding of what it means to be ‘created in His image’ means.
One Cosmos Under God is a testament to the ‘Unity’ of Creation, life and purpose, of which Godwin writes so elegantly. The ‘Unity,’ that endless symphony of life he describes, is really a moving target, ever more demanding of our better selves and ever more elevating. It is through faith that we are given the tools with which we can meet the challenge.
In the end, One Cosmos Under God, is one man’s effort to put onto canvas his search for meaning, life and unity. His convictions are fierce and unshakable- the hands of Esau, the product of his own fierce struggle for and with faith. His voice is that of Jacob, soft and compelling, by way of reason and ever yearning to find that higher and elevated self.
The universe is like a holographic, multidimensional musical score, that must be read, understood and performed. Like the score of a symphony, it is full of information that can be rendered in different ways. The score can support diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be “music does not exist.” For at the end of the day, we are each a unique and unrepeatable melody that can, if only we pay close enough attention to the polyphonic score that surrounds and abides within us, harmonize existence in our own beautiful way, and thereby hear the vespered strains of the “song supreme.”
Like great art, readers of Robert Godwin’s effort will be rewarded and nourished in the way they need to be. There is no ‘one size fits all,’ when it comes to faith, God and the never ending struggle to elevate ourselves- and therin we are each assured of adding our own notes to that symphony and “song supreme.”
August 3, 2007
‘If you want to be loved, love, somebody.’ Of course, that old saying presumes you know both how to love somebody and how to be loved. It also presumes that you are familiar with the tools of love.
In an age where image of often mistaken for substance, there needs to be distinctions made between what are real expressions of love and those that no more than prepackaged and predigested ‘meaningful moments’ for sale, geared towards those numbed by narcissism and self absorption. Big bouquets of flowers, giant greeting cards, jewelry, gifts and so on, are the equivalent of fast food masquerading as a healthy diet. Real expressions of love are often supplanted because many of us no longer realize what love means.
In other words, some people have replaced values (real love) with current expressions of what passes for popular culture (pretend love). What is truly sad is how this is now being taught to kids. Children learn what they see- and they are being deprived.
Is it any surprise that public displays and dramatic obsessions, masquerading as love, shaped and framed by popular culture and narcissism, are in full view? Is it any wonder that at times, it seems as if half the nation is caught up in the drama- as if somehow, knowing or not knowing details of some spectacular scandal is of real importance?
Love has been redefined by the likes of astronauts gone wild, celebrities gone wild and boys and girls gone wild. Love is now defined in whatever way we need to love to be defined, so that it might fit our desires. Of course, that is the last thing love is about. Real love is about selflessness. Real love is about responsibility, commitment and elevation.
Love is a value, defined, taught by example and refined by time. It cannot be learned from a TV show, no matter how ‘touching,’ nor can it be taught by way of scripted expressions found in greeting cards. Love is about choices, the manifestation of those choices and takes years and years to learn. The profundity of love is that the learning process itself can be a great joy. Real love rightfully conflicts with our popular cultural notions. Love is best when it is not efficient or easy and love is best when served not from a prepackaged and portion controlled, off the shelf ideal.
Dr. Sanity writing about psychological defenses in A Most Ingenious Paradox has this to say:
An individual’s level of development; the depth and breadth of his interpersonal relationships, and the intensity of the perceived threat both combine to determine which psychological defense the EGO might deploy in a given situation. A child, for example, does not generally have either the life experiences or the internal wisdom to use one of the more mature defenses in a traumatic situation. But as life is lived and mild, moderate and severe trauma is survived; as the individual learns from his or her mistakes and gains mastery over the world; then the EGO has more options (i.e., more possible defense mechanisms available—from the most immature to the most mature) that can be utilized.
As a child matures, he or she also must deal with the quite natural pain and trauma associated with all interpersonal relationships. Even the most loving relationship can have tremendous pain associated with it, particularly when it is abruptly taken away due to the inevitability of separation and death. The child not only must learn to cope with physical trauma, but must learn to cope with this type of inevitable emotional trauma, also. Those whom he loves must be taken in psychologically and incorporated–both the bad and the good parts– and fully digested into his own self. Thus, does a person learn to accept that those they love and tend to idealize are not perfect and are “good enough.” Such fully digested individuals are never completely lost when death or separation happens, and the pain is mitigated so that the grieving process ultimately leads to a person’s individual growth, rather than threatening his very sense of self.
The loss of someone who has not been fully psychologically digested and processed (i.e., someone who is loved but whose bad qualities are so overwhelming that full digestion is difficult, if not impossible) can thus lead to so much internal conflict and misery that the grieving person’s life and maturation may be severely impeded from going forward.
There are people and commercial entities who take advantage of our desire to be loved. Read the right book, watch the right TV show, take the right magazine test and you too, can have a life filled with love, equal to those who took decades to learn the very things in which are now passed around like a plate of hors d’oeuvres .
As we have come to venerate the ubiquitous culture all around us, our identification with values have become more distant and clouded.
There is much talk of familial dysfunctionality. Certainly, the suffering and tragedy of those that have had to endure much hardship is not to be trifled with. That said, hardship and suffering do not need to be anchors that drown the victim- and more often than not, the victims family. The fact remains that if we do not overcome the legacy of suffering and tragedy, the cycle repeats itself. Those who choose (yes, it is most often a choice) not make their homes places filled with real love and values, remain forever in the ‘victim/survivor’ mode, never seeing beyond the immediate.
Some argue that overcoming ‘toxic relationships’ is a herculean task. Sometimes it is. On the other hand, dealing with a ‘toxic relationship’ need not be nearly as difficult as imagined.
There are many household chemicals that are toxic. We can’t avoid those chemicals, because they are in our cleaning products, pest control products, gardening compounds and so on- so we have to keep them around. We know that if we ingest those chemicals, we will be come ill. That is why we keep those chemicals stored away and out the reach of children. We take all the necessary precautions to keep our homes and families safe. We do not obsess over household chemicals and we don’t think about them, morning, noon and night. Why? Because we have secured those toxins and keep them in a place where they can not hurt us or our families. We have learned how to handle and deal with toxic chemicals. We are free to go on with our lives.
We cannot allow the toxicity of the past to poison the love of the present and future. We must engage in a ‘cleanup,’ so that future generations are not poisoned. No parent would expose their child to radioactive waste, willingly. The would do whatever it took to provide the child with a safe environment.
It is clear that the foundation pillars of a loving and healthy home are the spiritual connections that are found there. Not necessarily in the religious and stereotypical context of the word, but rather, spiritual in the sense of people who embrace life and celebrate life.
A loving home is where meaningful exchanges and conversations take place, where ideas are shared in a honest and encouraging way, discussed without fear of ridicule. A loving home is place where words do not have to be measured and there are no eggshells to be found. In a loving home, egos are not wielded like swords. Real love, shared, is about common goals and ideals and visions of an always expanding love and encouragement.
A loving home is a safe place and no more than that. A loving home and family that knows love may not have the ‘right’ vase to put the dozen roses. A loving home and family knows that love may not even see a dozen roses. A loving home and family that knows love does not have to celebrate Mother’s Day with dinner at a restaurant.
What loving homes all have in common is commitment. Loving homes commit to the establishment and nurturing deep roots. As each garden is different, so is each home and family. If we do not learn, teach and commit ourselves to real and deep love, we will not have a loving home to come back to. If love- and the expressions of love- are defined by current ‘culture’ and not by values, we remain off balance. If we are off balance and lack real definition, no amount of riches or displays of au courrant cultural expressions will anchor us. Without deep rooted values and real love, we become hostages to a culture that has no deep roots That is who we become- an extension of our culture, not our values. Is that the legacy we want to pass on?
Unless people learn how to develop mature relationships and mature love, the ‘failure to launch’ in life will be the rule and not the exception.
Parts of this post has been previously published.