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SKIES OF YOM KIPPUR (Day of Atonement) 2021

I can’t tell if the following means something or not, but I shall put it on record for interest and in case.

This year Israel’s Yom Kippur falls on the 16th September – strictly speaking it falls across the 15th /16th as it begins at sundown on the 15th.

I have long claimed Jesus was born on the night of the 15th September [ 1 ] and at a time which, suggestively for his career and reputation, places The Part of Redemption conjunct his natal sun to within minutes of a degree (20.09 Virgo sun to 20.14). Accordingly I was interested and curious to see what the sky might show on a day of a year in which Yom Kippur and the messianic birth happen to coincide.

This year the Day puts Mercury (communication and mediation) at 19 Libra (sign of the laws) conjunct Jesus’ degree of the asteroid Cortina (curtain/ veil) – the High Priest went as mediator of the people behind the temple veil on this day of redemption making sacrifice and possibly receiving revelation.

Venus on this YK is found at 5 of mysteries and death sign, Scorpio, where it is conjunct Jesus’ natal Venus which is at 4.56 Scorpio and his Part of Religion at 5. (Theologically and more graphically Jesus actual function in religion has been seen as royal high priest reflected at his birth through Cohen (Priest) conjunct royal star Regulus in royal Leo). The moon is also in Scorpio on YK which is harmonious with the generally solemn feeling of the day.

Jupiter the planet of beliefs, religion, pardon and freedom and the Bethlehem star itself, falls on Yom Kippur at 24 of surprising Aquarius. There it conjuncts Jesus’ degree of Boda (Sp Marriage) and Hemera (Gk  Day), an odd combination of which presently.  

Rather importantly, Mars at 0 Libra is highlighted through its conjunction with one of the six world points, 0 Libra being the northern autumn ingress point. In the natus of Jesus it is the degree of Elpis (Gk Hope). However, Mars here at this time carries suggestion of possible conflict, and even widespread between now and the solstice degree in December; and I do consider that to judge from its lunation on the 6th of next month, October could well prove a difficult and disturbed season favourable to hostilities.

On the basis that the skies show major thought trends as much as what may actually happen, the peculiar involvement of Boda and Hemera with Jupiter could reflect current hopes in some church circles, especially in America, that the deliverance of the believing prepared through the so-called Rapture, which is also the Marriage of the Lamb, is increasingly somewhere in the offing. If that were to occur it would indeed also be all of a Hemera, (“Day”) of the Lord. Such would traditionally signify a time of judgement affecting the whole world.   

Students of celestial signs know the patterns don’t have to occur to the day. Yom Kippur itself could even be uneventful despite Mars on a world point. However, given the symbolic and psychological weight of the day, it is likely a cluster of meanings with a foreshadowing of issues for Israel and beyond is involved.

Israel’s Yom Kippur war of 1973 began on the 6th October, which this year is the date of the lunation on 13 Libra which there is some reason to consider dangerous. Study of the charts for modern Israel and the foundation of Christianity in 30 AD may provide more clues, but I shall leave speculation here.

NOTE

[1] Re the true and consistently working birth date of Jesus see especially the prose op-ed section of the feature at https://rollanmccleary.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/the-magi-at-eras-end-a-poem/

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

USES AND ABUSES OF POETRY

Recently on some Norway related page I happened to read someone’s rendering of the story of Viking gift of poetry. The point that has stuck with me is the extraordinary importance attributed to this gift of the gods from specifically Odin. Frankly the tone and message didn’t make much sense to me and probably wouldn’t to many others  today.

Norway is a country I would like to have explored  more and known more about culturally; but if anything is memorable beyond its spectacular scenery it is surely the level of technical skill which has rendered the nation so liveable. Just the highways, vertiginous bridges and lengthy tunnels through intractable terrain mark a special achievement. Rather as Camille Paglia controversially stated, if it had been left to women we would still be living in grass huts, one feels if it had been left to Odin gifted bards, Norway would have remained uninhabitable any time save perhaps the short northern summer!

Shelley, one of the most typical figures of the poet – his style looked back to the bards and his values anticipated the hippies – had it that poets are the “unacknowledged legislators of the world”. We are unlikely to accept such ambitious claims even acknowledging that poetry does shape and order things especially linguistically – modern Italian derives from a political decision to favour Dante’s Tuscan vernacular above all other dialects. And some lines and sentiments from Tennyson and Kipling did colour the more acceptable side of British imperialism, and rather more so than Shelley managed to  influence the British Chartist movement with his quirky flights of imagination  in Queen Mab.

See the source image

WEST AND EAST

Despite the influence of a handful of culture-defining western poets like Virgil, Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare and Goethe, overall it’s probably true to say that poetry has been less integrated to life and society in the West than in Asia where as in the Japanese Tale of Genji, the heian dynasty characters communicate a lot of their feelings and intentions through haiku or short verses.

Then again in the Ching dynasty and China’s greatest novel The Dream of the Red Chamber,  the privileged youth of a ducal house devote a lot of time and energy in sophisticated poetic endeavour, (especially in Vol 2 The Crab Flower Club). Despite the evident skill involved, it is still easy to dismiss what is portrayed as the expression of elite privilege; and it is possible to dismiss a good portion of the literary canon both East and West as little more than the product of leisure and aristocratic time wasting.

Indeed almost all poetry that isn’t rhymes and ballads of the people, can likewise be dismissed in rather cancel culture fashion as elitist, too “other” in relation to everyday life, especially as some of it may automatically assume a high style tone or adopt some “angelic” perspective. However, since something of the kind has also been found in unexpected places like the love poetry of peasant peoples, the purely sociological/ economic perspective cannot displace more psychological considerations.

The distancing from ordinary, popular feeling may be at least one reason why in many traditional societies the poet comes to function as prophetic bard. The more distanced from ordinary concerns a person is, whether by actual privilege or just innate feeling, the wider their perspective are likely to be after the manner of the historian (and bards were often also historians of the tribe). In addition, if the individual is a natural dreamer who mentally dwells more in the realm of symbol and archetype, esoterically there could be real second sight or “prophecy” in play. My own first involvement in poetry which ambitiously aimed at some kind of East/West aesthetic, involved what seemed like an unsettling case of second sight around a person to whom I dedicated a poem.(The story is told in the introduction to my Puer Poems a celebration of the Puer archetype as a factor in poetic creativity and a possible East/West link).

Puer Poems

A TRADITION OF DIFFERENCE

So…to state a fundamental principle. There are many forms of poetry from love lyrics and epics to satires and nursery rhymes and all serving a range of needs aesthetic, therapeutic and educational etc ; but with the exception of such as nursery rhymes and some ballads, they could all usually be said to belong to the realm of  otherness. They proceed from and bespeak difference, a difference on the imaginal plane conveyed by persons who in some fashion stand apart from the norm. And for the community, the function and value of poetry is the difference from, or variation upon, the familiarly uninspiring real.

To be certain about this use of the poetic mode helps define the abuse which is what we are considerably faced with today, a time of poetic decline and fall which, short of renewed and guiding definition, could well be terminal. It is beyond high time to define what constitutes a poetry of little or no real value.

ABUSES

….If there is resistance to this simple aim it is because of the high value currently set in wider society and the media by the hard to reconcile values of true “difference” and broad “inclusion”. Also, poetry may be used less as an art than as a therapy or even mode of public confession. If some troubled individual has problems, they may be encouraged to let it all out in poetry, however conceived, in exercises whose effects nevertheless leak into regular poetry which becomes more shrill, more labile in consequence. One might as well say bash a piano to bits and call it music although we know that nothing would render it equivalent to the ordered craziness of Prokofiev’s Toccato. But then we don’t venture these sort of experiments in music – it’s almost exclusively poetry, along with painting of the splash and daub variety, is used in this therapeutic, expressionistic way.

Image result for Slam Poetry,. Size: 116 x 99. Source: www.latinorebels.com

A multi-talented writer who rated his labours in poetry higher than almost anything else he so easily achieved  in prose, was the late Clive James. For this brilliant Australian maverick a lot of the problem lay in a refusal of traditional rules as regards metre and rhyme which he managed well enough at will. But for at least poetry in English this can be a simplification of its past and present problems. English was never a rhyme rich language that allowed a poet to  address almost any branch of knowledge or opinion with ease like Dante. Milton appreciated the difficulty and regarded rhyme as a possible “tyranny” his greatest work avoids, similarly to the work of his admirer Wordsworth. (In English you can finish forced to say something just to make the rhyme go – the subtlety of John Donne’s thought gets highjacked by the predictability of available rhyme, the “me, be, see, thee” etc of so much of his verse.

Keats married meaning to rhymed verse probably better than most, but even Shakespeare wrote best in blank verse. However “the bard” arrives so early on the scene he has almost intimidated all successors and rendered many half guilt- ridden, including myself a little. When I made a first adult stab at poetry I read a bit of Shakespeare first, breathed hard and began. I then allowed myself to feel not having fallen too far below the ideal I had earned some right to continue. The approach was doubtless bordering neurotic or eccentric. But like numbers of writers of Celtic background, I have felt English to be not quite my language, at least not for the heart speech of poetry. I sense that Gaeliga, Latin or French might do better so that I am half in conflict with the language I’m using.  But I digress, or at least as regards the association of poetry with the expression and embodiment of a species of distinct difference.

POETIC SELF KNOWLEDGE

See the source image

I certainly don’t agree with the early Rilke’s ideas (Letters to a Young Poet) that the poet is one who can and should wait, no matter how long, for the poem to fall virtually complete into the poet’s lap. Few have believed in poetic inspiration and vocation quite as much as Rilke, but I do think some individuals are likely to have a natural affinity for poetry that might imply a talent to be worked at, even a possible vocation to pursue. Like an early spontaneous affinity of musicians for a musical instrument, first signs might simply be a regular mental tendency to encapsulate experience through a phrase, title or image and to associate a flow of thought or rhythm with such. Whatever precisely it is, there is something distinctive that periodically reverberates in the mental background.

So, my first point is that poetry is not so completely random a phenomenon that everyone can (in the style of especially Americans) overnight label themselves or be labelled poets, which some will do because it agrees with various egalitarian agendas or psychotherapeutic aims, while yet others feel the association bestows a cachet, a bit like adopting a title.

Today’s loose definition of poetry and poet could be dismissed as harmless enough except it becomes clearer its uncritical acceptance upsets the greater practice. The “here comes everybody” approach privileges with it the sphere of the ordinary over the special that poetry is most about. Too often it can happen that “difference” for the egalitarian poet exists entirely in enlarging the boundaries of the real in terms of the vulgar, obscene or just everyday trivialities. This is objectively, functionally wrong because it has cancelled what poetry is most about which includes the secret of things which the ever more real will never manage to convey. It also disposes of poetry as offering any well-wrought urns, special distillations of thought or emotion, gold standard registers of quality within the sphere of the arts as was widely assumed of it from time immemorial.

ANTI POETRY

This celebration of the real has nonetheless been on the increase in many places for many traditions over recent modernist decades. It is by no means limited to Ireland, though one might notice it more there than elsewhere given the historical association with poetry and bardism and the unique national and international contribution of Yeatsian myth and rhetoric. Especially where one suspects an element of inferiority complex had a part in it, the Irish fall from high imaginative flights into what is often the trivial and clinical can be rather painful to note. I dedicated an article, (some would and did say “rant”) to the subject a few years ago for the Yeats year. https://rollanmccleary.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/why-ireland-needs-yeats-2015-and-more/ In the course of this, one multi-award winning poet I mentioned was Denise Blake who begins a poem, Adjusting,  informing us

And I keep cooking too much rice and pasta
Three placemats still sit on our dining table

Another poem informs us “Cold pizza slices in a cardboard box, an empty coke can lying on the table”

Plainly there’s no muse or Irish aisling here unless the kitchen god.

 I don’t say that Denise Blake, (unlike one or two mentioned in my rant), is a “bad” poet  still less person – one can even appreciate her cooking and kitchen thoughts are prompted by the absence of a son who has left  home. And Ms Blake is perfectly capable of writing pleasant and competent verse on west coast Ireland. What she, like too many in and out of Ireland risks becoming, or producing in others, is a species of  anti-poet and anti-poetry of which  the Seamus O’ Heaney of the mud visions is perhaps a  chief priest, one unable or unwilling to represent the perennial challenge of authentic poetic difference. And this spells trouble for the medium at large, especially when such as Blake is – almost predictably in the modern context! –  a multi-award winning poet and even an adviser on poetry to the RTE, the national broadcaster. That body,  as one Irish writer and poet remarked to me, is substantially a West Briton one… to which I would add that as such it is also too globalist to care for anything of  the tribal/nationalist nature that poetry will always to some extent represent if its voice is not muzzled and its soul ignored.

It would be an error to suppose that liberal democratic social values (already challenged in many ways and places worldwide) will somehow see to a levelling of the playing field which with time will insure people and poetry will have what both need to flourish. The idea is too optimistic and challenged by the facts. If poetry can be called elitist, anti- poetry could just as easily be called fascist. At any rate it is not tolerant of anything that challenges it, and it does not hesitate to censor and exclude.

This feature began with my puzzlement at some historical over-valuation of poetry. It was and is not intended to be a platform for personal reminiscences or grievances, such as I’ve touched on in other articles, of the meaner, sillier side of artistic circles involved when it comes to poetry.  But it’s arguable that one of my reminiscences is a   truly laughable classic, one so symbolic of contemporary  problems it is not inappropriate to repeat it at any opportunity for the implications.  

A leading Australian poet, the late Judith Rodriguez, despite even the national broadcaster suggesting I should be published, refused me for Penguin New Poets because although I must have been studying the classics for years (but I hadn’t) to arrive at such Virgilian musicality, she could never consent to publish someone who included “such hopelessly archaic worlds” as “conduct” and “bestow”.

It is possible to over-value poetry, but if you want its meaningful and skilful expression to continue at all in the face of a virtual cancel culture attack from within, then you may need to reconsider and protest the importance of the art. As I had already experienced the poetic and publishing realm as incredibly rejecting and hostile, Rodriguez was my last and crazy straw, a reason that for more than two decades I never wrote another line of verse. But I won’t have been the first or last to have wasted time and talent in this way. If you treasure poetry, think about it.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

JANET NEVER DIED (A POEM OF CHILDHOOD MEMORY)

See the source image

The family name was posh foreign,

But from only her school hat jauntily worn

Might one assume any inklings of style.

Often unsmiling, sometimes

Just pouting and sullen

Slapping down satchel or book

On her close to front of class  desk

Janet would enter casually late with no sorry.

But sorries  the teacher expected

And might even join with threats

Of lines or detention after the bell.

All for no special reason

(Except that the mistress was strict).

There was really no point that

Janet should be there among us.

What would or could she now learn

Or use with the fate clinging to her?

Did she seek to provoke,  to  show off or

From boredom spend a meaningless school hour

She might just as well pass

In the park or at home with her parents.

Her time, after all, was increasingly short

She was already becoming her very own ghost

She would soon be on permanent

Leave no doctor could sign for. And

When it finally  dawned, the expected last day

We should see her, the day of the claps

And best wishes didn’t occur,

She was simply not there,

Dramatically absent, status

You could say, once and for all “disappeared”. 

Where did she think she was or was going?

See the source image

The large docks of London, rarely sunlit

Gave a strong if gloomy impression across

Their dark waters, casting shadowy spells

That towering bows, the  horn of a liner, ships’ names,

Or whatever helped make them

Distinctive, was needed to counter with

Adequate force a release  of more romance.

Some could do that with ease.

Their high prows had fronted many a voyage

Long and slow, bearing cargo or people

To far foreign ports one could only imagine

Some would have  steamed down to and  

Through  History’s sea, enjoying  the light and

Warmth of its coastlines before they endured the

Fearful too humid airs of the Red Sea,

With its long haul towards the Indian Ocean

And its storms that could batten you down

Steaming on further and further to

Bright silky Asia and  the line of equator

Merrily crossed helped by on-board King Neptunes

Then reaching at last to an endless Pacific

Or turned southwards to islands their peaks

In and out of  one  long and white cloud.

But no, such was only a foretaste and model;

Last report  was that soon on a weekend Janet

Was  meeting her ship and the seas at Southampton,

Arrived at from  London by smoky express train

From bustling and sooty but  grand Waterloo.

See the source image

 That Saturday’s skies opened mostly insipid – 

Pale patches of grey,  a hesitant sun,

But in tune with my mind confused with its questions,

And desiring  perhaps especially closure.

As  I  paced round the garden,  some mist and a  

Brightening  sky  augmented  the wonder

And lure of people and places far flung

It was not so unnatural that Janet advance to    

Though she  could not and would not

Leave like a sailor and simply farewell us.

For her, did looming departure  bespeak an escape

Or, like threatened detention, one punishment more,

Or even like sick leave for maybe a terminal illness?

But  just when in time, by what action or  gesture

Would the rupture be sensed as precisely begun?

The doors of the train are slammed to, the

Guard blows the whistle, the engine hurls

Smoke to the rafters. Is that the farewell?

Or does it take sudden shock at those points

Of  a train’s gathered speed, when glimpsing

The fields with indifferent sheep, it’s realized

Good bye to the known, to  those streets, bridges

And meadows, there for my seeing  but never again?

Or, would all-change and finish become more emphatic

As steam lowered and slowed and Southampton

Platforms slid into view. Or would it wait till 

Family members, excited or grieving, waved  

And, to the half mournful chorus of  circling gulls,

The liner slipped finally out towards alien seas?

Image result for southampton emigrant boat departs, images

Some harbours make welcome, seem even

In love with the sea that washes around them

And they are  so in weather be it  fine or just foul.  

None know at what moment south facing

Wellington’s city with its shores will receive,

At times as excitement, sometimes  annoyance,

A violence of wind that none can ignore when

The straits, breathing in, gather air to exhale  

A mischievous anger on those unprepared.

No sickness of sea, home or whatever threatened

Serious outcomes for those on the emigrant liner

Ploughing the high seas and  waves large and small.   

Janet did not die at sea or arriving.

On the southerly shore she stepped firmly down

To sea spray and near gale suddenly rising.

Delighted, her soul fell immediately captive

To uncontrolled  forces and she knew she’d

Found “home”, would stay and never return.

Instead, she promised some days, but especially

Nights, to haunt  the encircling hills and

The harbour, not selling but being, alive, alive-o

Image result for wellington harbour images

Such was her moment of knowing; mine was already

And rather before. I heard the carriage door slamming

The whistle and smoke for departure and knew

Even then that Distance  had set his  appointment,

The  date and a time  to conduct me afar.

TRUTH AND FICTION IN THE MEMORY

There was a real Janet who emigrated either in my last year of Primary school or first of Grammar. Any doubt re the year is occasioned by the fact the  strict teacher improbably transferred  to the same Grammar and the same year I went there; but given a former classmate recalls no emigrating Janet in the first year of Grammar, the last year of Primary is more likely. If correct, this means I’m recalling for around 10/11 years old. This was moreover in the 50s, a time when steam trains still steamed out of Waterloo (as they did till 1967) and emigration still sometimes struck people like a death in the family. The poem’s concluding statement reflects an early conviction I would remove overseas but rather more it symbolizes my belief that emigration is a true fate.  I am astonished at how my own never imagined migration to Australia in 1987 seemed foreseen. As only one thing, years before I left for Australia, and many more before I would obtain an Australian doctorate subsequently published (2004), a writer I knew in London quoted me, but in the role of an Australian professor, in their novel of showbusiness life, Hix Spix Nix Pix. (1984)!

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2021 in culture, Poetry

 

Seventies’ Jet Set : A Poem

Image result for Jet s of the seventies, images

Real pleasures, ours,
Aren’t everyday;
They’re what avoid
The usual round.
And there’s
No doubt
Down there,
Somewhere
Amid those paddy fields,
Or further out by
River’s bend
Or roaring shore
And then what’s more
In tenements of
Too large over- peopled towns,
Worlds of mere toil alone exist

We know but little of all that

Below life pullulates in shapes
Of dream that makes no dream but
Something glimpsed remotely from
The sky we speed through
In and out and in between
Clouds silvered by the light
And borne by winds
That sometimes at a whim
Will shake and sway
The lonely aluminium frame
Unsteady in its aerial rush
Which is its own ,
And our, distinct reality,

Night rises and dawn falls
Upon cold desolate seas
Or highest mountain tops
Half seen at waking or, when
Bid to dine, while staring out
(But ready to ignore)
All Cortez views from Darien. [I]
Why not? What’s to achieve?
We’ve visited East, West
All continents and coasts.
Discovery instead is suites
Cars, clubs, with best of fare
At each stage of the chosen course.
We only know that life is life
And life has changed all time
And place, all ports of call
And management of what delights
And whatever is that most excites
While pleasure’s dance goes on
To casual syncopated beat; [2]
Some fate decreed we live detached.

No generation
Quite like ours has been
Nor once again will ever be –
We, in half delirium alive
Late come rococo
Voyagers of skies.

See the source image

[1] For Keats, Cortez’s seeing the Pacific from the heights of Darien was a symbol of ultimate discovery of the new.

[2[ Syncopated beat was common to disco music of the seventies.

The two double spaces between lines 16 and 21 are not meant to be there but seem to be ineradicable.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2021 in culture, Poetry

 

HELL’S SHOES AND GAY VIEWS

Image result for Lil Nas X. Size: 210 x 110. Source: www.cnn.com
Gay Satanist with occult shoe (Though available on Net images I have had the relevant image removed and cannot enter another, thanks evidently to the censorship of whoever )

ONE HELL OF A CONTROVERSY

In case you weren’t aware, rapper Lil Nas X recently triggered controversy over a raunchy video, Montero,  and sale of a batch of 666 Satan’s Shoes. These had suitable symbols on the outside and a drop of human blood encased in the soles and they sold within  a minute at $1000 a pop. The video includes embracing a huge Edenic snake and lap dancing with a suitably sinister and unpretty Satan in hell descended into via a stripper pole.

Theoretically the song is about self-acceptance, “Montero, call me by my name” is the rapper speaking to himself as his birth name, Montero. This person identifies with the Edenic snake as simply a form of himself, basically accepting the shadow in the Jungian sense.

But more can be involved when one ventures down this particular path. Indeed it’s fundamental in psychology that the shadow cannot be fully integrated or we could end up criminals. So should anyone, especially gays, affirm the self as demonic simply because some regard that nature as demonic, or agree to hell because some believe that’s one’s destination. Is the self to be chiefly anchored in a bravado and rebellion akin to surrender?

It’s interesting that like France’s notable and for much of his life Satanist poet, Charles Baudelaire, Lil was born on the 9th April. Like Baudelaire, who desired revenge on his unreasonable step-father, Lil is  happy to be revenged on Christians who reportedly made his life miserable with self and body hating feelings because of his orientation which he couldn’t pray away. Of that point presently. As to Baudelaire, he was not gay, but he did sometimes let it be thought he was paedophile to lend himself a greater aura of evil. Satanism gay or straight can be quite theatrical.

See the source image
Satanist Poet Baudelaire looking evil or perhaps just sad

UNINTENDED CONNECTIONS

There is an expression “speak of the devil and he appears” and events like the Paris Bataclan massacre and  the deadly Ariana Grande Manchester concert could be said to lend weight to the idea. What may be launched for financial gain, as revenge  or even just a joke, can  still touch real powers. Victim though Lil may have been to a degree (but aren’t many people victims?) that doesn’t automatically justify what can now be almost counted upon to increase morbidity in young fans (he has even till now cultivated a child audience) and augment the ever growing number of persons seeking exorcisms or delivery ministries. There are other ways to register protest, sound complaint and claim liberation.

That Lil, whether for himself or others could be touching some negative energies is suggested by a few points in his birth pattern. In the oddest of coincidences. Lil’s Venus (his art, what he likes) at 26 Taurus is closely conjunct fixed star Algol, traditionally called “Head of Satan”, itself in easy/positive trine to the Hell asteroid (Hella) at 26 of Capricorn, traditional sign of the goat devil. This isn’t all.

Lil’s Uranus (the planet of anything gay  and “ruler” of things and persons Aquarian) is minutes of a degree off conjunct the natal sun of “The Child from the East”, the Anti Messiah according to the vision of that person’s birth and career by the late seeress, Jeane Dixon. (It’s subject matter beyond present scope, but if Dixon saw right, a real case could be made for the idea this person will finally emerge this year; ….in which case Lil becomes like a herald or silly synchronicity for this person whom Dixon saw as promoted through especially America). The rapper’s chart also shows a triple conjunction of the asteroids, Malus (bad), Lucifer and Achristou (which last over time I have become convinced has various dark side and Antichrist associations) at 22, 24 and 26 Aries respectively. Lil’s sun like Baudelaire’s is at 19 Aries.

BAD NEWS FOR GAYS

Be all that as it may, practically, Lil is bad news for gays unless for the more insistently exhibitionist. Lil is bringing back all the radical conservative Christian prejudices against gays and gives out the false impression to the young and impressionable that there is no way to be gay and liberated short of selling the soul and pursuing addictive extremes. (it has been said by the straight founder of America’s new Temple of Satan, that 50% or more of its devotees are LGBT people who have felt religiously disenfranchised).

It’s disagreeable to hear yet again the tired, in essence untrue, claim that gays (“homosexuals” in evangelical parlance) do not truly exist but represent nothing but a sinful “lifestyle”. It IS however a sin the way and extent to which so many people have been taught by especially the more cultish evangelical churches, self-hatred and body hatred. In words which plainly don’t represent twenty first century conditions with society suffering a veritable plague of body hatred and abuse, St Paul suggested “no one ever hates his own body but nourishes and tenderly cares for it (Eph 5:29). But beyond the apostle’s rhetorical exaggeration lies the more important implied principle that as a matter of course people should love and care for the body. And that includes gays…..

A SERIOUS NEED FOR CHANGE

…….It also very much includes blacks whose experience, especially outside America, is a horror tale that almost summarizes the problem. Notoriously, in blind refusal or serious ignorance of anthropological fact and keen not to antagonize some Muslim groups hostile to Christians, leaders of some African churches like Uganda’s have made for complete erasure of identity and meaning They have claimed homosexuality never existed in Africa save as a colonial import, and have favoured the severest social treatment of gays if need be including the death penalty.

A small minority of gay persons may change or appear to change orientation for reasons I believe can be explained.  The vast majority of gays remain as they are in a state at least  somewhat intuited by them  since early youth when they felt in more than just sexual ways, “different”. Some churches still desperately need to be educated to accept this (troisieme sexe, third sex) reality and work with it. Even the most spiritually inclined and devoted gays like Wesley Hill, have never been able to pray the gay away, but neither have they been given any real help to integrate their orientation. https://gaythoughtsblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/fresh-towels-for-washed-and-waiting-wesley-hill/ (The relevant website for this article contains a variety of perspectives on gay theology, psychology and spirituality)

I don’t care to say a lot about the Lil controversy. Sometimes silence is better than generating what only makes for more argument and publicity. I simply believe it’s wrong to trendily praise Lil, or to unduly excuse him out of misplaced pity (recall he’s commercial and making a pile out of controversy), or for churches to use him to re-ignite old issues (and falsehoods) around gays, or to ignore the sign of our troubled times this rapper represents. Now is more a time to learn and understand. In Lil’s case true wisdom might be to realize the last laugh may yet be on him, as he can be engaging more than his theatrics suppose.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2021 in astrology, gay, Mysteries, religion

 

SHANNONSIDE AND NOT A LIMERICK

[This poem has a connection of sorts with the previous article with its reference to modern Irish masculinities according to sociology. Great symbolism  should not be read into the below portrait pic. For readers outside the West  I wanted the image of a blue eyed, typically pale Irishman and I took what the Net offered. The individual most recalled  and for the shock of their unconscious style, not their long forgotten sporty interests,  had dark hair. He was also a bit older than the not Limerick born singer, Derek Ryan ]

Image result for limerick city images  Image result for Shannon Estuary    

Light  spills upon the estuary and signs

Towards the ocean’s breezy emptiness.

One feels pure expectation without cause

Despite  the air I breathe draws

Memories along and speaks

Of projects that could be pursued

If time were kind and fancies not so

Wandering.  I rest back incomplete

In ways that pleasure only and surprise

Could rouse to clear impressions….

As of a sudden such may do.

 

The river’s surface with its darting glint

Strikes not so piercingly as does,

Towards me now, with something vernal

In the smile, one friendly stranger’s face,

Eyes truly blue, inquiring and observing me.

Intent, indifferent, amused, surprised

Words course their rapids as expressions flow.

I think, “speak on” and  give but little back

So little do I really hear.

 

Later perhaps I’ll throw some net

That  gathers to a full response.                    v

This moment now I chiefly see

The radiant paleness of the face

The firm bow of the Cupid lips

And sudden sense the pity of

The unconscious charms and beauty,

Too unsung, of men, their loves and partings

Never told by Limerick’s walls or anywhere

In Erin’s mornings of this kind.

Image result for Derek Ryan Irish Singer

Other Ireland related poems can be found scattered about this blog. For some poetry that’s Dublin and Liffey side rather than Shannon and Limerick side see https://rollanmccleary.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/judas-stopped-at-dublin-a-poem-of-spiritual-pollution-and-ablution-in-yeats-2015/ Most read over time has been this : https://rollanmccleary.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/remembering-seamus-heaney-a-poem/

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2021 in Poetry

 

IRISH DANCE: MEANING IN MOVEMENT

IRELAND via AMERICA

New style Irish dancing, the Riverdance version, exploded onto the international scene back in 1994 when a troupe performed for the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30th   in Dublin. The event and subsequent trend owed more to Irish Americans than local Irish. (More recently the home grown Caird group of dancers has made advances but employing modern rather than Irish music)

Lead choreographer and performer Michael Flatley  hailed from Chicago. The other star performer, Jean Butler, was from New York (the hubs of Irish emigration have long been New York and Chicago, Boston and San Francisco). When she was very young, under five, JB hated and soon abandoned Irish dance because of the long spells of holding arms close to the side which the new style has thankfully modified. Returning to Irish dance, aged nine, Jean would proceed to become the new art’s star, presiding goddess of a community which has been noted for some eye candy performers besides.

Recently I chanced to see a few RD performances on youtube and was left asking a few questions as regards its meaning, direction and people’s responses to its performance  –  some people, non Irish, have been reduced to tears evidently sensing, especially given Irish  history, a kind of triumph of life in its sheer verve.

I’m not a practitioner of Irish dance nor expert in its history (which  from the first reels in distant times has passed through the influence of the eighteenth century French and British Quadrille, not to say strictures of village priests as regards touching). But even just taking it at face value today, I feel I have a few clues along with new questions about Irish cultural character more broadly in addition to ideas I expressed in articles like Real Irish” and Irish Today. https://wp.me/p2v96G-17D

The overall impression is certainly one  not just of visual beauty but vitality. And while there isn’t the same flying through the air, there is still some affinity with the dynamism of Georgian dance and the Russian zone generally. It’s conceivable there’s some ethnic connection because while the main genetic lines of inheritance for the Celts appears to have been through northern Spain, there is also a more eastern line from Russia and eastern Europe, indeed the Celts used to say they derived from  Scythian  regions.

SELF AFFIRMATION

See the source image

Amid  the verve (and there’s that aplenty compared with say even some Welsh dancers and cloggers), there can be a surprisingly  martial beat. This is possibly a compensation through  art for lost battles historically and/or reflects how victory has been perceived over time’.  The native  outlook in this area can  be  either spiritual/transcendent (there’s enough historical evidence for that feeling!) or more material yet spectacular with it.

I forget which French critic opined the Irish are introverts who project themselves and perform. I’d say this is substantially true and also that, as such, they prefer not to perform unless, including at war, memorably, dazzlingly. One thinks of how during the Elizabethan era for  a few short years Owen Roe O’Neill  held the British invasion at bay and was temporarily “the wonder of the world” across Europe for it. Centuries later the Easter Rising, “a revolution of poets” as some would call it, was spectacular in another way – very much a mind over matter, symbol-laden affair.

The tone and music of Irish dance as for much else in the culture, leaves one to wonder  As against western ballet or opera, in which a single dancer or singer can enter to alter the whole register of a performance as they introduce a specific idea or psychology, musical accompaniment for the eruption of  Irish performers onto the scene could seem impersonal/tribal by  comparison. It can be independent of myth (rich though that legacy otherwise is) and simply a  given. Poetry as of The Love Songs of Connaught has a touch of the operatic about it and western opera like Tristan and Isolde can draw upon Celtic myth, but the national musical tradition does not give much space to individual feeling before perhaps pre-nationalist Thomas Moore composed nationally sentimental songs for Georgian drawing rooms.

It’s the music itself, independent of story or persons, sets the scene danced to, excited and cheerful, serious or sad. The dancer can only express what’s most individual and vary the theme via the brilliant complications of the step dance. But that is perhaps why the steps can be so complex and virtuoso. It’s here the individual interacts with the predominant theme and makes variation upon it……if that is quite what is aesthetically and therapeutically desired.

OVER AND ABOVE

See the source image

Western opera needless to say inclines to the passionate/orgasmic. One senses plenty of passion in Irish music and dance and despite the limits long placed upon it by the priests; but where exactly is the passion directing? I am reminded of the lines in Yeats’ Among School Children.

Oh body swayed to music, O brightening glance.
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

In harmony with certain mystical/unitive tendencies of the Irish mind,  themselves perhaps genetic, the aim of the often single dancer is often to be simply at unity with him or herself  and in this condition as the music and/or Nature, (and with mythic Erin just possibly a secondary consideration for a few).

I think this element of quasi-Platonic abstraction is the reason that within Irish art realism and portraiture have never been especially prioritized. Instead, the elaborate knotwork, symbolic of nature and eternity, and reflected in the music, aims to take you elsewhere and   therapeutically  join with other energies. It seems to prefer this in lieu of resolving this worldly  human problems like the relationship woes of an Isolde. Again to cite Yeats, it’s more a case of

Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand…

COLOUR AND REVERIE

Beyond the messages and function of music, colour also counts for something in the transcending equation, not least shades of  the highlighted green which is not just a national colour but according to occultists a magical/psychic ray in itself. Rather as Irish Americans have renewed and highlighted dance (and been praised for some of the colours and costumes used in doing so), so arguably the greatest, most psychologically representative “Irish”/ Celtic painter of modern times is the likewise alienated Irish Australian Justin O’ Brien (1917-1996). This artist who lived much of his life in Italy, skilfully revives and adapts especially medieval images but subordinating the whole to vivid,  thought, dream and mood triggering  colours. Centuries before him, the masters of Kells used the most precious substances available when it came to colouring the figures it was not necessarily important to them to achieve realistically.

Can you hear what I’m seeing?”

This sentence is from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and it involves just one pun in a book chock-a-block of puns and near or accidental secondary meanings. “Seeing” here is really “saying” which a type of Irish accent will displace. However, it belongs with the aims of Irish art which is to vary and impose realization of new meanings and possibilities to the point of epiphany and revelation. The bible, especially its Hebrew part, is full of puns translation often cannot convey. The secular and godless James Joyce was nonetheless right to be taken up with Jewish and Irish affinities and problems he reflected through the character of the Jew, Leopold Bloom, an unconscious prophet and deliverer of special messages.

Colour, like some musical notes can be precise to raise us above the material. It belongs with the sounds and perfumes Baudelaire would find in the poet’s temple of symbols supplying correspondences (I have myself found that for any poem not satirical and naturally prosy, focussing the colour of skies may be what captures a mood or  memory and shapes a poem). I surmise a lot of Irish/Celtic art in any sphere is sort of intoxicated reverie, and plainly Riverdance is all of intoxicating for many, But the notes of music, which unlike colours depend upon a time factor to register, may be more potent to carry us beyond time into the timeless. But a question arises how abstract can and should this eternal be to perception? At this point I must try and tie a few ends together and come to a provisional conclusion.

SORT OF QUEER….OR SOMETHING

Image result for book of kells images

A good few years ago and before the “queer” word became more associated with controversial woke and neo-Marxist ideologies, someone not into Celtic culture observed to me they found Irish culture “queer”. What they meant and with elements of gay camp in mind, was that it often  presented a train of  constant variations on a theme, the theme itself often only half stated before dissolved in a process sometimes  feminine, sometimes  gay  for sheer decoration and irony to the point almost of decadence.

In harmony with this I sense there is something Ireland may not have understood, or due to history not been allowed to realize and express, but which is evolving  amid new trends. Historically, some like Matthew Arnold have perceived Ireland as “feminine”; but it is not, or at least not only, a woman or the triple goddess archetypally.

Mental Images are of the feminine yin side  and the feminine – if one  surrenders to it as in the dance – presents nature’s whirling kaleidoscope of fleeting images and impressions it can be  hard to capture and make variation upon, unless to determined excess  and the point of incoherence. This may be fine up to a point – art can use excess – but on the broader psychological  plain of culture, any parallel process may swallow up desired revelation and cancel out the male function of Logos. James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake is a perfect example of overkill with loss of would-be revelation through the pun, the poem, the philosophy or whatever. Unsurprisingly, the book Joyce would have written had he lived, was to have been an altogether sparer, more precise work.

Finnegan’s Wake does not make progress in the implied task given it by  the previous Ulysses of reaching greater order and humanity through the coming together of  Bloom Father and Stephen Son and the Logos function over against the Great Mother  yin one of Molly and other females of the story. Although women are more disposed to talk than men, paradoxically, archetypally, Logos belongs to the male. It is Adam who names the beasts in the garden (Gen 2:19), not Eve. Ecriture Feminine  is tricky and represents a largely doomed, failed project. For focus above impression, Logos and/ or the yang/male function needs to help order and define. If it does not, a certain chaos takes over. Something of the kind is present in the troubling sociological study “We don’t really give a Fiddler’s about Anything” 1) where unclear, silly or absent young Irish male notions of the masculine help bolster a refusal to be serious about society and politics and almost anything that might concern responsible individuals in  control of their lives.

NOT EXACTLY PROTESTANT BUT 

Image result for david geaney dancer, images   David Geaney    See the source image  Caird

It’s not quite true as historian R.F Foster has maintained that modern Ireland has, sort of , finally gone  Protestant. To be really true there would need to be a greater cultural/psychological emphasis upon the value and definition of the masculine or even discreetly the gay. But it cannot be denied some aspiration to the more emphatically masculine awaits in the wings and even seeks  to take wing through dance.

In astrology anything to do with dance is a sixth house matter and in the birth chart of the modern Republic, Venus rules Ireland’s sixth house. And this arts related Venus is suitably found in that most male and patriarchal of signs, Aries, at 27 degrees closely conjunct the national sun at 27 Aries. Small wonder there is a martial feel to much of the new dancing and the art quickly became internationally representative for Ireland to the whole world!

The actual day that shot Riverdance to international fame, not least through its strong emphasis on Scorpio, bespeaks an element of sexual liberation or transformation through the dance form. But that’s another story. Except that I think, despite the pioneering choreography of Flatley and the star turns of  Butler, possibly more symbolic of the unconscious drive to highlight a repressed or ignored yang,  the non-Riverdance performer but five times World Dance champion, David Geaney doing brilliant things solo, leaves a special mark on what is more broadly in process. Perhaps the (via TikTok) super popular Caird group by being an all male team further advances a trend towards a more yang art  The question is can what is developing in dance and elsewhere  be widely enough intuited  and protected.   A subtle “alchemical” process must not be supressed or dismissed as a national issue at variance with especially EU globalist dreams (uncritically accepted by the nation’s inept leadership) of a borderless world in which all cultures mix regardless of historic identity and their natural stage of growth.

NOTE

1)  Academia  “We don’t really give a Fiddler’s about Anything: The ambiguity, contradictions and fluidity of Irish Masculinities”    Clay Darcy, 2019  Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2021 in aesthetics, culture, psychology

 

ECHOD: A POETIC FRAGMENT ON THE TRINITY AND CREATION

[Echod is Hebrew for Inclusive as opposed to single One. This poem was published last July at the end of my ’Muslim’ Goethe feature, but it seems original enough to own its independent space making it a bit easier of access for anyone who might wish to see and discuss it. Now a little bit edited from the original, the poem was first loosely conceived as a sort of bardic address or chant to the tribe concerning the new true teaching. Images here leave something to be desired. The Trinity simply is not well or at all illustrated in Christian art. Traditionally there is a dove fluttering above an older and  a younger seated man and it will be apparent I regard this as distorting of the belief ]    

Hard is and always was to tell
Eternal mystery and the purpose of this world.

Beginningless, and boundless too, was God
Whose fullness and deep consciousness as One
Was all supreme, though One as Three.

Not even outside the Union  was there –
Could such exist – a Nothing which might stand
As rival or as enemy against the còmplete
Whole of all that in themselves just were before
Space, time and this wide universe arose.      (1)

Light of itself, like love, would move between
And through the Three who were themselves those
Energies in which the blissful wholeness dwelt.

Within that union, was One who
Could contain and represent all Three,
In function most like Source and Active Will.
The Second was their Spiritual Mind,
The Third their feeling Soul responsive to
Each slightest motion of the other Two.
And know that this exalted Three were like to fire,
And air and water of a spiritual kind.                        (2)

And air with water are what chiefly formed
This earth when sudden change, unknown before,
Caused Three to labour at creating worlds.              (3)

No more the  Three once needed than themselves
Save that, as life itself, they always
In their closeness caused or shed
Some surplus of their energies
Like streams outpoured from mountainsides, or
Echoed song, or stars adrift within a galaxy:
Such were angelic beings arisen
With some awareness of God’s mind and will.      (4)

Amid perfection’s circle, who with certainty
Will tell how, uncreated, evil came about?
What force could shape it? None. Yet by
The motions of freewill, imagine that it was implied.
Pure love, perfection’s self, knows only how to love
And give and share in freedom of the open mind.

But always possible, though never thought,
Was love refused, a love not  shared  but turned
Instead within towards the self in vanity;
And from its self-regard could rise ambition,
And Jealousy with full desire to be
A worshipped One in power unshared.
And through love’s compromise once made
All boundary and limits came about.              (5)

No person can exist except through God
Yet no dark  soul  can with divinity reside
Alone Creation could be hoped to heal,
Through limits set by time and choice,
What was new conflict for the Whole.      (6)

Within the One, much like a womb, God made
From out Supernal Self and imaging Third
A space for world and time which then his Second
Breathed upon and organized. In this arena
Wholly new, a will especially to love in truth
Could be decided for eternity. And caught in time
Until time ends, angels of wrong choice
And souls at variance with God would be
Confined in Hades’ darkness from the light.
And since it cannot be that souls may die,
Nor live at all unless through God
Already some exist in fire that’s all
They can know of the God denied.                        (7)

The One had willed creation to resolve discord
Perfection of the Second could scarce forgive
While, nearer to a mother’s heart, the Third
Was more disposed to pardon. Divided thus     (8)
Began the pain of God and suffering worlds
Till Judgement Day resolves all fate.

NOTES

1)  The doctrine of an ex nihilo creation is irrational, arguably unbiblical and the result of some early Christian arguments with Gnostics who regarded matter as evil. Obviously, and as Jewish mysticism has speculated, the creation was made possible when God created a womb-like space within himself.   Biblically we are told that everything was created through and by Christ (Col 1:15) who, being divine, exists at some level throughout creation, not just in one place (a reason I suggest the sun dims at Christ’s death, and there are issues involved which I touch in the poem  The Hidden Deity https://wp.me/p2v96G-wZ).   Also we are told the world was not from nothing but “formed out of and by means of water” (2 Pet 3:5) which, esoterically at  very least (but I suggest there’s more), makes for a wonderful symbolic  fit with perennial ideas that the Lord/Messiah is somehow water-related whether like showers come down, (Joel 2:23, Hos 6:3)  or all that astrologers perceive as represented celestially and cosmically by Neptune.

2)  Given the semi-subordinationist statements of Jesus even in John’s gospel most devoted to the divinity theme, it is helpful to imagine the Trinity as akin to the Kabbalistic apex of the Supernals with God the Father being Keter (the Head), the Spirit/Mind that organizes at Hokhmah  and the Soul/body that feels and carries at Geburah these two both facing one another to form the base of triangle beneath Keter. While many Christians would dismiss much or all of Jewish mysticism which can exceed itself in speculation, a few of its basic principles are noteworthy. This is especially the case as there anyway looks to be some connection between Kabbalah and Essene thought and some connection of Jesus’ thought with the Essenes, the only Jewish sect we know of which entertained messianic ideas of a divinising kind.

3)  In Kabbalah there are only three elements, fire, air and water with earth being derivative from them. The Genesis creation story is begun by God assisted by the Spirit who like a bird broods over the waters  fecundating them – esoterically air is male and water female and we perhaps have here an implicit ying yang. It could be deemed problematic that Christ is male, but as the Sophia which even St Paul calls him, he represents the divine female principle.

4) I can be wrong about the origin of the angels. It is not clear when and why they are created (deliberately or more automatically?) but they possess a will and choice and  thus some rebel with the Satan.

5)  According to St Augustine the devil fell through pride; but within the context of the heavenly, the withdrawal inwards of self-love or vanity seems more feasible as the first step towards evil within a place of only mutual love and perfection. Also vanity is implicit in the Ezekiel’s vision of Tyre as a Satan who becomes proud because of his beauty (Ez 27:18) which seems indicative of vanity before pride.

6) Creation with the dimension of the material and time helps establish a measure of distance from imperfection for God while for creatures it allows a space to exercise a degree of free choice for or against God.

7)  The Eastern Orthodox view of hell regards the damned as living through the same light/fire that illuminates the redeemed. God is primarily and ultimately spiritual fire (See the vision of Ezekiel for example). A soul can’t die like a body, it must live forever, it cannot be annihilated otherwise God is not “Lord of Life”. The damned would appear to be those who  continue to exist through God as fire but without the benefits of the other elements. Thus like the rich man in the parable of Lazarus in Luk 16, this soul is tormented by thirst because spiritually or materially, the water element is absent.

8) The mental and abstract, organizational perfections of the Second (akin to Hokhmah) and the understanding and feeling of the Third (akin to Geburah) create a tension between them and the One will of the Head. There are various symbolic grammars and archetypal motifs to evoke this. I like best as easiest to demonstrate in even everyday psychology, the will to exclude among perfectionist Uranian individuals and the will to include of pardoning Neptunian ones, but I realize this is a bit Jungian and not an acceptable comparison for many. But the main point is that until the final decisions of Judgement Day, there is a tension and conflict within God seen at its most extreme at the crucifixion where Jesus, “become” sacrifice and the sin alien to divine perfection, is or feels temporarily abandoned by God like the damned to Hades (hell). No Arian type doctrines that deny the Trinity fit the spiritual and psychological dynamics of the Passion story and one might as well say that Jesus never died on the cross or did so without much purpose. The maverick theologian Uta Ranke Heinemann dismisses the whole atonement doctrine as “theology for butchers”. I suggest this kind of thinking is an example of the German theological messing about on which the West is choking.

 

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2021 in Mysteries, Poetry, religion

 

FAITH AND VIRUS

Image result for Faith and Fear

A PLAGUE OF SILENCE

If the churches wanted to make themselves seem irrelevant and redundant they couldn’t have done a better job than in response to the current health crisis. Bestselling author and editor of the Spectator Douglas Murray is one of those who has expressed surprise at what is mostly silence and lack of spiritual counsel. I don’t  myself have all the answers, social, scientific or spiritual but some points strike me. [ I am omitting all opinion re purely health measures as censorship is so strong as it is for dissident doctors I would probably be censored out or receive warnings. However in passing I would note it is an undeniable fact that, biblically at least, whereas it was the sick were quarantined the emphasis now is upon locking down and quarantining the healthy with whatever consequences for society]

Plagues and reaction to them have a long history.  Homer’s Iliad kicks off with the attempt to manage a death-bringing plague because the priest of Apollo has been insulted by King Agamemnon. Almost every aspect of late medieval Europe was spiritually and aesthetically touched by the massive toll of bubonic plague. Since then accounts of plague or just the literary evocations of  disasters from Dafoe’s Journal of  a Plague  Year or Camus’ La Peste have been   more inclined to the objective and “scientific” treatment; but  the chief  binding feature of the dark times is a feeling, along with fear, of helplessness, sometimes worsened by examples of selfishness and sometimes lightened by acts of heroic charity. The bible has little to recount or comment regarding plagues save in three main instances

1) Psalm 91 which is the general all- protection Psalm with special reference to pestilence.

2 ) apocalypse – the times of the end are generally associated with pestilences.

3) the story of King David’s census  punished by a visitation of pestilence.

Taking these in order I note

ON BEING PROTECTED

1)  The protection Psalm declares:

“For he [the Almighty] will deliver you from the snare of the fowler/And from the deadly pestilence…( v.3 ) You will not fear….the arrow that flies by day or the pestilence that stalks in darkness”.( vs.5,6)

Given that obviously people do die in plagues, wars, quakes etc, this and more sounds extreme. But  amid the challenge of the psalm’s confidence, to note is the concession that there’s protection “Because you have made the Lord your refuge…no evil shall befall you…..”( vs 9,10) and “Those who love me I will deliver” (v.14). That we should use some understanding here and not automatically assume safety even Jesus would insist. It’s from Psalm 91 the devil cites when he tempts Jesus to prove his identity by jumping unharmed off the temple pinnacle (Mt 4: 6).  The psalm and its faith don’t represent a magic  charm such as maybe  a few churches assume when they  maintain that because  they have and use blessed bread, no virus can come near.

Even so, many today would still attest to the reality of “protection”  such as the psalm envisages. Stories abound of the kind that some message or instinct prevented an individual from going somewhere like the Twin Towers at 9/11. I have my own story of the kind. Years ago in Thailand I was bewildered to register a voice (my guardian angel’s I later assumed) assuring me that whatever happened I would be protected. I couldn’t imagine from what, but later that day I made a sudden irrational decision to refuse a coach seat I was offered which, had I taken it, would have been my death or serious injury.

Anyway, from Psalm 91 we have indications that individuals rather than whole societies (unless perhaps very religious ones – here in Australia not so much as a day of prayer has been dedicated to the deliverance theme)  might be protected from plague.

2) Apocalypse is associated with “great earthquakes and in various places famines and  plagues” (Luk 21:11). And once into the time frame of apocalypse proper, at the sixth seal, Death and Hades are permitted to kill “with sword and with famine and with pestilence” (Rev 6:7). The  OT prophet Habbakuk apocalyptically declares, “Before him [the Lord] went pestilence, and plague followed close behind” (Hab 3:3-4). If this  sounds particularly bizarre, actually such  vision belongs with what apocalypse is most essentially about, namely the “wrath” of God. This word signifies the withdrawal of divine presence and protection so that already fallen nature has freer rein to wreak havoc in its path. At this point God may appear as though the devil who, until the apocalyptic struggle is ended, is effectively ruler of this world according to Jesus (Joh 14:30). This interplay of powers and images helps explain the mystery of the plague story  of  King David’s reign where between the two given versions (2 Sam 24.1-25 and 1 Chron 21:1-22), it is unclear whether God or Satan  is the tempter/trigger of what  happens. (Some “permissive” will of God as for Job’s temptation by  Satan  seems implied).

3) According to the Jewish Law any people census was hedged with conditions and even plague- associated (Ex 30:12). Without consulting God and because God or Devil had prompted him, David institutes a census – perhaps for reasons of security or glorification of national strength independent of God. David soon regrets the decision, a prophet is called in and the king is obliged to choose between the (apocalyptic-like) alternatives of famine, war and pestilence. He  chooses the latter as it will last three days as opposed to the other 3 month and 3 year options). In the event 70.000 die.

No need to argue like some over levels of historicity and numbers here – OT numbering is often problematic while the presence of numbers 7 and 3 in the picture could itself bespeak some sacred numerological meanings. Arguably the greater message is the recurrent, consistent biblical one that complete neutrality in matters of faith is not finally an option. Not to be for God, and often from pride and indifference, soon invokes the rule of some demonic apocalyptic opposite rather as in the prophecies of Revelation the peoples of the world no matter what their allegiances have to choose between taking the Mark and being for Christ or Antichrist (Rev 13: 15-17).

PLAGUE TODAY

How might any of this relate to the current situation about which church leaders have had so little to advise?

As in Japan’s leading classic The Tale of Genji (whose chapter 13 evokes not plague but wildly unnatural conditions responded to by sutra reading, prayers, vows, penances) disasters almost automatically impose a degree of interiority. It’s a time to examine things, an opportunity for persons and nations alike to change direction and values. This needn’t be morbid or revivalist hysterical, it could even be very rational, but either way repentance (metanoia) means mind change, re-evaluation. Many Christian rituals still begin with a call to  the repentance which almost more than anything for the religion is a state of mind open to constant re-direction. (It’s more than simply “sorry”, though it would mean that for the kind of Australian for whom “I never say sorry” is  a boasted principle !)  

Ideally the bible would have whole nations, not just individuals repent (2 Chron 7:14) for most effectiveness in the face of disasters. This move is scarcely possible today where commitments of a secularist or multicultural order (or even just the positive thought trends which fear any guilt trips!), all render it harder to call peoples to any highly directed thought moves in terms of belief. This does not mean that individuals can’t “repent” and even on behalf of others.

Repentance is characteristic of Christianity from the first  – “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15) is Jesus’ first reported public statement. It’s not love your neighbour  or the other worthy ideals that  count and that some churches put first though they are really secondary because they don’t transcend or command situations with sufficient – or any –  God consciousness. A huddle of talk therapy nowadays substitutes for the wider picture that  faith, prayer and meditation could supply.

 Faced with plague the contemporary response is often one of fear towards the death till then  unprepared for all hope being pinned upon science to save the day.  Although it would be reassuring if tests  and scientists could be more unanimous on some issues like even the efficacy of masks, this is not to say that science and doctors can’t and don’t help us. However, even they exist under God and their help will be limited or even a hindrance where they block more transcendent, overarching views. It’s through these it becomes possible to discern how times and seasons and human lifespans belong within divine orders of being. Current secular attitudes unconsciously incline to the “idolatry” mindset  into which those who are not for God fall.

PROPHETS MIGHT TELL US?

In conclusion, I will presume to imagine the sort of things a biblical prophet might say. It can at least be guessed at because as per the creed’s  “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible”, what happens embraces more than one level. There is the level of symbols, archetypes and signs too often ignored.

Noticeably the virus has come upon the world from implacably godless but symbolically dragon-related communist China (the devil is the  dragon  throughout Revelation).  Though compared with some western nations Australia has minimally suffered from specifically Covid, it is nonetheless suffering from economic  discrimination out of the dragon’s home. Australia has invited this  on itself  to the extent it has repeatedly set economic advantage above human rights concerns which include (beyond the Uighurs it is right but also almost trendy to protest for) the serious ill treatment of Christians and Christianity in China (to the point parents should not even use the God word in front of children).  Australia has shown no real loyalty to its traditionally Christian identity. Since there is no vacuum in matters of faith, pragmatic materialism becomes virtual idolatry of Mammon “You cannot serve God and Mammon [the god  of wealth]” (Matt 6:24). Overall the situation renders the nation victims of an oppressor and God does not and likely will not interfere with a choice so strongly made and  little repented over time.

Whether one agrees or not with that piece of speculation, more certain is that willingness to embrace  the  level of the unseen as opposed to clinging to the one dimension of the material helps reach into a broader, calmer, more  confident  approach to events. As Ps 46 has it, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble….though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam…”. Possibly leading religious voices have been censored out by secular media, but it is more likely that religious leaders just didn’t say things like they are is in the face of crisis, and I would have to agree with critics that this is controversial.  

Here’s an interesting youtube of clergy critiquing responses to the crisis from the hierarchy

https://youtu.be/Jl1yIMdjpfg
 
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Posted by on January 22, 2021 in culture, religion

 

THE EVANGELICAL PAPER POPE PROBLEM

Image result for paper pope images

Only belatedly  after  years of putting out  sometimes theologically related WordPress articles and noting responses has it become clear to me why there can be such levels of dismissal, hypocrisy and often  unpleasantness in the evangelical branch of religion, especially America’s. Ironically, the answer is, very largely, the bible…..How come? Since I have no desire to undermine faith or diss the bible, whatever can I mean?

Calvinistic legacy

The problem begins with Calvin and Presbytery, the true parents of American Protestant faith. In commentary on certain words of the Apostle Paul (2 Tim 3:16), Calvin introduces a radical idea. I shall give first in traditional KJV and the Revised English Bible version the words of Paul on which Calvin enlarges.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof ….

All inspired Scripture has its use for teaching truth and refuting errors…

From this basis Calvin, the most Catholic and not to say inquisitorial of the Reformers (his behaviour in Geneva anticipates American cultishness)  jumps into  commentary  with…

we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.

Nothing and not ever?!……

The “Word of God” means..?

Not even Luther would have agreed. (We know he had doubts about the Epistle of James) and even Methodist John Wesley’s strongly bibliocentric position implies through his Quadrilateral system of assessing truth that inspiration could have degrees. It’s an idea explicitly or implicitly assumed within much western Protestantism.

But with Calvin is birthed bibliolatry, the infallible, inerrant Paper Pope bible of a type of fundamentalist Protestantism. It favours an inflexibility that has got in the way of “what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:22), and spawned a host of unedifying disputes when not shut down needed conversations because anyone with a different opinion on literal “plain sense” reading of a text must by definition be a false teacher to dismiss, or a heretic to be condemned. What’s literal counts; poetry, like the music suspect to Calvinism, does not come into consideration.

Under this Calvinistic influence the bible would become everywhere deified by evangelicals as “The Word of God”. I don’t suggest in many respects it isn’t that. But not fully and not even on Jesus’ authority. It is Jesus himself who is supposed  to be reverenced as the Logos or “Word of God”. He even indicates the scriptures are principally significant as a pointer to himself (Jn 5:39), an affirmation that itself indicates the real subject of the bible is God and salvation, not some of those issues of lesser weight and relevance such as the book of Proverbs contains as mentioned presently. In his answer to the tempting Satan who cites to him the all-protection declarations of of Psalm 91, Jesus implicitly refuses any automatic and literalizing application of poetic scriptural generalizations.(Luk 4:10).

Whereas in the early church to be Christian was to believe the creed, for the evangelical the true believer is one who believes every word of the bible, (a book which exists in its present familiar form through the fiats of various traditions and church councils attempting and claiming divine guidance). Distributing, and if possible reading the bible cover to cover, genealogies and all, is almost a sacrament and ascetical practice for devoted evangelicals. I forget which person claimed on youtube that in vision Jesus had told them he wished people to read John’s gospel as central but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was genuine vision. People can’t be expected to read and absorb the whole bible without commentaries and help and very good translations. When I lived in Hong Kong I would hear many locals preferred to read the Bible in English as the Chinese translations weren’t clear enough. A truly evangelical impulse would probably do better to arrange for shortened, bibles which cut out the hard bits like Leviticus and Chronicles with their rituals and lists as opposed to pouring money into poorly translated versions people imperfectly understand.

Simple questions and proofs

Since the Enlightenment people who doubt and dislike the bible have often attempted  to undermine it by introducing questions of dating, true authorship, archaeology etc. Over time these problems usually find their reasonable answers and even to the bible’s advantage because it is a basically authentic reliable work. Frankly however, if you want to undermine the bible at any rate as regards arguments for paper pope infallibility and inerrancy, all you need do is read its text and ask and answer some questions that shouldn’t confuse even a schoolchild. If you then refuse and dismiss the obvious you risk finishing as many evangelicals and fundamentalists do, namely dishonest as you strive to defend the indefensible. Consider the following (happily exceptional) cases below which I am quite prepared to believe are even meant to be there as a check to bibliolatry and an invitation to wrestle with textual meanings and messages like Jacob with the angel.

A lot of OT imagery we rightly overlook and dismiss as only in cultural harmony with its violent and militaristic age of origins (age of Aries for astrologers) but should we dismiss the occasional gratuitous violence? If the Holy Spirit inspired the entire bible, did the Holy Spirit  inspire  

                     “When your enemies come cringing to you/ you will trample [stomp ] their backs underfoot” (Deut 33:29) ?   

Or against the Babylonian oppressors and their offspring

“Happy is he who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock”  (Ps 137:9).

The book of Proverbs contains real wisdom but also occasional dated prejudice which if believed would cancel out whole areas of religious and cultural life.

“A man who isolates himself [ lives alone ]seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment”.  (Pro 18:1)

Proverbs is usually right about the dangers of alcohol but hardly speaks from God in every instance as in …

Give wine…to those who are bitter [sad] of heart/Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his misery no more”  (Pro 317:8). This is like a prescription for alcoholism!

Inspiration is something that ebbs and flows. An author is not necessarily under the influence at every moment and also speaks as and for themselves. If the bible is every word dictated and perfect from God, did the Spirit cause Paul to write

“Come to me at Nicopolis for I have decided to spend the winter there” (Titus 3:12)?

A high level of inspiration attaches to the Corinthian epistles, especially the often cited 2nd, but that inspiration is not necessarily absolute and continuous is certified by a simple factual error at one point. 1 Cor 5:1 suggests that incest such as has happened in the congregation is of a kind not known among pagans. Hardly! Incest is far from unmentioned in ancient literature. Centuries after Paul St Jerome mentions that Rome turned out for the funeral of the poet Catullus (d. 54 BC). This poet famous among Romans, (and many Romans lived in Corinth and would have known of the poet) had mocked the bad morals including incest “Mother lying impiously with ignorant son” among Roman high society. Obviously pagans did know and mention the kind of things Paul says they didn’t.

Levels of Inspiration

It would be simpler and more helpful if, Lutheran style, evangelicals were prepared  in cases of doubt to rate the words of Christ above those of Paul; that they don’t do so this has complicated numbers of issues past and present, especially present. The apostle is not entirely reliable and without all self-contradiction on the sensitive issue of sex – authorship of the relevant epistle is disputed, but if he authored the statement and believed it at the time, namely that widows who seek to marry are wanton against Christ (KJV 1 Tim 5:11) that would only be to contradict much else he taught about marriage.

I wrote in this article   https://wp.me/p6Zhz7-2M  the status and value of  the problematic, supposedly anti-gay passage of 1 Romans is put in question by the accuracy of certain statements that precede and support it. This sort of thing, never mentioned, should be discussed but is liable not to be so as the legacy of Calvinistic bibliolatry has ruled that out for many in advance while the prejudices in relation to the gay subject remains often quite breath-taking. 

From the evangelical standpoint contemporary American society is in a bad place having rejected God. This can actually be true up to a point – the secularism, materialism and indifference is marked in some areas – but sometimes the  nightmare of unbelief is one that has been virtually courted. Rejection of faith is a direct product of brittle, inflexible views that invoke rejection from incredulity and despair in whole sections of society. This happens as when gays are automatically the enemy, the black sheep, destroyers of society pursuing nothing but a chosen “lifestyle” (in many cases curing gay orientation is as daft as insisting introverts become extraverts) , or every woman who has an abortion never has a good reason but is a guilty of murder or even sacrificing to Moloch.

I don’t wish  to end on a sour note or naming names, but it has been not just disappointing but troubling to register the degree of dismissal or silence I associate with American evangelicals if and when one answers them sensibly or invites them to read opinions expressed in this or that article. For example, though I say it myself, an article hardly unbiblical but original like Lot’s Wife and the Meanings of Sodom(y) merits consideration https://wp.me/p6Zhz7-fL  but is regularly overlooked if suggested for consideration. The assumption is doubtless there couldn’t be anything new to learn, plain sense literal reading covers for everything.

In the final analysis, Christianity is the religion of the Word. This also means the religion of discussion and free speech as even St Paul implies when he concedes there must be divisions and factions “for only so will it become clear who among you is genuine (1 Cor 11:19). But little will be clear where there is no open expression of views which differ from the narrowest sense of obvious. The Geneva of the soul that is evangelicalism American style is ultimately not healthy and  not to be approved as any way for the future.         

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2021 in religion

 
 
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