Say no to the Death Squads

Newsweek has uncovered the Pentagon’s plans for “The Salvador Option »“–creating counter-insurgency groups in Iraq modeled after the notorious Salvadoran Death Squads funded by the Reagan administration.

Sojourner’s » has an online form » that will use the address information you provide to automatically sent your representatives an email condemning this proposal. If you do not want any further email from Sojourner’s simply uncheck the box at the bottom.

I, for one, regret that I wasn’t more active in opposing the war before it started. It’s not too late though, to click two links for peace.

Presence and Absence

I’m sure that most of my blog’s regular readers know what I mean by feeling “the Presence of God.” Yet I wonder how many people in the general population know it. Is it something that most sense a few times in their lives, or that most “believe in” but do not feel? I don’t know. Our language is poorly equipped to express it, and our cultures, including many of our churches and religious environments, don’t really encourage it, either.

As for myself, I usually have a sense of God’s presence with me–a knowing of presence that’s definitely more than “belief” although it’s not always a conscious thing. Yet whenever I turn my mind or heart to God, very, very definitely, that *presence* has been there.

Today, something odd happened, in a perfectly ordinary moment at work, I suddenly felt God’s presence again, and realized that I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t felt it for weeks. It was a strange (though welcome!) revelation… kind of like if I’m looking for my cat in his usual hiding places, and turn and see that he’s on the bed, amused by the fact that he had hidden himself in plain sight.

Although I know God wasn’t absent, it was strange that he seemed to be, and doubly strange that I didn’t notice that the feeling of presence was absent until it returned. I find it sad to think this may be what many, if not most, people’s spiritual lives are like most of the time.

Hidden Presence

it was like you had gone.
i was here, alone behind my eyes,
alone in my home,
alone in my car and cubicle.
days ended and days began,
days faded into days,
and I was alone.

so suddenly, you're back,
like the sun breaking through the cloud,
like the fading twilight
revealing heaven's stars
like the passing of the winter
uncovering the life that was there
all the time, always.

so why do you hide
my love, my lord?
why do you play these games
so cruel, so tender,
pretending to be absent?

next time may it be i
absenting myself in you.

UCC Welcomes SpongeBob

The United Church of Christ has extended an official welcome to SpongeBob Squarepants. See the UCC home page » for a great picture. Thanks to Bob Griffith for posting this on his blog, Hypersync ».

James Dobson claims he wasn’t objecting to the squishy chipper guy *per se,* but to a supposed “gay agenda” being promoted by the cartoon character remix of “We Are Family” via the website of the We Are Family Foundation ».

Tinky-Winky… SpongeBob… They’re EVERYWHERE!
But I just can’t tolerate Barney. Barney must die.

My Science Experiment, Part Deux

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone, especially to Katherine, who emailed me her secret whey substitute: plain yogurt. Yep, that’s it. I just had the best ginger ale of my life, and I made it myself. Ingredients: freshly peeled and chopped ginger root, a little bit of plain yogurt, distilled water. Seal tightly in a jar and wait two days, and strain out the yogurt curds and ginger.

It’s not carbonated, but it frims big-time!

Icy Roads

Yesterday, we had a light snow in Norfolk that was just enough to coat every street in ice right before we got off work. Our trips home took at least two times as long for me and all of my co-workers, and one person was caught in bumper-to-bumper gridlock for four-and-a-half hours! This morning, my boss compiled a digest of our experiences and shared it with the group. Here’s his report on my trip home:

>Jon Zuck in the Frimmin’mobile had a nirvana of a time driving the roads of
Ghent. He just began meditating and an hour later he was home. Nothing
like the power of thinking of nothing : ).

He knows me too well! But isn’t that great creative journalism? I’ve told him he should start a blog!

Writing as Meditation

In her famous book Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg describes how her roshi instructed her to begin using her writing as a form of meditation. Recently, my teacher, Kitabu Roshi », gave me a similar assignment, especially through writing poetry. He also instructed me to not write from my mind, but spontaneously, like freewriting, to let the Spirit direct me.

I’ve written a lot of poetry, and I used to have a couple of dozen original poems on this site. Most of my stuff was this outrageously joyful mystic rave in full keeping with my “holy fool” personality. What’s been coming since beginning poetry as meditation is new to me. It’s pretty unfiltered, it shows me what’s there, whether I want it to or not. Some is still the Frimster’s shout, and some shows the deep cries of my heart, and some is a little different:

My self mailed me an email
To explain myself to me.
The hours I spent teaching me
what I myself don't know.
 Norfolk Upanishad
I sit listening
Listening to the sound of Your spirit
and hear my thoughts.

But they are not mine.
I do nothing to make them come,
can do nothing to make them stop,
bubbles in the ocean.
I'm never so rich as when I have nothing.
Listening in the dark to what comes, what goes.
Listening in the heart to the beat, the pulse.
It's not I.

 I do not think to live
Something lives which is greater than me
Auricle, ventricle, expand, contract.
Squeezing life from matter.

Hear it in your head
Hold it in your heart--
The sound of life.
One life.
That One's you.
And me.
Every one.

 © jon zuck, january 16, 2005, norfolk, virginia  

On a related note, Meredith and Akilesh have a wonderful post » on their blog » which discusses a passage from the journal of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the minister/poet/mystic, at the “precipice” of going into no-self. I highly recommend reading this post in depth. This is probably the most concise and lucid description of what I call “awakening” spirituality, and Akilesh’s metaphor of “the precipice” is a wonderful explanation of the point that leads from mere mysticism into the transformation of consciousness, theosis, fana, or enlightenment.

I most definitely relate Meredith’s statement about coming to the precipice, but not yet being able to jump into the void. Boy, can I relate to that! Everyone, please give yourselves a treat and read that post!

WIE on What the Bleep?

What Is Enlightenment? » magazine has an excellent review » of What the #$*! Do We Know?, the movie which I had considered a mixed bag of entertaining, popularized science on the one hand, and grossly deficient pseudo-mysticism on the other.

WIE’s writer Tom Huston explains in great depth the missing pieces glossed over by the Ramtha students’ film, from the alternate views of the nature of quanta (e.g. probability waves is only one interpretation), to the insufficiency (and egocentric motive) of the New Age platitude “we create our reality.”

Mystical practice is traditionally aimed toward the mind-shattering revelation that there is actually only one reality and one self, and this revelation is said to liberate the individual from his or her attachment to personal desires. So if we’re pursuing the manifestation of our desires by consciously manipulating the quantum field, and thereby attempting to re-create reality itself in our own image, how spiritual can that be, really?

He concludes with a very intriguing suggestion about the cause of the film’s popularity:That we should even feel the need to overcome the doubt of the scientific materialist worldview indicates how all-pervasive it actually is, and how thoroughly steeped in it most of us are. In fact, the very need to base our belief in the transcendental Divine on the findings of science seems indicative of the strange spiritual desert in which we currently find ourselves. . . .

There’s some powerful wisdom in these words, which applies to a lot of us, from those who strain to prove prophecies with current events, and the Creation with fossil records, to those segments of the current “spiritual” subculture that lack a vision of their own.

Why is it so hard to just rest in God?

My Science Experiment

I’ve been reading a book called *Eat Fat, Lose Fat,* by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. It emphasizes natural, organic foods, and the historic importance of *lacto-fermentation* as a means of preserving foods and making them digestible. Fallon also suggests that its *easy* to home-brew natural, organic sodas with kefir powder or liquid whey and distilled or filtered water.

What the heck! I decided to try brewing some berry squeezin’s. Only thing was, I couldn’t find either liquid whey nor kefir powder. So I tried a Spirulina whey protein mix from a health food store, and let it sit for two days. Results:

1. Carbonation happens. If anyone ever doubted that carbonation would happen, let them rest assured, that distilled water was quite carbonated tonight!
2. There’s an art to doing this.
3. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!

It took me a long time to scoop the sickly mush out of the jar (and out of the sink, and off things near the sink, etc. etc. Did I mention carbonation happens?) The residue in the jar did look kind of like Cherry 7up, but ahem, a small taste was enough. It needed more sugar, but I wasn’t going to waste that when there was still some purple algae in there. Perhaps I’ll give it another whirl sometime later. Yeah, with REAL whey!

Carry on, my whey-ward son,
There will be peas when you are done.
Lacto weary head to rest,
Don’t ferment no more!

What can I say? That’s Jedi life in the real world.