A Moment of Bliss

“My God, a moment of bliss. Why, isn’t that enough for a whole lifetime?” -Fyodor Dostoyevsky, White Nights

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Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda

Arise to birth with me, my brother.
Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not return from these stone fastnesses.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
iceman of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays–
bring to the cup of this new life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
say to me: here I was scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they used to crucify your body.
Strike the old flints
to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.

I come to speak for your dead mouths.

Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night to me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.

And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave me cry: hours, days and years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.

And give me silence, give me water, hope.

Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.

Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.

Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.

Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

-Pablo Neruda

Nouns Gone Wild

This is part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. All posts in the project can be found here.

10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

I work in marketing. Which is to say, I’m paid to communicate effectively. Markets, conversations are getting smarter.

Anyone who watches markets can see the more human element overcoming the banality of “customer service.” Companies are saying more. But they’re saying more as people. Steve Jobs was and is Steve Jobs because he put a human face on personal computing with a charisma that Bill Gates just couldn’t match. Now, I’m not an Apple fanboy, but Steve Jobs just had that human element.

Sure Microsoft is the king of enterprise, but who made enterprise products personal again? Now, iTunes has sucked since 2009, but it’s the personality of Apple as a company that keeps people coming back.

Participation in a networked market fundamentally changes people.

I did some research and found out that these theses were indeed written in the 90’s but more than just markets, which I think is a very arbitrary place to limit the conversation, why not go broader?

Participation in networked conversation fundamentally changes people and the processes by which they engage each other and the world. As the conversation broadens, so do the possibilities.

I mean, just look. According to the site  stats, about half of you aren’t even American, which is really, really cool. I remember when iw as 5, we got the internet. I remember learning about physics, black holes and sports all from the internet every day after school. IT changed me forever. I was able to read massive amounts of information, expanding my vocabulary, and learning things that my education system might restrict me from until it felt I was ready.

Conversations constitute our humanity. I don’t really know how else to say it. Without interrelationality, we’re left lacking. This isn’t to say that apart from formal society humans are less human, we have a seemingly natural urge to respect, admire and want to help these people, often children. We want to know their words, their minds.

In fact, when I was in college, one of my professors asserted that the Trinity, the Christian God, was essentially a conversation. I still remember those words, and the impact they made on me. I’ll never forget them. Conversations have power, and networked conversations even more so, as we link people and things that had no place being brought up in previous contexts.

Anyways, conversations are important, and I hope you take the time to consider how they have and do impact your life. I could say more, but I’m trying to experiment with being content not saying everything. Lemme know what you think.

Just read.

Thesis 7 : Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

 

such a simple statement. a grammatically perfect sentence: subject, verb, object. but the meaning, well the meaning…it’s complicated.

every relationship demands connection. every connection requires material properties. last post, i wrote in the voice of my identity: a letter. the letter is l. the l that i am is the material medium of my self in the internet. to get to l, you gotta hyperlink. you have to click on me.

hyperlinking is the moment when technological determinism fails. a simple [click], and reality has shifted. and it is very real. test yourself…

hit this [click].

where did you go? did you leave? or did another browser (no coincidence in terminology there) pop up? you can leave this page; you can go anywhere. no one is stopping you.

you can transgress. you can regress. you can profess. you can.

that…

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In That Very Shame I Suddenly Begin a Hymn

I’m going to be honest: I don’t know if I believe in God. Often. The Christian story is compelling to me for many reasons, but I find myself in the league of Thomas, far more often than with the conviction of St. Paul. I am often disenchanted with the failings of my brothers and sisters, and my own as well. I doubt. More though, I relate intimately to today’s quote.

It’s a bit beyond words in some ways, when we find something that captures where we find ourselves. I could almost as easily substitute my own last name here, and modernize the language a bit and find it telling the story of my life for the past year and some months.

“. . . I’m a Karamazov. . . . when I fall into the abyss, I go straight into it, head down and heels up, and I’m even pleased that I’m falling in such a humiliating position, and for me I find it beautiful. And so in that very shame I suddenly begin a hymn. Let me be cursed, let me be base and vile, but let me also kiss the hem of that garment in which my God is clothed; let me be following the devil at the same time, but still I am also your son, Lord, and I love you, and I feel a joy without which the world cannot stand and be.” Dmitri to Alyosha, The Brothers Karamazov, Book III, Chapter 3

I too, when I fall into the abyss go straight into it. I am often, like Dmitri, pleased at my shamefulness. I might even find a measure of aesthetic bewilderment, a surprise at myself. I actually had to describe the feeling once, to a friend when I felt i had to share this. It’s almost like in the act of being surprised at myself I distance myself from the acts enough to grant myself some sort of justification. As if saying to myself, “But this is not how I would normally act,” suddenly casts the guilt on the construct of myself carrying on in that particular moment. However, that is not the case, because as Kurt Vonnegut said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

I’ve experienced this torrential flood of back and forth more often than I know how to put into words. I’ve been practically Catholic, and then found myself in the company of atheists, agnostics and others. I’ve been lost at sea, cast myself out, wrecked myself, dashed myself against the rocks in penance, and in pride. I’ve beaten myself into dust, and built towers, monuments in my own honor.

I honestly can’t say where I stand today. I don’t know. I do know that in the faith of my upbringing, there is an emptiness, in the faith forged in college, through study, and meditation I found peace. Nowadays, there’s a hollow scorn that seems to ring out from the pages of the gospels, a graceful sneer. Maybe I’m just disillusioned, or ignorant, maybe I need a community, maybe I need to grow up and put childish speculations away. I’m sure my varied audience has opinions on all these matters. But regardless, I know one thing, “still I am also your son, Lord, and I love you, and I feel a joy without which the world cannot stand and be.

Superman

“…I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something, to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control even for a moment, or someone could die….”

— Superman in “Destroyer,” Justice League Unlimited by Dwayne McDuffie

Christianity and the World, ala Hauerwas.

Stanley Hauerwas, my love-hate fling with theological liberalism and radical Orthodoxy all at once says:

“When Christianity is assumed to be an ‘answer’ that makes the world intelligible, it reflects an accommodated church committed to assuring Christians that the way things are is the way things have to be.”

I think there’s a lot of wisdom in this little saying. When we say that if a society were Christian or that Christianity is the answer to the world’s major malfunction, we’re saying that the world is the judge of the Church, rather than the other way around.

I think we should instead try to really reframe what we’re thinking about both the question and the answer.

The ultimate question, I think is:

What is our responsibility given Jesus Christ, his life, his ministry and his endowment to the Church?

 

The answer is, I think:

Our responsibility is to be as Jesus Christ, who transforms all things. We must reframe the world we live in, knowing that we’re provisional intermediaries at best, yet this should not reduce our fervent devotion to live a life against the cultures of death and violence so common in the world of every age.

Christianity is not a system by which we make sense of the world or ourselves. It’s at best a challenge to be transformed, a summons to responsibility, a summons to a new and radically different culture, a culture which has at its heart, Trinity, cross, resurrection, Jesus Christ, Father, and Holy Spirit, Kenosis, Perichoresis. And all these things.

Christianity is not God’s answer to man’s problem, it is God’s way of telling us who He is because Christianity is in fact all a response to the life and words of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone but me right now, but the answer is: Christianity belongs to God, not to me. That little fact, changes everything.

The Word of God and the People of God

In all of Church History, people have experienced the One God whom we worship in and through Jesus Christ. These experiences can help other Christians, and can even be highly beneficial to all the faithful. However, these revelations are not universal, and are not to be imposed on others as necessary to the faith.

In today’s Christianity, there is an identity crisis plaguing all forms of Christian spirituality so that many of the churches have essentially forgotten the deposit of faith in their consideration of what makes Christianity specifically Christian.

What I mean is, Christians are turning everywhere but the deposit of faith for revelation and insist of revolution instead of renewal, often unknowingly insist on rebellion instead of remembering the Fathers of our faith. Some turn to reaction instead of refining, some are caught in the endless present through culture wars and forget the deeper and more enduring aspects of the faith that are a constant source of guidance and renewal.

Especially among Protestants, private revelations run wild. They change the faith, they alter the form and content of Christianity from generation to generation. Word-faith, full-gospel, and other movements which bear the name Charismatic are often shaped by private revelations. What can truly help unite the Churches and set them on a single path, united despite differences is a common realm of experience. In fact, Tradition is simply the records of a commonly regarded and Authoritative Experience.

Pope Benedict XVI offers this meditation from Verbum Domini under the paragraph called “The Eschatological Dimension of the Word of God”:

[Private Revelation] can have a certain prophetic character (cf. 1 Th 5:19-21) and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time; consequently it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is proffered but its use is not obligatory.

Discernment is something that we all need when encountering the Word of God through the people of God. It is incumbent upon us to learn how to take upon ourselves the voice and mind of the Church. Hope, Faith and Love are to be essential criteria of how we are to understand and hold to private revelations. The virtues they inculcate and the general charity which they inspire are essential elements of how we relate to revelations that are non-essential to faith. Pope Benedict XVI offers us a criterion:

In any event, [the validity of private revelations] must be a matter of nourishing faith, hope and love, which are for everyone the permanent path of salvation.

There we have it. Discernment is a matter of virtue, of charity and Christ-likeness in all things.

Crossing the Tiber:

This is my response to this article: A New Trend: Crossing the Tiber

By the time you read my article, several months shall have passed, but I am sticking to my posting every 4 days rule. It’s been very healthy for me to do so, it gives me time to process thoughts and really reflect critically on some matters of crucial import.

However, I am thrilled to say that I too am glad to be crossing the Tiber, because for me as well, Evangelical was not enough. Protestant wasn’t enough Christianity for me. I wanted the fullness of it, I desired to know this God not just as an idea or a projection my ego, but historically through the lives of the people he has revealed himself to, from Abraham to Jesus, to the Apostles and the the Saints, I knew there were consistencies that the god that Evangelicalism painted simply did not fit into. That’s when I knew I had to begin anew my quest for faith.

I know that my reasons for exploring and ultimately deciding to become Roman Catholic are multifaceted and have as many virtues as they have imperfections. But, I am a young former evangelical who needed a correlation to the intellectualism that was so despised by the churches i attended, and I needed something grounded in history. The more I read the bible the more i saw history and tradition as the guiding sources that created the New Testament.

I began this conversion as a series of thought experiments that I wish I had detailed more closely, but I suppose the crucial thing is that I dared to imagine “What if Catholics have a truth?” I started with one. I started with the idea that the eucharist might really need to be the center of our worship, and in so doing, discovered sacramental theology and dogmatic theology and all the beauties of thinking in and with Christianity instead of about and at it.

I looked at the way I worshiped, and saw that while people were fighting for freedom from the Church, I wanted freedom for the Church. I wanted to be free to practice a Christianity that had historical as well as liturgical continuity, I wanted to be accepted for my mental talents as well as my spiritual ones, and I wanted these talents to be cultivated in a setting where i would have no restrictions on how intellectually or spiritually adept i could be.

I found that the only alternative I had was a magisterial Christianity.

I used to look at Christianity, now I believe that I more closely see through it, to the world outside. This has at times been a difficult process that has made me a bit bigoted, or uncharitable, or difficult to manage. But I have always attempted to be faithful to Truth, and in so doing have found that the truths I sought had one source of Truth, and that the source of that story was echoed in the magisterial traditions. When it came to choosing between East and West, I didn’t really have a choice to make. I feel as if Rome chose me.

I am glad to know I am not alone, though the path has been hard at times I have loved it, moment for moment. I used to think real Christianity began around 1900 with the Azusa street revival. Little did I know that there was a huge and luminous history waiting to embrace me when I merely took off my blinders. At one point Martin Luther was an iconic hero, overthrowing the Church for the sake of the scriptures and Christ, as Anne Rice recently did. However, I learned that this wasn’t a heroic movement at all, and that history when read fairly was tilted with a bias that favored Luther, at least as I had been taught.

I worked to undo these biases, and attempt to let Catholicism have a level playing field, and when it did, the majesty of the Church overwhelmed me, and the barely out of the over concoction that was being spoon fed to the masses at the church where I converted had no effect on me. I was under a new and meaningful authority, and it was not a frontal lobotomy, it was peace.

I shall grab this bead

I shall grab this bead
and say a psalter,
a prayer, with my mother

I shall grab this bead,
this little counter,
this little object, so full
of divine potential

I shall count the times
with this little bead,
and I shall mark
the passing seasons

I shall witness passiontide
and Easter
The assumption
the Stations, and Lent

I shall grab this little bead,
insignificant, supremely significant
and hold it
without faltering

I shall pray with my Mommy
for she wears stars in her hair
and has sought me from the corners
that I might join her in her prayers

I shall grab this bead
and my soul will magnify the Lord
for the works he has done
for the raising of the Lowest one

I shall grab this bead, and pray for mercy
mercy from the Lowly Son
Who’s Loving blood shall flow to me
and be my drink at Calvary

I shall grasp this calling bead,
and join the conversation
I shall hold this prayer bead
and become grasped by illumination

I will grasp another bead,
holding on for dear life
knowing that the calling comes
but not without a price

I shall seek the Defender of the weak
by counting with my Mother
and we shall weep great tears,
in the arms of the sustainer

My Mother and I shall have spoken for the world
joining with your lowly son, and all the ills
saying with great gratitude
be it done unto me according to your will

And then we shall lift up our voice
with all our sisters and our brothers
as we rejoice in Family, One Father, One Spirit
One Messiah and One Mother

Wedding Toast

If I were to say anything,
anything at all,
I suppose I would say grace,
for that is where all meals begin

I would feebly attempt to push past
the overwhelming gratitude
and grasp for words
for we can only speak with silence
where there’s language in between

I would light a festive candle
and smile deeply
embracing the challenge
to put into words fragments of a fraction

When all is said and done,
the universe might pour into our heads
but we’ll still tell the story
the age old story we remember
so very well

If I were to say anything
I’d just smile, and let my eyes spill their volumes
over the expecting faces
because it wouldn’t matter at all
what words might catch in passing
because it would pass between us like light
written on each others faces

and when that day comes,
if I lack for words
I know you’ll understand
and i’ll bury my face in your waiting hands
and kiss your palms with adoration

I’d lift my eyes up to the heavens
and break the bread of fellowship
embracing that we are in the kingdom
your hand in mine, establishing our prayer

I’d say grace,
for that is where all meals begin
I’d kiss your palms and make myself so low for you

and the silence and the gasping
will be all the toasting we need
as we make our way into the evening lights
together at last, making way for midnight
and the coming of the dawn

A vision for the future

just wanted to let you readers know, i’m not done, i’m not on hiatus, i’m switiching to once a week on thursdays and occasional daily posts, like today. I have lots going on right now. Especially my new blog project: http://www.pjpiitheo.wordpress.com is where it’s at.

Check it out.

Aside from that, I hope you’re all well. make sure to follow the twitter if you care about half of what i have to say in daily life, or just, keep reading, and we’ll call it even.

I do have a vision for the future of this blog, and I might be making some changes here in the future, so stay tuned.

-eli

Children of the Logos

Absurdity is the effect of the sin entrenched against the universe and the good, orderly and creaturely Creation. To fight the absurd we discover in reality everyday, the difficult and sometimes meaningless emptiness that life can present us with, I have written this post.

There is no single more important task than letting this absurdity not cause us to despair, both as individuals and as communities.

The individual, when facing despair and absurdity has no greater task than to turn to the Logos Himself, who is Jesus, and find meaning in this Jesus of Nazareth’s voice and plea as the Crucified. When faced with the power of absurdity which is right and good for the Christian, we must turn to the Christ. If we cannot stare the void in the face how shall we then know God’s enemy? However, we do not seek to look into the void and absurdity of the Universe, that is foolishness.

To be children of the Logos we must live out daily the Beatific vision, and so let our minds and hearts be shaped by this Crucified God and His wounds that when we see him we see the void, and so confronted our voices and ears are turned up by one octave and we can hear the shrill cry of the oppressed even in the midst of beauty. Our hearts are so attuned to the suffering that we can empathize with them even when we are desiring to curve into ourselves for despairing consolation.

Our minds will be made sharp so that we can face the void with the courage of those who press on, who endure, and who are led by the First to face Death and so conformed that this overthrow of Death is not simply an exercise in failed heroism, but the cadence of a people united at a table.

When we allow Jesus to become instead of a symbol among many, the ordering principle of the worlds we find ourselves in, life takes on a different cadence and even in meaninglessness and futility. When we trust He is Who He says He is, and that this is very good news, as given to us by the community He has created, we can then recognize the ever present call to be faithful, fruitful and become bound to one another through the absurdities by Faith and Hope and Love. These three, Faith, Hope and Love as perpetuated by the Spirit of Christ and the sacraments that enact that presence to us, and for us will draw us back into proper community and away from the irregular alienations that threaten our minds and hearts.

A short thought on love

I sometimes glance upwards, waiting.
Why doubt when love is waiting?

I thought to fulfill a divine mandate,
to weave a path of blood and righteousness
I thought to sew these colors into a seamless robe
I was impoverished by the blood on my hands

Standing beneath an orange-purple sky,
why wait for misery to leap upon you?
I took to the stars with avarice,
closing myself from the world.

Always the library,
floating in forests of isolated misery.
Far be it from me to understand.
With love knocking at the door
why I’d ask to see.

I once sought to control it.
Now i have one request.

Keep it from me.
Keep it hidden, hidden away.
So that I might learn to really see.

Keep it from me, hidden in a secret place.
That i might not possess it, but that it might possess me.

The sky might be dark, but you are clear
and the clarity you bring only happens in the blindness that brings sight.

Salvation, this fruit from life, awaits us
in the solemnity brought about by the broken
It all starts with bread, wounded bread.

Forgive me, Lord. My heart’s been broken.
This banjo don’t play songs no more.

But you gave me a friend,
a great many in tow,
an entire cosmos to acquaint myself with
and a family of praying brothers
a multitude of sisters.

And in the darkness, a voice pierced me,
“Eli, I love you.” I have been terrified since that moment.
Grant me to need no understanding,
but merely acceptance of the most intangible
inconceivable
unimaginably incomprehensibly ungrasped but only self-offering of gifted mysteries.