Systems failure


Saturday 31 May 2008

The authority that we need must be total. It can no longer come from mere church mandate or Bible interpretation, but it must also come from our souls. We need Christians who have souls!

Only people with inner authority, what Gandhi called "soul force", are capable of true nonviolence. Only they can both let things be and call them into being. They alone create. All the rest of us simply rearrange.

Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace

I am thinking of about seven different strands this morning regarding systems and their failures. Whether I can whittle it down into something coherent remains to be seen :) Kent is talking on his blog about the failure of law to bring about what we intend it to bring about. Once you start seeing it, it's very difficult to stop seeing how our efforts to enforce our safety and security by law backfire.

I think of the new law encoded recently by the Australian Football League. Because of one incident occurring several weeks ago involving an interchange stuff-up, the League, in typical reactionary fashion, has introduced a convoluted new system of rules and regulations that I can't even be fucked looking into, to be honest, to try and stop something so horrible and market-share-reducing as a mistake.

Knee-jerk reactions by insecure people who feel like they have to be seen to do something by the general insecure public, most of who want something done, something coded, something fixed, goddammit, so that they can feel like they've got some control.

Well, you know what, people? We're not in control. We never have been. Control is an illusion, designed by your fearful brain to make you feel like enshrining laws is going to make the world a safer place. But you know what? Enshrining laws just contributes to the feeling that most people have that they don't get to really be themselves, to any sort of degree, because they don't know what the rules are. If someone will just tell them the rules, then everything will be okay.

But it won't be okay. Not until we all start taking goddamn responsiblity for being in our own skins, instead of wanting a bunch of people in uniforms to tell us how it should be done. What happens if deep down we often know how it should be done, whatever that means at any one time, for a particular situation? Imagine if, using our God-given inner authority, we got about living on gut feelings and compassion and reasoning and logic and common sense and aesthetics and paradox and because the sky screams it instead of doing it because rule 3.5(a)(1) says so?

Knowing for ourselves what is right, stops us from being coerced and manipulated by people whose motives are generally ulterior. Hell, everyone's motives are ulterior. We've all got agendas. The good widdle government man isn't just encoding a law to make you feel safer. He's encoding a law because he doesn't really know what the fuck to do, and this sounds alright, and it'll quell the vocal fearful.

Every law that is encoded to make you feel safer takes away a tiny little bit of you, and your own ability to act (or not) out of what you know is right. Acting because a law says so when your head and heart are not in agreement is not acting at all, it's following. Walking about in a world that is so blanketed in rules and laws is not freedom. The guy in prison because he's tanked himself up on crystal meth is a total danger to society, and in that situation steps need to be taken to try to minimise the harm to himself and others.

But a world that never questions the policeman nor the law behind him - that's a million times more dangerous. People who have been taught to not question or think for themselves? They're the most dangerous because they never have to question why they are manipulative, vengeful, hateful, and happy to lord it over others in the name of politics, religion, peace or safety.

It just won't wash. Or it shouldn't. But it does, every day, with fabric conditioner to boot. Because we've been taught that we can't do anything about it. That's the worst part about living for the rules. It might make you think you're safe, but really it's just making you not think much at all.

All the better to manipulate you with.

Now Radio Susie is gonna be singing I Am the Law by Human League all afternoon :)

It's a beautiful day out there, the last day of Autumn. It's a beautiful thang, also, to be aware of all of this systemic shit, to get passionate about it, but to not get carried away by despair over it. That's no small thing in this society.

The sun is shining and the shit goes on, but that's our world. Happy Saturday, bloggers :)

Edit: And anyway, I can't get too despondent about too much happening in the world because I really believe that, underneath it all, waves like this are coming. I can feel it in my marrow. And I've never ever learnt to surf but I've always always wanted to :)

An apple for my teacher

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Friday 30 May 2008

I just had the last of my Writing Selves tutorials. We didn't have much content to cover today, because of a no-show to be workshopped, so in the end we sat around and chatted about the online environment, the Facebook culture, the alienation inherent in our urban societies, the gooberliness of Pentecostal churches, etc etc. It's always a buzz to have good face-to-face conversations with other living breathing beings.

This class was good content, generally because my teacher, David, puts together interesting, occasionally curve-ball stuff to get you thinking. He's a fine teacher, David (despite his penchant for Ozzie Ozbourne and Iron Maiden). Which is a good thing, because this my third class with him as my teacher.

He informed us today in our lecture that he is having a novel published next year. And now next semester he is off for half a year to an English university as a writer-in-residence (I think) where basically he gets to sit on his arse for six months and write another novel.

Really, it couldn't happen to a nicer bloke :) So fare thee well, Sornig. It's been edifying, as always, and I'll catch you on the flipside when I'm still at VicU in 2022.

Law or harmony


Thursday 29 May 2008

I'm loving Kent's journey, because it's also my own. It's difficult to communicate grace. It's easier to communicate angst than it is to communicate happiness. Somehow the angst comes through front on, face to face, but communicating happiness, harmony, grace - it can very easily feel kitschy or corny. Don't you hate that?

Angst doesn't need anything but itself to communicate itself. Harmony needs a juxtaposition to communicate itself clearly. It needs just as much to communicate what it isn't, as what it is.

Still, I imagine one day it won't. I don't know how that will be - probably when everyone is walking in it, and we are a giant orchestra, and we don't communicate it so much as just walk around in it and swim in it.

Stream of consciousness

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Wednesday 28 May 2008

I am listening to a new CD. You have to choose your moment to break in a new CD. There is a certain tedium about the chore of the first 5 or 6 listens, before the songs really start to reveal something of their core. It's a chore, but it has to be done. Has anyone noticed that there are less spiders around than there used to be? Sometimes I wonder if it's all the electromagnetic stuff we fly through our air, from our phones, our wireless internet connections. Maybe it fucks with their heads and they've all congregated in somewhere else, like public toilets or everyone's garages. If we knew that we were killing off the spiders with our mobile phones and our wireless internet connections, would we get rid of them? It's been an entire year since I have written a story. A year. That is a long time, isn't it. I know I will again. I know it in the same space that knows things without words, the repository of the best stuff that God puts in me and lets me walk around with, with no way of knowing how they will come to fruition. Not knowing is a really good thing. I wish I knew how long it would take to write another story. I feel hopeful again this week. Hope is one of my favourite things. Hope opens it all up, baby, makes streams in the desert. I have missed you, Hope. Hope. I went through a period of taping Days of Our Lives to watch when I came home from work. It was Andrea's fault. She got me onto it. I was in love with Bo and Hope. Well, Bo, really. I am so bored with my job, but it's bearable. I need to work more hours but I'm scared if I do it will become unbearable. But still, the bullets needs to be bitten. What I really want is for someone to offer me a job out of the blue so I don't have to search for it, a job that involves writing with a bit of clown work on the side. My job is still meditative at times and still boring all the time, but it's a job and I spose I could be working down the mines. Or as a prostitute. Which sounds appealing for one second until I think of, like, not being able to pick your clientele. So yeah. My landlord is getting married. He is moving out in a month's time, renting out the house, so he and his lovely chicky babe can live together full time. Good for them. I am very happy for them. Selfishly, I am annoyed that now I shall have to get my own internet connection, which ups my bills another 25 bucks a month. Me, I'm getting a divorce soon. Well, sometime soonish. At some point in the future when Mocca might be needing it. I hope I get an invite to his wedding whenever that happens. How weird. I could go a joint right now, but that's only because I don't want to do the hard work of heading back into creativity, and being scared in it. If I smoke a joint I get all the headrushy goodness and none of the effort. In fact, I get nothing. It's such a side waste, such a fruitless pouring of all my creativity into a side street that ends in a big ditch. Blerty blerty to you, cannabis sativa. But still, if you were here right now I would suck you down into my lungs and kick back and listen to this Bruce Cockburn. But I can do that anyway, right? Sometimes I pretend that I've just taken a drag of a joint and try and fool my brain into thinking that it's stoned. Sometimes it almost half works. I was thinking before about maybe I'm an addictive personality because I always need to fall into something other than reality. But then I thought, that is the spirit in me that wants to fall into God. It's not an escape from reality, it's a falling into reality, and I can do it in lots of different ways (even smoking a joint, but everything is permissible but not everything beneficial). I want to make a beaded curtain for my playroom one day. I want to start knitting again, the jumper that I began in 1994 and am more than halfway through. But I don't want to start that jumper 'cause I'm scared I'm not gonna fit into it :) Everything is gonna be alright. Really. Even with all the dark and bad and suffering, everything is gonna be alright. Because God is. And he is committed to our growth, even when we can't see it and even when it's really dark and even when we can't see him or feel him or see any growth or way forward. That's 'cause he's God and we're not. Sorry about that. But really, it's better this way. You'll see.

Consuming Zeal


Zeal for thine house hath eaten me up.

But Bertrand Russell says, "Zeal is a bad mark for a cause. Nobody has any zeal about arithmetic. It is not the vaccinationists but the antivaccinationists who generate zeal. People are zealous for a cause when they are not quite positive that it is true."

It is hard for us to believe now that there were antivaccnationists, when vaccinations have succeeded in wiping smallpox from the planet. It is hard for us to believe that Dr Semmelweis was almost torn to pieces when he suggested that physicians should wash their hands before delivering babies in order to help prevent the septicemia or puerperal fever which killed so many women after childbirth. It is hard for us to believe that Bach was considered heretical when he put the thumb under instead of over the fingers on the keyboard. It is hard for us to believe that Shakespeare was considered a trivial playwright because he was too popular. But great negative zeal was expended in all of these cases.

We all tend to make zealous judgments and thereby close ourselves off from revelation. If we feel that we already know something in its totality, then we fail to keep our eyes and ears open to that which may expand or even chang that which we so zealously think we know.

My non-Christian friends and acquaintances are zealous in what they "know" about Christianity, which bears little or no relationship to anything I believe.

A friend of mine, Betty Beckwith, in her book, If I Had the Wings of the Morning, writes about taking her brain-damaged child to a Jewish doctor. He said, "You people think of us as the people who killed your Christ." Spontaneously she replied, "Oh, no. We think of you as the people who gave him to us."

Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water



Tuesday 27 May 2008

Kandinsky and van Gogh say more than they know in their paintings. So does a devout man who is not a Christian but a Jew and a philosopher, Martin Buber. Listen: "You should utter words as though heaven were opened within them and as though you did not put the word into your mouth, but as though you had entered the word." Buber was certainly not consciously thinking of the second person of the Trinity when he wrote that. Nevertheless, his words become richer for me when I set them alongside these: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

People with true inner authority "author" us. They create life in us. They seem to write life more than they are written upon. As with Jesus, power comes out from them.

When the world meets people whose center of gravity is within themselves and not just in religion or answers, the world will draw close like moths to a flame.

Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grac

Into the Wild


Monday 26 May 2008

I'm glad I waited to see Into the Wild on DVD. That way I avoided the embarrassment of shrieking and bawling my eyes out in the cinema. Always a good thing.

I agree with Margaret Pomeranz; this movie is almost a masterpiece.

Christopher McCandless has been described in many places as a schizophrenic. It's an interesting summation. Who knows? Perhaps he was. He displays a few schizophrenic tendencies, but I doubt the diagnosis. Really, our society is apt to medicalise and diagnose anything anyone does which is not stock-standard docility (all the better to medicate you with). In another age he would have been considered courageous and brave - and he was. He was also obviously running away. But hey, running away isn't all bad and naughty and negative and irresponsible. Sometimes running away is good, 'cause oftentimes when you're running away you're also running to growth and new experiences and life. It's called having adventures. But really, if you're going to be very safe and sure, you could always have then packaged up by an approved company that will fit them into a nice little white-water-rafting two-week holiday for you. Just to be on the safe side.

I most certainly have a romantic turn of mind and so this guy appealed to me enormously, issues of mental health aside (I suggest we are all perilously close to mental illness at points in our lives, anyway and that's always been the case down through the ages).

I was daydreaming before while I was doing the dishes about the vegetable oil-powered campervan again. It's a recurring dream. I was wondering how I could grow my own vegetables if I was driving around in a van. I came up with the idea of bolting pots to the roof and growing them that way. Which would look really stupendously Devo-ishly Bill-and-Bennishly dumb. But at least I'd be eating healthy :)

I've got an urge to watch this movie again and I've just seen it. I highly recommend it if you haven't already seen it. Afterwards, I'll meet you on the road :) I'll be the one driving the vegetable oil-powered campervan with vegetables on its roof. You can call me Susie Rubbertramp.
I was trying to form a response to Goodfornowt's pondering a few days ago about how the Chinese earthquakes could fit into a world where everything belongs.

I don't know. I don't know in an intellectual, word-based articulation. But I know, in a deep, bone level knowing (where all the good stuff lives) that I know that I know that I know that it will. It is a deep, Spirit whispered breathing into my shaking, shuddering, leaching bones that nothing is wasted from this life, no suffering that we encounter.

Which is completely irrational, not based on anything evidentiary. Richard Dawkins would laugh me out of the water. But the things of God sometimes never make sense to the rational, intellectual, evidence-requiring mind. But it makes total sense to my spirit.

How annoying that is :)

Edit: of course, when I say that earthquakes "fit", I'm not saying that they are okay, not dismissing the evil and the pain and the suffering. In fact, I am saying the very opposite - that this stuff all matters so much that none of it seeps into the ground without it seeping into God and ultimately being reconciled. Believing that, in the redemption of all things including the earthquaked earth and the crushed and broken people - every person - is an opening toward compassion and love to the least, in my very limited view.



Saturday 24 May 2008

Our human bodies, on a molecular level, are in a constant state of renewal. Every seven years, roughly, we can say that we are totally different people - our cells have completely regenerated.

Doesn't make the concept of resurrection seem so far-fetched, does it?
The concept of heaven is much less interesting to me than the concept of a renewed earth. This earth that sings to me under my feet, perhaps part of its song is redemption songs, songs about what it's going to do and be when it grows up, when God finally gets to do what he has been so eager to do, and we will be gobsmacked and probably silent for about half an hour :)

You know that New Testament verse that says we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies? I wonder what that one's all about? When I think about the verse that talks about a new heavens and a new earth, a renewed place where heaven has actually come on down to live on earth, God with us, Emmanuel ... well, it conjures up pictures of the heavenly me rushing around Back to the Future style trying to avoid the earthly me :)

I've been listening to NT Wright. Can you tell? I have been desperate for some hope today. Hope. It's the thing that keeps me going when I remind myself that all of this suffering I'm going through is for a purpose. It's easy to forget. Mr Wright is one of those people that just opens up the vistas for me, reconnects me to the sense of wonder that is always there really, if I can reach for the strands and let it pull me through to wonder. Sometimes that's just too hard but still, the wonder still sits even if I cannot see it or feel it, or God, and all I can see is what I'm feeling and it makes me lose my focus, and sometimes scares me that I'll lose my mind along with it ;)

Bishop Wright was talking about his new book Surprised by Hope, which I haven't read but hope to, and which Rob Horton has read and liked very much. Here is a portion of the book which Rob posted:
This brings us back to 1 Corinthians 15:58 once more: what you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are – strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself – accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God (p. 208)
How awesome a reminder that is in these days of reeling to and fro like a drunk on a rollercoaster, when it feels like I am accomplishing very little of anything much at all. Hope. That we are building for his kingdom, not building his kingdom, as Wright says. The distinction between those two makes all the difference in the world. It means that everything belongs, everything fits, in this crazy little scenario we find ourselves in, hurtling from birth towards death, wondering what the hell it's all for at times. Everything belongs. Everything belongs.

Maggie Ross (first seen over at Mike's Mercy Blog), reminds us that sometimes, on our very worst days, our left hand may be doing things our right hand has no idea about, things which will astonish us when we see them weaved into God's new creation:

There are as many ways of intercession as there are moments of life. Intercession can become deep and habitual, hidden even from our selves. There is nothing exotic about such practice. What matters is the intention that creates the space and the stillness. Even something as simple as refusing to anesthetize the gnawing pain in the pit of your soul that is a resonance of the pain of the human condition is a form of habitual intercession. To bear this pain into the silence is to bring it into the open place of God’s infinite mercy. It is in our very wounds that we find the solitude and openness of our re-creation and our being. We learn to go to the heart of pain to find God’s new life, hope, possibility, and joy. This is the priestly task of our baptism.

Maggie Ross, The Space of Prayer III post

This post is encouraging me even as I put it together. These are necessary things to remind myself of when I feel like my life is counting for very, very little, or that I am "doing" it badly or, as is the case lately, that long-repressed hurts are spilling out the sides, terribly embarrassing as they hit the air, trying to tempt me to shame.

Everything belongs, and everything counts. I believe that. It is why I am inclined at times to rise above the pain like a woman in childbirth, clench my teeth and thank him for what's going on, no matter the pain, no matter the tears, because whatever is happening to me is leading me towards him, is creating further rooms in myself where he can shine out of instead of my shame. And I believe that, and yet it spills away so quickly when a storm of emotions pours in. But still, it beats within the heart of that storm. And it's counting for something. And so is the storm.

onward christian pacifist, marching into life


Tuesday 20 May 2008

There is something sacred about shared spaces, even temporary ones. Being in the present to a conversation held across a table creates such a space, no matter where the conversation is being held in the real world, no matter whether the table is formica or cedarwood. Sharing life, sharing creativity, sharing ourselves perfume the air in the same way a forest freshens it and music and candles change its mood. But even better is sharing life within the forest itself. My heart responds to the life and creativity of that environment, resonates within me, drawing me (blessed relief) out of myself, out towards the other (whether the other is the environment itself, my dog, another person or God). I think all forms of beauty and creation have this effect of drawing us out of ourselves and into community, whether the forms come from the earth or out of our own hands and hearts.

Today I was discussing with Maggie, my art therapist, how it was that every single session of my art therapy so far has gone over time. Maggie's summation was that the answer to that was to just aim for a double session each fortnight, then. Some people, she said, just need more time than others, and it seems I'm fitting into that category, seeing every time we meet there is a flurry of talk, of activity. She knows finances are an issue for me at the moment so there is no change to the cost - and anyway, money is not the reason why she does what she does.

How generous she is (and how wise). Today, I drew with soft pastels onto large pieces of paper, standing up so as to get better leverage and a better rate of knots going. We discussed the inwardness of drawing as compared to the outwardness of painting, sculpting, of doing things that involve the movement of your body along with the movement of your hand. It felt quite exhilarating, standing up, throwing myself into it, drawing whatever, encouraging myself just a wee bit more to fall out into my expression because falling open doesn't mean I'm going to fall apart.

Small steps. This is hard. Small steps count. The kindness of others, especially when you are in numb places, fearful places, changing places, is a gift from God. Freely given, costing relatively little to the giver compared to the balm for the receiver, if able to be freely received.

Lester waited patiently in the car for two hours during my session. Afterward, we indulged in a leg-stretch at the Hamer Arboretum at Olinda, where Japanese cedars sit alongside oaks and gums and all sorts of wonderfulnesses. It was lovely, but cold and the night was edging in even at 4.30 so we didn't stay for as long as I would have liked. I plan to return when the days start lengthening once again. It felt mysterious and alive, enclosing, as we walked further down the trail as it got darker and denser. Almost like the Enchanted Wood :)

On our return back up to the car there was a park bench next to a large gum tree. Leaning against the tree trunk were two large sticks, perfectly sized to aid in walking the tree-rooted track, thoughtfully left by the previous users.

Small kindnesses. The most difficult kindnesses to learn are the ones that involve the overlooking of offences, the smoothing over of barbs and hurts, the turning of the other cheek, the offering of a hand, or the setting of a boundary, an outward focus and opening of ourselves to each other, heaven on earth, even when the other is undeserving.

That is the most difficult kindness because it seems to always come at a price for the learner. Necessary denumbings are so very painful. But do we miss out on the life that is out there because it's a hard thing to do? To walk anywhere but towards greater growth and greater openness and yes, greater vulnerability, is to walk nowhere, to walk into death.

Anyway, all the fun toys are life. Like carrots, they dangle themselves in front of my face, drawing me on, God-infused (he knows what I like), carrots like greater creativity, and greater wound healing. Carrots indeed ('cause he also know what a stubborn donkey I often can be :)

Chick flick schmick schlock


Sunday 18 May 2008

I guess I'm a bit of a movie snob. I usually head straight for the arthouse section in the video library. I just find the formula of Hollywoodised stuff so thin that I'm bored within 4 minutes, knowing exactly what is going to go on. Yawn.

Still, having said that, I can go the occasional chick flicky-type movie. Indeed, I have watched the BBC four-hour version of Jane Eyre twice in the past couple of weeks. And could quote Mr Darcy lines. I loved The Big Chill, Thelma and Louise, Sense and Sensibility, Lovely and Amazing. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are deliciously romantic and chicky flicky and make me swoon and I think I shall put them on the list to give another whirl this winter.

Tonight, I felt like something a bit lighter than my usual serious fare, a bit of romance, a bit of unreality, a bit of girly stuff to spice up and wind down the evening. And so when I saw Pay It Forward sitting on the shelf I thought, why not? Good actors, and the whole pay it forward thing has gone into the general wordage of the culture, so let's give it a whirl.

Sheesh. What a load of trite schlock (in my opinion). Seriously, even though I did shed a tear at the end almost despite myself, it was so saccharine syrupy sweet I feel like I need to go brush my teeth. Blergh! If you're going to do that sort of movie, with a heartwarming kind of focus, with an idealistic young man (aw, don't you want to just squeeze Haley Joel Osmont? He's so cute!) who is wanting to make everything better, you've gotta have some sort of chutzpah about it to make it work. It needs to be laid on light, with big doses of irony and realism thrown in to make it palatable. But even throwing in a few smackheads and a chick about to jump off a bridge and wounded abused drunkards and homeless mothers and yada yada just really don't do anything to stop this movie from being fatal for diabetics. It felt like even with all the realism, the drug addict in the end was probably only shooting up dissolved sugar. Blergh.

Some people seem to like their saccharine piled on six feet high with a trowel. I feel like I've just eaten an entire cake with a cream-filled centre.

I think I'll go and watch Pulp Fiction :)
This pic has done the rounds via email in a previous incarnation and it makes me laugh so. That poor, hard-done-by doggy, just sitting there bewildered by the injustice :)

more cat pictures

Laundromat blues


My washing machine isn't working properly. Isn't pumping water out properly, and so unless I monitor it, it keeps getting itself caught up in cycles and fills up too much with water and then spurts it out of wherever orifice it can find, out the washing powder chute and stuff, vomitously cleaning my bathroom floor and not my clothes.

I don't have the money to call in a repair person, and anyway, I figured this was a good opportunity for me to open the machine up and have a look for myself. After all, there are basic things like fanbelts come loose, or lint filters that need cleaning out, or bits and pieces that maybe get caught up in the hose, and with the help of some do it yourself websites, it's easy to work out what to do. After all, washing machines are pretty amazing little pieces of gadgetry, but there are certain things that come under the label of 'maintenance' that even someone like me can do, right?

So the fanbelt, she wasn't loose. The lint filter - well, it was located where it was supposed to be, but strangely enough it didn't look much like a lint filter and indeed there was no lint to be found. The washing machine hose - well, this is where the problem has begun. Such a simple simple problem but I don't know how to fix it. The clamp that connects the hose, I should have taken a photo of such a basic thing before I undid it, 'cause now I can't for the life of me work out how to put the bastard back together. The bloody clamp. A real basic thing.

Funny, but just last night I was doing a bit of thinking about how I have developed this tough girl "I can do it myself" persona over the years. Part of that is through woundedness, but part of it is simply from being incredibly inquisitive and wanting to find out for myself how stuff works.

My Mum was over on Monday and she said to me doubtfully,

"Why don't you get Dad to come over and look at it?"

"You don't need to have a penis to be able to do some basic maintenance on your washing machine," I said, rather tetchily, mainly because I didn't have a damn clue what sort of maintenance was required on a washing machine, but I was gonna learn, dammit, before I got Graeme to come tootling over from the other side of town to fix my stuff for me.

Hmm. I wonder what Dad is doing next weekend?

Wakey wakey


Saturday 17 May 2008

It rained all night. Well, I can't say that for a definite fact because I was asleep for most of it, but I was awake at some kind of 4am time when my phone began this funny little chirping thing it's prone to do once a fortnight at 4am. Woke me up to the sounds of gentle falling. There's something womblike about rain in the night. I was a bit annoyed I was woken up in the middle of the night, however, because catching up on some sleep was about the number one priority of last night. But it was okay. The embrace of the rain kept me asleep until 12.30.

There's something enlivening about breaking your routine, no matter how good that routine is. Routines are terribly overrated. I guess I would prefer to call them disciplines, but even then there is always tendency for rigidity to enter in. The only way to stop the rigidity is to occasionally break the routine.

I have this ritual in the morning of centering prayer, morning pages and internet reading. It eases me into the day, gets the body firing. But like everything, when done day after day in the same fashion, it can become a chore and you start resenting the very sameness of what you're doing rather than entering into why it is that you do what you do. Today, I don't have time to do all of those things, nor really the inclination. The womblike enfolding has continued into my waking hours. I am content merely to eat, shower, and be dressed in time to watch my football team go around a ground in Launceston (a good day for an interstate game on the teev).

Indeed, I am content, this morning. And I haven't been able to say that much this week.

I am content to stay right where I am in this particular minute. There is a calmness and a surrender in the moments, this morning. A post-storm serenity that feels especially good after the fighting within myself, the expulsion of some long-held rage (it is understandable how the culture as a whole is so terribly fearful of itself, knowing the depths of rage many of us carry around inside us. It is a grace when God allows those rages to come forth behind closed doors in secret, against himself, where they can dash themselves out against rocks and spend their own fury and be whisked away into the air like harmless cotton wool. This is one of the reasons why the concept of a God consigning mere humans to an eternal hell is such anathema to me. What singular lack of vision to think that that would be the only way that God could possibly have to keep his own holiness intact (as if his holiness was so flimsy and threadbare that mere humans could ever threaten it in any way at all). If God hung on a cross to become some kind of universal sin sponge, then do we really think that the end of the story (or the beginning of the next chapter) would leave him undoing the good work he has already done? I don't think so.

I have had a few things clarified to me this week, about just how close creativity and spirituality and my own woundedness are, about the dangers of creativity - not within themselves, but the dangers to the deadened parts of my soul. This is why doing such beautiful things can be so threatening to me.

Breaking your routine can be enlivening, can bring things into sharper focus, can renew you for the next day. Breaking greater, deeper routines, ones forged as shields and defences, feels as dangerous as throwing myself off a cliff. But still, he calls us on.

Happy Saturday, bloggers :) Gotta run, football team starting. No shower for me. Still, blog post beats shower in the great rock paper scissors morning routine :)

Expanding and contracting reality


Friday 16 May 2008

At root, as artists, we have an obligation to make art. Art is what fulfills our deepest natures. Art is what gives our life a sense of godliness and right direction. Art is what we make so that at the end of each day we can say, "At least I made X today," and feel some satisfaction. There are probably people who are not called to make art. They make their satisfaction from relationships, or some other dutiful labor that speaks to them of mission - family, job, community. For us, as artists, family, job, and community are all served best by our continuing devotion to the muse that calls us to art. After that obligation is fulfilled, all others cheerfully follow. Until that obligation is met, everything else is forced, empty, grudging.

Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper

I forget this regularly. Because it seems too good to be true. Because it has been deferred for so long in me that it has made my heart sick. Because the synapses in my brain aren't wired deeply enough for it to be a habit (except for blogging). Because there is some silliness within me that thinks I don't 'deserve' it. Even though I don't believe that for a second, I think I must, on some deep level, and that silliness informs my nonaction. How silly that silliness is, and hopefully sometime soon I can cast it off like a useless piece of nothing, and continue on.

Because whenever I do 'make art', whatever that may be - at the moment it's collages and writing and poetry and a bit of drawing but I feel all these other unknowns bubbling under the surface - it's like time contracts outwards. All the things I've allowed to niggle at me, the shopping that needs to be done, the dishes, the whatever, they all come into line as soon as I have got creative. And it is so easy to not do it and that is what is so frustrating at times.

I don't think it's called following your bliss for nothing. Our paths often seem too good to be true, and that is why we don't take them.
The Australian Federal government is trying to address teenage binge drinking by proposing a tax hike for premixed alcoholic beverages like vodka and orange and bourbon and coke (two personal favourites in my teenage years, when I had the dosh).

The government believes that making these drinks more expensive will stop teenagers getting together and getting shitfaced. I wonder, do any of them really believe this, even a smidge? I know we are all economically rationalised to death and feel constrained onto spreadsheet columns, but does anyone at all involved with the government, including the toilet cleaners, really think that is anything but some sort of lip service? Surely not. And surely they don't think we're that stupid. And surely this is why listening to the blatherings of the world is so damn tiresome. It's enough to make you want to go and get shitfaced :)

This kind of thing really pisses me off. What a waste of time it all is. It's talking about issues without talking about issues. So much fluff, full of soundbytes and infuriatingly signifying nothing.

Teenagers get drunk because it feels really good to be pissed. Because they are full of angst and don't know who the hell they are and are suffering under the weight of living in a world where nothing gets discussed in ways that really make any kind of goddamned difference at all and because no one would listen if they said that Uncle Harry was doing bad stuff to them when no one was looking, or that they felt like losers because they didn't know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives and therefore which VCE stream to set themselves onto at 15 years of age. Or that they felt like they would never ever belong and it didn't seem like there was all that much to belong to anyway and hey, how bad does that make you feel when we are the lucky ones and the rest of the world is being flung about by tempestuous weather?

Teenagers get pissed because it is so nice to quell your fears and shame - and that is surely the absolute crux of it, for mine. Or at least, that was always the reason why I got drunk. To get me out of myself. To have a blast. To tell my friends I loved them (love ya mate, I'll luv ya forever, mate. Now excuse me while I go over here and vomit). To give me a bit of Dutch courage to talk to that boy and maybe get a pash (or more). Fear and shame pursue every single person down through the days and to not address that is to not address anything in the end.

But then, what column would that fit into on the spreadsheet? And is that the responsibility of the government anyway?

Taxing alcopops will make teenagers resort to drinking beer, or they will buy wine and mix their own orange juice in it. Or whatever. Or maybe - heaven forbid - they will buy Blackberry Nip or Brandivino and mix it with Coke. However far your dosh spreads. 'Cause it's not about the taste so much as it's about the high and about the quell. And I really just don't know how that one can be regulated. 'Cause you can stuff it down and keep on going, but so far I have really only found one Place where fear and shame have been nailed. And it's got nothing to do with regulation and everything to do with Love.

Radio Susie Shenanigans


Thursday 15 May 2008

I feel kinda like the mini tornado that blew threw my body over the past couple of days has passed ... at least, for this moment. I don't understand what is going on. I presume it must be some weird thing of God, or else I am just going plainly insane, with big blobs of sanity. Perhaps it's simply a result of moving away from the creative place I've made for myself recently. Perhaps it's little glimmers of hope wrapped up in despair that things are finally starting to change for me. Anyway. For whatever reason, I am feeling better this evening so thank you for prayers, much appreciated.

I have had this fragment of a song going through my head all afternoon. It's driving me a bit mad. You know how often the songs that go through your head tend to be snatches? This one is 2 lines, over and over, and I don't even know what one of the words is:

Show me your lah-lah-lah
I'll show you mine

Male vocalist, early 80s I think. I've already invited 3 of my friends to play and none of them know what it is. It's on the tip of Radio Susie's DJ's tongue, but not quite.

Anyone? (Yeah, I know, it's not much to go on but just thought I'd throw it out there :)


Update:  Finally worked out what this song was.  It just took me till January 2012 to do so.  How ridiculously satisfying :)

This was a song by a local Australian band called The Sunnyboys, Show Me Some Discipline.

God is a God of context. I think we forget that. That is the problem with systematic theology and churches within walls — not that they have a theology or walls or even outlooks, but because they often strip us of our natural context and force us into something contrived. We are deprived of our own eyes, nose, ears, feelings and experiences and dropped into a box without doors or windows. The box neither opens out to God nor inward into our depths. We learn to regard the God of stone and marble and theologies, but He has nothing to do with our real life under the skin.

The rest is here

Systematic theology is such evidence of our desire for order and to be in control - which are good things, to a certain extent, right? Having mastery over our environment is a good thing. But too much control can lead to hellish outcomes. Especially when we have a tendency to set down camp where we see, little realising that we are in fact nomads through life to a certain extent, and that setting down camp to gain ourselves safety is probably the worst kind of unsafety.

I am struggling at the moment with areas of my life that I am trying to control and God is asking me to let go of them. I don't know how, because I don't even really know what those areas are called, and if I did I would imagine that I wouldn't be sharing them here with the entire universe because they are far too raw and fragile to even name above a whisper. And anyway, I can't hear what God is saying to me. Perhaps he is yelling. Perhaps he has been saying the same thing for years and I don't have ears to hear. Perhaps perhaps perhaps per fucking haps.

So there's nothing I can do but to bleat and wail and beat my chest and get really totally angry because I am really at my wit's end with certain things in my own life, with stuff I have been carrying around inside me for years, ideas and beliefs about myself that have come not from God or from myself. I would willingly lay it all down if I knew how, but I don't even know how to do that. But I do - in whatever form, I lay it all down, for whatever it's worth.

And to be really honest, it doesn't feel like it's worth much today.

The creativity/spiritual connection


Wednesday 14 May 2008

I feel really stuck creatively. All of a sudden, I just don't know what to do with myself. I've squeezed out a few poems recently, still writing my morning pages, did a collage last week. But I just feel so stuck!!

It's weird but I have noticed this pattern that whenever I feel unwell, I don't go in the playroom. I feel like there is a reason for that. It's some kind of not wanting to sully my space - not in a superstitious kind of way; it just feels too creative in there when I'm not feeling up to it. Whenever I want to get creative and I'm feeling unwell, you'll generally find me curled up on the couch with the blanket and a tray. I'm a big believer in trays.

So I haven't been in my playroom for a week or so. Was just getting ready to come climb into bed and be cosy. Thought, I wonder if there is a connection between how totally disorientated I am feeling spiritually and how totally disorientated I am feeling creatively? I am feeling very far away from it all, and while I wrote last week some time about how these days I have developed a confidence in knowing I can make it back there again with much more ease even when I've slipped away, there is still that unsettling feeling of not having any idea at all of actually how to get back there. The willingness to just go and sit with the nothingness and see what happens. But hey, I feel like I'm doing that anyway so I may as well be doing it in a creative space and see what happens.

Grabbed Julia Cameron's The Sound of Paper on my way past the bookcase. She is the solace I most seek when I am feeling creatively dead, the way that Richard Rohr and Madeleine L'Engle are my lifelines when I'm feeling spiritually dead.

And here is what I opened the page at, as I hunkered down in bed, crying into a tissue (standard procedure):
Try this: Often when we skid to a halt in our work, we skid to a halt in our spiritual life as well. We do not think to ask God' s help to dissolve our creative resistance, and yet such prayer is often the right answer. Take pen in hand and pray on the page. Write a letter to whatever you conceive of as the Great Creator. Complain, gripe, moan, sigh, weep, scream in sheer frustration. And ask for help. Next, pick up the phone and call an open-minded and positive friend. Explain that you need spiritual support for your creative endeavour. Ask her to pray for your restored productivity. Finally, go back to work. Your prayers have been answered, and you have achieved enough mobility to give work a try.
This definitely felt like one of those God moments. And I haven't even come bashfully with my tail between my legs about swearing at him yet. But hey, that's why I didn't even really felt like I needed to, you know? He knows I'm angry at him. He knows I still am. He knows why and he knows why I'm frustrated.

So anyway. I don't need to pick up the phone. I'll just ask you guys instead? Please pray for me for restored creativity. I seem to go a bit batty without it (battier, anyway). I'm going off to sleep and to write aggro prayers to God. And I imagine I will probably say 'fuck' in them there, too. But he can handle extended dummy spits. And I will at some point get my tail between my legs, not because I feel like I should in all due reverence, but because I know his grace and his love will compel me out of sheer beauty.

But in the meantime, Johnny Lydon was so right. Anger is an energy. I'm just not sure that I'm really expending it on anything meaningful right now but you know. Whatever.
Can a Christian Sing the Blues? Damn fucking right.

I'm feeling angry. I've had it with this stupid goddamn growth process. I'm sick of the world reeling to and fro. I'm sick of crying every fucking day. I'm sick of small portions of light and glee and then the shutters come down. I'm sick of a faulty immune system. I'm sick of myself. I'm sick of God sitting on his hands.

I yelled at God last night in a sentence that included the word 'fuck'. I meant it, and I don't feel in the least bit apologetic about it, either (funny, I don't feel apologetic about being angry at him, but I do feel apologetic about feeling depressed. Hmm ...)

Thanks to Abmo at Windblown Hope for the link.

While I'm linking, I snorted/lamented my way through this excellently written piece of horror that documents a particularly creepy kooky American charismatic experience: Jesus Made Me Puke

In the white room


Sorry about the depressing poetry but you know *shrugs* Can't be shiny and happy all the time now, can we? (Not even, it seems, for part of the time lately)

Her white room
Has no words
Just whitewashed
Concrete walls

No pleading
Nor beseeching
Just numb tears
From a numb numb soul

That doesn't even know
For what it weeps anymore
Or how to speak it
Even if it could.

And she thinks how it is
That decades could pass
Until one day she only feels safe
If the door is frozen shut.

Into the Numb (a promise)


Tuesday 13 May 2008

Shame swill
Tightly unsightly hidden
Upon closer suspection
Gossamer strands
Shot through even here
From an arrow fired
Years ago
From a Palestine hill.

Even here
Psalm 151
Breathe you in, love, breathe me out, Love
Broken heart spurns sunset wooings.
Oh. Never saw You there before (breathe in)


Six Word Memoir Tag Block


Monday 12 May 2008

I got tagged for this meme by Erin six days ago, to write the title to my memoir using 6 words. Then Jennifer tagged me the day after. And now Abmo has just tagged me again.

And you know what? I haven't got a goddamn clue. Maye that's it. I Haven't Got a Goddamn Clue :)

I don't know and of course it's my punishment that I am blocked because I'm trying to come up with something witty so you can all go, aw, shucks, that Sue, isn't she a doozy? And instead God is going, Heh! Your desire for compliments is inflating at a rate of knots. Here, have nothing.

Heh :)

May bloom, May wilt


Sunday 11 May 2008

Hats off to the month of May
With it's falling leaves and its glistening days.

Well, so you may say, Mr Fanning, but there's quite a lot that's not particularly glistening about it from where I sit (the thighs of my football team, with linament, kicking goals, notwithstanding. Mmm). The leaves are falling too in Melbourne, but so, alas, is my really ultra crappy circadian clock's ability to read the signals.

Yep, it's happening already, folks. Two days of cloudy skies and the circadian rhythms are already starting their downward decline. I can feel it. For example. It's nearly 9pm and I am just gearing up in the kitchen, cooking pumpkin soup and mushroom risotto. And here it is, the beginning of the downward slide, the thought that going to bed a little later is starting to seem appealing. So tonight, I may choose to go to bed a bit later thanusual - say, 1am. Tomorrow night, 1.30. Before you know it, I'll be up till 4am.

It happens every day, the same. Wake up in the morning, back in first gear again. Thinking, ggggooootttt tttooo gggeeettt mmmooovvviinnngg. Feel slightly haggard all day, everything a bit of an effort. Come the evening - how delicious Winter evenings are, all cosy and closed in and raunchy - and then, oooh, how interesting everything suddenly appears and off I go, playing and cooking and loving the feel of the closed-in Winter night, all quiet, most normal people all cosy and snug under their doonas. Yum.

Every year without fail you can set your clock on the fact that my circadian clock can't.

But is there anything wrong with that? Why do I feel this nervous kind of anxiety about what they will think about my strange hour keepings? I have a job this year which allows me start at lunchtime - even, if I really want to, even later than that. I have no children to get me up at 6am. I can keep these hours and nobody is going to yell at me.

Surely my hours are the more civilised than the 6am wakeups or the bizarre habits people like Kent keep, getting up at 5.30. Or my friend Bettina who gets up and walks her dog first thing in the morning in the dark before work (I'm jealous really. I can't think of anything better than that). My days are just different, that's all. I'm circadianally challenged. Like, you know how morning people start off guns blazing and then end the day generally sitting down quiet and slowly gearing down until they stop and sleep? Well, I just do it in reverse. Spend the first - oh, I dunno, seven or eight hours sitting around trying to crank it up. Doing stuff, and even sounding quite chirpy and stuff, but still, you know. I'm pretending to be excited. I was still getting about in my dressing gown this afternoon at 3pm. Had a shower at 5. It's now almost 9pm and suddenly it's bright eyed and bushy tailed and, you know, wanting to write poetry and play music loud and get into it.

Nothing wrong with that, right? Right?

(It's a bit of a bummer, though, 'cause every time I get up in the morning I have this strange idea that things are gonna be different for me today, and so I try and do stuff - like, physical stuff like vacuuming. When really, everyone knows that vacuuming happens at 10pm).

Embrace your eccentricities, Suzie. Embrace. How dull if everyone was exactly the same, right?
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute - you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

I was discombobulating my own head earlier this afternoon, sitting on the couch and writing my random thoughts about death which ended up coalescing into how totally spin-outish reality is, like those Russian dolls all one inside each other, getting smaller and smaller as they go. It makes me think I'd like to see with the eyes of God inside a grain of sand. But it would probably explode my head.

Was writing about how difficult it is to get going today (overcast again). Thinking about how time is a straight linear line when looked at from the outside, but how different when lived from within. How quickly some minutes pass, and how interminably slowly others pass. Nothing is really what it seems from the outside.

I sat down on the outside to do my standard three pages of freehand (commonly called morning pages but begun well after lunchtime). I began writing about death, because I was feeling a bit deathlike - stuck in the mood of the morning, the heaviness of the weather, the frustration of my frustrations. And began writing about death but got reminded about life in the process and oh, that's what I love about writing because it makes it all worthwhile when Life pokes his head up, intruding into my words about my own musings about death and surprises me with some bubbles. But of course, he's there, too, in death, isn't he? 'Cause he's been everywhere, man.

I was feeling frustrated when I sat down to write because today I really want to put my head down and my hand to the grindstone and just do instead of thinking so hard about what I want to do. Frustrated that on the one hand, I wanted to do the things I wasn't feeling like I wanted to do, like vacuuming and making pumpkin soup for my Mum's visit tomorrow and, on the other hand, the other things I wasn't feeling like doing either, like centreing prayer and writing, and lighting candles, and writing poetry, and doing a cool little ritual with autumn leaves that my art therapist showed me, and doing some drawing, and all of that cool creative stuff that opens up the world to me so that the minutes start expanding themselves out into double the time, but in the cool way, not in the dragging way that happens when you're sitting in a dentist chair and every minute goes for 14 hours. That sentence was way too long, but it stays.

Isn't that the most evil voice of all, when you're stuck, whether for half an hour or for a few decades, the one that whispers that you're stuck and you're never gonna get out of where you're at? That everyone else gets it except you, you stupid, useless dick. And it always feels like that, even though within this morning's version I knew that all it will take is a step or two and then I'm swimming in and drinking waters that I'm thirsty for and that change everything. And yeah, even though the voice still whispers even underwater, it's harder to hear it 'cause I'm immersed, swimming where the mountains clap their hands for joy. Swimming through repentance to seeing anew again (again, for the 14 thousandth time in one day) the life where God lives.

Repentance or penance. Sitting with unsocked feet in the cold can seem like repentance but really it's just some kind of fleshly penitence unless there's life behind it. And yet some walk the street barefoot and wailing and they seem like penitent fools but in fact they are swimming in the best kind of repentance. And nobody from the outside can really tell you whether you are doing one or the other but your heart can tell if it's a love dance or a flesh flagellation.

The road to repentance doesn't need to be in sackcloth but can be swum down in joy. When you know God is good even repentance contains lifebursts. But the flipside of swimming down the road of repentance - not once-off to an altar where you ask Jesus into your heart, but in a dark and light life where you discover him anew there over and over - is returning again to our own versions of doing life which is really death, returning via the wind whispers or via our own death we carrying around in our bodies every single day until the day we ultimately die to live. The death I choose with monotonous insane regularity, my right to self-determination and my belief that I don't need God to see what I want and need, and that I don't need God to serve God. Which turns gold into dust in an instant, joy into despair, work into chore, and turns all my attempts to do for God into filthy menstrual cloths. Riches into rags.

At times it is hard to accept that unless I'm swimming in Life and living loved, that I find it very easy somehow to slip over into living as if I'm a pile of crap and what I do is unimportant to God and to me. Or, conversely, flipping over the same tiresome coin, I'm living in the strain and strife that what I'm doing or not doing is so important in the grand scheme of things that it renders me paralysed and, conversely, zoned out on the couch in front of the TV.

Death is unbearable when I'm half-living, living half-dead. Death is stingless when I'm living in the Life.

Perhaps this is all tied up in what Paul was talking about when he said that we are already dead. The whole bloody kit and caboodle, everything, is dead. We have died and been sucked into the God hanging on a cross, welcoming the shame for the life that follows. Thank God. Death in life in death in life in death.

Porpoise Diving Life


I wrote a rather meandering piece for the Porpoise Diving Life which is here if you are so inclined to read.

Well done, Erin, for guest editoring :)


No comments

Saturday 10 May 2008

I remember in the first year or so of having chronic fatigue syndrome, not knowing what was wrong with me, and feeling desperate to have some sort of diagnosis. What was wrong? Did I have cancer? Was I about to die? Had I flipped over into insanity? I had begun the journey into ill health with glandular fever, but this seemed slightly different. And yet it was hard to pin down what was wrong because ... oh, how to explain this? Everything seemed kinda surreal and distant, it was hard to tune into my body to be able to decipher whether what I was experiencing was in my head or in my body. Oh, I hate not being able to explain this. The reason why I felt this way is because my HPA axis was playing up and so it was basically starting to feel to me on a deciphering level that my body had started speaking Swahili and hadn't clued me into it, and so it was very easy for me to sit down at the end of the day absolutely bone-tired exhausted, the marrow having seeped out from just having a normal really ultra low-level day, and wonder if it was all in my head. Now that's what I call creepy.

So being in that kind of state and having all this really weird stuff going on and not having any idea what the problem was, I was absolutely desperate to get a diagnosis. I needed someone to tell me that it looked like I had X because then I could go about trying to fix it. But to not know what the problem is? Well, I spend a great deal of my life these days not knowing what the problems are and growing in the ability to sit tight in God without having the answers - despite glitches in the matrix that send me into a spin, as evidenced on this blog this week and in my heart and mind on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. I think part of the ability to sit tight in God is pure necessity, knowing how little I really do know, but part of it comes from experience. I know that in that horrid, horrible experience of not knowing and of having to throw myself onto God because there was nothing else that I could do, just how good losing your life to save it feels.

I think for someone who is not a control freak with other people, I'm a bit of a control freak with myself. I think we all are. We are so desperate for diagnoses to our problems that we grab hold of them with both hands and squeeze so tight that they become distorted out of shape so our diagnosis will be inaccurate anyway, wrought out of our fear.

The words of Jesus came into my head yesterday about how it is that hearing of wars and rumours of wars should not frighten us. And it was the final seal on the haranguing I've been doing within myself this week about what I can do in the midst of all the suffering in the parts of the world that are way less lucky than we are. And I have finally come back to the conclusion that all that I can do is go on in my own life, focussing outwards on others, praying, sticking closer to the one who sticks closer than a friend - because I need to, because if I walk too far away from him I walk into my own anxiety and stress and brokenness, and there is too much of it there at the moment to walk very far away without it sending me reeling around like some kinda jack in the box on a crystal meth high. I'm so grateful that I can't walk too far. I'm grateful.

Anyway, what was I saying? That's right. Diagnostics. So getting a diagnosis of my condition was an absolute necessary step towards beginning to know what to do. But still, in another way, it was probably absolutely unnecessary except for my own mental health. Because God would have directed me to what I needed to do anyway. I am convinced that if I was of a stronger mind, or faith, or vision, I could have gone about fixing my problem purely out of following what resonated for me, or, in slightly less creepy terms, of what was speaking life to me, of sensing the Father's voice as my rudder. But of course, to do that, I would have had to have gone down roads that seemed counter-intuitive, perhaps even wrong. I certainly would have had to go against the conventional wisdom held to so strongly by the medical profession.

And this is where diagnostics fall down. The medical profession contains a great deal of corruption within it, because of the absolute power that pharamaceutical companies hold. I also believe, without a skerrick of evidence necessary, that many of the things the medical profession touts as absolute truth is probably absolutely wrong. Because that's how history has gone. A new piece of God's 78 billion piece jigsaw puzzle emerges, and the frail humans realise that while they were seeing reality in very real ways, this new piece suddenly makes this piece over here obsolete in the light of new knowledge. It's surely the heart of science to continuously discard old knowledge in the light of new evidence.

Which is great. But unfortunately, it's also at the heart of systems like the medical one to garner corruption, to be ruled by pharmaceutical companies, to give the impression that they know it all and there is no new knowledge to be had. Because that's another human trait. We don't know it all, but we can very easily be fooled into thinking that we do. Surely we must. Otherwise those six years plus at university and that massive, massive debt that's taking years to pay off for the prestige of calling ourselves general practitioners would all be worth far less, wouldn't it? It would start to feel a bit lurchy, a bit less certain. And the world is lurching so terribly, and many hearts along with it, that surely there are still pockets of safety we can take in those things that we know to be true?

Well, yes, we can. I did. My diagnosis was a great thing for me and gave me a great deal of comfort, and gave me a battle plan of sorts so that I knew what new things I needed to try in order to get well. But for all I know, I could have sat there and done nothing and got well anyway. Because I'm not into controlling other people, but man, I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to myself. And I am really only starting to realise the extent that that runs down. (Which I guess is cool, 'cause it probably means it's gonna get itself blown to smithereens sometime soon, or at least part of itself. Cool).

So diagnostics. Even knowing things, and getting a frame of reference, we still have to hang on lightly to knowing them, because diagnoses change. I have to keep reminding myself now that I am well, because I suspect that part of me, the part that hung on so desperately to a diagnosis, is maybe finding it hard to let go of that diagnosis, even though I know now that I am well. I'm not sure if that makes much sense, or even how much of it is true or informing me, if at all, but I think it's probably got something to do with the reason why Jesus asked the dude by the pool if he wanted to be well. We get so stuck in our diagnoses of ourselves that sometimes we can't see the fields ahead.

If I had framed my life so tightly when my marriage broke down that this was a marriage breakup and when that happens X happens and then Y happens and then Z happens, then I wouldn't have been able to tune into the (I believe) God-infused, quite amazing process of two broken-down people with a great deal of love and respect for each other being able to go through such a painful, awful, horrid situation for both of us, and coming out the other end with a friendship that I value so highly that it's almost priceless.

Hold on loosely to everything, except God. This is my mantra for myself.

My glands are standing up on the side of my neck because it's overcast and I still don't really understand what that's all about, but anyway, Happy Saturday, bloggers :)



Friday 9 May 2008

Apparently this blog is really creepy. You shouldn't read any further or you'll be swept away on the wings of demonic delusion.

Once upon a time I would have got all bent out of shape over something like this. I would have made some kind of scathing comment over on that forum to set them straight, to prove myself, or whatever. And I just don't feel the need to do that anymore. It's quite refreshing.

I understand where the people on that forum are coming from. I once thought the same way. And if the me future came onto that forum and tried to convince the me past to see my point of view, it wouldn't wash. Just the same as if the me past came onto another forum and tried to convince the me future.

I'm not saying that the me now is an improvement on the me old, but I can certainly say that I have matured in my faith. I believe things now that I would have balked at once, and the people on this forum believe, from their viewpoint, that I am a crackpot. Perhaps I am. I sure feel like one. I'm sure I have some really full-on skewed ideas about God. But I'm pretty sure that they do too. I don't need to try to convince them that I am right and they are wrong, because I have never once been convinced by someone on a forum coming in with the aim to prove that they are right and I am wrong. I can smell it from miles away and it makes my giant inner teenager refuse to hear anything that is said.

Anyway, there is enough fear and trembling involved in working out my own salvation without trying to force people I don't even know and will never talk to again into my view.

Anyway, I kinda like being really creepy :)

(I was just thinking that the best response to something like that would be just letting it slide, rather than writing a blog post about it. But hey, this is better than the response I would have made 10 years ago. I would have been on there in a flash, saying nasty things to them. So you know, have to put everything in context. I've actually come a long way.

Whereas Erin, she's just a useless polytheist :)

The God lurch


I don't quite know how to explain to myself, let alone to anybody else, what this long, drawn-out season of my life would be called, this long, long season of a decade's duration. I guess after listening to Paul Young on Canada's Drew Marshall Show I would just describe it as being in my own personal shack (scroll down to the William Paul Young interview). It really is wonderful seeing what God has done with this bloke after he was so sucked down by his shame and pain that he wanted to die. Even more wonderful is seeing someone who has no secrets now, and who walks in the still painful freedom of that.

I can so relate to so much of what he says in this interview. I feel like I've been sucked down too, clinging like a husk to the sides of God so I don't blow away. It really is all about freedom being nothing left to lose. How sad that sometimes we can't fall over into freedom until there is just absolutely no choice left. I know I've already chosen freedom. I've walked along her paths somewhat. But I am not out of my own personal shack yet, unfortunately. But oh, the grace in having walked the paths. And they're not that far away.

I feel the hope that comes along with that feeling of being nothing more than a seed, a renewed hope and focus on God, even though the world is reeling and lurching just as much as I am. I guess we're all lurching toward God.

I'm feeling this morning again the lovely grace of God who is always present, even within my dummy spits. Those dummy spits are sure ugly, but they're sure necessary for me. And I can't help feeling like not only that God is wiling and able to put up with them, but that he is going to make something beautiful out of them.

He likes doing that, making life out of dead things.

Western paralysis part 2


Tuesday 6 May 2008

Almost without realising it, I have fallen back into striving again. I am so much more paralysed, after a period of trying to work out Western paralysis, that I give up. Again, I return back to my own Rome, which is where all my roads converge these days because none of the others make sense and bring me peace, or have the ring of Him about them, except for this:

I can only do what I see the Father doing, what I believe he is asking me to do.

And yet that raises questions of its own.

I do persist in trying to come up with a unified theory of everything. I actually have a theory that there is a unified theory, but that it appears so completely random and utterly disparate and totally contradictory that we can't begin to see it, and so there may as well be no theory at all :)

Still, doesn't mean I'm not going to try to work the whole thing out. It's actually easy to work it out. It comes by listening. It's just that you get one piece at a time, and God's jigsaw puzzle box contains 783,568,140,362,866,266 pieces.

I've stopped being angry at God. Really, being angry at Love is a bit pointless, isn't it? It's like being furious at a baby's gurgle, or hateful towards a flower or unmoved by mountain ranges or moved by Nana Moskouri music. Still, Love behaves in ways certainly have me questioning his motives at times. Actually, it's more how Love doesn't behave. How Love doesn't step in to alleviate suffering. Of course, that's the old hoary chestnut that is probably front and square of most atheists' soapboxes proclaiming the non-existence of God. But why does he not do more? This is why I have been angry at him.

But then ...

You feed them, Jesus said.

I'm thinking of Mother Theresa who spent all those years in Calcutta, seemingly fruitless if you mark it on a chart. No wonder she doubted her faith, being immersed up to her neck in suffering every day. She threw so much into the people of Calcutta that her faith followed in afterwards. I imagine it have come back a hundredfold by now, but still - day after relentless day she spent, and many of those days she must have been wondering, for what? But she went where He asked her to go, did she not?

And so. What we do must come out of the heart of the Father, those things he has prepared for us since before the beginning of the world. We must believe this or else we will all go insane. There is too much suffering, too much that needs to be done, too much that just makes us throw our hands up in the air and do nothing, and too much that we are told and shown by the media. We get to see bad things happening every single day, day after day after day. Some people in times past lived in tiny villages and never went any further than that, and would go for weeks without hearing any bad news. We hear it every single day. And we can't fix the world. If indeed we love who is in front of us, and look inward to those little inklings that might send us further afield, then perhaps that is all that we can do. But is that enough when the entire world shakes so?

There is an interesting article from Mark Satin's Radical Middle newsletter which highlights how it is that the poor, if we really want to help them, require much more than just a bit of cash thrown at them to appease consciences whose hearts really aren't in it. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. But not the pot-fuelled 1960s version. Go read the article; I like what he says there.

It's nothing more or less than what Jesus displayed and spoke and indicated and suggested and provoked and angered about. The difference between hell on earth and the closest thing to heaven on earth we can get in one life is a group of engaged or disengaged people. The life of love lived outward. It's so simple that we can't do it.

I have spent so long composing this post and yet it has all fallen apart in my hands, crumbling. And in the end, I turn back, as always, to God. And ask, what will you have me do? And hope that I listen when he answers. It's all that I can do.

Western paralysis


Urbanmonk wrote a thought-provoking post this morning, in the wake of the Burmese typhoon that has killed 15,000 as we speak, about the strange position he and his fundraising buddies found themselves in after the 2004 tsunami.

It got me thinking about how hard it is to do anything here in the West that is outwardly focussed enough to really help. My thought this morning about Burma was, what can I do here? I could pray (except I'm a bit angry at God over the past couple of days, a dummy spit that is precluding me from extended prayer, at least for today). Prayer may seem pointless, but it moves mountains.

Donating money. Well, I don't have any. I have actually sent a text message out this afternoon to a friend who owes me money, so I could use it to pay my bills and have enough money to buy some food before I get paid next Thursday. Still, I'm not labouring under some false illusion that I'm in dire straits. I have never gone without a meal in my life except under my own choice. I could do with going without a few and it wouldn't be a problem. And I'm sure if I really want to, I could still donate 10 bucks. But what for? Ten bucks feels so pointless. (Of course, that whole "this feels pointless" is probably another Western Christian mindset, the idea that all things that need to be done are BIG things. This, while obviously fed by the amazing amounts of need seen all around us, are just as much fed by our BIG egos which want us to do amazing things, not nondescript things).

What I would want to do most would be to actually go to Burma, and help a whole bunch of people who have basically lost everything. I don't know what I would do over there. It's not like I'm particularly useful, but, you know, I could lug bricks or something. For a bunch of people whose language I don't know. Having flown over there on a plane which will contribute enough pollution to already blacken my dark carbon footprint.

Which would be ironic, considering global warming is possibly one of the contributors to the typhoon that has Burma in the position it is (asking for foreign help; how that must rankle their government).

Still, I really am thinking seriously about some sort of short-term national or international volunteering position over the next year or so. Something to get me out of myself, short-term to see how I go (say, a month). I have long wanted to do something (it's all very fuzzy and diffuse; I don't really know what I want to do, it's just a yearning to help people). In many ways it would the perfect time to do something like that. I have no real ties to anything here (indeed, sometimes I feel so untied, I feel like I could go flying off out into the universe just from the unbearable lightness (must read that book). Which would be handy if I went flying off to, say, Burma. Help reduce the carbon footprint). It would be wonderful to do something useful and others-focussed and loving and something I know God would smile on, which would also have the added benefit of getting myself up and going again (I feel so stuck, so morose. To be drawn out of my own misery by helping people who are in real dire straits would be some good kind of face slap, I think).

I have felt little inklings to do something for years. Been looking at a few general websites so far (I'm interested in non-Christian ones, actually) but the irritating thing is that many of them are looking for professionals of some sort. There you go. Even volunteering has become professionalised.

What if you're an unskilled loser who wants to lug stuff for people? You don't need a degree for that.

Looks like I'm gonna have to stop sulking at God and start praying.

Richard Dawkins


Sunday 4 May 2008

I love Richard Dawkins. He has such a wonderful mind; God must have especially loved knitting that together in his mother's womb. Heh!

Just been watching the first episode of The Enemies of Reason. He went off tonight to New Age fairs and spiritualist meetings talking to dowsers and tarot card readers about their practices, performing a few experiments. The dowsers underwent a double-blind experiment to test their abilities. Bottles containing either water or sand were hidden inside plastic bins and the dowsers went about choosing which bins contained the water. They all only got as many right as you would estimate would happen according to chance. And yet afterwards, they all had reasons why they continued to believe that their dowsing abilities remained intact.

I must admit, it seemed like one of those human quirks that people would continue trusting their dowsing ablities after they had been proven false. But people say that about God, also. I know nothing about dowsing. Do I think it's possible that people can use funny little tine things to find water? I guess so. I know nothing about how water is found from above the ground but I guess this whole deal must have developed somehow. These people must have had success finding water with their methods in the past, or they wouldn't still be called dowsers, I guess. Why couldn't they perform under a clinical trial situation? Who the hell knows? Perhaps they're all whackoes who have been found out. Perhaps they really do have some as-yet-scientifically unverifiable ability to dowse for water, and it is an intuitive, sensitive thing which is much harder to tune into when you have a camera and a bunch of people waiting to watch you fail (in the same kind of strange way that you feel guilty when you see a policeman, even though you've done nothing wrong. Performance anxiety. Who knows?)

Richard Dawkins reveres truth. I admire his heartfelt admiration for the universe. He loves verifiable, experimental truth and bemoans the reduction of students studying scientific subjects in English universities in the last several years (as he should). Dawkins compared astrology with astronomy, wondered why it was that a patently stupid system fills the pages of newspapers, takes up more space than the reportage of regularly occurring scientific discoveries about our amazing universe that go on under our noses every day without us knowing. Dawkins waxed lyrical about the amazing time machine that is the night sky, viewed in the countryside on a moonless night, with the spectre of billions of stars passing before our gaze which began their journey when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

I adore Dawkins' mind and passion. I admire his revering of reason and understand his concern about the explosion of interest in subjective realities and the snake oil salesmen that come along with that territory, the vulnerabilities of grieving people exploited by the medium who is giving a word from their loved ones in spiritualist halls.

But there is a balance in everything. And so while I enjoyed and was agreeing with so much of what he had to say, laughing my way through the show (how lovely to be in a position where these days I don't feel the need to take a hardline stand for God and demonise the person who is dismissing his existence in the process), it was still a case of, "Yes, Richard, yes, Richard, yes, Richard ... oh, well, I don't know about that" (although, not very much in this show. The show where he was proclaiming belief in God as a delusion was much more hard-going than seeing him denounce tarot cards and astrological signs, despite my chakra adventurings). But it's easy to denounce tarot readers, but it's just as easy to denounce Christianity and God's existence and criticise those things as crutches. But life is 400 million times more stranger, mysterious, terrifying than we want it to be. We all take solace in certainties and safeties because if we don't we will go insane. For those of us who have ventured into more subjective internal spiritual unverifiable certainties, blessed are us who have not seen and yet believe. Of course, within that belief there is the concern that what if, what if we've got it wrong? What if? I think asking ourselves that reasonably regularly is evidence of a people who have their wits about them, rather than doubters of faith. The answering call always comes, however faint or small or subjective seeming, at least for me. And there is no way to prove it to the rest of the world. And there is no need to, I guess. But oh, gee, sometimes I wish we could :)

But then, practitioners of science always seem to me to be betraying the endeavour and enquiry of their own field when they dismiss out of hand something which is inherently unprovable. Especially when they look at those billions of stars in that countryside sky.