INSPIRATION:
COSMIC SPURS


THE VISION
Photo: Zoe Nathan

A while ago, I started writing an article on the state of ecstasy for Spurs Magazine. I planned on presenting examples of ecstatic poetry, art and music from many world traditions. I wanted to create something so powerful that readers will be thrown into bliss, catapulted past their normal neuroses into transcendent love, and inspired to be all they can be. I wanted to set the Net on fire. I wanted God to appear on the cyber page, nothing less.

I've always been an over achiever.

Do you write or sculpt or make music or do anything like that? I've been one sort of artist or another all my life, so I'm familiar with the steps of THE CREATIVE PROCESS! First: The Vision. Whammo! Whatever you want to create appears in your head like it's done, wrapped and delivered. You can see it in your mind's eye. Or hear it. Feel it. It's real. All you have to do is bring it across. It comes from the other side, obviously. Right over there in the land of inspiration. The home of ecstasy and love.

Step two: You start to work. You begin handling the ten thousand tiny details of pushing, shoving, coercing, and swearing at the goo of the real world so that it begins to look like your vision. All the while, The Vision is before you, tantalizing. Step three: Reality dawns. We live on a horse ranch. We have a large pile of horse related material which I will not name behind the barn. (Hint: it's green.) At this stage of the creative process, you realize that you have committed to climb that pile in bare feet and sculpt something out of it. You are about a third of the way up, still have to hit the peak, do your thing, and get back down. The Vision is still there, but it's taken on a greenish cast.

This is The Real Creative Process, people.


GETTING THE JOB DONE IS HARD SOMETIMES.

So. I was in my bare feet, with a partially completed article on ecstasy, a bunch of links to various books and CD's, lots of ideas. My inner voice said, "Remember your master's thesis in economics!" Ahh. Yes. Topped out at 250 excruciatingly boring pages. It was really good. As good as a study of the municipal cost of providing urban services to sprawling development could be. I learned one thing from this: Don't pick a big topic. Think small. Think manageable.

I'd done it again. I was in the pits, up to my knees in the green stuff, faltering. I wanted to deliver that article on ecstasy. I would deliver it. Maybe. From long experience, I knew this, too, is part of the creative process. You have to keep going when you want to quit. If you keep working, you will bring The Vision across just fine-- assuming a little inspiration and perhaps a divine intervention. You need faith, a strong stomach, and a good shovel.


SOMETIMES, THE JOB SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE.

Bill Miller's new inspirational CD, "Hear Our Prayer", arrived when I was most mired. Was this the shovel I needed? I love Bill's work. I write laudatory pieces about him all the time. Just put up Halloween II, about his appearance in Santa Barbara on Oct. 27th. Would "Hear Our Prayer" get me out of my doldrums?

 


BILL MILLER
If you are not familiar with his work, Bill Miller is a Native American musician of extraordinary emotional and spiritual impact. Click on his name to read more about him.

Hear Our Prayer did more than get me moving. It got me to write this article in one day. I knew I'd write something about the CD. I thought I would report, "I knew I'd like this CD before I heard it, the question was, how much?" Didn't work that way. I have never been able to write my mind's previously scripted response about Bill Miller. I found Hear Our Prayer highly inspirational. To inspire is defined: To fill with an animating or exalting influence. To arouse or generate feeling or thought. And: to guide or control through divine influence.

Inspire it did: Hear Our Prayer definitely filled me with animating influence. It aroused and generated enormous feeling and thought. And perhaps divine influence got in there, too.

I felt traumatized on first listen. I was very, very, very upset by the CD.

Why? Ah. Herein lies the inquiry. The philosophical inquiry.


WE ARE ALL PHILOSOPHERS
Art: Lily Nathan, charcoal on paper, barn wood and leather mountings
Photo: Zoe Nathan

We're all philosophers. Philosopher: from the Greek philosophos: Philos: loving + sophos: wisdom. A philosopher is one who loves wisdom. Who studies wisdom. One of the purposes of human existence is philosophical inquiry. Why am I here? What does this mean? I remember one of my professors at Santa Clara University teaching a survey of philosophy course long ago. (Dennehy was his name, I believe. Tough remembering: it's been almost 40 years). The professor said, "We're all philosophers. We learn what school of philosophy is ours as we live our lives. The problem is, by the time we get it figured out, we're 80 years old and it's too late." Perhaps, but we make necessary operating assumptions along the way.

My personal philosophical search was put in the fast lane in the middle of my first set of final exams back in 1964. My father was killed by a drunk driver. I feel the shock today, thirty years later. I couldn't understand it, and I couldn't understand all that came afterward. My father was a pillar of society, a man who'd risen from a penniless immigrant to the head of a huge corporation. A health nut, a body builder, someone who supported in a zillion charities, built churches. Was a war hero, a scholar, a role model.

Why did he die so stupidly?

A real existential question, a custom made Zen koan. (A koan is question unanswerable by the human mind used by Zen masters to speed their students' enlightenment.)

I got philosophical real fast when I was eighteen. Fortunately, I was in the perfect environment to do it: A Jesuit university. We'll get back to this.


ANDY ODDSTAD: MY FATHER
1918-1964

Why was Bill's inspirational album, which I expected to love, traumatic when I first heard it? I knew it was "inspirational" before I listened to it. I tend to hate what is called inspirational music. Most of it feels contrived and vapid to me: elevator music for the soul. I knew Bill's would be different. It was. Hear Our Prayer is highly impactful. And it's a Christian album. Why should that bother me? I love flat out shoutin' Gospel. I drive around with Aretha Franklin blasting Amazing Grace all the time. Mahalia Jackson is one of my favorites. I even love Billy Joe Shaver's Christian CD, Victory. (Billy Joe Shaver is a Texas cowboy. I hate Country Western music, but I love his Victory.) Why should Bill Miller's Christian declaration upset me?

I'll tell you right now.

By way of warning, this is a challenging piece. I hope it shakes your foundations. If you read it, please read the whole thing. Please be clear that I am expressing my thoughts and feelings in reaction to my first listening to Hear Our Prayer. I am saying nothing of Bill's artistry and integrity or those of the people at Integrity Records. Or their experience of Jesus Christ. I'm not even talking about Christians, except where it fits. This is about me and my feelings.


THE NATARAJ
The dance of the universe, of which we are all a part.

People are sometimes surprised to find that I'm a Christian. I'm heavily influenced by Eastern religions and write about them. I tend to have images like the one above on this web site. I don't talk about my Christianity much. I started out Scandinavian and Protestant the way Italians are Catholic. Except that my relationship with God was never something I inherited along with my eye color. My experience of Jesus Christ is neither superficial nor for public view. So I don't talk about it.

Plus, over the years, I've developed a few problems with Christianity and my fellow Christians.

For instance, my father had four sisters, The Aunties, as beloved and lovable a group of women as ever walked the earth. Two of my Aunties married Jewish men. So, I had two Jewish uncles. And four half-Jewish cousins, all of whom I love. Whether my family members practice Judaism or not is their business: They're Jewish enough for Hitler. My husband's family is of Jewish origin. They haven't practiced the religion for a couple of generations, but their friends and relatives do. My father-in-law is a man of utmost gentility, kindness, and intelligence: a poet and artist. My father-in-law has been denied housing and God knows what else because of our last name and his nose. My husband has never practiced Judaism, but has nevertheless experienced countless incidents of anti-Semitism. I have experienced anti-Semitism indirectly, from people who consider themselves peerless Christians. My two half-Jewish daughters don't practice Judaism, but are mindful and respectful of their heritage. Again, my husband, in-laws, daughters, cousins and uncles are plenty Jewish enough for Hitler. Adolph would gas them just fine.

Most of the good Christian world sat by and let Hitler butcher six million people who could have been my relatives.

This offends me.

Is anti-Semitism dead? Good heavens no. Neo Nazis swarm in Europe as I write. Go to Frankfurt. The United States has its own white supremacist mob out to save the world for white Christians. If any new Hitler got in power here, he'd butcher my husband and kids, and probably me as well.

This offends me.

 


TAOS PUEBLO SURVIVED
Civilizations have been destroyed-- or almost destroyed.

Photo: Zoe Nathan

Similarly, I have feelings about other uses of Jesus Christ by His alleged followers. For instance, the European settlers of almost anywhere justified overrunning and destroying native populations and cultures in the name of bringing Christ to the savages. Women have been subjugated in Jesus' name. People have been enslaved, killed, tortured, and raped by Christians in the name of God. Look at history. The Inquisition. The Protestant/Catholic wars. European Imperialism. Russia's Pogroms. The Holocaust. And what were the Crusades about? I've never figured them out. It hasn't stopped: Milosevich was deposed in Serbia recently. Do you know what the "ethnic cleansing" that Milosevich and his buddies had going was about? They were offing the "ethnic Serbs" -- the Muslims. The Christian majority was happily wiping out their Muslim minority in Europe just a few months ago. All these atrocities were perpetrated by individuals cleaning up the world for Christ.

This is an abomination.

***

Want more? If you are a Christian, have you been discriminated against because you were the wrong kind of Christian? Have you had aspersions cast upon your character by people who didn't know you at all? Been treated as inferior because you worship differently or have a slightly different version of the Bible than theirs? Catholics aren't the only ones who do this, by the way. I've also gotten it from other Protestants: "You say you're saved, but are you saved the right way?" The questions are there, spoken or unspoken, in narrowed eyes and closed hearts, "If you're a Christian, why did you marry an agnostic from a Jewish background? Why do you go to a Hindu Ashram? Read the Baghavad Gita? Read the Gita and other nonchristian religious texts for themselves, not looking for their faults to make Christianity look better? If you're a Christian, why do you meditate? Aren't you afraid of what's out there? If you are a Christian, why you think people of other religions are your equal? As in really your equal? Like you don't need to convert them?" Astonishing arrogance and superiority. Always, the over riding question: "If you're a Christian, why don't you think/look/vote/act/fear/hate like me?"

Yeah. I have some problems with what Christians do in the name of Christ.


THE PLANET MARS
Named for the god of war.
I knew I'd use this photo some time.

Phew! Did Bill's new CD hit a hot spot. To inspire: to fill with an animating influence. To arouse or generate feeling or thought. And: to guide or control through divine influence. Inspiration doesn't have to be pretty. Doesn't have to feel good. It's the fruit that matters.

I don't usually talk about my Christianity, but I will now. Via a detour. Via a tale of two Jesuits. I love God. God puts us right where we need to be. One of the things that saved me after my dad was killed was the Jesuit community at Santa Clara University. I never thanked them properly: I thank you now, my professors and teachers back in the 60's. And in the 70's when I went back and got my MA at SCU. You don't know how inspiring you were. You don't know how your words were a balm and a flame to a tortured young woman's heart. Your words and your being-- who you were and are-- kept me going. Keep telling your truth, and demanding that your students find theirs.

I'd like to introduce you to two men who influenced me greatly when I was an undergraduate. Some of you may remember them: Fr. Austin Fagothey, and Fr. Timothy Fallon. I'm going to spend a few minutes telling you about them, because it's germane to my story. And because some of you may enjoy the reminiscence. These philosopher/priests had enormous impact. I'm in a reading group: 12 women who meet every month to discuss a book we select. Recently, we read a book about a moral issue. At our discussion, one of the women commented, "I was reading this book and could just feel Fr. Fagothey over my shoulder..." I woke up at the sound of his name, "You had Fr. Fagothey? You went to Santa Clara University? I had Fr. Fagothey, too!" "You had Fr. Fagothey? Oh, wow!" my friend exclaimed in wonder. One of those scenes transpired like in soap ads: the mother and child run toward each other across a field of flowers and embrace ecstatically. She had Fr. Fagothey in the 70's, I had him in the 60's. We're now friends for life.

Terrorized by the same small man.

Austin Fagothey, S.J. was a small, spare man, the Chairman of the Philosophy Department when I was at SCU. Fr. Fagothey was a living definition of an ascetic. Not a pound to spare, or a motion. He had an upright posture, which matched his thinking and his behavior. He was always impeccably groomed-- or as well groomed as a Jesuit can be. The proscribed garb isn't a fashion statement. His long black habit bore no wrinkles. No chalk dust, either. I think it was a law of the universe that chalk dust was not allowed to stick to Fr. Fagothey's clothes. He was very tough. Very clear. Absolutely logically consistent. His logic flowed through his life: Accept premise A, the rest followed inevitably. He was on edition 4 of his ethics text when I had him. How many more did he produce before he died? I'd like to know.

Fr. Fagothey taught with the Socratic method, as I recall. A dialogue. He was tough, but fair. Scary, really. I found him scary, but in a way that said, "Get your act together," not "You're bad." Fr. Fagothey wasn't arrogant or punitive. With all his sternness, he was approachable. I never took my problems to him, but I felt I could have if I'd needed to. A lovely man. I'm so glad I was able to study with him. He reflected on his life in class once-- he was getting older even in the 60's. I recall him saying something like, "My life would have been totally different if I weren't a priest. But I'm glad I made the choice I did. I have no regrets for the life I've chosen." He was content. I don't remember many of his words at this point, but I remember a light he possessed, a substance. An essence that I remember. The stamp of integrity. And a twinkle in his eye.

Timothy Fallon was as different in temperament from Fr. Fagothey as a man could be. A towering giant, Fallon swept into the classroom. His gray hair flew upward wildly, untamed by any notion of how a priest's hair should behave. While Fr. Fagothey's robes seemed to be made of "never wrinkle" cloth, Fallon's bore all the wrinkles in the universe. Also all the chalk dust-- including that which wouldn't cling to Fr. Fagothey. He had a "robust paunch" back in the '60's. When he'd swing around delivering a lecture, his habit would sometimes gape, revealing his undershirt. He never noticed. The man was a lion! Impassioned! When he gave a sermon at the Mission of a Sunday, people would walk around stunned on Monday. "I don't know what he was talking about, but I'd better do it!" He spoke of people's bellies: The bellies we spend our lives trying to fill. The belly for food, sex, money, things, more and more and more. He spoke of our bellies and lives spent in service to them, with God incidental if noticed at all. He said this to and of "good" people, "good" Catholics.

Timothy Fallon taught all the modern stuff: Existentialism, Contemporary Issues in Philosophy. More that I can't remember. He also taught me what it means to be a Christian. Do you know anything about modern philosophy? Philosophy in the sense of taking mainstream university classes and not human potential metaphysics or some woo-woo nonsense? Or something with the guts edited out? I'm going to outline the basic socioeconomic, psychological and philosophical elements of educated human existence right now. Save you some tuition. (Some of this might be dated-- philosophers, let me know.) This is also what Fr. Fallon taught in Contemporary Issues in Philosophy. Here's the basic content of the course:

The themes cluster around "GOD IS DEAD." What that means is the God that people worshipped slavishly for thousands of years is exposed, kaput, gone, as anything worth worshipping. I believe most of the texts for the class were on a list the Catholic Church once kept labeled, "Don't Read These or You'll Lose Your Faith." And you could, too.

Let's start with psychological aspects of God. Sigmund Freud's chief claim to fame these days is asking the question, "If society is so hot, then why do people crack up in it?" He also talked about God, saying that the God most people worship is the blown up version of the superego.

Remember Freud's id, ego and superego? The id is your animal nature, what you'd really like to do. The ego is the manager who keeps you from being arrested. Also gets the bills paid. The super ego is the internalized voice of mom and dad or whoever, you know, "Sandy. Why are you doing this? What does this writing business achieve? Don't rock the boat. Shut up, as a matter of fact. And shouldn't you be doing something to make money? After all the good advice I've given you all your life, why haven't you done better? Get to work and quit complaining. Although you'll never really make it..."

Big Daddy. That's all God is to many, many people today. It's a projection of a parental authority figure. It's culturally and psychologically bound. It's not God. Clearly, this God isn't worth worshipping.


MARCHING IN LOCK STEP, HEARTS OF CLAY

How about the social aspects of God? Our friend Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." According to Marx, religion says, "Don't worry, factory workers! Just because you enter the mines/factory/farm at age 10 and work a 12 hour day 7 days a week until you drop dead at 35, in the sweet by and by you'll be saved. Sing and do your rituals. Don't rock the boat." You don't think God has been used for this purpose? By organized religion? Not consciously, perhaps, but de facto. Social class, property ownership and religion march hand in hand. Marx said eventually the workers, the meek and downtrodden, would get smart, band together and throw their oppressors out via a bloody revolution. Creating a glorious communist fellowship like they had in Russia. Ask the folks over there about how that one worked out.

But! Marx was right about a few things. Religion, organized Christianity, has been used to preserve social classes, subjugate women, keep people from questioning what's happening in society. And generally keep the fat cats happy and the meek with the dirt. Certainly this "God" isn't worth worshipping, either.

As you read this-- I'm just reporting, folks. I didn't make this up. This is the short form of what some real smart guys thought/observed. They thought it about a hundred years ago, so parts haven't borne up to the experience of time. Parts have. My daughter is taking a philosophy course in college right now: Language and Religious Experience. They're studying what Freud said about God. Just what I said above. This information is not to be feared, religious people. It's to be used to form a valid relationship to God. And-- you don't have to be a genius or an academic to understand it. Just plain folks can get it fine.

**

So where's God? How do we know God if not through the yapping of our superego or through what our religious institutions say we should be? Let's look at contemporary philosophical issues, they might help. That's the course Fr. Fallon taught. He covered all the material I outlined above, but much, much more deeply. And then we got to a tiny little book called A Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic. Heard of it? Didn't think so. It's not a best seller. It's a blockbuster by a philosopher named Immanuel Kant. In this tiny book, Kant destroys the possibility of ever knowing if God exists. Or anything exists. This is called the Kantian Dilemma.

A tip for single people reading this: buy the Prolegomena. Place it in the center of your coffee table so no one can miss it. Shine a light on it, if necessary. When you come home with a date, rather than putting on some romantic contemporary music, Eminem, say, throw yourself onto your sofa and wring your head in your hands. Your date will say, "What's the matter?" And you can say, "I've been going crazy trying to figure out the Kantian dilemma... I just can't get it. I don't know how I'll ever know God-in-Itself..." And then lay out what I say below. I guarantee you'll be more successful than you are with Eminem. You may find someone you'd like to spend more than a night with. Perhaps a lifetime.

The Kantian Dilemma is this: We can only know the phenomenon, not the nuomenon. (Just using these words should raise your dating status enormously. Everyone is impressed by an impassioned intellectual with an unintelligible vocabulary.) What does this mean? We know the world through our sense organs: sight, touch, smell, hearing and maybe something else. I think there's five. Anyway, because we perceive reality through our sense organs, we are forever banned from actually knowing anything in itself. As it exists in itself.

Okay. I'm sitting at my computer, typing. I hear the machine whine. Sound waves strike my ear drums, are zapped as a series of electrical impulses to my brain, where they register on my brain cells in a pattern I call, "whirring of computer." My fingers type: Same thing-- impressions on my fingers, up arm to brain. A bunch of neurological imprints I call, "I'm typing." My eyes: see the screen, the room, look out the window to the mare down in the pasture and ditto-- light strikes my retina, is transformed into unbelievably complex series of nerve impulses which go to my brain, where something there says, "Computer screen, desk. Horse in pasture." That's it.

Do I know the computer, keyboard or horse exist? Or even my own fingers? Or me, or you? No. I will never know if anything really exists because I am trapped inside my own nervous system. Read Oliver Sacks, the compassionate neurologist who wrote Awakenings, An Anthropologist on Mars, and other books. The neurology alone is stunning. People create their realities based on an incredibly complex learning process based on minute electronic impulses. That's all. Did you know that a person who has been blind his whole life has his sight restored will not be able to see functionally? Or maybe ever? Read the neurology of our existence.

***

What does this mean about God? It's simple: If I can't say my fingers exist, if I can never get to the thing in itself-- the horse as it exists apart from the sense data that my brain uses to construct the image-- how on earth can I say God exists? How can I ever experience God? Or reality?

You can't. That's the Kantian Dilemma... And the shock you should be feeling now is why they had A Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic on that read-at-your-peril list.

Okay. Fr. Fallon-- a Jesuit priest-- told us all this stuff. A bunch of 20 year old kids. He raged around the room, illustrating, illuminating, making it real. The Kantian Dilemma: I can never know anything In Itself, only as an experienced object. And-- he'd previously thrown out the Freudian and Marxist bases of religion. What does this leave? Nothing. No way to know God at all. Period. No Exit. (Catchy title. Someone should use it.)


NO EXIT
Art: Lily Nathan, charcoal on paper

This was a shocking experience: we were stunned. The class sat there at the end of Fr. Fallon's lecture, motionless. Why was he a priest if this is what he believed? Why was he anything? What were we? Our collective jaw dropped. We sat-- 30 of us-- blinking, unable to move. Someone finally stammered out what we all thought, "Fr. Fallon, are you a Christian? Do you believe in Jesus?"

The lion, who had been standing motionless by the window, turned. The huge man, white streaked hair flying, habit flying, whirled and faced us. "I AM A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST IS AS REAL TO ME AS THIS TABLE!" WHAM!! He slammed his hand down on the table before him. Wham! The sound resonated.

"I AM A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST IS AS REAL TO ME AS THIS TABLE!" WHAM!!

This was more shocking than all he'd taught us before. This wasn't polite middle class Christianity, this was Jesus Christ illuminating a man. Jesus Christ was in the room.

***

"Jesus Christ is as real to me as this table." I learned something that day. A new basis which cut through the mind, through Freud and Marx, cut through the reality of the physical body and got straight to spirit. "Jesus Christ is as real to me as this table." A man stood before us. An educated man. A sophisticated man who'd looked the modern world in the eye. The modern world full strength, undiluted, unedited for his "protection". A man who found that the experience of Jesus Christ cut through everything. That's the only true basis for Christianity as I see it. And what a glorious and disciplined basis that is.


THE MYSTERY SHINES LIKE THE MOON,
ALWAYS PRESENT.

Photo: Zoe Nathan

Mysticism. Ecstatic experience. Yeah. Direct experience of God. Of Jesus Christ. Can you have it? I don't know. How much do you want to give up for the real thing? How much of an outsider do you want to be? This isn't the Christianity of the masses. This hurts. How much do you want to burn? What if Jesus is real for you and He doesn't tell you what the church does? What then?

Christ comes to those who love him. Christ comes based on need, desire, based on purity and commitment. Based on suffering at the hands of man.

***

Christ had nothing to do with what's been done in his name. Christ weeps at what we've done in his name.

***

I don't talk about my Christianity. It's too personal. Too easily defiled. Too sacred. Too beautiful. My Lord sits on my heart, the radiant one. The jeweled emperor, clad in garments past ecstasy, glory streaming, holding me in the milk white sea of opals and bliss. His is the eternal fountain of limitless love. The Lord of Heaven, the Son of Man. My gateway to the infinite. The lover of my soul.


NO IMAGE, SOUND, COLOR, OR SENSATION COMES NEAR THE BEAUTY OF MY LORD.
Photo: Zoe Nathan

 

Dear Readers,

I had great trepidations about posting this article. I took the text to my sisters, the women in my writing group. And what a tribe we are! I read this piece and asked, "Should I post this? Does the Internet need this?" Resoundingly and unanimously they said, "POST IT!" They also said I should put some kind of sound into the text so when Fr. Fallon goes, "Wham!" as he says, "Jesus Christ is as real to me as this table," you could hear it. (I whacked the table when I read the piece.) Well, I don't know how to do that, so you'll have to supply the sound. It was shocking. WHAM!

My sisters said, "POST IT!", and then passed Bill's CD around, taking it's title down so they could order it. You can buy Hear Our Prayer by clicking on the title. I've listened to it many times since writing the article above and recommend it. I would describe the CD as the first Native American Gospel I've heard. More of Bill Miller's work can be purchased through Amazon at the end of this note. All purchases through this site benefit charity.


SOME OF THE WOMEN OF THE SANTA YNEZ VALLEY WRITERS' WORKSHOP

My writing workshop friends also wanted to know more about Fr. Fallon & Fr. Fagothey. I contacted Santa Clara University and found out the following: Fr. Austin J. Fagothey died in May, 1975. He taught in the Philosophy Department of Santa Clara University for 40 years, most of it as Department Chair. He wrote five editions of his ethics text, Right and Reason. The book is still used today, with an updated anthology. The Fagothey Chair was established in his honor. It is awarded to a visiting professor every year. Fr. Fallon died a few years ago. His funeral was very well attended. Both men are fondly remembered throughout Santa Clara University's community. I feel very grateful to have known them-- and worked hard for them, too.

I can't leave Fr. Fallon without talking about Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J. I didn't tell you the whole story about the Kantian Dilemma. [And you single people, listen up! Your dates will be enthralled with this. Really.] Fr. Fallon was very taken with Fr. Lonergan. He felt that Lonergan had solved the Kantian Dilemma. That's right, he'd solved the problem of reaching the thing in itself with a body limited to sense perception! That means that direct experience of God is possible! Lonergan lays out his argument in Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. This is a really hard book. I have the 1965 edition. It's exactly 2" thick. I tried to read it back when I was young and my brain worked. Couldn't do it. But if a man like Fr. Fallon thought Lonergan's book outlined the bridge between the phenomenal and the nuomenal worlds, I'd believe him. Insight is the bridge. The movement of wisdom, inspiration, visions from the other side to this one is the bridge. I had a powerful experience once. I write about it way at the bottom of Halloween II. I think I was shown what Lonergan meant. I'd love to talk to a philosopher/theologian about it. I would love to talk to Fr. Fallon about it.

***

In closing, I want to say-- follow your heart. Do what you're impelled by spirit to do. Reach out. Say it. I've had so many people I love die in the past year: My mother, my mother-in-law, old family friends. A dear old friend who meant so much to me: Rosie Butler. Mother Butler, as she was known in her church. If you didn't know Jesus when you met Rosie Butler, you sure would when she was done with you. Rosie held me up and my family together for years. I could not have achieved what I did professionally if my kids weren't in her safe hands. On earth, Rosie Butler was known as my housekeeper. In my heart, she was my dearest, wisest friend. Oh, Rosie, I wish I'd called you. I wish we could sit in the kitchen and drink coffee one more time. And laugh! Remember how we laughed? I wish you could see the girls now. They grew up exactly the way you thought. I miss you so much, my dear, dear friend. I never thought you'd die.

What I regret about these passings is that I didn't pick up the phone, or move my body, and tell some of my loved ones how much I cared for them. How much they added to my life. I wish I'd told Fr. Fallon and Fr. Fagothey, too. You touched me. You moved me. You saved me.

This life on earth is so short. It's a long hard journey. Not one of us knows if tomorrow is our last day. If our next breath is our last. We need to love and support each other step by step. We need to see our mutual love, our mutual hearts are the foundation of reality, not lines and distinctions created by the mind. We need to see God everywhere. I've resolved to tell people I love them. I've resolved to overcome the barriers, the resistance, to tell my truth, and to be all I can be. I could be dead tomorrow. All of us could.

This was such a valuable experience. We "spiritual people" think we're spiritual only if we're walking around with the saccharin smile of pseudo beatitude. That's not where the growth is. If something upsets you like Hear Our Prayer did me, that's a gift. Spirituality is not just about bliss and blue lights. It's about upsets and troubles and processing them through. Finding the root. The nugget at the bottom of the green pile. You can move forward from that into real ecstasy, real godliness.


THE MOST DANGEROUS OBJECTS ON EARTH:
THE INVISIBLE LENSES THROUGH WHICH YOU VIEW THE WORLD.

Ultimately, spiritual growth is about earning freedom from your hidden faults. Read Psalm 19. "Who is aware of his unwitting sins? Cleanse me of any secret fault. Hold back thy servant also from sins of self-will, lest they get the better of me. Then I shall be blameless and innocent of any great transgression." [New English Bible, Cambridge at the University Press]

The personal faults we know about are not the problem. It's what we operate off of unconsciously that kills. The people who committed the atrocities I enumerated DID NOT KNOW THEY WERE DOING WRONG. Their secret faults-- secret in the sense that they didn't know about them-- killed millions. Why did Bill's profession of his Christianity upset me? What was my secret-- unknown to me-- fault? I thought as a Native American, Bill should have the same reservations about Christianity as I do. I couldn't see that he could be both an aware Native and Christian. I wouldn't give him that-- when clearly his experience is like that of Fr. Fallon. "Jesus Christ is as real to me as this table!" WHAM! You can hear it in Bill's voice. My secret fault was exposed as my upset. Why couldn't I let him be a hybrid? I certainly am. Why not Bill? Why not others?

What were my dirty lenses putting on the world? On Christians? How were my hidden faults preventing me from seeing my fellow Christians as more than narrow minded hypocrites? How did my lenses stop me from feeling their love? Or admitting that some Christians are as sophisticated as I am and love God the same way? Oh. It's painful to see one's faults. Don't shirk from pain. It's where the learning is. Being willing to be humbled, to feel the pain of looking at one's self honestly, will keep you from being a bigot, a hypocrite, or even a murderer. Read Psalm 19.

Life is a philosophical inquiry. What we do in making our inquiry is create ourselves. In stating our truth, we learn. About ourselves. I feel embarrassed to have grouped all Christians with those who have hurt me. With those who would destroy my family. Clearly, Jesus, the real Jesus, walks and talks more than I've noticed. And everything I said above is also true. That stuff happened and many Christians haven't learned from it.

And now, with great humility and love, I will take leave of you, my readers, and get back to my life. And to writing my article about ecstasy. Writing this piece has inspired me to contact some of my friends. To get a little help from my friends in presenting the state of ecstasy as it shows up on the planet. From as many traditions as I can manage. I'll post that piece as soon as possible. Expect a surprise.

C

 

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE: LEARNING & LIVING SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

 

A MODERN SPIRITUAL COMPANION

 

B

NUMENON
A T
ALE OF MYSTICIAM & MONEY MENON

 

"BILL GATES MEETS DON JUAN."

D

TECOLOTE: THE LITTLE HORSE THAT COULD

BORN PREMATURELY ON A FREEZING NIGHT, THE COLT HAD TO FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE.

A

THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY

 

A FUTURE WORLD ONLY HEARTBEATS FROM OUR OWN

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AUTHOR SANDY NATHAN IS THE WINNER OF SEVENTEEN NATIONAL AWARDS!
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SANDY NATHAN

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