April 30, 2015
In my February 18 posting, I described a ninety-minute workshop I did during Easton Mountain’s Winter Gay Spirit Camp. The last paragraph of this posting described a possible sequel workshop – Erotic Imagination. That idea has been expanded to include all types of imagination. The workshop Infinite Imagination will be part of the June 26-28 Summer Splash weekend at Easton Mountain.
You can help me create this workshop by doing a simple preparatory exercise. In this exercise you will create a set of instructions for you or someone else in the workshop to follow. Here’s how to do it.
Write three imperative sentences or three paragraphs each beginning with an imperative sentence. The first sentence or paragraph should begin with the word “Contemplate”; the second, with the word “Visualize”; and the third, with the word, “Express.” The third sentence or paragraph should not specify a mode of expression – like writing, drawing of movement – but rather focus on what should be expressed. It might simply be, “Express what you visualized,” or “Express how you feel when…”
I will transfer your three sentences or paragraphs to a five-by-seven index card. In an upcoming workshop, participants will be asked to select a card at random from all answers submitted and use the process of contemplate … visualize … express to create a drawing, painting, song, movement piece, poem, essay, sculpture or collage. Participants will have the option of working with their own card.
To make it easy for you to take part in this project, I’ve create a form for you to
- express your interest in this work and
- send me the results of your doing this preliminary exercise.
Click here to participate in the preparatory exercise. Your imagination will contribute to our work, even if you can’t be at Easton Mountain, June 26-28.
February 18, 2015
Eighteen guys responded to this invitation to participate in a ninety-minute workshop:
Drawing What You Love
Small cocks, large cocks, thin cocks, fat cocks, tight balls, dangling balls – we love them all. This is an opportunity for you to have fun creating simple line drawings of male sex organs. You’ll start with reference photos and move on to drawing real cocks. You’ll have the opportunity to have another man draw your cock. Some people think of drawing as a kind of meditation, so this workshop can be considered a meditation with paper, a drawing implement, and a subject that holds your attention.
I had the men at two tables, with two easels at one end of each table. After some preliminary drawings, I asked for four men to stand at the easels to draw each other’s cocks, while the men at the tables drew the cocks of the standing men. Since the men at the easels would have to at least take their pants off, I suggested that they would be more comfortable if everyone stripped – which they did. Almost every man took a turn at the easels.
There was quite a range of background in the graphic arts, including one man who was an art teacher. I told the experienced men to ignore my instructions. For those with little or no instruction I encouraged them to make simple line drawings and to have fun.
I asked the men to select their best drawings. Here are some they selected.
All the responses at the end of the workshop were positive. Some said it was too short. Others wanted more evaluation of their work, but no one said they were bored or didn’t have fun.
I’ll be doing this workshop again at some upcoming weekends and week-long camps at Easton Mountain. I’m also contemplating a sequel workshop, “Erotic Imagination,” that will include other areas of expression – such as writing, music and performance – in addition to visual art, with each participant choosing which area(s) will be his focus. I’m in the process of setting up a trial run of this work, possibly at the March 20-23 retreat for gay men, “Spring Awakening.” I’m also exploring the possibility of offering an opportunity for women to come to Easton Mountain to create something from their erotic imaginations. If you’re interested in being a part of this work, please fill out the “Erotic Imagination Interest Form.”
February 1, 2015
I’ve recently received two emails. One brought me despair, the other hope. The first was a review of “American Sniper,” a move that made a record-breaking $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday long weekend. The reviewer, Chris Hedges, describes it as a movie that “lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression.”
The second email was from the team organizing the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions. Like Hedges, they also noted that “hate, anger and fear is rising in our country,” but their response is that “people of love must rise with stronger relationships.” The organizers are calling for “a joint declaration on this critical issue before we all make commitments to what we will be doing to counter it.”
My own feeling is that the Dalai Lama (scheduled to speak at the Parliament) alone cannot convince the world to give up hatred. Pope Francis alone cannot do it. No single religious leader can. But perhaps the collective voice of all the religious leaders of the world can.
That’s why I’m one of the 3500 already registered for the Parliament. That’s why I encourage you to check out the Parliament and then go within and look at how God may be leading you. If it’s to Salt Lake City for the Parliament in October, I look forward to seeing you there.
January 10, 2015
Radical Faeries have something called a “heart circle.” They use it as a way of connecting and as a way of focusing on problems. They sit in a circle and a talisman is passed around. Only the person with the talisman speaks. In many faerie groups, the talisman is passed until it goes once around wiht no one speaking.
Quakers have a similar way of focusing on problems. They call this way a “meeting for discernment.” The organizers format one or more questions for consideration. Participants sit in silence. One by one, they speak their thoughts about the questions asked. This differs from Quaker worship in that it is not necessary to be convinced that your words come from “that of God within you.”
I have had an idea that current social media may, at times, be a global heart circle – a global meeting for discernment. Am I being too idealistic? Maybe, but I think of this as a way of looking at all the comments of all the women and men who are deeply concerned about the issues of our times. I thought of setting up a group on Facebook for a world wide heart circle on climate change, but there are already so many pages on Facebook and on many other sites that accept comments.
Tomorrow, I’ll be leading a meeting of Quakers from my area. We will focus on three questions:
- What am I called to do in order to protect and restore the earth?
- What is our Meeting called to do?
- How can our Meeting reach out to other faith communities to protect and restore the earth?
I’m making it possible for those attending to videotape statements, and will be putting these statements into the global heart circle that is the internet.
November 21, 2014
Recently, I have been studying The Gospel of John using a two volume translation with extensive commentary by Raymond Brown – part of The Anchor Yale Bible. I see John as a man who had a profound relationship not only with the historical Jesus, but with the inward Christ, the spirit of God within himself. It is this Spirit that I sense as I read the Gospel – and this is in full harmony with my own Quaker tradition, which looks not to scripture as authority, but to the Spirit through which Scripture was created.
Brown, according to the notes on the book’s jacket, is “internationally regarded as the dean of New Testament scholars.” As a scholar, he is surely familiar with William of Occam, a fourteenth century philosopher best known for the principle of “Occam’s razor” which states “that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable.” Brown doesn’t follow this principle. He postulates an original author, who probably was John, but then thinks that the gospel went through several revisions and finally was placed in its present form by an anonymous editor. He has examined the ancient documents relating to this Gospel far more thoroughly than I. Still, I feel drawn to stating my own theory.
There are only a few references to John in Acts – and in one he is described as “unlearned and ignorant” (Acts 4:13). Like Peter, John was a fishermen when Jesus called him to be an apostles. A scribe was needed to write down what he said. Furthermore, Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic, while the New Testament as we have it, was written in Greek.
It would appear that John did not travel widely, but may have settled in Ephesus or another community in the Near East There he ministered to a flock that was probably mostly Jewish believers in Jesus. He would recount episodes in Jesus life that would be orally translated into the Greek. There is a reference in the twelfth chapter of the Gospel, “Now among those who had come up to worship at the feast there were some Greeks.” (John 12:20) We know that in Egypt, Judaism enjoyed some popularity, and its scriptures were translated into Greek about a century before the birth of Jesus. Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish contemporary of Jesus heavily influenced by Greek thought, and reference to “the Word,” in the first chapter of the Gospel, shows an influence of Hellenistic Judaism that has parallels in the work of Philo. The Greeks mentioned here may have become members of John’s flock.
John’s community came to be in strong conflict with the established Jewish institutions. Those who would follow Jesus were expelled from the synagogue and disowned by their own people. Because of this, the emphasis on the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees became a conflict between him and “the Jews.” That conflict was probably in full swing at the time John died.
After his death – maybe immediately after, maybe after a number of years – members of his flock came together, and had a scribe write down the words that they had heard repeated many times. Those who told the words of John didn’t have the sense of time and place that John himself might have had, just as parishioners in a church who had never had a college class in the Bible would know the stories of the life of Jesus but not know the order. That several speakers were involved may account for stylistic variations in the passages. They also may have added some commentary to their accounts. An example of this: in the twelfth chapter, versus 20-22 recount an incident between Peter and Jesus where John was present:
Then Peter turned around and noticed that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following …. Seeing him, Peter was prompted to ask Jesus, “But Lord, what about him?”
“Suppose I would like him to remain until I come,” Jesus replied, “how does that concern you? Your concern is to follow me.”
Verse 23 appears to be a comment by those who were putting the Gospel into written form:
This is how the word got around among all the brothers that this disciple was not going to die. As a matter of fact, Jesus never told him that he was not going to die; all he said was: “Suppose I would like him to remain until I come.”
The death of John must have had a profoundly negative impact on those expecting an immanent return of Jesus, so this passage seems to have been added for “damage control.”
As I continue to study the Gospel of John, I expect I’ll have other insights to write about in this blog.
October 29, 2014
In less than one week we will have elections. I don’t expect the gubernatorial candidate I vote for on November 4 will win, because I can’t bring myself to vote for either the Republican Party’s candidate or the Democratic Party’s candidate. I will vote for the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, and my hope is that he will get enough votes that it will show the major parties that environment and climate change is the issue of the twenty-first century. If we don’t have a planet to live on, nothing else matters.
But no matter who is in power, if we as individual citizens do not curb our appetites for fossil fuel, even what the most environmentally friendly government can do will not be enough – but if we can find a way to move to renewable energy, nothing that the most environmentally unfriendly government can do will stop us from building an economy that’s not dependent of fossil fuel – an economy that works for everyone.
On November 17, I will be at the 15th Street Quaker Meeting House in Manhattan, for a workshop on how neighborhoods and small communities, through a series of small group meetings, can learn to reduce their use of fossil fuel and become more resilient. I have more faith in what citizens can do than what the government can do, so for me I expect that November 17 will be the more important day in the process of preserving and renewing economic, social and environmental justice on this planet.
September 16, 2014
It’s no exaggeration to say that humanity faces the greatest crisis in its history. As a Quaker, I see this as a call equal to that heard in the seventeenth century to resist the tyrannical oppression of church-state alliances – a call that resulted in freedom of religion, first in England and its colonies and then throughout the western world. I see it as a call equal to the one in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to end slavery. Quakers did not achieve religious freedom alone. We did not end slavery alone. We worked with men and women of good will of all faiths to bring revolutionary changes of consciousness in western society.
As I stated in my July 30 post, on September 21 I will participate in the People’s Climate March. I will be marching with men and women of good will to bring about a society which meets the needs of all without degrading the planet . But this march is only one step in this change of consciousness.
Fifteenth Street Meeting in Manhattan has scheduled an evening on what neighborhoods can do “to support each other in reducing their energy and water use, building relationships, promoting local food, and strengthening their community’s resilience.” It will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 23, at the Friends Meeting House, 15 Rutherford Place, in Manhattan.
In addition, I am one of seven Friends in the Earthcare Working Group preparing to visit other meetings. Our goal is to help them consider how God is leading us to work for climate justice and the transformation of society.
As I’ve said in many of my postings, a spiritual life must include a concern for the welfare of all creation. Please consider what you are led to do in this regard.
July 30, 2014
I’ve posted several times in this blog about the Transition movement – a grassroots effort to reduce the use of fossil fuel and create thriving local economies. This movement has generally ignored politics and focussed on individual initiative to bring about change. This made sense to me. However, there are times when it may be appropriate to attempt to change the minds of politicians. I’ve reprinted several of my letters to the President and other government officials in this blog.
I’ve not usually favored demonstrations and direct action, but I’m making an exception. New York City – on Sunday, September 21 – may see a demonstration equal in significance to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom orchestrated by Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin. During the week of September 21, the world’s heads of state are going to New York City for a historic summit on climate change. The People’s Climate March will be a demand that these leaders take the action necessary to create a world with an economy that works for all people and for the planet. If you will be anywhere near New York City on September 21, I urge you to be a part of this demonstration.
I was recently at the 319th New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). There I learned that at least one New York City Meeting, probably more, will be offering space in its meetinghouse for Quakers from outside the city who are coming to march.
Next week I’m heading up to Wheelock Mountain Farm in Greensboro Bend, VT, for the Northeast Regional Climate Justice Gathering – three days of workshops and planning for the March. On September 21, I might be marching inside a twelve-foot tall puppet or maybe playing cymbals in a marching band.
July 15, 2014
In September of last year I created a meditation and a ritual for the Spiritual Explorers’ Mystery School. It focused on nudity as a symbol of innocence. Since then, the video that I posted on Vimeo to illustrate the meditation has had over a thousand views. However, I’ve had very few people contact me about being part of the ritual.
Recently, I came upon a video of another ritual – this one done in public on a Saturday in April in the small but cosmopolitan city of Biel, Switzerland. The video was entitled “Artwalk with Nude Accents (Documentation)” In this ritual only one of the participants was naked all the time, while others took off and put on clothing during the ritual.
It struck me that both the naked and the clothed participants were equally innocent. This has led me to revise my ritual to allow participants to choose whether to be naked or clothed. A corresponding revision was made to the meditation and the video that supports it. The new video is now referenced on the innocence seminar’s website, and the site itself has been modified to reflect my new understanding.
I’ve had few responses to my call for participants in the ritual, and so have not been able to arrange one — even with just myself and two other people. My sense is that my presentation of the ritual is enough. The message is there. From a spiritual perspective that is sufficient.
March 9, 2014
As I have written in an earlier post, I am working with active imagination and internal dialogue. Some of this revolves around an explorer. The following dialogue (really a monologue) is in the words of the medicine man that the explorer visited – part of the active imagination posted on June 30, 2013.
As I read this transcription, and the transcriptions of the active imagination related to it, I try to see how what I’ve written relates to my life. I’ve had times of purification, and I even remember one time vomiting after drinking an herb tea, though I don’t think that was the intended effect. I had just completed a two-day fast, and may have eaten something as well as drunk the tea. A holistic medical advisor said the vomiting was purifying, The point is that I relate the purification spoken of here with an experience of my life. As you read the words of this Internal Dialogue, do they remind you of something in your life? If so, take a moment to journal about what you’ve experienced.
I was a young man. an apprentice. when the explorer from whom you got that map, that drawing, came to him [my teacher], and I remember talking with my teacher, and his saying, “This man, this explorer, he thinks he wants to find answers in the jungle, but he will never find them because he cannot see. What he should be seeing is hidden from him. He does not know how.”
And so this man was given herbs, and the drawing that he did came out of that experience, so it was not a drawing of any place. But we did go around and maybe some of that influenced him as he was drawing.
I did not ask you to draw because you had a map or you thought you had a map. it would be ridiculous. I would not know the words to say, but I would give you some herbs that we use for cleansing – very strong. I knew I needed something very strong because I saw these spirits in your stomach that had to be vomited out, and they were. They were gone. I knew they were gone; but also. tied to that, connected to that, energies in your fields, spirits in your fields hovering around you – they needed to be gone too if you would have any hope of seeing; and I knew that. When I was finished, when you had expelled all of the evil spirits and all of the spirits that were in the potions I gave you, they were all gone.
And I told the guide to take you to a place of cleansing, but not yet – toward the end [of your stay with us]. Many of our tribe go to bathe in the sacred pools; and we did not take you to the to the coldest one; we did not take you to the hottest one; we did not take into ones that our sacred warriors and our women and our children are bathed in – but one of the beginner’s streams, and I do not know if you got anything from that. That is for you to see and you to decide, but whatever happened there is for good, because I sense that your heart is pure, even with evil spirits, and that you’ve got some kind of purification from [being with us], and that there are others who will work with you and bring you to a new place of understanding.
And so I sit. As I look into the fire, I visualize you. I imagine you there. No, I don’t really see you, but I know something in the flame connects me with you because the flame was used, the heat from my flame went into the potion that I gave you; and that medicine. that heat remains inside you and we are connected and I am able to pray for you and I pray for the people in my own tribe.
And you may find others to give you medicine to cleanse you because evil spirits that you’ve had may return. I cannot protect you from them for the rest of your life, though you were protected until the time you left our village.
And something in me is saying this explorer will find his way and will come to a new understanding.