April 19, 2016
Dictionary.com defines “demythologize” as follows: “to divest of mythological or legendary attributes or forms, as in order to permit clearer appraisal and under-standing.” In reading the Gospel of John I find that I can have a clearer understanding of what are purported to be miracles if I ask what the probably truth is behind the miracles.
An example of this is found in the first ten verses if the second chapter of John’s Gospel:
- And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
- And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
- And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
- Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
- His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
- And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
- Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
- And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
- When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
- And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Jesus grew up in Nazareth. Tradition tells us that his father was a carpenter, and probably the family didn’t have much money. It’s quite possible that at times the family didn’t have wine to bless and drink on the Sabbath; so Jesus, being a practical kind of guy, would take some water and bless it and the family would drink it as their Sabbath wine.
Wine was not only something used in Sabbath devotions, it was an important part of the Jewish marriage ritual, as it is today. So when Mary reported that they had no wine, she was saying that the ceremony couldn’t be performed. But Jesus was reluctant to do in public what he had done at home. He said he was not ready to assume the role of a spiritual leader.
Mary ignored this and simply told the servants to do what Jesus said, so Jesus had them fill six waterpots, blessed the water, and told those assembled to use this water as wine for their ceremony.
Here we have a compelling picture of Jesus as a man who identified with the poor. Not being able to afford wine was no barrier to God’s grace. His own family’s poverty had opened him up to the truth that it was the spirit and not an ancient ritual that brought blessing to everyone.
March 29, 2016
In July of last year, I put a comment in the “Shout Box” of my Vimeo channel, “Erotic Imagination,” about the videos of Gustavo Solar. Since then, Solar has posted four additional videos, and I’ve added all of them to my channel, as they are all examples of a fertile erotic imagination. The most recent, “Visionado Beso Negro Solar” (Google translates this “Black Kiss Solar Viewing”) has short excerpts from a number of performance pieces he has done. Longer versions of some of his performance pieces can also be seen on Vimeo.
The 2012 performance, “Cuerpo Eclipsado,” in which Solar is penetrated anally by a dildo-wearing woman, elicited this comment: “Whoaa!! It must have been difficult, painful & very brave to share that kind of intimacy in front of all those people. … It got MY attention. It was also captured on video beautifully, sometimes those kind of things can be embarrassing or ugly to see in porn, this wasn’t pornographic at all, and it was beautiful in its own way.”
In a manifesto presented at the Festival Internacional de Performance, (Quito. Ecuador. 2015) Solar stated three times, “Un artista de performance debe amar profundamente a otro artista de performance antes de morir. [A performance artist must deeply love another performance artist before his death.]” Could “Cuerpo Eclipsado” be a documentation of that love?
The latest entry on Solar’s blog is 24 July 2015. In it he describes this posting as documenting his final project in qualifying for the Academic Degree of Bachelor of Arts majoring in Visual Arts. The project consisted of riding around the School of Arts of Las Encinas on the top of a car and covering his naked body with the Chilean flag.
After reading this I wondered, “Now that he has received his BA, what’s next for him?” I’ve discovered that he has a Facebook page with links to other sites that document his work – such as El Archivo en la Creacion Visual – and that he is scheduled to perform at the Zuhause Festival, which is being held from April 21 through 24 in Buenos Aires. For this festival he will be doing a performance in his own home. I hope that he will document what he does on his blog and certainly on Vimeo.
February 27, 2016
Sixteen months ago, I wrote a posting entitled “Who Wrote the Gospel of John.” Since then, I have continued my studies and am now up to the thirteenth chapter, which is the start of something presented as a speech by Jesus to the disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. It runs to the end of the sixteenth chapter, and has passages in which themes are repeated and ideas restated.
In my studies, I have found evidence confirming my theory that the origin of the gospel was the spoken words of the Evangelist – presumably the disciple John, son of Zebedee – given in Aramaic and translated by at least two persons in his community. One point of evidence is the portions of the gospel that give quotations from Hebrew scriptures. The translators would have been familiar with the Greek translation of these scriptures, known as a Septuagint – so when the translators recognized a passage they used the words of the Septuagint as their translation. In other places where the Evangelist speaks of what has been written, the translators may not have recognized the passage and so simply gave a literal translation of the Evangelist’s words.
The order of events in the Gospel seems to have been determined, not by the actual order of events in the life of Jesus but by the Jewish calendar of religious festivals. As you read the gospel, you get what Jesus said at one religious festival, then the next, then the next. When you reach Passover, you have the account of Jesus crucifixion and subsequent events because Jesus was crucified either on the eve of Passover or on the first day of Passover.
This order indicates to me that the Hebrew scriptures would have been read in the community of believers just as it was in the synagogue from which they had been expelled, indicating that those in this community considered themselves to be practicing, not some new religion called Christianity, but the correct version of Judaism – the Judaism of their prophet, Jesus.
The fact that there are passages in the last discourse where ideas are repeated indicates that there were at least two translators who heard the Aramaic words of the evangelist and remembered their differing translations. When they obtained the services of a scribe, they recounted the teachings of Jesus as they had heard them from the Evangelist, and the scribe didn’t think to ask if two passages might not have come from the same Aramaic source.
In future blog posts, I’ll focus on the picture of Jesus that has developed for me as I have studied his ministry as presented in this Gospel.
December 5, 2015
I’ve watched Enna Chaton’s twelve-minute video, “Errances” twice, to see if I would find more in it the second time than the first. Google Translate says that “Errances” means “Wanderings.” This video show three naked women and five naked men wandering through what is identified in the notes as “Le Abattoirs, Musée d’art Moderne et Contemporain de Toulouse” The video was made in collaboration with the composer-sculptor Céleste Boursier-Mougenot. The notes, as translated by Google Translate, state, concerning the spectators, “their receptivity and their presence is intensified by the whether they are naked.” but these wanderers seem to express no emotion, even when sitting close together on a leather sofa watching a video monitor. Other elements of the exhibit include a balloon and four grand pianos that move under robotic control, forcing the spectators to get out of the way. The spectators seem to have come from another planet – or at least another civilization – where nudity is the norm and they don’t quite know what to make of a planet where a drum kit stands in the middle of a pool of water and a telephone is placed on a pedestal as an art object. I’ve found a description of her work in English on the website of of the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California, where she did a residency 2013. I suggest checking it out. I find her way of working close to what I did in “Innocence“. I’m hoping to see more of her work with Celeste Boursier-Mougenot.
November 13, 2015
I’ve developed two videos out of my work at Easton Mountain. One is an extension of the ritual of innocence that I discussed in my post of January 9, 2014, The Spiritual Explorers website describes this ritual of innocence more fully. The video “Innocence” incorporates the element of touch described on that website, though it doesn’t include other elements, such as undressing and the words of participants.
The second video came out of the sarong dancing that i discussed in my post of June 12 of this year.
While it doesn’t specifically relate to the ritual of the innocence seminar, I see it as a reflect of the basic innocence that Jesus spoke of the the words from the Gospel of Thomas:
When you strip naked without shame and trample your clothing underfoot just as little children do, then you will look at the Son of the Living One without being afraid.
I’ve also mentioned in this blog the Vimeo channel that I maintain called “Erotic Imagination.” I just added a video to that channel that comes from a group in Europe creating events they call “CUE.” Those invited to these events are encouraged to be both performers and audience, with the organizers providing only the place and time for the event. As the imagination of the performer/ spectator is stimulated, the collective imagination of the group may create something that goes beyond the psyche of the individual participant.
I’m interested in helping create a CUE event or something similar in upstate New York. Contact me if you would like to be a performer/ spectator. I can’t say that the work of CUE is leading people to transcendent reality – but even if it doesn’t, it looks like fun.
August 6, 2015
At a resent Quaker meeting I attended, someone mentioned that a set of principles for a just society, called “Foundations of a True Social Order” was adopted by the Quakers in Britain in 1918. The speaker hoped that Quakers would come up with a new set of principles next year when the political parties are issuing their platforms. Today I meditated on this and came up with a set of problems that any principles of a just society must address. These include:
- Lack of integrity in those responsible for governing
- Differences in race, religion, social stats, sexual preferences and all other areas that divide mankind – and the exploitation of these differences for selfish ends
- Climate change and its far-reaching effects
- Diminishing supplies of fossil fuel
- Our response to those who would use violence to gain political, social or economic ends
- An economic system which concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a few people
- How to produce that change of consciousness that will make a just society a reality
Right now I am working with other Quakers to come up with programs in which people of all faiths and no faith can come together to envision a just society and work on the principles that such a society would have. Watch this blog for further information.
June 19, 2015
Last Saturday, we took another step in our development of the Pavilion of Imagination at Easton Mountain. My friend Dave hooked up a solar panel, controller, battery and convertor. When he clicked a switch, we had light.
This has led me to think about my own vision concerning the Pavilion of Imagination: as a place where men might take workshops, such as “Drawing What You Love” (described in my post of February 18) – as a place where they might draw and paint from their imagination – as a place where they might create video that would be part of my Vimeo channel, “Erotic Imagination“…. This is some of the creative activity I’ve envisioned for the Pavilion of Imagination.
But I realized, as I thought about the event of that day, that this project has been part of another vision I’ve had – that of Easton Mountain reducing its carbon foot-print nearly to zero. Carbon foot-print is “the total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person” (Wikipedia). In practice, it is used to indicate the theoretical amount of carbon from fossil fuel that each person and institution consumes. We in the United States have a very high carbon foot print. Other countries have taken steps to reduce theirs. A jungle native has a carbon footprint close to zero.
My own involvement in efforts to create a world where everyone has a reduced carbon footprint has waxed and waned. I’ve attended workshops, marched in the People’s Climate March, posted on this blog, written for a Quaker publication, and registered for the coming Parliament of the World’s Religions, which I hope will make a strong statement on the necessity of combating climate change.
In the seventeenth century, Quakers were thought of as strange people – and we might find those Quakers strange today. They addressed people with “thee” and “thou,” words reserved for close friends and servants; they wore simple clothes; they refused to take oaths, pay tithes to the established church, or to haggle over prices – and with these simple actions they were a major force in bringing about freedom of religion, equality before the law, and integrity in business. Many Quakers today look to civil disobedience as a way to change the direction of society. Within my own lifetime they were part of sit-ins in segregated southern restaurants.
The problems of today may need new practices that will lead the world to a reduced carbon footprint. What will these practices be? They may be something as simple as the practice of keeping a hat on was in 1650. But I find myself wondering if we will find these practices before humanity suffers from a drastic climate change that could lead to the extinction of the human race.
Solar energy for the Pavilion of Imagination is one tiny step – but it’s part of my vision for a restored planet. Here are groups I’ve joined on Facebook that relate to my vision of a restored planet.
Please share your vision on Facebook, on your own blog, or as a comment to this blog.
June 12, 2015
In my post on June 6, I spoke of two workshops that I will offer at Easton Mountain during our next Summer Splash weekend, June 26-28: “Infinite Imagination” and “Video from Your Smartphone”
“Infinite Imagination” will be incorporated into the Friday-evening opening circle and will set the tone for the weekend. The video workshop will be on Saturday morning and will provide a background for those who want to create video later in the day. If you’re interested in video, check out the Erotic Imagination Channel on Vimeo.
In addition to these two workshops, Saturday morning will start with an hour of stretching and dancing that I call “Listening to Your Body (Sarong Dancing).” Two or three times a week, I spend a half-hour either alone or with others, letting my body tell me how it wants to stretch and move. Usually I start with ten minutes of stretching without music, using yoga stretches if I feel that’s what my body needs, or improvising my own yoga in the moment. I also let my body tell me what clothes, if any, it wants to wear. One time I was wearing a sarong tied in a knot. I loosened the knot and the sarong fell off. I picked it up, began tossing it in the air, and then seeing how many dance movements I could come up with that incorporated the fabric. The result was something like flagging, but not the same. I’m looking forward to seeing what the results will be when we try this as a group on Saturday morning.
One possibility for this weekend that excites me comes from two women who have an on-line magazine called “MAKE8ELIEVE” – yes, that’s an “8” in the middle of the name. They have issued an “open call for art/design/sound/video/action” with a theme of Homoeroticism (for their issue # 9). They have invited Arthur Gillet, a gay artist from Paris, to help curate this issue. You can read more about this on their call. If anyone coming to Easton Mountain is interested in working on something to submit to MAKE8ELIEVE, I suggest doing the exercise that’s part of my April 30th post. Indicate your interest as part of your answer to the question, “What fields of art interest you?” Even if you can’t attend the June weekend, if you do this exercise we may be able to incorporate your imagination into something for MAKE8ELIEVE.
June 6, 2015
In my posting on February 18, I spoke of a possibility of a sequel to my workshop, “Drawing What You Love,” which was offered at Easton Mountain earlier that month. There are now two workshops on the schedule: “Kink Imagination” will be part of the Kink Odyssey weekend, June 18-21 and “Infinite Imagination” during Summer Splash, June 26-28.
My ideas about erotic imagination have developed during that time – and an important impetus for that development has been some of the video’s on Vimeo. I’ve put a number of these videos on a channel called “Erotic Imagination.” In general, I’ve selected videos that go beyond just showing a naked figure posing or doing ordinary activities. I’ve included videos that have elements of art, dance and other disciplines. Some are there just because I thought what was shown might be tried at Easton Mountain. There’s a crazy boxing match from a Danish Music Festival that’s an example of this.
I’ve put my ideas about erotic imagination into a video.
While video certainly isn’t the only possible medium for expressing imagination, it is tool that, with new smart phones and apps being written for them, that is now available in to a much wider group of people than ever before. In addition to my workshop “Infinite Imagination,” which will focus on all types of expression, I’m also planning a workshop on what can be done with a smart phone or other readily available video tools.
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.