Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Visionary Activist Principles

Read this post on my new blog A Sea of Glass and Fire.

I regularly listen to The New School at Commonweal‘s podcast. The host Michael Lerner is one of the wisest, most sober men I have encountered, and the discussions about everything from Jung to Gurdjieff to Rudolf Steiner have illuminated me beyond measure. So I was a bit surprised when the March 20 podcast from last spring featured one Caroline Casey, a self-proclaimed visionary activist and professional astrologer. But when I actually listened to her, I was astounded. She is like a sacred comedian; she runs a website called Coyote Network News, subtitled “a mythological news service for the Trickster-Redeemer within us all,” which demonstrates a bit of her character. She is what she calls “reverently irreverent”: flippant, off-color, and hilarious in a way that brings us closer to the divine. You’d have to hear her to understand what I mean. And lucky for you, you can: she hosts a weekly radio show/podcast called The Visionary Activist Show, a discussion of current events, spirituality, and even astrology, which largely inspired my recent “Imaginal News” series of posts. Check it out.
I have come to adore Caroline so much that I decided to get her book Making the Gods Work For You on Kindle. After readin it, I’ve come to think differently of astrology than I used to, but that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I want to list her seven “visionary activist principles” that she gives at the beginning of her book and comment on them a bit. They’re profound and very needed, so I wanted to bring them to your attention.
PRINCIPLE 0 (ZERO). Believe nothing, entertain possibilities. Therefore everything hereafter is offered playfully. 
This is the crux of the matter, and it’s our culture’s redemption. I realized after reading this that I had thought this way for at least the last few years but that almost no one else does. When you think in terms of what could be in terms of what you think actually is, then the world becomes. No longer filtered through a fixed set of beliefs, you can meet things on their own terms. Life as a dance, not as an intellectual subjugation of the world.
PRINCIPLE 1. Imagination lays the tracks for the Reality Train to follow.
Imagination is the way the unseen manifests in the seen at all. As Sufi mystics explained, the imagination is a barzakh or medium through which the divine can connect with and inhabit the world of finite matter. As such, any imaginative act is an act of God, a preliminary act of creation. That’s not to say you can’t pervert this ability to your own ends; you can, and that’s what Caroline calls “black magic.” Instead of that, you should channel divine energies toward an end that works for both you and the whole. Instead of subverting an “perpendicular” impulse, you “spiral” it with your own.
PRINCIPLE 2. Better to create prophecy than to live prediction. What makes us passive is toxic. What makes us active is tonic. This is the difference between predictions, which make us passive, and prophecy, which is active co-creation with the divine.
Swedenborg once wrote that God doesn’t give us much knowledge of the future because that knowledge would make us either passive or paranoid. But you can get to the point where the divine  trusts you with prophecy, not as a guarantee that things will work out no matter what, but as a loosely guiding impulse that you can help direct. When you know the future, it’s much better to work with it than to fight it or slothfully submit to it. Again, a spiral of human and divine.
PRINCIPLE 3. The invisible world would like to help, but spiritual etiquette requires that we ask. Help is always available (operators are standing by).
The world which imagination manifests – the spiritual world, the world of divine love – cannot help us unless we ask. Helping without our asking would violate our free will, and it would also get us to shrink back from the spiritual in fear or annoyance. Prayer is a superlatively effective “asking for help” like this. When you pray, you go and ask for help from the root of all divinity, and that divinity plants a seed in you that grows into something that will work for both you and Him.
PRINCIPLE 4. The only way the gods know we’re asking for help is ritual.
When Caroline writes the word “ritual,” I take it to mean any physical action that incarnates a divine principle. Prayer is obviously a ritualistic action like this: you have to do something to pray, and the more you make it a physical action, the more powerful it becomes. But you can also use other rituals in tandem with prayer. Anything that symbolically corresponds to a divine quality can be used as a way to focus the light of that quality in your life. For instance, I do this with books: if a book symbolizes something meaningful for me at a certain moment, I’ll put it in my personal sacred space to reinforce the divinity trying to get through in that meaning. By doing that, I work with the god (the divine aspect) working in that situation.
PRINCIPLE 5. If something’s a problem, make it bigger.
This is very counter-intuitive, but it’s a true principle. If you struggle with something, there is something good in you trying to get out through that struggle. Evil is just our denial of the good that, without our help, comes out in ungainly ways. By making the problem bigger, you communicate to that goodness that you are willing to work with it. “Step out into the light,” you tell the good in your struggle. “Let’s see what you have to say.”
PRINCIPLE 6. We only possess the power of an insight when we give it expression.
Truths are great. You can read books for years and years and get lots of them, but it won’t be worth anything if it doesn’t lead to action. Swedenborg also says this. Without expression in “usefulness,” a truth is a dead, or better stillborn, thing. Only actions bring true insights to life.
PRINCIPLE 7. Creativity comes from the wedding of paradox. We aspire to be disciplined wild people who are radical traditionalists.
A huge problem today is that people can only think in extremes. And more specifically, they only identify with one of the extremes. But the issue really comes to light when you ask: “Who decided where to draw the lines in the first place? What makes it so everyone agrees on where the line is?” The reality is that we’ve all been duped. There is no ultimate liberalism or conservativism, no spiritual nor secular: conservatism wasn’t anything until liberalism came along, and neither was spiriutality until the first secularists. We rebel against these blind dichotomies by accepting elements from both sides. So doing, we can recreate the vibrant whole that existed before we divvied it up into sides.
That’s that. Practice these principles, and see the amazing things that result.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Imaginal News 7/18/2016: Flickers of Love; Self-Aware Mobs; A New "Weight"

Check out this post on my new blog, A Sea of Glass and Fire.

The imaginal world: the world which everything in our world is a symbol for. Here's what's happening there: 
There is a timbre of love that wasn't there a few days ago. I can't give specific examples, but it is there. People (those with hearts turned the right way) are being kinder. Mercy is being shown to those who need help. 
And yet this is still in the context of a larger struggle. The world remains locked in people's identification with their roles: man, woman, gay, trans, non-binary, or even a person with a single name and set of traits. But this can't happen forever. Identities are defined by their edges, and so they must struggle to keep existing. But they're now locked in their death throes. 
The world is becoming a mob. In Turkey and the Republican National Convention this is very clear, but it's also apparent in Pokemon Go.However, the mob is going to become conscious of itself; the life that flows between us, between our identities, is beginning to wiggle its fingers and toes after a long sleep. 
But mostly, the divine nature of matter or heaviness is still on its way to realizing itself in a way unlike anything that has happened yet. The dust of heaviness in the air is beginning to settle, a bit more this week than last. Divine fire is becoming incarnate in matter. 
Look for more large, violent, massive phenomena in the next bit. This is that heaviness trying to incarnate. You can help by letting it incarnate consciously and on human terms rather than with blind elemental force. Consult your own conscience for this. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Imaginal News 7/14/2016: Descending Fire and Trapped Rage

Check out this post on my new blog, A Sea of Glass and Fire
Here’s your imaginal news report: the state of the world as seen from theimaginal world, the place where everything that is seen is real, where being is sight. Hopefully what I mean will become clear. Believe everything; doubt nothing.
The gods up on Mount Olympus are beginning to descend into the world of mortals. Or alternatively, divine fire is taking on the shape of human beings. Or more clearly, the various ways that divine love expresses itself (what Swedenborg called “heavenly communities”) are becoming conscious of themselves on earth in a new way.
This means that things are going to get really intense. Divine fire is descending to earth, and that fire figures that we have enough capacity to “hold” it. And they’re right, even though it may not seem like it at first. We’re being baptized by fire, and when we come out, we’ll realize that we can hold it safely within us
Pokemon GO is a manifestation of this fire. It’s wedding heaven and earth in an unprecedented way as love is manifesting between people of all walks of life trying to catch Pokemon. Friends are being made; people are coming out of their shells and coming into the world’s daylight. Activities before done only on the Internet are now being made in the physical world, meaning that the divine world of love in itself (which the Internet reflects) is coming into reality. More specifically, Pokemon GO is the divine reality of communication and connection coming to earth. Hermes is taking on human flesh.
But the fire also comes through in violent ways. With the shootings happening almost daily, a vengeful force from the imaginal world is trying to force her way through where there is no bridge. The truck that rammed into the crowd today in Nice manifests this literally: where there are no bridges between sides, there can only be collisions. The truck could be seen as a metaphor for the force of this extra-human archetype trying to get into our collective crowd of being.
For it is heaviness that we have yet to wed to the connection displayed in Pokemon GO and elsewhere. The divine fire is descending, but the part of that divine fire having to do with forcefulness and inertia isn’t integrated into that descent. Pokemon are bringing people together, but they are incorporeal and pass through our bodies as we see them on the screen. The violence we see in the world manifests inertia and matter’s attempt to wrest its way into our consciousness. Stuff wants to be seen and felt – the density and heaviness of dirt, flesh, and bark.
What does this look like? I’d say it’s the Devouring Mother, the force of instinctual wisdom and terrible power that we have repressed and kept captive for millennia. She is crying from the dust of our ignorance (ignore-ance), and these outbursts of violence are ways that she forces us to pay attention. She can’t do anything else; since we repress her, she is unconscious, and she cannot reason and plan like a conscious being can. She is the force of matter, the divinity of life in its rhythms and pulsation that we don’t pay attention to, what women know by instinct but is ignored by our masculine culture.
Her anger is only her shadow side, though, the side of her that shows without the light of consciousness. We only see her anger because she doesn’t have the luxury of consciously knowing her own depths. We are the mirror in which she can do that. By listening to the hum of the ground and the the blood in our veins, we can finally begin to give her the consciousness she craves. So doing, the force of matter can burst its way into the world with unprecedented force.
Donald Trump manifests a masculine force fighting from her anger. He’s what Jungians would call the “animus of the anima” a force coming out from the dark cave of the Mother’s hollow body. He’s fighting against what makes sense; he violates all our modern cultural propriety, which of course none of us really have. He, ISIS, and the policemen who shoot unarmed black men are manifesting a very primordial, unconscious rage against rationality and consciousness limited by a defensive ego. When these nonsensical things happen, the Devouring Mother shows us that we all hide an unconscious violence held captive since an earlier age. With her, these repressed unconscious energies can be acted out so we can consciously recognize them. That way the Mother can become conscious.
The Hermes figure manifesting in Pokemon GO and the odd connections happening alongside it can help with this. Maybe if we catch enough Geodudes, he can evolve into something that will help Her rise from the dust…
Anyway, that’s that for the imaginal news report. I’ll try to do these often.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Last Temptation of Modern Life

I just came across this quote in Emanuel Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia, Volume 4. It talks about something called "vastation," a kind of temptation, which is Swedenborg's word for the way the contents of our ego get emptied out:
[Vastation] is twofold; of one kind when a church altogether perishes, that is, when there is no longer any charity or faith, and when it is said to be "devastated" or "laid waste"; and of the other kind when they who are of the church are reduced to a state of ignorance, and also of temptation, in order that the evils and falsities with them may be separated and as it were dispersed. They who emerge from this kind of vastation are they who are specifically called the redeemed...
Swedenborg defined a church as any collective state of mind on earth. In that way, not only is Mormonism a church, but so is the New Age movement, atheism, or perhaps even the Doctor Who fandom. So when he says that a church can get "vastated," he means that these collective ways of relating to the world would get threatened. Remind you of anything?
Today, our modern secular, surface-oriented, self-congratulatory lifestyle (our "church") is getting vastated. As with all vastations and temptations, it is happening by way of the difficulties placed upon our way of life. Our materialistic lifestyle is getting unsustainable; the political process is deeply broken; violence has run amok. These difficulties are God's way of getting us to abandon our frankly sinful way of life. Through them, we can get out of that sin and become "the redeemed."
What is our sin? As with all sin, our transgressions are rooted in our belief that we have power to change things. We see ourselves as potentially all-powerful, and we feel compelled to filibuster, riot, or shoot up a nightclub to help the world become what it needs to be. This prideful attitude comes from something Swedenborg called the proprium, perhaps best translated as "what I call my own." But in reality, nothing is my own - I am just a site of passage for both the beyond-human forces that pass through me and God, the all-in-all. When we think we can change the world through our rioting or our Facebook ranting, we're attributing godhood to ourselves. And no matter our intentions in doing so, this is sin.
What does God want us to do? He wants us to stop fighting. He wants us to give up. Moreover, this giving up is inevitable. Like any temptation, the cultural temptation toward oppositional narcissism is put before us in such intensity to make it too painful for anyone to hold onto it. Like the practitioner of Zen meditation in full-lotus position who ends up relaxing her leg muscles out of necessity (I've been there), the oppositional nature of today's culture will eventually be too painful to bear. Enough riots and hatred will have happened that we will abandon our belief that things could ever get better. And it is at this point that the world will start to heal. 
When we give up the fight, we will stop trying to defeat evil and instead start producing good. Instead of ranting against the evils of a church on Facebook, we will offer kind words to those who have been hurt by it. Instead of trying to save the world by refusing to cooperate with our political opponents, we will reach across the aisle. And instead of rioting after a police shooting, we will instead follow the seemingly forgotten pattern of the 1960s civil rights activists and, one by one, say "I love you" to the policemen spraying us with fire hoses.
We need to give up. Then God - who is love - will step in. There is no other way.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The End of Thinghood

I recently got the impression that a bright, divine light is exerting a lot of pressure on the physical world, and I want to explain how that can be true even in this age of shootings, riots, and reality-TV-star presidential candidates.

The physical world is the world of things, and “things” are any real beings that have an identity distinct from other things. You as a person, with a name, birth date, and identity, are a thing. I, as Christian Swenson, am a thing. Everything (or “every thing”) that you can point to in the world is a thing, since by giving it an identity distinct from everything else, you’re separating it from the vast expanse of Being when seen apart from definition.

However, the light that’s putting pressure on the physical world isn’t a thing. It’s what’s real apart from things. This bright light is therefore beyond the world, since the world is a thing, and the light is very literally the absence of things. This doesn’t mean that the light is nothing, at least not in the normal sense of the world. The real nothing is no-thing: not dark but instead overpoweringly bright. It’s bright because, unlike things, its being doesn’t belong to itself, since (as a no-thing) “it” has no “self.” As with all light, it gives without taking; it is giving; it is love.

Since the light is whatever is real apart from boundaries and definition, when I say that it’s putting pressure on the physical world of things, I mean that every “thing” is engaged in a struggle to maintain its stable identity, its thinghood. The walls around things are heavily cracked, and eventually nothing (no thing) will be able to exist in its own stable sense of self. Speicifically, the light pressing in on the world has been apparent for at least the last fifteen years. 9/11 announced that vertical hierarchies around the world were in the process of crashing down, and the ever-increasing fervor of the gay rights movement brought this collapse even further. A hierarchy is another name for a thing; hierarchies are what “stick out” from the sea of Being by claiming that they own themselves. As such, any claim to autonomy and self-ownership is dying. You saw this first with corporations and governments , but eventually even individual people will look in the mirror and find that they don’t recognize what they see there. None of us will belong to ourselves; there will be no “selves” to belong to.

Another way of explaining my intuition is saying that each “thing” is in the process of unraveling. Every thing is a combination not just of other things, but more importantly of forces that pass like rivers between things. Things are not just made of being; they are more importantly made of becoming. As such, they will never be “finished,” even if things necessarily believe that they are complete in themselves. To say that light is pressing in upon the world is to say that the dynamic forces which compose things are becoming conscious of themselves in a new way. No longer needing the fixed mirror of things to see themselves, those forces will begin recognizing their being in-between things, in the process of movement and relationship itself. 

As such, the world is bound to divide into two camps: those who embrace their no-thing-ness and those who stubbornly cling to their thinghood. The more the no-thing camp is true to its own position, the more it will seem naive, open-minded, and odd all at once. On the other hand, those in the “thing” camp will give off an air of arrogance, certainty, and condescension. The forerunners of the former camp, the camp of no-thing-ness, already exist in a place you may not expect: pop culture fandoms. Fandoms, whether of Doctor WhoSherlock, or Supernatural, are hints of what religion may become in the coming generations. Members of these fandoms devote much of their time to media franchises, even though they know that their franchise isn’t “real.” And yet, Doctor Who is unreal only because it isn’t a real “thing.” However, Doctor Who is a real force, since it produces effects in people’s minds from entertainment to amusement to suicide prevention. To devote one’s time to one of these fandoms is to devote one’s time to its reality as a no-thing, as light. So as the light presses upon the world of things, you’ll get people taking the world less and less seriously. 

However, those who cling to the world of things will become more and more embittered in response to the influx of no-thing-ness’s light. People will spout hatred on social media more and more, and public shootings will continue to increase. However, these flashes of hatred are signs that the world is getting better, not worse. The thing-camp, whether in ISIS, Black Lives Matter, or gridlocked political leaders, are responding to the light’s threat. Thinghood is dying, and things are giving all their ammunition to defend their way of being. They will make it seem as though the world is decaying, but really it’s only the world of things that’s decaying, and they’re trying to reproduce in you some of the fear they feel themselves. Don’t fall for it; they won’t succeed. Eventually, the thing-camp will become so absurdly critical and bombastic that anyone selfless won’t be afraid but, instead, get amused.

You can see the contrast between these two camps even in last week’s events. Within a single week, we’ve had two major cultural events: Philando Castlile’s and Alton Sterling’s death by shooting and the subsequent outrage, and the release of Pokemon GO. It sounds insensitive to imply that these two events are comparably important, but that’s only because we don’t yet have enough perspective to see the effect Pokemon GO will have on the world of culture. With this simple video game, the world of forces or no-thing-ness and the world of things marry themselves in our cultural perception for the very first time. Though Pokemon aren’t real things, Pokemon GO lays the tracks for a way of being that doesn’t care about things’ reality. Instead, we have begun seeing the physical world only as a metaphor for the forces that can (only) manifest through it. Catching a Charmander in my driveway sets the light loose, since by doing so I see through the physical world to the forces of becoming that act through it. In other words, catching Pokemon is  a way to act without re-acting to world of things. However, the reactions to the aforementioned shootings are reactive to the extreme. Both sides fearfully see the other side as a thing, but by doing so they both unkowningly bring through forces of fear and hatred. The way forward is to simply leave the fray and turn the other cheek. The exodus from things has begun, and you can either walk safely amid the no-thing’s forces or get drowned by them.

If you believe me, you shouldn’t. Don’t take this post as gospel, but instead as an impulse to thought. Don’t look at it as a thing; look to the forces within it and follow them to where they want to go. In fact, do that with everything. So doing, you’ll help the light break through even more.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The In-Visible God

These quotes – from many places – are all about the God of the coming, new age. The invisible God separated from the world is losing its effect on people. That invisible God can only survive by incarnating in the visible world of dust, sweat, and tears. The invisible will be present in the visible; the visible will be transparent to the invisible. But these authors explain my idea much better than I do:
I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did. – Joseph Smith, The King Follett Discourse
Establishing contact with a God we cannot see is like trying to make eye contact with the limitless vastness of outer space, or like being on the lookout in mid-ocean but not being able to see anything but endless sky and sea. Establishing contact with a God we can see is like making eye contact with a person in the air or on the sea, whose arms then reach out, inviting us into an embrace. – Emanuel Swedenborg, “True Christianity”
Once did people say God, when they looked out upon distant seas; now, however, have I taught you to say, overman. God is a conjecture: but I do not wish your conjecturing to reach beyond your creating will. Could you create a God? – Then, I pray you, be silent about all gods! But you could well create the overman. – Friedrich Nietzsche, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”
There is some analogy between the relations established by the world of man with the divine world and by the human kingdom with the animal kingdom. Oxygen and carbonic acid are in-breathed and out-breathed by man. The plant-kingdom breathes out oxygen; man breathes out love — since the separation of the sexes. The Gods are nourished by this effluence of love.How comes it that the animals and man out-breathe love?The occultist sees in the man of today a being in the full swing of evolution. Man is at the same time a fallen God and a God in the becoming.The kingdom of the heavens is nourished by the effluence of human love. Ancient Greek mythology expresses this reality when it speaks of nectar and ambrosia. The Gods are so far above man that their natural tendency would be to subjugate him. But there is a half-way state of being between man and the Gods, just as the mistletoe is half-way between the plant and the animal. It is represented by Lucifer and the Luciferian element. – Rudolf Steiner, “An Esoteric Cosmology”
“The Survivor of Hathsin,” Yomen said. “He died. How is it that people worship him?Vin shrugged. “It used to be common to worship gods that one couldn’t see.”Perhaps, Yomen said. “I have…read of such things, though I find them difficult to understand. Faith in an unseen god – what sense does that make? Why reject the god that they lived with for so long – the one that they could see, and feel – in favor of one that died? One that the Lord Ruler himself struck down?” – Brandon Sanderson, “The Hero of Ages”
The continuing, direct operation of the Holy Ghost on those who are called to be God’s children implies, in fact, a broadening process of incarnation. Christ, the son begotten by God, is the first-born who is succeeded by an ever-increasing number of younger brothers and sisters . . . The indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the third Divine Person, in man brings about a Christification of many . . . The future indwelling of the Holy Ghost in man amounts to a continuing incarnation of God. – Carl Jung, “Answer to Job”

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Dialogue between Captain Hook and Peter Pan

Captain Hook is sitting behind his desk in his private room on the Jolly Roger. He's dressed in a suit, reminiscent of a general authority at a Mormon General Conference. He looks at the hook on his right arm with pride, and with it he idly thumbs through the LDS Church's handbook.
Suddenly, Peter Pan bursts through the door, holding his dagger threateningly. Hook looks startled but not surprised.
Peter Pan: I've come to kill you, Hook!
Captain Hook: Pan, we've been over this - I'm not your enemy.
Peter Pan: You are too! You're a cultural imperialist to the Indians, you drive the Lost Boys to despair and suicide, and you don't let the mermaids become authorities on your ship. What do you have to say for yourself?
Captain Hook: I'm following God's plan. I've told you that a million times.
Peter Pan: if! God wouldn't be so oppressive!
Captain Hook: You're right. God loves you.
Peter Pan: How can you say that? God wouldn't tell me not to love who I want to love. Not if he loves me.
Captain Hook: You have to have faith, Peter. Things will be alright.
Peter explodes with rage.
Peter Pan: No they won't! You're evil, and you need to die!
Captain Hook: But I'm not evil, Peter. People aren't evil - they can just do evil things.
Peter Pan: You're wrong. You'll pay for what you've done. The blood of the Lost Boys on your hook will be avenged!
Peter soars through the air and goes to stab Hook in the heart. But he misses. Instead, he slices through his right hand just above the hook, taking it clean off.
Hook stands stunned for a moment, bleeding from his stump of a right arm. But then the blood pouring out stops dripping down and instead starts flowing UP his body. His suit, once pristine, is now covered in blood. He is being changed.
Soon, the blood clears off, and an ordinary man stands there, still in a suit, and still the same man, but with something brighter in his eyes. They speak more of hope than of defensiveness, more of the endless than of this world.
Peter stands dumbounded. Hook notices that his hand has been healed, and, eager to test it out, he goes to shake Peter's hand. Peter draws back instinctively, out of fear.
Peter Pan: healed! Your hand is back! But I thought the crocodile ate it!
Captain Hook: I don't understand it either. But I feel different: I don't feel as old, and clocks don't seem to bother me anymore. Maybe, somehow, the crocodile gave it back to me...
Peter Pan: But I was with you the whole time!
Captain Hook: That's just it - the croc is with us whenever we have time, and I think I've just had some given back to me.
Peter Pan: But...but you still have to pay for what you did!
He goes to slice Hook, but Hook is nimbler now. He dodges and sidesteps. Peter goes again, but to both their surprise, Hook leaps into the air with unnatural grace. It's like he is flying, but he is still at least somewhat subject to gravity, like walking on the moon.
Peter Pan:
Captain Hook: I don't know, and I don't need to know! 
He leaps around like Neil Armstrong playing golf
Captain Hook: I'm as light as a feather! I don't need my hook; like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, I don't have to worry.
Peter Pan: But don't you have a ship to run? Don't you have to do those worthiness interviews?
Captain Hook: Yes, but none of that's serious. I see now that it never was. I need to run a ship, but a ship isn't the world. I can best help the world by remembering its place in that world.
Peter Pan: But...we all thought that your ship was the best ship of all! The Lost Boys died from despair, knowing that they could never be themselves as pirates!
Captain Hook: I'm sorry, I truly am. But they will have not died in vain. Now I see that everything is light. This must be what you called fairy dust: everything can float, and I can lift anything with the palm of my hand. And none of this would have happened without you.
Peter Pan: But I came here to kill you!
Captain Hook: Hook is dead. I'm a new man now, Peter, and I have you to thank. So...thank you!
Peter Pan stands there for a moment, then walks away, confused. Hook goes back to his desk and puts the LDS handbook back in the drawer. He sits down, puts his feet up on his desk, and puts his now-whole hands behind his head. Hook had been reborn, and even though Peter doesn't understand what just happened, the captain knows that Peter is meant for still greater things.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Age of Deposition

See this post on my new blog,  "A Sea of Glass and Fire."

Deposition: the action of deposing someone, especially a monarch.

We live in an age of deposition; everyone today wants to depose. There are no kings left in this era of smartphones and Twitter, but there are still things left to overthrow. 

Consider the the American public's hatred of the establishment as displayed in Donald Trump's and Bernie Sanders' presidential campaigns. Trump's hordes and the legions of young Sanders supporters don't want to build or construct anything; they want to tear down the establishment, which they perceive as corrupt and against the way things should be. Or look at the infamous "Brexit;" despite the repercussions, the vote showed that people are tired of institutional authority. And then, of course, there's the explosive interest in freedom from sexual norms and the terrifying prospect of terrorism. There's rebellion in the air, and anyone with authority had better beware.

What's going on here? Like I said, it's a deposition - the present day's Zeitgeist resents all positions of power, whatever they may be. But the change is happening on a deeper level than most think. The world's "programming" is changing. On every level, anything that regulates or imposes "shoulds" on the world is collapsing. Not limited to  governments or social norms, everything that categorizes is dying. A category, after all, is a way of saying how things should be. To categorize is to lump things together, and to lump things together is to flatten the differences between them.

Does that mean that we'll devolve into nonsense? Perhaps; much of today's gender anarchy certainly sounds like nonsense. But going into nonsense isn't a regression; it's repentance. When we depose all things that categorize, we're deposing sense, and when we depose sense, we set nonsense and its own meaning free. 

More clearly, what is dying is a "top-down" way of organizing the world. Governments and social norms fit this description, but so do conceptual thought, literal language, and even the idea of a stable ego. Words, concepts, and egos are all ways of repressing difference, and if today's Zeitgeist is going reach its consummation, they too must be torn down. But this newfound nonsense won't be chaotic: it will be a vast, intricate pattern of connections that no one can represent at once. As presaged by the Internet, this new age will have no domination: no "representation" of the world (whether a governments or a system of thought) will encapsulate everything. It will be an anarchy, not just of gender but also of thought, feeling, and self.

In any case, I think it's important we don't let the flotsam and jetsam from older ways of being get in the way of the new age that's unfolding. Be suspicious of any claim that things should be a certain way, and don't listen to anyone who says that there is only one truth. This is all outdated despotism. Let democracy take its rise in every sphere of life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I'm Moving!

Hello all! Word is that Blogger has become a bit antiquated. As such, I've decided to start shifting this blog over to a Wordpress site I've called A Sea of Glass and Fire. Here's a link: A Sea of Glass and Fire. I'll post on both sites for the next few months, but eventually I'll give this one up for the other. Be sure to make the exodus with me!

Friday, July 1, 2016

God: A Man Like One of You

I've always been a bit annoyed by the Mormon idea that God the Father was and is a human being. Jesus Christ as a human being I could understand - God becoming human was the point of the incarnation, after all, or at least that's what I thought. I thought of God the Father as a transcendent, ultimate, and yet still personal being. But with Joseph Smith seeing Jesus Christ and God the Father in the Sacred Grove and with his teaching in the King Follett Discourse that "God himself, who sits in yonder heaven, is a man like one of you," it's hard to align my perspective with Mormon doctrine.

Luckily, I was able to twist out of this contradiction. I now think that God the Father is a personal being with a human body, even if God in His ultimate essence is pure love in itself. This realization came from two places: first, from books by the modern Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and, second, from the Mistborn trilogy of books by Mormon author Brandon Sanderson, which I have finally finished.

Why God Needs Humanity

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is my favorite author at the moment. When he writes or speaks, he speaks with authority and the Spirit. I trust him a lot. Keeping this in mind, one of his major themes is that there is a new age coming into the physical world from spiritual worlds. However, the light of that new age, which comes from God, cannot realize itself without the help of human consciousness. He says that the the divine essence without human consciousness means well, but it doesn't have the common sense or know-how to accomplish good ends that only comes from being human. In his book Alchemy of Light, he expands on this point:

Without the medium of consciousness, the forces of the inner world still communicate, often through violent acts of nature or other disturbances that attract our attention (as on an individual level our unconscious may try to attract our attention through a physical symptom like a backache or some other psychological or physiological disturbance)....These primal powers of creation will do what they need to do to attract our consciousness. They do not themselves have consciousness, and they need our consciousness in order to express themselves: our consciousness is the bridge between the worlds, through which the inner can find expression in the outer.
More specifically, those divine forces of the inner world are like love, but love doesn't know how to accomplish its ends without intellect and truth. So if God in Himself is love, He needs to use the intellect of a human being to effectively realize that love.

I think that this is true, in part. However, to say that God is unconscious seems like too much of a stretch for me. Yes, I believe it's true that God needs the human element to gain consciousness and even that He needs us to help Him accomplish His ends today, but I find it hard to accept that the intelligence which created the world was completely blind. There must have been consciousness in it; humanity was somehow involved.

The Gospel According to Brandon Sanderson

Which brings me to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. Without spoiling too much, I'll say that in the world's universe, a divine force is incomplete without a body. Yes, that divine force can act and influence world events, but without that body a deity is effectively just an unconscious force. But, risking a minor spoiler, those forces seem able to use human beings as ways to get this kind of embodiment and consciousness.

When I came to that revelation, I had a thought. Brandon Sanderson is a Mormon. As such, I wouldn't put it past an author of his skill to be able to see in Mormonism the threads that are invisible to most people. Maybe he didn't even know they were there but, instead, just served as a way for those threads to go into his book series. Whatever the case, his Mormon background makes it possible that his universe's "theology" reflects ours in a profound way. What if the bodies of his universe's gods work in the same way that God's body does in Mormonism? What if the embodiment of God the Father alongside Jesus Christ isn't just an odd doctrine but actually an indication that divine love carried a human consciousness from the beginning?

God's Humanity

So this is my idea: God the Father as the creator/progenitor of human spirits is a means for the divine essence to become conscious, not that divine essence itself. In other words, the Father is human being, and as a human being, He gave the divine essence the human know-how it needed to set up the world as we know it today. There is an intelligence behind the many coincidences and tender mercies in my life, and while I've always said that a divine love was behind it, I now realize that only a divine love realized in a human intelligence could work in that way.

All this means that a human consciousness lets divine love accomplish its ends in a way which only that specific human mind could provide. Love could do many things to ensure its purpose of "the immortality and eternal life of man," but without the intelligence of humans, it wouldn't know which of those roads to take. Each human consciousness, then, gives divine love a unique flavor. I suspect that "worlds," like ours, aren't anything physical like a planet or a universe but instead just whatever divine love ends up bringing into being through a specific human consciousness. Each of those worlds is a unique flavor from a unique mind; each is divine love brought into existence through a certain person.

How would you make a world? There's no one right answer. Obviously our Father has an idea of what's best, but would you embody divine love in a different way? You do that whenever you bring something into being--whether a kind word, a work of art, or even a business enterprise--from love. And maybe you'll get a chance to make an entire world from your unique flavor of love. Armed with your unique consciousness, imagine what could happen: a world with the color of a Van Gogh or one with the haunting harmonies of a Debussy! The possibilities are endless, but that, of course, is the point.