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meditations part 2: the MACS teacher, passion and coveting

29 Aug

In ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter takes Clarice Starling to Rome:
HL: ‘First principles Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself ? What is its nature? …
He covets. That is his nature…we begin by coveting what we see every day.’
We see what we are passionate about every day. The MACS teacher sees youth that are reflections of a deep desire: young people in colleges, experiencing new life. A choice. Possible passions. Their passions though is their students and Their success; the students’ own felt successes in life. (Teachers have other passions, I am sure, but…)
…but this is what and whom the MACS teacher & staff persons choose to see everyday of their life. It is what All-all-see in the summer, at a beach, at rest, on vacation. It is passion.)
And, and …if it were the only seen thing? Then ‘we/I covet and want possession and ownership. That was me; what i was becoming. Coveting is control. Total Control. Then the simple becomes deeply simple: I would become pure passion, pure coveting itself. No balance. No boundary. One simply becomes the other. Passion becomes coveting. A good desire destroys.
Simply destroys. Simply.
It is easy to cross the line between passion and coveting. I have and still am stepping on that emotional tightrope between coveting and passion. It is my nature. When I do step over, I over eat; I buy sports jerseys for myself. I rage, rage against injustice. Anger overwhelms. And, and…if it gets real bad, i am angry. quiet and angry. All the time. My only way back is to pray. I pray the Jesus prayer ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ He is a living God; He knows …
He simply knows. I know that…
Every MACS teacher I have served with loved their kids ; all of them. And they were in balance and passionate and true lovers. I failed them, sometimes well and sometime poorly. But I loved them, these MACS teachers, because of their passion. And they were and are better than I will ever be.
My UK readers and others, please understand this: they -these MACs staff and teachers- were wonders. I think of them every day. In love. With passion.

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meditation 12-‘breaking’ bad fruit: idolatry & witchcraft

25 Aug

J.R.R. Tolkien in response to a critical question concerning the placing of total power in the Ring of Sauron in ‘The Lord of the Rings” stated in a letter, ‘The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical ways of treating the placing of one’s life or power in some external object outside oneself which… thus exposes (the person) to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself.’

We all do this. Children place their desire on a toy, a ‘new best friend’ at the start of a school term, a doll, a promise, a Christmas day. Adults place their desire in a love, a person, a spouse an ideal, their work, achievement. Or ‘a diamond birthday.’ All of these are idols that we create and recreate through our walk and life. And when we create we ‘place.’ This placement is the worship: we move our internal ultimate value to external object. Our souls to rings. Or to a Ring. Such placement is a form of witchcraft. Paul in Galatians tells us that idolatry And witchcraft work together. (‘and’) How? By creating. And by recreating.Walter White in AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ and Lord Voldemort in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books both place their souls in external objects. They are both worshippers and creators. Idols themselves, made by their own hands. No longer humans, but objects. Fragment and particles. Walter becomes the desire for a ‘name’ and Voldemort is the desire for life eternal. Both change their names; both want to rule in the ‘unknown’ country, the land beyond life. Both are idol worshippers. And both were or desire to be teachers.
Walter White places the black hat on his head and becomes his alias, Heisenberg, the physicist father of Quantum Mechanics, the founder of the Uncertainty principle: particles existing in multiple states and places at multiple times. Walter exists as a chemist, yet also chooses the identity of a physicist for one purpose: to create a name, an object outside himself that will live forever. His fear? Part of what all teachers fear is being forgotten, swallowed up death, or lack of remembrance. Teachers deeply fear that their students certainly won’t remember them. And without memory life loses meaning.(Jesse is such a student who desires to destroy his memories of teacher Walter) Voldemort also desires eternal life through memory. Thus, he creates horcuxes. Objects as Tom Riddle’s Diary, Maravalo’s ring and others. He creates with particles of his unstable soul. Objects that can only be created out of murder. Riddle becomes Voldemort; White becomes black, Heisenberg. Multiple selves in multiple places. In their quests for certainty they become particles of uncertainty. Objects of pure flesh warring with Spirit. Paul closes chapter 5 of Galatians with a statement on their joint fates, ‘those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’
Idol worship, witchcraft, is bad fruit. It breaks and fragments in our hands, destroying our very self, our souls.

meditation 8: acts of the sinful nature, fleshly worship of real Zombies

10 Jul

“Bling Ring & Act of Killing”
Fleshy worship, Zombies

“World War Z”; “The Walking Dead”; George Romero’s black and white “Night of the Living Dead” are not Zombie movies. No way; no how.

Real Zombies walk among us. No grunts, no soft moans. They speak in affected accents. They move quickly when they see flesh they covet. Their only thought is to consume. Real life walking breathing semi-living Zombies are the fruit of one desire: the worship of their own flesh.

Two recent pseudo film documentaries attempt to give “Zombie” portraits, “The Act of Killing” and “The Bling Ring.” Both fail miserably. Why? Both give our Zombies what they so desire: eternal images of their own flesh which they can consume eternally. Both end with a main character watching themselves in media, dressed to the 9s. One character encourages us to go their web site which has “4ever” in the address. The older other film’s main character wakes his grandchildren from their sleep so they can watch his “torture” and “death” on film. In the end both films themselves become “Zombies”: worshippers of their own cinematic flesh. How?
Each film glances uncritically at the images, the surfaces, created and recreated over and over by the Zombies. One has a teen group that steals in the same way with the same method repeatedly; the other has older murderers recreating their crimes over and over for the cameras. What makes both groups Zombies is how they unthinkably worship of their own images. Young and old alike. They can’t stop watching themselves. They are eating their own flesh. (Oppenheimer’s Zombies re-enact their crimes for the cameras; Coppola went Hollywood and used “actors.)
Both character groups “dress up” for their parts. They create images from their views of the world: movie “gangsters” (or “free men” as they are called in “The Act of Killing”) and celebrities, such as Paris Hilton, in “the Bling Ring.”

Both films’ Real Zombies eat with their eyes. First, their sight is taken and absorbed by the world around them. But they want your eyes and souls too. The films fail because they give Zombies what they desire: their own created flesh absorbing mages. The films do not question, or offer a counter point, another voice or image. Only Zombies speak and are seen. The film genre itself is the first victim.

And the filmmakers, Sofia Coppola and Joshua Oppenheimer are the second victims.

Both directors are captivated by a “real story.” Coppola by the “Vanity Fair” story about a teenagers in California who went from house to house stealing whatever was immediately at hand . Oppenheimer’s criminals are murderers. In 1965 Indonesia they murdered thousands of Chinese and communists and trade union workers/organisers. They go from house to house to torture and murder.

Each director places these Zombies and their stories before us. They let them speak and eat for themselves. And for us. There is no critical discussion of their “stories.” Tellingly, in both films, the victims’ voices are never heard or mentioned. The dead, whether physical or spiritual, do not speak. This is both directors’ ultimate failing. But…

Why and how we’re these zombies made?

Paul in Galatians speaks,

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself. “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious…”

Zombies use their freedom to indulge in the flesh. They worship themselves and images of flesh, the world. Ultimately, they destroy, they eat each other.

Real Zombies are not obvious. But their acts, their worship is: our fleshly world. And they are coming for me and you,

Our only escape? Walk not with the dead, the flesh, but in the Spirit. Walk in love with the living. Listen to their voices; let them speak. Their voice may surprise you.