Divine Intercourse

At the AMP conference last month, Michelle Tepper’s topic was “breaking the silence on love, sex and relationships.” Michelle trumpeted her success reaching college students, but I found her message uncomfortable. She relies heavily on Biblical rules in framing responses to the psychological needs of individuals.

So when I approached her afterwards, I began by suggesting that we sit down, bringing our eyes to the same level.

As I explained, if any of us were complete in ourselves, we would be God. He made us a duality on purpose. I expressed my concern that this aspect of the Biblical message was underrepresented in her teaching.

Having warned us in her presentation that we shouldn’t go around looking for a relationship that completed us, Michelle was hostile to the idea. I guided her away from reiteration of her message, observing that I have been advising youth on-line.

Then the conversation took a sharp twist. She asked “Do you think that Jesus was satisfied?”

I knew that she meant sexually, but I shifted to a large view of his life. “No, he wasn’t satisfied at all. He knew that his culture needed to change, with a passion that drove him to the cross.”

Michelle wasn’t to be deterred. “I meant satisfied sexually. I believe that he was beyond that need.”

Well, it was time to plunge right in. I shrugged. “Read the description of the New Jerusalem. It is a metaphor for the union of the divine masculine with the divine feminine.”

She was struck dumb, as were the onlookers.

I continued “Look, the Bible is all about men’s problems. The holy mother is in hiding, and it is time for her to be sought out and revealed.”

I know that I appear to be uptight and tortured as regard my sexuality. But the Bible describes the brutal beast of the apocalypse as possessing ten “horns.” This is an apt metaphor for the masculine approach to dominance: many men run around the world trying to stick their penis into it. The feminine beast in Revelation is red, suggestive of the menstrual cycle. The feminine beast uses sex to co-opt masculine aggression.

So the reason that I haven’t been “playing the field” (which would be easy to accomplish) is because all the women that I meet accept these conventions. They may not wish to personify them in their relationships (part of what makes me attractive to them), but they accept that bestial patterns of dominance define the world that we live in.

Being who I am, I am incapable of submission to any ethic that limits the domain in which love is expressed. So I choose not to have a relationship with any woman that brings that with her.

Sera Beak has been in my mind ever since I read “Red, Hot and Holy.” I believe that she showed up at MovinGround one Sunday after I filled out her online contact form. In that message, I suggested that if we were each who we claimed to be, that would be apparent only in relation to one another. She was clearly uncomfortable in my presence during the dance, and stood before me timidly afterwards. My thought was “Not yet.”

She lives in Texas, though, which is a hot-bed of Christian hypocrisy. Last year I felt her reaching out in concern, and I poured power into her spirit, trying to expand her range of influence.

Why? Read the book: Sera went all the way in with the Red Lady, and found wisdom waiting for her on the other side. That wisdom came from the holy mother.

Putting this all together last night, I reached out again, sending “It’s time for us to merge our powers.”

But what are those powers? What is the nature of love, and how is sex a metaphor for its operation?

Our exploration last night was complicated by pragmatic concerns, but it boils down to this: any act of love that preserves self involves penetration and yielding. A gift is offered, but room must be made for it to be received. As we are aggregates (both physically and spiritually), reception is consensual at many levels. Full acceptance requires communication of the nature of the gift, and adaptation to the perceptions of those smaller parts. That involves circulation, which is stimulated by withdrawal so that the gift of yielding may be repeated again and again until consummated.

Yeah. This is “White Hot” and Holy. This is why Jesus told the Magdalene “Do not cling to me.”

The visualization eventually evolved as a complex many-dimensional Klein bottle. A man penetrates a woman, the women connecting to the Earth that gives life to the man, the male penetrating the Earth as light from the sun, the light from the sun sheltered in the womb of space, and on and outward.

The Bible, being concerned with men, celebrates the masculine aspect of God. But that is only half the story.

Speaks to Me

The painters at the Sunday Art Walk in Santa Barbara have adjusted themselves to my visits. I don’t know whether my criticism is of value to them, or whether they benefit commercially  from the spectacle of a spirited discussion.

Of recent, I’ve been following three of the artists. I admire John Grandfield’s sagebrush landscapes, but I can’t afford the larger pieces that capture the spirit of the land. His combed acrylic landscapes are more affordable, and the first that I saw was perfect for the site header out at Love Returns. As well as suggesting the elements of the creation story from Genesis, the piece conveys my sense that the angels perceive through a veil – albeit an exquisite veil – the sensory experience of living creatures.

I’ve had rather longer conversations with Steve Richardson, whose oeuvre defies characterization. His original sensibilities appear to be present in his harmonious landscapes, reminiscent of the middle work of George Inness. He fights against that tenderness in landscapes that suggest the battle between fog, light and vegetation in the tidal sloughs around Santa Barbara. Steve also paints the local monuments with a painterly verve, the travels of the brush and palette knife laid bare for our examination.

I first resolved that I would purchase a piece from him when struck by a speckled oak tree. The effect was as though falling through the silhouette into spatter paint drops that could be both atoms and galaxies. I enthused that I had been wrestling with the idea that our material forms were metaphors for spiritual evolution. I left him to consider whether he could create the same effect in larger format, only to be told a month later that he was giving up the style for safety reasons (the drops are created by striking the brush, which can send paint into the eyes).SoulSails.png

When I stopped by today, I knew immediately that I would buy the piece anchoring the corner of his exhibit. It has the sense of light from above trying to pierce an oppressive indigo, with the complex and truncated response from the humans in the boats below. This is very much my experience of reaching up to join my intentions with those of Jesus’s “Abba.”

I wish that the photo conveyed the subtlety of the patchy sails.

I’ve also been following the work of Avril (a pseudonym, although as you travel the Walk you’ll recognize her work), a very French woman whose introduction was an aggressive demand for philosophical clarification of the phrase on the back of my Love Returns t-shirt. Avril is one of the few artists on the Art Walk that focuses on the human form. Her most popular works may be her sisterhood cartoons (multigenerational women fishing naked on the pier). She displays a number of linotype nudes, and is particularly aggressive regarding her abstract and collage work.

What captivates me, however, are the acrylic nudes, sinuous spines and generous hips set against abstract pastel tapestries. The figures are not delineated, but ensconced in a penumbra that bespeaks yearning for a caress. Having sublimated the responsive male desire for most of my adult life, I recognize now that I will never know the flower of a woman’s sensuality, that first innocent expression of sexual joy moderated solely by the wisdom that shelters its root in procreation. But it is a power that I need to engage – it is the only power that can heal the world.

Nude

So I bought this piece, a piece that Avril warned me would “talk at night.” I countered that I already have women speaking to me in the middle of the night, and would rather wake to beauty than suffer their drama without reward.

All About Us

I’ve decided to attend services at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. The first service convenes at 9:15, which dovetails nicely with the Dance Tribe celebration at 11.

In the context of Trump’s immigration ban, last week’s service was serendipitous. A local couple shared pictures taken last year on the island of Lesbos, the point of access to the EU for those fleeing conflict throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. The refugees were drawn by Angela Merkel’s pledge of sanctuary to cross from Turkey over the five-mile channel on rubber rafts. Rafts made unstable by choppy seas and shoulder-to-shoulder passengers. As water was taken on, personal goods were often tossed overboard.

The refugees arrived on rocky shores against a steep cliff. Happy but exhausted, they were forced to climb up to a receiving zone, because laws prohibit private transport of illegal immigrants. The presenters ignored this risk, ferrying young and elderly alike in their car. Seeing the stress on the faces of parents, they also brought in paper and markers, inviting the children onto blankets where many of them documented the crossing – not excluding, in one little boy’s picture, those lost in the waters.

Reverend Julia Hamilton favors the spiritual image of the “cloud of witnesses,” and in this case, the cloud was hung around the sanctuary: photographs of children with their pictures. I struggled to maintain my composure, feeling their exhaustion and confusion beating through time, and echoed in places around the world. We rode through it, and in the receiving line afterwards, I simply asked “May I?”, before joining the hands of the husband and wife in mine, bending forward to allow my cloud to affirm theirs. When I offered “Thank-you for your compassion,” the woman echoed “Thank you!”

Today’s service was more typical: a reflection on personal spiritual growth. After inveighing against identification of our selves with our struggles, Rev. Hamilton continued with a parable on the traps of dogma and creed. Visiting with another master, the Zen poet Basho quoted sage after sage, until his host interrupted to ask: “Basho, you are clearly a master of Zen teachings. But could you offer me one thought of your own – one authentic expression of self?” Basho’s embarrassment deepened minute by minute as nothing came to mind. Finally, he looked outside and felt welling up in him:

The old pond.
A frog jumps in.
Splash!

His host clapped in delight.

Rev. Hamilton explained the parable as signifying the importance of being where we were – we are not our struggles, but nor our we are achievements. We are who we are in the moment.

As she illustrated the point, I found myself wondering when she was going to remark on the emptiness of a journey made alone. But it never came. That is the challenge of Unitarian Universalism, full of iconoclasts synthesizing the views of many traditions, each achieving a unique spiritual practice. In the best case, the seeker stands on the shoulders of avatars from every culture; in the saddest case, the seeker ends up like Basho – empty of personal understanding. It was this contrast that Rev. Hamilton developed: the spiritual journey is a journey to self-knowledge.

I really didn’t catch the last ten minutes of the service, my mind spinning as I grasped at methods for expressing the flowering of my own journey from sterile self-knowledge. For some reason, they crystallized in haiku form, bringing surprise and delight to her eyes when I intoned:

Through loving,
God finds meaning:
Us.

Rise of the Womanarchy

I hate negative memes. They offend and alienate needlessly. These, then, were the off moments for me during the Woman’s March in Portland: the signs proclaiming “Down with the Patriarchy.”

Really, girls? You expect that your sign is going to have any psychological effect on men that are rewarded by woman that sex them up to go out and rape and pillage on their behalf? Especially when the female instigators get to lurk in the background as MYSTERY, tossing aside men with broken spirits while blaming the victors for the carnage?

Hopefully my readers recognize the Biblical reference. There are two “beasts” in the Book of Revelation. They are nearly identical, differing only in that the first bears the number “666” while the second is colored red and ridden by a woman with MYSTERY blazoned on her brow.

“666” refers to the sixth day of creation that gave rise to the mammals. Not yet fully in control of their primitive urges, they swept across the globe, rising to ecological dominance in every realm except the air. It was only in man that the capacity of rationality rose to a level that would sustain the expression of Unconditional Love. The first beast was almost cast aside by the metal tools created by men, but it survived by entering into our religious experience with the spiritual aid of the serpent – the ghostly residue of the dinosaurs.

The red beast represents sexual control as the strategy for dominance developed by female mammals. In its primitive essence, the most effective literary rendering is the long introduction to Jack London’s White Fang. I read it out of curiosity when it was assigned to my son in middle school, finding it a little odd until I had to bring in a forgotten assignment and saw the sexier eighth grade girls flaunting their tits and asses on the lawn while the drooling boys jockeyed for position.

In Revelation, MYSTERY is destroyed when the red beast turns on her. I believe that bondage is broken when the mammalian females come to realize that MYSTERY does not care for their offspring – that the dominant females of homo sapiens will countenance the destruction of the global climate so long as they can use fossil fuels to maintain their personal comfort.

Trapped in his patriarchic mindset, unfortunately, John was unable to perceive the feminine virtues at work (the common theme in Revelation is that woman corrupt men through fornication). From the masculine side of the process, I am aware that love prevails only when the oppressed believe that they have a choice. This is the liberating power of the resurrection: not even death is a barrier to those that surrender fully to love. With that fear eliminated, masculine violence loses its power as a strategy for social dominance.

So what other choice do women have?

Jesus heralded the transformation of the patriarchy under the guidance of Unconditional Love: the rise of Manarchy, with the capitalization carrying the indications of Genesis. I have been seeking in this life to support a female partnership, a Womanarchy willing to subdue sexuality in the service of Unconditional Love. It is to perceive the womb as the sacred crucible in which spirit is joined to matter, thus the mechanism that can be used to call angels to guide that which is good through the era of duress that Gaia is to suffer.

I see the rising spirit of resistance against death in the hard-hitting political analysis offered in the teen girl magazines, and the strength of the criticism brought by Rachel Maddow and other female commentators. But criticism is not enough: if the joint power of the Patriarchy and Matriarchy is to be broken, woman must turn their powers to the service of Love.

Walk in the woods. Go to the zoo. See what is beautiful and good and offer your inmost self to its service. Give the red beast an alternative. Use your wombs to guide it into Unconditional Love. MYSTERY will not be destroyed, she’ll just become irrelevant.

A Gentler Atheism

When planning my trip to Portland, I envisioned walking in snowy woods. The view of the city from the plane did not disappoint – it was covered in a pristine white blanket. It was only when riding downtown on the MAX that I learned what a disaster this was for the residents. Portland rarely sees snow, and the city has been practically shut down for the last ten days.

I did get my walk in the woods out at Breitenbush, in between sessions of the Wild Grace workshop facilitated by Paula Byrne. The experience was refreshing, although challenging. I found myself revealing far more about my journey than I had intended. After my walk in the woods on Monday morning, however, I closed my eyes to offer my gratitude before breakfast, and when I opened them the two new friends at the table said “Thank-you for that.” I found acceptance among them.

Today was my first day driving over the ice and snow. The Dollar lot was kind enough to put me in an Impreza. I don’t know what would have happened without the 4-wheel drive. I was going to go down to the OMSI, but I needed a silk swab for my flute. I ended up bouncing around NW Portland, picking up some books at Powell’s to fill in the mornings and afternoons until heading out for the dance events that drew me here. And well that I did: the rain started this afternoon, turning the roads into an icy slushy mess, and prompting cancellation of tonight’s full-contact improv event.

I picked all my selections at Powell’s from the nature shelves. I’ve been paying far too much attention to the problems people have created for themselves, and feel a strong need to see the natural world through the eyes of people that cherish it. So I find myself with books on bees and nesting.

But I started with Frans de Waal’s The Bonobo and the Atheist. The author is a primate behavioral scientist, focusing on chimpanzees and bonobos (most similar among all the apes to our primate ancestors). Without dwelling on it, de Waal makes clear his preference for the matriarchy of the bonobos, whose casual sexuality supplants fear as social glue. But in both societies, primates evidence empathy, compassion and a sense of fairness that are often upheld by philosophers as markers of “moral” conduct. de Waal extends this attribution, through brief vignettes, to other species in the mammalian order.

Laced throughout the book are reflections on the work of the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, famous for his apocalyptic visions. Motivated perhaps by recent works that characterized Bosch as a deviant, de Waal reinterprets the artist as a humanist, noting that there is no representation of God in Bosch’s paradise. The artwork serves as an interesting device in the narrative: de Waal references it in drawing parallels between bonobo and human behavior.

As a work of moral philosophy, the book is weak. de Waal asserts that the cooperative socialization of apes proves that morality is innate, rather than learned. But this is the morality of the tribe that suppressed intellectual innovation for so much of human history. That is not always a bad thing: nerve gas and atom bombs are tools that we probably should do without. But it is the human capacity to innovate that creates social disparity that eventually sunders tribal bonds. I remark that the Greek root – religio – means “to bind again.”

Ignoring this problem, de Waal asserts that religion exists only to claim authority over our moral energies. This is accomplished by generalizing and abstracting the moral impulse. Without demonstrating deep religious insight, de Waal suggests that any such system of moral reasoning divorces us from the physiological and emotional roots of our natural morality. Paradoxically, he observes that natural morality applies only to individuals familiar to us, which leads to gross abuse of the rights of the “other” = whether of different cultures or different species. The book closes with an appeal to broaden our moral attachments – in effect, to repeat the sins of religion by generalizing and abstracting our morality.

Unlike his more intemperate peers (such as Christopher Hitchens), de Waal does concede the benefits that religion confers upon the believer, among them longer life, social amity and a sense of meaning. He believes, furthermore, that as our moral impulse is rooted in emotional experience, any attempt to reason people away from faith is misguided. Religion is to be tolerated.

At this point, of course, de Waal has joined the camp from which I am now seeking to disentangle myself. Every human culture brought forth the concept of the soul from its tribal past. It is the most obvious mechanism for explaining the sympathy felt between intimates when one is hurt (mirror neurons having been proven to be a fiction). Taking the existence of the soul as a given, religion is then best interpreted as an institutionalized orientation toward spirituality, and the ground staked out by the atheist (de Waal among them) subsides in the tidal surge of love that originates from the divine source.

Love Creation: Chaos

To a physicist’s eye, chaos merges two contrary tendencies:

  • The combination of smaller shapes, unbeknownst to themselves, to form larger examples by joining their mass and energy.
  • The collapse of larger shapes through donation of their energy and mass to the creation of ever-multiplying smaller shapes.

Being made in God’s image, we might pause in astonishment that we find chaos pleasing. It follows that pleasing him is not an act of discipline or grandiosity, but a surrender of ourselves to the creation of harmonious frision with the world we inhabit.

The Uses of Tyranny and The Abuses of Tyranny

Power Seeks Truth Through Love

A friend from yoga started following my blog recently, and yesterday we were chatting about it before yoga class. I was surprised by his statement that he always understood the Christian message to be that humanity was the focus of healing in the world, rather than a virus to spread corruption. I was about to ask him about the source of his understanding when a stranger interjected and began to tell me that I was wrong. He kept at it, point by point, until I got frustrated and told him, “Look, I am doing the work.”

This was the framing for Rachel Maddow’s profile of Steve Bannon’s career as a video producer. His recent work includes a metaphor on global warming – a crazed scientist locks a bunch of steamy bodies in a sauna and slowly raises the temperature, causing an unnecessary panic.

In the context of this blog, the more outrageous offering is a reality series that recasts the male protagonist of Duck Dynasty as the prophet of the Second Coming. Some would be outraged by this travesty, others would be frightened, but I see it as an opportunity.

Bannon, like many in the media industry, understands the power of dreams. Shared ideas are spiritual points of contact that link a target community. Seeding people with phrases and images allows other kinds of thoughts to be projected into their souls. This is something that I trained my sons to resist. When they complained that an unsettling thought wouldn’t leave them alone, I offered “Close your eyes, calm your thoughts, and form this question in your mind: ‘Where is this coming from?’ Now tell me whose face you see.”

Bannon has co-opted the conservative message with his alt-right media machine. People that celebrate freedom and independence now subscribe – sometimes violently – to his program that seeks to deny those rights to minorities. It appears that he now wishes to do the same to Christianity, whose political messaging is currently diffused across competing denominations.

But as one among a growing number that believes that Revelation teaches that the returned Christ is already at work among us, I must consider how much Bannon’s power play will affect that process of manifestation. I am happy to share that I have powerful reasons for believing that it will further it.

You see, people may subscribe to an illusion such as the one that Bannon is constructing, but ultimately their concern is for the actual conditions of their life. This is the huge difference between Christ and illusionists such as Bannon: Christ actually loves his community, and is invested in their strength. This means that the community builds strength through relation with Christ, rather than losing it.

But how does Christ break through the barrier of illusion spun by Bannon and others? Because his investment in truth gives him focus and strength that the illusionists cannot rival. Illusionists are lazy people, seeking to take power without giving anything in return. Christ focuses only on service to his community, and so disciplines himself to act in a way consistent with their benefit. There is no pause in his determination, no rest until he has manifested his will for service to them.

What killed him made him stronger.

So all that Bannon will succeed in doing is to create a nexus in spirit that will allow Christ to send fulfillment all the more rapidly to those that are held captive by illusion. Once that message is received, Bannon will lose his power over his captives, and be cast aside as irrelevant.

This is just a specific example of a greater principle: spiritual power is conscious and intelligent. It seeks conditions under which it can anchor and spread. That means that it must work in concert with truth, for without truth its anchor will not be firm. Truth is perceived fully only by those that love unconditionally – that is to say, without thought of personal reward. For, if we think of personal reward when seeking the truth, people will seek to protect themselves from our appropriations by hiding from us.

This then, is what makes Christ inevitably the most powerful person on earth: power seeks truth through love. As the avatar of unconditional love, eventually all power will accrue to him.