From the Solemn Gloom of the Temple

From the solemn gloom of the temple
children run out to sit in the dust,
God watches them play
and forgets the priest.
– Rabindranath Tagore

On an unstable day filled with hail bursts and wind gusts and a lightening strike or two, I watched Bill Maher’s movie Religulous.  It was, in a word, horrifying.  A horrification most likely amplified by the weather. Luckily the tree which always threatened to wipe out our house in such weather is gone.  Sadly, so is neighbor who refused to chop it down. But I didn’t do it.  Honest.  His was a natural death.

Bill Maher is a comedian with a nighttime talkshow which is, like all talkshows these days, highly politicized. He’s also famous for being an outspoken atheist and pot smoker.  Religulous (an anagram of religious and ridiculous) is basically about people whose beliefs cannot be swayed by any amount of logic. I don’t know how he rounded those folks up. That must have been some casting call.  

I’ve known and worked with Muslims, Jews, Sufis, Hindus, Witches, Satanists, Atheists, Agnostics and Transpeople of all varieties.  Not to mention a plethora of Christians.  Most did not feel the need to convince me that their path was the only one.  Oh, one particular Charismatic Catholic claimed that God had a message for me through her and it wasn’t good news. But since she specialized in only channeling dire warnings from the Supreme Being about my fate in the hereafter, I didn’t pay much attention. Although when you’re a child, it’s always upsetting to be bullied by God’s Special Whisperer.

Which brings me back to, how did Bill Maher find so many people who have no doubt they are absolutely right? The Bible was written by God; Mary was a virgin, Jonas lived in a whale and Jesus never had sex.  And if you doubt any one of these “facts” you are going to hell, even if you follow the commandments to the letter.

To me, this is intolerance and bullying. Because. . . 

I hope your celebration of spring is full of love and completely devoid of any discussion of hell.

My fancies are fireflies

– Specks of living light
      twinkling in the dark.    R. Tagore

In my family Easter is more about chocolate eggs than the Resurrection. But that doesn’t mean I’m an atheist or even an agnostic. I have been to church and I have been baptized; I even spent a year studying the Bible in college. Churches can be wonderful institutions, even the ones whose beliefs leave me scratching my head but

my church is wild and uncontrolled by man.

IMG_1687Outside, be it deep in the woods or by the sea, that’s where I feel close to the inexplicable, all-encompassing, transcendental forces which philosophers far wiser than me struggle to comprehend.

IMG_1685

Theories about blogging differ wildly. Some insist that you put yourself out there.  Don’t be afraid to take positions on controversial subjects. Encourage debate, particularly if your platform is something like kinky sex.

IMG_1683

Others recommend extreme caution.  Stay clear of controversial subjects like politics and religion.  Don’t do anything to infuriate a potential buyer!

IMG_1688

Of course, which direction you take depends on your target audience and why you’re writing in the first place.  In general I’m a bit of a wimp.  I share bits of my life and only dip into controversy when I just can’t stand nonsense any more.  But it’s Easter and so I feel inspired to share with you the work of Rabindranath Tagore, my go-to guy for peace of mind.  I was introduced Tagore, a Bengali writer and painter, at the stupid age of eighteen by a dear friend intent on freeing my mind from convention.  For decades I’ve carried a copy of his “thoughts” (Fireflies) with me wherever I go. It’s beat up and stained and the spine gave up long ago but the book is out of print and almost impossible to replace.

Tagore was inspired by Chinese and Japanese “thoughts” painted on fans and pieces of silk, thus his works are not poems or haikus or even sonnets, just thoughts.  Like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “let he who is without sin throw the first stone” and  “love thy neighbors as thyself” and so many other thoughts by another great philosopher. IMG_2648