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55: Manna from a Raven April 20, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I can never quite figure out what to do about Easter now the children are grown, except to stay out of the aisle filled with candy. I am a true apostate in the Church of my baptism, cannot in good conscience recite the Apostles Creed and swear fidelity to a single name among the hundreds for the Spirit that inhabits us all. I’ve kicked the dust of that crabby old bastard of the Old Testament  off my sandals. Apologies to those who live by those books, but the catechism version is all woman is the root of all evil and drowning His mistakes and if there’s love in all that well blame the sisters and brothers who preferred we walk in fear and guilt.

The Easter story still resonates because it speaks of mystery, and mystery is at the heart of the Spirit. You can’t touch it but sometimes you’re pretty sure it has touched you, if only through a sunset you can explain in perfectly secular terms  but which still found you gasping for breath remembering to breath, and in that breath is the Spirit. We have a capacity in us to succumb to the Subime, a word I used hundred times I’m sure after forgetting about Edmund Burke. I took a class in American Nature Writing since going back to school and early on we ploughed through A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful and in all this rush to convert our universities into advanced technically and business schools, I don’t think you can call yourself an educated person unless someone makes you sit down and some point and read that.

Taking some basic anthropology to finish up my degree I understand the evolutionary purpose of altruism but the sublime, the combined feeling of wonder and terror in the face of what is larger than us (at its simplest) seems at first to serve no purpose. Mystery and wonder all in one word, and in that word, taty primal logos, is the capacity to recognize that there are forces larger than us at work in the universe, so many of which we struggle to explain in spite of our big-brained, self-important selves. Emerson and Thoreau and all that crowd understood the sublime, found scripture in mountains and river, the same ancient impulse that gave this mountain or that rock its sacred space, a mountain you might climb and in a blinding light find the logos in a handful of words. Better than a set of rules however is simply to be open to the Sublime. To do so is to walk the Tao, to walk in beauty, to cry in horror at those who top mountains and clear cut forests, to realize that desertification is not just a condition of the land but of what we usually call soul.

On your way to church or to gorge on ham in honor of a no-doubt observant Jewish teacher, don’t forget to look round you :at the sky, at the park as you pass, at your beautifully dressed children. Pause a moment in awe of it all. Gasp at it, and in the breath let spirit enter into you. Easter comes but once a year. Let every day be a Pentecost.

Doleful Mysteries March 30, 2013

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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I prefer the old-fashioned Maundy Thursday to keep Batman and Robin out of it. Good Friday is Golgotha and I was in no mood for skulls, and have yet to find anyone to enlist in my proposed pilgrimage to find nine bar doors in New Orleans from which you can view a church. And then there is that vision of the Stations of the Cross. Yes, He suffered just as we do, and more they said in catechism. I checked the work calendar, the to-do list and the checking account balance and suddenly flashed on myself under Alex DeLarge’s scourge in A Clockwork Orange. Here it is Holy Saturday (Batman!) and I am deep into a purgatory of laundry for the sin of sloth. I am curious to see who might be in Holy Rosary keeping vigil on one of the two days of the year in which the consecrated host is removed from Catholic tabernacle, the sumptuous gold box at the back of the altar. Most people know that one doesn’t put the baby in the crèche until Christmas morning, but I wonder who outside of the Altar Society realize that relic of mystic flesh is taken out on Good Friday. And then what do they do with it?

Santa Claus Eve and Easter Bunny Day are problematic for an apostate like myself who is none the less deeply imprinted with a Catholic upbringing, a near equivalent of the secular Jew: steeped in the culture by a complete indoctrination in guilt and exceptionalism that no therapy could hope to erase. It doesn’t help to notice in your son’s catechism classroom that the colors of the Church calendar are purple, green and gold, to ride on the bus home and watch a Latino woman cross herself at each church passed and be reminded of an old girlfriend, to look at the St. Expedite candle on my bedroom mantle. I could easily complete some of the more gruesome qualifications for excommunication from an institution I abhor but it would make no difference. Fish on Friday still seems as right as red beans on Monday or meatballs on Wednesday even if the last time I had my throat blessed was in grammar school.

What to do on Jelly Bean Sunday? I think I still have the plaid shirt I used to wear to church on Easter Sunday when I was raising my children, as solemnly promised, as Catholics, one that looks like a horrible accident at the Paaz factory but I really have nowhere to go in it. I often buy a new straw hat Holy Week but after vacuuming all of the change out of the couch, I’ve decided to just steam the ones I have back into shape and try to scrub the sweat stains out with some Oxyclean and a toothbrush. Still, when the Goddess Diana Ecclesiastical Calender conspires with the weather to bring us Ishtar Easter at Spring, some observance is required. I will probably do what I usually do come that Sunday in honor of Jesus the Teacher and in contravention of the dictates of Peter’s church. I will listen to Pharoah Sander’s Love is Everywhere, a song that to me is the bell-blessed communion chant of the church of all mankind, and read Wallace Steven’s Sunday Morning.

I was just gonna say, don’t get hung up about Easter March 20, 2008

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Leon Russell, music, Toulouse Street.
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Look, I’m just saying that somewhere between Jesus dying on the cross, and a giant bunny hiding eggs there seems to be a gap of information.
–Stan from South Park

Yes, Lisa, there’s Peter Cotton Tail la-la-la. I’m not sure how I managed to forget that after raising two children to 16 and 13. Perhaps its that same trick of memory that doesn’t exactly remember what it felt like to put your hand on the stove, but keeps you away from it.

Here’s a better candidate for an Easter Song by Leon Russell. If James Brown was the undisputed Godfather of Soul, Leon Russell is the indisputable Godfather of Rock-and-Roll piano, the Master of Space and Time. His music was a rock-and-rollicking good time built on the rock-solid foundation of southern music and all it roots. On top of that, he was a perfect electric Rorschach acid test of every far out space of the times, the perfect avatar for the long-haired children of the early 1970s.

It’s too bad I can’t find an on-line version of the Leon song I really wanted, “Prince of Peace” (quoted below), so I”ll have to settle for a video of “Roll Away the Stone”.

Try to judge me only by my time and changes
and not mistaken words, for I say many.
Listen only to my song and watch my eyes.
There’s not much time to spill, there’s hardly any.

Well, look at all the children living in the streets,
and they’re looking, not afraid to touch each other.
They’re not afraid to be themselves or someone else
or choose their friends with love and not by colors.

Never treat a brother like a passing stranger.
Always try to keep the love light burning.
Sing a song of love and open up your heart
for you might be the Prince of Peace returning.

Oh, love the blind and wounded as your love yourself
And the businessmen in cells collecting pennies.
Judge their wealth by the coins they give away
and not the ones they keep themselves for spending

Oh, never be impatient with the ones you love.
It might be yourself that you’re burning.
Sing a song of love and open up your heart
for you might be the Prince of Peace returning.