Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sabbatical Sixth (and Last)

Everything, firstly, mostly and humbly, thank you. For breath, life and love. For consciousness and communion with one another and with you. Thy will be done. Amen.


Hello. It's late on this sweet smelling, mild Sunday evening. Late for my sermonising, that is, but once again I am compelled to at least say 'Hi'.

On the social network this week I enjoyed the outburst of gratitude from the Americans for their Thanksgiving celebrations. Gratitude, for life itself, is fundamental to mental health, in my view, and Thanksgiving is one of the really endearing components of the American national cult. It's a candidate for a globalised celebration.

This is the last time I'll use the term 'Sabbatical' for my sermons, as I intend to get back to this project in a more focussed way again from next week. But I don't think I'll call them 'Sunday Sermons' either, and nor will I expect too much of myself every week. I will instead continue to blog on a Sunday under individual headlines. Some of my essays might be quite elaborate and sometimes they'll be short and sweet.

There are very many versions of the following song on Youtube, almost all with a variety of the famous 'Zorba the Greek' dance to accompany. Dance away if you wish of course, but I purposely chose this one without any accompanying video because in this case I want to focus on the piece of music. A friend of mine who knows his music calls this a song of survival, and goes so far as to say that the modern Greeks will survive because of their music and because of this song. I don't know about that, but I do feel in this song a restorative; a cry of libidinal hope; a flowering and a celebration of humanity.

Cheers Everyone.
Everything thank you for our brains, our consciousness and our ability to creatively and critically swap notes. Help us in the journey of truth, our journey to knowledge of yourself, Everything. But even in our inevitable ignorances, misunderstandings and inadequacies, help us to do thy will anyway. So be it.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sabbatical 5

Hello you, reality of mine and of all subjects. Everything, thankyou for all of you and especially for the consciousness we enjoy for our time. To your will alone Everything do I willingly submit. Amen.
It has been an emotional week for me as my son and many other young people who have touched my life alongside him graduated from High School on Friday. At this time they are all at Schoolie's Week on the Gold Coast, as I was twenty-seven years ago, and no doubt having a blast.

I salute them. My overwhelming impression is that this generation is better adjusted, less illusioned and less repressed than my generation was. They are also more affluent, better connected by technology and more mobile. Their opportunities and choices are truly global. As are their challenges.

In terms of religion and the House of Every, it is my view that people should not firmly choose religious association until they are at least into their twenties, and the age my partner and I discuss as a possibly ideal age for any religious initiation (such as confirmation or baptism) is 28.

Youth is for studying, exploring, dreaming, travelling in space and mind. It is not for fixating and entrenching, in my view. I'm not saying they should stay away from religous services. I'm saying they should perhaps go to lots of different ones, if at all.

At the same time, I was very aware during the elaborate graduation ceremony with its emotion and its high sentiments, that one of the deep emotions from the students was the result of the end of a five (or twelve) year embodiment. The effect of this embodiment was illustrated by the school band and the ensemble performances, which were at a very high level, as is quite usual for mature school bands, as long as the music program is ok. It was also illustrated by the rousing football songs in the foyer, the many and various group hugs and photos, and the tears. "State High 'till ya die" was, however non-rational, the abiding sentiment. For many, I am aware, it is the most meaningful continuous embodiment they will ever experience, and indeed, 'old school spirit' of one flavour or another is a part of the religious structure of the lives of very many people. Embodiment creates deep, abiding meaning, is what I'm trying to say.

But all I really want to say is good luck to them.

This is a song that has recently meant a lot to my son. One wonderful thing is that neither he nor his friends will read this sermon, but nevertheless this is a song for them.
Everything, bless the pathways of the embarking generation! May they all in their own freedom contribute beautifully to the fabric of humanity. May they seek widely, think deeply and aim high for themselves. I am certain that by your grace they will do so more than we did, and thank you for that. Thy will be done with them. So be it.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sabbatical 4

Hello Everything. Thank you for the days, weeks and years we have to abide in and discover you. Dance with us Every that our own will may joyfully coalesce with your own, in wisdom and in love. Amen.
Today is Remembrance Day. Even when the world is at peace, when we have through efforts of compassion, consociation and culture all but stopped killing one another, we must never forget the millions who have died by such violence. When we defeat institutional violence in world culture, and I honestly believe we will, we will not have defeated our natures. We will not have defeated our implicit capacity for such violence. If for no other reason, that is why we must never forget the casualties of our nature.

If you feel that the proposition that violence is decreasing is crazy, or even believe as many do that our world is getting more violent and unstable even now, I highly recommend Steven Pinker's book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes, 2011. There is no guarantee of course that horrific world wide violence will never occur again, but there are real long-term signs that it is slowly disappearing, and this should be a source of hope and inspiration. Let's not let the chance go by.

Anyway, here's to all the victims of our own violent tribal natures. May we never forget the child-soldier cannon fodder, the holocaust victims and the innocents starved, displaced and broken, as well as the uniformed soldiers, of every country and tribe. If nothing else their sacrifice throughout history (and ongoing) is witness to our natures; natures which every one of us for all time most own and understand precisely that we may overcome them by our better angels of empathy, understanding and mutualism. We are all killers as much as every cat and dog, unless and until, by the grace of unfolding reality (Everything) as well as our own determination, we are not. May Everything help us get there.

Everything bless the words of your preacher that I may usefully instruct and encourage, and never deceive. And bless your people that if and when I do speak shit they are wise to it and are not deceived anyway. Oh and thanks for the time off. So be it.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sabbatical 3

Good morning Everything. Thank you for this day, this week, this life. Bless our ways and the ways of our loved ones, that we may further your will. And whatever it be, thy will be done. Amen.
Good morning everyone. This is an anniversary of sorts as last Wednesday was Reformation Day, the second since I posted 95 Theses to the door of West End Uniting Church and thereby began my identity and ministry as a modern preacher. At one point I envisioned that by this time there might be a small local congregation in Brisbane and even foreshadowed that there would be a baptism party at this time. It turns out that, at best, I was a bit ahead of myself there. Nevertheless Reformation Day, for me at least, remains a marker of time leading up to the 500th Reformation Day in five years time, and also an expression, which can belong to all of us, of the need for reform in all human religion.

Meanwhile my central yoga (and job) is managing a large second-hand bookshop and that is absorbing all my spare time right now. Every day books are added to the enormous collection and other books are bought from the collection. As they are books on almost every subject, although the collection can at any time only be a tiny fraction of published books, the shifting body of books represents for me a sort of breathing universal bibliography, impossible to read but which I am nevertheless obliged to comprehend and manage.

Professionally, even for the most mercenary reasons, I am obliged to at least respect every interest and every point of view. This is my practice and my duty to God. I love it, so although I feel unable to do justice to a Sunday Sermon at this time, my time at work is my everyday religious life, and Everything is never far from my thoughts.

I don't think I've even mentioned my professional life before on this blog, so this is a little background about me I guess. If you are a Brisbanite and haven't done so already, do drop in to Archives Fine Books (40 Charlotte St), one of Brisbane's great temples to Logos, and say hello.

To anyone reading these short sabbatical notes, have a wonderful week. Carry on, seek Everything, do your yoga ("connectedness through practice" will do as a definition here) whatever that is, share the love where you can, and always question those who try to tell you how to live your week.

Everything, thank you! You do what you will and reveal what you will. I, for one, am in reverential awe. Carry on Everything. So be it.