Interesting post by Adam Curtis about the coalition government's Behavioural Insights Unit. Curtis has a keen eye for things and this is worth the short read and may serve as a good introduction to more of his work.
I think I am going to go with this version for a while because the other Gospel isn't working for me right now. I had a horrible realization this morning in the middle of a talk, that I was desperately trying to reconfigure everything because I couldn't cope with what was before me. The text for Advent 1 is a bit of a doozy--Matthew 24:36-44--all about the apocalypse etc. two in the field, one taken the other left, two grinding corn one taken the other left--the days of Noah--eating and drinking, life as normal and then the Day of the Lord comes---so watch therefore.." All rich stuff on many levels, but I found myself just struggling to make any sense of it really for my own life and feeling conflicted about even talking about it to others. I feel so far removed from any kind of world or life where I am so threatened and fearful that I need an apocalyptic story to give me a sense of calm and a way forward perhaps.
Not that my life doesn't need help, trust me, it does, but apocalyptic tales and warnings of second comings don't help me one bit at the moment, fact I think they do the reverse. I don't like all the second coming stuff, wreaks too much of televangelism and fear-tactics, even though I know the intention of apocalyptic literature was as much about the alleviation of fear as anything else(particualrly in the early years of chirstian faith when the communities were small, fragile and deicedely under harasment. And while I realize that there is a context for the occasions in which apocalyptic tales were told, it also feels like a relic from a different era (which it is) and something which is addressing quite different scenarios than the one I find myself in now.
So I settled for a thought or two about awareness and paying attention, but it felt like a bit of a stretch, and that only made me feel worse. Increasingly there are elements of Christian faith and spirituality which I am finding dificult to reconcile and which seem to be hindrances rather than helps to my life at present. Perhaps I have been praying Meister Eckhart's, "God rid me of God" thing too much, either way, I am having a major shift in my thinking, where it is headed I dont know, but I do know it is not leading toward a sense of continued comfort within the horizons of faith that I have been swimming in for a long time.
Perhaps then I should dig into The Gospel According to Coco Chanel-I'm only half-joking, although I probably need to give any and all gospels a miss right now--I think I need some time to gather up my thoughts and work out eactly where I am at. On the one hand I am quite at ease with where I am at, on the other, wow! it feels like my whole life is turning upside down and it feels a little bit out of my control--guess I'll have to go with the tension between those two things and see what happens
Well, it's Thanksgiving here in the U.S., a practice run for Christmas dinner, a time for over-eating and now over-spending. Black Friday, the name given to the day after when shops offer big deals to lure consumers in for the holiday season and hopefully kickstart hyper-consumption, has become one of the defining elements of this particular time of year. It is kind of bizarre really, the holiday itself becomes an excuse for a larger end, that of generating economic stimulus. And Black Friday has itself become more than a single day, and has become a time period that wraps around the holiday before and after. People literally camp outside big box stores, foregoing the celebration in order to get to the bargains, seems crazy to me, but there you go, to each his own I guess.
An article in N+1 by the editors notes that the cultivation of silence was a major focus of the civilization of the Western world, century after century of cultivating genteel silence--museums, libraries, classrooms, space after space marked by silence. But now it seems silence is almost a thing of the past. Everywhere you go music is playing, a permanent soundtrack to our lives played out by brand retailers and others, immersing us in music like fish in water. But it is nt just the music that surrounds us the editors focus on, in fact, they dont even mention music, they are focused on what they term the "decivilising" process underway due to cellphones--now we talk everywhere and anywhere, we ignore signs requesting sielnce, and many people think nothing of conducting full-on conversations that should probably best be kept private in very public spaces. We are experiencing the collapse of public versus private space and the end, or at least eclispse, of silence. We seem less able to be alone and dont seem able to enter into solitude without company. The great religions have lall traded in silence, St. Ambrose it was noted had silence listed as one of his geat virutes. On Friday evening, after a very long day, I led a Taize service. At some points the silence drove me batty, it went on for ages and ages-but actually it was usually less than a minute or two, but it felt like a lifetime. Its not that I find silence uncomfortable, I don't, I quite like silence and solitude, but I am increasingly being challenged to let noise in to every part of my life at all times--turing signal to noise--will we be able to hear anything in the near future?
So apparently the Pope has had a change of heart, or policy or something. Having stated quite forcefully, as most of the Catholic Church leader have, that sexual protection and or contraception is not cool, he has now come out (well, he should) and reversed his controversial position about the use of condoms and now says that under certain conditions condoms are a "first step in assuming moral responsbility in the intention of reducing the risk of infection." No biggie, you might even be saying as I am, "duh!" but for a sitting Pope it is a fairly huge change in view. You can read more about it here.
Patti Smith has won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for, Just Kids, her memoir about her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. If you haven't read it is worth the effort, a nicely told tale of a particular time, place and relationship. Tom Nissely offered up this lovely editorial review on Amazon,
Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe weren't always famous, but they always thought they would be. They found each other, adrift but determined, on the streets of New York City in the late '60s and made a pact to keep each other afloat until they found their voices--or the world was ready to hear them. Lovers first and then friends as Mapplethorpe discovered he was gay, they divided their dimes between art supplies and Coney Island hot dogs. Mapplethorpe was quicker to find his metier, with a Polaroid and then a Hasselblad, but Smith was the first to fame, transformed, to her friend's delight, from a poet into a rock star. (Mapplethorpe soon became famous too--and notorious--before his death from AIDS in 1989.) Smith's memoir of their friendship, Just Kids, is tender and artful, open-eyed but surprisingly decorous, with the oracular style familiar from her anthems like "Because the Night," "Gloria," and "Dancing Barefoot" balanced by her powers of observation and memory for everyday details like the price of automat sandwiches and the shabby, welcoming fellow bohemians of the Chelsea Hotel, among whose ranks these baby Rimbauds found their way.
I really like Patti Smith, she is a source of inspiration and insight on so many levels--always good for a quote, a quip, a gem of an insght, or a great lyric. She has performed locally a number of times in recent years and I always try to go see her play--she's a warm and engaging performer, and she always brings a good band with her.
This is some pretty amazing art work. Alexander Korzer-Robinson cuts into books, cutting around some of the images, leaving them in their original positions in the book, while removing the text and other images to create, well, amazing 3-dimensional collages. You can check more of them out here.