Sunday, February 09, 2014

Are you really sure you want to know more?

(Above:  possibly not).

Sure, it's like carting away a grain of sand one at a time as a way of clearing a beach, but what else can you do this meditative Sunday?

You see, the pond recently found a book on the ledge outside the Newtown Post Office, A Bouquet of Woeful Entreaties, aka Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s Śrī Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, which was
Offered to our Divine Master Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

It was like stumbling across an ANFO bomb, with the ammonium nitrate hot wired to a det.

Sure enough, inside there was an email address and a mobile phone number, with the stickie saying "would you like to know more" (just like Starship Troopers up against a horde of bugs).

What if we'd just left it there, undefused? Some hapless hipster might have stumbled on the bait, got hooked, be reeled in, and next thing you know they'd be clapping and chanting in the street, and saying prayers of the servant kind:

O Supreme Lord of all, slayer of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha! Please be merciful to me and grant my prayer that You may remember me as a servant of Your servant’s servant, a servant of such a servant of Your servant’s servant, a servant of a servant of Your servant’s servant, and a servant of Your servant’s servant’s servant.

It turns out that this racket works the same side of the street - guilt - as the Catholics and the angry Sydney Anglican Calvinists: 

How can hṛd-roga, lust, go? Dāsa Gosvāmī Prabhu says, “If you take a little bit of this footdust and smear it on your body and pray to that, then your hṛd-roga will go away. The serpent of time will not bite you. Even if Her feet can’t come in the heart, then no problem. If a little of this kuṁkum comes in your heart, it will be enough to maintain your life.” 
Some people say, “I have no time, when can I chant? I will chant later. I will serve later.” This is kāla-sarpa, the serpent of time. It is always causing a mental disease. Then I will be weak and go inside my room, inside my bed, and look at the laptop. Holding my laptop, I am present there. Why? Kāla-sarpa gives this poisonous injection. Then I can’t cross.

And so on. What else to do but confiscate the book and take it home and render it inert? Who could allow this nonsense to sit on a ledge and attract an unsuspecting hipster, lured by the prospect of a freebie?

Should we care about dumb hipsters? Of course they're just another of the long absent lord's creatures, like all of us ...

Now the pond has a thing about killing books, any books - seared into the brain after watching Hitler's book-burnings and Francois Truffaut doing Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 -  and as a result, we have a special room at home full to the brim with fissionable materials, whether Gideons bibles, Books of Mormons, Christian Scientist pamphlets, the thoughts of L. Ron Hubbard, and all the rest of the nonsense you can discover in hotel rooms or out on the street.

It's a lonely job, but someone has to do it, and the thought of just one soul saved is enough to make the pond persevere. It reminds the pond of that parable it came across somewhere:

What woman of you, having an hundred hipsters, if she lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until she find it?
And when she hath found it, she layeth it on her shoulders, rejoicing. 
And when she cometh home, she calleth together her friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my hipster, which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one hipster saved from nonsense, more than over ninety and nine unjust Pellists and angry Sydney Anglicans, which need a bucket load of repentance.

But what, you ask, will happen if the pond's fissionable material fissions? Relax, it'll only take out a couple of city blocks.

And so to today's message from the Pellists:

Now you might think Pell tedious and dull scribbling about Candelmas Sunday and the animal sacrifices and Christ offering up a couple of doves for slaughter (first kill all the doves, it's the Christian thing to do) in Christ's visit to temple has deep meaning.

But it's great because it offers the Pellists a chance to take out da Jews:

We should never forget Jesus was a Jew, who was inserted into this tradition by his parents.
He regularly preached in local synagogues and loved the Great Temple enough to weep over the prospect of its destruction. 
All Christian denominations have Jewish roots. Jewish history and scriptures, which Christians know as the Old Testament, are the essential foundation for all Christianity. 
But there are Jewish moral teachings eg. on violence and polygamy, which we no longer accept because we interpret all the Old Testament according to Christ's teachings. 
We view Jewish doctrine and history through Catholic spectacles, but we share an enormous amount of moral teaching especially the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the prophets. 

Say what? The Jews got it wrong?

God miscommunicated with them and they misheard?

And the bible isn't the unerring word of god?

We can cherry pick any way we like, depending on the kind of spectacles we wear?

We no longer have to accept the unacceptable bits, and we can interpret according to whatever some latter day Messiah says?

There's plenty of other superstitious nonsense in the piece - helping explain why Pell is such a tremendous first class climate scientist - with the pagans copping it and Pell celebrating the mighty sword used with a snicker snack by Goliah and the angel at the gates of Paradise - and then Pell ends with a special word to da Jews, who still stubbornly keep on getting it wrong:

The coming of Christ means that every person has to choose good or evil, search for faith rather than wallow in disbelief or doubt. 

Earnest searching is a minimum requirement. None of us, good, bad or indifferent, can avoid this challenge.

Yes, Jews, you mucked up the old testament with your silly Jewish nonsense, and still you won't give Christ a fair shake. Hie yourself off to your local Catholic church at once and don a nice pair of Ray Ban sunglasses.

Meanwhile, the angry Sydney Anglicans have turned to true crime to generalise about the world, as you can read in Phillip Jensen's Adultery: When 'Love' is a 'Tragedy':

First of all Jensen trades off on a marital situation without naming names, and then picks a fight with Humpty Dumpty:

People can use a word in any way they wish; to mean anything they want to. However, to communicate with others it is important to use a word roughly in the same way as your hearer. Dictionaries do not define words they simply describe all the varied meanings of words as people use them. 

The word ‘love’ has a variety of uses within our society. However, apart from a tennis score, it is nearly always used in a positive sense. It is a word of deep affection, intense feelings and romantic attachment. It differs from ‘lust’ in its element of romance. It is somehow superior to ‘lust’, which carries the sense of animal desire, self-centredness and other negative connotations. ‘Love’ is more personal and has more affection and romance about it than ‘lust’. 

And then bugger the pond dead, Jensen does his own Humpty Dumpty:

When the Bible is speaking of ‘love’ it does not mean romance or even necessarily "a strong feeling of affection", as the dictionary would have it.

And so on, and tediously on, until you come to the best bit.

Which strangely reminded the pond of a long dead aunt, with thin, always pursed lips, and a regular frown, and absolutely no sense of fun, or of life or of living, a quite Dickensian figure who did her best to imitate Miss Havisham, except that when you think about it, Miss Havisham was a lively old bird, thanks to her bitterness and desire for revenge and stealing away a heart and shoving ice in its place.

Once she'd planted her metho drinking husband in the ground, the aunt just stayed with the bitterness.

And now the pond has done its best to prejudice you, let's have at it:

That is why adultery should never be described as love. It is not a ‘love story’ or even a ‘love affair’– it's just an affair. And as such, it is a tragedy. All extra-marital affairs are tragic for they are the result of, and result in, the collapse of loving relationships and family life. You cannot love your spouse and commit adultery at the same time. You cannot love your children and committed adultery at the same time. You cannot love your neighbour and commit adultery with their spouse. You cannot love your children's grandparents, or your own grandchildren, and commit adultery. You cannot love God and commit adultery. You cannot love the person you are committing adultery with – for it is never in their best interests, any more than it is ultimately in your own best interest. You may not like the word ‘lust’ to describe the strong sexual affection that you have for the other person, but in adultery it is closer to the mark than ‘love’. It may be a lost cause for Christians to fight for that wonderful word ‘love’.

Except of course that the wonderful word "love"  isn't used here in a dictionary way, it's used in a Jensenist Humpty Dumpty way.

Some will have noticed there's at least six "cannots" in that rant!

Was it only last week the pond ran that poem by William Blake?

I went to the Garden of Love, 
And saw what I never had seen: 
A Chapel was built in the midst, 
Where I used to play on the green. 

And the gates of this Chapel were shut, 
And `Thou shalt not' writ over the door; 
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love, 
That so many sweet flowers bore, 

And I saw it was filled with graves, 
And tomb-stones where flowers should be: 
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds, 
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

Speaking of literature, was it just by coincidence that the pond was browsing Joan Acocella's Renaissance Man (outside the New Yorker paywall at the moment) while on the toilet, her subject a new translation of Boccaccio's Decameron and inter alia:

What Peronella and Giannello are up to as the husband cleans the barrel is Boccaccio’s other main theme: unfraught sex, of a kind that has probably not been wholly comprehensible to Western people since the Reformation. Today’s audience can perhaps understand the adultery that is rampant in the Decameron, especially since, at that time, most marriages were still arranged by the families. And modern readers can probably also sympathize with the young people in the Decameron who claim that they have a right, by reason of their age, to bed whomever they can. But many readers, however amused, have also been taken aback by tales like Peronella’s, and the Decameron overflows with such material. This is probably the dirtiest great book in the Western canon. 
Some of the unchaste are punished. Tancredi, the prince of Salerno, discovering that his daughter is having an affair with one of his valets, orders that the man be strangled, and his heart cut out. He then puts the heart in a golden chalice and sends it to his daughter. She unflinchingly raises the bloody organ to her mouth, kisses it, puts it back in the cup, pours poison over it, drinks, and dies. There are other terrible conclusions—defenestration, decapitation, disembowelment—but they have a certain élan, as in Jacobean tragedy. 
Most important, the miscreants feel no guilt. There may be sorrows, but not that sorrow. Even less do unpunished lovers feel remorse. They often live happily and, despite their former inconstancy, faithfully ever after, either meeting frequently or even, by some means, marrying. Boccaccio writes of one couple, “Without ever paying attention to holy days and vigils or observing Lent, the two of them had a jolly life together, working away at it as long as their legs could support them.”

Acocella concludes:

Boccaccio is a premier example of that rare species, the one-great-book great writer. I see the Decameron as a picture, with the ten elegant Florentines, in their silk gowns and embroidered doublets, joining hands and dancing their lovely circle dance, the carola. And in the middle of the circle are monks and merchants and painters and prostitutes eating dinner and having sex and kicking one another into ditches. In other words, we see the Renaissance embraced by the Middle Ages, like a planet orbited by its moons. It is a beautiful sight, and also strange. We see it from afar.

Yes, and while the Black Death cast a pall on life, the pallid black monks manage to do the same to this very day, and so we see even further from afar the the way the ancient Greeks and Romans handled their sexuality.

And so, nicely primed, back to Jensen:

We may just have to change to some new word. Yet, when we read of an online dating service that encourages extramarital affairs under the slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair", we do need to fight for the life and love of families, children and society. The attempts of this online dating service to sponsor a football team in order to gain greater public acceptance for adultery must be resisted. We may lose the word love from our vocabulary but we must not lose the concept of love from our morality or our morality from the concept of love.

Uh huh. Is it wrong to note that this very week, the Anglicans bizarre notion of love and morality had a real work out in Nigeria.

Now we know where the Catholics stand: Catholic Bishops in Nigeria 'Thank God' for Anti-LGBT Laws .

So what about the angry Sydney Anglicans?

Will there be talk of love, or will we just cop more idle chitter chatter about the subordination of women and the need for gay people to live their lives in the shadow of persecution, jailing and even death?

Well we know where they stand. Along side their brothers, pushing and prodding them forward:

Where does the Church of Uganda and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) stand? 
The Nigerian Primate and Nigerian bishops have been vocal in their support for the Bill. They have no interest in the Dromantine Communique’s unreserved commitment to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people, assuring homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him. (Stark choices face the Primates and Bishops of the Anglican Communion in 2014)

Ah yes, it's the same old story. Have a stray fuck and it's all righteous blathering and all hands on deck.

Meet a gay, and it's hang the hapless bastard ... and let god sort out the mess.

Why they're just a bunch of Putins in drag, and maybe Google could target them in its next rainbow routine ...

It's a funny old week, really - funny in a very grotesque sense of the word - to be talking about Christian love and morality, when the press has been full of the treatment of young people by the Salvation Army, noted here and here by the ABC if you can stand to read about it.

If that's love (and let's not forget the Anglican and Catholic churches were also big on this sort of 'love'), then we really do need a Humpty Dumpty to lend a hand ... because frankly Jensen just sounds like a fatuous egg ...

(Below: but instead of our usual Humpty Dumpty illustration, how about a little culture? Botticelli's Story of Nastaio Deghli Onesti The Banquet in the Pine Forest, c 1482-83, click to enlarge, on view at the Prado, another good reason to visit Spain, and a couple of stills from Pasolini's version of The Decameron, not much of a movie but plenty of pestles and mortars grinding away)

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