When I went to Mass yesterday (I tend to go almost every day) there was a sign on the Church door saying that the pastor had passed away on Saturday. He was quite young and it was an unexpected shock. A very nice, gentle priest, I sat through the Mass feeling the emotions beginning to surface. He was not the priest who converted me to Catholicism, but he did head the parish where I converted (priests relocate every few years). So it’s pretty sad. But on the plus side, afterward it seemed like I could feel his presence a bit as I went about my day, like an angel with his personality stamp watching over me. That’s what it felt like, anyhow.
But what I really want to write about is the photographs I took a few days back. Turns out Father might have actually passed on Friday night (November 1). A friend told me that he was scheduled for a Saturday morning Mass but didn’t show. That’s when some other priests discovered him. He’d already left us by that time. So quite possibly Friday Nov. 1st was his last day on Earth.
Earlier on Nov. 1st I attended Mass at his parish and soon after went outdoors for the photo shoot. I was in super good spirits, just having been to Mass. It felt like God was with me big time during that shoot.
Now, I recall while posting my photos here, thinking it a bit strange that I was captioning one of them with a poem about dying (Joy Will Find a Way). I mean, as far as I know, I’m not ill and I wasn’t aware of anyone else being unwell either. I also called another photo “Ready to Fall.” That photo was of a red maple leaf about to fall off a branch. The red maple leaf is a strong Canadian symbol (central to our flag) and this priest was a very proud Canadian. He never failed to sing Canada’s praises on Canada day (some priests entirely overlook it).
So I’m wondering if on some intuitive, artistic level I was picking up that Father was about to leave us. (A similar mystery occurred when I wrote a rather foreboding poem about “death in the skies” a couple of years before 9/11.) Anyhow, I’m not sure, and quite possibly I was just thinking about Remembrance Day, which is coming soon. But I might also have been subconsciously sensing that these photos were taken on the last day of Father’s walk on Earth.
So I dedicate both of these photos to him. A very nice, intelligent but, above all, humble priest.
Today I was thinking about Earthpages. I’ve been doing that blog since about 1999! And I have literally hundreds of good articles stored on the back burner that aren’t showing right now.
I had to do this because one of my major sources only allows 100 articles at a time for use on other websites. And I play by the rules. No sense in trying to pull a fast one and publish more than 100 at a time. That’s just not the Earthpages way, nor my way.
You may have noticed that some articles at earthpages.org reappear virtually unchanged after a few years. Sure, I may beef up the image a bit, or add a few new “related articles,” but several recent articles published at earthpages.org have already appeared some years ago.
Weakness? Not at all. I’ve kept the best ones online, the one’s that people like (I can tell by viewing my stats page). And not unlike the ever rotating but always changing Earth, certain elements of Earthpages reappear, slightly modified, while others drop off.
Cool huh? Just think of what the Earth looked like millions of years ago. According to continental drift theory, the continents were all in different places. Dinosaurs ruled and died out. And a whole bunch of other changes came and went. But many aspects of the Earth are still largely the same… The amount of water on the planet, for instance.
And so it is with Earthpages. It’s changed a lot since the early days. But in its slow, cyclic way, it keeps its central identity. New articles come and go. Some stay online. Others are archived. Meanwhile, old gems reappear, just as the revolving earth keeps showing its recognizable but ever changing face to satellite cameras and astronauts.
Not sure if that’s making sense to everyone. But that was my thought about Earthpages today. Slow, steady, cyclic change. New stuff, old stuff. It’s all good!
I’d probably be asking the same kinds of questions that the questioner asks re one of my more recent volunteer answers at allexperts.com. Myself, I was an Anglican who never went to church as a kid, except for a tiny bit of Sunday school when I was very young, and the usual weddings and funerals.
Having converted to Catholicism in 2001 for spiritual reasons (certainly not for political reasons or to become a member of some kind of jumped up social club), I would really wonder, if I had kids, whether to send to them to a Catholic or a public school.
Read the full question and my answer here: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Catholics-955/2013/4/catholic-school-education.htm
I remember while doing my PhD in Ottawa, there was a group of Bible-based Christian guys living in a house near my apartment. To me they seemed nice enough, even if, so I thought at the time, they were sitting around loafing all day.
Turns out I later came to believe they were for real and, instead of loafing, they played a part in my rediscovery of Christianity (the religion of my childhood but one that I didn’t really practice as a kid).
One day I was talking to one of the guys about how I liked the Bible, and out of the blue he said “read Isaiah 55: 6-9.” When I later read the passage in the privacy of my home, it hit me really hard.
Isaiah 55: 6-9 (NIV)
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Verses 6-7 summed up where I was at back then, searching every false dream and getting nowhere. And 8-9 sum up how I feel about God today.
Anyhow, to get back to the music, the Christian guys were into Christian rock and I could often hear it blaring from their home as I walked by. To be honest, I thought it was lousy back then. And I still think a lot of it isn’t that great. But after dating someone who knew about that music, I started to appreciate just what Christian pop has to offer.
So providence being what it is, I happened to come across a box set of Christian pop in the dollar store. Mostly older stuff that doesn’t have much current marketability. But I bought it and liked it. And now I listen to WOW Hits and, every now and then, streaming Christian radio.
I still enjoy mainstream pop. Unlike ultra-conservative homilists who say everything about mainstream Western culture is bad (I converted to Catholicism in 2001), I believe God works in the arts too (duh…). And it’s really nice when a song hits with everyone, not just a select band of religious believers, which can get a bit cliquey and stagnant.
One of my most exiting pop discoveries is the American singer Mandisa. I think this woman is just waiting to hit the big time. What a voice. And what utterly groovy music! Combine that with a good, sincere message, and you’ve got… My Deliverer.
I probably listen to this song at least once a day, preferably through headphones while out for a nighttime stroll. It rocks. But I don’t think it would work through cheap computer or laptop speakers. So although I’m posting it here, give it a fair chance and listen through a good sound system.
- Music Monday – Christian Pop Crossover (lorwynd.wordpress.com)
- Rock the Desert begins; King & Country climbing Christian charts (mywesttexas.com)
- KB: Hip-Hop’s Indigenous Missionary (cardboardmagazine.wordpress.com)
- Christian music maker Brandon Heath returns with Blue Mountain concept album (christianmusicmakers.com)
- Third Day’s Mac Powell goes Country (christianmusicmakers.com)
- Musical Monday : Me Without You (lccyouthablaze.wordpress.com)
- How to stagnate the church: A dictator’s manual. (defendingcontending.com)
Title: God Kings – The Descendants of Jesus
Genre: Documentary – Ancient History, Religion,Occult
Production Company: Reality Films
Is the Jesus story an ancient Roman marketing plan? Did Christ have a wife and daughter? A twin brother? These and other controversial questions are posed in God Kings: The Descendents of Jesus, a new DVD by Philip Gardiner.
Here’s another Christian pop tune that I stumbled across in my travels. I like the song and don’t really know if it needs a video. But this video seems the least intrusive of all the others I saw at Youtube.
One of things I like about music is how it can create its own visual landscape of the imagination. So if the video just gets in the way, you can always sit back, turn your head the other way, and listen.
It’s always nice when one of my volunteer answers at Allexperts.com gets published.
In this question, a man asks about recalling past lives during meditation and the idea of enlightenment.
Click on this link to read my answer:
- Paranormally Mystic (arjunlimbu.wordpress.com)
- Giveaway of Past Lives #1: Rachel (The Past Lives Series) by Stephanie Abbott (riteshkala.wordpress.com)
- Past Lives (youwerebornthatway.wordpress.com)
I’ve been journeying through the past a lot here. But I’m not stuck in it. One of the nicer surprises that I’ve come across in the past few years is the ripening of Christian pop music. With exceptions on either side, I often find it more uplifting than mainstream pop. I say “with exceptions” because there are some new mainstream radio hits that I do like, and there are some Christian pop tunes that get a bit too fundamentalist for my liking (sometimes a good tune can be soured by fundamentalist lyrics). And yeah, I do have to be in the mood. But that’s true for any type of music, n’est-ce pas?
Anyhow, I hope you “dig” this just as much as I do…
This review also appears at Earthpages.org
Title: Buddha Wild: The Monk In A Hut
Genre: Documentary, Buddhism, Spirituality
Distribution: Reality Films
Buddha Wild: The Monk In A Hut is one of the best documentaries about Buddhism to appear in a long time. Written, directed and filmed by Anna Wilding, this film is fresh, sincere and fun without sacrificing its critical edge.
One would scarcely know this was Wilding’s first documentary. The polished narration, interviews, camera work and editing seem more like the work of a seasoned director, while the soundtrack enhances but never overshadows the story.
The film kicks off with a brief synopsis about the historical spread of Buddhism. Then it shifts to a Theravada temple nestled deep in Thailand, where much of the footage takes place.
We learn about the legend of the Buddha–his early life, insights and subsequent enlightenment. In addition, the film takes a penetrating look into some of the rules, opinions and objectives of several monks and an abbot, and is sprinkled with comments from visiting lay Buddhists.
Before watching this DVD I prepared myself for the usual ho-hum cliches about how materialistic city folk just don’t get it because we’re locked into our so-called “monkey minds,” obsessed with gadgets, and so on. But this film contains none of that talk, which usually comes off as thinly veiled discrimination and hypocrisy. Instead, these monks seem sincerely gentle, playful and compassionate.
Also commendable is Wilding’s probing with regard to the status of women in Buddhism. Some of the monks she interviews attribute questionable gender-related practices to “Tai culture” and not to Buddhism, itself, where women and men are said to be equal.
This raises the hot button issue as to whether any person, religious or otherwise, may justify unfair or discriminatory practices by pointing to “culture” or “tradition.”
Buddha Wild pursues the question of gender inequality without upsetting the apple cart. Wilding is provocative but also diplomatic. After all, if she’d pressed the monks too hard, the film might not have been finished and gone on to receive the Dalai Lama’s official blessing in 2010.
Like most religions (and many things in life), Buddhism abides by an organizational hierarchy. And these particular monks know that politics matters. They even say so. At first glance they might seem naïve and simple, but it soon becomes clear that they’re well aware of the complex world around them and, for the most part, university educated.
Central to any worldview, political or not, is the meaning of freedom. Wilding observes that the monks are free from worry when it comes to paying the monthly bills. But they’re not free, she adds, to pursue the worldly pleasures that many of us take for granted. For instance, the monks observe a rigid mealtime schedule and, like their Catholic counterparts, take a vow of celibacy.
Perhaps the most engaging part of the film occurs when Wilding enters a monk’s hut. But don’t conjure up images of a quaint straw dwelling without any modern conveniences. In this hut spirituality and technology converge. The joyful and contented monk in the hut sits at a computer, reads in two languages, meditates, and has, as he puts it, “sweet dreams” in his simple but adequate bed.
Wilding talks candidly about her initial apprehension to enter the hut alone. But she leaves somewhat relieved, finding the experience to have been wholesome and refreshing.
Altogether, Buddha Wild is a great introduction to the philosophical underpinnings, ideals and observances of Buddhism. It’s one of those films where theory and practice easily coalesce to produce something really quite memorable.
Bonus features include a segment with a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk residing in Los Angeles plus a shorter scene with the Dalai Lama, amid countless camera flashes, talking about the intimate connection between personal and global caring.
- Mike Ragogna: The Buddha Image…Out Of Uddiyana: A Conversation with Collector Nik Douglas, plus a Forward by Tibet House’s President Robert Thurman (huffingtonpost.com)
- Jillian Burt: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra (huffingtonpost.com)
- Ed and Deb Shapiro: What the Buddha Might Say to Christine O’Donnell (huffingtonpost.com)
- Confession Of A Buddhist Atheist (anatheist.net)
- Great Buddha’s ritual cleaning (bbc.co.uk)
- Sokushinbutsu – Japan’s Self-Mummified Monks (odditycentral.com)
- Buddhism in America (time.com)
- Buddhism 101 (brighthub.com)
- New Buddhist monastery opens in Richmond (theprovince.com)
- New Buddhist monastery opens in Richmond (globaltvbc.com)
- Path to the Dalai Lama in India (thestar.com)
- Thousands attend Dalai Lama’s last public event in Toronto (theglobeandmail.com)
- Dalai Lama wraps up Toronto trip (thestar.com)
- The Dalai Lama is a meat-eater (thestar.com)
- Dalai Lama smiles through final day in Toronto (ctv.ca)
- Did the Buddha teach Traditional Reincarnation? (triangulations.wordpress.com)
- The Dalai Lama is a carnivore (thestar.com)