Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Taking the Plunge

Here I go, diving into the deep end of the blogosphere.

Why, I wonder, would anyone want to read my ramblings about the three primary subjects of obsession for most people on the globe (here I am doing my best to deny cultural relativism)?

But this is the age of the blog and everyone's opinion is valued and visible. So why not add to the mix?

It's sunny for a change in Santa Cruz although more of the wet stuff is predicted. Where is Noah now that we really need him in California? Sun lifts my disposition. It's the day after Easter and the busyness of the past week. All I had to do today was help Molly with her income tax forms.

One of these days I'll come up with a more clever title for this blog. At the moment, "Religion, Sex and Politics" seems sufficient. It has a nice ring to it and it can serve as an umbrella for much of my mental world (although I often spend more time ruminating about movies and music). Here I'd like to introduce the blog by saying a bit about each in turn.

Should I have used the word Spirituality instead of Religion? That's a more acceptable term these days and covers a multitude of practices. But 22 years ago I decided to become a Catholic after devouring the writings of Thomas Merton and visiting the Trappist monastery, St. Joseph's Abbey, in Massachusetts. To the other Catholics I mingle with at Holy Cross Church, I no doubt seem suitably pious and devout. I participate in a variety of ministries. But what my fellow Catholics did not know was that at Easter vigil Saturday night, as I stood at the lectern to read a passage from Ezekiel, under my suit coat and shirt I wore a tee shirt emblazoned with the word "Heretic." My patron saint is Thomas who said "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Catholicism to me is a spiritual practice, much like meditation is for Buddhists (and I also count myself a member of a local Buddhist sangha). It's not a set of rules or answers. Religion for me is a language with which to describe the ineffable Mystery of ongoing creation. The Mystery is one, the languages are many.

Sex is a topic about which I know least, despite my years. I have two failed marriages and not a few unsuccessful relationships in my autobiography. Surely sexuality and spirituality should fit together, hand in glove, but I'm still trying to figure out how. Suggestions will be appreciated. In the meantime, I find myself growing more cranky and cantankerous each day, alone and happy with my own company.

Politics is easy: what's to like in the current situation? Those of us who marched three years ago in an attempt to stop the madness in the Middle East can feel self-righteous. But what good is that? Most of my friends feel like the character in "Network" who leaned out the window and screamed "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more." Venting feels good, but we're still fucked. Santa Cruz is a comfortable place for liberals and anarchists. We vigil and march and protest, and in recent words I've heard talks by Michael Lerner and Medea Benjamin. After Jesuit activist John Dear spoke last year, we started a Pax Christi group and it provides a monthly forum to study the issues, pray, and plan actions. The writings of Bill Moyers give me hope.

I'll certainly write more about movies. I see about a half dozen a week, at the three theaters within a few blocks from my home and on Netflix DVDs. Right now I can recommend "Tsotsi" and "Don't Bother Knocking" as worth seeing. And music is equally important. I set out last year to find every song I ever loved and my iPod now contains over 7,500 songs, the soundtrack of my life. In the 1970s, I spent five years as a PR man in the music industry. My two younger children, Molly and Nick, both have inherited my love of music and are exceptionally talented. Nick makes hip-hop beats and Molly sings, beautifully I might add.

And, finally, travel has been important since I first set out to see the world two years ago. I've been to India and Thailand twice each, and visited Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka last December. A year ago I spent a month at language school in Oaxaca and another couple of weeks traveling around Mexico. Last April I spent two weeks in Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity. In the summer I went to Europe for two months, visiting cathedrals in England and traveling to Barcelona and Rome, as well as Assisi, Siena, Florence and points north. I'll return to India next December with a group from Santa Cruz to stay at Shantivanam, the Catholic ashram in Tamil Nadu, as well as Ramana Maharshi's ashram. Before then, however, I hope to take a trip to South America and travel in the footsteps of Che Guevara.

Ok, this is a beginning. I'm not sure if anyone will read these words, but let's see what turns up.

No comments: