Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thomas Merton

I don't think I will ever get through an entire Merton book, so I am happy that Shambala has published a little pocket book of Merton excerpts. Why have books generally gotten so big you can't put them in your pocket?? In Japan the books are still very small, and the paper and production values are terrific. Anyway this little book divides up into themes, and I am reading the section on the Real Self vs. the False Self.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peace returning!

I am grateful for the peace that has returned to my life.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Does anger violate the peace testimony?

I recently "finished" a somewhat dispiriting argument on a blog that went on for some days.

At my end of the thread, after a poster had criticized my argument and suggested that I fix it or STFU, I abruptly said that I would STFU and logged out. I was pretty angry. I have no reason to go back but I have felt guilty ever since about slamming the door and storming off with a curse.

Well, when I put it that way, the question at the top of the page seems to have an obvious answer: yes, I violated the peace testimony, though was it through slamming the door, or cursing? Or even being angry? What do we do with anger?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quiet inside

I can spend most of a conversation trying to be wittier, or top the stories, of everyone else. Is this a way of not listening? I need to be quiet on the outside, and on the inside. Listening takes me outside, into the fresh air.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monasticism and doing the dishes

I would like to approach doing the dishes every day with the same kind of attention I imagine a monk using. This is sort of just a useful fantasy - like the SciFi blogger (I can't remember who it was) who approached mundane activities with the fantasy that he was, say, shopping at Target... on Mars! or in a huge undersea mall thousands of feet below the surface!

Though the monk thing is a fantasy on the outside, the inner reality is that the monk is washing the dishes for God, and for others, and *I should be too*. (And that means right now, instead of blogging, naturally! Why do you think I'm thinking about dishes?)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Not eating beef

I can talk a good line about ecology, global warming, and so on, but when it comes down to something I like to eat... it's hard. I am giving up beef, forever (within the bounds of hospitality; if someone serves me beef, I am not going to refuse it, but I am not going to eat it at restaurants, or buy it for myself to cook).

I have privately made this resolution before, without any results. I hope that making this resolution publicly will help me stick to it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shinto: Existential vs. Essentialist

I've been reading the book "Shinto: the Way Home" by Thomas Kasulis. The writer makes a distinction between existential Shinto (and religion in general), which is, roughly, Shinto practice, vs. essentialist Shinto, which is the dogma. This is part of a distinction he makes between existentialist and essentialist religion in general.

Shinto, according to Kasulis, started out as a pluralist, local religion without set dogma. After the essentialist Native Studies philosophers created dogmas and fixed beliefs for it, Shinto went on to be used (as State Shinto) as a weapon for the militarized Japanese state.

I'd like to work out what this means for Quakerism but I'm too tired right now. But I think it is relevant to the controversy about "convergent Quakerism". I think a lot of the more conservative Quaker writers on the web want a more essentialist Quakerism; a lot of Quakers are content with the existential version. I'm happy to be a Quaker who just does Quaker stuff, and takes a Quaker approach to life. Kasulis sees Christianity as an "essentialist" religion, at least after Constantine. Some of the Quaker community seems to want to remake Quakerism in that form, more in line with mainstream Christianity.