Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Presence in the Midst (Peter)

I’ve been reading Will Taber and Liz Opp talking about corporate vs. individual worship, and I’m seeing a few things a little more clearly as a result. I think I’m seeing (better) what I look like through other eyes, and I think I’m understanding (better) what the forces are that are “corrosive to community”—what the liberal problem is and how it relates to—but is not the same—as my problem.

First of all, Will and Liz both talk about something that seems to be a very common concern among Quakers—that we are, as Will says, “afraid to discuss religious beliefs because we do not want to infringe on anyone’s individualism.” Where does this fear come from? It comes from our history of conquest and imperialism. Native Americans are not afraid to discuss their spirituality. Buddhists are not afraid to discuss their spirituality. Because nobody (at least nobody in America—I can’t speak for Buddhists in Asia) is going to think that they’re trying to lay their spiritual trip on anyone else. The Buddhists aren’t interested in convincing you to become one of them, and the Native Americans wouldn’t let you if you tried. But Christianity has a long loooong history of saying Our Guy is the Door and none may enter Heaven save through Him and then waging genocidal war against anyone who disagreed.

My friend J-, when she was setting up a discussion group for Christ-centered and Biblically-based Quakers at Mt. Toby, talked about how so many people show up on the doorstep of a Quaker meeting having been wounded by their Christian upbringing, but nobody ever comes here who’s been wounded by a Hindu upbringing. And she’s right when she points out how that makes it harder for Christ-centered Quakers to access their own spiritual heritage.

It’s also hard in our society (I mean society with a small s here, not the RSoF)… it’s also hard for the same reasons to do any meaningful work around men’s spirituality, and absolutely impossible to identify at all with “white people” in a positive way. There is no such thing as white pride, and anyone misfortunate enough to have “white” as their only cultural identity will never be able to shake themselves loose from the racist rhetoric of the neo-Nazis circling that particular bandwagon.

I could talk for pages about the dilemma of trying to teach diversity to a high school student a couple of years ago whose grandfather had actually been in the Klan. That was your basic oh fuck situation. But it’s off topic this morning.

We were talking about Christianity. And, say what you will about rich white guys or about poor white trash, Christianity is definitely not an unmixed evil.

How’s that for damnation with faint praise? Let’s try again.

Christianity shares the imperfections of all human endeavors, but Christian myth and the Christian spiritual tradition is a source of inspiration, meaning, and support for many people who are really striving to find G*d, to experience G*d’s presence, and to do G*d’s will.

So my job, first of all, when I’m worshipping alongside Christians, is to set aside my allergic reaction to the exclusivist, imperialist language in the Bible. Let it go. They didn’t know any better. They found a door and it made sense that they thought it was the only one, and conquest was just what empires did back then. We each paint pictures of G*d with images taken from our own lives.

Liz Opp asks,
Whose responsibility is it to "translate" what it is we say to one another—the listener, the speaker, or both?

One practice I draw on from time to time is that of shifting my ‘translation’ of what a Friend has said. When I catch myself in judgment—which I don't always do—I shift my thinking and begin to question, ‘If I trust that this Friend is speaking from a place of Great Love and with a burden to speak, what might I understand this person to be saying...? What is the piece of Truth that here that I can see?’
Benigno Sanchez-Eppler, in a Bible Half-Hour at NEYM Sessions last summer, told an incredibly moving story about acting as an English/Spanish translator for a bilingual meeting. The role there is very different from the analogous role at, say, the U.N. In a meeting for worship, the interpreter’s job is not just to translate the words but rather to wait until the same Spirit that has inspired the original message comes to him and then deliver the message—the same message, but coming from Spirit rather than from the original speaker—in the other language. And one of the messages Benigno was called upon to translate in this fashion was along the lines of, It is unfortunate that so many Quakers are tolerant of homosexuality, because it seems that many gays and lesbians are otherwise good people who would be able to live Godly lives if only they were encouraged to put aside this vile sin. Benigno is a passionate supporter of gay rights, and would have experienced the words of this message as hateful, yet he was able to open himself to the Spirit, to find the place of love from which the words had come, and to deliver the message, translating not just the words but the deeper meanings about finding the good in people and helping each other to open ourselves to G*d.

Benigno’s example here is deeply challenging to me, and probably to most of us. “We are tolerant of everything, except intolerance,” says Susanne Kromberg at Quaker Musings. Benigno shows us that true tolerance is possible, but also just how deep a concept it really is.

So Liz Opp also talks about corporate practice vs. shared individual practice.
Sometimes among Friends, we fall unawares into a shared spiritual individualism: We each practice our own spiritual discipline on First Day during worship and appreciate how we can come to meeting and worship together, despite our differences of belief and even practice.
OK, first of all, there’s a tendency to conflate beliefs about G*d with the experience of G*d. We’ve all seen that painting of the 12-foot tall transparent Jesus standing in the middle of a gathered Quaker meeting. As art, it sucks, but people still display it because it’s probably the only visual representation that’s ever come close to conveying the feeling of a gathered meeting. I have my own metaphors, but they’re more tactile and if I were to try to paint a picture, I certainly couldn’t do any better. The question that nobody’s asking—not even me, until I read Will Taber’s post and then re-read Liz Opp’s—is whether two worshippers with different beliefs about G*d can still be experiencing the same G*d. If I don’t see the Light as Jesus, am I still in the presence of the Light?

OK, well, duh. Of course all experiences of the G*d are ultimately of the same Divine source. (OK, some would disagree, but most Quakers—even the ones that are the most Christ-centered and Biblically-based—are universalist enough to accept that in principle.) But Quakers seem to be almost unique in being universalist in their beliefs while still very particularist in their practice.

Southern Baptists (at one extreme) have a vibrant and rich spiritual life and a deep personal connection with a loving and involved God, but they can’t maintain that without denying the validity of other paths. To them, all other religions worship false gods, which are really just Satan in disguise.

Unitarian Universalists (at the other extreme) simply don’t worship. They have interesting academic lectures every Sunday morning, and when Quakers worry about our tradition getting watered down by our openness to diversity of belief, the UU’s are what we’re afraid of becoming.

Most Christians probably occupy some sort of middle ground, believing that we are saved because Jesus died for our sins, but also that God must have made some sort of provision for the “virtuous heathen,” but we don’t know what it is and it’s not really our concern as Christians.

But Quakers are almost unique in being passionately universalist—there is that of God in everyone—and passionate about practicing our own tradition. This is our witness of the Light, and by worshipping corporately, we will deepen it and we will allow it to deepen us. At least, that’s what it’s like at Mt. Toby. That seems to be what it’s like at NEYM Sessions. But when Liz Opp talks about needing “a narrower experience of Quakerism … to grow as a Friend, not a broad diversity of belief,” I begin to wonder how unusual Mt. Toby is among Quaker meetings.

When I say that I worship alongside Christians, I don’t mean, as Liz said, that “some of us may engage in meditation that is borrowed from one discipline or another; others simply let the outer world slip away and enjoy the meetingroom's stillness; still others may pursue a form of therapeutic self-talk.” I mean that when the Spirit comes and covers the gathered meeting, my Christ-centered friend J- and I both feel it. As Will Taber said, “We respond to an inner prompting to speak or act, but we are also speaking and acting in the context of a community. A message in meeting may be inspired by the Spirit but at the same time it is also drawn out by the quality of the listening for the Friends assembled and worshiping together.” Messages in meeting will also sometimes rise simultaneously in several people in a gathered meeting. I’ve sometimes compared speaking in meeting to drawing down in a Wiccan circle. They’re very similar experiences, at least as I’ve practiced each of them, but one important difference is that in a Wiccan context, I’ve generally been “the High Priest” with sole responsibility for carrying the God, while in a Quaker context, it’s a shared burden. The quality of listening that Will talks about is vital in both Wiccan and Quaker worship, but among Quakers, we also speak corporately, filling in each other’s gaps. I have had the experience of sitting down after speaking in meeting and realizing, oh crap, there was more, but then seeing someone else stand up to give the second half of the message.

Liz Opp says,
The nature of explaining a corporate faith, even to those of us who practice it, is very slippery. I often fall into language that betrays my own personal preference, rather than weigh my preference with God's guidance or test my preference against the practiced discernment of the group.

But I very much lean on the truth of my experience of the quality of worship when I am worshiping with Friends who believe there is a Living Presence among us, and we rest in that Presence and open ourselves to that Presence together, as a body, each First Day.
Maybe it’s because I’m Pagan that I often think about spiritual matters in sexual terms, but it seems to me that the relationship between the individual experience and the corporate experience of worship is an awful lot like the relationship between the individual experience of sex and the couple’s experience of sex.

Sex at fifteen is all about spontaneous erections, overwhelming urges, and obsessive fantasies. Sex at twenty-five is about learning how to be in relationships and how to communicate. Sex at fifty is about sharing depths of intimacy and love that are simply unimaginable to a horny teenager. But at every stage, sex is BOTH about listening to the self and listening to the other. Try to deny either one and sex becomes something destructive. If we cut off our feelings for our partner, the consequences are obvious: sex becomes selfish, exploitive, or even coercive and violent. But to deny the positive lustful energies of one’s own body doesn’t just cut off the possibility of good, loving, mutually rewarding sex; it also cuts off the possibility of real compassion for others in any context as well as openness to G*d. If my lover—my wife—worried about falling into language that betrayed her own personal preferences rather than weighing her preferences and testing them against our practiced discernment as a couple, she’d be an awfully uptight lover. I like it that she very much leans on the truth of her experience of the quality of lovemaking when she is having sex with me.

Simon Blackburn, who wrote Lust in a series of books on The Seven Deadly Sins, described sex at its best as being like a musical duet, where the musicians are neither deferring to one another nor running roughshod over one another, but where both are allowing themselves to be caught up in the music. That is perhaps a good metaphor for corporate worship as well. We have ourselves, and we have each other, and we have the music, which is its own thing and carries us both away.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Telling the 900-pound Gorilla Where not to Sit

Having read the news at The Wild Hunt of Amazon's heavy-handed bullying of small-house publishers, I had to do something. I know many of my readers will already have made the decision not to buy from Amazon, based on our support for small bookstores. I guess I've always figured that my book-buying budget was big enough to support an entire industry anyhow! But this latest move is too much for my conscience. I'm going cold turkey on Amazon, at least until and unless they abandon their monopolistic moves on small POD efforts.

Here's the "Dear John" letter I just sent them. Feel like sending one of your own? I'd encourage it--it's easy. Tell 'em Cat sent ya. Feel like being part of a Blog Swarm? Given how many books most readers of this blog read, I'd guess the message will get through. Leave a comment if you write to them or blog on the subject. Let's see if we can get that 900-pound gorilla to quit standing on our collective foot...

Dear Amazon,

If you'll look over my account history, you'll know that I'm one of your best customers. Given a choice between clothes and books, between cable TV and books, or probably between food and books--though it hasn't yet come to that--I'm likely to choose the books.

And you guys are my besetting sin. I love your rapid delivery, your customer service, and, above all, your selection.

So why do I call you a sin? Because I'm a Pagan, and a Quaker--a member of two religious minorities at once, and both halves of my equation read a lot of books. But they're not mass-market titles, and they probably never will be--only beginner books have much mass-market appeal. The small publishers who create and the small bookstores who carry my books deserve my support.

Until recently, though, I comforted myself that, if you were in competition with independent book-sellers, you also brought a market to book resellers that is enormous, and that you so often carried the books of small presses that you surely made it possible for many of them to find markets they might otherwise never have found.

Now, however, I hear that you are pressuring small publishers, like Asphodel, Waning Moon, and Immanion Press, to switch to your in-house Print-on-Demand service, Booksurge, instead of other POD services, or you'll remove the option to buy these books directly from you, or to qualify for that highly-motivating free shipping.

But Booksurge is more expensive, and publishing the high-quality titles that target the small audience for religious books is not very profitable already.

What I'm looking at, as a book-lover, is the scary prospect of the online bookstore I love putting the small-house publishers I need between a rock and a hard place. Some will probably shut down. The niche they fill will not be replaced by any of the big players--the profit margins are just too small.

I can't accept that. Amazon, this is wrong. You're already the 900-pound gorilla who sits anywhere he wants to in the world of book selling. But if you keep throwing that weight around, there are going to be fewer books for readers like me.

So I'm putting my foot down, Amazon. Until you make it clear that this "strategic decision" has been reversed, I'll be buying my used books from the Advanced Book Exchange, and my new titles either locally or from online services like Quaker Books, Barnes and Noble, or one of the dozens of online Pagan booksellers serving my community.

Honestly? You guys are the best at customer service. But it does none of us any good if you destroy--or even damage--the small publishers that crazy book-addicts like me need to make it through the night.

Formerly Yours,

Cat Chapin-Bishop
Quaker Pagan Reflections
http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/


In addition to the convenient link for email, snail mail correspondence with the giant is possible. Write them at:
Amazon.com, Inc.
P.O. Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Crack Runs Through It

I'm sad now. I'm sad, but it's more complex than that.

I'm still at my school, and I just ran into a favorite student from years past, one who enlisted early in the National Guard. She's just completed basic training, and she came back to say hello, wearing her uniform.

I saw her, and my heart did a funny little hiccup thing, and I gave her a big hug.

Had I realized before how small she is, how delicate? Standing there in uniform, a big smile on her face, so proud of her passage to adulthood.

And I'm proud, too, dammit, because I know this child, and I know that she's done this difficult and--especially now--dangerous thing for the best and most idealistic reasons in the world. She is a young person of honor, and courage, and integrity, and that is exactly why she's in the military.

Of course I'm afraid for her. I'm afraid for her in all the obvious ways, and in the less obvious ways, too, that come from having a bone-deep belief that war can never be what's right. War, I know now (but didn't at seventeen) can never do other than mar even the most honorable spirits who take part in it.

But I can't give my peace testimony to someone else, transplanting it like a tomato plant, potting it directly into a student's heart. It doesn't work that way.

My student is shining with pride and courage and adulthood claimed. And I'm proud, too, because she is brave, and she is honorable, and her adulthood is a wonderful and glorious thing.

But I'm afraid, and in ways that don't translate to her. Maybe they never will; maybe she'll never have that moment I've heard others I love speak of, of firing a gun with the intention of ending another human life.

Maybe the military will not break something in my student, my child. Maybe.

I feel today like a parent whose child has brought them a wonderful gift, made by their own hands, and who has seen that gift dropped and marred before it could even be given. A crack runs through it now, and I have no way of knowing how wide it truly is.

And I'm thinking: Not my child, O God... Not my child! Let her return safe; let her be in all ways whole.

Friday, March 14, 2008

AFSC's Cost of War: Wage Peace Campaign

My school is cutting teacher positions this year--excuse me--not hiring replacements for teachers who are retiring. That's if all goes well our funding sources. If all does not go well... it will be very unpleasant.

I can't help but think about that as I watch this video from the American Friends Service Committee. What could your community--what could the whole world--do with what we are currently spending to keep fighting this endless war?

To see how you can participate in the Wage Peace Campaign, visit the AFSC Cost of War page. Let your congressmen know you want the war to end. Learn more. Organize.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pride in my Daughter

So, this is yet another in a series of recent "shameless plug" blog posts. Yet once again, I can't apologize. I've just read the most recent entry in my daughter's blog, Brain Clutter, and I'm impressed (and proud).

I mean, she's smart, she's artistic, she's gifted and takes the art of photography seriously. All of those are reasons to feel that happy mama feeling.

But it's the quality of moral discernment in her writing, added to all the rest, that makes me feel a little bit awed to have played a part in launching this human into the world. In an examination of the distinctions we make between art photography and photojournalism, she writes,
How can a photo taken to raise social consciousness have intrinsic artistic value? Its value is related to the issue, the subjects, and whether it accomplishes it's goal, which is usually to outrage society into action. Art may outrage at first, but it is gradually accepted because we believe that ART is MEANT to outrage us, to push our boundaries. As if pushing the boundaries on moral issues like voyeurism and war is a good thing. To call these journalistic photos which document violence art is to condone, rather than condemn their subject.

I can't do justice to her argument in a snippet, and I'm not going to reprint the photographs she posts. Instead, I'll just urge you, if you have an interest in photography, or art and the ethics of art or journalism, to read the post for yourself.

Wow.

You know what? She's my kid!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Journaling before meeting: Lost, evil, faith, and G*d (Peter)


Cat’s been watching the third season of Lost. I pop in once in a while to watch an episode or a scene, but it pisses me off too much to enjoy. Season one had that wonderful sense of mystery and awe, season two was about starting to solve the mystery, and it was only OK, but in season three there is very little going on except psychological torture. The things we don’t understand aren’t mystery; they’re dysfunction. I find myself thinking, if I were there, the only sensible course of action would be to grab a weapon and take out as many of “the others” as I could before they killed me. And I don’t enjoy feeling that way, so I’m not watching the show.

Cat has a very different reaction to the situations in the show. Since none of the characters understand what’s really going on or why, she’d follow the principle of, “When in doubt, do the right thing.” Violence in immediate self-defense is acceptable, but violence directed at an enemy you don’t understand won’t work because we’re not smart enough—none of us are ever smart enough—to manipulate political situations through violence.

And this gets back to the very real issue for me of trying desperately to save the world (my instinct) vs. living at peace, living a life centered on G*d, while still living in a world that is at war.

And what does that even mean?

There’s a Quaker way to do this that is different from the Pagan way of doing it, and I’m realizing I still haven’t found the Quaker answer.
Follow the leadings of the Light, Cat says. She can feel the presence of God, like the roar and vibration of a river swollen with spring melt when you stand on a bridge and lay your hands on the railing. Cool. But I don’t share that experience.

The palpable presence of G*d, I remember most clearly from when I was first developing my relationship with Herne. I remember the way it felt sometimes like He was standing just behind me, resting His hands on my shoulders, strong and loving, challenging and encouraging.

Where is the presence of G*d for me now? I get flashes of it in meeting, once in a while. Speaking in meeting can still feel like drawing down, though I can go a year or more without feeling moved to speak. When a meeting as a whole begins to center down and gather, I can feel the presence—sometimes—almost like static electricity. I get it most strongly when a meeting is experiencing conflict and gathering to labor together. But that’s like, as a relatively new Pagan, when I needed a huge bonfire and a hundred or more other Pagans chanting and drumming and dancing before I could feel the energy. My Wiccan teacher taught me to work with birthday candles in a salt circle, to extinguish the lantern and learn to see by starlight.

Cat talks about a sort of faith in G*d. She doesn’t use the work “faith,” but she talks about how important it is that when we call on G*d and reach out for G*d, there’s something there to hear us, that G*d is more than just an archetype. And when she says that, I realize that’s a kind of faith I don’t have.

I have experiences of the Gods and of the Light. Experimentum solum certificat in talibus. I don’t have a theology. I actively reject theology. I use metaphors, always flagging them as such, and I carefully frame my experiences in psychological language rather than mystical. I'm always saying how it's hubris for any mortal still on this Earth to think we can contain the Divine in human words. And I don’t want to come across as a religious wacko. More—I don’t want to revert to being a religious wacko, having once been one. (Past experiences with a Southern Baptist commune continue to warp my religious life, rather the way American military thinking keeps wanting to treat extremist terrorist cells as if they were the Third Reich.)

Am I really a Quaker? Does the Society of Friends bring me closer to G*d? Do I believe in G*d? Does it matter if I believe in G*d? Am I supposed to believe in G*D? How much of “belief” is in the head, abstract and notional, and how much is in the heart and the belly and wired into the neural circuits that control our reflexes?

Did I just say, “wired into the neural circuits”? I’m overwriting, which means I’m overthinking.

Fuck. Journaling before meeting is supposed to help me center down, not get me all full of words and ideas.

Help me, G*d, to find You again. I miss You. Come back.

Affluenza and a No-Cheating Book Meme

This one has been making the rounds in both the Quaker and the Pagan world...

Normally, I would place a meme on The Back Page--that being why I created it. But since Cosette of Pandora's Bazaar not only tagged me, but named Quaker Pagan Reflections itself in her own Book Meme post, that would probably be cheating.

And, in any case, the book that is immediately to hand is one I've got a few thoughts about worth the sharing.

So, for those of you not yet hit with this particular pyramid scheme of the blogosphere, the meme goes like this:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people. (My tags are at the bottom of the page, for enquiring minds.)

Right.

So, the book I had nearest at hand is one I've only begun dipping into--it was a gift from my daughter, who actually picked it up for free on a book exchange she found via the Web: the bestselling Eat, Pray, Love. Here's the quote:
"Our whole business therefore in this life,"wrote Saint Augustine, rather Yogically, " is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen."

Like all great philosophical ideas, this one is simple to understand but virtually impossible to imbibe. OK--so we are all one, and divinity abides within us all equally.

Observant readers will note that I went to some pains to let you know how I came by the book, and that this implies a certain sheepishness on my part to be caught with it. Why is that?

I think it's because this has become one of the books that "serious" spiritually-minded people love to hate. I don't think I can do better than to quote one Amazon reviewer, who describes it as
both disappointing and aggravating from beginning to end. The author is self-absorbed and irritating, and her 'insights' into the people she meets and the places she goes are shallow and annoying. The endless reflection on the horror of a marriage that didn't seem that horrible to me, and the quest for spirituality that has Gilbert chatting with God in India made finishing this book a torment. Finding out that she got the book advance before heading out on her journey made total sense; the trip fit into the book proposal rather than the other way around.

I became a Pagan about the time that Lynn Andrews was becoming big business in the 80's. Ah, Lynn Andrews. The best of all worlds: Lynn's story tells us again and again that it's possible to combine being affluent, blond, and with a taste for designer clothes with spiritual enlightenment found through contact with "authentic" Native peoples. Just think--all the payoff of eternal wisdom, but without having to wear unflattering clothing or do without First World health care, power, or privilege! How cool is that?

It's easy to believe that Elizabeth Gilbert is yet another variety of plastic spiritual seeker. It is hard to sympathize with a woman who finds herself in a crisis of empty materialism, asking herself,
wasn't I proud of all we'd accumulated--the prestigious home in the Hudson Valley, the apartment in Manhattan, the eight phone lines, the friends and the picnics and the parties, the weekends spent roaming the aisles of some box-shaped superstore of our choice, buying ever more appliances on credit? I had actively participated in every moment of the creation of this life--so why did I feel like none of it resembled me?

Viewed from a certain angle, Gilbert looks like merely another victim of affluenza, our cultural ennui and alienation. And maybe she is. When she talks about her instant infatuation with a "ninth generation Indonesian medicine man," I am struck by her need to keep score. Because, you know, a ninth generation Indonesian medicine man is obviously going to be, like, well, better than an eighth generation Indonesian medicine man. And totally no comparison with, say, a mere fourth generation Indonesian medicine man.

The idea that wisdom is something that can be obtained only by contact with an exotic Other--ideally someone poor, but poor because they are not caught up in material things rather than because they suffer from economic injustices that, yes, with the two houses and eight phone lines, Elizabeth Gilbert(and I) are in some way complicit with--that idea, combined with the score-keeping of Authentic Wisdom Indicators, like an Energy Star rating on an appliance, just screams New Age to me.

Pagans just hate being classed as a New Age religion. And I agree. I don't think Paganism is a New Age religion, because I think that the New Age is primarily about reconciling the tensions inherent in trying to live with spiritual integrity in an unjust world by ignoring injustice and by commodifying Spirit. The New Age is about buying the right things--robes, retreats, Tibetan Singing Bowls, and teachers--to make us just "wise" enough to be smug and maybe write a book. But not wise enough to see what horse's ass idiots we are, just by virtue of being human. Let alone wise enough to repent of that, and start at least trying to change our lives to actually honor the realities of a world of inequalities and injustice.

And I think Paganism--and the Religious Society of Friends--does better than that, most of the time. I think we honestly try to connect with one another as communities of humans--which is why it's so hard, and why there's so much conflict. Humans are hard. Conflict is hard. And there's no need for conflict when you're a passive consumer of a "wisdom tradition" after all--that's the whole point, in fact. But sometimes we remember that it's not about consuming, but growth, and we struggle on, loving and sometimes fighting, growing in the process. Sometimes a little Spirit even sneaks in and speeds the process along, which is wonderful--and the real point of all the seeking and the striving.

I think we've all got it, though, in this culture--that soul-sickness of affluenza. I think that is the reason I flinch from admitting that I am reading Gilbert's book; I don't want to be taken for one of those people... which is a pretty good hint that, in fact, I see something of myself in that folly.

I'm out of balance. Gilbert's out of balance. Almost certainly, dear reader, so are you. I don't think we need to travel to Indonesia to find our souls. I think we can listen fine from where we are. But, ironically, I think listening must involve listening to Gilbert's voice, as she explores the state of her spirit in her book--or at least not pre-judgeing her as a plastic seeker, simply because she began her seeking in a position of material comfort.

So did Gautama Buddha, if my memory serves me. So, maybe, in place of assuming I know her soul (and therefore, refusing to reflect on my own) based on her affluence and angst in the early chapters of her book, I'd do better to read on before making up my mind.

After all, I'm only on page 29. And page 123 did look pretty good...



Tagged for the 123 Book Meme:
Ali, at Meadowsweet and Myrrh
David, at Silver Maple
Walhydra, at Walhydra's Porch
Riverwolf, at IDiosyntocracy
Cubbie at Seams of a Peculiar Queer

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