Just how “effective” are collective expressions of grief? Do they work?
Every time I see a vast concourse of people gathered at the site of a massacre, I honestly “feel with” the grief; and yet remain a little skeptical. It’s one thing if you yourself lost someone you love as a result of the crime; or if you know someone that lost someone. It’s another thing if you are grieving by association or in relation to a category or collective identity.
Do you think you’ll be thinking about instances of collective loss that took place in your life, when you are dying? I wonder. I know you’ll be thinking about instances of personal loss that you suffered.
This podcast asks you to consider “exiting from history” (Milan Kundera) in order, well, to really live. Focus on the individual instance — on you, in other words! I cite the novels of Rider Haggard in this connection, who understood as well as almost anyone the persistence of the eternal in the life of the individual. There’s the rub, and there’s why Haggard’s “Zulu” novels are a kind of summit of racial reconciliation in English literature. These novels understand human beings as one, due to shared suffering, shared loss, and the shared aspiration to love and be loved. I wish Haggard were here today to write about Orlando.
Oh, and listen closely, if you can, to Dave Loggins at the end. Loggins said that after he wrote the song — in one night — he realized he hadn’t written it. He didn’t know where it came from, but he knew it didn’t come from him.
We’re just awash — aground! — in “narratives” these days. “Narratives” are conceptual stories or frameworks that are designed by the ever-grinding mind to organize and categorize realities of everyday life. Many of the realities faced by the ordinary person, starting with me, are unsatisfactory and distressing. “Narratives” are a form of mental control, to vitiate and diminish some of the distress of life..
But “narratives” don’t work! They are seldom completely true; and more often, they are cataclysmically partial. In both senses! This cast examines two “narratives” — one regarding an apparently neglected English hymn writer and the other being racism — and comes up with a caution.
I then expand the caution to account for irrational experiences within personal relationships. I had a vision a year ago, at a lovely beach wedding in the Carolinas, which invalidated almost everything else in front of me. (And it happened to be a great wedding.) But my vision rendered null and void the entire situation. “Let me take you there.”
Let’s hear it, too, for General Johnson.
The text is from a leading Presidential candidate, but it applies to two of them — two persons who are ideologically apart but have one main thing in common.
That main thing is: They are exposing the Cook’d Book of life, which is designed — “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” (S. Wonder) — to sign, seal and deliver YOU over to utter captivity and soullessness.
The New Testament is not a world-affirming document. On the contrary, it pits the human being against the world. Or rather, it posits the world as being against us. Our task, an impossible one without Help — “Help!” – The Beatles, 1965 — is to dodge the world. Kerouac wrote that we are born into this world in order to be saved from it.
The Cook’d Book of the world is not only true of political parties. It is true of institutions generally, job environments generally, schools and universities generally (which is why youth is eternally looking for the ‘Mr. Chips’-type altruist — one in a million), you name it.
I’m glad that Bernie and the other one are cutting to the nerve. Je repete: this is not about ideology, it’s about control. And this world’s control is not — I repeat, not — designed to enable and deliver. It is designed to suppress and captivate. LUV U!
What are we all looking for in this life…? The new being, rebirth, meeting your inner child again for the first time. However you name it, whatever you make of it, the truth of reality is this: we all withhold a few things from everyone including and especially from ourselves. We lose so much in the withholding and the repression, which is quite understandable. But there is hope! You can go forward through going backward. Aldous Huxley did it. He became a theological psychologist par excellence, and we can follow his lead. A graced archeological excavation can produce so much in the way of the teleological imagination.
The introduction to this cast is done by Bill Borror and Scott Jones, co-hosts of New Persuasive Words. Scott also hosts The Mockingcast.
EPISODE 214: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?
There is this observable difference in the way most men and most women process romantic love affairs. Men tend — with exceptions — to live in the past and in past memories of love, especially as they grow older. Women tend — with exceptions — to desire to live in the present, with openness to the future, in the experience of romantic love.
The song that opens this cast, “How Do I Get To Heaven”, performed by Dave Mason, is a touching instance of the male processing. The lyric lurches, with no warning, from…
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Episode 213: Glamour Boy
Communication, I mean, real, person-to-person communication, is the name of the game in just about every relationship. It is also the name of the game in that Game of Love (1965, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders) which is preaching.
So this podcast is for politicians; for all who aspire to love another person — like Jean Valjean; and for everyone who undertakes to preach the Word of God.
You’ve got to “blow deep” — Jack Kerouac was never wrong about this — and thereby connect with the subterranean part of every potential listener or reader. That means blowing deep…
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Episode 212: Cursed Objects
There was a silly vicar in an English stage revue entitled “Beyond the Fringe”. His sermon was a total send-up. (You can Youtube it easily.)
Recently, however, I was in a situation in which that spoof came across as gravitationally serious. I was engaging — unsuccessfully — a problem of some long standing, and nothing was working! Not my spiritual director, not my small group, not my meditations, not the dharma, not my flesh and blood nor my friends. Nothing was working. Then I remembered an illustration from the satirical sermon in “Beyond the Fringe”, the one about…
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Episode 211: Son, This Is She
There is this amazing supposed contrast between the God Who comes to us from without, and the God Who speaks to us from within.
Historic Christianity generally hears the First. Eastern religion generally hears the second.
Personally, I hear both — by which I mean, a lot of Love is “channelled” or “made flesh” in the inspirations I feel to love and to cherish that are indistinguishable from my own best self. (“I’d like to know where you got the notion” (Rock the Boat) — The Hues Corporation, 1974).
Yet when I’m in a jam, when I am…
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When you were in a tight spot, how did help get through to you, assuming help did get through to you?
Did God speak from out of the whirlwind — of crisis, panic, and despair? Or did aid come from inside yourself — a ‘how-to’ or random thought that proved serviceable in the midst?
If you’re a regular listener to PZ’s Podcast, you may well answer, the former. That’s certainly what happened to PZ!
Nevertheless, your source of inspiration, and help, and salvation in the imminent immanent sense of the word: what was it?
You won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking, in…
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Episode 209 (up now!)
The answer to that question has to lie, somehow, in whatever explains the popular success of Rodney Marvin (‘Rod’) McKuen.
Rod McKuen died a year ago, and did you know he sold 100 million records? No kidding. Rod McKuen sold 100 million records.
(He also sold 60 million books. But hey…)
Here is a man who was universally dismissed, from day one of his earthly success, as being a “kitschy” Philistine and arch-sentimentalist. No critic had a word of praise for him. Ever, ever, ever. And that’s been true right up to the present day.
And let the People say: He…
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Now we think that reality, the “real world”, is what happens “between nine and five”, that is, what happens at work, in the office, at school, in career, and so forth. And a lot of people want to tell us this is true.
But not The Vogues. They were from Pittsburgh and they understood about shifts and hourly pay. Yet they understand more than that!
For the fact is, ‘as you lay dying’ (Faulkner), you won’t give your “nine-to-five” life a single second thought. Not one single second thought! You’ll forget it all, in the absolute blink of an eye. That’s just…
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Here are a few thoughts concerning the atrocity attacks in Paris. I talk about Islam (and “Islamophobia”), Syrian migration into Europe, Original Sin and “low” vs. “high” anthropology, reaction-formations among young men when drones are over their heads and they have no control, let alone “buy-in”; and finally, a threatening experience Mary and I had on Times Square recently. Call this PZ’s perspective on a current (big) event.