Decalogue Chapel: A Ritual of Readings

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DECALOGUE CHAPEL: A RITUAL OF READINGS

By Scott D. Young, Biola Alumni 1975 I Adjunct Faculty 1998- 2006

Artist Statement:              Gregory Michael Hernandez

lnvitatory:                            “I am an Impure Thinker”     -Eugen Rosenstock-Hussey

Responsiveness:             “Is Your God Dead?”    – George Yancy I New York Times

Responsibility:                  “Eulogy for the Twin Pillars of American Identity:  The

                                               American Dream and American Exceptionalism” – Scott D.

                                               Young I Dean of The Chapel

Liturgical Pairings:          Lament: “An Obituary: The National Endowment for the Arts,

                       of Natural Causes”     – Michael Wilkerson

                                                Promise:  “Create Dangerously”   – Albert Camus

                                                Lament: “The Trouble with Normal” – Bruce Cockburn

                                               Promise: “Uprising”, Lyrics – Muse

                                              Lament: “Sculpting in Time” – Andrei Tarkovsky

Promise: “Sculpting in Time”  – Andrei Tarkovsky

Litany of Dreams:            The American Dream is Dead, and Properly Eulogized: But, But… Dreams, Dreaming, Dreamers are Relentlessly Dancing and Doing

– Eleanor Roosevelt

– Yoko Ono

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

– Henry David Thoreau

– Bell Hooks

Testimonial:                        “The Decalogue Chapel”

– Dr. Walter Brueggemann
ARTIST STATEMENT

Decalogue Chapel: The Ten Commandments Re-Contextualized

“You read the Ten Commandments differently if you entertain the thought that the commandments are rules for maintaining life outside the reach of Pharaoh.”

– Dr. Walter Brueggemann

In our society, The Ten Commandments are often considered irrelevant. Dismissed as old­ fashioned, moralistic rules, their discussion at large is almost entirely relegated to protesting their display or removal in a courthouse. Yet the Ten Commandments remain revered in the scriptural traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Considering the original context of the Ten Commandments, Israel was just brought out of slavery in Egypt. The commandments directly corresponded to the freshly emancipated experience of the Jewish people. More than religious rules, they represented a political manifesto promoting neighborliness. They were designed to keep the fragile community from slipping into another system of competitive acquisitiveness. Commitment to a neighborly way of being could make life viable again: beyond the reach of Pharaoh, and against an economic extraction system that depended on exploiting vulnerable people for cheap labor.

The Jewish community dared to imagine that life was created as gift, to be good. They established narratives to promote rootedness, purpose, and vision for the future. Like all good prophetic narratives, the Exodus story is a provocation waiting to be performed. The story of the Ten Commandments authorizes alternative communities in the midst of oppressive regimes. Scholar Walter Brueggemann suggests that the role of the church is to constantly re­ perform the Exodus event.

In translating the Ten Commandments into our contemporary political context, I hope to contribute toward the renewal of religion. Perhaps this renewal depends upon bold, imaginative speech/action that cuts to the core of societal systems that divide and rank people according to their economic worth. The religious imagination might be the only script with the potential to sow seeds of communion among global neighbors in pluralistic societies.

Each painting is sculpted to the exact dimensions of U.S. National Cemetery military headstones. In an age of heated debates over U.S. monuments and the correct representation of history, I consider this artwork to be a provisional monument. It is skeletal in form- it is transitory- and it is subject to future revision. My re-writing of the Ten Commandments traffics in the same debate as the United States Constitution: is it a living and breathing document or is Originalism the correct mode of interpretation?

I could be accused of conceptual plagiarism if I didn’t give credit to the work of Dr. Walter Brueggemann; Christian scholar of the Hebrew scriptures. His lifelong devotion to interpreting the text is my single greatest source of inspiration as a visual artist. I am also grateful to my four years at Biola University for feeding my religious imagination. Art Professor Dan Callis introduced me to Brueggemann’s “The Prophetic Imagination” which has become foundational for my artistic practice and former Adjunct Professor Scott D. Young continues to be my mentor.

Decalogue Chapel was first created for the Joshua Treenial in spring, 2017. When I decided it needed liturgy and a performative element, I invited Scott to be my collaborator. He curated all the readings included here, and I asked him to write a Eulogy to the American Dream and American Exceptionalism. Scott performed an outdoor chapel service twice a day during the weekend exhibit in Joshua Tree, CA.

-Gregory Michael Hernandez

Biola University Alumni 1999
INVITATORY

I am an Impure Thinker

We do not exist because we think. Man is the son of God and not brought into being by thinking. We are called into society by a mighty entreaty, “Who art though, man, that I should care for thee?” And long before our intelligence can help us, the new-born individual survives this tremendous question by his naive faith in the love of his elders. We grow into society on faith, listening to all kinds of human imperatives. Later we stammer and stutter, nations and individuals alike, in the effort to justify our existence by responding to this call. We …wish to follow the deepest questions, the central call which goes straight to the heart, and promises our soul the lasting certainty of being inscribed in the book of life.

– Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy
RESPONSIVENESS

Selections from: “Is Your God Dead?”

By George Yancy, June 19, 2017

The New York Times (Opinion Section), The Stone

Used by permission of Dr. George Yancy

Is your God dead?

I don’t mean the God of the philosophers or the scholars, but, as Blaise Pascal said, the “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.” With no disrespect, I hope the question comes as a jolt. And without being outraged or quick to accuse me of “blasphemy,” know, too, that I am a hopeful monotheist. I might even be called a Christian, only I continue, every day of my life, to fail. Friedrich Nietzsche’s observation weighs heavily on me: “There was only one Christian and he died on the cross.” Call me a failed and broken Christian, but a Christian nevertheless.

So, is your God dead? Have you buried God in the majestic, ornamental tombs of your churches, synagogues and mosques? Perhaps prosperity theology, boisterous, formalistic and mechanical prayer rituals, and skillful oratory have hastened the need for a eulogy.

Perhaps by remaining in your “holy” places, you have sacrificed looking in the face of your neighbor on the street. You know the one: the one who smells “bad” because she hasn’t bathed in days; the one who carries her home on her body; the one who begs. Surely you’ve seen that “unholy” face. I’ve seen you suddenly look away, making sure not to make eye contact with the “unclean.” Perhaps you’re preoccupied with texting, consumed by a work or family matter. Then again, perhaps it’s prayer time and you need to face east, or perhaps you’re too focused on holy communion as you make your way to church. Your refusal to stop, to linger, to look into her eyes, has already done its damage. Your body has already left a mark in its absence, in its fleeing the scene.
My hands are also dirty; I’m guilty of missing the opportunity to recognize something of the divine in the face of the Other on the street. I’m pretty sure I looked away when I caught a glimpse of a homeless man approaching the other day. How different is this from those who walked by the beaten and abandoned man in the parable of the good Samaritan? I failed to see the homeless man as a neighbor.

When we turn away like this we behave as if our bodies had boundaries, as if our skin truly separated us from the Other. But what if, as I would argue, our bodies don’t have strict edges? What if we could develop a new way of seeing the body that reveals that we are always already touching, that we are inextricably linked to a larger institutional and social body that binds us all?

In meditating on these questions, I have found that the prophetic voice of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a Polish-born Jewish-American rabbi and activist, can help us toward an answer. Heschel, who studied in Germany with Martin Buber, and later became a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., warned frequently of the dangers of theological and religious shallowness, of our tendency to “worry more about the purity of dogma than about the integrity of love.”

Heschel cautions against “an outward compliance with ritual laws, strict observance mingled with dishonesty, the pedantic performance of rituals as a form of opportunism.” And while there are many who worship in churches, synagogues and mosques, who understand that religious truth must be lived, who make a point of looking into the eyes of the woman on the street and show her mercy, too many of us refuse to look, to stop.

As the religious scholar Elisabeth T. Vasko writes, “to be human is to be a person in relation.” And it is this social and existential relationality that ties you to, and implicates you in, the life of that destitute woman. Heschel writes, “How dare we come before God with our prayers when we commit atrocities against the one image we have of the divine: human beings?” If there is a shred of life left in your God, full resuscitation might begin with remaining in the presence of that suffering face. If your God is dead, the possibility for a resurrection might be found in attending to the pain and sorrow of that image of the divine there on the street.

AS A YOUNG BOY, the idea of exempting no one from redemption tested my mother, who was a Baptist. One night I asked her if I could pray for the Devil. Strange, I admit. My mother eventually said yes. So there I was on my knees, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless my mother, my sister and my friends. And God bless the Devil.”

My older son recently brought to my attention a Mark Twain quote: “Who in 18 centuries has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most… ?” Well, there I was as a little boy doing just that. Beyond boyhood now, and thinking of evil in a less personified way, I no longer pray for the Devil. The more important point here is that we need a paradigm shift in how we lay claim to our religious identities. Why not claim those that are suffused with compassion, a shared reality of suffering together, in which your pain is my pain?

Indeed, King wrote in his letter from the Birmingham jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Heschel suggests that we should be mortified by the inadequacy and superficiality of our anguish when we witness the suffering of others, the sort of anguish that should make us weep until our eyes are red and swollen and bring sleepless nights and agonizing days. He writes, “We are a generation that has lost the capacity for outrage.”

I have been troubled by the lack of religious and theological outrage against national and global poverty, white racism and supremacism, sexism, classism, homophobia, bullying, building walls, “alternative facts,” visa/immigration bans and xenophobia. Heschel reminds us that when we establish a way of life predicated upon a lie, “the world can turn into a nightmare.” He makes it clear that the Holocaust did not emerge suddenly. “It was in the making for several generations. It had its origin in a lie: that the Jew was responsible for all social ills, for all personal frustrations. Decimate the Jews and all problems would be solved.” […]

“Any god who is mine but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol,” Heschel writes. Think of segregated white churches during Jim Crow, or the many churches today, in our “post-racial” moment, that continue to be de facto segregated every Sunday morning. Think, too, of the blood that has been spilled in the name of the God we claim as our own. You have all heard the underpinnings of this idolatry: “God Bless America,” which I see as the words of a bankrupt neoliberal theology. In fact, there is something profane in that statement, which worships and calls upon a God that blesses America only.

If there are any blessings to be had, the request, surely, mustn’t be partisan. At least in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, it is believed that human beings were created in the image of God. Not just the faithful of these religions, but all humans: Syrian refugees, whom our current administration have deemed threats, were created in the image of God. Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, members of the Ku Klux Klan and Bashar al-Assad all were created in the image of God. So even as we ask God to bless America, surely we must ask God to bless those whom we have deemed threats or enemies. Our blessings must be scattered across the entire world, inclusive of all of humanity. […]

Heschel, in a speech on religion and race, reminded us of the persistence of autocratic power when he stated that “Pharaoh is not ready to capitulate. The exodus began but it is far from having been completed.” That exodus, originating with Moses and the emancipation of the Jews, as Heschel suggests, is eternal, and signifies the march toward not just an outward physical emancipation but a spiritual one — one that demands fierce self-reflection. I take it that for Heschel, all of the oppressed of the world are in need of an exodus. In another work Heschel later wrote, “One’s integrity must constantly be examined.” Bob Marley, in his song “Exodus,” says, “Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” Some voices refuse to let us rest. King had such a voice, and so did Socrates.

AND WHAT HAVE WE SEEN? I am pretty sure that no contemporary Christians have seen God, no contemporary religious Jews have seen Yahweh and no contemporary Muslims have seen Allah — certainly not face to face. Yet all of us have seen the aftermath of murdered children from war-torn countries, their fragile bodies covered with blood. I am haunted by the little body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi who lay dead and face down in 2015 on a Turkish beach after his family fled violence in Syria. I continue to be haunted by the murder of an unarmed Trayvon Martin in 2012. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world are suffering. We all have known about the cruel and despicable violence toward transgender individuals. We know about the magnitude of human trafficking, the magnitude of poverty, and the sickness of hatred.

Vasko writes, “Through lamentation, voice is given to pain.” Yet our lamenting, our mourning for those who suffer, is far too short-lived. And our charity to those who wail in the night only temporarily eases their pain. According to Heschel, “one may be decent and sinister, pious and sinful.” We easily forget the weight of human suffering, the agony. Heschel asks, “If all agony were kept alive in memory, if all turmoil were told, who could endure tranquility?” Heschel and Vasko help to remind us that we ought to be suspicious of our tranquility.

In fact, I would ask, what if that tranquility, that peace of mind, rests on the rotting corpses beneath our feet? What if as we pray and rejoice in our churches, synagogues and mosques, we are throwing handfuls of dirt on God’s casket? After all, prayer and rejoicing can also function as forms of narcissism, as ways to drown out the screams of the poor, the oppressed. In a story shared by Heschel’s daughter, Susannah, she writes that he found praying during the Vietnam War impossible, but necessary to demonstrate. “Whenever I open my prayer book,” he told a journalist, “I see before me images of children burning from napalm.”

Heschel writes, “The prophet’s word is a scream in the night.” I wait to be awakened by that scream. I have not yet heard it. It is that scream, that deep existential lament, that will awaken us to the ways we are guilty of claiming to “love God” while forgetting the poor, refusing the refugee, building walls, banning the stranger, and praying and worshiping in insular and segregated “sacred” spaces filled with racism, sexism, patriarchy, xenophobia, homophobia and indifference.

WE HAVE FAILED TO DEEPEN our collective responsibility. Some of us will never do so. What would the world look like if believers from every major religion in every country, state, city and village, shut down the entire world for just a day? What would America look like, on that day, if we who call ourselves believers, decided to weep together, hold hands together, commit together to eradicate injustice? We might then permanently unlock our sacred doors, take a real step beyond our sanctimoniousness, and see one another face to face.

I await the day, perhaps soon, when those who believe in the “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob” will lock arms and march on Washington, refusing to live any longer under the weight of so much inhumanity. Perhaps it is time for a collective demonstration of the faithful to delay going to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, to leave the pews in churches and pray one fewer time a day. None of us is innocent. “Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people,” Heschel reminds us. “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

In 1968, in conversation with King, Heschel asked, “Where does God dwell in America today?” I ask myself this question today. But I do not find the answer. Heschel also asks, “Where does moral religious leadership in America come from today?” I look, but I have not seen it. Perhaps, like Diogenes the Cynic, you’ll find me carrying a lamp in the daytime. But instead of looking for an honest man, I will be looking through the catacombs of your own making, asking, “Is your God dead?”

George Yancy is a professor of philosophy at Emory University. He is the author of “Black Bodies, White Gazes” and “On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis,” and a co-editor of “Pursuing Trayvon Martinand “Our Black Sons Matter.”

© 2017 The New York Times Company
RESPONSIBILITY

Eulogy for the Twin Pillars of American Identity: The American Dream and American Exceptionalism by Scott D. Young, Dean of the Decalogue Chapel

We are gathered here to mourn and lament the agonizing loss of outsized twin personalities — the American Dream and American Exceptionalism. These twins were born early in the making of America. No birther controversy here, but exact time and location is not known. There are multiple certificates that exist to authenticate that the twins are made in the USA —homegrown and perceived to have made America Great!

The American Dream can be recognized in the following statements:

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal” with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

America’s unique prosperity is based on its creation of a middle class in the twentieth century, that middle class provided the workforce, the educated skills, and the demand that gave life to the world’s greatest consumer economy. It was innovative and dynamic; it eclipsed old imperial systems and colonial archetypes. It gave rise to a dream: that if you worked hard and followed the rules you would prosper in America, and your children would enjoy a better life than yours.

The American dream was the lure to gifted immigrants and the birthright opportunity for every American citizen. It is as important a part of the history of the country as the passing of the Bill of Rights, the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg, or the space program. Incredibly, however, for more than thirty years, government and big business in America have conspired to roll back the American dream. What was once accessible to a wide swath of the population is increasingly open only to a privileged fewThe vaunted American dream, the idea that life will get better, that progress is inevitable if we obey the rules and work hard, that material prosperity is assured, has been replaced by a hard and bitter truth. The American dream, we now know, is a lie. We will all be sacrificed. The virus of corporate abuse — the perverted belief that only corporate profit matters — has spread to outsource our jobs, cut the budgets of our schools, close our libraries, and plague our communities with foreclosures and unemployment.

The “American Dream” enjoyed a charmed life from birth through young adulthood. It was traumatized in later life and fell victim to neglect and abuse. It developed phobias and disorders and was subjected to numerous diagnostic assessments. Finally, it was poisoned to death by the greedy and powerful. Many tears were shed while receiving! hospice care. The future generations, who will be denied the privilege of knowing the American Dream, will curse the murderers and will aggressively look for ways to retrieve the best traits of the Dream. The American Dream is dead but not forgotten.

It’s twin, American Exceptionalism, is likewise going to be severely missed. It received its name from Alexis de Tocqueville, during the Frenchman’s visit to America in 1831. His observation being that America’s uniqueness came from common values and beliefs rather than ethnic or nationalistic identity. The concept of American Exceptionalism is expressed in these descriptions:

That its citizens were making a new beginning and a new society, stands behind American Exceptionalism. Founded on the principles of freedom, human rights, and rights of the people to govern themselves, America would also avoid the mistakes of other nations. America would enjoy a special status among the nations of the world. America would be a “city on a hill” or a “beacon to the world,” defending and promoting democracy and liberty, exercising only “benevolent power in the world.” Many linked this with belief in a divine mission or destiny; the U.S. would be “tied to God’s steady path.”

The basis most commonly cited for American Exceptionalism is the idea that the United States and its people hold a special place in the world, by offering opportunity and hope for humanity, derived from a unique balance of public and private interests governed by constitutional ideals that are focused on personal and economic freedom. Some United States citizens have used the term to claim moral superiority for America or Americans. Others use it to refer to the American concept, or “dream” as itself an exceptional ideal. Americans can model this for other people and nations and can assist them with constructing their own democratic, free societies.

The way in which the concept of American Exceptionalism has impacted on the wider world has also involved a struggle. On the one hand, America has tried to act as a nation among nations promoting liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On the other hand, America has acted as a nation above nations pursuing its special self-interest at the expense of other people’s liberty and happiness. The convictions that poverty and class-conflict were alien to the principles on which the republic was founded can also motivate political leaders to eliminate these from the American experience. How many empires that once claimed to be special, even “God’s chosen nation” over-extended themselves and collapsed, and suggests that Americans take a look at history.

“American Exceptionalism,” like its twin pedestal, “American Dream” was enormously successful in its historic development. Unfortunately, it too, succumbed to a hybrid disorder. Instead of it nurturing U.S. citizens and generously giving to others, it became an empire of self-delusion and an imperialistic monster impressed with its wealth and power dispensing violent interventions and monopolizing global resources. In its overreach other societies realized that the lion is all growl and no longer king of the jungle. American Exceptionalism ceased being a model of virtue and became a grotesque bully who now habitually loses to small and large enemies. Its current leaders no longer exemplify nor are the paragons, of freedom, human rights, and equality of shared resources, but increasingly are seen as buffoons and clowns. American Exceptionalism is dead and the loud wailing for its best expressions from the past can be heard far and wide.

Eulogizing the American Dream and its twin, Exceptionalism, is a daunting duty. I much prefer to pronounce the death of the culprits who assassinated the twin pillars.

I wonder what character will replace the twins? What vision and which values will guide us into the future? Are we willing to embrace the virtues and convictions of a Decalogue for our times?

Rev. Scott D. Young

Dean, Decalogue Chapel
LITURGICAL PAIRINGS: LAMENTS AND PROMISES LAMENT

An Obituary: The National Endowment for the Arts, 52, of unnatural causes

By Michael Wilkerson, Opinion Contributor – March 7, 2017 http:/tlhehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/education/322704-an-obituary-the-national­endowment-for-the-arts-52-of-unnatural

The National Endowment for the Arts, aged 52, has finally died. After brushes with extinction in the 1980’s and 1990’s, along with a three-decade wait to be launched after the McCarthy­ era’s relentless attacks on artists, police are describing the NEA’s demise as “totally preventable, but oddly, both a homicide and a suicide.” The agency had been ill although determined to make a difference for many years.

The NEA expired under the care of President Donald Trump and the Tea Party Congress. It leaves as survivors its parent, the United States government. We are now the only country in the world without a federal arts presence. Other survivors include millions of artists and thousands of arts organizations. The NEA died because artists tried too hard to be “the other,” apart from the society they chronicled. It failed to make the case that the arts should mean more to ordinary Americans than whatever they did as children (overwhelmingly, Americans participate in the arts only when young). Late attempts at awkward medical procedures such as translating art into economic development did not improve the agency’s health.

The NEA will be remembered for its controversies, such as supporting artists who performed in the nude, or who explicitly sought to shock their audiences into facing hard truths of racism, sexism, the patriarchy, genocide, war and homophobia; for being unable to simultaneously fund the best American art while reaching every state; and for its political blunders, numerous and often naive.

But the NEA will also be remembered as the agency that created arts councils in every state and most cities; that spread the professionalization of arts organizations throughout America; and that generated important new fields, such as art therapy for war victims; creative place making and the rebirth of cities; research into economics, mental health, inequality and aging, among many; and whose leaders persuaded private funders of the value of artists and the arts.

Life without the NEA will not be a lot different than before. At its end, the agency was so small that the cost of one military jet equaled its entire grants budget. Few if any organizations will go out of business because of the loss of the NEA, though arts advocates have often asserted that NEA funding was the catalyst for vast amounts of additional private donations. Researchers will now have a perfect opportunity to ascertain finally what the financial impact of an NEA grant was on giving to the arts.

No artists will go broke without the NEA; at its demise, the agency offered direct support only to a handful of the nation’s writers. All other artists had been federal grant-free since the mid-1990s. Many artists of all disciplines, though, had been paid by organizations through NEA-funded projects, often the least commercial venture in a company’s annual season. It is likely that the work of artists, already governed almost entirely by the marketplace, might have to veer even more toward the commercial.

Government support for the arts will still exist, at least for a time. It will take a years to hunt down every federal dollar spent by housing, education, military, health and criminal justice agencies on artists whose work has meant so much to everyone from scientists to soldiers. It will take even longer for states to close their arts councils; none have done so permanently since the NEA began offering them matching funds in the late 1960s, though the virus that killed the NEA might spread to politically receptive states. That will, in turn, damage the arts on a local level and continue the lowering of respect and prestige that the sector has suffered since the NEA’s first illness thirty years ago.

The agency’s survivors inherit nothing except fifty years of cultural advancement of art forms and ideas. In the American tradition, they will have to make it on their own, and in some fashion, they probably will, though, like any survivor, they would have preferred not to have been left to fend for themselves. Burial was swift, though more people spoke at the funeral service than had openly supported the NEA when it was alive.

Michael Wilkerson is director of arts administration programs at Indiana University, teaches public policy and the arts.
 

 

Create Dangerously

A Lecture by Albert Camus

December 14, 1957 at the University of Uppsala in Sweden

“One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. “Every wall is a door,” Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is-in the very thick of the battle. For in my opinion, and this is where I shall close, it is there. Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others, in a man. I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all.”
The Trouble With Normal

Lyrics by Bruce Cockburn

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights

What did they think the politics of panic would invite? Person in the street shrugs– “Security comes first” But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese Play pinball with the third world trying to keep it on its knees Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea

And the local third world’s kept on reservations you don’t see “It’ ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first” But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene

When the ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means Tenants get the dregs and the landlords get the cream As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream

Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst

The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

The Trouble With Normal lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., CARLIN AMERICA INC

Uprising

Lyrics by Muse

The paranoia is in bloom, the P-R Transmissions will resume They’ll try to push drugs

That keep us all dumbed down and hope that

We will never see the truth around

(So come on)

Another promise, another scene,

Another package lie to keep us trapped in greed With all the green belts wrapped around our minds And endless red tape to keep the truth confined (So come on)

They will not force us They will stop degrading us They will not control us

We will be victorious

(So come on)

Interchanging mind control

Come let the revolution take its toll if you could Flick a switch and open your third eye, you’d see that We should never be afraid to die

(So come on)

Rise up and take the power back, it’s time that The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that Their time is coming to an end

We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

(So come on)

They will not force us They will stop degrading us They will not control us

We will be victorious

(So come on)

Hey, hey, hey, hey Hey, hey, hey, hey Hey, hey, hey, hey

They will not force us They will stop degrading us They will not control us

We will be victorious

(So come on) Hey, hey, hey, hey

Written by Matt Bellamy, Matthew James Bellamy • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Sculpting in Time

– Andrei Tarkovsky

Korolenko’s definition of the meaning of human existence as the right to happiness reminds me of the Book of Job, where exactly the opposite view is expressed: ‘Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upwards.’ In other words suffering is germane to our existence; indeed, how, without it, should we be able to ‘fly upwards’? And what is suffering? Where does it come from? From dissatisfaction, from the gulf between the ideal and the point at which you find yourself? A sense of ‘happiness’ is far less important than being able to confirm your own soul in the fight for that freedom which is, in the true sense, divine-where good and evil are balanced, and evil is never allowed to prevail.

PROMISE

Sculpting in Time

-Andrei Tarkovsky

Art affirms all that is best in man-hope, faith, love, beauty, prayer .. . What he dreams of and what he hopes for … When someone who doesn’t know how to swim is thrown into the water, instinct tells his body what movements will save him. The artist, too, is driven by a kind of instinct, and his work furthers man’s search for what is eternal, transcendent, divine-often in spite of the sinfulness of the poet himself.

What is art? Is it good or evil? From God or from the devil? From man’s strength or from his weakness? Could it be an image of social harmony? Might that be its function? Like a declaration of love: the consciousness of our dependence on each other. A confession. An unconscious act that none the less reflects the true meaning of life-love and sacrifice.
LITANY OF DREAMS

The American Dream is Dead and Properly Eulogized:

 

But, But… Dreams, Dreaming, Dreamers are Relentlessly Dancing and Doing.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

“We are all dreamers creating the next world, the most beautiful world for ourselves and our children.”

– Yoko Ono

“Dreams, as we all know, are very queer things: some parts are presented with appalling vividness, with details worked up with the elaborate finish of jewelry, while others one gallops through, as it were, without noticing them at all, as, for instance, through space and time.

Dreams seem to be spurred on not by reason but by desire, not by the head but by the heart, and yet what complicated tricks my reason has played sometimes in dreams, what utterly incomprehensible things happen to it!”

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

 

“We used to dream the same dreams, that was how I knew you would love me in the end.”

For the Filmmaker Who Still Dreams

– Bell Hooks, Reel to Real
TESTIMONIAL

The Decalogue Chapel

Ours is an era of “fake news” when we trust in illusion and twist reality to fit our deep fears and our thin hopes. In the midst of such fakery, the Ten Commands from the voice of God at Sinai persists as non-negotiable reality, even when they contradict our world of illusion.

Gregory Michael Hernandez has seen clearly and voiced effectively the abiding truthfulness of the Big Ten from Sinai. He has rightly read them in our context as an alternative to greed, fear, anxiety, and violence that contradict the intention of God. The scaffolding of his Decalogue Chapel witnesses to the skeletal structure of a life of trust, truth, and obedience. The scaffolding allows for lots of air and light to enter, air and light as gifts of the creator. Such a skeletal structure stands in deep contrast to the illusionary construction of tall towers of protection, high walls of exclusion, sky-scrapers of hubris, armaments of self-sufficiency, and mighty monuments to human control. Of all of these Jesus might have said:

For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28).

In contrast Hernandez’s Decalogue Chapel is simple, direct, straight-forward truth­ telling, just what we need now to clarify our vision, assuage our fears, and engage an active faith.

– Walter Brueggemann

March 17, 2017

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