October 14, 2018

Music by the Bell Choir:
Hyfrydol, arr. Timothy C. Shepard
Prayerful Moments, arr. Jean M. Watson

Cover:  Blake, William, 1757-1827. To Annihilate the Self-hood of Deceit and False Forgiveness, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.  http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55221 [retrieved October 9, 2018]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:To_annihilate_the_Self-hood_of_Deceit_and_Fals_Forgiveness_1804.jpg.

“Mother Culture could accept the fact that mankind’s home is not the center of the universe. She could accept the fact that man evolved from the common slime. But she will never accept the fact that man is not exempt from the peace-keeping law of the community of life. To accept that would finish her off.”

“So what are you saying? That it’s hopeless?”

“Not at all. Obviously, Mother Culture must be finished off if you’re going to survive, and that’s something people of your culture can do. She has no existence outside your minds. Once you stop listening to her she ceases to exist.”

“True. But I don’t think people will ever let that happen.”

Ishmael shrugged. “Then the law will do it for them. If they refuse to live under the law, then they simply won’t live. You might say that this is one of the law’s basic operations: Those who threaten the stability of the community by defying the law automatically eliminate themselves.”

“The Takers will never accept that.”

“Acceptance has nothing to do with it. You may as well talk about a man stepping off the edge of a cliff not accepting the effects of gravity. The Takers are in the process of eliminating themselves, and when they’ve done so, the stability of the community will be restored and the damage you’ve done can begin to be repaired.”

“True.”

“On the other hand, I think you’re being unreasonably pessimistic about this. I think there are a lot of people out there who know the jig is up and are ready to hear something new—who want to hear something new, just like you.”

“I hope you’re right.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael

An excerpt from “Maker of All Things, Even Healings” Mary Oliver
Maker of All Things,
including appetite,
including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us, sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow—
let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine
what you must let be lost
and what will be saved.

Russell Greene, Griffin and Woodworth, Unprecedented, p. 126
“It’s too much to hold. And so we blink—and move on—back to gradualism. Clinging to the false hope that somehow what it is that we always have done will work this time. It’s our own type of denial. No – certainly not denial like the Republican climate deniers – but, nonetheless a dangerous denial.

We must step inside. We can and must rise to this moment. Imagine your children’s lives. Step inside that. Become your child – not today – but in 30 or 40 years. And, as your child – ask yourself – “Mom? Dad? What happened? Why didn’t you do something?”

Can you step into that? And, can you stay there? Because if you do—if we do, if we step into that truth, and stay there, we’ll know what to do.”

Mark 10:17-31
As he was traveling along the way, someone ran up, knelt before him, and started questioning him, “Good teacher, what do I have to do to inherit everlasting life?”

Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, and you shall honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have observed all these things since I was a child.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him and said to him, “You are missing one thing: make your move, sell whatever you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And then come on, follow me!”

But stunned by this advice, he went away dejected, since he had a fortune. After looking around, Jesus says to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those with money to enter God’s empire!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. In response Jesus says again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter God’s empire! It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for the wealthy to get into God’s empire!”

And they were totally amazed, saying to each other, “Well then, who can be saved?”

Jesus looks them in the eye and says, “For humans it’s impossible, but not for God; you see, everything’s possible for God.”

Peter began telling him, “Look at us, we left everything to follow you!”

Jesus said, “Let me tell you, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms on my account and on account of the good news, who won’t receive a hundred times as much now, in the present time: homes and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms—including persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. Many of the first will be last, and many of the last will be first.”

Infirm Gwendolyn Brooks
Everybody here
is infirm.
Everybody here is infirm.
Oh. Mend me. Mend me. Lord.

Today I
say to them
say to them
say to them, Lord:
look! I am beautiful, beautiful with
my wing that is wounded
my eye that is bonded
or my ear not funded
or my walk all a-wobble.
I’m enough to be beautiful.

You are
beautiful too.

It was around three in the morning about twelve years ago. April or May 2006. I woke up sobbing. Sobbing with terror and grief. Fear. It was a documentary that finally broke me open and shattered my illusions.

The film is called, “The End of Suburbia” and it documented a time in history called Peak Oil. Peak Oil on the global scale is when the rate of extraction and production of oil peaks and then begins to decline permanently.

There are a few tricks that can extend the rate of extraction, such as deep-sea drilling, drilling in the Arctic, fracking, and so forth, but those in the know, featured in that film, and those who I have followed since then, show that those solutions are not solutions, but illusions. We have likely plateaued at around 20 million barrels per day. [note: 20 mil. bpd in US, 80 mil. bpd global]

We can consider the ramifications of that in terms of remaining oil reserves and who will control them and how they will be controlled as the global human population continues to rise. The solution chosen by the banks and the military and the media is war.

We live and move and have our being in petroleum and have for the past 100 years. Which isn’t long in the span of our 2-3 million-year human history, but long enough to increase human population from the time my father was born 100 years ago when the human population was around 1.5 billion to over 7 billion today.

The upward curve in human population is directly proportional to the upward curve in petroleum extraction and consumption. What happens when our energy source peaks (as it has) and then declines? What happens socially? How will we manage this equitably?

Then, of course, there is the United States. The U.S. consumes about 25% of the world’s oil and has 5% of the population. If everyone on the planet consumed at the rate of the average American, we would need four to five planets of resources.

I knew all that. I knew it for some time.

I watched that film, The End of Suburbia, nodding my head. I showed it to my church. In fact, it was a church member who initially showed it to me. But at some point in the middle of the night, three in the morning, as I said, that I was broken open. I woke up sobbing.

Sobbing for the end of my world. The end of our world. Sobbing for the end of what I had inherited and ingested and believed and promoted was humanity’s dream. Onward and upward forever. We are getting smarter and our technology was so amazing. It could only get better with a future of flying cars and space stations.

Or is all of this a blip in time, the brief rise and fall of Petroleum Man?

Now we know on the other end, the environmental end, the climate change end, the effects of the waste of Petroleum Man’s incessant growth that has decimated half the population of Earth’s species in the last 50 years.

It was because of this that I started my blog Shuck and Jive. For a while I researched this and wrote about it. It isn’t easy competing with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and ABC, NBC, NPR, and all the mainstream myth-makers. I realize now that the mainstream media are nothing more than megaphones for the banksters. Even at this late hour, they still tell us to keep buying stuff and they show us the latest techy gizmo and scold and censor the radicals who are trying to tell us to end this insanity of growth, to get off fossil fuels now, and to change our lives completely.

If you think differently, that is fine. There is a writer I like, Caitlin Johnstone, from Australia. She has on her Twitter bio: “You will disagree with me sometimes. That’s OK.”

Even when truth sneaks through and people begin to awaken to what is real, like laws of physics and biology, and realize that humans are not exempt from these laws, the mainstream media distract us. They put us back to sleep with the babble of so-called laws of economics. They blather on over the latest doings of Donald Trump or the most recent squabble between the two US political parties, neither of which tells the truth, neither of which stops the trillion dollar per year war machine, neither of which offers a vision of life beyond “Happy Motoring.”

Kathleen Dean Moore, who was here a couple of weeks ago, quoted from Daniel Quinn’s book, Ishmael. I remembered I have that book but hadn’t read it. So I read it this week. Ishmael is a gorilla who speaks to this guy telepathically and teaches him like Socrates would teach. Ultimately it is a book about the fateful turn humans made somewhere around 10,000 years ago, when they got the idea that they were closer to gods than gorillas and were no longer subject to the laws of life. It is a hopeful book because it invites those who are awake or who have the potential to awaken, to stay awake and stay with what is real even if we have to sob through it.

Now our scripture reading from the lectionary. Mark chapter 10:17-31

So this guy comes up to Jesus and asks him about everlasting life. How do I get the good life? How do we get back to the garden?

Jesus says, “You know the rules.”

The guy said, “Yes, I have done that. I got a college degree and I read the New York Times and I recycle and I vote and I give to charity.”

Jesus looked at him with love, because what else can you do? This is going to be rough for everyone and we will have to love each other through all this. Jesus says, “Dude, you gotta give it all up. You have to unplug from the machine that is killing you and all of life on the planet. Then join up with this happy band of rebels. We are going to save the world.”

But the man couldn’t do it. He was too invested in the illusion.

That is how I read that little parable now.

People say when they hear people like Kathleen Dean Moore, who spoke here a couple of weeks ago, talk about the reality of the end of industrial civilization, what can we do? She tries to be nice. She tries to say it in funny, clever, and artistic ways, but in the end, the message is the same:

There is nothing you can do to make that illusion real.
There is nothing we can do to save this unsustainable way of life.

However, there is a lot you can do to live through these present and coming days as a helpful force rather than a hindrance. Here are some things you can do:

1) Try to be as healthy as possible. Physically healthy, mentally healthy, spiritually healthy.

2) If you are in debt, get out of debt and do not get into further debt. Little exists that is worth borrowing to possess. Use what you have.

3) Unplug from the illusion of growth. Learn. Read those who the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post call “conspiracy theorists.” Read those websites that the big social media platforms are now purging.

4) Stay unplugged. Even if you cannot change your style of life right away, stay unplugged mentally and spiritually. Know that you will be needed when the time comes.

5) Don’t worry about what your friends think. Love them as you can and refer always to your moral compass.

6) Grieve the loss. Sob as you need. Stay awake. Be open for creativity. Trust that sanity may yet prevail and that you will have a role in humankind’s transformation.

7) Have fun. This is the most important adventure of your life, so don’t miss it.

In the words of the late great, Molly Ivins, I will close:

“So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds,
but don’t forget to have fun doin’ it. Be outrageous…
rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.
And when you get through celebrating the sheer joy of a good fight,
be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was!”