Tuesday, July 27, 2010

If Love is the Answer, then what is the Question?

Art as Spiritual and Political Tools
I have gathered a few pictures to demonstrate these simple words, that is, art (images) can be a powerful source of spiritual and political teachings for both the conscious and unconscious quest for love. I started off writing about something else and Spirit had other things in mind! This post is about love!
Blessing! Rev. Qiyamah

Indigenous Art (from website) In the context of my theme (agape love)this art reminds me that in the midst of lifes struggles, ugliness, celebrations and beauty love can be found if we look for it and expect to find it. Too many of us give up and cease to look for it (including yours truly). In the words of my Holiness and Pentocostal brothers and sisters, I repent and rebuke that which would dispossess me of love. In the affirmations and words of Religious Science and Science of Mind, I am more than good enough to experience all my love and all my good. And so it is!

Rev. Carlton and Makala (daughter of Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons and Ami Santos-Lyons)
I have titled this picture Extended Family Love

Contemporary Love - In the end, love is all there is! Looks fade, money can be lost or stolen, our material belongings can be destroyed but in the end love endures!

Earth Mother (from unknown website)I chose this beautiful graphic because of its universal symbolism of the mother who is depicted here as both alluring (beautiful and appealing) and fierce and deadly if crossed. She holds a child in her embrace that is mostly hidden (part of her protective qualities). Her presence draws attention away from her child so as not to subject it to dangers (seen and unseen). Notice that she has claws with feet pictured below. I believe these are for protection. She is both part human and part animal. The animal is savage and deadly when activated. You do not want to tamper with the animal in Earth Mother. Upon closer observation this same warrior element is depicted in Earth Mother's dress. It reminds me of the Bible verse, ...put on the full armor of god. While colorful with beautiful textures and designs if you look closer it resembles a protective piece of clothing that can serve many purposes. Finally, the sky is filled with shells, a sign of water and the sea. Water cleanses and is a source of food and pleasure. It is one of our greatest resources. Earth Mother is both saddened and angry about the "oil spill" in the gulf. Let it be a warning! Let us not forget that we are stewards of the earth and that we have important work (internally and externally) that we are called to do while here on earth.

Interfaith Conversations and Love
As many of us pursue interfaith ministries there are some general principles that provide common ground for our interactions and actions. These common foci in the world's religions include: 1. goal of alleviating human suffering; 2. avoiding harm to others; 3. striving toward empathy, that is, learning to identify with the needs of others, especially those most vulnerable and 4. primacy of agape love, that is, a love that exceeds all things. Agape love seeks the well being of others. All the world's great religions both teach and assume the priority of love in religious practice. Agape love means feeling and expressing pure, unlimited love for every human being with no exception. Platonic love (shared between friends) and eros or romantic love, shared by partners and lovers pales in comparison to agape love. Agape love is not directed toward a single person or small group but toward all humanity. Agape love cannot be captured within the limitations of language but must be displayed in some of the following ways: good will, kindness, forgiveness in the face of great injury, compassion and sacrifice.

Some scholars contend that the great poet Rumi was intoxicated with the love of god. Others believe he was in love with a human being. Readingne of his poems certainly conveys the depth of his love. But who was the object of his love? We cannot say for certain but we do know that his skill rendering of words allow us even today to feel his deep emotions that existed:

O love, o pure deep love
be here, be now.
Be all: worlds dissolve
into your stainless endless
Frail living leaves burn with you
brigher than cold stars;
Make me your servant,
Your breath, your core.
Rumi/Persian sufi Poet

Buddhism - The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy. This llove is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance (including self acceptance). Love in Buddhism refers to something quite different from the ordinary term of love which is usually about attachment, more or less successful relationships and sex, all of which are rearely without self interest. Instead, in Buddhism love refers to de-tachment and the unselfish interest in others welfare.

Native American - Manitongquat, a Native American poet, contends that,life is the Sacred Mystery singing to itself, dancing to its drum, telling tales, improvising, playing and that we are all that Spirit. Our stories will but one cosmic story that we are love indeed, that perfect love in me seeks the love in you, and if our eyes could ever meet without fear we would recognize each otehr and rejoice, for love is life believing in itself.

- The Prophet Micah in 6:8 says, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God."

1 Corinthians 13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Islam - Surely (as for) those who believe and do good deeds for them will Allah bring about love Quran - Marium 96

Closing - This post has provided my morning reading, research and recitation. I thank you for that. In closing I share with you the words of a pastor, a Catholic priest, Rev. Dr. Michael L. Pfleger from St. Sabina. I had the opportunity to visit this Sunday, July 25. If you have not experienced the range of Catholic worship then you want to get yourself to St. Sabina. You would think that you were at a Baptist revival or UCC Trinity. This formerly all white church and neighborhood has transitioned to all black (or nearly). They have brought the cultural worship elements of the traditional black church and melded it with the Catholic culture and tradition. Worship was three hours plus and included: praise time prior to actual service, announcements (traditional in any church), bible readings 1st reading: Genesis 18:20-32 and 2nd reading: Colossians 2:12-14 and Luke 11:1-13. Their choir, small but powerful includes an array of musicians that can truly get down! That combined with some gifted vocalists brought the spirit into the place. Things get loud - loud music, loud exhortations, loud preaching. If you don't like loud this is not the church for you. At different times Father Pflager and the pianists lifted up the immortal words of Kirk Franklin exclaiming, "Make some noise up in here." And they/we did!

What I wanted to leave you with are Father Pflager's words about worship. He stated that true worship opens up a realm of imagination where we can see a world of possibilities. In this world of imagination you can imagine a world where nobody is hungry, no violence, joyfulness and peace endure. He called the members to the altar where the praise dancers had previously rendered joyful movements and the vocalist in his white tennis shoes, with white vest, jeans and shirt showed that you could be fashion conscious and devout at the same time! I loved the experience of everyone coming up to the altar.

As my elders say, "Truly God was in the place."

Question: When was the last time you gave yourself over to worship? to connecting with whatever you identify as the sacred and holy and communed in the presence of the I Am?

Isn't it about time? Do not deny yourself the gift of imagination and sacred mystery!
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

ps The documentary, "Radical Disciple" is about Father Pflager. It will air on PBS, WTTW, Channel 11 on Wednesday, August 4th at 8pm and again on Sunday, August 8th at 4pm. The documentary captures his activism, passion and charisma, while exploring issues of racism, theology, and the role of the media.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tiger Woods

I realize this post is after the fact. But Junee Hunt, a friend, nailed the whole situation so succinctly I could not resist posting it to my blog. So here it is, the low down on Tiger Woods from the sistahs!

(for more posts on a variety of topics you can read more from Junee Hung. Go to http://wwwakaziaj.blogspot.com)

Tiger Woods
Am I the only one who feels like, enough already on the TW. Tiger is a rich, nerd, dummy. Yeah I said it. He might be the best in golf, but he has failed miserably in the game of life and relationships. I don't go along with the whole sex addict thing, but clearly dude's got major issues.

Tiger has some valuable lessons to learn and sadly his wife and children will have to attend the classes with him. Tiger thought his honorary white boy status would protect him. Not. As one writer said, Tiger is the new O.J. He was allowed acceptance into main stream culture and afforded all the perks, including a "nice" blond girl (OTFL) and he showed his natural born Caublasian ass (it's rumored literally). For this my dear boy you will have to pay the price.

Tiger, I don't know if the black community will allow you to come home in that: a) you never embraced your blackness and b) some claim black women are mad because you didn't cheat with any of us. Now I disagree with this. Sisters, this is one hot mess we should be thankful we were left out of.

At the end of the day, Tiger, his wife and all his jump offs will be just fine. Everybody will get at least one check to clear. Now the rest of us must return to more pressing matters, such as youth violence, homelessness, foreclosures, health care access and our children's ability to compete in a global economy.