The Mindful Methodist

A Mystical Miscellany

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

—Elizabeth Taylor (via Goodreads)

A Beautiful Letter from Jackson Pollock’s Dad LeRoy to His Son

Thanks to the folks at Brain Pickings Weekly and Lapham’s Quarterly for putting this inspirational letter from father to not-yet-famous son in front of me.

"Dear Son Jack,

Well it has been some time since I received your fine letter. It makes me a bit proud and swelled up to get letters from five young fellows by the names of Charles, Mart, Frank, Sande, and Jack. The letters are so full of life, interest, ambition, and good fellowship. It fills my old heart with gladness and makes me feel ‘Bully.’ Well Jack I was glad to learn how you felt about your summer’s work & your coming school year. The secret of success is concentrating interest in life, interest in sports and good times, interest in your studies, interest in your fellow students, interest in the small things of nature, insects, birds, flowers, leaves, etc. In other words to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. I do not think a young fellow should be too serious, he should be full of the Dickens some times to create a balance.

I think your philosophy on religion is okay. I think every person should think, act & believe according to the dictates of his own conscience without too much pressure from the outside. I too think there is a higher power, a supreme force, a governor, a something that controls the universe. What it is & in what form I do not know. It may be that our intellect or spirit exists in space in some other form after it parts from this body. Nothing is impossible and we know that nothing is destroyed, it only changes chemically. We burn up a house and its contents, we change the form but the same elements exist; gas, vapor, ashes. They are all there just the same.

I had a couple of letters from mother the other day, one written the twelfth and one the fifteenth. Am always glad to get letters from your mother, she is a Dear isn’t she? Your mother and I have been a complete failure financially but if the boys turn out to be good and useful citizens nothing else matters and we know this is happening so why not be jubilant?

The weather up here couldn’t be beat, but I suppose it won’t last always, in fact we are looking forward to some snowstorms and an excuse to come back to the orange belt. I do not know anything about what I will do or if I will have a job when I leave here, but I am not worrying about it because it is no use to worry about what you can’t help, or what you can help, moral ‘don’t worry.’

Write and tell me all about your schoolwork and yourself in general. I will appreciate your confidence.

You no doubt had some hard days on your job at Crestline this summer. I can imagine the steep climbing, the hot weather, etc. But those hard things are what builds character and physic. Well Jack I presume by the time you have read all this you will be mentally fatigued and will need to relax. So goodnight, pleasant dreams and God bless you.

Your affectionate Dad”

A Beautiful Letter from Jackson Pollock’s Dad LeRoy to His Son

Thanks to the folks at Brain Pickings Weekly and Lapham’s Quarterly for putting this inspirational letter from father to not-yet-famous son in front of me.

"Dear Son Jack,

Well it has been some time since I received your fine letter. It makes me a bit proud and swelled up to get letters from five young fellows by the names of Charles, Mart, Frank, Sande, and Jack. The letters are so full of life, interest, ambition, and good fellowship. It fills my old heart with gladness and makes me feel ‘Bully.’ Well Jack I was glad to learn how you felt about your summer’s work & your coming school year. The secret of success is concentrating interest in life, interest in sports and good times, interest in your studies, interest in your fellow students, interest in the small things of nature, insects, birds, flowers, leaves, etc. In other words to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. I do not think a young fellow should be too serious, he should be full of the Dickens some times to create a balance.

I think your philosophy on religion is okay. I think every person should think, act & believe according to the dictates of his own conscience without too much pressure from the outside. I too think there is a higher power, a supreme force, a governor, a something that controls the universe. What it is & in what form I do not know. It may be that our intellect or spirit exists in space in some other form after it parts from this body. Nothing is impossible and we know that nothing is destroyed, it only changes chemically. We burn up a house and its contents, we change the form but the same elements exist; gas, vapor, ashes. They are all there just the same.

I had a couple of letters from mother the other day, one written the twelfth and one the fifteenth. Am always glad to get letters from your mother, she is a Dear isn’t she? Your mother and I have been a complete failure financially but if the boys turn out to be good and useful citizens nothing else matters and we know this is happening so why not be jubilant?

The weather up here couldn’t be beat, but I suppose it won’t last always, in fact we are looking forward to some snowstorms and an excuse to come back to the orange belt. I do not know anything about what I will do or if I will have a job when I leave here, but I am not worrying about it because it is no use to worry about what you can’t help, or what you can help, moral ‘don’t worry.’

Write and tell me all about your schoolwork and yourself in general. I will appreciate your confidence.

You no doubt had some hard days on your job at Crestline this summer. I can imagine the steep climbing, the hot weather, etc. But those hard things are what builds character and physic. Well Jack I presume by the time you have read all this you will be mentally fatigued and will need to relax. So goodnight, pleasant dreams and God bless you.

Your affectionate Dad”

If you have, let us say, a theory about man, and if you can only prove it by talking about Plato and George Washington, your theory may be quite a frivolous thing. But if you can prove it by talking about the butler or the postman, then it is serious, because it is universal. So far from it being irreverent to use silly metaphors on serious questions, it is one’s duty to use silly metaphors on serious questions. It is the test of one’s seriousness. It is the test of a responsible religion or theory whether it can take examples of pots and pans and boots and butter-tubs. It is a test of a good philosophy whether you can defend it grotesquely. It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

Chesterton sketchedG.K. Chesterton, from the chapter “Spiritualism” in his 1908 book All Things Considered

Image by Bill Rogers/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(via beingblog)

I heart G.K. Chesterton and beingblog…

XTC Versus a Fundy God

Maybe I’ve been in a shell all my life, but I had never heard XTC’s song “Dear God” (Skylarking, 1986, lyrics by Andy Partridge) until I heard it on 89.3 The Current this past Monday. The lyrics follow:

"Dear God"

Dear God, hope you got the letter, and…
I pray you can make it better down here.
I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer
but all the people that you made in your image, see
them starving on their feet ‘cause they don’t get
enough to eat from God, I can’t believe in you

Dear God, sorry to disturb you, but… I feel that I should be heard
loud and clear. We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
and all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting
in the street ‘cause they can’t make opinions meet about God,
I can’t believe in you

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue? Did you make
mankind after we made you? And the devil too!

Dear God, don’t know if you noticed, but… your name is on
a lot of quotes in this book, and us crazy humans wrote it, you
should take a look, and all the people that you made in your
image still believing that junk is true. Well I know it ain’t, and
so do you, dear God, I can’t believe in I don’t believe in

I won’t believe in heaven and hell. No saints, no sinners, no
devil as well. No pearly gates, no thorny crown. You’re always
letting us humans down. The wars you bring, the babes you
drown. Those lost at sea and never found, and it’s the same the
whole world ‘round. The hurt I see helps to compound that
Father, Son and Holy Ghost is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
and if you’re up there you’d perceive that my heart’s here upon
my sleeve. If there’s one thing I don’t believe in

it’s you….

Pretty powerful stuff!

I’m all for any artistic endeavor that takes a swipe at a fundamentalist vision of God. Ideas of “scriptural inerrancy” make people blind to the simple reality of Love. God is loving relationship. War is blasphemy. Double predestination is a cruel lie. Didn’t the Dalai Lama one claim kindness as his religion? He’s just might have something there.

Now that’s being the change you wish to see in the world…

Now that’s being the change you wish to see in the world…

(Source: seekingmindfulsoul)

The Peaceable Sing-dom?

"Let There Be Peace on Earth" is a popular hymn among Christian peacemakers. But what is the title "Let There Be Peace on Earth" telling us? Is there no peace on Earth right now? Sure, wars and injustice rage, but what’s the true reality - war or peace? And does the word "Let" suggest that peace-building is out of humankind’s hands? Is God the only source of peace, making our actions worthless and letting us off the hook for any violence - "The world is ’red of tooth and claw’, that’s just how it is." Is the hymn "Let There Be Peace on Earth" a beautiful but defeatist sentiment? Some Christians, including worship planners at my own congregation, think so.

Last Sunday at our annual church conference, we sang the hymn “Yes, There Is Peace on Earth.” The tune’s the same as “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” but a very minor tweak to the words brings about a subtle shift in perspective:

"Yes, there is peace on earth, and yes, it begins with me. Yes, there is peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God our creator, children all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony. Yes, peace begins with me; let this be the moment now. With every step I take let this be my solemn vow: To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Yes, there is peace on earth, and yes, it begins with me."

I like it! Violence is the illusion; peace reigns. Our job as images of the divine is to live into this peaceful reality. Yes indeed, there is peace on earth, and it does in fact begin with each and every one of us.

This drawing intrigues me. I can’t refute its main point - money concerns drive the church. How many rabble-rousing, honest-to-the-point-of-alienating-someone prophets are there in the mainline church today? Some, but not many. Denominations ask Senior Pastors to serve as CEOs and fundraisers, making prophetic statements financially risky. Angering a congregant with deep pockets could result in strained budgets, even church closure. Money concerns often make churches supporters of the status quo, hesitant to rock the boat for fear of chasing off high-income members.
Pastor Gregory Boyd of Woodland Hills Church has my respect for refusing to say that the United States is a Christian nation. His prophetic stance cost him 25% of his evangelical congregation. Last I heard, he’d added an even greater number of new members over the past few years. That’s courage paying off! In this instance, money took a back seat to nonviolent conviction.
Would I have done the same thing if I were in Greg’s shoes? Possibly. But then I’m a fundraiser by trade. Money and mysticism seldom mix. Give me Bonhoeffer over Osteen any day.

This drawing intrigues me. I can’t refute its main point - money concerns drive the church. How many rabble-rousing, honest-to-the-point-of-alienating-someone prophets are there in the mainline church today? Some, but not many. Denominations ask Senior Pastors to serve as CEOs and fundraisers, making prophetic statements financially risky. Angering a congregant with deep pockets could result in strained budgets, even church closure. Money concerns often make churches supporters of the status quo, hesitant to rock the boat for fear of chasing off high-income members.

Pastor Gregory Boyd of Woodland Hills Church has my respect for refusing to say that the United States is a Christian nation. His prophetic stance cost him 25% of his evangelical congregation. Last I heard, he’d added an even greater number of new members over the past few years. That’s courage paying off! In this instance, money took a back seat to nonviolent conviction.

Would I have done the same thing if I were in Greg’s shoes? Possibly. But then I’m a fundraiser by trade. Money and mysticism seldom mix. Give me Bonhoeffer over Osteen any day.

Shared from Scott Westerfeld’s blog on Goodreads.
This over-the-top letterhead is just one more reason - alongside Tesla Motors, the 80’s metal band, the character on Sanctuary, and the AC motor - to love the odd, and apparently brimming with confidence, Nikola Tesla.

Shared from Scott Westerfeld’s blog on Goodreads.

This over-the-top letterhead is just one more reason - alongside Tesla Motors, the 80’s metal band, the character on Sanctuary, and the AC motor - to love the odd, and apparently brimming with confidence, Nikola Tesla.