Friday, April 28, 2006

Existential questions are infinitely complex... sort of.

One of the central tenets of my approach to the world, for the last two and a half months or so, is that there is a thing we might label "apparent reality" that describes what is percieved, and a thing we might label "absolute reality" that describes what is, and which sometimes encompasses part of the former. (It seems worth mentioning.)

Fractal: Recursively constructed or self-similar, that is, a shape that appears similar at all scales of magnification (and is therefore often referred to as "infinitely complex.)"
Reference: Fractal

Kathy made a post entitled, what is reality? and shared several quotations that approach the subject. It reminded me of the question, "Who am I?"

I cannot seem to describe who I am. Describing my activities doesn't come close. Describing myself by making statements of relationship; me, a less-finite thing, in relation to other more-finite things, starts to sketch out something nebulous, yet formed, from afar... and infinite in detail under magnification.

Thus (not explaining the thought process) my conclusion; I am a fractal.

What is reality? Same fractal.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

An imagined Sufi discourse

"Some doors open only from the inside."

"How does one open such a door?"

"Leave a void outside the door and it will open. Be present outside the door and it cannot."

"How might one walk through such a door, that will close when I approach?"

"Nothing can pass through these doors."

Inspired by a wonderful quote at the Bamboo Shade blog. Also brought to you by my tendency to think literally, the number ninety-two, and the letter A.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Role of an Architect

JBMoore made a thoughtful comment over on Imemine's blog to which I wanted to respond at length:

Discovery is basic science. Invention is applied science. Discovery is asking how or why does the World operate the way it does and finding an answer. The answer (knowledge) is the reward itself. Invention is applying what you know about the World to make something useful for yourself and others. The invention or its benefits is the reward. Discovery is the child of curiosity. Invention is the child of necessity. Sometimes, they overlap, but that depends on the person. Some minds can discover and invent, but with the way science and engineering are taught these days, two different mindsets exist. It's the difference between being an architect and being a structural engineer. An architect is an artist and designer. The building is art. To a structural engineer, the building is a bunch of materials positioned to defy gravity and look like something similar to what the architect drew.

I feel that my role is one of discovery far more than of invention.

In fact, I honestly don't think I've ever invented anything. As somebody who is seen by others as possessing creative gifts, it was at first a blow to come to such a realization. Doesn't bother me in the slightest anymore. I have always been an observer; my strength, synthesis.

My work deals in discovering potential Even in design, it is a gathering and reordering of sometimes-disparate elements from sometimes-disparate sources.

Can there really, truly, be any quality of space or light that is new, that has never been experienced in some form or another?

And in the ideal form, a detail is a celebration, bringing together disparate surfaces, materials.

My photographic work only draws out the beauty in what is. Drawing? Much the same. Even if I draw from imagination, the idea came from somewhere. Perhaps God. Perhaps my subconscious. It doesn't matter. Ceramics? My best work comes through an iterative process, from uncovering the potential in unexpected results. I invent nothing. I discover much.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


A friend (two generations my elder) commented during a conversation about my last post that sex isn't sacred anymore... which got me to thinking. I wonder if anything is sacred anymore? It seems that, in society-at-large, nothing is; it seems that everything is of equal null-value, a parlaying device or some sort of currency, but hardly sacrosanct. Individuals vary; what say you?

I'd rather experience life in sacramental fashion. Try not to get caught in the rush of life or forget that we can step off the treadmill at any time, to slow down and enjoy it. Every moment and every act could be a wonderful one, carried out with love, care, attention, presence of mind. The rush of action and deadlines can be exhilarating, can be exhausting. Moments of silence and solitude, indeed, even might be carried through daily life, rather than left on the doorstep.

Makes me have a strong suspicion that Heinlein was onto something when he wrote "Stranger in a Strange Land".

An appropriate evening for Mozart's Requiem, making dough to bake rolls tomorrow, and some time sitting under the stars.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The followup post, in which Julie declares her priorities.

(Suggestions for what follows "in which" in the title are welcome.)

RKJ replied to my previous post,
So Julie, I'm not sure you've given us much insight into the comparison between lepers and gay people. It seems many people are interested in taking a stand against hypocrisy in the church (or bigotry or stupidity) and who would like to be for any of those things? But how are gay people like lepers? Jesus was not afraid to touch lepers but he didn't leave them as lepers either. I understand your petition rebellion. Now what about the people. To call a gay person a leper is to invoke imagery of decay and disease which cannot be left alone if one is truly compassionate. Where does your analogy end?

No, I sure haven't given any insight into the comparison, and my word choice is potentially even misleading. At best it is a very loose analogy, because it means more to me, because of what I associate, than to the reader. This post is better thought out but at times I am frustrated, sarcastic, angry, impassioned, and very personal. I normally seek to be thoughtful and balanced. I don't want to make a pretty little neat argument in this post. I am tired of the status quo. Let's talk about turning over tables.

Most of this is "I don't know but there is something far more important." There's no stunning theological argument to be had here. There's just an argument about priority. I'd like to tell you, hey, this is just how I see things for myself and you're welcome to differ... but I'd be lying to try and avoid conflict. I'm convinced that this argument about priority is absolutely right for every single human being.

The argument is this: love comes first. I don't mean sissy love from afar without getting our hands dirty. I mean gritty, real, messy, beautiful, difficult love. (I could more easily show you than tell you, but this is a blog; please forgive my words for falling short.) Doing what Christ did in coming to earth. Sitting down and caring for people with no agenda whatsoever. To be one of those people whose qualities I mentioned in an earlier post:

... approachable, accepting, slow to anger, slow to judge, quick to pardon, seeking to understand, seeking to love, seeking to do right. They create a space where the tide of fear is held back, where no secret is too dark, no failure too deep, where any uncertainty is permitted. Where our humanity can be laid bare without shame or judgement.

In light of that, on to my comment about making lepers out of gays.

Before I start generalizing about "the church", I ought to tell the reader my background, because this is far from a balanced view, and there are plenty of churches and church people (hopefully) who differ from my primary experience. My family's Catholic and believes "you shouldn't show support for the gay lifestyle" such as by socializing with a gay couple (although just half the couple is okay, I guess). My friends in college were mostly Pentecostal and believed that homosexuality was something you needed healing or to be set free from. I also attended a 'nondenominational' Christian church that was nonetheless to the fundamentalist side a la Moody Bible Institute. These are my influences and views of the "Christian" "church;" again, I am aware that many individuals differ from the official views with which people have attempted to indoctrinate me. And so when I refer to "the church", it is some aggregate of these official groups, and much more about negative characteristics than positive ones.

What I was trying to express is that the church, by standing against gay marriage, is making gays unwelcome, casting them out. In a some ways, treating them the way 'good' people treated lepers, labelling them as unclean and somehow less than human. I don't like the spirit of the thing.

How does that model the love of Christ?

Well gee, what an effective way to drive people away from Christ! It's pretty darn easy to see condemnation written all over stuff like that to see "Christians" and thus God as hateful and condemning, not just of actions but of people. I'm not saying either of those are or are not the intended message of any person or of any church body, I'm saying that it's easy enough to receive that message from those actions.

How does that model the love of Christ?

RKJ wrote, "To call a gay person a leper is to invoke imagery of decay and disease which cannot be left alone if one is truly compassionate." That's another place where the analogy fits, to a point... so even while "the church" produces the clean-unclean relationship, individual Christians who "have it right" try to produce the Christ-leper relationship that RKJ has so nicely summarized. The difference here is that the leper knows he is sick... does the homosexual? And is there really anything wrong with him? And what are the effects of trying to help somebody that doesn't think they need help? And what if there really isn't anything wrong, and it's the splinter versus the log? Riddle me that!

How does that model the love of Christ?

Is there any argument being made today about homosexuality, to justify condemning people or behavior, to which we couldn't respond "the Pharisees said that about..." Does that scare anybody besides me?

How does that model the love of Christ?

To my family, I say, how would your friend and his partner feel when you refuse to go out to dinner together? Are they really going to believe it's just on principle? (Oh, it's just a misunderstanding? Well then who is going to take responsibility for making real communication occur?)

How does that model the love of Christ?

Of course the question is bound to come up, what do I think? I'm talking about it here on my blog and saying why gay marriage should not be outlawed, because it drives people from Christ, (I could also make an argument for discrimination), but that doesn't address the morality of homosexuality. These are two different conversations that most people do not separate or think should be separate.

If somebody asks me if I believe homosexuality is wrong, then I'll say I don't feel qualified to make a judgement on that. Because I don't, I'm not convinced that I know God's heart in the matter. If you press me? I'll say f*** it, if you will think I love you any less or any different because you think I have the audacity to think you are "living in sin" then no, it's not wrong. If anything at all stops me from loving extravagantly, than f*** it, that's gotta go. That is the pearl of great price. That is what it means to be willing to forsake everything to follow Christ.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Making lepers in 2006.

I am not in the habit of writing posts that haven't been deeply thought out, but here is one. The rest will be written later.

At Mass, we were encouraged to sign a petition for Illinois defining marriage as being legal union only between a man and a woman. I couldn't do it, somehow, and spent much of the afternoon and evening in meditation and prayer.

Can't anybody see that this business with gay marriage is the lepers all over again!?

Oh, God, painful. And we "Christians" want to do it again, how blind are we! I will not, cannot be silent on this. People might start hearing from rocks otherwise.