Posts Tagged ‘earth’

Birds, dinosaurs, and Jonathan Franzen

January 9, 2014

I read this while waiting for a meeting with an accountant this morning:

But I think that really, in the history of the planet, there have been two kinds of amazing animal developments. One is us–in terms of totally transforming things–and the dinosaurs were the other. And the birds are what became of dinosaurs. The dinosaurs retooled instead of lumbering around, crashing around, earthbound. They got all light and they got feathers, truly one of the remarkable adaptations in the history of evolution.

It’s from an interview with Jonathan Franzen in Audubon Magazine from April of last year.

I ought to visit with the number crunching set more often.

Well, I was so excited to read someone relate humans and dinosaurs to each other in a way that makes sense to me (I sometimes think of it myself in terms half-siblings, as if dinosaurs and humans are earth’s children from different marriages) — and then relate it to birds and a (human) affinity or love for birds!   Wow.  We try to become light and airy in our thinking or meditating — in our mental processes — the dinosaurs achieved it physically.

Now I want to read some of Franzen’s work — I am hoping to enjoy the way his mind works in his fiction, too.

Subduing the earth and the Republican war against women

March 31, 2013

They seem to me to come out of the same place, the urge to “subdue” the earth and to interfere with a woman’s self-determination.  When they gets enshrined in religion, or couched in terms of claims to divine support, well, then to me, it just looks like the reduction of religion to an expression of conflicted feelings towards parents.

Some people apparently have difficulty with the fact that they were once dependent on their mothers.  While I don’t think mothers experience this as a power relationship, maybe some adolescents don’t realize that, if they themselves are going through a stage of experiencing their relationship with their parents as a power struggle.  The mothers of some people die in childbirth, and I imagine that would complicate feelings towards one’s mother.  Attitudes such as these I think have crept into accounts of our world and our place in it in religious texts and political platforms.

What I speculate from my layperson’s armchair is that some of this “subdue the earth, restrict women” attitude comes from trying to destroy the thing itself the reaction to which is making the reactor uncomfortable.  “Kill the messenger” is a similar strategy.

A way to avoid doing this is to be more aware of the emotional roots of one’s behavior.

I had a friend who became a widow about three years before I did, and she, an intelligent, savvy, and wealthy businesswoman, used to tell me how she avoided opening envelopes that came in the mail, or even giving them to her financial adviser or accountant.  She was able to gently laugh at herself, and eventually. I think, when she was ready to deal with the tangled issues, she and her team did.  Some of the issues weren’t easy, and she had that widow experience during some of the untangling of feeling, for all the pieces of help one is given, she was still alone in a way she wasn’t before.

With looking into our more abstract envelopes, we may find tangled issues, too, but they are likewise amenable to being untangled.  I think the difficult emotional experience that people may be trying to avoid there is seeing the world as it is.  For all our human desire to have changed things so that we control what we want to control, we don’t and we won’t.  But that’s a good thing, I think, because, really, I think we have no idea what we’re doing because we perceive so little of the big picture.

One particular guide I would offer is to distinguish a painful experience from one that “shouldn’t happen” — the former is an all-too-large category, the latter I’m not sure even exists.  Like water encountering obstacles as it runs down to the sea, the issue is how we respond to things.  I think we’re here to learn, not to enjoy life as if it were some carnival ride, or to try to change the “ride.”  But that’s just my own sense of things.

Mary and the earth

November 16, 2012

Somebody has asked me how praying to Mary (for example, in Catholicism) relates to connecting with the earth as I described in the post just before this one.

To my way of thinking, the two are related, but connecting with the earth goes beyond connecting with Mary — it goes deeper and connects to something bigger and more powerful.  But I could conceptualize them as lined up with one another in some way, maybe concentrically and one in front of the other.

Chthonic faith

November 16, 2012

This relates back to my previous post — it’s some of my ponderings.

It occurred to me that one of the distinctions between the oracles and folks we might call prophets is that oracles commune(d), I think, with sort of subterranean spirits or forces, and prophets commune with a God out there and up there sort of in the heavens.

In fact, the subterranean spirits came to have a really negative reputation.  Do we have a male figure who communed with subterranean forces in an amicable interaction?  One without anger at or fear of such a force?

What I’m wondering is that a person can’t have a balanced view of the spiritual realm without having plugged in to both sets of forces, and that men find plugging into chthonic forces more difficult.  Maybe this difficulty became transformed into rejection of such forces as “evil.”  They’re not, I don’t think; I think they are just more reactive to our own small imperfections.  I think they just require the person to engage in a certain kind of surrender that is better supported for women in Western culture.

So, I think, to develop a connection such as the oracles of old had, it takes a certain style of surrender (sincere and complete, no element of playing at it at all — “no holding back,” as Jackson Browne writes about something else in “Sky Blue and Black”) and it also takes addressing the surrender inwards and downwards.  I’m not sure lots of Western religious practices encourage that.

What I get when I engage in it includes a connection with the earth.

We have Earth Day, but nevertheless I think she’d like it if more people “called home,” to her.  Like my sons’ kindergarten teacher who wondered whether my older son didn’t like her because he didn’t smile at her, the earth, I think, could use the explicit expression of our affection.

It’s Friday evening, and while I’m not going to Friday Night Shabbat Services tonight, I am reminded of the image of Shabbat as a bride, I think it goes.  Mother Earth, Father Sky, Adonai and a female companion, God’s light side and God’s dark side, yin and yang, Shiva and Kali (do I have the right pairing?) — I think we need wholeness in divinity, or balance in the forces of the universe (for those who prefer the impersonal version of what I’m trying to get at).

Earth and moon

April 5, 2012

I was reading about the commonality of a chemical element on the moon and the earth and how it implies that a hypothesis about the moon being composed at least in large part from material from an interloping, crashing body from space doesn’t seem to be true.

It made me wonder whether the moon is sort of like Adam’s rib, where Adam is the earth.

Jupiter and Earth

February 26, 2012

I was thinking about the planet Jupiter, especially the hypothesis that it’s a failed second star in a binary star system.  And I was thinking about how with all our electric lights, I imagine our planet Earth now appears somewhat lit up.  So I’m thinking that maybe that light show could be thought of as Earth’s memorial to Jupiter.

I was actually going to try to write that idea up as a poem, because I think it would “go down” better as a piece of art than as a sort of peculiar prosaic idea, but I’m not feeling poetic or energetic enough to try to express it in the language of art.


February 21, 2012

I saw a clip of Rick Santorum declaring his take on the appropriate relationship between people and the earth.  It was something implying that people and people’s needs are primary, an assumption that the needs of the earth somehow will take care of themselves buried beneath it.

There is no necessity for the earth to exist as she does, but if she doesn’t, neither will we.  Like our human mothers, she is not impervious to her dependents’ treatment of her, she is not made of teflon and she does not contain infinite reserves or the capability to continue a dynamic process of recycling of materials and energy if there is a net outflow out of the system completely.

In the context of the universe, it doesn’t matter, we and the earth can die out, and the energy released can be used elsewhere.

The earth is ambivalent about us, I think, and I think she had a better, more symbiotic relationship with other of her creatures (like the dinosaurs).  I think the friction between ourselves and the earth has to do with our genesis, and the role of elements foreign to her that were involved.  I think there was, maybe still is, a way to resolve that ambivalence in a positive way for both earth and people.

Rick Santorum may feel a great surge of dismay when he hears positions on social issues that are at odds with his belief system, I don’t know.  But I feel a huge surge of dismay when I hear what he says, because I know where behavior based on his assumptions leads.