August 10, 2021

01

Morant’s Curve Train B Panorama 09/20/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Alberta
Religion exists by virtue of
extortion and bribery.

They both have temporal and eternal aspects.

Extortion's temporal expressions
take the form of shunning/banning/exclusion
and excommunication.
And its eternal expression 
is hell with its torture and anguish.

Bribery's temporal form is Baptism 
and Communion 
and their assurances of the blessings
of God's grace and forgiveness,
and the supportive presence 
of the Communion of the Saints.
And its eternal form is the promise
of the glories of heaven everlasting.

There is something to get from religion,
and something to avoid having.
That is why we should be religious.

Spirituality takes the AA path
of "attraction not promotion/coercion,"
and trusts the joy and satisfaction
of living out of our own original nature
to be enough to keep us involved 
with the tasks of spiritual practice.

"Sincerity and spontaneity, 
not contrivance/exploitation/manipulation"
is the anchoring orientation of spirituality,
which eschews theology, doctrine, and dogma
in favor of the personal experience
of numinous, ineffable, reality
through art, music, nature
and the right kind of relationships with other people,
as the means to find the support necessary
to sustain adherents path through life.

Believing that the way we live matters--to us
and to "The Way"--and having faith in oneself
to have what is needed to find what is needed
to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
lead to the realization 
that we already are spiritual beings.

Knowing that is to take up the work of being who we are--
finding and living our life--
the life that is our life to live,
by doing what has life for us
within the context and circumstances of our living.

Balancing the opposites,
integrating the contradictions,
bearing the pain of polarities and contraries,
in harmonizing the forces of good and bad,
right and wrong, etc.
within all the relationships t
hat define and limit our life.

Our spiritual practice comes down to
understanding that we all are Sisyphus
rolling his rock up the hill,
following it down the hill,
to roll it back up the hill,
and that the real work of being Sisyphus
is to develop an attitude and demeanor 
that allows us to accept our work
and find joy, satisfaction and purpose
in our life 
throughout the time left for living.

Saying, "YES!", to life just as it is
is the spiritual task of life,
and it is the simple secret
of being fully alive in the life 
that is ours to live,
in each situation as it arises.

–0–

02

Dogwood View 01 04/17/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The ground of happiness,
joy and satisfaction
is found in living 
to honor,
exhibit
and express our original nature
("the face that was ours
before we were born)
within the context and circumstances
of our life,
by serving and sharing
the gifts/daemon(sounds like "diamond")/
shtick/specialties/qualities/virtues/
knacks/interests/etc
that came with us from the womb
in each situation as it arises
all our life long--
by doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
moment by moment,
day by day,
forever.

If you can do better than that,
do it!

–0–

03

Foggy Morning on Lake Brandt Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
Blaise Pascal wrote (in 1654), 
“All of humanity's problems stem 
from man's inability to sit quietly 
in a room alone.” 

Adam and Eve were sure 
they could improve on Paradise,
and we have been at it ever since.

"Making Things Better"
could be the motto of every age.

All the wars,
and the genocide,
and the crusades,
and the heresy trials,
and the witch hunts, 
and the colonization,
and the planned conquest of space...
are all about Making Things Better.

For whom?
By when?

The questions are not asked.
The quest has its own momentum.
All we know is we need some relief.
Our Spirit, Energy, and Vitality
have gone flat.
Our Balance and Harmony 
are tangled and fighting it out.
Anything would be better than this.
And off we go.

Even if we only take our mind
off our misery,
it will be worth it for a while.

We can't stand being alone
with our own company.

Let's have ourselves a little war.
Take over some nation.
Get our mind off our troubles
by making trouble for someone else.

It's the best we can do.
If we could think of something better,
we would be on it.
"Like the white on mashed potatoes."

Blaise Pascal was talking about us.

We are a dissatisfied lot.
And need to be entertained,
distracted, cheered-up.
Continually.

Maybe, if we sought the Center,
we could find all the adventure
we can manage
stirring within.

Who is game?

The chase is on!

–0–

04

Lake Martin Sunset 02 05/24/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Beaux Bridge, Louisiana
What's your shtick?
Your specialty?
Your "thing"?

What is "it" for you?
What makes your little heart sing
and your little toes dance?

What is  your deep joy
and the love of your life?

What, when you are engaged in it,
makes time stand still,
or makes the minutes fly by
so that you can't believe
how long you have been at it?

How do you build your life around it?
How do you blend it into your life?
How does your life harmonize
with your bliss
to create rapture and radiance,
wonder and beauty?

If you know what I am talking about,
keep doing what you are doing!

If you have no idea of what I am talking about,
ponder the matter of your soul's true joy,
and see where you are blocking the way,
turning aside from the path,
and refusing to follow the impulse
of your heart's true love.

And get with the program!

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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