Monday, June 7, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Entrenched scriptural literalism is, in my
opinion, completely out of touch with reality.

Malcolm Boyd, Episcopal priest, author
(“Are You Running with me Jesus?”),
born on this date, 1923

Elizabeth Taylor has more chins than
the Chinese telephone directory.

Joan Rivers, comedienne, born on this date, 1933

What a choice today! Muhammad died – but I didn’t dare say ANYTHING about him lest a fatwa was issued to murder me! (Just kidding; if I wanted to, I would.) It’s Episcopal priest Malcolm Boyd’s birthday; he was born in 1923 and is still going strong at 87. It’s Joan Rivers birthday – she’s 77 today! The great poet Dante was born (at least according to some calendars) in 1265. Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect, was born in 1867. So, you can see who I chose!

So-called “facts” about people like Jesus or Muhammad or the Buddha or Zoroaster or Confucius (or George Washington, or my grandmother, for that matter) – in so far as such “facts” are accurate or knowable – are at best a two-dimensional picture. Flat, no depth. They acquire the depth, the richness, over time, as stories are told and experiences related by their followers or loved ones. As their greatness and wisdom unfolds, their Reality becomes more so. Jesus has certainly become more “real” to me as He has informed and shaped my Life. Malcolm is right, in my opinion. Alas, much of World religion has fallen into a fearful Literalism – and the state of the World reflects it.

I’ll bet – at least I hope that – Elizabeth Taylor had the class to laugh when she heard Joan’s joke!! One reason Joan could “get away with it”, of course, is that she dished it out to herself as well. She said, “I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio.” And: “I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I'd look like without plastic surgery.”

Joan reminds us that we need to be able to see the truth about ourselves. That we are human and need to give ourselves a lot of slack. And not to take things so “seriously” – especially other people’s opinions. Being able to laugh at ourselves and our foibles is a much quicker path to well-being than anger and self-hate.

Today’s “holy work”? Reach into Mystery and Myth. And laugh at yourself at least three times!


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