THE APOLLONIAN IDEAL

According to Nietzsche’s writing, my ideals would be called Apollonian

The Apollonian ideal according to which I live engenders

The isolation I have known

Sometimes despising it

Bare loneliness

Chasing learning, reading, practicing music, listening to music, writing

Pensive

All alone

Moving from one state to another

Across the borders of nations

Chasing schools, careers, saying goodbye

Assimilating the norms of new places

All alone, living alone, sleeping alone

Traveling alone—for business or edification, or it all

Times spent in solitude

Now enamored, in amour, estoy enamorado

Another soul in my solitude

Awakening love, awakened love, loving life, my life, the other

Loving even the Apollonian life I chose, choose still

In love with it all, enamorado de todo

TO RECAST A NARRATIVE

Outrage, grief, and pain pour forth from passion

From broken experiences of deep love

The other side of joy, ecstasy, and connection

Experiences of love fulfilled

Plato’s fear of passion nearly ended in renunciation of it all

He, Buddhists, the Hindu Sanyasis

Plato kept friendship, Buddhists kindness, Sanyasis peace

Into this Jesus was born with love

And recast the narrative

Giving place for grief, pain, and ecstasy

For sin, forgiveness, and new life

The great soul perfected in virtue recast

For a God who is near His children

Indifferent, diffident, vindictive Olympians recast

“That your joy may be complete.”

FROM THE WORLD OF MULTIPLICITY

Here in the world of duality, multiplicity, desire

I likely won’t grasp Unitary Self, Consciousness

I may see it in fragmentary glimpses

I may reason my way to it in Platonic fashion

But to merge, experience Self, Consciousness, unlikely

I likely won’t renounce, in fact, question

If renunciation be possible, or will out in ways

I read Vedanta and think, as I gaze at multiplicity

Language beyond name, form, and action

For Buddhist, Sanyasi, Taoist Sage

But likely not for me

The little toil of love is large enough for me

FOR EVERYTHING YOU ARE

I have been alone, but haven’t felt lonely

You have been single, but with a family

Now we are together, now my life is full

For everything you are, I am ever grateful

 

I am grateful, too, for all of your support

When I go through trials, you give me comfort

Your voice is always, “Yes;” you won’t allow me doubt

You assure me everything will all work out

 

I give thanks to God for everything that is you

In an uncertain world, you and your love is true

I just wanted you to know the way I feel

My love for you and faithfulness to you are real

You make my world complete through all you are and all you do

EXPECTATIONS OF THE GREAT SOUL

Aristotle’s “great soul,” high-minded,” “magnanimous” person expects, deserves

Great things—Which are . . . ?

The world’s greatest benefit is the attribution of honor

People find wealth, fame, and power attractive

But such things, and such people, are fatuous

The attribution of honor above all rests on the good person

Sadly, is this the way of the world?

Good people love the good, and honor attaches to love

Craving for honor can detach from love

Fatuous honor so acquired

Judgments, judgmental, praise and antipathy

The necessary tasks in self-perfection

Secular sins for psycho-babble, hence popular parlance

 

The great soul bears intervals of fortune with equanimity

And so expects not position, occupation, income

I expect, expected, position, occupation

I spat out my bitterness and contempt

“Take away the thought, ‘I have been harmed,’

“And you take away the harm.”

Taking Epictetus to heart, I rethought my expectations, my bitterness

The great soul, if he or she exist

In all things remains equanimous

I struggle; good men can

Perhaps in another world, or at another time

I’ll be at peace

Some glad morning

OUR OWN MIND

They say water seeks its own level

Some make it a matter of Karma

Put in strongest terms, its Fate

I prefer destiny

I’m certainly following my own path

In spite of the world’s exigencies

Sometimes partnering with the world’s exigencies

Funny how little I am affected by outside forces

I’m a man of my own mind

Doing my own thing and loving it

I now walk with another, together

We are of one mind in our individuality

We are doing our own thing and loving each other

Funny how little we are affected by outside forces

Seems like the currents of our streams sought each other

Though, in fact, improbable we ever would have met

And me antipathetical to the concept of Fate

Religious Post

Learn to Do Good

Rev. David J. Fekete, Ph.D.

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20                                             Luke 12:32-40                                     Psalm 50

No time like the present.  Eternity is now.  Heaven isn’t in the future, it’s here and now.  Now is when good feelings happen.  Now is when we seek truth.  Now is when peace and joy come into our lives.

Our reading from the Old Testament talks about sacrifices.  God tells the Israelites that God takes no pleasure in sacrifice.  God even exclaims, “who has asked this of you,/this trampling of my courts?”  What God is saying is that God never told the Israelites to sacrifice animals in the temple.  Yet sacrifice became the central way to worship for Israelites.

If you look at the early parts of the Old Testament, you will see a lot of laws and moral commands.  God tells the Israelites to protect the weaker people in society.  God tells them to care for the orphan, who has no adult male to feed, clothe, and give shelter.  Likewise, God tells the Israelites to care for widows, who also need food, shelter, and clothing since they have no adult male, or husband, to do this for them.

But with the rise of kingship, and with the building of the temple in Jerusalem by Solomon, animal sacrifice became the predominant form of worship, not moral living.  Making animal sacrifice the centre of worship was a man-made idea.  It is not what God wants.  God tells the Israelites specifically that God did not teach them to sacrifice animals,

For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ (Jeremiah 7:22-23)

God wants us to live good lives.

We don’t sacrifice animals.  But the Isaiah reading makes us think about externals of worship.  Externals are the rituals we do on Sunday.  Externals are chanting the Psalms, listening to Bible readings, singing hymns, praying, hearing sermons, and taking communion.  They are called externals because they are behaviors that we do.  You can do all these things without having your heart in them.  You can just go through the motions.  You can go through the motions, and think you’re saved.  But if your heart is in them, they can have much power and meaning.

So this morning, I thought that I’d invite us to think about worship on Sunday morning.  Due to the financial issues we are dealing with it strikes me as something valuable to do.  So let’s first consider why we come to church.  Why do we take a few hours on Sunday to come here?  Let’s also think about what we like in church.  What parts of worship do we like?  Is it singing?  Is it the Bible readings?  Is it my sermons?  What do we like about church?  Another thing to think about is what happens to us in church?  Do we feel uplifted?  Do we experience a closeness to God?  Does the noise in our heads quiet?  Do we find an hour of peace?  Do we feel a connection and mutual love in the church community?  Do we come away from church different than when we arrive?

Another way to get at this subject is to ask different kinds of questions.  These may be hard to hear, but we are in a safe environment.  We can ask ourselves what we would miss if there were no church.  What aspect of our religious life would be gone without a church?  I hope that the answer to these questions would be something other than the rituals we do here.  I would hope that there is something in us that we would lose touch with without church.

Now we think about today’s Isaiah reading.  We realize that being religious isn’t only going to church.  Let’s think about what we get out of church.  What is there we can take out of church into the world?  Because if we don’t carry out into the world the spirituality we experience in church, we are like the Israelites who put all their faith in the ritual of animal sacrifice.  We would be putting our faith in the externals of worship, not what is in our hearts.  Maybe we leave church feeling inspired, and we bring that feeling of inspiration into the world.  Maybe we learn a new religious principle that we apply in our lives outside church.  Remember Swedenborg’s statement that, “All religion relates to life, and the religious life is doing good.”  In fact, real sacred space isn’t inside these walls.  Real sacred space is in the world around us where we do good to others and show our love for the neighbor.

Along these lines is another hard question.  What would we do without a Swedenborgian identity?  We can echo the words of Jeremiah in relationship to this church.  In Jeremiah, as we have heard, God says, “For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Our forefathers debated the very formation of this denomination.  Swedenborg himself never founded this church.  It was readers of Swedenborg in England who made the decision to start up a new denomination.  Many important voices said that the New Church was not meant to be a denomination.  Among these voices was Henry James, Sr. who wrote a pamphlet on that subject, titled, “The Church of Christ not an Ecclesiasticism: A Letter to a Sectarian.”  You can imagine God’s voice, maybe, saying, “I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning a new denomination.”

Where would we be without a Swedenborgian identity?  I faced this question a few weeks back.  I considered transferring my ministry to the United Church.  I wondered what it would be like not to self-identify as a Swedenborgian anymore.  What would it be like to be a United minister?  In a way it was surprisingly liberating.  I no longer would look out at the world from the small minority world of Swedenborg, who no one has heard of, and some who have heard of us think us a cult.  Being a Swedenborgian can mean an us and the other mentality.  And since everyone in the world practically isn’t a Swedenborgian, we see the whole world as the other.  If I’m not Swedenborgian, then I’m not apart from the world, but I’m among everybody else.  Put in its most extreme form, we can also think that being Swedenborgian alone means we’re saved.  But take away the label, and where are we?  It was men in 18th century England who gave us this label.  Maybe it is doing more harm than good.

So we ask, what is meaningful in church?  Why do we come to church?  What would we miss if there were no church?  And finally, who would we be without the label of Swedenborg?  Challenging questions indeed.  But good questions to ask as we consider the future of this church.  And more importantly, good questions to ask in relation to our spiritual process.

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