Tuesday, 26 May 2009

An ode to fair trade

XIV.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip;--with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XV.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

XVI.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?--
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?--
Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts
Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?--
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

from Isabella or the Pot of Basil, by John Keats
The latest post at CAUTE, about money and relationships, reminded me in part of these stanzas by Keats, which make the connections between trade and exploitation explicit. As Andrew Brown suggests,
The challenge we have in this modern society is how we (you and me) might reconnect our moral and ethical selves with our money [and] see anew that our money's value is always tied up in how it is used.
If we buy clothes that have been made in a third world sweatshop, or invest in funds that support the purchase of tanks and guns, or experimentation on animals, isn't our money turning an easy wheel, that sets sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The republic of heaven on earth

Those Christian synchrobloggers are at it again, this time with a series of posts about the Kingdom of God.

Well now, I'm a member of the republic of heaven on earth - the Divine is, after all, immanent in Nature, and the universe is a theophany (a divine manifestation) but I would say the "kingdom of God" (or whichever label you prefer) is already here.  All those who are seeking enlightenment by whatever religious or spiritual path are fully signed-up members of the Republic.  As Yeshua himself said, "The Kingdom of God is all around you and you do not see it." and "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).  He also taught his disciples (who weren't listening, as usual) how to access the awareness of the divine presence (aka "Kingdom of God" in his parlance): 'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.' (Matthew 6:28.)  All you have to do is relax and sense the divine presence in all things.  "Do without doing and everything gets done" as Lao Tsu said.

There was no Fall, only an Arising.  The Earth herself is divine; and the Tao is within all things, ebbing and flowing.  The Divine has not withdrawn from Nature - Nature is Divine.
      Before ever land was,
Before ever the sea,
Or soft hair of the grass,
Or fair limbs of the tree,
Or the flesh-colour'd fruit of my branches, I was, and thy soul was in me.

First life on my sources
First drifted and swam;
Out of me are the forces
That save it or damn;
Out of me man and woman, and wild-beast and bird: before God was, I am.
from Hertha by Algernon Swinburne
Oh yes, and I must draw attention to the lovely poem by  Beth Patterson of Virtual Tea House on What it’s like rather than what it is, which is very nature-inspired, and also involves cake, and isn't missional like some of the other posts.  Also Steve Hayes' post is very interesting, reflecting on the different meanings of the words "kingdom, power and glory" in Eastern and Western Christianity.  My comment on this was that Kingdom (Malkuth), Power (Hod) and Glory (Netzach) are also the lowest three of the Sephiroth (spheres) on the Kabbalistic tree of life, where they symbolise Divine power descending into the realm of the manifest.  And finally, Phil Wyman talks about Jesus as an archetypal shaman - well yes he was, but he's not the only one.  There's also Odin, and Buddha, and many others.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Happy Beltane

Beltane is the festival of rampant Eros, when the Earth is fully woken from sleep and all Nature is desirous of mating.  Maypoles and Beltane fires remind us of the leaping life-force.

Jason at The Wild Hunt has a round-up of Beltane blogging.

Here's some Beltane poetry to get you in the mood...

And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night,
Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,
Follows with dancing and fills with delight
    The M├Žnad and the Bassarid;
And soft as lips that laugh and hide
The laughing leaves of the trees divide,
And screen from seeing and leave in sight
    The god pursuing, the maiden hid.

The ivy falls with the Bacchanal's hair
Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;
The wild vine slipping down leaves bare
Her bright breast shortening into sighs;
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,
But the berried ivy catches and cleaves
To the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare
The wolf that follows, the fawn that flies.

from Atalanta in Calydon by Algernon Charles Swinburne