Sunday, March 29, 2009

Still

As in "still here," but also as in "motionless."

It's been a busy month, much has happened in my work and social (and Second) lives, though having said that there are few examples that immediately come to mind that I might mention. I'm reasonably calm and not unhappy, and even getting a few things done.

Weather was miserable for most of the last month, cold and windy and raining most days, and sometimes snow on the ridge of the Killesberg when I looked out my kitchen window mornings. Last year at this time it was sunny and warm.

Listening to Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto, a surpassingly wonderful piece of music which I have written about before. Fine accompaniment to a greyish and idle weekend's bloggery.

I've been using Twitter as a kind of microblog, writing sometimes several tweets a day (and occasionally none for several days at a time, yes yes). Unfortunately there seems to be no way for non-Twitterers to access this, my current tweets are displayed on this page but if you don't want to keep refreshing the page you will have to get a Twitter account of your own.

Thinking about summer. Beta and Lumi are getting married in mid-July; I am invited and do want to attend. The SL meditation group is holding a week-long retreat in Berkeley at the end of August; that too I would love to attend. There's no way that I can afford to cross the ocean twice this year, but neither can I spend six weeks hanging about in North America. To further complicate matters, Sis and BIL are planning a tour of Italy in late September/early October, and we have arranged to meet in Venice for a long weekend or equivalent. I guess the Berkeley retreat loses out. Perhaps I could find something retreat-like a little closer to home?

I've started reading the New Testament again; not really sure why, but probably prompted by discussions in the meditation group meetings in SL. We were brought up in the ethics and standards of the Protestant tradition, though neither the Bible nor God were ever explicitly mentioned at home (Sis, feel free to comment on this if your memories differ). As far as I can remember, my first encounter with the Bible was in Grade 6: over the entire year, we read and discussed a chapter of the King James Version every morning. I don't know that this was a formal part of the curriculum, but it was in any case never challenged by us or our parents. Mr. Bowman was a very good and thoughtful teacher: he didn't present Christianity as the absolute truth that we must believe, we simply read this particular book and talked about what "good" or "right" might mean. I found it fascinating and very moving, this was perhaps the class and the subject in which I learned to think.

That experience had a lasting effect, years later I could still quote from memory much of what we had read, and I can see now how strongly it shaped my thinking. I could not have said so at the time, having neither the mental tools nor the necessary critical distance, but at least part of my strong positive response to Camus (and Buddha, and Mahatma Gandhi) was in the echoes of Ecclesiastes raised by their thinking. Right action seemed obvious and self-evidently true when I first encountered it years later, as did the Wu wei of Taoism.

Thinking about that now, I cannot believe that I would not have discussed that with my mother, so much of it would have been new and confusing to me as a 12-year-old, yet I have no memory of doing so. Perhaps I should ask her, while I still can. [Updated: perhaps we did discuss religion at home after all. I remember seeing a particular Playmobil set, of a Roman centurion on horseback with a cloak, and a beggar on foot, and saying to Slim that this was clearly Saint Martin (she, the supposed Christian, didn't know the story). Now, Martin is not a Biblical figure, he dates from the fourth century AD, so I would guess that I did not learn about him from Bible lessons with Mr. Bowman.]

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6 Comments:

Blogger Zhoen said...

Religion and the bible were laid as the pattern for my existence, I cannot imagine seeing either for the first time.

March 29, 2009 at 9:07:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Bruce Oksol said...

Always enjoy your blog; I check daily to see if you update. You are much like my brother: you may not write often, but when you do, you have something interestng to say. Sorry you won't make it to your Berkeley function, but Venice doesn't sound too bad.

Your comments about Twitter are right on -- to be used as a miniblog, but so fleeting.

March 30, 2009 at 12:07:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

I find that I use Twitter more and more (less and less, though) for geekish things (as it were), and Facebook for whatever else I feel like saying, shortly. I always enjoy yours, it's nice to know what friends are doing at any given time, what their normal life things are. And "Rose Street" always sounds so poetic!

Shame about the wedding, it's not easy, this not being wealthy rubbish. You're reading the new testament?? How surprising! Now that I think about it, it shouldn't have been, you are very much binary. Did you manage to find a Jasper Fforde, btw? (In my mind, at least, there seems to be a connection.)

Verif word is "rappers". So you. (It's good to be reading you again!)

March 30, 2009 at 12:47:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Zhoen said...

Second on Jasper Fford.

April 1, 2009 at 4:36:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Anonymous Seraphine said...

it was college philosophy that opened the world to me. the free exchange of ideas and discussions about the meaning of life were taken to the dorms after class.
i was an troubled child before that.
religion never clicked with me. if i wasn't rebelling against authority, i blamed god for not intervening in the world's unhappiness.

April 1, 2009 at 6:47:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Shari said...

So glad to see you posting again.

I grew up in the U.S. but my kids have grown up here in Israel. In the schools they teach the Bible in the original old Hebrew from the 3rd grade all the way up to the last year, 12 grade (ages 8-18). They also teach it in a non-religious way, and my kids and husband just loved it, even though we are all very secular.

Its a wonderful way to approach these ancient and amazing texts.

April 3, 2009 at 11:50:00 a.m. GMT+2  

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