¿¿ WHO WILL PUT THE FIRE OUT ??

“HOW ‘BOUT A LITTLE FIRE, SCARECROW?”

Yes, the world’s on fire, and it’s melting, and little Dorothy, er, Greta, needs our help.  And, as Smoky-the-Bear often said, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”  Greta can’t save the world from melting, all by herself.  “The responsibility resides in my shoes,” sez me.

So, our assignment, if you care for the future of the planet and its human children, is to read this  >  (HERE’S AN EXCERPT TO GET YOU STARTED) :  “New coal plants built since the 2015 Paris climate agreement have already doubled the equivalent coal-energy output of Russia and Japan, and 260 more are underway.”  READING INVITATION LINK.  

Don’t get depressed, get angry enough to do something brave and bold : Get ready!  Coming to a street corner near you this October is a life saving event worthy of great risk, called Extinction Rebellion.  Bookmark it.  (Don’t expect your elected officials to take action, as they’re all sold out to the corporatist state.)  Like I said, get ready.  Only you . . . ( ¿ If not me, who ?)  PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN, WHO IS GAMING YOU.

If you need further persuasion, here’s a quote linked to an essay by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist : “The American political system is not salvageable. It will be overthrown in a mass uprising—a version of which we saw recently in Puerto Rico—or vast swaths of the globe will become uninhabitable and the rich will feed like ghouls off the mounting human misery. These are the two stark options. And we have very little time left.”

“I’m melting, I”m melting.”

SIDEWALK ART IN MERIDA

Painting by Lobo, “el brujo”.

On a Sunday stroll we happened past Maternidad park, c.60 near the symphony theatre in centro.  I was delighted to see Lobo showing his wares, along with many other artists.  (He last appeared in my pages in July of 2012.)  We have two of his paintings and a lacquered woodblock sculpture at home.  His work is seen in homes around town.  Here’s one owned by a British couple:

Lobo calls himself “el brujo” which variously can be translated as shaman, wizard, sorcerer.  His English is good.  He’s a Yaqui Indian, a philosopher, a musician, and a thinker engaged in the project of life :  pondering that great question, ¿Who am I? – while still trying to feed and house himself by painting and selling on Sundays.  (I don’t believe he has gallery representation, so you’ll need to visit the park if his work appeals.)

Lobo, tending his wares.

Merida is a lively art scene, with many galleries, and plenty to see on foot on Sundays along c.60 or a bit further north on Paseo Montejo between the remate (c.47) and the glorieta (traffic circle, circus) at c.27-a.

¿¿ Too Darn Hot ?? > Heat > Humidity > Stoopidity ?

The above graphic, by Phil Hands, is copyrighted, and is not to be used commercially without arrangement with the owner(s).  It appears here under fair-use doctrine — note that this site carries no advertising, and is incorporating the graphic into an educational essay.  Tip o’ the hat to AAEC.

A mentor once observed that it’s not who is right or wrong, but what is real which is important.  Honest discussion is essential.  “Tribalism” or what the Founders (authors of US Constitution) termed factionalism, is the problem.  And Newt Gingrich, the main factionalist of the day, actually declared war on dialog, across party lines.  War kills.  So we talk past each other, wounding and violating our community, signifying nothing with our warfare.

But your eyeballs don’t lie.   So have a look at this satellite animation compiled by NASA and NOAA, and watch 25 years of polar ice disappear in one minute.     NOT COOL!  Not a hoax.  Not fake. 

And this brings us to a compelling speaker who is a professor of climate science with an amazing resumé. But get this:  she’s also an evangelical Christian!   She wants us to talk about the problem of climate change, even tho’ our tribalisms have gotten in the way so often in the past.  Don’t miss it! We might learn a few things from each other.

 

Book Review

A project of breathtaking beauty and insight.

What an amazing project this American journalist who is a practicing Jew has hatched and nurtured!  He moved from Brooklyn to Israel in 1982, became an Israeli citizen, and sought dialog with open-minded, devout believers from the three Abrahamic faiths (Jewish, Muslim, Christian) for fellowship, and learning — even risking visits to a Sufi sheik’s mosque in Gaza.  

The book was originally released in New York on September 11, 2001, and immediately vanished in the chaos of that day.  Harper Perennial has re-introduced it this year.  Krista Tippet, host of public radio’s weekly, On Being, calls it “One of the most important spiritual memoirs of our time.”  Not to be missed!

The author’s journalistic skill, observational power, and clarity of language make this telling into an ineffable blessing for his readers.  The beauty of his honest engagement with his chosen candidates brought tears to my eyes several times.  Anyone interested in faith, peace, humanity, will find hope in this moving work.  (Thanks to the Divine Librarian for placing this volume into my hands!)

 

 

STORY TIME

ORIGINAL INNOCENCE.  Adam & Eve                             © 2019, MeridaGOround

I love good stories.  Surely we all have some familiarity with this one.  It comes from the First Book of Moses, titled Beginnings, perhaps known more widely as Genesis. (Moses wasn’t actually the author, but he gets the royalties for writing down this oral history – although even this detail is dubious.)  My point is that facts and stories are often at odds.  

This short story has entered public consciousness, but with much accumulated baggage which simply isn’t there :  concepts such as sin, fall, apple, satan.  So, where did they come from, and how did they insinuate themselves into our story, and our thinking?  ¿Maybe that hulking clownish presence in the upper right of the image whispered them into our ears?  In the original language, a serpent is known as nacash, whisperer.  We can almost hear it hissiing,  pssst, this story is gaming you.

No, don’t run away!  Like Moses, you need courage to handle the serpent, wisely.  (Don’t grab him by the tail (tale?) or he could turn and bite you.  If you’re still convinced that those terms, sin-fall-apple-satan are in the story somewhere, you’ve already been bitten.  Have a look for yourself, using the pulldown menu  presently set at “KJV” — choosing whichever version you prefer,  as I’m unaware of any translation that includes them.  (The story is very short.)  I’m not trying to charm you, but merely awaken you from a bad religious or cultural dream.  

There’s a point to this story of the garden.  I won’t presume to tell you what it is, but will ask you to think along with my four-year-old self.  As I watched my Mom preparing meals, she would often tell me “don’t touch the hot stove.”  Why does she keep telling me this? – I wondered.  So one day, after she had turned off the flame, and turned her back, I put my index finger on the blackened metal grate.  Yeow! – I cried, and beheld a blister forming instantly.  And, of course, she said I told you not to do that, silly!  But, here’s the thing :  she did not kick me out of the house for disobedience, nor curse me with a death sentence.  Yet this is exactly what our story tells us that our Divine Parent did when the first couple disobeyed. Is rigid, uncurious obedience the point of the garden story?  I think not.

 A delightful account of the history behind this story can be found in a book by Harvard’s Stephen Greenblatt, titled The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve(I’ve linked a 4-star review by an Amazon Vine Voice, a Doctor Moss; Kindle:  $8.30, for those who want more of the details.)

For me, the contest between innocence and sin comes when Bishop Augustine and Pelagius (a saintly British monk) disagreed over doctrine, Pelagius arguing on behalf of innocence.  Well, Augustine, being a powerful church politician, won, and Pelagius’s letters were burned, and he was declared a heretic (see pp. 104+, of Greenblatt). And the world got celibacy and pedophilia.  Life might be dull without some drama, which I suppose can be a problem with nonduality (also called monism).  But I digress. 

No apple!  Nor was sex the problem in our story.  Sex is natural, and innocent, when balanced.  No marriage, either.  Back then, and for many, many centuries beyond, we simply got into the same tent together one night, and emerged in the morning as a couple.  Everybody in camp knew that we were now a couple, with major responsibilities for each other, and to the human family, the community.  Absence of ceremony didn’t lessen the seriousness, but may have kept the cost of formalities in check <wink>.  (But note that the state will declare you married by “common law” eventually, and it will divide “the stuff” of your relationship.)  ¿ Best to catch up with modern times by being real?

ASIDE.  There’s a new nonfiction book coming July 9th, titled Three Women, which may do a lot of whispering, based on my reading of a review with excerpt.  I’ve not read the book, and probably won’t. (It could be this year’s 50-Shades, also not read by me, but as nonfiction.)  The new book claims not to be about sex, but rather about desire.  Yet it seems to be selling drama and sex.  And it seems it will do much whispering.  Be alert.  If you enter the story you may burn your finger, or worse.  You might do better reading an ancient stoic, Epictetus, his Discourses, (online, or from a library) who writes about desire and aversion in a balanced and undramatic way, with short essays which will focus the mind on these topics, painlessly.  

As Pelagius argued, Adam and Eve probably would have died a natural death, anyway.  And my last shot is simply this.  When we die, we get to export only the lessons we’ve learned.  (I hope I’ll avoid touching a hot stove again. Curiosity has other tools beyond the senses, intuition being among them.)

Note: the photo above, shot in my backyard here in Mérida, is copyrighted by me, “MeridaGOround”. Contact me thru the comment section of this site to discuss usage.  But be sure NOT to include any links in your message, as my spam trap is very sensitive. So, include a “broken” email address after the @ (adding a space, which I will then mend) and I will reply to you.  Please include your real name in the comment, so I can verify that you are not a spammer.   Also, I plan to print a small, fine art run of archival prints done on rag paper, with chromogenic inks, which should be for sale later this summer; and perhaps I will attempt a painting, as well. 

TOBACCO SMOKE, & MIRRORS

by Stuart Palley/EPA

Remember when ? —

the tobacco industry lied to Congress, while having 50 years of hard evidence in its files that tobacco smoke causes cancer? “Cigarette smoking is no more ‘addictive’ than coffee, tea or Twinkies.”

President Eisenhower lied to the public about a spy plane flying over Russia, instead being a weather plane that went off course?

President Johnson lied about Vietnam: “We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”

 President Trump lies about climate change, even tho’ 13 of his federal agencies find it real.  

#  #  #

Powerful essay linked here about the rights of children to a stable climate:

House hearings are being held during which members learned, for example, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations were last this high three million years ago when the planet was 2º to 3º Celsius warmer, sea levels were 75 feet higher and beech trees grew in Antarctica and the current rate of warming is unprecedented in over 50 million years.

Both sides of the aisle fiddle, while Rome burns!  Speak out, or choke. (see comment)

The fire of Rome, by Hubert Robert, 1771

 

ALL, or nothing

PRESENT         absent

ONE                   zero

FULL                 empty

If One is All it must include nOne.

Psalm 27 verse 4, two renderings, in English :

[King James]   One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

[mine]  ONENESS with the Divine is my quest, until i awaken to THAT present state which inhabits all of creation forever, beholding JOY, drawn by enlightened desire.

¿What do we really want?

NOTE:  Elsewhere on these pages I’ve rendered the ethics teachings of Jesus (“the sermon on the mount”) in contemporary language, consolidating that sermon, which is scattered across several gospels, into a single attempt.

 

NATURE GETS HER SHARE

Backyard figs, protected from the birds.

Fruit grows well here.  Vegetables are more of a challenge.  As a longtime organic gardener, I’ve mostly given up on veggies, buying them at the Slow Food Market, or the supermarket.  

Above we have a picture that saves some delicious fruit for the table : figs.  Until now, it has been rare that a whole fig makes it to the table.  But the birds are leery of these shinny boxes – blueberry “clam shells”– so I don’t even need to close them (although they are well-ventilated even if closed). The shallow ones, depicted, don’t easily enclose a large fig, so I simply leave them open. The deeper ones close nicely after I cut a ½” square out of the lower portion of the wall, not out of the lid, to allow for the stem to pass.   The birds prefer to dine perched on a branch, and the boxes cramp their style. Or perhaps they sense a trap.

Other fruits have been more difficult to protect.  Papayas are enjoyed by parrots and iguanas.

papaya

papaya

The leaves of passion fruit (maracuya) are devoured by iguanas.

 

Carpinteros (wood peckers) hollow out pitayas (dragon fruit).

Dragon fruit blossom and fruit, Pitaya

Doves, jays, and other birds peck holes in our annonas

Annonas, with bird

annona

My all-time favorite, the banana, is mostly safe.

banana bloom

bananas

Photo by Liz O’Neil

Citrus is mostly safe from predators, except from swimmers in the pool.

Mandarin self-portrait : fruit face with leaf lips

Note:  with the exception of the pineapple and the mobile banana, all the fruits were grown in our backyard.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS : : REAL PEOPLE

Rippin’off the roof. Jim Conrad and Victor Yam remove rotted metal from the rock hut.

People flow thru our lives, and we also touch the lives of others.  Humanity is a swarm of social members, encountering, engaging, learning from, enhancing or impacting each other.  As an amateur beekeeper, I was fascinated by swarms, which I often removed from neighbor’s yards.  Yes, we are one of nature’s few social species.  (No matter how much Team Red rails against “socialism,” all the while getting cozy with Putin, we are who we are: socialists, like it or not.)  As one of our earliest stories points out :  we are supposed to be our brother’s keeper.  Not, as one philosopher claimed : hell is other people.

The impact of the internet is much in the news of late, often being described negatively as a scourge on our species, addictive, dangerous, frightening, especially its social networks.  For me, the internet has been an amazing tool, like having Harvard’s Widener library at my fingertips. But I avoid social media, largely due to the crass way it has been monetized.  Facebook and the corporatists want to harvest and sell every detail about your life, your digital DNA.  Yes, anyone who uses the internet, even those refuseniks like me, is being tracked continually.  

But this tool is amazing, if used carefully.  I long did volunteer prison work where I would ask inmates how they would manage a tool which could put itself into your hand, start itself up on a whim, and slash anyone nearby.  (I was speaking of the human mind, which needs thorough familiarity of the controls, the owner’s manual, and safety instructions.)  

The internet is a macro-version of the human mind.  It “knows” everything, and can find anything, but requires wisdom and caution to yield genuine benefits, at minimal risk.  (It’s important to know what we really want before we start searching, lest we regret our choices after arriving.)  Desire is a form of prayer which can be harnessed, if we are patient to distill it to its essence.  This takes much introspection.

Well, we often don’t know what we really want, but we can have a sense of an ideal.  Then we can set forth with a not-x approach :  Nope, don’t want  that.  This is intrepid, brave.  Someone has said that sin is like birds flying overhead.  We can’t stop them, but we don’t need to allow them to build a nest in our hair, either!

The point of this blogpost is about serendipity.  Yucatan, for me, has become like the land of Serendip. (Coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.) I’ve encountered friends here, with the help of the internet  (and a dash of curiosity) with an array of interests, which I could not have imagined finding.  Many of them flowed from a bloggers conference which took place in Merida in 2011, at a fellow blogger‘s school, where she generously  hosted those who blogged.  

That was an amazing conference, where I met with some of the real people behind the blogs I was enjoying from Yucatan: Hammockman (Paul);  Marc, from An Alaskan in Yucatan, and many others.  While Naturalist Jim was not in attendance, I stopped in Piste to meet him.  None of this would have happened without the brilliant contributions over many years by those who harnessed 1’s and 0’s in the binary logic of base ten: giving us today, the internet.

Here are a few photos from Jim’s latest adventure, where he has taken up residence to continue to study nature, and write, at Marc’s rancho near Tepakan.  Marc was off in Alaska, enjoying the cool, while we had fun with  the project of replacing the roof before the rains come.  (While Victor is not a blogger, he is a good friend of Marc’s, and helps me at home, as our gardener.)   We got the roof done just in time!

Old roof. Won’t keep rain out.

Outdoor kitchen, needs cleaning. Has sink and built-into-counter wood burner.

Jim Conrad, fastening metal.

Jim snapped this one of me.

Ranch across the road from Jim’s new digs. (He’s a kilometer from road, so no boom-boom music, no traffic noise.)

 

 

 

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GOT MILK ? — ¿¿ GOT EGGS ??

GOT MILK?  Literalism is a hoot. (It’s also dangerous, even deadly.)    For Mexican readers, and others unfamiliar with this famous advertising campaign, things will become amply clear.

Anyone who has experienced attempting to speak a second language in a foreign culture knows it can be risky and embarrassing.  This morning I went to breakfast with a friend at a concina economica, in a tiny pueblo, the kitchen of which is depicted above.  He had been planning to cook breakfast, after doing a little work back at the ranch, but the eggs he bought the day before were bad.  So, we went into town.  While waiting for the cook to prepare huevos Mexicanos con frijoles on her smoky fire, Jim stepped into the tienda (a quick-stop grocery-wing of the diner) and asked the guy at the register ¿Tienes huevos?

 Of course, this is a perfectly literal translation of English.  But in colloquial Spanish he had bluntly asked the guy: Have you got testicles?  A polite phrasing would be ¿Se venden huevos aqui?  (Are eggs sold here.)  Hilarious!  We all had a good laugh.

Such are the pitfalls of translation.  Anyone overhearing construction workers catcalling to each other as a woman walks past on the sidewalk — Did you see those melons? — quickly recognizes the difference between idiom and literal wording,  the distinction between animal and vegetable, and word-play.

And so it is with biblical literalism.  Yet many are those Christians who insist that their reading of scripture is based on good renderings of an ancient language, even tho’ filtered thru other languages several times over :  Aramaic>Greek>Latin>English, for example — and therefore their opinion on the text must be accepted, bluntly.

Now, Jesus certainly never asked the woman at the well in Samaria GOT MELONS? — (the longest conversation scripture ever reports of Jesus talking with a woman) — but wait!  Did you ever notice that she came onto him, basically saying Hey baby, I’m not married (hinting “I’m available” see v.17) — yet we miss it, due to literalism.  I doubt the average pew-sitter has ever heard this preached.

Language is slippery. Yet so many are so quick to argue as if they know what scripture says, as though it were digitally mastered for us to replay the recording.  Preachers are taught to avoid controversy, as being “bad for business.”  Thus we suffer literalism, the great red dragon of fundamentalism, which portends disaster in whatever religion, sect, or denomination one cares to visit, across the globe, world without end, amen, be it Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc — ignoring the warning signs: HARD HAT AREA.  (My point, folks: don’t hit people over the head with bible verses; instead, let them feel your compassion.) We’ve all embarrassed ourselves; but God is patient, and SHe will forgive, if we will allow it and receive it, and live the forgiveness by standing corrected.

NB: Anyone wishing for a fresh reading of scripture might look at The Message, by Eugene Peterson; or at Rabbi JesusAN INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY.