Random Notes From What I’m Reading

The story of my life is the story of my faith…

Archive for the ‘Rich Diamond’ Category

The Holy Man

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While reading through Rich Diamond’s book Wrestling With God I was struck by the following paragraph:

There’s a story from the book The Holy Man by Susan Trott in which people walk by the holy man they’ve come to seek because they’re just so intent on seeing what they think is a holy man. This guy just looks like the caretaker at the monestary. They walk right by him and he ushers them through the building, shows them the rooms, and leads them out the back door, smiling and wishing them well. A few people realize he is the holy man, but only a few, because they’re the ones who pay attention.

How do we know we don’t come in contact with God on a daily basis? If we were to run into God, would he be impressed that we’re living by his principles or disappointed that we’re instead holding firm to a bunch of old church cliches?

Written by Ryan

December 7, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Shrek and Edward Norton

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By Rich Diamond in “Wrestling With God”

Shrek is a lot like us; we believe in the hopefulness of the fairy tale and the love story; but we also like that it’s irrelevant and admits that life isn’t all sweetness. Shrek starts in an outhouse and ends in an onion, but it’s an onion wedding carriage. That makes sense. True love is a big onion.

The life we’re constructing not isn’t safe or perfect, but it’s what we know. And we try to be honest about what we’ve got to work with. It’s like a situation comedy but one where a guy stands offstage with a machine gun.

We fantasize that we’re like the models, or the movie stars, or the sports heroes. That someday we’ll be on Survivor or American Idol. That getting up, going to school or work, hanging out with friends, is enough. Go shopping. Read. And it’s good. It’s fine. To make that life more pleasant, we buy more toys – music, entertainment centers, sports equipment, cars, houses, cigarettes, vacations, power, stuff, more channels. And we spend some time there for awhile. It’s fun. But we can also tell that we’re not building anything. Which is okay on the short run. And right now feels like the short run. No hurry yet.

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Written by Ryan

December 5, 2007 at 10:27 pm

The Real Jesus

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What got my attention was that the Jesus I read about was a wild, free spirit who went to parties and refused to be religious. He broke rules, touched people He wasn’t supposed to, hung out with thieves and whores. I wondered if that was really true; I always thought that Jesus was the stained-glass wimp in church windows. It is possible God is passionate and involved? Is it possible that God isn’t about doctrines and regulations, but that Jesus lived a life like mine, only a few thousand years earlier?It honestly seems ridiculously impossible.

By Rich Diamond in Wrestling With God

Written by Ryan

October 1, 2007 at 12:16 am

Tides of Life

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I can feel my life, like a tide running in and out past and around my legs as I’m standing in ocean water up to my waist. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, just back and forth. But I can also feel, if I watch and pay attention, that there are tides. They move. If I just play and drift along, I’ll wake up miles way from where I started. If I stand out here long enough without remembering where I am, I’ll be swept out too far. I’ll have missed it, whatever it is. So I tread water and keep my head high enough to breathe. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll pick my feet up, see if there’s something worth swimming toward for a little while and see where the tide takes me.

By Rich Diamond in “Wrestling With God”

Written by Ryan

September 26, 2007 at 10:35 am

How To Awaken

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What I am suggesting is that to become like a child again is one way to awaken. Kids dance. They sing. They make art. They laugh when they’re not supposed to, notice what they’re not supposed to. They don’t care. They’re just in their own skin, and the world is still alive to them. They haven’t started measuring their surroundings based solely on what those surroundings can mean to their own status or productivity.There’s a story in the Bible about an old man, Eli, who was in charge of a temple. So, he was important. Lots of responsibility. Big resume. Diplomas on the wall. He was also a terrible father – too busy achieving things.

A boy named Samuel comes to live in the temple to study to become a priest. One night Samuel is lying in bed and he hears a voice calling his name. He goes to Eli and asks him what he wanted. Eli says he didn’t call him and orders him back to bed. It happens again. Eli says, “get out of here and go to bed. I’ve got a lot to accomplish tomorrow.” Finally, Eli gets it and says, “whoa, wait a minute – If the voice calls again, answer, ‘Here I am, Lord.’” It happens. And God gives a message to Samuel, which comes true.

It turns out that God wants this boy not to become only a priest, but also a prophet. Someone who hears God directly and speaks on what he hears. The thing that makes this kid have this amazing opennes to the Spirit is that Samuel listens, especially in the darkness. Why doesn’t Eli the priest hear? He is asleep, literally and spiritually.

But what if you’re not a child anymore? I’m not. It’s a struggle for me to really listen to my heart, or to the voice of God. It’s really hard for me to put up with mystery. I need to know the answers. I need to be in control. However, I also don’t want to live under the mass cultural trance. It’s the ultimate unsatisfying. I don’t know how I know that; I just know. What’s the answer? What can help me awaken?

If you’re asking those questions, you’re on the road already. You’re waking up. Maybe the “we’ll see” mind has started to believe that there may be something to see. The life that the great myths, the great traditions, and the great paths talk about is something large. Something wild. Something you can’t explain or control. It’s a journey you have to travel and it’s first steps are to leave the place you were and go out into a new place. As you take those first steps, you realize: I didn’t know this was here! How long has this been here?

By Rich Diamond in Wrestling With God

Written by Ryan

September 20, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Religion, Rich Diamond

9/11

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I thought this post was fitting today for obvious reasons. Check out what Rich Diamond says in “Wrestling With God”:

America doesn’t trust anything. We’re hanging in there, and that’s good. We believe in some basic things that we were told all along, and, like the basic lessons a child is taught, those things are good to know and remember. But adulthood is also about facing what isn’t right, what the theories don’t teach about. It’s not about trust, it’s about control. We’re still controlling every freaking thing. We’re too afraid to let go. So we keep building little and big walls. My race is better. My religion is better. My money is better. My body is better. My sexuality is better. My denomination is better. My yard is better. My city is better. My basketball team is better. My way of seeing things is better. But, in a win-lose situation within a family, everybody loses. We haven’t figured that out yet. We still want to be the big winner. We still want to defeat everyone else. But everyone is our family.

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 should make us realize that we’re not Superman. Not only are we not perfectly safe, we’re not perfect. If someone hates us this much, is it possible that something isn’t right overall? It is possible that we have contributed to the world as being an unhealthy place? We didn’t deserve to be attacked. But we’re not blameless either. What the September 11 experience has made so many people feel is that we’re much more right and rightous than everyone else in the world, and that everybody else, especially the people who’ve made us mad, are all evil, the Devil, whatever. That’s not the Spirit that drove us to the desert talking; that’s the Empire talking.

We’re on the edge of the desert in our culture. We have the opportunity to head in, strip naked, find out the truth, and trust something. But we’re afraid. And part of us wants to turn back. We’re afraid that if we head out into the truth, there won’t be anything there, and the whole risk will have been a waste. So we waver. And wait. And avoid the real journey.

But what if, in our desert experiences, we find a way not to run, not to avoid the truth, and not to fool or distract ourselves? What if, at the end of our marriages, for example, we decide to do real soul searching as a way to figure out who we are and what happened? What if we don’t run from our own shadows, but decide to wrestle with them and see what it is we’re so afraid of? What if we stop, just before taking the big promotion, and really pray and listen to our souls to see if that’s what they really want and long for?

The trouble is that it’s terryfing to face what’s inside of you. Demons are in there. Hidden things voices that keep echoing off the walls, old tapes that you can hear playing and rewinding over and over somewhere deep in the darkness. Your enemy waits to confront you about your own appetities and desires for power or control. A monster is hiding under your bed, or in a cave, or behind you. A dragon rustles out in the forest, just beyond the clearing.

Any system or formula for avoiding really facing this dark thing is ultimately not going to work. At some point, we just have to acknowledge that there is what Hamlet calls, “the undiscovered country” that everybody is afraid of. In his case, he thinks his enemy is death, but it’s really his own fear.

I think maybe that’s everybody’s.

Written by Ryan

September 11, 2007 at 12:55 am

Spiritual Blindness

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“When the forces that control your life won’t get out of the way and you’re ready for change, sometimes it seems as if the gods send something to screw things up on your behalf. It may not feel like its’ on your behalf, but it is. There’s always a blessing in these things. In your case, there are probably main obstacles to your being able to get going on the next part of your life’s journey. One force opposing all of is our spiritual blindness because of our comfortable culture. Air conditioning, television, music, busyness – the soul can’t break through with that much interference. In Dorothy’s case, it’s a tornado that picks up the house and throws it over the rainbow. You can’t make a tornado appear nor can you make it disappear. All you can do is hang on for the ride.”

By Rich Diamond in Wrestling With God

Written by Ryan

September 5, 2007 at 1:15 am