The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On Intoxication

At night we fall into each other with such grace.
When it's light, you throw me back
like you do your hair.
Your eyes now drunk with God,
mine with looking at you,
one drunkard takes care of another

-Rumi, as translated by Coleman Barks


At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

amazing from a man coming from a religion banning alcohol

At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You failed us with your syncretic, ecclectic, false religions and heresies and glorifying mystics of the Mohammedens.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

My, you two are up early!

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I was a Muslim (although I am fine being a Catholic and very happy and not thinking of changing) I would be a Sufi

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have 6 blog posts concerning Rumi (not his actual name--Rumi actually means Roman as he lived in the Byzantine Empire part of that area for a time) Rumi's poems are best sellers in the West and the US. There is some legitimate links between Sufi techniques and Heychastic techniques of Eastern Christianity (sans spinning and dancing)but certainly breath, posture, and even wording. Some Sufis even have a high (some heretical ones even higher) view of Jesus and Mary. Even you, Arturo, speak of prayer from the heart and uncreated light.

Some disparage Rumi because he was/may have been/some allege a homosexual.

Don't tell your girlfriend how you were looking at Iranian women and calling them fine. That would be a confessional item in your Argentinian seminary (although the Argentinian women are fine too)
I justify looking at beautiful women similiar to the justification of icons as it is celebrating the Incarnation and celebration of Creation and the sanctification of Creation post the Incarnation. Some Traditionalists are too puritanical and manichean or neo-manichean--or I may be too sensous a sinner--but at least Dante had the lustful sins as the least serious (nonetheless in Hell but at least at the first circle)

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muslims may ban Alcohol but we have some damn good hasheesh and opium.

I think that maybe Arturo went to his Indigenous Mexican roots too much and has been doing some Peyote with the Berkley crowd in the aisles of the library or maybe went and got some good shrooms (or is it shrums) from Oaxaca and had a pseudo (or perhaps real) mystical experience by the Rumi poetry books in the library.

Black Elk converted to Catholicism but never denied his visions.

Chief Geronimo said that a white man goes into Church to talk about Jesus but the Apache takes Peyote to talk to Jesus. The US Supreme Court cases about Peyote refer to it as a sacrament.

My spirit now must return to Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

You are all the same person, aren't you?


At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Om Numuh Shivaya

Perhaps we are all the same person, you and I both and all creation

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

What the hell, give the people what they want:

Day by day its more impossible to cope
I feel like Im the one thats doing dope
Cant keep a steady hand because Im nervous
Every sunday morning Im in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the lord is looking at me
But yet and still its hard for me to feel happy

I've never liked Ernie either...

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

هدف وحدت عقلانی درنظم آفرینش است به وحدت انسانی
اجزای جهان بایکدیگر هماهنگی دارد و این امر باعث می شودکه جهان دارای روح دوستی گردد و اجزای آن جز به دست خود از هم نپاشد، لذا موضوع انسان که خودشاهکار خلقت است اجزای او را تن و روان تشکیل می دهد و باپیروی از اصول خلقت می باید درامرهماهنگ سازی خویش بکوشد و اگربه غیرازاین باشد جنگ به انسان رومی کند واین جنگ نامتعادل بشراست که خود از یک تضاد روحی وبدنی ناشی میگردد و این مسئله زمانی به اوج میرسد که یک ودوئی واز دوئی

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ghetto Boyz were perhaps the most psychologically deep and profound of the rappers.
My Minds Playing tricks on me/Mind of a Lunatic is akin to San Juan de la Cruz Dark Night of the Soul.
Without sounding disrespectful, perhaps Blessed Mother Teresa chanted the last verse of this profound rap "But yet and it is still hard for me to feel happy"

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

finish it N:

"I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I'm worry-free, but that's bullshit
I got a little boy to look after
And if I died then my child would be a bastard
I had a woman down with me
But to me it seemed like she was down to get me
She helped me out in this shit
But to me she was just another bitch
Now she's back with her mother
Now I'm realizing that I love her
Now I'm feelin lonely
My mind is playin tricks on me"

Love, paranoia, fatherhood, depression, something more important than oneself (selfishness v selflessness), meaning beyond death, love for a child
this is some deep sh-t n

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did they allow the Ghetto Boyz and Too Short at the British lead Argenintian Cumodgreon Seminary you went too?
Hopefully not buggery also.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never liked Ernie either...

Ernie and Bert? an allusion to their alleged homosexual relationship in sordid post Southpark modern urban legends

or Ernie the character played Mexican American character actor in the most emotionally powerful film of all time "Scarface" when Tony Montana said (after killing off the Jugan Frank Lopez and the Miami Beach cop Mel Bernstein) "Ernie, you need a job, meing--see me in the morning"

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Muslim Sufi Poet Rumi to Texas based Ghetto Boys. Amazing.

At 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will drink to that

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Persian writing is not Rumi poetry even if the Rumi Persian name is in the name section

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember the post below?:
You are now with bald photo and look like a Vato Loco (Please use some Cypress Hill qoutes now esse)
anyrate: do you still agree with your critique of your La Raza Cosmica and the Day of the Days (and Spanglish, Mexican American alleged paganism etc)?

Tradition, Theology, and Bad Poetry

(Photo credit to the Lion and the Cardinal Blog)

You had to expect this post from me, so here it is. Many of you may be tired of me putting references to my Mexican heritage on my blog, but it is something I really can't help. I am pretty white-washed and have my "coconut" moments (I go to an Anglican Church for crying out loud!), but the Mexican comes out sooner or later.

In that vein, I went to the event that the Latino student community here in Berkeley put on last night, and I have to say I felt pretty alienated. Sure, it was good to be in a room where brown people were the majority; I haven't felt that too often since I left Hollister last August. I soon realized, however, that I had waltzed into the "Chicano nationalist" world of petit-bourgeois stereotypes and mythologies. The vast majority of those who read this blog will have no idea what I am talking about, so let me summarize the issues at hand concisely. With the rise of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in this country in 1960's, many Mexican Americans also began to articulate their own vision of what it means to be a racial minority in this country. What they came up with was the term "Chicano", which often exalted the indigenous roots of Mexican peoples over our Hispanic heritage. In this way, many leftist activists began to embrace pre-Columbian spiritualities and culture, trying to envison the struggles of Mexican Americans in the broader context of the struggles of people of color all over the world.

So when I got to the large room where this event was being held, they had already set up altars for the dead that are traditional for a Mexican All-Souls' Day celebration. While some of the displays were indeed touching, other altars featured home-made votive candles with the images of Che Guevara and Tupac Shakur on them. (Don't get me wrong, I think Tupac could flow tight, but that is another post....) In other words, these aspiring members of the Latino petit-bourgeoisie had stripped the holiday of any reference to the Catholic holy day, aside from, of course, the occasional image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Finally a young woman was introduced to read some poetry. Now, this is where I am really going to show my reactionary colors.... SPANGLISH IS NOT A LANGUAGE!!!! True, my mother speaks fluent "Spanglish" but that is just because we get the poor woman so flustered that she gets confused sometimes. Nevertheless, Mexican-American kids in academia seem to think that speaking a mixture of Spanish and English somehow makes them more Mexican-than-thou. But my "barrio credentials" are solid, so I do not feel the need to speak bad English in order to know who I am, but I digress....

This young woman then proceeded to read a few of her poems, of which the best were passable, and some needed a lot of work. Mira, preciosa, (lapsing into Spanglish, my bad), you don't have to make poetry into an exercise in Maoist propaganda. Just let the poem be. And when you raise your voice in indignation like that, you look cute, but I am not going to take you seriously. Here in Berkeley it is proven over and over again that bad art makes bad politics, and good art is usually not political at all.

While she was reading, a few spaced-out frat-boys went around with an incense wand "blessing the altars". This demonstrated that Mexicans make very bad pagans, so they either should go back to Mass or give up religion all together. The poor poetess up front tried to explain the significance of the spirits coming back to altars with theology that would make a class of pre-schoolers giggle. It reminded me of the Chesterton saying that when people start believing in nothing, they will believe in anything at all. If this is the future of our people in the Mexican diaspora, I don't want it. It is the apex of idiocy and an excuse to celebrate an illusion that we have long ago left.

Nevertheless, once the ordeal was over, I went over to one of the more presentable altars and mumbled the "De Profundis" in Latin, making a prominent Sign of the Cross before and after. I then realized that maybe the Reformers were right in a sense. Here were many things that once were Catholic but finally stripped of Christ they had become pure paganism again. (And even worse, paganism without taste!) In the past year, I have had to gauge what is important and what is not in my life as a Christian, and I have had to discard so many things that I once thought I would die for. Many of the trappings of Roman Catholicism have become solely cultural for me. The whole idea of an "incarnational religion" can become idolatry on so many levels, not just on the obvious ones like these neo-pagan altars. When we take externals too seriously on the account that the "Word became flesh", we often end up deifying sinful men, dividing the Church by over-valuing trifles, and in the worse case scenario, keeping the smells-and-bells but throwing out Christ. What then is imporant? I am still trying to find out.

In any event, I see no harm in participating in things like a traditional Day of the Dead if we keep our priorities straight. I don't believe in plenary indulgences, temporal punishments due to sin, and purgatory strictly speaking. They may be true, but I will never treat them as Gospel truth. At best, they are stabs in the dark at a mystery that we will never understand, and I respect them as opinions held by my ancestors. If we accept them as such, perhaps we can keep this sacred sense of life and death, of the mystical bond between heaven and earth that nothing can destroy. In this way, I think it is possible to have our cake and eat it too, to have Christ and traditions, and by them show the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection on a more personal and familiar level. We just cannot lose sight of what is really important.

At 6:01 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

I'll post on your questions sometime in the near future.

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