Monday, May 2, 2011

Blue Moon

“Blue Moon” is in my head, as it’s the birthday of Lorenz Hart, on this Blue Monday in the blog. 
The USA is celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden, that news stunning me soon after I arrived home last night on the last train out of Chicago, also the last train headed south along that stretch of railway in Illinois last night.  Due to track work, passengers going further south were sent off on three huge buses that sat waiting for them in the Amtrak parking lot, interiors glowing in the dark through the tall windows.

I am relieved by the capture of this terrorist and also sobered by his violent death and memories of the 9/11 horror. After looking at the creation myths of the world over this past weekend at Great Books Chicago, its theme this year “In the Beginning…,”  I can point to the spot (Ch. 9, verses 5-6) in Genesis (King James Version) where (the character of) God seems to sanction blood vengeance. Or at least to acknowledge and accept the bloodthirsty nature of the humans sent from Eden and newly disembarked from Noah’s ark, humans made in God’s own image and in a new covenant with God.  “Kill yourselves,” God seems to say here, “for it won’t be done by me.”

And, according to this author, this God spoke "in his heart" as well as out loud:

…and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. (Ch. 8, verse 21)

It’s also the birthday of the King James Version. So it must also be Random Coinciday in the blog.

This weekend I had amazing conversations with people from all over the country, including a doctor from Cincinnati who is a Muslim from Pakistan. I am thinking of him with special fondness, sympathy, and concern this morning. I am pondering the Abrahamic tradition, which links Christian, Jew, and Muslim in the texts so often referred to as the Old Testament (by those who have a New Testament).

As I literally unpack my bags this morning, I will also unpack what I have learned, or re-learned. If I can. 

I have a translation of the Rig Veda to read, a talk by translator Wendy Doniger spinning these Hindu hymns in my head in harmony with other mythic traditions.

I have a copy of Quantum Physics for Poets, co-written by Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill, signed by Lederman, a gentle and funny man who spoke to us about the need for science education in the United States and who won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Obviously, I seem to be an intended reader of this book.

I’ll continue to report on this event this week.  I’ll continue to ponder “the imagination of man’s heart” through the imagination of those who write about it.

For now, I’ll be humming “Blue Moon” while I gather myself up into one person after communing with many persons.

7 comments:

nene said...

It is always refreshing read when you share with the rest of us your experiences in your 'community' as you traverse your world of writers/aspiring authors. Thanks

Denise said...

Like you, I still have all these conversations and questions from the Great Books Chicago weekend running through my head. And also like you, I couldn't help linking this morning's headlines to those thoughts.
What do we mean by "justice?" Why did President Obama call the killing of Bin Laden "justice?" What is the difference between justice and revenge or retribution? Is "justice" what we will call it if Gaddafi kills U.S. citizens in response to the killing of his family? What stops the cycle of violence?
These questions are obviously not just academic. The way we define these words is clearly impacted by our "conditioning" (another concept raised for many by our discussion of Brave New World). As you say, how does the Abrahamic tradition shape our definitions? The story of Cain and Abel? How would the Vedic/ Hindu tradition shape these concepts? How do our traditions and concepts influence our actions and policies? And whatever our beginnings, what stops the cycle of violence?
Thank you for keeping the conversations going and for all your contributions to the weekend. I look forward to being able to read your take on the twin creation myth soon.

nene said...

Forgot to mention that I've re-read your 'Broken Sonnets'. I always enjoy re-reading poetry or poetic prose after letting it sit for a while. Art always casts different shadows when seen and read in a different time at a different place. I do this with some of mine, sometimes.

'Broken Sonnets' even better the second time. Like a wonderful dish rewarmed the next day.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for your kindness, Nene!

Thanks for keeping the conversation going, Denise. Indeed, what do we mean by justice? How have various cultures handled the concepts of justice vs. vengeance, etc.

Hannah Stephenson said...

All important thoughts. Celebrating any death is never a good thing, but acknowledging its importance can be good, I think (with the right perspective).

Quantum Physics for Poets? Sign me up!

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Hannah. And perhaps I'll be able to report, on down the road, on why poets are in the title...

ted tingley said...

Aug 2012 and July 2015 are just two.