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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rest Patterns

Do you remember TV test patterns?  Recently in a conversation with some peers we were reminiscing on those odd looking, but familiar, mandalas that occupied TV screens while stations were off the air. 

Image result for tv test pattern


Among the several purposes for test patterns was the need to occupy the frequency of the broadcasters signal while programming took a break. The patterns also gave technicians reference points for adjusting things like focus, contrast, and eventually color. Perhaps the most beneficial purpose of the test pattern was hidden and even unintentional - they gave the world a break, time off from the consumption of images and sounds. They helped sustain rhythms and cycles of activity and rest, awake and sleep. They even mimicked the mandala, an ancient art form of introspection, contemplation, and meditation of the universe.

I've rarely been one to pine for the "good old days" but wouldn't it be nice to have test patterns again, not just on televisions, but also radios, computers, phones, and all of the "smart" devices that occupy so much of human time, energy, and imagination? Wouldn't it be nice if the whole world, within our respective time zones, could pause each day, take a deep breath, and get off the media grid if only for a few minutes?

Of course we can do this as individuals and groups. We humans have been meditating, worshiping, gathering, relaxing, and sleeping since our beginnings. However, we also have a strong tendency to be drawn toward whatever is flashing and shining in front of us. 

Our current reality is one of constant exposure to all manner of media containing information and data in imagery and sound. There are no more test patterns. This leaves us to our own devices. And, we do have a choice. We have on/off switches. We have imagination. An amazing creation surrounds us and already provides seasons, cycles, and rhythm, if we will only turn away* from flashing shining screens on our walls, our desks, and in our hands. We may not have test patterns on our media today, but we can develop and practice "rest patterns" in our lives!

*"repent" - to turn from one thing and toward another 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Propaganda

Propaganda: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person; ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause.  ~ Merriam-Webster online dictionary

Our modern lives are fueled by information, so much so that we've labeled our time as the "age of digital information." An older friend recently shared that several months ago he had given in to  his children's chiding to trade in his flip-phone (now considered ancient technology) for a "smart" phone of which the "phone" part is the least used. "Now," he says, "I can't imagine not having it with me,  and I feel disconnected if I don't."

The more we learn about the technology in our lives, the more we realize how we literally live in a multilayered maze of manipulation of information that feeds our desires and fears while shaping our perspective of the world. Remember the phrase (I suppose we call it a "meme" now) "you are what you eat." Updated a bit, it becomes "you are what you read, watch, and hear on the various screens in your pockets and on your desks and walls." Swirling about in this sea of information, sometimes surfacing enough to see it, is propaganda.

The original meaning of the word "propaganda" was religious.

The Congregatio de propaganda fide (“Congregation for propagating the faith”) was an organization established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV as a means of furthering Catholic missionary activity. The word propaganda is from the ablative singular feminine of propogandus, which is the gerundive of the Latin propagare, meaning “to propagate.” The first use of the word propaganda (without the rest of the Latin title) in English was in reference to this Catholic organization. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that it began to be used as a term denoting ideas or information that are of questionable accuracy as a means of advancing a cause.  ~ Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Of course the "faith" being propagated was that of the Doctrine of Discovery, a Papal Bull from a previous century that sanctified domination and exploitation by European "explorers."

The only thing that seems to have changed in five hundred years is the means of communication - from Papal Bull to Presidential Tweet.

Our dilemma, and task, is first being aware that we live in this maze and sea of propaganda, and second to discern how our own desires and fears are being fed by the information we consume. Humans have a tendency to gravitate toward things we desire and hide things we fear.

There is a reason most spiritual traditions hold at their core detachment from unbridled desire and release of unfounded fear. These are truly worth propagating.



   

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Breakfast Tree

Sorry about the late OEP this week. I've been kinda busy because my grandson, Oliver, and his Mommy and Momma are visiting us this week. A four and half year old boy in the house keeps you pretty busy! He's up early and goes 100% all day long!

Oliver is into super heroes theses days and his favorite is Cat Boy on the animated series "P.J Masks." Picking up on this we've had fun imagining some other "boy" names connected to all of the things he's been doing this week.  Oliver now has a string of aka's like Pool Boy, Beach Boy, Surfer Boy, Noodle Boy, Drip Castle Boy, - The different "boys" just keep showing up.

This morning I made Oliver his favorite breakfast - a ham and cheese omelet and, you guessed it, Omelet Boy appeared. While enjoying our omelets and some fruit, Oliver made the observation that we could save money by planting orange seeds in our back and then pick our own oranges for breakfast. So, I suggested why not go for the whole works and plant an omelet tree!

You can imagine where the conversation went from there. 

"What if it were a breakfast tree with any kind of breakfast on it?"

"We could have a lunch tree too!"

"And a dinner tree!"

"What would be on the dinner tree?"

"Tacos!"

That's when it occurred to me -

"You know, Oliver, actually it all comes from seeds and plants."

"What? Even meat? And eggs?"

"That's right. Even meat and eggs. Meat comes from animas that eat plants that come from seeds. Eggs come from chickens that eat grain that comes from plants, that come from seeds."

Thanks, Oliver, for reminding us that we are all connected to each other and to all of creation.

There really is a Breakfast Tree!