William Edelen Blog – The Contrary Minister

William Edelen:  A spiritual union – mountain and desert 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

In the Coachella Valley, where I live, there exists what could be one of the most powerful energy fields on the planet, with Mt. San Jacinto at near 11,000 feet hovering over, protecting, watching, loving the desert of the eternal valley called Coachella, the result of an ancient lake that covered the entire valley and long ago receded to the ocean.

The sun, like a jealous lover, hovers over the desert in a protective manner, unique and unknown to rain forests and the endless waters of the ocean.

The desert reduces everything to essentials, to the basics of whitened bone. The desert, perhaps more than any other place on earth, speaks of silence, simplicity and solitude. The desert calls to men and women who being wasted away by the stress, confusion and anxieties of city life, yearn for a spiritual retreat, an escape from the demon time, the clock and the calendar that that so enslave us.

All great spiritual traditions began, from a desert or a mountain, with the vision quest of one lone, single individual who, in solitude and silence, saw through the veil of the superficial into those realms and dimensions of reality that were of the timeless and eternal.

William Edelen: The Web of the Universe

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

“THE UNIVERSE IS A CONTINUOUS WEB,

TOUCH IT AT ANY POINT AND THE WHOLE WEB QUIVERS”

Stanley Kunitz
Twice Poet Laureate of the United States 

The AMERICAN INDIAN would agree.

EINSTEIN would agree.

The DALAI LAMA would agree.

CARL JUNG would agree as he wrote eloquently in his classic book “THE EARTH HAS A SOUL”. Quote: “It remained for modern science to DE-spiritualize nature through its SO-CALLED “objective” knowledge. Man’s mystical identity with nature was curtailed as never before. We have been cut off from the earth through more than A THOUSAND YEARS OF CHRISTIAN TRAINING. This is the SICKNESS of Western man and he will not rest until he has infected the whole world with his own GREED.”

William Edelen: It’s In the Genes — The Bright Light of Truth

eMy maternal grandparents: Papa and Mama Deaver

From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

Over the entire 40 years that I have been writing “religious” columns… I have received, literally, hundreds of letters, emails, and phone calls saying “THANK YOU… for setting me free from the mental prison of organized doctrine and dogma”. Maybe my column today will have a similar effect on human lives, suffering from this issue.

My subject is about ‘GENETICS’ and family history. Why am I writing about that? Because TRUTH matters. And truth is not as bad as our ignorant and half formed fears about it. Everybody today is knowledgeable about DNA (genetics) and its value in family history… relationships… paternity… and so forth. But many remain ignorant about the value of genetics in shaping a human being with values and personality traits and habits. “MAN IS A THINKING MUTANT,” wrote Pascal. And so it is.

 William Edelen: Albert Einstein and the Dalai Lama — kindred souls with the American Indian…

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From WILLIAM EDELEN

Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize for his THEORY OF PHOTOELECTRICITY, and of course his THEORY OF RELATIVITY is known throughout the world.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, is the head of state and also the spiritual leader of Tibet.

In every other area of life and living, apart from physics, these two men were truly kindred souls with shared views on almost every subject and identical AND with the spirituality of the American Indian… whose cosmology and beliefs were also almost identical.

The Dalai Lama said, “I am NOT a Buddhist. I live by the principles found in many of the great spiritual traditions” and “We can live without religion and meditation. This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy or theology. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple.”

William Edelen: Leviticus and Homophobics

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

Don’t you just love the homophobics, the bigots and clowns of the Christian Coalition and fundamentalists? “The bible is God’s word,” they yell at us… “the bible is true… every word… and by God himself… and we live by that book… and what it says… we do. And it says right there in Leviticus 18:22 that you shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Now, if we live by that archaic, ignorant and superstitious book, just look who else is going to hell. Ah, what fun. Practically all the political leaders in Washington, that’s who. “And God said you shall not marry a woman divorced from her husband.” (21:7). How I love that bible. There went Reagan… Dole… Gingrich… Buchanan and all those other big shot Republicans and Democrats who have broken God’s law and married divorced women.

William Edelen: Reflections On My Own Death

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

At age 92 and facing reality and natures laws, I know that my days are now “dwindling down to a precious few.” (September Song). I write my reflections on this subject as an essay as my gift to you. In all my years as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches, and my own unique Sunday Symposiums from Santa Rosa, CA to Palm Springs, CA, the one question that has been asked me THOUSANDS of times is… “BILL, WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ABOUT DEATH… AND BEYOND… WHAT DO YOU THINK REALLY HAPPENS?”

Many Christian churches have promoted and thrived on a FEAR of death and dying and the JUDGEMENT that goes with it from a “hit man” anthropomorphic “God”. The biblical St. Paul writes, “The last ENEMY that shall be overcome is death.” In Buddhism, Zen and Taoism, they laugh at this absurdity and stupidity of DEATH as an ENEMY. How could anything as NATURAL as death be an enemy? EVERY living organism dies. It is a natural and beautiful part of birth and life. I totally agree, and as a former lecturer in Eastern thought on this subject find the archaic “fear” and “judgment” preached by many Christian pastors illiterate, insulting, degrading, cruel and outrageous.

William Edelen: Robert Ingersoll

From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost Celebrating Ingersoll's Birthday August 11]

What is surprising is that Robert Ingersoll is so little known in our time. He lived from 1833 to 1899 and was internationally known as the “great Agnostic,” one of the most brilliant thinkers, lawyers, orators, debaters and authors of his day, or any day. Twelve volumes of his works are still available and are a collector’s treasure. He lectured all over the United States and abroad to standing-room-only audiences.

He spoke on many subjects, but thousands upon thousands turned out to hear him demolish the absurdities of orthodox religious dogmas. He found them repugnant due to the damage they did to the human mind and spirit. He and Thomas Jefferson shared similar views regarding organized religion. And yet, on a deep and profound level he had a sense of the mystery that was breathtaking.

I can tell you that without exception his funeral eulogies are the most beautiful that I have read in the English language. The poet laureate of the universe, Walt Whitman, said that only one man could speak at his funeral, and that man was Robert Ingersoll.

Carl Sandburg said of Ingersoll’s eulogy of Whitman, “It was a most precious treasure.”

William Edelen: The Language of the Soul

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

Music is the language of the soul and the cathedral of the human spirit. More human beings have been moved, healed, inspired, up-lifted, redeemed and transformed by music than by all of the philosophies and contradictory theologies ever written. If a “God” is beyond human comprehension, then “theology” is a pseudo-science without a subject matter and the theologian is one who does not know what he is talking about. But, through music, joy, love, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter and meditations find a voice that fills our hearts.

Dr. Lewis Thomas, former Dean of the Yale University School of Medicine, writes these words in Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony: “Music is the most profound mystery of human existence. No one has the ghost of an idea about what music is, or why we make it and cannot be human without it. How does the human mind make music on its own, before it is written down and played? Nobody can explain it. It is the greatest mystery of the human mind.”

William Edelen: Reflections at Age 92

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

The poet STANLEY KUNITZ (pictured above) has been my hero and role model from the time I first came into his magical orbit and was exposed to his brilliant thinking. It is no accident that he graduated from Harvard “summa cum laude”. Or that he was TWICE chosen the Poet Laureate of the United States… or Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, or winner of the Pulitzer and Bollingen Prizes, and his Honors would take two more full pages to list. His passion was Horticulture, and from his garden came his inspiration, he said.

My own Bachelor of Science degree is in Horticulture from Oklahoma State University. I think you can understand why this man became my kindred spirit and “role model” over the years.

One of his most famous poems, and one that speaks to my own life, is “THE LAYERS”. When I first read this to my weekly Sunday Symposium, the entire group wanted a copy, so we made over a hundred copies. It is almost mystical to me how the words of this poem are an accurate reflection of my own life.

William Edelen: Time… and the River Flowing

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (July 17)
The Contrary Minister

Sitting by the River, surrounded by the beauty and magic of Oak Creek Canyon, in Sedona AZ, has been one of the most enduring Joys of my 92 years of life. Great TRUTHS about life, the movement of our days, with the decisions and attitudes that create either great happiness and peace, or else fill our days with despair, anger and stress, have come to me from that river and how it relates to time… flowing even as the river flows.

I have dated this essay the 17th of July, the day I entered the world 92 years ago in Stephenville, Texas, (called “The Cowboy Capital of the World”, due to so many of the National Rodeo Champions who live there). I have chosen that date on purpose. WHY? Because I consider this subject one of the most important of ALL my subjects of the last 40 years. We live today in a culture and society filled with human beings living with daily stress, anxiety, frustrations, confusion over values, shallow relationships and the chaos created in the mind and emotions of so many personal lives.

William Edelen: Thomas Jefferson and the 4th of July…

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

When John Kennedy was President, he gave a banquet in the White House that was without precedent. The banquet was for every living American Nobel Prize winner, with about 150 present. At the beginning of the evening, President Kennedy stood and announced he would give a toast. He said:

“Never has so much talent, and so much genius, been assembled in one room, since Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

The author of the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate today was a brilliant philosopher, scholar, theologian, architect, linguist, statesman, musician, horticulturist, agronomist, humanist, scientist, deist, and master of the civilized arts.

There is no question in my mind that the 4th of July is the most important holiday that we celebrate in this nation. All of the other holidays, Easter and Christmas included, pale by comparison.

William Edelen: Sacred Humanism

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

That brilliant Renaissance man, Carl Jung, said of his Lutheran pastor father: “My father’s bible stood as a great wall between my father and the Living Present God”… What he is saying is this: organized, dogmatic, creedal and authoritarian Christianity has only one primary objective: to sustain, promote and maintain the institution. Individual spiritual growth and maturation become impossible within such an artificial construct.

The bigger the institution, the more stagnation in mediocrity, the more unavoidable is its blind stupidity, and very often immorality. To raise an individual out of this mindless mass and make clear to him/her that they are the one primary factor, and not the institution, becomes impossible.

William Edelen: My Zen Priest Brother

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

During this month of June… in preparation for my June 29th last Symposium of the season… I have been contemplating and meditating on the subject of the HUMAN SPIRIT… and THE SPIRIT WITHIN… particularly as it relates to the arts and artists. During my meditation… it came to me vividly… how one of my friends and former colleagues, who called me “brother”… created his art from HIS SPIRIT WITHIN.

His name was Richard Kirsten-Daiensai, an ordained Zen Buddhist priest as well as one of the most distinguished artists in America.  He and I became good friends and kindred spirits. We met when he lived in Seattle, and I was in Tacoma teaching at the University of Puget Sound. The Kirsten Gallery opened in Seattle in 1972. My essays were being published in the Seattle and Tacoma newspapers and Kirsten was reading them. He loved them due to the fact that my essays on Zen and Taoism were radically different from the rigid and dogmatic doctrines and creeds of Christianity. My essays were factual, scholarly, informative and educational. Readers got an accurate and articulate picture of the beauty of Zen. Kirsten loved my work as I loved his. Thus began a beautiful friendship.

William Edelen: The “Gift”

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

This is an essay reflecting on the Mysteries of the human spirit, and in particular how this spirit manifests in the ARTS… and ARTISTS.

I want to share with you a recent experience I had in being invited to the dedication of a sculpture of an American Indian entitled… “THE GIFT” to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

The original purpose for the sculpture was to reside at the Riverside National Cemetery as representative of the American Indian veteran.

William Edelen: Dispensary to the Soul

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

A Library inscription in Trajan’s forum in Rome reads “Dispensary to the Soul”. Barbara Tuchman wrote: “Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill”.

I am asking: Will the information technology revolution ever displace the almost genetic and aesthetic attachment we feel about books, along with their unquestioned value and contribution to liberal education?

William Edelen: Starting a New Day

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

So much depends on the way we start each new day. I might say even that everything that follows during any given day will be directly related to the first few hours of that day. Whether the day unfolds on a high and noble plane, or turns out to be only a survival contest to be endured.

I have a friend who refuses to turn on the television or radio, or even read a newspaper until later in the afternoon. It is a valuable insight. It can make a remarkable difference in how the day progresses.

William Edelen: The True Patriot

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

On this weekend of memory…let us remember that…

“There are certain words… our own and others we’re used to… words we’ve used… heard… had to recite… forgotten… Rubbed shiny in the pocket… left home for keepsakes… inherited… stuck away in a back drawer… in the locked trunk… at the back of the quiet mind…”

Liberty… equality… freedom… to none will we sell… refuse… or deny right or justice. We hold these truths to be self-evident. I am merely saying… what if these words pass?… what if they pass… and are gone… and are no more?… It took a long time to buy these words… it took a long time to buy them… and much blood… and much pain…” ~Stephen Vincent Benet

On this weekend of memory, please do forget cold beer and picnics for a few minutes and remember these words. Memorize them. Read them to your children… neighbors and friends. And then… read them… again… over… and over again.

William Edelen: The Gate To Freedom


eFrom WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the sage of Concord, the intellectual center of philosophical originality, philosopher and poet, embodied the finest spirit and highest ideals of his age… a bold and creative thinker who had no peers in presenting truth. His lectures and essays are models of clarity, style and thought which made him a formidable presence in American life.

The mystical harmonies of man and nature, the values of non-conformity, intellectual and spiritual independence, the glory of the human spirit, a powerful champion of the American Indian, a constant foe of the traditional American educational system, made him a brilliant voice for creative independence. The geniuses in our society received recognition and giant support from him.

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