Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kerouac, Coltrane & Kierkegaard OR Evangelical Pornography

It's all I want for far.

I haven't read the book yet, I have only read one page.

I may hate it, but I doubt it.

I would have thought it impossible that one book..on just one random page (128) could tether so many of my topics, interests, areas of study:

God, "secular" searches for God, church and culture, religion and sex, fear of death, epistemology, cultural anthropology of religion, surrationality, compassion studies, Kierkegaard..

NO author that I am aware of since Frank Lake has done it.

Until Donald W. Miller.

Uh, no relation to the other Donald Miller you are thinking of if you frequent websites like this....But take a break and read some racy excepts of his writings, like "Lotsa Naked People & The Campus Confessional" and "Penguin Sex is like Christian faith." .

The particular Donald Miller I mean is the one who wrote (with his son, Donald Miller, Jr.), the book at hand here; the book some kind reader will get me for Christmas, so I don't have to cozy up at bedtime with an uncozy PDF):

"Heart in Hand."

And much of the book is about one of my obsessions: music and physics (Chapter 5 is "The Metaphysics" and incorporates a theology of John Coltrane.


"This book," Miller summarizes, " presents my personal reflections on the nature of life. I offer here my views on sex, death, love, God, and the importance of music, and art in general. This book will be of particular interest to students of Schopenhauer and Woody Allen fans."

What else could you ask for?

The only thing I haven't found in the book yet is U2 (such a grand passion of mine that it gets its own blog).

But Bono (just see what he was reading a few years ago...bottom of this page under "books") would like it.

What else would you expect from tha author of such classic books as "The Practice of Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery" and "Atlas of Cardiac Surgery"!! ....a topic in which (as far as I know) I have no interest in.

Here's the page. It may not do a thing for you, but it made my day. And is a springboard to all kinds of academic pursuits....and hopefully practical conclusions.

And it beats reading Tim La Haye's "endtimes pornography" (:


Jack Kerouac once said, “The Beat Generation is basically a religious generation.” He said “we are in the vanguard of the new religion.” He called the Beats a“seeking generation” that is on a spiritual quest. When asked, “What are you looking for?,” he replied, “God. I want God to show me His face.” Neal Cassady was the high priest, or shaman, of this quasireligious movement...New Age converts, in essence, are seeking new forms of religious experience. And like the devotees of established theistic religions, they are also prone to manipulation by self-serving leaders and shamans of this quasireligious movement ..

An important reality of life is that our species’ religious impulse, which gives rise to our sense of the sacred, is a strong force. Primitive hunter-gatherer bands and technologically modern societies alike must reckon with it. As Gordon Alport puts it, “Religion, like sex, is an almost universal interest of the human race.”

In his search for God, the detective in “Mr. Big” says, “What if Kierkegaard’s right?...If you can never really know. Only have faith.” With regards to a personal God,one would be hard put to say that Kierkegaard is wrong. But we can intuitively, at least,“know” that there is a God of Universal Oneness that lies at the root of everything.Intuitively derived knowledge is not “scientific,” that is, it is not rationally coherent nor isit consensually verifiable. Intuitive knowledge is what one observer terms a “surrational”form of knowledge, a “direct perception,” as Schopenhauer puts it. It is independent of any reasoning process. It is a blind, “holy fool’s” form of knowing. But one should not dismiss it, as the critic Brendan Gill, who writes for The New Yorker, prefers to do, by branding it a “no man’s land of nonreason.” Each one of us can intuitively apprehend the God of Universal Oneness both through sex and compassion. Mystics can gain a further appreciation of this deeper world through their intense spiritual experiences. Andthey tell us that God is Love, which is in keeping with Schopenhauer’s views on theimportance of compassion in such matters.

This account of the rock bottom reality of things, however, does not fully satisfy our metaphysical needs and assuage our fear of death. A compassionate Universal Oneness is one thing, but this kind of “God” will not satisfy our desire for a continued individual existence after death. It stands in silent indifference to our transient, personalexistence. We have a deep-seated need to form a covenant with a supernatural Being who can grant us immortality, one who can enable our essence, our soul, our spirit—orwhatever one might prefer to call it—to somehow live on after the physical death of ourbodies. Stonewall Jackson believed that death in battle defending his beloved Confederacy would be rewarded with everlasting life in heaven. In an attempt to escapethe oblivion of death we worship a God (or a Goddess) in specially built sanctuaries, in a sacramental manner. This metaphysical need is a very important component of our psychological makeup, as G. Stanley Hall pointed out early in the 20th century. He writes:

As Freudians find sex, so our analysis finds religion at the root of all. Religion is a passion of thesoul comparable in universality and intensity with sex... As the root impulse of sex is to propagateanother generation, so the root impulse of religion is to prolong the life of the individual by getting his soul born into another world. Both are forms of Schopenhauer’s will to life, which is the Brund-Trieb of all life. -Searching for God 129

Belief in a supernatural Being arises, in part, from a numinous reaction to the fear of death. Even though we feel a deep-seated need for a divine providence, we nevertheless cannot know for certain if there really is a personal God or Goddess that wecan relate to. In the search for God, it requires a leap of faith to claim the existence of apersonal God. In any event, I will continue to happily accept the prayers of a patient’sloved ones, prayer groups, and church congregation for a successful outcome with surgery. And in the uncommon instances when the patient does not survive, I will alwaysbe grateful to the chaplains, reverends, priests, and rabbis who provide solace and minister to the grieving family.
-Donald W. Miller in"Heart in Hand.", p 128 (mas o menos)

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