Saturday, September 29, 2012

September

Since September is here,
and we're also here,
let's have a poem, a poem for it,
for September, for us, and for here.
Not three poems, but one.  Though, 
admittedly, September is a poem with three parts,
or a poem with four parts, 
or five parts, or one part,
the number of parts being predicated 
upon on the number of partitions, obviously,
and less obviously upon the particular 
partitioning habits of the partition-er, 
i.e., the one who partitions
i.e. you, or us, or them.
 
Unlike previous Septembers when we wandered in
a fog of un-timed time, stupid neanderthals bashing
beast heads and bragging about it with a grunt and a chuckle,
this September, September 2012, we honor the word part
that started it all: the prefix "sept."

We thank you, sept, for being there.
We thank you, sept.  You are the prefix
before we knew the prefix, a pre-existent truth,
a self-actualizing conceptual entity,
with which we mere mirrors of words
and poor readers of calendars aspire to harmonize.

Thank you for getting things started.  
When we were silent, you were speaking,
announcing your monosyllabic self-sound, sept. 

I was once a baby without a month, 
and you, sept, with your friend, tember, 
having compassion, guided me gently into manhood. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pray for Mitt

Dear Readers,

Our nation is at a crossroads.  Romney can help lead us to a moral and economic recovery.  Obama, if re-elected, will move America in a dangerous direction.  So, I think we should pray for Mitt Romney and pray that our fellow Americans will see that they should vote for Mitt Romney and support the traditional values that lead to peace and prosperity.

I got this email forward, and I thought I would post it on Telemoonfa Time.

Dear friends and family, I have been extremely frustrated with how things are going in our country.  A lot of my frustration is because I feel I don't know what to do to really make a change.  Well, this time I do. I am asking you to join me and my family on  Sunday Sept. 30 by fasting and praying for Mitt Romney.  That he will be blessed in the debates, which will be held Oct. 3rd.  I know that seems like such a small thing but I believe "from small things, great things can come about".   I know that fasting and praying brings about miracles.  I also know of no power greater that our Father in Heaven.   He loves this land and has blessed it many times before. . . with all our fasting and prayers their will be a great power and protection upon us and this great nation.  Please send this to all who you know that may have the faith to pray for the help we so desperately need at this time.  Please let this wave of faith move through out this great nation.   Thank you, 

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Reflection on The Lord’s Prayer


Dear Readers,

In Matthew 6:9 – 13, Jesus teaches us how to pray.  He gives the Lord’s Prayer, which is meant to serve as a model for Christian prayer.  Before he gives the sample prayer, Christ explains that his disciples should avoid praying in public to be seen of men, to get the praise and glory of men. He tells us first to go into our closets, and then to shut the door, and then to pray.  In other words, pray alone.  Christ is advocating an individual relationship with God.  Public prayer is important, of course, but the prayer that Jesus most frequently advocates is private, individual prayer.  I would argue that individual prayers are more important than public prayers.  For without individuals having personal relationships with God, public prayers done out of a sense of obligation or tradition eventually become empty ceremonies, a hollow traditional act that will eventually die off.

While introducing the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us not to use “vain repetitions.”  This means we should avoid reciting a prayer script.  Instead, we should say what’s in our hearts.  So, Jesus is not saying that we should memorize the Lord’s Prayer and recite it every day, but rather that we should use it as a rough guide for our personal prayers, expressed in our own words. 

Without further ado, here is the prayer:

Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

I’d like to look at this prayer closely and make some thoughtful, faithful comments about each line.

Our Father, which art in Heaven,

Prayers are began by addressing God.  If you haven’t prayed much individually before, it may seem weird.  You may feel like you’re just talking to yourself.  But exercise faith that a higher power is listening, and just give prayer a try.  After a few, or a lot of prayers, you’ll feel more comfortable addressing Heavenly Father, and you’ll feel the love of God, and you’ll feel Him reaching out to you.

By using the term “father,” and the pronouns “He,” and “Him,” Jesus teaches us that God is male, or at least that our finite minds are best served by picturing a male God.  Also, Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews in Christ’s day, and today, thought of God as male.  Jesus continued that mythology of a male God.  Jesus was not a radical transformer that destroyed all of Judaism, wiped the slate clean, and then created Christianity.  He acknowledged the spiritual supremacy of Judaism.  He said that “Salvation is of the Jews.”  He accepted and propagated all the truth and goodness that Judaism had, and then dispensed with all the untrue and bad things that it had accumulated over the centuries.

Some of us modern feminist types aren’t comfortable with a male God.  I suppose that discomfort is understandable.  This is a subject for a longer treatment.  My advice for now is, just go along with it.  That’s what Jesus did.

Another important thing that the first line of The Lord’s Prayer does is establish the dichotomy between Heaven and Earth.  God lives in Heaven.  We live on Earth.  Things in Heaven work differently than they do on Earth.  God is the King of Heaven, and he is a good King.  Things are worse on Earth.  Mankind is fallen.

Hallowed be thy name.

“Hallowed” means sacred, or blessed.  Jesus is reinforcing the importance of sacred things in our lives.  God is special.  God is sacred.  Most of the stuff we deal with everyday, earning a paycheck, tending to household affairs, taking the trash bin to the curb, are not sacred in the way that God is sacred.

Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

This means that when we pray, we should want the kingdom of God to come to the earth.  And what does wanting the kingdom of God to come to earth mean, exactly?  It could mean that we want the Christ’s Millennial Reign to occur, when Christ returns and rules as King, and the lion will lay down with the lamb.  That’s a good thing to want. 

Or it could also mean that we should want Heavenly ways to come down to earth, right here and right now.  Each interpretation is good. 

But whether we’re praying for a literal takeover of the wicked Earth by the Righteous Jesus, or whether we’re praying for God’s kingdom to get here in a more figurative way, the point is, we should want to make earth as heavenly as possible.  And we should ask for God’s assistance in endeavor, because we can’t do it on our own. 

Give us this day our daily bread.

We recognize that God is the source of our blessings, and so we pray to him to ask for more.  We recognize that every day we are dependent on God.  This is the moral of the manna from heaven story, when Moses and the House of Israel were wandering in the desert for forty years.  Remember, the children of Israel were not allowed to store the manna.  They had to gather it every morning, except on the Sabbath.  This taught them reliance on God. 

It is sad to see when people get so rich and so comfortable that they think that they don’t need God or his blessings.  Saying the Lord’s Prayer- or a prayer after the manner of the Lord’s Prayer- every day should help remind us that we are dependent on God for our blessings, our food, our shelter, our clothing, our breath and our heartbeat. 

“Give us this day our daily bread,” also teaches us that it’s okay, and in fact encouraged, to ask for more blessings.  God wants to bless us abundantly.

Also, this line teaches that prayer should not be an annual event in which we say, “Give us this year our yearly bread.”  Instead, we ask every day for daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

What a beautiful line.  We ask God for forgiveness, recognizing that no one but God can forgive us of our sins.  The prayer asks that God forgives us only insofar as we forgive others.  This brings to mind Matthew 7: 2, which says, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”   Thus we are praying to forgive all those who owe us money or who have wronged us in any way. 

It’s really liberating to forgive others.  It’s actually a lot harder to hold on to a grudge.  And the great thing about forgiving others is that when we do it, we have assurance from the words of Jesus that we ourselves are also forgiven.  And when we are forgiven by God, we don’t have to worry about being punished for our sins.  We don’t have to hang our heads in shame for our sins and we don’t have to fell guilty all the time, because Christ has forgiven us. 

Now, does that mean that Christ has forgiven us for the sins we will commit tomorrow?  I don’t know.  Um, let’s not get bogged down in theology, okay?  Instead, let’s focus on behavior.  Asking for forgiveness every day helps us behave in a more Christ like way.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

The distinction between good and evil is acknowledged, and we are asking God to set us free from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Friday, September 7, 2012

NAU’s 2012 – 2013 Theater Season


Dear Readers,

Another school year has arrived, and I still haven’t lost my unhealthy obsession with my alma mater, Northern Arizona University, and its practice of indoctrinating students with liberalism.  Nearly four years after graduating, I’m still trying to work through a lot of the psychological and political damage that was done to me in the theatre department and English department, while hanging on to all the positive experiences I had and skills and knowledge I acquired.  I'm being a little dramatic.  I guess being an English and Theater major at NAU didn't damage me, but it was bewildering to be immersed in so much liberalism for so long.  In fact I think one of the reasons I've become so conservative is because college was so liberal, so I rebelled against the liberalism college was trying to push on me.

Now that I have the clarity that comes with hindsight, I see that political liberalism inserts its slimy tentacles into every nook of Northern Arizona University, and it's not just in the ethnic studies or the gender studies department.  It's everywhere, from the recycling program to the campus entertainment, to the selection of course materials and professors.  Yes, NAU, along with pretty much all the public Universities in America, is very liberal, progressive, and socially decadent.  The liberalism can be demonstrated by the plays that the theater department performs every year.

Overall I think this year’s selection of plays is better than last year’s.  The thing I was most troubled about last year was the overtly political nature of Nickel and Dimed and the night with Luis Valdez.  

Mother Hicks by Suzan Zeder

It’s a family friendly play.  That’s nice.  It’s for kids. That’s really nice.  But alas, it is fraught with liberalism. 

No, I haven’t seen or read the play, but I’ve googled it enough now to reach the opinion that Mother Hicks promotes feminist, anti-religious themes.  The play features small-town religious folk who are hunting witches.  Mother Hicks is a feminist hero with supernatural powers who befriends an odd girl and instructs her in the ways of earthy, womanly power.  I’m sure the play promotes some good values, too, like courage in the face of adversity, questioning traditions, a connection with the wisdom of the past, but these positive values are overshadowed, I think, by the liberalism laced throughout Mother Hicks. 

If any theatre students at NAU are reading this, I want to say that I hope instead of hastily accepting the precepts taught in Mother Hicks, (for surely it does teach precepts, just as every play does) you will critically assess them, and perhaps challenge them.  Suzan Zeder is not God.  She’s not a prophet, or an angel.  She, along with many popular playwrights these days, has the trappings of wisdom, but I’m afraid she promotes a worldview that leads to the downfall of Western Civilization.  What authority does Zeder have, that you should so readily accept her worldview? 

I hope you challenge the ideas in your non-theatre classes, too.  If your professor assigns you to read “A People’s History of the United States of America” by Howard Zinn, I hope you read, “A Patriot’s History of the United States of America” by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen.

If you watch, “An Inconvenient Truth” in a science class, I hope you’ll also watch “The Great Global Warming Swindle.

If your political science class studies Noam Chomsky’s or Edward Said’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I hope you’ll read “The Case for Israel” by Alan Dershowitz. 

I felt like many of the professors at Northern Arizona University presented a one-sided view of things.  NAU keeps talking about celebrating diversity- diversity of race, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, and so on, but the only type of diversity they don’t want to celebrate, and in fact the type of diversity they stifle, is the only diversity that really matters: the diversity of opinions, the diversity of political and moral persuasions.  You Christian college students know what I’m talking about.  You “old-fashioned” students who consider it moral to suppress sexual activity until marriage know what I’m talking about.  You cowboys and soldiers and Republicans know what I’m talking about.  Gradually, in the college environment, your voices are being silenced. 

So why do I get so hung up on the subject matter in plays, and on the morals and the themes? Why can’t I just comment on the costumes or the acting or the lighting or the sound?  Why can’t I get caught up in the starry-eyed bliss of pyrotechnics and the outpouring of emotions like most audience members do? 

I suppose I feel constrained to talk about the morality of play selection because I love people, and I want what’s best for people, and I believe that I’ve found principles that lead toward greater happiness, prosperity, and social cohesion. These principles include the following: respect, strength in the face of evil, honesty, capitalism, hard work, individual responsibility, love, faith, justice, mercy.  These principles are best exemplified and elucidated by Jesus Christ.  These principles are good.  They lead toward the creation of good individuals, good families, and good societies. They ought to be propagated. 

One of the best ways to propagate righteous principles is through the medium of theatre.  And let us not pretend that there is any such thing as a non-political play, or a play without an agenda.  Even a non-agenda is an agenda.  Every performance of every play pushes culture in a particular direction, however slightly or dramatically.  No one who performs in a play or watches a play is exactly the same as he or she was before.  Thus, the burden of the playwright and the producer is to pick plays wisely.  When you select your plays, don’t think about what suits the transient passions of the moment, but pick a play that affirms eternal principles of righteousness.

Remember the wise words of Konstantin Stanislavsky, reminding us of the playwright's burden:

“Theatre is a pulpit which is the most powerful means of influence.” “With the same power with which theatre may ennoble the spectators, it may corrupt them, degrade them, spoil their taste, lower their passions, offend beauty.” “My task is to elevate the family of artists from the ignorant, the half-educated, and the profiteers, and to convey to the younger generation that an actor is the priest of beauty and truth.”

The High Altitude Festival of New Works

It’s a bunch of staged readings of new short plays written by students and faculty.

This is cool.  I would have liked to have participated in something like this when I was in college.  Heck, I’d like to participate in something like this now.  Hopefully they’ll get the English department involved.  Actors and makeup artists aren't always the best writers.

New new new.  Hmmm… In these modern times, I worry that too much emphasis is being placed on new works.  I’d like to see a return to ancient myths and legends and a return to “touchstones”, as Matthew Arnold used the term.  Nevertheless, I find myself wanting to write new, original plays and poems all the time.  Ha ha ha. 

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Hey, speaking of touchstones, here’s one right here!  I love this play.  Good choice, theatre department.  Shakespeare is good for the soul.  Let’s keep it alive.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl

From reading the brief play synopsis, this sounds like a new and exciting dark comedy.  It deals with how social media and other new technologies are changing our culture, which is a subject I’ve been interested in ever since I read Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman.  But you don’t go to plays for the themes, you go for the laughs, and Dead Man’s Cell Phone will surely deliver some of those.  It does say it has “mature themes and some strong language,” so once again, doing this play might alienate the wholesome, moral kids in the theatre department.  That’s a shame.

But then again, if the purpose of the theatre department is to prepare students for the real world of theatre and TV and movies, then NAU should do more plays like this.  If students want to get careers as actors in the entertainment industry, they need to practice convincingly reenacting murder, robbery, violence, profanity, promiscuity, and Sabbath-breaking for the amusement of others. 

Another High Altitude New Works Festival

Pride and Prejudice based on the novel by Jane Austen

Great!  Fantastic!  Hooray!  Great selection.  It will give the students a chance to use British accents! 

Well thanks for letting me voice my opinion, folks.  See you later.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sunglasses


For now we see through glasses, darkly
and my face can’t see all of your face
because parts of our faces, our soul-windows,
are blocked by these big black ovals we’ve got on.

And it’s really nice.  Soothing spectacles, new-fangled!
World-dimmer switches with only two settings: on, off.

The “on” setting cuts sun-blasting rays from ouch bright levels
to mellow-yellow-mood levels. Hey this feels okay.
It’s like we’re inside Plato’s Myth of the Cave,
except it’s not a myth; it’s like, we’re really in a cave!
Everything we see is a sweet and comfortable shadow:
the cups of hot chocolate set before us are shadows, 
the first girls we ever loved are shadows,
even our shadows are mere shadows of shadows!
And the dark dark Shadow Bats flap their shadowy wings.

The “off” setting is just too intense. 
Don’t even think about switching to it.
We’d have to squint to survive.