Tag Archive: Paradigm


I Wonder. What If . . . .

I had one of my thoughts a few minutes ago.

There is a children’s hymn.  The theologian Karl Barth, when asked to sum up his understanding of God, quoted the first two lines:

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so

I thought, what if, instead of that, instead of the hymn having said that in the first place, its sentiment had been more along the lines of Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Bible tells me so?  What if it were not a self-centred affirmation possibly pandering to insecurity and trying to remedy it in what is possibly a mistaken way, and instead taught children primarily to affirm the value of the Other?  It is said that what you give you get back, anyway.

I was brought up in church to believe that the Bible takes it for granted that we love ourselves when it says love your neighbour as yourself.  I think it is in Leviticus that there are lots of rules about how to treat other people and their property, and the individual’s responsibility towards other people, like making sure there was a fence around the edge of your roof, I think, to make sure other people were safe.

In the Pentecostal church I went to we were taught a formula for joy that used the word itself as an acronym: Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last.  I’ve struggled with that acronym over the past few years and wondered if it is right and thought, from what I have been led to understand, that perhaps it isn’t, and I became resentful of having heard it in the first place.

The first time that the ‘love yourself’ movement came into my awareness was back in the 80s.  I think the Church was talking about it and teaching it as good.  From what I understand as a person who is no longer involved, that has now taken a strong hold and a lot of the ideas espoused by the Church I’m aware of are geared towards self nurturing.  We are to love and nurture ourselves, instead of recognising and being secure in the fact that God wants to, and does, do that for us, and being grateful, and giving our attention and acceptance and affirmation to others and loving and caring for them out of that security.

It seems true to me that if our focus is inward and on ourselves, rather than on God and others, it is a recipe for neurosis and unhappiness.  If we love God and others right, we will love ourselves as a byproduct.  I think this might be something that is recognised in the Indian use of the word ‘Namaste’.  Recently I read a quotation from Ram Dass that put it this way:

“In India when we meet and part we
Often say, ‘Namaste’, which means: I
honor the place in you where the
entire universe resides; I honor the
place in you of love, of light, of truth,
of peace. I honor the place within
you where if you are in that place in
you and I am in that place in me,
there is only one of us.”
~~Ram Dass~~

I recently heard someone say that either the Dalai Lama or people in India could not understand that people in the West have a problem with self worth and loving themselves.  I’m thinking at the moment of the story I’ve heard Krishna Das and Ram Dass tell, that when Maharaj-ji (also known as Neem Karoli Baba because he came from Neem Karoli, it means teacher from Neem Karoli) was asked how to raise kundalini he said ‘feed people’.  Krishna Das says that in India food was worth more than money, so feeding people was an amazing thing for them.  The story goes that Ram Dass got into a confrontation with Maharaj-ji and demanded to know how to raise kundalini, saying Maharaj-ji must know, and Maharaj-ji said ‘All I know is Ra-Ma.’, Ram being the Hindu word for God.  He said only Jesus died the real death, because He had no thought for Himself, but lost Himself in Love.

A lot of evangelical and charismatic Christians are afraid that, if they don’t get everything ‘just right’, they might not make it to heaven.  It all depends on right understanding and performance, and it is a good idea not to let anyone who might take them away from that get too close to them.  Yet when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, then added that the second was like it, to love your neighbour as yourself.  In the Sermon on the Mount He said we should do to others as we would want them to do to us.  It seems to me, at the time of writing (even though I’m having contradictory thoughts – I suppose who doesn’t?  That is fallen humanity for us, never sure of even the most obvious and beautiful truth), Paul’s instruction to Timothy to rightly divide the Word of God should be understood with that as a backdrop.  And what if his instruction to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling could best be understood as fear and trembling in beautiful and loving awe of of another person and their Godness?  The Bible says in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  I heard Charles Slagle say back in the 80s that the word ‘fear’ there is best translated as loving respect.  I like that idea.  What if we all did?

Jesus is referred to as both Priest and Sacrifice.  I think it says exactly that somewhere in Hebrews, which is all about the relationship of Christianity to the sacrificial system that used to exist in Judaism. We are to trust Him for salvation.  Not only His death on the cross, but His Priesthood, which was not limited to that, but also involved all His teaching up to that point.  In Jesus Christ Superstar there is a song that says ‘You’ve begun to matter more than the things You say’.  There is definitely truth in that for the way a lot of Christians approach things today.  That trusting Jesus’ death on the cross for salvation is all that is needed, which can easily degenerate into a me centred position.  Me and my security, although if we understand salvation rightly we can begin to live in it on earth, not only when we die.  Jesus’s teaching and example were all about love for God and others.  He said if a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it bears much fruit, but if not it remains alone.  He said those who hear His teachings and do them are like the man who built his house upon a rock which stood the storms and floods, as opposed to those who don’t follow His teachings who are like the man who built his house on the sand, which fell quickly in the storms and floods.  We do need the words and teachings of Jesus, but the foundation of them, as He said Himself, is love for God and others, love for ourselves being assumed, not a lot of anxious nitpicking and working out positions, including some people and excluding others because we are frightened that we ourselves might otherwise lose our own security.  If we really understood this, we wouldn’t have all the denominations.  We would be and live out One Church, just as Jesus prayed in John 17 in Gethsemane before they arrested and killed Him.  I really believe that.

God help us all!  And God deliver us from wannabe teachers and theologians like me who write this kind of stuff and don’t actually acknowledge all their own horrified misgivings about some of the things they say because they just want to put it out there and be done.  We can be in danger of being like the teachers Jesus said people should listen to but not do what they did, who made heavy burdens for people and didn’t help them carry them.

I wrote it today, about an hour ago.  It wasn’t explicitly Christian, but I am a Christian and I have posted a lot of things on the Christianity board, partly because I wanted Christians to see.  First it started being moved down the page, then it disappeared altogether.  Scroll down, it is the post before this.  I don’t understand or agree with these rules, if that is what they are.  I’ve used the ‘copy post’ facility so this has all the same tags and categories.

I’ve also updated my ‘My Stalkers, And Other Animals‘ page today.  Check it out.  It’s heavy.

PS straight after posting this I checked the board again and the original post had reappeared on page 2!  Before that I had checked about 6 pages.  But even then they position and reposition things.  Frame and reframe.  It is almost like freemasonry.  But I feel bad saying that, because I feel I should be grateful for the protection of myself and those involved.

Question:  SHOULD I feel bad?  I’d be interested to know who thinks what and why.

On the 3rd, the next day, I walked down Vitosha Boulevard in Sofia and passed a doorway with blood spattered in front of it, just like the reports of mafia shootings, though of course, it might not have been.  There were a couple of police in attendance, no panic, seemed pretty routine.  Lots of big drips of blood.  Straight after my post the day before, on the popular boulevard I was walking down, though I didn’t think it was in any way linked with me.  I hope not.  If other people are going to be hurt because of what I write . . . I hope that wouldn’t happen.  I can’t get my head around the possibility that I might be that significant.

Film Gomorrah Link.  Not downloadable via iPlayer, other recording options possible.  Available until 2.29 am Wednesday 3rd August 2011 UK time.

Documentary – Italy’s Bloodiest Mafia Link.  Downloadable via iPlayer and available until 12.19 am 3rd August 2011 UK time.  If downloaded via iPlayer or other options offered by the BBC site this is available for 28 days after download and can be re-recorded to a permanent format using other software.

The Scoop Radio Interview Link.   Not downloadable via iPlayer, available until 5.02 pm 7th August 2011.

I just noticed these today and two of them have almost expired.  So far I have only watched the documentary and by the look of it the film is about the same group.  The documentary made the same comments as my own observations and thinking have pieced together with regard to the relationship between the mafia and the state.  I appeal to the sources I learned to think from to forgive me for forgetting that this is not a product of my own brilliant mind, because in my situation I feel as if my observations and thinking are unique to me and my own direct observations.

I’m in a hotel.  I’m still getting a woman’s ghost voice.  This has happened many times.  People always say there is nothing happening and no one there that I have described.  Fortunately I now book through Expedia and can write a review of the hotel.  People seem to be angry around me, slamming doors after the documentary finished, and slamming again just now, so I’m wondering again if my internet connection is being hacked.

Two facts made an impression on me from the documentary about a group in Italy.  One was the mafia equivalent of the three wise monkeys, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.  Maybe that is where it came from in the first place.  People who speak out against the mafia become isolated by friends and family, and it cost one man in this documentary his marriage.

The second was that one of the people interviewed said they entered into a blood pact, swearing on the Bible.  I didn’t know the Bible was involved.  I’ve always felt the confusion of a religious pull with it and now maybe I know why.  It would make sense to me anyway.

I’m quite isolated myself, and one of the men in the documentary talked about having the sign of the cross made at him, and said it was the same as saying they wanted you dead. I’ve had that done to me, and that is how I felt as well.  That and that maybe they were trying to protect themselves against sexual temptation or something.

I need to do some research on the Bulgarian mafia.  That is obviously the thing in my own mind.

The Italian documentary said that if a person stayed in that city for a month it would be impossible not to buy something that would fund the mafia, that they were involved in drugs and business and prostitution, and extortion was mentioned a few times.  They said 15 year old boys were involved so they could have all the right clothes etc, because otherwise they are nothing.  To me another reason for radically lessening the hold of the fashion industry on the media and advertising.  The media creates ‘the valley of the dolls’ surely, among people of that age, all the pressure, media and peer, classification of what is good and bad, in and out.  Good image and bad. Fashion is pushed and dictated beforehand.  It is decided that something is going to be the look, before it is even on the streets, then people are persuaded and pressured to go get it.

They also showed a football recreation ground that was a gift from a mafia boss.

It looks as if the film and the documentary are about the same mafia group in Italy.  The names are almost identical.

I haven’t heard the radio interview yet either, which is available until the 7th.  That is about a journalist called Jake Adelstein who chose to write a story about Japanese organised crime in spite of risks to himself and his family.

This is the ‘more programme information’ paragraph on this series and on this particular interview (underlined emphasis my own):

“Startling stories from behind the headlines. Neil Mackay – the Sunday Herald’s multi-award winning Home Affairs and Investigations Editor – hears from fellow investigative journalists about the biggest stories of their careers. What on earth drives them to pursue a scoop well beyond the point of their own safety and possibly their own sanity? After uncovering a scandal including a top Japanese Mafia boss and the FBI, Jake Adelstein was told “Erase the story. or we’ll erase you. And maybe your family too” Neil Mackay hears why Jake did decide to write the story despite the risks to him and his family.”

I have highlighted the ‘possibly their own sanity’ phrase because I am wondering how those threats are posed and if I would just be being egotistical to identify myself with this.

Not meaning to be self-righteous here, because obviously I am not perfect, but as a victim of constant neighbour violence and harassment, including at illegal times, over the last six months, by a household that mixes it all up with ‘dobre’ and ‘hallelujah’, I have tried to confront them and appeal to their consciences in words about what they are doing and the right way to deal with their problems (go to the police), and it has made little difference, if any.  The same house producing consistent violence and harassment is also producing consistent hallelujahs and dobres and recently men in tears, and I am a single foreign woman.   I’m not sure I understand this.  It is like one Bulgarian says that there is no mafia control, and another says most business in Bulgaria is controlled by, if not owned by, the mafia, and I encounter all kinds of stuff, as a stranger everywhere I go, which says people know me and where I am from, and sometimes I feel so much love and shame and guilt I think the mafia might be a good thing, not a bad thing, and the violence (and mentally I even put THAT in inverted commas now) really is a legitimate form of discipline and correction that a community imposes on people who are out of step, without resorting to a police service in which people whose job, which they are paid for and from which they can be sacked, one hopes (but check this out for the official policy to police accountability in Bulgaria in 2009), gives them authority they sometimes, if not often, use for abuse and contempt.  I feel the love and sincerity is among the normal, powerless people, including the people above my apartment who target my ears with violence when I’m using the toilet or shower or in bed or any time they seem to feel the need, and who say hallelujah and dobre and cry, as I cry myself.

I have to leave this weekend.  My landlord, who has known all about this for ages because I have told him in detail, has decided to throw me out without ever having sought legal support for me, knowing that my own attempts have failed.

Obviously, I would be the mad woman.

I just heard some of the talk going on in Parliament about nice despots.  That is the impression I got anyway. So I thought I had better say something in my defence before I am made to look a more complete idiot than I actually am.

Practically, despots are made, not born.  What has happened in this man’s life that kindness and respect, rather than censure and name-calling, just might put right?  Is an expression of love ever wrong or inappropriate?  After people fight me down over my anger, even if it is an appropriate feeling, I still end up loving them, even feeling I like them, but by that time so much has been said and done it is a much more embarrassing feeling for me.

But then there is the stalking of which I am constantly aware, so that obviously affects the way I relate to people.

Practically from my point of view, my softness on Gadaffi might be for two reasons.  I only say might, the only information I have is what is thrown at me, I don’t know him.

Reason 1.  I don’t know my history (even if I did I might want to approach it as a therapist, not a judge).

Reason 2. My life has been filled with despotic/insecure/silently-wounded authority figures that people have insisted I should love, respect, obey and be grateful for.  My father, my grandfather, some of my teachers, some of my Church leaders?, some of the police, some of my psychiatrists and other psychiatric staff, neighbours, landlords, employers, fellow employees, some media people.  Etc, etc.  To me, both verbal and physical abuse and assault have been involved, and slander and defamation, and I was still expected to live with it and told it was OK, that the law allowed it, or they didn’t mean it, or it was just the way they were, or to get over it because it was a long time ago, or no one cared to give me an answer anyway.  Much of this has affected my life in negative ways, some of them irrevocable.

So those feelings which I have been brainwashed and tortured into feeling, the rationalisations I have been forced to adopt, are transferred to world despots, and I feel sympathy for them.  Or a sense of duty towards them.  I suppose sympathy, if I feel in any way filial, or identify with them in their despotism and what might have shaped and railroaded them into that.

I can’t write anymore.  The woman in my personal torture-chamber upstairs is murdering my thoughts and emotions and leaving me feeling so desperate and like minced meat.  They are violent and invasive and disrespectful of my privacy and harassing. Am I a target of evangelism, or is it milk the Anglichanka, or what?  Here Anglichanka, me , Anglichanka, I’m a baby bird, feed me, I’m good.  Don’t know.  They are violent and very personally invasive.  And I can’t think straight.  They are grabbing at my life and emotions like children with toys, sticking needles in me and sucking out the nectar, and saying I have to go to them to get it back.  That is how it feels.  Enough already, they insinuate themselves into everything.

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