What are you reading now?
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Love Poems from God : Twelve Sacred Voices from East and West, and
Exquisite Desire: Religion, the Erotic, and the Song of Songs
And I always return to the poetry of Denise Levertov, Edna St. Vincent Millay, HD, and Sappho.
My 'to read' pile is about to fall over and includes:
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper
God Desired and Desiring by Jiminez Juan Ramn
Journeys by heart : a Christology of Erotic Power by Rita Nakashima Brock
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels
The pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God by John Piper
I should pick up Adam and Eve and the Serpent. I tend to like Paigel's work.
Right now I am reading Starhawk's The Spiral Dance; A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, among other things.
I am also reading Mary Gaitskill's Veronica, which is a fascinating study of the interplay between beauty and ugliness.
i'd be interested to hear what you think of Veronica once you've finished. i found it to be more sad than hopeful, but perhaps i read it too quicly and it deserves another look. Judging by the awards it's been nominated for, many people enjoyed it.
Your comments on Piper are enough to make me pick up the Brock, Pagels, and Ramn first.
i just glanced up at my last post and realized that i completely left Hafiz off my list!
(ex: The subject Tonight is Love: Sixty Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz and I Heard God laughing : Renderings of Hafiz)
i love reading his poems about being:
a being of just ecstatic light, forever entwined and at play
It's a sequel to his: The Disappearance of the Universe: Straight Talk About Illusions, Past Lives, Religion, Sex, Politics, and the Miracles.
Both are attempts to make A Course in Miracles a bit easier to interpret and put into practice.
I plan on reading both of the Renard books once again in the near future, then plunge into A Course in Miracles, starting with the workbook.
What does this have to do with Desiring God?
i haven't read the book yet, but i have heard that Pollan sees Johnny Appleseed (Chapman) as a wild, paradoxical figure who drew no divide between the natural world and the divine, and who transformed the everyday landscape into the mystical and the ecstatic. Pollan compares Chapman to Dionysus (the god who taught the Greeks to make wine) who is the exact opposite of Apollo (the god of clear boundaries, order, and control over nautre).
The greeks believed beauty was the offspring of the opposing tendencies of Apollo and Dionysus. Pollan said "the tulip is that rare figure of Apollonian beauty in a horticultural pantheon mainly presided over by Dionysus," and "color breaks . . . can perhaps best be understood as an explosive outbreak of the Dionysian in the too-strict Apollonian world of the tulip -- and the Duth bourgeoisie."
Pollan traces the evolution of flowers to a time before the Greeks and their gods though. Apparently, flowers and fruits appeared during the Cretaceoous period, and enlisted animals in a coevolutionary ocntract -- transportation in exchange for nutrition. Beauty became a survival strategy as plants with bigger, more fragrant, brighter blossoms were able to thrive.
Considering that we are part-and-parcel of the natural world, going beyond the book i'm looking forward to thinking about:
* why Jews and Christians historically discouraged devotion to flowers
* Christianity's current acceptance of symbolic flowers
* our juxtaposition of flowers with decadence, death, and/or evil (such as Charles Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal)
* the meaning of "beauty by design" and why symmetry is important
* quotes such as: "mutations that nature would have rejected out of hand in the wild sometimes prove to be brilliant adaptations in an environment shaped by human desire" and "For a flower the path to world domination passes through humanity's ever-shifting ideals of beauty."
* the intersection between our desire for beauty (including God's beauty) with a more corrupt desire for conspicuous display (as seen in flower gardens or the Chinese tradition of bound feet)
* whether or not beauty existed before flowers
* Pollans' statement that "without flowers, we would not be"
* how plants that help us alter our consciousness became sacrements as they answered our human desire for transcendence by disabling our moment-by-moment memory and freeing us to sense things as though for the first time and revel in its wonderment
* while it's understandable that pot is taboo because of its ability to severe links between actions and consequences, unleash inhibitions, and encourage indolence, it's also interesting to consider that it's also opposed to the idea that the self and society stand apart from nature, rather than having transcendence tripped by molecules flowing through the brain, nor that some of our brightest cultural ideas were born from drug use
* whether our attempt to control nature and wilderness are a form of hubris that ultimately cut us off from experiencing God?
Anyway, i'm looking forward to this read.
So what is a Christian Hedonist? And did you guys all know each other prior to the group? And, if so, are interlopers welcome?
I also read Starhawk and Mary Daly