All of what follows and much of what I write
this week is inspired by my reading of
Aeon, an online magazine, “committed to
big ideas, serious enquiry and a humane
worldview. That’s it.”
You can find Aeon at
Maurice Merleau-Ponty is a French
philosopher that I studied when I was in
college and, probably, he is the reason that
we have the suckers, the ice cream trucks,
Trunk or Treat, and a whole lot of food and
drink involved with our parish.
He came to the conclusion that we learn more
effectively and creatively by doing rather
than just seeing, human thinking emerges out
of human experiencing.
Rene Descartes a French philosopher in the
16th century said, “I think
therefore I am.”
With that, he created a gulf between the
body and the mind that is still painfully
afflicting us today and, in, particularly
perverse ways, young people, at least as I
I should point out that Rene Descartes’
mother died shortly after giving birth to
him, his father was a member of the regional
parliament and was away from home most of
the year, so little Rene was raised by his
grandmother and bachelor great uncle.
No wonder he thought!!!
Descartes made his “I think therefore, I am”
a non-negotiable principle of philosophy and
it has been embedded as boiler plate in
Western European/American thinking ever
Our minds cannot, stop and think about
this, our minds cannot exist independent
of our bodies.
Our mind is not “out there” ahead of us, us
being the whole rest of the operation, the
me, that is me, is not just thinking about
being with friends or lovers, it is
anticipating the whole experience, tasting
it, salivating over the promise of breathing
the same air with one we care for and, love.
Dancing isn’t learned by thinking, it is
learned by doing, shaking and jiggling your
body parts alone or with others, makes for
George Balanchine one the most creative and
important choreographers in the 20th
century had Igor Stravinsky write the music
before he created the dance, so important
was the ear to the legs and feet and arms.
I know there is a relationship between
mathematics and music but anyone who writes
music that people listen to knows that the
composer felt before he counted.
Today there is a whole genre of “new music”
doesn’t count at all, it flows. Karin plays
some as preludes and meditations. Listen!
Over the years when my young friends have
discovered sexual intimacy, they will,
often, tell me, “I act like an animal,” and
I’ll say, “you’re don’t, you are just you,
No one really believes that “when you have
your health you have everything,” no one.
When you have life, you have everything as
long as you possibly can hold on.
Our grief, our painful teacher of teachers,
is not an intellectual process.
Tears are not the same as thought, tears and
thoughts comingle with feelings of despair,
doubt, remorse, anger, and fear, to be
grief, the reality that can only result from
For weeks, I love to look at the
indentations on my couches after friends
have sat there, I rarely straighten things
The wrinkles left in pillows, the crumbs on
the carpet, sometimes empty bottles or cans,
and smells, the smells that are left behind,
all of this is irrational but, I’ll bet a
pretty universal experience that is human
These are just some of the ways that we can
think about that false divide that Descartes
created and we can choose to live in ways
that are more holistic, healthy, and
So why then are we giving tablets and
computers to our kids to learn about life
from? What ultimate good does a STEM based
education do for anyone?
Every evening I like to walk down to my
favorite park in Paris, I have talked about
it before, I’ll sit for an hour or two.
The park is filled with little kids in a
marvelous play area, young lovers on the
grass, groups of friends sharing bottles of
wine or pop or beer, old folks, like me, on
benches on the periphery.
Occasionally, I will glance up and notice,
that all of us, all of us, except the little
kids, have a damn screen in front of our
In the lobby of the Louvre Museum there are
hundreds, maybe, even, thousands of people,
at any given time, and most of them are
looking at screens in front of them, walking
blissfully into one another because there is
free and pretty good WIFI in the Louvre.
Looking at screens has benefits, no doubt,
but it also has a very limiting downside.
Screens raise barriers to human contact and
interaction, physical and emotional and
The screen filters the humanity of the
interaction, it is nice to ‘face time” but
isn’t it more fun to be with one another and
maybe the desire or loneliness we feel when
we are apart from those we care about
teaches us something that we need to know
and would like to know.
Maybe it teaches us at a very deep, but very
real level, that physical presence is but
one dimension of our relationship but there
are other dimensions that keep us in touch
that are just as real.
So, I am hardly a good spokesperson for
Jesus but when he talks about eating his
flesh and drinking his blood he does mean
something, not anything. We will live
forever, if we feast on his flesh and blood.
Deciphering that metaphor means that the
Sunday Liturgy means more than the Catholic
practice has let it mean. It means that
somehow that language has got to find a way
into our minds and our hearts and our eyes
and ears and mouths and feet, every single
The Sunday Liturgy should and can be an
erotic experience in the fullest sense of
the word. It should “taste” good and feel
Allowing the whole thing to be filtered
through the experience of white, European,
childless males for almost 2000 years, is a
big, big mistake. Isn’t it?
I think Jesus relied on common sense and
expected us to have the people who dissolved
their bodies into our bodies, our mothers,
take the lead in teaching the metaphor, but,