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small white square Reading a good article in the current "Harper's" magazine by Fenton Johnson called "Beyond Belief - A skeptic searches for an American faith". He writes

...not about belief but about faith; not about doctrine (the Virgin birth, the infallible pope, reincarnation) but about the subsuming of self to the greater order.

The trouble begins...when communities use belief not as an aid to faith but as a means to establish identity.

Belief -- that is, dogma and doctrine -- may serve the ends of power, but faith is the province of individuals, not institutions.

Some celibacy discussion, and the contrast between Eastern and Western monasticism; he clarifies the Buddhist dukkha as "dissatisfaction" rather than the usual "suffering". (A "noble truth" of Buddhism, which I find especially profound: The cause of all suffering is craving.)
Most of us have sex not to make babies but to assuage desire -- not just physical desire but the desire to love and be loved, for union with the whole, for an end to the aloneness inherent in being alive. During sex, invoke a Buddhist principle, we have a moment of surcease from samsara, from the endless cycle of dissatisfaction. We are one with ourselves, with another, with the other; we triumph over solitude, even over death. And then it's finished, and we're alone, and dissatisfaction returns.

small yellow square While driving hither and yon today I listened to a Joe Frank tape from my archives, a Work In Progress called "To The Bar Life". It's a great story, about how a raggedy wino wound up like that - if you have RealAudio you can listen to it too. <1> The scene near the narrative's end happens at the same monastery featured in the "Harper's" article. (And both describe some homosexuality there.)

small red square More hours spent in a "Borders & Noble" today, doing research for the upcoming journey - taking notes from travel books. The only seat available was a hard armchair in the children's section - the kids surrounding me were only of the most minor annoyance. I had fun playing "Name That Tune" with some New Agey-piano (George Winston or such-like) being played over the PA - covers of 1960s British Rock'n'Roll Invasion ballads:

  • As Tears Go By
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Bus Stop
  • Ferry 'Cross The Mersey
  • I'll Follow The Sun
  • Tuesday Afternoon
  • A Summer Song
and etc. My mental database would eventually conjure up a positive identification for each tune.

small green square Emails from the Big Apple - sudden flurry of communication with U's older sister, plus with Z across the river in New Jersey. U's sister, ever the matchmaker, wants to fix me up with somebody's sister nearby (a Compaq marketeer).

small violet square I must get a color monitor, if only for temporary - gradual urge to know "Neon Genesis Evangelion" has become unbearable. The local comic shop has all the tapes from the series available for rental. Mere text and stills are no longer enough.

PA - Public Address
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