Tag Archives: Julia Cameron

What Really Makes A Christian?

Before you read this post:

I do believe in God – no, not the guy with the beard and the staff who writes down everything I do and intends to make me atone for all of it.  I believe in what Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way called, “Good Orderly Design” or Benedict de Spinoza wrote, “God is extant in nature.”

I believe that the spirit of the driving force of the universe lives in every heart.  How big or little that spirit is depends on you.

Now, on to my thoughts on God,  religion and…oh yes, Christianity.

It is that time of year… the holidays, when Jesus gets dusted off and put out there as the reason we all spend a ton of money on gifts and good cheer.

It’s also the time of year when people all over the country come crawling out of the woodwork, declaring their “Christianity” and condemning anyone who says otherwise.

Born again Christians, conservative Christians, moderates, bible thumpers and all the noisy Christians in between proclaim their faith at the top of their lungs to anyone who will listen.

You know them.  They’re the ones that tell the rest of us we are going to hell because we don’t believe in the same things they do.

DISCLAIMER:  Not all “Christians” are bad.  I even have some friends who are Christians.  It’s the ones who preach at you one day and try to run over you with their car on the highway the next day that I have trouble with.  They are the ones who think their opinions are facts — the ones who will shout down anything and anybody they disagree with…in the name of the Lord.

They usually show up in church every Sunday then, on the other 6 days live their lives like the hedonistic, selfish folks they are when you scrape off the veneer and look right down into their souls.

They are the ones Garrison Keillor, humorist and author of A Prairie Home Christmas (and about 50 more books) probably had in mind when he said, “Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.”

There are a whole lot of “cars” out there…roaming the streets and offices of this country who think they are going to heaven and you, whoever you are, whatever you believe, are going to hell.

I think Joseph Campbell really had a handle on why Christianity and religions that proclaim themselves to be the one, the chosen, are, how I can put this, wrong.

“Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically,” said Joseph Campbell in his wonderful book, The Power of Myth.  But he adds that religion today is in trouble because it is, “…stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts.”

Campbell had even harsher words for the bible.  “It’s the most over-advertised book in the world. It’s very pretentious to claim it to be the word of God, or accept it as such and perpetuate this tribal mythology, justifying all kinds of violence to people who are not members of the tribe.”

Before you blow a gasket, suspend your conviction that the bible is the “holy word of your God” and I am just another “heathen” and take a look around.  There are hundreds of examples of atrocities committed in the name of God and of a religion, any religion.  Is that really how Christianity wants to be seen?  As the excuse for murder?  Destruction?  Dictatorship?

Campbell sees the bible as, “…a dead weight. It’s pulling us back because it belongs to an earlier period. We can’t break loose and move into a modern theology.”

Maybe that’s what we need to do.  Come up with a new theology, an inclusive theology, one that allows for our differences and celebrates them, builds on them to create a more tolerant, more loving world.  It could just be the world that Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha all envisioned in their philosophies.

Is that too much to ask for this holiday season?


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Where Is Your Music?

I spent years wondering why it was possible for Ludwig Von Beethoven and Bederic Smetanau to write some of the most moving music in the world when they were both deaf – no sound penetrating their worlds.

I think I figured it out.

Beethoven could hear nothing when he wrote his magnificent choral symphony, the 9th and final symphony of his life.  Listen to The 4th movement of the Choral Symphony.  Smetanau wrote his incredible, lyric ode to his home land from which he was exiled Ma Vlast, in complete silence.   Only 11 minutes long, the Moldau shows Smetanau\’s love for his homeland.

How could they create such beautiful sound without being able to hear?

Perhaps that is the very reason they could create music that moves men and women to tears even today, hundreds of years after they composed it.

Unlike the vast majority of people living in this world, these men were not distracted by the everyday sounds of their lives.  No incessant chattering, no hoof beats in the streets below, no vendors hawking wares.  All they could hear was their inner music, the rhythm, beat, melody and lyrics that coursed through their very blood and poured onto page after page of parchment as notes.

I believe every person has music inside them – their own special sound.  Sometimes, if you look quickly enough, you can see it flash in their eyes.  Or you’ll hear fingertips drumming on a table, maybe see someone sketching the echo of their own soul on a notepad, in yet another meeting.  So, where does our music go?  Why does it only slip out when we aren’t watching or we think no one else is?

We drown it out with a torrent of sound.  Television always on.  Radio playing in the background.  iPod plugged in and ripping through song after song.  Texting.  Chatting.  Reading magazines, the newspaper, billboards, even labels.  Every day, all day, we are all assaulted by noise.

Who could possibly hear the thread of their inner symphony?

Ten years ago, this month, I embarked on an experiment to try to reconnect with myself, find my creativity, begin to hear my music, my voice again.  I took my journey with Julia Cameron – well-known author of The Artist’s Way.  A twelve week, self-study course, The Artist’s Way makes it possible for anyone reading it and doing the exercises to find their way home to themselves.

One of the toughest assignments for me – a bona fide noise junkie – was the week of when I was not allowed to read books, newspapers, magazines, even boxes or bottles.  I wasn’t supposed to watch television or DVDs, go online or listen to the radio or my iPod.  At the beginning of the week, I was terrified by this idea.  At the end of the week, I was astonished by what I learned.

I learned that I loved silence; I craved it.  And the lesson stuck with me.  I don’t play the radio in the car anymore.  There is no television on during the day, no iPod unless I am meditating and need to listen to Jeff Strong’s One Tribe to help me reach center.  I don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore.  I cut magazine subscriptions down from ten to two – Countryside and Oprah.

I write now.  I draw like I used to as a young girl.  I grow fruit and vegetables and flowers.  I create, sew and wear beautiful clothes.  And everyday, I actually take the time to tune into the small sounds of the quiet and gentle world living all around me – crickets, birds, the wind in the pines – my own personal symphony of life.

Have you found your music yet?

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