I'll try to remember to be more careful. Dear oh dear, what a turnmoil. Who would
ever have imagined just some Bible quotes would stir up such animosity.
Well, I can try to shut up. Hope it works. ?????!!!!!????
Anyway, special thanks to all who had kind words about me. Unexpected.
> How quickly we divide our ranks among and against ourselves.
> I wish to step into this and call a time out on this topic. Not a
> "shut up" or "no talk." Just a time out. I'm seeing some unconscious
> judgmentalism come out that personally makes me very uncomfortable.
> Anita Graf wrote:
> >Kate Smith recently tried to stir up a conversation about
> >sprituality, spiritual values and agriculture, and I didn't see much
> >response. I'm curious as to why and how Bargyla's narrow minded
> >Bible spoutings have evoked this most recent discussion. I believe
> >it was Gwyneth and Beth who publically protested Bargyla's
> >patronizing Bible-thumping, but I don't think that either one of them
> >were in any way discouraging a discussion of spirituality and
> I would suggest that the reason there wasn't much response is that,
> when there was--when Bargyla offered her views--she soon was attacked.
> She's got more courage than I do. From the response she got,
> apparently there's not a lot of tolerance for diverse beliefs here.
> And we apparently feel deeply threatened quite readily.
> Bargyla's words can be reduced as "narrow minded" "spoutings" or
> "patronizing Bible-thumping." Who among us would assign these
> categories to some of the equally strongly phrased, equally
> opinionated writings valued by people on this list. Does the name
> "Wendell Berry" ring any bells in this context? Wes Jackson? Jim
> >Quite the opposite. I think they were both reacting to
> >big chunks of raw dogma hurled into this forum. Dogma is
> >unprocessed, finger-wagging, ultimatum-laden "recipes" for life.
> >It's also pretty hard to swallow, if you insist on digesting what you
> >swallow. Raw dogma is what I hear when Bargyla gives her version
> >of TRUTH. Spritual truth, the result of one's own internal
> >processing and digesting, is real nutrition, and what I see as
> >appropriate to the discussions here. It's more than just recognizing
> >that there are other sacred texts (a la Alex's response; it's even
> >deeper than that. There are also other ways of understanding the
> >SAME sacred text.
> Anita, although I agree with you on the last sentence there--based on
> 25 years of study of comparative religion and comparative mythology,
> as well as walking my own spiritual paths--your words here come
> across as no less dogmatic, to my eye. There are indeed many ways of
> understanding the same thing, but no one is required to believe
> anything other than what they do. And even those of us who believe
> that we have broad, diverse minds have our own dogmatic spaces.
> Bargyla appears to be aware of her own biases, and admits to them. I
> understand that in some faiths, "Know thyself" is the first and only
> People are entitled to be dogmatic--being human may in fact ensure
> it. Whether they choose to listen to others and modify their beliefs
> is up to them. But writing them off, or alienating them, is likely
> only to harden dogma with a sense of persecution. There is no
> communication possible except between equals. And while answering
> dogma with dogma can send us all to the kennels, I'd suggest that we
> get farther when people actually say what they believe. Even when
> that includes an unwillingness to change what they believe.
> As for things being hard to swallow, as Miss Piggy once said, "My
> diet secret? Never eat anything you can't lift."
> >There is not one utterance or piece of writing
> >which does not deserve your own reflection, questioning, and
> >processing to make it your own if you are going to take it at all. I
> >also don't think that anyone's temporal age on this planet has
> >anything to do with it. A person who at even an advanced age still
> >does not allow sacred words to penetrate her and integrate inside of
> >her but rather continues to spout the raw dogma she was fed as a
> >child, is, in my opinion, not wise according to her years. She may
> >be brilliant when it comes to organic ag practices, but her
> >understanding of religion and spirituality is still raw and
> This is uncalled for, in my view. I'm asking for a time-out. It is
> not up to anyone on this list to judge anyone's "advancement" or
> "understanding" or "brilliance." None of us has any way of knowing
> what another's experience of the sacred has been. That is intimate
> territory, between them and their divine. And anyone who knows their
> *own* experience of the sacred so well that they have the latitude to
> judge others' should be running for public office or taking the reins
> of multinational corporations, because that clarity of vision is
> sorely needed in high places.
> I'm deeply uncomfortable with this. If we can listen to the dogmas of
> Chief Seattle (an often-referred-to wise elder), and other people we
> will never know except through their writings, or other people's
> written reports of their spoken works, how can we possibly judge
> someone who bases their knowledge on Biblical writings? I'm also
> confused as to why it is an elder woman who is bearing the brunt of
> all this anger and projection, suddenly, and why it is women who are
> the most vocal.
> On the days that I see fools everywhere, or another person as unwise,
> I remember that I tend to see in others what I fear or dislike in
> Bargyla is, in my estimation, entitled to "thump" her Bible as hard
> and as loudly as she wishes, if indeed that's what she's doing. My
> deities are different than hers, and I do not feel threatened by the
> fact that she sees hers as strongly as I see mine. Nor do I feel
> uncomfortable that she would view me as a primitive animist, full of
> superstitions. She would, I believe, dig in the dirt with me anyway.
> We'd both, I believe, rescue worms from the sidewalk after a hard
> rain. I do not believe that she'd ever intentionally cause me harm,
> and if she caused me any unintentional harm, I sense that she'd
> listen when I told her that, and try to make amends.
> She has not forced any of us to believe what she believes; she has
> simply spoken her beliefs strongly. In her belief system, truth is
> revealed, and is contained in a sacred book. The divine has not
> spoken to me as it speaks to her. I talk to birds and the moon and
> the sea and the stars, and quietly, smugly, pity those who don't, who
> get their revelations from "lesser" sources.
> All that does, in my mind, is bear witness to the enormity of the
> divine, and the complexity of its manifestations. All that does is
> strengthen my sense that if I truly wish to know the divine, I'd best
> start with knowing myself, and others, and be aware of my own
> patterns of judgment. There is a place for *everyone* at the table,
> and I don't think the deities will seat Bible-readers apart--at a
> better table nor a worse one.
> > And I'm not saying this in a purposefully disrespectful
> >way or just because I don't agree with something she might say, I say
> >it because it just simply sounds like the same old rhetoric you can
> >find on any intervenous-religion show on Sunday morning tv. There is
> >a difference between something which comes from *inside* you (whether
> >or not I agree with it) and something that is passed on, unprocessed,
> >from the outside.
> Anita, it looks like you feel strongly about the relationship of an
> individual's spirit to the revealed or internal or inherited truths,
> but judging another's religion strikes me as inappropriate here. One
> could argue that sustainable ag is the same old rhetoric you can find
> in any 19th century Jeffersonian hemp-smoke-and- breakfast-brandy
> vision of landedness, or in any 20th century heartland
> sentimentalism. In fact, folks have dismissed sustainable ag in just
> that way. It ain't science, it has to be foo foo.
> The only way out of that conundrum, it seems to me, is to step away
> from judgment altogether. Which isn't possible. The next best thing,
> then, is to be aware of one's patterns of judgment.
> I want to tell a story. In 1981, I was through-hiking the Appalachian
> Trail. I got very ill while in the Smoky Mountains. After my
> recuperation, my hiking partner and I were making our way back to the
> AT--or trying to--by trying to hitch a ride in Asheville, NC, back
> into the mountains. We were discouraged by many signs prohibiting
> hitch-hiking. We were walking along a frontage road, night was
> falling, we were exhausted and not sure how we'd get back to the
> mountains. We didn't have a lot of money.
> Suddenly a big old car appeared, and the driver rolled down his
> window. He said, "Looks like you folks could use a lift, can I help
> In brief, this man took us to his house, in a valley in Marshall, TN.
> He and his wife fed us supper, did our laundry, did not ask who we
> were or what our religion was. After supper they took us out, and we
> walked their land in the valley. The man was especially proud of the
> red-tailed hawk's nest in one of his big old trees. He protected it
> with a shotgun against some of the less aware neighbors, who
> apparently tried to use the birds for target practice. My hiking
> partner was my boyfriend, and at this time, he had a big, bushy beard
> and long hair and a dark dark tan. (On more than one occasion in
> Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, he was called a nigra. Just
> as on more than one occasion, I was told that I was asking for rape,
> wearing hiking shorts and a sleeveless shirt.) This man and his wife
> must have noticed that we did not wear wedding rings, but they put us
> up for the night in a shared room. They didn't ask questions. They
> didn't judge us. The man said that he and his wife were sitting in a
> restaurant, and saw us walk by, and said to each other, "Looks like
> those folks could use a lift."
> The next morning, the man drove us to an AT trailhead. In the course
> of 18 hours together I'd learned many things.
> I learned about the history of the area--Civil War history, more recent events.
> I learned about the natural history of the area--what was in bloom,
> what animals were living where, where to find the best streams for
> fresh, safe water, or for crayfish, or for fishing. Where some secret
> trails were, with especially beautiful views. Where some of the
> less-safe places for hikers were, in the upcoming stretch of trail.
> This man was a Baptist preacher. He was the equivalent of a bishop,
> though he laughed and said that, with eighty-odd sects (at that time)
> of Baptists, it didn't take much (and he winked) to become a bishop.
> He was a narrow-minded, dogmatic, fire n brimstone Bible thumper. He
> described himself that way. He had personally seen and talked to god,
> and to Jesus Christ.
> Mike (my hiking partner/boyfriend) and I talked about this for a long
> time. This man challenged our beliefs, and did so in a way that I
> never forgot. I didn't end up more like him in a particular
> expression of faith...but I did end up understanding more about
> diversity and tolerance.
> While he didn't express his beliefs in words, he did in actions. And
> while we could judge and condemn the theory, we had been nourished by
> the practice.
> About a week later, we were off the trail again, and needed a ride
> back. This time, someone offered us a ride, an earnest young man with
> a mess of gospel tracts, and a humungous amount of exposition of his
> faith in Jesus Christ as his personal savior, as well as
> autobiographical detail about his life journey from despair to
> We saw someone offering us a ride, and sharing the truth that had
> transformed and sustained him, and even made it possible that he
> would extend strangers such courtesies. He pressured us to accept
> Jesus. We said no, thank you, we had our deities in place. He let us
> know he was concerned for our immortal souls. We said (and meant it),
> thank you, that's really thoughtful of you. He let us know that he
> was suffering, that we weren't saved. We offered him compassion, that
> he could feel that deeply. He sent us on our way with his prayers.
> It is one thing if people are forced to believe something. That I
> will speak out against, as strongly as I can. I have personal
> experience with coercive faith. People of various faiths have, in my
> lifetime, forced me, or tried to force me not to do things I've
> needed to do, to walk with my deities as I experience them. People of
> various faiths have prevented me from doing such things, as well.
> These things happened at a time when I was not empowered to stand up
> to them. And, yes, I know how it is, to have others be coercive in
> this way--the personal costs of it.
> Bargyla is, in my estimation, is not coercing, was not coercing, and
> could not coerce any of us to do or believe anything. All she did was
> comment, strongly, on how her knowing of the truth is at odds with
> other versions of the truth expressed here. She is entitled--as any
> of us is--to experience, witness to, and walk with the divine as she
> sees fit. Particularly when invited to.
> Many religious traditions suggest that judgment should be left to the
> Judge. I don't know who that is. I know it's not me, and I suspect
> that none of us on this list inherited that cosmic gavel, either.
> Michele Gale-Sinex
> Communications manager
> Center for Integrated Ag Systems, UW-Madison
> UW voice mail: 608-262-8018
> Home office: 415-504-6474 (504-MISH)
> Home office fax: Same as above, phone first for enabling
> Harold: Maude, do you pray?
> Maude: Pray? No, I communicate.
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