Saturday, December 31, 2011

* Happy Hair-Brained New Year 2012

I have had this little chart from Health  magazine entitled "WHAT A BODY'S GOOD FOR" on my refrigerator since 1993, for no particular reason other than it amuses me.

One of its statistics is that a human body in its lifetime will produce 350 miles of hair.  Let's assume that 50 million of the current 300 million Americans will live long enough to produce 350 miles of hair.  That means that somewhere on the planet there will be 1,750 MILLION MILES of hair some time in the next 100 years. 

If the circumference of the earth is about 25,000 miles, then there would be enough hair in a 17,500 million mile glistening strand  to wrap the earth into a giant hairball.

I have one question only, about all this hair Nature produces--- and it isn't "Why?"  

It's about ultimate destination: 

A hundred million miles of hair? 




Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"He Sits at Home" is my Vermont Identity, not my Name !

Driving the T-Top Z-28

He DOES Sit at Home !

After the Twin Towers' crashes and Sully Sullenberger's miraculous water-ski episode on the Hudson River with a Boeing-747, I decided  never to get on a plane again.  Besides, the extra- fees for baggage and incidentals are extortion.

I am happy to sit at home as my Native American name declares.

 (BTW, my great-great-great grandmother was a Pequot squaw, if that legitimizes my using a Native American name.) 

I'm one of the few surviving  members of the hippie generation who can say he hitchhiked across country ------- 1971 to be exact -------- from Connecticut to California, and back.

Yes, more than  happy to sit at home.  And that goes for driving too.

 I have a brand new car, and zero desire to drive it any more than just around town.  For ten years I commuted  two weekends a month  between White River Junction and  New Haven and White River Junction and Ithaca.  I've paid the salaries of a few oil executives and I'm done with it.

 (Probably my total lifetime gas expenditures would pay half of  ONE HOUR of an oil company  CEO's pay, if that much.)

Is it because I'm old that I've given up being peripatetic? 


It's because I'm stingy.

I'm not exactly sedentary: I push a lawnmower 6 hours a week and shovel snow 2 hours at a time.


* I'm Old and I'm Proud !

Heading White


Don't gimme any of this "You're as old as you feel" stuff. 

 I feel  great, still work 10 hours a day, have my hair and most of my teeth and a gargantuan appetite, but in three days I'll turn 67----and that just seems OLD to me, a lot older than 66 for some reason.

I love the side shots of Judge Judy's botox-enamel face on TV . When she moves her mouth all the folds in that wrinkle-free face suddenly aggegate between her ear and her jaw, like a hand-opened curtain at the Met.

I once read that Marlene Dietrich refused to have plastic surgery.  Instead, before she appeared on stage in her late 60's, she would have her hair tied back in excruciatingly tight knots to pull the facial wrinkles smooth, then don her famous golden wig and skin tight, elastic, sequinned gown.

And then there's Donald Trump's hair.  What can I say? It's as neat as folded , hundred-dollar bills. And butterscotch too.


 I'm satisfied with the wrinkles and with the graying hair. 

 I just wish it would hurry up.  

This has been a ten-year process. (I used to have chestnut hair with red highlights.)  First my beard grayed, then my hair.  

I once tried Just for Men on my beard and wound up with a facial rash----to say nothing of looking like a foolish vain man who died (pun intended)  his beard. 

Let's speed this up.

I'm looking forward to the white.


Christmas, 2011 



Saturday, December 24, 2011

* Rudolph the Red


* Away in a castle, no hay for his bed . . .

The Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, California

The Baldacchino, St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

Westminster Abbey, London


In having the King of Kings born in a stable, enter Jerusalem on a white ass, and be nailed to a cross wearing a crown of thorns, the  myth-makers of the Manger-Religion of the first century were consciously satirizing the very materialism and worldly glory which christian monarchists  have themselves  come to embody over two millenia, whether they preside under European Baldacchinos or Abbeys or American Crystal Cathedrals.

It is ironic that as the Manger-Religion has poisoned itself with the trappings of the very aristocratic power structures it sought to satirize and critique, the world has in the last hundred years divested itself of over 100 monarchies, leaving two or three as vestigial reminders of an Age gone by. That is not to say that secular tyrants have not rushed in to fill the void which the dwindling forces of  the Divine Right of Kings and primogeniture once occupied. From Mugabe to the fallen idols of the Arab Spring, Khadafy and Mubarak, such tyrants have managed to swindle the masses not with royal blood, but with royal rhetoric---and royal bullets.

Had the Manger-Religion remained it bucolic model and not become the grotesquely golden Holy Roman Empire and Anglican British Empire proselytizing behind the missionary mask as it slaughtered those who refused to submit to their powers, perhaps it would not have generated the egalitarian tide which has gradually risen to engulf the monarchies of the world.

Yes, the Manger-Religion, and its grotesque medieval outgrowths, have created a tension between the egalitarian revolution begun in Bethlehem and the monarchical monstrosities in Rome  and Britain which sought to smother that revolution.  From that tension a new “Purified”  religious- freedom revolution in America has devolved into another monstrosity, the monarchy of materialism itself.

And now, in the third millenia of 2012, we watch with caution as this egalitarian impulse, once symbolized in   the mythology of a  barnyard prince born  in  Bethlehem 2000 years ago and thrice perverted in Rome, Britain and America, works its way through an Arab Spring, in yet another religion which too may lose its egalitarian way to monarchical fantasies.

Paul D. M. Keane
M. Div. '80, Yale Divinity School

Christmas, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

* Jingle Bulls: The Manger-Religion and the Real Dirt on Xmas

My brother, Kit, and myself, age four or five.

Note: This blog post assumes that Albert Schweitzer's book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, is incorrect and that such a person as Jesus (Joshua ben Joseph) can be certified as having existed in first century history.

The Manger-Religion

Sixty-two years ago, when I was five years old, my mother and my Sunday School taught me the words to Away in a Manger.

     Denial and romanticism are such great faculties in the human arsenal of self-delusion that it has taken me these full six decades to comprehend the actual meaning of the first verse of this song:

    *Away in a manger, no crib for His bed,01The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.

     I always thought this was a pleasant scene, like the plaster crèche the Mt. Carmel Congregational Church Sunday School put out for display each year.  

     Even though I knew  what a manger is, (a trough raised on stilts full of oats or hay out of which animals eat so they won’t have to bend their necks to the ground) I never examined what it meant to the baby in the crib. (Think French: "manger": "to eat.")

     Have you ever owned a dog or cat?  Have you ever washed out its dish after it is finished eating its dry kibble?  Even after one meal, the dish is likely to be covered in a film of saliva and mucous.  

     Imagine that the dish (the manger) NEVER gets wiped out and is visited by dozens of animals a day, donkeys, goats, pigs, cows. 

     That was  the little Lord Jesus’s first encounter with the world : a beddy-bye lacquered with the veneer of saliva and snot from barnyard animals, in a kind of excretionary patina.

     If the sanitation challenges of such a slumber chamber are not apparent to you yet, imagine the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying on hay. 

      At the least, the hay is a source for allergy and skin irritation to the sensitive skin and nostrils of the Christ child.  At the most, it is a superhighway for lice and vermin to infest the infant in his helpless confinement. (Think veterinarian: a dog with "mange".)

     This isn’t any pleasant Advent for the arrival of "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"(in latin,  Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum , INRI).

     How could a barnyard baby become King of a whole people?  

BTW, this is the same aristocratic, snobbish question which is used to discredit Shakespeare's authorship: How could a simple lad, son of a glove maker,in Stratford-on-Avon in the 1500's write such worldly plays about nobles? It must have been the Earl of Oxford, or Queen Elizabeth herself who wrote them and used the name of Shakespeare, the mere actor, as a pseudonym. This line of  'reasoning' smacks of a knee-jerk hostility to egalitarianism, an egalitarianism which is quintessentially present in the notion of a barnyard divinity 1500 years prior to Shakespeare.

     Nor are the social circumstances of Jesus’s conception, gestation, birth, and upbringing any more pleasant than the unsanitary realities of his first days on earth.

     Mary and Joseph are betrothed,** a social arrangement similar to what our "engagement" used to be when I was a child; they are “married” (committed to each other formally)  but are not allowed to have sex for one year.

     This means that Mary’s pregnancy is a scandal for Joseph's reputation as a first century "Middle Easterner." (To this day, 2000 years later,  in the Middle East, there are instances of women who commit adultery being sentenced to death by stoning.)

     It means EITHER that Joseph disobeyed the no-sex prohibition of the first- year-long betrothal, or that he has been cuckolded.

     Well, we all know which is true: 

                    Joseph has been cuckolded.  

     And its not just any old cuckolding which has occurred:  Joseph has been cuckolded by Divinity Itself: The Lord God of Abraham.

     My, my, my. 

     This  first Christmas is turning out to be not only unsanitary, but truly a first rate scandal.

     King Herod was sufficiently threatened by the reality of a possible barnyard heir, that he ordered the slaughter of all  male children born in the last two years since the manger babe was to be born of a virgin and  ipso facto was a "first-born"-----a sweet blood-filled backdrop to the manger-baby's arrival (and a potent precursor to primogeniture, which ruled the world for the next 1900 years roar until it dies with a whimper ten years ago when one of the world's few remaining monarchs, Queen Elizabeth II, abolished it in a gesture to the late Princess Diana).

     If that isn’t bad enough, Jesus will have to endure taunts about being a bastard ***from some of the adults and officials in his first century Palestinian world. (See John 8: 39-42, below)

     So, six decades have stripped the rose-colored glasses from this Sunday School sing-song vision of the Nativity which I grew up with:

  Jesus was born in what is one step up from a pig-sty or chicken-coop today (a stable) surrounded by animal excrement , saliva and mucous, and subjected to the prospect of massive skin irritations as an infant fresh from his mother’s womb.  

His father, Joseph, well might deserve the title “saint”, for he  had to overcome doubts he surely must have entertained about having been made a cuckold, especially after hearing what must have sounded liked the  biggest cock-and-bull-story in history from his wife: An angel told me God made me pregnant.

Finally, Jesus himself, is born under circumstances of doubtful parentage, ensuring that he will endure the taint of being  a possible bastard from those mean-spirited adults in his own first century world.

     Ultimately, as the story of the manger-child comes to a conclusion, Jesus will be abandoned by his Divine Father to suffer and die, nailed to a cross, with the accusation INRI  "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"(in latin,  Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum ) nailed to the cross above his head, 
even though that Divine Father had the power in an instant to free him---and chooses instead to look the other way.

     This, of course, is a fate  which all human beings  come to accept: Death is choreographed as the end of life  by the same Creator who choreographed birth as its beginning.

     Indeed, Jesus's last words are not words of faith at all, but of doubt: Daddy, Daddy, why hast thou forsaken me? : Abba, Abba, lama sabbachthani?

      Why all this reversal, irony, and doubt of a barnyard babe who is actually a divine king, humiliated in birth, life and death? Of royalty in rags? Saintliness  disguised as sin?

      Isn't this one heretical story to be teaching a Sunday School child to sing ----The illicit story of saintly acceptance and trust, those theological calming-rituals preparing us to deal with life's Ultimate Anxiety?

That's the whole point of the manger-religion, isn't it?

                               To triumph over death.

Paul D. M. Keane
M. Div. '80, Yale Divinity School

Christmas, 2011

Words: Unknown, 1885 (verses 1 & 2)
Verse 3: Attributed to John Thomas McFarland, 1887 (1851-1913)
Attribution by James R. Murray to Martin Luther is incorrect.
Music: "Mueller" by James Ramsey Murray

1. Away in a manger, no crib for His bed,01

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.

2. The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes.02

But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky.
And stay by the cradle till morning is nigh.03

3. Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,

Close by me forever, and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven, to Live with Thee there.04

Mary and Joseph were "betrothed" which in today's world - is hard to understand. They were "married" in the sense that they were fully and totally committed to each other and have given a pledge to one another. They had not consecrated that vow with sexual union. They were not allowed to for one full year after the pledge was exchanged. At that time - they were seen as "married", but could not have sex.Watch Fiddler on the Roof to see what "pledge" meant in the Jewish culture. 
Scripture tells us that Jesus was the first-born child of Mary. This had to be true for her to be a "virgin" in the first place. Scripture also states that she had 5 more children: half-brothers/sisters to Jesus for their father was different. 
The story of Mary/Joseph / Jesus is a deep theological story that offers us strong connection to the Son of God / Son of Man doctrine. You could spend an entire semester studying the implications of this one thing.


One of these occurs in the Gospel of John (again!) with �Iesous� having a confrontation with some group (Saduccees or Pharisees?, it is not specified but they seem to be making shall we say hints about �Iesous� parentage somewhere in here: see John 8:39-42 

The conversation is clearly not a literal event, but a combination of theological discussion heavily edited and made into a literary poem of sorts, but buried deep within the gist of the conversation is the odd phrase: 

�We were not born of Fornication: [at least] we KNOW who OUR father is...� 
(lit. "WE (emphatic in the Greek: HUMEIS) are not bastards: we only have one father") !!!!!! 


�s hitting a little below the belt, even for Pharisees and Sadduccees. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

* Digital Tailoring

        The Age of Individuation:

Professor DATA  v. Dr. Spock

The Age of Individuation is about to descend upon us. The advent of Brain Based Learning techniques means every kid in public school will have an Individual Learning Plan based on what parts of his/her brain fire-up in reaction to x, y, and z  “educational” stimuli.  The decoding of the human genome and increasing prevalence of genetic code analysis means every patient will have an Individual Health Plan based on what parts of  his/her code are missing or distorted. Doctors will become genetic tailors, cutting and sewing DNA garments to fit each client.

Health and education will become matters of conspicuous consumption.: Armani, Gucci, and  Saks Fifth Avenue creations down to K-Mart  and Wal-Mart  discount choices.

You already know who the winners will be.

This Age of Individuation may be a wonderful advancement.

Or, it may not.

The danger lies in what psychiatry used to call “morbid introspection.”  If we replace the insouciant  naivete  and  blithe spontaneity of childhood with recipes for learning and for health which parents use to “cook” their child into the perfect culinary creation, we may be in danger of making kids so self conscious, so analytical, that we destroy the very notion of childhood itself.

And replace it with depression.

Part of the problem is that parents have already abdicated their intuitive parenting skills and knowledge to the digital gods of DATA. 

 They have replaced Dr. Spock with  Professor DATA.

 If this partial abdication becomes complete and the world of parenting is turned over to the digital deities, the sense of family and of selfhood may be thrown out the  window with the bathwater.

We may be on the verge of creating a world of highly educated, extremely healthy depressed children, who enter adulthood with an existential loneliness which no digital god -- and no hand-held touch screen -- may be able to fill.

And if you add conspicuous consumption to the recipe--- the problem  of anomie becomes even more depressing.

We need pause to seek higher ground --------- before the digital tsunami overwhelms us.

Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

* "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master."

(link to YDN article)

Were Yale's oldest buildings built by slaves?

A House Divided at Yale

 Righteous ( not SELF-righteous) indignation has been a pose which I have adopted in my writing at Yale Divinity School as the editor of Holy Smoke  (1976-80) and thirty years later as editor of the blog The Anti-Yale as a means to provoke thought.
     Nothing evokes my indignation more than an attempt to trivialize the evil which 100 years of slavery represents in our country.  
      And that, it seems to me, is EXACTLY what the posters on this Yale article "A Parade of Racism" are attempting to do: Suggest that the damage done to African Americans due to 100 years of slavery is equivalent to other forms of discrimination against races and ethnic groups.
     What other groups may I ask have been bought and sold like furniture? Separated from their loved ones and offspring? Had their genealogies eradicated? Been prevented by LAW from attending school or being taught to read? Had the sanctity of their  marriages and the responsibility of their parenthood ignored and trivialized by established christian churches? Had their life blood and the life blood of their mates and children whipped out of them? 
      It is the qualitative evil of this systematic hundred years of oppression by legislatures, judges, presidents and christian churches, which outrages me.
     And so IF I SHOUT IN INDIGNATION I do so with the full knowledge that I risk sponging up my own personal angers in this larger anger about the institution of American slavery against which I rail.  
      Yet rail I must.  I feel compelled to do so by forces larger than those Freudian; forces which seem to say that  silence is complicity:
       Speak or be damned.

Others who graduate from Yale Divinity School might  refer to such an impulse as a "calling ".  I am unable to do so  for that implies a "Caller", -------one who has never addressed me.