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Plebian Fiasco, May 8 :: call for proposals!

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The Fiasco.

The Fiasco.

Announcing Plebian Fiasco!!!! (Numero Uno)
20000 years ago we danced together around the fire — what do we do in 2012?

Plebian Fiasco is a 3 hour social experiment.
We are organizing an evening full of participatory group activities that fog the line between performers and audience.
We are expecting about 75 attendees, and we’re looking for your proposals and attendance!

When: Tuesday, May 8th, 7-10pm
Where: Club Oberon in Harvard Square, Cambridge

We want your proposals for activities. What to propose:
A 5-30 minute activity.
For the entire group to do together, or for a bunch of small groups to take on separately.
This might be song, movement, drawing, words, games, or other.

Social or asocial (group brainstorm vs meditation)
Electronic or analog (mobile phone light show vs painting)
Parallel or serial (pub song vs game of telephone)
Specific timing or evening-long installation (dance routine vs photobooth)

Most importantly, things you haven’t thought of yet.

Please submit ideas by email to plebian@plebiandesign.com by April 15, 2012
Include timing, materials, logistics, track records, etc.

Thanks! Please forward along.

A Manifestivus

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

“Our time is distinguished by wonderful achievements in the fields of scientific understanding and the technical application of those insights. Who would not be cheered by this? But let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life… What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind. What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living.”

- Albert Einstein

Look back at the history of our species and you will see countless moments of monumental shift in the grounds on which we stand. Before each of these transitions, we took for granted our way of seeing the universe. Whether sparked by Einstein, Jesus, or Picasso, our species has revolutions of the deepest kind: The previously unimaginable becomes real, and changes how we see everything.

Ponder the complex structures in our brains that give rise to consciousness and a question inevitably arises: Is the way you see yourself the only option? What would happen if the operating system in your mind was altered? Would a different kind of consciousness emerge? What might it look like?

Science tells us that, at our core, we are nested vibrations of energy, an energy that pervades the entire universe. As much as you are human, you are energy. Yet most of us experience life as human beings—not as ‘pure energy’—even though both are valid ways of seeing. Religion tells us that, at our core, we are one. That we are all interconnected, that everything we see is a part of us. That God is within us, without us—“Thou art God”. And that there are ways to directly experience this other reality, to feel it.

Maybe they’re both right. They’re saying the same thing, but speaking from different perspectives. Science speaks through a rational, causal model of the universe. Religion speaks through an experiential model. But at their essence, they are describing the same reality. Maybe the experience of ‘God’ is just a certain pattern of neurons firing in the brain—but this pattern may constitute no less than a fundamental shift in the way the mind works; the next step in our evolution.

Imagine there were a way to experience first-hand—not just intellectually—our interconnection with all things. This experience is so drastically different from the way we currently experience the world, as separate beings—it is quite literally the feeling that all things are one. From this perspective, things like death become inconsequential.

How would the first few people who first experienced the universe like this share their story with others? They would need to speak to us on our own terms, the terms of our time and culture. They would speak through metaphor and story. Millennia have passed since the first of these seers, yet most of us still fail to see beyond their metaphors to the truth that lay beyond.

Just as fossil evidence from from across the planet corroborates evolution, religious writings corroborate the common grounds of all the world’s religions. In their depths, beyond the words, they all point to the same thing. Trapped by conception, we forget that these beautiful metaphors point to experiences outside of anything we know. (Stories told with words are compelling and it is easy to see how we could get stuck.) By forgetting this, we face intolerance between religions, and a war between religion and science. We argue about the age of the earth and we hang on the words of the prophets, saying Jesus meant it this way, not that.

Perhaps we’re missing the point completely.

Religion may present the potential for a shift in human consciousness, one so foreign to our understanding that it cannot be accounted for by today’s science; one so difficult to communicate that it is misunderstood by the majority. The bickering between science and religion—between reason and spirituality—revolves around the same old questions. Maybe we’re asking the wrong ones.

Some irony is at work here. In its championing of evolution, science has neglected the possibility that human consciousness is evolving right before our eyes. In its adherence to dogma, maybe religion has neglected the universe beyond the metaphors. How would life change if religion and science ended their 500-year civil war? If spirituality and reason were seen by the world as two real aspects of a larger, inclusive universe? Imagine a union that did not simply placate each side, but fostered growth for both. Scientists could directly experience what they now know intellectually. The devout could access the beauty in science and use it as a tool, as a source of powerful imagery and as a myth of our deep interconnectedness.

Science offers religion a revelation, and religion offers science a revolution.

It’s only a hypothesis, and a controversial one at that. If it is even a possibility, though, should it not be something to be open to? The scientific and religious among us must look far beyond and deep within what we think we know, and this takes bravery, an open mind, and an open heart. Einstein put it straight: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

This is a conversation about science and spirit, religion and rationality, meditation and metaphor, art and aesthetics. The last few years have opened us up to new ways of seeing, and we’d like to discuss them. Please join the conversation in any way you’d like.

where do you apply your logic?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

push play on first video and wait till intro is over(about 30 seconds in).
then push play on second video.

The Internet as Playground and Factory - Saskia Sassen from Voices from The Internet as Play on Vimeo.

something about this idea of the logic of technology and/or progress in general, the investment mindset, technology vs nature, distributed networks vs consolidations, etc…

of course it’s fine to watch them separately but i figured you were probably in a rush…

love everyone.

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Another guest post by Danielle Applestone.

Background: Rhett is my 4.5 year old son. We’ve just moved to a new city, and haven’t quite found the right childcare option. We aren’t religious in any organized sense, and definitely not Lutheran, but the folks at the neighborhood Lutheran school seemed to be competent and caring (and their school was very clean), so he is going there for the summer.

_mg_0755

When I drop Rhett off for school, I feel like 1 part undercover agent, 1 part curious alien, 1 part worried mother. (more…)

Church is Our Classroom Part VIII: Abundant Life Church

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Abundant Life Church
Pentecostal
May 31, 2009
http://alccambridge.org/

It was a perfect Sunday morning. I had gotten there first and was definitely nervous opening the door. Based on the website, out of all the churches we’d been so far, I knew that our outsider status would be most obvious here. The second I stepped inside, a man greeted me with a firm handshake and a “Good morning, brother.” And then another past the vestibule. As I went to sit somewhere near the back, a woman gently ushered me up the aisle, inviting me to get closer. (more…)

Church is our Classroom VII: Mass in Washington National Cathedral

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

A very boranj report to get some thoughts out.
Washington National Cathedral
Episcopalian

Went to DC to attend a wedding of an old roomate and friend Jack Holloway, and also to check out mass at the Washington National Cathedral. (more…)

Grandpa’s Information

Monday, June 1st, 2009

A guest post by Danielle Applestone.

rhett in my laundry basket

rhett in my laundry basket

This happened about six months ago, and I just had to get up in the middle of the night and write it down. My son was about 3.5 years old at the time.

*************

Last night, while my son and I were laying in bed, we were talking and then he fell silent. I was glad that he was finally relaxing. Then he said, “momma, where are you when you die?” I’ve been thinking about what I would say to him for several weeks now. I thought I would just tell him things that were concrete. It occurred to me in a microsecond that if I tell him about ‘heaven’ and all that, that is what he will probably believe his whole life. I realized that at this moment, whatever comes out of my mouth is going to turn into complete reality for him, at least for many many years.

This is how our conversation went, more or less:
(more…)

Science is My Life Coach

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Conversations about science and religion often begin with the statement that science doesn’t provide us with ways of and codes for living. That is the role of religion. The falsity of this statement grows by the day for me. Science can - and does - provide us with ways of living. Science provides us with the seeds of cultural elaboration and the shared myths by which we live our lives. We can and do grow the tissues of experiential existence on the reductionist ribs of science.

The scientific and technological models of the era always have a way of shaping the societies’ collective models for the world. This is demonstrated by our changing models of human anatomy through the stages of industrialization and modernization. From the mechanical to the hydraulic to the electric to the digital \ computational, etc. It is what Ken Wilber gets at in his four quadrant model as the evolution of worldviews. From physical to protoplasmic to vegetative to locomotive to uroboric to typhonic to archaic to magic to mythic to rational to centauric and so on…
(more…)

Bias Blind Spots

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

A list is a powerful thing. Wikipedia is full of them. I am working on a poster version of this one. These are cognitive biases, some crucial characteristics of what we might call human nature. Imagine how self-aware we could become if we internalized this list?

In these modern times of political correctness, peace, and unity, the word bias has gotten a bad rap. As you read this list though, keep in mind that at some point in our evolution each of these biases was most likely an adaptation of some kind that conferred survival advantages to those who displayed it. Inhabiting organismic time and space, we had (and have) to make quick decisions. These tendencies allow us to make such on-the-spot decisions. We are heuristic beasts.
(more…)

Frights and Flights of the Imagination

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

We all have fears. Some are raw and strike us as obvious—heights, lions, tigers, bears, dark places. Others are strange and entangled with threads upon threads of culture. We can all literally scare the shit out of ourselves, with a little help from our imaginations. I would like to share two fear inducing flights of the imagination that, to this day, make my whole body tense up. In fact they do so on a regular basis. Let’s call the first one the pool shark, and the second one, the dark-basement grandpa.
(more…)

There’s a Zoo in Us

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I recently came across this old Sesame Street cartoon. I wonder if the writers knew the real depth of what they were saying with this.

What better way to get kids pumped on evolution? There’s a zoo in us! We are full of animals. Through the cumulative processes of evolution, we became who were are. There were many steps along the way, which we can see, somewhat frozen in time, at the zoo. It is hard for some to admit, but if we allow ourselves to look in the mirror that is the zoo, so many of the behaviors we see are ours. In most cases they have been elaborated upon by our imaginative minds and through the cumulative feedback loops of culture. So many of these emotions and behaviors continue to operate in us, animating and guiding the acquisition of this culture.
(more…)

Church is Our Classroom, Part VI Church of Latter Day Saints

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Church of Latter Day Saints
Mormon
May 17, 2009
Website

There was a light rain as we ascended the the stairs into the Church. Jeff noted that the building looked more like a school than a Church. It did, with its solid white Jeffersonian columns. Inside the pews were packed. We did not know at the time, but today was a special event. Almost four hundred people were there to participate in a thirty-four state wide conference being simulcast from Utah. We grabbed the last row in the balcony section.

Their mastery of technology was impressive; the live media show was carried out with precision. A small digital clock counted down on the projection screen as a Church official carried on with public thanks and votes of hands. There was much talk of brothers, wards, high priests, and voting on various offices. When the clock hit 00:00, Bruce D Porter of the Seventy took the podium onscreen and began his speech, all the way from Utah.
(more…)

Tribes and Fear

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

As always, everything here is an opinion, one that I feel strongly but am ready to drop immediately based on any alternative thinking. This is based on lauren’s comment to the previous entry about our church visit last week. It centers around two themes: the notion of fear and anxiety as a driving force, and the notion of religious (and tribal) exclusivity.

fear

Fear is considered one of the most basic, primeval emotions we possess, so leveraging fear seems to be one of the most utilitarian ways to go if you want to get someone’s attention. But to be a little more specific, I would say it’s anxiety, not fear, and there seems to be a distinction.

I’ll paraphrase my currently favorite explanation for the evolution of religion: (more…)

Church is our Classroom - Part IV.2 Christ the King

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Christ the King Presbyterian Church
Sunday, May 3, 2009

(I am writing this deliberately without referencing or reading Eric’s post about the same church, hopefully we offer different viewpoints).
(more…)

Church is Our Classroom: Part IV Christ the King

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

May 3, 2009
11AM Mass
Christ the King
Presbyterian Church

This is a roughly chronological transcription of my thoughts during mass. Some are more fleshed out than others. Where not marked as otherwise, words in quotes are from the sermon. I’ve done my best to accurately transcribe the sermon. My hand was a drunk fish at that hour.
(more…)