Saturday, September 23, 2017

War and Peace: A Third Path Between Conservatives and Progressives

"As a connecting link, or traditionally third position, between all opposites, the soul differs from the terms which it connects...It is not life that matters, but soul and how life is used to care for soul." James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, pp. 174-175

     I see war or conflict as a necessary and normal part of the Cosmos – whether these conflicts show up as comets smashing into planets, stars in perpetual nuclear fusion, rain eroding rocks, or time withering once smooth skin. The cosmos is a place of war and peace.

     I disagree with the sometime myopic ideologies of both Progressives and Conservatives. Conservatives sometimes see war as a solution while Progressives sometimes  see war as something that must be eliminated. I see both ignoring the evidence found in Nature and Psyche. When I see bumper stickers advocating War or advocating Peace, as though one could exist on this planet without the other, I find myself in disagreement with both extremes.

     Many in the New Age Movement suggest that we are evolving as a species into a planet of peace, while the more traditional religions often suggest that the world will get worse, eventuating in an apocalypse. I see no evidence that either trend will overtake the other. Both extreme views are missing the point of earthly existence: we are here to make souls, and all of the opposites have been built into the psycho-cosmic curriculum for that process.
This third way is not a synthesis or blending of the two extremes, but a middle path that sees both sides as normal and necessary for the game of Soul-making. The football game metaphor works well. The aim of a football game is goal-making, requiring rules that allow moments of brutal violence and moments of huddled tranquility. Now imagine a football game where the compassionate Progressives argue that the players ought to completely stop blocking and tackling each other, while a group of hawkish Conservatives argue that the players ought to be able to block and tackle each other the entire game. The game works because it has fixed rules of conflict and concord to be followed for the purpose of goal-making. Similarly, this is how the human soul making game operates—by the laws of opposites. We did not create this game, we merely play it, consciously or unconsciously. (Incidentally, this is how all relationships function in a soul-making universe).

     There is an African Swahili Warrior Song: “Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the gods….so let us celebrate the struggle.” The same notion is found in Hinduism where the Divine Lord Krishna claims that He generates little babies while He devours the corpses of dying men on the battle field. The mystical poet William Blake wrote: "Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.”   

     Each person is here to experience duality in order to make a deep and fascinating soul. In this view everyone is “spiritual” because souls are being sculpted in each moment, whether one is an atheist or agnostic, Jew or Taoist, church-goer or heroin addict. Like a butterfly struggling to get out of the chrysalis, each of us is struggling to emerge from the undivided into the individuated.

In this view, “spirituality” is not a little slice of life where you chant, pray and get happy on Jesus or Energy Crystals. Full spirituality is found in the clash of Contraries, in war and peace, cancer and health, loss and gain, eating gourmet food or eliminating waste. The world of Nature is our teacher: Sharks kill seals while ants organize colonies, lions kill gazelles while birds sing songs in the Spring, frost kills leaves while the sun rises over a blue lagoon, people divorce while lovers share a first kiss, and on and on…

     Don’t get me wrong, I WAY prefer peace, health and prosperity – but I also preferred to skip algebra, and to watch TV rather than memorize my spelling words when I was in school; that which is easier and preferred is not always the most beneficial.

     So with Hillman I choose the third position between the necessary contraries. And when I am ravenously tackling and blocking those I oppose, I remember that it is not personal. And when it gets personal, I eventually take a breath, reset my heart to a soul-making stance, and only then do I understand what Jesus meant when he said: “Love your enemies, and bless those who oppose you.” Our enemies are the artists of our unique souls.


     Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:
"We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organ of its activity...we do nothing by ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams...Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm." (Self-Reliance Essay)

Emerson's words caused me to reflect back on my 19th year of life as an oblivious college student. One night I was lying in bed reading the Gospel of Matthew for the first time because someone close to me had been "born again". Having been raised in an irreligious home, I had no clue what that meant, or what had happened to alter my friend's personality for the better. As I completed reading Matthew's gospel which described Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection—some strange and palpable compulsion came over me, whispering simply: "Believe." I did. The result? My entire psyche was rearranged in a flash. The weight of my failures and anxieties lifted off of me. My grade point average went from 1.5 to 3.8 in a single quarter. I had no desire to party every night. I experienced an extraordinary sense of connection to life and to the entire universe. I had never been much of a student, but began to read voraciously. I prayed to an actual God whose presence was tangible. Prayers were answered. My heart, mind and life changed notably.

     I have struggled to make sense of that night for the last forty years. That night I was impressed—stamped by something or some One beyond anything I had ever known before. Emerson's words ring true: "We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth...we do nothing by ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams...Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm."

     In James Hillman opus, Revisioning Psychology, the  last chapter is titled "Dehumanizing" because he argues that:

"Gods...exist 'outside' human beings...All psychic reality is...given sanction by a God....Man can never be large enough to possess his psychic organs; he can only reflect their activities." 
Like Emerson, Hillman reminds us that we don't have nearly as much to do with psycho-spiritual encounters as we think we do. Divine experiences, like mathematical equations and musical notes, exist apart from the human brain. They come to us and through us, but not from us. Einstein was gifted with mathematical insight but he did not invent math; Mozart was impressed with musical scores but he did not create musical notes; the mystic is a gracious recipient of divine encounters, but he does not originate psychic phenomena. Of course we can employ spiritual practices to prepare ourselves for such experiences, but we neither invent nor originate them. They come in their time and manner, not mine. Much of our spiritual angst and frustration arise from thinking we must somehow conjure the divine from within or manipulate God to appear at my behest. Making God arrive is not my job. What is my job? Live life "in the lap of immense intelligence...[and] allow a passage to its beams." 

Keep the lamp filled with oil, God will light the blaze when it is time.

Sleep Poems


Indra spread his mantle
over my star-stippled eyes -
the palm of black on blue
tucked me under the curve of sky.

Fire fell from Agni’s lunar mane,
silence swirled,
then rested quietly
purging all worry, erasing all pain.

I counted Gurus
leaping like sheep over the Taj Mahal,
then I tallied Lamas
scaling the great China Wall.

I flip the pillow to the cooler side
to chill my fevered cheek,
the is of sleep opens below me,
and finally,
I fall.




Indeed, then
do you have big brown sleepy eyes
that make the stars come out at night?
Or do you dream
in front of your eye lids
and call it make believe?




A thousand poems have slipped away
not because the Muses are silent,
but because I am water skiing across
the face of the digital clock trapped inside
monitors in every room.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Do I Really Always Need Healing?

Do I Really Always Need Healing?

"Healing" seems to be the primary or even solitary spiritual metaphor these days. Sermons, book titles, seminars, YouTube talks, etc. are fixated on spiritual and psychological healing:

  • How to Heal Your Soul
  • Ten Steps to a Healthy Relationship
  • How to Cure Depression
  • Spiritual Healing
  • How to Heal P.T.S.D.

The implication is that I am sick, broken and fundamentally defective.
First off, let me acknowledge that healing is a legitimate metaphor when referring to psycho-spiritual traumas, but it is not the only symbol for approaching emotional distress--nor perhaps even the best. When the healing metaphor fails, I am stuck without alternative ways of seeing my trauma. There is another metaphor found in Carl Jung's autobiography:

"It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which  Fate had posed to my forefathers and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to  complete, or perhaps  continue, things which previous ages had left  unfinished." (Jung,  Memories, Dreams and Reflections)
Here Jung sees his psycho-spiritualproblems not as inherited family illnesses, but as congenital "questions posed by Fate" to his ancestors. He uses a developmental metaphor in order to emphasize the soul's ongoing process of continuation and completion rather than that of inflexible sickness and brokenness. In a developmental metaphor, trauma is more like an algebra assignment. I don't need to heal anything, but am allowed to continue working on and completing the Fateful family assignments.
Jesus and the Apostle Paul frequently use developmental agricultural images to symbolize the spiritual life:

  • Jesus: "The kingdom of God is like a seed that grows over time." (Mark 4:26-29)
  • Paul: "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (I Cor. 3:6)

Many early Christian theologians viewed Adam and Eve--planted in the Garden of Eden--as a parable for human development. The so-called "fall" is the moment the embryonic human seed is cast into the soil of lived-life in order that each human might move from the raw image of God into the completed likeness of God. In this view, I don't need healing, but rather maturation through ongoing life experiences.
When healing is my primary symbol for spiritual and psychological traumas, I assumethe only alternatives are to get well or remain sick. If I don't "get well," then I have failed and remain sick and broken. But the educational and agricultural developmental metaphors allow for progress through the ancestral journey. I am merely one student in a family endeavor. I am not defective, but merely incomplete until the assignment is finished--likely many generations from now.
When it comes to psycho-spiritual traumas, let's utilize our metaphorical imaginations. Life is more than a disease to be healed, much more than the mere cessation of all suffering. It is a vital journey through many stages and modes of being and living. Perhaps instead of R.I.P. ( Rest in Peace ) on our gravestones, we ought to etch the letters T.B.C. ( To Be Continued ).


Why We Need the Fundamentalists

Why We Need Fundamentalists

"It is a psychological rule that the brighter the light, the darker the shadow..." 
C. G. Jung

These days we hear a lot about Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist fundamentalisms. What these groups most often have in common is a radical and forceful return to the religious "fundaments" or foundational beliefs and practices of their various cultural traditions. One derisive comedian said a fundamentalist might be defined as "a person who hates fundamns everyone else, and has lost his mentalreasoning abilities!" Many of us sympathize with this critique and have nothing but disdain for anything related to fundamentalism

However, from a soul-making perspective, every "fundamentalism" is an archetypal rejoinder to a potentially dangerous personal and/or cultural pattern of consciousness. You see, fundamentalisms have not only dangerous aspects, but healthy aspects as well. They are always compensatory, archetypal responses to personal and cultural imbalances. Not understanding this psychological axiom keeps us from seeing the important insights embedded within a particular
fundamentalism. Fundamentalists act as modern sibyls proclaiming the loss of mystery while rigorously championing cosmic and psychological enchantment. In his bestselling book, The Soul's Code, James Hillman has praise for fundamentalism:

"Fundamentalism attempts, literally and dogmatically, to recover the invisible foundations of culture. Its strength lies in what is seeks; its menace is in how it proceeds..." 

With his usual mercurial dexterity Hillman captures the light and shadow of fundamentalism in a single sentence. In 1948 theologian Nels Ferre--while recognizing the dangers of radical religionists--said every religious fundamentalism is also a:

"...defender of supernaturalism, has...a genuine heritage and profound truth to preserve.... We shall some day thank our fundamentalist friends for having held the main fortress while countless leaders went over to the foe of limited scientism and a shallow naturalism."

Hillman and Ferre both recognize a fundamentalist as a person who is not afraid to stick their finger in the eye of the messianic political sophists, the pretentious secular media and the reductionist academies. These annoying radicals rightly criticize modern culture for leaving no room for mystery. And of course the methods of the often pretentious and even murderous fundamentalists may be menacing, but their deeper archetypal mission is to restore the invisibles to their rightful places in a frenetic world reduced to statistical facts and socio-political ambiguities. One may disagree with their theologies, revelations and menacing methodologies while remaining prescient enough to let them remind us to take the imaginal realm seriously in a world reduced to anthropic scientism and materialist absurdities. They may literalize and dogmatize their myths, but at least they fight for the essential reality of mythic truth while many of us remain silent, or try to impress others by bloviating about esoteric metaphysics, or waxing scholarly about arcane mythic trivialities. Archetypal reality is fundamental to every thought, feeling, dream and action. If we lose these fundaments, our personal, relational and cultural lives will perish. In the words of Hillman: "The great task of a life-sustaining to keep the invisibles attached..."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Carl Jung and James Hillman: The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil

I found this great quote from Tom Cheetham (in his works on Henry Corbin). I think only true Hillmaniacs can understand it, especially when we are trying to reconcile the drive toward integrative wholeness while recognizing the necessity of falling apart:
To compare Hillman and Jung in any detail is far beyond the scope of these remarks...Hillman is "a Jungian" by any standard, but rather a wayward one. Any simple contrast will be inadequate and perhaps misleading; but if Jung is the Wise Old man, Hillman is the Trickster, or pretends to be. Years ago when I was immersed in reading them both rather obsessively in the midst of the beginnings of my own psychic crisis, the difference was quite a practical one about which I thought very little. If I were feeling threatened by fragmentation, I would read Jung. If I were in terror of being bound and stifled, I would read Hillman. I still think  that says a lot about their differences. (All the World an Icon: Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings, pp. 190-91)

This contrast may help to explain and understand the juxtaposition of the Jewish tree of life right next to the deadly tree of pathologizing (knowing good and evil) found at the center of Eden. The Hebrew authors typically honor the phenomena of their observed experience, even when the phenomena screws with their received tradition. They acknowledge that humans want long life, and yet recognize that the same humans yearn to defy life by breaking the rules and challenging all boundaries. 

When the Genesis author writes that "Adam [humankind] became a living soul," he is recognizing the innate human propensity for life and survival, subsequently stating that God provides a tree of life to feed that original desire to live. But then God creates the puzzling tree of knowing evil as well as life-giving good, presided over by the divinely fashioned wise snake to give that tree of death (desire) a voice. Why? I think this image is added in order to acknowledge that there is also deep within the human psyche a yearning for something more than merely staying alive and following the rules; there is also a drive to challenge death. Humans not only desire to live and follow orders; but from crawling infancy we desire to rise up and walk, talk and act in forbidden ways. Humans have always been compelled to defy that most feared enemy of human existence, mortality. Paul calls death the "final enemy" (I Cor. 15:26). In the Eden story, by placing that final enemy in the form of a deadly tree of good and evil at the center of the garden alongside the tree of life, we see the ultimate challenge of humanity. God's good created order is made to be challenged. The purpose of life is to charge straight into the certainty of death, the real final frontier. Overcoming death is the final obstacle, the last enemy of complete dominion. The Hebrews knew this to be the final goal. In Isaiah the prophet we read of the final removal of the veil of death that encloses all humans:
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, (25:7-8) Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. (60:20)
Paul quotes this passage in the light of Christ's resurrection: "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory'" (I Cor. 15:54). This is reiterated in the Christian book of the Apocalypse: "Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:1-5)

The final obstacle, represented by the tree of knowing good and evil--the tree of death--has been overcome. The seed of the woman (humankind) has crushed head of the snake and his death-test. I am not setting forth a theological or metaphysical system here, though I think one can. I am merely suggesting that the Eden story posits what the human psyche intuits: humans desire both to live in order (tree of life), and we are brazenly compelled to transgress every boundary (tree of knowing good and evil) in our autonomously compelled pursuit of complete dominion, healing, wholeness, integration or individuation. 

Psychologically this plays out in everyday life. Humans are chronically discontent, simultaneously seeking order and disorder, pleasure and pathology. The single person wants desperately to be in a relationship; the married person fantasizes about freedom. The demure house wife or house husband ponders or pursues a covert tryst with a stranger. The born again Christian cheats on his taxes. The militant atheist secretly reads books about life after death. Our Jekyl-Hyde character is what makes us so fascinating. This enigmatic combination of loving peace and wholeness along with our innate compulsions to addictions, neuroses and fifty shades of gray is what makes us so damn human. After all, according to Isaiah, this is the schizophrenic or bi-polar image of God in which humans are designed: God says, "I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things" (Is. 45:6-7)

Finally, this ambiguity was not discovered by Freud. The Viennese doctor merely reinvented the Edenic wheel by restating this psychological ambivalence in his theory of the eros (life) and death drives--like it was some novel idea. This moral duplicity is also found in the Hebrew God who sent a flood to obliterate the earth that he so delicately created; and again by destroying the beautifully constructed Tower of Babel built by the very humans he created to have dominion over the earth. 

The biblical human is a delightful contradiction, intentionally. The two sides are represented in Carl Jung and James Hillman; Jungian and post-Jungian, wholeness and fragmentation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Is There Life After Death, and Is It Always Light and Love?

A friend recently wrote me about Near Death Experiences (NDE) after seeing the moving Heaven is For Real. Here is my response:

I saw the movie, Heaven is For Real, and found it very interesting. I have some ambivalence on this topic of life after death. On the one hand I am enthusiastically interested in compiling evidence for the reality of ongoing consciousness; but on the other hand, I see the phenomenon as easy to "cash in on" by anyone who has some unusual experience of altered consciousness. Human history is rife with people who make money off of the supernatural and the promise of certainty regarding life beyond the grave. I am really more fascinated by the fact that so many of us take the topic seriously--pro or con. I see no skeptics working feverishly to refute the existence of Santa Claus or Tooth Fairies. There is "something" more substantial to this NDE stuff. But mystery and room for doubt is also significant. The ambiguity seems to coincide with a soul-making cosmology—lots of room for doubt, yet ultimately right and wrong choices to be made. I lean toward being a believer--partly because of my own experiences.

Also, I was glad the author included the "negative" side of NDE and afterlife stories. I had something like a NDE in 1994, but the persons who came to me were not friendly. They were glowing 3-D holographic light persons who came to show me the terror of dying in a state of unresolved despair. Their message, in part, was: "If you die now, you will enter into a state of unimaginable suffering." It was clear that such a state was not due to some divine decree for my sinfulness, but rather a necessary concomitant of my state of mind and life at the time. It was more like the Buddhist Bhardo found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Duat of Egyptian mythology, or Dante's Purgatorio, or the characters on the bus in C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. The beings were comprised of dazzling light, but were messengers of terror. They called themselves Middlings--beings caught between paradise and hell; and their mission was to help people "on the edge" make a decision about which direction they want to take--into deeper darkness or into light. After meeting with them, I was "scared straight". They literally scared the existential hell out of me, causing my soul and life to change radically. In addition, N.D.E. expert P. M. H. Atwater's The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die makes it clear that many return from NDEs with messages of judgment and terror--however, such accounts do not typically sell very well.

So, if I take the "stages of consciousness" theory as a true paradigm, then the possibility (if not sure reality) of a kind of stage three disintegration has to be included in the post-life equation as well as this life. The Mary Poppins optimism of the New Age folks is just as disturbing to me as the Christian (Muslim) consignment of all non-believers to eternal hell. A life of soul-making in a world of moral choices and evolving human freedom requires consequences for all conscious choices. This fact has been a quality of every ancient mythology (not just Christian). The Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims,, Egyptians, Mesopotamians et. al. have a terrifying place for those who have lived badly and chosen selfishly. The Greeks had Hades. Even the mythical skeptical philosopher Plato spoke of an above and below in his Republic:  I do tend to think the terrible aspects are remedial and purposeful, but just as necessary as the light and butterflies. 

Bottom line: the topic fascinates us, and people seem to have a psycho-spiritual category (brain gurus would call it a neural niche) for this stuff. That tends to give the phenomenon more than a little credence as cosmologically possible if not probable. C.S. Lewis noted that there is no yearning within natural human consciousness which does not have the possibility of being filled--i.e. hunger, thirst, sex, material gain, fame, etc. The quest goes on. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What in the Hell Does "Psycho-Spiritual" Development Even Mean?

Let's pause for a moment in order to explore this fuzzy phrase, "psycho-spiritual development." First off, this is my provisional label which is more or less a synonym for soul-making. The phrase indicates that the developing human being is influenced by much more than just neuro-chemical and socio-political factors. Each of the words (psyche/soul and spirit) identify aspects of what is always occurring within ordinary human consciousness, moving us toward individuation and maturity.
The word soul refers to the rich and baffling dualistic drama that is played out moment by moment within each of us--the incompatible instincts that assail us, the inexplicable shifts in mood, the conflicting desires and sudden revulsions, the puzzling dreams, hallucinations and fantasies, etc. Soul designates the fields or patterns of transhuman archetypal ideas, emotions and actions into which each of us is immersed at birth. These universal psychological patterns enfold us long before they begin appearing in our individual identities.  

The word spirit on the other hand recognizes and identifies that innate universal sense that life ought to be fair and problem free. The term spirit identifies the transhuman propensity to feel a kind of entitlement to order, good health, meaning, knowledge and especially joy. But in the midst of our spiritualizings, soul (psyche) collides with spirit reminding us that this world does not often comply with our sense of entitlement to joy, order and happiness. The war is on, and from it comes a unique individual. This, in part, is the significance of the Chinese Yin/Yang symbol. Each side (psyche and spirit) is telling us a part of the truth about reality, but unless both are merged, as in the term psycho-spiritual, we do not have a balanced view of human existence. Human and cultural development require both factors. Forgetting one side or the other always ends in bad politics, disappointing religion and impossible relationships. As the Tao Te Ching (poem 22) says, "We live in a perfectly imperfect world."

Finally, I do suspect that our instinctive compulsion to crave joy and wholeness exists because it actually is the ultimate goal our existence--but it arrives at the end of the soul-making endeavor--and not likely while in this earth school. Move forward and through life's challenges--toward and into increasing joy. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The role of humor in soul-making

Humor always pokes fun at that which is elevated or forbidden--opposite ends of the psycho-social poles. The word "poke" is important here, since the bubble of the developing self is always in need of being poked, in need of deflation prior to re-inflation, in need of being pushed outward or of being burst asunder. Humor is a universal psychological function native to the psyche, reshaping the soul's boundaries by either pushing the gaunt soul outward, beyond it's comfortable boundaries, or alternately, bursting the rind of the inflated pompous ego so that it might deflate in order to re-inflate. Both experiences allow for the infinite contents of the Unconscious to flow in and transmute the self. Humor is a chief form of soul-making.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lady Gaga, The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street: Room for All

I read the other day that Lady Gaga is on her way out because she can't "be herself". The fact is, she has no "self". She is a kaleidoscope of selves--a walking mood disorder—a public display of cultural schizophrenia. Don't get me wrong, she is very entertaining and I love some of her music. She has played a critical and creative role in pop culture. But she is a neon symptom of a culture without a center. 

However, I think it can be argued that Gaga’s purported demise is a symbol of the death of the aimless postmodern American mind----the death of a narcissistic relativity, of "being my-self-obsessed-self," of the value of no values, of trying to make ugliness beautiful and of convincing us that up is down, male is female and that good is evil. Such a world view may serve as a necessary corrective when we get stuck in thoughtless conservative structures, but never works in the long run. Human nature is more fixed and conventional than many of us would like to admit. We crave order and meaning, ultimately.
We want a story with a real hero and a happy ending. Without real law and order we become inhumane animals and depressed victims, incessantly whining about our “rights” while abdicating our responsibilities. The end game of a postmodern attitude is naked chaos--pandemic addiction and political anarchy in the guise of "social justice". Some of the so called "oppressed" occupying Wall Street were secretly wishing they could be living in Penthouses and driving a Lamborghini. For God sake, wake up—the Hollywood “social justice” entertainers ARE living in Penthouses and driving Lamborghinis!  Most of them are hypocrisy personified—bewailing the plight of the oppressed while living like the wealthy hypocritical pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm. As I shall argue, there is a time and place to occupy Wall Street, but there is also a time and place to seek an occupation on Wall Street. And to be fair, there are some in the Tea Party who would like to force their version of "freedom" on the masses if they could. The Theocratic minority within the Christian church would argue that God demands the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality--and let's not forget gathering wood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36).

The fact is that human nature is a mixture of conservative wisdom and progressive evolution—requiring both values for a fully embodied humanity. We are each an amalgam of greedy beast and altruistic angel, self obsessed victim and empathetic hero. When a culture focuses on one side alone, the other will emerge with a compensatory vengeance. That is why the first organizers of the new American nation tried to create a Constitution and Bill of Rights that
would allow for both sides of our enigmatically opposed human nature to live in a nerve-racking tension—providing maximum freedom under a system of minimal laws. Their system of checks and balances, when actually followed, can maintain this tenuous condition of the human soul. Jefferson and Madison made room for a free and fair media, and a creative pop culture that could correct the inevitable imbalances of human nature. They knew that we needed both the North and the South, both Little House on the Prairie and Lady GagaLeave It to Beaver and Homer Simpson. They knew there was room for both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street—one side pointing to the greedy corruption of the entire political system, and the other to the endemic corruption of an increasingly greedy economic system. Some of us see the brilliance of both protests—and will not be forced by a polarized media, driven by ratings and money, to choose one side over the other. We will not be bullied by the rhetoric and legislated tyranny being foisted upon us by conservative and progressive politicians, in the forms of dictating whom we can marry or from whom we should purchase our health care. Both sides are using the sledge hammer of laws and regulations to force external changes in a country that has always allowed room for internal transformation through debate and the free and unhindered exchange of ideas and commodities. More and more people are getting fed up with “legislated compassion and enforced social justice” coming from both sides of the political, and religious, aisles.

So, Lady Gaga is a purposeful sign. Those loyal fans who want her to give them a more or
less consistent product are symptomatic of a culture tired of nauseating novelty. Alternative always becomes mainstream--human nature demands consistency as much as it desires novelty. And Lady Gaga may retire in protest so she can go become herself. But you can bet she will take most of her money with her, and I would not be at all surprised if in ten years she will be doing a lounge act in Vegas, or raising a family in the Midwest, hopefully sans any bad romance.