Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In The Presence of Greatness

You know, there are times when you go to one of these author "reading" events and think at the end of it, "Wow, that was cool. That was pretty neat-o."
Well, I have just returned here to Old Milwaukee Headquarters from a night of being in the presence of author Karen Armstrong.
Absolutely incredible.
I really do not have words, the correct or even remotely adequate words to describe the feeling I get from absorbing such wisdom, such wealth of knowledge, presented in such gentle, meaningful, terms.
Having read her memoirs, and several of her books on religion, I already was well aware that Karen has lived an incredibly interesting life, and I already knew that she was a brilliant scholar -- I would go so far as to say "religious genius."
But tonight, I add to that panoply of praise by saying that Karen Armstrong is a wonderful, beautiful person.
There is just no way that anyone can speak so transparently, in front of hundreds of listeners.... holding us in thrall.... in THRALL I say unto you... no way that anyone can "be" what she was, and be an unbeautiful person.
It was glorious.
I so look forward to reading her new book, The Case For God.

Her theme tonight [the whole thing was in interview format] was, I guess -- compassion.
Dialogue about religion / theology that is not rooted in compassion is not dialogue.
The BASIS of true religion must be The Golden Rule. Not only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," BUT ALSO "Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you."
Any takers on who was the first person to promote this maxim?
It was Confucius.
I could say so much more, but won't.

Why do I not have my own photos of her?
Well..... I arrived at this event 45 minutes early. Which means I had my pick of the best seats -- I was just behind the reserved seating rows. Which means.... a terrific spot.
But the downside of this is that picture-taking and video-making is very obtrusive to those behind you. When I held the camera up, I was blocking the view of those behind me. So I refrained. PLUS, I was thinking "Hah! When the book-signing starts, I'LL BE IN THE FRONT LINES BABY!"
Check out my frigging tail-lights!
Compassion COMSMASHIN'!
Know what I mean? Read Darwin!
It's all about survival of the fittest, baby!
[Me looking behind me -->] "Why didn't you have the sense to leave work early, you dumb ignorant........."
Right about at the very moment as I was harboring such un-Christly thoughts, the moderator went to the microphone and announced that the book-signing would be taking place DOWNSTAIRS.
What the hell?
And where are the stairs?
At the far end of where I am [on the evolutionary scale...] -- We all stand up and face the other way and now I am at the BACK of this herd of semi-evolved useless cattle!
Not only could I make absolutely NO PROGRESS forward, but I could not move AT ALL!

So I just exited out a side door into the chilly evening, to come complain about it all here, on my blog.
But very early on, I did get a wee small clip of Karen Armstrong partially answering the first question posed to her.
You do get to hear her to-die-for accent -- have a listen.

If you have not heard of Karen Armstrong, first -- shame on you.
Secondly, her memoirs are EXCELLENT reading.
But so are all of her nearly two-dozen books on religion.
Tonight was just glorious. To hear someone speak -- to hear someone eloquently speak this good -- well, for me it is, and will be, unforgettable.
A milestone in my journey through life.

And speaking of milestones, this blog-posting, this one right here is #2,000 for me.
Happy............ whatever......... to me!
I want to thank you, my friends, for reading my babblings, these many years

Check out what Karen is into, lately, --> HERE!



Beth said...

Yes, such a lovely accent. Interesting that she was once in a convent.

Congratulations on post # 2000! That is quite the milestone. I’m nowhere near that number – and may never get there.

Stefanie said...

I am glad the evening went so well except for the book signing. I have learned well over the years that the closer I am to the front in these kinds of things the further away I am from the table where the author will be signing books.

Congrats on post #2,000! I look forward to the next 2,000!

Alyce said...

That is too funny about the book signing (well reading about it that is, I'm sure it wasn't that funny at the time). Congratulations on your 2000th post!

I love the discussion about compassion. I have seen many times people who are so busy angrily defending their beliefs that they don't take time to realize that compassion is what is needed, not angry rhetoric.