Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

The times are dark all over the world, and anxiety is high

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
     I am going to start doing regular Facebook Live Streams and offer online counseling/coaching and support groups to help calm that anxiety and isolation. This way people will not have to come to see me in person but can still get my unique brand of help and support.
     I am working on two new books,. One is my second dog book, this one centering on Baltho’s next incarnation, named Hattie, and the lessons I learned with her and the other two dogs and cats, as my mystical insights and abilities became stronger.
     I am also working on another book about my paranormal experiences with animals and the people involved with them. I plan to publish sections on Kindle as they are ready. And then combine these sections into a full book available on Kindle and paperback.
     Here is the start of that new book.Titles are working titles. They may change.
Cloud of Witnesses Series
The communion of the living and the dead
Foreword
     We are living in dark times, hit by tragedies and suffering on every side, much caused by human beings who willfully inflict their short-sighted, egocentric views on others, heedless of the consequences to others who share our planet. Grinding poverty, disease, and displacement from war torn areas is multiplying geometrically. Some of these horrors are caused by natural disasters that batter creation everywhere and cause more even more devastation and population movement. Every time we sign on to the Internet, turn on the TV or radio, or open a newspaper we are assaulted by such horrors. We live in a world terribly out of balance—careening ever more toward the abyss.
     Yet, the still small voice of hope is always there, always calling to us to do better. After opening the box that let all kinds of illness, bloodshed, terrors and evils loose upon the world, Pandora discovered the one thing that remained was hope. I have learned to eat it like bread.
     For me that hope comes from the spiritual world that surrounds us, that calls us to the mystery that all life, past, present, and future, is connected, often in ways that we only glimpse at best. Those we care about, and those who care for us, bear witness to this, even from beyond this mortal world.
     As a Hindu friend who tried to explain her embrace of Christianity to her Hindu parents said, “God comes to me in the form of Jesus.” Prior to landing on that explanation, her parents could not understand why she would reject her Hindu heritage with many expressions of God to follow Jesus. They felt that she was rejecting them. “They now understand that God comes to us in many forms. He comes to me in the form of Jesus,” she explained. “They do not feel condemned if they do not follow him. They do not feel pressure from me. Nor do I push them in any way. We accept one another. We love.”
     That has long been my experience. I cannot tell others what path they should follow. I can only say what is true for me. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Denver at the end of the Vietnam War, everything—every tradition was questioned, every institution was distrusted, most of all, the government. Like Kent State we had the National Guard occupy our campus, with classes cancelled and everyone in fear that the massacre that happened in Kent State might happen here in Denver. I knew members of the Weathermen from the Scholars and Honors program, males and females who believed, or said they did, that our government was so corrupt that it had to be overthrown. Drug experimentation—especially with LSD, speed, and marijuana—was widespread. I was afraid to try any of that myself. I valued my mind too much. But, like my colleagues, I questioned everything, unsure what to believe, including the moderate Christian faith of the American Baptist church I’d grown up in. My immediate family were not very churchy. I found services boring, though I’d made an early commitment at four years old to follow Jesus . . .

MY TIMELY NOVEL (CREATIVE NONFICTION), READING THE SIGNS: A PARANORMAL LOVE STORY

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

MY NOVEL–
READING THE SIGNS: A PARANORMAL LOVE STORY

Ted Jones, campus chaplain and English Professor in downtown Denver, doesn’t need more problems. His life has been full of them. More than a few of the clergy seem to think of the church as a sex club, and those who administer the English Department are vipers. Yet, at the beseeching of the spirit of an old woman who appears floating near the stained glass window of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Ted soon becomes involved with Sharon, the deceased woman’s grown granddaughter.

Damaged though she is, Sharon responds, trying to return the steadfast love that Ted offers. After her grandmother died, she lost that capacity in herself and couldn’t find it in any of the people who professed to love her.

Although Sharon and Ted’s trials are multiple, their love forms the crux of the novel. Such love reaches beyond time and space as we normally conceive them, to involve intersecting planes of existence that touch both past and future.

*******
While fiction, and centrally a love story, it is essentially true. My experiences teaching at CU Denver and the Episcopal Cathedral stick very close to the facts. In light of the current #MeToo movement it is most timely.

*******

The novel ends with a vision of meeting Sharon on the fields of eternity:

For a moment, my earthly sight blurred with tears, I glimpsed Sharon and me. We stood on fields of gold, there, where chronos meets kairos, and earthly time rolls into eternity.

Link to Amazon Reading the Signs page. Here you can examine the cover and read some pages of the book.

Signed copies are also available from me. See WRITING page of this site.

Study says thinking about dying can be healthy

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Some people think of death as the terrifying thing at the end of the road. But as we know, death is natural and inevitable.

So, whether you’re writing your will or daydreaming of how awesome your funeral is going to be, a new study says thinking about your own death can be healthy.

More.

For centuries Western Culture encouraged people to meditate on their ends, so that they might live better, more thoughtful, and godly, lives. This has always seemed to me (TRW) a good idea.

The Fundamentalist Christian Chokehold On America

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The fundamentalist chokehold on American politics seeks to destroy the religious and cultural plurality on which the country, and the Declaration of Independence, was based. These theological divisions – which pit believers against non-believers, and those who believe correctly against those who don’t – are a major contributor to America’s sharply divided politics. When someone believes he or she holds absolute truth, there can be no compromise, no middle ground, and no discussion.

Fundamentalism – Christian, Islam, or any other religious ideology – is the antithesis of progression. Fundamentalism’s dangerous anti-science stance threatens the world’s environment, reduces the efficacy of American education, and leaves citizens unprepared for life in a global economy. Fundamentalism is shrouded in ignorance, backed by authoritarianism, and places an enormous amount of trust in individual leaders. To free us of the religious chokehold, citizens must recognize, and actively vote against the powerful political machine of the Fundamentalist Christian right.

More.

Religion Failed Us—but we Still Need It.

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

from Samuel Kronen’s excellent essay:

To live a religious life, we must engage in a spiritual practice. I don’t think there is any way around this. To remain in contact with that what is beyond ourselves, beyond the domain of our individual thoughts, we must find some way of continually remembering that this connection exists and is always possible to attain.

This can be achieved in many different ways, from charity, to meditation, to some form of deep contemplation, and so on. What is necessary is engaging in whatever practice we choose on a daily basis or something close to it—otherwise we are susceptible to falling astray and moving away from this essential connection.

Try to remember that life is infinitely wondrous and beautiful, and do everything in our power to live in a way that serves this remembrance. This is the foundation of a holy life.

We don’t need to buy into religious lunacy to be close to God. We simply must allow ourselves to be active participants in the grace and artistry of the universe, rather than merely being passive observers in a purely material world.

In reminding ourselves that there is more to life than what we think, we become present to the immediacy of life itself, and in my experience, this expands our capacity for love.

Love is at the core of a truly religious life.

More.

A Growing Movement Of ‘Death Doulas’ Is Rethinking How We Die

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

“All I can tell you is that from where I have sat there has been a calmness and a sense that I want to be nowhere else but by that person’s side,” Levine said in an interview with HuffPost.

Levine is part of a growing movement of nurses, social workers and volunteers who are pushing for greater compassion and companionship for people who are dying. Borrowing language from the birthing world, they’re called death doulas, end-of-life doulas, death midwives and palliative care doulas.

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This vision of the world reduces everything to a battle between good and evil, between God and Satan.

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

From Pope’s Confidantes Pen Blistering Critique Of Steve Bannon’s View of Christianity:
Spadaro and Figueroa accused this group of misinterpreting verses in the Bible to fit their own political stances on a wide range of topics ― from war-mongering to climate change to the idea of America as a “promised land” that is to be defended against all odds.

The authors wrote that these evangelicals and Catholics “condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.”

………………“Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church. Spirituality cannot tie itself to governments or military pacts for it is at the service of all men and women. Religions cannot consider some people as sworn enemies nor others as eternal friends. Religion should not become the guarantor of the dominant classes,” the pair wrote.

More.

Bannon, Deconstruction, v. meaningful readings of texts and life

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Steve Bannon’s love of Deconstructionism has got me thinking that a good dose of traditional sign theory, which dominated Western culture for centuries, would be in order, even if people are not believers. It argues that we can make sense of texts by careful readings, believing that they–and by extension, our lives–have meaning.

When I was earning my Ph.D. in English in the late 70s and early 80s, Deconstructionism was one of the big literary trends that many Miltonists eschewed because it reads every text as essentially meaningless, for all signs ultimately cancel each other out. Those who practice this theory are great at the intellectual gymnastics that such readings require. However, the alternate reality/facts, if you will, that such readings search out and concentrate on, are ultimately destructive to every text (and life itself). Nothing has meaning or purpose in this system, for there’s always chaos and war over dominance.

That, as my study, Perversions, Originals, and Redemptions in Paradise Lost, now an acclaimed book, is not at all true to the traditional semiotic approach of the Great Western tradition, first set forth by Augustine, the first and foremost sign theorist in the West. This system is essentially monistic (not dualistic, as some have thought), for all begins and ends in God. All signs must be read by the signs that God has embodied in both the Old and the New Testaments. Satan who separated himself from Heavenly communion and took many angels and humans with him then mimic, and pervert God’s words, deeds, and actions, forming, you might say, alternative facts and reality throughout the timeline–till the very end, when God steps in and becomes All in All, his monistic system restored. We are required by life itself to learn to read signs correctly and embody the truths of them in our lives if we are truly members of God’s City. If we choose to follow Satan and His opposing City, The City of Satan, or Man after the Fall, we never enjoy the Communion of Heaven, and will end in Hell (according to Augustine). There, nothing truly exists, for existence requires grounding in God, the source of all reality and being, but subsists. Milton, takes the Jewish and more logical tack that Satan and his City will ultimately be dissolved so that God will fully be All in All, his original monism restored throughout the universe (a notion again signifying oneness).

I think a discussion of Augustinian sign theory, while not the only reading of what’s going on politically, would be fruitful in today’s world. Even if one isn’t a believer, the notion that we can discover competing systems, which relate constantly to each other and provide insight into the characters enacting them, is exciting. It seems important to add that my work looks at patterns. I’m not dogmatic or doctrinaire myself, because I think most spiritual systems that I know of look for meaning based on Oneness and Unity with creation and would give value to such patterns. This lies beyond dogma, in my view.

Here’s a link to the study on Amazon. You can look inside to what it’s all about. You can also order a copy, or you can order a copy here (http://www.thomasrameywatson.com/editing/). Many academic libraries will have it too. https://smile.amazon.com/Perversions-Originals-Redemptions-Paradise-Lost/dp/0761837825/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488228034&sr=1-4&keywords=thomas+ramey+watson

Most of my books, take up traditional sign theory in one way or another. I knew my novel, Reading the Signs: A Paranormal Love Story, just published but without much notice so far, was particularly timely, centering on the corruption that infects so many of our institutions, where power and control have become the norm. Such power mongering is embodied in someone who hasn’t hesitated to abuse those beneath him in every way necessary to get and maintain such control, including misuse of sex. Alternate realities, competing narratives, which Trump and company constantly practice, riddle the novel in which my protagonist and his love are trying to survive by reading the signs rightly and moving on. My popular memoir, Baltho, The Dog Who Owned a Man, also refers to Deconstructionism and traditional sign theory.

New Year’s Thought

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

A big culprit in so many thorny issues facing us is religious dogma that keeps people from really seeing and from there getting ourselves and others in balance. As long as we remain dogmatic, locked in manacles of the mind, as the poet William Blake termed it, we make everything worse, not just for others but for ourselves.

I was thinking the other morning on my way home from yoga of the Two GREAT COMMANDMENTS, which, as Jesus said, are the summation of the Law and the Prophets: 1. Love God with your whole heart and soul and mind. And, 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. To love others rightly we must also love ourselves. Many people do not. To get right we must sort ourselves out with love and kindness, and wisdom.

That’s where good books, and good counsel, can really help.

I’ll end the year with this poem from my collection, The Necessity of Symbols,

20/20

Threading from spool to spool
to spool, frost spins
old stories out
over my windows.

Shrunken cherries left by blackbirds
who’ve read the signs and fled
lie discarded on the lawn.
Like motors, hearts turn—
and turn again—
but refuse, make noise—
absolutely refuse
to start.

Ice covers the city
like a freezer-burned pie.
The fruit trees—no matter their kind—
bear only ice.

Oh stabat mater—Jesus—
stoop—
take the cobwebs from the gashes.
Let wounds brighten.
Let us bear fruit
fit for golden bowls.
Thomas Ramey Watson

Conflicts Between Science And Spirituality Are Rooted In Your Brain

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

“Our dialogue around religion would be more productive if scientists respect the insights that religion can offer, and if religious individuals would respect the insights science can offer,” Jack said. “They are different kinds of insight, so there is really no reason for so much conflict to arise.”

And as individuals, optimal thinking likely results from a dynamic interplay of these two types of reasoning, based on the nature of the particular problem we’re facing.

More.

Integration of various ways of thinking and acting can be done. In fact, in my opinion, it’s necessary if we wish to live good lives as wholly as we can. Tom

Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

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