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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.


Monday, December 31, 2012

In Response to Facebook's Inquiry

How am I feeling today? Thank you for asking, Facebook Robot. I'm feeling the constant undercurrent of existential dread, of course, over the ultimate absurdity of life. But I'm also feeling a deep sense of gratefulness for all the many blessings in my life. Most of those blessings are people, but some of them are cats. Cats are quite adept at balancing absurdity and grace.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There are no easy answers.

This blogpost about the tragic shooting of schoolchildren in Sandy Hook brought tears to my eyes. Mayim Bialik is not only a talented actress and neuroscientist, she is also a woman of deep faith who shares her insights on the Kveller website: 

Mayim Bialik on Sandy Hook, Faith & God

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BookLog: Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde

Constance Wilde, the wife of Oscar Wilde and the mother of his sons, was amazing. She was a proto-feminist who fought for women's rights, she was involved in esoteric spirituality (Theosophy; the Order of the Golden Dawn), and she was an author in her own right. In fact she may have been the primary author of some of the children's stories attributed to her husband. She did her best to stand by Oscar during his imprisonment and only divorced him to protect their children financially. I don't think she ever stopped loving Oscar, even when his love for her grew dim. 


This fascinating book, Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde,  draws upon Constance's correspondence with friends and relatives, as well as other sources, to tell her story. The book reads like a novel, and it provides a welcome glimpse into a little-known figure in literary history.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Having seen all 3 Lord of the Rings movies multiple times, and having worked through my rage at Peter Jackson for omitting Tom Bombadil from the films, and knowing that Jackson was going to squeeze 3 movies out of one novel this time, I wasn't expecting the film The Hobbit to be faithful to the novel. Approaching the film as its own creation, I found it enjoyable and times deeply moving. Yes, I found the video-game CGI aspects of the battle scenes a bit tiresome (and I don't remember that many battles being in the first third of the novel). And I can understand the frustration many feel about Jackson turning a beloved childhood novel into another 3-movie "epic." But overall I loved the movie. I loved the humor, the rapport between the characters, the sheer beauty of the scenery throughout the movie (as well as the beauty of Cate Blanchett and Aidan Turner), the pathos and expressiveness of Andy Serkis as Gollum, and, as always, the depth and dignity Sir Ian McKellen brings to any role he plays. I'm certain I'll see it again on the big screen, and I'm certain I'll buy it on Blu-Ray and geekily enjoy all the extras and commentaries.



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Saturday, December 01, 2012

BookLog: Water from an Ancient Well

Water from an Ancient Well by Kenneth McIntosh is one of the most quietly wise books I've read in a long time. "Like a Celtic knot, this book is meant to be enjoyed in a nonlinear fashion," McIntosh states in his introduction. Each chapter is a self-contained essay on a particular topic in Celtic Christian spirituality, with stories, theological-historical background, and applications for today. A lot of my favorites are here: St. Brigid of Kildare, the Gaelic hymn "Be Thou My Vision," the Celtic sunwheel cross, St. Columba, St. Brendan the Voyager, even Merlin the Magician. Quotes from C. S. Lewis, "the great Celtic theologian of modern times," are peppered throughout the book. 

My favorite chapters are the ones about the panentheism of John Scotus Erigena ("Every Bush Aflame: God Revealed in Nature") and the one about "Furred and Feathered Neighbors: Creatures of Grace," which shows how St. Columba, St. Brigid, and others related to their animal neighbors. From that chapter:

John Scotus Erigena (Charlemagne's Irish-born theologian) and C. S. Lewis (also born in Ireland, though many centuries later) both wrote about animal salvation, and both shared a similar view. Lewis and Erigena suggest that we are our pets' redeemers; our love for them is a part of God's restoration of all things. Erigena writes, "When man is recalled into the original grace of his nature... he will gather again to himself every sensible creature below him through the wonderful might exercised by the Divine Power in restoring man." In Lewis's novel The Great Divorce, he describes a "great lady" in heaven, surrounded by a small menagerie, and he explains, "Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them." On a more humorous note, Robert Louis Stevenson writes, "You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."


If you're not familiar with Celtic Christian spirituality, Water from an Ancient Well is a great introduction. Even if you are familiar, this book is a great way to revisit some of these stories, poems, and prayers and learn new ones - especially as we enter the contemplative season of Advent. 

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