Mysticism is dangerous. But first, you ask, what is
mysticism? There are lots of definitions. My personal favorite, by the 20-Century
British writer on the subject Evelyn Underhill, is “mysticism is first-person religion.”
To paraphrase the rationalist Thomas Paine, Revelation is only for the person
who received it. For everyone else it is mere hearsay. Yet at least the three
Abrahamic religions are based on revelations to others. We “believers” are
simply takingtheirexperiences on
faith. Our religions are thus third-person affairs.
“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite
variety. . . .” So says Shakespeare
about Cleopatra inAnthony and Cleopatra. Now I don’t know about the Serpent of the
Nile, but as for me, age has certainly withered me. Or more specifically, my withers. Or even
more specifically, my knees. It started about 12 years ago. After having run-walked the annual Honolulu
Marathon for the second time in a row, I became aware of a gnawing pain in my
left knee. A typical male, I sucked it up and continued my practice of running.
The recently resolved U.S. debt-limit crisis has been described
by some as a form of extortion, with a doctrinaire faction of one party holding
the entire country hostage to their inflexible beliefs. The nation’s greater
good seems to have taken a back seat to the greater good of the few. Nowadays Republicans strike one as the party
of greed, while the Democrats come across as the party of need. Republicans have a point when they argue for
hardy self-reliance, entrepreneurship, and creativity rather than dependence on
Last summer I attended a free concert here in Boulder. Called
“Band on the Bricks,” the event was a gift of the City of Boulder. That evening
there was a Beatles cover band. They weren’t fantastic, but they were good. And
of course the Beatles’ music was and is great. Cedar and I went along with my
younger daughter, Christine, who was visiting from New Hampshire. Not only is
she a Beatles fan; she’s a Beatles scholar, with a communications Ph.D. focused
on Mod culture to prove it.
Anyway, there were between 500 and 1,000 people on hand,
from babes in arms to oldies like me who had been young professionals when the
Beatles first became famous in the States.
Whose team is best? Ours of course. Why? Because it’s ours.
Okay, so whose team is worst? Theirs of course. Why? Because it’s not ours.
Pretty childish, right? Just what you’d expect from kids in Little League. Yet
big kids, called adults, are no different. And that’s not a good thing. Our
better selves and more mature representatives tell us, “It’s not whether we win
or lose, but how we play the game.” Then over against that, our smaller selves
and less mature representatives counter with Vince Lombardy that “Winning isn’t
What to say about Spain? Well for one thing, Cedar and I
finally got to unpack after four-and-a-half weeks on the road. Given all our schlepping
of heavy bags, that in and of itself was big. Having flown back from Morocco
and spent yet another night at our Barcelona digs, the Hesperia Fera Suites in
the Bellvitge District near the Airport, we took an early Spanair flight to
Granada. An hour-and-a-half later we were getting our automatic Citroen Picasso,
eating a quick breakfast, and preparing to find “our” country house in Orgiva.
After 15 days in Turkey and a night in Barcelona, the two of
us flew Royal Air Maroc on May 29 to Casablanca. We had pre-paid
our hotel there, strategically placed next to the Gare Voyageurs train station,
so we could take our 10 pm train in from the airport and half an hour later
pull our bags to the door. On arriving, I asked the security guard at the Gare where
our Ibis Hotel was. “La bas, Monsieur!” “Just there!” He pointed. And of
course, there it was, about 50 meters to the right across the station parking
It’s Wednesday, June 8. Evening. Back at our by
now tried-and-true Hesperia Fera Suites in a cloudy and cool Barcelona. The
manager recognized us and made sure we got a room with an exterior view this
time. Nice! Anyway, it’s time to talk a little more Turkey.
First, a few words
about Mustafa Kemal, better known as Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey in
1923. There are statues of him everywhere. No village is too small. The Turkish
Government, to honor him, made it illegal for anyone else to ever bear the
In one sense the Prophet Muhammad had it easy. When the
Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) told him “Recite!” Muhammad recited. That was
possibly his first act ofislam,
surrender of his human will to that of the Almighty. It’s blog time. I’m here
in Marrakech, at the base of the High Atlas Mountains separating Morocco’s
coastal plain from the Sahara. (By the way, Sahara, the word, stems from the
Arabicsahra, which means desert. So
when we Westerners speak of the Sahara Desert, we’re actually saying the Desert
After two flights, we arrived in Barcelona Wednesday
morning, May 11. Our flight to Turkey was exactly two days later.
So, we didn’t have a lot of time todothe capital of Cataluña. Our hotel, selected online for its proximity to the
airport, price, and positive rating, did not disappoint. In fact, we had a
small suite in an ultra-modern hotel complex in the midst of a mixed
residential-industrial neighborhood across from the university hospital. The
hotel staff was friendly and my Spanish adequate.