Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Flare by Jonathan Maas

Trying to live a frugal life I get free science fiction novels from Freebooksy. It's not just scifi, you can pick your genera. It's used, I think, to increase sales so that it looks like lots of people are buying a book. Looking now Flare is 99 cents, not free.

This book won an award, and even though obscure, means something, so I checked it out.

This book comes in 3 parts. An apocalyptic survivalist adventure, the theological discussion and then a kind of working through of the discussion.

The question is whether you would like to live in a kingdom of peace (Isaiah 11:1-9) or be realistic and live in the world of dog eat dog. The question is not which one is more realistic, fits better with what we see in the world. Rather it asks you whether you would want to live with a bunch of monks or in some kind of mad max kind of world, beyond the thunderdome.

Of course we know the answer. We'd rather live in a monastery than Mad Max world. Now the novel spins of and explores these ideas in concrete ways. In the book, the shelter has to keep people out, and a hero of the book can't forget others. In a way, that's the Christian way. But to really keep a kind of pure land, you need to keep people out.

There are some people that would choose the Mad Max world for the adventure. I'm not denying that. And you could go live in the Mad Max world and try to build a pure land, a kingdom of peace.

Then I was in the park with my daughter who is a year and a half.

I talk to the people in the park. There is a nanny from the Philipines. The mothers are from India, Russia, Albania, Poland, Israel and all over the Asian and Hispanic world. It's a truly New York City park, a melting pot or a tossed salad, which ever you prefer. The people are sweet. They offer food to my daughter. When she takes someone's toy, I intercede and encourage her not to grab and to share. Nobody gets away with any egregious behaviors.

Then the local preschool comes over. They are a great preschool that is inclusive for children with disabilities. The women (mostly) who work there are angels. Same situation, if someone pushes someone or grabs something, they get a quick speaking to.

I realized that was about as close to a pure land as I was going to get. Ever since reading Great Faith, Great Wisdom, I have listened to, read and thought about the pure land scriptures. I guess they are similar to the Kingdom of Peace from Isaiah.

They talk about the pure land being filled with jewels, but I think of a more sparse setting, with just really well crafted buildings and furniture. Lots of green, gardens with variety. The birds sing the dharma. The food is amazing. The technology doesn't glitch, and leads you to others, and is open source. All projects have a cooperative platform. Nobody is in a rush.

The park has garbage, New Yorkers in truth are dirty, don't feel like holding onto something until they see a garbage. My daughter picks up the garbage and puts it where it belongs. Sometimes older kids are mean and a ball comes whizzing into a small children area. I throw the ball out into the field that is empty, but the kids just go back to where they were playing. It's not perfect. Sometimes I get snubbed by another parent, or I say something unskillful. I still think it's the closest I get to a pure land.

I have an image of a woman with a book studying. Her husband is chasing the children around. Usually Judaism can be seen as sexist, but these two worked it out. There is hope of raising above to equality, fraternity and justice for all.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

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