Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nude in Public

I'm one of those people who has scary dreams of being nude in public. It happens pretty often, though I can't remember it happening in the last six months. Usually, in the dream I have gotten myself into the embarrassing situation because in my air-headedness, I have forgotten to dress completely, or left my clothes someplace rather far away. Now I am faced with a social situation in which I need to try to keep my dignity. I interact with people in the dream while naked, but they don't always seem to notice. I do sometimes detect side whispers and laughs at my expense.

This dream speaks volumes about one's self-perception, guilt or shame, and fear of being exposed for who and what one is. It is a solid meme that rings true from person to person. You have that dream, you know how it feels.

I listened to a great talk by Alan Watts this morning on KGNU. To me, it was the perfect sermon, about how all of life and eternity is in the present moment, and how "knowing that" is what you want. You put up lots of barriers for yourself against knowing it. You aren't pure enough, you haven't studied long enough, you aren't ready. But the truth is, you already know it. You just let yourself forget, over and over and over.

Watts quoted Matthew 6:28-30 ":Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
Then he said, "No one ever preaches a sermon on that." (This was 1973.) "They say, 'That is all well and good for Jesus Himself, but we have to be practical. After all, He was the Boss' Son, He had a special "in", so He knew everything would turn out all right for Him.' They don't get the part where Jesus is trying to tell everyone that they are the Boss' Son, too. Now that's the Good News, the Gospel." Watts pauses here, then says: "It never got out."

He gets a big laugh from the people there at the talk. This recording sounded like one of his seminary talks. The wry truth that those religious insiders know is that Jesus' actual Gospel hasn't "gotten out" yet, even though it is plainly written in the Bible. That you can look at the Gospel stories through Jesus' eyes, and that doing so is in fact the whole point. That you can "know" as Jesus did, and speak as he did, - "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:29)

You know how scribes teach. They are forever looking something up in their scrolls, and then saying, "Yep, here it is right here, in black and white, it says this that and the other." Not Jesus. He spoke from his heart, and made it up as he went along. People heard his authority, not because he shouted and gave orders, but because he spoke as one who knows something from personal experience. He knew the experience of a human being who could stop all the worrying, and know that he was the Son of God. Watts went on about how incredibly courageous a person would have to be to take Jesus at his word about letting God provide. Give all your clothes back to Dad or to the poor, walk out in the street naked. (That is where I started thinking about my nude dreams.)

What would you think about person who was walking around naked in public, who seemed sane and at peace with himself? I wonder how much chance there would be for such a person not to get locked up. You can't do it with a plan for what is going to happen to you, and be sincere. But then, none are our plans are ever secure.

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