Sunday, March 15, 2009
I Love Bill Moyers!
This morning I finally got around to watching last Friday night's episode of "Bill Moyer's Journal." I normally never miss his program but when I read the show summary I was quite sure I'd find it boring: "Religious scholar Karen Armstrong discusses human commonalities and her work on an international charge for compassion." Yep, "Pretty dry..." thinks I. Having been wrong about first impressions or first readings, I chose to trust my past experiences with learning from what Bill Moyers' discusses on his program. "I'll give it 5 minutes, then it's 'Da Vinci's Inquest' if it's a snooze-fest." sez I to the dust bunnies. Yes, I live alone with my coven of dust bunnies. I launched into the show and about 75 seconds later I was totally hooked by the interview and her intelligent, exploration of religions. I learned that Karen Armstrong is a prolific author of numerous books, one of which, "History of God," I sent as a gift to my dad, who's on a kind of theological inquiry of his own. I bought the book based on a review, not because I read the book myself or knew anything about the author. I really do need to pay more attention! For someone like me, who sees the worlds religions as cauldrons for politics, ego, violence and hate mongering -- some of the most ethical, compassionate and righteous people I know are atheists -- Ms. Armstrong's knowledgeable writings seem to be a quest for a universal higher meaning and the deconstruction of compassion. She asks, what is it to really be compassionate? She suggests, to paraphrase, it is the ability to feel and acknowledge another's pain, wishes and desires -- which brings us to: do not do unto others that which you would not have done unto you. To that end she organized a "Charter for Compassion," a multi-faith effort to define compassion as it's expressed in the various religions. As I understand this, she sees compassion as a unifying, universal human expression that may mitigate our baser tendencies toward the destructive excesses of greed and power -- but perhaps that's my interpretation. In 2008, the Oxford educated Ms. Armstrong received a $100,000 "TED" (Technology, Entertainment and Design) prize (TED.com/) for this project. I don't do her justice in this writing and recommend viewing the episode. It's stimulating and thought provoking and better expressed through the program's episode which can be viewed on Bill Moyers' PBS web site:
. And no, I didn't switch over to "Da Vinci's Inquest" (more about that in another blog entry).