Ceremony

Ceremony: (n) a formal religious or public occasion

We catered the food so it must be good.

We rented expensive tuxedos, so we’re certainly on our way to a major event.

We brought out the cloth napkins. Must be important guests.

We’re also using the best china. It’s been a while.

We got a haircut. Time to look better.

We trimmed our beard or fussed with our eyebrows. Must be on the way to see the President.

We lit a candle. It’s got to be more spiritual.

Ceremony is when we believe that certain rituals or articles have more significance–therefore they announce greater value. Because of that, certain aspects of life have become ceremonial.

We can’t worship God without dressing up, getting in a car, going to church, sitting on our perch and being led through a series of pre-fabricated and pre-tested ceremonies.

We cannot get married without spending tens of thousands of dollars, confirming to everybody that we’re worth it and “this thing is really on the level.”

Ceremony robs us of the joy of simply enjoying good things for no damn good reason whatsoever.

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Cerebral

Cerebral: (adj) characterized by the use of the intellect

A think tank.

Much of my thinking tanks. Does that count?

We are so impressed with the brain that we fail to read the instructions–like getting a new appliance. We unpack it and try to figure out its
intricacies as we go, instead of truly understanding its purpose.

The brain is where three distinctly different experiences collide:

  • Our upbringing
  • Our fear
  • New information

We cannot receive new information without fearing it and comparing it to what we’ve already been taught. So new information has to work really hard to displace old, faulty mind-wiring.

Because of this, our attempts to be cerebral or intellectual are often the rehashing of old outdated concepts.

Is it possible to give new information a primal position–where we have the opportunity to expand and grow with much more fluidity?

Yes, it is.

But we must take care of our fears and emotional inadequacies. We must get rid of superstitions. Then and only then does a fresh notion have a chance of gaining life in our cerebrum.

The world will continue to be a place of repetitive disaster until we understand that what needs to be done is not already in our brain–but will come as we open the door to greater understanding.

 

 

 

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Cereal

Cereal: (n) a breakfast food made from roasted grain

When I was a child, I ate as a child. Now that I’ve become a man, I’ve put away good taste.

As a boy, breakfast was sweet cereal. I had many favorites. My choices were layered–there were those cereals I begged for at the grocery
store, but my mom refused to buy because they were too expensive (though she insisted it was because of the sugar content).

I ate those varieties when I stayed overnight at my friends’ house. For the record, Lucky Charms were magically delicious. And if you’re going to spend some time with Captain Crunch, make sure he’s peanut butter flavored.

Then there were the cereals my mother would buy, which were sweet enough for me to be tantalized. Sugar Smacks. And one of my personal favorites–Honeycomb, which I would describe as very sweet air.

But my mother preferred Raisin Bran, Puffed Wheat (because it was cheap) and Life cereal.

I remember throwing a tantrum for nearly fifteen minutes because I was required to consume a bowl of Life cereal. I explained to my mother that there was something wrong with the concoction–that it tasted rotten, fermented, or maybe even poisoned. She disagreed, citing Good Housekeeping’s approval.

Then one day–oh, and it was sudden–I woke up and became an adult, and started considering the nastiness of nutrition.

No one has actually proven that fiber, vitamins, minerals or oat bran actually lengthen your life. Perhaps it just makes you feel like you live longer. But now I check the fiber on the side of the cereal box instead of whether there’s a prize inside.

Something is missing.

Something is amiss.

I miss something.

 

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Ceramic

Ceramic: (adj) made of clay and hardened by heat.

Having someone talk you into something.

I was guilty of it many times when I was younger. Someone would come in the room with a hard sell on a new idea, and I would feel like an
idiot if I refused to participate.

One of my friends got interested in doing ceramics. Matter of fact, she bought a kiln. I would try to explain to you what a kiln is, but let me just sum it up by saying that it’s a very, very hot oven.

My dear friend decided to coerce me into making a pot.

I did not want to. Yet I felt that my reluctance was a sign of insecurity, so I agreed. She repeatedly explained how simple everything was, as I continued to make it complicated. I finally succeeded in forming my clay into what somewhat resembled a pot, and we put it into the kiln to bake.

After that, things become blurry. There was something about letting it cool, painting it, decorating it…

Let me just say that I did everything she asked me to–ineptly.

At the end of the experience, I had a pot-shaped object which was extremely ugly and looked like it was made by a five-year-old.

She disagreed.

She said it was beautiful. She used the word “unique.” She said she would be proud to have it in her house.

She told me to pick it up next week, after it had the chance to fully… I forget the word. Mature?

I was heading to my car when I realized I had left my hat behind. As I approached the doorway, I heard laughter. I stopped, leaned against the wall and listened.

My friend was explaining to her other pot-makers the experience she had with me, while displaying my work. If the goal of pot-making is to create hilarious laughter, I was superb.

I waited a few minutes until the laughter died down and I went inside to get my hat.

I never returned to get my pot. She called me once, asking me to come pick it up. I told her to use it as an example of what someone does when they reluctantly follow the wishes of a friend.

 

 

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Century

Century: (n) a period of one hundred years.

I have lived in two centuries.

Matter of fact, most of what we hold dear, precious, valuable and true has occurred in my lifespan.

For instance:

From my birth to the present day, we have transported our emotions from bigotry to “Oh, my God. We’re bigots.”

We have gone from cars using gasoline to cars using gasoline but us feeling kind of guilty about it.

We have traveled from medicine believing it has the answer to some things to medicine being quite certain it has the answer to everything.

We have spanned the generation gap by explaining that psychologically, such a chasm is necessary.

We have gone to the moon, but can’t really get back there so we insist “we’re not really interested in space.”

We have flown from an era when women were treated as inferiors, encouraged to stay in the home, to a time when women insist they’re not inferior because they stay in the home.

We have progressed our technology to the point of inefficiency.

We have improved our diplomacy by continuing the threat of nuclear war.

We have addressed racism by giving it an abundance of names.

We have handled the Golden Rule by simply refusing to go to church.

And we have defined tolerance by secretly alienating humans instead of publicly insisting on separated bathrooms.

Progress is made when the human heart is tapped, confirming that we have a soul. Once we feel that our soul has some eternal journey, our brain can be trained to be more generous.

Then acts of kindness seem logical instead of magnanimous.

 

 

 

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Centurion

Centurion: (n) the commander of a hundred men in the ancient Roman army.

I’m not sure what causes a person to be open-minded.

Certainly rejecting fear would help.

Relieving yourself of the conviction that you and all your co-horts possess the only answers would also be beneficial.

But in the Good Book, there is the story of a centurion. He has a servant. Now, we know the centurion is in charge of a hundred men, which
means he’s been given some rank and confirmation of the authenticity of his ability. So why would such a fellow be concerned about a servant? How would that relationship have sprouted?

We know that the gentleman was not only a commander, but was also open to the idea that opportunities can come from unlikely places. So rather than having a servant who hates you, why not have one who loves you?

But when that servant becomes sick and you realize that all those possessing medical knowledge who surround you are inept in advancing a cure, then it becomes necessary to use your open mind to consider a more unorthodox option.

How about an itinerant preacher from Nazareth, who is disrupting his religious community, but supposedly has healing in his hands?

The centurion did not allow his sense of Roman superiority to overwhelm him, leaving him without a remedy. He sent a messenger to ask Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus started to head his way, the centurion was sensitive enough to realize that if this Nazarene came into his home, the young man would be considered unclean because he was at the hearth of a heathen.

So the centurion told Jesus just to say the word, and the servant would be made well. After all, as a centurion, he did that all the time with his soldiers. “You go do this. You go do that.”

Jesus was impressed. He said, “Never have I seen so great a faith.”

So maybe the definition of faith is when we realize we don’t have anything to lose, so being open-minded about other choices just might be life-saving.

 

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Centrist

Centrist: (n) a person who holds moderate political views.

I see your point.

I see his point.

I see her point.

Ain’t I neat?

Not necessarily. A certain amount of diplomacy is demanded to make for good politics. But often, life requires a definitive choice. Otherwise, heinous results will
be endured.

Henry Clay is the most famous centrist of all time. Matter of fact, he was given the name, “The Great Compromiser.”

All during his time of being the senator from Kentucky, he fought to keep the Union together by being a centrist on the issue of slavery. He proudly took the Quakers and abolitionists on one side, and the plantation and slave owners from Dixie on the other side, and sat them down to come up with a way to continue slavery while also guaranteeing that certain states in the Union would be slave free.

In doing so, he ended up stealing the freedom of more black men, women and children than any other person in the United States.

A Civil War that should have been fought twenty years earlier was further enraged by years and years of unrelenting and unfulfilling compromise.

Sometimes there is no centrist position.

There is no arena for the propagation of the idea that “all men are kind of created equal.”

There’s no room for “freedom of most speech.”

And there is no possibility that rights are only given to those who presently have enough lawyers to wrangle them.

Henry Clay was a centrist. Because he kept us from dealing with a national tragedy, he will always be known as the person who managed to delay the inevitable Civil War that killed hundreds of thousands.

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