Tuesday, November 2, 2010

twelfth visit: Oct 31st 2010 Center For Spiritual Living

10:30am sunday
Pittsburgh Center For Spiritual Living
5655 Bryant St, Pittsburgh PA 15206
highland park

The Pittsburgh Center for Spiritual Living is a congregation led by Reverend Nancy Whitson Kandel, affiliated with United Centers for Spiritual Living. I have seen the phrase "Science of Mind" associated with the Center, and sources say that this philosophy was previously known as the "United Church of Religious Science." All three are all directly related, and Ernest Holmes is known to be the founder (1887 - 1960). As I understand, this philosophy is separate, unique and not to be confused with Christian Science. It is considered New Thought, but not New Age, and has roots in the Transcendentalist Movement. Think: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau of the 1830's. In Reverend Nancy's words: "We are a spiritually inclusive... interfaith center where we honor all faiths. ...and the laws of science as present by Ernest Holmes ...We use universal principles taught in all major religions."

Throughout the service are many, many mentions of the individual's role as an artist. I interpret this as one's responsibility to create a positive, functional society and environment, and to create metaphorical, emotional beauty. Joseph Beuys' philosophy, "social sculpture" comes to mind, stating that we are all a part of a world-wide society that can be seen, in a way, as an art project to which we are all obligated to contribute responsibly.

The room: complete calmness. A shy, full bearded 16-year-old behind an electric keyboard. Candles. A ringing bowl pushes sound through the air not unlike the vibrations of a shofar. It is Halloween: a mention of Day of the Dead and an opportunity to remember those who have passed... encouragement to speak the names... not unlike Yom Kippur. Here Amen is spoken this way: "And so it is."

Of all the places of worship I have visited thus far, this was the congregation that seemed most comfortable asking me questions about this project called gatherings. After the service, Reverend Nancy speaks to me. A conversation with Odessa about the drawings I have been doing in relation to inspiration... and mention of her own drawings. Kim wants to know to which worship places had I been and which part of my dress was created in response to which services. I'm at this odd place where I know I stand out because of the appearance of the dress I wear... and it will only become more so. The positive side of this is that in certain circumstances (ones in which people around me are not afraid to ask or comment), it becomes a way to share my art. NOT being noticed would serve no purpose, I remind myself.

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