LOVE’S PROPER DISTRIBUTION

 

The Resurrection is about the Cosmic Christ

but the historical Jesus is both

a historical door to God and an Ultimate Door.

Jesus shows us how to open the door to God’s Providence

working in every moment – whether we receive honor or contempt –

to the devout both are useful for edification.

 

Matthew is the only gospel that uses Final Judgement

as a way of dramatizing the teachings of Jesus –

no other gospel has the teaching of the sheep –

eternally blessed for reaching out to the poor

and the goats – damned forever for shutting the poor out.

Still, justice-seeking is constitutive of every gospel –

justice is never an add-on/afterthought.

 

Discipleship involves both putting on

the Mind of Christ and working to spread

the Beloved Community/Church/Kindom of God

in the world – to be people of prayer

and to humanize impersonal society.

 

“Lovers in a Dangerous Time”

by Canadian folk legend Bruce Cockburn (Co-burn)

is a prophetic song in naming our times

as dark and death-dealing

and naming love as the only way

to “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”

 

Justice needs to be fueled by love and prayer

for our enemies, otherwise, as Gandhi said

“you replace one pack of wolves with your own pack.”

Justice needs its Source

in the inexhaustible energy of God

or it will burn out in anger/frustration/exhaustion –

you need a strong spiritual life to confront the powers that be

and to be a well-balanced/effective justice-warrior.

 

So, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”

can be used to draw yourself

and your comrades/compatriots/conspirators

into a contemplative state of mind

and fight with renewed energy for the justice of God

which is “the proper distribution of love

throughout society” – Reinhold Niebuhr

CAST YOUR NETS INTO THE DEEP

The growing gap between theology and science

for five centuries meant religion got relegated

to the backburner of fixed abstract concepts

which couldn’t cope with a universe of dynamic change –

Isaac Newton believed God’s living commands

would be replaced by mathematical laws

and Darwin’s theory of universal evolution

destroyed the immutable world of religion.

 

We either accept our fixed views/beliefs/assumptions

about reality, or we challenge them –

to remain open and curious, according to Buddha

is the best use of our lives.

 

 Evolution entails a continuous revolution

in consciousness that eventually expresses itself

in deeper religious understanding –

most Christians today are rethinking Augustine

who gave way too much weight to one verse:

“I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin

did my mother conceive me” Psalm 51:5.

The idea we all are sinners

right from the moment of conception

gave birth to the prevailing paradigm of Original Sin

and convenient communal amnesia about the verse

that God originally created everything

including us humans “very good” (Psalm 1:31).

Religious ideas in western Christianity

are now in flux/diverse/non-dogmatic

even in religious America only .05% believe

they or their neighbours will go to hell

and 70% believe many religions lead to eternal life –

contemporary atheists now seem to know more

about traditional Christian beliefs

than most Catholics and Protestants!

 

The request of Peter by Jesus

to cast his nets into the deep

was a symbolic invitation to us to go deep into our souls

and haul up a treasure of self-knowledge –

that, and communal remembering

and becoming mystics as Karl Rahner advocated

are the only ways we will make Christianity work again.

HEAVEN/HERE/NOW

By reversing the relationship between being and union

Teilhard de Chardin overturned classical metaphysics

and introduced a new principle of reality – hyperphysics –

being comes out of union not vice versa –

the whole/community precedes the individual.

 

According to the great Protestant theologian Paul Tillich

communal non-being threatens humanity in three ways:

  1. our ontic self-affirmation is threatened:

relatively by ‘fate’ (contingent/circumstantial/existence)

absolutely by death

  1. our spiritual self-affirmation is threatened:

relatively by emptiness

absolutely by meaninglessness

  1. our moral self-affirmation is threatened:

relatively by guilt

absolutely by condemnation.

 

And according to Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond

we cannot discover our True Self

until we overcome the four splits of the False Self:

  1. our idealized self split from our shadow self
  2. our mind split from our body
  3. our life split from our death
  4. our self split from others.

 

But Christ unites all/overcomes all non-being/splits

makes invisible visible/incomprehensible comprehensible –

God became human so that Christ may be first

not only in the spiritual realm

but also in the material realm.

 

If we could trust that “Your name is already written

in heaven” as Jesus said, it would immediately resolve

our most basic anxiety – that we are not good enough –

and would make all competing/criticizing/conquering unnecessary –

we would no longer suffer condemnation by ourselves/others/God.

 

Material things cannot dwell in each other

but spiritual things can: God/humans/all angels

dwell in each other in all joy and happiness

though we discern it not – unless we wake up to hyperphysics

and discover heaven/here/now.

 

THE NONDUAL BEDROCK OF RELIGION

The modern/postmodern/secular world is often struck

by its own power, and raises anxious questions

about humanity’s meaning/role/destiny in the universe

so, Christianity needs to bring its own vast resources

to bear on these questions.

 

If Christianity’s mission is to dialogue

with all people, it must begin

by creating mutual respect/harmony with all churches –

interdenominational infighting makes Christians

hypocrites when they try to reach out.

 

As a chaplain in World War II, John MacQuarrie

saw the basic goodness of soldiers

and grace operating in Muslims

which challenged his Calvinist negativity

about human nature’s “absolute depravity”

and led to his conversion from Presbyterian to Anglican

letting go of Calvin’s exclusivism, he found grace

everywhere, and became the stellar Anglican theologian.

 

Jesuits in Japan hung out with Zen monks

and readily participated in the quasi-religious

“Tea Ceremony” which looks from the outside

like a non-spiritual ritual, but internally

is about disciplined silence/simplicity/

self-effacement/contemplation.

 

There may not be a universal religion

but there is a universal wisdom

which Aldous Huxley wrote about in 1945

in The Perennial Philosophy – all religions

value virtues like patience/humility/kindness/

compassion/peace. Like John Henry Newman

who was a major influence in Vatican II

Huxley believed God’s Plan included all religions.

 

The fact that nondualism is central

to three major religions: Taoism/Hinduism/Buddhism

and underlay Christian mysticism for sixteen centuries –

Jesus said “You are in Me and I am in you

and we are in God” – means nondualism

unites both Western and Eastern religion.

 

BEWARE THE CHEESE MONKS!

Modern values focus on individualism

postmodern values focus on relativism

and often both result in nihilism and meaninglessness.

We all have limitless wealth –

the whole Creation is given to us by God

but we get so caught up in individualistic or relativistic

competition/defeat/victory

that we no longer see

what is right in front of us.

 

A competitive society is violent

so the apparent passivity Jesus preached

in the Sermon on the Mount –

turn the other cheek – seems absurd

but is actually subversive resistance

which forces perpetrators to face

their own violence.

 

What Thomas Merton rejected in the “world”

was not wealth or ambition

but the world’s triviality –

its fads/advertising/masks of hypocrisy

which even his comrades he disparagingly called

the “cheese monks” got caught up in –

as if their true calling/purpose was to produce

excellent cheeses or liqueurs!

 

The Catholic Church got so off track

that sex scandals broke it –

one third of people raised Catholic

vacated the premises

and with the pandemic

another third departed.

 

If real transformation never happens for Christians

then for professional church staff

their work becomes just a career

and for lay people church becomes something

one just attends, an afterthought

instead of the living Body of Christ

which heals the “world” and its violence

by giving it profundity.

 

 

THE EROTIC UNIVERSE

In early Christianity, theology and prayer

were never divorced. Evagrius of Pontus (345-399 CE):

“The theologian is the one who prays

and the one who prays is a theologian.”

 

Later on, Thomas à Kempis wrote in The Imitation of Christ

“If you look at Creation, the Creator

withdraws his gaze from you.”

So, Christians have had an anti-Creation/

anti-body/anti-sexuality spirituality

which is ironically contrary to the Creation-centered

spirituality of the Bible.

 

But the theory of evolution changed all that –

evolution does not degrade humans

it shows us we are an integral part

of a vast web of earthly relationships.

But science only tells us ‘how’ we got here –

we need religion to tell us ‘why’ we are here – our purpose.

 

The idea of Christian cosmology

is in the Greek Fathers of the Church

particularly Irenaeus, who wrote that, in Christ,

the universe finds its meaning and goal.

 

The Uni-Verse, the One Verse, the One Poem

is thoroughly relational/communal/erotic –

wanting union even at the molecular level –

‘gravity’ is ‘mutual attraction between bodies’ – ‘eroticism’ –

its all part of the love that makes the Universe go round –

to ‘be’ is to ‘be with’ – the ‘we’ always precedes the ‘I’

just as the sexual union of a man and woman precedes children –

no one can say “I did it all on my own”

or “I did it my way – alone.”

 

Mantras are not words that mediate rational meaning –

they are vehicles that carry the spirit to one’s depths

and give us solitude to make us ‘uselessly present’ to God

which connects us to love in our depths

which connects us to others –

solitude is thus the erotic foundation

upon which community is built –

the purpose of life is the same as the purpose

of the Universe – to make love.

UNITY SURPASSING MODERNITY

The Perennial Philosophy highlighted

the “Great Nest of Being”

which was the universal worldview of humanity

until modernity reared its methuselah head.

 

Going beyond modernity

since the turn of the millennium has been

a growing awareness of commonality

between religions, and unity of all sciences –

a general visioning of all things as interrelated.

 

However major dualisms still persist:

heaven vs Earth/spirit vs body/human vs animal/

sacred vs secular – all these dualisms

which falsify life/nature/God

since God works thru both/and polarities

not either/or dualisms – God is in and beyond

the Earth/body/nature/culture/life.

 

Photosynthesis, one of the key factors in life

happened when chlorophyll molecules served everything

by capturing solar energy and converting it into

food and energy for others

3,000,000,000 years ago.

 

Nature serves us and Law serves us

and so our will delights in Law

but we cannot fulfill all laws

so the Cosmic Christ emerged from within the universe

as Jesus the Christ who lived under the Law

and experienced all our temptations/compulsions

in order to redeem/liberate us from the Law

with the Divine Love that goes beyond Law.

 

Following Jesus, Christian social action

finds God in politics/work/social programs –

anything that betters human life –

because Christ became human

and every human is another Christ

and we cannot let Christ live

in physical/spiritual squalor –

“As you do to the least, you do to Me”

– Jesus the Unitive Thinker in Matthew 25:40.

UNPOSSESSIVENESS

There is the historical Buddha, Guatama

and there is the living Buddha within us all

who, like the Image of God/Cosmic Christ within

transcends all space/time/concepts

and is constantly Present.

 

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote that Buddhism

is “negative atheism” but the Second Vatican Council

saw that “Buddhism recognizes the radical insufficiency

of this shifting world, and teaches a Way

to absolute freedom and supreme enlightenment

through our own efforts and higher assistance” –

presumably help from Bodhisattvas.

 

Buddhists practice detachment

but Meister Eckhart taught liberation

thru “unpossessiveness” –

detachment involves rejecting the world

but unpossessiveness makes us lighthearted

and free to follow God.

 

Even in our daily sufferings/frustration/pain

we can experience God’s action transforming us

if we are faithful to the Inner Calling

of the living Buddha/Image of God/Cosmic Christ.

 

Canadian poet/singer Leonard Cohen:

“There is a crack in everything –

that’s how the light gets in.”

Canadian folk legend/activist Bruce Cockburn:

“You have to kick at the darkness

till it bleeds daylight.”

You must fight to create the cracks

that let in the light.

 

But the 81 stanzas

of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

suggest the Way of Peace and Surrender

is always superior to the Way of Force.

THE SOFTNESS OF GOD

The mythologist Joseph Campbell’s view of God is hard/

transcendent/anonymous – a God untouched by pain

and life is a horrendous Divine Comedy

in which “all things take place by strife” (Heraclitus).

 

Paul Tillich’s approach to God is theological/psychological

and Raimundo Panikkar’s is interreligious/philosophical –

Panikkar believed in ‘cosmotheandrism’ –

the nondual inter-being of created and divine realities –

both approaches lend themselves to soft compassion.

 

Muslims believe all truth – including Jewish

and Christian truth – was simultaneously present

in Mohammed’s enraptured soul –

critics bewildered by the randomness of the Quranic Suras

try to grasp the Ocean of Prophecy

with the Thimble of Rationality.

 

All of us have five processes simultaneously happening:

cognition (awareness of what is)/

morals (awareness of what should be)/

the full range of emotions/interpersonal relations/

and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs –

plus, according to psychologists

we all think 60,000 thoughts a day –

no wonder we are so complicated/conflicted/full of strife!

 

We work on ourselves in order to help others

and we help others in order to work on ourselves –

to accept the parts of ourselves – our homeless shadows

and inner prostitutes – we have rejected

and this inner work is hard.

 

Among lovers, true love is to shut down your options/

tie the knot/give your all to one person

in a world of infinite choice/infinite insatiability

where everything has its price –

this too is hard

very hard

and requires help from God

who is Infinitely Soft

Infinite Softness/Infinite Tenderness/

Infinite Mercy/Infinite Motherhood.

 

THE CHRIST-MIND OF BUDDHA

The nuclear physicist David Bohm clearly explains

how a “particle view of matter”

harms all the sciences

as well as how we think and live

and therefore harms society and its future.

 

The universe is not a static framework

of separate particles – therefore if Jesu

is the Christ and alive today we need a Christology

that is organic/interrelated/dynamic/cosmic.

 

Buddhists have this with their cosmic lineage

of wonderful/interconnected/universal Buddhas –

when they say they believe in the Buddha

their faith is in this lineage not in the one

historical Buddha – Gautama – of our era.

 

The Buddha-mind or Buddha-nature

can be compared to the Image of God within us

or having the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)/

being one spirit with Christ/the Cosmic Christ within.

This Buddha-mind/Christ-mind/Image of God within

integrates Buddhism/Christianity/Judaism –

we are all talking about the same thing.

 

A key concept for Meister Eckhart was conformity

to the mind of Christ/conformity to God/deiformity –

this union with God within us transforms our knowledge

of God/births God into the world/transforms the world

so that “our hands become gloves for the hands of God”

– Frederick Buechner

 

But John of the Cross and Ignatius of Loyola agree:

mystics open themselves to cosmic forces of good

and evil – many locutions and visions from the devil

are similar to those of God, therefore

constant discernment of spirits is necessary:

is this ecstatic rapture from the Holy One

or from the Father of Lies

and Deception?