God, who is not in time and space
has to do with being not nonbeing
is better than anything we can conceive
and transcends all our heart’s desires.
Sacred marriage, the object of all our desires
is a powerful archetypal symbol
of the union of all women and men in God.
But with Descartes’ dictum “I think therefore I am”
the self-thinking individual
replaced the transcendent self
united to the whole cosmos.
No longer one with the cosmos and God
human beings could now possess the cosmos
and play God.
Likewise, when science displaced religion
(in the Enlightenment mind anyway)
mass and energy were considered
to be the ultimate reality/god
for, never created or destroyed
they are eternal and omnipresent.
God, if considered at all, became
energy, or at most, Spirit
but devoid of religious content.
During the twentieth century
‘spirituality’ came to be identified
with the realm of private thought and experience
‘religion’ came to be identified
with institutions/formal rituals/official doctrines.
Spirituality connoted positivity and authenticity
religion connoted negativity (thou shalt not) and rigidity.
Previously, religion and spirituality were one.
The western world therefore needs wise women and men
and mysticism from the East
to put religion and spirituality back together and
to penetrate more deeply into the gospel of Jesus the Christ.
Otherwise, the west will be devoured by
The western world, driven by survival of the fittest
and capitalism, hates compassion, calls it weakness
lets cruelty outweigh mercy and throws off humans
our conscience, Christianity, whatever makes us feel guilty.
But some people, like Thomas Merton, chose conscience
even though it meant living in anguish and constant questioning.
According to Ken Wilber
there are three major stages of consciousness:
and five major lines of intelligence:
According to Elizabeth Johnson
this consciousness/intelligence is embedded in the universe
and integral to the whole evolutionary process
culminating in the human mind and spirit –
humans perfect the universe.
Franciscans think of themselves as Christian humanists
reflecting the goodness of God.
God can best be understood through our humanity
therefore, anthropology is as important as theology
in understanding the mystery of God.
To alleviate the anguish of doubt and questioning
people prematurely surrender themselves
to Someone ‘larger than life’
some authoritarian who imposes answers
so the questioner no longer has to question
or be in doubt –
thus, they save meaning but lose their soul.
However, the restless pilgrim spirit
is the unstoppable essence of Christianity
right from the beginning:
God calls each of us like Abraham
to leave our family/wealth/comfort zone –
everything for the sake of the Lord.
“God made us for himself
and our hearts are restless
until they rest in God.” – Augustine
Healthy religion includes both peace and spiritual restlessness.