GENERAL AND SPECIAL REVELATION

Sir Isaac Newton thought the universe

was just dead matter. Now we know

it is like the Aurora Borealis –

alive/dancing/dying/resurrecting –

 a new star is born every 15 seconds!

 

Albert Einstein believed in general and special relativity.

In religious terms the unfolding process

of the evolution of the cosmos is general revelation –

things are heading towards absolute love and consciousness –

towards God and God’s kindom –

whereas formal/major/world religions

are simply parts of this general revelation –

they are special revelations.

 

But the heart of Christian mysticism

is transcultural and perennial – it covers all the bases

and goes beyond individual religions

and tries to unite them – the marriage

of eastern and western religion may be stormy

but it will be consummated and bear much fruit.

 

Teilhard saw that Christianity in its roots in Judaism

is a profoundly this-worldly religion

and sought to explain even the secular

as the divine milieu.

 

On the other hand, Johannes Metz

another Christian theologian believed that

secular individualism contains inherent contradictions –

we are more than cogs in societal wheels –

so he proposed a political Christianity

that draws upon “the dangerous memory of Jesus”

to bring about social transformation.

 

The meaning of Christ is summed up

in the Creation’s potential for self-transcending love.

God created the universe without a perfect form

which it cries out for and finds in Christ –

Christ is not an intrusion into the world

but rather its Reason for Being

and the Goal of Creation.

 

LOOKING EAST AND BACK WEST

 

In The Mystic Heart Brother Teasdale pictured a tree

in which the branches are all the religions of the world.

The main branches: Judaism/Christianity/Islam/Buddhism/Hinduism

and the minor ones: Sufism/Shintoism/Confucianism/Bahaism.

and the come-and-gone ones: Greek and Roman gods and goddesses/

Inca/Mayan/Aztec religion.

 

It is possible to learn and grow from all these traditions:

from Buddhism, Anthony de Mello, a Catholic mystic

learned “the fantasy of attending your own funeral”

and “the fantasy of your own corpse.”

 

Many Christians would have become Buddhists

but the tendency of eastern religions

towards world-denial and over-spiritualization

are pitfalls that prevent Christians from embracing the east

and prevent eastern traditions

from discovering the riches of the Incarnation and the Cross.

 

The intrinsic connection between the mystery of Incarnation

and the mystery of Creation means that in Jesus Christ

we discover the divine clue

not only to the structure and meaning of humanity

but also the entire universe.

 

Karl Barth’s massive Church Dogmatics

thoroughly Trinitarian and Christocentric

reminded us not to lose sight

of the central doctrines of the faith

while attempting to live Christianity out in the world.

Our image of God is central to our understanding

of how God acts in the world

and central to our attempts to transform this world

rather than deny/withdraw from it.

 

The question for Catholics at the contemporary crossroads:

do we deny modern theology/cling to old notions of God/

revert to the static medieval worldview

or do we grasp the dynamic evolutionary universe

that constantly raises consciousness

toward integral wholeness:

the unity of God/self/others/the world?

 

THE DAWNING INTERSPIRITUAL AGE

Doing theology has become a lot more challenging

because we live in a universe 13.7 billion years old –

science stretches us in mind-boggling ways.

 

But we are discovering the new/old Universal Christ:

Bonaventure’s integral relationship

between Creation and Incarnation

is a key to Cosmic Christology

in an evolving universe.

 

Thru Duns Scotus Teilhard discovered

the primacy of Christ when he realized

Christ is not patterned on Creation

but rather Creation is patterned on Christ –

the Universal Christ provides the blueprint

of the universe.

 

This is why the InterSpiritual Age that is dawning

depends on whether people can make

their theological/doctrinal issues secondary

to the love/service/ethics

underpinning all religions.

 

In Asia and across the world

people want the mysticism of Christ

not Greco-Roman-European theology

with its rationalism and legalism

that supports the institutional Church.

 

Scholars now compare Meister Eckhart to Buddhism

because he integrates the eternal and temporal:

mystical life should impact everyday life –

one’s morals/values/lifestyle.

 

We are starting to realize that despite

the immensity of the universe

the Universal Christ

is not “somewhere out there”

but in the thick of every religion

and in the thick of everyone’s daily life –

the Universal Christ is the blueprint of your life.

 

COPING WITH UNCERTAINTY

The medieval view: Earth is stable/central/unmoving

and God created the whole Creation

to reflect God’s beauty/wisdom/goodness.

Thru the Creation we can know God:

Creation mirrors Creator.

When the Enlightenment questioned this stability

Christianity became oppositional and rational.

Christianity became rational to oppose rationalism

and in the process lost contemplation and wisdom

the vehicles of authentic enlightenment.

 Western theology split itself off

from prayer and spirituality

whereas Eastern Orthodoxy was always mystical

involving constant prayer/contemplation/sacred icons.

Meister Eckhart bridged west and east

and was consistently misunderstood

because of “ascetic theology” – rational theologians

who could not grasp Eckhart’s love

of nature/the body/music/art

as well as compassion/contemplation/justice.

 In Eckhart’s mind, the purpose of prayer and religion

is to pierce thru to the foundation of Reality

which is always goodness and love.

Therefore, the soul is never satisfied

with surface level/marketplace/buying/selling.

Life is always complex/ambiguous/mysterious

and so Thomas Merton thought a lot of people

followed him because he was not so sure of himself

did not claim to have all the answers

but tried over and over to identify the right questions.

We are all called to be spiritual warriors

and the central question of a warrior’s training

is not “How do I avoid uncertainty and fear?”

but “How do live with discomfort and difficulty

in an unpredictable/unstable/ever-evolving/

non-medieval world?”

3 Big Ideas for May 9, 2019

  1. The cornerstone of spirituality is that God, in a plan of sheer goodness, created humans to share in God’s own blessed life. Love is therefore the principal energy in the universe, and the direction of evolution is towards greater wholeness and consciousness, toward greater love.
  2. Contemplation of God is not ecstasy, trance, enthusiasm, or mystic frenzy. These things are not the work of thedeep self.” They are the flooding into consciousness of the dionysian emotions of the “id” from the subconscious. Spiritual practice is also not about accomplishing, winning, or losing. It is about stopping struggling and relaxing with reality, accepting reality as it is, not making it the enemy.
  3. Henri Nouwen is the Kierkegaard of our generation because like Kierkegaard he has taught us Christian existentialism: how to pray while not knowing how to pray, to rest while being restless, to be at peace while being tempted, to feel safe while still being anxious, to be surrounded by light while still in darkness, to love while still doubting.