PARADOX/CHAOS/RIGHTS

God, not just human decision alone,

is the author of sacred institutions like marriage

and this is vastly important because

God endowed sacred institutions with benefits and a purpose

that are important for the eternal destiny of the family

and for the peace and unity of the whole society.

 

But every major religion is full of paradox:

salvation is a free gift of God and yet

worked out by our own effort in fear and trembling;

salvation is bright and glorious and yet

often arrived at through pain/chaos/martyrdom.

 

All this paradox and chaos results in meaninglessness:

difficulty in making sense of life.

Meaninglessness is the absolute threat

to our spiritual self-affirmation

just as emptiness is the relative threat.

Meaninglessness is the background to emptiness

just as death is the background

to the vicissitudes of life.

 

More paradox and chaos:

Christians finding excuses for creating death.

Pope Urban II put severe restrictions on war:

only if absolutely necessary

and only in defence of Christianity.

But then this pope decided a Crusade

would unify Christianity/bring peace/end all war.

 

Perhaps today we are more enlightened?
We recognize everyone and everything

has “ground value” – all things

are works or children of the Creator.

In other words: everything and everyone

has “intrinsic value” and therefore rights –

animals have rights and all of nature has rights.

Nothing has merely “instrumental value” –

nothing is merely a means to an end.

 

In the past the end was the wealth and pleasure of the rich

with no respect for God or sacred institutions

and no respect for the common good or Creation’s rights.

SOUL’S PURPOSE: BEING/MEANING/PROPHECY

Anxiety about meaninglessness

comes from the loss of an ultimate concern

a spiritual center, an answer to the question

of the meaning of existence, a meaning

which gives meaning to all meanings.

The purpose of the soul is pure being

not doing this specific thing or that.

The soul is thus a master of

non-addiction/non-grasping/non-clinging

to anything – pure non-attachment.

The goal of the spiritual life

is not to get rid of shadow

but to include and integrate it.

Without shadow, we would be flat and dull –

shadow gives us personality/depth/substance.

Our supposed inner adversary – our shadow

which we want to destroy – is our friend

when it points out our errors to us.

If the soul stops feeding

on the pleasure of the senses

it enters a “dark night of the senses”

that eventually leads to a “dark night of the soul”

that depends on faith alone.

These dark nights of sense and soul are voids

that paradoxically give light.

Religious faith is forever a struggle

between darkness and light/good and evil

pastoral and prophetic.

Institutions are always pastoral –

baptizing shared values/giving comfort and stability/

resisting change.

But prophets agitate for change

to get people out of their comfortable pews

thus institutions forever resist prophets.

Poets/artists/mystics/prophets

are often lonely creative individuals

because they do not fit in a competitive society

that spends all its energy on ephemerals.

They need powerful married love leading to Divine Love

which sheds shadow by its shining light.

WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Few of us can run off

to the wilderness or hermitage

so the older religions

to break us out of 

our normal, comfortable, sleepwalking trance

help us get into liminal space

through pilgrimages, fasting, silent retreats

Lent or Ramadan.

You are baptized with the Holy Spirit

not by believing in the Holy Spirit

as a doctrine, but by drawing upon

the Divine Indwelling already within you.

According to Thomas Merton

the Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church

so when the Holy Spirit prays within you

whether in public or private 

it is the Soul of the Church 

praying within you.

Bad things happen to good people

but the Holy Spirit is always present

prompting you from within 

to take care of your self

and comforting you from within 

when your health, work, or marriage  fails.

Quantum theology befriends and redeems

the pain, the dark, the chaos

by helping people see the interdependence of

darkness and light

pain and pleasure

sickness and health

death and rebirth.

The Holy Spirit shows us

there is a virtue to be practiced for every sin: 

pride/humility, anger/patience

avarice/compassion, lust/chastity

gluttony/sobriety

all the Enneagram

vices and virtues.

If you are engaging with those

who have not suffered

“rings of fire”

your attempts to explain

the reasonableness of faith

or prove God’s existence

will fail.

Systematic atheism insists

humans must be free

of any kind of God

as their author and goal

in order to be responsible 

for their own life.

Since YOU are your own author, goal and end

you cannot foist off onto God

responsibility for your own life.

Atheism relies upon science

but science believes only 

what can be physically located is real: 

cells, brains, stars.

So science scrubs the universe clean of

values, meaning, consciousness, ethics and depth 

since these things cannot be located in the cosmos

they are unreal fantasies/illusions.

What Alfred North Whitehead called

“the fallacy of simple location”

leaves us with a culture of superficiality.

We are like seed 

that falls upon gravel

and withers because it has no roots.

Merton studied the “archaic wisdom”

of Mayans, Zapotecs, Toltecs

to learn how to counter the efficiency, ambition

and triviality of technocratic society.

Science saps us of passion 

but Eros is the Holy Spirit in action – and passion 

deserves a home among spiritual people 

– passion for pleasure and sharing it

– compassion: awareness of suffering 

– passion for restorative justice

– all these are works of the Holy Spirit.

THE TWO TREES IN EDEN

The two trees in Eden 

are metaphors for two minds:

dualistic and unitive.

The Tree of Knowledge 

splits everything into either/or

(God forbids us to eat from this Tree).

The Tree of Life

symbolizes unitive contemplation

and promises access to eternity.

Separation of things by the Church

into sacred (Church)

and secular (world)

meant the Church treated the world

with contemptus mundi.

The Church thought it had everything

to teach the world

and nothing

to learn from it.

Scripture and tradition 

not philosophy or science

are indeed the final norms

for revealing what is truly human.

The philosophy of non-being

in Heidegger, Sartre, Dostoevsky and Berdyaev

viewed religiously

simply speak 

to the transitoriness of all things

and to the power of the demonic

in souls and history.

But atheism 

is not religion’s worst enemy – 

indifference is.

In the New Age

there is passion

because God is only within/immanent.

But to conservative religion 

God is only without/transcendent.

First find the Inner Authority

of your True Self in God

then balance/integrate it 

with the Outer Authority

of Scripture and Tradition.

Balance/integrate God totally within

with God totally without

and voilà 

you have stable yet creative religion.

Totalitarian regimes 

dominate with Outer Authority

 and hate the passion of artists

who break people out of slavery

by waking them up 

to imperial ideology.

Totalitarians rule by power and money

but human reality is constituted

by meaning not matter.

Meaning not money 

is the foundational reality.

It is a spiritual universe.

John of the Cross

put it all together

as a mystic, theologian, and spiritual explorer

who discovered Treasure Island:

that in Christ are buried all treasures

of wisdom and meaning.

Mindfulness of Christ brings

joy, peace, and happiness.

In distress consciously breathe in 

the peace of Christ

and consciously breathe out

the healing of Christ.

Catherine of Siena heard Jesus say

“I want people to meditate

on the greatness of my mercy

before contemplating their shortcomings.

Self-knowledge of sin

must be tempered by and subordinated to

knowledge of God-alive-in-you.”

3 Big Ideas for May 15, 2019

  1. Teilhard de Chardin was a Christian mystic who believed that love and energy are the foundation of the cosmos. This “love-energy” is the source of the universe’s intelligibility and therefore the basis of knowledge. This leads philosophy out of the impasse of making matter the basis of all empirical knowledge. Philosophers have traditionally made love secondary to knowledge – you have to first know something before you can love it. But for lovers of God like Teilhard, love is the source and goal of all knowledge.
  2. Christian martyrs were willing to die for their faith because they believed “all is one” – everything, including life and death, is under the care of God. Now we have arrived at a similar state by the reverse process: we no longer believe there is a God, all is passing away, and therefore all is meaningless. Without God, all is not one, it is zero. The martyr was willing to die for God, but would the secular non-believer be willing to die for zero? This is important when you are speaking truth to power and fighting injustice.
  3. Almost everything wrong with the world has to do with the way the “It” of institutions can be misaligned, out of control, and disconnect with the “I” and the “We.” The personal is destroyed by the impersonal when corporations, governments, and religious institutions become out of touch with the people they are meant to serve, and only serve themselves. The result is exploitation of others for money or sex, and rape of the planet’s resources on which we all depend. Unitive thinking, the idea that all is one, keeps the “It” of hierarchies connected to the common good, the “We.”