LIVING IN BABYLON

Major structural injustices in which we

live/move/have our being

create haves/have-nots

and are hugely immoral – but most religions

while preaching personal and interpersonal ethics

ignore systemic evil and most believers accept

massive injustice as “the way things are” never asking

“How can individuals be moral in an immoral culture?”

 

The typical response of Christians living in

our Babylonian culture, in exile, is:

try to be faithful husbands and wives

raise virtuous children who are

compassionate/contemplative/seek justice

and who kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

 

Catholics adopt Protestant practices:

daily Bible reading/speaking in tongues

and Protestants adopt Catholic practices:

praying the Divine Office and trying out

Benedictine/Franciscan/Ignatian prayer styles

and perhaps this is the Holy Spirit

weaving the entire Church together

so we all may be one

or maybe this is just rearranging

the deck chairs on the Titanic

as long as the structural injustices persist.

 

Hopefully, the Contemplative Way

will save and transform us:

because sometimes contemplatives

as they are liberated from all addictions/attachments

gain psychic powers/siddhis such as

telepathy and clairvoyance – genuine contemplatives

always hide these super-powers

but maybe they could use them to fight injustice?

 

In any case, the ultimate secret of the spiritual life:

“ever-present divine awareness” is not hard to attain

for anyone and is impossible to avoid

according to Lao Tzu/Shankara/Paul/Augustine/

Plotinus/and Teresa of Avila because it is always there

and awareness of the divine is the only thing

that makes living in Babylon bearable.

THE PROTESTANT PRINCIPLE AND PARADOX

Life is always the tension/balance between opposing forces:

dark energy makes up 70% of the universe, dark matter 25% –

the visible universe is only 5% of what we know!

Dark energy keeps the universe expanding

and dark matter is a vast invisible ocean

that causes clustering of galaxies

and keeps the universe together.

 

More tensions of life:

Paradox I: salvation is freely given

but requires effort on our part.

Paradox II: Salvation is absolute liberation and joy

but to get there you normally go thru

absolute chaos/confusion/suffering.

 

Peter, James, John and Paul were saints just like us

who brought their brokenness to Christ

so that God’s strength might be glorified

in the transformation of their weakness.

 

The New Testament word for “heart” – “kardea”

means “our innermost thoughts/feelings/judgements”

that Jesus said must be purified –

he is quite clear – we must go beyond

superficial practice of the Law

to inner purification of our heart.

 

The Protestant Principle of iconoclasm –

the anti-idolatry that smashes idols – purifies things.

Paul Tillich turned the Protestant Principle

on Catholicism for believing it is God

on Karl Barth for his ‘supernaturalism’

and not taking modern culture seriously

on Carl Jung for reducing religion

to a private subjective realm

on himself for absolutizing Christianity

and not dialoguing with world religions

earlier in his theology.

 

Spiritual growth is to get rid of the clutter

to purify your self. The hero’s journey is one of

rediscovery not discovery – you learn that you were

a daughter/son of God all along – the heir of the universe:

the universe, in all its darkness and light, is yours, forever!