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?”

REUNITING SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION

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

rationalism/scientism/materialism/pride.

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:

ego/ethnic/world

and five major lines of intelligence:

spiritual/moral/interpersonal/cognitive/emotional.

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.