Category Archives: Spirit

Nobody Wants Jesus

I wrote this at Easter time a couple of years ago.  I still like some of it, but I now wish to rewrite it.

Nobody wants Jesus

Nobody wants Jesus to come.

Oh, we all say we do.

But we mean the Jesus

who looks like us,

who talks like us,

who carries our very own prejudices

in his heart.

 

We don’t want the Jesus

Who, like His brother Thomas,

plunges His finger

into gaping wounds,

the ones in our sides.

That Jesus

asks too much.

 

We don’t want the Jesus

Who has looked

into the eyes

of the wild God,

The Holy Mystery,

Who screams,” Love!”

from every rooftop.

 

We don’t want the Jesus

Who didn’t care for empty piety,

Who desired more than sacrifice,

Who commanded mercy,

Who prayed for enemies,

Who loved the outcast–

The Beloved, enfleshed.

 

With followers

like us,

it’s a wonder

He ever had to flee to the desert

for solitude.

doubtingthomas

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Filed under Poetry, Spirit, Writing

Musings on Hope

Hope seems to be the theme of my reading today.  The poem for the day from Shambhala was “Hope” by Emily Dickinson.  Here is the text.

Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Just before reading that poem, however, I read Thich Nhat Hanh‘s discussion of hope as an obstacle in his book Peace is Every Step.
Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment.  Hope is for the future.  It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. … I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough.  Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment.
I don’t think I have a point by any of this other than to say that I think the juxtaposition of these two pieces was particularly thought provoking to me today.  I think that hope may be one of those paradoxes of life that are, to some degree, unsolvable by the intellect and must just be “sat with.”

Dandelion sun
By avmaier from USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Filed under Art of Living, Poetry, Spirit

Poem…or admonition?

Just to keep the poetry month theme going, here’s a fridge magnet poem that is really only a general admonition to myself.

blood_honey

It does remind me of the Green Man archetype, an image to which I have long felt a connection.  Matthew Fox says that the Green Man reminds us to be “wet and juicy” and fully alive.  All living things are full of blood or sap or liquid of some kind.

The phrase “take and eat” also calls to mind the language of the Eucharist, an invitation to share in a meal of Christ’s body and blood.  It’s also an invitation to a remembering (or, as Cynthia Bourgeault has said, “re – membering”) of Jesus.  That ritual is intended to reconstitute the body of Christ in some way (depending on which denomination you fall into).  I don’t want to get into that here, since I’m not a theologian, and this is hardly the point to this post.  I don’t know if there is a point to this post.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here is an image of the Ludlow Green Man in Shropshire, England.  I’m sure you’ll agree he’s a handsome fellow.

 

Ludlow_Green_Man_misericord

Note – edited to add links.

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Filed under Ecology, Poetry, Spirit

Father Sky, Mother Earth

I’ve just started reading Rev. Matthew Fox’s book The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, and, thus far, it has been excellent.  I have been a fan of Fr. Fox since I read some of his work on the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart.  Fox’s spiritual journey is one that I can relate to in some ways, at least at a surface level.  He is a former Catholic priest who was investigated by Cardinal Ratzinger (the erstwhile Pope Benedict XVI) who was at the time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern successor of the Inquisition.  Ratzinger determined that Fox’s works were dangerous and dismissed him as a “feminist theologian,” as though that were something to be ashamed of.  Fox’s censure for his theological ideas, coupled with his coming out as gay, led to him leaving the Roman Catholic Church and becoming an Episcopal priest.

The “Sacred Masculine” that Fox is looking to awaken is not to be confused with the macho, sometimes sad0-masochistic version of masculinity that so many of us have experienced or even acted out in our lives.  This masculinity is one that is in all of us, whether male or female, girl or boy, woman or man and is a force for creativity and nurturance in its own right.  Fox warns, rightly, against taking masculine or feminine archetypes as “literal,” i.e., thinking that only men can draw on masculine archetypes or access sacred masculinity – that is false.

The book begins by tracing 10 ancient masculine archetypes, reconsidering them in the light of new scientific discoveries, particularly in the field of cosmology.  The only one I’ve read so far is the Father Sky archetype. This archetype speaks to how we relate to the larger universe out there, including the sun, the moon, the stars.  Science in the modern world largely killed off the conception of the universe as a living, breathing reality, reducing it to a mechanistic, cold, impersonal place that can only be understood by mathematical calculations.

Fox, however, sees a new turn in science and cosmology in the so-called postmodern world.  Father Sky has become relevant again as we have increasingly grown to understand the ever-changing, creative processes of the universe.  As Fox says, “New stars are themselves being born every fifteen seconds, while others are dying.  And supernovas, galaxies, and human beings join in this great dance. We drink in the universe, which is not static but constantly evolving and unfolding.”  Father Sky is alive again!

Bokeh wednesday (2590257896)

It’s important to note that Father Sky and Mother Earth are nothing without each other, and we cannot exist without both of them. There is a sacred marriage between them and between these archetypal forces within each of us.  Reclaiming the archetypes and metaphors of the ancients in the light of new discoveries helps us to re-enchant our world, creating a story where we belong to one another and to the greater cosmos.  This is not about forgetting our individuality, but it’s about seeing how we all fit into a cosmos and bring our own talents and perspectives to this sacred marriage.  Yes, the Earth and Sky and Stars are for us, but we are for them, too.  You are for me, and I am for you. We often forget that second part.  We want the “take” part, but we don’t like to “give.”

Father Sky and Mother Earth remind us that the world is not ours to manipulate and control.  It is our place to bring our special gifts – our reason, our intelligence, our individuality, our abilities to build community and create beauty – to this cosmos.  What a wonderful opportunity and responsibility!

Mother Earth by Fernando Garci¦üa Aguilar

Edit:  I found this wonderful Maori work of art depicting Father Sky (Ranginui) and Mother Earth (Papatuanuku) in their tight embrace before being separated.

WahineTane

Another wonderful depiction can be seen here:  https://flic.kr/p/suRR.

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Filed under Art of Living, Ecology, social justice, Spirit

Never Ending Wonder

Sometimes when the world of humans gets me down, I have to remember that there is more to this grand universe than our petty squabbles and selfishness. Here is a case in point:

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170320.html

AuroraTree_Wallace_960

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Healthcare and the Gospel

A lot has already been said about the Republicans’ so-called “replacement” of the Affordable Care Act, and a lot more will be said in the coming days and weeks.  While I have long believed that we made an error by not pushing harder for Medicare-For-All or Single-Payer insurance, the ACA achieved a lot of good, despite its flaws.  Whatever your political affiliation, you should stand up for preserving and improving the ACA or demand a Medicare-For-All replacement.  The GOP plan is wicked.  Seriously.  It is a sin.

Here are a few must-read and must-view resources on the issue.

  • The Reverend Matthew Fox’s open letter to Paul Ryan should be required reading for all politicians who claim to follow the Gospel on the one hand and do the bidding of the uber wealthy on the other.  Here’s a taste:
    • Meanwhile, until you and your party pay attention at last to these basic issues, I as a Christian priest and theologian can only conclude that you are not at all a Catholic or a Christian but just one more hypocrite flaunting your bogus religion on your sleeve to garner more votes and stay in a cushy job while you sell your soul to the Koch brothers and other Wall Street misers.  People who don’t have a clue about the “weightier matters of the Law—justice, compassion, good faith!” (Mt. 23:23) that Jesus preached, and who could not care less.

  • Robert David Sullivan of America magazine explores how the AHCA (the GOP plan) fails to meet the basic standards of Catholic social teaching, and it also provides some salient statistics that everyone should know:
    • Just as disturbing as the details of the plan is the rhetoric used to justify cutting health care for the most needy. Mr. Ryan calls his bill “an act of mercy,” even though the most comfortable will benefit the most, in the form of both tax cuts and tax credits. He seems scandalized by the notion that “The people who are healthy pay for the people who are sick,” though that is not only the whole point of insurance but also a bedrock of a compassionate society. One congressman, arguing for the elimination of requirements that all health insurance cover certain treatment, complains about having to help pay for prenatal care—a far cry from a truly pro-life position.

  • John Oliver brilliantly skewered the AHCA last Sunday. This is a must-watch.  It’s entertaining, but it provides a tremendous amount of information compared to most news coverage.  John is a national treasure. For real.
  • Reuters reports that major medical associations are rejecting the AHCA.
    • The AMA, which supported Obamacare, said the replacement of income-based subsidies with age-based tax credits to help people buy insurance would make coverage more expensive, if not out of reach, for poor and sick Americans.

  • Even people who hated the ACA (“Obamacare”) hate this bill and say it “won’t work.”
    • The only plausible goal this bill achieves is letting Republicans say they repealed and replaced Obamacare. If that’s the real motivation, then Republicans have mistaken their slogan for the goals their slogan was meant to serve. Republicans wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare because, in theory, they had something better — something people would like more, and that would achieve their goals of cutting costs and creating a real market in health insurance.

      But that’s not what they have here.

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Filed under politics, social justice, Spirit

Climate Change

I’m surprised this site hasn’t been scrubbed, yet, by the new administration.  Perhaps it needs to be saved by us librarians before that happens.  It’s a nice little overview of the evidence for Anthropogenic Climate Change.

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

Here are some highlights:

  • Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
  • The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
  • Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.
  • Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.

This is our home, and we are wrecking it. We are sleepwalking to a world of suffering and misery, not just for ourselves, but for all living beings.  It is imperative that we wake up and start living lives compatible with stewardship and healthy relationship with our planet.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.jpg
By
NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans
http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/115334main_image_feature_329_ys_full.jpg
Alt: http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001138.html (direct link), Public Domain, Link

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Filed under Ecology, Spirit