buried alive

The prophet Jeremiah lived at a time when the Babylonian Empire was preparing to conquer his homeland of Judah.  He warned his fellow citizens that armed resistance would guarantee their destruction.  Government officials didn’t take kindly to this advice.

1 blogIn chapter 38 of the book of Jeremiah, they say, “‘This man ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them.  For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm’…  So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes.  Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud” (vv. 4, 6).  Eventually the Ethiopian eunuch, Ebed-melech, advocates for him, and the prophet is rescued from the cistern.

The International Day against Torture falls on June 26 (next Wednesday).  This story of Jeremiah’s treatment is intended as a preface to the observation of that day.  One practice that could possibly (and probably) be described as torture is solitary confinement.  Admittedly, it is a matter of debate if that was the punishment meted out to Jeremiah.  But we can see how he was put “in the hole,” as solitary confinement has often been described!

“Solitary confinement locks prisoners in a cell for 23 hours a day, sometimes with an hour alone in an exercise cage.  Food is pushed through a small slot in the door.  Meaningful socialization is completely denied, while phone calls and visitation are extremely limited.  Those who have survived it describe the experience as being ‘buried alive’…  Prolonged isolation destroys a person’s mind, body, and spirit and thus flies in the face of basic Jewish values which embrace human dignity, rehabilitation and reintegration and reject excessive and destructive punishment.”

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That’s how Rabbi Rachel Gartner describes prolonged solitary confinement, sometimes referred to as being put “in the hole.”  She looks at it through a Jewish prism.  [Surely, a Christian prism would shed similar light!]  Working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, comprised of numerous faith communities, Rabbi Gartner understands that torture in prisons is rampant.

“Buried alive.”  In his confinement, the prophet Jeremiah “sank in the mud.”  He came pretty close to being buried alive!  I wonder, can we agree that being buried alive is a terrible way to treat any human being?

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presbydictine, or is it beneterian?

My wife, Banu, and I are Presbyterian ministers.  We are also oblates of St. Benedict.  The community of which we are oblates is Mount St. Benedict in Erie, PA.  Their corporate commitment states, “As Benedictine Sisters of Erie we commit ourselves to be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace by working for sustainability and justice, especially for women and children.”

1 blogWhat does that mean for Banu and me?  I won’t speak for her, so I’ll try to answer that for myself.

I must begin with a confession.  My strides in the Benedictine way have often been found, well, lacking.  Here’s how the Rule of Benedict begins:

“Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.  This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.  The labor of obedience will bring you back to God from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience.  This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for Jesus, the Christ.”

(By the way, besides the scriptures of course, the sixth-century Rule of Benedict is the foundational text.)

“Listen.”  That’s how it all begins.  How well do I listen?  How well do I practice the “labor of obedience [which] will bring [me] back to God from whom [I] had drifted through the sloth of disobedience”?

One place I have found listening to be a joy is Mount St. Benedict itself.  Unfortunately, we have unable to visit there since we moved from Jamestown, NY.  (Perhaps “unable” is a bit too strong, but it has been quite difficult!)

I’ve told Banu—and she agrees with me on this—that upon entering the building, one is enshrouded by the sacred.  It’s almost palpable.  It is indeed sacred space.  “Sacred space” is something Banu and I have tried to foster throughout our ministry.  One key element of that is the “spirit” of hospitality.

2 blogChapter 53 in the Rule (The Reception of Guests) especially addresses it.  “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”

In recent years, Banu and I have been involved in intentional interim ministry.  We currently do not have the label “interim” attached to us, but we continue to bring the insights and lessons that always accompany life on the go.  We all are always in an interim process, whether we’re aware of it or not.

To the point of sacred space and hospitality, the congregation we pastor has a retreat house, the Presbyterian Event and Retreat Center (at the historic Case Mansion).  The church leadership had a vision for such a ministry a number of years ago.  Banu and I also had such a vision a number of years ago, and behold, it is coming to pass!

Last year a Roman Catholic sister from Nashville was leading a retreat for a nearby Catholic school.  Before leaving, she pronounced a blessing for the center, that “whoever comes through these doors will leave personally knowing Jesus Christ.”

Presbyterian and Benedictine.  Bound together in the peace of Christ.  From chapter 4 in the Rule: “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else…  Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.”

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And now, dare I say(?), “The peace of the Lord be with you!”


lift off

In ancient times, people tended to think of the universe as though it had three stories.  (Some people still do.)  We might imagine a three-story house.  The heavens were the top story, maybe the attic; our world was the first floor, and as for the underworld, as the name suggests, it’s down there below the surface.  It would be the basement.

Yesterday was the feast of the Ascension of the Lord.  Sunday (besides being the Seventh Sunday of Easter) is Ascension Sunday.  So what’s the deal with Ascension, anyway?  (In addition to being “uplifting”!)

Today we wouldn’t describe the Ascension of the Lord as someone floating up into the sky.  We no longer perceive the cosmos in the “three story” way, as did the ancients.  We don’t see ourselves the same way.  We are, after all, mostly empty space.  At the atomic level, there are electrons spinning around the nucleus, like tiny solar systems.  Smaller and smaller particles are being discovered.  A few years ago, evidence of the speculative Higgs Boson particle was detected.

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Ascension of Christ by Eric Cunningham

Going in the other direction, by using ever more powerful telescopes, we’re gazing deeper, toward the edge of the universe itself.  We’re looking at light that has taken billions of years to arrive at Earth.  (It appears we have a new “three story” image: macrocosmic, mesocosmic, and microcosmic!)

In his gospel, here’s how St. Luke describes the ascension of Jesus: “Then he led [the disciples] out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven” (24:50-51).  “Carried up into heaven.”  How can we picture that?

Here’s a picture Nazarene professor Andy Johnson paints: “our very flesh is constantly interchanging elements with the rest of the material universe.”  There’s that subatomic particle stuff!  At that level of reality, it’s hard to draw a line between “us” (our bodies) and “not-us.”  Thinking about that theologically, with God’s raising the body of Jesus, “the redemption of the cosmos as a whole has begun.”[1]

Because of the Ascension of the Lord, Jesus as the Christ is everywhere.  What that means is there are no “God-free” zones.  Nothing is truly godforsaken.

Why is the Ascension of the Lord so important?  Why must Jesus depart?  Why does Jesus say, in effect, “It’s time for me to fly!”?

It can be difficult to understand.  Earlier in Luke 24, two disciples on the road to Emmaus are downcast; they’re crestfallen.  Jesus comes up and speaks with them, though they don’t recognize him.  They say, “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21).  But notice what happens.  “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (v. 27).

Later, when he appears to the gathered group of disciples, he tells them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled” (v. 44).

Our friend Andy points out, “the Old Testament never directly says that the Messiah will suffer, die, or be raised from the dead.”[2]  That’s true, and that’s why Jesus was such a problem, even for well-meaning people.  The disciples need to understand.  So Jesus repeats what he did on the road to Emmaus.  For the disciples who think they’re seeing a ghost, “he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (v. 45).

Johnson says, “Jesus begins reshaping their imagination, reshaping the categories they had used to make sense of what God was doing in their world.”  Their culture has shaped them to think in a certain way.  Then here comes Jesus, completely turning that stuff on its head!

There can be a difference between translating and interpreting.  When we translate, we go from one language to another.  For example, we take the English word “dog” and go to the Spanish word “perro,” or to the Turkish word “köpek.”  However, when we interpret, we assign meaning, and sometimes that meaning can be quite different from what we expect, or want, to hear!

For the disciples to understand who Jesus is, it will mean “reinterpreting the entire biblical narrative, ‘all the scriptures.’”[3]  Jesus knows what he has to do.  He has to open their minds.  He has to blow their minds.  He has to rock their world!

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The disciples have their vision radically expanded, re-imagined.  They must learn “repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (v. 47).  The old categories no longer work.  They can’t presume to “have” or “own” Jesus.

Is it our job to push the boundaries, even as it dawns on us that the ascended Christ is everywhere?  Do we understand that we are interwoven with everything around us?  Do we see ourselves as “carried up into heaven,” if only in part?  What does that call us to do?  Or better, who does that call us to be?

 

[1] Andy Johnson, “Our God Reigns: The Body of the Risen Lord in Luke 24,” Word and World 22:2 (Spring 2002) 141.

[2] Johnson, 136.

[3] Johnson, 136.

 

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christified creation

Today is Earth Day, and we’re in the season of Easter.  What, if anything, does the resurrection say about Earth Day?

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While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among [the disciples] and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.  Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:36-43)

Seemingly out of nowhere, the risen Jesus suddenly appears among the gathered disciples.  Was he beamed there, via Star Trek style transporter?  Can he, as if magically, emerge wherever he chooses?  Can he walk through walls?

That can’t be true.  The disciples can only believe that they’re seeing a spirit; they’re glimpsing a ghost.  Or is it possible they’re having a group hallucination?  Still, he claims to be solid.  He has a body!  To top it all off, he asks for a little snack.  He chews up a piece of fish and swallows it.  Well, that settles it—everyone knows that ghosts don’t eat!

I’ve sometimes thought his resurrection body has access to dimensions we un-resurrected folks do not.  I am the poster boy of big-time novice in these matters, but I’ve heard that there are up to eleven dimensions.  (It is difficult, if not impossible, for me to wrap my head around that idea.)

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Andy Johnson, professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary, has done some pondering on these questions.[1]  He goes to the subatomic level, which consists mainly of empty space.

Here’s part of his mind-blowing (and mind-expanding) analysis:

“Because Jesus’ body was not separate and completely bounded but shared material with the rest of the old order, the redemption of the cosmos as a whole has begun.

“This conceptuality of the human body being porous and connected with all types of material substances chorusing around and through it is analogous to current scientifically informed conceptions of the body.  We are told that our very flesh is constantly interchanging elements with the rest of the material universe, that ‘[t]he human body is actually a living crossroad, a midway point between the most distant galaxies and the most minute subatomic particles.’[2]

[Quick note: I’m not if his use of “chorusing” for “coursing” was accidental or a deliberate comment on the musicality of the “micro-melodies.”]

“God has begun the redemption of all aspects of space and all aspects of time, both past and future.  This is because the stuff of Jesus’ body shared a history with the rest of the stuff of the old order, a history stretching back to the Big Bang.  It also has a future that stretches into our own present in the bread and wine of the eucharist, our own anticipation of the messianic banquet of God’s consummated reign.”

That’s not too hard to understand!

With the resurrection body, all of creation (including time and all of those other dimensions) is reaching its consummation—reaching the vision of the Creator’s dream.  When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the thanksgiving that is “Eucharist,” we participate in that wondrous reality!  We enact the reality of Earth Day every time we gather for the sacrament.

Every time we (as part of creation) consume the body and blood of Christ, in a very real way, we reaffirm our union with our planet.  How can we not assume the responsibility to which Earth Day calls us?  How can we not assume the responsibility to which the resurrection calls us?

After all, the disciples weren’t seeing a ghost!

 

[1] Andy Johnson, “Our God Reigns: The Body of the Risen Lord in Luke 24,” Word and World 22:2 (Spring 2002), 141-142.

[2] Mary Timothy Prokes, Toward a Theology of the Body (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 45.

 

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out of darkness

“The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.  After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”

The gospel according to St. Matthew, 27:52-53

St. Matthew is so non-linear, so non-chronological.  He is so “meta.”  He is above, not within.  He speaks of resurrection itself, not a moment by moment passage of time.  After all, what were these saints who had been raised doing until the resurrection of Jesus?  Just hanging out, playing sightseer?

It’s the big picture—everything at once.

They have come out of darkness.

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Today, we have those who need to come of darkness in a very real-world way.  Around the globe, human rights are violated in many ways.  Here is a by no means comprehensive list: torture, political imprisonment, human trafficking, slavery, denial of free speech, free press, free exercise of religion…  Well, maybe you get the idea.

“Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”

The epistle to the Hebrews 13:3

Some organizations who are doing good work: Christian Solidarity International, National Religious Campaign against Torture, and perhaps the godfather (or godmother) of human rights groups, Amnesty International.

 

…darkness came over the whole land…

…as the first day of the week was dawning…

 

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kenotic theory

“The people who come after us are not going to care about how hard we tried.  They’re not going to care if we were nice people.  They’re not going to care if we signed petitions.  They’re not going to care if we voted Democrat, Republican, or Green…  They’re not going to care if we wrote really good books…  They’re not going to care if we did a whole bunch of preaching, no matter how wonderful the sermons are…

1 kenosis“What they’re going to care about is whether they can breathe the air and drink the water. They’re going to care about whether the land can give them food that they can eat.”[1]

That’s from an interview with Derrick Jensen, author and ecological activist, conducted by Rev. Michael Dowd, who calls himself a “pro-future evangelist.”  (By the way, Dowd graduated from the same seminary Banu and I did, Eastern Baptist Seminary—now Palmer Seminary, though he was there in the 80s.)

The quote speaks to the efforts we engage in, which can be good and admirable endeavors.  (I suppose the one which especially strikes me is the bit on preaching!)  We can excel in our labors; we can accomplish great things.  Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with that!  Still, at the end of the day—a phrase I find with a disconcerting layer of meanings—the question is what we leave for the sake of our future sisters and brothers and for the sake of the earth.

The human race is conducting a chemistry experiment with our planet’s atmosphere.  How insane is that?  We are altering the composition of our air.  We’re bumping up the percentages of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases (which do not appear naturally—they are of human design).  That is leading, and will lead, to an array of environmental changes, and they aren’t changes for the better.

I won’t go on forever, but here’s another pleasant tidbit: our oceans are drowning in plastic.  Approximately one garbage truck load of plastic is dumped in the ocean every minute.[2]  It has a horrific effect on wildlife.  Plastic never really biodegrades; it just gets broken into smaller and smaller pieces.  A couple of faces in this rogues’ gallery are plastic bottles and plastic bags.  (Over the years, my wife and I have rationalized our use of plastic bags, saying we re-use them as poop bags for our dogs.)

2 kenosisThere is a passage from scripture which has prompted the way I’ve begun.  In Philippians 2:5-11, there is a passage of poetic language which the apostle Paul might have borrowed from an early Christian hymn.  Verse 5 sets the stage: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

It sings of the willing humility—the setting aside of divine privilege—of Christ being born as Jesus, a human being.  Verse 7 speaks of the self-emptying necessary to do that.  Christ “emptied himself,” “made himself nothing.”  Nothing.  Nobody.  The Greek word for “the act of emptying” is κένωσις (kenōsis).  Christ underwent kenosis.  We are also called to undergo kenosis, not just for ourselves, but as suggested before, for the sake of all who come after us.

Sallie McFague, who for many years taught at Vanderbilt in Nashville, has gone into some detail on this.[3]  She speaks of kenosis, self-emptying, as it is modeled by the cosmic Christ who encompasses everything.  (Some New Testament references can be seen in John 1:3, Ephesians 1:20-23, and Colossians 1:15-20.)  McFague applies kenosis to our society.  She wonders if we all are called to address the damage we’re doing to our planet “by living in a self-emptying way, conscious that radical sharing, limitation, and sacrifice are necessary in our time of limited space and energy?”

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There are seven billion people in the world.  What would happen if everyone had our lifestyle?

Mother earth couldn’t take the strain.  Our rate of consumption is unsustainable.  And dare I say, especially in this season of Lent, we are called to repent?  As I’ve said before, a call to repentance doesn’t mean we’re bad people.  The word “repentance” in Greek (μετανοια, metanoia) means “a change of mind” or “a turning around.”  It’s a turning from death to life.  How appropriate that is when we’re speaking of our descendants!

How does kenotic theory apply to us?  What kind of self-emptying will benefit our souls?  Can we “reduce, re-use, and recycle” in our lives?

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A final question: what can we do with our dog’s poop?

 

[1] Michael Dowd, “Christ as the Future Incarnate,” first published in Oneing, “The Universal Christ,” 8:1 (Spring 2019), 2.

[2] www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/every-minute-one-garbage-truck-of-plastic-is-dumped-into-our-oceans

[3] Sallie McFague, “The Universal Christ and Climate Change,” first published in Oneing, “The Universal Christ,” 8:1 (Spring 2019), 5.

 

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art dying to life

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

(Psalm 148:7-10)

 

All of creation praises the Lord; all of creation shouts with joy.  It is a bit difficult, though, to lift up a voice from a mouth filled with trash.  We too often present a twisted sort of art to the world around us.

We humans create art with blessing—and cursing.  Our poetry is benediction—and malediction.  Sadly, much of our offering is awful offal.

 

Still, that isn’t the end of the story.  We are what God has made us (Eph 2:10).  We are God’s handiwork, God’s poiema (ποιημα).  We are God’s poem, God’s work of art, God’s magnum opus.  We are created to refuse refuse.

The earth is our canvas.  What wonderful new thing will we do?  How will we join our sisters and brothers with whom we share this world in praise?  How will we, together with land and sea and sky, raise up with them and give glory for the victory of life over death?

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wholly innocent

Today on the church calendar (28 December), we remember the Holy Innocents.  They were the little boys ordered killed by Herod in his desire to make sure the Messiah that the Magi spoke of would not live.  Their story is told in Matthew 2.

We are reminded that grief—that death—is part of the Christmas story.  (I doubt that many of us associate Herod with Christmas!)

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Here’s how Caryll Houselander described the Holy Innocents: “Baptized in blood, those little children were among the first comers to heaven.  Fittingly they, with their tiny King, are the founders of the Kingdom of Children.  We celebrate their feast with joy; it is the most lyrical in the year.  They reach down their small hands to comfort every father or mother bereaved of a child…

“Herod ordered the children to be killed because he was afraid that any one of them might be Christ.  Any Child might be Christ!—the fear of Herod is the fear of every tyrant, the hope of every Christian, and the most significant fact of the modern world.”

The spirit of Herod is alive today.  Every cruel action, every uncaring policy, every callous decision to rip children from their parents, traumatizing and possibly even resulting in their deaths, reflects the spirit of Herod.

Still, even short of those extreme measures, we all can imitate the insane craziness of Herod.  We can crush the child within us, the part which carries the wholly innocent spirit that is open to wonder, open to joyous creativity—believing that anything is possible.  We can crush the child within each other, within our society, and God forbid, within the church.  (Maybe especially within the church!)

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We can say, “No, that can’t be done.”  But thanks be to God, those little children, those Holy Innocents, keep rising from the dead.  They are constantly reborn in us.  Maybe that’s a lesson from Christmas, the little child who is born for all of us.

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Focusing on Kingdom Work

There are times in our lives when our convictions are tested with God's reality in such a way that we are left wondering, praying, seeking, crying what it would be like to truly experience "Thy Kingdom on earth".

I have many conversations nowadays about the witness of the Church in North America especially with those who are not part of a congregation or as they put it "organized religion"... We continue to label those outside a worshiping community as Millennials, the Nones, the Dones, etc... There are probably many other groups which have emerged in our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter culture.

People leave churches for many reasons... People don't want to be a part of the church for many other reasons...

We are going in circles trying to redefine what it means to be the community of Jesus as we are walking the path he marked before us. 

The life of Jesus the Christ cannot be lived alone in isolation.  We need community to shape us, nurture us, challenge us, keep us accountable in honesty and integrity to how we are becoming, transforming, changing,... walking on holy ground. 

What happens then if the community itself is not one that is not transforming, not becoming, not shaping... not walking along side Christ...

I observe daily how the ministry of the early church has turned in on itself. Instead of providing for Kingdom Work, we have chosen to form structures and ministries that serve only those who come inside the building -- Church Work...

Church Work is a daily reality, I would insist, in 95% of the North American church.  And most Church Work deals with money -- keeping the doors open... Yes, there are new movements, emergent and missional gatherings, new conversations focused on moving the church towards Kingdom Work. There is not, however, a visible reality of the transformation described by these new movements lived out in their respective communities with a few exceptions. We see their leadership, though, writing books, engaging in speaking arrangements, selling lots of well-intentioned ideas without much substance. Sadly this phenomenon has been going on since James and I began serving the Church as its ministers of Word and Sacrament.

In 2010 PBS aired a series called Digital Nation. As I watched the series back then I was challenged to look at all we were doing in the name of Christ.  Were we really proclaiming Christ in word and deed or self-promoting our brand of Jesus who fit into our pre-fabricated kingdoms? How did we truly live the way of Jesus  in the midst of "the digital media creating a short attention span culture" with a focus on entertainment? Now a decade later we continue with the web and digital media constantly remaking the way we connect, work, learn...

In his message to the Roman Curia this month Pope Francis shared the following and it struck a chord with me:  

Jesus was born in a social, political and religious situation marked by tension, unrest and gloom. His birth, awaited by some yet rejected by others, embodies the divine logic that does not halt before evil, but instead transforms it slowly but surely into goodness. Yet it also brings to light the malign logic that transforms even goodness into evil, in an attempt to keep humanity in despair and in darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn 1:5).

How does the Church engage in Kingdom Work 'embodying the divine logic' as it  transforms the 'malign logic' attempting to keep us in despair and darkness?

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still awakening, a half century on

When I was at college, I had a course called the Medieval Experience.  Among other things, we studied the culture, the religion, and the politics of western Europe during the Middle Ages.  One of the major events was a field trip!  We had to choose between a castle that was the home of a medieval expert—about a half hour drive, and the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky—almost three hours north.  The former was chosen.  I was the only who wanted to make the trip to Kentucky.

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The reason I wanted to go to the monastery was due to the fact that it was where Thomas Merton lived.  Merton, for those who don’t know, was one of the leading mystics and spiritual (and political) writers of the twentieth century.  Of course, with his noted self-effacement, he no doubt would strongly disagree with that assessment.  It’s hard to admit that one is humble!

Today is the 50th anniversary of his death.  He was in Thailand when he was electrocuted by a malfunctioning fan in his room.

(It’s also Human Rights Day, on this 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)

I discovered Merton while at the same school (Middle Tennessee State University) where I took the above-mentioned course.  I had developed an interest in the mystical stream of the Christian faith, as well as other traditions, including Zen.

One of the quotes that really impacted me comes from The Ascent to Truth:

2 merton“Our ordinary waking life is a bare existence in which, most of the time, we seem to be absent from ourselves and from reality because we are involved in the vain preoccupations which dog the steps of every living man [and woman].  But there are times when we seem suddenly to awake and discover the full meaning of our own present reality.  Such discoveries are not capable of being contained in formulas or definitions.  They are a matter of personal experience, of uncommunicable intuition. 

In the light of such an experience it is easy to see the futility of all the trifles that occupy our minds.  We recapture something of the calm and balance that ought always to be ours, and we understand that life is far too great a gift to be squandered on anything less than perfection.”

I suppose I could say he wrote more eloquently on other insights, but that one blew my mind!  (Actually, it was one of a great number that blew my mind—and spirit!)  His words continue to set a high bar for me.

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I am well aware that this blog post has mainly been about me—my experience!  Perhaps I can be forgiven.  Let’s call this one of the “conjectures of a guilty bystander.”

—James