Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A SHORTAGE OF CHRISTIANITY

   America is in clear and present danger.  President Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be severely and dangerously unqualified to be president.  He is dangerous even to the point of flirting with nuclear war.  He has put not only America but the whole world in danger.

   At a moment in history that calls for profiles in courage, most of the majority Republican legislators are showing themselves to be political and spiritual cowards who are doing nothing but thinking of their own reelection.  Thanks to gerrymandering they will be reelected and then continue to do nothing because they have nothing positive to offer the American people. The minority Democrats are simply ignored.

   There is no political solution presently available to save us from possibly destroying our country and maybe even the world.

   There could be a spiritual solution.  A majority of Americans who identify themselves as Christians can speak up with one voice and denounce the obscene insanity that is now afflicting us and fight for justice, peace and love for all Americans and for the world.  What are the chances of this happening?  Right now, little to none.

   Many politically active Republican Christians attend meetings and rallies where they loudly proclaim that Donald Trump is "Making America Great Again!" They are mostly White and their idea of making America great again means regaining the political and cultural power that they say has been unjustly taken from them by African Americans, Hispanic immigrants and homosexuals.  To these Christians, a great America is a White, heterosexual America.  Many arm themselves and say they are ready to fight a shooting war against any form of government they oppose.  There is a terrible shortage of Christianity here.

   Many Catholics, laity, clergy and bishops, voted for Trump to ensure that there would be a Supreme Court judge who would vote to revoke Roe vs. Wade and make abortion illegal.  Unable to prevent their fellow Catholics from having abortions, they voted to do politically what they cannot do spiritually.   

   Today, our culture is marked by a cult of individuality in which others are seen as competitors or even enemies.  Our Catholic faith should move us to oppose disunity and  reach out to all people as our beloved brothers and sisters, without exception.  Christians are supposed to humanize our politics and make them work for people of all faiths and of no faith.  But too many Christians let politics dehumanize them and distort their faith.  

   Needy children will now get less food.  Millions of Americans will now lose their Health Care.  Our society is becoming more crude and debased.  And we are flirting with the obscenity of nuclear war.  The Ten Commandments are lost and the Beatitudes are out of sight.

   There is a shortage of Christianity in America today.  But it doesn't have to be so.  Will enough Christians learn to rise up and start working to correct their terrible error of spiritual discernment and judgment and start working hard to put America back on the right path of justice, peace and love for all?  An anxious world awaits the answer.     









    















          

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

THE DOUBLE VIOLENCE OF HURRICANE HARVEY

   The violence of Hurricane Harvey is both natural and human.  

    From its very beginning, creation has been marked by natural violence.  The universe was born in violence when the initial energy dot expanded/exploded to begin forming space/time.

   Earth itself was born in violence.  Four and a half billion years ago a star died and exploded.  The debris flew out into space and there it mixed with cosmic dust and then came back together again to form our sun and solar system, with Earth being the third planet out from the newborn sun.  

   From the beginning, earth was a hot violent place.  Great pressure pushed mountains up toward the sky, earthquakes shook the earth and reshaped it, and floods covered the land and then receded, leaving the land more fertile.  Evolution advanced when living things began to eat other living things.  In time, animals ate other animals.  All this happened long before humans and sin came to earth.

   When we humans arrived, evolution became conscious of itself and responsible for itself, within human possibilities and restrictions.  We alone are gifted with reason and faith, so we have the power and responsibility to avoid violence and build peace.

   Unhappily though, some humans will add their own form of violence to the natural calamity that is Harvey.  Some "religious" people will no doubt proclaim that this devastation was caused by homosexuals, or maybe by transgendered people, or maybe even by immigrants, or by God only knows whom else they don't like.  What a horrible, violent expression of Christianity!

   Writer Ann Coulter, who I believe knows better, just said that she would prefer to blame the hurricane on the fact that the past mayor of Houston is a lesbian, rather than on climate change.  Good old American capitalism!  Anything for more profit!

   Actually, it is very possible that global warming could have made the hurricane more intense.  The politicians and corporate executives who deny global warning for their own personal gain or profit should take note.  I urge them to take a good hard look at the people who are suffering so greatly.    

    Let us all take a good look at the people who are suffering.  I just sent a donation to the Red Cross to help the victims of the hurricane.  I sincerely recommend that you do the same thing.  We are one people, one family, one world.






 
   

Saturday, August 19, 2017

THE COLD, SAD EMPTINESS OF EVIL

   At first, as I watched the horrific ugliness in Charlottesville, VA, I felt angry.  "These stupid thugs!"  I exclaimed.  "Don't they have anything better to do than join idiotic causes and mindlessly chant expressions of hatred and untold suffering?"

   Then I learned that many of them have good jobs and are thereby contributing to society.  And I felt sad.  My God!  How can these beautiful young men, with so many gifts and so much promise in them, turn so ugly?  What has gone so wrong in their young lives?

   Finally, I realized that these young men are part of a society and culture that lives in the back woods of the American psyche.  I paused and looked into those woods.  And I felt fear.  Fear for these young men.  Fear for their victims.  Fear for our country.

   Deep in that human darkness;, the "Superior Christian White Man" still reigns supreme, as he did when he owned slaves on his plantation.  Uneasy, he has to find ways to confirm his White supremacy.  To begin with, he refuses to concede defeat in the Civil War, and is waiting for the South to rise again.  He certainly does not consider Blacks to be his equal in any way.  Very importantly, in the 1930's he found a modern "savior" for the White race in Adolph Hitler's notion of the White Superman with a demonic hatred for Jews and other "inferior" people.

   As an offspring of the back woods of the American psyche, the "Superior Christian White Man" is an angry, hateful child in an adult's body.  So, for example, he is big enough to  wield a heavy club or drive a car into a crowd.  Yet, he is small.  He stands for nothing real or positive.  He confounds reason and lives in dark human, spiritual emptiness.   He must be told by spiritual adults, "When you act hatefully, there is no humanity in you."

   Often encouraged and "inspired" by badly educated, disoriented preachers, he shows his allegiance to his Christian God by chanting hatred toward people of color, Jews, and all who are different from him.  He and his misguiding pastors must be told by spiritually adult Christians, "There is no Christ in your Christianity!"

   The "Superior Christian White Man" is a living example of someone who has fallen into evil.  Evil is not the opposite of good; it is the absence of good that should be presence in any given society, culture or situation.  In the back woods of the American psyche, human development has been arrested.  Educational and social evolution is stymied. Where such human emptiness abounds, prejudice and hatred fill the vacuum.

   I wonder:  do these beautiful young men know that 600,000 lives were lost in the Civil War so that America would not be an inhuman country that enslaved our fellow humans?  Do they know that almost 400,000 Americans died defeating Nazism, whose hateful slogan they chant over and over again?  Do they know what the Holocaust really did to millions of fellow human beings?  Do they know the horribly violent history of the KKK?  And if they know, do they care? And if they know and don't care, then what happened to them when they were younger?  Certainly, they were deprived of the normal, loving human education and upbringing that they deserved.

   These beautiful young people, with galaxies of possibilities for good living withing them, must somehow be stopped in their tracks, taken up and lovingly re-formed into the human persons God intends them to be.  We owe this both to them and to ourselves and our country.

   The back woods of the American psyche does not exist only in the southern United States.  It exists throughout our country, among men and women, and tragically, in our President, who is a hopelessly empty man.  He understands nothing and cares about  no one and nothing but himself.  And he surrounds himself with a whirlwind of aggressive confusion to ensure that he remains empty of understanding and of caring for others.  

   We live in an especially dangerous and fearful time.  America is under attack from without and particularly from within.  Some politicians are putting their self-interests aside and are beginning to openly question the President's ability to govern.  We must encourage more of them to do so.  And we must speak up every time we get the opportunity, and demand a better educated, more just, more united, peaceful and loving country.      

     









        

Sunday, August 6, 2017

POPE FRANCIS'S REVOLUTION

   Against strong opposition, Pope Francis is working to change the church.  In the past half century, Vatican II's aggiornamento, "coming up to date," was stymied by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. During their papacy, the church fell further behind the times.  

   So Francis inherited a church that is still operating according to rules and laws that reflect the structure of the Roman Empire with its Emperor and Senators, instead of the 21st century people of the eternally living Jesus Christ--people who can discern God's presence and intentions for today's world and put God's intentions to work in and for our society and culture.

   Instead of moving forward since 1965, the church has deteriorated and has fallen further behind the times.  Most American bishops have worked to keep the Imperial structure of the church intact, along with their imperial authority.  With a few beautiful exceptions, like the pastoral leadership of Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, for the Catholic people in general, theology and spirituality are at a deadening standstill. Our everyday society and culture have fallen to new social and political depths.  In response, literally millions of "up to date" American Catholics have simply walked away from the church.

   One bright spot in this dismal history is the influx of Hispanics into the church, with their beautiful traditional devotions and spirit of life.  But as our Hispanic brothers and sisters become more "Americanized" and take on the values of today's society and culture, their traditions will fade as did those of other ethnic group.

   In a frightening development, many Catholics who identify themselves as "Conservatives," have tied themselves to other Conservative Christians who are literal fundamentalists, e.g., who believe in the six days of creation and deny evolution, and believe in Noah and the flood, etc.  Such literalism sucks the life and Spirit out of our Catholic faith and makes religion look foolish to today's truly educated people.

   Also, many Catholics have identified themselves with today's deeply polarized politics, most especially on the side of the Republican party.  They have actually identified themselves in terms of one political party, i.e., "We are Conservative Catholic Republicans." 

   They say this in a way that makes being conservative and Republican the same as being a Catholic.  And some even go so far as to consider America to be a theocracy, which they mistake for Jesus' idea of the Kingdom of God on Earth.  While we certainly should be involved in our politics for the sake of building up the Kingdom of God on earth, we should never identify any political party or any institution of our society with the Kingdom of God on Earth.  

   Of course, Jesus was human and was involved in the politics of his day.  With his Christ consciousness, he despised the brutal Roman occupation of Israel, and often sharply criticizing the political leaders of his Jewish society.  Using our own Christ consciousness we can and should work to give politics, (as well as business, education, health care, labor, etc.,) the ever growing fullness of meaning that they could not possibly have on their own.  

    Christ offers the world a graced, luminous humanity which both shows us the imperfection of our society's institutions and gives us the spiritual strength to get involved in our institutions, including the church, and help move them ever more forward toward their intended fullness of life.  The universal, global Christ alone is the Savior of the world.  And the universal, global Christ is the heart of Francis's revolution.

   As I said, Francis is facing strong opposition, from the Catholics who are identifying with a certain brand of politics, to bishops who continue to live and act in a monarchical church whose  structure is collapsing all around them, to the negative influence of ex-Pope Benedict XVI's presence in the Vatican.

   For our part we can follow Francis's lead and continue to develop and deepen our own universal, global, all-embracing and loving Christ consciousness of one luminously alive humanity of fully respected and loved brothers and sisters.  And we can work to bring our politics and all the institutions of our society to ever greater life, and do all that we can to help make our blessed Christ vision became an ever greater, ever more living reality in the world.






                    
















  

Friday, July 7, 2017

DEEP CONSCIOUSNESS

   Until the early 20th century, almost all scientists saw the universe as a giant machine, evolving mindlessly through history.  They saw themselves (and all others) as standing outside the machine observing its movements and laws.  Galaxies, planets, mountains, plants, animals, and people operated according to laws that could be understood and expressed in terms of mathematics.

   Today, we see that their consciousness was shallow.  While their discoveries provided all kinds of technological wonders to the world, their shallow consciousness also helped turn the world's view away from what is not material, i.e., spiritual.  In Europe and North America, science began to openly replace religion in our ongoing search for who we are and what we mean.

   Thankfully, today's scientists are discovering not just the universe itself but the conscious, thinking people who are observing the universe and living in it.  This is leading them to study the spiritual dimension of the universe, in terms of consciousness.  And they are going deep:  they are paying attention not only to the consciousness of animals and humans but to the consciousness of the universe itself.   

   In the last century, Einstein said there is a super-human intelligence that is directing the universe and its evolution--a universal, cosmic intelligence, or conscious "mind" that is beyond all material consideration.  All good scientists, he said, should be moved to awe and wonder at contemplating this intelligent consciousness.  This is not God, he pointed out.  It is the intelligent consciousness of the universe itself.  The universe itself is conscious and intelligent!

   The great scientist opened the most promising way to the reconciliation of science and faith since the two had separated in the late 1600's, with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern science.  At the time, science went its own way, and religion went its own way.  Today, universal consciousness forms a link between religion, most especially Spirituality, and science, that is pregnant with galaxies of possibilities for the evolution of humanity.  It is a vital way toward developing a 21st century spirituality that is not "religious."

    To begin with, consciousness is a sign of life.  By its very nature, it is living consciousness.  There can be no such thing as dead consciousness.  Living consciousness, therefore, helps us understand where life came from.  Like consciousness itself, life was there at the very beginning of the universe, preparing to express itself.  
  
   Living consciousness is the basic energy of the universe.  It has guided evolution, calling it forward, from the very beginning of the universe.  So it seems reasonable to say that it had to be present even before evolution started.  It was present in the energy "dot" that first appeared 13.8 billion years ago.  Being immaterial, the "dot" had no space/time dimensions itself but expanded in a "Big Bang" into the form of space and time.

   Every galaxy, every star and planet, every mountain, ocean, plant, flower and human person and community, is a space/time expression of not-space/time, living conscious energy.  This is the awe and wonder of the deep consciousness that today's science is presenting to us, and that spiritual theologians are greeting with great joy and anticipation. Science and faith can now be reconciled at the point of deep, living consciousness.

   In the early 20th century, many scientists proudly proclaimed that there soon would be nothing new to learn about the universe.  Today's scientists humbly say that a full scientific understanding of the universe and of universal life and consciousness is out of their reach.  As one scientist said, "If you think you understand quantum physics, you don't understand it."  And now they are contemplating the possibility of an infinite number of universes!  The universe is truly ultimately beyond all human understanding. 

   Theologians say that the universe is Mystery, (capital "M").  Mystery is not ignorance, such as in a murder mystery.  It is reality that is so great that the more we understand of it, the more there will always be to understand, forever.  Both science and faith work with their own expression of Mystery/mystery.  What scientists say about the never ending understanding of the universe, theologians say about our never ending understanding of God.  What science sees as the energy that makes up and powers the universe, faith sees as Living Grace, the impact of God's presence in the universe, which makes the universe the living, Christ Reality.  (See, "A New Creation Story" in this Blog.)

   Today's all important reconciliation of faith and science requires a 21st century understanding of God.  God is no longer the fearful Old Testament judge who sends floods to punish us because of our sins.  Nor is God a deranged Father who sends his Son to be murdered.  Nor the medieval old man with the beard flying through the sky.  Nor the father who comes home from work and fixes things that the children broke.  Or should fix things but doesn't fix them.  "How can an almighty God permit war?  How can a loving God permit children to suffer?"  Questions like this show a spiritually immature understanding of God that a 21st Century Christian can no longer believe in.  Today's Jewish Biblical scholars will agree. 

   A 21st century understanding of God, taken from science, sees God in terms of living consciousness.  Spiritually, this same understanding came from an insight that is 3000 years old, when Moses learned the fantastic Truth given to him at the burning bush.  (Exod. 3:14).  "I am not some person who lives up in heaven.  I am all present.  I don't just exist; I am EXISTENCE ITSELF, REALITY ITSELF.  I am not just alive, I am LIFE ITSELF.  I am not just conscious, I am CONSCIOUSNESS ITSELF.  I don't just love, I am LOVE ITSELF." 

   "You exist because I am EXISTENCE. You are real because I am REALITY.  You are alive because I am LIFE.  You are conscious because I am CONSCIOUSNESS.  You love because I am LOVE.  When you search into yourself, into science, the arts, politics, business, education, health care, etc., etc., you are searching ultimately for Me.  I am there, waiting for you and helping you find yourself, and Me in yourself."

   This is the deep consciousness of our faith today, which science has helped us to reach.  Actually, science alone cannot account for the Mystery of existence and love in the universe.  The arts come closer.  Love comes even closer.  "The heart has reason that reason cannot know."  (Blaise Pascal)

    In today's angry, even hateful, polarized, shallow and noisy culture, deep consciousness is being sought for by an increasing number of people, especially the young.  But it can seem impossible to attain.  Today's science, politics, business, education and religion can be impediments to our search.  We must understand that deep consciousness is already present within us.  It must be attained because it holds the answers to the injustices and suffering we are inflicting upon ourselves.  We can attain it, for example, by taking some time daily to think about it and meditate on it.  (See, "Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation,: in this Blog.)  And we can attain it by acting here and now, in our own way, to help bring justice, peace and love, especially to the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast, as Jesus did on a daily basis.

   As we achieve deep consciousness we find the "still point of the turning world," (T. S. Eliot) i.e., the center of the world and ourselves, where God touches us silently and deeply.  From here we move outward in love with every greater love, truth and simplicity.  We love without conditions or ambiguity.  A dear friend of mine has a bumper sticker on his car that says, "Live simply so that others may simply live."  Simplicity is clear, clean truth and love.  It is a wonderful fruit of deep consciousness.     
      

  

       

    














 





   



























Wednesday, May 10, 2017

THE VIEW FROM YOUR WINDOW

   A vision is our world-view, the view we get from our window and from our imagination and mind. 

 Our new spiritual vision calls for us to see deeply, mystically.  To see mystically is to  see with the eyes of faith.  Each of us is an everyday mystic.

   Here's one way to see mystically.  Look at yourself and your surroundings.  See your computer or I-Pad, your desk, the room you're in.  Then look at the scene from your window.  See your immediate surroundings.  Now imagine a panoramic view of people, cities, fields, mountains, trees, plants and flowers, animals, rivers, bridges, oceans and sky.  Imagine the entire swirling universe.

   Keep looking at them and see a light begin to glow within them.  See the light brighten, grow strong and vibrant.  See the light glowing in everyone and everything, making them look sharper, clearer, more true and vibrant.  Understand that you are seeing the whole world aglow with the inner presence of LOVE, which, as I noted above, makes the whole world/universe the global/universal Christ, i.e., the entire divine-love filled world/universe.  This understanding adds contemporary meaning to one of St. Paul's favorite expressions, i.e., that we live in Christ.

   Now look within yourself and see the education, talents, interests and opportunities--big or small--that you have and that you can use to help others brighten the light within themselves, ourselves and others, and where necessary, correct ourselves, themselves and others in the humble love of Christ's grace, so that all can move forward toward our divinely intended fulfillment of wholeness in love.  

   Very importantly, we must not only see and understand what we are doing, we must deeply and genuinely care about what we are doing.  And we must show that we deeply and genuinely care.  People will respond more easily and deeply to our caring than to our ideas and understanding.

   Is all this too far fetched?  Too utopian?  With the way things are these days, we can easily believe that the odds against our making any progress are just too great.

   In response, may I make bold to speak for Jesus.  "I lived in a country that was occupied by the brutally cruel Romans.  Among my own people, the rich oppressed the poor.  I healed the sick, blessed the poor and preached love for everyone.  My own political/religious leaders were jealous of their power and fought me at every opportunity.  In the end I was arrested and illegally tried and executed.  

   Despite all that, I give you the vision and reality of ever-flowing resurrection.  The presence and energy of my Spirit in you empowers you to do the things I did and even greater things than I did.  (Cf. Jn. l4:12). I have given you eyes to see the suffering of this world.  I have given you a heart to feel and ears to hear the cries of people who need you. I have given you the Spirit to know how to work against the odds to move the world forward toward its fulfillment of wholeness in love.  I have given you a heart to care. 

   See that my Kingdom of Love is within you and within all whom you will touch.  Go forward and help to build it. Work hard and be patient.  I am always with you."

   Was Jesus naive?  Utopian?

  Now look out your window again.  Look at your room.  Look at yourself.  Is the global Christ naive?  Utopian?....    






   
        

   















             

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A NEW SPIRITUAL VISION (Part 2 of 2)

  I wrote Part 1 first and it has now moved below this part.  And I don't know how or if I can flip it up before this entry.  So please check Blog Archive on the right side of this page for 
 A New Spiritual Vision, Part 1

   Our new vision depends on the facts and the truth.  For example, in politics, the fact is that House Speaker Paul Ryan said his version of the Health Care bill would guarantee that everyone had access to health care.  But the truth is that his version of "access" means that not every American would actually have health care.  So he was playing with words.  Further, the truth is that the government has an obligation to ensure that everyone has health care.  This is not "socialism."  The government's obligation to provide healthcare for all is one of "justice for all."

   Someone may ask, "How are you so sure what the truth is?"  I respond that in this case I know the truth in two ways.  One:  I know the English language and I know when it is being manipulated to tell a lie.  Two:  Being endowed with the grace of Christ I can discern the obligations of social justice that pertain to all humans.  Now I invite you to join me in seeking and seeing the truth together.

   In my previous Post I spoke of the tension between an arguing husband and wife that put them in a dualistic world.  Each one was opposed to the other.  The therapist supplied a third, higher element, their mutual love, making their dualistic situation a trinity.  As a result, the therapist 1) created a way for the coupl
                     2) to heal and save their marriage, and
                     3) to move forward and evolve in their lives.  
   Here we have the three elements of our vision:  Creativity, Healing/Saving, and Transforming/Evolving Life.  These elements are those of God, who is ONE Creative, Healing/Saving and World Transforming/Evolving, Living LOVE.  

   In theology, we can say that God is Infinite/Eternal, Creative LOVE (Father), flowing into and begetting World Healing/Saving Love (Son), giving rise to World Transforming/Evolving Love (Holy Spirit). 

   Also, divine LOVE is never static.  Divine LOVE is a flowing, in fact overflowing LOVE, always creating, always healing/saving, and always urging the world forward in its evolution.  We experience God dynamically when we experience LOVE calling us forward from the future, to our best possible fulfillment. 

   Our first and best guide to living the vision is Jesus, the individual human being who was the universal Christ, i.e., the whole universe saturated with God's overflowing love. (Cf. A New Creation Story) Like Jesus, the vision starts here and now in the flesh, on the ground.  Like Christ, it expands to embrace the entire world, the earth, the universe and infinity/eternity.  It is the one vision that is fully worthy of our complete human reality and dignity as beloved and sacred images of God.

   (The Church sees salvation outside of Jesus.  Jews, Muslims, Hindus, et al., and even people who don't know Jesus but live in consistent good will and love, will be saved.  That's because salvation comes in Christ, i. e., in living a life consistent with the LOVE saturated world.  Since Jesus was the Christ, in him we see the fullness of our way to salvation.  In our way of seeing, though not everyone agrees, everyone who lives in Christ therefore automatically lives in Jesus, even though they don't know it.)

   Starting on the ground, we begin with ourselves by looking more clearly at our own talents, abilities and opportunities, all of which show us our vocation in and for today's culture and society.

    For example, people competent in education can work to create a school program (public and Catholic) that will truly create in the children an ever more intense desire for learning.  As someone whose name I cant remember said, education is not filling buckets, it's setting fires.  The program will heal the children's ignorance with humanizing, edifying knowledge.  And it will move the children's lives forward in their ongoing human evolution of understanding how to make a living and how to make a life.  Such an educational program will include appreciating the talents, possibilities, respect, dignity and transcendent purpose that each child possesses as a beloved and sacred individual member of the human community.

   Those competent in business and economics can work with businesses to create stronger motivations to produce the best possible goods and services at fair prices.  They will work to heal any of the business's shortcomings, e.g., in providing clean and safe working conditions, fair living income for its workers, and respect for the environment, and they will help move the business forward in justice by helping the business give retraining opportunities to employees who are fired because the business sends their jobs to another area of the country or overseas, in order to maximize profits.  Thus they will also help move the business forward as a respected, contributing member of the community, nation and world.

   In sum, when we come face to face with the degradation of our humanity and the earth, we will speak up and act to correct it and to elevate our humanity, making our humanity more luminous in the Creative, Healing/Saving and World Transforming/Evolving love of Christ. 

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