Wednesday, August 28, 2013


   Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his momentous, "I Have a Dream," speech.  His theme was freedom.  The genius of his speech was that he was talking about freedom, not just for his own African American people but for all Americans, and indeed for all peoples around the world.

   He saw deeply, down to the soul of every individual person, every community and every nation.  He saw that injustice against one person or one community or one nation is injustice against all.  He saw that until everyone enjoys the freedom and opportunity to grow and evolve beyond their present self to an ever new self in new freedom and opportunity, then no one enjoys any real freedom.

   His speech is famous, remembered and commemorated because he was not just talking about politics, economics and social justice, he was speaking about people--about their deepest longing and deepest meaning.  And he was speaking about God and God's loving will for all people.  In sum, he was speaking spirituality.

   Dr. King's spirituality gave him the insight and courage to go deep into the question of injustice, to go where it was dangerous to go, to go where--and only where--true justice and true freedom live.  And in going deep, he stirred the imagination, intentions and commitment of countless Americans who have worked and are working for the common good of all our people, for opportunity for decent jobs with living wages, for health care for all, for good schools, safe neighborhoods and good government.

   But he also stirred the fears, anger and even hatred of shallow people.  One of these shallow people assassinated him; the rest have obstructed his dream.  And today, the obstruction has reached frightening proportions.  The divisions and injustices that mark our culture, energized as they are by fear, anger and hatred, are being carried out within a new and bitter context, that of conscious lying about simple facts, e.g., we must have voter ID because voter fraud exists even though it has not been experienced, to cold indifference by those who maximize profits to the detriment of their employees and the environment, those who prey on the fears, anger and hatred of the shallow for their own careers and profit, and those who cannot see a transcendent social unity that we should be striving to attain. 

   Our spirituality moves us to see deeply--all the way to the presence of God in ourselves and in all peoples and institutions in today's world--and to respond to God at the deepest human level, where we can reach out in justice, to give everyone their due respect and dignity; in peace, to help others become who they are in the sight of God; and in compassion and charity, to help others even at a cost to ourselves.  Dr. King's dream should be our dream.  The responsibility to help his dream come fully true is definitely ours because in the end, Dr. King's dream is God's dream for all of us. 


Monday, August 26, 2013


   One of the major problems with fully activating our faith today is that so many of us imagine God as living "in heaven" up above the sky.  One reason is that the writers of the Bible used the word, "heaven," to mean the sky, and they imagined God as living above the sky.  And the New Testament speaks of Jesus "ascending" into heaven.  The result is that we can easily imagine God and eternity as "up there," distant from us.

   It is time that we brought God and eternity down to earth.  God has been with and within the universe since the moment of creation.  And where God is present, eternity is present.  So here and now, we are living in both space/time and eternity.

   Another problem is that we imagine God as a Being, and this causes us to imagine God as someone like us.  We are always in one particular place and not another, and even though we say that God is everywhere, we can easily imagine God as being in one particular place and not another.  We must erase this image from our mind.

   Our new image of God is that of an All-pervading, Creative, Healing, World-transforming, Loving Presence.  God is present in the computer or ipad you're using to read this blog.  Look at people.  God is present in all of them.  Look at nature.  God is present in all of it.  Everything and everyone are luminous with God's presence.

   Some people mistakenly say that what I'm describing is pantheism, that I'm saying that everything is God.  No.  I'm saying that God is present in everything and everyone.  As St. Augustine said, God is closer to us that we are to ourselves.  We are "saturated" with God.  So, for example, when we pray, we don't have to "reach out" to God; we simply have to relax and open ourselves to God who is already present within us and the world.  God is the vital Presence within us who already knows our innermost thoughts and desires, and who speaks to us in a whisper.

   We discern and experience God within our direct, space/time experiences, for example, when we gaze at a baby, or a sunset, when we feel thanksgiving or gratitude, or when we are conscious of our desire to grow beyond our present self to a more open, mature and complete self, e.g., in our education, marriage, career, personal qualities, etc.  Our desire to keep knowing and maturing as persons knows no limits; it goes all the way to eternity, which is already within us, calling to us.  So when we die, we do not begin our eternal life.  We end our space/time life and start to live only in eternity.

   Our new way of imaging God will help us live our faith more actively and prophetically.  Very especially,  we can get more knowledgeably and energetically engaged in doing in our terms and time what Jesus did in his terms and time, i.e., working for the common good, e.g., in education, business, politics, economics, etc., with a preferential option for the sick, poor, vulnerable and outcast.  The more justice and charity we create here in space/time, the greater glory we are giving God in eternity.


Thursday, August 15, 2013


   The first "Galileo moment" came when science showed us that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around.  The spiritual impact of this discovery caused us to adjust our view of ourselves.  We are not proudly at the center of the universe but more humbly, we are on a small planet in a small solar system.

   The second "Galileo moment" has come from our discovery of evolution.  Evolution has brought our faith very much "down to earth" and made it vibrantly alive and ever open to maturing.  We now see in a contemporary way that our creative, healing and world-building relationship with God has been evolving from the moment we were created.  And when we  spiritually evolved to the point where we could receive God-with-us, Jesus was born.

   Our new "Galileo moment" shows us that Jesus came first and foremost to fulfill God's eternal, overflowing love for us.  At the appropriate spiritual moment of evolution, Jesus came to share our human life with us and to elevate our space/time lives here on earth to a new level of eternal possibilities.  In a new, spiritual "Big Bang," Jesus elevated us so we could transcend our "old self" and evolve from the lowly, primitive "Don't's" of the Commandments to the lofty heights of the Beatitudes.

   Secondly, Jesus was crucified because of our sins--and not because of anything at all like God's anger or need for revenge.  In the Gospels we read that John the Baptist preached repentance and fiery judgment.  But when he sent his followers to ask Jesus if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus surprised and disappointed them with the compassion-filled response that the blind regained their sight, the lame walked, lepers were healed and the deaf heard. (Lk. 7:19-22).

   In joyful response to Jesus' work and prayers, evolution helps us focus our attention on bringing God's loving, compassionate kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."  In the grace of Christ we live in our time and culture as Jesus lived in his time and culture, i.e., blessing the poor by doing all we can to help them get food, jobs, housing, education, etc.; healing the sick, blind and lame, by helping them get the best possible health care; getting our leaders to work as effectively as possible for peace; ensuring justice by getting our business people to make a fair profit while creating jobs that enable employees to live decent lives; and "being in charge of the earth" by caring for the environment. 

   Christ living within us makes us and the world sacred expressions of himself.  Evolution shows us that our work as expressions of Christ is to move the world forward toward its sacred fulfillment, to help creation evolve by making the world more luminously human in the love of Christ.  The works that we call "social justice and peacemaking" are not a ministry for us but our primary ministry.

   Unfortunately, church authorities pay too much attention to defending church doctrines--often as a way of maintaining their authority and power--and not enough attention to mobilizing Catholics to do the everyday, down-to-earth work of moving the world forward and elevating it in the grace of Christ.  Inattention to our primary ministry in and for today's world, and to a liturgy that ritualizes it, is an important reason why so many of us have grown disaffected from the church.

   By his own example, Jesus shows us--and especially today's young people--that the ever evolving beauty and challenge of living in Christ is to get as deeply and effectively engaged in our society and culture as he was.  The new, evolutionary "Galileo moment" awaits and challenges all of us.