Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2014

       As our earth enters the time marked as 'year 2015', we find a world of ever-present polarized conflicts and decaying climate conditions which threaten our very existence.  Can we reconsider the choices humanity has made thus far . . . and alter the trajectory?
       Over eons of evolution, God slowly brought forth reflective beings--Human kind!  God gifted us with a sustainable world and free will.  With our freedom (flawed as we are) we've interpreted incorrectly and chosen wrongly --

                                                        CIRCUS LIGHTS

                           Our world is in Crisis!
                                Like Nero of old
                                We fiddle while Rome burns
                          Blinded by the circus lights
                                we allow destruction and decay
                                to go unnoticed and God to become irrelevant.

               God of the Universe is infinite
                               and infinitely beyond knowing.
               We are finite, flawed and limited
                               yet create our gods in our own image.

                               Those for whom power and control are supreme
                                    create gods of violence and vengeance;
                               Those for whom love and unity are supreme
                                    create a Father God of concern and protection.

               Be assured, we create the gods we worship
                         because the God that IS is beyond knowing.
               The I AM that created an infinite universe
               The I AM that breathes life into being
                         is the ALL of which each element is a part.

                              We've chosen to worship inadequate gods
                                    and have shepherded our world
                                    to the brink of extinction.

                             Remember the cry of Jeremiah:
                                    'Repent and Return'

               Can we let God be God as God IS
                                   --infinite and unknowable--
               and accept the responsibility of our freedom
                                  to co-create a sustainable world?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ferguson's Accomplishment

       I have watched the TV coverage of the destruction of Ferguson . . . I almost couldn't watch, so I walked away, only to be drawn back over the days.  My first reaction was anger; then anger turned to sadness, then sorrow.  How can so many people support violence as a solution to the problem of injustice?  What happened in Ferguson was not a cry for justice, it was an excuse for unleashing a primitive howl for vengeance--yet to whom was the vengeance directed?  --to the very town in which the people live!

       The violence that reaped such harm against small businesses and homeowners so far exceeds the perceived injustice it can't be calculated.  And for what and why was vengeance sought?  There are so many complicated threads to this complex problem, but all real issues are lost in the melee.  We are all flawed humans needing to find the way to live together--it is a work in progress.  Is there police injustice?  Do they profile young black males?  It is a possibility, but why are young blacks profiled?  Are the police inherently prejudice/bad?  Or are there problems in the black community that feed the polarization?  Is it not a fact that there is a strong current of disrespect for police and disdain for the law--just listen to the years of rap music and look at the prevalence of the drug culture.  The legal system, imperfect though it be, is there not to oppress but to bring order to society and it works only when there is public support.

       With the extreme violence of November 2014, you perpetrators have desecrated the memory of Martin Luther King, a true black hero honored by all people regardless of race.  He emerged from a society much more deeply steeped in prejudice, yet he brought non-violent pressure to right the injustice of segregation.  He, along with Gandhi and Nelson Mandela demonstrated the effectiveness of non-violent protest and changed whole nations . . . the violence of Ferguson accomplished only the destruction of a city.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fundmental Change

       Life is a gift outside and beyond anything of man's own making; because of that, humanity has always felt a need for allegiance to the unknown source. (we call that Religion).  Many names have been given to that source, in Western Judo-Christian cultures we commonly use 'God'.  Our sacred book is the Bible, considered to be inspired by God . . . inspired by God, but delivered through the thought processes of man.
       In the Bible there are stories, and there are directives (as well as history and poetry).  The stories tell essential truths cloaked in narratives appropriate to the time and culture of its origin.  In these stories--or myths--complex concepts are introduced in ways that can reach the understanding level of those addressed--as in the creation story.

       The directives are unvarnished statements believed to be the direct word of God such as Deuteronomy 30, 'I set before you life and death . . . choose life'; or the Ten Commandments--what is said is meant.  The directives are not negotiable whereas the stories are interpreted and undergo changes in meaning as knowledge and understanding evolves.  Literalists fail to differentiate and assign the same value to everything insisting upon a yes or no answer to the Bible's overall veracity.

       Just as mankind has a need to honor life's source, so too mankind has a need to seek knowledge to understand the world (we call it Science).  Slowly we accumulate knowledge and periodically new discoveries call upon us to readjust our thinking.  Our earliest understanding of our world was of a flat earth surrounded by oceans--mariners feared sailing too far and falling over the edge. Above were the heavens in which the sun, moon, and stars revolved around us--our earth--and God from his heavenly vantage point watched man's every move--yes we were that important!  When Coperinicus' calculations indicated our most basic premise about earth and celestial bodies was incorrect and Galileo with his telescope confirmed that the earth was not the center of the universe but rather one of the many planets that moved in orbits around the sun, many found that fact intolerable and Galileo almost lost his life for making the claim--yet with time, thinking was readjusted to accommodate the truth.

       All philosophy, metaphysics and science up to the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries were ignorant of humanity being the product of evolution.  Until Darwin's discovery it was taken for granted by Religion that man was 'created apart', an instantaneous spontaneous creation of God.  As science grew in prominence,  doubt of God's reality crept in, then increased. God couldn't be seen, touched nor measured!  Science and Religion parted ways.  The theory of evolution seemed to complete the sundering between Science and Religion that had begun with the Enlightenment.  Darwin's theory appears to turn the human being into 'just one more' random creature among the multitude of beings populating the earth . . . thus we seem to have moved from all-important (via Religion) to of-no- importance (via Science).  Something is amiss there!  The human alone thinks, reasons, and reflects upon being--it is of another order.

       Today there is a need once again to readjust our thinking.  A fundamental change is called for to reunite Science and Religion.  What is humanity's place in all that is?  Evolution is the central governing principle of all that is--and if we study it carefully we can see in it a pattern and direction toward ever greater complexity, finally yielding a being with reflective awareness who knows and knows he knows, who can shape the future.  There is room for God.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Evolution Embraced

     It has been in the news that the Pope endorsed evolution saying "evolution is not inconsistent with the notion of creation."  Some people are surprised by that because they assumed the Catholic Church also opposed the idea of evolution as do many of the Evangelical Protestants--not so--as far back as 1950 Pope Pius XII said there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic doctrine.

     The evidence of Science is irrefutable, evolution is regarded as fact rather than a theory; any threat to religion arises from the popular interpretation that Darwin's theory denies God a place in creation.  It is possible to see evolution as God's plan.

     As we search to discover our origins we ask, "Are we of earth or of God?"  There seems to be a conflict:  Scripture says clay and God's breath brought us into being while Science argues that our being is merely a happenstance result of random blind choice.  A narrowness of vision closes the possibilities: 1) either in literal interpretation of Genesis, God fashioned man out of clay, breathed upon him and, poof! magically there was man fully formed and perfect; 2) or out of primeval ooze over eons of time elements, then cells, happened to combine simply because of proximity thus forming different species until finally, by randomness, man emerged.  Both possibilities in this simplistic view seem equally absurd!  Eliminate the absurdity (implausibility) in each choice: 1) many of the Old Testament's stories are symbolic.  Symbolic, not untrue, not a lie, but pointing to a truth beyond that age's ability to comprehend; and 2) evolution is more than random happenstance, the long view shows pattern and direction; that of complexification and the rise of consciousness.

    A brilliant Jesuit Paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin, while studying ancient fossils in the deserts of China was able to realize that regarding evolution, besides either/or choices, there is also 'AND', thus opening a new portal of understanding.  Science and religion are not in conflict.  Evolution is God's plan for Creation.

                                                                     - - -


We are born as either/or people.
    Jesus, the Christ,
       is the beginning of 'and' . . .
       Of clay and sky we were fashioned.
       We've chosen to follow the nature of our birth
                        earth's clay we can touch--
                        God's breath is not palpable--

       The finite and material
               we can manipulate, can measure.
       The infinite and eternal
               we cannot grasp, cannot contain.

       So we elect to negate--
               choose one or the other:
                        either/or, either/or . . .
       Finite man locked in 'choosing limits'
               rendering choices that create our reality
                        either/or, either/or . . .
       These decisions skew the balance,
               there is weaving together to be done
                        --open to 'and'.

                            - - -

We are finitely mortal,
    God--infinitely expansive;
       through Immanuel those poles are joined.

                   Son of God; Son of Man

       Being itself unfolds gradually to consciousness
       First, survival and discovery--individuality and freedom
       Then, a New Law--love and unity.

       Because we are limited
       we have limited what can be--
                        a shell of narcissism
                        locks out the greater reality.
       Finite man choosing between
                        either/or, either/or . . .

                   Come, O Come, Immanuel!

       Because time cannot contain eternity,
       Eternity enters time--
              And asks us to see what cannot be perceived
                       hear what cannot be understood
                       know what cannot be comprehended
              to burst out of those limits into which we are born

                   to become the people of 'And'.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

of Serious Thoughts: The World We Build

The World We Build

       The attitudes we hold, the values we support, our prevailing outlook on life; these constitue the DNA of the world we build.  We have come to overvalue the objective and undervalue the subjective dimension of reality--love, justice, hope, faith, meaning, purpose . . . these are the subjectives that shape the living.

       This morning as I sat watching the news I was swept with a feeling that can't be put into words.  Silent tears rolled down my cheeks--all the news was so crushingly bleak:  the ebola plague; Islamic State terrorists advancing and brutally seizing territory; refugees by the thousands having fled their homes without provisions or possessions needing help to survive; weather anomalies ravaging communities confirming the reality of climate change.  The suffering 'have-nots' demanding more assistance while the 'haves', wanting to protect themselves from the financial burdens and health risks, calling for border closings and flight bans . . . We want to put on blinders to protect ourselves and hide from the threats--we can't!  We have yet to realize we are one world.

       There is wide spread loss of faith in all our institutions from government to health care to education to religion.  Those institutions which past ages have brought forth to organize living in complex societies are under siege--yet it is the nature of civilization to require institutions to manage an orderly society.  When serious problems arise and institutions fail to yield a neat quick-fix we rebel against them and scape-goat whoever happens to occupy the leadership role--sometimes it is the leader who needs replacing but more likely it is the institution that has fallen into disarray and needs restructuring.  That monumental task requires support and cooperation on all sides.

       At present we are in a global crisis and there is fear, anger and condemnation loose in the world with demonstrations and demands for answers--as if such were possible--like answers pre-exist and the right person could pluck one out!  But the problems arise from a multitude of subjective choices made over time--the solutions must be arduously created by our collective choices.  Only when our politicians move away from polarization and name-calling to engage in working cooperatively will there be an attitude shift throughout society that enables us to shape our world for betterment with conscious choices.

      I quote two great minds of the 20th Century who could foresee danger on the horizon:

Einstein is credited with saying: "We must learn to think in a new way"

Teilhard de Cardin has written:  "The Age of Nations is past.  The task before us now, if we would not parish, is to build the earth.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Awakening Consciousness

                                                "If I have seen further it is by standing 
                                                  on the shoulders of giants"
                                                                                         Isaac Newton

       Slowly, over eons, we evolve.
       Darwin was the first to recognize the process of evolution--simple life structures progress to more complex forms.  His discovery was monumental, it opened a whole new way of understanding the mystery of life.  As a naturalist his focus was on the mechanisms that gave rise to the variety of physical forms.  It was not his task to ask ontological questions.  It is tragic that the magnitude of his brilliant insight has been overshadowed by an either/or clash about whether or not we humans evolved from apes.

       Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a scientist, theologian and mystic, was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century.  He did ask ontological questions and saw wonder, beauty and truth in evolution   and through it the wonder of God offering to share His being with humankind.  Teilhard authored more than 20 books.  (Google him)

       Evolution is more than a theory about how new species appeared on the planet--it is the central governing principle of the universe . . . beginning with energy coalescing to matter, matter to simple life forms, life forms increasing in complexity and consciousness until thought was born--therein evolution took a turn inward.  Into the hands of the human came the means to shape the world.  All else in the universe is acted upon--by forces of nature, circumstances of time and place, random happenstance--but with consciousness the human gained the power to create, still effected by forces of nature and unchosen circumstances, yet possessing the ability to change what is given into what can be imagined.

       A long look at history shows a changing reality, a barbaric world slowly advancing toward civilizing itself, over eons we can discern consciousness gradually awakening as choices shape social order:  rather than club one's neighbor and take his possessions by force, establish laws to live by; . . . stop invading and plundering those 'not us' and define national boundaries; . . . work to acquire knowledge and skill with which to educate people because education is a 'good' of life; . . . recognize that owning people - slavery - is wrong and should not be supported by a nation even though it presents economic advantages; . . . awaken to the plight of suffering people who lack life's necessities and reach out with help; . . . realize the corrupting effect of discrimination and oppression and seek peaceful means to bring justice.

       Thus has civilization advanced--yet still the primitive selfishness that results in violence taints the world we build--and threatens to destroy it.  We have yet to realize all life is interconnected and is shaped by our choices . . . but slowly, over eons, we evolve . . . consciousness is only slowly awakening.

Friday, September 12, 2014


       Wars have been fought for many reasons: religion, politics, territory, resources, riches . . . most of them are not morally justified.   St. Augustine originaated the phrase 'just war'; later St. Thomas Aquinas laid out the conditions for which a war is deemed morally justified.

       Today politicians argue the pros and cons of our country becoming entangled in yet another military conflict on foreign soil.  This nation is war-weary; our involvement in conflicts far away has cost American lives and brought about a finincial debt which future generations will still be paying in years to come.

       What we are faced with now is not just 'another war'.  With the rise of terrorism we are face to face with evil.  Evil that knows no limits or boundaries, evil that will stop at nothing to achieve its objective to control by whatever means and impose its will on all within its sphere.  This scourge is the antithesis of love, justice, and compassion -- while defiant of all rule of law and scornful of human rights.  We've seen suicide bomber enter crowds of strangers with explosives strapped to their bodies to blow themselves up in order to kill as many unknown people as possible; we've seen them march  scores of prisoner stripped naked, beaten, then laid face down in the sand and executed; we've seen them attack children on a school bus while proclaiming it wrong to seek an education then later kidnap scores of girls from their school to emphasize the point; we hear of these men amputating body parts for minor offences and stoning women to death for 'bringing shame'  upon their families for their having been raped.  We refused to broadcast the video tapes the jihadists arrogantly sent of them beheading American journalists;  and as a nation we wept at the hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers filled with thousands of ordinary people just going to work on a lovely sunny day.

       When speaking of the terrorists we search for words with which to describe them and their deeds--all of our strongest words seem inadequate; they have transgressed the boundaries of what is considered human behavior, yet to call it beastly or inhuman is inaccurate-- beasts kill, but don't commit these horrors; they can't rightly be called inhuman (lacking human qualities) or unhuman (not resembling or having the qualities of human beings) for these are indeed heinous actions consciously chosen by members of the human species, choices arising out of pure evil--they are malhuman acts (the prefix mal- from French and Latin meaning evil, wrong, bad).  This so called Islamic state is malhuman and to fight them constitutes not only a 'just war', but also a necessary one to preserve the dignity of mankind.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nicaragua Trip

       Three weeks ago twenty-one volunteers set out on a 'St. Francis Build' under the sponsorship of 'Seeds Of Learning'; I was among them.  We were to add our labor to the construction of a library addition to the learning center in Casas Viejar, Nicaragua.  I knew only two others, the Franciscan priest and my daughter, and had been unable to attend the pre-travel meetings.  In the weeks leading up to the trip I had fallen into a very dark space, disappointment and grief filled my thoughts and I could not get myself to focus on preparation; rather then think and plan I just randomly gathered clothes and essentials.  Despite the pall which hung over me, I had anticipated that the novel experience would overpower the negativity I was caught in --but as we assembled in the airport in Managua I felt an almost physical closing off; an overpowering alienation unlike anything I'd ever experienced before--apart and unconnected.  I was grateful for the long ride to our site giving me time to 'get a grip'.  The intensity lessened but there remained a feeling of remoteness that continued to make it difficult for me to relate to others.

       Whatever was happening to me it was not culture shock for I've often traveled abroad--this was a spiritual rather than cultural 'something'.

       The work--physical labor--was good; demanding, hot and hard but within my abilities and it was good to have a way to direct my energy beyond the pain of my emotional state.  I could not make it out of the dark space to engage with people and I recinded my before-arriving-offer to do any of the journal writing, prayers or reflections.  I felt embarassed by my withdrawel but helpless to break free of the depression/alienation that held me captive.

       So went the week, then it was time to create a celebration for our host group.  I was not 'up' for half-day-long social interaction but knew it was unavoidable.  I listened to the planning group, they decided to sing a couple songs (We Are Marching in 3 languages) . . . I can't sing and I surely can't sing in Spanish!  They then decided to do a demonstration square dance as an example of American culture, followed by the Hokey-Pokey with which to pull everyone in.  In silence I judged it all a bad plan--stupid and not 'right' without real square dance music and a caller--and of course the Hokey-Pokey is beyond ridiculous!

       The following afternoon as we gathered for our cultural demonstration I so wanted to escape but couldn't without being unacceptably obvious.  With everything inside me pulling further away, the group began singing; I mouthed the words (or a near approximation), but as I did, I listened . . . and realized it sounded good; even more, it sounded beautiful!  I found myself tearing up and put on my sun glasses to hide behind them when I couldn't stop the tears.  Nothing 'outside' had changed, but within, I was being transformed.  As they did the square dance (one person called) to my eyes and ears it seemed like a group that did it every Saturday night, it was great--it went smoothly, was lively, fun for everyone and somehow sounded 'right' in spite of the 'wrong music'.  As they ended with the bridge part and began to pull in the children I was flooded with emotion, tears fell, a thought flashed, "This is pure joy!" and I realized I wasn't just watching it, I was IN it; I was experiencing profound joy! --an emotion so foreign to this 'too serious' me.  I was glad for the noise and commotion and just kept swallowing to try to regain composure.  Then the Hokey-Pokey was next and I got pulled in--everyone was laughing and having fun; happiness filled the room, lifting me with it.

       At the beginning of the trip we were told to stay alert for moments of a 'God encounter' during the week --I recognized that the feeling of pure joy was mine; from that moment the darkness lifted, something inside shifted and my whole demeanor changed, I laughed and danced the Hoey-Pokey and after it I was able to relax and engage when we visited the other out-lieing center.

       Abraham Maslow coined the phrase 'peak experiences'.
       In life there are occasional transcendent moments, this was one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Glaring Injustice

       It may be politically incorrect to criticize an ally, but political correctness concerns itself only with appearances while truth lies deeper.
       In the current Middle East conflict it is not surprising that the Palestinians fight back with whatever means they have.  The imbalance of power is startling.  The world watches as the Israeli army with its advanced weaponry, air power and protective 'iron shield' pummels the boxed in enclave of Gaza.  After several days of fighting the numbers tell the story: on July 16, 2014, one Israeli casualty; more than 200 Palestinians dead--mostly women and children.

       For days now I have struggled to find a way to express the conflicting feelings I have as I watch the crisis raging.  In a global world this problem is not regional, it is universal.  To try and understand the roots of the conflict I watched the Youtube documentary of the 1967 war: 'Six Days in June'. (I recommend it).  The issues are complex and there is enough blame on all sides to go around--but continuation of the conflict is heinous as it poses a world threat.  Two things seem clear to me: 1) the state of Israel has the right to exist but its present governance imposes unjust military oppression to those occupied and 2) Palestinians have an equal right to self-rule with freedom from the 'iron fist' that crushes them but they must move beyond the barbarism of terrorism.

       The state of Israel was founded at the end of WWII because of the Holocaust.  Over the years as I learned of the horrors of that dark period of history when governments' treatment of the Jewish people over time led to that 'final solution' I was appalled that so called civilized and educated people failed to see the glaring injustice of the choices made--people driven from their homes and forced into ghettoes, often walled-in and denied freedom of movement under military occupation, without ability to find work and feed their families, denied basic rights and effectively cut off from the rest of the world--thus treated until that choice was made to exterminate them!

       In retrospect one sees an escalation over time of cruelty that led to that 'final solution'.  The horror of it is almost beyond belief--yet it happened.  For years my compassion for and support of the Jewish people had been unflinching--until I visited the Holy Land five years ago and saw the ugly walls built by Israel to isolate the Palestinians; witnessed Palestinian homes demolished and their roads destroyed to prevent easy passage; I saw the massive sprawling settlements Isralies built on undeclared lands despite the prohibitions.  I personally witnessed a support rally at Bethlehem University for a young woman due to graduate who had been arrested for no apparent reason and deported back to Gaza with the claim she was there illegally.  I saw Christian Palestinians evicted from their homes living in tents under trees in their yards, forbidden to enter their homes on trumped up charges for minor infractions (the aim being to drive them from their homes to 'cleanse' Jeresulem of all non-Jews).
       In this I saw once more a government's cruel treatment of a segment of people under their rule.
                          A five hour 'Humanitarian Pause' is not enough!

                 In counseling we learn that the abused often becomes the abuser.
                      Oh Israel, you dishonor your God of Love and Justice!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Greatest Gift

       "Our greatest gift is our heaviest burden"--I don't recall when or where I first heard that but it has stayed with me over the years.  With consciousness we were given freedom; by it we can create or destroy.  Each human choice, to a small or large degree, shapes the life that follows.
       All life is a creative process, it unfolds in a progression from simple to complex be it seed to plant, embryo to adult, or primordial energy to expanding universe.  The process is determined while only the human has the gift of choice to shape the emerging expression--we create the world that is.
       The hope and prayer is that when we fully realize the power we hold the choices will reflect wisdom.
                                        - - -

       My blog entry of 10/14/13, 'Potential', echoes this thought. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

More on 'A Word'

       The intention of my previous post was to propose that a new legal term be used to formally define the union between same-sex couples.  As homosexuality became openly acceptable within contemporary society, gay couples sought legal status to enable them the rights and privileges of married couples (i.e. joint tax status, inheritance rights, family privileges when hospitalized, etc.) that seems clearly defensible yet there is strong opposition.  I contend the same-sex union needs its own identification.  As I see it, the problem has arisen from choosing to define the union as marriage and altering that time-honored institution.  Throughout human history there has been universal understanding that marriage is a permanent union between a man and a woman.  It is the foundation upon which family is built.  Not all marriages are ideal, and children are born out of wedlock but the concept of marriage is fundamental to social order.  It is through marriage we trace lineage, identify ancestors, and pursue genealogy.

       A respondent to my post said marriage is "just a word" that means join something together (yes, a word has more than one meaning) . . . and quoted that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet . . . But this is not changing the name of a rose, it is calling another flower by the rose's name!  My argument is not about "just a word", it is about changing a time-honored institution.  A homosexual union IS different from a heterosexual one, just as adopting a child is different than birthing one--but become equal in the eyes of the law.

       I suggest legalizing another term for the formal bond of same-sex couples (such as life-partners or whatever unique term is favored) and change the law to include that term rather than change our understanding of marriage.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Word Can Make a Difference

       There is turmoil in our society as the result of a small vocal minority imposing its will upon the majority by insisting that same-sex unions be accepted as 'marriage'.  For most people the objection is not about allowing gay couples equal rights under the law, but rather about changing the nature and meaning of marriage.

       I am neither anti-gay nor homophobic, but I take issue with the drive to legalize same-sex unions as marriage.  As far back as history reaches, the permanent union of a man and a woman has been given special regard by name and ceremony--we've known it as marriage.  It is the foundation of social order and the bond that creates and supports new life, the next generation.  I don't suggest that birthing and raising children are the only functions of marriage, but I do maintain it is its most fundamental purpose and for that reason marriage has acquired prominence in every society, is celebrated with joy and ritual, and regarded was a sacrament in many religions.  Even if one is not religious, one can still recognize that throughout time, humanity/society has 'sacralized' marriage as a dedicated state between a man and a woman and worthy of special respect.

       Could not the polarization around this issue be mitigated were same-sex unions to be identified by new terminology which incorporates all legal right of partnership and inheritance?  Such terms as 'life-partner' or 'confirmed bond' already exist; or creative minds could devise an identifiable new legal category to cover same-sex partnerships with the inclusive rights afforded marriage.

       I point to another family-centered legal category that is "same but different".  When a couple welcomes into their life a child to whom they did not give birth, the child is adopted through a legal process giving them permanent status in the family unit.  By law that status carries the same rights as a birth child.  In creating such an identifiable legal category for same-sex partnering (other than 'marriage') which guarantees legal rights, we give acknowledgement to the newly-emerging social change without altering the historical uniqueness of the institution of marriage.  I contend that changing the nature and meaning of the time-honored universal institution of marriage is unwise, damaging, unjust and unreasonable.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Welcome Saint Pope John XXIII

       I am so glad to embrace Pope John XXIII as a saint of the Catholic Church.  Our saints are, after all, people who live exemplary lives with wisdom that helps expand our human understanding.  They are models for us to emulate--our heroes.

       In the 1960's I read Journal of a Soul, Pope John's spiritual diaries--his humility, sincerity and devotion are clearly in evidence.  I believed then that he was an exceptional person who would one day be declared a saint.  Though he was steeped in the religious thinking of the past, he was able to see ahead to needed changes for the Church to remain relevant in the changing world.  He was aware of the evolutionary views of Teilhard de Chardin and did not condemn them but recognized that at that time the Church was not yet ready for so great a leap forward, there were more fundamental changes needed first.  He convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962 to review and revise all documents of the Church.  The 'windows were opened' but the work begun was impacted by his death in 1963 and in the 50 years since then, conservative elements arose to curtail the forward movement.

       When Pope Benedict fast-tracked Pope John Paul II (1978 - 2005) for beatification ahead of John XXIII (1958 - 1963) it seemed to be a vote to highlight the conservative position of the Church.  A balance was regained when Pope Francis intervened to complete the process for both John XXIII and John Paul II to be officially sainted together, thus favoring neither conservatives nor progressives but acknowledging that each has a  place in this struggle to move forward as we once again seriously face the task of bringing the Church into the modern world--a task fraught with many complex issues.

       Pope Francis has already called for an Extraordinary Synod to address issues of the family, thus he seems well suited to take up the mantle of these two influential new saints.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Week 2014

He looked to be a man--
cruelly treated, he forgave
He died, yet resurrected
       How can it be?
I was once a child . . . a baby
now an adult, no earlier cell remains,
completely changed yet the same 'me'
       How can it be?
We put seeds into the ground
cover them over and wait . . .
flowers and food to sustain us
       How can it be?

I step into a mammoth machine
it rises above the earth
carrying me through the clouds
       How can it be?

We look at a picture
of a tiny blue ball in space
taken from the moon
       How can it be?

I think of this self that I am,
myriads of happenstances necessary
to have called me into being
       How can it be?

Billions of people inhabit the earth
each individual unique
yet sharing a relentless sameness
       How can it be?

Wonder upon wonder upon wonder
if we but remember to look . . .

       How can it be?
       Yet it is so!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Psalm 29 revised

       Although our great country was founded upon trust in God, in my lifetime I have witnesses the relentless elimination of God from public commerce.

       In the past decade I have seen unprecedented natural disasters:  droughts, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, mud slides, tornados, tsunamis, and winter storms of mammoth proportions!

       With these facts in mind I turned to Psalm 29;  this is my version.

                          _ _ _

We have not kept your precepts, Lord!
We have not shepherded the earth by your formulation;
we have plundered for private gain
      and trampled the lowly to amass profits.

Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones
      ascribe to the Lord glory and strength
Ascribe to the Lord the reverence due his name
      and take heed of the splendor of his holiness!

The voice of the Lord is over the waters
      the God of glory thunders
The Lord gives warning as we despoil the earth
      the voice of the Lord breaks the cedar
      and howls the winds
The voice of the Lord shakes the mountains
      and strikes with flashes of lightening
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
      and strips forests bare

Look, listen and know!

The Lord sits enthroned over the waters and land
      The Lord reigns King forever
The Lord gives warning to his people:
      heed his precepts and principles
      lest man's choices bring destruction
      to this wondrous earth and all its inhabitants!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A New Story

       There is a new consciousness evolving . . . it will take centuries to fully emerge, but signs of it can be seen if we look for it . . . the new consciousness is the realization that all of life is interdependent.

Once our awareness was limited to what our senses could perceive so our 'knowledge' of the world was that earth (WE) were central and the sun, moon and stars revolved around US.  Those who first pointed out our collective misunderstanding (that we weren't the center of all that is) were hated and condemned, tried and imprisoned . . . (we humans don't take kindly to a requirement to change our way of thinking).

       We now know our world is but a tiny speck in a minor galaxy in a vast universe of billions of galaxies balanced and ordered in breathtaking harmony and we gaze upon what the Hubble telescope has revealed with awe and wonder!

There are more collective misunderstandings yet to be addressed;  just as we once saw our earth as the center of everything with 'other' (sun, moon, stars) merely revolving around US, in the same manner (1) we have seen our self-interest as central, OUR wants and needs the only consideration.  Accompanying  this attitude was the assumption (2) that resources were unlimited . . . (there seemed to be a lot of world out there) and we could (3) take what we wanted--all we had to do was lay claim and (4) fight off others who wanted what WE wanted (i.e. invade, plunder, subdue, conquer, hire clever lawyers, etc.)
                                             -- or (5) war if need be!

       It's taken a long time to gather the knowledge and skills to realize the need to dramatically readjust how we see the world and ourselves.
        There's a new consciousness evolving that clearly sees we are not isolated autonomous monads needing to 'do what it takes to get what we want',  but rather we are part of an interacting wholeness that is intrinsically relational (*a complicated way of saying "We're in this together, and together we succeed or we fail")

       This consciousness tells a new story of life and being.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Intriguing Pattern

Following a conversation about the many denominations within Christianity, a friend loaned me a wall chart of 'Denominations Comparison'.  Studying this gave rise to many thoughts about religion and I turned to a Bible time-line; I noted a most intriguing pattern.  Major events that have changed the direction of, first the Jewish then the Christian religious development, have occurred roughly in 500 year intervals.

Here is the pattern, beginning 2000BC (allowing that these are centuries and the dates are approximate)
       2000 BC:  Abraham called by God to become father of a great nation
       1500 BC:  Moses is called to lead God's people to the Promised Land
       1000 BC:  Solomon's Temple built in Jerusalem (home for Torah)
         500 BC:  Temple destroyed, Jews exiled then returned
             0 AD:  (New calendar dating) Jesus the Christ enters history; followers persecuted
         500 AD:  Christian doctrines unified and solidified (Age of Faith)
       1000 AD:  Great Schism = Catholic/Orthodox
       1500 AD:  Protestant Reformation (unity splintered to thousands of denominations)
If there is a pattern ???  --we are in the 2000 ???

Monday, February 17, 2014

Centering Prayer

I am re-reading 'The Cloud of Unknowing', a mystical classic from the 14th century, I find it resonates with today's mystics exploring evolutionary theology which speaks of consciousness, wholeness and a God of love beyond knowing.

                                            God isn't what we've made HIM
                                            there's another reality
                                                          of which we're but a tiny part

                           Centering Prayer

I sit before a lighted candle
struggling to clear away my thoughts;
the task seems impossible

I've asked to enter Truth,
reaching for humility and reverence
. . . I must quiet my racing thoughts.

A lifetime of memories rise up.
Tears roll down my cheeks . . .
Twenty minutes?  An hour?

Embrace the silence
beyond language and thought

We each journey thru life alone
there is sharing--but never fully;
we long for wholeness.

We are part of a Oneness
my consciousness arises from Consciousness.
I cannot grasp that--yet I believe it.

I sit before a lighted candle
   "surrender, let go, let God."
    so hard, so very hard!

           . . . one day it will be easy.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hewing Crosses

A line from my previous post 'The Cross Unseen' states: "countless unknown, crucified with questions hang upon crosses of meaninglessness and alienation".  The theme of alienation is prominent in my writing for I regard it as contemporary society's greatest challenge.  Although the cross is a Christian symbol, it represents human suffering--and often the suffering it represents is not acknowledged by those not directly effected buy it.

As we advanced from horse and buggy villages to the jet-powered intercontinental world, we  unwittingly left God behind; so busy were we with out 'advancing'.  Historically different cultures have given what each considers to be God, different names--be it Yahweh, Christ, Allah, The Tao, The Great Spirit, The Buddha, Benevolent Universe . . . but by whatever name, the 'god concept' embodies purpose and the way people are to live.

In our society's progress we have championed individualism, competition and technology.  Each of these have played a legitimate role in the nation's development but they have been overstressed; without balancing elements that include a moral code and common goals they have led to a kind of tyranny--emphasis on individualism makes us forget that although we are individuals we are also a part of a society whose proper functioning requires respect and compromise.  The emphasis upon competition blinds us to all else but 'winning' while craving trophies that display our success.  The advancement of technology has relentlessly taken us away from the human element; we've become narcissistic, myopically intent upon taking care of #1, remote and removed from heartfelt human interaction.

With these developments we have allowed God's prominence to fade from guiding our thoughts and actions so, as our knowledge advances and our horizons expand, we find ourselves alone in an ever more confounding universe without map or compass. . . . thus are we surrounded by a sea of lost and alienated individuals who have heard of, and come to believe in, life's meaninglessness.  Without an anchor in moral principles or any meaningful purpose beyond their small selves, life seems absurd . . . so we are plagued with a spectrum of irrational behaviors from senseless mass shootings, to youthful suicides, to self-destructive life choices, to wild rave partying and event riots . . .
                                                 each age hews its crosses . . .

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Cross Unseen

In Roman times the cross was a common feature of the landscape, feared, but unremarkable--until history changed our perspective.
As science moved to the forefront of our thinking, God was gradually squeezed out . . . what we failed to notice was that, without God in whose image we are said to be created we lost our place of prominence in the order of things having meaning and direction; without God we are simply one of nature's products--without purpose or goal--expendable.

The Cross Unseen

Each age hews its crosses
Knowing not what it is doing.
The present does not judge itself.
That is the destiny of the future.
Only distance offers perspective
While involvement is ever shortsighted.

We invest our Pilates with power
And command them to rule us.
They pass judgments forced upon them
Then wash their hands.
Who then is responsible?
Where lies the greatest blame?

The web of existence is infinitely complex
And so great the number of weavers!
Each mistake undetected, is on all sides supported,
And multiplies itself a thousandfold.
Only the magnitude of deicide
Can expose the flaw.

How many be the nameless
Lost in oblivion
Until the Christ is sacrificed
Upon the cross of that flaw?
And when will He come?
And how will He be known?

Each time He is different--
Yet ever the same beneath the appearances.
And always He is unknown
(Save to a few)
Until the deed is done
And time gives sight to the involvement that was.

The slaughter of innocence,
The nameless unknown--
expended--to keep the flaw hidden
Within the tangled web,
For its detection means reordering
And the involvement demands continuous action.

As complexity progresses,
Do not the centers of order multiply?
Minor centers, radiating around The Center
Raising a need for many christs
The One, of the Whole,
Showing the pattern to the parts?

Each age hews its crosses
Knowing not what it is doing.
Now, the countless unknown, crucified with questions
Hang upon crosses of meaninglessness and alienation.
From whence will come the Christ
Whose sacrifice will illuminate the flaw?