Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Prayer

When I am in Florida in the winters, I attend a weekly group (about 20+) which begins with some Biblical readings, then goes on to discuss thoughts that the reading stimulates.  Our discussions range widely and sometimes become controversial, but we all enjoy them and feel enriched by the varied perspectives.   Last year at the meeting before the Christmas break we had a poem whose author was unknown, the group was awed by it and I now wish to share it.  If anyone recognizes it and can identify the author please let me know, I would love to give him or her credit. 

A Christmas Prayer

On that holy night,
It happened.
God took a handful of humanity:
Proud, petulant, passionate;
And a handful of divinity:
Undivided, inexpressible, incomprehensible:
And enclosed them in one small body.
Somehow, the all too human
Touched the divine,
And was not vaporized.
To be human was never the same,
But forever thereafter,
Carried a hint of its close encounter with the perfect.
And forever thereafter,
God was never the same,
But carried a hint of the passion of the mortal.
If God can lie down in a cattle-trough,
Is any object safe from transformation?
If peasant girls can be mothers to God,
Is any life safe from the invasion of the eternal?
If all this could happen, O God,
What places of darkness on our earth
Are pregnant with light waiting to be born this night?
If all this could happen, O God,
Then you could be, and are, anywhere, everywhere,
Waiting to be born this night in the most
Unbelievable places,
Perhaps even in our own hearts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A New Millennium

In the 20th Century we stopped believing in what we mistakenly call God
      --our Santa Clause in the sky.
We had manufactured our own image of a fabricated deity
      --then, tiring of it, discarded the essence with the fantasy.

We became the existentialists who proclaimed
      defiant strength to embrace our aloneness.
With Nietzsche we tried to shape superman
      to march out and conquer the void,
            Armed with
                  Machiavelli’s politics
                  Adam Smith’s wealth
                  Ann Rand’s selfishness
                  and Hollywood’s morals
            We set out to build a brave new world
                  ...and got lost along the way.

Is God?
The question cannot be answered!
Yet whether or not there exists a cogent being of Spirit,
The God-concept embodies all goodness and truth
      which we need to make life worth living.

When we stopped believing in God
      we turned away from
      values, purpose, meaning –
      all that we most need
      to become fully human.

In this new millennium, where is modern man to look
to avoid constructing another illusionary god?
A  bigger god, God of the Universe
Can we learn to embrace Mystery and not demand an image?

                             --I AM, Life IS--

The Wisdom literature of all peoples contain words that search the dark
     ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God’.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Today's Thoughts

Following a long and anguished night wherein the thoughts of the chaos in our world and the horrors of the jihadist’s movement robbed me of sleep, midway through this day I felt the need to write in my prayer journal.  Without thought or planning, these words spilled across the pages:

I’ve said “God doesn’t need us, but we need God” . . . what I mean by that is that we NEED God at the most basic level—to exist at all; the breath we need every second in order to continue to live is there, supplied for us and we need do nothing but breath the oxygen our body requires.  Who or what is God?  We can’t know, the Creator of the Universe is so beyond knowing to our limited human intelligence . . . but life IS, we experience it, and all that is needed for life’s continuance is there . . . we did nothing to have it be, yet its reality is undeniable.   I choose to say it is God’s gift to us—being is a gift of God!  Who or what is God?  I don’t, I can’t know—but I can know I have life and it is sustained minute by minute by all that surrounds me; and that IS God because no human action gave nor gives it being . . . the Mystery that is, is my God that gives life and all that is needed for its continuation.  Mystery God choses to share that with me and invites me to be part of it and even to contribute to it if I so choose.  What I choose is what I have the opportunity to offer . . . God doesn’t NEED my offering, but I can add to God’s being by giving of myself in the effort to further the good—for the good IS God.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Part of a Greater Whole

I want to expand on a comment made to the 7th of my Teilhard series (10-1-15).  It reads:  “Yes, we are co-creators with God.  Not many people grasp that.  We create our own reality, which gives us the opportunity to create something different if we don’t like what we did the first time.”

As stated, that seems to be addressing our individuality, but beyond that Teilhard is asking us to realize we are also creating as part of a greater whole.  Our world is one interdependent, interacting system which functions for better or worse by the choices we collectively make.  Here too we can choose something different if we don’t like what we are faced with.  Human choices determine the direction of the world’s progress.  Our exploration in space has shown us what is hard to grasp from our individual perspectives—we are one whole interacting system and when one part is injured or harmed the whole suffers from the damage.  Until we realize that, we close our eyes to the damage that occurs beyond the circle of our own interests.

During the early part of WWII, history tells us that initially, as Hitler invaded one European country after another, we in America adopted a policy of non-involvement . . . until Pearl Harbor was bombed, then the entire nation rallied to a total involvement as never seen before.  Men women and children were committed to fighting the ‘scourge’ of Nazism—men joined the services, women went to work in defense plants and school children sold defense stamps and war bonds while pulling wagons from house to house to collect useful things for the war effort.  When America united with allied forces that common cause led to victory—the scourge was defeated and annihilated.  That historical event demonstrates what is possible from united effort.

There is another scourge now threatening the very core of civilized society!  The jihad movement has thrown the Middle East into turmoil; millions of people are fleeing the destruction, many drowning at sea trying to escape in unsafe boats after paying their life-savings to human traffickers.  The hordes of refugees that make it to safety are met with anger and resistance because their huge numbers strain the resources of the countries to which they flee.

This is not a local problem, not a nation’s problem, not a regional problem, this is a global problem and the world must address it as such!

Our world is faced with a multi-headed monster . . . a rogue culture that has as its goal, the annihilation of civilization; a culture which delights in sheer destruction and seeks to eliminate freely chosen self-government so as to install its form of enslavement.  The many-headed monster shows itself under different names but its body is jihad—reveling in terrorism and malhuman acts.  TV has shown us their treatment of dissenters: from flying passenger planes into the twin towers, to deaths by stoning, beheading and mass executions.  Girls are forbidden education and hundreds have been abducted and sold as ‘wives’ into sexual slavery.  Boys are narrowly educated by rote memorization of religious treatises.  Jihadists carry out killing of whole villages of noncombatants.  The looting of artistic treasures helps support their activities and they gleefully destroy irreplaceable ancient cultural
artifacts simply to show distain for other cultures and values.  All their actions defy humanitarian values.  Jihad is a cancer on this planet; the civilized world must unite against all forms of its expression.  In this scourge, pure evil is once again threatening civilization.  It is critical that we see our planet as one whole interacting system and give support to the beleaguered parts of this greater whole that is our home.  The sum or our choices will determine the shape of our future.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hunter or Hunted?

Some years ago I wrote an extensive essay 'In Support of Teilhard de Chardin'.  It was during the time when the Catholic Church officially resisted his work.  I concluded that essay with this poem and now follow up my Teilhard series with it.

Man, the Hunter or the Hunted? 

Man craves the certainty of life’s meaning
            but this instinct of soul knows no satisfaction.
The hunger for Truth, the thirst for Knowledge—
            aspects of our need for certainty of meaning.
We can run from it, try to ignore it,
            or seek to appease it in filling our minds with facts
But behind all our actions and beneath whatever facade we construct
            is that restless search for certainty of meaning.

We are born to reason.  Freely and without asking for it
            this great gift is given—no, thrust upon us.
Before this reason our task is to assemble evidence—
            evidence which requires deduction and assumption.
Even in the face of certainty, reason refuses acceptance
            until accompanied by evidence with which to evaluate and conclude;
Thus ever with reason, we must try to appease our yearning for certainty
            for reason is born with the human soul.

Yet meaning comes not from man, but outside and beyond.
            All being, from atoms to galaxies, bespeaks order.
The very existence of order demands the attention of reason—
            uninvited and unavoidable, meaning seeks man.
The order—undiscerningly, silently, insistently—simply by being
            pursues and encircles man, until he finds it;
And in the search wherein the hunter is hunted
            it is required that one find his origins and chart his destiny.

But meaning is too vast—it implies a total, One Whole;
            endless, yet around and back upon itself.
Existence draws a horizon so man sees a flat world—
            and seeing he believes; yet something won’t permit him to rest
So he is driven to reach beyond the horizon
            to complete the circle he cannot see, and to know!
All the time thinking that he, man,
            has embarked upon a search of his own choosing.

Such is man’s eternal destiny—to seek meaning.
            Throughout time, men pursue what no one man can find.
Armored with faith and doing battle with reason—
            man seeks the hidden meaning which from the beginning enveloped him.
He must conquer the world and embrace the universe
            to deduct the certainty which is already there.
Life . . . the struggle to expand men and unify man
            that in totality Man and Meaning become One.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Teilhard Series - 7th

In this, the seventh and final of my Teilhard series, I focus on the most central of his themes—Love
            God is Love=Love is God
            Love is the energy of existence
            Love is the affinity of being-to-being

We have yet to understand love.  The contemporary world has misled us with overly sentimentalized, romanticized versions of love or has falsely applied love’s name to self-gratification.  We are closer to love’s reality at the joy of sharing experiences, thoughts and goals with another, of reaching out to give comfort, of working cooperatively toward a ‘good’ that is beyond self-interest and of saying ‘Amen’ to the wonder of creation.

Love is a ‘within’ quality—of the subjective realm—it cannot be weighed and measured, only experienced and so in the world of science it has no place and is as ill-defined as consciousness (of which it is a part).

Teilhard invites us to regard the ‘within’ as having supreme value, only it can awaken us to that new dimension to which the human is being called.  We are not just another species on an equal plane with all others.  We are more than bone and muscle and organs; with fully matured consciousness and the awareness of love, we are participants in the creative process.  We have been charged with shepherding our earth and creating our world. What we create is dependent upon our ability to realize our interconnectedness to this singular whole web of life.

Evolution begins with attraction and union; there follows a process of development.  That development (whether of species or individual) follows the law of complexity-consciousness, unfolding the pre-ordained possibilities of increased abilities and freedom.  Throughout the process, movement is toward greater being.

Looking back to the earliest and simplest level we see only a mysterious attraction propelling atoms to cluster and form molecules, then molecules joining to form cells.  Teilhard has stated that nothing comes to be in final form that had not pre-existed in an obscure and primordial way—there is a striving in coming to be.  Here we consider that attraction and union appears to be the driving force (energy) of the evolutionary process.  Teilhard states “The affinity of being with being . . . is a general property of all of life and as such it embraces . . . all forms successively adopted by organized matter . . .”; a complex concept which means ‘attraction to wholeness is everywhere in everything.’  That attraction that calls subatomic particles of protons, electrons and neutrons to join and form atoms, then atoms to join together to form molecules and molecules to cluster to form cells—that primitive attraction, over millions of years, came to be realized in ‘hominized’ form (human consciousness) as love—and continues to draw us together to realize our interconnectedness as part of our mandate to build a sustainable world.  Teilhard’s understanding of evolution and his vision of its trajectory gives hope to the future.

I conclude with one of Teilhard’s best-known quotes:

“Some day after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness—for God—the energies of love.  And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”