Saturday, October 25, 2008

transrational certitude: the only kind?

Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes beyond reason and beyond simple faith... It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words, or even in clear concepts.

Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being; for we ourselves are words of His. But we are words that are meant to respond to Him, to answer to Him, to echo Him, and even in some way to contain Him and signify Him. Contemplation is this echo. It is a deep resonance in the inmost center of our spirit in which our very life loses its separate voice and re-sounds with the majesty and the mercy of the Hidden and Living One...
Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions Press, 1962: 1-3.

Friday, October 24, 2008

god's no christian

There is no end to the being and fullness of God, who creates heaven and earth and is continuously present and active throughout the world, in all ages and all cultures. Throughout history this gracious mystery approaches us with little theophanies, signs and revelations and events that invite us into relationship. As Jeannine Hill Fletcher suggests, this is the starting point for Christian response to religious diversity. At the outset it opens the possibility that others might have distinct encounters with the divine that can be new resources for Christian exploration into the overabundance of God. To put it simply, the living God is not a Christian. Rather, the incalculable mystery, which the Christian scripture dares to call love (I John 4:8 and 16) is not constrained in loving but freely pours out affection to all and each one.
Elizabeth A. Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, 2007. 161-62

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

god of fiesta

The Amerindian ancients looked to beauty as a reflection of the presence of the divine. Their intuition survives in the Spanish phrase 'flor y canto,' flower and song, a translation of the pre-Columbian Náhuatl metaphor for the truth of the spiritual world. Not only did beauty signify the blessing of divine presence, but indigenous ancestors historically used flower and song to communicate back with the Sacred. This approach reveals an aesthetic conception of the universe that approaches philosophy through poetry, conflating truth with beauty. Rather than arriving at truth through universal, abstract concepts governed by linear logic, the mind grasps truth intuitively through the imagination of the heart: "to know the truth was to understand the hidden meaning of things through 'flower and song,' a power emanating from the deified heart" (Léon-Portilla).
Elizabeth A. Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, 2007. 146-47


In this wintry season, church statements about God are ordinarily too naive and too superficial to help believers, let alone convince unbelievers. In a sense the onslaught of atheism might perform a service, prodding faith to purify notions of God that, while they may be traditional, are woefully deficient to the point of being idolatrous. Is God dead? If we mean the God imagined as a part of the cosmos, one existence among others though infinitely bigger, the great individual who defines himself over against others and functions as a competitor with human beings, then yes, the God of modern theism is dead. But as Rahner appreciated, atheism sets a condition for faith that in response must reach far deeper for its truth: "the struggle against atheism is foremost and of necessity a struggle against the inadequacy of our own theism."
Elizabeth A. Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, 2007. 30

Friday, October 17, 2008

a third way we learn to hold tension in ways that open our hearts, we begin to see how abnormal violence is. Now -- as openheartedness looses what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" -- we experience our innate capacity to honor, not violate, the identity and integrity of others. We witness the remarkable things that can happen within us, between us, and beyond us when we relate to one another in a nonviolent way. We learn a "third way" to respond to the violence that is always around us and within us, so called because it offers an alternative to the "fight or flight" response.

To fight is to meet violence with violence, generating more of the same. To flee is to yield to violence, putting private sanctuary ahead of the common good. The third way is nonviolence, by which I mean a commitment to act in every situation in ways that honor the soul. Defined in this way, nonviolence is not a path of high heroism reserved for the likes of Gandhi and King. It is a path that can, and must, be walked by mortals like you and me.
Parker Palmer, from The Politics of the Brokenhearted