Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Each moment is a revelation, a unique gift from God.  We enter it with wonder and gratefulness and with a receptive heart.  This is contemplative living; it is living in God's presence and cultivating the moment. ... Every moment is a gift from God, and we are aware of that fact.  Every moment can be an occasion of contemplation, that is, an opportunity to realize God's love.  The contemplative walks in the presence of God in a moment-to-moment experience of God's love."

-- Fr. Ernest Larkin, O.Carm.

Friday, August 29, 2014

By means of all created things, without exception,
The Divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us,
We imagine it as distant and inaccessible,
In fact, we live steeped in its burning layers.

--Teilhard de Chardin

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Here is a short but thoughtful conversation on NPR's 'The Takeaway' radio program on the question of whether there is such a thing as a "just war"--a concept developed by Augustine in the 5th century.  Pope Francis recently stated, “The Church has, for 1,500 years, endorsed, embraced, and reinforced the ‘just war’ tradition, which I feel to be extraordinarily unfortunate.”

According to program guest Robert Meagher, professor of philosophy, theology and humanities and author of Killing from the Inside Out: Moral Injury and Just War, "Just war doctrine was never more than a theory and at its worst it was a lie, a deadly lie. It promised at least the possibility of war without sin, war without criminality, war without guilt or shame, war in which men and women would risk their lives but not their souls or their humanity. This theory has been tested for sixteen centuries, and has failed. It is time to declare its death, write its autopsy, reveal its deadly legacy, and point to a future beyond just war."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"The cartoon is inspired by the many valid concerns for the future of the church. It is losing members in heaps. The cure is right under its own nose!"
--David Hayward

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Maybe the sermon on the mount is all about Jesus’ seemingly lavish blessing of the world around him especially that which society doesn’t seem to have much time for, people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance. So maybe Jesus is actually just blessing people, especially the people who never seem to receive blessings otherwise."

--Nadia Bolz-Weber

"Arguably, one of the most potentially destructive things that can happen to a faith is for it to become the accepted and established religion of the political, cultural, and social unit in which its adherents live.  Certainly, there is no question that Constantine's preempting of Christianity in the fourth century was the great pivot point by means of which Christianity became a dominant institution .  It is also the point at which the so-called Hellenization of the faith began to accelerate, infiltrate, and eventually dominate Christian theology."

--Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"O Lord, help me not to despise or oppose what I do not understand."

-- William Penn

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"We are not invited to rescue, fix or save people. The heart of ministry is to receive people and then…enter into the exquisite mutuality God intends for us all. ... This is the essence of a ministry that empowers by listening, receiving and welcoming. My life is saved everyday by contact with folks who are at the margins. And the day won’t ever come when I am more noble, have more courage or am closer to God than these people."

--Father Greg Boyle, SJ 


Friday, August 15, 2014

As if I asked a common Alms,
And in my wondering hand
A Stranger pressed a Kingdom,
And I, bewildered, stand—

--Emily Dickinson

Monday, August 11, 2014

Here is a recording of a message I gave yesterday at West Hills Friends Church in Portland, Oregon.  West Hills Friends is a thriving Evangelical Quaker church that has been a leader and bellwether among Evangelical Quakers for coming to a position of welcoming and affirming and fully including persons who are LGBTQ.  Other branches of Quakers reached this position decades ago but Evangelical Friends have had a tougher time due to the centrality they give to the Bible.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

“The place in which I'll fit will not exist until I make it.”
-- James Baldwin

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"For me (and as I have found for my students) one of the clearest, most convincing, and most challenging ways of grasping and proclaiming the uniqueness of Jesus in our present world has come from my dear friend Aloysius Pieris, S.J., a Sri Lankan scholar and missionary.  In Aloy's poetic way of putting it: 'Jesus is God's defense pact with the poor.'  Like other religious leaders and founders, Jesus experienced God or the Ultimate as the power of love.  But what was distinctive of Jesus' experience was that this God who loves everyone has a particular, perhaps we can say 'preferential' or more pressing, love for those people in every society who have been stepped on, pushed aside, neglected, or exploited.  Jesus embodied this preferential, pressing love for the poor and hungry and cast-aside even to the point of dying like one of them--that is, like any one of them would have been disposed of had they woken up and spoken up against the ruling powers.  The God embodied in Jesus suffers not only for the victims of the world; this God suffers like them and with them. ... Christianity is a religion that reminds its followers and all other religions that to know God is to be concerned about the victims of our world and about how we are to reconcile victims and victimizers. ... Pieris has told me that when he talks to his Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim friends about the uniqueness of Jesus in this way--as God's defense pact with the poor--they hear it as 'good news,' not as something that belittles them but as something that enriches them."

--Paul F. Knitter, Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian

Monday, August 04, 2014

A Lamentation for Gaza
by Rabbi Brant Rosen

Gaza weeps alone.
Bombs falling without end
her cheeks wet with tears.
A widow abandoned
imprisoned on all sides
with none willing to save her.

We who once knew oppression
have become the oppressors.
Those who have been pursued
are now the pursuers.
We have uprooted families
from their homes, we have
driven them deep into
this desolate place,
this narrow strip of exile.

All along the roads there is mourning.
The teeming marketplaces
have been bombed into emptiness.
The only sounds we hear
are cries of pain
sirens blaring
drones buzzing
bitterness echoing
into the black vacuum
of homes destroyed
and dreams denied.

We have become Gaza’s master
leveling neighborhoods
with the mere touch of a button
for her transgression of resistance.
Her children are born into captivity
they know us only as occupiers
enemies to be feared
and hated.

We have lost all
that once was precious to us.
This fatal attachment to our own might
has become our downfall.
This idolatrous veneration of the land
has sent us wandering into
a wilderness of our own making.

We have robbed Gaza of
her deepest dignity
plunged her into sorrow and darkness.
Her people crowd into refugee camps
held captive by fences and buffer zones
gunboats, mortar rounds
and Apache missles.

We sing of Jerusalem,
to “a free people in their own land”
but our song has become a mockery.
How can we sing a song of freedom
imprisoned inside behind walls we have built
with our own fear and dread?

Here we sit clinging to our illusions
of comfort and security
while we unleash hell on earth
on the other side of the border.
We sit on hillsides and cheer
as our explosions light up the sky
while far below, whole neighborhoods
are reduced to rubble.

For these things I weep:
for the toxic fear we have unleashed
from the dark place of our hearts
for the endless grief
we are inflicting
on the people of Gaza.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

"I'm a Christian, and on top of that, a theologian.  I need words.  I keep asking questions and exploring possible answers.  That's okay, as long as I remember that all my words are symbols, all my answers are but pointing fingers [at the moon].  In the end, after offering words that might be helpful for me and others, after trying to point to the moon, I have to fold my hands and close my mouth and cherish the Mystery of life and death.  In the end, all I am really left with is trust."

--Paul Knitter, Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian

Friday, August 01, 2014

"But amid the flow of words that was my theological education at the Gregorian [seminary], there were also reminders--only occasional but daunting--about the limitations of words and of the human reasoning behind them.  We heard such reminders of Mystery in our courses on spiritual theology, when we studied the Christian mystics.  For me, mystics like Dionysius the Areopagite, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich became mental gadflies as I listened to professors expound profusely in other courses 'On the Triune God,' 'On the Incarnate Word,' 'On the Last Things.'  Over the growing mass of my theological knowledge, there hovered the admonition of the mystics: all that can be known of God is by far surpassed, and must be held in check, by what is not and cannot be known of God. ... And herein lies the rub, which I felt already in those early years, but which later became an even greater spiritual and intellectual irritant: how do I hold together all the certain knowledge I have as a theologian and am supposed to affirm as a believer with what I have increasingly felt, and what the Magisterium has even defined, as the utter mystery and incomprehensibility of God?  The sad reality, and the source of my struggles, is that we haven't held them together.  In theological classrooms, from Sunday morning pulpits, in catechism class, we Christians all too often do not respect the necessary balance between knowledge and incomprehensibility, between our human words and divine Mystery.  We talk too much.  Or, we're not careful of the way we talk.  And so our words end up as shackles on the rich, unfathomable Mystery of God."

--Paul F. Knitter, Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian