“…The Sacred Pipe, Black Elk’s account of the ancient rites of the Oglala Sioux. In contrast to the good and straight red road of life, Black Elk says, the blue road is the route of “one who is distracted, who is ruled by his senses, and who lives for himself rather than for his people.””
- from “Blue Highways: A Journey Into America” by William Least Heat-Moon
“Christian hope… begins where every other hope stands frozen stiff before the face of the Unspeakable.”
- Thomas Merton
“But rereading history means remaking history. It means repairing it from the bottom up. And so it will be a subversive history… What is criminal is not to be subversive… but to continue being superversive–bolstering and supporting the prevailing domination. It is in this subversive history that we can have a new faith experience, a new spirituality– a new proclamation of the gospel.”
- Gustavo Gutiérrez
“Free your mind of the idea of deserving, of the idea of earning, and you will begin to be able to think.”
- From “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“Let us be free of the scandal of having some nations, the majority of whose citizens call themselves Christian, enjoying great riches, while others do not have what is needful and suffer hunger, disease, and sorts of misery.”
- The Second Vatican Council, 1962-65 CE
“At the beginning of the 21st century education was just one of the necessities denied to many of the world’s population– pointing to the need for a redistribution of monetary wealth and natural resources on a worldwide basis. However, the focus of each country continues to be on how it can best provide for its own citizens and operate in a growing global economy.”
- The Oxford Atlas of World History, Second Edition
“I have done my duty. Now, may Christ let you know yours. Welcome, sister Death!”
- St. Francis of Assisi on his deathbed. He died on October 3rd, 1226 at Portiuncula, the chapel he had rebuilt in his youth.
“A key theme in this history has been the mismatch between mankind’s ability to understand the world and so reshape it, and on the other hand the lack of progress in how we are ruled. Science strides ahead; politics stumbles around like a drunk.”
- “A History of the World” Andrew Marr
Inner and Outer Worlds Converge
Everything came forth from the divine dance that is the Trinity. Our new appreciation of Trinity is giving us a new grounding for interfaith understanding. It’s giving us a marvelous new basis for appreciating how this mystery is embedded as the code, not just in our religious constructs, but also in everything that exists. Creation bears a “family resemblance” to the Creator.
If there is only one creator God, and if there is one core pattern to this God, then we can expect to find that pattern everywhere else too. One reason so many theologians are interested in Trinity right now is that the scientific understanding of everything from atoms to galaxies to organisms is affirming our Trinitarian intuitions. We can now use the old Trinitarian language with a whole new level of appreciation.
The deepest intuition of our poets, mystics, and Holy Writ are aligning with findings on the leading edges of science and empirical discovery. When inner and outer worlds converge like this, something beautiful is afoot—the reversal of a centuries-long lovers’ quarrel between science and spirituality, mind and heart.
Atomic scientists looking through microscopes and astrophysicists looking through telescopes are seeing a similarity of pattern: everything is in relationship with everything else. Scientists and contemplatives alike are confirming that the foundational nature of reality is relational, and everything is indeed a holon (Greek word), a part that replicates and mimics the whole.
Gateway to Silence:
God for us, God with us, God in us
Waterboarding was a form of torture used by the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century.
Philosophy = Theology = Psychology = History / Location. In Western thought processes derived from Platonic thinking are these: Philosophy is dualism (the separation of mind and body, that they are two separate things), Theology is split into good and evil, Psychology is disassociation (the mind acting separately from the body), Historical / Location is often the trauma that throws the Western individual into the mind state where the mind is operating completely disconnected from the body and the world around it. All of these four subjects are in a loop together, a vicious cycle: trauma leads to dualistic thought processes. (In the 16th and 17th centuries philosophy and theology led to dogmatists. Psychology led to spiritualists and pietists.)
- The thinking of Pastor Jin S. Kim
Indigenous people do not have: trash, a criminal justice system, or a prison system. Because they are communal none of these are necessary, social ostracization is enough of a form of punishment.
Love is possibly the most addictive drug of all, and as a drug it maybe what killed my father.
In “The Dark Forest” by Cixin Liu, on page 177, Luo Ji and Zhuang Yan discuss sculptures, paintings and old documents from Asia and Africa that are now housed in the Louvre in Paris. Luo Ji says, “These were taken by an advanced civilization from a backward one.” This sentence shows the pervasive thinking that civilized peoples (who have existed for a mere 6,000 years– 4,000 BCE to the present) are more advanced than indigenous peoples that have survived as hunters and gatherers for tens of thousands of years. Our civilized societies have brought us to the brink, whereas the indigenous cultures have been self-sustaining for millennia, with no police forces, no laws, no trash, etc. Which societies therefore are more advanced? The answer is perhaps self-evident. However, it is unlikely that we can “de-civilize” our societies. We cannot un-invent the modern conveniences that we now have. So what next? The buzz word of these times is “sustainability.” Indigenous cultures lived sustainably with the environment around them. They took from the earth no more than they needed. In our modern society, across the world, there are those with vast amounts more than they need, and there are those with much less than they need. It seems to be the most sensible course to share what we have, so that the balance is evened out. But part of living sustainably also means not consuming more resources than the environment can provide for us. The environment can provide plenty, but it cannot provide plenty and refresh itself to a healthy level. Sustainability therefore means consuming only those resources that leaves the environment healthy enough to be able to keep providing. Our global population is perhaps beyond this point of healthy environmental sustainability, or will be soon. Scientists predict the maximum population the Earth can sustain in 10 billion. This peak is predicted to be reached around the year 2100. At that time, I foresee, people will begin to die due to famine. The Earth will self-regulate itself. Since we are not a race that shares evenly across the population, I foresee it being likely that there will be far more human lives lost due to famine that the Earth requires to bring it back into a healthy cycle. The pendulum of human population will swing drastically the other way, negatively, for a while. Then the population will begin to grow again. And like a pendulum on a clock we are perhaps likely to see positive and negative swings in population growth, until the Earth and the human race eventually finds the balance point at which the pendulum stops swinging back and forth– there is equilibrium. I predict this would take many centuries. The only possibility that the human race can last that long lies in our ability not to poison the planet to death first, with pesticides, pollution, etc. Currently we are acting like a person with a nice big balance in his/her bank account, spending and spending, enjoying the moment, and not caring about the fact that he/she will need some funds to last us through our retirement years.
Theories on Cosmic and Earthly Sociology
Cixin Liu (“The Dark Forest”): 1. survival is the primary need of every civilization. 2. civilization continually grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant. Darwin’s theory: survival of the fittest by natural selection.
Let’s define “civilization” as the manner in which a society exists. A civilization can be a hunter-gatherer society, choosing to exist via sustainable harmony with the surrounding lands. In a hunter-gatherer society the total number of the population is determined by the resources available to them. Civilization can also be a society built of agriculture, laws, cities, rulers, etc.– this is typically what we imagine when we think of the term “civilized.” However, for this theory we will count any type of society that exists as being civilized. This levels the playing field between types of societies, not giving one type of society superiority over the other. We can also categorize societies in two other ways: 1. co-operative societies, 2. competitive societies.
Both Cixin Liu’s statements in his novel, and Darwin’s theories emerge out of competitively trading societies. The East Asian and Muslim societies traditionally have not been competitively trading societies, they have been co-operatively trading societies. What if Darwin’s theory of evolution had emerged out of a co-operative system instead of a competitive system. Darwin’s theory would read very differently I would imagine. Plus, Cixin Liu’s statements might also read differently. In a co-operative society would the primary need of every civilization be survival? Would a civilized society continually need to expand? Here the lines are blurred between a co-operative and an indigenous society– both would apply different, but perhaps similar, outcomes in the way societies operate and survive.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, but we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
- A Center for Action and Contemplation /Franciscan core principle.
“The best way to avoid actually changing is to go into one’s head and endlessly argue about what “changing” means.”
- CAC faculty member, Cynthia Bourgeault
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.”
- A Center for Action and Contemplation core principle.
“Like Jesus, [St.] Francis taught his disciples while walking from place to place and finding ways to serve, to observe, and to love in the world that was right in front of them.”
- Father Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation
“So often in meetings or during protests, I have heard passionate exhortations to abandon talk for action. And at the same time, in some academic circles, political action has been frowned upon, as if of necessity participating in any movement corrupts the clarity of thought. But in my experience the actual process of change is far more complicated than either side of this argument allows. By some as yet inexplicable alchemy, joining a strike or a protest can open the mind to new ideas, and conversely a constant flow of new ideas and perspectives is critical to any effective movement for change.”
- “Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her” by Susan Griffin, page viii.
What is the next step for the church? It’s tried to be a system (Constantinian Christianity) and it’s tried to remove itself from society and live by itself (monastic tradition and the anabaptists), it’s tried to be capitalist and imperial (modern Christianity), it’s tried to be an outreach in an effort to civilize and save (but this is colonialism and destruction of tradition and natural ways of being). We are called now to something else and we progress through history. The church has constantly tried to reach out to the world by trying to convince or coerce the world into the fold of Christianity. On the other hand there has been local and traditional religions, secularism, atheism, other religions, etc. Christianity has also tried to reach out and coerce these people too. It’s time for a different model– 1) to live life as you believe it should be lived, with your own beliefs, without trying to coerce or persuade other people, 2) for Christianity to walk out into the world and meet it there, not to coerce, but to be back in relationship with it, on the same page with it, to learn from it, to be of the same mindset as it. The world is running out of resources. As nations, with the Paris Climate Agreement, nations are finding that they need to come together and work together to solve a problem. This is probably how all religion needs to come together and work together. If we’re to stop the wars and the fight for resources then we all need to come together and learn how to live together, and accept each other’s traditions and religions. Not to convince the other person, but to understand the other person and find the common ground where we can live together again in community and come to agreements as to what to when resources run out and we find that we need to move from place to place, or expand our borders to be able to survive. So part of the conversation is also environmental, and also needs to discuss population growth– how do we survive as populations grow exponentially without killing each other, not in competition but in a spirit of cooperation.