Glory to God

last-supperFrom Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God: “…Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, riffed on a famous proverb crafted in the second century by the bishop Irenaeus. In Latin this pithy, mellifluous maxim reads: Gloria Dei, vivens homo, which translated means, “the glory of God is the human being fully alive.” The glory of God is homo, the human being, the whole human race, every individual person, vivens, fully alive. God’s glory is at stake in the flourishing of people, every single one and all together. How could it be otherwise if the incomprehensible Mystery toward whom the human spirit dynamically tends self-communicates to the world in Jesus and the Spirit as absolute, challenging, sheltering love. In thus choosing to create, save, and dwell within the world, holy mystery has made the world and its inhabitants precious beyond all telling. Harming human beings, inflicting violence or neglecting their good, translates logically into an insult to the Holy One. The two are so tied together, by God’s intent, that the glory of the One is at stake in the well-being of all others.”

Roger

Hospitality

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From Norman Wirzba’s Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating: “According to a rabbinic tradition …it was precisely the months inside the ark that mattered most because it was there, in the work of feeding and caring for the animals, that Noah revealed what it means to be a righteous one. On this view, the ark was not primarily an escape vessel but a school for the learning of compassion. Here Noah refined the sympathies and dedication that are crucial for the development of a caring, hospitable relationship with the world. By giving up self-interest, Noah learned how to transform himself and his work into a gift for the good of others. …The triumph of Noah’s life is that, like God, he recognized the needs of others and then attended to them. What Noah learned is that the whole world is God’s ark because it is the place where God shows himself to be a hospitable host.”

Roger

The Sun

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From Thomas Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “I have the immense joy of being human, a member of a race in which God … became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun…. Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.”

Roger

Help Me

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From Roberta Bondi’s To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church: “…sometimes we are so mired in the world we live in, with its temptations, habits, and ways of seeing and feeling, that we do not even know what is wrong with us; we only know that something thing is wrong, and we feel helpless. In this case, says one of the fathers, our human effort may be tiny, but it is still of crucial importance. It consists in calling out to God for help, simply saying “God help me.” This much we can always do. The early monastics were more aware than we of the way obsessive emotional and social situations often act to take away almost all human freedom, but they insisted we can always call for help.”

Roger

Good Karma

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “My conversation with Buddhism has helped me see more clearly what the theologians mentioned above were groping for: if we really believe our symbols that call God Father or tell us that the Divine is Love, then there can be no permanent stains. No permanent or eternal hell. As Rahner perhaps suspected, Buddhists are nudging Christians to expand the meaning of their symbol of purgatory: we can be “purified” not only of our blemishes but also of our stains. And that will usually take more than one lifetime. The process goes on. And it goes on because, in Buddhist terms, “bad karma” never has the last word; there is always the possibility of it providing an opportunity for “good karma.” In Christian language, human decisions, no matter how mean-spirited and death-dealing to others they may be, never have the last word over Divine Love. What the poet calls “the Hound of Heaven” never gives up. If Christians are right in calling God Love, if Buddhists are right in affirming compassion as a quality of the ongoing process of InterBeing, then there is always hope. Buddhists have reminded me, as I believe they can remind my fellow Christians, that what we Christians say we believe is really the case. Love is stronger than hatred. Good is stronger than evil. The good that we do, or can do, will outlive, or offset, the evil that we have done. But it may take more than what we define as one, single lifetime!”

Roger

Denial

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From Douglas John Hall’s The Cross in Our Context: Jesus and the Suffering World: “Our society, perhaps more than any other in history, is engaged in a massive denial of death. (And remember that for the biblical faith death does not just refer to the termination of life, a biological death, but stands symbolically for a whole Pandora’s box of fears and negations that become particularly virulent when they are repressed or denied.) This was the point of one of the most insightful books written in our era, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death. The more fixated the human spirit is upon its mortality, it vulnerability, its nothingness or apparent insignificance, the less capable it is of participating freely and joyfully in the life that it has been given….Individuals whose sense of well-being depends upon a rigorous silencing of every thought of their own mortality are very difficult and sometimes dangerous people to be around. But what of a whole society whose well-being – whose way of life – depends upon the constant reassurance that the happiness it seeks is in no way threatened by the limitations that creaturely life places on us? …When an entire culture is held in the grip of a worldview in which death is allowed no voice, death’s power over life is immensely increased. Such a society is greatly in need of liberation…”

Roger

Walls

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “My problems with Christian language deepen precisely when we try actually to answer that question: “What do we believe if we don’t believe literally?” So many of the interpretations of Christian doctrines have become barriers to exploring their deeper content, or to exploring other content. The primary reason for this seems to be the way the meanings given to Christian beliefs so often set up walls –walls that exclude. Either they wall off other, or different, interpretations by insisting that this is the only valid way of understanding a particular doctrine (e.g. “transubstantiation” is the only way of understanding the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist). Or they exclude, or denigrate, all truths on the other side of the Christian wall, in other religions. It seems that so often the way that we Christians affirm that “we hold these truths” leads us to deny or put down the truths that others hold.”

Roger