Activism, with Prayer and Silence

(This is my review of Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for  a New Generation, by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox. 2013, North Atlantic Books.) I was very pleased with this book.  It is a conversation between a young activist and an old one.  Adam Bucko (late 30’s, raised a Catholic in Poland, helps run a ministry to homeless youth in New York City) and Matthew Fox (late 70’s, a thinker, educator, author, and former Dominican, was evicted from “The Church” by the Vatican – in effect for talking too much, sorta like Socrates.  He then became an Episcopal priest). It is full of wisdom and good examples deriving from the integrity of the authors’ own spiritual searching and service.  There’s a strong Christian flavor, but don’t go here to learn conservative American Evangelical theology.  They show some preference for Christ and his teaching but are open to a wide variety of spiritual theories and practices. “The Bhagavad Gita, for example, talks about the importance of service, but it’s more about fulfilling your role or duty … In Western traditions, there is more of a concept of individuation.  You’re literally called by name to a specific kind of task.  In this … Continue reading

Wear Your Diagnosis Lightly – It’s Not Really You

A lot of us have “been diagnosed” with specific personality or mental conditions. I don’t formally have such a diagnosis (I’ve not yet seen anyone qualified to do it for me); but I’m sure there are several people around who’d be glad to offer suggestions! The thing I worry about is the effects I have seen such diagnoses have on people – the self-defining, self-shaping label it provides. It does affect one’s self-perception, expectations of what they can probably do, or not do, and how they are likely to behave. It really does, in my experience. So it narrows a person’s view of themselves and their world – and thus clearly restricts their potential. … Continue reading

“With Malice Toward None” – A Necessary Standard!

In pretty much his last words to the American people, Abraham Lincoln began the wrap-up of his Second Inaugural Address with these famous, beautiful ideals: With malice toward none, with charity for all . . . And I think he really meant it. In a nation that was an ocean of anger and blaming and malice, he asked us to move forward without malice. “Malice: Intention to harm or deprive in an illegal or immoral way. Desire to take pleasure in another’s misfortune.” [Wiktionary] … Continue reading

When the Government – or Society – Is Against You: What Should Christians Do?

Some American Christians worry that we are being “persecuted” and that our “freedom of religion” is being infringed. That’s always true to some extent – and the idea is scary. How did Jesus deal with it? Jesus practiced non-violent non-cooperation toward evil persons. The results of his courage were both short-term and long-term, mostly good, some brutally bad. Jesus’ immediate followers – the Christians of the first century, also faced lots of suffering. They suffered government harassment, even arrest and execution. They suffered from neighbors and fellow-citizens – the insulting or aggressive behavior of others around them in society. They suffered all the normal pains and sorrows of human life, of which there are many. … Continue reading

The Two Most Obvious Facts of Life

Here’s my ex-temp ramble in response to the line “momentum succumbs to entropy” seen elsewhere . . . + and you can say entropy succumbs to momentum. – but you have to have an energy source for momentum. + well, the plants and animals find energy to bloom and bear seeds and run and climb; so can we – but they all die + and more come – but the energy-supply machine (the sun) is running down

4)  RELIGION:  Jesus and Religion Often Had a Difficult Relationship  (from “The Moral Priorities of Jesus”)

The Pharisees were very serious about their faith. Although they were pompous about it, they were also good at it. Their religion — the Law of God — was their life. They were devoted, well educated and highly disciplined. And that is how they were seen by others. They set a very strict standard for religious holiness and had a reputation in general for practicing what they preached. And they were visible — recognizable in the streets by their distinctive attire and behavior. Because of their religious education, discipline and visibility, they often had prominent positions in the weekly synagogue meetings, sitting up front, reciting the many prayers or reading or commenting on Scripture. But this teacher Jesus — who was also highly respected for his goodness and for being serious about God and Scripture — this Jesus often spoke of them in public with contempt, withering scorn and condemnation. For example, in the famous “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus speaks of his nation’s holy writings (“the Law and the Prophets”), and of how important they are. Then he mentions the Pharisees. You might expect him to say “We need to listen to them. They are completely devoted to the … Continue reading

8)  SELF IMAGE:  Did Jesus Have an Ego Problem?  (from “The Moral Priorities of Jesus”)

People spoke very highly of Jesus, often even calling him “Lord.” Instead of resisting that high praise, he pressed them to practice what it implied. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things that I say?” (Lk 6:46) This brings up a moral emphasis in the teachings of Jesus that can seem strange in our world. He thought extremely highly of himself – in terms of the value of his teaching, and in terms of his importance to the future welfare of individuals and even of the whole of world history. Strange that may be, but it is clearly an issue of values, of morality. It’s interesting that he did not spend a lot of time talking about this, and was not what we might call “touchy” about it. He seemed to just assume it; and occasionally, when it was appropriate to the issue at hand, he spoke clearly about this value and its implications. For example, this young man (32 or 33) assumed that he was entirely capable of protecting and “gathering” that great city of Jerusalem, and was deeply saddened that they did not respond to his invitation. He wept about it, “Because … Continue reading