Archive for November, 2010

Rumi: Islamic Poet; Universal Beloved Mystic

November 27, 2010 - 11:24 am 69 Comments

Biography from The Rumi Forum:

The name Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi stands for Love and ecstatic flight into the infinite. Rumi is one of the greatest spiritual and literary figures of all time and was the founder of the Mawlawi Sufi order. He was born in Wakhsh (Tajikistan) under the administration of Balkh in September 30, 1207 to a family of learned theologians.

His father Baha’ al-Din Walad (Bahauddin), was a religious scholar and Sufi who with the advent of Mongol invasion of Central Asia took his family westward, visiting Damascus and Naishapur on the way to the Hijaz. Here, the young Jalal al-Din (Jalaladdin) met and received the blessing of Farid al-Din (Fariduddin) Attar, the outstanding Sufi poet of the day, whom he was to succeed in the annals of Persian Sufi poetry. He is reported to have said, as he saw Bahauddin walking toward him with the young Rumi a little behind, “Here comes a sea, followed by an ocean!” . The family made the pilgrimage to Mecca and then set out northward to Anatolia and settled down in the city of Konya, Turkey. It was here that Rumi was to spent his forty-some years of his life, where he composed his peerless works, and where he received the inspiration for sacred music and dervishes. Rumi became like his father, a religious scholar and mastered the sciences of his day. He was also initiated into the mysteries of Sufism. But it was the meeting with the mysterious Sufi, Shams al-Din Tabrizi (Shams), that set his soul on fire and turned him into an incomparable poet of Divine Love and Illumination.

Rumi composed his Mathnawi and Divan-i Shams, the monumental works devoted to gnosis and divine ecstasy, following the encounter with Shams which changed the literary and spiritual landscape of Persian and Turkish worlds. Rumi was not a poet who happened to practice Sufism, but great Sufi master the rhythms of whose soul were expressed in poetry. He founded the Mathnawi Order, which exercised such a profound influence in the Ottoman world as well as its poetic and musical arts. He became a luminous star for both Persian and Turkish speaking worlds and his influence in these worlds subsists to this day. Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi died on December 17, 1273. Men of five faiths followed his bier. That night was named Sebul Arus(Night of Union). Ever since, the Mawlawi dervishes have kept that date as a festival.

Now Rumi, one of the most universal of Islamic Saints, is becoming known to West and the light of his teachings are beginning to illuminate the hearts and minds of many in the occident as it has guided numerous generations of world during past seven centuries.

Rumi Quotes & Writings

Favorite selections from the writings of Jaluddin Rumi, Sufi saint and mystic…

Come Out

Come out from under your fear, you who are so fond of hiding and running away. Don’t cover your face. The world is reeling, its heart so sick.

And you are one who can serve as an influence for good.

Don’t hide the candle of your clarity. Be with people. Lead the way.

Be a leader of Souls by example.

Whoever has heard of me, let him prepare to come and see me; whoever desires me, let him search for me. He will find me – then let him choose none other than I. -Shams- i Tabriz

The Guest House

This being human is a guest- house.

Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, Who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture. Still, treat each guest honorably. Who may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

There is a community of the spirit. Join it, and feel the delight of walking in the noisy street, and being the noise. Close both eyes to see with the other eye. Open your hands, if you want to be held. Sit down in this circle. Quit acting like a wolf, and feel the shepherd’s love filling you…. Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.

The Root of the Root Of Your Self

Don’t go away, come near… Don’t be faithless, be faithful..

Find the antidote in the venom, the blessings in the questioning

Come, come to the root of the root of yourself …

Once you get hold of selflessness, you will be dragged from your ego and freed of its many insecurities, its snares, and traps…

You are born from the children of God’s creation; but you have fixed your sight, your view of yourself too low… How by looking down, can you become happy? …

You were born as a ray of God’s majesty,, and you have the blessings of a good star. Why suffer at the hands of things that do not exist? That confuse the mind, and feed your heart full of fears?

Do you not see yourself? You are a ruby within granite… How long will you pretend that its not true?

Come, come back to the root of the root of yourself…

Love Is a Stranger translated by Kabir Helminski

Forget Your Life

Forget your life… Just say, God is great, and then get up! Get out of your bed… It is the morning of life…

You know what time it is; it is time to pray! It is time to go your way…

Now, reach out, grasp the door, go our into the world,

Go down the street and into the neighborhood where everyone say, “How are you?” And no one says to you, ” How aren’t you?”

Inside you, each morning, arises an artist who creates your day, yet as an artist does not care how things look different in moonlight…

They face the day, each day…

If you are unfaithfully with us, with each day, then you are causing terribnle damage. If, however, you are open to your loving, open to unrestricted God’s love, divine compassion, then you are helping people you do not know, and never have seen…

Is what I say true? Say yes, quickly!

If you know, of you have known it proclaim it, for it has been with you since the beginning of the universe.

Where there is pain, cures will be found.

Where there is poverty, wealth will be supplied.

Where there are questions in your life, there will be answers.

So spend less time worrying, and more time trusting…

When your heart is dark as iron, steadily polish yourself, that the heart may become a mirror, a beautiful shine reflecting from within.

Although iron is dark and dismal, polishing clears the darkness away.

Today, like every day, we wake up hollow and frightened…

So do not open the door to the study and begin reading and working

Instead go, reach for music, play an instrument

Let the beauty we love be what we do

There are hundreds of ways to kneel, and kiss the ground.

The Lion

“The report of a Lion spread throughout all parts of the world and a man, marveling at the rumor, made for that thicket from a far distance in order to see the Lion. For a year, he endured the rigors of the road and traveled from stage to stage, and when he arrived at the thicket and spied the Lion from afar, he stood still and could not advance any closer.

Why, they said to him, have you set out on such a long road out of love for this Lion? This Lion has a special quality; anyone who approaches him boldly and lovingly rubs his hand upon him is unharmed by the Lion, but if anyone is afraid and timorous, the Lion is enraged against him.

The Lion attacked some, saying, What is this bad opinion you have of me? For such a creature you have trudged on for years and now you have arrived near me. Why do you now stand still? Advance one step more. But no one had the courage to advance a further step. All said, the steps that we took hitherto were easy, we cannot take one step nearer.

Faith is that step; to take that step in the presence of the Lion towards the Lion. There is a moment when you realize that everything that the mystics have told you is true, so true that it is the only truth. You cannot hide anymore from the reality of the Light, from the reality of the fire, from the reality of Divine Love. There is a moment when you have to face with every cell and with breath of your body, and every thought in your mind, that the only reality is the Divine Knowledge, the Divine Love, and the Divine Light.

And that moment you reel, because you are looking at the Lion in the face, the Lion of glory, the Lion of love, the Lion of passion, that is going to kill you with love. It is going to kill you . Because if you really face what you are coming to know, you are facing the necessity of abandon, sacrifice, adoration, and transformation. You are committing yourself to the journey without end; you are taking all your clothes off like St. Francis and going completed naked into nowhere. But at that moment when you realize that you have to take one step towards the Lion, in the presence of the Lion you say to yourself, ” Heart, be brave. If you cannot be brave, just go. Love’s glory is not a small thing.”

Taken from The Way of Passion page 89 -90 by Andrew Harvey

 

 

Some Interfaith Thoughts for Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010 - 4:04 pm 71 Comments

A Few Interfaith Expressions of Gratitude

Opening Words: May the glory of the passing away of autumn and the rhythm of the seasons the year remind us of the coming changes that will draw us first in, then together, then outward again….

And when the darkness comes, and with it the cold, let us remember where the warmth can be found- in being together, as families, as friends, as a community…

Let’s us dedicate our time together this day to know that we stand in the dark of an unknown, yet seeking a certain abundance, if we allow our hearts to warm and inform us…

Before being flung out into the season of cold and darkness, let us give thanks for the light and the warmth we can bring to one another…. PEL

 

 

Some World Religious Prayers and Reflections

I thank Thee, Lord, for knowing me better than I know myself… Make me, better than others suppose that I am, and forgive me for what they do not know about me… Amen   Islamic Prayer

I am thankful that all the darkness of our world, has not put out Thy light… Anonymous

May all Thy children unite, in one fellowship, to do Thy will, with a perfect heart… Ancient Hebrew prayer

 

 

 For each new morning with its light

For rest and the shelter of the night

For health, for food, for love and for friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends…

We are grateful! AMEN

R.W. Emerson

 

Giving Thanks”

adapted from A Native American Blessing

Let us not forget that there would be no Pilgrim holiday, no Thanksgiving in North American culture, if it were not for the Native Americans…. From the story and myth of the first Thanksgiving we are told of a coming together of Native Americans and Pilgrims from Europe, and how they put aside cultural differences, their religious prejudices, and any fear of the unknown or any xenophobia, and they sat down to eat together, thereby practicing interfaith hospitality, cooperation, and peace.

It is out of respect for the Native Americans, that I now offer this Offertory prayer:

Let us, for this moment, become aware of the beauty of our lives, and the grace that attends to beauty…. Grandfather, we are thankful for the gifts of the Sun, and Grandmother, for the gifts of the Earth … We give thanks for the times of meaning, the times of purposes, our times together…

Let us reflect on our struggles and how they have enabled and ennobled our growth; If we but shut our eyes, even for a moment, we can awaken to wonder;

And then we see with new eyes, the land, the sea, the creatures, one another…

And if we can feel a sense of gratitude, that grace will grow corn in our hearts, then we know beauty, then we know you, O Great Spirit … Ah Ho…

Matake Owassion- We are all connected to the earth… We are all relations…..

 

This Grace is sung to the tune “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”:
 
Bless our friends, Bless our food,

Come, O Lord and sit with us.

May our talk, Glow with peace;

Come with your love to surround us.

 

 

An Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer:

God of Love,We pray that we may be truly grateful for the many, many blessings we enjoy this day. The air we breathe, the fresh water to quench our thirst, the beauty of this world where we live.

In the world around us there are many who are hungry, some without homes, suffering health problems, experiencing war, lonely and without direction.

We pray for your guidance and protection for those people who are giving of their time and money to help these hurting people.

We pray for our service men and women who are giving their time and even their lives serving their county working to make a better place in your world for thousands of people. We ask for protection for us and our country.

Guide us towards peace.

We ask your blessing on the food that has been prepared for us.

Thank you for the hands that have prepared it.

Help us to live a life of cheerfulness and have faith in all that is good.

May we be worthy of your love. Amen

 

 

 

Freely rendered translations or adaptations of World Scriptures:

From Shinto teachings, we are given this reflection that finds a spiritual resonates throughout the world faiths:

All life is given to us by God; lent to us enough to last lifetimes… Nature, our bodies, the sun by day and the stars and moon by night- all are freely given to us by God…

As gifts that are intimate and ultimate, they contain qualities that are eternal; they are given freely and deserve our respect and our gratitude.

So much of our lives we can take for granted- so much we can treat harshly,, we gratefully recognize God’s world of human compassion and kindness, the gifts of making and giving, where our best and most constant response is “Thank you”

 

A Composite or Inclusive Prayer

Life consists of daily and lifelong blessings… How could we exist without the favor, the kindness and the gifts of everyday life that God bestows on us ? Even when we fail to recognize it clearly, how could we exist for even a day, a night, an hour of the next moment without God?

As the Suras teach us, God is closer to us than our juggler vein, and there is a Pakistani prayer that speaks of how we owe our very existence to God’s grace. The oldest prophet in Hebrew writings, Job, declares that it is the Spirit of the Almighty that gives us life, and as Solomon advises, it is wisdom that teaches us humility, reverence, and thanksgiving…

In The Bhagavad Gita, we are given our assurances:

Those that seek Me will see me; they will see Me everywhere… So it is that I will never be out of sight, out of touch… I will always be nearby… I will never lose my hold, even when you feel that difficulties in your life make you feel as if you had let go…

The Early Christian Coptic Church recognized our need for one another and the gratitude that can be found in belonging to a group that honors the God of many names, for a community does not exist without a sense of mutual respect and a sense mutual gratitude for being together.

St. Cyril writes:

The blessings of God rest upon all those who have been kind, upon all those who care about their sisters and brothers in their faith and on those who seem to live outside faith’s door. The blessings of God extend themselves from every kind heart- towards those who serve God from many faiths, many directions.

So as we gather today, we ask our merciful God, to reward their faithfulness and compassion as living proof, that we understand their holy books, and that we are growing in our understanding of You. AMEN

PEL

 A grateful attitude is a creative one, because, in the final analysis, opportunity is the gift within the gift of every moment– the opportunity to see and to hear and smell and touch and taste with pleasure.

 

There is no closer bond than the one that gratefulness celebrates- the bond between the giver and the thanksgiver. Everything is a gift! Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless yes to belonging.

Can our world survive without gratefulness? Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: To say an unconditional yes to our mutual belonging of all beings will make this a more joyful world. This is the reason yes is my favorite synonym for God.”

Brother David Stendahl-Rast OSB, Ph.D.

 

 

 A circle of friends is a blessed thing.

Sweet is the breaking of bread with friends.

For the honor of their presence at our table

We are truly grateful O God.

Thanks be to Thee for the friendship shared;

Thanks be to Thee for the food prepared;

Bless the Cup; Bless The Bread;

May God’s blessings rest on each and every head! AMEN

Walter Rauschenbusch Protestant Theologian

 

O great Spirit; Creator and source of every blessing;

We gather to pray that you will bring peace to all our sisters and brothers in this world.

Give us wisdom to teach our children how to love, how to

respect, and how to be kind to one another.

Help us to learn how to share our world, and how to share all the good things that you have always provided for us.

Bless all who have come here, to eat with us today; especially our children who are the hope of a new world and a more peaceful future.

We ask for your help in being just, being unselfish; being kind- for the world needs to honor differences and to discover

how best to live cooperatively and compassionately- to live together, praising God with an open heart.                         Anonymous

 

Notice, that the more you become a connoisseur of gratitude, the less you are a victim of resentment, depression, or despair. Gratitude can transform us into being generous and loving beings… The sense of gratitude produces a genuine alchemy- a change of heart that is good for the largeness of one’s soul. …   Sam Keen

 

Guidelines for A Spiritual Community From Creation Spirituality: 12 Principles

November 15, 2010 - 2:00 pm 32 Comments

The Twelve Principles of Creation Spirituality

1. The universe is fundamentally a blessing.

Our relationship with the Universe fills us with awe.2. In Creation, God is both immanent and transcendent. This is panentheism which is not theism (God out there) and not atheism (no God anywhere).

We experience that the Divine is in all things and all things are in the Divine.

3. God is as much Mother as Father, as much Child as Parent, as much God in mystery as the God in history, as much beyond all words and images as in all forms and beings.

We are liberated from the need to cling to God in one form or one literal name.

4. In our lives, it is through the work of spiritual practice that we find our deep and true selves.

Through the arts of meditation and silence we cultivate a clarity of mind and move beyond fear into compassion and community.

5. Our inner work can be understood as a four-fold journey involving:

– awe, delight, amazement (known as the Via Positiva)
– uncertainty, darkness, suffering, letting go (Via Negativa)
– birthing, creativity, passion (Via Creativa)
– justice, healing, celebration (Via Transformativa)

We weave through these paths like a spiral danced, not a ladder climbed.

6. Every one of us is a mystic.

We can enter the mystical as much through beauty (Via Positiva) as through contemplation and suffering (Via Negativa). We are born full of wonder and can recover it at any age.

7. Every one of us is an artist.

Whatever the expression of our creativity, it is our prayer and praise (Via Creativa).

8. Every one of us is a prophet.

Our prophetic work is to interfere with all forms of injustice and that which interrupts authentic life (Via Transformativa).

9. Diversity is the nature of the Universe.

We rejoice in and courageously honor the rich diversity within the Cosmos and expressed among individuals and across multiple cultures, religions and ancestral traditions.

10. The basic work of God is compassion and we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion.

We acknowledge our shared interdependence; we rejoice at one another’s joys and grieve at one another’s sorrows and labor to heal the causes of those sorrows.

11. There are many wells of faith and knowledge drawing from one underground river of Divine wisdom. The practice of honoring, learning and celebrating the wisdom collected from these wells is Deep Ecumenism.

We respect and embrace the wisdom and oneness that arises from the diverse wells of all the sacred traditions of the world.

12. Ecological justice is essential for the sustainability of life on Earth.
Ecology is the local expression of cosmology and so we commit to live in light of this value: to pass on the beauty and health of Creation to future generations.

 

The Unconscious God- Reflections on the work of Dr. Viktor Frankel

November 8, 2010 - 7:22 pm 36 Comments

The Unconscious GodReflections on the work of Dr. Viktor Frankl

 :

Many of us find ourselves engaged in a daily struggle. It is the search for meaning and relevancy in our lives. Humanity, our society is involved with a quest for such purpose and meaning for all that we face- in all that life present to us. The most common malady of our age is not cancer or stroke; nor it is the common cold…. It is the constant level of anxiety we face while trying to make our lives more meaningful.

We live in the age of anxiety- on that perpetually insists on asking us the imponderable questions that there is no time to answer: Why? How Come? What For? And even among those of us who have never studied any psychology, there is a common follow-up: What does this mean to me? What is the purpose of this person or event in my life?

We can find ourselves compelled to seek the answers to these existential questions and to try to decipher the riddles of purpose and meaning because if we do not seek a resolution to these questions, they will either haunt us or taunt us. Many times these Buddha-like questions contain the answers within them. Like a Zen Koan for spiritual development, and regardless of whether the question is a personal one or a global one, intimate or cosmic, we are bound to ask from somewhere deep within us, what does it all mean?

Most of us have experienced intense periods in our lives where these answers do not come readily, easily , if at all. These are times when we can feel out of touch with what is happening to us or around us. The significance of this eludes our ability to understand its purpose. This quest to solve the seemingly unfathomable is what Logotherapy is all about.

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Logotherapy is a specific psychotherapeutic approach that seeks to defeat the feelings of meaninglessness. It roots are from the psychoanalytic school, yet they differ in their application and approach to problem solving. It is an approach that is the inspiration of Dr. Viktor Frankl. It source principally comes from his classical training in psychoanalysis plus his personal experience as a Auchwitz survivor. When combined in his life and thought, he came to the realization that people could understand having to deal with any trial or perilous suffering IF they were given a meaning or a purpose for it all.

Dr. Frankl concluded that for people to be freed of any injustice of their particular struggle , they first will require a reason for these challenges or trials. Without knowing why our tasks and trials occur, we are likely to feel empty, stressed, worried, and weary. Dr. Frankl’s states that understanding ourselves and our lives most fully comes when we resolve our questions into actions and insights. Furthermore, Dr. Frankl posits that the ability to answer these deep questions is our true human purpose and that it is the individual soul’s mission to discover the rich textures and layers of meaning that are present in their own existence.

Much of that potential lies trapped within us. It occupies a region of our being that psychiatrists would call the unconscious. Our goal is to become more aware of that material and thus release it into our conscious knowing, thereby discharging its anxiety and releasing its creative potentials.

Because those answers are locked up deep within us, they can sometimes be impossible to verbalize or grasp. These feelings and questions become filed away in an unreachable storage bin.

What Dr. Frankl discovered is that the unknown is NOT what we have not learned, for the unconscious can also be the ideas, feelings, that something that has always been there but that we were unaware of its existence. It is our stream of existence.

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We need to express the fluidity of our lives and the flow of our feelings and how the tides of self and soul interact and comprise the whole of our being. All that we have experienced between the banks of the river of life and existence flows from within us. Our inner thoughts can rise to the surface and the large ideas of our purpose and those questions can flood our awareness. Sometimes the hidden rocks and the dangerous currents that we contain become exposed as obstacles in our flow and our awareness. These crags are chinks in our self image, these ripples and eddies are ways we suck ourselves down into our defenses. This unconsciousness stream flows throughout our the seasons and reasons of our lives and winds its journey through the layers of sediment and froth, and its contains all the rich deposits and answers that we seek.

To be alive is a fluid fact; we experience a flood of emotion, the swirling rapids of thought and the bubbles and tides of creativity, inspiration, and insight. Often the channels it runs through is an unconscious one, but the fact remains, that its runs and your river of life and meaning flows on….

Viktor Frankl observed this phenomenon in both his personal and clinical work. He formulated Logotherapy into a theory that he believed completed the work of Freud and gave it a spiritual and altruistic dimension. Frankl asserts that there is a companion to the Id. Freud postulated that the Id is the source of all drives, needs, desires and feelings. The principal ones being the drives for sex, aggression, and survival. Satisfaction or gratification of those drives and desires comes from releasing the energy of the Id called Libido. But that is where Freud essentially left off. Frankl goes further to attest to another dimension or resident factor in our minds. He sees the satisfaction of the Libido or other societal goals often contributing to our dissatisfaction and disillusionment. If we are successful in the world, we are haunted by the question:

Now what? or What then are we to do, feel, experience, etc.?

Frankl counters this dilemma of achievement by claiming that there is another source of behavior and purpose in our lives that resides deep within us- a religious or spiritual core that can influence and inspire us to answer those haunting or plaguing questions which becomes our quest for meaning. This other force or presence that Frankl posits that lives within us as the source of our existential answers and altruism is what he called our “Unconscious God.” This core or reservoir of true virtue and operating sense of morality, higher inspiration and personal aspiration flows from a natural wellspring that comes from our recognition and acceptance of an ongoing, flowing, unceasing relationship with God and with the good of God that exists in all other beings. This reality is the unique stamp of our human existence- that we are essentially, at our core, moral beings. Some theories, of course, call this relationship by its more traditional name, the soul or the higher self. Others such as Frankl claim this “unconscious god” within is the pure human conscience that can guide our decision-making and align it with an eternal Truth that release and resolves the questions that had trapped or imprisoned us.

When we realize that there is another source to our human nature than what most of psychology provides, we can begin to seek a deeper meaning and purpose for our lives. Once we get beyond the idea that drives, emotions, and needs are the only motives for human behavior, then we can begin to dignify our existence rather than denigrate it. When we realized that there is a spiritual core , we can become more fully human and can know real freedom and accept real responsibility for our lives. In this recognition, there is liberty from alienation, boredom or despair. Another way of saying this is, that we learn to edify our lives rather that Id-fy them!

This realization that there is another source for our human behavior can assist us in rectifying the mistakes learned in our religious upbringing. In and through most of the span of religious history, people have purposed a “morals and conduct” form of conscience that we need to endure. One’s conscience is then comprised largely of all the rules one had to follow to avoid guilt, worry or punishment. Fear was the motivating factor and “the loss of heaven and the pangs of hell” was what kept us rigidly in line. Our conscience, however, is still a personal concern and the unconscious God still confronts and beckons us.

In the process of purging ourselves from the false beliefs about heaven and hell, conscience and guilt, we have all had to take courageous steps. The challenge, however, is not in the actual purging of false beliefs and dogmas, but in the replacing and affirming new ways of thinking and feeling after we are through rejecting those previous toxic ideas and emotions. We cannot be complete or content to just reject those old and crippling experiences and doctrines- we have to do the work! not just talk about it! (Parable of sweeping our the room (the heart) Matt. 12:43)

We are compelled by our unconscious God to actively seek what is vital and responsive to our needs. We seek then to discern and to ascertain just what is worthy of our belief and our trust. This is the domain of true conscience! To seek out the truth that frees us and grants us a whole new perspective on the meaning and purpose of our lives. In that quest, we can develop a personal theology that grasps distinctions and that promotes clarity in and through our thoughts and actions.

Frankl talks about this motivating factor of conscience in this context: He states that just like you cannot demand that

someone laugh or cry or love, we cannot demand that someone becomes religious or develops faith. His system of Logotherapy offers anyone who wills or desires it assistance with one’s personal struggles to achieve a lasting sense of purpose and meaning for their lives. It assist us in our search by educating us to the responsibility we have for delving into, venturing inward to find our own answers.

Frankl presents evidence that helps us to counter the claim of human inadequacy to understand the meaning of our lives. Logo therapy supports the intimate, the innate, and the ultimate goodness of each individual, while recognizing that much of the dis-ease and the evil we find in our world comes from the frustration and inability to find these answers and behold a more compassionate self. Frankl uses the analogy that when the angel inside you is repressed or goes along unacknowledged, it becomes frustrated and inverted. This reversal process crates many little demons that will then taunt or plague us. These devils of anxiety, worry and fear are created and we are so occupied by them that we only have time to be superficial, empty, surface people and we lose the recognition of our own inner depth, riches, and true worth. According to Viktor Frankl, our spiritual core needs to be acknowledged regularly, even daily, and be seen as vital, essential, and alive within us.

In our readings (Acts 17; Matthew 12) we encounter the stirrings of our inner voice, religiously and poetically expressed. This conscience is the source of our truest humanity. it calls to us to venture in, and then step forward, to serve those inspirations and altruistic goals. Conscience is not a system of rewards and elaborate rules. Obedience to its moral impulse cannot be demanded, for the goodness contains its our release and rewards, its own freedom and dignity. Frankl calls this realization, the ability that we all have to listen to the wisdom of our hearts….

It is our “unconscious God” that urges and asks us from within to do what is best for our own freedom and growth, our own well-being. Instead of allowing oneself to be susceptible to the whims of ego and culture that spawns the feelings of negativity or locks us up into habits, we can listen to our inner voice that will take us up to our higher self.

The responsibility of making our unconscious God in us more alert and responsive would refine the human character and clarify our purpose and meaning. That self-derived conscience instills a new vitality and allows a person to recognize and affirm their own depth and dominions. In the development of a personal faith or theology that one can truly utilize we have to learn to heed this unconscious God that Frankl’s ideas and that his life attests to, and to regard its reality and inspiration more wholeheartedly, more lovingly. Our quest lies within us…. it awaits our discovery so that it can be more graciously revealed… . All it takes is a willingness to venture in, explore, outgrow and to know! AMEN

Reprint II: Bishop Spong on Justice

November 8, 2010 - 6:59 pm 17 Comments

Bishop Spong and The Church;

A Question about The Prophetic/Justice Imperative contrasted to the Motives of the Institutional Church;

Dr. Wallace from Pennsylvania writes:

“Our diocese has a linked relationship with one of the dioceses in southern Sudan. Terrible conditions. Our bishop and his wife visited the area (Kajo Keji) for three weeks several months ago. Our diocese has responded generously to pleas for food and other assistance. As it often happens, once caring people become personally exposed to conditions of millions upon millions in the developing world and have an opportunity to compare and contrast, the result – certainly by most Christians I have known – is a strong motivation to respond. In Swaziland in January, I guided our rector through a nine-day tour of conditions and the AIDS situation in Swaziland – same response. My bias as a Christian has been for many years that many faith groups place a significant emphasis and focus on the importance of belief as compared with the importance of behavior.

I recall a number of passages in the New Testament that cite Christ’s focus on loving God and our neighbors. From my personal perspective, love of a neighbor and all of its critical interpretations receives much less focus and emphasis in the Church than love of God. What usually occurs after a meaningful experience with poverty, loss of hope and inequity, there is a brief flash of sympathy, often action of some sort – some of which is indeed useful. But sooner or later there seems to be a return for our church leaders to fall back on what appears to me to be some fuzzy interpretations that occurred many centuries ago and would never stand active interpretation.

So, as I challenge church leaders, clergy and congregations, my question relates to how I can encourage them to review one of the essential mandates from Christ – his clear and emphatic emphasis on our responsibilities toward our fellow human beings.”

Dear Dr. Wallace,

You touch the ultimate question that always hampers the Christian Church. I am not sure Christianity would have survived for 2000 years had it not been institutionalized. I am not sure if it will survive the next 100 years because it is institutionalized.

Every institution places its ultimate weight on preserving its own life. That is why the Church emphasizes loving God over loving one’s neighbor. Loving God can be expressed through worship and liturgy, building stone monuments and in filling them with music as well as mystery. These are the emotions that build great cathedrals, vest clergy elaborately, decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, create chorales and oratorios, all of which shroud God in mystery and wonder and draw people, who are always seeking relationship with the holy, into the Church’s orbit engaging them in worship. This serves the Church’s need for power that has always been its highest priority.

The push for justice on the other hand might be at the center of the Gospel but it also attacks the balance of power in the society. Since the rich always exploit the poor, to give the poor power, dignity and humanity makes them less pliable, less cooperative. Prejudices also cover human insecurities and so they always receive religious sanctions. The Bible portrays God justifying the hatred of the Hebrews for their overlords, the Egyptians. Otherwise, the story of the divine plagues aimed at the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus makes no sense.

White people cover their fear and insecurity against people of color by subjugating them as either slaves (later segregation and dehumanizing prejudice) or as vassal states to a colonial empire. Males cover their masculine sense of inadequacy by treating women as second-class citizens. Heterosexuals reveal their sexual insecurity by oppressing homosexual persons. It is interesting to me to see how throughout history we blessed our prejudices with sanctified quotations from Holy Scriptures as if to say God shares our prejudices with us.

The great biblical tradition says that loving God and loving one’s neighbor are not two separate actions but two sides of the same action. It was the prophet Amos who bore witness to the fact that divine worship is nothing but human justice being offered to God and human justice is nothing but divine worship being lived out. It was the First Epistle of John that warned us that one cannot love God without loving one’s neighbor and to suggest otherwise is to be “a liar.” It was Jesus himself to whom the words are attributed that his purpose is to bring life and to bring it abundantly. To be a disciple of Jesus means a dedication to being a life giver, a life enhancer to all people at all times and under all circumstances. Finally, in the parable of the Judgment in Matthew 25, the entire basis of salvation is said to be not the way one believes, that is to creeds, doctrines and dogma but whether or not one serves the Christ who is to be seen in the faces of the poor, the hungry, the naked, the imprisoned and the sick.

The task of people like you, Ned, is to call institutional Christianity daily to accept its vocation to follow its Lord by giving its life in the service of others. But lest you be disillusioned, you need always to be aware that the people who will hear the call of Christ and the call that you have so often heard and to which you have given yourself so courageously will always be a minority,

a saving remnant within the body of believers. However, that witness is essential to the life and health of the whole body. It is a fact that the great reformers of Christian history were generally regarded as troublemakers in their own generation. Only history applauds the prophet. The vast majority of those who share your generation, Ned, will be forgotten in a generation or two. But your work will be enshrined in the memory of the people you have served so deeply that it will finally enter the mythology of their culture. That is no insignificant contribution.