David Benner on accessing the mind of Christ
My dear friend Phileena Heuertz has just published on the website of her organisation, Gravity Center, a reflection on the way in which a comptemplative stance could help Christians in the US (and I would say, anywhere in the world) get some perspective ‘from above’ on the messy world in which we live.
Here is summary of her suggestions, which she gathers under the acronym ACTION:
Rear HERE the entire text.
I am doing a series on the blog about why I became Anglican, and last week I looked at the church calendar, and this week I want to dip into “worship,” by which I mean Sunday morning worship service. (I do not equate worship with Sunday morning worship, but Sunday morning worship is worship.)
If the church calendar shapes the church themes, the church liturgy for Holy Eucharist is shaped by a customary set of elements of the worship service. Each of these is needed, each is integrated into the other, and each is formative for Christian discipleship. To repeat from last week’s blog post, I don’t idealize or idolize Anglican worship, but I believe it is a mature, wise, and deeply theological tradition at work.
I have taken for my text this morning last week’s worship guide, or bulletin. Here are the elements of our worship and eucharist celebration: processional hymn, a call to worship, the Word of God, the proclamation of the Word of God, the Nicene Creed, prayers of the people, confession of sin, passing the peace, and then we move into Eucharist beginning with an offering, doxology, the great thanksgiving, breaking of bread, a prayer of thanksgiving and we close with a blessing.Read More »
Biblical messages often proceed from historical incidents, but the actual message does not depend upon communicating those events with perfect factual accuracy. Any good writer knows that! Spiritual writers are not primarily journalists. Hebrew rabbis and scholars sometimes used an approach called midrash in which they reflected on a story to communicate all of its underlying message. Scripture can be understood on at least four levels: literal meaning, deep meaning, comparative meaning, and hidden meaning. Midrash allowed and encouraged each listener to grow with a text and not to settle for mere literalism, which of itself bears very little spiritual fruit. Some Christians do the same today with mature, reflective reading of Scripture (lectio divina), but Jesus and ancient Jewish teachers were much more honest and up front about this.
Whatever is received is received according to the manner of the receiver. This was drilled into me during my seminary education. People at different levels of development will interpret the same text (or homily) in different ways. There is no one right way to interpret sacred texts. Such a singular approach was a defensive posture that emerged more strongly after the fights of the Reformation and the attacks of the Enlightenment. How you see is what you see; the who that you bring to your reading of the Scriptures matters. Is it a defensive who? An offensive who? A power-hungry who? A righteous who? Surely, this is why we need to pray before reading a sacred text!Read More »
Nota: Nu stiu cum mi-a scapat acest exceptional text al lui Andrei Plesu din Dilema, despre riscurile libertatii. Redau aici doar primele paragrafe ale textului, si paragraful final, care mi se pare genial, si care exprima mult mai bine decit as fi putut-o face eu vreodata, propriile mele framintari si convingeri legate de ;roblema libertatii. Sper ca acestea vor fi suficiente motivatii ca sa cititi intregul text pe situl revistei.
* * *
Una dintre cele mai frumoase teme ale teologiei creștine este tema libertății acordate de Creator omului, așa încît din alcătuirea sa (gîndită „după chipul și asemănarea“ Autorului) să nu lipsească un atribut esențial: dreptul la alegere și inițiativă. Nu există „persoană“, în sens deplin, fără liber arbitru, fără autonomia deciziei și fără răspunderea propriilor decizii. Dumnezeu nu ne vrea „gata programați“, ființe teleghidate, care fac „ce trebuie“ pur și simplu pentru că nu au, în codul lor de fabricație, altă variantă. Dumnezeu nu vrea să dialogheze cu niște roboți, într-o lume „perfectă“ prin monotonie. Din punctul de vedere al Creatorului Atotputernic, această „concesie“ făcută libertății umane este un sacrificiu, o autolimitare. Un fel de a-Și atenua „atotputernicia“. Cu alte cuvinte, Dumnezeu renunță la ceva din „absolutitatea“ Sa, pentru a lăsa spațiu liber de manifestare creaturii Sale (incluzînd posibilitatea greșelii, a orgoliului și, la limită, a apostaziei). Dumnezeu lasă, deci, o șansă paradoxală derapajului, erorii, impurității, ne-iubirii, ne-credinței. Cîți suverani sînt capabili de așa ceva?Read More »
I begin a series that will seek to shed some light on why I am Anglican. Image used with permission. More than twice a month I am asked “Why did you become Anglican?” The answer to […]
Source: Why Be Anglican?
I get this question too, a lot. So, here is some answer, even if here and there my enphases would be slightly diffeerent than those of Scot McKnight.
Do we really try to practice presence at leaast from time to time?
Or do we really know what that is?
Here is, possibly, a good question for the beginning of the new year.
Note: I have received this birthday meditation from my friend Levente Horvath, addressed, again, to ‘a son of Advent’, and I have decided to share it with you.
* * *
As a Christian I shouldn’t try to think my way into a different way of living, but to live my way into a different way of thinking (paraphrasing Rohr). And of what does this different/new way of thinking consist? It is not just thinking that I am sharing the same confession of faith with the brethren, not that we agree with each other in our brains, but something far more beyond that. It is receiving others as I was received by Christ. As Jean-Louis Chrétien put it, “The first hospitality is nothing other than listening.” By listening, I pave the way toward living a “receiving-others-into-my-life, into-my-own personality”- lifestyle instead of living a life of pure thinking. In the New Testament Greek the word person (PERSONA in Latin) comes from PROSOPON, meaning “face-to-face.” This word in modernism was substituted with the word individual, INDIVIDUUM, the unit which cannot be further divided. But persona means turning to the other person, being open to listen to, receive, and let the person become part of me. This lets me be(come) a GENUINE PERSON. That is the secret of a Christian fellowship, of Christian living in, and as a member of, His Body. Rational abstraction is misleading, an illusion of living. Read More »
Do you love your faith so little that you have never battled a single fear lest your faith should not be true? Where there are no doubts, no questions, no perplexities, there can be no growth.
– George MacDonald
In my spiritual memoir, Water To Wine, part of the story I tell involves my own journey away from cheap certitude toward an authentic faith. It is a phenomenon of modernity that certitude (mental assent toward something as an absolute empirical fact) has become confused with faith (an orientation of the soul toward God in the form of deep trust).
That this phenomenon is prevalent among certain streams of Christians is strangely ironic since this involves genuflecting at the altar of empiricism and privileging knowledge over faith. Privileging empiricism above faith as the final arbiter of truth is a hallmark of modernity, but it is also antithetical to Christianity.
Certitude is a poor substitute for authentic faith. But certitude is popular; it’s popular because it’s easy. No wrestling with doubt, no dark night of the soul, no costly agonizing over the matter, no testing yourself with hard questions. Just accept a secondhand assumption or a majority opinion or a popular sentiment as the final word and settle into certainty.
Certitude is easy…until it’s impossible. And, that’s why certitude is so often a disaster waiting to happen. The empty slogan “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” is cheap certitude, not genuine faith.Read More »
In him was life,
and that life was the light of the people.
The light shines in darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
Advent is a season of waiting. The anticipation of things to come. The desperate hope that the darkness of the world is not the end of the story; but one day light will prevail.
For those invested and paying attention to the political realities of the Middle East, often darkness seems to rule the day. There is much darkness to lament.
The darkness of the Syrian conflict that has raged for more than half a decade and has
resulted in the displacement and death of millions… Read More »
Sectiunea de spiritualitate a revistei Formula As a publicat recent un foarte interesant interviu cu domnul Sever Voinescu, redactor-şef al revistei Dilema, un intelectual care nu face un secret din angajarea lui religioasa.
Redau aici inceputul acestui interviu. Multumesc pentru acest link prietenului meu, domnul Ioan T Morar.
* * *
– În ultimii ani, cititorii dvs. v-au putut cunoaşte o latură neştiută a personalităţii dvs.: aceea de creştin practicant. Cum a început drumul dvs. spre Dumnezeu? Cum aţi descoperit bucuria credinţei?
– Am simţit misterul teribil al lui Dumnezeu, încă înainte să ştiu bine ce-i cu el. Credinţa a crescut în mine natural, cumva firesc, fără să fi existat vreun moment zero, vreo revelaţie sau vreun şoc existenţial, cum au fost, de exemplu, cele ale Sfântului Apostol Pavel sau al Fericitului Augustin. Pur şi simplu, în procesul de descoperire de sine, prin care trece orice om în anii primei tinereţi, eu am descoperit în mine un credincios. Nu am fost niciodată altfel. Lecturile şi un anumit anturaj m-au ajutat enorm să înţeleg ce e cu mine, abia mai târziu. Cât despre mărturisirea credinţei mele – simt nevoia să o fac tot mai des, cu cât văd că lumea devine tot mai necredincioasă. În cazul meu, mărturisirea credinţei creştine este, mai ales, o apologetică. Pe măsură ce se înteţesc atacurile la adresa creştinismului, simt nevoia să vorbesc lumii despre splendoarea credinţei mele. Sunt sigur că dacă aş fi trăit într-o lume mai încreştinată şi mai îmbisericită, precum cea medievală, de pildă, nu aş fi vorbit prea mult despre credinţa mea. Precizez că nu împărtăşesc deloc prejudecata Evului Mediu ca ev întunecat, obscurantist, plin de demoni şi ignoranţă, în mare diferenţă faţă de vremurile noastre, inteligente, luminoase şi deschise. Nici vorbă! Evul Mediu a fost o vreme cu lumini şi umbre precum este şi cea de astăzi. Iar ignoranţa şi prostia colectivă de azi nu este cu nimic mai prejos decât cea din Evul Mediu.
– Aţi avut o educaţie religioasă în familie?
– Mai degrabă, nu. Cum v-am spus, întâi am fost credincios şi abia apoi mi-am dat seama de asta…Read More »
Thanks to my friend Manu for the link.
Jesus’ teachings seem to have been understood rather clearly during the first few hundred years after his death and resurrection. Values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, and love of enemies were common among his early followers. For example, the Didache, written around AD 90, calls readers to “share all things with your brother; and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish.”  At this time, Christianity was countercultural, untouched by empire, rationalization, and compromise.
However, when the imperial edict of AD 313 elevated Christianity to a privileged position in the Roman Empire, the church increasingly accepted, and even defended, the dominant social order, especially concerning war, money, and class. Morality became individualized and largely sexual. Formal Christianity slowly lost its free and alternative vantage point, which is probably why what we now call “religious life” began, and flourished, after 313. People went to the edges of the church and took vows of poverty, living in satellites that became “little churches,” without ever formally leaving the big church.Read More »
(Source, Deviant Art)
- Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status or prestige.
- Learn the difference between a real need and an addiction. Then find support and accountability to regain “sobriety,” freedom from addiction.
- Develop a habit of giving things away.
- Avoid unnecessary and short-lived technological gadgets that promise to “save time.”
- Enjoy things without owning them. For example, take advantage of public libraries and parks.
- Nurture awe and appreciation for nature. Spend more time outdoors!
- Get out—and stay out—of debt.
- Use plain, honest speech. Say what you mean and keep your commitments.
- Reject anything that oppresses others. For example, buy Fair Trade products.
- Seek God’s kingdom of love and justice foremost. If anything distracts you from that purpose, let it go.
(Inspired by Richard J. Foster, “The Discipline of Simplicity,” The Celebration of Discipline (Harper & Row: 1978), 78-83, as quoted by Fr Richard Rohr.)
Source: Wisdom | Dr David G Benner
‘I would suggest that, grounded in a deep awareness of the sacredness and interconnectedness of everything in existence, wisdom is living in alignment with the creative Spirit of Wisdom who inhabits all of creation and who is our truest and deepest self. Much more than information or even knowledge, wisdom is a way of living that involves every aspect of our being. It is learning to access the wellbeing and wholeness that comes through participation in God’s transformational agenda of cosmic whole-making.’
This is the third of a 4-part interview of Dr. David G Benner by Dr. Jackie Stinton – a psychologist and spiritual director who lives in Calgary
Contemplative knowing intuits things in their wholeness, with all levels of connection and meaning, and perhaps how they fit in the full scheme of things. Thus, the contemplative response to the moment is always appreciation and inherent re-spect (“to look at a second time”) because I am now a part of what I am trying to see. Our first practical and partial observation of most things lacks this respect. It is not yet contemplative knowing. Frankly, when you see things contemplatively, everything in the universe is a mirror.
The originating mystery of Trinity both names and begins the mirroring process, allowing us to know all that we need to know by the same endless process of mirroring and reflecting. We know things in their depth and beauty only by this second gaze of love. “Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what God has made” (Romans 1:20).
A true mirror first receives an image and then reflects it back truthfully—but now so that I can see myself, too. The all-important thing is that you find the right mirror that mirrors you honestly and at depth. All personhood is created in this process, and our job is always to stay inside this mirroring. Our task is to trustfully receive and then reflect back the inner image transmitted to us until, as the apostle Paul expressed, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This is the whole spiritual journey in one sentence! All love, goodness, and holiness is a reflected gift. You take all things into yourself by gazing at them with reverence, and this completes the circuit of love—because this is how creation is looking out at you. The inner life of the Trinity has become the outer life of all creation. The divine mirroring will never stop; mirroring is how the whole transformation process is personally initiated and finally achieved.
The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation
Take Your Place at the Table
In Genesis we see the divine dance in an early enigmatic story (18:1-8). “The Lord” appears to Abraham as “three men.” Abraham and Sarah seem to see the Holy One in the presence of these three, and they bow before them and call them “my lord” (18:2-3 Jerusalem Bible). Their first instinct is one of invitation and hospitality—to create a space of food and drink for their guests. Here we have humanity feeding God; it will take a long time to turn that around in the human imagination. “Surely, we ourselves are not invited to this divine table,” the hosts presume.
I’d like to offer you a form of contemplation—a practice of accepting paradox and holding the tension of contradictions—called The Welcoming Prayer.
First, identify a hurt or an offense in your life. Remember the feelings you first experienced with this hurt and feel them the way you first felt them. Notice how this shows up in your body. Paying attention to your body’s sensations keeps you from jumping into the mind and its dualistic games of good-guy/bad-guy, win/lose, either/or.
After you can identify the hurt and feel it in your body, welcome it. Stop fighting it. Stop splitting and blaming. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger. It’s hard to do, but for some reason, when we name it, feel it, and welcome it, transformation can begin.Read More »
Here is, also , a list of essential reading for those interested in giving spiritual direction.
Source: Books for Beginning the Spiritual Journey – Carl McColmanHere is a great list of essential reading for those interested in Christian spirituality.
Check it out!
This is the third of a 4-part interview of Dr. David G. Benner by Dr. Jackie Stinton, a Calgary-based psychologist and spiritual director. The focus of this part of the interview is on faith and belief.
The important distinction between the true and false selves is foundational, yet it is often overlooked, perhaps because it is difficult to teach. Over the years, I have resorted to almost simplistic geometric images, and for many it seems to help. It imprints in the imagination better than concepts do. Perhaps this could help:
In the beginning, in our original unwoundedness (“innocence”), we live in an unconscious but real state of full connection. Perhaps you’ve sensed that babies are still in immediate connection with pure being. That’s probably why we can’t take our eyes off of them. But, I am afraid, we must “leave the garden”; and usually around the age of seven, we increasingly “think” of ourselves as separate. This idea of ourselves as separate is the “false self.” This is the essential illusion that spirituality seeks to overcome: “How do I get back to the garden of union and innocence?” Objectively I have never left, but it feels like I have.
Then comes the journey of finding connection and losing it. Picture the small “me” circle being totally outside of the large “God” circle, but hopefully still on the axis of loss and return. This is how we grow. We think we’re separate from God for many compelling reasons and we usually search for the correct rituals and moral responses in order to get God to like us again, and for us to learn to trust and know God. This is the dance of life and death.
Samuel Whitefield’s text is one of the best articles I have found, on the conservative side, about the dangerous moral and spiritual implications of Christians voting for ridiculous Trump. Reading it, made me shiver again andd again. This is the messag for a true prophet of God.
I will paste below what I consider to be the most significant quotes. I beg you to read the entire text, if you have time. It is really worth it. What Whitefield writes here is true not only for the US, but also for Iohannis’s Romania or for Orban’s Hungary. If yoou read it, you will know what I mean.
* * *
To become the prophetic voice the church is intended to be will cost us far more than we think. It is going to be more painful than we think to abandon our fixation with political solutions. We are used to political friendships, and we are used to a measure of respect from the system as a compliant and loyal voting block. I want to reframe what is at stake this election. There is something far bigger than economic policy at stake in 2016 – it is the church’s prophetic voice.Read More »
In a world that seems determined to go faster and faster each day; at breakneck speed for no reasons other than greed and fear, it is interesting and wise to wonder in the traditional way if our world is going mad and falling apart like never before – and that we are all caught up in this peculiar disintegration.
Nothing can be loved at speed, and I think we might be looking at the loss of love in the world due to the increased velocity of ordinary life; the loss of care, skill and attention enough to ensure the health and happiness of each other and the planet earth. It is a baffling problem and governments seem unable to recognize it, or do much about it at present.
To put it as a bleak modern metaphor, there may be moments when we feel we are all aboard an airliner being flown into a mountainside by the unstoppable forces of an incomprehensible madness. Now seems like a good time to talk about spirituality, art and innocence.
Why do I choose to put together this wonderful holy trinity of spirituality, art and innocence? Why do I feel so mystified, yet so at home and secure with these three ideas? Why the need to try and illuminate my ever deepening ideas about them, and yet enjoy watching them disappear beneath the depths of understanding or into the cloud of unknowing?Read More »
Richard Rohr describes here how the different parts of the Hebrew Scriptures delineate de two halves of life.
Fr. Rohr is sharing this week, and the following, his ideas about the ‘two halves of life’, the topic of his book Falling Upward, and of many of his recorded talks.
This coincides with my intention to share on my blog some quotes and comments from my fifth reading of the book mentioned above, which had a great impact on my life at a time that I most needed it. My providential meeting with Fr Rohr, four years ago has created a bond between us, and I consider him my spiritual mentor at a distance. I hope my reflections on his ideas will be also helpful for you.
4th part of this interview
Modesty. What is it? What isn’t it? Guest post by four-year seminarian student turned holy husband and lay theologian, AloysiusG, The conversation of modesty in our culture is a really mixed-…