Thursday, July 4, 2019
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS—known as “the nun on the bus”—is someone I consider a modern prophet. She is the Executive Director of NETWORK, an organization that lobbies for socially just federal policies. On this “Independence Day” (in the United States), reflect on Sr. Simone’s invitation to co-create our collective freedom.
In the last half of the twentieth century, thankfully, our society began to engage in a serious process of trying to atone for the sin of slavery, and in doing so much emphasis was placed on promoting civil rights. An unintended consequence of this important movement was a heightened focus on individuals and individual exercise of the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. The civil rights movement came out of community, but the legal expression focused on individuals’ capacity to exercise their freedoms. Some fearful Americans—largely white men who professed a conservative version of Christianity—felt threatened, as if there were not enough rights to go around. They sought to create their own “movement.” This reaction in part fueled the rise of the tea party movement. . . .
But a democracy cannot survive if various groups and individuals only pull away in different directions. Such separation will not guarantee that all are allowed the opportunity for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” All people must be recognized for their inherent dignity and gifts regardless of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or their place of origin. And all these gifts need to be shared in order to build up the whole.
So I have begun to wonder if the new task of the first half of the twenty-first century should be a commitment to civil obligations as a balance to the focus on civil rights.
Civil obligations call each of us to participate out of a concern and commitment for the whole. Civil obligations call us to vote, to inform ourselves about the issues of the day, to engage in serious conversation about our nation’s future and learn to listen to various perspectives. To live our civil obligations means that everyone needs to be involved and that there needs to be room for everyone to exercise this involvement. This is the other side of civil rights. We all need our civil rights so that we can all exercise our civil obligations.
The mandate to exercise our civil obligations means that we can’t be bystanders who scoff at the process of politics while taking no responsibility. We all need to be involved. Civil obligations mean that we must hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and we must advocate for those who are struggling to exercise their obligations. The 100 percent needs the efforts of all of us to create a true community.
It is an unpatriotic lie that we as a nation are based in individualism. The Constitution underscores the fact that we are rooted and raised in a communal society and that we each have a responsibility to build up the whole. The Preamble to the Constitution could not be any clearer: “We the People” are called to “form a more perfect Union.”
-Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
Simone Campbell with David Gibson, A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne: 2014), 180-182.
Image credit: Frieze of the Prophets (detail), John Singer Sargent, circa 1892, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
‘Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, if you know someone who ought to run for something, or if you ought to run for something, the thing you ought to run for is the state legislature in your state. And you better do it right now.’ [Maddow Blog]
There is only one true flight from the world: it is not an escape from conflict, anguish, and suffering, bu the flight from disunity and separation, to unity and peace in the love other (wo)men.”
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
What does is mean to be good? This is not something people talk about, or agree on much of these days.
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics …”
Happy 4th. ❥
“When I was a child, we saw pictures of military parades in the Soviet Union. I was taught that America doesn’t do that— that we’re proud of the fact that we don’t do it because we don’t wish to be a militarized society. This July 4th however, America’s official celebration will be accompanied by army tanks on the National Mall.
The militarization of July 4th celebrations is repugnant to me. What we celebrate on July 4th is our greatest strength: the Declaration of Independence and the principles that it articulates. That is what we have always done, and that is what we must continue to do.
President Trump will be doing his July 4th event in Washington DC with army tanks on the National Mall; I will be doing mine in Concord, New Hampshire, with a message that I assume will be quite different than his.
Please join me tomorrow at 2pm PT/5pm ET via livestream or live in Concord for a July 4 talk that celebrates our principles, dedicating our hearts to the rights—and the responsibilities—it bequeaths to us. Another generation was given the task of giving birth to the country; the task of our generation is to give it new life.
I look forward to being with you!”
One of two Bradley Fighting Vehicles is parked next to the Lincoln Memorial. Photo: Andrew Harnik.
As I prepare for tonight’s debate, I am thinking about why I got into this race. I’m committed to articulating as strongly as I can my beliefs on which this campaign stands.
I believe we won’t be the country that we can be, until we’re the people that we can be. Too many people are held back from being all they can be, due to bad public policy that does more to limit their dreams than to unleash their spirits.
I believe government can and should be a force for good. It should create and secure opportunities for people to embrace the light, thus making it less probable they will fall into darkness.
America has now fallen into a dark night of the American soul. We’re living at a time when some of the worst human impulses have been turned into a political force. And that will be transcended only by the best human impulses turned into a political force.
That is why I take a stand for love.
I take a stand for economic and social justice. I take a stand for America’s children. I take a stand for safety. I take a stand for our planet. I take a stand for racial reconciliation. And I take a stand for peace.
I will continue to do that, tonight in Miami, tomorrow in Homestead, and the day after that in Iowa. I will continue to campaign on the possibility that America can emerge from this time and be better than we have ever been.
“We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist and maybe help make the world a better place.”
Trees are all clothed and benches are out, and a new summer has begun.
This solstice supports family, home, nurturing, and taking care of your container, your body and your self care. The energy is feminine, creative, fertile and supportive to collaboration, honoring of Mother Earth and Mother figures, and feeding the seeds that you are planting for new projects and ideas. We are focused on honoring the sun as well, taking in the energy of that life force and filling ourselves up with it.
Beware of the emotional edge that can either challenge or support you during this time. Think before you speak and act and always consider others. When in doubt, come from a place of kindness and compassion.
´*.¸.• .¸. ❥❥¸¸.☆¨¯ .¸.¸¸.☆¨¯`❥❥
The Solstice is Friday, June 21st, at 9:54 AM Mountain Daylight Time [MDT].
Friday, June 14, 2019
‘As you have undoubtedly noticed, the feminine is rising at last, overflowing the banks of every landscape, from politics to religion, from the world of entertainment to the fields of peace and justice. She is unconditionally loving, and she is deliciously irreverent. She is shifting the global paradigm from one of dominance and individualized salvation to one of collective awakening and service to all beings.
Her wisdom has been hidden in the heart of each of the great spiritual traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all Indigenous wisdom ways. Access to these jewels has required excavation, but the treasures that have emerged are transfiguring the soul of the world, offering medicine for the broken heart of humanity and the materials needed to mend the torn fabric of the earth.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have been irresistibly drawn to every religion I encountered. Born into a non-religious Jewish family, I had embraced multiple spiritual traditions by the time I was twenty and integrated them into my daily life: a deep devotion to an Indian saint, a daily Buddhist meditation practice, initiation into multiple Sufi lineages, a reclamation of the ancient beauty of my ancestral home in Judaism, and an unexpected friendship with Christ through the mystics, whose words I have since translated. Each of these paths has comingled in my being, creating a rich and robust spiritual soil.
It is the Christian women mystics who have become my most cherished spiritual sisters and role models. The sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, Teresa of Ávila [1515–1582] has shown me what it looks like to cultivate ecstatic intimacy with God in the center of my own being and also find my Beloved “living among the pots and pans.” The medieval Rhineland visionary Hildegard of Bingen [1098–1179] praises God’s greening energy in every particle of creation, helping me to glimpse the face of the One in all that is. The English anchoress Julian of Norwich [1342–1316] had a near death experience in which Christ revealed himself as an unconditionally loving Mother who continuously breaks herself open and pours herself out to her children, endlessly forgiving and enthusiastically adoring us.
Through each of these wise women, I have come to recognize the holiness of incarnation. There is nothing in this gorgeous, messy world, not a thing in my own imperfect perfection, no place in the scope of the human predicament or the majesty of the natural world that is not, by its very nature, blessed: the chosen dwelling place of the One we love. 
Our experiences of embodiment may not always correspond with idealized images of holiness, but these preconceptions derive from masculine standards of perfection. Such paradigms have caused great harm, and they are no longer valid. I invite you to abandon your efforts to fix yourself and instead reclaim your innate beauty and worth as a luminous cell in the body of Mother Earth.’ 
 Mirabai Starr, “Indwelling and Outflowing,” the Mendican, vol. 9, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), 3.
 Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 154.
The only bad moments in our training involved the press… Whereas NASA appeared to be very enlightened about flying women astronauts, the press didn’t appear to be. The things that they were concerned with were not the same things that I was concerned with… Everybody wanted to know what kind of makeup I was taking up — they didn’t care about how well-prepared I was to operate the arm or deploy communication satellites… The worst question that I’ve gotten was whether I cried when we got malfunctions in the simulator. -Sally Ride
“In 1978, while studying for her Ph.D. in physics, Sally Ride (May 26, 1951–July 23, 2012) answered a newspaper ad from NASA. On June 18, 1983, she soared into the cosmos aboard the Space Shuttle Challengerand became the first American woman in space, the country’s youngest astronaut in orbit, and the world’s first lesbian astronaut to launch into the cosmos. “We’ve come a long way,” she declared.
But lurking in the shadow of every major leap toward equality is also a reminder of how far we have yet to go. Shortly after returning to Earth from orbit, Ride sat down with trailblazing feminist Gloria Steinem — a woman who has dedicated her life to the art of public listening — for a conversation about gender in science, how the options our culture makes available to us limit the dreams we’re capable of dreaming, how lazy journalism perpetuates stereotypes, and the future of space exploration.”
God is in the roses
The petals and the thorns
Storms out on the oceans
The souls who will be born
And every drop of rain that falls
Falls for those who mourn
God is in the roses
And the thorns. -Rosanne Cash
“Vulnerability transforms you. You can’t be in the presence of a truly vulnerable, honestly vulnerable person and not be affected. I think that’s the way we are meant to be in the presence of one another.” [Richard Rohr]
The cross was not a transactional moment, but deeper, ensconced in humility and vulnerability. [Reference to Richard Rohr]
“As he draws near Jerusalem, Jesus weeps out of a sadness and frustration at people’s blindness to what is right in front of them…oblivious.” [Forward Day by Day]
“The Talmud says that unhappy conditions arise when we mistake shadower substance. We are ever renewed by the presence of that which cannot change. We are ever renewed by the passage of the Divine light through our consciousness. Silently, I pass from less to more, from isolation to inclusion, from separation into oneness.” [Ernest Holmes]
“And this above all: that through these petals light must pass. From a thousand skies, each drop of darkness is filtered out and the glow at the core of each flower grows stronger and rises into life.
And the movement of the roses has a branch none could discern, were it for for what it ignites in the universe entire…
One could say they were self-contained if self-contained meant to transform the world outside, patience of springtime, guilt and restlessness, the secrecy of fate and the darkness of Earth at evening…on out to the streaming and fleeing of clouds and, farther yet, the orders of the stars…take it all and turn it into a handful of inwardness.”
See how it lies at ease in the open roses. -Rilke
“Hard, awful things happen in this broken world. Nothing we can do will change that fact. Bad things happen, and they will happen to good people we love, or to us.” [Forward Day by Day]
“Those who love us will miss us.” -Keanu Reeves
“Identification with suffering might just be non-dual thinking in its most active and proactive form and why nonviolence demands such a high level of transformation. Our resistance to suffering is an entire industry now, perhaps symbolized by the total power of the gun lobby and the permanent war economy in America, the fear of any profit sharing with the poor, or the need to be constantly entertained. Maybe that is why some have said that the foundational virtue underlying al others is courage (“cor-agere” = an action of the heart). It takes immense courage to walk in solidarity with the suffering of there’s, and even our own.” -Fr. Richard Rohr
As an inlet cannot close itself to the sea that shapes it, the heart can only wear itself open.
“One of the hardest blessings to accept about the heart is that in the image of life itself, it will not stop emerging through experience. No matter how we try to preserve or relieve what has already happened, the heart will not stop being shaped. It knows that the only way to truly remember or stay whole is to take the best and worst into its tissue.
Despite all our intentions not be hurt again, the heart keeps us going by moving us ever forward into health. Though we walk around thinking we can direct it, our heart is endlessly shaped like the land, often against our will.” -Mark Nepo
How an Oregon Rancher is Building Soil Health—and a Robust Regional Food System
Fourth-generation rancher Cory Carman holistically manages 5,000-acres which serve as a model for sustainable meat operations in the Pacific Northwest.
Carman Ranch began as a few hundred acres Carman’s great-great-grandfather Jacob Weinhard—nephew to the legendary Northwest beer brewer Henry Weinhard—bought for his son Fritz in the early 1900s. Under Carman’s watch, the operation now spans 5,000 acres of grasslands, timbered rangeland, and irrigated valley ground nestled against the dramatic peaks of the Wallowa Mountains. Hawks, eagles, and wildlife greatly outnumber people in this isolated northeastern corner of the state, originally home to the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of the Nez Perce tribe.
Distinct from most cattle operations in the U.S., Carman’s cattle are 100 percent grass-fed well as grass-finished. (The term “grass-fed” is not regulated, so it can mean that animals have only been briefly pastured before they’re sent to a factory feedlot to be finished.) The ranch primarily produces cattle and pigs, which it mostly markets to wholesale accounts, though it sells a lesser amount of meat as “cow shares”—or quarters of beef ranging from 120 to 180 pounds purchased directly by consumers.
Equally if not more important to Carman, however, is the focus on what she calls the “holistic management” of her land. This involves constantly moving the cattle and paying careful attention to the rate of growth of the animals and grasses. By this system, the steers select the forages they need to grow and gain weight, and the grasses get clipped, trampled down, and fertilized with manure, resulting in fields that are vibrant—they retain water, resist drought, contain abundant organic matter, which contributes nutrients and carbon, and are highly productive without the addition of fertilizer.
Mid-Sized Farms Are Disappearing. This Program Could Reverse the Trend.
A new ‘Ag of the Middle’ program helps small producers scale up so that they can compete in a food system designed to benefit larger farms.
“If we don’t invest in beginning farmers and the advancement of our family farms, and if we don’t put checks on increasing consolidation in agriculture, we’re going to be at risk of losing the ag of the middle entirely,” said Juli Obudzinski, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Interim Policy Director, in a recent statement. “Seventy-five percent of all agricultural sales are now coming from just 5 percent of operations.”
Over the years, a number of experts have written books and formed think tanks to address agriculture’s shrinking middle, but as many of the men and women running the remaining mid-sized farms are looking toward retirement, the most important question may be how to best help farmers like the Menchinis grow to take their place.
The Ag of the Middle Accelerator Program from Portland-based nonprofit Ecotrust aims to do just that. The two-year program helps smaller farms, ranches, and fishermen grow to gross between $100,000 to $3 million. And it hopes to build a model that can be borrowed and reproduced all around the country.
Expanding The Shrinking Middle
While there are no hard and fast rules dictating farm size, mid-size operations tend to be regional, somewhat diverse operations that negotiate prices with their customers in restaurant, retail, or at institutions, while large farms are typically less diverse, operate globally, and make millions selling to processors, brokers, or distributors for a price that is set by the market.
Diversity, Essence, and Communion
Sr. Joan Brown is a longtime friend and Franciscan, serving as Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, a nonprofit that works for climate justice. She writes about three foundational principles needed for harmony and wholeness:
‘All of us who live, breathe, and walk upon this amazing, holy Mother Earth are called to understand the cosmic principles inherent in the interdependent energy dynamic that throbs through every element of life. Nothing exists without these three interdependent energies that emerged from the first flaring forth over 13.8 billion years ago: differentiation or diversity; subjectivity, interiority, or essence; and communion or community and interconnectedness. These energies offer vital lessons for the critical times in which we live, where diversity causes conflict, living is often at a superficial level, and individualism runs rampant. 
First, every one of us—every human being, every drop of water, every molecule, every bird, each grain of sand, and each mountain—is distinct or different. Each is a distinct manifestation of Divine Love energy. The universe thrives upon, and cannot exist without, diversity. The very differences that we shun, avoid, or even destroy are necessary for life to continue in a multitude of magnificent forms. . . .
The second cosmic principle, interiority or essence, is more easily understood by people of all religious traditions. Every created thing is holy. Every blade of grass, grasshopper, child, and element is holy. Ecological degradation, racism, discrimination, hate, and disinterest in working for justice and love each speak to the lack of honoring the interiority of that which stands before me. . . . In order to help people adjust and cope with climate change, which is the most critical concern of our day, I believe we must get in touch with the sacred essence of everything that exists.
The third cosmic principle, communion or community, is intimately linked to differentiation/diversity and interiority/essence. A quote attributed to Thich Nhat Hanh states it well: “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”  The gravitational pull of love draws everyone and everything into relationship and communion. . . .
Perhaps, as Beatrice Bruteau wrote, “If we cannot love our neighbor as ourself, it is because we do not perceive our neighbor as ourself.”  If we are unable to see that we are in communion with another, we will not realize that what we do to ourselves, we do to the other and to the earth. Likewise, we do not realize that, ultimately, our lack of understanding turns back toward us in violence, whether that is fear of other races and diversity, or destruction of Earth because we see the natural world as an object rather than a subject with interiority. . . .
We are called to be larger than who we can imagine being in this moment. The cosmic principles are a new way of understanding, seeing, and acting in a world that seems to be torn apart by a misunderstanding of the beauty of diversity, the holiness of essence, and the evolutionary pull of communion.’
[Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation]
 Passionist priest and eco-theologian Thomas Berry (1914–2009) and evolutionary cosmologist Brian Swimme wrote about these principles in their book, The Universe Story (HarperCollins: 1994, ©1992). Their work builds upon the cosmological investigations of paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), which were also explored by the writer and mystic Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014).
 Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching shared by Wendy Johnson, “A Floating Sangha Takes Root: Early Days in Plum Village with Thich Nhat Hanh,” Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, vol. 24, no. 3 (Spring 2015). See https://tricycle.org/magazine/floating-sangha-takes-root/.
 Beatrice Bruteau, The Holy Thursday Revolution (Orbis: 2005), 6.
Joan Brown, “Embracing Diversity through the Cosmic Principles,” “Unity and Diversity,” Oneing, vol. 6, no. 2 (CAC Publishing: 2018), 18-22.
Image credit: Pure Diversity (detail), Mirta Toledo, 1993. Art Collection of TCU University, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
‘By myself I am noting at all, but in general, I AM the oneing of love. For it is in this oneing that the life all people exists.
Julian of Norwich, also known as Dame Julian or Mother Julian, was an English anchorite of the Middle Ages. She wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language to be written by a woman, Revelations of Divine Love.
Without a nature-based spirituality, a profane Universe.
Creation is the order of love.
We did not know where to look for the DiVine. So we built temples and shrines to capture and hold our domesticated and tamed God.
Each living thing reveals some aspect of God.
Poet Gregory Orr, A gentle reminder of our singular relationship with the Earth.
We can enter into a relationship that’s deep and reciprocal and sustaining, where we give to the place, and the place gives to us.
‘White dominant culture has been alive and well for centuries, and its grasp for power is only growing more desperate. Today we see unabashed racism, classism, and sexism at the highest levels of the United States government. How naïve many of us were to think we lived in a post-racial society after the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and after we saw an African American president and his family in the White House. Now our collective shadow has again come out in the open for all to see.
It seems every generation must be newly converted. While we seek to transform individual hearts and minds we must also work to create change throughout systems. Until a full vision of equity is realized, we must continue naming and resisting the ways in which so many people are excluded and oppressed. Author and activist adrienne maree brown writes:
Separation weakens. It is the main way we are kept (and keep each other) in conditions of oppression. . . . Where we are born into privilege, we are charged with dismantling any myth of supremacy. Where we are born into struggle, we are charged with claiming our dignity, joy and liberation. . . .Adrienne Maree Brown, “Report: Recommendations for Us Right Now from a Future,” Sublevel, issue 2 (2018)
If we remain exclusive monotheists, like Judaism, Islam, and much of Christianity up to now, we normally try to impose a false uniformity on others but rarely know how to love, honor, and respect diversity. We remain in competing tribes and colonies.’
-Richard Rohr, Center of Action & Contemplation
Let’s remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.
Let’s, as Wordsworth said, remove
“The dust of custom” so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.
And then we’ll see the world
As if for the first time,
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.
“The beauty of being human is that we are incredibly, intimately near each other, we know about each other, but yet we do not know or never can know what it’s like inside another person.”
-John O’Donohue, Irish poet, author & priest
The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.
Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. The architects of apartheid understood this. Part of the effort to divide black people was to make sure we were separated not just physically but by language as well. Racism teaches us that we are different because of the color of our skin. But because racism is stupid, it’s easily tricked. If you’re racist and you meet someone who doesn’t look like you, the fact that he/she can’t speak like you reinforces your racist preconceptions: He/She’s different, less intelligent. However, if the person who doesn’t look like you speaks like you, the brain brain short-circuits because your racism program has none of those instructions in the code.
-Born a Crime, Stories from a South African Childhood
‘We are no longer innocent; but we must make every effort to become primitive so that we can begin again each time, and from our hearts. We must become springtime people in order to find the summer, whose greatness we must herald.’
-Rilke, Early Journals
To Save the Church, Dismantle the Priesthood
Catholics must death themselves from the clerical hierarchy, and take the faith back into their own hands.
As James Joyce wrote in Finnegans Wake, Catholic means “Here Comes Everybody.”
Replacing the diseased model of the Church with something healthy may involve, for a time, intentional absence from services or life on the margins—less in the pews than in the rearmost shadows. But it will always involve deliberate performance of the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting the sick, striving for justice. These can be today’s chosen forms of the faith. It will involve, for many, unauthorized expressions of prayer and worship—egalitarian, authentic, ecumenical; having nothing to do with diocesan borders, parish boundaries, or the sacrament of holy orders. That may be especially true in so-called intentional communities that lift up the leadership of women. These already exist, everywhere. No matter who presides at whatever form the altar takes, such adaptations of Eucharistic observance return to the theological essence of the sacrament. Christ is experienced not through the officiant but through the faith of the whole community. “For where two or three are gathered in my name,” Jesus said, “there am I in the midst of them.”
In what way, one might ask, can such institutional detachment square with actual Catholic identity? Through devotions and prayers and rituals that perpetuate the Catholic tradition in diverse forms, undertaken by a wide range of commonsensical believers, all insisting on the Catholic character of what they are doing. Their ranks would include ad hoc organizers of priestless parishes; parents who band together for the sake of the religious instruction of youngsters; social activists who take on injustice in the name of Jesus; and even social-media wizards launching, say, #ChurchResist. As ever, the Church’s principal organizing event will be the communal experience of the Mass, the structure of which—reading the Word, breaking the bread—will remain universal; it will not need to be celebrated by a member of some sacerdotal caste. The gradual ascendance of lay leaders in the Church is in any case becoming a fact of life, driven by shortages of personnel and expertise. Now is the time to make this ascendance intentional, and to accelerate it. The pillars of Catholicism—gatherings around the book and the bread; traditional prayers and songs; retreats centered on the wisdom of the saints; an understanding of life as a form of discipleship—will be unshaken.
The future will come at us invisibly, frame by frame, as it always does—comprehensible only when run together and projected retrospectively at some distant moment. But it is coming. One hundred years from now, there will be a Catholic Church. Count on it. If, down through the ages, it was appropriate for the Church to take on the political structures of the broader culture—imperial Rome, feudal Europe—then why shouldn’t Catholicism now absorb the ethos and form of liberal democracy? This may not be inevitable, but it is more than possible. The Church I foresee will be governed by laypeople, although the verb govern may apply less than serve. There will be leaders who gather communities in worship, and because the tradition is rich, striking chords deep in human history, such sacramental enablers may well be known as priests. They will include women and married people. They will be ontologically equal to everyone else. They will not owe fealty to a feudal superior. Catholic schools and universities will continue to submit faith to reason—and vice versa. Catholic hospitals will be a crucial part of the global health-care infrastructure. Catholic religious orders of men and women, some voluntarily celibate, will continue to protect and enshrine the varieties of contemplative practice and the social Gospel. Jesuits and Dominicans, Benedictines and Franciscans, the Catholic Worker Movement and other communities of liberation theology—all of these will survive in as yet unimagined forms. The Church will be fully alive at the local level, even if the faith is practiced more in living rooms than in basilicas. And the Church will still have a worldwide reach, with some kind of organizing center, perhaps even in Rome for old times’ sake. But that center will be protected from Catholic triumphalism by being openly engaged with other Christian denominations. This imagined Church of the future will have more in common with ancient tradition than the pope-idolizing Catholicism of modernity ever did. And as all of this implies, clericalism will be long dead. Instead of destroying a Catholic’s love of the Church, the vantage of internal exile can reinforce it—making the essence of the faith more apparent than ever.
What remains of the connection to Jesus once the organizational apparatus disappears? That is what I asked myself in the summer before I resigned from the priesthood all those years ago—a summer spent at a Benedictine monastery on a hill between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I came to realize that the question answers itself. The Church, whatever else it may be, is not the organizational apparatus. It is a community of memory, keeping alive the story of Jesus Christ. The Church is an in-the-flesh connection to him—or it is nothing. The Church is the fellowship of those who follow him, of those who seek to imitate him—a fellowship, to repeat the earliest words ever used about us, of “those that loved him at the first and did not let go of their affection for him.”
“Nations reel and stagger on their way; they make hideous mistakes; they commit frightful wrongs; they do great and beautiful things. And shall we not best guide humanity by telling the truth about all this, so far as the truth is ascertainable?” -W.E.B. DuBoise, 1935
“The Propaganda of History” / Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor.
“We must listen to what is supporting us. We must listen to what is encouraging us. We must listen to what is urging us. We must listen to what is alive in us.”
I personally was so trained not to trust those voices that I often did not hear the voice of God speaking to me, or what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature.”
Yes, a narcissistic person can misuse such advice, but someone genuinely living in love will flourish inside such a dialogue.
We must learn how to recognize the positive flow and to distinguish it from the negative resistance within ourselves.
We must learn how to recognize the positive flow and to distinguish it from the negative resistance within ourselves. It takes years of practice.
Center for Action and Contemplation
John Adams: ‘Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.’
In a time when everything was being swept away, when “the whole world is becoming a giant concentration camp,” [Etty Hillesum] felt one must hold fast to what endures—the encounter with God at the depths of one’s own soul and in other people.
-Robert Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time
To follow their own paths to wholeness, both Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875–1961) and Jewish Auschwitz victim Etty Hillesum (1914–1943) trusted in and hearkened to the voice of God in their deepest Selves.
When accusers called Joan of Arc (1412–1431) the victim of her own imagination, she is frequently credited with this brilliant reply: “How else would God speak to me?”
Intuitive truth, that inner whole-making instinct, just feels too much like our own thoughts and feelings, and most of us are not willing to call this “God,” even when that voice prompts us toward compassion instead of hatred, forgiveness instead of resentment, generosity instead of stinginess, bigness instead of pettiness.
Late in his life, Jung wrote, “In my case Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.” Jung, a supposed unbeliever, knew that any authentic God experience takes a lot of humble, honest, and patient seeking.
-Fr. Richard Rohr
[From a letter to a pupil (April 9, 1959). See C. G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950,selected and edited by Gerhard Adler.]