‘The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutter our minds and makes of all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning we cannot begin to see. Unless we see, we cannot think. The purification must begin with the mass media. How?
-Thomas Merton, conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1968
Jay Rosen, NYU:
I am waiting for the first newsroom that declares a state of emergency. Susan Glasser, staff writer at The New Yorker:
“Is this time any different from other episodes where he has ranted about his unchecked right to do unconstitutional things?” Read her reply:
It sometimes happens in diplomacy that one country has to say to another: “This is extreme. We cannot accept this. You have gone too far.” And so it suspends diplomatic relations.
In 2012 the government of Canada announced that it would suspend diplomatic relations with Iran. “Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” said the foreign minister.
Journalists charged with covering him should suspend normal relations with the presidency of Donald Trump, which is the most significant threat to an informed public in the United States today.
That is my recommendation.
I began making this point on the third day of his presidency, January 22, 2017, when I said the press should send interns to the White House briefing room. Normal practice would not be able to cope with the political style of Donald Trump, which incorporates a hate movementagainst journalists.
“Send the interns” means our major news organizations don’t have to cooperate with this. They don’t have to lend talent or prestige to it. They don’t have to be props. They need not televise the spectacle live (CNN didn’t carry Spicer’s rant) and they don’t have to send their top people. They can “switch” systems: from inside-out, where access to the White House starts the story engines, to outside-in, where the action begins on the rim, in the agencies, around the committees, with the people who are supposed to obey Trump but have doubts… The press has to become less predictable. It has to stop functioning as a hate object. This means giving something up.
So that’s one way to suspend normal relations: send the interns. On MSNBC June 12, Rachel Maddow described another. She said that frequent viewers of her show may have noticed a pattern:
I don’t go out of my way to play tape of the president speaking. Nor do I tend to spend too much time parsing whatever the latest quote is from him. That is not out of any animus on my part, it’s just that the president very frequently says things that aren’t true. He admits that he says things that aren’t true. He calls it, you know, hyperbole, but he lies. And I feel like on this show I’d like you to be able to trust me to give you true information. Because I generally feel like I can’t trust what purports to be information from this president, I just try to do the news without words from him, most of the time.
Normally, the president is quoted more than any other public figure, and clips of him speaking are ubiquitous in television news. Maddow told her viewers that she had suspended this practice because, more likely than not, the president’s words would only misinform them. Every president needs to be fact-checked. This one doesn’t care if what he says is true. That’s extreme, and it calls for a response.
“Anything that a president would say — even if it was libelous or scandalous — it’s the president talking, and I think you report it,” said Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host who moderated this year’s third presidential debate. “Under any definition, it’s news, whether it’s sensible or not, factual or not, productive or not.”
A middle-ground would be this: what the president says is neither automatically newsworthy nor automatically suspect. Rather, it has to be judged in context. Which sounds super-reasonable. Who can be against “context” and case-by-case judgment? But here’s the context: bad actor, cannot be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter what the case is.
“How,” asked Chuck Todd on Meet the Press June 17, “can we believe a president who routinely says things that are provably false?” Instead of treating these questions as unsolvable riddles, Chuck Todd could… suspend normal relations. For Meet the Press, that might mean: don’t accept as guests the people the White House sends out as defenders of the provably false (especially Kellyanne Conway.) If Trump himself is willing to sit down with Chuck Todd, fine. Take him on over his many falsehoods. But no surrogates or fog machines unless they are willing to correct the president.
The American press corps is not like the government of Canada, which can speak with a single voice. Thousands of people working for hundreds of newsrooms cannot change their practices in synch with one another. But they can all decide, “This is extreme. We cannot accept this. This has gone too far.” And then make a break with normal practice.
For the Washington Post it might be declining to participate in so-called background briefings. For NPR, it might be refusing to report false claims by the President unless they are served as a “truth sandwich,” a suggestion recently made by Brian Stelter and Margaret Sullivan, interpreting the work of George Lakoff. For CNN, never going live to a Trump event — on the grounds that you will inevitably broadcast falsehoods if you do — would be a good start.
Suspend normal relations. It’s up to the journalists who cover Trump to decide how they will do it. The important thing is that they do it. And then announce what they did, to get others thinking about their own steps. In this way the sovereign state of journalism can take action, and show, as the Canadian prime minister said recently, that it will “not be pushed around.”
‘As a nation, we have begun to float off into a moral void, and all the sermons of all the priests in the country (if they preach at all) are not going to help much.
We have got to the point where the promulgation of any kind of moral standard automatically releases an anti-moral response in a whole lot of people. It is not with them, above all, that I am concerned but with the ‘good’ people, the right-thinking people, who stick to principle, all right, except where it conflicts with the chance to make money.
It seems to me that there are very dangerous ambiguities about our democracy in its actual present condition. I wonder to what extent our ideals are not a front for organized selfishness and systematic irresponsibility.
If our affluent society ever breaks down and the facade is taken away, what are we going to have left?
-Thomas Merton, 1961
Image credit: Anna Washington Derry (detail), Laura Wheeler Waring, 1927, Smithsonian American Art Museum
The vast majority of people throughout history have been poor, disabled, or oppressed in some way (i.e., “on the bottom”) and would have read history in terms of a need for change, but most of history has been written and interpreted from the side of the winners.
Every viewpoint is a view from a point.
We must be able to critique our own perspective if we are to see a fuller truth.
Liberation theology—which focuses on freeing people from religious, political, social, and economic oppression—is mostly ignored by Western Christianity. Perhaps that’s not surprising when we consider who interpreted the Scriptures for the last seventeen hundred years. The empowered clergy class enforced their own perspective instead of that of the marginalized, who first received the message with such excitement and hope. Once Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire (after 313), we largely stopped reading the Bible from the side of the poor and the oppressed. We read it from the side of the political establishment and the usually comfortable priesthood instead of from the side of people hungry for justice and truth. Shifting our priorities to make room for the powerless instead of accommodating the powerful is the only way to detach religion from its common marriage to power, money, and self-importance.
When Scripture is read through the eyes of vulnerability—what we call the “preferential option for the poor” or the “bias from the bottom”—it will always be liberating and transformative. Scripture will not be used to oppress or impress. The question is no longer, “How can I maintain the status quo?” (which just happens to benefit me), but “How can we all grow and change together?” Now we would have no top to protect, and the so-called “bottom” becomes the place of education, real change, and transformation for all.
Dorothy Day (1897–1980): “The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.”  From that place, where few would expect or choose to be, we can be used as instruments of transformation and liberation for the rest of the world.
-Fr Richard Rohr
Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement (Orbis Books: 1997), 86.
“Deep acceptance of ultimate mystery is ironically the best way to keep the mind and heart spaces always open and always growing.”
Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
“We do need enough knowing to be able to hold our ground. We need a container and structure in which we can safely acknowledge that we do know a bit, in fact just enough to hold us until we are ready for a further knowing. In the meantime, we can happily exist in what some have called docta ignorantia or “learned ignorance.” Such people tend to be very happy and they also make a lot of other people happy.
A few years ago, a man from Colorado came to visit me. He said, “Richard, when you were still in Cincinnati, I gave you a dilemma that I was struggling with; and you told me something that has been my mantra for 30 years. You said to me, ‘You know, you don’t really need to know. It’s okay not to know.’”
‘Grace has released all the deepest energies of our spirit and assists us to climb to new and unsuspected heights. Nevertheless, our own faculties soon reach their limit. The intelligence can climb no higher into the sky. There is point where the mind bows down its fiery trajectory as if to acknowledge its limitations and proclaim the infinite supremacy of the unattainable…’
Love flings out a hundred burning stars, acts of all kinds, expressing everything that is best in (wo)man’s spirit, and the soul spends itself in drifting fires that glorify the name of God…Gaia…while they fall earthward and die away in the night wind!’
Perhaps ‘love’ is beyond definition here, more the Tao of existence, in that defining it beyond all there is, is reducing it to knowing, rather than acknowledging we do not know…only ‘enough knowing.’ “You know, we really don’t need to know.” .d
“When we bare our inwardness fully, exposing our strengths and frailties alike, we discover a kinship in all living things, and from this kinship a kindness moves through us and between us. The mystery is that being authentic is the only thing that reveals to us our kinship with life.”
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 1967.
Prayer, contemplation, is freedom and affirmation growing out of nothingness into love. Prayer is the flowering of our inmost freedom, in response to the Word. Prayer is not only dialogue with God: it is the communication of our freedom with ultimate freedom in infinite spirit. It is the elevation of our limited freedom into the infinite freedom of the divine spirit and of the divine love. Prayer is the encounter of our freedom with all the all-embracing charity which knows no limit and knows no obstacle. Prayer is an emergence into this area of infinite freedom. Prayer, contemplation, then, is not an abject procedure, though sometimes it may spring from our abjection. But prayer is not something that is meant to maintain us in servility and helplessness. We take stock of our own wretchedness at the beginning of prayer, contemplation, in order to rise beyond it and above it to infinite freedom and infinite creative love in God.
-Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, 1965
When do we
become one with earth and stars?
It is not achieved, a young friend, by being in love,
however vibrant that makes your voice.
Learn to forget you sang like that. It passes.
Truly to sing takes another kind of breath.
A breath in the void. A shudder in God. A wind.
-Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus I, 3
Because Jesus did not directly attack the religious and institutional systems of his time until his final action against the money changers in the temple , his primary social justice critique and action are a disappointment to most radicals and social activists. Jesus’ social program, as far as I can see, was a quiet refusal to participate in almost all external power structures or domination systems. Once we have been told this, we see it everywhere in the four Gospels. Jesus chose a very simple lifestyle which kept him from being constantly co-opted by those very structures, which we can call the sin system.
The city of Sepphoris was the Roman regional capital of Galilee and the center for most money, jobs, and power in the region where Jesus lived. It was just nine miles from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Yet there is no record that Jesus ever went there, nor is it mentioned once in the New Testament, even though he and his father, Joseph, were carpenters or “workmen” and Jesus traveled through many other cities much farther away. He also seems to have avoided the money system as much as possible by using “a common purse” (John 12:6, 13:29)—voluntary “communism,” we might say.
Jesus was finally a full victim of the systems that he refused to worship. Is this not a much more coherent explanation of why Jesus died?
What can we learn from Jesus’ life about how we might address the systems of inequity and oppression in our own cultures? One lesson seems to me that we have to “start local.”
He simply goes around doing what he knows to be right, which he surely discovered during his long periods of solitude and silence (a form of contemplation) on the outskirts of town, and others begin to join him.
-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation
Rescue teams on January 8, 2020 at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran.
“The solitary is, first of all, one who renounces arbitrary social imagery. When his nation wins a war or sends a rocket to the moon, he can get along without feeing as if he personally had won the war or hit the moon with ar rocket. When his nation is rich and arrogant, he does not feel that he himself is more fortunate anymore honest, as well as more powerful, than the citizens of other, more ‘backward’ nations. More than this, he is able to despise war and to see the futility of rockets to the moon in a way quite different and more fundamental from the way in which society may tolerate these negative views. That is to say, he despises the criminal, blood thirsty arrogance of his own nation or class as much as that of the ‘the enemy.’ He despises his own self -seeking aggressively as much as that of the politicians who hypocritically pretend they are fighting for peace.”
Begin what? I begin. I have already thus begun a thousand lives.
Whatever today brings, try to make the most of it, making it the best day you can. I hope you will fill the day with many magical moments and grace notes and remember that everywhere, all of us are struggling and striving to do the same. In Emerson’s words we are seeking the divinities that are sitting disguised. Grace notes are multifaceted, rich. They are as scattered as shooting stars, as diverse as the sea and the sky. Some are wise and wonderful; some are intentionally vague and mysterious. Whether they are instructional, specific, questioning, inspiring or just plain fun, pay attention to them and how you react to them each day.
‘In dangerous times like these we have to produce generations of dedicated, courageous, and creative contemplative activists who will join [the conscious collective] to bring radical healing and change to this damaged world, before it’s too late.’
-Fr. Richard Rohr
︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
“Whatsoever things are true,
Whatsoever things are honest,
Whatsoever things are just,
Whatsoever things are pure,
Whatsoevery things are lovely,
Whatsoever things are of good report:
If there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
Think on these things.”
︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
Thomas Merton…”literally meditated on paper.”
‘But I do have a past to break with, an accumulation of inertia, waste, wrong, foolishness, rot, junk, a great need of clarification of mindfulness, or rather of no mind…a return to genuine practice, right effort, need to push on to the great doubt. Need for the Spirit. Hang on to the clear light!’
New arts, new sciences, new philosophies, better government, and a high civilization wait on our thoughts.
In 2020, let us commit to evaporating patriarchy, power, and greed.
‘The influence of the Feminine is responsible for the growth of the Environmental Movement; for the determination of women in every culture to free themselves from their long oppression and encourage their increased participation to healing both psyche and body. It is reflected in the mountain revulsion for our addiction to war; in the engagement of hundreds of thousands of people in the work of helping both the planet and the victims of oppression. These different channel of influence are creating new perspectives on life, new ways of connection that bring together body, soul, mind and spirit. All this is being accelerations by organizations like Avaaz which now has many millions of subscribers.
The recovery of the Feminine invites a reorientation of consciousness: a receptivity not only to the events occurring in the external world but to the long-ignored voice of the Soul. The activation of the Feminine is helping us to relate to the deep cosmic source of our psychic life and draw up the living waters from those depths. This enormous shift challenges every aspect of our beliefs. It immeasurably deepens and broadens our perspective on our presence on this planet. It gives deeper meaning to our lives. It is changing everything.’
-Anne Baring, The dream of the Cosmos a Quest for the Soul
‘The journey in search of soul is difficult and even dangerous because it requires that we relinquish the certainty of what we think we know and what we have been taught for generations to believe. It means surrendering the desire to be in control and opening ourselves to a quest, a path of discovery. Many myths and fairy tales emphasize the need for surrender and trust in the strange non-rational guidance offered by animals or shamans on the quest. As the hero follows their guidance, so the hedge opens, the way unfolds. Following the guidance and wisdom of the instinct is the royal road into the realm of soul.’
The Dream of the Cosmos is the story of a multi-layered quest to understand the causes of human suffering and to reconnect with a deeper reality than the one we inhabit in this physical dimension of experience. It seeks to answer the questions: “Who are we?” and “Why are we here, on this planet?” [google books]
In moments that appear to be lucid, I tell myself that in times like these there has to be something for which one is willing to get shot, and for which, in all probability, one is actually going to get shot. What is this? A principle? Faith? Virtue? God? The question is not easy to answer, and maybe it has not answer that can be put into words. Perhaps this is no longer something communicable, or even thinkable. To be executed today (and death by execution is not all uncommon) one has no need to commit a political crime, to express opposition to a tyrant, or event to hold an objectionable opinion. Indeed, most political deaths under tyrannical regimes are motiveless, arbitrary, absurd. You are shot, or beaten to death, or started, or worked until you drop, not because of anything you have done, not because of anything you believe in, not because of anything you stand for, but arbitrarily: your death is demanded by something or someone undefined. Your death is necessary to give apparent meaning to a meaningless political process which you have never quite managed to understand
-Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Equal Justice Initiative
‘African Americans bravely served in the U.S. military for generations. But instead of being treated as equal members of society, thousands of black veterans were accosted, attacked, or lynched.’
“Aside from deep understanding and technical knowledge of the military and veteran issues, vets bring with them objectivity, neutrality, and ability to work in crises—all valuable attributes for newsrooms.”
The new nonprofit Military Veterans in Journalism wants to bring more military knowledge and experience into the media
Since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has been in a perpetual state of fighting, in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. About 7,000 American troops have been killed and at least another 50,000 wounded. One study estimates the U.S. federal price tag of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts at $5.9 trillion.
Despite more than 18 years of war, America’s newsrooms have been shockingly negligent in hiring reporters who know these conflicts and their impacts best—our veterans.
Only 1.1 percent of media workers in the U.S. are post-9/11 military veterans while about 7 percent of Americans have served in the military, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
‘The Church came into existence as a community that preserved the dangerous memory of Jesus—totally without reproach but was rather utterly new and beyond anything that could have been previously imagined. This new radical community has held together over two thousand years, as a community based, at bottom, on mutual love and not, as with other human institutions on fear.
The Church’s contemplation of this dangerous memory is what we call ‘theology’, which is actually founded on the marriage of sacred Scripture with philosophy—particularly classical Greek philosophy. This is important. A religion . . . that is without theology quickly becomes fundamentalist as it begins to interpret Scripture in a literal way, full of cultural bias and with little rational underpinning.
Fundamentalism is always culture-bound, whereas, although the story of Jesus is historical, set in a particular time, place and culture, a teaching essentially transcultural.’
-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
‘When the time comes to enter the darkness in which we are naked and helpless and alone; in which we see the insufficiency of our greatest strength and the hollowness of our strongest virtues; in which we have nothing of our own to rely on, and nothing in our nature to support us, and nothing in the world to guide us at give us light—then we find out whether or not we live by faith.’
Ghandi recognized, as no other world leader of our time has done, the necessity to be from from the pressures, the exorbitant and tyrannical demands of a society that is violent because it is essential greedy, lustful, and cruel.
He recognized the impossibility of being a peaceful and nonviolent man, if one submits passively to the insatiable requirements of a society maddened by overstimulation and obsessed with demons of noise, voyeurism, and speed.
Gandhi believed that the central problem of our time was the acceptance or the rejection of a basic law of love and truth which had been made knows to the world in traditional religions.
His whole, his political action, finally even his death, were nothing but a witness to this commitment: “If love is not the law of our being, the whole of my argument falls to pieces.”
-Thomas Merton, Seeds of Destruction
The most inward and loving of all,
he came forth like a new beginning,
the brown-robed brother [St. Francis] of your nightingales,
with his wonder and good will
and delight in Earth.
Rilke, The Book of Hours III, 33
This is the miracle of love: to discover that all creation is one, flung out into space.
This is the principle of nonviolence, and I want to recommend it to you with all the enthusiasm I can command. . . .
If human beings go to war, it is because they fear someone.
Remove the fear, and you re-establish trust, and will have peace.
Nonviolence means destroying fear.
-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.
—John Steinbeck, The Short Reign of Pippin IV (1957)
‘Exactly when we began a style of production and consumption that would eventually ravage planet earth, he decided to love the earth and live simply and barefoot upon it. Francis of Assisi is a Prime Attractor to what we really want, what we definitely need, and who we finally are. And, apparently, he did it all with a “perfect joy” that comes from letting go of the ego!’ -Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
The change in my own inner climate. -Thomas Merton
Will future generations distinguish between those who didn’t believe in the science of global warming and those who said they accepted the science but failed to change their lives in response?
In We Are the Weather, Jonathan Safran Foer explores the central global dilemma of our time in a surprising, deeply personal, and urgent new way. The task of saving the planet will involve a great reckoning with ourselves―with our all-too-human reluctance to sacrifice immediate comfort for the sake of the future. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home and way of life.
UK, US and European studies claim our meat consumption should be reduced by 90%, and dairy consumption by 60%. Two meals a day should be vegetarian, and think about a family climate plan. One couple a month out from their wedding day came up with theirs at book signing:
Vegan meals 2x per week
Driving less than 1,000 miles a year
Only two kids
Jonathan’s response? “Holy crap. I don’t have a plan.”
“An ode to collective action, persuasively asking readers to take a hard look at our own role in the climate crisis and its solutions.” ―Kate Wheeling, The New Republic
Sam Sanders interviewed Jonathan on “It’s Been a Minute”. Follow the link to about 16:00 into the program.
’What this moment needs, more than anything, is moral clarity. […] American media was curiously obsessed with President DT’s stubborn insistence that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama.
Seen through the lens of climate inaction, against a backdrop of unfettered economic growth, one can only conclude that climate change is an intentional act, in which the media is complicit.
‘We need to know, viscerally, that we can no longer abandon our neighbours in their time of greatest need. We need to relearn our interdependence. There is the alternative. The way to write this story that doesn’t end in apocalypse.’
You train your eye, and your vision lusts after color. You train your ear, and you long for delightful sounds. You delight in doing good, and your natural kindest is blown out of shape. You delight in righteousness, and you become righteous beyond all reason. You overdo liturgy, and you turn into a ham actor. Overdo your love of music, and you play corn. Love of wisdom leads to wise contriving. Love of knowledge leads to faultfinding.
When the delights become a religion, how can you control them?
Chuang Tzu, who wrote in the fourth and third centuries B.C., is the chief authentic historical spokesman for Taoism.
Some say it’s naive to think we can turn love into the governing principle of our civilization; I say it’s naive to think we’ll last another 100 years on this planet if we don’t try. Swords into plowshares: we can to turn a war economy into a peace economy. Where [he] has harnessed fear, we must harness love.-Marianne
Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Those who live in love have a wisdom about them, particularly in their sense of priorities. They know what is important.
Day by Day with St. Francis:
Those who are fearful see things that aren’t there, and tend not to grasp the truth when it is presented to them.
In love there is no fear; indeed, perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18
‘Occasional churchgoing and the recitation of has prayers have no power to cleanse this purulent wound.’ -Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
‘Lord, the great cities are lost and rotting.
Their time is running out…
The people there live harsh and heavy,
crowded together, weary of their own routines.
Beyond them waits and breathes your earth,
but where they are ti cannot reach them.
They don’t know that somewhere
wind is blowing through a field of flowers.’
-Rilke, The book of Hours III, 4/5
My campaign for the presidency is dedicated to this search for higher wisdom. Its purpose is to create a new political possibility in America — where citizens awaken, our hearts and minds are uplifted, and our democracy once more becomes a thing about which we can all feel proud.
This is a new time, and we must bring forth something new within ourselves in order to deal with it. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
“You cannot be a (wo)man of faith unless you know how to doubt. You cannot believe in Gaia unless you are capable of questioning the authority of prejudice, even though that prejudice seems to be religious. Faith is not blind conformity to a prejudice–a ‘pre-judgment.’ It is a decision, a judgment that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth that cannot be proven.”
-Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
[G7 in France]
But deliver us from evil, past, present, and to come.
We must strive to overcome evil, but even our best efforts will require Gaia’s help.
The Lord said to Evil, “‘Where did you come from?’ Evil answered, ‘From prowling about on the earthmovers going back and forth on it.” Job 1:7
Cosmology: Part I
The Change of a World View
Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
Today, every academic, professional discipline—psychology, anthropology, history, the various sciences, social studies, art, and business—recognizes change, development, and some kind of evolving phenomenon. But in its search for the Real Absolute, much of Christian theology made one fatal mistake:
It imagined that any notion of God had to be unchanging, an “unmoved mover,” as Aristotelian philosophy called it.
There’s little evidence of a rigid God in the biblical tradition or the image of Trinity—where God is seen as an active verb more than a substantive noun. But many Christians seem to have preferred a stable notion of God as an old white man, sitting on a throne—much like the Greek god Zeus (whose name became the Latin word for God or “Deus”)—a critical and punitive spectator to a creation that was merely a mechanical clock of inevitable laws and punishments, ticking away until Doomsday.
We need a new way of thinking about the universe and our place in it. To begin our two weeks on this theme, I offer a clear and concise description of our changing worldview from Australian theologian Denis Edwards (I waited in a long line once just to thank him for his fine work):
Our theological tradition has been shaped within the worldview of a static universe. The great theological synthesis of St. Thomas Aquinas [1224–1274], for example, was formed within a culture which took for granted that the world was fixed and static, that the Sun and the Moon and the five known planet stars revolved around the Earth in seven celestial spheres, moved by angels, that beyond these seven spheres there were the three heavens, the firmament (the starry heaven), the crystalline heaven, and the empyrean, and that there was a place in the heavenly spheres for paradise. It was assumed that human beings were the center of the universe, that Europe was the center of the world, and that the Earth and its resources were immense and without any obvious limits.
By contrast, we are told today that the universe began with a cosmic explosion called the Big Bang, that we live in an expanding universe, with galaxies rushing away from us at an enormous rate, that the Earth is a relatively small planet revolving around the Sun, that it is hurtling through space as part of a Solar system which is situated toward the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, that we human beings are the product of an evolutionary movement on the Earth, and that we are intimately linked with the health of the delicately balanced life systems on our planet.
The shift between these two mindsets is enormous. It needs to be stressed that most of our tradition has been shaped by the first of these, and even contemporary theology has seldom dealt explicitly with the change to a new mindset. . . .
We have no choice but to face up to the ecological crisis which confronts us. Religious thinkers . . . are searching for a new synthesis of science and faith, a new cosmology, and a “new story.” 
☆ ☆ ☆
 Denis Edwards, Jesus and the Cosmos (Paulist Press: 1991), 3-5.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Evolution Is Another Name for Growth,” “Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (CAC Publishing: 2016), 111-112.
Image credit: Starry Night Over the Rhône (detail), Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
Saint Paul calls is the “servitude of corruption” and which, in fact, holds the whole world of man in bondge by passion, greed, the lust for sensation and for individual survival, as though one could become rich enough, powerful and clever enough, to cheat death.
Unfortunately, this passion for unreality and for the impossible fills the world today with violence, hatred,, and indeed, with a kind of insane and cunning fury which threatens our very existence.
I have what you have not. I am what you are not. I have taken what you have failed to take and I have seized what you could never get. Therefore, you suffer and I am happy, you are despised and I am praised, you die and I live; you are nothing and I am something because you are nothing. And thus, I spend my life admiring the distance between you and me. [Seeds of Contemplation, 1961]
Fr. Richard Rohr:
In very real ways, soul, consciousness, love, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Each of these point to something that is larger than the individual, shared with God, ubiquitous, and even eternal—and then revealed through us! Holiness does not mean people are psychologically or morally perfect (a common confusion), but that they are capable of seeing and enjoying things in a much more “whole” and compassionate way, even if they sometimes fail at it themselves. [Just This, 2017].
“There isn’t time so brief is life for bickering, apologies, heart-burnings, calling to account there is only time for loving, but in an instant, so to speak, for that.” 
“Brother body is poor…that means we must be rich for him.
He was often the rich one; so may he be forgiven
for the meanness of his wretched moments.
Then, when he acts as though he barely knows us,
may he be gently reminded of all that has been shared.
Of course, we are not one but two solitaries:
our consciousness and he.
But how much we have to thank each other for,
as friends do! And illness reminds us:
friendship demands a lot.” [Written between 1908 and 1923.]
Thomas Merton (insert medium of choice):
“I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a sufficiently general agreement, among men whose judgement I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious, and absurd. Certainly, it would seem that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inert subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub-natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously.