Saint Anthony’s Independent Catholic Community
ChildSpirit Wisdom Institute
Green Circle/Midrash/New Games
Time to re-think our relationships with disguised Christian Hate and fear of differnece!
Published on National Catholic Reporter (https://www.ncronline.org)
This weekend, many Americans will gather with loved ones to commemorate our country’s heritage by firing up the grill, admiring some fireworks, and attempting to sing one of the most difficult songs in the English language. “Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as our national anthem in 1931, and its soaring melody and densely packed lyrics have been tripping up those tasked with performing it ever since.
The song’s unusual syntax can be partially attributed to the fact that it was originally a poem, written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. Indeed, the leap from poet to songwriter seems like a short one, but this factoid about our national anthem got us wondering what other poems have inspired or been set to music.
It turns out many of our greatest poets have had their musical moment in the sun. Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I could not stop for Death” was set to music by Natalie Merchant in 2005. The Shakespeare-penned song, “Under the Greenwood Tree,” which is performed by Amiens and Jacque in his play As You Like It, was covered by Donovan on his album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden in 1967. But the poet with a particularly deep musical legacy is Edgar Allen Poe. Poe’s work has been inspiring composers and musicians across a broad range of genres for over a century. In 2003, Lou Reed released an album called The Raven that features spoken-word interpretations of Poe’s writing from actors including Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe and references to Poe’s work appear in songs from artists ranging from Bob Dylan to the White Stripes.
MONDAY, JULY 10, 2017
The truth is, it is just like a train in the rush hour – the earth is coming to be a place on which we simply cannot breathe. And this asphyxiation explains the violent methods employed by nations and individuals in their attempt to break loose and to preserve, by isolation, their customs, their language and their country. A useless attempt, moreover, since passengers continue to pile into the railway carriage.Instead of being exasperated by these nuisances from which we all suffer, or waiting vaguely for things to settle down, would we not do better to ask ourselves whether, as a matter of solid experiential fact, there may not possibly be, first, a reassuring explanation of what is going on, and secondly, an acceptable issue to it?
URL [Ilia Delio, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Washington, D.C., is the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University. She is the author of 16 books, including Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness (Orbis Books, 2015), and the general editor of the series Catholicity in an Evolving Universe.]
John Chuchman offers a reflection today on “that unnamable, non-dual Reality, the loving energy, in which we live, move, and have our being”. He says he is pro-God but questions the kind of God that biblical literalism encourages us to know and worship. He argues: “Religion should be on the cutting edge of the sciences and humanities, using the latest findings of each in its effort to make meaning and articulate purpose.” What he writes fits comfortably with some of the conversations that have emerged on our forum in recent days: how can we describe an unimaginable God in words? …Brian Coyne, editor
Religion flattens imagination
in service to literalism.
When prevented from thinking imaginatively,
people will inevitably think stupidly.
It is literalism in religion
that has primed us for fake news.
The religious are primed to be intellectually lazy.
Religion should be on the cutting edge of the sciences and humanities,
using the latest findings of each
in its effort to make meaning and articulate purpose.
When religion abandons reality
it risks becoming irrelevant to those who don’t.
I’m pro-choice pro-life,
and if forced to choose,
I choose the life and well-being of the mother
over that of her unborn child.
and I define family by the quality of love between family members
rather than by gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
and I understand God as that unnamable, non-dual Reality,
the loving energy
in which we live, move, and have our being
rather than any of the named Gods of religion.
I am sharing a wonderful Post by Paul Roberts Abernathy concerning a question many of us have:
“WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO COMMON SENSE?????
Expect nothing. Live frugally
Become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.
Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.
Discover the reason why
So tiny a human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On Surprise. — Alice Walker
Anything We Love Can be Saved
A LOVE NOTE FROM YOUR ONLINE ABBESSDearest monks and artists,
“What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as ‘play’ is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously. At any rate the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance.’” ~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
We live in the midst of chaotic times. As crises continue to build, we may find ourselves confused or fearful. We may want to gather in the upper room of our lives with our closest friends and close the door on a troubled world just like the disciples. Yet chaos always calls for creative response, it always beckons us to open to holy surprise.
Today is the feast of Pentecost, that glorious final day of the season of resurrection. The Apostles were together experiencing bewilderment over how to move forward when the Holy Spirit flows among them and breathes courage into their hearts. If we have stayed committed to our pilgrimage this far then we may still wonder why we have journeyed so long and still are do full of fear and unknowing.
It says that those who witnessed this event were “amazed and perplexed.” Some were confused, others cynical. Peter reminds the crowds of the words the prophet Joel declared, that all will be called to dreams and visions, all will need to be attentive to signs and wonders.
The story of Pentecost asks us a question: How do I let my expectations and cynicism close my heart to the new voice rising like a fierce wind?
In Benedictine tradition, conversion is a central spiritual practice. Conversion for me essentially means making a commitment to always be surprised by God. Conversion is the recognition that we are all on a journey and always changing. God is always offering us something new within us. Conversion is a commitment to total inner transformation and a free response to the ways God is calling us and to new images of God. Eugene Peterson describes it this way: “What we must never be encouraged to do, although all of us are guilty of it over and over, is to force Scripture to fit our experience. Our experience is too small; it’s like trying to put the ocean into a thimble. What we want is to fit into the world revealed by Scripture, to swim in its vast ocean.”
Several years ago I was going through an intense period of discernment. I had finished graduate school and found that my desires were no longer in alignment with the path I had initially imagined for myself. I spent long periods of time in silence and solitude, engaging all of the essential techniques for discernment I had learned in my studies and previous practice. I was taking this very seriously because this was my life path I was pondering. Then one night I had a dream about koala bears trying to get a map out of my hands so they could play with me. In my reflection time that followed I discovered a playful God who was calling me to take myself and my discernment far less seriously than I had been. I love to laugh but in my longing to discover the next path, I had forgotten what Merton reminds us in the opening quote: how playfulness is woven into the heart of the universe, how sometimes what God takes most seriously is what we easily dismiss.
Pentecost demands that we listen with a willing heart, and that we open ourselves to ongoing radical transformation. We discover that the pilgrimage does not end here, instead we are called to a new one of sharing our gifts with the world. Soul work is always challenging and calls us beyond our comfort zone. Prayer isn’t about baptizing the status quo, but entering into dynamic relationship with the God who always makes things new. Scripture challenges our ingrained patterns of belief, our habitual attitudes and behavior. Conversion is about maintaining what the Buddhists call “Beginner’s Mind.” St. Benedict speaks to this in his Rule with the call to always begin again.
To be fully human and alive is to know the tension of our dustiness, our mortality, to be called to a profoundly healthy humility where we acknowledge that we can know very little of the magnificence of the divine Source of all. The Spirit descends on those gathered together in a small room and breaks the doors wide open. We are reminded that practicing resurrection is not for ourselves alone, but on behalf of a wider community. Not only for those with whom we attend church services, but beyond to the ones who sit at the furthest margins of our awareness. Pentecost is a story of the courage that comes from breaking established boundaries.
We may limit our vision through cynicism, but equally through certainty or cleverness. Sometimes we fear doubt so much that we allow it to make our thoughts rigid, we choose certainties and then never make space for the Spirit to break those open or apart. The things we feel sure that God does not care about may be precisely the source of healing for a broken world.
Life isn’t about knowing with more and more certainty. This is the invitation of our creative practice as well, to move more deeply into the mystery of things. I find that the older I get, the less sure I am about anything and the richer my life becomes as I make space for unknowing, expansiveness, and possibilities far beyond my capacity for imagining. If when Pentecost arrives you do not find yourself perplexed or amazed, consider releasing the tight grip of your certain thoughts and make space for holy surprise.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Seeking Spiritual Growth…We are among the first people
in human history
who do not broadly inherit
religious identity as a given.
The very fluidity of this,
the possibility of choices that arise,
the ability to craft and discern
one’s own spiritual bearings,
is not leading to a decline in spiritual life,
but to its revival.
The growing universe
of the non-religious
is one of the most spiritually vibrant
and provocative aspects of modern life.
It is not a time
when spiritual life is absent,
resisting religious excesses
Times are wild
with spiritual passion and delving
and theological curiosity
with expressions in unexpected places
in unexpected ways.
Many people continuing to go to church
do not even know their own tradition,
keeping on with simple inertia.
They have lost touch with
the Desert Fathers and Mothers,
the visionaries like Benedict, Francis, or Ignatius,
whose spirituality emerged
at a distance from a Church
that had grown imperial,
and inwardly cold,
out of touch
with its own spiritual core.
At the same time,
people outside these religious spaces
seem intensely interested in spiritual questions
trying to think and work and live through them.
More and more people
are unwilling to commit themselves
to the dying religious institutions
yet are actively pursuing
in life’s everyday experiences.
There is love;
there is hope.