Daily Riches: Religion and Established Privilege (Thomas Merton)

“Of course, it is true that religion on a superficial level, religion that is untrue to itself and to God, easily comes to serve as the ‘opium of the people.’ And this takes place whenever religion and prayer invoke the name of God for reasons and ends that have nothing to do with him. When religion becomes a mere artificial facade to justify a social or economic system–when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandists, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for this truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and of love, and becomes the law that might-makes-right: established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo.” Thomas Merton

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –
his good, pleasing and perfect will. “
Romans 12:1, 2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your religious experience “deaden the spirit” rather than invigorating it? Does it squelch individuality and produce conformity? Does it discourage imagination and curiosity?
  • Does it tend to prop up some unjust “social [or] economic system? Does it support the “status quo” as a way that is out of step with the Bible’s insistence upon justice?
  • Has your faith in God become “in fact faith in your own nation, class or race?”
  • Has your religious ethic somehow become something other than the “law . . . of love?”
  • Are you comfortable with your answers to these questions? If not, what can change?

Abba, help me to speak to the status quo instead of being shaped by it. Strengthen me to question established, unjust privilege and work to undo it. Work in me your earth-changing “law of love.”

For More: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: A Theology of Love and of Resistance (Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, long-suffering and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently. The theology of love must seek to deal drastically with evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. …Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.” Thomas Merton

“In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildups, chauvinistic passions, and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. … A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war. … And those who have gone to the church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic deprivation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A person who seeks to honor the one who sent him
speaks truth, not lies.”
Jesus in John 7:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your theology of love a “theology of resistance?”
  • Is your church “aligned with the privileged classes and the status quo?”
  • Where in our day, might the church be guilty of appeasing “the already too untroubled?”
  • Do you think these are valuable questions for Christians? . . . for pastors? If not, why not?

Abba, keep us from conforming to this world, or allowing others to do so in peace.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: What Will Be History’s Verdict On You? (Dan Clendenin)

“The church has a checkered history in its relationship to the state. Some have followed Amaziah [see Amos 7] and traded religious legitimation for security, power and privilege – the German Christian movement that supported Nazi ideology, the Dutch Reformed church that supported apartheid in South Africa, and Russian Orthodox priests who collaborated with the Soviet KGB. But there are also many inspirational examples. The Archbishop and martyr of San Salvador, Óscar Romero (d. 1980), wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter that he could have sent to any number of our military or political leaders: ‘You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people.’ Romero is only one of many brave saints who chose Amos over Amaziah. Consider the Confessing Church in Germany that opposed Hitler, nationalism, and anti-Semitism; the black pentecostal pastor Frank Chikane who in 1985 gathered more than 150 clergy from 20 denominations to draft the Kairos Document that protested South African apartheid; father Gleb Yakunin who insisted that the Russian Orthodox Church publicly repent of its ties to the Soviet regime; the culturally marginal and politically powerless Quakers who helped to abolish the British slave trade in the 19th century; and Morgan Tsvangirai who sought ‘divine intervention’ to end Robert Mugabe’s three decades of thugocracy in Zimbabwe. There’s the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921), who did time in prison for his civil disobedience against American policies on racism, nuclear proliferation, and Vietnam…. When asked by Nora Gallagher how many times he had been jailed for subverting caesar because of Jesus, Berrigan responded, ‘Not enough.'” Dan Clendenin

“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”
Psalm 89:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In the moment, it can be hard to know who is “on the right side of history.” God often uses outsiders–unexpected and despised voices–and we often embrace the biases and accept the rationalizations of our culture. Are you striving to know who speaks for God today? . . . and who is being sinfully silent?
  • The Biblical pattern is for God to be against Empire since the absolute power of empires predictably leads to profound corruption. Do we need prophetic voices to speak against Empire today? If so, against what “Empire” and for what reasons?
  • Who is speaking out for God today? From where would you expect to find such voices–conservatives/liberals? . . . insiders/outsiders? . . . admired/despised? . . . . . . . marginalized/prominent?

Abba, give us your eyes to see our world, and your loving heart to care for it.

For More: “Journey With Jesus” by Dan Clendenin

_________________________________________________

I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill

Daily Riches: Justice, Not Just Love (William Sloane Coffin, Abraham Heschel, and Augustine)

“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” Augustine

“It is also true that many pastors . . . find it easier to talk to their congregations of charity rather than of justice. Charity, after all, threatens not at all the status quo that may be profitable to a goodly number of their parishioners. Justice, on the other hand, leads directly to political controversy. So there is a real temptation to think that an issue is less spiritual for being more political, to believe that religion is above politics, that the sanctuary is too sacred a place for the grit and grime of political battle. But if you believe religion is above politics, you are, in actually, for the status quo–a very political position. And were God the god of the status quo, then the church would have no prophetic role . . . The cause of justice . . . is to challenge the status quo, to try to make what’s legal more moral, to speak truth to power, and to take personal or concerted action against evil, whether in personal or systemic form. . . .  Clearly the love that lies on the far side of justice demands a communal sense of responsibility for and a sense of complicity in the very evils we abhor. ” William Sloan Coffin

“The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” Abraham Heschel

Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:3-4 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is focusing on love a way for you to avoid doing justice?
  • Are you perhaps inadvertently siding with the status-quo?
  • Are you characterized by the kind of love spoken of above?

Abba, help me to take responsibility for my complicity, even in evils I abhor.

For More: The Heart Is A Little To The Left by William Sloane Coffin

Daily Riches: If You Lose Your Mind (Janice Hicks)

“Early Christian theologians generally attributed the image of God ( imago dei) in humans to the mind/spirit or soul, which was ranked higher than the body. Basil said that ‘the rational part is the human being.’ Augustine believed the mind has two parts: ‘The higher part contemplates eternal truths and makes judgments’ and God communicates with us through it. French philosopher René Descartes further emphasized the supremacy of rationality with his dictum ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Many of us today still fall into the Cartesian idea that the rational part, thinking, defines ‘who I am.’ Rationality is important, but rationality as a determinant of the status of personhood is greatly problematic. . . . Seeing a person as ‘less than’ promotes an attitude of stigma . . . . Contemporary theologians have developed a more balanced view of what makes us human. In Eccentric Existence, theologian David Kelsey proposes that the basis for the value and relationship of the human being lies in God, that is, outside the human beings themselves. Kelsey says that personhood is ‘a status before God’ dependent on God’s relating to who I am . . . . ‘Personhood is not even a function of how we relate to God,’ Kelsey writes. Our ‘personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us in creating us . . . and hardly at all from anything else.’ God’s relating to us is surely not lost in dementia [for instance] or any illness. According to Kelsey, other qualities beyond rationality make us human, including emotion, love, spirituality, awareness, and courage. These traits have been observed in people with dementia . . . . When a person develops dementia, are they less of a person? Do they lose their connection to God? Indeed, we value infants, and infants are not rational. We are all dependent at times. We are all limited. . . . Perhaps those with dementia remind us of our limitations and that makes us uncomfortable.” Janice Hicks in Sojourners

“We turned our backs on him
and looked the other way.”
Isaiah 53:3c NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • In truth, do you see (or treat) stigmatized people as “less than?”
  • Imagine if “our personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us” rather than of how we relate to God. Imagine what that means.
  • Do you hope others will still treat you with dignity if you live long enough to lose your memory? Can you give such dignity to others now?

Abba, may I look with compassion on those less “able” than me.

For More: Redeeming Dementia by Dorothy Linthicum and Janice Hicks

_________________________________________________

Sources:

Linthicum, Dorothy and Janice Hicks. Redeeming Dementia: Spirituality, Theology, and Science. Church: 2018.

Also helpful:

Dettloff, Dean. “After Deadly Van Attack . . . .” America. May 28, 2018.

Keenan, James F. “The Francis Effect On Health Care.” America. May 28, 2018.

 

Daily Riches: Having the Courage To “Go There” (Katie Couric)

“I learned the story of Elizabeth Lawrence, a schoolteacher in Birmingham who scolded a group of white children after they threw stones at her. The children told their parents. A mob came to her home, murdered her, and burned her house down. I learned the story of Thomas Miles, Sr., of Shreveport, Louisiana, a black man who was accused of writing a letter to a white woman. After a judge acquitted him, he was abducted by a mob outside the courtroom and taken to a tree where he was beaten, stabbed, shot, and hanged. I learned the story of Mamie, who was a child in Mississippi when her father and his friend were threatened with lynching. Mamie’s family fled; her father’s friend stayed and was hanged. . . . Lynchings occurred at any time, for many reasons: allegations of a serious crime or a casual transgression, fear of interracial sex, or desire for public spectacle. The terror it induced is impossible to describe, a burden still carried today. We haven’t learned to talk about lynching–or the nation’s racist history–in an open and honest way. It’s difficult to face the past, to acknowledge the role of some of our ancestors in the brutality inflicted upon their fellow humans. Despite what we were taught in grade school, our collective shame does not fit neatly in the time period between the Civil War and the civil rights movement. It’s time to understand the complete picture of our history, to have the courage to go there, to absorb it.” Katie Couric

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man,
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
1 Corinthians 14:48b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The deaths by lynching of 4,400 people, mostly in Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, have been documented by the Equal Justice Initiative. If we were going to talk about this, who would talk to who, and about what?
  • Jesus Christ came into our world to “set the captives free” (Luke 4:18), and as an act of love for all our world’s people–the kosmos (John 3:16).  Jesus practiced and emphasized loving those in great need (Luke 10). In the verse above, the Apostle Paul argues that “we” (any who bear Adam’s image) are equal candidates to bear God’s image. Given just these few facts, can you think of a way to justify 4,400 lynchings?
  • If our culture won’t have the courage to talk about this, can at least the church model how to “go there?”

Abba, may we do what we can that these dead shall not have died in vain.

For More: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

__________

Couric, Katie. “Hallowed Ground.” National Geographic (April 2018): pp. 150-151.

Staples, Brent. “When Southern Newspapers Justified Lynching” New York Times, May 6, 2018.

Daily Riches: The Church In Politically Troublesome Times (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“A state that threatens the proclamation of the Christian message negates itself. There are thus three possibilities for action that the church can take vis-à-vis the state: first, . . . questioning the state as to the legitimate state character of its actions, that is, making the state responsible for what it does. Second, is service to the victims of the state’s actions. The church has an unconditional obligation toward the victims of any societal order, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. ‘Let us work for the good of all.’ (Gal 6:10) These are both ways in which the church, in its freedom, conducts itself in the interest of a free state. In times when the laws are changing, the church may under no circumstances neglect either of these duties. The third possibility is not just to bind up the wounds of the victims beneath the wheel but to fall [ourselves] within the spokes of the wheel itself. Such an action would be direct political action on the part of the church. This is only possible and called for if the church sees the state be failing in its function of creating law and order, that is, if the church perceives that the state, without any scruples, has created either too much or too little law and order. It must see in either eventuality a threat to the existence of the state and thus to its own existence as well.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“So [Jesus] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle;
he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
John 2:15 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think about that first sentence. Does government have a genuine self-interest in protecting Christian proclamation?
  • Bonhoeffer says the church must bind up the victims’ wounds in an unjust state. When a government is really out of control, such victims could include large parts of the population–even its majority. In such a case, wide-spread neighbor love (likely in some form of “direct political action”) is required. (Matthew  22:39) Is your church even thinking about these responsibilities? Are you?
  • Does the church where you live focus on other things rather than these things? If so, on what?

Abba, give me a heart for any of my neighbors who are victims.

For more: Works (Vol. 12) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

__________

Daily Riches: Moving At Brick-Making Speed (Walter Brueggemann)

“In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of . . .  resistance . . . . It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods. Such an act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistences of the market, with its intrusion into every part of our life . . . .” Walter Brueggemann

“The departure from that same system [the exploitation of modern day ‘brick-makers’] in our time is not geographical. It is rather emotional, liturgical, and economic. It is not an idea but a practical act. Thus the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is an act of trust in the subversive, exodus-causing God of the first commandment, an act of submission to the restful God of commandments one, two, and three. Sabbath is a practical divestment so that neighborly engagement, rather than production and consumption, defines our lives. It is for good reason that sabbath has long been for theologically serious Jews, the defining discipline. It is for good reason that Enlightenment-based autonomous Christians may find the Sabbath commandment the most urgent and the most difficult of all the commandments of Sinai. We are, liberals and conservatives, much inured to Pharaoh’s system. For that reason, the departure into restfulness is both urgent and difficult, for our motors are set to run at brick-making speed. [But] To cease, even for a time, the anxious striving for more bricks is to find ourselves with a ‘light burden’ and an ‘easy yoke.'” Brueggemann

“And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding,
‘Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?’”
Exodus 5:14 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The Sabbath calls on you to stop, even if you prefer “brick-making speed.” How else will you practice “neighborly engagement?”
  • Many brag about working 80-hour weeks, or never taking vacation. Does it make sense to you that anyone would brag about living like a slave? . . . as if life were all about making bricks?
  • If Sabbath-keeping in our seductive culture requires “enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement”, is there any hope that you’ll succeed at it? What can you do?

Abba, help me to join the subversive, exodus-causing God, and his community, in resisting unjust powers in my day. Make me available for loving my neighbor.

For more: Sabbath As Resistance by Walter Brueggemann

__________

Thanks for reading, following and sharing these “Daily Riches!” Look for my upcoming book –Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these provocative quotes, verses, questions, and prayers.

Sources:

Brueggemann, Walter. Sabbath As Resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.

Daily Riches: “. . . Until All Of Us Are Well” (Krista Tippett and David Hilfiker)

“Two decades ago Dr. Hilfiker gave up his medical practice in the Midwest and moved to Washington, D.C. . . . drawn to the idea that God is somehow revealed in the poor. . . . Dr. Hilfiker and his wife Marja helped to found a medical shelter for chronically ill homeless men who were turned away by hospitals. They lived with three other doctors and their families above the shelter called Christ House, in community with their patients. Later, he and his family founded Joseph’s House, a supportive residence for homeless men with AIDS. Dr. Hilfiker came to understand, he says, that his spiritual well-being is wrapped up with the poor.” Krista Tippett
 .
“The original concept intellectually came from Dorothee Soelle, a theologian. And the concept is that when an affluent person benefits from structures in society and when those same structures oppress other people, then the affluent person experiences a degree of alienation from himself, from God, that he may or may not be aware of, but is there. And I think what Marja and I were experiencing was that sense, something is wrong here. . . . we live so easily in a society in which other people don’t have a chance, and there’s something wrong with that. Martin Luther King said, you know, ‘None of us is well until all of us are well.’ And I think that captures it. When we live in a society with such deep injustice as ours, you suffer spiritually. Now, again, I believe many people aren’t aware of the suffering that they experience because of this structural injustice, but I believe it’s spiritual reality. Certainly when you examine the Christian spiritual tradition, you find just every place this notion that God’s kingdom cannot tolerate injustice. . . . We do not want to be the causes of injustice or even benefit from injustice. . . . So the way that you overcome that, or at least one of the ways you overcome that, is to put yourself in solidarity with those who suffer from the same systems that benefit you. I can’t give up my privileged position. I’m educated, I’m white; those are things I can’t, you know, give away. But I can do what I can to put myself into solidarity with folks, to get to know them, and that makes a difference.” David Hilfiker
.

“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day
the things that make for peace!”
Luke 19:42
NRSV

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you believe that “God is revealed in the poor?”
  • . . . that your spiritual well-being is wrapped up with the well-being of the poor?
  • . . . that you need to be in solidarity with the poor?

Abba, help us love as you love us.

For More: Not All Of Us Are Saints by David Hilfiker

_________________________________________________

Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

Tippett, Krista. Interview with David Hilfiker on Speaking Of Faith, broadcast August 24, 2006.

Daily Riches: Only Love Can Do That (Parker Palmer, Martin Luther King, and Thomas Merton)*

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.” Carl Jung

“Violence is any way we have of violating the integrity of the other. Racism and sexism are violence. Derogatory labeling of any sort constitutes violence. Rendering other people invisible or irrelevant is an act of violence. So is manipulating people towards our ends as if they were objects that existed only to serve our purposes. …Violence is not just about bombing or shooting or hitting people. To create peace in our lives–and our world–we need to be able to sit with frustration and hold the tension of opposite views.” Parker Palmer

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The child is totally available in the present because he has relatively little to remember, his experience of evil is as yet brief, and his anticipation of the future does not extend very far. The Christian, in his humility and faith, must be as totally available to his brother, to his world, in the present, as the child is. But he cannot see the world with childlike innocence and simplicity unless his memory is cleared of past evils by forgiveness, and his anticipation of the future is hopefully free of craft and calculation. For this reason, the humility of Christian nonviolence is at once patient and uncalculating. The chief difference between nonviolence and violence is that the latter depends entirely on its own calculations. The former depends entirely on God and on his word.” Thomas Merton

“How I wish today that you of all people
would understand the way to peace.”
Jesus in Luke 19:42

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have the humility required to “hold the tension of opposite views?”
  • Is your past flooded with forgiveness so that, like a child, you have “little to remember?”
  • As you anticipate the future, are you depending on “your own calculations” or depending “on God and on his word?”
  • How can you begin practicing a new “way?”

Abba, help me understand the way of peace.

For More: “The Violence of Our Knowledge” by Parker Parker

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: How Things Get Better (Helmut Gollwitzer and Dean Stroud)

“Surely we today are familiar with the disgust we feel where evil is not simply evil but rather dresses itself up in a repulsive manner as morality, where base instincts, where hate and revenge, parade about as great and good things.” Helmut Gollwitzer (Nazi Germany, 1938)

“There are enough indications alerting us to the fact that the current fronts do not fall simply into categories of guilt and innocence, black and white. We have been trapped in the same great guilt and our faces also turn red with shame and we are afflicted by a common disgrace. It is inside us all; this truth that upright men and women can turn into horrible beasts is an indication of what lies hidden within each of us to a greater or lesser degree. All of us have done our part in this: one by being a coward, another by comfortably stepping out of everyone’s way, by passing by, by being silent, by closing our eyes, by laziness of heart that only notices another’s need when it is openly apparent, by the damnable caution that lets itself be prevented from every good deed, by every disapproving glance and every threatening consequence, by the stupid hope that everything will get better on its own without our having to become courageously involved ourselves. In all these ways we are exposed as the guilty people we are, as men and women who have just enough love left over for God and our neighbor to give away when there is no effort or annoyance involved.” Gollwitzer

“In everything do to others
as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”
Jesus in Matthew 7:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can upright men and women turn into “horrible beasts?” Can you hear this as an unwanted but necessary warning to you? …to your nation, tribe, political party, religion?
  • As a Christian, is there a time not to “render authority to those who rule over you”–to dissent, to practice peaceful civil disobedience? If so, can you think of some examples of such a time? If not, how will you keep from being complicit in great wrongdoing?
  • Are you hoping “everything will get better on its own” without anyone needing to act courageously?

Abba, may I never offer you or my neighbors leftovers when the need is love.

For More: Preaching in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud (ed.)

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you.  I goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog.  Thanks for your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: Our Illusions When Serving Others (Belden Lane, Meister Eckhart and Oswald Chambers)

“A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others.” Oswald Chambers

“Meister Eckhart insisted that ‘if a person were in a rapture as great as St. Paul once experienced and learned that his neighbor were in need of a cup of soup, it would be best to withdraw from the rapture and give the person the soup he needs.’ The contemplative returns to the ordinary, not in spite of her detachment from it, but because of that detachment. No longer driven by fear of rejection and loss, she is able now to love others without anxiously needing anything in return. …The author of The Cloud of Unknowing argued that the person steeped in apophatic [wordless] prayer is able to love everyone, without ‘special regard for any individual, whether he is kinsman or stranger, friend or foe.’ Where one is free from the need to impress the one or to fear the other, all can be loved. Eckhart said that people who, through prayer, have become dead to all things and in touch with nothingness, become powerfully and perhaps even dangerously free. They are able to ‘aim at nothing in their works, to intend nothing in their minds, seeking neither reward nor blessedness.’ They move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises. …The truest impulse toward work for social justice, therefore, grows not out of an anxious sense of pity for others or a grandly noble desire to serve, but out of the abandonment of the self in God. A love that works for justice is wholly uncalculating and indifferent, able to accomplish much because it seeks nothing for itself. …In the apophatic way, love is not directed toward an attractive, lovable object. Indeed, it is drawn to that which appears as nothing, to that which is least in this world…. It flourishes in receiving no response, expecting nothing in return. …One’s work for social change, when rooted in such a truth becomes altogether free–released from all the illusions and expectations we usually bring to our service to others.” Belden Lane

“I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding
that they cannot be expressed in words”
2 Corinthians 12:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you love “expecting nothing in return?”
  • Do you “move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises?”
  • How could you perpetually “look into the face of God” before attempting to care for others?

Abba, teach me this often unfamiliar, always counterintuitive love.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

_________________________________________________

Thank you for sharing/following my blog! Please leave a question or comment. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Pray For the Church As For a Terrible Sinner (Dorothy Day and Romano Guardini)

“The Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified.” Romano Guardini

“I felt that the Church was the Church of the poor, that St. Patrick’s had been built from the pennies of servant girls, that it cared for the emigrant, it established hospitals, orphanages, day nurseries, houses of the Good Shepherd, homes for the aged, but at the same time, I felt that it did not set its face against a social order which made so much charity in the present sense of the word necessary. I felt that charity was a word to choke over. Who wanted charity? And it was not just human pride but a strong sense of man’s dignity and worth, and what was due to him in justice, that made me resent, rather than feel proud of so mighty a sum total of Catholic institutions. …When I see the church taking the side of the powerful and forgetting the weak, and when I see bishops living in luxury and the poor being ignored or thrown bread crumbs, I know that Jesus is being insulted, as He once was, and sent to his death, as He once was. The church doesn’t only belong to officials and bureaucrats; it belongs to all its people, and especially its most humble men and women and children, the ones He would have wanted to go see and help…. I am embarrassed–I am sickened–when I see Catholics using their religion as a social ornament. Peter [Maurin] used to tell me that a good Catholic should pray for the church as if it is a terrible sinner, in bad need of lots of prayers. I remember being surprised for a second to hear him say that; he was such a devout Catholic. But then I realized that it was precisely because he was so devout that he said what he said. …I think the life of our Lord is constantly being lived out: we are betraying Him as well as honoring Him–we in the church as well as those who are outside of it.” Dorothy Day

“I will build my church,
and all the powers of hell
will not conquer it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you be honest about the failings of your church, or do you insist on leaving this to outsiders and haters?
  • Can you see the church as “a terrible sinner” and still love and pray for her?
  • Can you see in yourself, a member of the church, how you both constantly honor and betray the Lord?

Jesus, as your church, may we set our face against the social order.

For More: Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles

_________________________________________________

Thanks for sharing/following my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

P.S. I’ve been working on a book that would be a collection of 365 daily readings–similar to and based on this blog. I’m looking for a publisher for this complicated project. If you have a contact or advice, please contact me.

Daily Riches: Disruptive Jesus (Alexandra Petri, Albert Einstein, H. G. Wells)

“The gentleman arrested Thursday and tried before Pontius Pilate had a troubled background. Born (possibly out of wedlock?) in a stable, this jobless thirty-something of Middle Eastern origin had had previous run-ins with local authorities for disturbing the peace, and had become increasingly associated with the members of a fringe religious group. He spent the majority of his time in the company of sex workers and criminals. He had had prior run-ins with local authorities—most notably, an incident of vandalism in a community center when he wrecked the tables of several licensed money-lenders and bird-sellers. He had used violent language, too, claiming that he could destroy a gathering place and rebuild it. At the time of his arrest, he had not held a fixed residence for years. Instead, he led an itinerant lifestyle, staying at the homes of friends and advocating the redistribution of wealth. He had come to the attention of the authorities more than once for his unauthorized distribution of food [and] disruptive public behavior…. Some say that his brutal punishment at the hands of the state was out of proportion to and unrelated to any of these incidents in his record. But after all, he was no angel.” Alexandra Petri

“I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene…. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” Albert Einstein

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.” H.G. Wells

“He was despised and rejected”
Isaiah 53:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Jesus was homeless, poor, hung out with seedy characters, and broke many social customs and religious laws. What would you think about such an outsider today?
  • Jesus was arrested, tried and convicted of capital crimes–but by false testimony, political machinations, and a sham trial. Has the story of Jesus made you more aware of how easily someone can be treated unfairly by the criminal justice system? …how routinely dissent is suppressed?
  • The religious and political leaders of the day condemned Jesus as dangerous and subversive because of their own self-interest. Has the story of Jesus made you more skeptical of authority, both political and religious?

Abba, thank you for the luminous Nazarene.

For More: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Christianity’s Apologia for the Weak (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Have you ever seen a greater mystery in this world than poor people, ill people, insane people–people who cannot help themselves but who have to rely on other people for help, for love, for care? Have you ever thought what outlook on life a cripple, a hopelessly ill person, a socially exploited person, a coloured person in a white country, an untouchable–may have? And if so, did you not feel that here life means something totally different from what it means to you, and that on the other hand you are inseparably bound together with such unfortunate people, just because you are human like them, just because you are not weak but strong, and just because in all your strength you will feel their weakness? Have we not felt that we shall never be happy in our life as long as this world of weakness from which we are perhaps spared–but who knows for how long–is foreign and strange and far removed from us, as long as we keep away from it consciously or subconsciously? …Christianity has been blamed ever since its early days for its message to the weak: Christianity is a religion of slaves, of people with inferiority complexes; it owes its success only to the masses of miserable people whose weakness and misery Christianity has glorified. It was the attitude towards the problem of weakness in the world, which made everybody followers or enemies of Christianity. Against the new meaning which Christianity gave to the weak, against this glorification of weakness, there has always been the strong and indignant protest of an aristocratic philosophy of life which glorified strength and power and violence as the ultimate ideals of humanity. We have observed this very fight going on up to our present day. Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its apologia for the weak.–I feel that Christianity is rather doing too little in showing these points than doing too much. Christianity has adjusted itself much too easily to the worship of power. It should give much more offence, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than to consider the potential moral right of the strong.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Where is the Christian apologia for the weak today?
  • Has the Christianity you know “adjusted itself … to the worship of power?”
  • Is your church standing for the weak? Are you?

For More: The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

_________________________________________________

Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

%d bloggers like this: