The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who will guide you in 2012?

 Richard Rohr opines, "One reason that fundamentalism continues to grow in all religions is that it DOES tell you that you are being guided, and life is not all accidental, and without inherent purpose. God is intimately involved in even small aspects of fundamentalists’ lives. Yes, this is very often misused, but at least it is not secular meaninglessness and often frees them from becoming control freaks. Again, the good and bad of everything! So many liberals are somewhat aware but totally steering their ship, so many conservatives are somewhat surrendered but to a god largely of their own making. There must be a way to be both graciously surrendered and to a true and loving God? This is surely the work of a priest or spiritual director, it seems to me."

Many American Christians have opted for a "lone ranger spirituality," a kind of "Me and my God" spirituality, which leaves them very alone in those moments when life gets tough. These Christians are quickly identifiable because instead of resting on God they blame God when life doesn't go the way they it should.

Throughout Christendom, those who found a maturing faith in face of the struggles and trials of life had a spiritual director who walked with them.

My wife, a trained spiritual director and I, a trained theologian, are willing to work with anyone who wants to have spiritual direction.

Ron Friesen


http://richardrohr.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/accidental-or-providential/

A vision for 2012











The ultimate perfection of the contemplative life is not a heaven of separate individuals, each on viewing his own private intuition of God; it is a sea of Love which flows through the One Body of all the elect, all the angels and saints, and their contemplation would be incomplete if it were not shared, or if it were shared with fewer souls, or with spirits capable of less vision and less joy.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books) : 65
 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrapping up a year....

Twenty-eleven was an interesting year. I started the year working for a university as a full-time online professor and ended the year in a prison. Well, I should explain, I am working in a prison as a mental health counselor.

For years, I have wanted to do "a ministry with men." I am doing a ministry with men in prison - not quite what I had in mind! With men who have been charged with sex offenses, to top it off.

I am finding the work challenging and interesting. The men range from doctors, educators, priests, pastors, youth ministers, to carpenters, plumbers, truckers, farmers. They scan the scope from men who achieved doctorates to those with barely a sixth grade education. Financially, they cover the socio-economic realms from millionaires to paupers.

Each day I meet men who are seeking their way. I walk their journey to the best of my ability.

I didn't know what 2011 would bring; I am not going to make any predictions about 2012.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Social Darwinism is killing the American soul

The virtues that sustain a nation-state and build community, from honesty to self-sacrifice to transparency to sharing, are ridiculed each night on television as rubes stupid enough to cling to this antiquated behavior are voted off reality shows. Fellow competitors for prize money and a chance for fleeting fame, cheered on by millions of viewers, elect to “disappear” the unwanted. In the final credits of the reality show America’s Next Top Model, a picture of the woman expelled during the episode vanishes from the group portrait on the screen. Those cast aside become, at least to the television audience, nonpersons. Celebrities that can no longer generate publicity, good or bad, vanish. Life, these shows persistently teach, is a brutal world of unadulterated competition and a constant quest for notoriety and attention.

Our culture of flagrant self-exaltation, hardwired in the American character, permits the humiliation of all those who oppose us. We believe, after all, that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked. Human  beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food. And the numbers of superfluous human beings are swelling the unemployment offices, the prisons and the soup kitchens.


http://www.projectworldawareness.com/2010/09/american-psychosis-what-happens-to-a-society-that-cannot-distinguish-between-reality-and-illusion/

Sometimes the truth is hard to hide.

Republicans usually don’t want to acknowledge that their purpose is to turn away voters, especially when race is involved, so they invented an explanation, claiming that stricter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. In fact, there is almost no voter fraud in America to prevent.
William O’Brien, the speaker of the New Hampshire State House, told a Tea Party group earlier this year that students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience. “Voting as a liberal,” he said, “that’s what kids do.” And that’s why, he said, he supported measures to prohibit students from voting from their college addresses and to end same-day registration. New Hampshire Republicans even tried to pass a bill that would have kept students who previously lived elsewhere from voting in the state; fortunately, the measure failed, as did the others Mr. O’Brien favored.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/opinion/keeping-college-students-from-the-polls.html?ref=editorials

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas eve, a tree blinks, lighting
Cinnamon sticks stir in the apple cider
Lovers look into each other's eyes
It is the eve of love.

It is Christmas eve, children giggle, wondering
Presents await opening under the tree
Children ponder the wrappings
It is the eve of wonder.

It is Christmas eve, flames crackle, sparking
Songs fill the air while angels sing
Worshipers reflect the meaning
It is the eve of awe.

2011 (c) Ronald Friesen

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A poem for Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

It is the season again of pine and cinnamon,
Of hot chocolate and fresh-baked rolls
Store shelves overflow with music boxes
With a serenade: “I wish you a Merry Christmas.”

In Bethlehem hills smelly sheep rested
While their shepherds retold stories of
Wolves and bears defeated by nightfall
With a serenade: “Mary had a little lamb.”

Angels interrupt the drunken carousal
Casting out darkness with glorious brightness
Which faints men who kill wolves and bear
With a serenade: “Glory to God in the Highest.”

“Come to the stable to see the Newborn King”
Invite the heavenly host to men of disrepute
Leave your flocks and see the baby -
the baby who smells of the stable.

© 2011 Ronald Friesen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why we need Christmas - John Calvin

It deeply concerned us, that he who was to be our Mediator should be very God and very man. If the necessity be inquired into, it was not what is commonly termed simple or absolute, but flowed from the divine decree on which the salvation of man depended. What was best for us, our most merciful Father determined. Our iniquities, like a cloud intervening between Him and us, having utterly alienated us from the kingdom of heaven, none but a person reaching to him could be the medium of restoring peace. But who could thus reach to him? Could any of the sons of Adam? All of them, with their parents, shuddered at the sight of God. Could any of the angels? They had need of a head, by connection with which they might adhere to their God entirely and inseparably. What then? The case was certainly desperate, if the Godhead itself did not descend to us, it being impossible for us to ascend. Thus the Son of God behoved to become our Emmanuel, the God with us; and in such a way, that by mutual union his divinity and our nature might be combined; otherwise, neither was the proximity near enough, nor the affinity strong enough, to give us hope that God would dwell with us; so great was the repugnance between our pollution and the spotless purity of God. Had man remained free from all taint, he was of too humble a condition to penetrate to God without a Mediator. What, then, must it have been, when by fatal ruin he was plunged into death and hell, defiled by so many stains, made loathsome by corruption; in fine, overwhelmed with every curse? It is not without cause, therefore, that Paul, when he would set forth Christ as the Mediator, distinctly declares him to be man. There is, says he, "one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus," (1Ti 2: 5). He might have called him God, or at least, omitting to call him God he might also have omitted to call him man; but because the Spirit, speaking by his mouth, knew our infirmity, he opportunely provides for it by the most appropriate remedy, setting the Son of God familiarly before us as one of ourselves. That no one, therefore, may feel perplexed where to seek the Mediator, or by what means to reach him, the Spirit, by calling him man, reminds us that he is near, nay, contiguous to us, inasmuch as he is our flesh. And, indeed, he intimates the same thing in another place, where he explains at greater length that he is not a high priest who "cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," (Heb 4: 15).
Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.12.1

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hermeneutics in Everyday life

"Hermeneutics in Everyday Life" by Tim Perry, Durham University
Suppose you’re traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do? That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.


2. Similarly, a Marxist refuses to stop because he sees the stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeois use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers in the east-west road.


3. A serious and educated Catholic rolls through the intersection because he believes he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn’t take it too seriously, he doesn’t feel obligated to take it too seriously either.


4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn’t bother to read the sign but he’ll stop if the car in front of him does.


5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.


6. A seminary-educated evangelical preacher might look up “STOP” in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean:

1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing;

2) location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.

7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:

a) Take another route to work that doesn’t have a stop sign so that he doesn’t run the risk of disobeying the Law;

b) Stop at the sign, say “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop,” wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.

Incidentally, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage: Rabbi Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is he who does not count to three before proceeding. R. Simon ben Yudah says: Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. R. ben Issac says: Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the Lord at a stop sign? Because it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” R. Hezekiel says: When Jephthah returned from defeating the Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the house and overtake his daughter, but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign, and the donkey did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his daughter first and lost her. Thus he was judged for his transgression at the stop sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never spoke a word, though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and showing him the words on a scroll. One day his father was driving through town and did not stop at the sign. Young Hillel called out: “Stop, father!” In this way, he began reading and speaking at the same time. Thus it is written: “Out of the mouths of babes.” R. ben Jacob says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, for it is written: “Forever, O Lord, your word is fixed in the heavens.” R. Ben Nathan says: Where were the stop signs created? On the fourth day, for it is written: “Let them serve as signs.” R. Yeshuah says….[continues for three more pages]

8. A Lubavitcher rabbi (Pharisee) does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal. He also works out the gematria of shin-tav-pey (S-T-(O)-P) and takes it to mean that the Rebbe Schneersohn, of blessed memory, will be resurrected as the Messiah after he has stopped at this intersection 780 times.


9. A scholar from the Jesus Seminar concludes that the passage “STOP” undoubtably was never uttered by Jesus himself because being the progressive Jew that He was, He would never have wanted to stifle peoples’ progress. Therefore, STOP must be a textual insertion belonging entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.


10. A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a street no one has ever seen called “Q” Street. There is an excellent 300 page doctoral dissertation on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar’s commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunate omission in the dissertation, however; it doesn’t explain the meaning of the text!


11. An OT scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the passage “STOP.” For example, “ST” contains no enclosed areas and 5 line endings, whereas “OP” contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author of the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the “O” and the “P”.


12. Another prominent OT scholar notes in his commentary that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back. (Unfortunately, he neglected to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly it was moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the sign were not there.


13. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, another OT scholar amends the text, changing the “T” to “H”. “SHOP” is much easier to understand in context than “STOP” because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption probably occurred because “SHOP” is so similar to “STOP” on the sign several streets back, that it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area. If this is true, it could indicate that both meanings are valid, thus making the thrust of the message “STOP (AND) SHOP.”


14. A “prophetic” preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in the Greek alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by four (the number of the world–north, south, east, and west), equals 666. Therefore, he concludes that stop signs are the dreaded “mark of the beast,” a harbinger of divine judgment upon the world, and must be avoided at all costs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent II - December 4, 2011











"Be empty and see that I am God." It is our emptiness in the presence of the abyss of His reality, our silence in the presence of His infinitely rich silence, our joy in the bosom of the serene darkness in which His light holds us absorbed, it is all this that praises Him.

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books): 231

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some thoughts on the state of the Church in America


The Christianity of present-day American evangelicalism has none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about it. There is nothing about it that needs the death of Jesus Christ about it. All that is required is a loud worship band, a coffee bar serving lattes and a service that last less than 59 minutes. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It does not cost the sufferings of God, nor it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “This is the work of God!” Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent - A time to renew our faith











Faith alone can give us the light to see that God's will is to be found in our everyday life. Without this light, we cannot see to make the right decisions. Without this certitude we cannot have supernatural confidence and peace.

To keep ourselves spiritually alive we must constantly renew our faith.

Thomas Merton. Thoughts in Solitude. (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux): 38

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Today is the First Sunday of Advent


Today marks the beginning of the church calendar called Advent.

The point of this season is to prepare oneself for the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

Some people make Advent a family experience by having a Advent Calendar where someone opens a window and uncovers something which represents the coming of the Christ child.

Here is some history about Advent calendars from Wikipedia:

The origins of the Advent calendar come from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, would count down the 24 days of Advent physically. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on December 1. Some families had more elaborate means of marking the days, such as lighting a new candle (perhaps the genesis of today's Advent wreath) or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day.

The 24 candles might also be placed on a structure, which was known as an "Advent clock". In December, 1839, the first verifiable public Advent wreath was hung in the prayer hall of the Rauhes Haus (relief house) in Hamburg, although it had been a family practice in parts of German-speaking Europe since the 17th century.

The first known Advent calendar was handmade in 1851. According to the Austrian (N÷) Landesmuseum, the first printed Advent calendar was produced in Hamburg in 1902 or 1903. Other authorities state that a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang, was responsible for the first printed calendar, in 1908.

Lang was certainly the progenitor of today's calendar. He was a printer in the firm Reichhold & Lang of Munich who, in 1908, made 24 little colored pictures that could be affixed to a piece of cardboard. Several years later, he introduced a calendar with 24 little doors. He created and marketed at least 30 designs before his firm went out of business in the 1930s. In this same time period, Sankt Johannis Printing Company started producing religious Advent calendars, with Bible verses instead of pictures behind the doors.

The practice disappeared during World War II, apparently to save paper. After the war, Richard Sellmer of Stuttgart resurrected the commercial Advent calendar and is responsible for its widespread popularity. His company, Richard Sellmer Verlag, today maintains a stock of over 1,000,000 calendars worldwide. His company has now been established as one of the biggest sellers of advent produce. Other companies such as Cadbury's who specialise in the making of calendars have similar stocks, if not higher.

When our children were smaller we ocassionally used an Advent Calendar during Advent.

Do you have an Advent Calendar or have you used one?

Ron

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Advent"

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent in the Calendar of the church. Advent is the four weeks prior to Christmas or The Feast of the Christ Child where Christians prepare for the coming of the Christ.

Here is a poem by Thomas Merton:

Advent

Charm with your stainlessness these winter
  nights,
Skies, and be perfect! Fly vivider in the fiery dark,
  you quiet meteors,
And disappear.
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your full!

The four white roads make off in silence
Towards the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry
   earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakeful than the patient hills.

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in
   Advent,
holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed
   by starlight.

Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over
   all our
solemn valleys,
You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Toward the planets' stately setting,

Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where is your exemption, America?

Where is your exemption, O America,
You claim from the judgment of the Almighty?
God did not let his children, Israel
Escape her judgment of her idolatry.

With what special favor do you seek
Some exception from the Laws of the Divine?
No “City on a Hill’ is absolved
By mere assertion from its holy obligation.

Your storages overflow with useless goods;
The hungry stand in lines at your food banks.
You pray, “God bless America”
While you curse those who are without.

Your bunkers creak at the overflow
Of missiles, bombs and riflery.
Yet shelves beg for a can of soup
While you sit in deluded safety.

Where is your exemption, O America?
If the Almighty judges the chosen;
Justice demands judgment on the land
of the free and the home of the brave.

© 2011 Ronald Friesen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A humble attempt to Complete the Dark Night of the Soul

St. John of the Cross wrote a famous poem and commentary on the poem called The Dark Night of the Soul. I have copied St. John's poem below and then I have written my "completion" of the poem in another poem. I will never be St. John so this is not an "improvement" but rather a poetic reflection on life after the experience of the dark night.


Stanzas Of The Soul


1. One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.


2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.


3. On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.


4. This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.


5. O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.


6. Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.


7. When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.


8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

Here is my attempt to continue the story:


The Dark Night Completed

O, the bliss of the those lilies
amongst whom my cares rest.
Trumpets of white and yellow
sanctuary the heart’s burden
in tenderness and refuge..

I sought this field of care
with abandon and forgetfulness
asearch for the Beloved
who alone could satisfy my soul
pained in hungering desire.

Now filled I take the love
the Beloved has bestowed
to a world covering its soul pain
in accumulated goods hiding
its true diagnosis.

O, how my heart desires
To bury my face in the breast
of holy love, yet
true love is only known
in generosity.

Dandelion and thistle around me
testimonies of false promises
of beauty and refuge..
Only those who rest in lilies
know Beauty and Protection.

Light and hope unfold in the leaving
To touch those whose hearts,
Dark and concealed,
Cry out for the Beloved
-       Ah, the sheer grace! –

Ronald Friesen © 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Self-transcendence












Man does not have to transcend himself in the sense of pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. He has, rather, to respond to the mysterious grace of a Spirit which is at once infinitely greater than his own spirit and yet which, at the same time, offers itself as the total plentitude of all Gifts, to be in all reality his "own Spirit."

Merton. Thomas, Faith and Violence (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press: 1968) 117-118

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why the poor and middle class might be angry

I am thinking about why the poor and most of the middle class have a right to be angry.

Both groups see 4.2% of their earnings taken away each month as a payroll deduction and put into Social Security (SS). Now there is a limit at which this amount is capped. If you earn more than $106,800 (in 2011), you will see a maximum $4,485.60 deducted for the year. If you make $212,000 your tax ratio is 1:2 compared to the person making the average median income of $50,035 of a Glendale, AZ household.

There is a common argument going around the blogsphere that says, "The poor pay no taxes." What they really mean is the poor don't pay any income taxes. The poor pay lots of other kinds of taxes, e.g. gasoline, electricity, heating oil, property, food, etc. Those making more then $106,000 pay those taxes as well.

There is a problem in the calculation which is why the poor actually pay more than the rich in taxes: the rich are spreading their tax base over a larger portion of their income. Here is the US Department of Agriculture chart on how much Americans spend on food eaten at home: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/usdafoodcost-home.htm. On the Thrifty plan the average family of four spends $544.50 a month while on the Liberal plan the family of four spends $1,056.30. In Glendale, Arizona, the food tax rate is 1.8%. The family living on the Thrifty plan would pay $9.50 in taxes while the family on the Liberal plan would pay about twice that amount. While the US 2011 poverty level for a  family of four is $22,350; the median household income for 2009 in Glendale, AZ was $50,035. (Median means that there are an equal number of people living below $50,035 as above $50,035.) For argument sake, let's use the median income and the SS cut off family and the Thrifty food plan. Each family pays $114 a year on food taxes. The ratio of taxes paid between the median income family and the SS cut off family is more than 2:1.

One could go through the rest of the household expenses and tax rates and soon discover the same kind of ratios.

There is a I use the SS example above because US citizens have been told that they are paying in that hard-earned 4.2% because it will be there for them when they retire. Here is George H.W. Bush's statement: "We rescued the Social Security system eight years ago on a bipartisan basis. When we did, we made a promise to every American who receives Social Security benefits, to those who support the system today, and to those who will rely on it when they retire. We have worked together to assure that today's benefits are protected and that the system will be strong enough to continue providing benefits to future retirees. I intend to assure that we keep our promise." (http://www.ssa.gov/history/bushstmts.html) This kind of statement has been made over and over again by the leadership of the United States.

Here is the true state of the Social Security Trust fund:

"Social Security expenditures exceeded the program’s non-interest income in 2010 for the first time since 1983. The $49 billion deficit last year (excluding interest income) and $46 billion projected deficit in 2011 are in large part due to the weakened economy and to downward income adjustments that correct for excess payroll tax revenue credited to the trust funds in earlier years. This deficit is expected to shrink to about $20 billion for years 2012-2014 as the economy strengthens. After 2014, cash deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers. Through 2022, the annual cash deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets from the General Fund of the Treasury. Because these redemptions will be less than interest earnings, trust fund balances will continue to grow. After 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed in amounts that exceed interest earnings until trust fund reserves are exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than was projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085." (http://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/index.html)

There are some wondering why the poor and middle class are angry.

Sources:
http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/240/~/2011-social-security-tax-rate-and-maximum-taxable-earnings
http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11fedreg.shtml

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Use your one life well....

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, October 11, 2011














“It is true, political problems are not solved by love and mercy. But the world of politics is not the only world, and unless political decisions rest on a foundation of something better and higher than politics, they can never do any real good for men. When a country has to be rebuilt after war, the passions and energies of war are no longer enough. There must be a new force, the power of love, the power of understanding and human compassion, the strength of selflessness and cooperation, and the creative dynamism of the will to live and to build, and the will to forgive. The will for reconciliation.” - from Introductions East & West. The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Necessity of Suffering


















Because the soul is purified in this forge like gold in the crucible, as the Wise Man says [Wis. 3:6], it feels both this terrible undoing in its very substance and extreme poverty as though it were approaching its end. This experience is expressed in David's cry: Save me, Lord, for the waters have come in even unto my soul; I am stuck in the mire of the deep, and there is nowhere to stand; I have come unto the depth of the sea, and the tempest has overwhelmed me. I have labored in crying out, my throat has become hoarse, my eyes have failed while I hope in my God [Ps. 69:1-3]. God humbles the soul greatly in order to exalt it greatly afterward. And if he did not ordain that these feelings, when quickened in the soul, be soon put to sleep again, a person would die in a few days. Only at intervals is one aware of these feelings in all their intensity. Sometimes this experience is so vivid that it seems to the soul that it sees hell and perdition open before it. These are the ones who go down into hell alive [Ps. 55:15], since their purgation on earth is similar to what takes place there. For this purgation is what would have to be undergone there. The soul that endures it here on earth either does not enter that place, or is detained there for only a short while. It gains more in one hour here on earth by this purgation than it would in many there. 

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, Book 2, Chapter 6, pt. 6

Commentary: Many people will find this text troubling because we want to avoid pain, discomfort and suffering at all costs. When we begin to see the troubling aspects of our lives as teaching points or, in St. John's view, points of purification, we begin to climb to new vistas of spiritual growth. We have to go down before we can go up. Christians outside of the first world understand this principle of spiritual growth; first world Christians, having often been saved from any suffering and pain, shrink from this understanding and remain spiritually impoverished their entire lives.
(c) 2011 Ronald Friesen


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good insights

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - Work - Family - Health - Friends - Spirit, and you're keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls -- family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevoca...bly scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered.

They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?

1. Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

2. Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

3. Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

4. Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life.

5. Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

6. Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

7. Don't be afraid to encounter risks It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

8. Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

9. Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.

10. Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

11. Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

12. Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.

From the book "Suzanne's Diary to Nicholas" by James Patterson

Worldwide Communion Sunday - 2011
















Today is Worldwide Communion Sunday. I am unsure who decided that the first Sunday of October would be so designated (and I am too lazy to do a Google search), however, it is nice to know that most followers of Jesus of Nazareth will break bread today.

Call me a spiritual romantic, I think that thinking about sharing this meal with fellow believers around the world on the same day is very uplifting.

We may speak different languages, worship in different settings, sing different songs, yet our unity is built one one simple reality: the death of Jesus Christ on a cross 2,000 years ago.

In many Christian traditions, this simple meal is call the Eucharist. The word, eucharist, means 'thanksgiving.' We are in union in our thanks to our Savior for laying down his life for us.

In taking this meal, we say we too lay down our lives for Christ and for each other.

I am looking forward to reflecting on this universal unity today.






Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zero interest rates are killing our country.

You know by now that the Federal reserve has moved the country as close as it can to Zero interest rates. The assumption is that zero interest rates will motivate the economy and leave more money in your pocket.

There is a huge problem. Zero interest rates mean that no one is making any money on their money or your money.

You give your money to the insurance company to cover any unexpected healthcare costs. The insurance company puts your money into investments which will give a return so that a. they can cover their costs, b. they can pay your medical bills, and c. pay their stockholders for investing in them (if they are a shareholder-owned company). If there is zero interest rates, they are not making any money on your money.There is only a few ways to make money a. cut services, b. reduce reimbursements to providers, c. raise their rates which is why healthcare rates rose 9% in an economy with zero growth.

This scenario is what is driving banks to charge more fees. They are not making any interest (or a very low rate of interest) on your deposits so they have to find other ways to pay their costs.

Some will argue you have to control interest rates or you have inflation. Actually supply and demand drives interest inflation more than interest rates. If you only have 4 widgets and there are 3 buyers, the price of widgets stay low; if you have 4 widgets and 10 buyers you can raise the price because the demand is outstripping the supply. While it is true that interest rates are a "pass along" cost, they are also a "pass along" engine in the economy. Retirees today who are seeing less than a 1% return on their certificates of deposit are not spending money to encourage the local economy.


My prediction: the debate about how the Federal Reserve is managing the economy is going to heat up a lot in the next 12 months.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Back to Seattle -

















Just got an invite for a repeat appearance by the Ernest Becker Foundation. I was there in July for a conference, now going to another one in about  3 weeks. If any of you are nearby come and join the conversation.

I will be talking about Christian Fundamentalism: Roots of Denial about Global Warming?

(It is a question because not all agree on the premise.)

http://www.ernestbecker.org/

Friday, September 23, 2011

The problem with People-Pleasing

“For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.”


- Henri Nouwen

Commentary:

In the 12 step program, we talk about "people-pleasing" as a character defect. Because it is socially acceptable to be a people-pleaser many people do not see this as an issue which causes them to stumble in their sobriety and sanity. As a people-pleaser I recognize both the fault and the consequences.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Henri Nouwen on Prayer

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched.
Henri Nouwen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

John Donne on Death

When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.
John Donne

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A world without Muslims

Yes, lets imagine a world WITHOUT MUSLIMS, shall we?
Without Muslims you wouldn’t have:
  • Coffee
  • Cameras
  • Experimental Physics
  • Chess
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Perfume/spirits
  • Irrigation
  • Crank-shaft, internal combustion engine, valves, pistons
  • Combination locks
  • Architectural innovation (pointed arch -European Gothic cathedrals adopted this technique as it made the building much stronger, rose windows, dome buildings, round towers, etc.)
  • Surgical instruments
  • Anesthesia
  • Windmill
  • Treatment of Cowpox
  • Fountain pen
  • Numbering system
  • Algebra/Trigonometry
  • Modern Cryptology
  • 3 course meal (soup, meat/fish, fruit/nuts)
  • Crystal glasses
  • Carpets
  • Checks
  • Gardens used for beauty and meditation instead of for herbs and kitchen.
  • University
  • Optics
  • Music
  • Toothbrush
  • Hospitals
  • Bathing
  • Quilting
  • Mariner’s Compass
  • Soft drinks
  • Pendulum
  • Braille
  • Cosmetics
  • Plastic surgery
  • Calligraphy
  • Manufacturing of paper and cloth
It was a Muslim who realized that light ENTERS our eyes, unlike the Greeks who thought we EMITTED rays, and so invented a camera from this discovery.
It was a Muslim who first tried to FLY in 852, even though it is the Wright Brothers who have taken the credit.
It was a Muslim by the name of Jabir ibn Hayyan who was known as the founder of modern Chemistry. He transformed alchemy into chemistry. He invented: distillation, purification, oxidation, evaporation, and filtration. He also discovered sulfuric and nitric acid.
It is a Muslim, by the name of Al-Jazari who is known as the father of robotics.
It was a Muslim who was the architect for Henry V’s castle.
It was a Muslim who invented hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes, a technique still used today.
It was a Muslim who actually discovered inoculation, not Jenner and Pasteur to treat cowpox. The West just brought it over from Turkey
It was Muslims who contributed much to mathematics like Algebra and Trigonometry, which was imported over to Europe 300 years later to Fibonnaci and the rest.
It was Muslims who discovered that the Earth was round 500 years before Galileo did.
The list goes on………..

Just imagine a world without Muslims. Now I think you probably meant, JUST IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT TERRORISTS. And then I would agree, the world would definitely be a better place without those pieces of filth. But to hold a whole group responsible for the actions of a few is ignorant and racist. No one would ever expect Christians or White people to be held responsible for the acts of Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma bombing) or Andreas Brevik (Norway killing), or the gun man that shot Congresswoman Giffords in head, wounded 12 and killed 6 people, and rightly so because they had nothing to do with those incidents! Just like the rest of the 1.5 billion Muslims have nothing to do with this incident!
Sources:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/how-islamic-inventors-changed-the-world-469452.html
http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-29/world/muslim.inventions_1_hassani-inventions-muslim?_s=PM:WORLD
http://www.ummahedinburgh.co.uk/radio/files/Muslim-Invention-Article.pdf
We are going to spend part of our day (9-11-11) with an Afghani Muslim family celebrating the welcome of some new family members who arrived this week.

Sunday Baroque for 9-11

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9-11 reflections - 10 years later

This is the weekend, America is taking a moment to think about the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Here are my thoughts:

1. America lost its innocence. Until the fateful events of 10 years ago, most Americans lived in a world in which they believed terrorism was something that would never happen on their soil. Of course, most of the world had already lost its innocence many years earlier. Personally, as a member of a universal body called the Christian church I had lost my innocence long before September 11, 2001 because I was keenly aware of the suffering of many of my fellow believers around the world. Since I was also aware that suffering was a universal condition, I didn't believe that whatever special quality some Americans claimed for themselves and for their nation was going to protect them or her from experiencing suffering some day. It was only a question of when and how.

2. Americans had their assumptive world shattered. Many Americans lived under the belief that terrorism and tragedy happened "over there." Americans were not prepared to think about terrorism on their shores. The invincibility that many people believed was theirs by birthright was shattered. Parents struggled to have to explain their children that they couldn't guarantee that bad things couldn't happen to them. Of course, if Americans held a more realistic view of the world as a place of good mixed with evil maybe they would have been well practiced in having this conversation with their children.


3. Americans began struggling to understand the balance between protection and freedom. Do we allow cameras on every street corner? Do we increase surveillance at our airports and borders? Is it okay for libraries to be access points of scrutiny by local police forces? Many western democracies who share our love for democratic principles are puzzled by this struggle. They have figured out that how this balance can be struck. This debate continues to unfold in our public dialogue.


4. Americans awoke to the reality of "the different" among us. Who are the Muslims? What do they believe? Should we be afraid of them? The murder of the member of Sikh community in Mesa, AZ because he wore a turban a few weeks after September 11 revealed the confusion, distrust and fear. Muslims had lived on our shores for over 150 years and no one had really noticed. The clash of the cultures which was being played out in Europe, Middle East and Far East was now on our shores. The conversation continues about how to live as a nation of diverse faiths and beliefs.

Those are my thoughts for this September 11, 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ok, what's my excuse?














Recently a "skinny kid" made it into the Pro Hall of Fame. Shannon Sharpe went to college with two brown bags filled with all his earthly belongings. "I grew up in Glennville, Georgia, and we were so poor, a robber once broke into our house and we ended up robbing the robber."

The All-Pro tight end for the Denver Broncos was nicked- named "Shapeshifer" in his early career for his ability to shape his body to any form to catch a ball. Shannon loved to comment: "I was a terrible student. I didn't graduate magna cum laude. I graduated 'Thank you, Lawdy.'"
 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Merton on Identity












What is meant by identity? ...For practical purposes here we are talking bout one's own authentic and personal beliefs and convictions, based on experience of oneself as a person, experience of one's ability to choose and reject even good things which are not relevant to one's own life.

Merton, Thomas. Contemplation in a World of Action. (Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame Press, 1998) 61



 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Merton On Identity












Identity in this deep sense is something that one must create for oneself by choices that are significant and that require a courageous commitment in the face of anguish and risk.

Merton, Thomas, Contemplation in a World of Action: 61

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Labor day thought

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.  ~Doug Larson

The price of labor
















Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things.  It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.  ~Adam Smith

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Forgiveness

“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.
When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride.
For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each others presence.”
                 Frederick Buechner “Listening To Your Life”, p. 305

Keep your eyes on the right object of devotion

2. I knew a person who for more than ten years profited by a cross roughly made out of a blessed palm and held together by a pin twisted around it. That person carried it about and never would part with it until I took it - and the person was not someone of poor judgment or little intelligence. I saw someone else who prayed with beads made out of bones from the spine of a fish. Certainly, the devotion was not for this reason less precious in the sight of God, In neither of these two instances, obviously, did these persons base their devotion on the workmanship and value of a spiritual object. They, therefore, who are well guided from the outset do not become attached to visible instruments or burden themselves with them. They do not care to know any more than is necessary to accomplish good works, because their eyes are fixed only on God, on being his friend and pleasing him; this is what they long for. They very generously give all they have. Their pleasure is to know how to live for love of God or neighbor without these spiritual or temporal things. As I say, they set their eyes on the substance of interior perfection, on pleasing God and not themselves.

-St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, Book 1, 3.2

 Commentary: There is a useful place in a novice's life for objects which focus devotion and faith. The danger is to become prideful about this devotion and miss the real focus of faith which is love of God and neighbor.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Secret to Spiritual growth

God generally sends these storms and trials in this sensory night and purgation to those whom he will afterward put in the other night - although not all pass on to it - so that thus chastised and buffeted, the senses and faculties may gradually be exercised, prepared, and inured for the union with wisdom that will be granted there. For if a soul is not tempted, tried, and proved through temptations and trials, its senses will not be strengthened in preparation for wisdom. It is said therefore in Ecclesiasticus: He who is not tempted, what does he know? And he who is not tried, what are the things he knows? [Ecclus. 34:9-10]. Jeremiah gives good testimony of this truth: You have chastised me, Lord, and I was instructed [Jer. 31:18]. And the most fitting kind of chastisement for entering into wisdom consists of the interior trials we mentioned, since they most efficaciously purge the senses of all the satisfaction and consolation the soul was attached to through natural weakness. By these trials it is truly humbled in preparation for its coming exaltation.

St. John of the Cross, Book 1.14.4

Commentary: In simple words, there is no gain without pain. Our common American Christian teaching is that we can have all of God's blessings with no suffering. There is no greater heresy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What is the dark night of the soul?















Bk 1, Ch 9, #2.
As God sets the soul in this dark night… He allows it not to find attraction or sweetness in anything whatsoever. #4. God transfers to the spirit the good things and the strength of the senses… if it is not immediately conscious of spiritual sweetness and delight, but only of aridity and lack of sweetness, the reason for this is the strangeness of the exchange. #6. If those souls to whom this comes to pass knew how to be quiet at this time… then they would delicately experience this inward refreshment in that ease and freedom from care… it is like the air which, if one would close one’s hand upon it, escapes. #7. In this state of contemplation… it is God Who is now working in the soul. He binds its interior faculties, and allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason with the memory. #8. God communicates… by pure spirit. From this time forward imagination and fancy can find no support in any meditation.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The journey of faith


















Bk. 2. Ch. 24. #4. This dark, loving knowledge, which is faith, serves as a means for the divine union in this life as does the light of glory for the clear vision of God in the next. #8. A person should not store up as treasures these visions, nor have the desire to cling to them. #9. Our journey toward God must proceed through the negation of all. One should remain in emptiness and darkness regarding all creatures. He should base his love and joy on what he neither sees nor feels – that is, upon God who is incomprehensible and transcendent.
- St. John of the the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When darkness turns into light....















Ch. 12. #2. The first and principal benefit caused by the arid and dark night of contemplation: the knowledge of oneself and of one’s misery. #3. The soul learns to commune with God with more respect and more courtesy. #4. God will enlighten the soul, giving it knowledge, not only of its lowliness and wretchedness, but of the greatness and excellence of God. He cleanses and frees the understanding that it may understand the truth. #7. From the aridities and voids of this night of the desire, the soul draws spiritual humility. #8. The soul is aware only of its own wretchedness – and esteems neighbors.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What is Grace?


















"What is grace?" I asked God.

And He said,

All that happens."

Then He added, when I looked perplexed,

"Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved's arms
was grace?

Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from
me

until the heart has
wisdom."
-Saint John of the Cross

Monday, August 29, 2011

How do you see the day?













We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
-John O'Donohue

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Have you felt love like this?

Wring out my clothes

Such love does
the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand in a field.

I have to wring out the light
when I get
home.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are you restless?


"There is within us a fundamental dis-ease, an unquenchable fire that renders us incapable, in this life, of ever coming to full peace. This desire lies at the center of our lives, in the marrow of our bones, and in the deep recesses of the soul. At the heart of all great literature, poetry, art, philosophy, psychology, and religion lies the naming and analyzing of this desire. Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with that desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality . . . Augustine says: ‘You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’ Spirituality is about what we do with our unrest."
Ronald Rolheiser

Friday, August 26, 2011

One hot day!!!!!!

117 degrees in Phoenix today (8/26/11) - hottest August day ever!!!!

The power of silence












Our being is silent, but our existence is noisy. Our actions tend to be noisy, but when they stop, there is a ground of silence which is always there. ...Silence is greatly symbolic in our time.

Merton. Thomas. The Springs of Contemplation: A Retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1992), 18
 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What do you see at night?













I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great ring of pure and endless light.
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it,
Time in hours, days, years,
Driv'n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow moved; in which the world
And all her train were hurled.
- Henry Vaughan, 17th Century British Mystic

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is prayer?













Prayer is
The world in tune,
A spirit-voice,
And vocal joys,
Whose echo is heaven's bliss.
-Henry Vaughan

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do you see the events of life as a gift or a curse?
















Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our father's love — difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs — everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness — Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events — to the heart that loves, all is well.
-St.Therese Little Flower

Monday, August 22, 2011

True motivation











You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love. 

- Henry Drummond

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Restless souls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee..”

 - St. Augustine of Hippo

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Good advice


When Life is dark















Bk. 2 Ch. 16. #15. In this darkness faith alone – which is dark also – should be the light we use. (not visions)

St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel

Friday, August 19, 2011

Are you praying too small?

"You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him." 

St. Teresa of Avila

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Humility

Bk. 2. Ch. 7. #11. When he is brought to nothing, the highest degree of humility, the spiritual union between his soul and God will be effected. The journey does not consist on recreations, experiences and spiritual feelings, but in the living, sensory and spiritual, exterior and interior death of the cross.

St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Prayer plus action!

















"The most potent and acceptable prayer is the prayer that leaves the best effects. I don't mean it must immediately fill the soul with desire . . . The best effects [are] those that are followed up by actions-----when the soul not only desires the honor of God, but really strives for it. "

St. Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The dark night















Bk. 2. Ch. 3. #4. Faith is a dark night for man, but in this very way it gives him light.

St. John of the Cross. Ascent of Mt. Carmel

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is love....

"It is love alone that gives worth to all things."


St. Teresa of Avila

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seeking God




















Bk. 1. Ch. 5. #6. This perfection consists in voiding and stripping and purifying the soul of every desire. #7. God will give to the soul a new understanding of God in God, the old human understanding being cast aside – and a new love of God in God.

St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut wisdom for a Saturday

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thomas Merton on Self-Discipline












In general, it can be said that no contemplative life is possible without ascetic self-discipline. One must learn to survive without the habit-forming luxuries which get such a hold on men today. I do not say that to be a contemplative one absolutely has to go without smoking or without alcohol, but certainly one must be able to use these things without being dominated by an uncontrolled need for them.


Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books), p 12

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Good-Morrow









THE GOOD-MORROW.
by John Donne


I WONDER by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean’d till then ?
But suck’d on country pleasures, childishly ?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den ?
‘Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear ;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ;
Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west ?
Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does every problem demand a solution?












Certainly our life is full of real problems, some of them perhaps without solution. It would be an impertinence to suggest that all of our problems are fabricated. And yet we are so obsessed with the idea that we are supposed to possess "answers" and "solutions" for everything that we evade the difficult problems, which are all too real, by raising other less real problems to which we think we have the answer.

Merton, Thomas. Contemplation in a World of Action. (Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame Press, 1998) 48

Monday, July 11, 2011

Abe's wisdom










“I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thomas Merton on "The Principalities and powers"

Thomas Merton addressed the sinister powers which rule the ruling powers which St. Paul called "principalities and powers" in this manner:

"'They,' of course, have never really been in any position to support anyone. 'They' need us, but not our emptiness 'they' should need as a justification of their own emptiness. That is why their support comes always, and only, in form of bribes. We are nourished in order that we may continue to sleep. We are paid to keep quiet, or to say things that do not distrub the unruffled surface of that emptiness from which, in due time, the spark and the blast must leap out and release in all men, the grand explosion."

-Raids of the Unspeakable, p. 59