Tag Archives: Religion

Of course I’m happy – I’ve got hundreds of pictures to prove it

I have admired Peter Rollin’s work for some time having come across it during my time in Cairo. His critique of what passes for ‘Christianity’ and ‘Religion’ is both challenging and engaging. I particularly recommend his book The Orthodox Heretic for those who have grown weary of an institutionalised Christianity that seems to have lost a commitment to Jesus’ social teachings (a taste of the book can be found here).

In this post on his website he talks about the importance of self-critique in the context of community. Honesty with ourselves and our community is sadly often lacking in the modern church.

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Filed under The Desired Life

Richard Rohr – Immortal Diamond

Immortal diamondHaving just finished Richard Rohr’s latest reflection Immortal Diamond I have taken the time to collect a few quotes that caused some wonderful moments of personal reflection over coffee. The book is easily available through the usual providers like Amazon and Book Depository.

If you would like to join in a conversation, hit me up on twitter.

Note that all words that follow are direct quotations from the book and not being my own work should be attributed to the author. Emphasis is mine to show thoughts of particular personal interest.

We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve the problem of evil, yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is ‘the problem of good.’ How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world? Tackling this problem would achieve much better results.

X

These three paragraphs…summarise the book

1. The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference.

2. Death is not just physical dying, but going to full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance, beyond where I am in control, fully beyond where I am now.

3. When you go into the full depths and death, sometimes even the depths of your sin, you come out the other side—and the word for that is resurrection.

XX

If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success…. If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.

Thomas Merton quoted on 9-10

The False Self is what changes, passes, and dies. Only your True Self lives forever. There are/our major splits from reality that we have all made in varying degrees to create our False Self:

1. We split from our shadow self and pretend to be our idealized self.

2. We split our mind from our body and soul and live in our minds.

3. We split life from death and try to live our life without any ‘death.’

4. We split ourselves from other selves and try to live apart, superior, and separate.
Each of these four illusions must—and will be overcome, either in this world, in our last days or afterward.

29

Much of the Christian religion, in misunderstanding and seeking to avoid the major death of the False Self, became moralistic instead, piously and falsely sacrificial about many arbitrary and small things. I guess we thought this pleased Jesus—who actually saw through it all and denied any idealization of sacrifice or false generosity and the payback that it always expects. In another book I called it “the myth of sacrifice”.  ‘Sacrifice’ usually leads to a well-hidden sense of entitlement and perpetuates the vicious circle of merit, a mind-set that leads most of us to assume that we are more deserving than others because of what we have given or done.

40

‘Re-ligio’ (‘rebinding, re-ligamenting’) is not doing its job if it only reminds you of your distance, your unworthiness, your sinfulness, and your inadequacy before God’s greatness. Whenever religion actually increases the gap, it becomes antireligion instead. I am afraid we have lots of antireligion in all denominations.

I always figured that was the meaning of the very first devil Jesus met and had to exercise; notice it was living in the synagogue itself (Mark 1:21-28). So I am not talking about the devils of secularism, scientism, or atheism. I am talking about the common blockages and boundary markers inside religion itself — anything that deliberately increases the gap between my unworthiness and the supreme majesty of God – the exact and very gap that Jesus came to deny and undo.

101

The spiritual question is this: Does one’s life give any evidence of an encounter with God? Does “this encounter bring about in you any of the things that Paul describes as the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit: “love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Galatians 5:22)? Is the person or the group after this encounter different from its surroundings, or does it reflect the predictable cultural values and biases of its group?

Or, even worse, does your religion spend much of its time defining and deciding who cannot participate? When there is not much to enjoy from the inside, all you can do is keep yourself above and apart from others. Many groups still forbid “under pain of sin” worshiping God in another denominational space. Please. Such religion is nothing but groupthink and boundary marking, and is not likely to lead you to any deep encounter with God. Such smallness will never be ready or eager for true greatness.

109

I order you, 0 sleeper, to awake!
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.
Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of my hands, you were created in my image.
Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.
Together we form only one person and we cannot be separated!

From an ancient homily for Easter Saturday quoted on 187

Ways to practice resurrection now

1. Refuse to identify with negative, blaming, antagonistic, or fearful thoughts (you cannot stop ‘having” them).

2. Apologize when you hurt another person or situation.

3. Undo your mistakes by some positive action toward the offended person or situation.

4. Do not indulge or believe your False Self—that which is concocted by your mind and society’s expectations.

5. Choose your True Self – your radical union with God – as often as possible throughout the day

6. Always seek to change yourself before trying to change others.

7. Choose as much as possible to serve be served.

8. Whenever possible, seek the common good over your mere private good.

9. Give preference to those in pain, excluded, or disabled in any way.

10. Seek just systems and policies over mere charity.

11. Make sure your medium is the same as your message.

12. Never doubt that it is all about love in the end.

211-212

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Nasara

This week at school we have been remembering Christian communities in the Middle East who are suffering because of their religious beliefs. You may even have seen the staff wearing T-Shirts with the symbol to the left on them and wondered what that was all about. Just as the Star of David was used to target followers of the Jewish Faith during the Second World War, in parts of the Middle East, the symbol is being used to target homes and business of Christians. The symbol is actually the Arabic letter ‘n’ which is an abbreviation for Arabic word ‘nasara’ meaning ‘Christian’.

The photo below was taken in Cairo, Egypt, where I was working not that long ago. You can see the jagged edges of the rock of the large room and carvings in the wall. This space is actually a church – a church that was carved out of rock in order to get around the Egyptian government’s ban on building churches. It may be a simple space but the hearts of those that worship there are big indeed.

To get to this church one must go through a small suburb which contains a large population of rubbish collectors who collect all of the refuse from across Cairo. They make a living from sorting and recycling everything they can. As a result, it is said that Cairo has the highest rate of recycling in the world – much higher than what occurs in Australia.

Their story is inspiring but that does not take away from the fact that the entire suburb has a deep and pervading smell that invades your senses as you make your way up to the churches. The people that worship at the churches above the rubbish city do not have much but many ministries abound in the area for Christian and Muslim alike who are in need of help.

It is not appropriate for our students to know the depth of the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East and we have been focusing on how we can follow God’s example by loving everyone regardless of their religion, nationality or gender. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (3:28)

The Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote ‘Silence in the face of evil is Evil itself’. It is my hope that as a community we can in still a deep sense of speaking out when people in our world are not being treated fairly. From the playground to the world stage, Christians should be passionate about continuing the ministry of Christ “…to proclaim good news to the poor…proclaim freedom for the prisoners and…to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4.18)

May we all give thanks for living in a country where we can freely practice our religion and remember those who believe in the face of persecution.

PD94

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