Recent Blogs

Radical R.C.Benedictine from  USA writes “I’d be skeptical if I were you”

Radical R.C.Benedictine from USA writes “I’d be skeptical if I were you”

"we spread out our cloaks before whomever it is who feeds our fantasies with the certainty that they are about to pull our White Rabbit out of the voting machine" -

Reading Sr Jioan Chittister in the National Catholic Reporter it looks like politics in USA and Britain are on the same trajectory.

Joan writes:- George Will, veteran journalist and social analyst, intoned in his avuncular way, “The strongest continuous thread in America’s political tradition is skepticism.” While looking for virtues suitable to a country in political and social disarray, I couldn’t help but be particularly happy at the thought of nominating skepticism as the electoral foundation of the future.

Why? Because I hope he’s right. Without skepticism, democracy is dead. Then there’s nothing but monarchy, tyranny and autocracy left.

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‘The Christmas Story Re-visited’

‘The Christmas Story Re-visited’

The Nativity Story is much more than a charming tale for children at Christmas. In the words of Adrian Alker, it is a tale that reminds adults that light can overcome darkness, peace can overcome conflict, humility can overcome power, and life is best founded on love, joy and goodwill.

Everybody knows the story of the birth of Jesus - or at least they did once upon a time. See Luke, Chapter 2: vs 1-12.

Luke tells us that Joseph, who lived in Nazareth, had to go to Bethlehem. He was of the house and line of David, and Bethlehem was David’s town: a place where it was prophesied that a future ‘Messiah’ would be born.

Luke says that “Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph”, but the New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition says that Mary and Joseph would have already been married, and the reference to Mary being “pledged to be married” should be interpreted as indicating that the “marriage was not yet consummated”.

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Visit of Letlapa Mphahlele

Visit of Letlapa Mphahlele

“Is there an inclusive narrative, a story of our Shared Humanity, which can bring us together as human beings, beyond all our attachments of nationality, religion, language and culture? While maintaining the riches of our own identity groups is it even realistic to think there is an embracing vision we can all buy into? Or are we destined to largely engage in a multitude of ‘them and us’ agendas?”

This was the underlying theme that was explored during 26 events in three universities, six school Sixth Forms, a variety of other public events and more private occasions, by Letlapa Mphahlele and Howard Grace during the month of October 2019. Fifteen towns and cities were visited: Oxford, Faringdon, Reading, Thatcham, Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Carlisle,Liverpool, Bournemouth and London. Based from my home in Newbury, we travelled about 1,600 miles in total.

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Hildegard of Bingen and Jesus on Living a Green Life  by Mark Longhurst

Hildegard of Bingen and Jesus on Living a Green Life by Mark Longhurst

Hildegard’s genius is to introduce the language of the living natural world into the often fixed corridors of religion, so that God, the world, and humanity are never unchanging, but always emerging, always sprouting seeds of new possibilities, always evolving, always greening.

There’s a concept in particular that ebbs and flows throughout Hildegard’s writings: greenness, or, in Latin, viriditas….it sums up the essence of Hildegard’s theology, because for Hildegard, the whole universe is “green.” It’s alive, ecological, more of a verb than a noun. The whole universe is, as it were, pulsing with divine essence, sustained by Spirit’s evolving life-energy. God and the universe are greening.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in Hitler’s Wheel?..Roger E. Olson

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in Hitler’s Wheel?..Roger E. Olson

Has the Church merely to gather up those whom the wheel has crushed or has she to prevent the wheel from crushing them?”

In the chapter entitled “’Personal’ and ‘Real’ Ethos” Bonhoeffer debates another German Christian ethicist named Otto Dilschneider who, in Die evangelische Tat (1940) argued that “Protestant ethics is concerned with man’s personality alone.” (316) In contrast and contradiction Bonhoeffer responded with several rhetorical questions put to Dilschneider and those who agreed with him. (Nobody knows the exact date of this essay by Bonhoeffer but it had to be between 1940 and 1944.) Here is Bonhoeffer’s response:

“The question here is whether within the field of Christian ethics any assertions may be made with regard to worldly institutions and conditions, e.g., the state, economics or science, i.e., whether Christian ethics has an interest in worldly institutions and conditions or whether these things fall within ‘the zone of the demands of ethical imperatives.’ In other words, is it the Church’s sole task to practice love and charity within the given worldly institutions, i.e., to inspire these institutions so far as possible with a new outlook, to mitigate hardships, to care for the victims of these institutions, and to establish a new order of her own within the congregation? Or is the Church charged with a mission towards the given worldly orders themselves, a mission of correction, improvement, etc., a mission to work towards a new worldly order? Has the Church merely to gather up those whom the wheel has crushed or has she to prevent the wheel from crushing them?” (316-317) (Italics added.)

read full Pathos article at www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2019/08/dietrich-bonhoeffer-a-spoke-in-hitlers-wheel/

Prison reformer Sr. Helen Prejean’s book - ‘River of Fire’ - review by Daniel P. Horan

Prison reformer Sr. Helen Prejean’s book - ‘River of Fire’ - review by Daniel P. Horan

Sr. Helen Prejean is known the world over for her commitment to social justice, particularly for her ministry to and advocacy on behalf of those incarcerated and sentenced to die. Her ministry has garnered attention and has helped to shape public sentiment about the injustice of the death penalty, especially among Catholics. But how did she become filled with that prophetic fire and righteous passion for which she is known today?

Her new memoir, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey, chronicles the path from pre-conciliar nun to modern-day voice of conscience. This book (her third) ends where her first, Dead Man Walking, begins. It is the story behind the story — how the devout schoolteacher and aspiring mystic grew into her vocation, which took her behind bars and into the world of America’s inhumane pseudo-justice system in order to bring the compassionate face of Christ to those least sympathetic in our society.

Reading the book, I was reminded of the famous passage in the Letter of James, which tells us starkly that: “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). I believe this is the constant refrain of Sister Helen’s story.

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Interspiritual Mysticism - Richard Rohr - Center for Action and Contemplation - reflects on the work of Dom Bede Griffiths

Interspiritual Mysticism - Richard Rohr - Center for Action and Contemplation - reflects on the work of Dom Bede Griffiths

A meditation for the Feast of the Transfiguration - Tuesday, August 6, 2019 Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima

Dom Bede Griffiths (1906–1993) was born in Britain and lived the latter decades of his life in India. Some of our Living School students have been deeply moved by studying his work which sought to make connections between Christianity and Hinduism. It has not diminished but rather expanded their faith. Robert Ellsberg describes Griffiths’ journey to God through both Western and Eastern spirituality:

In his old age [Griffiths] looked every bit the part of an Indian holy man—with long beard, flowing white hair, and saffron robe. But while he felt equally at home in the [Hindu] Vedas and Upanishads as in the Christian Scriptures, he remained thoroughly rooted in the church. He had come to the point where all religions, indeed all creation, spoke to him of Christ. . . . [A theme I explore in my book The Universal Christ.]

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Maggie Fergusson writing in The Tablet comments on Richard Holloway’s loss of faith

Maggie Fergusson writing in The Tablet comments on Richard Holloway’s loss of faith

Missing God: the former bishop who lost his faith still hears the faint whisper of the transcendent

Missing God: the former bishop who lost his faith still hears the faint whisper of the transcendent

If you are married to a book dealer, you try to keep your shelves as clear as ­possible, holding on only to those ­volumes you feel you can hardly live without. One such, for me, has been Richard Holloway’s Leaving Alexandria, published in 2012, and tracing his development from a boy who hoped to devote his life to God, to his disenchantment with a Church whose rules seemed to him not just wrong-headed but cruel, and his consequent resignation as Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 2000.

What Holloway conveys is not a progression from faith to triumphal, Dawkins-style ­atheism, but a painful sense of failure and regret: he no longer believes in God, yet he misses him, and has let him down. This is the most plangent and thought-provoking memoir I have ever read.

Holloway is now 85, tall, courteous and warm, his mind still sharp. He is working on a book called Stories We Tell Ourselves, “propelled by a kind of fatigue at the way religion and politics are constantly just shouting at each other, and a failure to admit that our ideas are intrinsically varied and ­unsettlable – so why can’t we live with that gorgeous variety? Unless our stories make us cruel and violent, why can’t we just tell them?” He’s due to deliver to his publisher, Canongate, next April, and in the meantime he’s happy to look back and chat about Leaving Alexandria.

I’ve never, I tell him, seen a book get more rapturous reviews. But, for Holloway, what were most poignant were the 500-odd letters he received from priests – some Catholics, some bishops – telling him that this was “their story. That’s the most moving thing about being a writer – getting letters from people who feel less lonely for having read you.” He has, he says, “a strong affection for broken priests”.

“An autobiography,” Holloway says, “can be quite self-serving. Whereas a memoir is a piece of self-discovery – a piece of personal archaeology, self-examination, confession if you like. It’s a kind of delving into one’s own story to try to make sense of it, because I think – and maybe this is more true of men than women – a lot of us don’t really know ourselves. And it would be a tragedy to die not knowing who you are.”

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‘Was there really demon possession at the time of Jesus?’

‘Was there really demon possession at the time of Jesus?’

When we read about evil, such as demon possession, like the Gerasene demoniac, what can we take out of such incidents and apply to today’s world?

Recently I have had to make a long journey in my car. Rather than waste the time, I decided to listen to David Suchet narrating the four Gospels (something I often do, but generally just one Gospel at a time).

One of the incidents that appears in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is the story of the Gerasene Demoniac. Each time I heard the account there were questions I wanted to ask about demon possession; questions which I am now going to address.

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About Experiencing the Divine - Matthew Fox

About Experiencing the Divine - Matthew Fox

Carl Jung said that “the main purpose of organized religion is to prevent persons from having an experience of God.”

A number of years ago I was being interviewed on Dutch television by a young (about 40 years old), bright, dynamic and professional man who had done his homework. Immediately after the interview ended and the bright stage lights had been turned off, he leaned over and said to me: “I am dying to ask you a question that I did not want to ask on air–Do you Americans actually believe that people can still experience God?”

Obviously this question hit me hard—otherwise I would not have remembered it all these years. I suspect behind it is the near collapse of religious practice in Europe where in Germany about 5-6% of the population practice their Lutheran faith; in England about 6% of Anglicans; in France about 6% of Catholics, etc. etc. And in America the numbers are in free fall as well though they started at a more elevated place. Having just returned from lecturing in Ireland, there the numbers have fallen from 95% Roman Catholics practicing fifteen years ago to 14% today.

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M. D. Chenu, Grandfather of Liberation Theology and Creation Spirituality

M. D. Chenu, Grandfather of Liberation Theology and Creation Spirituality

Silenced by Pope Pius XII for twelve years, he was forbidden to publish because he had supported the Worker Priest movement in France after WWII

M. D. Chenu, Grandfather of Liberation Theology and Creation Spirituality By Matthew Fox June 10, 2019

Père M. D. Chenu, named the Creation Spirituality tradition for me when I studied with him in the Spring of 1968. Yes, it was that climactic spring, when Paris and many university towns were shut down by rioting students opposing the Viet Nam War, but also a sclerosis of frozen academia that was preventing, it seemed to our generation, a fuller experience of learning.

Today some one asked me for more information about this amazing elder. In naming the Fall/Redemption vs the Creation Spirituality tradition for me, Chenu can rightly be named the Grandfather of Creation Spirituality.

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Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

Patriarchy with its compulsion to control and extract and take and dominate and play reptilian games of being #1 is killing the earth

Blessings!

On Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019, in honor of Gaia, our wounded Mother Earth, Matthew Fox and a dedicated team of helpers, launched a series of daily meditations to support your being and your work. Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox supports your inner and outer work, your contemplation and your action, your mystical and prophetic vocations. Some of the meditations will be brand new and some will be drawn from Matthew’s past writings. Suggested practices and short videos will be offered at times as well. You are welcome to blog or interact with other subscribers along the way. Building on our Mother’s Day launch, the first few weeks of our meditations will focus first on the return of the Divine Feminine; and then the ushering in of the Sacred Masculine—these themes lie at the heart of the eco-disasters we are facing as a species.

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Richard Rohr — Living In Deep Time

Richard Rohr — Living In Deep Time

Men of all ages say Richard Rohr has given them a new way in to spiritual depth and religious thought

Richard Rohr — Living In Deep Time

Men of all ages say Richard Rohr has given them a new way in to spiritual depth and religious thought — through his writing and retreats. This conversation with the Franciscan spiritual teacher delves into the expansive scope of his ideas: male formation and what he calls “father hunger”; why contemplation is as magnetic to people now, including millennials, as it’s ever been; and how to set about taking the first half of life — the drive to “successful survival” — all the way to meaning. Podcast

Embedding Christianity Today

Embedding Christianity Today

What is wrong? Why is it that what goes on inside a church no longer inspires the general awe and reverence it did only a century ago?

The Church Does Not Inspire

In Britain, for many people Christianity has become a one-hour-a-week church activity, or even less.

What is wrong? Why is it that what goes on inside a church no longer inspires the general awe and reverence it did only a century ago? In the March edition of Progressive Voices, Edward Hulme had one answer. He suggested that Communion has now become a barrier to spiritual growth, to Christian Faith, and to God. He further suggests that the sacrament and the associated church services were never vital to discipleship. And I think this subject is worthy of further development.

First, there is a strong case that the Eucharist has been developed into forms that are radically different to how Jesus might have imagined events at the “Last Supper” would be interpreted.

It is most unlikely that Jesus would ever have envisaged Christianity as a world-wide religion separate from Judaism. Nor would he have imagined the ritual of Mass as it was later developed by the Roman Church: after the time of the Emperor Constantine and during the period when Christianity changed from being a persecuted sect, worshipping in the houses of Christians, to being a state sponsored, powerful religious institution, wealthy enough to build cathedrals and churches as ‘houses’ of God.

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The Great Spiritual Migration: Brian McLaren -  (Good Reads review)

The Great Spiritual Migration: Brian McLaren -  (Good Reads review)

With his trademark brilliance and compassion, McLaren invites readers to seize the moment and set out on the most significant spiritual pilgrimage of our time: to help Christianity become more Christian.

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian by Brian D. McLaren

The Christian story, from Genesis until now, is fundamentally about people on the move—outgrowing old, broken religious systems and embracing new, more redemptive ways of life.

It’s time to move again.

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Of Old Trees, Stardust And Moments of Wonder: A Short Introduction To Religious Naturalism… by Rex A. E. Hunt on May 17, 2019

Of Old Trees, Stardust And Moments of Wonder: A Short Introduction To Religious Naturalism… by Rex A. E. Hunt on May 17, 2019

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious” (Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018)

“The sense of wonder, that is our sixth sense.

And it is the natural religious sense” (D. H. Lawrence)

Stand under a big old tree and look up. (The tallest trees in Australia are all eucalypts, of which there are more than 700 species. While Australia’s oldest tree is a clonal male Lagarostrobos franklinii, Huon Pine, in Tasmania that is 10,500+ years old, with individual stems 1,000 to 2,000 years old).

Can you see the passing of time in its gnarled trunk? The network of bugs and insects burrowing into bark and foraging in leaves? Wildlife taking refuge in nests and leaf-lined hollows? Bacteria helping to nourish it with nitrogen?

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The human race seems to need rituals. by Gretta Vosper on April 23, 2019

The human race seems to need rituals. by Gretta Vosper on April 23, 2019

The human race seems to need rituals. Christmas, Easter, Baptisms and Eucharist/Communion are times and events that attract the most people to the church and corporate worship. Yet these same rituals are the ones where the theistic God is most evident and reinforced. How can we address this paradox?

Question & Answer (from PCN USA)

Q: By Edna The human race seems to need rituals. Christmas, Easter, Baptisms and Eucharist/Communion are times and events that attract the most people to the church and corporate worship. Yet these same rituals are the ones where the theistic God is most evident and reinforced. How can we address this paradox? A: By Rev. Gretta Vosper Thank you for this important question, Edna.

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Will your church be alive in ten years? by Ken Briggs OpinionParish - (NCR)

Will your church be alive in ten years? by Ken Briggs OpinionParish - (NCR)

these stark realities of decline go largely unnoticed because church structures retain the size and stateliness of more prosperous times - review of Christianity in the USA

Like stocks and bonds and the real estate market, religion has become more about “futures,” not in the Kingdom of God sense but in the realm of numbers. As in, is your church likely to be alive in 10 or 20 years?

America’s vitality is usually measured by growth or lack of it, epitomized by the Gross National Product report card. The tools for calculating gains and losses are digital and electronic, spewing a ubiquitous swarm of survey results and polls purporting to tell us how our institutions —and, by extension, we — are doing

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