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Showing posts from September, 2008

Evil and fear

Carl Jung observed that traditional Christianity presents an imbalanced view of good and evil, because the menacing dark side of reality—evil—is glaringly absent in Christian God-images. By contrast, images in other religions acknowledge mysterious dark forces both positive and negative. For instance, the Hindu Goddess Kali represents darkness, violence, and annihilation, while also representing Ultimate Reality and Source of all.

In Christian teaching, evil comes from a non-divine Source, but this denies that God is the Source of all. This one-sided view of reality also leads to denial of the shadow—that part of ourselves that we don’t want to look at. If Ultimate Reality brings only perfect sweetness and light, we want to avoid unpleasant realities. We strive for perfection and deny what we don’t like in ourselves. Nothing scares and repels us more than our own shadow, the disorderly, not nice feelings, desires, and drives that complicate our lives. And so we deny and repress them to…

Sin-talk

I want to give you a taste of the sin-talk mentality that all of us in the Western world have inherited. My examples from Christian literature illustrate the extremes of that thought paradigm.

The Christian Father-god laid down rules and inspired fearful obedience. He was a Big Boss topping a long line of bosses in the hierarchy of the church. This is evident in the words of the interrogator at St. Joan of Arc’s trial:
You are subordinate to . . . our Holy Father the Pope, the cardinals, the archbishops and the other prelates of the church.He might have gone on to remind her that she also had to obey priests, her father, and all men. She in turn was superior to animals and to all of nature. Relationships in this paradigm are vertical. We either dominate or are dominated in a silly sort of pecking order.

St. Augustine’s words make this clear:
You . . . make wives subject to their husbands . . . you set husbands over their wives; you join sons to their parents by a freely granted slavery…

Eckhart Tolle

I was pleased when the celebrant at our Sunday liturgy referred to the “Speaking of Faith” program he heard on his way to our service. I’d been listening too. Interviewed was Eckhart Tolle, who raises many of the themes in my book and blog. His deep wisdom and his ability to express what is very difficult to say has given him, in Krista Tippett’s words, “a powerful reach.” Through Eckhart Tolle, Zen Buddhist understanding is now being popularized in American culture.

Tolle wasn’t given his first name at birth; he took it from the 13th century German mystic Meister Eckhart. The first time I heard his name, I was drawn to it because I revere Meister Eckhart—not a surprise to anyone who reads my book and blog. I didn’t like hearing that Oprah Winfrey had made Tolle popular because I dislike faddishness, but I was wrong when I feared that popular always means shallow. His message distills the authentic core of spirituality.

Raised Catholic, Eckhart Tolle synthesizes core teachings from many…