Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I thank my readers

My readers keep me going, as I often say in reply to their gracious compliments. John Chuchman kindly forwarded an email to me.
Clancy's book reminds me of a simpler version of Ilia Delio. She writes of the relationship of science and spirituality in a way I can more easily understand.
Just what you said... "Every poem is vulnerable to myriad explanations out of the poet's control."
Which, to me, is a good thing.
Love, Sue
The quotation sounded familiar. I guessed a sentence of mine in God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky had been adapted to the discussion they were having about John's poetry. As he included Sue's address, I emailed her.
I can't find the quote in my book but I think I said it of Jesus' parables.
She replied,
Yes indeed, that quote is from your book, page 120, Image and Symbol. I have it underlined and dog-eared as are many pages. I sent that particular quote to John, our resident poet laureate!
I found the quotation, word for word, not adapted. She went on,
So engrossed in your book. I love how you have portrayed Jesus as a man full of life as we know it and live it....laughing, partying, hanging out with the wrong crowd, ridiculed and suffering the ultimate. 
Your writing brought home to me how far we have removed ourselves from his true story. How he would smile at your words and nod his head in agreement.
Asking permission to quote her, I replied,
Yours are some of the nicest things said to me about the book.
The exchange sent me back to God Is Not three Guys in the Sky. Sue’s quotation comes from a section entitled, “Image and Symbol.” It discusses a repeated theme of mine—that religious language cannot possibly be factual.
Mystics like Jesus have always used poetic imagery to symbolize the indefinable spiritual realm. Metaphor and symbol reign in expressing the Reign of God behind physical reality. 
I cannot imagine life without exchanges with readers. They form and inform me. In my replies to  questions and comments, I find my own convictions, which I may not have known before or had not found words for.
Don, another helpful communicator, wrote,
Such respectful exchange is good for the soul. . . . I like the saying, "How do I know what I am thinking if I do not read what I am writing?"
Thank you, readers, all. And may souls less fortunate find some blessings on this feast of Thanksgiving.

February 6, 2016  
First, I apologize for not posting since the new year started.

A lot of people like to email me directly rather than post comments. Technical difficulties prevented my posting some great ones—substantial thoughts worth sharing. Even tech helpers were unable to figure out the problem. I persisted and found a genius to help me.

Here are some responses I have permission to post. First we go back to Christmas (After 6 weeks of trying, I refuse to give up posting these).
Responding to “Virgin Birth, Incarnation,” Michael Huberty wrote,
Loved this provocative post. “The only way we grow as Christians…” Indeed; recognizing mythology, even beautiful mythology, is key (which I, personally, found rather threatening, at least as first).
 I did not know Godfrey, but heard much. There was, in the early ‘70s, when I was a student at SJU, a sort of mythology encircling him, too. Thanks for giving me much to ponder about the Incarnation on this hallowed feast. Happy Christmas. 
Paul August Jasmer, OSB, wrote,
The quote from Jung, “God becomes manifest in the human act of reflection,” almost gives me impression that it could have been inspired by Eastern church ways of being with mystery. By contrast, it seems that the West is more dependent on creating dichotomies (a kind of either/or rhetoric, as handy as distinctions can be at times).
Yet there are no restrictions to divine manifestation, as it can occur in familiar and unexpected ways, no matter how strenuously we try to build fences around divine mystery. Thus, I also like the quotation of becoming “the eyes, hands and feet of Christ” because it echoes Isaiah 52:7—“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who announces salvation. . . .”
Another example is the tagline of the ELCA which draw on that same vision, “God’s work, our hands.” To bring this calling closer to the season, I heard in a homily at the abbey this week that we are like Mary, in that we as Christians are also called to give birth to Christ, in our times.
Thank you also for your recollections of our confrere, Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB, with whom I picked berries, watercress, and mushrooms, besides taking his course in “Birdcalls of the Patristic era” (as some colloquially referred to it). The divine mystery be manifold in our paths! 
Now back to “Let’s Hospice Our Church.” Bob Wedl wrote,
I see the younger generation as open to the views of others, willing to help those in need, accepting differences, etc.
 Do they go to church? No, of course not. . . . Why would they? There is little of value in the church for them. But they do practice “the faith.” 
Don referred to the “Western patriarchal myth” and wrote,
The words of Scripture and the liturgy do not fit our culture, despite the document on the liturgy of Vatican 2. The words reflect the Western patriarchal myth. Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza addresses this issue of the translations of the Bible as injurious to women so should women cease reading it. 
He also responded to my editing note.
Church is a word used indiscriminately for institution and people’s faith. Instead of “church,” I use institution, primarily because the “church” is first the people not the hierarchy, the clerics. We must make this distinction.
 Words are important, and “the church” does not belong to clerics. To me, this is not an academic distinction; rather, it is an attempt to clarify our belief statement, “I believe in the church, one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic.” 
Don refers to a worshipping community with whom he prays socially and says that,
being outside the hands of the local bishop has been a grace. . . .  
I want statements of belief to truly symbolize our faith. The Church as institution is not a symbol of salvation. It can be sacramental as defined in the document of the Liturgy; however, in the past 30 years or so, it has not acted in this way. 
Institutional Christianity may die but I expect the allure of Jesus will continue for a long time. I hope he'll be joined by feminine images of the Divine. We can see a balancing process happening in our media as they highlight more and more female heroes.