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Showing posts from 2016

Christmas Spirit

Parker Palmer offers a songthat can appeal to both religious and non-religious people. Scroll down to the lyrics of Sara Thomsen with the guitar. 
I cried when watching this next video.  A young Arab-American sets himself up across the street from a Trump Tower, blindfolded with a sign saying that he trusts passersby, inviting them to give him a hug. Nothing happens for a while, and then . . .


I ended my reflection on nones by asking, “Why [in our increasingly secular culture] does our entire culture embrace the religious feast of Christmas?”
Don’t we all love newscasts of people being exceptionally generous during this season? Don't we love stories of spreading love and cheer?  I do. I think we all need these stories even more because of growing secularism with its despicable focus on buying stuff to stuff people who already are stuffed with stuff. Spiritual values during the Christmas season provide relief from mandatory gift-giving and ferocious consumerism.    And there’s more…

Nones are rising

November 14, 2016
The number of religiously non-affiliated people, according to the Pew Research Center, is rising. In 2007 they comprised 16 percent of Americans. In 2015 their percentage rose to 23 percent. Meanwhile, the number of Christians fell from 78 to 71 percent.
I do not mourn this, although I regularly attend Mass with Catholic religious sisters. Not all these nuns are so very different from nones. Both groups have spiritual values that transcend conventional bounds, but nuns express their spirituality in religious terms while nones express spirituality without religion.
At the same time that I feel at home with nuns, I identify with nones’ getting more inspiration from nature than from God-talk. Like nones, I have lost respect for institutional religion. My biggest criticism of Christianity is its God-images turned into gods by patriarchal language imposed on churches by the Vatican.
I hold it responsible for Pope Francis' lack of vision regarding women. I can’t say …

Francis on women’s ordination

Soon after Pope Francis was elected and the refreshing changes in his leadership style were being celebrated, I wrote that he doesn’t get the issue of women. That became abundantly clear this last week when he again closed the door on women’s ordination. Yes, he’s a wonderful man. Yes, he’s humble and courageous in his determination to right wrongs, even to a limited extent on the treatment of women.  But he just doesn’t get it. He does not understand patriarchy; he does not understand its impact on human thought, attitudes, and expectations. 
Francis is not uninformed, just unenlightened. He has not accomplished the shift in consciousness that is required to accept women in roles previously delegated exclusively to men. Christian God-talk keeps Francis and other good people from realizing what patriarchy has done. He needs a strong dose of Mary Daly (“If God is male, male is God”) and Rosemary Radford Ruether, whose book Sexism and God-talk motivate my writings and presentations on…

Parker Palmer

We all need to get away from political garbage. To cleanse our minds, I offer the words of Parker Palmer, a spiritual leader whom Krista Tippett likes to interview for On Being.
[W]hen I went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City for a year, . . . God spoke to me and said he wanted me to get the hell out of the church.    Palmer does not trash religion or cling to religion. He recognizes its worth for some but knows that today he can awaken spiritual awareness in more people by not going through religion. He joined an intentional Quaker community where he was given the gift of understanding,  that the value of a person has absolutely nothing to do with status, power, income, leverage. . . . I made the exact same base salary as an 18-year-old coming to cook in the kitchen or work in the garden. . . Parker sees each of us having to find our own way to our true self. He calls this self the soul.  And if the word “soul” doesn’t work for you, it’s “identity” and “integrity” in th…

Hillary and Donald

Relief from Trump          October 9, 2016

Donald Trump’s vile words are no surprise. They unmask him as a sexual predator, but his predatory business dealings, also made public, should get equal attention. The predator turned presidential candidate disturbs me less than continued support given him.
I can get trapped into arguing against an irrational partisan who backs Trump, but it doesn’t help me or her or anyone else.
We all need to get away from the garbage. To cleanse our minds, I offer the words of Parker Palmer in my next post.


Hillary and Donald            September 30, 2016
I’m watching the campaign with fear that the United States might actually sink into the morass of Donald Trump as president. I confess my obsession with this. It’s hard to think about much else. Marilyn wants me to tie my subjects of discussion to religion and spirituality. Very well. I observe my obsession as a personal challenge in spiritual maturation. I have to deal with it, and writing about it helps …

Where have you been?

Marilyn from Phoenix called me. “Jeanette, where have you been? Start blogging again!” She informed me that it’s been six weeks since my last post and told me to begin again.
She seemed sincerely bereft so I offered, “You can read the posts in my blog index.”
“I’ve read every one of them.”
“I am impressed." But I didn't believe her. There are too many. "You couldn’t have!”
“I read every one of them, some of them several times.” As proof, she told me when I started the blog—2007. I was speechless. “They’re interesting, wonderful, illuminating, just wonderful. Why aren’t you writing more?”
After some stuttering, I listed the things that keep me busy. “Each post is an essay. It takes me a long time to write those, and I have so many other things to do.” Often a post I intend to dash off quickly turns into lengthy labor. I reminded her that I’m working on a memoir. She asked me whether I was thinking of not doing any more blogging.  I confessed that I was.
“I hope I’m …

Stephen Hawking's god

A recent PBS documentary on science, “Genius by Stephen Hawking” beckoned. Anything about genius and Stephen Hawking promised to be good. I hoped nothing would interrupt me when it was on TPT.

Hawking challenged volunteers to think like geniuses in finding answers to seemingly unanswerable questions. I expected to be intrigued. Volunteers saw plates suspended in the air and spinning. Magic?  No, it turned out to be magnets. We were to conclude that the laws of nature answer mysteries of the universe.

All mysteries? Some scientists thought so. Pierre-Simon LaPlace asserted: If we knew all facts of the universe, we would know everything that will happen in the future. He and others posited the clockwork universe of determinism, but I won’t get into that because I didn’t buy it and Hawking didn’t either.

In another puzzle that Hawking set up, a volunteer's head was wired up so that his brain was connected to a screen. When he moved his finger, something moved on the screen. A tiny mo…

Israel & Palestine—facts

News widely reported in the U.S. the past few days. Two Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis in a Tel Aviv retail center. Israel reacted by banning Palestinians from visiting relatives in Israel, traveling to Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers or to Tel Aviv for travel out of the country. Since October Palestinian attacks have killed 33 Israelis.
News not reported in the US. Since September 29, 2000, Palestinians killed by Israelis—9,370 Palestinians,2,112 of them children. Israelis killed by Palestinians—1,224 Israelis,  133 of them children
More news not reported in the US: Military aid from the U.S. going to Israel: $10.2 million per day! Military aid from the U.S. going to Palestine:  0
Whenever Israel and Palestine are in the news I recommend
If Americans Knew  orJews for Justice for Palestiniansor numerous other sites. I especially recommend this engaging video about Israeli atrocities in Palestine, which should be viewed by every American.
Apparently, many Jews in America disag…

Easter posts past

March 31, 2007
From a religious point of view, Easter is a more important Christian feast than Christmas, but it gets less attention because there’s less money to be made from Easter. So much for our supposedly Christian nation.

Like Christmas, Easter derives from pagan myth and ritual. The ancient religions surrounding the first Christians celebrated various saviors coming down from heaven and going back up to heaven.

A striking parallel to Easter is reported by church historian Henry Chadwick. He tells of the god Mithris, whose death was mourned on March 22 and resurrection celebrated on March 25.

The likeness of Good Friday and Easter to religious festivals of the pagans prompted them to accuse Christians of plagiarism. Besides the idea of dying and rising again in three days, Christians apparently borrowed ritual ideas.

My reporting this may give the impression that I have little respect for Holy Week and Easter. Wrong. I regard the Paschal mystery as a profound spiritual mystery,…

EL SHADDAI

I AM    February 27, 2016

The 1st reading on the third Sunday in Lent is Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15. It contains the best definition/description/summary of God in the Judeo/Christian tradition—I AM. God also says in this passage, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” But the name of God for these patriarchs was El Shaddai, the Breasted God (Exodus 6:3).

Unfortunately, Bible translations commonly render El Shaddai  as "God Almighty," following early influential translations. But "God Almighty" subverts the original meaning, as shown by David Biale in a February 1982 article for the journaal, History of Religions.
The ordinary Hebrew word shad means “breast.” In ancient Akkad (north of Babylonia) shadu meant both “breast” and “mountain,” a link easily understood. The Egyptian word, shdi, meant “to suckle.” The ending –ai, an Ugaritic feminine ending, occurs in the name of Abraham’s wife—Sarai.
Biale adds that the term’s context in biblical texts supports the conclu…

Antonin Scalia

I confess that when I heard the news of Antonin Scalia’s death I said “Thank God!” fervently, sincerely, earnestly. I have nothing against the man.  He was a good man who did what he thought was right, and now he is happily in the spiritual realm.

It’s his family and friends who deserve our sympathy.  That’s always the case when someone dies. I don’t feel sorry for the deceased—they are happier on the other side than in this time/space realm on earth. I believe that to be the case no matter what kind of life they led.
I understand Scalia was a colorful, jolly, opera-loving, friendly man, but he led others to wreak terrific havoc on our political system. With his passing we have a chance of overturning the most destructive decisions coming out of the court in the past 30 years.
We can’t undo one disatrous decision of his—putting George W. Bush in the presidency in spite of the popular vote going to Al Gore. Scalia’s claim that he based decisions on originalism—following  the original …

Downton Abbey

I admit it. I’m madly in love with Downton Abbey. Not much gets in the way of watching when it’s on television, twice a week, every Sunday and repeated on Wednesday evening. I plan my evening activities around it. If someone calls, I cut the conversation short.
The costumes, period details, and love stories don’t capture me as much as the quality of the writing and the overriding theme—class pecking order is fading. Already in the first episode in the first season this theme came through to me. A friend didn’t like the show. She criticized it as all about nobles who think they deserve their privileges. I said, “That’s the point.” I expected their privileges to be challenged.
I don’t know how Julian Fellowes managed to convey so effectively at the beginning that things would change. Maybe it’s character development; the acting rises to the level of the writing. I savor every facial expression, every line. Fortunately I can read their dialogues in captions. I asked a friend more tech…

Virgin Birth, Incarnation

This December 2009 piece I had re-posted on Christmas 2015 but lost it while wrestling with technical difficulties. They are preventing further posts.  I hope soon to get this problem fixed.

Godfrey Diekmann, OSB,  exploded with this statement in the students’ dining hall at St. John’s.
It’s not the Resurrection, dammit! It’s the Incarnation! An editorial in National Catholic Reporter reminded me of this story in The Monk’s Tale, a biography of Diekmann by Kathleen Hughes. When I was at the School of Theology, she came onto the Collegeville campus to gather stories for her book about our colorful and inspirational professor, Godfrey, as he was known by students and fellow professors. The first-name basis at SOT is one of my fond memories of those years, and I’m proud to have my own memories of Godfrey Diekmann, who played an important role in contemporary Church history.

Godfrey passionately preached the implications of the Mystical Body—that we share divinity. This is the Incarnation, …