Entries by [Phil Stout] (96)

Saturday
Jul082017

Personal and Social Transformation

“We are either a people who love, embrace, and enter into a caring posture with our family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies (real or imagined) or we will spend our lives mercilessly trying to define who is lovable and who is not, who is worthy and who is not, who deserves my attention and who does not. Inevitably, we will end up loving people who look like us, think like us, and pledge allegiance to the same flag—and we will exclude the rest. In this truly useless pursuit, we will separate ourselves from God (through tribal worship), from the world’s good (by avoiding healing and restoration), and from our very souls (through self-pre­occupation with ego).

In effect, the wisdom of Jesus describes the powerful, but often neglected, bridge between spiritual insight and social action/real compassion. In fact, the wisdom of Jesus seems to suggest that the link is even more intimate than a bridge; it is the collapse of the two categories altogether. The separation of spirituality from action is a false one. In other words, we are not called to do spiritual prac­tices—prayer, study, meditation, retreat, ritual—and then make our way, now inspired, to the work of mercy and justice. In fact, it might be argued that, if anything, it’s just the reverse: Love those who strug­gle with poverty and suffer abandonment and the effect is that we will find ourselves on a path that leads to maturity, prayer, wisdom, and Christ-likeness. If, however, we choose to avoid engagement and community with those who suffer, we will certainly live an incom­plete life, including an incomplete spiritual life.

To put it rightly, I think, the practice of prayer and the practice of compassion are both necessary and complementary spiritual practices…. We are called to be both activists and mystics, missionaries of love and contemplatives, great lovers and deep thinkers. And, in all of that, the spiritual journey can happen; in all of that, we can be made whole; in all of that, the world can be made whole…. Personal transformation and social transformation are one piece….

The true spiritual quest is not that I become whole. Informed by the belief that the world is birthed by God and is precious and sacred and one, the true spiritual quest is that the world become whole—and we along with it.” — Jack Jezreel

Saturday
Jun242017

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”

— Mary Oliver

Friday
May192017

Thoughts from Richard Rohr on the Body of Christ

Paul had a concrete missionary strategy of building living communities able to produce a visible and believable message. Yet for centuries we’ve interpreted his message as if he is speaking about individuals being privately “saved.” This has made Paul seem more like a mere moralist than the mystic he is. Mystics tend to see things in wholes rather than getting preoccupied with the parts.

Paul believes that corporate evil can only be overcome or confronted with corporate good. He uses primitive yet powerful words for the negative side of corporations, institutions, and nations: he calls them “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers” (Colossians 1:16). These are not “bad angels” as much as collective attitudes that are almost impossible to break. Because they are so widely shared as mass consciousness—the way we’re programmed to think—they no longer look like evil and are hard to resist. Murder is bad, but war is good; greedy people are bad, but capitalism is going to save the world; ambition and pride are supposedly major sins, but not in the good ol’ USA. Do you see the problem?

I’ve never heard a single sermon my entire life on the tenth commandment—“Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17)—because coveting goods is the only game in town now. It’s called capitalism and consumerism! In Paul’s thinking, those big cultural blind spots can only be overcome by a group of people living and affirming and supporting one another in an alternative lifestyle. Smaller groups like the Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, and some Catholic religious orders were able to create actual alternative cultures.

For Paul, community is the living organism that communicates the Gospel message. Paul, like Jesus, wants to change culture here, not just send people away to a far-off heaven later! If Christ’s cosmic message doesn’t take form in a concrete group of people, then, as far as Paul is concerned, it is an unbelievable message. An autonomous Christian is as impossible as an independent arm or leg. Arms and legs exist only as parts. No single one of us is the whole Christ, and “the eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you” (I Corinthians 12:21). Believers exist as parts of the whole, the Body of Christ. Their very existence is an objective, shared state that Paul calls love or living “in Christ.” When Paul says, “without love I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2), he implies that he is inside of another Being who is Love.

Paul sees what we will eventually call the “communion of saints” (by the fifth and sixth centuries) as an organism that is very alive, real, and operative in this world. I like to call it an “energy field” created by all those who share in the various parts of Christ. “Salvation” is thus something we can participate in right here and now. When Paul addresses his letters to “the saints,” he is clearly not speaking of our later idea of canonized saints, but of those who make up his living communities and who are participating in this shared life of love in this world.

Paul does not make heroes of individuals, but it is precisely as members of the Body that they “shine like stars” as “perfect children of God among a deceitful and underhanded brood” (Philippians 2:15). Paul sees his small communities as an adequate “leaven” by which God will eventually change the whole debauched Roman Empire (Paul got the word “yeast” or “leaven” from Jesus, see Matthew 13:33). Talk about patience and confidence!

Taken from Richard Rohr's daily meditation for May 19, 2017 

Thursday
Apr272017

The New Creatures

  “Following Jesus is actually a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world. Jesus invited people to ‘follow’ him in bearing the mystery of human death and resurrection. It is not a requirement in order that we can go to heaven later, it is an invitation so that we can live an entirely full life now.
   Those who agree to carry and love what God loves, which is both the good and the bad of human history, and to pay the price for its reconciliation within themselves—these are the followers of Jesus—the leaven, the salt, the remnant, the mustard seed that God can use to transform the world. The cross is a very dramatic image of what it takes to be a usable one for God.
   These few are the critical mass that keeps the world from its path toward greed, violence, and self-destruction. God is calling everyone and everything to God’s self (Genesis 8:16-17, Ephesians 1:9-10, Colossians 1:15-20, Acts 3:21, 1 Timothy 2:4, John 3:17), not just a few. To get there, God needs models and images who are willing to be ‘conformed to the body of his death’ and transformed into the body of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10). They are ‘the new creatures’ (Galatians 6:15), and their transformed state is seeping into history and ever so slowly transforming it into life instead of death. This is the basis for all of our hope—in Christ and for history.”

                                                                                          — Richard Rohr

(full quote)

Thursday
Mar162017

Seth & Nirva Feat. GabeReal — Brother