April 2013


transcendence-25[1]

The truth of God’s transcendence still stands. God is near, but God is different. God is here, but man is dependent. God’s otherness is the otherness of Creator to creature, of Saviour to sinner; and it is for the creature still to worship the Creator and for the sinner still to ask for the Saviour’s grace. Without this the new Christianity of the secular city will lose its identity as Christianity and will deceive itself and mislead its citizens. And, on the other hand, those who cherish God’s transcendence will know that it is within the secular city that it has to be vindicated and that the transcendent and the numinous are to be seen not in a separated realm of religious practice but in human lives marked by an awe-inspiring self-forgetfulness, compassion, humility and courage. Such lives bear witness that we have here no continuing city, for we are looking for a city which is to come.

Institutions can become a fetish unless it is seen that their glory is not their own but the glory of Christ reflected in their self-effacement. The imagery in which Christians think about God can become a fetish if it circumscribes thought about God within the circle of religious interests and ceases to convey the God who cares about everything which happens in the world. Preoccupation about God’s laws can become a fetish if it allows devotion to the commands and the pro­hibitions to replace devotion to God whose commands and prohibitions they are. The Sacraments can become the focus of veneration instead of being windows into the sacrifice of Calvary and the actions of the living Christ. Equally the moods and phrases of evangelical piety can substitute a kind of self-contemplation for the self-forgetful contemplation of God and obedience to him. It is by a constant self-criticism of our own idolatries that we Christians can learn again and present to our contemporaries the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

( after Michael Ramsey)

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everybody-matters[1]

Everybody matters– how do we  live up to those words.?

That precept is not only the title of Mary Robinson’s  autobiography, but also the core conviction that has guided virtually every step of her life on the world stage.

By any measure, Mary Robinson is a remarkable public servant and humanitarian.  She was the first woman president of Ireland, from 1990 to 1997, and then served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002.  The honorary president of Oxfam International since 2002, she has devoted herself to championing many good  causes. She is also a member of the Elders, global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela.  Her unstinting humanitarian work has garnered her the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Indira Gandhi and Sydney Peace Prizes.

In Everybody Matters, Robinson, who lives with her husband, Nick Robinson, in Dublin and Mayo, vividly and forthrightly recounts her own life and her struggle to make the world a fairer, more humane place through tireless, relentless advocacy of human rights.  Robinson, unlike most who write their “true” story, does not cast herself in a hazy hagiography of good deeds and self-serving triumphs.  To the contrary, the reader always gets the strong sense that no matter how many human-rights successes she has spearheaded, she believes she has barely scratched the proverbial surface.  The book’s clear, skillful prose gently exhorts one to believe that he or she can make a difference in ways great or small.

In rendering her life, Robinson also shows a deft narrative hand. Robinson was born in 1944, the only girl among five children in a devout Catholic family.  At first, she considered becoming a nun; instead, she went on to become a lawyer and activist who assailed entrenched unjustness and inhumanity – whether it lay in government, politics, or even the Catholic Church, as well as her own family.  As a dogged and brilliant lawyer, she won milestone civil-rights cases for women, the poor, gays, and minorities; in two decades in the Irish Senate, she was a progressive voice against traditional prejudices and outdated laws.  Taking on the Church, she helped legalize contraception, illegal without a prescription in Ireland until 1985. In 1990, she stunned the Irish political establishment by winning election as the nation’s first woman president.

Everybody Matters provides a riveting, thought-provoking, and introspective yet worldly examination of a remarkable woman and her life, but always in a way that shows that the author’s foremost concern remains those who suffer across the globe.

I think this is an important book because of the wisdom that emerges out of wise and humane self refection.  Many in power would do well to follow her example.

Everybody Matters is that rarest of memoirs –  and shows us that it really  does matter.

laughter1[1]

Laughter is one of the ways we cope with the discrepancies of our lives. There is a dream we all have for this world, and then there is, well, this world. There are expectations we have of our religions, and then there are our religions . . . Our capacity to love God, ourselves, people, and all of life grows with our capac­ity to laugh. We are ridiculous, and not to laugh at our religions, our worldviews, and our philosophies (that is, ourselves), would be a false witness . . . This ability to laugh in the midst of our imperfections in the presence of God is what we call grace.

Samir Selmanovic

7801.poppy[1]

 

and then my heart

pulled itself apart

and, filled to the brim

with a new light,

overflowed with fresh life.

 

now even the heavens

are thankful that

because of love

i have become

the giver of light

 

Rumi, ghazal  1393

IncarnationC-Sept07-DE7251sAR800[1]

The windless northern surge, the sea-gull’s scream,
And Calvin’s kirk crowning the barren brae.
I think of Giotto the Tuscan shepherd’s dream,
Christ, man and creature in their inner day.
How could our race betray
The Image, and the Incarnate One unmake
Who chose this form and fashion for our sake?

The Word made flesh here is made word again
A word made word in flourish and arrogant crook.
See there King Calvin with his iron pen,
And God three angry letters in a book,
And there the logical hook
On which the Mystery is impaled and bent
Into an ideological argument.

There’s better gospel in man’s natural tongue,
And truer sight was theirs outside the Law
Who saw the far side of the Cross among
The archaic peoples in their ancient awe,
In ignorant wonder saw
The wooden cross-tree on the bare hillside,
Not knowing that there a God suffered and died.

The fleshless word, growing, will bring us down,
Pagan and Christian man alike will fall,
The auguries say, the white and black and brown,
The merry and the sad, theorist, lover, all
Invisibly will fall:
Abstract calamity, save for those who can
Build their cold empire on the abstract man.

A soft breeze stirs and all my thoughts are blown
Far out to sea and lost. Yet I know well
The bloodless word will battle for its own
Invisibly in brain and nerve and cell.
The generations tell
Their personal tale: the One has far to go
Past the mirages and and the murdering snow.

Edwin Muir

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The springtime of Lovers has come,

that this dust bowl may become a garden;

the proclamation of heaven has come,

that the bird of the soul may rise in flight.

The sea becomes full of pearls,

the salt marsh becomes sweet as kauthar,

the stone becomes a ruby from the mine,

the body becomes wholly soul.

 

Rumi

2996049978_d15c2331ab[1]

If you want what visible reality

can give, then you are: an underling.

If you want the unseen world,

you haven’t discovered the truth.

Both wishes are stupid.

Don’t worry about it.

It’s so easy not to know

that absolutely all you really want

is love’s confusing joy.

 

Rumi

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