“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”—Albert Camus (via hellanne)
“Poetry is for me Eucharistic. You take someone else’s suffering into your body, their passion comes into your body, and in doing that you commune, you take communion, you make a community with others.”—
— Mary Karr from her 2010 interview with Judy Valente on PBS’ Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
"Be very mindful of what is appropriate for you because, I tell you, to stop in this world is to create the conditions where a lot of unusual experiences can rise up. So be very respectful of your situation and proceed with love and with care as well as courage."
It can be a stretch to summon buoyancy rather than burnout in how we work, live, and care. Roshi Joan Halifax is a Zen teacher and medical anthropologist who’s been formed by cultures from the Sahara Desert to the hallways of American prisons. She founded the Project on Being with Dying. Now she’s taking on the problem of compassion fatigue, though she doesn’t like to use that phrase. For all of us overwhelmed by bad news — and by the attention we want to pay to suffering in the world — Joan Halifax has bracing, nourishing wisdom on finding this buoyancy in our daily lives.
“People working outside of the networks and stations hear the world differently. They break rules and formats, and I want that element of surprise on The Story. I am writing to ask you, the independent community, to pitch to me.”
“All this journalistic analysis around the ‘Nones’ as the demise of religion. But so many of them are ethically and spiritually passionate. The new non-religious represent the evolution of faith, not its demise. They will restore the great traditions to their own deepest truths.”—Krista Tippett, who offered these tweets this morning in response to the many reports resulting from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s study, "Nones" on the Rise.
“There is something very comforting about ritual. I have friends who go to church or sit at the Zen center. I respect that. The ritual of writing fills that need for me. Writing has been a kind of spiritual devotion for me. Listening to language, feeling stories unfold and poems arrive, being present to the page – I do not think of it as a career, I think of it as a devotion. That is a big difference to me.”—
“What makes me a believer is that from time to time, there have been glimpses I’ve had which have made me suspect the presence of something extraordinary and beyond the realm of the immediate. You encounter the holy in various forms, which, unless you have your eyes open, you might not even notice.”—
“O Allâh, place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light behind me, light in front of me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me and light below me; place light in my sinew, in my flesh, in my blood, in my hair and in my skin; place light in my soul and make light abundant for me; make me light and grant me light.”—Hussein Rashid has posted several lovely prayers for the new year: two from the Prophet Muhammad and one by the author himself. The one above is especially lovely during the depths of winter here in North America. (via trentgilliss)
Prakash Utsav: Sikhs Celebrate the Birthday of their 10th Guru
by Susan Leem, associate producer
Prakash Utsav birthday celebrations in Sikh temple for Guru Gobind Singh. (photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)
The number of Sikhs in the world is approaching 20 million adherents. Most live in India, and many are settling in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Italy (where they were recently credited with saving Italy’s struggling dairy industry). Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of India and Pakistan. It is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak and his nine gurus, and is distinct from Hinduism or Islam though comparisons are often made. The tenth and last Sikh guru in a sacred lineage is Guru Gobind Singh. He made a distinctive contribution to the identity of Sikhs with particular teachings about ethical behavior, hair, and headdress. And Sikhs celebrate his birthday, Prakash Utsav, annually. Based on the Nanakshahi calendar, the annual celebration of the Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s birthday takes place on the twenty-third day of Poh (ਪੋਹ), which coincides with January 5th.
The Sikh scripture is a book called the Guru Granth Sahib, and a building that houses the book is called a Gurdwara (Gateway to the Guru), and functions as a place of worship primarily on Sundays. According to the BBC, “The most important thing in Sikhism is the internal religious state of the individual.”
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals. Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in heart and mind at all times, live honestly and work hard, treat everyone equally, be generous to the less fortunate, and serve others.
The turban is an important symbol of Sikh tradition and identity to represent commitment to God, their values, and promote equality. It also places a very publicly visual responsibility on them to represent Sikhism. The U.S. Army even made a special exemption last year for their first Sikh enlistee to be permitted to wear his turban and facial hair during active duty.
Capt. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi is an Army Emergency Room Physician and the first Sikh in the U.S. Army. Photo by: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
This book is a good introduction to Teilhard’s spiritual thinking and biographical notes. Ms. King writes a beautiful summary at the beginning that gets at the heart of Teilhard de Chardin’s spirituality, which “creatively welds together science, religion, and mysticism in one unifying synthesis.”
Ms. King doesn’t just write about him and selectively quote from his writings. This is a good thing. She pulls healthy sections from some of his most notable works — including Writings in a Time of War, The Divine Milieu, Heart of Matter, and The Phenomenon of Man — which allow you to imbibe the sensibility of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his own words. The translations are passionate and very readable, thank goodness, because we’ve come across other translations will make you feel like you’re eating week-old bread with nothing to wash it down.
I’d also recommend reading Amir Aczel’s The Jesuit and the Skull. Mr. Aczel is a superb storyteller and popularizer of great scientific minds and finds. For devotees of Teilhard, Mr. Aczel may not do enough, but his focus on the French Jesuit’s role in the discovery of Peking Man in 1929 gives the reader a sense of Teilhard as scientist who is trying to reconcile his religious beliefs with those of the Catholic Church.
Teilhard de Chardin’s struggle is at the heart of Aczel’s book. It’s an adventure story too, trotting the reader all over the globe, introducing us to countries and cultures of the day that speak to our own ongoing wrestling match about evolution.
Whereas, Ms. King’s compilation will force you to read slowly, think deeply, and savor Teilhard’s passionate langue and ideas, The Jesuit and the Skull lets you buzz through with a liveliness and vitality of a good summer vacation exploration.
Hello!I seem to have overlooked (and so have not liked or reblogged it-searched my entire likes list for it) some quote, talking about a woman, who gets a visit from her writing professor, who finds some small piece of paper taper to her desk, he reads it and says it is the most profound piece of poetry he's read in some time, and then she replies it's from a disco record, the lyrics themselves go something about dancing, moving underwater without getting wet or something. Do you know it?thx. :)
Unfortunately, this doesn’t sound familiar. But, if you ever find the source, please send it my way because poetry and disco is a match meant for this blog… I think.
Recently I heard a wonderful program on National Public Radio about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I was struck by one of his quotes: ‘Some are guilty, but all are responsible.’
I pray for the victims and families in Newtown and Aurora and Virginia Tech and Red Lake and Columbine and Minneapolis and Norway and Webster and all the other lesser known atrocities — and for my country.
—John Patrick Egelhof, lead FBI agent of the Red Lake High School massacre, from his excellent if not challenging commentary in the Star Tribune. Read it.
One of the most gratifying aspects of working on this project is seeing this type of practical impact. Many times it’s difficult to quantify the influence our work is having in the world; seeing a key law enforcement official who has faced unbelievable tragedy use these pearls of wisdom to inform his own thinking and being breathes new life into the work that I do. It’s all the thanks I need.
"It doesn’t actually take any more time to say good-bye or hug you know, your children or whatever it is in the morning when you’re on your way to work. But the mind says, ‘I don’t have any time for this.’ But actually that’s all you have time for, is this because there’s nothing else than this…So when your four year-old can’t decide which dress she wants to wear, that’s not a problem for you, unless you make it a problem for you. That’s just the way four year-olds are. And the more we can sort of learn these lessons the more we will not be in some sense running towards our death, but in a sense opening to our lives."
Scientist and author Jon Kabat-Zinn has changed Western medicine through his work on meditation and stress. He’s clinically demonstrated the benefits of ancient traditions of mindfulness and meditation. And he’s adapted these for people who are healthy or living with chronic illness, for Olympic athletes and corporate cultures.
In this week’s On Being podcast, Jon Kabat-Zinn offers wise perspective on inhabiting the ordinary and extreme stresses of our lives. Technology may function 24/7, he points out, but our minds and bodies do not. He has practical and spiritual tools accessible to everyone — for slowing down time and “opening to our lives.”
And, for this week’s show, our host Krista Tippett recommends reading:
There are a couple of minutes in this podcast in which we hear Jon Kabat-Zinn conduct an introductory meditative experience for employees at Google. This spiritual technology is immediately effective and at the same time an engagement for a lifetime. It is about “coming to our senses” in the fullest sense of that phrase. This book explores these ways of living in more depth.
I first read Teilhard as a senior in college back in 1960, and continued to read him during my years in the seminary — in Rome!
I’ve taught an advanced undergraduate course over the years on “The Classics of Spirituality,” and have used “The Divine Milieu” as the final reading of the course.
I appreciate the program dedicated to Teilhard and welcome the continuing interest in his thinking. But I think that the heart of the matter was slighted in the presentations.
For Teilhard at the heart of his vision is Jesus Christ who is both the center and the goal of the Divine Milieu. This is why Teilhard’s great friend and advocate Henri de Lubac holds that part of Teilhard’s achievement was to recover the “cosmic Christology” of the Pauline Epistles.
So thank you for what you have done in the program; but it’s like a glass only half full. You only offered some of the good wine.
Which prompted this response from Gregory Lynch:
Dear Father Robert:
Thank you for your insightful comments. I agree with you that the Cosmic Christ is at the very heart of Teilhard’s worldview and any attempt to separate his philosophy from his Christian faith does a disservice to both Teilhard and the Church. I share your view that Teilhard does a wonderful job of taking the core of the Christian faith, all the way from its earliest writings, and show how modern science and philosophy reaffirm these ancient truths.
However, as a faithful and practicing Catholic, I am also frustrated that the Catholic Church is has yet to fully embrace Teilhard. Interestingly, I first came across Teilhard by reading a wonderful book “Introduction to Christianity”, first published in 1968 and written by a brilliant young theologian at the University of Tübingen, Joseph Ratzinger. I was hopeful that as Father Ratzinger moved up the ranks to Bishop, to Cardinal, to head of CDF, to the Chair of St. Peter, he would lead a rehabilitation of Teilhard, or at a minimum, expunge the cryptic 1962 warning. Despite continuing positive references to Teilhard by Pope Benedict, the 1962 warning still remains and Teilhard remains at the periphery of Catholic theology.
Father, I pray that you and others will continue to carry out the work of the Kingdom, including sharing the message of Teilhard’s evolutionary Christianity.
Peace and Merry Christmas!
In many ways Teilhard remains a bit of a mystery because his writings were suppressed — or, more mildly, not allowed to be published by the Roman Catholic hierarchy — during his lifetime. It was a deep source of frustration to him, and yet he remained obedient. I think many Catholic adherents revere this aspect of the man; he serves as a role model for the many people who love the Church and yet they struggle with many of its teachings as doctrines. He is an example of how to stay true to one’s faith and move forward as thinking, authentic beings.
We nodded to this history in script, but it deserves a fuller treatment and discussion. I’d love to hear thoughts from members of the Catholic Church who find promise and a practical way forward in Teilhard’s example.
“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection ― or compassionate action.”—
—Daniel Goleman, from Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
"The human is matter at its most incendiary stage." ~Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)
Where is technology taking us? Are we heading towards greatness, or just hyper-connected collapse? This challenge was foreseen a century ago by Teilhard de Chardin.
A world-renowned paleontologist, he helped verify fossil evidence of human evolution. A Jesuit priest and philosopher, he penned forbidden ideas that seemed mystical at the time but are now coming true — that humanity would develop capacities for collective, global intelligence, that a meaningful vision of the Earth and the universe would have to include “the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter.”
The coming stage of evolution, he said, won’t be driven by physical adaptation but by human consciousness, creativity, and spirit. It’s up to us. Krista Tippett visits with Teilhard de Chardin’s biographer Ursula King, and we experience his ideas energizing New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson.
“I think that slogan has been meant to serve and I think is serving a very important aspect of our attempt to get at humanity. You are challenging the very deep roots of the Black man’s belief about himself. When you say ‘black is beautiful’ what in fact you are saying to him is: man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being. … So in a sense the term ‘black is beautiful’ challenges exactly that belief which makes someone negate himself.”—
"That is what Steve diagnosed in us as our illness and black consciousness was meant to exorcise this demon, to make us realise that as he said, we were human and not inferior as the white person was human and not superior. I internalised what others had decided was to be my identity, not my God-given utterly precious and unique me."
"Steve Biko understood that to attain our freedom we had to rebel against the notion that we are a problem, that we should no longer merely cry out -Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?, that we should stop looking at ourselves through the eyes of others, and measuring our souls by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."