Archive for the ‘Compassion’ Tag

Spirituality and “religion”   3 comments

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John Wesley frequently began his weekly study groups with a simple, profound question: “How is it with your spirit?”

Spirituality is a nebulous term, and it is in common use these days. I hear people telling me that, “I am a spiritual person, not a religious person” or, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” For a while I even considered responding to this type of dualistic statement by saying that, “I’m religious, but not spiritual.”

In her book called, “The Practice of Prayer”, Margaret Guenther takes the Christian journey of faith beyond being simply a belief system. “Our spirituality is not what we profess to believe, but how we order our lives. Our stewardship of time, energy, material things, and relationships to our fellow creatures reflects the way we express that ordering of our lives.

For those who follow the path of Christianity, our faith has an active component. It is more than what is in our minds, it is also reflected in how we live. In other words, “agency” is a part of the Christian path. Words and actions of those following the Christian way are also consistent with each other. In our Christian scriptures, the Letter of James reads;

“It isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all – it is dead and useless.” (James 2:17)

It seems to me that Christian spirituality might be summed up in the writings of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”(Galatians 5: 22)

St. Francis of Asisi’s words reflect this “active spirituality” in the statement that; It is in giving that we receive.

For those who wish to nurture their spirit, it is in sharing the gifts of love, joy, peace, etc, that we receive nurture for our spirit. For me, those are the fruits of the Spirit that describe the spirituality of Christian folk as we travel our journey of faith.

How is it with your spirit?

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Posted August 16, 2016 by allanbaker in Christian Faith, Spirituality

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Life and Death   Leave a comment

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“When the story of our time here is completed and we return to spirit, we carry away with us all of the notes our song contains. The trick is to share all of that with those around us while we’re here. We are all on the same journey, and we become more by giving away. That’s the essential teaching each of us is here to learn.”

Richard Wagamese in One Story, One Song, page 151

Holy Week 2016 – #4   Leave a comment

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Jesus the Homeless

“Our spirituality is not what we profess to believe,

but how we order our lives.

Our stewardship of time, energy, material things, and relationship to our fellow creatures reflects the way we express that ordering of our lives.”

Margaret Guenther in “The Practice of Prayer”

Holy Week 2016 – #2   Leave a comment

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“Fear is the toxin of this generation.”

Joan Chittister in “Between the Dark and the Daylight”, page 155

Lighting Candles in Paris   Leave a comment

Sunday November 22, 2015

LIGHTING A CANDLE AGAINST FANATICS

By Jim Taylor

In all the video since the attacks in Paris, a week ago, the image that sticks most in my mind is the picture of Parisians lighting candles in the darkness.
A friend, talking about the tragedy, burst out, “I feel so helpless! What can we do?”
French president Francois Hollande knew what he would do. “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless,” he vowed. That weekend alone, a dozen French jet fighters dropped 20 bombs on the city of Raqqa in Syria, considered the headquarters of the Islamic State. The French Defence Ministry said they destroyed a command centre, a recruitment centre, an ammunition storage site, and a training camp.
The western media never give death counts for such attacks. But an independent study calculated that since the Syrian civil war started four years ago, an average of 144 people are killed every day. Some would be militants; most would be civilians.
Put that in context. More people have been killed in the Middle East conflicts — every day for the last four years — than died in the coordinated Paris attacks that so outraged us.
This is surely the wrong way to go about establishing peace.

THE IMITATIONS OF POWER
As Charles Pierce wrote in Esquire, “A 242-ship navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying an AK-47 into a crowded restaurant. An F-35 fighter plane will not stop anyone from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of fanatics from opening fire in a jammed concert hall.”
Andrew Bacevich expressed similar misgivings in the Boston Globe: “In this conflict, the West generally enjoys clear-cut military superiority. Our arsenals are bigger, our weapons more sophisticated, our generals better educated in the art of war, our fighters better trained at waging it.
“Yet most of this has proven irrelevant. Time and again the actual employment of that ostensibly superior military might has produced results other than those intended or anticipated… Instead, intervention typically serves to aggravate, inciting further resistance. Rather than putting out the fires of radicalism, we end up feeding them.
“In proposing to pour yet more fuel on that fire, Hollande demonstrates a crippling absence of imagination…”

THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE
During a period of prayer, another friend quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
Her words reminded me of going on a tour of a potash mine in Saskatchewan, years ago. Our group donned heavy coveralls and headlamps. We went more than a kilometre underground.
In a massive cavern, huge excavators scooped up rich phosphate deposits. Our guide flipped a power switch. The floodlights went out. We waited for our eyes to become accustomed to the darkness. They didn’t. They couldn’t. A kilometre underground, there was no light at all.
Then our guide flipped his cigarette lighter. And that single tiny flame illuminated even the farthest corners of the cavern. It drove the darkness back.
Just as the candles on Parisian sidewalk memorials pushed back the darkness people felt.
It’s not fashionable these days to use metaphors of light and darkness as symbols for good and evil. It’s too easy to broaden the metaphor into racism — if dark corresponds to evil, then black people must be evil, right?
But the people of Paris were not thinking about political correctness, or metaphors. Instinctively, they lit candles, to shine light into their caverns of despair, of grief, of anger.

REASSURING OURSELVES
Martin Luther King had a second part to his line about darkness: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Vengeance cannot defeat vengeance; violence cannot counter violence.
The trouble is, of course, that we can’t see how tiny acts of kindness, generosity, or compassion are going to change the mindset of Charles Pierce’s “motivated murderous fanatics.”
In reality, I suggest, we don’t light candles to change the minds of fanatics. We do it to convince ourselves that even small acts matter. That it’s worth helping a wounded person, or welcoming a refugee, or creating a small oasis of peace in an angry world.
Somewhere, deep inside, we recognize that light itself is active, not passive. Even the lonely flame of a candle or cigarette lighter does something. By contrast, darkness is passive. You cannot turn on a dark that will extinguish the light.
We know that darkness takes over only if the light goes out. And so we gather on sidewalks, in churches, in homes, to comfort each other, to provide support, to renew our commitment to lives beyond violence.
To light our own candles. To help drive the darkness back.
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Copyright © 2015 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Remembrance Day, 2015   Leave a comment

When do Remembrance Day “celebrations” become a glorification of war?

Ted Schmidt has written a thoughtful reflection on this question; one that can be accessed at:

https://theologyinthevineyard.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/50-years-ago-roger-laporte-immolated-himself/

OR, one can reflect on Matthew 5: 43 – 47

Francis: When a visitor changes your home   Leave a comment

Some of the comments that Wallis makes are:

  • But the most stunning thing to me was when Pope Francis brought to our attention, in a joint session of the Congress, four examples of extraordinary figures from American history to illustrate his moral convictions about how to serve the common good. Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. were great choices but seemed less a surprise, but then he also named Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; who — along with King — have regularly graced our covers and articles here at Sojourners. I really couldn’t believe it.

  • Yes, he spoke powerfully on a number of critical public issues, but he began by calling the political representatives of this country to their proper purpose and vocation as servant leaders.

I wonder if there will be any ripple effect that reaches the political parties here in Canada?

Posted September 28, 2015 by allanbaker in Christian Faith, Politics

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