Love your enemy – Part Trois

Yes, I know that the Boston Marathon bomber caused terrible death, injury, mayhem, and a huge cost for all that was done to find him…  But I find in myself a concern for his well-being. I hope he recovers and can provide information as to why/how he and his brother did what they did.

I am against the death penalty.  So I hope his time in prison allows for a time to reflect and pray.  Hopefully for time to repent and be transformed.

All of us are sinners.  All of us are in God’s care.

Love your enemy – Pray for those who persecute you.

“Judge not,” we are told.

“Pray for us sinners,” we pray.

Thus we pray.

For ourselves and for everyone – without exception.

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Love your enemy – Part Deux

Is it easier to forgive someone if they’re nuts?  I suspect it is.  I think the (self-identified) Joker, who killed 12 and wounded 58 is nuts.  Insane.  Just like Brevik who killed many in Norway.  Indeed one wonders if the Denver crime is a copy-cat crime.  For today is the anniversary of the Norway disaster and one wonders if the Denver killer had initially planned to carry out his killing on this very date, but changed his mind to coincide with the opening of the Batman film.

Insanity does not generally result in violence.  But for paranoid schizophrenics, it can.  Therapists have been killed by them.

But my question remains:  Is it easier to forgive someone if they’re nuts?

This question reminds me of the zen story of the empty boat.  How, in a fog, a small boat is smashed by another boat.  The one in the small boat curses the big boat for crashing into him … till he realizes the boat is empty.  

Now actually I learned about this vignette via Thomas Merton’s translation of Chuang Tzu – in a story which  has another point to it entirely.   Which would merit another post.  (For it bears on us becoming empty ourselves.)  But I digress…

When it comes to forgiveness, we have to start somewhere.  Madness is a good place to start.  That doesn’t mean the criminally insane should be let loose, of course.  But can we soften our hearts toward them?  Even in the face of the destruction they have caused.  Can we look at society’s failure to diagnose and treat the mentally ill, instead of just turning on them?  This bears on universal health care.  Not just guns.

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If they don’t come, we also welcome them.

genkakukigen, who describes himself as “an old, fat and lazy Zen Buddhist,” told this brief story about his Zen teacher:

I once asked my Zen teacher why he didn’t make greater efforts to attract newcomers to the center he ran in New York. He was abbot of a monastery in Japan and had 40-50 years of experience under his belt. When I asked my bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed question, he looked at me quite seriously.

“No,” he said.

“No. That is not the way.

If people come, we welcome them.

If they don’t come, we also welcome them.”

What words of wisdom!

[From a comment to me in a thread at Bilgrimage.]


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Islamic Heart Work

Like a poem.  A gift from the heart of Omid Safi.  Whose written word set fire to my own heart:

In a cool mountain night, I put on a few pieces of wood on the fire, and stood there watching them burn.

Bit by bit, they gave in to the flame, and caught on fire.

After a while it dawned on me:   the fire is from the wood.
The flame is simply the release of the energy inside the dormant fire.

We are like this too.

All of us contain, in our very inside, immense Divine energy.
Sometime we need a spark, an encounter, to release the Divine potential inside.    And then our souls catch on fire, giving heat and light to all around.

Read the rest here.


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Whenever Two or Three…

More and more I am impressed with how Jewish was Jesus, how Jewish was the thinking of the early assembly of disciples:  Wrestling with their memories of the living Jesus and their experiences of the Risen Christ – in the Light of Jewish Scripture  – exactly as taught on the Road to Emmaus.

Notice I used the word “assembly” above. For that is how the early “church” termed itself. And maybe we should consider returning to that word. For the word “church” – thanks in large part to repressive and yes, sadistic, misuse of authority – seems to be alienating all too many persons longing for spiritual nourishment and spiritual companionship – which is exactly what Jesus provided to the disciples he walked with and dined with “on the road” that Resurrection afternoon.

Notice, as well, that Jesus did not announce himself on that road. He did not sit in judgment on those fleeing Jerusalem, for that does seem to be what they were doing.  Instead, he humbly joined a couple of worried men, completely at sea, due to traumatizing events they could not “assemble” into a coherent story (in order to go on with their lives).  Jesus simply walked along – like any person. A stranger on a journey.  But a stranger willing to assemble for them events they were unable to comprehend on their own. In doing so, he taught them a method for how to read signs of the times in the light of scripture.  He didn’t impose himself.  Or threaten anyone.  Indeed he seemed ready to walk on.  Their response? They begged him: “Stay with us” (join us for dinner). They were ready to feed the stranger. (Remind you of anything?)

And then he vanished.  As soon as they recognized him in the Breaking of Bread. For by then his Word was already ALIVE in their burning hearts.

Then something amazing happened!

Once they had the story line, the disciples raced right back to Jerusalem! And the story line, as Paul would later put it, was Active!  For as they described to the assembled disciples the story line now burning in their hearts, Jesus himself appeared among them.

Assembling in His NameRecalling Jesus, his words and actions, interpreted in the light of Jewish scripture:   This is the key Jesus taught.  And the disciples passed along.

The Key to the Kingdom is not in Rome. The key, like the pearl of great price, is not a possession. It is a state of mind, especially a state of heart, and a humble sharing of that. Trying to possess the key, to wield it as a cudgel, to withhold it, I begin to see, diminishes the one who claims to own it, wield it or withhold it.  (For thus does the sword of truth become a weapon over the weak, instead of a keen, incisive blade which cracks open the scriptures, freeing the pearl to do its work.)

And this, I think, points to the crisis the Vatican has created for itself.  Splitting itself off, it would seem, from the Living and Active Word, clinging to something dead, a reverse of the prophetic call to “Mercy, not sacrifice” – they literally now call for Sacrifice, not mercy.

The Good News!   Jesus, even today, is capable of meeting sisters (or any of us) on the road. Indeed, he is certainly capable of appearing as a sister. Or an assembly of sisters.

The question the RCC crisis poses today, in my view is: What is the Church? And from whence comes its authority? I think the answer to the first is “Where two or three are gathered in My Nameand the answer to the second relies on discernmentnot appointment by cudgel-wielding bureaucrats intent on parading in fancy finery.

There is a way, I think, to discern (Spirit-filled) leaders around whom an Assembly of the like-minded (spontaneously) arises. In the tradition I’m thinking of, such spiritual Elders may not even be ordained and there is no assumption that such persons must be men. Here is a description of one such Elder by Archimandrite Alexander Golitzin, someone I know and trust, in an essay titled, The Place of the Presence of God:

“[The Elder] lives as a normal man, just as any other

living man, but he is as well the one whom God has

taken and set apart, and who in consequence no longer

lives quite the life of the present world. While indeed

he walks the earth, he senses in some sense that his

head is in the sky; that he sees heaven; that he sees God…

[He is] the spiritual father who makes God tangible,

powerful, living, intense, and true.”

Of course the word “man” above (spoken in Greek by an elderly monk) means all mankind, better yet, humankind.

The article this quote comes from is long, detailed, and requires time and attention. But I commend it for several reasons, not only because the Elder described radiates the Presence of God, thereby communicating that potential to others, but because this “ecclesial process” carries Tradition and is traceable back to the earliest Christian Assemblies (Ecclesia).  Additionally, the essay demonstrates how the authentic Spirit-filled Tradition was already arising independently in at least two geographically separated and linguistically different Christian Assemblies and that the Tradition was being shaped (arising) in close contact with the Jewish understanding of the scriptures – in a way that closely parallels the interpretive key Jesus provided on the Road to Emmaus.

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Oh, that Today you would hear His Voice!

Awe and wonder strike an open heart :

In England there had been nothing like Taos Mountain. The field offered an unobstructed view of the mountain. I’d never seen anything like it, an awesome massif, a clump of peaks, an agglomeration of several mountains. Almost a range unto itself, it stood there, a Precambrian megalith thrust from the plain, a word of God made manifest and irrevocable, a reminder somehow of what really mattered. It put your life in perspective, that mountain.

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Better than Hating…

… better than hating the unjust is to weep for their insensitivity, because even if they are worthy of hatred, the Word does not want the God-friendly soul to be disquieted by hatred, because knowledge does not work in a soul where there is hatred.

Didiadochos of Photike, #71

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