Archive for Process Theology

Feelings are not dangerous and unreliable

feelingsquotesIf you have been raised in church or spent a longer time as a member of some sort of church, then I am sure you have been told not to trust your feelings. I was certainly told time and time again that feelings are a roller coaster, they come and go and cannot be trusted.

It is not strange that this is our teaching as we live in a society that prizes the mind over everything else. We have bodies and hearts but it is in the mind that we live and exist.

“Cogito ergo sum”, I think therefore I am. We repeat Descarte’s mantra over and over again and shut the lid tighter on the container that holds our hearts and all our feelings.

However in our sacred text we read “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov 4.23 NRSV) We have long put the mind on a pedestal and shoved our hearts and feelings as deep and as far away that we can manage. Rationality has almost become our religion. We cling to dogma and doctrine and we practice apologetics like it was our life saver or saviour. The Bible has become our source for proof texting and so it is our idol. Some say that we, in the evangelical stream of Christianity, have made the Bible a fourth member of our trinity. We have gone so far as to actually teach that the heart is wicked and deceitful (Jer 17.9)and therefore needs to have a very short leash, while the mind is being glorified and relied on fully.

If we look at the portrait the sacred text show us of the divine, god is not primarily a thinking god. Do a search in your bible program and compare how many times you can find that “god thought” compared to how many times you can find “god felt.”

Our god is primarily a feeling god, a god of compassion, our fellow sufferer, who chose to feel what it was like to be human and suffer with a suffering humanity. If god is our role model then maybe we also need to unlock the strong box we have locked away our heart and feelings and carefully coax our abused and frightened heart back into the forefront.

We have been told that it is weak to be emotional or feeling, probably because when we feel deeply and show it we remind others that they have feelings that they are trying so hard not to feel.

To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living. (Brené Brown, Daring Greatly)

 

We need to bring back (and sometimes revive) our emotional bodies. It is not only ok to feel, it is essential. If we are to find our true selves, it is not our mind but our feelings that will guide the way, if we are to find our way to the divine source it is our deep longings and desires that will open the gates and find the paths.

Your feelings are always true, when you feel anger, you are angry. Sometimes you are all confused and deceived by your mind as to why and sometimes your mind serves you the most incredible stories and reasons, but whatever the reason it does not change the fact that you are angry. Acknowledge the anger, move the energy and let it pass and it will clear a path in your emotional body that will make way for other feelings like joy, pleasure and bliss.

Renowned shame and vulnerability scholar Brené Brown tells us that we cannot mute emotions selectively. If you suppress anger, anxiety and pain you also limit your ability to feel joy, pleasure and bliss.

Do you want more joy in your life? Do you want more pleasure and bliss? Then you must allow yourself to feel and feel deeply. There is a treasure hidden there in your heart, your heart already knows and loves both yourself and the divine. It is there in the tangle of feelings and emotions that you will find the door to the divine source. There is a reason we keep saying that we are to invite Jesus into our hearts …. that is where the truth lives.

We are not going to get anywhere until we start trusting what is within us. You are afraid and doubt what lies deep within you, but what lies deep within you is your salvation and the salvation of the world. (Jim Palmer, Inner Anarchy)

So let us start listening to our feelings, honour and acknowledge them, they are not dangerous or unreliable, your heart will not lead you astray but rather follow your heart and you will finally find your way home where your true self and the divine are waiting with open arms to greet you.

Seeing the divine in all things is not heretical

5415984_-039039-kosmos-039039--1Look around you, what do you see? Are you not surrounded by grace? By walking talking miracles gifted with the gift of life and love?

How is it that within the Christian church, it has become heretical to see and to point out the divine outside of the confines of our little community, outside of our own sphere of theological thought and outside our own tradition? For some it is even hard to acknowledge the divine in other Christian churches.

St. Bonaventure writes:

“By God’s power, presence, and essence, God is the One whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. God exists uncircumscribed in everything. … God is, therefore, all inclusive. God is the essence of everything. God is most perfect and immense: within all things, but not enclosed; outside all things, but not excluded; above all things, but not aloof; below all things, but not debased. Finally, therefore, this God is all in all…. Consequently, from him, through him and in him, all things exist.”

As the song lyrics state “Above and below and all around you are.” God is simply everywhere, in church language we call this omni-presence, this means god is in all things surrounding all things or as the process theologians rightly states all things are in god. However this does not mean that we are dropped into god like rocks in a fish tank but rather that god permeates and saturates all things.

On a quantum level, god is that which binds all things together. Father Richard Rohr writes:

“That is not simplistic pantheism (everything is God), but it is a much more profound pan-en-theism (everything is in God and God can be found in everything). This is Christianity’s great message, which it has, in large part, found too good to be true and too hard to believe!”

Saying this tree is my god, I will have no other god but this tree is pantheism and according to the Christian path idolatry. However to say god is in this tree, I honour this tree as part of the divine is not idolatry, it is worship of the divine and it is in now way heretical. The same goes for any other thing or any other person. Therefore it is not heretical to see the divine in another human being whether that being is called Jesus, Theresa, Gandhi or any other person canonised or not, Christian or not.

It is also not heretical to greet another being with a ‘namaste’ (The divine in me, sees and honours the divine in you. I am divine, you are divine, the scriptures quite clearly state that this is true. It is explained as a Sacrament (latin: sacramentum, greek: mysterion) in for example Col 1.27

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (NRSV)

So let’s honour this secret, this mystery, this sacrament, that the divine is ever present, everywhere and in everyone. Let’s also honour that god who is always present everywhere can also show up on other times than Sunday morning, other places than church, other books than the bible and other people than Christians. Lets remove some blinkers and actively and intentionally seek the divine in everything and everyone.

As you love yourself

As-You-Love-Yourself-Title

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt 22)

But why should we care? Why is it important what some old law book and dusty old profets think about? One way to answer that question may be to ask ourselves, why did Jesus care?  Why was it important to Jesus what the law and the profets stood for? The simplest way to answer that is to understand that the law / Torah was shorthand for the Jewish way of life. The entire Jewish culture was built on the Torah. And Jesus was a Jew so the law was the single most important cultural marker for him. The profets where the Navi which means messenger from god (or crazy person, and the profets where often both). So if Jesus says that his entire way of life and the ones that speak for the divine all have this one command as their core or bottom line then maybe we should start paying attention.

##The perenial tradition

This command is echoed throughout history and cultures, we find it in every living tradition that we know. All religions, all cultures have in some way echoed this idea. the correlation between self love and loving others, what has been distilled in the golden rule. Don\t do to anyone else what you wouldn’t have done to you or do to yourself.

Let’s look at what the other traditions say:

Confucianism: Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. (Analects 12:2)

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Udana-Varga 5,1)

 

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Mahabharata 5,1517)

 

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. (Sunnah)

 

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. (Talmud, Shabbat 3id)

 

Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. (Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien)

 

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5)

 

How we missed the point

Now I have heard many sermons on this topic … they all meticulously spell out how we should love our neighbours because we love ourselves. The trouble with all these sermons are that most of us do not love ourselves that much. We try to love our neighbour to the best of our abilities and we are dismayed at the results, we are simply not very good at it most of the time.

What if we simply cannot love our neighbour or anyone else any more than we love ourselves? What if loving ourselves actually in the long run means loving our neighbour?

What if love just like forgiveness comes in this bi-directional pipe (like a snorkel) where we by blocking the output also block the input and vice versa?  let’s just for a minute try on the idea that for me to be capable of loving someone else, I must first love me.

Renowned shame and vulnerability researcher Brene Brown says:

Love is not something we give or we get: it is something we nurture and grow. A connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists in each of them – We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

The second and maybe even more scandalous and never mentioned point Jesus makes when he states the greatest commandment is that the second command is like the first. What does that mean? Is jesus simply saying that they are both commands about love? Or is he actually saying that loving yousrelf and loving your neighbour is actually like loving god? Is he saying that you can love god by loving your neighbour as yourself? However we decide to interpret this scandalous statement have no option but to conclude that loving is the way Jesus insists on. Loving god, loving self and loving neighbour.

Self love

So with this in mind I would like to address the unpopular notion of self love. This idea, to love one self is taboo in Swedish culture it is seen as ego/centric or selfish. We see this in our everyday interactions with people and especially in how we handle such a simple thing as compliments.

“Wow what a nice dress!

What, this old thing?”

“Do you play the guitar?

Not really, I try… I know a chord or two.”

In the Salvation Army we have a culture that will not allow us to take credit for anything. When a musician performs a piece of music or someone preaches a nice sermon, instead of owning the accomplishment we are taught to give a salute, which means not me but god.

The proper, honest response to a compliment is of course “Thank you!” Whatever you may think of yourself, this other person is apparently impressed and maybe if they see the gold in you, maybe we can allow ourselves to do the same.

Berne Brown writes in her book “Gifts of imperfection”:

Loving and accepting ourselves is the ultimate acts of courage. In a society that says: “Put yourself last”, self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.

Loving yourself because you are loved

Do you need a reason for loving yourself? Here is the reason, you are loved. If it is true that it is only possible to love others to the extent one loves oneself, it only makes sense that god, who is love, loves you greatly because god also loves godself greatly. In his letter to the Romans Paul states that we love god because god first loved us. And if god loves me surely I can love me too.

Listen to the words of Rumi:

I SWEAR MY DEAR SON MY BELOVED DAUGHTER

no one in the entire world

is as precious as you are

look at that mirror

take a good look at yourself

who else is there above and beyond you

now give yourself a kiss

and with sweet whispers

fill your ears to the brim

watch for all that beauty

reflecting from you

and sing a love song to your existence

you can never overdo

praising your own soul

you can never over-pamper your heart

you are both

the father and the son, the mother and the daughter

the sugar and the sugar cane

who else but you

please tell me who else

can ever take your place

now give yourself a smile

what is the worth of a diamond

if it doesn’t smile

how can i ever put a price

on the diamond that you are

you are the entire treasure of the house

you and your shadow

are forever present in this world

you’re that glorious bird of paradise

 

“RUMI, Fountain of Fire”, ghazal number 2148,

translated 19 January 1991 by Nader Khalili, Daughter mother added for equality

Saying that you are bad, unlovable, not good enough is going in the face of god’s proclamation that you are a master piece (Eph 2.10, poema), that god created you masterfully and wonderfully (psalm 139), that we as humans are like gods (psalm 8), That we are created very good (Gen 1), that when god looks at you he smiles, winks and does a little dance (Zephania). After hearing how much God loves you how can you not love yourself…. well, if you don’t the bible is full of examples of people like you.

“Moses, I choose you to lead my people. What me, no I am not a leader and I can’t speak in public”

“Gideon, arise mighty warrior. What me, no I am from the least important tribe and in that tribe I am the gofer”

But listen, if you turn to god, and listens in on gods heart, because god is love, all you will hear and feel is love. God loves you with infinite scandalous love and there is nothing you can do to make god love you more and there is nothing you can do to make god love you less. God loves you with abundant everlasting love and god’s love never fails! In fact in his letter to the Romans Paul asserts over and over again that nothing seen or unseen, nothing above or below NOTHING can separate us from the love of god.

Ok, so god loves me, maybe need to love me. What does it look like?

Lets start with the mind….

Loving me with the mind

Lets just admit that what we call the mind is not infallible, there are all sorts of strange ideas and thoughts rumbling around in there. For example, what where you thinking when I was saying how much god loves you just 30 seconds ago, I’ll bet you anything that for many of you the thought started with “Yea, but….” The mind on it’s own can do come up with the most ridiculous things, what we need to grasp is that the mind is a tool, that we need to use correctly. You are not your mind so don’t let your mind run the show.

In the great commandment we are told to love god with all our mind, it means whether or not our mind wants to, this is what we should do with it. We should love, god, self and neighbour. The kicker is, at the core, at the source of things we are all one, interconnected in this quantum web, god is in me, in you and in everyone and everything so love is always the proper response to everything and everyone, starting with me!

So, think nice thoughts about yourself. Allow yourself to see and be grateful for all that is wonderful about you. Do what you did when you where a child. Look at your own hand and be in awe over how marvellous it is. Look at the Iris of your eye and be mesmerised by the secret landscape and colours hidden within. Look at the curve of your lip, look at how fantastically and ridiculously awesome you are. The things that you can do with your body: Run, walk, swim etc…

Start with affirmations, say them to yourself until you believe them. I am wonderful, I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am smart, I am kind, I am lovely. Only when you see these things in yourself can you start seeing them in others. Fall in love with yourself. Only when you love yourself, can you love others.

Now after all that, I just want to make this clear, don’t lie to yourself here. Do not say I am an amazing guitar player if you never held a guitar in your hand. Stay true. Only by accepting where we really are can we grow and move on from that point. Don\t pretend that you think you are beautiful if you do not think you are. Instead endeavour to see the beauty in yourself and affirm the beauty you find.

It will take time to renew your mind, to repent, that is to look at the ways you have been thinking of yourself and start thinking differently, it will take conscious effort and training.

With the mind sorted (as if) lets move on to the heart.

Loving me with the heart

The good news is that your heart already loves you, and god, and your neighbour, and your neighbours cat and … well you get the drift. This is true because this is what the heart does. It loves. The problem is that we  have been told in kindergarten, in school, in church, in our offices to trust our fickle and untrained minds and to be wary of our hearts. Feelings can not be trusted, we are told in this western society that prizes the mind over anything else. But while our mind can be deceived and can send faulty signals due to cultural conditioning and brokenness our feelings are always true. Our sacred tells us to especially guard our hearts because our hearts are the source of life (Prov 4.22)

When you are scared it’s true, you are scared! You may be completely deluded (by the mind) about what it is you are scared of and it may be completely baseless, nevertheless it is true you are scared. When you are angry it is true, you are angry, you may be deceived, deluded and completely duped by your own mind and thoughts into being angry for no reason but it is still true, you are angry.

So while our minds can deceive us with all kinds of thoughts our feelings are in a way always true reactions to our perceived reality.

Renowned shame and vulnerability researcher  Brene Brown explains in her book Daring Greatly that we cannot selectively suppress feelings and emotions, when we suppress any feeling or emotion we suppress them all. So when we suppress the feelings we perceive as negative (anger, sorrow, pain) we also put the lid on passion, love, joy etc.

Therefore, to be able to love ourselves with our hearts (something our hearts already does) we must allow ourselves to feel the entire range of emotions, we need to be feeling beings. When a feeling or emotion comes up we need to let it, we need to really feel it, (and remember thinking you are feeling it, is not feeling it), we need to breathe through it and see where it takes us. Our feelings and emotions always has something to teach us about our thinking or about our reality.

Loving me with the body

So to love myself fully, I need to come to terms with and accept that I am an embodied being, I have a body and I need to love it and love myself with it. There are so many ways to do this but lets start with some of the obvious ones.

Take care of your body. Your body needs clothes for warmth (at least here in Sweden) so dress yourself, comfortably and warmly. Your body needs food so feed yourself, healthy, nutritious food. Your body needs rest, so take a day of, walk in the sun, sleep long nights and take naps. Your body needs touch, so embrace yourselves, caress yourselves and make love to yourselves.

Seriously, do you really intentionally and with presence feed yourself, do you pick out the juiciest fruits and the most delicious vegetables to make yourself a bountiful treat? Do you pick clothes that caress your skin and make you feel wonderful? Do you put yourself to bed and tuck yourself in and indulge in the softest best pillow and care for your sleep hygiene? Do you hug yourself, caress yourself and show yourself love when you feel lonely or scared and feel the need to be loved and touched? When you are starved for intimacy do you arouse yourself and give yourself the intimacy and pleasure you need?

My cup runneth over

So what is all this self love for, why should I put myself like this in the centre of my own universe? Isn’t this just selfishness? Will I not just become a self centred egoistical human being like all the others running around hoarding my own treasures and jealously guarding them?

In short, NO!

Abundance as god’s intention

When we go to the scriptures we see that god’s intention for us is abundance listen to these words on what it means to be blessed:

Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your livestock, both the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns, and in all that you undertake; he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; you shall be only at the top, and not at the bottom (Deut 28.3-13a)

God wants abundance for you, god wants to lavish god’s love and blessing on you like a prodigal son or daughter. Because it is when i act out of this abundance that I can truly give.

 

Abundance as the only valid starting point

If I love myself so deeply, so profoundly, so completely that I do not need anyone else’s love, approval or care then I will walk through life knowing that I have all I need, that I am all that I need to be and that what is true in my life is abundance not scarcity. Then I can recognise that while I do not need love from somewhere else I have tons of love to give. and I will be acting with what C.S. Lewis called give-love instead of need-love. I will give because of my abundance and not with the hidden agenda that I actually lack and give only so that I can receive from the other.  When we step into abundance, we step into agape, love with no condition, love for no other reason than love.

We all know this really, unless we have we cannot give. Unless we are filled up we have nothing to dish out. Our problem is that we often walk around and wait for other people, things and circumstances to fill us up, when it is in fact our own responsibility to make sure we have what we need first so that we then can give freely out of our abundance.

Abundance as spiritual warfare

When we act from a place of scarcity we walk around with an empty hole a vacuum inside and we look for love, and things and relationships to fill this perceived lack. And when we indiscriminately take in things, people, relationships, ideas etc. we get a lot of crap or wrong/broken thoughts (what the Aramaic word for demon means). However when we are full, filled up with love, loving ourselves because we know we are god’s beloved, there is no room for anything else to come in, we are full. Filled with god’s spirit, god’s love nothing else will stick it will simply run of our backs like water on a goose. Other peoples negativism, other peoples negativity, neediness and scarcity thinking will bounce of because we are filled up with love.

Love yourself

You are loved, you are wonderfully and beautifully crafted, a masterpiece created in the image of the most high, the source of love. Love is not a lesson to be learned it is who we are at the core, it is our origin and our destination. To become like Christ, like god, to truly reflect the nature of god we must become love and we do so by loving ourselves and we love ourselves by first accepting that we are worthy of love, allowing ourselves to deeply feel what we feel and realise that we do, in our hearts love ourselves and that this love is enough, When we can accept this we embody it by falling in love with ourselves and physically loving ourselves. And when we are walking around in this world fully charged with love it will spill over to our neighbour. When I know I am loved and that I have all the love I will ever need, then I do not need to hoard or pile up on love but can freely distribute the abundance to everyone around me. And by loving myself I now love my neighbour as deeply and scandalously as I love myself.

Only there will I then be able to see that in loving myself I am loving my neighbour, and when I love my neighbour I am actually loving myself and my god.

Loving the earth is not satanic

Canticle-print-smallIn the beginning when god began creating the heavens and the earths manifestations of god’s self of gods love, and god saw that it was good. And god created humans as embodied manifestations of gods consciousness, god’s glory and god’s love. God charged humanity to be stewards of the earth, to love it and care for it.

It should not be a big surprise to us that we as gods image bearers also have a deep love for the creation that we are a part of. We are hardwired to be awed and swept away by god’s creation. The forests and the oceans are part of us, or we are part of them, they are our external lungs and without them we cannot live. At the core of everything we are connected, we are one with all of creation and it’s divine source. All is one. because in the end there is only the divine source and the source is love.

How is it then, that as soon as we express this deep devotion and love for the manifestation of the divine, the Christian tribe quickly labels it as heretical, pagan, new agey and even satanic?

Wouldn’t it be natural for us to join in with saint Francis in the canticle of the sun?

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.

There is a clear connection between our embodied state and our spirituality, this connection needs to be honoured if we are to truly manifest missio dei, god’s dream or god’s kingdom.

Thomas Merton makes this connection clear when he writes:

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.

C.S Lewis also beautifully describes this heavenly music of the spheres in his space trilogy. So can we be still and hear the music of creation humming and drumming deep within us, can we feel the connection to the earth, to the sun, to the moon and stars, to all of creation, without being afraid that we are becoming pantheist, pagan, wiccan, or as some Christian tribes would have it, thereby satanist? Can I honour and love the divine in mother earth, in sister moon, in father sky and in brother wolf, without thinking or worrying about being heretical? All is one with the divine source and I want us all to have the freedom to honour the divine in all. Because loving the earth is our task, it’s in our DNA and it is a sacred connection with the divine source.

Science is not secular

machinery-of-the-stars-2We live in a secular society, which for most people means separation of church and state. We have this idea that church simply should not be political or involve itself in matters of state. In the same way we have this notion that church has nothing to do with science and that science have nothing to do with church. Christians in most peoples minds are a backwards people not interested in or even working against science.

The word secular comes from latin seculare which means temporal as opposed to eternal. So originally secular means everything inside the time and space continuum, the Christian religion was supposed to deal with things eternal, that is, things outside time and space.

As above so below

What we are finding though, is that the temporal that which is bound to cycles of birth, ripening, wilting, dying and rebirthing is the way of the eternal. Jesus, who is our image of all things eternal, was born, matured, died and ressurected. So we are finding that this earthly or temporal cycle is the way of things eternal. We are finding as we are gazing into the heavens with better and better telescopes that what we see out there is the same thing we see in our better and better microspcopes. With the advent of quantum physics we are learning that the study of our world is the study of the eternal.

The theopoesis of science

The finer detail science tries to paint the more the language of the scientist starts to sound like the language of the theologian, it is riddled with metaphors and poetic language. This because language is not adequate to express the eternal, no language, not even mathematics.

FlammarionWoodcutScience, while studying things temporal has always uncovered things eternal, science has never been secular in the sense of separation (although many scientists have tried). Science was from the very beginning the art of discovering god through studying the creation. Since “the enlightenment” science has tried to break up with religion with varying degree of success. Like disgrunted lovers, science and religion have wrestled and fought, ignored each other, engaged in heated arguments only to fall back in each others arms. Because the study of god’s creation will always lead to the discovery of the immanent divine presence.

Science is not secular

So here we are, try as we might to make clear distinction between disciplines, the lines will always be blurred because you can never analyse a pice of art without at some point take into account the artist. You can never truly digest a poem without picking up the resonance of the poet. You may do so unknowingly, but the true scientist will never stop at unconscious knowing but will always relentlessly push deeper into truth, into reality and at the very core of reality at the very center of truth, there rests the divine source, the source of love.

Autocorrected

(c) ellieericson.wordpress.com

(c) ellieericson.wordpress.com

The text was supposed to read: I Love you! But in It’s infinite wisdom my smart phone decided to autocorrect it to: I live you!

At first it frustrated me, it happened over and over again in all kinds of texts, updates, blog posts, the word love corrected to live. And then the point began to sink in. To love is to truly live. It is only when we love that we acknowledge the connection between each other, and the infinite connection with god.

But it goes deeper still, if we are connected on this deep level, if it is true that we are all made of stardust from the same source and that at a quantum level, and at an energetic level we still are connected, then it is ever so much more true that “I live you” or perhaps I live in you, you live in me, we live in god and god lives in us. It is the teaching of the eastern greeting ‘Namaste!‘ which means something along the lines of, the divine in me greets the divine in you and by that we are connected, we are one.

It is to acknowledge god in everything and everyone, to know that every place I visit is a holy place and every person I meet is a holy person. And this god, the source of divine love, the source of all is connecting us all so that my life is not my own but truly belongs to everyone as does everyone else’s, this makes your health and wellbeing my private business and vice versa. I will care for you, and love you because in doing so I am also loving myself, and when I care for me and love me I am also caring for and loving you. When you find your soul, your unique place in the universe and hold the largest conversation with the world that you can possibly have. Then I am also being realised and set free to do and be all that I was created to be.

So I stand corrected: I Live You!

 

Why are we so afraid?

fear-not1Those of you who have heard me teach have probably heard me say that joy is the Christian trademark, well that and or grace. While there are a lot of really awesome teaching in most of the world religions, the idea of grace, the completely undeserved, unconditional gift that inspires a no holds barred kind of joy in the believers life.That said, I have to ask, Why are we so afraid?

When I hear Christians speak both amongst themselves and from the pulpit. We are afraid, afraid of other religions and what they might do to us, afraid of the devil and demons, afraid that god will punish us, afraid that we have gotten it all wrong, just afraid.

Isn’t it funny that gods messengers in the scriptures always starts with “do not fear”. Isn’t it funny that Jesus always speaks of love, grace and joy. There simply is nothing to fear. If god is so great then what could possibly scare us? If our god is all that, why are we afraid of Muslims, Mormons, Jehovas, Hindus, Wiccans, of Yoga, of Astrology, of secular music, Harry Potter books, of tattoos and any alternative anything.

Do we not have faith in Christos Victor?

It seems to me that Christians should be able to walk through life, and partake in all of life, fully,  without any fear; Without the fear of condemnation; Without the fear of contamination; Without the fear of the devil and most importantly without fearing god.

“Perfect love casts out all fear”

I think we need to quake with love, we need to be shaken down to our roots with love. So filled with love that wherever we go we bring love to that place, into that which we are doing transforming it in the process. Guided by the spirit of divine love I will transform anything I do into sacrament and worship whether it is a handshake or an embrace, yoga or martial arts, whether it is in a synagogue or a mosque, church or an oak grove.

Greater is the divine source within me than any opposition. If you dare greatly, you may recognise the same divine source of love operating out there in the wild just as it is inside of you and your church.

 

Peace is not a circumstance

peaMost people have had this thought, I know I have, If I could just find some peace and quiet, then I could sort out my issues and get on with it. Most people wait for the circumstances to be right, or work frantically to make the circumstances right to achieve peace.

This need for quiet and rest is a deep human need, we must have peace so that we can hear the soft inner whisper of divine love. But what if we just got it all backwards?

Could it be that we have peace, that the place of our soul, our unique space in this universe, is always at peace. Could it be that when we make that inward journey (you know the one we think requires peace to start) we actually start journeying towards the peace that was always there?

If it is true that we are all connected, that we all are part of this divine in an all encompassing interdependent network of energetic clusters, then as part of the divine source that is what we will find when we journey inwards. If we are all part of the divine source, if love is what we are at our core, then peace is what we have. The inner most truest part of us is resting in the divine source of love and is at peace, always.

If this is true then we never have to wish for peace, go look for peace or try to create peace, because peace is not a circumstance it is not dependent on external circumstances but rather a state that we are already in, if we can relax deeply into the core of our being where we will find god, where we will find peace.

Conspiracy theory

images-4I posted a short update to Facebook a few days ago that was accused of being to new agey. Why? Because instead of thanking god for what is happening in my life right now I said: isn’t it great when the universe conspires to give you your deepest desire.

Have I started worshipping the universe?

Of course not!

I also do not subscribe to the dualistic view that every good thing that happens to me is given by god and every bad thing is the devils fault. Because frankly I don’t believe that the concept we name the devil have any power we don’t grant it ourselves.

We live in this universe, this kosmos, where everything and everyone is connected. According to quantum mechanics the entire universe is one big energetic organism. Life is made manifest by all the processes, natural, personal, relational, societal, around us. And sometimes these processes converge in patterns that produce our deepest desires.

Why would I not attribute this good turn to god? Well it simply depends on what we mean by god and how we imagine gods involvement. I do not believe that god meddles in every detail in our lives, as in I do not think god makes all the little things happen, I do believe that god is present in every moment of my life and in every little thing that happens. I believe that god lures me forward in every moment with a vision of love, evolution, complexity and connectedness. There is an important difference between god making things happen and god being present in things that happen.

Imagine this, imagine I pray for a weekly day of (I have been working seven day weeks since October 2013 with roughly one day of a month, although not every month). And suddenly the circumstances arise that I can start taking a weekly day of. I rejoice and give god the glory, but then, what if on my day of I get hit by a car and I am hospitalised. I wouldn’t be if god hadn’t granted me a day of I would not now be hospitalised… I now need a devil to blame the accident on. Or I would have to say that god wanted me to be hit by a car so I would slow down (I have heard both cases made in similar circumstances whithin the church). Both these explanations make for some bad theology. If I instead of believing that god (or the devil) made these things happen, believe that my choices and the processes (natural, psychological, relational, societal) I am a part of led me here, then I can also believe that god is present in my circumstance, both the good and the bad, working for love, growth and connection.

So I believe in the weakness of god. I believe that love, justice, mercy, truth are all weak forces or rather of the vocative order. They call to us and inspire us, they lure us and tell us that there is a greater way to be and to live. They are not strong forces that can make us do anything. Let’s use marriage as an example here. The institution of marriage is a strong force, it has a real consequence in my life, there are legal (and for me personally, professional) implications that comes with marriage. Love however, is a weak force, there is no legal bond, no real implications. Love cannot force anything. And yet, I think we would all agree that love trumps marriage anytime. Love inspires us to care, to forgive, to serve, to adore, to be our best in ways that marriage could only dream of. So do we do away with marriage? God no! We make sure to fill our marriage with love.

So here I am, there is something I have wanted to happen in my life for years and now it is happening. At first I tried to make it happen and when I did it moved further away. Then I decided to slow down and try to be more present every moment, to live in love and believe that it will happen when it happens and now it is happening. There is also a specific thing I wanted to do and whenever I tried to make it happen, make room in my schedule, it would turn out to be impossible. I had to let it go and when I did, out of the blue I was presented with an opportunity to do this very thing within the parameters of my already hectic and crazy life.

So here’s my crazy conspiracy theory.

When we present our case to the universe, the universe will respond. How do I do that? I pray to god. I put myself in a position where it could happen by making space for the change and living as if it was true. It becomes a cooperation between me, god and the world around me (including people).

If we truly believe, and I do, that all are connected, we are all one, one with each other and one with the divine. Then it is simply logical to assume that, as in any large organism, when I place myself in the position that Is uniquely mine, then the rest of the organism will conspire to further that which I am purposed to do.

God is not a belief system

IMG_1117It is a simple truth really: god is god. God is not what we believe of god. God is not our theology or our doctrines. Since the dawn of time humans have had various ideas, religions, doctrines, theologies about god. God has remained god all that time. I will not say that god is unchanging, because I believe that god is love and love is a relational term, any living relation involves anyone involved in the relation changing in response to the other. So have we changed in response to the divine source, so has the divine source changed in response to our devotion, love and creativity. But having said that, our theologies and doctrines do not change the nature or the will of the divine.

Augustine said: If you have understood it, then it is not god. Anselm described god as always being more, greater, deeper than anything that we can imagine. Scripture supports this and shrouds the divine into mystery making sure that we can never nail down god (the popular joke is that we tried to nail god to a cross and he walked away). Faith and what the author of John calls eternal life (aionos zoe) cannot be grasped with the mind or the intellect. Forever it eludes even our most creative attempts.

No matter how much we would like to have god in a box, so that we could explain the divine, so that we can master the ultimate reality and explain the metaphysical in scientific terms, Jesus simply asks us to believe and follow. To believe is not as many people think to have a set of propositional statements that you hold true, rather believing is the act of trusting, loving in the absence of hard proof. You simply cannot believe with only your mind, you must be/love with your heart and your spool and your strength (body?) and your mind.

It is not up to me to tell you how it is, but I take this time to try to point at how it isn’t. The finger pointing to the moon must not be mistaken for the moon. In the same manner our theology, our doctrine, our tradition, our religion must not be confused with the divine. The divine is love, the divine is free the divine is not, in the words of C.S. Lewis, a tame lion.

%d bloggers like this: