September 15, 2009

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope, I was a little horrified. After reading [his encyclical] God is Love, I had an attitude correction. - Penny at "In Both Life and Death"

I made a selection for my husband's second wife, and put her number on speed dial on his Blackberry. - Betty Duffy, before reports of her impending death turned out to be greatly exaggerated

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, once said that Steppenwolf is among his favorite books because it "exposes the problem of modernity's isolated and self-isolating man". The protagonist, Harry Haller, goes through his mid-life crisis and must chose between life of action and contemplation. His initials perhaps are not accidentally like the author's. - Petri Liukkonen via Terrence Berres

There is this thing called love. The movement to give, to receive, to find the greatest joy in helping another find the greatest joy. There is also this thing called creativity. The movement to reach out with mind and spirt, whether it be with equations, words, paint, cupcakes, musical notes or a plow driving a furrow through fertile soil. It makes no sense to me that when the being who is capable of those things – loving and creating – stops breathing and his body grows cold and heavy – that all to which he has been moving – all the love, all the creativity, all the sacrifice and compassion – that it just ends there. “Living on in the hearts of those left behind” doesn’t cut it for me either. It would, to put it bluntly, seem to me to be an injustice – if that was it, there. I’m not talking about rewards. I’m talkng about life. It is too amazing to have come as the result of a process and too tragic and unjust if it just ends in decay. - Amy Welborn

Is your religion helping you to transform your pain? If it does not, it is junk religion. We all have pain—it’s the human situation, we all carry it in a big black bag behind us and it gets heavier as we get older: by betrayals, rejections, disappointments, and wounds that are inflicted along the way. If we do not find some way to transform our pain, I can tell you with 100% certitude we will transmit it to those around us. We will create tension, negativity, suspicion, and fear wherever we go. Both Jesus and Buddha made it very clear to their followers that “life is suffering.” You cannot avoid it. It is no surprise that the central Christian logo became a naked, bleeding, suffering man. At the end of life, and probably early in life, too, the question is, “What do I do with this disappointment, with this absurdity, with this sadness?” Whoever teaches you how to transform your own suffering into compassion is a true spiritual authority. Whoever teaches you to project your doubt and fear onto Jews, Muslims, your family, heretics, gays, sinners, and foreigners, or even to turn it against yourself (guilt and shame) has no spiritual authority. - Richard Rohr

Enlightened believers are not scandalized that misfortune and suffering happen in the world. They know that God is good, that He only permits evil; that He is capable of bringing good out of evil; that we are only here in passing, that we have been damaged by original sin. They do not know what more to say. They do not know how to answer the numerous and anguishing "whys" about the evil in the world. They can, however, answer one question, how to act in suffering. Jesus Christ did. - Pope John Paul I, pg. 204 of "The Smiling Pope"

It is an outrage, a shame and a scandal and a sin, that the old and ill should feel that they are alone with their demons, that those demons render their lives worthless, and that the only sensible, charitable thing to do is to take themselves and the demons as far out of everyone else's way as possible. - Sally Thomas in First Things via Roz of Exultet

The headline from a recent Newsweek article by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend reads: "Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope does." An alternative does suggest itself. "Why Barack Obama represents Kathleen Kennedy Townsend better than the Pope does." - First Things, via Exultet

In the so-called cosmic scheme of things, the VMAs have all the significance of belly button lint--but Taylor Swift was a seventeen year old girl who had just been made the happiest she had ever been in her life. - Shredded Cheddar on the Video Music Awards

The most obvious critique against so much of contemporary art is the absence of the transcendent, of God. And its pretension. True dat. But do you see how the two are related? When we push God away, we get pretentious without even trying. By definition, without God, we are pretentious. But that doesn’t make the art any less interesting to me. Because if you are interested in people …as they are…rather than only in ideals, it seems to me that you just can’t wave things off. What is meaningful to you about the cupcakes? Why’d you bother to encase them in a box with motor oil? I want to know. Because it helps me know why I arrange and rearrange words and if there is any point in the apparently pointlessness of it. - Amy Welborn

The poet would tell us that, though one drop of our Lord's Blood was sufficient to redeem the world, (Cujus una stilla salvum facere / Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere, as St. Thomas says,) yet out of the greatness of His love to us He would shed all. As every one knows, the last dainings of life-blood are not crimson, but of a far paler hue: strictly speaking, roseate. Change the word, and you eliminate the whole idea. - John Mason Neale on his translation of a hymn, via Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

I believe it is also the vow of chastity that makes it so necessary for the religious to develop a deep life of prayer. As liberating as celibacy can be, it obviously also involves a sacrifice of intimacy, and there is no doubt that at times every religious is going to encounter a sense of loneliness. This is one of the primary reasons I felt called to religious life as opposed to diocesan priesthood, because the sense of community, especially as it is understood by the Augustinians, is a great aid in the fruitful living of this vow. But above all else, the vow of chastity requires contemplative prayer, whereby the religious experiences the intimacy of God in ways that flood the soul with grace. - Michael of Psalm 46:11


Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for paying some attention to Shredded Cheddar, TS. =)

A friend just left a comment under my post to say that Taylor Swift is actually nineteen years old. I wrote the wrong age because of Beyonce's allusion to her own young age of seventeen when she won her first Moonman. Mea maxima culpa!

Tom said...

The quotation from Fr. Rohr is an example of religion as therapy, yes?

The suffering Jesus spoke of, and experienced, wasn't disappointment, it was crucifixion.

TS said...

I didn't see it as such since I thought the transformation of pain into compassion was what Christ did when he thought of others while on the Cross (i.e. 'forgive them for they know not what they do' and the giving of Mary to John and vice-versa).

But admittedly the source (Fr. Rohr) is suspect given that he's been identified in the past with questionable ideas.

Tom said...

I don't mean to say the pain of disappointment can't or shouldn't be transformed into compassion. And of course Jesus did suffer disappointment; I meant that His personal disappointment isn't what we primarily mean when we say "He suffered."

Moreover, there is a Christian disappointment that isn't "the human situation," it's the divine situation when faced with human hard-heartedness.

Is "the central Christian logo" really "a naked, bleeding, suffering man" because "life is suffering"? Or is it because the central Christian teaching is that we are saved through the suffering of one particular man, whose sufferings were not those of the human condition but those of God's Anointed One?

TS said...

It does seem he is right though that the central Christian logo did become the crucifix, not, say a picture of the resurrected Christ. But point taken that logo can mean different things to different people and that we Christians should see it as being saved through that suffering, not that "life is suffering".

Tom said...

That said, it's true that people who suffer natural and social ills do appreciate it that Christ suffered as well; the crucifixes seem to get bloodier as the societies get harsher.

Still, to suggest "life is suffering" is a doctrine shared by Christians and Buddhists is stuff and nonsense.