Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: October, 2014

20 quotes by Phileena Heuertz, co-founder of the Gravity Center, from her book Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life. One of My Favorite Books of All Time!

51T7TEZCf2L

  • Avoiding or trying to escape our pain

1. “Cloaked by overactivity, a typical day in the life of many of us is marked with avoidance and escape.  Busyness sometimes serves to help us evade the vulnerable places in our hearts that are wounded and afraid.  Perhaps we numb the pain within by filling our lives with commotion and workaholism, we create a full social life to avoid the interior life, or we try to dull the ache by eating, drinking or exercising too much.  Others do the opposite – in an attempt to avoid pain they suppress or control it by not eating and by other repressive behaviors.  Indulgences of most kinds are often signs that we are avoiding or trying to escape our pain.”

  • Communing beyond words, thoughts, feelings

2. “Contemplation is the development of one’s relationship with Christ to the point of communing beyond words, thoughts, feelings and the multiplication of particular acts…”

  • Distinguishing between the false and true self

3. “Awakening allows for the initial stages of distinguishing between the false and true self…”

  • Sitting in the ache of longing

4. “It’s difficult to sit in the ache of longing, so sometimes we avoid it.  But when we embrace that gut-level discontent, we are moving and growing…”

  • The dream for a better world

5. “In, with and through community the dream for a better world is realized.”

  • A crucial time for listening

6. “The season of longing in our lives is a crucial time for listening…”

  • A life-shattering experience

7. “A dark night of the soul is not an intellectual exercise but a life-shattering experience.  This kind of experience cannot be crafted or sought after – it can only be submitted to.  Darkness of the soul, though terrifying, is a profound grace.  It is an invitation by the Spirit to transformation.”

  • Death is a necessary part of life

8. “Though most of us shun it, death is a necessary part of life…”

  • Standing in opposition to the status quo

9. “Decisions that stand in opposition to the status quo are not for the faint-hearted; they require courage, honesty and risk…”

  • Providing nourishment for the true-self seed of life

10. “Death provides nourishment for the true-self seed of life that has been incubating in darkness.”

  • A necessary season of sitting, walking, living in our pain

11. “In life we sometimes wish our pain would not linger so long.  But for our benefit there is a necessary season of sitting, walking, living in our pain.  When we embrace our pain, own it, we let it transform us.”

  • Getting back in touch with the elements of our own nature

12. “Primitive agrarian cultures teach us something of the value of becoming native to our place – helping us to get back in touch with the elements of our own nature that thrive on rhythm and balance.”

  • Stillness, solitude and silence are not valued today

13. “In our modern world, it is much too easy to overextend our limits toward activity and productivity.  Stillness, solitude and silence are not valued today like they may have been for our ancestors whose days were filled with these qualities simply by the nature of their life’s labor and limitations.  We tend to see restrictions to activity and engagement as something to be avoided.  But limitations and restrictions can be a grace for us.  Within the context of our limitations, God can do for us what we cannot…  Remember, we cannot make ourselves grow; but we can choose to submit to or resist the process.  And though much growth takes place in our active lives, all elements of creation are subject to contemplative stillness as an integral part of our growth and transformation…”

  • Critical conditions to transformation in our lives

14. “Rest, stillness, solitude and silence are all critical conditions to transformation in our lives and the world around us.”

  • The one who neglects contemplation

15. “…the one who neglects contemplation is at risk of being motivated and driven by false-self compulsions…  True acts of service do not build up our egos but bring us into deeper solidarity with the poor, marginalized and victims of injustice…”

  • Transformation is a slow process that takes time

16. “Transformation, which essentially involves healing, is a slow process.  It is rarely full and complete in an instant.  It takes time.  And during that time, it demands cycles of awakening, longing, darkness and, yes, even death…”

  • The very part of ourselves that we are most embarrassed by

17. “Often, the very part of ourselves that we are most embarrassed by or feel most vulnerable about is the exact gift others need from us.  Regardless, embracing these parts of ourselves is crucial to intimacy.”

  • Feeling as if we are being wounded

18. “Love leads us and at times it may penetrate us so deeply that we feel as if we are being wounded.  But that ‘wounding’ is actually for our healing and transformation.”

  • Actions of embodiment are extremely important

19. “In relationship with a God whom we struggle to grasp with our senses, actions of embodiment – being present in our body as well as our mind – are extremely important.  Sadly, Western culture has so prized the mind over the body that the two have been divorced…”

  • Being free of our ego and rooted in love

20. “Living into our true self, being free of our ego and rooted in love allows for true acts of peace and justice.  Without attention to our internal motivations and attachments, we are at risk of imposing our will on the world – deceived into thinking we are doing a virtuous thing – only to find out we need forgiveness for our action…  The ways we interact with the world can be connected so deeply to our false self that we cause more harm than good.  In our misapprehension we do not realize that what we are doing may actually be reaping destruction cloaked in virtue.  The greater our leadership and influence, the greater the potential domination and devastation…”

Which quote do you love the most if you had to pick one?  What do you think of contemplative spirituality for the active life?

http://www.amazon.com/Pilgrimage-Soul-Contemplative-Spirituality-Active/dp/0830836152/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414760790&sr=1-1&keywords=phileena+heuertz

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1414760994&sr=8-1

5 Things to Know About Christ and the Least of These

9184320-revised

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me…  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do to me.’” (Mathew 25:31-45). 

1. Christ was in relationship with the poor, oppressed and marginalized

This teaching represented all of Christ’s life.  He was in relationship with “the least of these” in his culture.  These were his friends.  And we are called into these kinds of reconciling relationships with the poor, oppressed and marginalized also.

2. The least of these are Christ to us

They have much to teach us of Christ.  This teaching in Mathew’s gospel points to the truth: the poor and the least are actually Christ.  Do we have the imagination within ourselves to understand this, to see this, to practice this in the parish?

3. If we do not have genuine relationship with the poor, we do not have genuine relationship with Christ

If we don’t, we will never have a holistic spirituality because Christ resides in the poor.  If we do not have genuine relationship with the poor, we do not have genuine relationship with Christ.  If we reject the poor, we reject Christ.  If we are hospitable to the poor, oppressed and marginalized; we are hospitable to Christ.

4. Christ was poor, homeless, abandoned, lonely, misunderstood, rejected and suffered

We see so much of Christ through the poor.  If we do not know the poor, we will be very limited in our understanding of God.  The poor expand our imaginations toward the nature of Christ.  Christ was poor, homeless, abandoned, lonely, misunderstood, rejected and suffered.

5. Christ valued the poor and taught others to do the same

He was a friend to the poor, oppressed and marginalized.  He was confrontational with the powerful, wealthy and religious.  Christ valued the poor and taught others to do the same.  This is what it means to follow Christ.  The parish imagination always values the poor, oppressed and marginalized.

How have you invited the poor, oppressed and marginalized into your life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1414672684&sr=8-1

15 Great Quotes from Kathy Escobar’s book Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus

down_we_go

I became familiar with Kathy Escobar’s work several years ago as I read her book Down We Go.  She is a spiritual director and co-pastors a community in North Denver called The Refuge.  I absolutely love this woman’s writing, blogging and passion.  Her new book Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart just came out last week and I can’t wait to read it as I think it will be one of the best books of the year!

We all should learn from, study and pay attention to this wonderful women as her voice is prophetic in the twenty-first century.  One of the things she encourages people to do is stop going to church to save their souls.  She thinks the whole system of church is unhealthy and there needs to be a faith shift within ourselves to embrace something more honest and authentic.  Here are some great quotes from her book Down We Go (I absolutely love this book) that came out a few years ago:

  • Seeing hurting people find authentic, healing community

1. “There is nothing more beautiful to me than seeing hurting people find authentic, healing community.”

  • In the darkness and pain

2. “When I am with my friends in the darkness and pain, I am acutely aware of God’s presence more than in my comfortable places.”

  • Structures that keep us safely contained with other people mostly like us

3. “Diversity usually sounds best in theory.  Most of us profess that groups are stronger and better when they include a wide range of people and experiences.  However, humans have a natural propensity toward homogeneity and structures that keep us safely contained with other people mostly like us.  A herd mentality permeates much of our current culture – including the church.  We tend to stick with other people who look like us, think like us, act like us and believe like us.  It makes life much easier.  People who aren’t like us usually bug us.  Our differences can create a wedge between us because we don’t know how to hold a space for disagreement…”

  • A cost we may not actually want to pay

4. “Relationships will be the most difficult and spiritually transforming experiences we will ever participate in, but they require a cost – a cost that when we’re really honest, we may not actually want to pay…”

  • The poor, unloved, lonely, rejected, outcast, marginalized, and oppressed

5. “If the Gospel is true, then the place that we should be looking to live out our faith is not only to the pretty and popular, but also towards the margins – the poor, unloved, lonely, rejected, outcast, marginalized, and oppressed…”

  • I’ve got it all figured out attitude

6. “An ‘I’ve got it all figured out’ attitude leaves no room for God or others.”

  • Our disconnectedness from the heart and soul of another human being

7. “Invisibility has to do with our disconnectedness from the heart and soul of another human being, which then disconnects us from the reality of God.  It has to do with our weird prejudices that lead us to believe that certain people are acceptable, and other people aren’t.  It has to do with our busyness, self-centeredness and tendency to hoard and self-protect.  It has to do with generations upon generations of invisibility in families, with no end in sight.  It has to do with our fear of truly engaging in the messiest parts of other’s lives, that cause us to pretend that we don’t see, don’t know or don’t have time.  It has to do with being known and seen in the midst of our own mess and our tendency to want to stay invisible, too.”

  • Finding hope in the midst of pain

8. “…everyone experiences pain.  When it comes to finding hope in the midst of pain, those who look like they are at the bottom have remarkable gifts they can offer to those who look like they are on top…”

  • With each other relationships

9. “’With’ relationships are messy, unpredictable, hard, confusing, and sure to tap into our pain, history, fears, and annoyed, frustrated places.  I understand how easy it is to stick with ‘to’ and ‘for’ models of relationship.  They protect us because they keep us in a place of power.  They keep the focus off of us and on the other person.  In the end, we don’t need ‘them;’ they just need ‘us.’  Even though that’s easier, I believe that ‘with each other’ relationships create true transformation.”

  • The undeniable dignity that each human person possesses

10. “Our basis for interdependence is the undeniable dignity that each human possesses.  When we begin with the dignity of each human being, we can begin to transcend the judgments that typically tear us apart.  It gives us the courage to be whole in the midst of brokenness.”

  • Vulnerability and transparency

11. “Vulnerability begins with transparency…”

  • Taking God out of the box

12. “Without taking God out of the box, we’ll never be able to make what could be, a reality.”

  • Living in community together in a variety of contexts

13. “Since we need to be active participants in cultivating the Kingdom now, we have to create new wineskins – radically different models of living in community together in a wide variety of contexts…”

  • It’s hard to dream

14. “For a lot of us, it’s hard to dream.  Almost every time I challenge people to dream it stirs up fear and trouble.  We’ve hoped before and had many of our dreams dashed, mocked and called unrealistic or impractical.  I know that many have tried to make their dreams a reality in systems that rejected them, and they lost a lot of hope.  The thought of opening hearts back up again is too scary…”

  • Learn the ways of love

15. “The only way to actually learn the ways of love is to extend it, try it, do it, risk it, live it – to enter into another person’s life and let someone into ours.”

What is your favorite quote?

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414592089&sr=8-1&keywords=faith+shift+kathy+escobar

http://www.amazon.com/Down-We-Go-Living-Jesus/dp/0615467903/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1414592158&sr=8-2&keywords=kathy+escobar

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1414592319&sr=8-1

9 Ways to Discover Your True Self

true_self__under_black_light__by_nicostars-d5exrju

1. Give up on finding our identity in what we have, what we do, and what others think of us

Basil Pennington writes, “In our old consciousness, where we identified ourselves as that false self made up of what we have, what we do, and what others think of us, we were in a state of constant and complete self-alienation.  We were not at home with ourselves at all.  As we turn within and begin to know our true self, this split begins to be healed.  We are coming home.  Yet the split is totally healed only when we are ourselves in pure consciousness and no longer see ourselves as an object apart from the knowing subject.  This self-knowledge comes to fullness when we experience ourselves as one with God in God and God is known in pure consciousness rather than by some subject-object knowledge…”

2. Develop a contemplative spirituality of awareness

Our contemplation brings awareness of our union with God.  The true self lives in union with God.  The true self is not separated from God.

3. Embrace the life of God within

The true self embraces the life of God within.  The true self lives out of this life.  The mystical imagination lives in union with God in the parish.

4. Embrace your own uniqueness as created in the image of God

James Martin says in his book Becoming Who You Are, “Everyone’s true self is a unique creation of God’s, and the way to sanctity is to become the unique self that God wishes us to be.” 

5. Give up on copying other people and be who you are

Our true self is unique.  No one can copy the true self.  We are each created to be someone different from anyone else in the world.

6. Become a shaper of beauty

We do not need to conform to our cultural Christianity anymore.  We need to live into our uniqueness.  If we were all our true selves, the body of Christ would be a shaper of beauty in the place we inhabit together.

7. Stop going to church and be the church in a particular place

The false self destroys the body of Christ.  The false self wants us to go to church instead of be the church together in a particular place.  The way of discipleship is the discovery of our true self.  The way of discipline is to discover our true self.

8. Live in your body to become an expression of love in the world

The way of sanity is to discover our true self as the body of Christ in everyday life.  The true self is the essence of holiness.  The true self is how we become expressions of love in the world.  The true self is how we live in our bodies in the parish.

9. Do not be afraid to listen deeply to a countercultural experience within

Alice Fryling notes, “Listening to the true self may be a countercultural experience.”    

In what ways have you discovered your true self?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1414507782&sr=8-1

13 Wonderful Quotes from the Controversial book Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How To Reverse It) by Robert D. Lupton

IMG_2761

  • When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves

1. “When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them.”

  • The kindest way to destroy people

2. “Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people.”

  • Doing for rather than doing with those in need is the norm

3. “Doing for rather than doing with those in need is the norm.  Add to it the combination of patronizing pity and unintended superiority, and charity becomes toxic.”

  • Compassion is a powerful force

4. “Compassion is a powerful force, a stamp of the divine nature within our spirits.  It lies within us all…”

  • Charity that does not enhance trusting relationships

5. “Charity that does not enhance trusting relationships may not be charity at all…”

  • Initiatives must be restructured to reinforce self-sufficiency

6. “For disadvantaged people to flourish into their full, God-given potential, they must leave behind dependencies that impede their growth.  Initiatives that thwart their development, though rightly motivated, must be restructured to reinforce self-sufficiency if they are to become agents of lasting and positive change.”

  • In community building, the producers must be members of the community

7. “In community building, the producers must be members of the community.  If outside actors are principally responsible for results, then the community will never change, be strengthened, or advance its capacity to deal with its own problems, solutions, and development.”

  • Listen closely to those you seek to help

8. “Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.”

  • One way giving can undermine relationships

9. “While one way giving may seem like the ‘Christian’ thing to do, it can undermine the very relationship a helper is attempting to build.  Such charity subtly implies that the recipient has nothing of value the giver desires in return.  To the extent the poor are enabled to participate in the systems intended to serve them, their self-worth is enhanced.”

  • Ask insightful questions, use intuition, and hear what is not being said

10. “The poor we serve may be reluctant to reveal ‘the whole story’ to would be helpers for a host of reasons – intimidation, fear of judgment, fear of losing support, fear of appearing unappreciative…  But like good physicians whose thorough examination yields an accurate diagnosis and treatment, effective helpers must learn to carefully observe behaviors, ask insightful questions, use their intuition, and hear what is not being said.”

  • The most authentic expression of affirmation

11. “Even as work is essential for life with meaning, so neighboring is essential for meaningful community life.  Becoming a neighbor to less-advantaged people is the most authentic expression of affirmation I know – becoming a real-life, next-door neighbor.  When connected neighbors move into the struggling world of those who are poor in order to be friends (rather than profit-making gentrifiers), new possibilities begin to appear…”

  • Building a sense of community

12. “Building a sense of community – so important for empowerment – is far easier when participants live in close proximity rather than commute from distant, scattered locations.  Daily interaction among neighbors allows relationships to develop, reciprocity to occur, and accountability to grow.”

  • The poor have enormous untapped capacity

13. “…the poor, no matter how destitute, have enormous untapped capacity; find it, be inspired by it, and build upon it.”

What do you think of the idea of toxic charity?  What has been your experience around this?

http://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Charity-Charities-published-HarperOne/dp/B00E293XLI/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1414238986&sr=8-14&keywords=toxic+charity

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414239151&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

10 of my Favorite Quotes from Richard Rohr’s book Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

41YwunJqU-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Everything is a revelation of the divine

1. “The Christ Mystery refuses to be vague or abstract, and is always concrete and specific.  When we stay with these daily apparitions, we see that everything is a revelation of the divine – from rocks to rocket ships.  There are henceforth no blind spots in the divine disclosure, in our own eyes, or in our rearview mirrors.  Our only blindness is our lack of fascination, humility, curiosity, awe, and willingness to be allured forward.”

  • Having a kind of real inner authority

2. “Once we go through our own sifting – and recovering – we will have a kind of real inner authority too, by just trusting what we know.  It will probably never be an authority that needs to be formally licensed as such…”

  • Agreeing to live simply

3. “When you agree to live simply, you put yourself outside of others’ ability to buy you off, reward you falsely, or control you by money, status, salary, punishment, and loss or gain of anything.  This is the most radical level of freedom, but, of course, it is not easy to come by.  It might be called restorative justice, or primal solidarity with the mass of humanity and the earth…”

  • Leaving us fragile and vulnerable

4. “The true Gospel always leaves us both fragile and vulnerable…”

  • Inner capacity to live with paradoxes and contradictions

5. “…contemplation gives us an inner capacity to live with paradoxes and contradictions.  It is a quantum leap forward in our tolerance for ambiguity, mystery, and paradox.  More than anything else, this new way of processing the moment is what moves us from mere intelligence, or correct information, to what we normally mean by wisdom or non-dual thinking.”

  • External window dressing

6. “When you have not had any internal experience of God and grace, you almost always overcompensate with external window dressing.  The ‘window dressings’ are not wrong in themselves, but do tend to make nonessentials into essentials that we obsess about and divide over.  When you have done this for half your life, it is very hard to let go of it…”

  • Common sign of the contemplative mind

7. “The common sign that the contemplative mind has been accessed is when you see people who are highly capable of long periods of silence and solitude – and do not become negative or narcissistic in the process – but actually increase in joy and love.  This is not possible if you have a dualistic mind or still operate from the egoic level…”

  •  The demand for certitude

8. “It is important to know that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but in fact certitude and the demand for certitude!”

  • If your only goal is love

9. “If your only goal is to love, there is no such thing as failure…”

  • Whenever we choose to love

1o. “Whenever we choose to love we will – and must – die to who we were before we loved.  So we often hold back.  Our former self is taken from us by the object of our love.  We only realize this is what has happened after the letting go, or we would probably always be afraid to love.”

Which quote is your favorite?

http://www.amazon.com/Eager-Love-Alternative-Francis-Assisi/dp/1616367016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414162402&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+rohr+books

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414161685&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

10 Reasons Why it is Good to Be Poor

DSC00175

I have been thinking about how God is leading us to be poor so that we can identify with our true selves at a deeper level in everyday life.  Over the course of my life I have become afraid to be poor.  I have been told by the church, by my family and by the North American culture that it is bad to be poor.  But I am discovering that Jesus was poor throughout life.  So here are 10 reasons why I think being poor is good for us:

1. It cultivates humility within us.  Humility is a beautiful quality of our spirituality that is more natural to us if we are not distracted with a fast paced life of pride, accomplishment and image.  When we are poor, we become like Jesus who lived a life of humility renouncing possessions, money and power to live as a servant.  Humility is the calling to discover our true selves, who we are created to be in the image of God.  

2. It makes us less arrogant.  Having money a lot of times produces arrogance.  We become disconnected from what is most important in life, our own interior growth.  When we are poor, we become more concerned with connecting with others in compassion, love and vulnerability.

3. We identify with the marginalized more.  When we are poor, we identify with the marginalized of the world.  Those who are imprisoned, addicted, homeless, disabled, mentally ill, rejected, misunderstood and alone are the ones Christ is calling us to.  Jesus was the marginalized and lives in those who experience the same.

4. Frees us from hiding behind money and possessions.  The United States is a culture of success through money and possessions.  When will Christians stop finding their identity in money and possessions and renounce it all so that they can seek God freely?  Money and possessions teach us to pretend to be someone were not and hide away in our greed for more.

5. We become vulnerable.  Vulnerability is so rare today, but vulnerability is the heart of the gospel.  When we are poor, we embody the way of Jesus who lived in vulnerability throughout life.  Vulnerability is the way, truth and life of authenticity.

6. We become honest with ourselves, others and God.  When we are poor, we begin to embrace honesty with more liberation.  We become honest with ourselves.  We begin to live in our questions.  We begin to push back on systems that oppress, fragment and devalue our human experience.

7. We give up on upward mobility.  We stop moving every three or four years to a new neighborhood that makes us look better, makes us feel safer and gives us more economic opportunity.  We root in a place and stop moving when we are poor.  This place we live in becomes a part of us and all the people who live there.

8. We begin to live locally.  We start to see that without living locally there can be no community together.  Community is always local, relational and embodied.

9. We see our need for interdependence.  When we are poor, it puts us in a place of receiving from others friendship, relationship and support in life.  We begin to see that the American idea of independence is in illusion that causes us to live fragmented, lonely lives.

10. We see are only purpose in life is love and compassion.  It is quoted as Jesus saying in the Bible, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).  When we are poor in spirit, we become more focused on love and compassion.  We leave this life of accumulating possessions behind to follow the poor one who is the teacher of life, freedom, liberation, honesty, vulnerability and humility.

How can we be less afraid to be poor?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414072160&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

What is Your Deepest Longing?

screnshaw_abstract5

Over the years, I have developed a longing for God at great expense.  My family has not understood my passion.  They have wanted me to pursue an upward mobility of money, career, prestige and possessions.  I have not wanted these things for myself.

  •  Distracting me from all I want in life

I have not wanted these things because I know what they would do to my soul, to my growth, to my formation.  They would kill my imagination.  They would kill my longing for God.  They would distract me from all I want in life.

  •  Wanting an authentic spirituality

What I want is an authentic spirituality in which I can seek God holistically being a part of the body of Christ in everyday life in the place I live.  Nothing else matters to me that much.  I don’t seem to care too much for money, prestige or possessions.

  •  Wanting to live with the poor

I want to live with the poor.  I want to practice a contemplative spirituality.  I want to share life with others in my neighborhood.  These are the things I most want.

  •  Taken some bumps and bruises along the way

My longings lead me to such things.  But our culture does not want to see its counterculture it seems.  So I have taken some bumps and bruises along the way.

  •  My longings will not allow me to quit

It has not been easy all of the time.  It has taken a life of discipline to create.  It has taken a mystical imagination to sustain.  Sometimes I think I want to quit, but my longings will not allow me to.

  •  I cannot ignore my longing for God

They are too developed within me over the years to ever forget about their leadings.  I cannot ignore my longing for God.  I cannot ignore my neighbors who need love.  I cannot ignore the place I inhabit.

  •  A boundary I will have to live with

I cannot ignore my imagination.  My parents are probably still upset with such an “irresponsible” son who has renounced many things in life, but that is a boundary I will have to live with.  I need to live the life God has called me to in my own authentic way.

  •  Growing up as a Catholic

I remember growing up as a Catholic.  My parents took us to church almost every Sunday.  I did not like church that much and never thought about God really.  But I remember having a distinct thought one Sunday morning which I had never thought before.

  •  I could not imagine anyone ever giving their life to God

A thought crossed my mind, “What if some ordinary person had given their entire life to God?  What would that look like?”  Then I had a second thought quickly after that, “That would never happen.”  I could not imagine anyone ever giving their life to God.  Why would anyone want to do that?

  •  God has been cultivating my longing and imagination

But as time has went on, I am coming to see that I am becoming that person in my thoughts who has given his entire life to God.  God has been cultivating my longing and imagination for a long time.  I still don’t really like institutional structures that much, but God has been cultivating a longing for a holistic counterculture within me.  I want to influence the body of Christ today in our postmodern culture to do something different in the world.

How has God been cultivating your longing throughout life?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413989323&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

10 great quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self

51Y9Oq9eiML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Allowing others to define us

1. “Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lesson if we settle into any ‘successful role.’  We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it.  Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside…”

  • Defining ourselves outside of love, relationship, or divine union

2. “Your False Self is how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union.  After you have spent many years laboriously building this separate self, with all its labels and preoccupations, you are very attached to it.  And why wouldn’t you be?  It’s what you know and all you know.  To move beyond it will always feel like losing or dying…”

  • Longing for God and longing for the True Self are the same longing

3. “Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing.  And the mystics would say that it is God who is even doing the longing in us and through us…”

  • Do not fear, attack, or hate the False Self

4. “Remember, please remember, you do not (you must not!) fear, attack, or hate the False Self.  That would only continue a negative and arrogant death energy, and it is delusional and counterproductive anyway…  In the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed, and nothing is wasted.  God uses your various False Selves to lead you beyond them…”

  • Your True Self is who you are

5. “Your True Self is what makes you, you…”

  • Natural at detachment and nonaddiction

6. “Once your soul comes to its True Self, it can amazingly let go and be almost anything except selfish or separate.  It can also not be anything that you need it to be or others want it to be.  The soul is a natural at detachment and nonaddiction.  It does not cling or grasp.  It has already achieved its purpose in pure being more than any specific doing of this or that…  Soulful people, invariably humble and honest about themselves, are also risk takers…  The True Self neither postures nor pretends…”

  • The separate self is the False Self

7. “The separate self is the False Self, and the False Self thus needs to overdefine itself as unique, special, superior, and adequate…”

  •  The True Self sees everything in wholes

8. “The True Self sees everything in wholes and therefore in contrast to the way the world sees things, which now appears upside down to them.  The False Self sees everything in parts and hierarchies and in reference to itself, which is not to see very well at all.”

  • Doing the work of growing up

9. “We do not really find the immortal diamond of the True Self.  It gradually appears as we do the work of growing up…”

  • To see what is and let it teach you 

10. “The soul has no agenda whatsoever except to see what is – as it is – and let it teach you…”

What has been your journey of discovering the true self within you?

http://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Diamond-Search-True-Self/dp/1118303598/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413895925&sr=8-1&keywords=immortal+diamond

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413895740&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Celebrating my 200th Blog Post – 10 Reasons Why Christianity Has Lost Credibility in North America

don__t_stop_dreaming_by_eclipticsnowleopard-d3ikuf1

When Christianity becomes corrupt through our power, ego, wealth and arrogance it becomes very destructive, violent, colonial and unauthentic.  It seems Christianity in North America promotes sin that is destructive to us all.  Most of the world hates this kind of stuff and we are to blame for how others reject Christianity because we are so unlike the one we claim to follow.  Here are 10 reasons why American Christianity is contributing to atheism in our world.

1. We have too much division over stupid stuff that doesn’t matter.  There are thousands of denominations in the United States and most of them think they have a monopoly on truth.  There is a lack of learning from one another and working together for the common good.  We look at differences instead of similarities.

2. Hierarchies that feed off of power.  Hierarchies are created by men to control and dominate in the name of God.  Hierarchies exclude and instill fear in others.  Jesus didn’t care about power so why does the church love power so much?

3. Making the church into a building.  The church is not a building.  The church is not even a service.  The church is the people living in a particular place in everyday life.  When there is no commitment to place, there is no expression of love in everyday life together.

4. Lack of love and compassion for the marginalized.  The church has mostly abandoned the poor.  We don’t understand that God lives in the poor.  It seems we don’t care that much.

5. Overemphasis on vocal intercessory prayer and neglecting a contemplative spirituality of deep listening.  It seems that our notions of prayer are not really about listening and reflecting deeply within ourselves, but about constantly asking God for things.  When will we stop asking God for things through a Western mindset of comfort, security and success?  We need to develop a contemplative spirituality that listens deeply and stops talking so much.

6. Compartmentalizing worship into music and not a way of life.  Worship is not about music.  Why do we have such an addiction to our American forms of church worship?  We revolve so much energy around songs as worship, but whatever happened to community as worship, being neighbors to one another as worship, living in simplicity as worship, showing compassion as worship, living an intentional life of discipline as worship?

7. Living above place.  We do not care about place anymore.  This is making our services we call church damaging, manipulative and irrelevant.  If we committed to place, this could bring us together to engage our culture in ways of love, compassion and grace beyond our services.

8. The abandonment of vulnerability and humility.  We have become arrogant.  We think we know all the answers.  When will we show our vulnerability and some humility to the world who judges us most of the time as fake, ignorant and unauthentic.

9. Overemphasis on sin within us and ignoring the life of Christ within us.  There is so much emphasis on sin and not enough emphasis on Christ living within us.  We are not just sinners, Christ lives within us.  We do not embody the life of Christ within us because we are instilled with a deep consciousness of sin that causes us to never discover our true selves as created in the image and beauty of God.    

10. Lack of respect for all people.  We think we are right and everyone else is wrong so we disrespect others if they do not have similar theological beliefs.  What we think as the way, truth and life leads us to be judgmental, arrogant, proud and disrespectful.  We do not realize that God is love and values all people so we should have a learning posture toward others who we think are different from us.

How can we establish a more credible Christianity in North America?  What point do you resonate with most?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413641172&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination+finding+a+way+to+share+life+tog