Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's Unanimous!

From The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by Karen Armstrong

"We are meaning seeking creatures and, unlike other animals, fall very easily into despair if we cannot find significance and value in our lives."

"In our current predicament, I believe that we can find inspiration in the period that the German philosopher Karl Jaspers called the Axial Age because it was pivotal to the spiritual development of humanity. From about 900 to 200 BCE, in four distinct regions, the great world traditions that have continued to nourish humanity came into being: Confucianism and Daoism in China; Hinduism and Buddhism in India; monotheism in Israel; and philosophical rationalism in Greece."

"The consensus of the Axial Age is an eloquent testimony to the unanimity of the spiritual quest of the human race. The Axial peoples all found that the compassionate ethic worked. All the great traditions that were created at this time are in agreement about the supreme importance of charity and benevolence, and this tells us something important about our humanity. To find that our own faith is so deeply in accord with others is an affirming experience. Without departing from our own tradition, therefore, we can learn from others how to enhance our particular pursuit of the empathic life."

What a Marriage Needs

From The Color of Water by James McBride

Quoting his mother, a white Jewish woman who married a black man in 1942 and went on to raise twelve children.

"See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That's all. The rest you can deal with."

The Rescue Team

from Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher

"Today our senses are amplified by technology. We receive detailed information from all over the globe....Daily, we see buildings collapsing, children starving, and whole villages dying of AIDS. Our brains and our adrenal systems have electrical and chemical responses to world events, yet our bodies, which are far from these troubles, can do little to help. many of us become anxious and despair from this poisonous brew of overstimulation and powerlessness."

"I am not interested in weapons, whether words or guns. I want to be part of the rescue team for our tired, overcrowded planet. The rescuers will be those people who help other people to think clearly, and to be honest and open-minded. They will be an antidote to those people who disconnect us. They will de-objectify, rehumanize, and make others more understandable and sympathetic. They will create what philosopher Martin Buber called I-thou relationships for the human race."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Soul in the Middle

April 24 2007
From Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

"It is obvious that the soul, seat of the deepest emotions, can benefit greatly from the gifts of a vivid spiritual life and can suffer when it is deprived of them. The soul, for example, needs an articulated worldview, a carefully worked out scheme of values, and a sense of relatedness to the whole. It needs a myth of immortality and an attitude toward death. It also thrives on spirituality that is not so transcendent, such as the spirit of the family, arising from traditions and values that have been part of the family for generations."

"Ritual maintains the world's holiness. Knowing that everything we do, no matter how simple, has a halo of imagination around it and can serve the soul enriches life and makes the things around us more precious, more worthy of our protection and care."

"Perhaps our madly consumerist society is showing signs of runaway spirituality in its tendencies toward an abstract and intellectualized approach to life. Fincino's recommendation for healing such a split is to establish soul in the middle, that is between spirit and body, as a way to prevent the two from becoming extreme caricatures of themselves. The cure for materialism, then, would be to find concrete ways of getting soul back into our spiritual practices, our intellectual life and our emotional and physical engagements with the world."


April 22 2007
From Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

" Rubrics cannot arise out of some superficial place. They may be closely tied to the individual's taste and background, but the must also well up from a solid source deep in the person's psyche. Jung's love for his stone carvings was neither sentimental nor experimental. They had an honesty for him and for us who behold them now much later. But that particular form of ritualizing would not be appropriate for everyone.

How interesting it would be if we could turn to priests, ministers, and rabbis in order to get help in finding our own ritual materials. These spiritual professionals might be better of becoming deeply schooled in such things rather than trained in sociology, business, and psychology, which seem to be the modern preferences. The soul might be cared for better through our developing a deep life of ritual rather than through many years of counseling for personal behavior and relationships. We might even have a better time of it in such soul matters as love and emotion if we had more ritual in our lives and less psychological adjustment.

Our culture is in need of theological reflection that does not advocate a particular tradition, but tends the soul's need for spiritual direction. In order to accomplish this goal, we must gradually bring soul back to religion...."

Sunday, April 22, 2007


From Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

"We routinely and unknowingly waste enormous amounts of energy in reacting automatically and unconsciously to the outside world and to our own inner experiences. Cultivating mindfulness means learning to tap and focus our own wasted energies. In doing so, we learn to calm down enough to enter and dwell in states of deep relaxation. This nourishes and restores body and mind. At the same time it makes it easier for us to see with greater clarity the way we actually live and therefore how to make changes to enhance our health and quality of life."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Get Your Grandmother

From the article entitled "We live in the best of all times" an interview with Alice Walker about her new book We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For

"If you try to do something, you're not actually accomplishing anything. But if you resove to do it, you accept that it is there for you to do and that you're perfectly capable of whatever it is. And of course there's no point in trying to do something you're incapable of. Then you use every conceivable atom, sinew, and instinct available to move whatever it is that you're trying to move."

On her grandmother

"As time went on, though I saw the damage to the feminine that patriarchy imposes, and I understood that it's often the old woman--the grandmother, with all that accumulated wisdom and compassion--who is depressed. She is depressed because she sees things so clearly, and she's lost her fear of speaking. We need her. We are not going to get anywhere without her, so we might as well go and start liberating all those nursing homes, and calling home, and getting our grandmothers back with us, and asking them to leave the sitcoms, and get them to come out from in front of the TV and give us some guidance, some of the understanding that they ave gained over all these decades."