Awakening by Way of the Via Negativa

It is not only the Via Positiva—Resurrection, Easter, Springtime, and events of liberation such as Passover — that awakens us and that constitutes our mystical awakening. 

The ancient Greeks recognized the intertwining of joy and grief in achieving full humanity. Photo by Phil Shirley on Flickr

Suffering and the Via Negativa can do that also.  This is one reason the Good Friday/ Easter Sunday dialectic goes together. 

Immense numbers of Good Friday happenings have occurred in our culture this past year and it helps to name them, just as we ought to name our Resurrection encounters as well.  Indeed, we do the latter first, for from the Via Positiva we are strengthened to look directly at the Via Negativa and resist falling into denial or apathy or despair in an effort to muzzle uncomfortable truths. 

The risen Christ after all arrives with wounds.  These remind us of the Good Friday event.

Flower tributes to George Floyd pile up outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, where he died under the knee of former police officer Derek Chauvin. Photo by Cocoabiscuit on Flickr.

Racism.  The on-going trial of George Floyd is a blunt reminder of why millions of people marched this past year in cities all around this country and the world to protest the horrific 9 plus minute murder by a white police officer kneeling on the neck of a man already handcuffed and on the ground.  Hopefully, this educational moment really was such and that a reckoning with the truths of racism and slavery and colonialism toward indigenous populations, is really happening among white people in particular.

Hate toward Asians.  Racism 2.0.  This happening too has a very long history.  I learned only when I moved to California and met Chinese families about laws from the nineteenth century into the 1940’s that forbade Asians to vote and intermarry; and forbade Asian women to come to America; and lynchings in Seattle and Los Angeles of Asian people; and forbidding them to join unions. 

Stop Anti-Asian Racism and China Bashing Rally, Chinatown Archway, Washington DC, 3/27/21 Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

And now, blatant attacks on Asian people, many of them elderly, happening even in broad daylight.

A pandemic that has killed almost 3 million people world wide and over 550,000 people in the United States while experts say the number here could have been 450,000 less had political leaders done their jobs correctly and listened to the scientists, etc.  Who has not been affected by this dereliction of duty?

January 6.  The reptilian brain on display on Epiphany Day.  Instead of manifesting the divine child in our midst, a manifestation of the dangerous child in us all if not attended to.  A manifestation of the undercurrent of hate and hostility that simmers beneath the surface of many American citizens, being fed and nurtured by a failing political and media system where idolatries reign.  Democracy threatened.

Fire in the Panatal Wetlands, November 2020. Scientists report that more than 2.3 million animals may have died in wildfires covering just 7.7% percent of the total area of the Bolivian rainforest. Satellite photo processed by Pierre Markuse, Wikimedia Commons.

Extinction spasms greater than any in the past 65 million years (when the dinosaurs and so many other species disappeared from the earth) facing millions of species today…including our own.  Climate change rages (and its denial) due to anthropocentrism and species narcissism that has ruled our education, religions, politics, economics and media for hundreds of years. 

Patriarchy. Sexism. Matricide.  The crucifixion of Mother Earth.

No shortage of Good Friday events to wake us up and make mystic-prophets of us all, causing resurrections. 

To be continued

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. xx-xlv.

Banner Image: “The Resurrected Christ Appearing to His Disciples.” Luca Signorelli, 1514. On Wikimedia Commons.

Do you recognize resurrection experiences or experiences of the risen and wounded Christ (or Image of God or Buddha Nature) in the deep troubles of our time?  How do you respond to such revelations?

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6 thoughts on “Awakening by Way of the Via Negativa”

  1. Avatar

    This is so true. Often we can get stuck in Easter Monday or in good Friday. It reminds me of how the two are linked , the events of the last year worldwide show us how interconnected we are and what happens to one happens to another, humans and nature.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you for your comment Steve! And Easter Monday and Good Friday are indeed linked, and interconnected !!!

  2. Avatar

    I absolutely agree that Good Friday moments/seasons abound in our culture, but I take offense at “the trial of George Floyd.” Floyd is not on trial, his killer Derek Chauvin is.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      And Sherry, you are right in that George Floyd is not on trial but his killer, Derek Chauvin…

  3. Avatar

    Via Negativa – Aren’t you becoming hasty giving your judgmental thoughts by saying a man was “murdered” by a police officer kneeling on his neck while hand cuffed on the ground? Is not every person innocent until proven guilty? You have not heard the defense of the police officer.

    Jesus was innocent. Let’s await the decision before you accuse anyone of murder – (a very strong word).

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