A few DM’s ago, we posed the question of whether the idea of democracy is a “sacred” term.
What I think we can agree on is that justice and compassion are certainly sacred actions, for they respect the sacredness of individuals and, hopefully, efforts to bring about the common good.
In an election time when hundreds of candidates refuse to say they will honor the election results, democracy is clearly on the ballot.
One of the signs of our times is that democracy is in peril, but we also see many courageous people stepping up to defend it and even die for it. We see Ukrainian citizens by the thousands fighting and resisting a megalomaniac wannabe czar’s effort to invade and destroy their sovereign European country, a budding democracy.
We remember the millions who died resisting Hitler and fascism in WWII. And the hundreds of thousands who died in the Civil War for the sake of government “of, by and for the people.”
In recent DMs we have recalled the story of Albert Nolan, one of numerous persons such as Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu and others, who resisted courageously the forces of apartheid and who lived to see the official end of that regime of hatred and racism in South Africa. Many were those who did not live to see the end of apartheid.
We recognize the martyrdoms of MLK, Jr, Malcolm X, Archbishop Romero and Sister Dorothy Stang who also worked to create justice.
Albert Nolan’s theology culminates with this promise:
The beginning of faith in Jesus, then, is the attempt to read the signs of our times as Jesus read the signs of his times…..We would have to begin, as Jesus did, with compassion—compassion for the starving millions for those who are humiliated and rejected and for the billions of the future who will suffer because of the way we live today.
It is only when, like the good Samaritan, we discover our common humanity, that we shall begin to experience what Jesus experienced.
Faith in Jesus without respect and compassion for humans is a lie. To identify with Jesus is to identify with all people.
Searching for the signs of the times in the spirit will mean recognizing all the forces that are working against humanity as the forces of evil….In the last analysis, it is we who must decide and act.
This is what elections are: A time for decisions and acting.
See Albert Nolan, Jesus before Christianity, pp. 140f.
Adapted also from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing.
And Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.
And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: KKK members beat Freedom Rider James Peck and others upon their arrival in Birmingham, AL, 1964. FBI archive photo by a local journalist who was also beaten; from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Nolan that everything begins with compassion and with discovering and rediscovering our common humanity? Can elections be a time for that to rise to the front of our minds and actions?
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story
A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice
In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.