January 16, 2023. Dr. King on the Failures of Religion.
King had issues with churches who “hide behind stained glass windows” and refuse to engage in issues of social justice. He said: I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular. St. Augustine perpetuated this bent away from activism by espousing instead an “introspective conscience.” Matthew reminds us that the late Pope Benedict XVI was also “thoroughly Augustinian and thoroughly dualistic in his mindset,” propelling the Church in an unholy direction of mysogyny, homophobia, and a fear of Einsteinian relativity, liberation theology, and creation spirituality.
January 17, 2023. Dr. King Criticizes Organized Religion, continued.
One of King’s stinging statements about the Church has become prophetic: If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust. King bemoans the tepidness of the Church: So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.
January 18, 2023. MLK, Jr. and M.D. Chenu Critique Today’s Economics.
Today we meditate on the disturbing fact that the richest 1% of people in the world acquired 2/3 of all the world’s wealth since 2020. Dr, King understood that wealth is gained through the exploitation of the poor. Said he: The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor—both black and white, both here and abroad. Meanwhile Chenu said that the system itself is often evil: Suppose that an enterprise begins with a capital of a million (francs) and after ten years has increased to five million: if these five million belong to the capital as such the fault is due not to the avarice of individuals but to the evil of the system.
January 19, 2023. MLK, Jr. and M.D. Chenu Oppose Dualism–and Pay a Price.
Whereas King called dualism “strange” and “un-Biblical,” Augustine said that “spirit is whatever is not matter.” By contrast, Aquinas defined spirit as “the elan or vitality in everything.” This attitude is at the heart of creation spirituality. Chenu wrote a book on education that was put on the Index of Forbidden Books in1942 and he was ordered to sign a document claiming that “dogmatic formulas express a truth which is absolute and unchanging.” In contrast, he proposed that a historical consciousness is about relativity and relationships rather than absolutism.
January 20, 2023. Why Non-Dualism Is Important, MLK & Chenu, continued.
Great thinkers are advocates of non-dualism. For instance, theologian Rosemary Ruether agrees that the foundation of patriarchy is dualism, while Thich Nhat Hanh said that if Christianity could recover its non-dualistic tradition, it could come alive again. Mystics are intimately connected with the fruits of non-dualism. Julian of Norwich defines mysticism as “oneing,” the antithesis of dualism. And Meister Eckhart refers to God as “the One” and encourages us to “separate ourselves from all twoness.” He says that in breakthrough, “I learn that God and I are one.”
January 21, 2023. Non-dualism: Chenu & Aquinas on Passions as the Seat of Virtues.
We meditate here on the power of passion or, as Aquinas said, Passions are “the seat of virtues.” Rabbi Heschel said, “It is to the imagination and the passions that the prophets speak, rather than aiming at the cold approbation of the mind.” Dualists insist that we must “transcend matter with its limitations,” but Chenu says, “To admit that God creates is implicitly to confess that matter is divinely willed and therefore good.”
Banner image: M.D. Chenu (Marie-Dominique Chenu) from biography in Backward View and Martin Luther King (photographed during his “I Have a Dream” speech) Wikimedia Commons
Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations
As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us I wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice. This revolutionary book does just that. Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations. Study and practice these teachings. Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth
In this book, Fox gathers scholars from various cultures and traditions such as Helen Kenik, Jon Sobrino, Nicolas Berdyaev, Rosemary Ruether, M. D. Chenu, Mary Jose Hobday, Ronald Miller, Monika Hellwig, James Kenney, Justin O’Brien and others to approach creation spirituality from many traditions and many angles.
“An exciting and important book…a pleasant alternative to the oppressive burden of the fall/redemption tradition.” ~ New Review of Books and Religion