May 22, 2023. Love, Courage & Moving beyond Fear
In our continuing exploration of courage, we celebrate those who put aside fears of losing their job in order to do the right thing. Loving something more than the fear of death (as MLK said), or more than the fear of losing one’s job or reputation, takes great courage. Meanwhile, fear can be helpful at times (i.e., when one is motivated to run from a bear), but many times it is paralyzing. It can also, when employed on a large scale, result in social hysteria and hatred of those who are “other.” And the media uses fear as a way to increase their ratings. A more admirable approach is espoused by Lakota elder Buck Ghosthorse, who taught that prayer is standing up to fear by making the heart strong.
May 23, 2023. Fear and Guns in America
We examine the fact that there are 393 million firearms owned by American citizens, far and away more than there are in any other country on the planet. The title of a Washington Post article by Christine Emba says it all: “Why do Americans want guns? It comes down to one word.” That one word is the “F” word: Fear. Most gun-owners, as well as gun-sellers, say that guns are for one primary reason: protection. But at what price is this protection when guns are now the leading cause of death for both children and teenagers? Emba says, “The paranoia that fuels gun-buying has come to seem like a mental health issue in its own right.” Fear as an emotion is natural, but fear as a choice can be so unhealthy. As Aquinas said, there is a difference between “chaste fear” and “servile fear.”
May 24, 2023. Moving beyond Fear
Why do people fear? Both corporations and politicians sell fear for their own selfish reasons. As for individuals, Aquinas says, “All fear arises from love because no one fears anything except what is contrary to something he or she loves.” Aquinas suggests, “Those who are in great fear… are so intent on their own passion that they pay no attention to the suffering of others.” Meanwhile, Jesus gently tells us to “fear not.” And John tells us that “perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18) If we need support with learning not to fear, Aquinas advises that we call on the Holy Spirit to make us strong.
May 25, 2023. Searching the Roots of Pessimism and Fear
The great psychologist Otto Rank offers a profound observation when he says that pessimism is a philosophy of hatred that springs from self-hate. And both fear and self-hate are linked to pusillanimity (the quality of having a small soul). Aquinas teaches that pusillanimous pride or arrogance causes a person to settle for his or her bad opinion of himself rather than learning one’s gifts. This is a loss, then, for the entire community who might have benefited from those gifts.
May 26, 2023. Rank and Rich on Moving from Pessimism to Creativity
As we continue to explore the roots of pessimism, psychologist Otto Rank points out that the true source of pessimism lies in self-hatred. Pessimism is the projection we make upon the world of our own self-worth. And if our love of self is shallow, the love we put into the world will be also. In such a state, we lose our connection to the Divine. When that connection is gone, melancholy moves in. And as Aquinas observed, when melancholy reigns, the heart shrinks and joy is harder and harder to find. Feminist poet Adrienne Rich has some advice: “Move beyond patriarchy.” Incorporate and embody the healthy feminine and masculine aspects of our soul. Embrace creativity. To be creative is to be in contact with the Divine Feminine and the Creatrix.
May 27, 2023. Fascism, Politics, SCOTUS: Institutionalizing Fear & Hatred
When fears are exploited by fascist politicians, it gives rise to hatred and violence. Fascism manifests itself in book burnings, unethical judges, degradation of the environment, the loss of human rights, and ultimately holocausts. Compassion falls by the wayside. Nothing is sacred in a fascist world. It behooves us to find ways to curb our fears so we aren’t so easily manipulated by those who are in control, as well as to work fiercely to create healthier leadership.
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science. A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics
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