Week of 4/15-20/2024: The World as Love, Jews of Conscience, Passover & Earth Day

April 15, 2024: Is the World Love as Teilhard Teaches?
Teilhard de Chardin said that we should add to the teaching “God is Love” a teaching that “The World is Love.” Is he being naive or is he onto something? Teilhard was a passionate advocate of evolution, and it cost him much professionally. He was banished to China, but that time proved to be very rich as he made substantial contributions to the exciting archeological findings of “Peking Man.” In his pursuit of the deeper meaning of evolution, he realized that the world is love. World, Creation, Universe, Cosmos—it is all love. As Matthew says: We were loved into existence. Existence is rare. Life and consciousness is rare. And evolution brought it about. 

The JWST prompts scientists to rethink our understanding of the universe. Video by PBS NewsHour.

April 16, 2024: Aquinas & Teilhard Envisioning the World as Love
Teilhard says that we need to think of the world as Love. Meanwhile, Thomas Aquinas calls the Universe the being that is “most like God.”  If the world is “most like God” then it is Love. Citing the psalmist, Aquinas says that the Universe is “God’s home” and its splendor and grandeur render us “drunk” when we meditate on it. He borrows the “getting drunk” motif from the Song of Songs, the book in the Bible that celebrates human love and lovemaking as a theophany, a mystical experience. Love of the Universe and from the Universe renders us drunk, drunk with love. 

April 17, 2024: Aquinas on Love in the Universe, the World as Love
Our home is not an easy place to live. There is suffering, loss, war, death. But there is also love. There is goodness and joy and forgiveness and starting over and redemption. And surely there is beauty. We are, like other beings in the Universe, “merely one part of the entire integrity of the Universe arising from” a kinship of all beings that make up one beautiful whole which we call the cosmos. It appears that the Universe is divinized insofar as all beings in the entire cosmos “share in some divine gifts.” (Aquinas)

“Why beavers matter as the planet heats up.” Vox explores how beavers create ecosystem resilience against climate change, combating drought and protecting forests from wildfire.

April 18, 2024: Jews of Conscience Speaking Out on Brutality to Palestinians
We have been reflecting on the concept of the world as love, but obviously human beings don’t always model divine love. However, sometimes there are people and movements which bring us hope. For instance, recently the Foundation for Ethics and Meaning shared a “Declaration of Collective Atonement on the Part of Jews of Conscience.”* Here is part of the declaration: We are heartsick to the core about all the tens of thousands of precious lives being lost right now in Gaza, so many of them children who had their whole lives in front of them.We deeply bemoan all the countless losses, traumas, indignities, acts of dehumanization, humiliation, oppression, terror, and violence that Palestinian and Jewish people have suffered, not just since October 7th, but in the century since this far too long-standing conflict began. To the Palestinian people specifically: words cannot adequately convey how profoundly sorry we are, as Jews, for the role our people have played (in your suffering.)

April 19, 2024: More on Love & Collective Atonement from Jews of Conscience
Teilhard de Chardin talks about how the direction of evolution is one towards more love, an expansion of the universe’s capacity to love. And Aquinas says that “sheer joy” is the origin of the universe and that goodness, joy and love are expanding in the universe. But yesterday we lamented the great gap between the love of the universe and love between human beings. Fortunately,  “Jews of Conscience” are stepping up and modeling loving action in the face of an absolutely brutal and horrifying war. More excerpts from their declaration follows: Jewish tradition teaches us to love the stranger, for we were strangers once ourselves, as slaves in Egypt…. In this time of deep despair, all of us, religious and secular, must now come together to make this land holy, by learning to love one another with all our hearts—reflecting the love of all sacred creation. To make our peoples examples of the highest good of which human beings are capable, rather than of its basest evil, we must learn to grow together in new ways that can bring to all the recognition and peace we deserve and need.

Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now mobilize over a 1,000 Jews and allies to shut down Hollywood Blvd. to protest Israeli genocide in Gaza and Hollywood’s role in dehumanizing Muslims. Photo by MarcyWinograd on Wikimedia Commons

April 20, 2024: Earth Day & Passover 2024: Heschel on Passover
Earth Day and Passover fall on the same day this year. Maybe there is a deep meaning behind honoring Earth’s Liberation and the Israelites’ Liberation on the same Holy Day this Spring. Passover is about not only the angel of death passing over Jewish homes marked with the blood of a sacrificed lamb, but also a time of exodus from their enslavement in Egypt. Rabbi Heschel reminds us that “the ultimate concern of the Jew is not personal salvation but universal redemption.” Indeed, “God is waiting for us to redeem the world.” Is liberation for Mother Earth and all her creatures possible? Can an exodus from the slavery of anthropocentrism and human narcissism happen anew this Earth Day? If so, that would be a Passover par excellence.  

*See “A Declaration of Collective Atonement on the Part of Jews of Conscience” at The Shalom Center.

Banner image: “Peace.” Image by Bart on Flickr.

Recommended Reading

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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2 thoughts on “Week of 4/15-20/2024: The World as Love, Jews of Conscience, Passover & Earth Day”

  1. Avatar

    May God’s Spirit of LOVE~WISDOM~TRUTH~PEACE~JUSTICE~HEALING~STRENGTH~CREATIVITY~COMPASSION…continue growing in the hearts, lives, and Souls of All Our Sisters and Brothers around Our Sacred Mother Earth (especially Our social leaders), in LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS, including Our spiritual beings from the Spiritual Dimensions supporting Us…. Amen

  2. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson

    To echo your insistence that the world is love, as Teilhard and Aquinas say, and that the mind is the “doubter” introduced by Descartes, who split us into a worse dualism between mind and spirit, here is a lovely quote from DH Lawrence, from today’s Marginalia site:
    ” We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul… There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters.”

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