Browsing "New Cosmology"
Jul 2, 2013 - New Cosmology, Resources    No Comments

Day 14: Wait, Matthew Fox is writing to the Pope, too?

Dear Pope Francis,

So, it seems someone else is writing to you. He’s not blogging, but Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing, other works on creation spirituality, and one of my favorite books on creativity, is writing to you too, Pope Francis.

I happened to be browsing Amazon last night and came across Matthew Fox’s new book, Letters to Pope Francis: Rebuilding a Church with Justice and Compassion. Of course, I had to buy a copy for my Kindle to check out the competition. OK. This is Matthew Fox, so I’m not really in his sphere, but I found it interesting that someone else decided to write to you.

It actually speaks volumes that someone like Matthew Fox would write to you, Pope Francis. After all, he’s had some issues with the institutional Church. And, if you don’t mind my saying, he wasn’t treated that well. So, the fact that Matthew Fox believes you’re open and approachable enough for him to write a book of letters, says something.

I’m not sure any of your predecessors would have inspired people such as Matthew Fox, or me, to write you publicly. Maybe Pope John XXIII. But no one since, I don’t think. People loved Pope John Paul II, but I don’t know that they felt they could write to him. I didn’t. And I did not for once think of writing to your immediate predecessor.

But in you, Pope Francis, I see openness. I know we might not agree on some significant matters of doctrine. But I perceive in you at least the willingness to listen and ponder. There has not been enough pondering in the Church the last little while. Not enough true listening, either, for that matter.

I hope your week is going well so far.

Your friend,

Kevin

(By the way, should you order any of those books and add them to your library — I’m not sure there’s a lot of Matthew Fox on Vatican shelves — I get a little bit of money from each purchase.)

Jun 30, 2013 - Music, New Cosmology, Resources    No Comments

Day 12: Praises for the World

Dear Pope Francis,

Summer has finally come in my part of the world. We’re having a very warm Saturday — with the promise of more warmth to come. The various weather authorities are even predicting a heat wave.

It’s been an interesting transition, given that we’ve been rain, cold and gloomy for the past couple of weeks and it has not been very summer-like around here. It’s a rather quick transition. This, coupled with other weird weather news we’ve had of late, makes you wonder if things are actually shifting in terms of our weather patterns. I kind of think they are.

Which, to my mind, makes an engagement in the world around us all that much more important. If things are going to get unpredictable in terms of weather, the only way we’ll cope is by becoming meteorological experts ourselves. We need to re-learn the signs all around us, as they’re new signs.

One of my favorite singers is Jennifer Berezan. This is one of her most well-known works, “Praises for the World.” The YouTube clip doesn’t do the beauty of the song justice, so I’d suggest you go to her website and buy a copy of the CD. It’s money well spent.

I’m always taken by the lyrics “The holiest words I’ve ever read or thought or sung or prayed, were praises for the world.”

Yours friend,

Kevin

Day 5: The Dear Pope Francis book club!

Dear Pope Francis,

Apologies for the late post today. Was a busy Saturday of running errands and enjoying the second day of summer. Even managed to work in a nap and some reading.

Speaking of reading, I’d like to start a book club. There are some books I’ve read that I’d like to re-read, and others that I want to read for the first time. It’s always good to have someone to talk to about a good book, so I thought you and I could be our own book club.

Don’t worry. You won’t have to speed read to make a tight deadline and there won’t be any pop quizzes. We’ll spend a lot of time on each book. In fact, you might want to use the book as part of your daily lectio divina, if that resonates with you. I like to change it up a bit myself and branch out from Scripture occasionally.

The first book is probably the best grounding in the New Cosmology that you could get. It’s The Universe Story by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme. Much of what I wrote about in this post came from that book. It’s one of my favorites and I’m happy to give it another read. It’s widely available, and that link will take you to an Amazon page where you can purchase it. (Note that it’s an affiliate link, and I’ll get a little bit of money if you buy it through there. Will help keep us in vigil candles and incense around here for awhile.)

Anyway, that’s all for today. I look forward to discussing The Universe Story with you.

Your friend,

Kevin

Jun 20, 2013 - New Cosmology    No Comments

Day 2: Why taking a bath in the cosmos reinforces Incarnation

Dear Pope Francis,

Hey there. Happy hump day! I don’t know about you, but this week has been a full one. I’m looking forward to the weekend when I don’t have any responsibilities on my plate. I guess weekends are kind of busy for you though, eh?

I wrote to you yesterday about why I thought I’d start this blog. Well, taking on the role of your roving beyond-the-Vatican reporter was only part of it. The other part grew out of those comments you made during your supposedly private meeting June 6 with CLAR, the Latin American and Caribbean Conference of Religious.

Wow. Did you realize what a firestorm just one private audience would create? The media coverage was positively breathless. Most mainstream media latched onto the “gay lobby” comments, while the Catholic press caught the reference to what might be your view on the difficulties between the U.S. Leadership Conference for Women Religious (LCWR) and the Vatican.

What caught my eye in the supposed transcript, however, was this:

 “The second [worry] is over a gnostic current. These pantheisms… they’re both currents of elites, but this one is of a more formed elite. I knew of one superior general who encouraged the sisters of her congregation to not prayer in the morning, but to give themselves a spiritual bath in the cosmos, such things…. These bother me because they lack the Incarnation! And the Son of God who became our flesh, the Word made flesh…”

I have to say, Pope Francis, that I shook my head a little at that. I know you were speaking informally and without your doctrinal miter on, but I have to, respectfully, disagree with you on this point. You see, I think that superior general was onto something. There’s a lot to be said about the spiritual benefits of considering our proper place in the Universe.

I know, I know. I can hear you muttering. “Gnostic…pantheistic…nonsense…throws out…Incarnation…” But, hang on, hang on. Let me explore this a bit more for you.

I believe, and I’m not alone, that placing our concept of the Divine in the context of the 13.8 billion year unfolding of the Universe is all about Incarnation, and God in the world. It’s called the New Cosmology by some, and it might be what you’re referring to as one of the “currents of elites.”

Let me break it down for you. See Pope Francis, we humans are relatively new on the evolutionary scene. We have existed for a mere eye blink. The Universe came into being long before us, and will continue to unfold whatever happens to our branch of life.

Does this take God out of the equation? Hardly. In fact, it makes a Divine presence in all things even more apparent. Consider, as physicist Brian Swimme would say, that the unfolding of the Universe has been precisely balanced from the very beginning. In the millions of years after the Big Bang, when stars and galaxies were forming, the rate at which the Universe expanded was critical. Had it expanded a fraction more slowly, everything would have collapsed back in on itself, unable to overcome gravity. Had it expanded infinitesimally more quickly, the basic building blocks of what would become life would have been blown apart, never to combine. Then consider what had to occur to bring about the planet Earth — the only place in all  the Universe, that we know of, capable of supporting life.

That Divine force that kept the Universe from blowing itself apart at the very beginning, and went on to bring life into being on Earth, has been at work for 13.8 billion years. Look at a flower blooming, see a cricket jump, or hear a baby’s laugh — they are all expressions of that Divine creativity. God is truly in all things, not just we humans. Though we often act as if we’re the only expression of the Divine.

Is this pantheism? No. There is one Divine force, one God, at work here, at least in my opinion. When I look in wonder at a tree, and consider all that had to happen over 13.8 billion years to produce that tree in that spot, it only magnifies my sense of Incarnation, of God in the world. But it’s all one God.

Let me put it another way. I’m sure you’re familiar with the writings of your namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. He constantly referred to plants, animals, rocks, and planetary objects as sister or brother. Does that mean he saw multiple gods in Brother Sun and Sister Moon? No, I don’t think so either.

Those who have thought about the New Cosmology and our place in the Universe are not pantheists, either. We identify as Christian, even Catholic. We see God in everything, not gods in everything. For me, this has been a powerful new way of seeing the Divine’s work in creation.

I believe it is through regular spiritual baths in the cosmos that we truly come to connect with Divine Mystery. God is incarnate in all of creation. As Peter Mayer writes in his song “Holy Now”:

“This morning, outside I stood

And saw a little red-winged bird

Shining like a burning bush

Singing like a scripture verse

It made me want to bow my head…

Everything is holy now”

This was the first song I heard that explained the New Cosmology in a way that called to both my mind and spirit. Maybe it might serve the same purpose for you. I’d recommend checking it out on iTunes, Pope Francis.

Until tomorrow.

Your friend,

Kevin

 

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