New Vision: Exciting and Terrifying – a sermon for Lent 4A John 9:1-41

First Reading:  “To See As God Sees” Meister Eckhart here

Second Reading: John 9:1-12   here

Gospel Reading: John 9:13-41 here

Today’s sermon includes a video clip from the short film Overview.

You can listen to the audio and watch the video clip from the “Overview” below.

I was just a little girl the first time I flew in an airplane. I can still remember just how excited I was to get on that airplane. I couldn’t wait to fly high up in the sky. I was convinced that once we got up into the clouds I would be able to see things; amazing things. I couldn’t wait to see God and Jesus, and angels, and people who had died all walking up there on the clouds. Heaven, we were going to see heaven. Jesus would be up there. I can’t remember what I was expecting them all to look like. I vaguely remember peering out of the airplane’s window desperately trying to see them all. But I could not see them.

I was too young to understand what happened to me that day. But something did. I saw things differently after that. I had seen the clouds and they were lovely, but nobody was living up there. I could see that what I thought was true was not and there was no going back. My eyes had been opened and nobody could ever convince me that heaven was up there in the sky, or that Jesus was waiting for me up there, or that God was watching me from up there, or that anybody was looking down on me from up there. I once was blind to this reality; it only took one ride on an airplane to cure my blindness. I once was blind, but up there in the sky I could see. Having seen the reality of what was actually up there, I knew enough to look elsewhere for Heaven, for lost loved ones, for Jesus, and for God. Once your eyes have been opened, the gift of vision opens you to an entirely new realty and once you’ve seen the new reality you can never go back to your old ways of thinking.

Watch the video.

It may have been simpler when we could not see; when we were blind to the reality that surrounds us. The blind man was a beggar. He knew the contours of his reality. He probably got up each morning and travelled by a familiar route to his spot on the street. He’d adapted to his reality. He learned to live in a world that was defined by his lack of vision. Having his eyes opened exposed him to a world he’d only known by touch. Suddenly a whole new sense was opened up for him. New vision can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. But once his eyes had been opened, he could not go back, he could not un-see what he was seeing, he could only shut his eyes, or look really look and see. Continue reading

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich

Living with a Wild GodAfter listening to my sermon from this past Sunday, a blog follower recommended Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest book, Living with a Wild God. The suggestion that my tentative attempts to express my personal mystical experiences might be improved by reading Enrenreich’s  engaging memoir, which chronicles her own encounters with the inexpressible, propelled me into a sleepless night of reading as I devoured Erenreich’s stellar work that recounts her epic quest to make sense out of experiences that are so often never spoken of.

Suggesting that I turn to Erenreich for enlightenment is like suggesting that I return to an wise, familiar friend. I first encountered Enrenreich’s thinking way back in the late seventies when I was growing into the radical feminist movement and “For Her Own Good” awakened me to Enrenreich’s genius and introduced me to a way of articulating my own innate suspicions of the advice that was coming my way. Enrenreich’s wit left me hoping that I might grow up to become a careful thinker who could use incisive humour to move mountains. Recently her exploration of the darker side of positive thinking caused me to cheer out loud as I turned page after page of “Smile or Die,”  in which Enrenreich’s observations revealed “How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World”

I never would have imagined that Enrenreich would pen a “spiritual” memoir that reveals her personal mystical experiences. The book chronicles the mature, dare I say curmudgeonly  adult’s relationship with her teenage self. While Enrenreich herself is mortified by the word “spiritual” the epiphanies of her younger self reveal so very much about the human quest for meaning. Enrenreich enjoyed an earlier career as a molecular biologist and her rational approach toward the examination of her experiences is priceless! The book speaks of the unspeakable in ways that defy easy or esoteric answers. As always Enrenreich’s considerable writing skills provide a compelling window into the human condition as she attempts to make meaning out of her experiences while steadfastly refusing to glorify her epiphanies. Will I doubt that either theists or atheists will be pleased with the book, those of us who are willing to live in the questions can’t help but applaud Enenreich’s courage!   Enjoy CBC’s Mary Hynes interview in which Enreneich exhibits her characteristic surliness that makes her writing so engaging and refreshing!

New Vision: Exciting and Terrifying – a sermon for Lent 4A John 9:1-41

First Reading:  “To See As God Sees” Meister Eckhart here

Second Reading: John 9:1-12   here

Gospel Reading: John 9:13-41 here

Today’s sermon includes a video clip from the short film Overview.

You can listen to the audio and watch the video clip from the “Overview” below.

Evolution: What Darwin Never Knew

Darwin never knewEarlier this week, way down in Texas, officials argued over science textbooks in what seems to be the never ending debate between biblical literalists and the rest of the world. In this stunningly beautiful video the wonders of creation are explored in ways that creatures ought to explore: with open minds and hearts. Most of us have a limited knowledge about theories of evolution, but as time goes by scientists are learning so much about what was once relegated to the realm of the unknowable. Science is sacred knowledge and those of us who haunt the religious realm would do well to explore the wealth of sacred knowledge that science is revealing.

What We Still Don’t Know: Martin Rees

What We Still Don’t Know: “Are We Alone?”, “Why Are We Here?”, “Are We Real?”, fascinating questions explored in three fascinating documentaries with Martin Rees. Lord Rees the Baron of Ludlow, is a cosmologist and astrophysicist who has been the Astronomer Royal since 1995 and the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.  With credentials like his, one might be wary of his ability to communicate with mere mortals. However Rees’ skill at communicating complex scientific concepts to non-scientific minds is remarkable. 

Unlike many of his colleagues, Rees does not shy away for mixing science and religion. “I would support peaceful co-existence between religion and science because they concern different domains,” Lord Rees said. “Anyone who takes theology seriously knows that it’s not a matter of using it to explain things that scientists are mystified by.”

The Convergence of Science and “Spirituality”

religion scienceDean Radin defines “spirituality” as an internal knowledge that there is something more and connecting with that more in a meaningful way. He asks whether science can begin to explore this connectivity and suggests that rather than a convergence of science and spirituality there will be a broadening of scientific perspective. 

“Radin PHD., is the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and teaches at Sonoma State University. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at AT&T Bell Labs, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program investigating psychic phenomena for the US government. He is author or coauthor of over 200 technical and popular articles, a dozen book chapters, and three books including the award-winning The Conscious Universe(HarperOne, 1997), Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006), and most recently, SUPERNORMAL (Random House, 2013).”

 

THINKING About GOD??? Philip Clayton

philip claytonOur Adult Study is currently being inspired by the new study program Painting the Stars (Living the Questions). Philip Clayton is one of the contributors to the program. Clayton is the Dean of Claremont School of Theology (Phd.  Yale – philosophy and religion) who is seeking the development of “a constructive Christian theology in dialogue with metaphysics, modern philosophy, and science.” Here are two short videos that provide an introduction to Clayton’s ideas. 

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/goVjgp73SgI?p=1 width=”550″ height=”443″]

Painting the Stars

The Friendship of Science and Religion

image“I also think we need to maintain distinctions – the doctrine of creation is different than scientific cosmology and we should resist the temptation, which sometime scientists give into, to try to assimilate the concepts of theology and the concepts of science.” (Pocklinghorne)

Years ago, while visiting Cambridge, I happened upon a lecture being given by John Pocklinghorne. Since then, I have felt compelled to read his work in an attempt to wrap my non-scientific mind around the complex relationship between science and religion. Pocklinghorne’s description of the relationship as one of friendship helped me to see beyond the all too often enforced boundaries between these two ways of seeking understanding reality.

Exploring Our Place in the Cosmos – Adult Education Class

living the questions bkBelow are the three video clips we used in class this morning as we continued our conversation about myth and making meaning.

Brian Swimme is a mathematical cosmologist with an uncanny ability to articulate the new story of our origins in ways that those of us unfamiliar with the breakthroughs in science can begin to understand. As science continues to revolutionize our understanding of who we are and where we are, the stories we tell to make meaning of life will also begin to change.  

Voices Bouncing Off the Moon

hatfield bareA beloved legend insists that Martin Luther brought popular music or drinking songs into the church. While the veracity of this legend is questionable, the truth of the sacred nature of music’s power to move us beyond ourselves toward communion with all that is continues to call forth new forms of worship.

This particular cosmic Canadian collaboration between astronaut Chris Hadfield, the Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson and Toronto’s Wexford Gleeks preforming I.S.S. (Is Someone Singing), positively exudes the sacred beauty of music’s power to open us to infinite possibility. I can’t help but wonder what new songs of praise might find their ways into our sanctuaries? 

CO-OPERATION and the ABILITY to FORM RELATIONSHIPS : ARE NECESSARY COMPONENTS OF EVOLUTION

In his newly published bestseller “Evolutionaries” Carter Phipps defines evolution as an idea that transcends biology.  Evolution says Phipps, “is better thought as a broad set of principles and patterns that generate novelty, change, and development over time.” He defines “Evolutionaries” as generalists willing to engage in cross-disciplinary thinking who have or are developing the ability to contemplate the vast timescales of our evolutionary history as they embody a new spirit of optimism.

Phipps cautions against leaning into Neo-Darwinism with its focus upon competition and the principle of the survival of the fittest as the driving forces behind evolution.  Instead, Phipps points to current biologists whose theories of symbiogenesis have shifted the scientific and cultural conversations about evolution from a focus on competition to a new appreciation of cooperation. “The spoils of evolution go not to the fastest or the smartest but to those who can find the best relationship between creative individuality and cooperative sociality.”

For those of us whose understanding of evolution is limited to our hastily studied and quickly forgotten high school biology classes, the word co-operation may not spring to mind when we think of evolution. Indeed, when thinking about our cultural evolution we all too often look to our violent past and point to the survival of the fittest to determine the ways and means by which humanity has evolved over time. But if as biologists insist, co-operation and the ability to form relationships are determinative factors in the evolution of species, we would do well not only to re-examine our history but also look toward the future with an eye toward improving our abilities to co-operate and form relationships, so as to help determine what we might become.

Phipps explains that, “Evolution happens at the edges. Evolution happens on the borders, the boundaries,  the in-between zones. This is true whether we are talking about nature or culture. It as the case in ancient glucose gradients that helped spur the creation of eukaryotic cells, as well as in the primordial mud between land and sea where scientists suggest that life first emerged.”

Inspired by Matthew Fox’s “Creation Spirituality” I have come to  believe that religious institutions must work to enable their adherents to take  seriously our call to be co-creators in the ongoing process of creation. Evolutionary thinkers like Phipps encourage me to wonder what role the church may or may not play in humanity’s need to foster co-operation and the ability to form relationships so that we might evolve into all that we are created to be??? 

Below is an interview that sheds more light on Carter Phipps’ evolutionary thinking. Enjoy!

A Creation Open to the Future: Jürgen Moltmann

 “In border zones between faith and science, when faith encounters series science it requires no defense, but only interest and curiosity.  The question about God and the question what holds nature together are not wholly divergent questions and they are not controversial.”   I will confess that Moltmann often hurts my brain and so I must read him carefully and listen attentively.  But he is always worth the effort.  He always sends me off on tangents I would never have discovered without his prompting.

Here, Moltmann insists that theology does not call into question the results of scientific research, but theology does set these results in the context of wider horizons of interpretation because theology has different questions.  

God and the Evolutionary Mind: The God Who Beckons

Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. What does evolution have to tell us about God?  Speaking in April 2012, Sister Joan explores the emerging connections between science, religion and spirituality to find new ways of speaking of about God. The God we know in 2012 is not the God we knew in years past.  We have all known and moved beyond many Gods. As our images of God fail us, we turn to the MYSTERY of God that no one wants: God the fullness of BEING.