Behold the Spirit: The Necessity of Mystical Religion by Alan Watts
Initial Question(s): Can I discover what has my father found so influent...moreBehold the Spirit: The Necessity of Mystical Religion by Alan Watts
Initial Question(s): Can I discover what has my father found so influential about this book that he keeps coming back to it? What might I relate to as I read?
Behold the Spirit was an invigorating, thought provoking read about taking the incarnation of Jesus seriously. Taking the incarnation seriously means, as I paraphrase Watts, to see that union with God has already been established in creation - God has taken this first and permanent step in love. Humanity's goal or life purpose then is to become awakened to this already-present grace of God's presence and love.
The tenor of the book (and what I resonated with and believe my father might resonate with also) is that the institutional state of Christianity is more often focused on propagating or preserving itself than living into this reality - as in: the goal is to grow church membership and increase congregational activity, but little time and energy is spent on living into the present reality of God's unifying love which is already present, un-earned; it's a love that is longing for us to wake up to it so we can more and more fully live with God in the here and now.
Behold the Spirit weaves in an out of other mind-filling questions and ideas, as well as projections that Christians might look to Eastern culture and see there a capacity for living in the here and now in a way that the incarnation suggests.
Do I agree? Yes - I think what we see in Jesus as we read the Gospels is much of the time not very "Western" (however hard that is for us Westerners to hear). Many of Jesus' rhythms are something we'd find more akin to today's Eastern cultures (generally) - which means I think we in the West should approach Jesus in the Gospels first and from that, ask ourselves, "How can we step into this life of salvation and who or what can help us practice that way?"
My greatest "take away" from the book: The "mystical" life is not the crazy or esoteric fanaticism many imagine but rather an awakened ("whoever has eyes to see"), un-earned, received grace to live with and within God in the present moment - and to see that such a moment is the chief purpose of life; it is quite simply coming to see that the Kingdom of God is truly already present - God is here: Live.(less)
A clip of Nouwen mixed with a Redemptorist written prayer and idea for action - a simple way to engage the heart, priming the inner person toward the...moreA clip of Nouwen mixed with a Redemptorist written prayer and idea for action - a simple way to engage the heart, priming the inner person toward the depths of Advent's meaning.
I read this sparingly this hear, a little now and then. It was the ideas for action that captivated me most this time around. (less)
I read Nouwen like I listened to the stories of my grandparents: I want to carry the family likeness. I want to receive these stories, these words, in...moreI read Nouwen like I listened to the stories of my grandparents: I want to carry the family likeness. I want to receive these stories, these words, into the depths of my being and live from that source.
Each day's reading in *Bread for the Journey* is a short letter of sorts, a little note to live by. They're small reminders that say, "Don't forget who you are and the family who is with you."
The daily sections are short and easy to read; they're a wonderful way to start the day. In my case, I read them beside Scripture and prayer and let Henri's words weave the life of Scripture and prayer together. For me, it's like I'm watching my grandfather live the spiritual life and speak about it right beside me, every morning. I read Scripture and then hear his voice, his thoughts before dawn.(less)
Roethke's gift is how his words can stop time. I found myself in a still place with a stopped watch with many of his poems. I loved staying there for...moreRoethke's gift is how his words can stop time. I found myself in a still place with a stopped watch with many of his poems. I loved staying there for a while before being called back for sip of coffee. This ability to stop time and so smoothly open my soul to a particular place is what I qualify as the trait of the best poetry.(less)
I opened the cover to learn a few things, some inner workings of poetry from someone who knows what she's talki...moreA joy to read! What an unexpected joy.
I opened the cover to learn a few things, some inner workings of poetry from someone who knows what she's talking about, I'd heard.
This science book of poetry with its categories and definitions was not a dissection process. It was a guided observation and Oliver was pointing out the details, the unnoticed beauties to me a novice as we watched these poems out in the wild.(less)
The Rule of Saint Benedict: A Contemporary Paraphrase by St. Benedict of Nursia (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
Initial Question: What wisdom can I, a Luthe...moreThe Rule of Saint Benedict: A Contemporary Paraphrase by St. Benedict of Nursia (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
Initial Question: What wisdom can I, a Lutheran teacher, glean from St. Benedict; and, can this wisdom find a home within my context?
Answer & Reaction: Yes.
There's something about Benedict that I keep returning to. It's the rhythm of his Rule, which at times makes no sense in my context, that I find an excellent guide.
The goal of the Christian life, as I see it, is to become increasingly less resistant to the Spirit of God who is at work, conforming us to the image of the Son. Benedict's Rule is something I think can help cultivate that decreased resistance - though some have rightly said that following a Rule of some kind could also deflate attention from obedience to the Gospel and onto a man-made tradition.
So: the Rule has a purpose - the cultivation of the human soul (the summation of the human person). It's a preparatory element, not a goal.
With this all said, there's not much in the Rule that you could say isn't directly from the Gospel narratives. This in itself is what causes the Rule to be a preferential piece to a lot of systematic material which does a lot of conjecturing and pinning down of God, but rarely asks the question, "If Jesus said this then how do we live it out in our community?"
What has become most formative for me from the Rule is a collection of the Rule's elements:
The Elements of Benedict's Rule
Scripture. Stability (Community / Church - sacred people). Obedience (Humility). Conversion of Life. Prayer (sacred time). Hospitality. Sacred Simplicity Work (sacred space)
These alone provide an excellent framework with which to cultivate a life of vulnerability to God's Spirit at work within us in community.(less)