Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Cross I Can Embrace

What follows is a summary of sorts by Richard Rhor about his discussion of many of the "theologies of the cross" in the book sited here at the end of the post. I highly recommend this book for those who are willing to think for themselves with a critical mind about their faith but beware, it will challenge much of what has been passed down to you. I find here a cross I can truly embrace. This theology of Duns Scotus makes much more sense to me than a loving God who requires blood in order for me to have a relationship with him/her.
To get the full import of what is being said here you may need to read the book.

A Bit of History 

In the thirteenth century, the 

Franciscans and the Dominicans 

were the church’s debating 

society, as it were. We were 

allowed to have minority 

positions in those day, which 

makes me think we have moved 

backward. We invariably took 

opposing positions in the great 

debates in the universities of 

Paris, Cologne, and Oxford, and neither opinion was kicked out of the church in those days. One of the debates was on St. Anselm’s famous and influential writing, Cur Deus Homo? (“ Why did God become a human being?”). St. Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans were being true to the Scriptures, many of which give you the impression that a ransom has to be paid to someone, and that atonement has to be made to God. They were just being faithful to Jewish temple metaphors of sacrifice, price, and atonement. But our Franciscan teacher Blessed John Duns Scotus, who established the theological chair at Oxford, said that Jesus wasn’t solving any problems with God. Jesus wasn’t changing God’s mind about us but, rather, he was changing our mind about God. Scotus built his argument much more on Colossians’ and Ephesians’ understanding of the preexistent Cosmic Christ. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God,” who came forward in a moment of time so we could look upon “the One we have pierced” and see God’s unconditional love— and at the same time see what humans do to almost everything— and then witness God and Jesus’ unconditional love-response to that. The image of the cross was to change us, not to change God, andso Scotus concluded that Jesus’ incarnation and death were not at all necessary:

Jesus was a pure gift, and the 

realm of gift is much better than 

the realm of necessity. We were 

not saved because of any problem 

whatsoever, or to pay any debt to 

devil or to God, but purely to 

reveal to the soul Divine Love. As 

usual, the Franciscans were 

right, but unfortunately we lost 

the debate, and the mainline 

Dominican position has been 

held by most Catholics and 

Protestants to this day, with a lot 

of sad results. Someone called it 

“the most unfortunately 

successful piece of Christian 

theology ever written,” because 

it implied that God was not 

naturally and unconditionally in 

love with what God created.

Rohr, Richard (2012-06-11). Lever and a Place to Stand, A: The Contemplative Stance, the Active Prayer (Kindle Locations 1274-1278). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Dear Family and Friends,

Brother David has been one of my mentors in my journey for several years. Like myself, he too has studied the Way of Zen, while maintaining his Christian identity.
Here are his thoughts about this season, taken from the website

A meaningful season to all who seek truth.


A Christmas Letter from Br. David Steindl-Rast

Monday, Dec. 24
Dear Reader,
This year i have the privilege to celebrate Christmas once more at a small monastery in a lovely lake region of my native Austria. In these surroundings and especially at this festive season i am surrounded by images from the Christian tradition. As in the days of my childhood, their language speaks to me and makes all my senses tingle with joy.

But nowadays i cannot help remembering that many people no longer understand that language. Can it be translated into a different idiom to make the insights and experiences it contains accessible? But then i realize: images need no translation; their language is universal. They speak to anyone who opens eyes and heart.

Central to Christmas is the image of the child. And doesn’t this image speak to every human heart?

How urgently we need the guiding image of the child in a world that has grown old. In one antiphon of the Christmas season we sing: “The old man carries the infant, but the infant guides the old man.” Although this refers to ancient Simeon taking the Christ-child in his arms, it always brings to my mind a little boy riding on the shoulders of his grandfather and guiding him by pulling now one ear, now the other.

Aging can be a process of “saging,” as my revered friend Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi points out, or else it can lead to fear and anxiety. Only a child’s trust can re-direct our fear-ridden society. Paralyzing fear or childlike trust – the choice is ours.

From fear springs violence – yes, not the other way around. Even a tiny mouse will attack when it gets frightened enough and can’t flee. Fear invented wars, weapons, and all the violence weapons can cause – all the way to the recent carnage in Connecticut that makes the mind reel with outrage and sorrow.

From fear springs arrogance – from the frightened toad that inflates itself to impress an aggressor to a display of conspicuous consumption that thinly veils the fear of being outdone by a neighbor.

From fear springs greed – beginning with a sense of scarcity (“Will there be enough for my wants?”) and ending with exploitation and economic collapse.

No wonder, then, that violence, arrogance, and greed disfigure our fearful society. No wonder we long for the world of the fearless child, the world of non-violence, mutual respect, and joyful sharing.

To let the child-in-you guide you – by the ears, if necessary – toward building this new world, this is what i wish you most of all for 2013. It will take courage, strength, and wisdom, but – ”fear not!” – together we can do it. Let us run with grateful joy toward the opportunities a new year holds out to us.

Your brother David

Saturday, December 15, 2012

For The Little Ones