Thursday, October 24, 2013

Do Real Horror...Not Silly Left Behind Stuff...

It all started for me with Bewitched...following that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, Charmed, American Horror Story (Asylum), American Horror Story (Coven), and every incarnation of Dracula...and as disturbing as some might find my taste in entertainment to be, its still no where near as yucky or ridiculous as the Left Behind Series! If you're going to do dark and edgy, just do it; don't try to make it "religious" by wrapping it in a psuedo-literalistic reading of the ancient and highly metaphorical book of Revelation!!!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Friday, October 04, 2013

New Thought Spirituality

This video from 2010 was promoting that year's INTA Congress. The chat about New Thought and our ecumenical community is still interesting and soul-nourishing. Conversation with Dr Christopher Bazemore.

Reflection: St Francis

"My God and my all." St Francis of Assisi 
St Francis' affirmation makes for a very convenient spiritual exercise. We can use the phrase "My God and my all" as a Lectio Divina exercise...(1) Reading or reciting the phrase slowly, then (2) meditating on what the phrase means to us or what a word or part of the phrase brings to mind for us, then (3) asking questions of the insight that has come to us (dissecting it, deconstructing it, probing it, arguing with it, trying to see it from a variety of angles), and then finally (4) releasing it all while slipping into deep Silence beyond discursive thinking.
"My God and my all."

Another way to use St Francis' phrase is as a mantra. Simply say over and over for several minutes non-stop, "My God and my all, my God and my all, my God and my all, my God and my all, my God and my all..." Soon, we'll find ourselves in a meditative state letting the words wash over us while our deeper Selves simply commune with the Infinite. The words may plant themselves deeply in our subconscious minds where they will later sprout as spiritual insight or profound optimism, or they may simply serve as a screen to keep out distracting thoughts so that we can immerse ourselves in abundant peace.

Finally, St Francis' statement can serve as a simple theological observation. Believing that Life is infinite, that the Life-force is omnipresent and enfolds, flows through, and expresses as every life, that the "Ground of being" is the All-in-all (and All-as-all), that there is one divine, universal Presence and Power which many of us call "God," can be simply summed up in the words, "My God and my all." It is a simple and still powerful reminder of supreme Omnipresence, the Light within all life, the Source of life that includes all life, that fills all space and is everywhere fully and evenly present. As we often say, "there's not a spot where God is not." But before our catchy rhyme, St Francis said, "My God and my all."

Today is the Feast Day of St Francis. Often we use this day to give thanks for our pets and for the opportunity to care for them and we wish them long lives of contentment. We think of animals because Francis is said to have honored all life and to have ministered to animals as well as people.

Beyond the tradition of blessing animals, let's remember that Francis was a simple cleric who saw and served God in all life. He was aware of the Omnipresence and remembering him today can help us acknowledge and commune with the Omnipresence as well.

There's not a spot where God is not.
My God and my all!
 - Durrell Watkins,  MA, MDiv, DMin

You Die & Then What?

&A with Dr Durrell Watkins
     Question: What is your understanding of where we "go" after death?  When someone dies, invariably people will say, he or she is now in heaven, but then what is the reference to the second coming of Christ when the dead will rise?  
     Answer: I know that energy can't be destroyed, it only changes form; so, I assume the energy of consciousness is also never-ending. As a person of faith, I trust that life is somehow never-ending. Beyond that, I probably don't know any more than you do.
     During Jesus' execution, a fellow rebel who is being killed next to him reportedly says, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Realm," and Jesus responds, " you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23.42-43). Luke also has Jesus telling a parable about a poor man who suffered in life but who, after death, was "carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham [& Sarah, & presumably Hagar]" (Luke 16.22).
     Luke is writing at least 50 years (and some scholars think as many as 90 years) after the crucifixion of Jesus. The Apostle Paul, only about 25 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, writes, "...we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep; for the Lord...will come down from the heavens, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are...left, will be caught up together in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4.15-17). Luke's idea seems to be that consciousness survives death immediately, while Paul, at least in his early writings, suggests that maybe those who die are simply resting and will be raised back to life later.
     Paul believed that Jesus would return to earthly life in his lifetime. So, the resting period, in Paul's mind, wouldn't have been a long one. Decades later, when Luke is writing, no such "second coming" had occurred, and so Luke may be rethinking the issue. In any case, Paul and Luke have different ideas of how consciousness survives death; what they both believe is that consciousness does survive death.
     Paul and Luke are each making his best guess, but what happens beyond this life is a mystery to us until we experience it. What the writers are saying is that the value of our lives is not limited to our earthly years, but as far as what is next, we may just have to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5.7). What we can trust is that life is good and sacred and that its importance is not limited to the years we spend on this earth. That's pretty "heavenly" regardless of how it plays out.     

 {This Q&A was first published on July 20th, 2008 in The Sun Burst, Sunshine Cathedral's weekly newsletter}