This is more of a personal post not really tech related, so be warned.
I just got done doing my Easter celebration. I went for a run with my dog while the moon was still shining over the bay and the sun was just starting rise. After so much foul weather the beautiful Spring morning in freshly scrubbed air felt sacred. But I was also listening to a discussion on my IPod from one of my favorite NPR programs Open Source Radio. My IPod lets me time shift lots of audio content. There. That’s my tech talk for today.
Specifically, I listened to a discussion of the book “What Jesus Meant” with the author Garry Wills and others. It was an ‘enlightening’ discussion and gave me a great deal to think about regarding Jesus and religion in general.
I am a recovering Catholic. That is, I was raised Catholic, attended catechism and Catholic summer school with the nuns (there was no regular Catholic school in the small town were I grew up). But for many years I have been among what polls have indicated is the small minority of people who do not consider themselves to be Christian in this country. I am surrounded, then by people who take the Christian faith seriously. My wife and daughter belong to a large evangelical church. Even so, I remain highly skeptical of organized religion of any kind.
On the other hand, I have always been highly curious about spirituality and the history of religion. I have read widely on a variety of Eastern and Western religions and spiritual practices. I’m not a scholar by any means. More of a dilettante. Regarding the Christian tradition, though, I have read enough about the history of the bible and the formation of the religion to understand how much human politics have muddied the waters in attempting to appreciate the teachings of Jesus.
But on days like this (not religious holidays, necessarily, just days where the world and my soul feel united if only for a few moments) I feel connected to something spiritual. I feel it physically and I feel a lifting and brightening of what I can only describe as spirit. And that is enough for me. Except for this post (which is highly uncharacterisitc for me) I do not talk about my spirituality with others, and feel highly uncomfortable with public displays of religious beliefs (as when I occasionally attend a church service).
So, this brings me roundabout back to the show on “What Jesus Meant” – and did not mean. According to Wills, Jesus was about transcendant spirituality. He was not about using religious affiliation as a political cudgel. And it is only in this private and transcendant tradition that can I feel a direct connection to Christ on this day that celebrates his personal transcendance.
Technorati Tags: easter jesus garry wills
“Post-Catholics” is less pejorative. Thus I stand by the phrase “recovering” although it is said with a sense of humour, not bitterness.
LOL re “recovering Catholic.” Back in grad school I was in a sociology of religion group that included ex-priests, Jews, a couple of WASPS for balance, some no-longer-practicing but still theorizing Catholic theologians, and numerous Marxists (these were not mutually exclusive categories obviously). Those of raised in the Church of Rome generally referred to ourselves as “post-Catholics,” which seems to me less pejorative than “recovering.”
Agreed on that. Rapture is not a valid exit strategy, either in our personal lifes, or in Iraq and the Middle East. I think the end times, as described in Revelations, if interpreted narrowly, could already have happened with the end of the roman empir; Or if interpreted broadly, could refer to the end of the planet billions of years from now, when our sun, at the end of its life, turns into a red giant and then eats up our tiny blue dot. my guess, if it refers to either, it refers to the latter.
if we back up a bit, what is amazing about genesis is that the story, which as you know was kicking around in myth form in much of the ancient world at the time, is strikingly accurate when compared to modern science. no, not the 4,000-year-old earth bit. but the bit about darkness, then light, then the sun and earth, then the plants, then the animals, and finally man. the progression parrallels what we know about the big bang and evolution. how did they know this without modern science! somehow this information is ingrained in us. and if the ancient sages could tap into that, there’s no reason they couldn’t tap into the future too. revelations in some ways describes (e.g., boiling waters) what would happen when the sun expands and bakes Earth, an inevitable result of stellar evolution in about 4 billion years, most astronomers agree.
I do like to imagine that technology/science and spirituality are heading toward the same goal. And much of what I read about quantum mechanics and the nature of the universe sounds like zen koans.
But I am certainly not a believer in the imminent end of times. We still have a long path ahead, both individually and collectively.
Do you really think the Internet can help transform the world into a noosphere? I ask because it seems that there are various schools of thought to approach the subject of a growing collective and compassionate world conciousness — Kundalini Yoga Practice, Transcendental Meditation, even the Rapture Welcomers are addressing the same subject, that is, that the good ol planet Earth is going to h e double toothpick in a handbasket, unless something dramatic happens to how we go about stewarding the planet and our minds. I ask about the Net, because it seems most of the other Noosphere reaching avenues have explicit or implicit biases against technology, considering it one of the symptoms of our sick planet times, and have stated or unstated assumptions that non-technological means, i.e., praying, meditating, hoping, will bring about the new era. Do you think tech and non-tech means can fuse together?
wow. the net as path to noosphere. interestin. i’ve tried to read english translations of teilhard a bit, but have struggled mightily. i wonder if modern translations would help strugglers like me, given that his works were translated many decades ago. incidentally, i have physically experienced the noosphere. sort of. my father the ex-priest is a sculpture, and one of his works was a giant cast metal abstract geometrical shape, which my twin and i played on as a kid. it was called noosphere.
Thanks for your comments! I am aware of Teilhard de Chardin and his concepts of the noosphere and the omega point. I’ve often imagined the Internet as a leap forward in the manifestation of the noosphere.
As a fellow recovering Catholic, I can completely relate to your skepticism about the role of organized religion.
As someone who, subsequently during a life crisis, experienced the transcendent and personal nature of Jesus Christ in my life, I can completely relate to how you experienced Jesus on the bay.
Interesting. That you felt you did at sunrise, the same time that two humble women were the first to find an empty tomb, on the same day, well symbolically at least, 2k years ago.
As a defacto member of the church of modern science and rationality for years, I never thought I’d feel the way I do about Jesus. But once one is free of the need for personal consistency in one’s personality, that is, the implicit belief that everything we believe must not contradict anything else we believe, it’s amazing what a relief it is. Kind of like the American Indian that grows up and goes to medical school at Harvard, and returns to his reservation to become a medicine man. The new and the old. The rational and the irrational.
It’s friggin awesome. BTW, as a recovering Catholic, who connects with Christ through the natural body that is the Earth, you may be interested in Teilhard de Chardin, an obscure Jesuit priest, silenced by Rome, and his almost panthesist belief that Christ will not come again as an individual, but as the collective love conciousness of life as it evolves on Earth.
Anyway, love your blog. Gotta get back to my taxes.