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Thursday, January 19, 2012

More on love...

Another quote from Radical Optimism following on from yesterday's post:

"Love can't be required. In spite of the language in which our tradition speaks to us, you can't really command people to love.

... That is why the abundance of "salvation" has to come first. First, learn to relax the ego-defenses by fully accepting God's unconditional sustaining love; then enter into the Trinitarian Life of shared personal love energies; and finally, manifest that life by incarnating it into the workaday world. To make this last step, of unselfish behavior in the world, the condition for meriting the first step, the reception of God's love, is completely erroneous because quite impossible.

This is where we have made things so difficult and miserable for ourselves. We have tried to make ourselves believe we have to do something we can't do. This is why preaching against sin and punishing misbehavior have so little effect. They don't reach the root of the trouble, the belief that we are not loved, are not safe, don't have enough being.

Our most important task in the manifestation phase of contemplative life is, in my view, to correct this terrible error. We must preach and practice God's abundant, unconditional love. This is the truth of God's nature, the fulfillment of our own nature, and the rescue of our fellow beings."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Salvation through Love

Some of my favourite writers on spiritual growth and contemplative practice often quote Beatrice Bruteau. Until recently I had never read anything of hers myself. I'm now immersed in her book Radical Optimism and I can see why she is so widely quoted. Her chapter Sin and Salvation is eye opening in its perspective on those two central realities of the Christian faith. Here's an extended quote from that chapter:

" It is sometimes said that the root of sin is wanting to be God in your own right. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be divine. After all, there is nothing God wants more than to share the fulness of divine life with us. But it's that "in your own right" that betrays the distrust of any donor of divine life. One who feels this way is convinced that the only way to be safe is to control everything oneself. This isn't pride. This is fear. Terrible, rock-bottom existential fear. And just as love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), so fear arises only from belief in lack of love...

Salvation through Love
It is true, though strange to say, that most people resist being loved. But God is persistent. God is patient and does not give up. God leaves ninety-nine sheep in the fold and goes after the one that is lost until he finds it and brings it back. God sweeps the house clean and searches for the lost coin until she finds it. People who have been hurt are very distrustful; they cannot easily believe that someone loves them unconditionally. They fear it is a trick, or that things will change, or that it's not really unconditional but actually imposes an enormous obligation of gratitude (we encourage that one you know, even while claiming that God's love is unconditional) or that somehow there is a diminishment in being a recipient.

All this comes from not understanding the nature of unconditional, creative love, that is addressed to the true self which transcends all descriptions. And institutionalized religion hasn't always helped us understand. It has often represented God's love, or even approbation, as highly conditioned. This naturally terrifies people. God has to work a long time to overcome these fears, this distrust but this willingness on God's part to wait and keep trying is the divine mercy, or pity. Nor is death a cut-off, after which it is too late and God has to give up. God never gives up, but pursues people forever, hoping to convince them that they are unconditionally loved. This is God's radical optimism!

So I believe that if we try to penetrate this mystery and understand what evil is and how it arises, then we will be in a better position to try to do something about it by offering people unconditional love - the only thing that really works. And even it works only if it is believed and accepted. But preaching against sin, meditating on how bad it is, remorse and punishment - none of these gets at the root of it, the lack of love; on the contrary they increase the stress, the tension, the sense of danger and injury.

We can move from a sinful life to a life of divine love only after we ourselves have thoroughly accepted God's unconditional love. Preaching and meditation therefore should be directed to that. And we should be careful to stress the un-conditional. Not: God loves us if we are obedient, or if we believe, or if we join the right church, or if anything, or as anything, or with reference to anything. And we are not to feel guilty over not fully accepting God's love. That's a back door way of reintroducing the sense of condition."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Do you know what TPPA means?

If not - then you may want to check it out. Here is one paragraph from the January 9th update on the TPP watch site that explains it all and why there are major concerns:

"The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade and investment agreement [TPPA] poses a serious threat to many aspects of New Zealand’s future, but very few kiwis are aware that it is being negotiated, let alone what it might mean. In December 2011 representatives from more 20 groups from trade unions, environmentalists, churches, Maori, IT, authors, public health and development sectors met at a workshop convened by TPPWatch, CAFCA, NZ Not for Sale and TPP Action Group.to discuss concerns about the implications of the TPPA and strategies to promote debate about the agreement."

One of the things that is most concerning is that the details of what this agreement entails are being kept secret. Here is another paragraph from the update:

"Governments remain committed to obsessive secrecy

Leaks of draft texts and papers are the only real information we have about these negotiations. Despite national and international letters from organisations representing millions of people, the 9 governments have agreed that no draft texts or background documents will be released until four years after the negotiations are concluded or collapse. That means no governments can be held accountable while they are in office for the trade-offs they have made. Moves to hold more informal negotiations take away the already superficial opportunities for  “stakeholder” interaction with the delegations. The National-led government blocked a petition for the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee to hear submissions on the likely implications of the agreement."