The tragic events Friday in Connecticut bring with them a panoply of emotions; everything from grief to anger to fear to shock. As humans we want to understand and we often think that means dissecting the life of the shooter to either find some shred of humanity and some emotional resonance so that we can relate in some small way or find something defective in his chemical makeup that makes him so far from us that we don’t have to imagine someone like him sitting on our continuum of humanity.
We don’t need to be a priest or rabbi or imam or monk or a red cross worker or a social worker to make a difference–we just have to be open to God’s presence in our lives and listen to the call to be and make kingdom rise out of this broken and painful world. And every time we do that, we resurrect ourselves and God in this world.
Why am I bringing up a bunch of monastics from the third century A.D.? Because I see so many parallels and dangers inside our own form of empire and so many elements of faith corrupted by the need for polarized absolutes which allow no room for questions and definitely no space for grace. I find myself, for the first time in my life, having a particularly personal empathy for the plight of the desert monks and nuns. I can understand wanting to leave the center of civilization to keep one’s connection to faith, soul, and God.
In my last article I discussed The Wild Goose Festival as a paradigm shift. Now I want to explore the shift in a greater, and lengthier context as I lead into describing (in coming articles) the way it is informing and being informed by a larger global culture, a larger spiritual and religious culture, and shifts within all which also lead to increased conversations within and outside of all current contexts of identity. We are restructuring the world, in tiny steps so small that it is often hard to see at the micro-level.
In describing the Wild Goose Festival, I have been telling people it is “like Woodstock for God.” I am finding that I am not the only person using that frame of reference to try to explain this phenomenon that is festival, but more.
Thinking about politics and wars and the big systemic problems always leads me back to thinking about human behavior, and social behavior. Maybe it is the psychotherapist in me — always analyzing the world around me from a psychological and behavioral stance. So, thinking about leadership and the things we bow down to lead me to think about the human psychology of want, envy, fear, and power and the spiritual and psychological question that comes when we pause to get a distance view of Western culture. Which I think, also, ends up being a spiritual issue of western culture.
“Hope in a Prison Of Despair”, a Public Domain Image c/o Wikimedia
I have been watching the crisis between the nuns or “women religious” (as they are known) and the Catholic Church in Rome I am confounded–and I am not easily made to confound. It seems as though the people who have made Catholicism more appealing and friendly in the last couple of decades are the people being denigrated for those appealing characteristics of loving and caring for others. I kept wondering what I wanted to write my first Tikkun Daily post on, as the Huffington Post crowded my overstuffed mailbox day after day with of headlines containing the words “nuns” and “Vatican.” So with a smile and a shrug I said, “Ok, God, I get it. I’ll write this blog post.”