Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dirt-stained Jesus shows us how to live soulfully

Author and speaker, Sally Morgenthaler introduces ideas about, "A More Soulful Religion" at Gifted for Leadership: A community for Christian women, with quotes from Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul, including Moore’s observation,
"Tradition teaches that soul is in the middle (between the material and the spiritual) holding together mind and body, ideas and life, spirituality and the world. And it remains patiently in the present, close to life as it presents itself day by day..."
Morgenthaler imagines a more soulful approach within Christianity:
"The Jesus we see in the Gospels seems so very soulful. Present and close to life. At ease with the dust on his sandals, between his toes, embedded in his clothes. So amazingly earthy as he mixes dirt with spit and rubs it on the blind man’s eyes. If soul is midway between the non-material and the material, then I guess Jesus would come by that naturally. Incarnation is, after all, the ultimate meeting of the two.

As I muse about the Church in this era and how those outside its doors seem to be craving a dustier God, I wonder how long we can keep offering the distant, sanitized, unreachable Jesus. The Jesus sanitized and removed by moralism, finger-pointing politics and big-top shows. I suppose it’s easier and safer to offer this floating, disconnected version of God. If we offered the connected, dirt-stained Jesus, we might have to follow suit. We might actually have to stay close, be present, and meet people where they are. Soulfully. Entering the mess and embracing people in the midst of darkness and light, mingled."
Her conclusions also echo Thomas Moore. She says,
"... my search for a more soulful Christ-following must begin with me. I may teach pastors, consult with churches, and write about what congregations need to be doing now that the world has turned on its end. But am I really leading a dusty, spittle-mixed-with-dirt life?

It is time that my own faith becomes more imagination than mental reduction; more human, humane, and therefore, gracious; more poetry than principle."

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Daily monasticism while living in the world

In today’s post about daily reflections at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, PA, at Light through Stain-Glassed Windows, Susan Doubet OSB quotes Thomas Moore’s Meditations: On the Monk who Dwells in Daily Life about transformations of religion, including Moore's observation:
"I see religion moving toward a diminishing of dogma,
authority, membership, and belief
and an increase in everyday ritual,
poetic theology, social engagement,
guidance in contemplation, and care of the soul."
Doubet's October 25 post gives authors and titles of books about incorporating monastic approaches in daily life. She lists:

How to be a monastic and not leave your day job
Brother Benet Tvedten, 2006

The monk in the world: cultivating a spiritual life
Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber, 2003

Finding sanctuary: monastic steps for everyday life
Abbot Christopher Jamison, 2006

The Family cloister: Benedictine wisdom for the home
David Robinson, 2000

Illuminated life: monastic wisdom for seekers of light
Joan Chittister, 2000

Monk Habits for Everyday People:
Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants

Dennis Okholm, 2007 (Foreword by Kathleen Norris)