June Books

    Resisting Structural Evil - Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation by Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda discusses the structural evil we all participate in, gives hope for the future and reminds us we are not alone in the healing of the world, the source of creation is working with us. When humans can see with ’critical mystical vision’ the union of Spirit and humans is at work. 

    Since structural evil is created by humans, it must be stopped by humans. To do this, privileged people need to change their consumptive way of life to promote sustainable life for all. The structural sin is not individual but embedded in the system. Christianity is culpable in creating this uneven economic system but is also capable of offering hope for change.     Moe-Lobeda looks into the ethics of the system, she defines ethics as: “disciplined inquiry into or study of morality.” (17) 

    Moe-Lobeda argues that the affluent in the US are morally responsible to be not only aware of the damage caused by over consumption, but are obligated to find ways to change.  The poor and people of color around the world are suffering most, again a sign of white supremacy and privilege.  Capitalism is not a viable way of life for continued sustainability for life on earth. 

    Moe-Lobeda identifies five theological problems that allow structural evil to continue: humans action is uncreating the good life force that was in the beginning, the earth is being crucified by human greed, etc., as we desecrate the planet we are unable to see God in creation,  if humans are created in the image of God we may be an endangered species, and the great commandment to love God and neighbor cannot happen when humans are participating in actions that show no love. Knowledge of what humans are doing is not enough, a true turning from participating in structural evil is necessary but extremely difficult to detect when we are in the midst of the system causing the damage. 

    Moe-Lobeda calls for critical vision as opposed to acquiescing  to a structurally violent system without seeing or questioning it. She gives many case studies and examples of people and places that have suffered from structural violence. Large corporations are seen as individuals under the law that was passed in the late 1800s, so there are many things they do legally that are immoral.  This law needs to be amended for the survival of the planet. 

    The chief theological reason that calls Christians to change is our mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is not easy or simple, it does not require warm emotions, but it does require commitment and work. It does require a critical mystical vision.  The author gives a systematic ethical argument for why we love and how we  love, and who and what we are called to love. This pertains to economic life also,  and she gives a four part vision that enables change and life - the vision must be “ecologically sustainable, environmentally equitable,  economically equitable, and democratic.” (203) She carefully defines each term.

    Citizens in the north, citizens who control most of the wealth and use most of the resources need to shift their priorities from wealth making to sustainability.  She gives a moral framework with the hope that since humans have made the problem, humans are also the solution to the problem. Religious groups can incorporate this moral framework in their teachings and worship. The sacraments can open our eyes to this critical mystical vision. 

    Many examples, resources, websites, books, etc. are given to help people make the changes we need to create sustainable life and to resist the ecological violence we are perpetrating.  

    

    

Spiritual Practice for April - Joy & Laughter

Sometimes the winter seems like it is never going to end in the Adirondacks. In fact, the other night the wind was howling, the snow was falling and we woke up to 15 degrees. But it's April! So the weather is always playing tricks on us, and what can you do but enjoy it with a good joke. This month we will be practicing laughter - isn't that appropriate for a month that has Easter and April's Fools Day on the same day!

Spiritual Practice for March - Watching the Wind

I don't know about you, but I love to watch the wind. When some trees are dancing and others are just standing there all still and serene, it is a mystery. A famous verse says, "the wind blows where it will, you know not where it's coming from or where it's going to." John 3:8 The wind has secrets to tell us.

"In the Semitic languages such as Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic, there is a delightful word which means breath, breeze, spirit or Holy Spirit... showing how our ancient predecessors saw and understood the intimate connections of these different aspects of breath.

"In his book Hebraic Tongue Restored, Fabre D'Olivet says that the ancient Semitic root of the Hebrew ruach, and Arabic ruh is: Every idea of expansion and aerial dilation: wind, breath, soul, spirit: that which moves, stirs, animates, inspires or transports" John Wilde

So let us be attentive to the wind this month as our practice. Watch Facebook for postings on the wind.

Spiritual Practice for February - Compassion

February 1st - "The second element of try love is compassion. This is not only the desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so." - Thich Nhat Hanh in True Love

February 2nd “True compassion does not come from wanting to help those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings. -- Pema Chödrön in Start Where You Are Thank you John Wilde for the quote

February 3rd This is a picture of a poster of two adults who have been in some sort of disagreement (they are the wire people) and their true selves - the inner children are reaching for each other. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (from John Wilde's compassion collection.)

February 4th “The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so, do that which best stirs you to love.” -- Saint Teresa of Avila (thanks to John Wilde for the quote)

February 5th - “God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.” -- Desmond Tutu (thank you John Wilde for the quote)

February 6th - BJ, Sarah and I spent some time this afternoon trying to get a piece of plastic off a deer's nose. He finally got it off himself, but we were all trying to help. "“True compassion is not just an emotional response, but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change, even if they behave negatively. Through universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.” -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Thanks to John Wilde for the quote)

February 7th - “Every step in evolution makes life more valuable. The more evolved you are, the more priceless is every moment; it becomes an opportunity for you to do good to others, to serve others, to give love to others, to be gentle to others, to give your sympathy to souls who are longing and hungering for it. Life is miserable when a person is absorbed in himself.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan (thanks to John Wilde for the quote)

February 8th - Every kind of power lies in this one thing which we call by the simple name: love. Charity, generosity, kindness, affection, endurance, tolerance, and patience -- all these words are different aspects of one; they are different names of only one thing: love. Whether it is said, 'God is love,' or whatever name is given to it, all the names are the names of God; and yet every form of love, every name for love, has its own peculiar scope, has a peculiarity of its own. Love as kindness is one thing, love as tolerance is another, love as generosity is another, love as patience another; and yet from beginning to end it is just love. – Hazrat Inayat Khan

February 9th - “Compassion is the … capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” -- Frederick Buechner in Beyond Words

February 10th - Isn't this a great quote - and a great way to share compassion with the world. “I wake up in the morning asking myself what can I do today, how can I help the world today.” -- Julia Butterfly Hill (thank you John Wilde for the quote)

February 11th - Our deer with the broken leg is getting along pretty well. I think she is being compassionately cared for by the neighborhood. “What ultimately counts is the openness of our hearts ... Love gives us the sensitivity to see and hear others and compels us to be aware, to respond to what we see and hear. ... In every situation, the Spirit is calling us to love, to understand everything with the heart. Love calls to us in the homeless, the hungry, the stranger; the prisoner, and the abandoned child, the forgotten elderly, the ill and the dying, the unloved and unwanted. Do you hear its call?” -- Wayne Teasdale in The Mystic Hours (thanks to John Wilde for the quote)

Spiritual Practice for January - Thanksgiving Examen

"Energy follows attention...wherever you focus your attention is where the energy of your body, mind and spirit goes." - Louis M. Savary

This month we will be practicing the Thanksgiving Examen.  Each day (I prefer to review the day before I go to sleep)  you are invited to look at all the things that happened during the day for which you are thankful. As Louis M. Savary explains in his book The New Spiritual Exercises: "if you focus on the giving and receiving of love, your thinking will change for the better. If you focus on thinking good thoughts, your heart will grow more love."

You can mentally review your day, or you can journal about what you are thankful for. You may even do this simply at the dinner table with your family, talking about what happened during the day that you are thankful for. If you'd like a more in-depth explanation of the Examen, contact Naomi.  

 

November is Journal Writing Month

Every November my son participates in  national novel writing month, it is a challenge and many people participate on-line. So this month, I'm challenging you, and myself to journaling every day - or as many days as you can. As in any practice, it is important to be gentle with yourself.

What do you write in a journal? Well it's up to you, you can talk about the weather, you can write out letters to people who are no longer with us, but who we wish we could talk to, you can write out your prayers.

“Write to yourself about your life path. What do you know about where you are coming from and where you are going?” - Life’s Companion by Christina Baldwin 

“We learn to live consciously through becoming aware of inner and outer events as they are happening. Building a conscious self means becoming increasingly aware of inner evens, bodily events and interpersonal needs. A conscious self is able to experience in full awareness all the distinctly different components of the self, including feelings, needs, drivers and values. A conscious self lives consciously."- Gershen Kaufman/Lev Raphael, The Dynamics of Power

September is Blessings Month

You may think that a blessing is something you get at the end of a church service, or in the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures where we read of the many times that people receive blessings from God or from others. Or you may know that you say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes. This month we will be reflecting on the blessings of the earth. 

    Star attended an organic farming conference, and was in a workshop that talked about blessings as they walked around a garden, and then I met new friend and colleague who reminded me of Jan L. Richardson who writes about blessings. She says:  “An ancient literary form, a blessing is a distinctive constellation of words designed to call upon and convey God’s deepest desire for our wholeness and well-being, both individually and in community.” Richardson, Jan. Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons (Kindle Locations 108-109). Wanton Gospeller Press. Kindle Edition. 

    So this month our spiritual practice is blessing. I will post some by Richardson, and John O’Donahue and then you are invited to write some and send them in. 

    “…a blessing is a channel of the Divine, a profound means of grace that has the capacity to open our eyes so that we might recognize and receive the help of the One who created us in love and whose deepest desire for us is that we be whole.” Richardson, Jan. Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons (Kindle Locations 118-119). Wanton Gospeller Press. Kindle Edition. 

    If you don’t have Facebook and would like this practice emailed to you, please contact me. 

 

August is Herb Month

There are many herbs growing in our gardens. This is a picture of the infamous chocolate mint. The many herbs in our garden have a lot to offer besides spicing up our food. Just sitting among the herbs can bring peace and calm, or energy and joy. What are your favorite herbs? On Facebook this month we will be talking about herbs. Send in your favorites.