The Role of Inner Awakening in Compassionate Action: The Worldview of Wisdom Teacher Cynthia Bourgeault

I’m currently listening to Cynthia Bourgeault’s, “The Wisdom Way of Knowing,” on Scribd. I have read Matthew Fox’s “Original Blessing” five or six years ago.. I receive an email from Matthew Fox everyday so all of this is part of that journey too.

Social Conscience and Inner Awakening

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“In my own efforts to live the gospel I have found that it is virtually impossible to reach and sustain that level of ‘perfect love’ without a practice of contemplative prayer . . .. Ordinary awareness always eventually betrays itself and returns to its usual postures of self-defense and self-justification . . .. Only from the level of spiritual awareness do you see and trust that all is held in the divine Mercy . . .. You can begin to reach out to the world with the same wonderful, generous vulnerability that we see in Christ.”

– Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, 17.

Introduction

My teaching career has focused much of its energy on helping students to develop compassionate action in society: encouraging our school community to see beyond its primary achievement orientation and care for others. However, for all the growth of social conscience education at…

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Conservative used to mean

There was a time when the Republican party bragged about getting government off your back. Regulations and regulation were the purview of the Democratic party which was assailed as the party of big government. Ronald Reagan once said, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.“ But those words could not be further from the Republican Party of today which seeks not to free the people but to shackle them with unnecessary regulation. The Republican party has become the party of theocrats who want to impose their particular morality on the rest of us.

They want to turn back the clock on women’s rights and in particular on the ability of women to choose whether to have an abortion or not. These malevolent theocrats want to impose their narrow interpretation of Christianity on a country that is increasingly diverse. The founding fathers made their first amendment to the United States Constitution “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

We the people are one union comprised on many diverse elements. E pluribus unum. In that plurality we have those who oppose abortion on religious grounds and those who don’t. The freedom of choice should not infringed. The religious views of certain Christians should not become the law of the land. Ironically it was many of these same people who feared the imposition of sharia law. The idea that life begins at conception is a narrow view. Some religious people believe that while others do not.

We have a long history of respecting religious liberty. This is no time to change. The views of certain evangelical Protestants and Catholics should not be imposed on the rest of us.

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Maybe I don’t belong…

The possible overturn of Roe v Wade and the gradual erosion of individual liberties in the United States leaves me very concerned for the future of our country and our planet. Our land is on fire. The southwest and other parts of the country are becoming uninhabitable due to climate change which is not being addressed in any meaningful fashion. Today Justice Roberts said that the leak of the draft opinion of Justice Alito was a breach of trust. Doesn’t Justice Roberts realize that the Supreme Court’s possible move to ban abortion in the United States of America is also a breach of trust from one of our co-equal branches of government.

These old white men on the court are hardly representative of the citizens of the United States. They are a ruling minority appointed to life time terms on the court mostly by presidents who did not win the popular vote. They are an anachronism. They are out of step with a country where seventy percent of its citizens support a woman’s right to chose what she will do with her body. Imagine if men were held to the same standard.

They call themselves pro-life but really they’re just pro-birth. Once the child is born they don’t give a rats ass what happens to them. There isn’t mandated state supported prenatal care nor is there any help for mothers and children afterward. Many of the children are born into poverty or addiction. There is no thought of how the child was conceived nor the ability of the mother to bear the child. No exception for rape, incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage.

Tonight one of my conservative relatives attempted shame me into supporting this diabolical agenda by virtue of membership in the Catholic Church. It got me to thinking. Maybe I don’t belong in the Catholic Church. Maybe it really doesn’t reflect the values that are important to me. The majority of these conservative justices are Catholic. Maybe I’d be better off as an Episcopalian, a Quaker or maybe no church at all. I don’t have to belong to a church to find God or follow Jesus. Jesus said, “Follow me!” He didn’t say join this church or that church. The historical Jesus was Jewish and there is no mention of abortion in any of the Gospels because Jewish folks don’t believe that life begins at conception. They believe that ensoulment happens after a child is born.

The United States is not a theocracy. It’s founders were keen to make the first amendment to the Constitution about the separation of church and state. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” My religion is kindness and I believe that you have a right to worship as you chose but you do not have a right to insist that I believe as you do. I believe that the divine light is found in all sentient beings. That includes people, animals, trees, rocks, water, the blue sky and more.

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Join Mastodon

I joined Fosstodon in 2019 at the recommendation of a fellow writer. I really didn’t know what to do, didn’t ask a lot of questions and left the account open but unused for nearly three years. Lately the flux of Facebook and most recently Twitter had left me looking for connection to folks with similar interests without the annoyance of advertisements for products I wasn’t interested in. I’m happy to report that I’ve been excited by what I found on Fosstodon and now Mastodon.online and Scholar.Social which are other Mastodon instances. The discourse and exposure to new ideas with folks who share common interests has been just what I was looking for. The absence of advertising is the best. Civility reigns! If you’re someone who longs for social platforms that are social and informative then I suggest you check join Mastodon. You won’t be dissapointed.

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Why?

Today I attended Mass at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church on Main Street in Amherst, New York. The church was packed and the service was lovely. For much of this week I have had the recurring thought of the mission of Jesus or maybe the omission of Jesus.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
 because he has anointed me
 to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
 and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Luke 4:18-19

Jesus provides the mission statement for his ministry and throughout the rest of the gospels regardless of the author there is one instance after another where Jesus does exactly what is spelled out in Luke. In Matthew 4:19 he says, “Come, follow me.” In Matthew 25:35-36 he says, “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

Jesus provides loads of examples of what kinds of behavior he expects of his followers. Nonetheless his whole impact of Western Christianity is reduced to the crucifixion and resurrection. He was crucified because he welcomed the stranger, he reached out to those on the margins. If you ask most Christians about Jesus they will say, “He died for our sins.” They mention nothing of the kind of life he lived nor what he expected of his followers.

This stems from the doctrine of original sin which was never mentioned by Jesus. St. Augustine was the first to use the term original sin. St. Augustine was also the author of the “just war” theory. Jesus said, “I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

I guess it is just easier to say he died for your sins and then you don’t have to be one of his followers which is much more difficult.

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Thank you Joe Biden

Spring has sprung and so have our lives. A couple of years ago we were pinned down by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not over yet but we’re coming through it okay. There is a fourth recommended shot of the vaccine if you’re over fifty years old. The economy is rebounding. More Americans are working. The United States added 1.7 million new jobs in the past two months. Inflation in the United States is up too. It’s the highest it has been in the past forty years but that’s true around the world. Gasoline prices are up too but again that’s not a purely American problem. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States last week was $4.63 which is huge increase from where prices were in April 2020 when they were at $1.78 per gallon. Demand was low when we were all locked down in our homes.

In the United States the Republican party and their allies are blaming President Biden and the Democrats. Joe Biden is not president in Canada where gasoline is $5.91 per gallon (adjusted for US gallons and dollars). Gasoline is $5.83 per US gallon in Poland. The prices in Ireland are $7.64 and Hong Kong is the most expensive gas prices in the world at $10.89 per gallon.

The reason our economy is booming is the American Rescue Plan which received almost no Republican support. Yesterday in the House of Representatives one-hundred-ninety-three Republicans voted against lowering the price of insulin from it’s current $332 a vial to something more affordable to average Americans. That’s consistent with Republican ideals, “favor the rich and soak the middle class and the poor.” The GOP claims to be conservative but conserves nothing. The current administration has lowered our national debt which is an accomplishment that only occurs in Democratic administrations.

President Harry Truman called the GOP out over seventy years ago when he wrote,

“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” –

Harry S. Truman, October 13, 1948, St. Paul, Minnesota, Radio Broadcast via WikiQuote
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Time to man up

Yesterday on Vietnam Veterans Day I had the privilege of listening to a lecture from a guy who’s pissed that Joe Biden is president and that gas prices are high. In the spring of 1972 I registered for classes that coming fall. I went home like all the other kids expecting to see them in August or September. When I got home there was a notice of pre induction physical for the draft. There was no sophomore year nor junior and senior year either. In August when my former classmates were slapping each other on the back and shaking hands I was in recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois. 

I don’t regret my naval service. I’m proud to have served this country. I still have my dress blues even though they don’t fit. There was a time I prayed that my brother and later my son wouldn’t have to serve in the armed forces but I’ve come to believe compulsory national service would be a good thing. A recent poll of Americans revealed that only 55 percent would come to the aid of the country if we were invaded. 

We’ve spawned several generations of folks who think they’re entitled to life on their own terms no matter what. On the world stage we’re witnessing the brave people of Ukraine fend off invaders and the disruption of life as they knew it by a bunch of lawless thugs led by the man who tried to subvert our democracy. I’m sure they’d be willing to endure high energy prices for some peace and freedom. 

Freedom isn’t free. Doing what you want when you want how you want with no regard for others isn’t citizenship. It’s lawless and childish. If you’re still driving a gas guzzler 50 years after the energy crunch we lived through in the 1970s then you’re not too bright. End of rant.

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Time for change

Gasoline is $1.53 a liter in Ontario adjusted for US dollars and Joe Biden isn’t president either. Gasoline has historically cost more in Canada and the rest of the world. According to my brother gasoline is $8.88 a gallon in Zurich Switzerland. It’s long past time to find other modes of transportation. If you aren’t a farmer or a construction worker you don’t need a 1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup truck with all wheel drive. That’s ego and it will always cost more. My parents lived through WWII when gas was rationed. In 1974 after the Yom Kippur War gas prices doubled and tripled. I had to plan my leave and liberty around the calendar because in NYS you could only buy gas on even or odd days based on your license plate numbers. The national speed limit was set to 55 mph. In the past 40 plus years we’ve listened to politicians and others who convinced us we could drive like maniacs,own SUVs and Humvees that got atrocious mileage and live large otherwise. It just isn’t realistic. Electric cars and sustainable fuels are the future. Don’t let politicians and pundits bullshit you into believing it’s not possible. We won WWII. We put people on the moon because we believed we could. It’s time to reimagine our world and worldview.

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Radical mercy

The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness by Gregory Boyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book gets to the heart of the Jesus message which is not about piety but about radical mercy and compassion. This book is a collection of stories that are told or in my case read by the author in a light but powerful manner. I look forward to meeting Gregory Boyle when he comes to St. Bonaventure University later this year.



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I served in the United State Navy

Today marks the 47th anniversary of my release from active duty in the United States Navy. January 17, 1975 attired in my dress blues drove to the Naval Submarine Medical Center in Groton CT where I was stationed. I said goodbye to the folks I had gotten to know in the past year of service at the medical center and then walked through the clinic area to the main desk of the naval hospital. I saluted the officer of the deck on duty and received my orders and the manila folder with my service records. I don’t remember how I got to Bradley International Airport but from there I flew home to Buffalo New York on Allegany Airlines. My mother and grandmother were waiting for me at the Buffalo airport and drove me home to Arcade, New York. I was on active duty for two years three months and ten days. I was released a month and half early from my original rotation date to attend college at Community College of the Finger Lakes. 

A month later I reported to the Naval Reserve Training Center in Buffalo New York where I became part of CV1703 which was the reserve unit I was assigned for the balance of my time in the active reserve. I have lots of memories of those days and this 17th day of January will always be with me. I was drafted in the spring of 1972 after completing the freshman year at SUNY Oswego. I enlisted in the USNR on June 21 and went to recruit training on August 23. I can’t remember the day or the details of my high school graduation nor the first or last day of college at Oswego but I will never forget my time in the United States Navy. I’m proud of my record of service to the country. I was blessed with great duty assignments and great comrades in arms. I still have my uniforms though it’s been years since I was able to fit into them. My one regret after all these years is that I didn’t stay in touch with all those folks with whom I served. The words of John F. Kennedy summarize my thoughts well. 

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.

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