Thursday, November 18, 2010

Science and Religion

What would we do for entertainment without scientists telling us, with breathless excitement, that “God did not create the universe,” as if they were the first to discover this astonishing proposition? Stephen Hawking is the latest, but certainly not the first. When Napoleon asked Laplace, two hundred years ago, where was God in his scientific system, the mathematician replied, “I do not need God to explain the universe.” We never did. That is what scientists do not understand.

There is a difference between science and religion. Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation. Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.

It is important for us to understand the mistake Professor Hawking has made, because the mutual hostility between religion and science is one of the curses of our age, and it is damaging to religion and science in equal measure.

But let us hail a scientific genius. Professor Hawking is one of the truly great minds of our time. Two thousand years ago the rabbis coined a blessing – you can find it in any Jewish prayer book – on seeing a great scientist, regardless of his or her religious beliefs…the right attitude of religion to science is admiration and thankfulness.

The Bible is not proto-science, pseudo-science or myth masquerading as science. It is interested in other questions entirely. Who are we? Why are we here? How then shall we live? It is to answer those questions… that we seek to know the mind of God.

--Lord Sachs reply to Stephen Hawkings in The Times

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My deepest me is God

Mysticism begins when the totally transcendent image of God starts to recede; and there's a deepening sense of God as immanent, present, here, now, within me. Augustine's line was "God is more intimate to me than I am to myself” or “more me than I am myself." St. Catherine of Genoa shouted it in the streets, "My deepest me is God!"

So you must overcome the gap to know—and then Someone Else is doing the knowing through you. God is no longer "out there." At this point, it's not like one has a new relationship with God; it's like one has a whole new God! “God himself is my counselor, and at night my innermost being instructs me,” says the Psalmist (16:7).

The mystics are those who are let in on this secret mystery of God's love affair with all souls, and recognize the simultaneous love affair with the individual soul—as if it were the only one God loves. It's absolutely our unique affair, and that sets the whole thing on a different and deeper ground than mere organized religion can ever achieve by itself.

Richard Rohr
Adapted from Following the Mystics
through the Narrow Gate (CD/DVD)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Reading for 7 Creation

In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.

Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist (b. 1937)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Reading for 6 Creation

To preserve this sacred world of our origins from destruction, our great need is for a renewal of the entire Western religious-spiritual tradition in relation to the integral functioning of the biosystems of the planet Earth. We need to move from a spirituality of alienation from the natural world to a spirituality of intimacy with the natural world, from a spirituality of the Divine as revealed in verbal revelation to a spirituality of the Divine as revealed in the visible world about us, from a spirituality concerned with justice simply to humans to a spirituality concerned with justice to all those other components of the great earth community. The destiny of Christianity will be determined to a large extent by its capacity to fulfill these three commitments. --Thomas Berry, Christianity and Ecology

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Voice for the Animals

Wonderful Speaking of Faith interview with wildlife conservations Allen Rabinowitz

Gift of Good Land, reading for 5 Creation

We cannot live harmlessly or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently it is a sacrament; when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration . . . in such desecration, we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.
--Wendell Berry

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rain, Thomas Merton

I came up here from the monastery last night, sloshing through the cornfield, said Vespers, and put some oatmeal on the Coleman stove for supper. It boiled over while I was listening to the rain and toasting a piece of bread at the log fire. The night became very dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside! What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.

From Rain and the Rhinoceros

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reading for 3 Creation

In this evolving universe, God does not dictate the outcome of nature’s activities, but allows the world to become what it is able to become in all of its diversity: one could say that God has a purpose rather than a fixed plan, a goal rather than a blueprint. As the nineteenth-century Anglican minister Charles Kingsley put it, God has made a world that is able to make itself. John Polkinghorne states that God has given the world a free process, just as God has given human beings free choice. Divine Love frees the universe and life to develop as they are able to by using all of their divinely given powers and capacities. The universe, as Augustine of Hippo said in the fourth century, is “God’s love song.” Because God’s Love is poured out within the creation, theologian Denis Edwards asserts that “the Trinitarian God is present to every creature in its being and becoming.” These are but some of the concepts that contemporary theologians are offering to account for God’s relationship to an evolving creation.

--from the Episcopal Church's Catechism of Creation

Sunday Propers

You can see what all the lessons are here. Just go to the date at look at the RCL readings.