Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Religion Failed Us—but we Still Need It.

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

from Samuel Kronen’s excellent essay:

To live a religious life, we must engage in a spiritual practice. I don’t think there is any way around this. To remain in contact with that what is beyond ourselves, beyond the domain of our individual thoughts, we must find some way of continually remembering that this connection exists and is always possible to attain.

This can be achieved in many different ways, from charity, to meditation, to some form of deep contemplation, and so on. What is necessary is engaging in whatever practice we choose on a daily basis or something close to it—otherwise we are susceptible to falling astray and moving away from this essential connection.

Try to remember that life is infinitely wondrous and beautiful, and do everything in our power to live in a way that serves this remembrance. This is the foundation of a holy life.

We don’t need to buy into religious lunacy to be close to God. We simply must allow ourselves to be active participants in the grace and artistry of the universe, rather than merely being passive observers in a purely material world.

In reminding ourselves that there is more to life than what we think, we become present to the immediacy of life itself, and in my experience, this expands our capacity for love.

Love is at the core of a truly religious life.

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This vision of the world reduces everything to a battle between good and evil, between God and Satan.

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

From Pope’s Confidantes Pen Blistering Critique Of Steve Bannon’s View of Christianity:
Spadaro and Figueroa accused this group of misinterpreting verses in the Bible to fit their own political stances on a wide range of topics ― from war-mongering to climate change to the idea of America as a “promised land” that is to be defended against all odds.

The authors wrote that these evangelicals and Catholics “condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.”

………………“Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church. Spirituality cannot tie itself to governments or military pacts for it is at the service of all men and women. Religions cannot consider some people as sworn enemies nor others as eternal friends. Religion should not become the guarantor of the dominant classes,” the pair wrote.

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New Year’s Thought

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

A big culprit in so many thorny issues facing us is religious dogma that keeps people from really seeing and from there getting ourselves and others in balance. As long as we remain dogmatic, locked in manacles of the mind, as the poet William Blake termed it, we make everything worse, not just for others but for ourselves.

I was thinking the other morning on my way home from yoga of the Two GREAT COMMANDMENTS, which, as Jesus said, are the summation of the Law and the Prophets: 1. Love God with your whole heart and soul and mind. And, 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. To love others rightly we must also love ourselves. Many people do not. To get right we must sort ourselves out with love and kindness, and wisdom.

That’s where good books, and good counsel, can really help.

I’ll end the year with this poem from my collection, The Necessity of Symbols,

20/20

Threading from spool to spool
to spool, frost spins
old stories out
over my windows.

Shrunken cherries left by blackbirds
who’ve read the signs and fled
lie discarded on the lawn.
Like motors, hearts turn—
and turn again—
but refuse, make noise—
absolutely refuse
to start.

Ice covers the city
like a freezer-burned pie.
The fruit trees—no matter their kind—
bear only ice.

Oh stabat mater—Jesus—
stoop—
take the cobwebs from the gashes.
Let wounds brighten.
Let us bear fruit
fit for golden bowls.
Thomas Ramey Watson

“We’re still part of the whole, the web of life, of all that is–God, if you like.”

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Yesterday I had another of my unusual encounters with an animal. More important than anything in life is my experience with the soul realm. When such things happen, I always feel wiser, stronger, better centered in ultimate Reality.

I attended a monthly Reiki Shares session at the Samadhi Yoga Center on East Colfax in Denver. As I walked past the friendly young woman sitting at the counter, I noticed that she had a very happy black and white dog under her bare feet. It was lying on his side as she massaged it with her feet.

I laughed and said, “Hi Dog–you look happy,” then walked on.

Inside the Reiki room, I heard the dog talking to me. “I want to see you,” he said. I listened further. I’m not good at picking up gender. Actually I’m still not sure about hearing the voice of an animal I don’t know. After Hattie died I became more confident about hearing the voice of one of my companion animals.

I listened.

“I was abused,” he said, “but I’m very happy and grateful now. I’m loved.” I was pretty sure the dog was male.
The words returned while Reiki was performed on me. “I still have trauma about it,” he added.

When I walked out of the gathering room, I moved to the woman at the counter. She had a very sweet, open face, with the creamy complexion of a redhead. Her dog got up and came over to see me. He seemed both friendly and anxious. He kept wanting me to pet him, then backed off, and returned, sniffing at my shoes and legs. I sat down on a chair so I’d be more at his height.

“You smell my dog and cats and all the other animals I hang out with, don’t you?” I said petting him.

“He’s kind of afraid of men,” the woman said.

I asked his name.

“Josko,” she answered.

I told the woman what Josko had said. “He told me how much he loves you and is happy to be yours. He also said he’s been abused.”

The woman shook her head. “No, I’m sure he wasn’t. I got him as a puppy of 6 weeks old. He’s been with me ever since.”

I thought, “I must have been wrong.”

“He was rescued from a hoarder.”

“Early pethood experiences are just as important as early childhood experiences for us,” I assured her.

We went on to talk of the importance of bonding.

“To do that we have to open ourselves, make ourselves vulnerable to the greatest joy–and the deepest pain–imaginable,” I said. A collage of faces of people I knew who just couldn’t do that flashed before me. “I think that’s one of the gifts that our animals give us. They’re easier to bond with than many humans.”

The woman agreed. “We don’t do it very well.”

“It’s the most rewarding, as well as painful thing, we’re called to do,” I added. “It means being open to losing everything, especially the beloved. And the threat of losing ourselves in the process.”

“I think that’s what we’re meant to do” the woman said.

“From that we gain a much deeper, truer sense of self,” I added. That’s the main difference between Western Religious Traditions and Eastern Religious Traditions. “We’re still part of the whole, the web of life, of all that is–God, if you like.”

How Do We Lift Up Love Over Hate in This Angry Election Season?

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

From Jim Wallis, who typically is very insightful:

For those of us who are people of faith and moral conscience, how do we lift up love over hate in this angry election season? How do we point to justice instead of revenge? How do we love our neighbors as ourselves — which all our religious traditions tell us to do — and vote that way? And if our faith traditions also tell us that a society is ultimately judged by how it treats its most vulnerable people, how do we best vote for the concerns of the most vulnerable in this coming election?

These will be matters for prayerful discernment and courageous action in this critical election year.

Jim Wallis

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ANNOUNCEMENT OF MY NEW NOVEL

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

MY NOVEL–
READING THE SIGNS: A PARANORMAL LOVE STORY

Ted Jones, campus chaplain and English Professor in downtown Denver, doesn’t need more problems. His life has been full of them. More than a few of the clergy seem to think of the church as a sex club, and those who administer the English Department are vipers. Yet, at the beseeching of the spirit of an old woman who appears floating near the stained glass window of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Ted soon becomes involved with Sharon, the deceased woman’s grown granddaughter.

Damaged though she is, Sharon responds, trying to return the steadfast love that Ted offers. After her grandmother died, she lost that capacity in herself and couldn’t find it in any of the people who professed to love her.

Although Sharon and Ted’s trials are multiple, their love forms the crux of the novel. Such love reaches beyond time and space as we normally conceive them, to involve intersecting planes of existence that touch both past and future.

*******
While fiction, and centrally a love story, it is essentially true. My experiences teaching at CU Denver and the Episcopal Cathedral stick very close to the facts.

*******

The novel ends with a vision of meeting Sharon on the fields of eternity:

For a moment, my earthly sight blurred with tears, I glimpsed Sharon and me. We stood on fields of gold, there, where chronos meets kairos, and earthly time rolls into eternity.

Link to Amazon Reading the Signs page. Here you can examine the cover and read some pages of the book.

Signed copies are also available from me. See WRITING page of this site.

Why Do Christians Need to Believe in the Incarnation?

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

“The point of incarnation language,” the Catholic theologian Roger Haight writes, “is that Jesus is one of us, that what occurred in Jesus is the destiny of human existence itself: et homo factus est. Jesus is a statement, God’s statement, about humanity as such.” Humanity is the presence of God. The presence of God, therefore, lies in what is ordinary. Not in supernatural marvels. Not in a superman with whom we have nothing actual in common. Not in saints. Not in a once-only age of miracles long ago. Not first in doctrine, scholarship, or theology–but in life. Doctrine, scholarship, and theology are essential as modes of opening up that life and its meanings, and there is no separating the life of Jesus from interpretations of it. The interpretations must always be examined, and criticized. And we endlessly conjure interpretations of our own, as here in this book.

But the life is our object. The life of Jesus must always weigh more than his death. And, to repeat, the revelation is in the ordinariness of that life. His teaching–his permanent Jewishness, his preference for service over power, his ever-respectful attitude toward women and others on the social margin–is available to us because his followers passed the teaching along, which continues. His encounters with beloved friends, disciples, outcasts, antagonists, and Romans, all arranged in a story that is more invention than memory, are valued as occasions of his encounter with the Holy One–but they are typical encounters, not supernatural ones. Again and again he turned to God, and, as the tradition says, he turned into God–but that, too, occurred in the most ordinary of ways. Day by day. Act by act. Choice by choice. Word by word. Ultimately “lifted up,” as John says, on the cross which was the Resurrection. And the cross is central to this meaning not because God willed suffering but because, in Jesus, God joined in it. “The quality of the suffering,” in Eliot’s phrase, is changed. And that includes the extreme suffering of war.

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Good holiday gifts

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

I’ll make my usual offer of donating 30% of the price of my popular Afghan Hound memoir, Baltho, The Dog Who Owned a Man, and 20% of any of my other books, to any good cause, BUT ONLY WHEN you order directly from me on my site. I have no way of tracking otherwise. I’ve made this offer earlier. Please remember that it’s a standing offer. Just be sure to tell me when you order what you want me to donate to. www.thomasrameywatson.com/edit

These popular books make good gifts, by the way. Some buy extras to give to charitable events, fund-raising drives, and so on.

The books are also available on amazon.com and from other online outlets and local bookstores. www.thomasrameywatson.com/edit

These popular books make good gifts, by the way. Some buy extras to give to charitable events, fund-raising drives, and so on.

The books are also available on amazon.com and from other online outlets and local bookstores. BalthocovericonsizeLoveThreads_COVER_LSTRWatson_NecessityOfSymbols_cover

The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
from Beyond the argument that faith in God is irrational—and therefore illegitimate

In America, which sociologists often describe as a uniquely religious country compared with the rest of the Western world, a vast majority of people have faith. According to Pew, 86 percent of Millennials, or people aged 18-33, say they believe in God, and 94 percent of people 34 and older say the same. It’s true that a growing group say they’re “not certain” about this belief, and it’s also true thataffiliation with formal religious institutions is declining. But in terms of pure belief, self-described atheists and agnostics are a small minority, making up only six percent of the population.

The Western world in particular is probably less religious than it was 150 years ago, and the dynamics of belief and observance have certainly become more complex—the growing number of people who are unaffiliated with a specific religion is especially fascinating. But if the age of atheism started in 1882 as Watson claims, most people still haven’t caught on.

The Age of Atheists will likely stay confined to certain intellectual circles: The casual philosopher, the dogmatic non-believer, the coffee-table book collector. But insofar as its argument represents a broader pathology in contemporary conversations about belief, this book matters. Most people form their beliefs and live their lives somewhere in the middle of the so-called “culture divide” that outspoken atheists and believers shout across. The more these shouters shout, the more public discourse veers away from the subtle struggle of the average person’s attempt to be human.

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Confronting Reality by Reading

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Fantasy Author Lev Grossman says C.S. Lewis taught him that in fiction, stepping into magical realms means encountering earthly concerns in transfigured form.

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I agree. I find inspiration and insight in fantasy that I can then bring back into what we normally term reality.

Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

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