We're taking a few days quiet away. The Bookshop Bakery will re-open Wednesday afternoon 12Sept07
There's one, and only one, way to know one from the other.
The United States, we love to say — and Europeans repeat in a kind of incredulous wonder — is the most “religious” country in the world. Meaning, of course, the most church-going country in the world. Whether or not going to church correlates well with religious values is clearly a debatable subject. To wit, the corporal works of mercy — as in, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, house the homeless, visit the imprisoned, visit the sick, and bury the dead. It is on these criteria in Matthew 25: 31-46, however, that Jesus rests his definition of salvation. No small thing for those who considers themselves “religious.”Only by fruits are the religious known. It's what we are and what we do -- not what we say. Talk, as they say, is cheap. Acts are a more reliable currency.
(Published on Friday, September 7, 2007 by National Catholic Reporter, re-posted on Common Dreams, We Need Candidates Who Are Really Religious, by Joan Chittister)
Mostly, what we need is transformation.
Looking DeeplyThen there are words that encourage others to act. Even the current Pope, Benedict XVI, has good words, like the following:
Garbage can smell terrible, especially rotting organic matter. But it can also become rich compost for fertilizing the garden. The fragrant rose and the stinking garbage are two sides of the same existence. Without one, the other cannot be. Everything is in transformation. The rose that wilts after six days will become a part of the garbage. After six months the garbage is transformed into a rose. When we speak of impermanence, we understand that everything is in transformation. This becomes that, and that becomes this. Looking deeply, we can contemplate one thing and see everything else in it. We are not disturbed by change when we see the interconnectedness and continuity of all things. It is not that the life of any individual is permanent, but that life itself continues.
(--Thich Nhat Hanh, in Present Moment, Wonderful Moment)
Benedict urged the young to "go against the grain" and not be seduced by pressure, including from the mass media, to succeed at all costs in arrogant, egotistical ways.He was talking about paying attention to the earth's resources. I suppose his words could equally apply to matters of faith, authority, abuses, and healthy direction with regard to church, state, and corporate life. In fact, life itself.
"Be vigilant! Be critical! Don't get swept up in the wave of this powerful persuasion," he said. "Don't be afraid, dear friends, to take the 'alternate' path indicated by true love: a sober and solid lifestyle, with loving, sincere and pure relations, an honest commitment to studies and work, and the profound interest in the common good."
(--Pope urges young to care for planet, By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Sun Sep 2, 4:14 PM ET)
The Dreams of the OldIn today's culture, everyone is a commentator. Similarly, no act, no person passing by is immune from worded assessment, opinion pinned to their departing presence, or judgment levied with the unconscious mimicry of an omniscient God, indignant Imam, infallible Pope, or other examples where arrogance might subtly appear in association with power, knowledge, or assumed superiority.
So they are around our table—my mother,
my father, an uncle—and we begin to talk
about our dreams—with some urgency—
as if our dreams could pinpoint our psychic
dangers—our unrealized goals—our
ordinary fear of death and the future.
My mother talks about her dreams of flying
over the little town where she grew up—
over the old Opera House—down Main Street—
with all the people she knew below her—
then towards the gently flowing river—
that seemed to flow into the sunset—
toward which she soared—she lingered
with us on that image—as if she had said
enough—then—my uncle talked about
his recurring dream—he's going to be
in a play—but no one's bothered
to rehearse the scenes—he's standing
in the wings waiting to go on—he doesn't
know what he will say—all through this
my father is silent—he is closest to death—
we all know this—we forgive him his silence—
his silence—has his presence—as in a dream.
(--Poem: "The Dreams of the Old" by Timothy J. Nolan, on The Writer's Almanac)
The silent among us dwell differently.
Only acts speak.