MUNDANE & DIVINE TURNS TWO

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Here is a look at Mundane & Divine’s second year. Can’t wait to see what year number three will hold!

INTERFAITH COMMUNITY CROSSING BOUNDARIES – A reflection on an interfaith event. My plan was simply to find some common ground among these people of faith. But rather than honing in on and sharing personal experiences of faith and worship with each other, the group was much more focused on global issues. Some of them dealing with elements of religion such as religious extremism, terrorism, and violent land disputes. But many discussed misuse of power, greed, and ignorance in wide sweeping contexts.

FINDING SANCTUARY & TAKING REFUGE – The words ‘sanctuary’ and ‘refuge’ bring to mind images of heavy doors and high walls. But it does not have to be so. Simpler and smaller notions can have the same effect.

WALKING TWO WORLDS: A BATTLE OF THE HOURS – Spending a large amount of time in the secular realm to make a living can make ‘voluntary’ spiritual involvement difficult. I fully believe it is possible and satisfying to live in both the secular and religious realms, but finding the time can be a challenge.

A SPECTACULAR SUMMER SOLSTICE – There is no better time than the summer solstice to reflect on how intermingled the mundane and divine are.

OPINIONS IN TIMES OF TROUBLE –  There is a lot happening in the world right now: terrorist attacks and mass shootings, major elections and economic moves. There is a lot in the public eye at the moment, much of it troubling. And right now, everyday citizens are not only clinging to their opinions, but flinging them about for all to see.

GOD BLESS AMERICA – Of the Western, secular nations, the USA seems the most inclined to mix the religious and secular.

BENEFITS OF A SPIRITUAL LIFE: THINKING BIG – Those active in their spirituality get a lot of experience thinking about big ideas like justice, honor, love and sacrifice. Trying to comprehend the expanse and depth of the divine, or just glimpsing the divine mingle with the mundane, takes thought to a new level. People start to think beyond themselves and beyond the life they know. Without participation in religious or spiritual activities, people are less likely to think ‘think big’.

SIMPLICITY – I am partial to the argument that the myriad of religions on our planet are varied, cultural expressions of divine belief and human’s interaction with that divine source. This quote by Sri Chinmoy connects these various cultures with a ‘base’ human characteristic. A building block that transgresses cultural variances: our love of complication.

WALKING THE TIGHT ROPE AT WORK – While secularism works implicitly to keep religion out of mainstream culture in the West, there are more specific measures in place to keep it out of the work place.

GOVERNMENT & GOD AT A WEDDING – This Saturday I am getting married at my tiny Episcopal church. With my fiancée being Australian, we have been comparing notes on differences in wedding tradition between our cultures. But as we’ve sat through our-premarital counseling with the priest that will officiate our ceremony, I’ve learned about the ceremony, its symbolism, and both is secular and sacred components. Even in a church wedding, both are present.

GOOD ALL AROUND – Through we come from different walks of life, we all have good to share. In a time where violence seems to be erupting in every corner of the world, there is no time like the present to start spreading that good around.

DISCOVERING CHANGE THROUGH ROUTINE RITUAL – While ritual has many functions and affects, I wish to focus on one: its ability to provide stability and help us hone in on the subtle and not so subtle changes in ourselves and our surrounding world.

WORSHIP FOR TODAY – What I find curious is how New Age is so often criticized for its currency and attractiveness in today’s culture. Yet these are attributes Christian churches are now looking to exhibit, though with some definite differences.

THE PROGRESSION OF ‘TRUTH’ THROUGH BALLS AND STRIKES – I hope to learn more about this progression of thought: pre-modern, modern, and post-modern. But more so to explore how elements manifest in the New Age milieu, and how these different theoretical structures are reconciled in this highly complex and loosely organized system.

MORALITY AND RELIGION – Given my time in Australia, I would agree that religion has a stronger old in America that in the land down under. But murder and drug use continues to claim proportionately more people in America. Such correlations beg the question, if so many Americans are religious then why does the country seem to be going through a moral crisis?

THE MUNDANE & DIVINE IN CHURCH TRANSITION –  There is a long history of service to the church, and a long history of church being in that place. Now as we look to move place, we begin to scrutinize what church is, and how we take it with us.

SERVING TWO MASTERS – “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” – Luke 16:13.

 EARTHLY DIVISIONS HEAVENLY UNITY – Very rarely do we hear about unity, about people banding together. In this world, we are so focused on divisions that it is easy to forget that we are all people of God.

FAITH: TO DIVE OR WADE IN? – While there is nothing bad about increasing faith, maybe that’s not where the emphasis should be.

MODERN WITCH TRIALS – We think of ourselves as logical, thoughtful, and a world away from our dark age counterparts. But perhaps these archaic characteristics have simply taken on modern flavors.

PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION IN FAITH – How do we foster genuine respect through understanding if we keep other religious groups at arm’s length?

THE GREAT DIVIDE – Is this divide (or lack thereof) an absolute truth? Or is it dependent on the follower’s tradition and beliefs? Are we a world apart from the divine? Or closer than we think?

HOLIDAY HULLABALOO – Strictly speaking the material items are not necessary, but they are helpful in igniting the reason for the season in the hearts of believers.

SPIRITUAL NATURE & RELIGIOUS CIVILIZATION – Here the divide between nature and civilization is mirrored in religious attitudes in the West.

SPIRITUAL TO SELF-HELP: HOW FAR OF A LEAP IS IT? – I appreciate that Bolles has been able to show the Western world that a beloved ‘secular’ book is in fact one rooted in scripture. In his teachings, he goes further to discuss the connections between faith and ‘real life’. The duality of his work is a great reminder of the duality between the mundane and divine in life.

YOGA AS PRAYER – Ultimately, yoga isn’t all that different from prayer. At churches and temples everywhere, prayers are raised for church members and local people going through difficult times. If the unity of mind and body can help accomplish moving meditation, then adding hopeful wellbeing for others creates prayer.

ONE EXTREME TO THE NEXT – How could such opposing lifestyles co-exist in the same place? More likely than not, these people do their grocery shopping in the same places, and send their children to the same schools. How did such opposites take root in the same community?

THE RELIGIOUS / SPIRITUAL SPECTRUM ACROSS THE RADIO WAVES – It’s a great wide world of spiritual and religious experience, and we’re in a time where we get to discuss, share and experience the whole spectrum of it.

MANY SEASONS – Whether you’re a pagan following the cycles of the earth or a Christian following the narrative of Jesus, both cycles prepare believers for the whole of the human experience.

THE MYSTICAL & BOUNDARY BREAKING TRINITY – For those that think Christianity is dull or vanilla, one need look no further than the Trinity for a sharp example to the contrary.

LIVING THE BIBLE THROUGH MANY PATHS – It has been many years since the Bible was compiled. Many more years have gone by since any of its components were written. And many, many more years have passed since the events documented in the Bible transpired. You would think with all that time, we would have gotten a handle on interpretation by now. But it seems that as time has passed, things have only gotten messier in this regard.

RESOLUTION REVOLUTION – People are looking back over 2016 and deciding what they would like to change or how they would like their lives to be different by the time 2017 comes to an end. For some, this can be like an awakening, an uplifting and exciting time. For others, it is full of regret, disappointment, and negativity as they take stock of their current circumstances and perhaps the downslide since the last new year’s celebrations.

LET LOVE GO FREE – In many Christian traditions, followers are baptized as infants or small children. In the sacrament of baptism, the baptized are welcomed into the kingdom and community of God. As children, the baptized have done nothing to earn this, they have done nothing prove their worthiness. But it is given freely by virtue of wanting to know and get closer to God. In baptism one enters the Christian community and is unconditionally loved by God.

CAPITALISM WITHOUT CONSUMERISM? – No doubt the two are related, but it seems that the principles of consumerism and capitalism are so deeply intertwined that many Americans can scarcely tell the difference anymore. It got me wondering how this strong link arose and ultimately: Can we have capitalism without consumerism as we know it?

A SPIRITUAL RESPONSE TO THE WOMEN’S MARCH – We are all equal in the eyes of God, so why aren’t we equal in the eyes of our government?

PRESERVATION V. PRESENCE – Yes, we are called to preserve traditions that give us identity. But I feel we are called in an even bigger way to be a light of divine love in the world.

THE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE ROAD TO LOYALTY – Many world religions claim to be mutually exclusive, meaning you can’t maintain beliefs and practices from more than one religion. Their paths are depicted to be utterly separate, with no opportunity to walk more than one at any given moment. But the anthropologist in me has been wondering lately about the practical, rather than spiritual, benefits of proclaiming to the ‘one true way’.

REFINED RELIGION V. RAW SPIRITUALITY – With God’s creation all around us, it may seem that there is no need for the refined religion of man. But I believed there is a time and place for both refined religion and raw spirituality.

BUSYNESS AS A SPIRITUAL HINDRANCE – We’ve been told that we can do it all. We’ve been told that with planning, organization, and commitment we can become efficient enough to keep our worldly commitments and pursue spiritual goals. But do we actually need more unstructured time instead of a schedule filled to the hilt?

THE RELEVANCE OF RELIGIOUS SCRIPTURE – But I am a firm believer that there is a timeless value to volumes like the Bible, the Torah, the Upanishads, the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, the Yoga Sutra, and pagan mythologies that were not always considered ‘mythologies’. The reason being that across time and the cultural landscape of the world, humanity does not change all that much.

THE DIVINE, ORGANIZED RELIGION & THE FAITHFUL –  I encourage the Church to start doing God’s work rather than working to be on the same plane as God. Let the divine lead people in spiritual endeavors and the Church lead them in godly action.

WORDS OF WISDOM – The faithful as well as the lost have always sought out spiritual people for their wisdom, and I believe will continue to do so for the perceivable future. The great and continuing need here warrants significant attention and work if we are to return the masses to a community based spiritual life rather than one largely lived out in solitude.

HELPING OTHERS & HELPING OURSELVES: CAN WE DO BOTH? – A LOOK AT MODERN CHRISTIANITY – So, is it good and wise for Christians to leave the safety of the flock to help the lowly in an act that might be trying to their faith? Or do they stay well within the boundaries of the Christian community to protect and grow their faith?

THE HELL OF MUTUAL EXCLUSIVITY – Religion is still being used as a weapon, often using mutual exclusivity as justification for the mistreatment of others. The notion of mutual exclusivity, the belief that only one religion is correct, is the fuel for people’s hate. Nothing good comes out of it.

ORGANIZED RELIGION: JUST A BUNCH OF DRY BONES? – In America, I feel organized religion is fighting death, fighting to be more than dry bones, even though it seems to become more of a threat every day.

LANGUAGE & MEANING – Meaning is so much more than definition. There is history to be taken into account, along with connotations and context. Dictionary definitions do little to help this.

GET OUT GO BIG – We hear about events from around the world, and yet sometimes we can’t see past the end of our own noses.

SPIRITUAL STORIES – From time to time people are asked to describe their faith. When this is presented as an open question, rather than a set of mutually exclusive categories, the answer often comes in the form of a story.  It is not a simple explanation, but a very telling tale of spirituality, identity, and growth.

PATRIARCHAL LANGUAGE OF RELIGIOUS TEXTS – The patriarchal language in religious texts has been a point of discussion in recent years.

NEW NOTIONS OF COMMUNITY AND THE THRIVING NEW AGE – But now boundaries are being drawn in new ways that allow for more diversity within communities.

CELEBRATION OR SILENCE UNDER SECULARISM? – Such freedom is supposed to be facilitated through the process of secularism, separation of church and state. But does secularism produce religious freedom?

MODERNIZING FAITH TRADITIONS – How do faith traditions be timely and timeless, and respect tradition without doing everything traditionally?

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