A fascinating radio interview I was listening to last week
Andrew Smart is a neuroscience researcher and the author of Autopilot. He explains the art and science of being idle as a necessary means to creativity and greater productivity.
From Radio New Zealand, Nine To Noon on 09 Apr 2014.
"Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new lives, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of a child — life's most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!" —Howard Thurman.
A theologian I regularly check in on is Andrew Perriman. He recently put up a post, which explored whether Jesus thought of himself as God. It’s an engagement with the thinking of another theologian Michael Bird.
Here’s an excerpt:
“…I agree that Jesus interpreted his own role in the light of Daniel 7:13-14, and that by so doing he was “placing himself within the orbit of divine sovereignty and claiming a place within the divine regency of God Almighty” (66). But that is not the same as saying that Jesus “knew himself to be God”. The argument of Daniel 7:13-27 is that the Israel that remains faithful to the covenant under intense persecution will be vindicated by God and will be given dominion over the nations. If Jesus identifies himself with that narrative, it is because he believed that the future of God’s people at a time of greater crisis depended on the faithfulness of his followers and their willingness to suffer…”
“…All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become “sacred wounds” and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know where to put it. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.
Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying storyline of human history. Biblical revelation is about transforming history and individuals, so that we don’t just keep handing the pain on to the next generation. Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, humanity is in major trouble…”
~ Richard Rohr - Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 25-26 and Job and the Mystery of Suffering, pp. 90-91.
“…Somewhere along the way, we each get stripped of what we have spent our lives acquiring, of things closest to our hearts, of possessions or positions that made us who we thought we were. Then, thrown back upon ourselves, we are left to discover who we have really become. It is a frightening moment, often an embarrassing one, always a difficult one. So much of life is spent attending to the show and glitter, the masks and trappings, the externals of our personal identities that we fail to notice what is lacking inside of us. The problem is, of course, that we don’t miss what we don’t have within us until we need it most. Then the lack of dignity, of self-containment, of simple joy, of deep sincerity, of spiritual serenity, of holy trust, of genuine humility becomes glaringly apparent. It’s only at the point when we realize who we are not that we are ready to become someone worthwhile. When we have finally stopped the posturing and personal exaggerations of life, the freedom that comes with being honest with the self and open with others leaves us perfectly free. Now, nothing can possibly shame us again. No one can say anything about us that we have not already admitted, if not to others, certainly to the self. Now we cannot be slighted because we know who we are. We cannot be embarrassed by the past because we have already embraced and confronted it. We cannot be left to the vultures of life because there is no way left to pick us to the bone that we have not already reckoned with ourselves. It is a moment of great liberation. It is a moment of new life. Being willing to be the self and nothing more is the beginning of truth, the essence of humility, the coming of peace…”
From The Way of the Cross by Joan Chittister, “Station 10: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments” (Orbis). Image is by artist Chris Woods.
Following on from Saturday’s post, today I want to highlight a recent conversation with David Tacey, facilitated by Sean J. McGrath. McGrath researches and teaches in the areas of metaphysics, classical German philosophy (Kant to Heidegger), phenomenology and hermeneutics, and psychoanalysis at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
I have a great deal of time for Tacey and as a consequence he has featured a number of times on this blog. Tacey is an Australian and is a Professor of English at La Trobe University in Australia and a world-renowned authority on Jung and spirituality. He studied under the late James Hillman and is the author of twelve influential books, His most recent being The Darkening Spirit: Jung, Spirituality and Religion, which was published in 2013 by Routledge.
The conversation was recorded last month, March 2014, and, while in places quite academic, I valued it in its own right, but also for the interesting places it took my own thinking. It comes in at just on an hour in duration.
Today a lengthy excerpt from a recent Third Way article on dreams by Mark Vernon:
“…If, for Freud, dreams attempt at concealing, for Jung dreams are communications. Jung thought we dream, not in order to stay asleep, but because our conscious life lacks something. The dream conveys that lack, and we dream because the psyche has a potent capacity to try to heal itself. It is always struggling to do so. It wills to make us whole. For the spiritually-minded, Jung provides a dream model that allows us to understand both how our troubled past distorts our view of things now, and how the resources of our inner life might transform us by gradually expanding our personalities and developing our capacities in ways that currently elude, frighten, and/or seem impossible to us.
… So how did Jung suggest we work with dream symbols so as not to be led astray? The key word is amplification. When he worked with his patient's dreams, he would elaborate on the symbols that they reported. But he did not interpret too quickly. The aim is to keep the dream alive in the individual's psyche, gradually unfolding its meaning to conscious awareness - a process that must be felt as well as understood. So he would encourage his patients to re-enter the dream, as it were, and allow all its feelings and images to come back to life. The dream could then be explored in a hynagogic state, an exercise he called active imagination. The therapists role is not only to help create the right mood or frame for this to take place, but also to contribute in a more objective way, by making timely suggestions, particularly on the basis of what the therapists knows about the meaning of symbols. Here's an example Jung offers in his chapter in the book, Man And His Symbols.
“For instance, a patient of mine dreamed of a drunken and disheveled vulgar woman. In the dream, it seemed that this woman was his wife, though in real life his wife was totally different. On the surface, therefore, the dream was shockingly untrue, and the patient immediately rejected it as dream nonsense…
…What then, was his unconscious trying to convey by such an obviously untrue statement? Clearly it somehow expressed the idea of a degenerate female who was closely connected with the dreamer’s life; but since the projection of this image on to his wife was unjustified and factually untrue, I had to look elsewhere before I found out what this repulsive image represented.
In the Middle Ages... it was said, “Every man carries a woman within himself.” It is this female element in every male that I have called the “anima.” This “feminine” aspect is essentially a certain inferior kind of relatedness to the surroundings, and particularly to women, which (in men) is kept carefully concealed from others as well as from oneself…
That was the case with this particular patient: His female side was not nice. His dream was actually saying to him: “You are in some respects behaving like degenerate female,” and thus gave him an appropriate shock.”
I like this example because it is so grounded. The man needed a shock from the unconscious if he was to integrate a part of himself that he was trying to expel, and in so doing caused him to behave like a lout. But Jung also introduces us to his notion of archetypes, the propensity that we collectively inherit to have shared kinds of fantasies and experiences in our inner lives - in this case, a man dreaming of his anima. Often when you read about archetypes they are enthusiastically presented as semi-divine figures within us, but as here, Jung himself tends to keep his feet on the ground. He shows quite clearly that most of the time such figures play a far more humdrum role: to highlight uneasy issues in our personalities - perhaps residues from specific difficulties in our lives; or tendencies that have become out of balance…”
You can read Mark’s complete article here. For an excellent audiobook introduction I highly recommend this one by Anthony Stevens.
Today via Jim Forrest in the Netherlands and my good friend Steve Georgiou in San Francisco comes a rare interview with Kentucky farmer, poet, and prophet Wendell Berry. He is interviewed by Bill Moyers.
I have read Berry off and on for many years, the first book addition to my library was back in 1991 and it was his 1987 publication Home Economics, a collection of 14 essays dedicated to another author I’d been reading, Wes Jackson (Becoming Native to this Place).
Also available for download as an audio file on iTunes – here – scroll down to 10/04/13.
It was timely that On Being recently featured a late 2013 interview with Brian McLaren. Why timely? Timely because Brian is in NZ either now or shortly, and for those of you near Hamilton, you can hear him on Easter Monday. While not necessarily 'new" in terms of content, I really enjoyed listening to it earlier in the week. The brochure is attached to the bottom of this post. It includes the cost, venue(s) etc. The date on the brochure is wrong. Easter Monday is the 21st April.
Brian is a leading Evangelical pastor and author of several books including A Generous Orthodoxy, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?, and the forthcoming We Make the Road by Walking. (I love the title - it's so true!)
“…Let's go back and look at our faith before it was reduced to a system, before it was reduced to a system of abstractions and beliefs. How can we rediscover our faith as a series of stories and as a series of encounters?...”
~ Brian McLaren on the evolution of Christianity and the meaning of progressive Evangelicalism.
You’ll find the interview here. Downloadable also via iTunes.
“…Like a jagged rock thrown into a flowing stream, the church once “troubled the waters.” Now, however, it seems as if the church has slowly, often imperceptibly been worn so smooth by the culture that it no longer creates any disturbance at all…”
Another episode of Sounds True’sInsights at the Edge programme; one which I found very thought provoking while at the same time a very relaxed conversation with an author I’ve read a lot of over the years. In this episode Tami Simon interviews author and poet Roger Housden, creator of the New York Times bestseller Ten Poems to Change Your Life. Simon and Housden have a conversation regarding the extraordinary access contemporary peoples have to different faiths, as well as why increasing distrust of authority has driven many away from traditional religious practice. They also discuss how it’s possible to maintain one’s faith even in the midst of pain and suffering. Finally, Housden speaks on poetry and its inherent relationship to faith. (67 minutes)
“…There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need only do inner work…that a man is entirely responsible for his own problems; and that to cure himself, he need only change himself… The fact is, a person is so formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings…”
Roger Housden, who books engaging with poetry sit before me on my bookshelf, reflects:
“…Those who are on the path of individuation are the most likely members of the “spiritual not religious” sector of the population. These are the people for whom faith tends to be more central than belief, for whom religion has become a personal spiritual affair instead of an institution whose belief system you sign up for. People like this are not so concerned with what they believe or don’t believe; they want to know how rather than what — how they can connect to a world beyond their own ego, a world of meaning and value that they intuit to be present, and yet are not always in touch with. And they are willing to use whatever works, whatever psychological or spiritual tradition it may come from, to develop what Parker Palmer, the Christian writer, calls “habits of the heart” to form that connection…”