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…”
James K A. Smith’s latest publication out shortly:
“Following his successful Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? leading Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith introduces the philosophical sources behind postliberal theology. Offering a provocative analysis of relativism, Smith provides an introduction to the key voices of pragmatism: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, and Robert Brandom. Many Christians view relativism as the antithesis of absolute truth and take it to be the antithesis of the gospel. Smith argues that this reaction is a symptom of a deeper theological problem: an inability to honor the contingency and dependence of our creaturehood. Appreciating our created finitude as the condition under which we know (and were made to know) should compel us to appreciate the contingency of our knowledge without sliding into arbitrariness. Saying "It depends" is not the equivalent of saying "It's not true" or "I don't know." It is simply to recognize the conditions of our knowledge as finite, created, social beings. Pragmatism, says Smith, helps us recover a fundamental Christian appreciation of the contingency of creaturehood. This addition to an acclaimed series engages key thinkers in modern philosophy with a view to ministry and addresses the challenge of relativism in a creative, original way. ”
"It Depends": Creation, Contingency, and the Specter of Relativism
Community as Context: Wittgenstein on "Meaning as Use"
Who's Afraid of Contingency? Owning Up to Our Creaturehood with Rorty
Reasons to Believe: Making Faith Explicit after Brandom .
The (Inferential) Nature of Doctrine: Postliberalism as Christian Pragmatism
Epilogue: How to be a Conservative Relativist Index.
"It is often observed that one of the most important and revealing questions you can ask someone identified as a 'thinker' is 'What are you afraid of?' Writing with clarity and great sympathy, Smith helps us see that Christian theologians have betrayed their best insights by being afraid of relativism. He helps us see that the challenge is not relativism itself but rather the epistemological concerns that produced relativism. As is usually the case with Smith's work, this book is both clear and constructive: he not only provides a clear account of the work of Wittgenstein, Rorty, and Brandom but also develops an account of why and how Christians should navigate the contingent character of our lives."
Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Emeritus Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School
Form time-to-time I dip into the poetry of Persian poets Jelaluddin Rumi and Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī, the latter known by his pen name Hafez (or oftentimes Hafiz).
Yesterday was Nowruz (Persian: meaning "[The] New Day") is the name of the Iranian New Year in the Solar Hijri calendar. Nowruz is also referred to as the Persian New Year.
So in honor of that day I want to highlight what I found to be a really fascinating conversation between Tami Simon, from Sounds True, and Coleman Barks, a leading scholar and translator of the 13th century Persian mystic, Jelaluddin Rumi. Coleman’s work was the subject of an hour-long segment in Bill Moyers’ Language of Life series with PBS. He has published numerous Rumi translations, including with Sounds True the audio programs I Want Burning, Rumi: Voice of Longing, and his new three-CD collaboration with cellist David Darling called Just Being Here: Rumi and Human Friendship. In this episode, Tami speaks with Coleman about the extraordinary friendship between Rumi and his teacher Shams Tabriz, and how translating Rumi requires entering a trance state. Coleman offers insights on grace as he and Tami listen to selections from Just Being Here. (63 minutes)
“…Walter Brueggemann, one of my favourite Scripture scholars, discovered that the Hebrew Scriptures, in their development, reflect the development of human consciousness. Before we delve into the first half of life, it is helpful to use this model as an overview of the whole of life.
Brueggemann says there are three major segments to the Hebrew Scriptures. The first five books, or the Torah, correspond to the first half of life. The Torah is the period in which the people of Israel were given law, tradition, structure, certitude, order, clarity, authority, safety, and specialness. It would define them and give them their identity and hold them together.
You have to begin with some kind of Torah in normal healthy development. And it sure helps to believe that you are the “chosen people.” That’s what parents are giving their little ones—security, safety, specialness. The possibility of divine election is first mediated and made possible through the loving gaze of your parents and those around you (even neurologically).
The second major section of the Hebrew Scriptures is called The Prophets. This introduces the necessary “stumbling stones” that initiate you into the second half of life. Prophetic thinking is the necessary capacity for healthy self-criticism, the ability to recognize your own dark side, as the prophets did for Israel. Without that, most people (and most of religion) never move beyond tribal thinking, which is the belief that they and their group are the best, and really the “only.” It creates narcissism instead of any possibility of enlightenment.
If the psyche moves in normal sequence, the leaven of self-criticism added to the certainty of your own specialness will allow you to move to the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Wisdom Literature, represented best in many of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and the Book of Job. Here you move into the language of mystery and paradox. This is the second half of life. You are strong enough now to hold together contradictions, even in yourself, even in others. And you can do so with compassion, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance. But we don’t move toward the second half until we’ve gone through the other two states. The best sequence, therefore, is order-disorder-synthesis…”
I’ve long been fascinated by Hugh Tennent’s approach to architecture. He’s an interesting character.
“Wellington architect Hugh Tennent is fostering an unusual design niche for himself. Combining a passion for Buddhist meditation with a love of architecture, Hugh has designed and overseen the building of many spiritual spaces around the country, from a Cistercian Abbey in the Hawkes Bay, to a meditation retreat near Akaroa. And while he enjoys working on both domestic and commercial buildings, he says it's the ability to support the spiritual wellbeing of a community through his architecture, that brings him most satisfaction. Spiritual Outlook's Lisa Thompson travelled to Wellington to meet Hugh and to discover how he is helping people bring order to the chaos of everyday life.”
“…We find that the terms introvert and extrovert (originally spelled extravert) were popularized by Carl Jung in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, their meanings got confused between then and now, and we started thinking that everyone belongs to one camp or the other. But actually, Carl’s point was that these are the very extremes of a scale.
Which means that most of us fall somewhere in the middle.
There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum. – Carl G Jung…
… Introversion and extroversion actually relate to where we get our energy from.
Or in other words, how we recharge our brains.
Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social…”
Sourced from here, where you’ll find a helpful overview for a general reader. Thanks to my Canadian friend Len for bringing it to my attention. The accompanying image is sourced from the article linked to above.
I have benefited greatly from the truth of this quote over a good number of years, but especially in the last two or three:
“There is a fallow time for the spirit when the soil is barren… Face it! Then resolutely dig out dead roots, clear the ground, … work out new designs by dreaming daring dreams and great and creative planning. The time is not wasted. The time of fallowness is a time of rest and restoration, of filling up and replenishing. It is the moment when the meaning of all things can be searched out, tracked down, and made to yield the secret of living. Thank God for the fallow time!”