A Revolutionary Matter

Contemplation is radical in that it goes to “the root” (radix) of all our problems. Contemplation is the heart of the matter because it changes consciousness and thus transforms how we enter into communion with God, with ourselves, with the moment. Without the contemplative mind, all our talk about and action for social change and justice can actually do more harm than good. In working for social change, we all get angry, disillusioned, alienated, and hurt. We make mistakes, we don’t agree with others, we discover that change takes longer than we’d hoped and the solution isn’t as simple as we’d imagined. I have seen far too many give up, grow bitter, or just nurse a quiet cynicism when they can’t hold disappointment with a contemplative, nondual consciousness. Action needs to be accompanied by contemplation for us to stay on the journey for the long haul. Otherwise, we’re just constantly searching for victims and perpetrators, and eventually we start playing the victim or perpetrator ourselves.

Contemplation is not a new idea; it’s one of the treasures of our Christian tradition. Jesus himself modeled this way of praying and being. It was taught systematically in monasteries for centuries, for example, by Francisco de Osuna (1492–1540), a Spanish Franciscan friar, whose writing liberated Teresa of Ávila. The desert mothers and fathers in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Cappadocia understood and cultivated it for centuries. While systematic contemplative teaching was largely lost for the last 500 years, today interfaith and inter-denominational interest in contemplation continues to grow all over the world.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI invited Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Church in England, to address the Synod of Catholic Bishops. Williams emphasized the foundational and radical importance of contemplation:

The Bible’s #MeToo Problem

Dr. Trible labels such stories “texts of terror.”

.. When we remember that a third or more of the women sitting in our pews have been sexually assaulted and the majority of them have been sexually harassed, the absence of biblical women’s stories is telling.

..  almost half of transgender individuals report being sexually assaulted.

.. The muting of the #MeToos of the Bible is a direct reflection of the culture of silence at work in our congregations. An assumption is woven into our sacred texts: that the experiences of women don’t matter. If religious communities fail to tell stories that reflect the experience of the women of our past, we will inevitably fail to address the sense of entitlement, assumption of superiority and lust for punishment carried through those stories and inherited by men of the present.

.. Statistically, perpetrators do not lurk in shadowy corners, waiting to pounce. They are men who have a hint of power, or wish they did, who understand women in much the same way so many of the stories of the Bible do — as objects to be penetrated, traded, bought or sold. They are sitting in our pews, or, sometimes, standing in our pulpits.

.. Abuse takes place when one person fails to see the humanity of another, taking what he wants in order to experience control, disordered intimacy or power. It is the symptom of an illness that is fundamentally spiritual: a kind of narcissism that allows him to focus only on sating his need, blind to the pain of the victim. This same narcissism caused the editors of our sacred stories to limit the rape of Dinah to only nine words in a book of thousands.

.. abusive narcissism must be unraveled through a transformation of heart and mind.

.. If I were preaching the story of Dinah, I might simply ask, “How do you think she felt?” It’s a question that some men have never considered. Though some abusers are beyond the reach of compassion, I have in my work as a pastor witnessed the ways hearts can open when someone tells a story. It is empathy, not regulations, that will create a different vision for masculinity in our nation, rooted in love instead of dominance.

.. But transformation happens only in the hard light of truth.

The Shattered Arguments for a New Glass-Steagall

Investment banking isn’t risky. What’s dangerous is creating stand-alone firms that can’t diversify.

The 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall was unfairly blamed in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Some people—apparently Mr. Cohn among them—mistakenly believe that investment banking is so risky that it should be once again kept separate from commercial banking. The truth is exactly the opposite: Traditional investment banking entails very little risk. The danger is stand-alone investment banks that are not diversified enough to survive a shock.

 ..Banks are at risk of failure when they become too concentrated by geography, industry or product line. Risk needs to be diversified so that no one mistake can bring down the entire institution. Even firms like Citigroup and Bank of America that made a series of mistakes in the 2008 crisis survived because they were diversified. Investment banks that were not properly diversified did not survive: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch.
..The major perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis were 20 or so institutions that had originated, securitized and distributed exotic subprime mortgages with toxic features. About 10 investment banks packaged mortgages made by savings-and-loan associations such as Countrywide, Washington Mutual and Indy Mac, and by state-chartered mortgage brokers—many of which committed outright fraud. These S&Ls were the remnants of an industry that had cost taxpayers some $150 billion during the 1980s and early 1990s. Notably absent from this array of culprits were large commercial banks, with an exception or two.