John of the Cross was invited by Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) to join her in reforming the Carmelite Order by returning to a renewed fidelity to prayer, simplicity, and poverty. The priests of the order did not take kindly to the suggestion that they needed reform and demanded that John stop his involvement. John said that he would not stop because he discerned in his heart that God was calling him to continue with this work. The priests responded in a very harsh manner, capturing him and putting him in a small dark prison cell with little protection from the elements. John was imprisoned for nine months. During that time, on a number of occasions, he would be taken out of his cell, stripped to the waist, and whipped.
John felt lost. It wasn’t just because of the severity of his imprisonment. This was the Church! The priests who were mistreating him were people he had emulated. John went through what we could call the traumatization of spirituality, which can be described as a kind of dark night of faith in which we lose experiential access to God’s sustaining presence in the midst of our struggles. [I, Richard, imagine many are going through a similar experience as we learn about the Catholic Church’s extensive cover-up of sexual abuse.]
Trauma is the experience of being powerless to establish a boundary between our self and that which is about to inflict, or is already inflicting, serious harm or even death. It is one of the most acute forms of suffering that a human being can know. It is the experience of imminent annihilation. And so, when your faith in God has been placed in the people who represent God’s presence in your life and those people betray you, you can feel that God has betrayed you. And it is in this dark night that we can learn from God how to find our way to a deeper experience and understanding of God’s sustaining presence, deeper than institutional structures and authority figures.
For John of the Cross, his suffering opened up onto something unexpected. John discovered that although it was true that he could not find refuge from suffering when he was in his prison cell, he also discovered that the suffering he had to endure had no refuge from God’s love that could take the suffering away, but rather permeated the suffering through and through and through and through and through. Love protects us from nothing, even as it unexplainably sustains us in all things. Access to this love is not limited by our finite ideas of what it is or what it should be. Rather, this love overwhelms our abilities to comprehend it, as it so unexplainably sustains us and continues to draw us to itself in all that life might send our way.
This is why John of the Cross encourages us not to lose heart when we are passing through our own hardships, but rather to have faith in knowing and trusting that no matter what might be happening and no matter how painful it might be, God is sustaining us in ways we cannot and do not need to understand. John encourages us that in learning to be patiently transformed in this dark night we come to discover within ourselves, just when everything seems to be lost, that we are being unexplainably sustained by the presence of God that will never lose us. As this painful yet transformative process continues to play itself out in our lives, we can and will discover we are finding our way to the peace of God that surpasses understanding.
her membership in an organization called People of Praise. This body, which is not affiliated with the Church or any Protestant denomination, is devoted to so-called “charismatic” spirituality: guitar hymns and a somewhat gushy attitude towards prayer. Nothing could be further removed from the high-and-dry devotional lives of actual traditionalist Catholics, whose responses to the charismatic movement since its inception have tended to range from “Not my cup of tea, thanks!” to accusations of heresy.
.. I fully expect that sooner or later a court of which Barrett were a member would overturn Roe v. Wade. That a woman should be responsible for undoing this legally sanctioned perversion of the most wholesome relationship in nature, that between a mother and her child, seems to me right in a way that is almost ineffable.
.. she asked the absolute sharpest, most penetrating questions. She is scary smart.”
.. Barrett should be nominated by the president and confirmed for the very simple reason that she is a gifted legal mind respected by her colleagues and a person of outstanding character whose presence on our country’s highest court would do credit to the United States and her people.
Krista Tippett, Host, “On Being”; Author, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living; Twitter @kristatippett
Rev. Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus, Grace Cathedral San Francisco—Moderator
- Religious but not spiritual. Interest in actions and embodying, not just belief.
- Rabbi’s definition of orthodoxy: If you were in charge, would I be safe?
- Dietrich Bonhoffer: Christians prattle on. The man who is not listening to his neighbor will not be able to listen to God.
- Humility of Child is about amazement, discovery, curiosity
- I’m not interested in anything that is just spiritual, but that it is reality-based, more so than politics and economics.
Despite their varying theologies, evangelicalism, mainline Protestantism, Mormonism and Catholicism all have about a 55-45 female-male split in religious identification; for black churches, it’s 60-40.
.. American men twice as likely as women to call themselves atheists — something that will surprise exactly nobody who has sojourned among Richard Dawkins fans.
.. The fact that the gender gap is less apparent or reversed in the Islamic world and Israel is a suggestive indicator that something specific to Christianity is at work.
.. Peterson is “a believer in the New Religion, the one where God is the force for good inside each of us, and all religions are paths to wisdom, and the Bible stories are just guides on how to live our lives.”
.. When you think about the New Religion’s various cultural and (in the case of yoga) liturgical expressions, they generally skew female. Oprah’s roadshow of spiritual gurus includes men as well as women, but the intended audience for her revivals, as for the “The Secret” or “Eat Pray Love” or the collected works of Paulo Coelho, is very obviously feminine.
.. Meanwhile, men looking for post-Christian enlightenment seem to gravitate toward secular-rationalist cults like the New Atheism, or more recently toward toxic forms of alt-right politics.
.. But can a Peterson man and an Oprah woman be happy together?
Spirituality is primarily about human transformation in this life, not just salvation in a future realm. While Western Christianity lost much of this emphasis, and became rather practical and often superficial, the Eastern church taught theosis or divinization as the very real process of growing in union and likeness with God in this world.  This is one of the many losses Christianity experienced in the Great Schism of 1054, when the popes of East and West mutually excommunicated one another.
.. Pope John Paul II was acknowledging that the Western church had largely lost its foundational belief in divinization, and in the practical order had even denied its possibility. Instead, we were just “sinners in the hands of an angry God” and even “totally depraved.” No wonder humans suffer from such lack of self-esteem today. We haven’t told them the central and foundational Good News! I believe this is the source of a lot of the anger and disillusionment with Christianity today.
Burning Man is, in part, a quasi-religion of self-care. “Letting go,” the supposedly spiritual purpose of the Temple, is actually therapy. Healing emotional pain is a strategy for removing barriers to enjoyment. This isn’t a bad thing, of course. But hedonism becomes profane when it’s married to a “spirituality” meant to provide moral or mystical justification of living for oneself.