AZspot

blue bits. red rocks.

age of spirit

The church has always had a problem of explaining its relationship to the world. By far the commonest view is the Noah’s Ark theory: The human race is out there bobbing around in the drink. Nobody can touch bottom; they all just tread water till they drown. Up over the horizon sails the Ark of Salvation. Much bustle. Cries of “Man overboard!” and “Heave to!” Apostles, Martyrs, Popes, Confessors, Bishops, Virgins and Widows lean over the sides with baptismal boat-hooks and haul the willing ones up over the gunwales. Assorted purblind types, however, refuse to come aboard. Sensible arguments are offered to them, but there are no takers. After a just interval, the Captain orders full speed ahead and, swamping the finally impenitent in his wake, heads the church for the ultimate snug harbor. The trouble with that view, and with many another more refined, is that it forces you to limit the Incarnate Word’s saving activity to the church. No doubt the church is the only place where you can be sure (by means of easily recognized sacramental hats) that you have a firm grip on what he’s doing; but it doesn’t seem right to imply that he isn’t doing the same work everywhere else. I, if I be lifted up, says Jesus, will draw all unto me. God invented the ecumenical movement–and his version of it is not limited to Christians. The relationship between the baptized and the unbaptized is not a case of us versus them. The church is like the rest of the sacraments, an effective sign — a notable outcropping — of what all people already are by the Word’s work of creation and Incarnation. The church is the mystical body because humanity is the mystical body. The only difference is that in church the Mystery wears a hat on its head. Robert Farrar Capon

Science and religion have much in common. They are communal activities and involve a search for some greater truth. The sharing of ideas is fundamental to both. The discipline of science can make a valuable contribution to religious thought; critical honesty, the willingness to abandon old ideas and modes of thought when fresh insight demands it and the centrality of experience as an arbiter of truth are as important in one as in the other. In both the scientific and religious searches for truth, the implications of current beliefs are explored to see where they lead. Beliefs are not just safe ledges in an uncertain reality, but rather handholds from which further heights can be reached. Faith & Practice, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain

The humility we aspire to at our very best is inseparable from the humus beneath our feet—the ground that someone must till if we are to eat, that someone must tend if we are to survive. Stability of place begins with the humble acknowledgment that our life depends on the land we live upon. Barbara Kingsolver, one of our most articulate contemporary advocates for the land, reflects on her adult life, noting that she has dug asparagus beds into the yards of every house she has owned and some that she has rented. Why bother? we might ask, when asparagus is readily available at any good supermarket, and for much less trouble? Kingsolver answers, “I suppose in those unsettled years I was aspiring to a stability I couldn’t yet purchase.” The trouble for most of us isn’t so much that we cannot afford stability as it is that we don’t value it. We idealize and aspire to a life on the move, spending what resources we have on acquiring skills that make us more marketable (that is, more mobile). We want to “move up in the world,” which almost always means closer to a highway, an airport, or a shopping mall. I cannot deny that this is why I left the rural farming community where I grew up. But neither can I ignore the fact that this is what has been unraveling the neighborhood where I now live since the late 1960s. The Spiritual Discipline of Staying Put: Planting Roots in a Placeless Culture

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