Wisdom abounds if you would seek it…

10 Aug

Or so I like to think. I have been finding much in the challenging pages of If God is Love by Philip Gulley & James Mulholland.

…President Bush, in the days after September 11, suggested we were fighting to defend our way of life. But what if our way of life is unjust and oppressive toward much of the world?

When we fail to acknowledge our complicity in the injustice in the world, we often replace real justice — economic and political equality — with retribution. What we seek is not to rectify injustice, but to defend our inordinate piece of the pie. The answer is “homeland security” rather than global equality. We seek an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth from people blinded by rage with no food to chew. Unfortunately, when we attack the poor, we seldom do justice. Ungracious justice is merciless, justifying the ugly and violating the principles we pretend to value.

It is nice to know such Christian prophecy (in the proper sense) still exists in the USA. Unfortunately, many Christians, locked into fundamentalism or narrow dogma or into a literalist view of scripture, reject what this utterly Christian book has to say, the true reason being, I suspect, statements like the one I just quoted, which Americans (and the world) really do need to hear.

Yesterday I mentioned that amazing software package that delivers me 4000+ classics, among which is Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ. (Note that The Communist Manifesto is also in the package, and so is The Origin of Species.) According to Wikipedia:

He was born at Kempen, Germany (40 miles northwest of Cologne) in 1380 and died near Zwolle (52 miles east-north-east of Amsterdam) in 1471. His paternal name was Hemerken or Hämmerlein, “little hammer.”

In 1395 he was sent to the school at Deventer conducted by the Brethren of the Common Life. He became skillful as a copyist and was thus enabled to support himself. Later he was admitted to the Augustinian convent of Mount Saint Agnes near Zwolle, where his brother John had been before him and had risen to the dignity of prior. Thomas received priest’s orders in 1413 and was made subprior in 1429.

His classic treatise on the religious life is shot through with the almost Manichaean dichotomy of flesh and spirit characteristic of that age; mind you, I suspect hedonism, or exaltation of the flesh, is equally wrong. A life predicated on crystal meth and sex seems to me as inhuman as any. But there is still much wisdom in the old Thomas.

TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.

We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.

In another tradition altogether, ABC Radio National’s Encounter was quite fascinating this week. I happened to hear it early this morning, having woken very early. See Heaven Doesn’t Speak, an account of Confucius that was both fascinating and informative. This is part of the Australian mix now and we can all learn from it.

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One response to “Wisdom abounds if you would seek it…

  1. GE

    August 10, 2006 at 10:07 am

    As always, lots of food for thought here, Neil!

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