Friday, September 20, 2013

A Delicious Madness

One of the joys of experiencing a good TV show or book for the second or third time is that familiar lines arrive with new depth and meaning. Such has been the case for me recently as my wife and I have watched "Battlestar Galactica" and my thoughts have dwelt on a particular quote whose truth has become strikingly apparent:
To know the face of God is to know madness.
"I open my eyes and I see you … I close my eyes and I hear you … I cannot escape you; but why would I want to? You are beauty, glory, joy, ecstasy, and the shiver up my spine when I feel your touch upon my soul … You radiate in birth and death, in moans of pleasure and cries of agony, in our happiness and our pain … I feel this every moment and it overwhelms me. It pushes me to the brink of sanity and I am not sure I want to step back. I cannot escape you, and I do not want to."

This is not the faith of corporate religion or conventional wisdom. They prattle on about it being sensible and normal. They associate it with tradition, conservatism, and order. What fools we all are! The Church tells us that God became human, so that we could become God. Is that sensible or normal? What sort of order could possibly come from encouraging humans to take in the view from our Parent's eyes?

"From your perspective, you see love and hate, good and evil, right and wrong. I see what is and what will be, and what I see is love and good, always."

Ever since I embarked on this journey, I feel like I have been falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. I lived with this revelation for so many years, but only started to live it after freeing it from its cage in my head. Each day, my vision becomes more and more wonderfully disoriented. And each day, the human perspective seems sillier and more superficial. Perhaps that is why I have such a difficult time finding the right words for this blog; for I am tasked with translating sacred murmurings into a language from which I find myself increasingly disconnected. But how could it be any other way?

"In that moment, in that very moment, whether it lasts a second or a lifetime, you know that you have touched the face of the divine. Whatever name you want to call him or her or it, you have touched that face and you will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same again. You may try to bury the image, pretend it doesn't exist, but there it will be, forever and ever. Always lingering, always waiting, always hoping."

"I cannot escape you, and I never will. Thank you my friend."

Will you join me in this most delicious madness?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Monthly Reading Links

"Each recent pope has had a catchphrase that represents his core emphasis … For Francis, his signature idea is mercy. Over and over again, he emphasizes God's endless capacity to forgive, insisting what the world needs to hear from the church above all today is a message of compassion."
John Allen, National Catholic Reporter

"Often conversations about racism and white privilege get stalemated because people are uncomfortable with the implications of complicity or guilt. Why are we so afraid of being uncomfortable? For me, avoiding this discomfort is impossible. What I learned from my grandfather's lived response to [Martin Luther King]'s challenge is a vision that proactively sought justice. His faith pushed him to name and relinquish the privilege of a situation he didn't create, but that perpetuated injustice."
Meghan Clark, Catholic Moral Theology

"It is telling how sensitive some people are to this possible implication of the gospels, that our entire economic system – or at least many of the taken-for-granted behaviors of those with wealth – might be under judgment and contrary to God's will. It SOUNDS like the Pope is condemning our mainstream agreement that progress means ever-greater social wealth and innovative gadgets, just as it SOUNDS like Jesus' story of building bigger barns and kicking back to eat, drink, and be merry might be challenging our pretentions to houses and resort-lifestyles in retirement. But, eek, that CAN'T be."
David Cloutier, Catholic Moral Theology

"'She's saying she's sorry,' the social worker who was with us translated. 'She said she's really, really sorry.' As I listened to 25 years of shame spill from somewhere deep inside her, it was impossible not to break down with her. 'I missed you,' she said. 'I've never forgotten you.' I would not cry again during my 3 1/2-hour meeting with my biological mother. But in those moments I cried because I understood the depth of her pain – and I knew I was helping to relieve it."
Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times

"On his cartoon blog Zen Pencils, Gavin Aung Than turns inspirational quotes into comic strips. For his newest strip, he illustrated a quote from Bill Watterson's 1990 speech at Kenyon College in the style of Calvin and Hobbes, which Than considers 'the greatest comic strip of all time.'"
Gavin Aung Than, Slate

"On the Catalyst, the initial experience is one of 'dislocation' and 'disorientation'. The ship is beautifully appointed, but it is impossible to ignore the fact that it is 15 people (11 passengers + 4 crew) on a 75 foot boat … Over the week, though, I learned how important dislocation and disorientation were to the overall experience. By forcing me to shed my comforts – the quiet home of just my wife and I and the dogs; control over my schedule, and my meals; the Internet to fill unscheduled time; unlimited bathroom access – I was nudged into something more valuable than distraction: 'engagement.'"
John Warner, Inside Higher Ed

"These women have taught me, but not in the fashion my catchphrases had led me to expect. They offered no insight into how the poor are veiled images of Jesus. No lessons on how I could learn from their simplicity. They offered me instead a more basic lesson: how I, a guest, ought to esteem my hosts."
Joe Wotawa, The Jesuit Post

Follow me on Twitter, @jwbidwell, for additional reading recommendations.