Unity and Diversity

June 3rd, 2019 by Dave Leave a reply »

One in Love

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The primary problem is that our identities are too small. We tend to rely most on our smaller, cultural identities and ignore our larger, common identity as members of the body of Christ. . . . Indeed, adopting a common identity is the key to tearing down cultural divisions and working toward reconciliation. —Christena Cleveland [1]

God’s major problem in liberating humanity has become apparent to me as I consider the undying recurrence of hatred of the other, century after century, in culture after culture and religion after religion.

The dualistic mind, upon which most of us were taught to rely, is simply incapable of the task of creating unity. It automatically divides reality into binary opposites and does most of its thinking inside this limited frame. It dares to call this choosing of sides “thinking” because that is all it knows how to do. “Really good” thinking then becomes devising a strong argument for our side’s superiority versus another country, race, group, political party, or religion.

It seems we must have our other! We struggle to know who we are except by opposition and exclusion. Eucharist was supposed to tell Christians who we are in a positive and inclusionary way. But many Catholics, particularly clergy, have made the Holy Meal into a “prize for the perfect” and a “reward for good behavior” instead of medicine for sickness—which we all equally need. Now I see what our real sickness is. Our sickness or “sin” is the illusion of separateness, a completely mistaken identity which is far too small and too boundaried. The Eucharist is made to order to remind us that we are all one body of Christ. Even those in “other flocks” (see John 10:16)—other religions or no religion at all—are still part of the one body of God, which is, first of all, creation itself.

Christianity’s long history of anti-Semitism is one example of this. Throughout Europe, leaders at the highest levels of church and culture, and even canonized saints, thought Jews were a problem—while their own leader Jesus, his mother Mary, and all the apostles were fully Jewish! Figure that one out. Anti-Semitism only lessened for a time during the Crusades when Christians directed their negative energy toward Muslims. Later, when there were no obvious “others” around, we Christians divided into warring denominations and did our fighting there.

Humans are wired to scapegoat and project our shadow elsewhere. Being able to recognize our own negativity takes foundational conversion and transformation of the egoic self. Unitive consciousness—the awareness that we are all one in Love—lays a solid foundation for social critique and acts of justice. I hope we will let God show us how to think and live in new ways, ways that meet the very real needs of our time on this suffering planet.

Diversity Protected

Monday, June 3, 2019

White dominant culture has been alive and well for centuries, and its grasp for power is only growing more desperate. Today we see unabashed racism, classism, and sexism at the highest levels of the United States government. How naïve many of us were to think we lived in a post-racial society after the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and after we saw an African American president and his family in the White House. Now our collective shadow has again come out in the open for all to see.

It seems every generation must be newly converted. While we seek to transform individual hearts and minds we must also work to create change throughout systems. Until a full vision of equity is realized, we must continue naming and resisting the ways in which so many people are excluded and oppressed. Author and activist adrienne maree brown writes:

Separation weakens. It is the main way we are kept (and keep each other) in conditions of oppression. . . . Where we are born into privilege, we are charged with dismantling any myth of supremacy. Where we are born into struggle, we are charged with claiming our dignity, joy and liberation. . . . From that deep place of belonging to ourselves, we can understand that we are inherently worthy of each other. Even when we make mistakes, harm each other, lose our way, we are worthy. [1]    

I believe the problem of otherness and separation is so foundational to all of reality that it had to be overcome in the very nature of God—from the very beginning—and in all things created in the image of God, which is exactly all things. God has to include otherness—diversity, if you will—but God also has to be diversity overcome and resolved, first inside of the Deity Itself (the Trinity), and then in all those created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), who are imprinted, marked, and “turned into the image that they reflect” (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

The members of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—are the Christian placeholder names for clear distinction, pluriformity, and otherness. You can use other words if you want; what’s important is distinction and diversity in loving relationship. The three must be maintained as three and understood as different from one another. Yet the infinite trust and flow between them is so constant, so reliable, so true, and so faithful that they are also completely one. They must be diverse, and they must be one—at the same time. The glue that preserves both truths at the same time is Infinite Love.

Our basic human problem of unity and diversity has been resolved in the very nature of God, but unless we allow ourselves inside of that Infinite flow, we ourselves will always remain the three but never the one. If we remain exclusive monotheists, like Judaism, Islam, and much of Christianity up to now, we normally try to impose a false uniformity on others but rarely know how to love, honor, and respect diversity. We remain in competing tribes and colonies.

Like the Godself, we must be both “three and one,” different and united: diversity affirmed, protected, and overcome by One Shared Love. Even the very basic element of the atom appears to mirror such cyclical diversity, attraction, and allurement—within itself.

Summary: Week Twenty-two

Meeting Christ Within Us

May 26 – May 31, 2019

The goal of Christian spirituality is to recognize and respond to the continual interior movements of the Spirit, for the Spirit will always lead us toward greater union with Christ and greater love and service of God and others. —Richard Hauser (Sunday)

So many mystics seem to equate the discovery of their own souls with the very discovery of God. This will feel like a calm and humble ability to quietly trust yourself and trust God at the same timeIsn’t that what we all want? (Monday)

If you can trust and listen to your inner divine image, your whole-making instinct, or your True Self, you will act from your best, largest, kindest, most inclusive self. (Tuesday)

Many Westerners today are now reacquiring and accessing more of the skills we need to go into the depths of things—and to find God’s Spirit there. (Wednesday)

Christ’s soul and our soul are like an everlasting knot. The deeper we move in our own being, the closer we come to Christ. And the closer we come to Christ’s soul, the nearer we move to the heart of one another. —John Philip Newell, explaining the teachings of Julian of Norwich (Thursday)

While God is transcendent, God is also immanent, and chooses to dwell within us. Contemplative spirituality helps us realize God’s presence within us. —Phileena Heuertz (Friday)

Practice: Centering Prayer

Centering prayer is a simple form of Christian meditation developed in the 1970s by three Trappist monks: Thomas Keating, William Meninger, and Basil Pennington. Read Phileena Heuertz’s introduction to this practice and then take some time to walk through the steps:

Centering prayer roots us in divine love. It is a modernized prayer method based on the intuitive prayer rooted in lectio divina and The Cloud of Unknowing. It is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer—prayer in which we experience the divine’s immanent presence within us. Centering prayer is grounded in relationship with God, through Christ, and is a practice to nurture that relationship. . . .

Centering prayer complements and supports other modes of prayer—verbal, mental, or affective prayer. It facilitates resting in the divine presence. Centering prayer offers a way to grow in intimacy with God, moving beyond conversation to communion.

As Father Thomas [Keating] emphasizes, the source of centering payer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The focus of centering prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. The effects of centering prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love. To practice centering prayer, follow these steps.

  1. Sit in an upright, attentive posture in a way that allows for a straight spine and open heart. Place your hands in your lap.
  2. Gently close your eyes and bring to mind your sacred word, image, or breath as your symbol to consent to the presence and action of God within you. Your sacred symbol is intended to be the same every time you pray. It helps to ground you in the present moment. It allows you to give your undivided, loving, yielded attention to God. Choose a name for God or an attribute of God like love, peace, and so on. You may prefer a sacred image instead or simply a mindful breath.
  3. Silently, with eyes closed, recall your sacred symbol to begin your prayer. As you notice your thoughts, gently return to your sacred symbol. Do this however many times you notice thoughts, feelings, or sensations.
  4. When your prayer period is over, transition slowly from your practice to your active life.

It is recommended to pray in this fashion for a minimum of twenty minutes, two times a day. Start out slowly with initial prayer periods of five to ten minutes, then work up to the desired length of time.


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