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Disneyland As Sacred Space


Burl
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What is in a word? What does a word suggest to us? The divine "individual". (Leaving "divine" aside :) )

 

In his fine essay "A Study of Chuang Tzu", Thomas Merton contrasts "individualism" with "personalism". Merton favours personalism, as it "gives priority to the person and not the individual self". To give priority to the person means respecting "the unique and inalienable value of the other person as well as ones own". Such a word as "person" implies ( for me ) community/communion/relationships. Elsewhere than in the essay cited, Merton has stated that much future inter-faith dialogue will involve seeking to understand and bring forth the nature of the "person".

It is said in Mr Jordan's letter that the "divine individual" reached its apogee in the Christian Religion. Possibly. In seeking to understand the "mystery" of the Incarnation, Christ/Jesus ( and thus, the person) has been understood, more often than not, according to the categories of Greek Philosophy. Then it seems for many the Cartesian "self" takes over, a self centered upon itself ( "The thinking self aware subject" - Merton )

 

Other possibilities are being explored.

 

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ADM/keenan.htm

 

But whatever is made of this.........The divine individual, the divine person. The individual, the person. What is in a word, or words?

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Tariki, you missed the point.

 

Jordan is conceptualizing social organization, not theology or philosophy.

 

Birds don't know they have names, but they do know they belong to a group.

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Thanks Burl, but a bit off putting since when my daughter was little, we loved Disney - although she was freaked out by the characters roaming the street, thought I'd have to take one out if it approached her.

 

But nothing transformative that we brought back to normal life, except Princess crowns. However, the author makes a good and interesting point.

 

Tariki, I liked Merton's person instead of individual self and I agree that Greek philosophy categories were used and they are no longer helpful to many modern Christians. And then you throw in Spong and others referring to the Divine Person as a verb rather than a noun.

Edited by thormas
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I often miss the point. Then again, we each have our own point

How large is any "group" if it needs to get beyond tribalism?

Jordan's big question for me is if we Americans can maintain our longstanding and somewhat contradictory memes of "rugged individualism" and "cooperative association". He remarks on crony capitalsm, tribalism, and persecution of political heresy as evidenced by this last election cycle as proof of the dissipation and degradation of the individual into members of maladaptive cliques.

 

Size of the groups may well play a part. Relating the first posting about pilgrimage and sacred spaces, there is something powerful in the physical gathering of like-minded people that is not found in solitary efforts.

 

This is part of the theme of Progressive Christianity but I don't think they explicitly identify it.

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Thanks Burl, but a bit off putting since when my daughter was little, we loved Disney - although she was freaked out by the characters roaming the street, thought I'd have to take one out if it approached her.

 

But nothing transformative that we brought back to normal life, except Princess crowns. However, the author makes a good and interesting point.

 

Tariki, I liked Merton's person instead of individual self and I agree that Greek philosophy categories were used and they are no longer helpful to many modern Christians. And then you throw in Spong and others referring to the Divine Person as a verb rather than a noun.

I live near DisneyWorld. I find the experience of extreme fantasy combined with interminable lines and the owners insistence on slipping a vacuum hose into my wallet a bit like dropping acid in Soviet Berlin.

 

Still, the need for pilgrimage and sacred spaces seems to be a basic human trait. Burning Man seems an obvious example.

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Tariki, I liked Merton's person instead of individual self and I agree that Greek philosophy categories were used and they are no longer helpful to many modern Christians. And then you throw in Spong and others referring to the Divine Person as a verb rather than a noun.

 

Hi Thormas

 

I was not aware of "throwing in Spong" but yes, verbs, not nouns. To see "prostituting" rather than "a prostitute" allows the person to "be" before our eyes and opens the gates to true communion. So always the need of new eyes rather than new sights/places.

 

This talk of "sacred places" brings the words of Ecclesiastes into mind, that there is nothing new under the sun - and once again the need of new eyes. Possibly we have replaced one place for another, Glastonbury for Disneyland, but what is "new under the sun". Much like the transition from secular pursuits and desires for so called "spiritual" things. What has really changed, what is new under the sun? Fundamentally, nothing.

 

On my own last visit to the "sacred space" of Disneyland (Paris) I found myself tending to the grandchildren while the "adults" headed to the Hollywood Tower Hotel for a short, sharp drop into the dark (an experience I wished to avoid at all costs) While one child snuggled safely in the pushchair, my little lad was taking a look at a stall selling various Disney goodies (AKA "slivers of the true cross"?) Suddenly he was off, making a mad dash for freedom! He had grabbed a packet of Goofy Sweets that had taken his fancy and was heading for the exits. I tried my best to catch him, but this was difficult with a pushchair to negotiate through the other pilgrims. Eventually I caught him, but it was a close run thing.

 

Anyway, are there really "sacred places" i.e more sacred than anywhere else? Or is THIS the Pure Land?

 

Maybe it is our pictures/anticipations of "heaven" that cause us not to have the new eyes. Searching for the next "sacred place" we pass by this world (and "betray" it for some imagined "other")

 

There is in the zen tradition the story of a well known "master" who took a walk each morning, out of the monastery and into a nearby village. One morning he heard the sounds of weeping from one of the huts. He entered and found the occupants crying over the loss of a loved one. The master sat down and began to weep with them. One of the masters "disciples" saw this and said "You of all people I would have thought were beyond this sort of thing" . "It is this that puts me beyond it" replied the master between his sobs.

 

One advantage that the Pure Land has over other Utopias is simply the fact that it is here, now.

 

Burl, Jordan's "big question" I can barely understand. However, my mind is giving me various flashbacks to the UK EU (in or out) Campaign so I may get the gist of it. Thanks.

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Hi Thormas

 

I was not aware of "throwing in Spong" but yes, verbs, not nouns. To see "prostituting" rather than "a prostitute" allows the person to "be" before our eyes and opens the gates to true communion. So always the need of new eyes rather than new sights/places.

Tariki.

This is a great insight, to recognize that one is not always their action and allowing the person to still 'be' before our eyes. What an impact it would have on ethics and judgment.

And, for me, these kinds of insights are 'new under the sun.' Although we could probably trace back into the histories of various traditions and find others who also thought this, for each new generation or at least some in a generation, to see this is indeed new.

As for Pure Land over other 'utopias,' although I do recognize that many Christians still have an old version of and eyes on heaven, I do not believe that all, including the Spong group, do. Belief in life after death does not (for them) mean betraying the here and now - their focus in on the here and now - it is simply that the work begun here and now continues and life, once received, is enhanced never lost when one empties Self of self(ishness) and becomes love. I also have to add that even brought up in 1950s Catholicism, where we had pictures of heaven :) we did not live for tomorrow and forget today, we lived in the now.

 

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Tariki.

 

This is a great insight, to recognize that one is not always their action and allowing the person to still 'be' before our eyes. What an impact it would have on ethics and judgment.

 

And, for me, these kinds of insights are 'new under the sun.' Although we could probably trace back into the histories of various traditions and find others who also thought this, for each new generation or at least some in a generation, to see this is indeed new.

 

As for Pure Land over other 'utopias,' although I do recognize that many Christians still have an old version of and eyes on heaven, I do not believe that all, including the Spong group, do. Belief in life after death does not (for them) mean betraying the here and now - their focus in on the here and now - it is simply that the work begun here and now continues and life, once received, is enhanced never lost when one empties Self of self(ishness) and becomes love. I also have to add that even brought up in 1950s Catholicism, where we had pictures of heaven :) we did not live for tomorrow and forget today, we lived in the now.

 

When Koheleth is speaking of "there is nothing new under the sun" he is speaking of his depression in trying to live without being centered on God. In the soliloquy, he describes failing to find happiness in hedonism, money and power. He then describes how he did find happiness after learning to live for God and defeated his previously depressive thought patterns.

 

Indeed, everything is new in Christ. The idea that there is "nothing new" is Koheleth describing depression, not a statement of faith. As always, Scripture taken out of context is often nonsense.

 

I've read very little of Spong, but what I have read seems based on the majesterial/hierarchical nature of the Anglican/Episcopal communion. Congregational churches don't have the same political issues.

 

The biblical image is eternal life: linking our current existence seamlessly to our existence after death. Living in a Godly manner gives us prescribed charisms or gifts of the spirit that we can enjoy in this physical life.

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There is the biblical use of the phrase but there is also the 'everyday' use of the phrase it seems. I was referring to the everyday take on nothing new under the sun.

 

I have no idea what you mean by Spong being based on "majesterial/hierarchical nature of the Anglican/Episcopal communion." Please explain.

 

I think the opposite: it is the gift of the spirit (God) that empowers us to live in a godly manner: the initiative or first act is always God or to put it another way, salvation is not earned, it is given.

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......it is the gift of the spirit (God) that empowers us to live in a godly manner: the initiative or first act is always God or to put it another way, salvation is not earned, it is given.

Thomas Merton speaks of God being His own gift.

 

I would say that such gift allows us to live from God, not "for" God.

 

Then again, I find theistic language more and more a jumble of images and concepts.

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I have no idea what you mean by Spong being based on "majesterial/hierarchical nature of the Anglican/Episcopal communion." Please explain.

Most of what I have read of Spong (which is not a lot) was criticism of the controlling nature of churches and their leaders.

 

The Anglican communion has a magesterial polity like RC. Run by clergy in a top down organization like a kingdom or corporation. The laity is told what doctrine is. If a layman disagrees with the doctrine they can be shunned or excommunicated.

 

Methodist, Christian Church and others are congregational. Clergy and laity meet and decide jointly on doctrine. Even topmost leaders are voted upon and rotate regularly, but the denomination still acts In unison. A middle ground which is parliamentarian in nature.

 

Baptist and some other churches have no doctrinal or political connection. Each church is an individual regarding it's own doctrine and polity. Some go so far as to refuse communion to anyone not baptized in that particular congregation.

Edited by Burl
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Thomas Merton speaks of God being His own gift.

 

I would say that such gift allows us to live from God, not "for" God.

 

Then again, I find theistic language more and more a jumble of images and concepts.

 

Tariki,

 

I think Merton is exactly right in this: The gift is God, as revelation is Self revelation given so we might live from/because not for. The point of existence is not to 'worship' God, it is to Live.

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Burl,

 

I think you're right on Spong as there is a criticism of Church teaching 'from on high' but he also criticizes theistic understandings be it magisterial or congregational.

 

Be that as it may, it is amazing the different expressions of Christianity. I just started a book on 'The Faiths of the Founding Fathers' which does a nice job of explaining and defining the many different expressions present in the 1700s in America.

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Burl,

 

I think you're right on Spong as there is a criticism of Church teaching 'from on high' but he also criticizes theistic understandings be it magisterial or congregational.

 

Be that as it may, it is amazing the different expressions of Christianity. I just started a book on 'The Faiths of the Founding Fathers' which does a nice job of explaining and defining the many different expressions present in the 1700s in America.

Is Spong athiest now? I read him as simply adverse to anthropomorphizing deity. God is not an old man named Howard with a long white beard painting away up in the clouds like I imagined in childhood - that sort of thing.

 

I think many churches are successfully balancing individualism and group identity, and they tend to be in the middle group.

 

The many varieties of Christianity are signs of health. Everything alive grows and changes, and God seems to have a great affection for variety.

 

Religious freedom in colonial America was largely the freedom to create competing theocracies. Wm. Penn and Roger Williams were really the few who got it right.

Edited by Burl
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I have never read Spong as an atheist, although certainly not a theist. I don't agree with everything he says but his 'reformation' for the most part resonates.

 

Getting back to verbs and not nouns, this relates to one of the main differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. In Theravada the "insight" alluded too is seen in "not-self" only, while the Mahayana applies it to all of Reality and not just the "self". The insight of verbs not nouns can offer a hook to the more exotic sounding "emptiness", that perhaps allows the subject to be approached without the mind turning to jelly or cries of "eastern" obscurity and wall gazing.

 

I am not over familiar with Bishop Spong. Hopefully he does not wear a silly hat. But as I see it there is essentially nothing to "reform". Christianity is a verb rather than a noun. I remember asking once on a Buddhist Forum whether Buddhism itself was the sole exception to nothing having an essence. This in the face of the doctrinaire and the Dharma "one wayers".

 

There is the "body of fear" (and I know it well) and the "river of change". When we let go we can learn to trust the river of change, or as one joker said, the "firm ground of emptiness". THEN we can reconstitute, perhaps even construct, our very own nouns but without being fooled by them, without the impulse to impose them upon others as being definitive and necessary for "salvation". They become ways of passing over, not for grasping. Stephen Batchelor speaks of an "ethics of empathy" rather than a "metaphysics of hope and fear."

 

As I intimated, I know well the body of fear. A sense of pure dread in the pit of my stomach is an old friend that comes and goes. I have learnt to say "thank you, thank you"....all things must pass. Seriously, the nembutsu is all I am capable of. It is how I am passing over into the river of change. Thankfully, as you have said Thormas, everything has been given, not earned or attained. Otherwise I would be up **** creek without a paddle.

Edited by tariki
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Seems there is a need for reform in Christianity simply in that it has been, to follow the thought, seen as a noun not a verb.

 

The idea of emptiness still doesn't resonate with me perhaps because I don't understand the concept at this point. If we are talking about emptying the self, okay but if it means more than that, ???. It is fair to talk of a metaphysics of hope and fear although with Spong's reformation or the insights of other theologians, the fear is out.

Edited by thormas
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As I see it.....

 

A metaphysics of hope ( alone ) inevitably means a betrayal of THIS world.

 

No amount of "good deeds" intended to make THIS world a better place changes the above.

 

Pure acceptance of what "is" is the only catalyst of true transformation.

 

( Hey! I'm an "only wayer"! )

 

Over and out. A rest is called for.

 

Happy New Year to you all.

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I can place two spiritual pilgrimages in my life. One to Quintana Roo to climb the Mayan temples at Uxmal and Cobá, and one to mourn at Wounded Knee, SD. Cobá was particularly powerful as I drove through clouds of butterflies to get there.

 

I also envy Muslims the Hajj. It is so powerful it converted Malcom X in a single blast of received wisdom.

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Hope, as I understand it, is merely the outcome of faith, defined as man's response and commitment to, call it what you will: God, Is, Being, Really Real, etc.

There is no betrayal at least in a more reformed or progressive understanding of Christianity. The response and commitment are realized in love where one is found: here and now.. And the 'hope' is that Being has given itSelf to man and what is given is never lost or 'IS" never abandons man.

 

What you call pure acceptance of 'what is,' I call faith: response and commitment to what is and therefore the transformation of all (without end).

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Spiritual pilgrimage ...

 

Peering down a microscope looking at a four-cell pre-zygote that could have been our child.

 

Wasn't planning on going there, but went anyway.

Edited by romansh
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