Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love, is a deep look at the Franciscan charism. It is good read for any time of the year but especially for Advent. The subtitle: the alternative way of Francis of Assisi briefly sums up Rohr’s experience of having tried it and found it to work. Even though he would be the first to admit he is still trying it. Nonetheless is a way of being in the world that is very attractive to many. I have long felt that we are still a pre-Christian people. We are attracted to Jesus’ ways, but are waiting for more people to really live the life, before we commit to it fully ourselves. Maybe we now are standing of the threshold of having exhausted the other options and might give it a try. If so, this book will be a good handbook for the adventure. Rohr, Richard. Eager to Love. Franciscan Media, Cincinnati, OH. 2014
John F. Haught has written The New Cosmic Story: Inside Our Awakening Universe which is the most important book this bookaholic has read this year. His prophetic work will come to be seen as the opening to the future that we need. We stand on the threshold of what is becoming known by all who strive toward “rightness”. A rightness that is indestructible which is the universal search for meaning in all the world religions. Our sciences have brought us the awareness of the process, and our subjectivity demands an appropriate outcome in order for us to give ourselves to the unfolding of the not yet. Teilhard de Chardin and others began the process, Dr. Haught has built on their insights and takes us the next step.
I have worked my way through Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. This centuries old form of wisdom brought me the concept of Interdependent Co-Arising that is another way of approaching right mindfulness that frees one from the notion of anything or anyone being separate from everything else. It was a challenge to work through all the various systems that Buddhism entails in coming to this basic truth but I received nuggets of insights that enlarged my understanding of this noble path.
The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three. Shambhala Pub, In. Boulder, Co 2013 by Cynthia Bourgeault. Have you ever been attracted to a new concept and intuited that it was on the right track even though how it developed seemed obscure at the moment? I found myself there with the thoughts of Teilhard de Chardin over 40 years ago. Many, Cynthia among them, were also drawn by his insights and have lent their talents to joining in the flow that all truly creative efforts engender. If you are willing to take the tour of Cynthia’s factory of inspiration you will be rewarded with seeing the nuts and bolts of her inspiration on the Trinity or as she calls it “The Law of Three”. It is a demanding tour, but well worth the effort if you are interested in how she got THERE.
At 80 years of age and surrounded by the woes of the world, I must tell the author Ruy Teixeira I NEEDED THIS BOOK. He carefully outlines the last 100 years and brings together the information I needed to see the sweep of the global struggles and successes. He painted the big picture and reveals that the arc of history is bending toward a more evolved world. I keep a record of all the books I read and they are listed by the author last name. Today when I added this book to that list it came right after Teilhard de Chardin. I see this as an affirmation of Teilhard’s vision. If you need an antidote to the daily news this book is for you.
I was attracted to the premise of this book because I wondered why we reason the way we do. A sentence on the last page sums it up for me. “Group discussion is typically beneficial when participants have different ideas and a common goal.” In our times of polarization where we haven’t agreed upon the common goal of survival of the environment or humanity itself it is no wonder why we struggle. Hopefully insight into the ways we do and do not reason will help us discover a common goal. It only takes a serious illness to impress upon a person that individualism is an illusion. We will move forward together or not at all. Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have dug deep and given us the benefit of their exhaustive examination of the enigma of reason.
This classic by C.G. Jung is so timely for today. As I reflected on its message I was reminded of Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of union differentiates. This idea teaches that the more we come together, the more we discover our self. In biblical times the individual counted only as a member of a group. Outside the group survival was all but impossible unless you could find another group that would include you. Then centuries later, we rebelled and swung to the opposite pole of individualism. For a time we reveled in this new found sense of the importance of each life. It seems now that we are faced with another important paradigm shift that it isn’t an either/or dilemma, but a both/and reality. Jung invites us to reflect on the good/evil that is inherent in each of us. When we accept and respond in ways that our faith traditions offer, maybe we can evolve from just being attracted to the eternal truths offered by the worlds faith traditions and actually try to live them. It seems like our present worldwide anxiety offers us this invitation. You can go online and download a pdf version of this valuable little book.
Ilia Delio has given us the gift of bringing the thoughts of Teilhard de Chardin into the 21st century. Over 40 years ago I encountered this man’s genius that helped me bridge the chasm between science and religion. Unfortunately back then his ahead of the times thinking was not appreciated but I sensed a truth in his mysticism that kept pulling me forward when others seemed stalled. Now, at last, he is being noticed and appreciated by many. We are catching up to his vision both in science and religion. Delio plunges into the thoughts of others and attempts to move the “ball forward” with their help. It gives me great joy to find companions in this journey. If you want to experience a visual trip into this rich vein of creativity take the time to explore the film strip educational tool offered on this site called Survival. I have used this teaching tool for all these 40+ years. You will be rewarded.
Denis Edwards wrote a book back in 1991 that began the effort to bring together the current information on so many fronts. Religion, spirituality, science, eschatology,and the search for meaning in an age that is rapidly expanding just as is the universe itself. This invites the reader to open their minds to possibilities undreamed of before, and at the same time taking us into areas that threaten our footing in ‘accepted’ ways of being in the world.
Many many years ago in an effort to make Teilhard de Chardin’s Phenomenon of Man accessible this film strip was created called Survival. I have used this teaching tool for over 40 years and it makes it easy to introduce the work of this great man to those looking for a God big enough to worship. I invite you to taste and see how marvelous God’s process of creation is.
In an attempt to better understand the struggle that every election involves I chose to read Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind”. I admit that this exhaustive treatment of why and how people sort themselves out has helped me in my effort to make sense of what appears most of the time to be nonsense. He helped me see the value of each orientation such as liberal/conservative and how they each have strengths and weaknesses. We need each other to become whole, but have fallen into the either/or trap that the gospels warns us to avoid. Watching the “news” will become a more instructive exercise since reading this book. A current article that expands on this subject. For an interview with the author click on this link
Pope Francis said “This book has done me so much good”. The book Mercy by Walter Kasper published by Mahwah, NJ. 2013. I wanted to read it in order to see why he said this. When Francis talks about mercy he means steadfast love. He doesn’t mean the pity extended by a superior being for someone they could crush if they wanted to which is often the “west’s” use of the word. Kasper over and over quotes the bible and always it is this concept of steadfast love. This love, loves, because it can only love. In that love the beloved comes to experience their being while at the same time discovering everyone else to be also loved in this same way. The subtitle of the book is “the essence of the Gospel and the key to Christian Life. I can say with Francis, “this book has done me so much good”.
If Teilhard were alive today he would appreciate Kathleen Duffy’s Teilhard’s Mysticism as she engages the latest discoveries in science with his powerful quest to bridge the gap between science and faith. More and more people from all disciplines are recognizing their debt to his life long effort to find what holds all things together and gives everything its meaning. Duffy subtitles her work “Seeing the inner face of evolution”, and that she does. For all of us who have treasured the fruits of Teilhard’s life and work, we thank her for this contribution that builds on his.
For a tough look at what some went through in the second world war listen to Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. She has brought to life the true story of a forgotten hero, while also made real the human costs of war.
This audio version of Jean Auel’s series The Land of Painted Caves is the final work in her novels of Earth’s Children. The 29 CD,s make for a engaging way to imagine the process of coming to consciousness for humanity.
Brian Swimme, and Mary Ellen Tucker give us their offering called Journey of the Universe. On page 2 they say: “The great discovery of contemporary science is that the universe in not simply a place, but a story – a story in which we are immersed, to which we belong, and out of which we arose.” I invite you to enter into their deep insights with wonder and joy.
There is much to be desired in this lastest effort to bring together science and religion. Margaret Macintyre, in The Cosmic Pilgrim, writes in an engaging style and probes into the mysteries of creation. Like all efforts to explain that which is beyond explanation, this one leaves threads dangling. Insights from Teilhard de Chardin and John Haught give her exploration breath and depth. This is a worthy read.
The God of Evolution by Denis Edwards. The dialogue between science and religion is maturing. In this age of rapidly developing information, coming at us at such a pace as to cause vertigo for some, this book is a gift of clarity. Fr. Edwards, a priest of the Archdiocese of Adeliade, Australia, brings science and theology together. His insights on the Trinitarian understanding of God and the scientific understanding of evolution are a gift to all. This is a good book to engage you with the mysteries of the universe and the mystery of God.
Ethics for the New Millennium by Dalai Lama With so much energy devoted to concerns evoked by the year 2000, it is good to have a balanced and hope filled look at what the future can be. This world esteemed man of peace, has given us a work that clearly and simply identifies the issues and possible responses. People of good will and brave hearts will resonate to this work. Those with an agenda or special interest to push should approach this book with caution.
The Reflexive Universe by Arthur Young
One reviewer says of this book; “With our world teetering between senseless self-destruction and spiritual transformation, here is a comprehensive paradigm of hope.” The subtitle is: Evolution of Consciousness.
The Hand of God edited by Michael Reagan and is introduced by Sharon Begley. The pictures are breathtakingly beautiful, and the quotes that are paired with the pictures of galaxies, stars and the earth taken from space provide material for meditation.
It is often said that we need a new approach to the creation story: one that brings together what we are learning about God’s creative process. These three books are full of delight. Delight enough to share with our children and grandchildren. Jennifer Morgan and Dana Lynne Andersen give us this process in Born With a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals Who Morph. Like many children’s sermons that speak powerfully to adults because of their creativity and simplicity, these books intend to retell the creation story using the most recent scientific discoveries.
The View from the Center of the Universe by Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams is a mind expanding experience. It will take you to the tiniest to the extreme vastness of what we are beginning to know and get you to pondering about your place in all this wonder. Much has been said that we need to have a new creation story. This book will introduce you to the fundamentals of what that story might be and your place in that story.
Walter Thirring in Cosmic Impressions explores the traces of God in the laws of nature. This book assumes a lot of scientific, mathematical literacy of which I have a small amount. But like all books whose authors are respected authorities in their domains, it gives glimpses of the ongoing search for truth from the scientific perspective.