Tomorrow I am preaching at our SW Deanery Confirmation service in Washington, IN. I was doing some research for the sermon and came across this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
"There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed in. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”. But they went on with the conviction that they were a “colony of heaven,” and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought to an end such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest. Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are."-- Dr.Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986), pg. 300.
This quote reminded me of some of the things that Philip Newell is teaching at the Benedictine Retreat this week. Newell teaches that the doctrine of creation was "watered down" (my word, Newell used the word, "neutralized") when Christianity was legalized by the Empire. Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons, c. 202) wrote that creation is not ex nihilo (out of nothing); rather, God created all that is out of God's self. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. If all that is created is out of God then we bear the DNA of God in a particular way in our own DNA. This has serious implications for our interactions with each other - implications that go way beyond the current cultures of making war, terrorism, and fundamentalism. Of course the Roman Empire would not want people to believe that each person created bears God. How then could we separate ourselves into the exclusive groups or good and evil, believers and non-believers (infidels). What if we ALL honored this DNA of God in ourselves and others? This is very radical stuff but it resonates within me as the truth that will allow us to stop destroying each other and ourselves. Perhaps the greatest problem our world faces is "religious fundamentalism." Fundamentalists found among Christians, Muslims, or Jews (and many other sects) see the world and people in very exclusive ways. Certain people must be excluded so that we can know who we are.
Julian of Norwich, the 14th Century mystic and writer says that "we are made OF God." Being made of God has huge implications for my life and I am just beginning to reach into those implications as I write this...
Colors of Spring
This is the view from my backyard. This has been one of the most beautiful seasons of Spring that I have known in recent memory. The greens are particularly wonderful. This is a fallow (so far) field where wild mustard has grown up. They may plow it up to plant soybeans later but for now it is radiant! the Wabash River (the tiny slice of blue in the green) is now full to the edges from the rain we had last weekend. Katie and I ride the golf cart down to see it in the evenings.