I’m back. It was a great sabbatical. Let me share a few highlights:
John Philip Newell is a person of deep spirit who writes from the Christian Celtic tradition. I am especially appreciative of his reflections on substitutionary atonement. Substitutionary atonement is the understanding that Jesus won or earned forgiveness for us by dying on the cross. He ‘paid’ for our sins. John says that this is misinterpretation of the cross, that forgiveness is never something purchased but is something freely given. Jesus did not create a new relationship between God and humanity, he revealed the truth of the relationship between God and humanity.
Thomas Merton was a Cistercian monk who wrote many books on spirituality. Here are some quotes by brother Thomas:
“For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.”
“To hope is to risk frustration. Therefore make up your mind to risk frustration. Do not be one of those who, rather than risk failure, never attempts anything.”
“We must try to accept ourselves, whether individually or collectively, not only as perfectly good or perfectly bad, but in our mysterious, unaccountable mixture of good and evil.”
(all quote are from New Seeds of Contemplation, 1961)
Finally I spent a great deal of time in the study of Quakerism. The Quakers are a small Protestant group founded in the 1600’s. Quakers believe the light is found in all people and from that simple premise they have moved to some wonderful conclusions – women have been equal in the community since it’s inception, the Quakers were quick to acknowledge the rights of the LGBT community, Quakers were early opponents of slavery, Quakers are pacifists. Quakers do not have an ordered clergy. They worship primarily in silence though some may be moved by the spirit to speak. They have a notion of “absolute perhaps” when it comes to theology, by which they mean that we can never know God fully and so never lock in to particular creeds or doctrines. I started to worship with a Quaker community towards the end of my sabbatical and believe I can learn much from their spirit.
There will be much more to share but that’s a start. Look for a new post each week.