Be still and know
that all is G_d.
Thoughts & Visions

Search

 

Topics

adventures art biology books Buddhism Christianity culture design dreams ego faith family food history home information insight language love meditation music mysteries nature night personality philosophy photography poetry prayer psychology reading recovery relationships Sasha school self sin song suffering symbols theology time travel trust weather weekend West Virginia work

Archives

Thoughts & Visions


home  

  Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Would You Think it Odd?

Would you think it odd if Hafiz said,

“I am in love with every church
And mosque
And temple
And any kind of shrine

Because I know it is there
That people say the different names
Of the One God.”

Would you tell your friends
I was a bit strange if I admitted

I am indeed in love with every mind
And heart and body.

O I am sincerely
Plumb crazy
About your every thought and yearning
And limb

Because, my dear,
I know
That it is through these

That you search for Him.


  Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Panentheism

Panentheism (meaning “all-in-God”, from the Ancient Greek πᾶν pân (“all”), ἐν en (“in”) and Θεός Theós (“God”)) is a belief system which posits that the divine—whether as a single God, number of gods, or other form of “cosmic animating force”—interpenetrates every part of the universe and extends, timelessly (and, presumably, spacelessly) beyond it. Unlike pantheism, which holds that the divine and the universe are identical, panentheism maintains a distinction between the divine and non-divine and the significance of both.

In pantheism, the universe in the first formulation is practically the whole itself, while in panentheism, the universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. God is viewed as the eternal animating force maintaining the universe. Some versions suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn “transcends,” “pervades” or is “in” the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that ‘All is God’, panentheism goes further to claim that God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism. Hasidic Judaism merges the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical transcendent Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of Kabbalah, with the populist emphasis on the panentheistic Divine immanence in everything and deeds of kindness.


  Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

The Lillies of the Field

Thomas Fairchild was a pioneering plant breeder who lived in Shoreditch, in the East End of London. When he died in 1729, he left a legacy for a “Vegetable Sermon” to be preached each year in Shoreditch Parish Church in the week following Pentecost on “the wonderful works of God in creation.” This sermon, on May 15, 2015, by Rupert Sheldrake, was on flowers.


Nian Hua_1

  Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Earth Swells with Living Green

For Gregory and Hildegard, the word viriditas has a meaning with respect to a Christian’s spiritual life that goes beyond mere references to life, fecundity, or freshness. Viriditas implies a particular understanding of the nature of creation and the sovereignty of God. Both authors saw a fallen creation in need of God’s redemptive action to save both the earth and themselves, and they both saw this work able to be done only by God Himself. The passages from each author represent a variety of literary forms—a methodical commentary, prose inspired from a vision, and an ecclesiastical song, but the context for viriditas is handled in remarkably similar ways. In each case, the history of redemption is briefly outlined. The time before Christ’s coming is the desolate land or wilderness as the Christian lives in exile from God—a time of lack of viriditas. In order to regain a relationship with God, Christ must come and his work on the cross restores that relationship. So that the life of the Christian after Christ is one of thriving and flourishing.

Viriditas is a complex term that encompasses this redemptive background and continued growing and prospering through a relationship with God.

Painting by Hua Nian.


  Sunday, June 14th, 2015

History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.

—Kurt Vonnegut

  Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Deep in the Dark

Now is the hour when frogs and thrushes
Praise the world from the woods and rushes
Sleep my love, my only dear, in the dark

Fragile and magical shadows
Silently start to appear
Lovely and lyrical, silvery miracle
Charlotte’s web

Carefully spinning her tracings
Lacy and gracefully sheer
Over and under, the infinite wonder of
Charlotte’s Web

Why is she spinning and weaving away all night long
What is she trying so hard to convey
With her silent song

Templeton: What are you doing?
Charlotte: Working
Templeton: Why so late?
Charlotte: Ill be lucky if I finish by sun up. Go to sleep Templeton
Templeton: Good night Charlotte
Charlotte: Good night Templeton

Sometimes when somebody loves you
Miracles somehow appear
And there in the warp and the woof is the proof of it
Charlotte’s web


  Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Ecclesiology

Ecclesiology refers to the theological study of the Christian Church. The word was an English neologism of the later 1830s, however; and, within a few years, it was defined as the science of the building and decoration of church buildings; it may still be used in this sense.

In its theological sense ecclesiology deals with the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its destiny, and its leadership. Since different ecclesiologies give shape to very different institutions, the word may also refer to a particular church or denomination’s character, self-described or otherwise—hence phrases such as Roman Catholic ecclesiology, Lutheran ecclesiology, and ecumenical ecclesiology.


  Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Pilgrim

A pilgrim (from the Latin peregrinus) is a traveler (literally one who has come from afar) who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journey (often on foot) to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system. In the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to the experience of life in the world (considered as a period of exile) or to the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude.


  Friday, June 5th, 2015

Creative Rights

I have the right to be creative.
I have the right to use my voice.
I have the right to ask questions.
I have the right to seek help and receive help.
I have the right to support others.
I have the right to make my own decisions.
I have the right to be respected.
I have the right to value myself.
I have the right to love myself.
I have the right to heal.
I make the world more beautiful.


  Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Songbird

For you, there’ll be no more crying.
For you, the sun will be shining.
And I feel that when I’m with you,
It’s alright, I know it’s right.
To you, I’ll give the world.
To you, I’ll never be cold.
‘Cause I feel that when I’m with you,
It’s alright, I know it’s right.
And the songbirds are singing, like they know the score.
And I love you, I love you, I love you, like never before.
And I wish you all the love in the world.
But most of all, I wish it from myself.
And the songbirds keep singing, like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before, like never before, like never before.

—Kenneth Bruce Gorelick & Christine Mcvie

  Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Essence

In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the entity or substance has contingency, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates with Aristotle, who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai (τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι, literally meaning “the what it was to be” and corresponding to the scholastic term quiddity) or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti (τὸ τί ἐστι, literally meaning “the what it is” and corresponding to the scholastic term haecceity) for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for its Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English “essence”) to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers, the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition (ὁρισμός horismos).

In Plato’s philosophy (in particular, the Timaeus and the Philebus), things were said to come into being in this world by the action of a demiurge who works to form chaos into ordered entities. Many definitions of essence hark back to the ancient Greek hylomorphic understanding of the formation of the things of this world. According to that account, the structure and real existence of any thing can be understood by analogy to an artifact produced by a craftsman. The craftsman requires hyle (timber or wood) and a model, plan or idea in his own mind according to which the wood is worked to give it the indicated contour or form (morphe). Aristotle was the first to use the terms hyle and morphe. According to his explanation, all entities have two aspects, “matter” and “form”. It is the particular form imposed that gives some matter its identity, its quiddity or “whatness” (i.e., its “what it is”).

Although the Greek philosophers believed that the true nature of the universe was perfect, they attributed the observed imperfections to man’s limited perception. For Plato, this meant that there had to be two different realities: the “essential” and the “perceived”. Plato’s dialectical protégé Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) applied the term “essence” to the one common characteristic that all things belonging to a particular category have in common and without which they could not be members of that category; hence, the idea of rationality as the essence of man. This notion carried over into all facets of reality, including species of living creatures. For contemporary essentialists, however, the characteristic that all existents have in common is the power to exist, and this potentiality defines the “uncreated” Essence.

It was the Egyptian-born philosopher Plotinus [204–270 CE] who brought Idealism to the Roman Empire as Neo-Platonism, and with it the concept that not only do all existents emanate from a “primary essence” but that the mind plays an active role in shaping or ordering the objects of perception, rather than passively receiving empirical data. As the Roman Empire declined through the fourth and fifth centuries CE, Neo-Platonism intersected the spread of Christianity in the Western world. In particular, St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) was led by Platonic introspection to embrace Christianity. Late in life he abandoned Neo-Platonism for a more personal scriptural interpretation, but the gnostic impulse continued to remain an important, secondary current for essentialist belief.


  Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Eric’s Song

Strange how you know inside me
I measure the time and I stand amazed
Strange how I know inside you
My hand is outstretched toward the damp of the haze

And of course I forgive
I’ve seen how you live
Like a phoenix you rise from the ashes
You pick up the pieces
And the ghosts in the attic
They never quite leave
And of course I forgive
You’ve seen how I live
I’ve got darkness and fears to appease
My voices and analogies
Ambitions like ribbons
Worn bright on my sleeve

Strange how we know each other

Strange how I fit into you
There’s a distance erased with the greatest of ease
Strange how you fit into me
A gentle warmth filling the deepest of needs

And with each passing day
The stories we say
Draw us tighter into our addiction
Confirm our conviction
That some kind of miracle
Passed on our heads
And how I am sure
Like never before
Of my reasons for defying reason
Embracing the seasons
We dance through the colors
Both followed and led

Strange how we fit each other

Strange how certain the journey
Time unfolds the petals
For our eyes to see
Strange how this journey’s hurting
In ways we accept as part of fate’s decree

So we just hold on fast
Acknowledge the past
As lessons exquisitely crafted
Painstakingly drafted
To carve us as instruments
That play the music of life
For we don’t realize
Our faith in the prize
Unless it’s been somehow elusive
How swiftly we choose it
The sacred simplicity
Of you at my side

—Vienna Teng

  Friday, May 22nd, 2015

The God Who is There

What does it mean to believe on, to cast oneself on, Christ? I would suggest that there are four crucial aspects to be considered. More detail could be considered but these are cruical. They are not slogans to be repeated by rote and they do not have to be said in these words, but the individual must have come to a positive conclusion and affirmation concerning them, if he is to believe in the biblical sense:

1. Do you believe that God exists and that he is a personal God, and that Jesus Christ is God—remembering that we are not talking of the word or idea god, but of the infinite-personal God who is there?

2. Do you acknowledge that you are guilty in the presence of this God—remembering that we are not talking about guilt feelings, but true moral guilt?

3. Do you believe that Jesus Christ died in space and time in history on the cross, and that when He died His substitutional work of bearing God’s punishment against sin was fully accomplished and complete?

4. On the basis of God’s promises in His written communication to us, the Bible, do you (or have you) cast yourself on this Christ as your personal Saviour—not trusting in anything you yourself have ever done or ever will do?

But note with care that God’s promise: “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life,” rests upon: God’s being there; Christ being the second person of the Trinity whose death therefore has infinite value; my not coming presumptuously in thinking I can save myself, but casting myself on the finished work of Christ and the written promises of God. My faith is simply the empty hands by which I accept God’s free gift.

—Francis Schaeffer

  Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Not Love Perhaps

This is not Love, perhaps,
Love that lays down its life,
that many waters cannot quench,
nor the floods drown,
But something written in lighter ink,
said in a lower tone, something, perhaps, especially our own.

A need, at times, to be together and talk,
And then the finding we can walk
More firmly through dark narrow places,
And meet more easily nightmare faces;
A need to reach out, sometimes, hand to hand,
And then find Earth less like an alien land;
A need for alliance to defeat
The whisperers at the corner of the street.

A need for inns on roads, islands in seas,
Halts for discoveries to be shared,
Maps checked, notes compared;
A need, at times, of each for each,
Direct as the need of throat and tongue for speech.

—Arthur Seymour John Tessimond

  Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Enchantment

Late Middle English (in the senses “put under a spell” and “delude” — formerly also as inchant): from French enchanter, from Latin incantare, from in- “in” + cantare “sing.”