John Paul II

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John Paul II

Postby zoofence » April 3rd, 2005, 2:56 am

In the death of John Paul II, the world has lost a good friend.

Of course, I don’t agree with his every decision, every position, every pronouncement. But John Paul II was a formidable positive force, and he will be missed.

John Paul II apologized for the excesses of the Crusades; he apologized for the brutality of the Inquisition; he apologized for the Church’s silence during the Nazi atrocities and particularly the Holocaust; he was the first Pope to visit a mosque; he was the first Pope to visit a synagogue (unless you consider Peter to have been the first Pope, as does the Roman Catholic Church, in which case John Paul II would be the first Pope since Peter to visit a synagogue).

John Paul II visited the man who attempted to assassinate him, and forgave him.

The evangelical mission preached by John Paul II was not about converting others to Roman Catholicism, much less was it about demeaning or in any other way attacking the religions and spiritual traditions of others; rather, John Paul II taught Catholic Christians to live their lives fully, enthusiastically, and humbly in accordance with the dictates of their faith, confident that lives so lived would speak volumes.

John Paul II was a seeker who understood his Teacher's lesson, “Love one another as I have loved you”. We wish him Godspeed.

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Postby W4TVQ » August 31st, 2005, 4:37 pm

Having just finished reading his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, I agree: John Paul II was exemplary in innumerable ways, but especially in his compassion and his dedication to the cause of exalting human love by magnifying the level of the divine love.

I lately read a great deal about the new Pope, Benedict XVI, and feel he is another cut from the same cloth as his predecessor; I think the cardinals chose wisely, and that we will see the same Christlike ministry from this man as we did from John Paul II. God is at work making changes in the Roman Catholic Church, and it is a refreshing breeze we feel from that quarter.

Maranatha
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Postby zoofence » August 31st, 2005, 6:22 pm

Art, It is very nice to hear from you again. We've missed your input. I hope that you have both been well, and particularly that none of the recent hurricanes have impacted your area.

In one of the books by or about John Paul II (I can't remember precisely where I read it), the question arose about the appropriateness of using the term "Father" (or "Holy Father") for priests, in view of Jesus's words, "Call no man father" (Matthew 23:9).

I know that this has been a long standing issue between Protestants and Roman Catholics. As I recall from years ago, the traditional Roman Catholic response is that it's okay because by this use of the term "father" we don't really mean father.

In the book, JPII's response was that it was okay because "we have always done so".

That struck me as a little weak, because I sort of think that Jesus might have said to him, "Yea, that's exactly my point".

All the same, I did like the man a lot.
Stefan

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Postby Speculum » September 14th, 2005, 5:15 pm

I found the passage to which I refer; it appears on page 6 of the hard copy version of Crossing The Threshold of Hope. There, John Paul says,

Have no fear when people call me the "Vicar of Christ", when they say to me "Holy Father", or "Your Holiness", or use titles similar to these, which seem even inimical to the Gospel. Christ himself declared: "Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah" (Matthew 23:9-10). These expressions, nevertheless, have evolved out of long tradition, becoming part of common usage.

It's the "nevertheless" sentence that discomfits me. Virtually all of the injunctions suggested to us by virtually all the Teachers concern, directly or indirectly, some human practice that has "evolved out of long tradition" and become part of "common usage". That is, as I read Matthew 23:9, I really don't hear Jesus appending the thought, "unless you have always done so".

What's more, at page 185 as regards whether Jesus's observation at Matthew 25:46 that sinners "will go away into eternal punishment" really means "eternal", John Paul says, "the words of Christ are unequivocal".

Unequivocal at Matthew 25:46, but not at Matthew 23:9?

But again, this nitpick aside, I did love the man. I was particularly moved by his meeting and forgiving Mehmet Ali Agca, who attempted to assassinate him. The photographs of the two of them in Agca's prison cell are powerful.

However, as I have also said here, some of John Paul's views and policies do not work for me, particularly priestly celibacy and the role of women.

Re celibacy, my views are pretty well spelled out at TZF's Do We Have To Give Up SEX?, where the essential point is that mandatory, imposed celibacy (1) misses the point and (2) doesn't work. I seem to recall that the church imposed celibacy on the priesthood in reaction to inappropriate behavior on the part of some priests, and not because it is suggested in the Gospels. Speaking from my own personal experience, I am convinced that Jesus's pronouncement at Matthew 19:12, "there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven", is about the natural evolution of celibacy in an aspiring and committed seeker (male or female). That is, celibacy is a development along the path to "the kingdom of heaven", and naturally and normally becomes a characteristic of true seekers. Thus, those who follow the path will discover it manifesting from within; but again, evolved, not imposed.

As regards the role of women, there is nothing in the Gospels -- and certainly nothing in accounts now available in the additional gospels (indeed quite the contrary) -- which suggests to me that Jesus intended that women seekers be treated differently or accorded different roles than men seekers. Surely this issue is about the fact that the church evolved in a male-dominated culture, and reflects that. If so, I would have liked to have heard John Paul II acknowledge that.

Note: I have moved this thread to "The Sand Box" from "General Discussion" because this post, and any replies it might generate, may unnecessarily discomfit some TZF visitors, and having it here alerts them to that possibility, because they will see it only if they have themselves specifically asked for access to The Sand Box.

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Postby Speculum » September 16th, 2005, 6:07 pm

... and, thirdly, his -- and the church's -- policy on homosexuality.

There, my view as a seeker is that homosexuality as such is essentially a non-issue.

Speaking from the Christian perspective, as far as I know there is no mention of homosexuality or heterosexuality or any other kind of sexuality in the Gospels. My guess is that if one were to put the question to Jesus, he would reply, first become a true seeker (Matthew 19:21), and then see if the question still matters to you.

As regards the church in Rome (and others), I think this is mostly a cultural issue. Homosexuality makes them uncomfortable, just as it made Paul uncomfortable, just as it continues to make many uncomfortable. And they project that discomfort onto their institutions, and when necessary, they attribute it to "God said". Let's face it, we all do that sometimes. Tolerance and acceptance and flexibility have never been the species' strongest suit.

Speaking generally, I don't know whether or not heterosexuality and homosexuality are genetically inherited or a product of socialization or something else, and it seems even the "experts" are unable to settle that issue definitively. Over the centuries, some societies and cultures, great and small, have tolerated homosexuality, even embraced it, and some have vilified it. But that's been true of polygamy, slavery, prostitution, capitalism, socialism, colonialism, racism, and so on. We humans are like that.

Speaking of it strictly as a sexuality, I would apply the same principles and thoughts as arose in the conversation reported at TZF's Consider This. Along the spiritual path, in time and on time, celibacy seems to manifest from within. I can't imagine that it matters where you start from.

Finally, speaking solely for myself, this much is certain: There is no God but God, and God is all there is. That, for me, is the answer to this question … and every other question.

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Postby Speculum » October 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm

Two points -

Prompted by this discussion, the other day I revisited "Crossing The Threshold of Hope", and I was surprised by (I guess I had forgotten) the chapter on Buddhism. As I read it again, I come away with the feeling that either JPII did not understand Buddhism or I don't understand Buddhism. His perception of it seems to me far too limited, perhaps even shaded (in today's jargon, I guess we would say spun) to fit (reinforce?) the Vatican argument that Roman Catholicism particularly and Christianity generally are the only way to Salvation/Realization/Awakening/ChristConsciousness/Buddhahood/Etc.

That view is a perception that I am quite simply unable to accommodate. It makes no sense to me whatsoever on any spiritual level that I am able to consider, and nothing in my experience as a seeker suggests it. In a word, I am convinced from within that it is not so, and what's more, that it was not the Lesson of the Gospels Teacher.

Second point: I appreciate your optimism about the future of the Vatican, but I do not share it. From what I hear and read, it seems to me that the new pope has chosen to rest on the cultural traditions of the past rather than boldly go where the Gospels lead. JPII's death offered him an opportunity to stand on tall shoulders and leap ahead, to offer a true light of hope to an increasingly frightened, frustrated, confused, and unhappy planet. Instead, like too many other religious leaders today, Christian and otherwise, he seems (in my opinion) to have chosen to find fault rather than promise, to point the finger of blame rather than raise a hand of fellowship, to lean backward rather than lead forward.

All of which seems a shame. Although I belong to no organized, institutional religion, I have, to borrow a line from the American humorist Will Rogers, never met a true religion I didn't like. But to perform their proper function effectively, it seems to me religions need to focus beyond the narrow regional or even national, parochial interests of their flock and instead articulate and awaken an interest in and desire for universal or cosmic possibilities.

In other words, raise and expand seekers' horizons. Force them, force us, to think more broadly and to look farther than "me" and "mine", much less "us" and "ours". Just so, my experience has been that the sign of a True Teacher is that when you ask him or her a question like, "What time is it?", he or she responds with a lesson about the nature of eternity.

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Postby phyllis » July 23rd, 2007, 5:16 pm

Have you read about Pope Benedict’s reinstating the Latin Mass? I grew up with that, and I did like it, but maybe only because I grew up with it. The Vernacular Mass (mass in a country’s own language) has been welcome, too, because it is helpful to understand what is being said and done, and who speaks Latin these days? Some say the Vernacular Mass detracted from the mystery and potency of the service and explains why the Church seems to be attracting fewer priests and congregants. I am uncertain. Does anyone here have any thoughts about this matter? :)

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Postby Neo » July 25th, 2007, 5:55 pm

most of zen for me has been silence. sometimes it is easy to undrstand, sometimes it is hard to understand. So i don't think it is the langauge. Ithink it is mostly about me at the time.

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Postby Speculum » July 29th, 2007, 9:21 pm

Here's an excerpt from a NY Times article on the subject of the reinstated Latin Mass: "Pope Benedict insists he is not taking the church on a nostalgia trip. He wants to re-energize it, and hopes that the Latin Mass, like an immense celestial object, will exert gravitational pull on the faithful".

Given everything else I've ever said, written, and drawn over the past three decades, it will probably seem strange, but I actually enjoy the Latin mass. To be sure, I took Latin all the way through school (it was back in those days), so I have a grasp -- well, after all these years, barely a grasp -- of the language. But besides that, there is a mystery to the Latin mass, precisely because it is in Latin; and that has appeal.

On the other hand, I don't suppose I attend a religious service more than once every few years, so I can hardly speak as a "congregant". My path, being pretty much outside of any mainstream religious framework , rarely leads me to such happenings except as a respectful visitor.

It will be interesting to see how this initiative is received.

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Postby W4TVQ » July 30th, 2007, 12:31 pm

I too love the Latin Mass ... but not in the setting in which it is usually presented, which is an overcrowded church building packed with people, many of whom who seem by their inattention and fidgeting to be there because they must and not because they really want to be. When we were practicing Catholics, out on Kwajalein, it was nice: we loved the Priest, a Jesuit, and masses in the open-air chapel were appreciated by the congregation.

Today, due largely to the turmoil in Catholicism created by the stress of "pre-Vatican II" vs. "post-Vatican II," I am extremely uncomfortable in a Catholic Mass. But then, I am extremely uncomfortable in any religious service. We currently are associated with a United Methodist congregation, and I enjoy a really helpful relationship with the young pastor, but still feel out of place in worship services.

The analogy came to me, concerning the goofy mess created by the Reformation, of a swamp right after the rain: thousands of frogs, all peeping "I'm here, notice me," each one sure he is the best (and perhaps only) frog in the swamp. At last count there were 30,000 different denominations, sects and cults in the U.S.A. The only logical conclusion I can see is that they are all wrong and they are all right, and it matters not a whit if one adheres to this one or that or to none at all. The differences are superficial at best and destructive at worst, but in the final analysis they will all be revealed as one and the same thing. When the smoke of our perception clears, there will be only God ... as, in fact, there is only God now. A Course in Miracles says we will all wake up, eventually, and see that the whole mess was only a nightmare, and that the Voice of the Mother is calling us to return to reality.

I can agree with the Christian contention that Jesus is alive now and forevermore. They would not agree with me, though, when I say that there is nowhere in Reality a "person" who used to be Jesus or is still Jesus. I think we will find that the Spirit which/who manifested as Jesus manifested variously as many, many beings in many times and places. He never spoke, in His incarnation as the Nazarene, of a heaven where we all are big, new, improved versions of what we are now. He spoke of seeds. When a seed "dies" it does not turn into a bigger and better seed, but into something that does not resemble a seed at all. Even Paul caught a glimpse of that, when he said, "We know not what we shall be, but we shall be like Him." I've written a story on this idea and propose to post it here shortly to see if it is helpful.

Perhaps the magic of the Latin Mass is that in it we do not find ourselves diverted from attention to God by attention to the semantic or philological import of the verbiage itelf. That is why I contend that it should never be said, but always, sung. There are few experiences more elevating than the Solemn High Mass of (for example) the Easter Vigil. In the midst of the plainsong and the incense and the bells and the Latin one is simply enveloped in God for a moment, and some of that inevitably "sticks" to one as one passes back into the night and hunts for one's car in the parking lot.

Good grief, I'm rambling. Enough!

Shalom aleichem
Art
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Postby Speculum » July 30th, 2007, 2:36 pm

You wrote, and nicely, “I think we will find that the Spirit which/who manifested as Jesus manifested variously as many, many beings in many times and places. “

And, “But then, I am extremely uncomfortable in any religious service.”

Okay, let’s try to merge those two thoughts into one.

Speaking as Jesus, the One said, “Wherever two or more are gathered together in My Name, I Am There”.

In that expression, I take “My Name” to mean, at least in part, “My Nature”, given that the English word name means something like “a word by which a thing is known”, and a thing is known by its nature, yes?

How do we gather together “in the Nature of the One”? There may be a ton of different answers to that question, but surely one is, by being aware of doing so, or at least seeking to be aware of doing so.

For me, what that means is, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I seek to be aware, or at least repeatedly to remind myself to be aware, of the Fact that everyone and everything in my midst is the Very One being That. And my seeing – or, more likely, struggling to see – them (again, whoever or whatever they are) as the One, reminds me that I too am That … for I can see only what I am. Thus, in that process (that gathering together and seeking to see the Truth of it), the One is There, or I Am There, just as the man said.

And here’s the nice thing about it. Notice that it doesn’t matter what the nature of the gathering is. It doesn’t matter who’s there, or what they are doing, or whether or not they are aware of my presence among them. All that matters is that I seek to see them as What They Are in Truth, and in so doing, seeing what I am in Truth, and that effort makes it a “gathering in My Name/Nature”, thereby fulfilling the promise “I Am There”.

So, whether we are in the checkout line at a supermarket, or looking for our car in a Wal-Mart parking lot, or sitting at the feet of a living Master, or, as you say, in a religious service, this simple practice will work, must work.

For me, this concept is infinitely reinforced by the One’s observation, this time speaking as Ibn ‘Arabi, that “Thou are not thou, thou art He without thou”. The Truth being infinite and indivisible, if that statement is True about anything then it must be True about everything. Which to me means that, for example, the checkout line at a supermarket is not a checkout line at the supermarket, but He; and looking for our car in a Wal-Mart parking lot is not looking for our car in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but He; and sitting at the feet of a living Master is not sitting at the feet of a living Master, but He; and a religious service is not a religious service, but He. All that it takes for us to be aware of That is for us genuinely to seek to be aware of It. If we remain alert and truly try to see the One in everyone and every where, then He is Evident, or I Am There.

Applying this idea to this thread, we can say that the Vernacular Mass is He, the Latin Mass is He, Zen is He, our objections to any or none of those is He, our endorsement of any or none of those is He, and so on and so on and so on. The difference is not in them but in our approach to or our perception of them, our willingness to make the effort to see What Is as It is in Truth.

Just so, as I have written elsewhere on TZF, I am convinced that when Jesus said “this bread is my body, this blood is my wine” he meant for us to understand that His Identity (and ultimately ours, as well) is the One, and that what we perceive as the manifested universe (our lives) is in Reality nothing more or less than That, the Very One Itself. And when he says to us, "this bread is my body" and "this wine is my blood", he is affirming I AM the world, and we can partake in a conscious relationship with Him, with the Infinite One, whenever we wish to do so, simply by addressing our lives, the world, and its things in that manner. Thus, when we eat bread, recognize that it is the One, the Very Self. Likewise, when we drink wine. But surely the Teacher, all the Teachers, would say to us: “Don’t stop there!” Do the very same when we eat cabbage, split firewood, honk a car horn, type on a computer keyboard, answer the telephone, pat a pet, curse a thief, smell a rose. I AM THAT and I AM THERE means I am that and I am there, with no exceptions, if we are willing to do our part of it, which again is earnestly to seek to see It. This makes every activity a Mass, every event a Sacred Communion. That's why I think that "This Is My Body, This Is My Blood" is truly one of the most powerful spiritual Teachings ever uttered.

..... and you say you rambled!

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Postby W4TVQ » July 31st, 2007, 12:14 pm

In the immortal words of some cartoon character .. "thanks, I needed that."

Really. It gives me a fresh perspective on what had become a stale subject for me. When I say I am uncomfortable in "religious services" I forget that everything is "religious service" in the sense that it is all He. I do not feel that discomfort, for example, when putting in my volunteer hours at the Rose Garden, which is a thrift shop benefitting the Pro-life efforts in this area. Well, except when I see some lady smuggling a few items out under a voluminous dress and feel she is stealing, not from us, but from the unborn people we try to help. But then, somehow, that is He too. I just haven't quite figured out how it is He. All I can do is let it happen.

More later.

Shalom
Art

An afterthought: those moments when I am most aware of the unity of everything, when the "world I see" takes on the aspects of a mirage and just beyond the shimmering mirage I know there lies "what You would have me see instead..." those moments come most often at the last note of the final movement of Mahler's 2nd Symphony or the last whisper of a Bach Fugue. These are entirely wordless (well, the Mahler is choral, but in German, which I don't speak), and yet as the sound dies out my feeling is, "Well, in that case, all is well." I have experience such moments in a solemn high Mass and even, occasionally, in reading my own chief "guru," Thomas Merton. Jesus was identified (John 1) as "the Word of God" made flesh; I perceive Mahler's music as "the Word of God" made music. As you say, all of it comes undr the heading, "this is He."

A.
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Postby Neo » August 15th, 2007, 7:33 pm

the Zen master Tung Shan said "i show the truth toliving beings and then they are no longer living beings"


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