Tag Archives: God

Our Civil Religion Tradition

The Bridges column of the July 2017 Sojourners magazine gave me pause to think more deeply about how we, as Americans, expect and embrace leaders in our nation who “draw freely from religious language to sacralize national symbols.” On this Independence Weekend my attention was drawn to what is for me, the single most inspiring example of civil religion. It occurred during a time of great peril that threatened our civil society… an event marked by unprecedented carnage and what appeared to be in irreparable division in our nation — the Civil War.

Gettysburg_AddressThe short speech that President Abraham Lincoln delivered on that battlefield of enormous human loss remains, in my mind, the peak expression of civil religious tradition against which all other forms of the tradition must be measured. The words “consecrate”, “hallow”, “devotion”, and “resting place” evoke a firm faith, an unwavering trust, and a God-given resolve to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. And while he only mentions “God” a single time, in the manner of the great documents created by the founding fathers, Lincoln’s reflection is thoroughly infused with the language of civil religion.

At a time in our country when too many leaders invoke the “religion card” in an effort to claim popular support or to criticize the faith of those not of the Christian tradition, President Lincoln’s address stands as a true measure of a civil religious tradition that “creates what Justice Felix Frankfurter referred to as “cohesive sentiment”. On this Independence Day 2017, let us strive to work toward a tradition that enables us to be in harmony with others in all that we say and do.

Bridges, Author Eboo Patel – Sojourners Magazine, July 2017 https://sojo.net/magazine/july-2017/can-civil-religion-save-us

 

4 Spiritual benefits…

A post on aleteia really made me pause to think about our relationship to the natural world. The article 4 Spiritual benefits of modern homesteading hit close to home. Here in verdantour rural area of upstate New York, nature in all its wonder is right outside our door: lush green fields, flowing streams, verdant hills, views uninterrupted by city buildings, highways… the stuff of man’s creation.

The author, Philip Kosloski, cited four benefits to modern homesteading:

  • Fulfills God’s call to be a steward of the earth
  • Provides more time for silence and contemplation
  • Creates a renewed sense of gratitude
  • Fosters a healthy attitude of humility

After prefacing his thoughts with an apt quote from Pope Francis’ Laudato si, he briefly

deaconspeaking

Chicken coop and bee hives

explains each spiritual benefit, weaving in both Hebrew Scripture references and his thoughts about our closeness to God when we “cultivate” a close and personal relationship with his natural creation… a creation that provides an abundance for our needs, if only we are attentive to it.

When was the last time you planted and tended a flower or a vegetable plant? Have you ever thought about having chickens or bees for your own natural or organic food? Is it even possible where you live? If not, do you support others who are, through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or even a farmers’ market?

Good questions for any of us… especially as we consider the goodness of our God in His great love for us!

In the “Moment”

Mark_MomentOur rollout of the @deaconspeaking Twitter Team account in the diocese has been proceeding smoothly. We have received good recognition: retweets, likes and profile visits by many Twitter users.  Each day we explore new features:  Lists, Hastags, Tweet Requotes.

One of the best features has been the Twitter Moments… an opportunity to combine related tweets into a single tweet that pulls a strand of thoughts together. Two in particular, “Celebrating St. Mark” and “Trust in God” have enabled many more users to interact with our evangelization message.

Why? For one, the “Moments” package can be visually compelling, as with this painting of the Apostle Mark that was an element of a requoted tweet. Most of all, by combining two our three related tweets together, we have the opportunity to present a message that really communicates a point. And that’s often a challenge to accomplish in 140 characters!

Check them out for yourself and let us know what you think!

Celebrating St. Mark:  https://t.co/iOZ4vI0HYX

Trust in God:  https://t.co/WtMf4QqoBc

More than meets the eye

Twitter posts these days are propelled by more than just 140 characters. The majority of tweets contain visual images:  photos, graphics and even movies. Why? Twitter itself recommends visual information to capture more “impressions”… people catching a tweet and spending more than a split second on it.

Really, it makes sense… particularly if the visual image captures the essence of the brief tweet. One of our recent tweets that has garnered a number of impressions is this one.

Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi Tweet

Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi – Syria

After requoting a tweet from the Diocese of Syracuse @SyrDiocese: Let us keep our eyes focused on Christ! My thought turned right away to St. John of the Cross, man and mystic truly focused on Christ… particularly Christ on the Cross. I added this quote from John of the Cross to the original tweet: “One act done in charity is more precious in God’s sight than all the visions and communications [with God] possible.

I was tuning into @SyrDiocese reminding us to keep our eyes focused just as John of the Cross had prompted us to consider what is seen in God’s sight. We all need those reminders. Of course, this eventually led me later in the week, after the Daily Office to consider what I have seen, AND how it has changed my life.

IMG_1808

Frenco Pecchio – Milano, Itally

And so the post above. Once again, the depth of John of the Cross’ wisdom propels the conversation, but the image is amazing:  a 4th or 5th century fresco in an ancient monastery 80 km north of Damascus, Syria; a place I knew well, because I had prayed my Morning Office there in the Spring of 2011 at the beginning of the “Arab Spring” in Syria! The Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian is perched high upon a cliff in the desert near Lebanon. There I encountered God in a profound way that truly penetrated my soul, as St. John writes.

A short tweet… an image. Far more than meets the eye!

My Reverie With God

Our friend Dennis has been working toward his Masters in Theology now for several years. Each time we get together, our exchanges about “all things of faith” are truly moments of kindred souls that I’d be pressed to put into words. And yet, that’s just what Dennis has done in the several years.

MyReverieHeader

Beginning in the fall of 2009, he began to craft one-page “arguments” on a topic of theological or spiritual interest. Each one received a rigorous wordsmith treatment… honing the ideas into succint thoughts encapsulated in tight sentences bursting with thought.

When I suggested that he begin a blog with his statements of faith, he quizzed me about the “why” and “how”. Yet, after a short period of deliberation, he agreed that a blog might just be the vehicle to convey these to a broader audience. And so, the birth of My Reverie With God.

Dennis has now posted nearly 100 “reveries”, from “Christ is a Conservative” to We May Stumble. Each is worth a thoughtful visit.