Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Spirituality

 
 

Broth to a Dead Man

Religion and Spirituality

Jun 14, 2009

Saying For Today: And no religious institution or its hierarchy, including in the church, can govern such freedom of Grace - though they often try.


Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. While it focuses on Christian teaching, I pray persons of varied faiths will find inspiration here. Indeed, "God" can be whatever image helps us trust in the Sacred, by whatever means Grace touches us each. Please share this ministry with others, and I hope you return soon. There is a new offering daily. And to be placed on the daily OneLife email list, to request notifications of new writings or submit prayer requests, write to barukhattah@embarqmail.com .

Blessings,
Rev Dr Brian K Wilcox, MDiv, MFT, PhD

Pastor-Teacher, Author, Workshop Leader, Spiritual Counselor, Chaplain

Brian encourages support of the 4-Star Christian organization Compassion, which supports children worldwide; for more see www.compassion.com .

OPENING PRAYER

0 my God, I thank Thee for the love Thou hast planted in my heart. I will cultivate this precious flower. I will guard it night and day that nothing may injure it. Do Thou, 0 Lord, water it with the dew of Thy grace.

*John Henry Neumann

LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell [Gehenna] you yourselves are!

*Matthew 23.15 (NLT)

In the above passage "hell" is Gehenna, a garbage dump outside Jerusalem, where trash was always burning.

RECEIVING SACRED TEACHING

The play was in progress at the village theatre when the curtain was suddenly lowered and the manager stepped before the audience.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "it distresses me deeply to have to announce that the leading actor, our great and beloved mayor himself, has just had a fatal heart attack in his dressing room. We are, therefore, forced to stop the play."

On hearing this announcement, a huge middle-aged woman in the front row stood up and shouted agitatedly: "Quick! Give him chicken broth!"

"Madam," said the manager, "the heart attack was fatal. The man is dead!"

"So give it to him at once!"

The manager was desperate. "Madam," he pleaded, "what good will chicken broth do for a dead man?"

"What harm will it do?" she shouted.

Chicken broth does for the dead what religion does for the unconscious, whose number, alas, is legion.

*Anthony de Mello. Taking Flight.

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Religion literally means "to tie, fasten." The word is related to "ligament." A ligament ties bones together and holds organs in place.

Religion in itself can be useful. Anything that serves as a spiritual ligament, helping connect us with - tie us to - Divine Presence, is religious. And no religious institution or its hierarchy, including in the church, can govern such freedom of Grace - though they often try. Ignore leaders who try to limit how Grace chooses to connect with you and hold you in place in Love. Ignore such arrogant and ignorant leaders.

A spiritual ligament can aid us to remain steadfast, giving form and stability to gifts, inclinations, and intentions. Spirituality, like all things, has to have form. That is a fact of living in this world of form and matter.

Yet, as the de Mello story shows, religion in itself is useless for spiritual life. And sometimes it does more harm to a person than good to be associated with a religion of lifeless form. And, often, possibly more than not, religion originally meant to keep us tied with God and firm in faith, becomes an end in itself - a status quo society.

This is a reason so many in our society are rebelling against "religion" and talking so much about "spirituality." Why? The churches, and their clerics, have more than not failed to utilize well religion as a way to deep spiritual fulfillment. However, laity are possibly as much as clerics to blame, for they fear spirituality, and sabotage leaders who seek to lead them beyond conventional forms of faith.

In this vein applies the wise and cutting words of Garrison Keillor: "Going to church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car." The same fact applies to religion generally, and its practices.

QUIETLY RESPONDING

1) What are some ways religion helps you connect with and open to the Holy Spirit of Christ?

2) Are there ways religion has hindered your spiritual growth and fulfillment? Explain.

3) Do you believe the rebellion against the established church in our society might be a movement of the Spirit? Explain your response.

4) Do you generally find religious groups open to experiences of God's Movement that do not fit the status quo? Explain.

5) Do you think religion often hurts persons deeply? Explain.

6) Do you consider clerics to be open generally or not to mystical manifestations of the Holy Spirit? Do you feel you can trust your spiritual experiences that do not fit the norm with your pastor, or priest?


Blessings! In Christ!
Rev Dr Brian K Wilcox
June 11, 2009
barukhattah@embarqmail.com

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*References to Stephen Fitzhenry are from "Qualities of a Contemplative Soul," In Spiritual Life: A Journal of Contemporary Spirituality. Fall 2006.

*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian K. Wilcox, of SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis. Brian is an ecumenical spiritual leader, open to how Christ manifests in the diversity of Christian denominations and varied religious-spiritual traditions. He is Senior Chaplain for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, Punta Gorda, FL.

*Brian welcomes responses to his writings or submission of prayer requests at barukhattah@embarqmail.com . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.

*Contact the above email to book Brian for Spiritual Direction, retreats, or workshops. You can order his book An Ache for Union at major book dealers.

 

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