Sunday, April 25, 2010

#67. More Comments Collected


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ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts: 
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Many comments on a specific post come in after-- sometimes long after-- another post has appeared and so often get missed by readers. They are important contributions to an on-going discussion of issues dealing with the convergence of science and religion, so in this post I have gathered all the comments I received since a similar collection appeared as post #32 in March, 2008.

The comments that follow are listed by the date received rather than by topic, but in most cases I've named the post about which the comments were made. Your feedback on anything here that speaks to you will be greatly welcomed.

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Re #33 (Talking About God ), Anonymous said: What an amazing exposition of our oneness with the Great and Holy Mystery! We finally have the insights and words to tell our true Creation Story. So much to celebrate!! April 4, 2008

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Re #33 (Talking About God), Mollie Dean said: It’s Mollie, the one who asked you to talk explicitly about God. Your statement that God is Mystery ever making itself known to us resonates with me and satisfies me greatly. Thank you for this post. April 4, 2008

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Re the slightly new look the blog has (as of April, 2008), Sam noted: As I said in the introduction to post #32 (Comments Collected), I have two major concerns with regard to the set-up of the blog: that comments on the current post are easy to miss because you have to click on "COMMENT" at the end of the post to see them, and that once you've read a post there's no way to know if additional comments have been added without going back to that post later.

My technical advisor (daughter Rosemary) has figured out a way to
make recent comments much more easily available and to keep new comments on older posts from getting buried. The 20 most recent comments can now be found in their own column under the

Archive list (as well as at the end of the post for which they were intended).

So that accounts for the slightly different look now. I thought I should mention it. I once again encourage you to send your comments-- suggestions, questions, disagreements-- whatever furthers the discussion. April 6, 2008

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Re #34 (Talking About Us), Anonymous said: I am an 85 years old retired Public School Teacher and I am satisfied with my inner self. I think the KJV of the Holy Bible is a fair translation in the English.
I was delighted to find your blog address in the AEA edition of the publication of ACTIVE LIFE.

I was hoping that I had found a scientist who saw no conflict with the words God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I was hoping that you could explain the conditions of Nature in the time span between the first man as mentioned in Gen. 1:28 and Noah. What were the conditions that allowed men to live 700 or 800 and more years? A curious person. April 30, 2008

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Sam's response to Curious Person's comments on #64: Thanks for your comments. You are my type of person! It's our desire to understand ourselves and the world that distinguishes us from the rest of God's creatures.

I think what Bible stories about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are about is the same thing that science is about: the evolutionary development of the world. This is much clearer in our time when we recognize that the world is dynamic, not static (as people of past ages thought of it).

It helps to recall the traditional four senses of scripture that have been around since the early Middle Ages. They got lost in our secular and rationalistic age, but as one scholar I know says of them, they are the backbone of our understanding of the Bible stories.

Three of the four senses of scripture have un-helpful Greek-based names, but they are easy enough to understand: besides the literal sense, there's the allegorical, the tropological and the anagogical.

Those last three senses each have to do with the spiritual meaning of the stories.

"Tropological" refers to their significance for us as individuals; the "anagogical" sense refers to their spiritual meaning for the whole universe.

It's the allegorical sense that we need most help with in our rationalistic age; we have a tough time thinking in images.

Essentially, it's the use of one image to help make sense of another. Jesus uses the allegorical sense, for example, in Matthew 12:40. You might want to check out that verse. You might also want to look at some of my earlier posts (especially #26 but also parts of #29, 30 & 31) where I try to spell out this idea of understanding via imagery in some detail.
It's wonderful, by the way, to hear someone say, "I am satisfied with my inner life." Thanks!


PS. If you have an evangelical or fundamentalist background and find the whole idea of evolution still a bit difficult to take, you might like to check out evangelist Michael Dowd's recently published book Thank God for Evolution. May 2, 2008

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Re #34 (Talking About Us), Frank Kochey said: I learned of your "project" regarding the intersection of science and 
religion in "This Active Life". I'm retired school counselor, and also 
felt that religion and science are not mutually exclusive. I've skimmed 
over all of your blogs, but have read only part way through in detail so 
far. You, obviously, have been doing a lot of research, and have 
obtained a lot of interesting information.

My interest in the connection between religion and science led me to the 
study of Christian Science. (Yes, those 2 words are used together.) 
Although you've mentioned a number of reference sources, I think there 
are a couple additional ones that explore the merger of science and 
Christianity which may add some new perspectives to your search. The 
primary one is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary 
Baker Eddy. This gives a complete explanation of its views and 
principles. A book that presents some of the practical applications of 
these principles is "Spiritual Healing in A Scientific World" by Robert 
Peel.

Both of these may be available in your local library. However, they 
definitely are available in any Christian Science Reading Room, where 
they may be read, borrowed, or purchased. (Note: There are reading 
rooms in Haddonfield and Moorestown.) Also, the librarian on duty could 
answer (without proselytizing) questions you may have, and provide 
additional references if you should desire them.

Whatever you decide, I will be reading the rest of your blogs, and hope 
that you find your search to be satisfying and rewarding. Sincerely. May 3, 2008

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Re #35 (Aspects of the Immense Transition, Parts 1 & 2), Paula said: Excellent work, Sam. You packed an enormous amount of understanding into a coherent lesson. Thanks a lot. You have reminded us that the universe (nature, the world) is the first book of revelation by saying that scientific formulations lead philosophical and theological ones. (I put philosophical in between scientific and theological because I came upon the "turn to the subject" through the "linguistic turn" in philosophical literature.)

Probably the drive for self-transcendence is manifest in artistic/religious imaginings first before it gets rationalized into scientific, philosophical and theological constructions? You imply that with the correlations to mythologies. Thanks so much for this energizing post. I look forward to part 2. May 5, 2008

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Re #35 (Aspects of the Immense Transition, Parts 1 & 2), SM said: "Found" you in May '08 ACTIVE LIFE. FINALLY another serious long-time seeker in MY life! Summer "assignment": reading your articles and comments from the beginning. Thank you, Sam. May 14, 2008

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Re #35 (Aspects of the Immense Transition, Parts 1 & 2), Stardust said: Sam, what a pertinent time for us to be reminded of our oneness with all that is. It is the basis of PEACE in ourselves and in the world. You give us so much to contemplate in these essays. June 1, 2008
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Re #37 (What's Next), Anonymous said: At the top of today's New York Times "Most Popular E-mailed Stories" is an article by Columbia University physics professor Brian Greene, "Put a Little Science in your Life." His thoughts about the importance and value of understanding science seem to me to be very much in tune with what you have been blogging here. Brian Greene knows that many people have been poorly taught and fear or see only the details of scientific study. He writes: "In reality, science is a language of hope and inspiration, providing discoveries that fire the imagination and instill a sense of connection to our lives and our world."

I think this article (Sunday, June 1, NYT) is one readers of your blog would appreciate! June 2, 2008

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To Anonymous' comment on #37, Sam said: I've added a link at the end of post #37 to the New York Times article mentioned in the previous comment. My thanks to Anonymous for the good suggestion! June 2, 2008

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From John Stewart, a Member of the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Research Group at The Free University of Brussels:
Hi Sam, Given that a central focus of your blog is evolution and its implications for humanity, I thought you might be interested in having a look at The Evolutionary Manifesto. It presents a new evolutionary worldview that has the potential to provide humanity with a science-based understanding of where we have come from and what we should be doing with our lives. Although it presents a secular perspective, it deals with many of the same issues as your blog. I have set out the first page of the Manifesto below so that you can efficiently judge whether it interests you. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who you think might be interested in the Manifesto. Kind regards.

That first page is not reproduced here, but if you would like to look at it, the complete 34 page Manifesto can be downloaded: Evolutionary Manifesto. June 7, 2008

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Re #38 (Exodus), EVD said: Hi Sam, am here at work and have immensely enjoyed staying to read the latest 2 posts - 37 & 38. Wonderful! I'll enjoy thinking more deeply on these as I head home. I am ever more moved by the centrality of the Seder...what doesn't it contain?? June 11, 2008

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Re #38 (Exodus), Stardust said: Who would think the Old Testament laid out the seeds for our understanding of evolution. It seems we could look at the Resurrection story in the New Testament as the most significant expression of the "death to life" experience we witness constantly in the earth's processes. That wonderful cycle you mention of "seed to fruition to death to seed again" is truly a marvel that fills one with hope and gratitude. June 14, 2008

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Re #39 (Hebrew Thought), Stardust said: This blog has given me a way to express the age-old quandary of "evil" in our world -- be it war, patriarchy in all its deviations, or a myriad of other sins. They are "distortions in the cosmic process".
The idea of humans as co-workers with God is a profound and humbling thought. What greater call could we ever have than to participate in the ongoing creation of the world -- as you put it, in this "human-divine interaction". July 3, 2008

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Re #40 (Wisdom/Sophia), Todd Laurence said: Jung, working with the
physicist Pauli, concluded
that the 'natural numbers'
are a tangible connection
between the spheres of
matter and psyche. "It
is here that the most
fruitful field of further
investigation might be found."
The other factor is Jung's
concept of "acausal
connections" - i.e., meaningful coincidences of
unrelated events which,
at times, can be interpreted.
One such event was verified
by senior researchers at
Princeton University. It
may be the ultimate example
of an activated archetype, i.e., number symbolism.
Other details under
- numomathematics, google search.
"entelekk" June 30, 2008

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Re #39 (Hebrew Thought), K said: Sam, I really liked that blog. It’s good to be reminded of important stuff, in addition to opening our minds to a whole lot that is new and inspiring. Wow, to think of all those centuries that the world was in that dualistic mindset. To me those were the real Dark Ages. It’s like the light just went on “yesterday”. Thanks, as always. July 3, 2008

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Re #46 (Convergence?), alain said: Everything that rises must converge. P.T.Chardin October 18, 2008

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Re #46 (Convergence?), Anonymous said... For years, in monasterys and convents throughout the world, the refrain was: IN the world, but not OF the world. No wonder so many sincere, goodhearted people ended up seriously frustrated. The basic premise for the way they were to see their life was deeply flawed 
Looking forward to your future blogs showing how the earliest Christians understood and lived in the Wisdom tradition. October 29, 2008

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In a PS to post #47 (The Growing Edge), Sam said: I obviously didn't plan it, but the election provides the best example ever of what's meant by cultural evolution and what it means to be on the growing edge of that process. Congratulations to all of us! November 5, 2008

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In response to Sam's PS to #47 (The Growing Edge), E.D. said: Yea, yes, yes!! November 5, 2008

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Re #47 (The Growing Edge), Stardust said: This historical background of the celebration of Christmas was fascinating. Even more significant is what the early Christians were celebrating: the divine Wisdom manifesting itself in this world. They saw it in the person of Jesus in a special way, but it is also in each of us as individuals and as community seeking to bring about the Kingdom of God on this earth. 
Sam, #47 is truly a Christmas gift! 
Thank you. November 22, 2008

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Re #49 (Evolutionary Spirituality), Anonymous said: What a profound and simple exposition of the true spiritual life. Human nature doesn't change with the times. What was meaningful to the desert fathers (and mothers) resonates today. The vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, as described herein, are life-affirming commitments rather than "sacrifices" with all its negative connotations. I like the favorite word of Sister Emmanuelle: "Let's go!"

One other person it reminds me of is Shakespeare with his wonderful line: "To thine own self be true." December 24, 2008

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Re #50 (The End of Patriarchy), Anonymous said: Congratulations are in order-- for writing fifty stimulating and thought-provoking essays and for learning to use the blog techniques for publishing, making links, and offering feedback. I hope you will continue to write entries on topics that interest you. Your positive perspective and ability to synthesize ideas from a wide range of sources have enriched my thinking. Thank you! December 30, 2008

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Re #50 (The End of Patriarchy), Stardust said: This final entry was especially apropos considering our president-elect's background as a community organizer. One question I have is: What caused the alienation from the feminine? And why has it persisted so strongly, though not that long in the whole scheme of cultural evolution?

I'm sorry to see the blog ending. It has opened my mind to so much.

I do appreciate it-- and didn't realize it has been going on for two years! January 1, 2009

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Re #51 (A New Series of Posts), Mary Coelho said: I'm delighted that you have undertaken to continue your blog. I'll be very interested to learn what you write about new attitudes toward biological evolution and also about our role in the cosmic process.

Can the new cosmology be made compelling enough, perhaps with the aid of ritual, such that we are moved to live in a manner that is integral with the earth processes? July 30, 2009

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Re #52 ("Exciting Times"), Anonymous said: Sam, your new blog is off to a good start. It appears we are in for a whole lot of enrichment from the ideas you have outlined. It couldn't come at a better time. August 17, 2009

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Re #53 (Bridging the Gap), Anonymous said: I do believe it is going to be almost impossible to think of "intelligent design" apart from the fundamentalist use of that expression. A phrase using "patterns" might be easier.

Just before turning to this blog I read Tom Friedman's article in the NY Times. He is right, we need to immerse ourselves in nature if we are to succeed in saving the planet. August 23, 2009

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Re #53 (Bridging the Gap), arlene said: As always, a very enjoyable reading/thinking experience. Thanks very much.

So "phenomenological apprehension of design" is a bridge between science and religion. and we do it all the time! We need to be aware of it.

Judging from my immediate reaction to the use of the phrase intelligent design in the post, I agree with anonymous: thanks to its having been commandeered by the creationists, the expression ‘intelligent design’ is lost to us, and a new expression is needed which should, I think, preserve the old so that US and European thinkers can stay together on this. Possibly something like “intelligent pattern(s) design"? August 31, 2009

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Re #54 (We Take Care of What We Value), Anonymous said: It would be good for us to remind ourselves daily that we are first and foremost "Earthlings". The Native Americans looked on the Earth as our home and their rituals reflected their understanding of it as a "primordial manifestation of the divine". That tradition might be a starting point for the integration of the disparate religious teachings. Their "seven generations" ethic is so basic. September 7, 2009

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Re #54 (We Take Care of What We Value), Stardust said: That was the best blog ever, Sam! September 7, 2009

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Re #54 (We Take Care of What We Value), Sam added: For an excellent example of a report on where environmentally-concerned persons may be with regard to Dr. Eaton's four categories, see PS-3, added on 10 Sept 09. September 10, 2009

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Re #55 ("All We Have To Do..."), "a" said: Hi, Sam, Just wanted you to know that i read it the day it arrived but went out of town for Eid-ul-Fitr.

Since i had already read dr eaton's article, i read this one with relative ease. Well summarized, and i continue to appreciate how you bring other writing/thinking to the post theme, this time including the Inquirer article about the CA priest with former law studies who was helping people save their homes. 
 


The Chardin ending is a perfect mantra for Sacred Earth awareness. I'm going to make a poster of it, or perhaps put it on my laptop desktop. thanks again,
 September 24, 2009

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Re #55 ("All We Have To Do..."), Anonymous said: The interesting part of all this is that humans have an innate affinity to the natural world. We seek out the places of beauty and peace like the National Parks, the shore, the mountains for our vacations. We know nature rejuvenates us. What we don't seem to understand is that the earth itself is sacred. It is all about US. There is an important role for religion to play right now in helping people move beyond that anthropological mentality. September 27, 2009

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Re #55 ("All We Have To Do..."), Kathleen said: I agree with Anonymous that religion's role right now is to move us into a realization that this earth is our true home and we need to protect and cherish it. So many religious hymns have people praying for release from this "place of exile" so that we may enter our "true home" (heaven). Sad to say, the religions of the world have had no small part to play in the environmental crisis that has developed. September 27, 2009

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Re #56 (A Saner Approach to Nature), Stardust said: Welcoming the natural world into our lives as a "guest" is a neat way to look at our responsibility to the natural world. Would that all would extend to it the same courtesy we extend to a visitor.
 October 5, 2009

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Re #56 (A Saner Approach to Nature), Mary Conrow Coelho said: The suggestion that hospitality might be a basis of a "saner approach to nature" was not initially convincing to me since hospitality has usually referred only to human relationships.

But it is has been helpful to me to learn how Brian Swimme does something similar with the word compassion by describing the basis for the possibility of "comprehensive compassion" to be found in the new cosmology and the evolutionary story.

In an article in Enlighten Next Magazine, Swimme writes that "the human being is the place in which the comprehensive compassion that pervades the universe from the very beginning now begins to surface within consciousness." He bases his hope for this possibility on the evidence for our unity with the natural world ( we are all derived from the early hydrogen) and he traces the appearance of care in evolutionary history, particularly in early mammals in the bond between mother and child, two hundred and twenty millions years ago. Since we have experience of how very powerful hospitality and compassion can be, it is heartening to know that there is a basis for their extension since these qualities are in some way or another true of other parts of the universe.

The article by Brian Swimme can be read on line at: nttp://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j19/Swimme.asp?page=2
October 10, 2009

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Re #56 (A Saner Approach to Nature), Sam added: Mary's comment and Brian Swimme's interview put "A Saner Approach to Nature" in a wonderfully large cosmic context. Well-worth reading reflectively. The URL in her comment contains a mechanical typo; it should be http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j19/Swimme.asp?page=2
October 10, 2009

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Re #57 (College 50th-Anniversary Report), Karen said: Sam, Terrific post! I read it and agree; no details at this time, but a lot of what you said resonated. I like the poem..... October 14, 2009

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Re #57 (College 50th-Anniversary Report), Mary Coelho said: Dear Sam: I enjoyed reading your blog entry and learning that as early as the college library you caught on to Teilhard de Chardin and Jung. You've been at it a while. I just wanted to comment that Cynthia Bourgeault has some interesting comments about gesture as understood in the wisdom traditions. I thought this connects well with your interest in ritual. She tells the story of Anthony Bloom recommending to a man seeking spiritual guidance that he do 100 full prostrations a day. It reconnected him in an important way. October 14, 2009

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Re #58 (Even Religion Evolves), Anonymous said: I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!
Sorry for offtopic November 8, 2009

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Re #59 (Evolution and Religious Ritual), Mary Conrow Coelho said: I hope you will say more about the experience at the blessing of fire and water when you were eight years old. Was the experience numinous, mystical, a knowing? Is it better described in another way? It seems that in some way 
over the years you must have been hoping that the rituals you have joined 
and those that you created might be the occasion of similar experiences for you and for others. Has this been a successful endeavor? November 28, 2009

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In response to Mary Coelho's comment on #59, Sam said: The short answer to all four of Mary's questions is 'yes.' But I will include a more decent thorough response in post #61 (or #62, if that works better). They are very helpful questions. Just the kind of thing I need. With my thanks! November 28, 2009

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Re #59 (Evolution and Religious Ritual), Anonymous said: What does "meaning" "mean"? Both are words that have been in our vocabulary from our earliest years and we have been comfortable using them without much thought. For a high-schooler I guess one could define it as one's personal interpretation of anything you might encounter. It would be based on your experiences, history, genes, etc. In other words, the meaning of anything differs from one person to another. November 29, 2009

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In response to Anonymous' comment on #59, Sam said: Anonymous gets an A+ for this excellent homework. (I hope you, too, did the suggested homework! It's well-worth thinking about the "meaning of meaning.") December 10, 2009

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Re #60 (Symbol, Myth & Meaning), Lois B. Robbins said: Thanks for your thoughtful and penetrating blog-thoughts. I especially appreciate your distinction between the (old) static worldview and the (new) evolutionary dynamic one. I especially liked What is the Universe Doing? even though I'm a little uncomfortable with the answer: making persons. To me it smacks of the anthropocentrism that's gotten us into so much trouble. It raises for me the question Can an animal be a person? I suspect your response to that question will be, "only if the animal has evolved a pre-frontal cortex that allows it to reflect on the universe. Can we know what an animal (other than ourself) thinks? Can we know if it reflects on the cosmos? I don't believe we can.

The discussion of what the unvierse is doing harkens back to the Chandogya Upanishad: Tat twam asi. Amazing how much those old Yogis knew, isn't it? December 14, 2009

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In response to Lois B. Robbins comment on #60, Kathleen Pfoutz said: She makes a good point: is that all the Universe is doing (making humans)? It does sound anthropocentric, though my reading of it was cutting you some slack: I think you meant that is only one of the things the Universe is doing. Unless you meant that the human, being the latest in the evolutionary story, is where the creative focus of the Universe is at this time. What exactly did you mean, Sam? December 20, 2009

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Re #60 (Symbol, Myth & Meaning), Stardust said: This blog is filled with deep insights into concepts we've lived with all our lives but never really took the time to contemplate. The vast unconscious world within us that pushes through to create our myths is pretty cool. And the symbols from nature, that we are drawn to instinctively, do calm and focus us. Looking forward to the tie-in with evolution and ritual. December 20, 2009

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Re #61 (Wisdom, Cosmology & Creativity), Kathleen said: This particular blog was truly beautiful and inspirational. It uplifted my spirits in a way that is hard to describe. Just the wonder of reminding ourselves of how unique each of us is and how special the gifts that only we can bring to the world-- what a basis for, not just tolerance, but acceptance and understanding of all the differences among the peoples of the world. It is, as you say, the dynamic cosmos coming to expression in us and as us. What a good thing it would be for children to grow up knowing that so that they would never feel the need to bow to peer pressure or try to be or look like someone else. That single understanding could change the world.

And Sophia, the feminine presence of God so fills the world with beauty and goodness. She is the LIFE force in the whole process of cosmic evolution-- whether it be physical or cultural. The Universe was set up from the beginning to evolve and that is what makes it vibrant and wondrous! It is a dynamic, ever-changing path we are on.

I have had many extremely satisfying ritual experiences that you set up in the church we attended years ago where the altar was always adorned with gifts from the Earth: pumpkins and wheat at the Llamas harvest Mass with home-made bread (which I myself sometimes baked) for the Eucharist, or green branches everyone brought and waved on Pentecost. And the most holy and moving of all rituals: the 4:00 a.m. Easter vigil in the blackest darkness that came ablaze with the Easter fire and the waters of Baptism, followed by the procession (holding candles) into the flower-filled bright church where the singing could be heard in the whole neighborhood. December 30, 2009

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Re #61 (Wisdom, Cosmology & Creativity), Mary Conrow Coelho said: Dear Sam: I read with great interest your most recent post #61. I like your designation of your experience at eight years of age as one of affirmation and rightness. I thought perhaps you might write about a sense of belonging but I think affirmation is stronger.

It is remarkable to me that you confidently expected that rituals you were involved with would be effective. I guess that comes from your sense of the affirmation of the larger reality you were part of.

I can see now, having lived with the new cosmology for quite a while, that "confidently expecting" is appropriate but I have been over the years, often largely unconsciously, too influenced by a kind of dualism stemming from the reductive science I studied.

The effect of that is reflected in my use of the word hope which does imply a context of hoping for an intervention of some kind-- a lack of confidence in the nature of things. So you are very fortunate, it seems to me, to have found such confidence early on.

The story of the man saying an evening ritual had been "the best experience of his life" is wonderful.

I don't know what you are planning for future posts but I would be interested in specific examples to illustrate your sentence: "While we are still unconscious of much of the universe's workings within us, humanity's age-old myth-stories are expressions of those activities of the cosmos which have yet to come to consciousness in us."

I've connected to Brian Swimme's powers of the universe as they are discerned by observing, now that we have some details of the long history, what the universe has been doing for 13.7 billion years. After identifying a power of the universe, Swimme then describes how that power is experienced in a person or can be observed to be acting in a person. It seems that the myth-stories you refer to will be expressions of these same powers. But perhaps you have identified "activities of the cosmos" that Brian has not identified. December 31, 2009

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Re Mary Coelho's comment on #61, Sam added a PS: Some of Mary's art work is now on the Thomas Berry website: http://www.thomasberry.org/tributes_and_photos/watercolors.html
December 31, 2009

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Re #61 (Wisdom, Cosmology & Creativity), Anonymous said: Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up! January 10, 2010

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Re #62 ("Let Us Attend"), Sam added a PS: You might like to check out a new, free and interesting-sounding down-loadable on-line adventure featuring discussions by no less than 18 evolutionary "luminaries" (some names will be familiar, some not) at: http://evolutionaryspirituality.com. January 12, 2010

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Re #62 ("Let Us Attend"), Mary Conrow Coelho said: Dear Sam: I like the way you have described the understandings involved in "plugging in" though ritual. It is very well thought out and describes a heartening assumption of a meaningful universe. January 13, 2010

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Re #62 ("Let Us Attend"), Kathleen said: This blog is a marvelous summary of the New Cosmology which all your previous blogs have been leading up to. Sometimes I think of "plugging in to the energies of the Universe" this way: "We are in God and God is in us." Whatever gestures we make toward the transformation of the world are expressions of that fundamental reality. How profound to think we are co-creators with Divine Wisdom. Indeed, "Let us attend." January 14, 2010

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Re #59 (Evolution and Religious Ritual), Arlene from Islamabad said: Dear Sam, I was heavily involved with Jung and Campbell before I read this post which included 'myth' as one of the six words. It was quite exciting to find it here, also. Synchronicity? You say "ritual is the means by which we get empowered to participate in the evolution of the universe.” My understanding has been that ritual is a way of speaking to the unconscious, since the unconscious understands images and not words. But this is so much more. I expect it to be a challenge to understand, as it is a challenge for you to write.

Best of luck! But you don’t need luck; the universe will give you all the help you need. I feel that you have been chosen to make such ideas intelligible. It started showing up at the Easter vigil when you were eight. January 19, 2010

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Re #59 (Evolution and Religious Ritual), Arlene from Islamabad also said: Dear Sam, This is another comment about #59. You said “In the static world view, we can't talk about the evolution of anything, let alone of ritual. And we don't "fit in" either. There, our one task is to escape from the world (and not, we hope, end up in an even worse place)."
This is peripherally related to my current reading: Joseph Campbell teaches that the Bible is about separation of man from nature which started with the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Campbell doesn’t accept the story of the Fall. Where did it come from!? January 19, 2010

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Re #33 ( Talking About God) Anonymous said: The information here is great. I will invite my friends here. Thanks. January 25, 2010

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Re #61 (Wisdom, Cosmology & Creativity), Arlene from Islamabad said: Last All Hallows Eve, I did-- I'm at a loss of which verb to use; please advise-- a solitary and unannounced Wiccan Celebration of the Dead for a beloved brother who had left us just four weeks earlier. Much simpler than earlier such celebrations, it consisted of remembering him while I ate a baked potato (his favorite food).

Affirming? I think so. It certainly felt right.

Many thanks for this beautiful post. February 4, 2010

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Re Arlene from Islamabad's comment on #61 (Wisdom, Cosmology & Creativity), Sam said: In response to Arlene's request for advice about what to call her ritual action-- eating a baked potato, a brother's favorite food, in his memory on Halloween: There's a Greek word for it-- anamnesis, "not-forgetting." But we don't have a good name in English for such simple yet powerful activities. Show how impoverished we are with regard to ritual. February 4, 2010

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Re #63 (Ritual's Psychological Roots) Arlene from Islamabad said: I have been struggling with the meaning of ‘meaning’ in post 61. I was way off thinking that the meaning of something centered on the thing itself, its importance, etc., that the thing itself has meaning, exactly the opposite of the meaning you have given us.

My own meaning wasn’t at all satisfying, while “our understanding” of the thing makes much better sense, is helpful, eg., in my understanding of the phrase "the meaning of life" as my understanding of life. DO I get it?

Great links! I’ve had a solid sample of Myth and Meaning by Levi-Straus (Nice to have some of it now rather than a year from now when one of my offspring brings the book.), and I’ve gone to the NYTimes for the obituary. THANKS FOR GOOGLE BOOKS! February 4, 2010

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Re #63 (Ritual's Psychological Roots), Kathleen said: As a person who has lived most of my life as a predominantly “thinking” person, I found this blog particularly helpful in understanding ritual. To tamp down the thinking and make room for a deeper consciousness, not only of ourselves, but of all that is and our connection to it, we need outlets like singing, dancing, drumming, etc. Intellectual activities are of their very nature self-limiting. We could learn a lot from the way children live their lives. A return to that simplicity and spontaneity would help – and it’s more fun. February 7, 2010

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Re #63 (Ritual's Psychological Roots), Anonymous said: I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing. February 17, 2010

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Re #64 (Ritual's Biological Roots), Anonymous said: nice post. thanks. February 26, 2010

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Re #64 (Ritual's Biological Roots), Stardust said: Excellent insights into the role of ritual. And good words to recall it: for the “survival and thrival” of all. Thomas Berry talks about differentiation, subjectivity, and communion as the defining characteristics of all creation. Subjectivity would be “the within” as you express it. And communion is the connectedness of all. Even plants seem to have a consciousness as they lean toward the light. “It’s a Wonderful World!” February 26, 2010

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Re #64 (Ritual's Biological Roots), A reader said: Two articles in today's newspapers made me think about technology and social relationship possibilities.

First, the featured wedding, describes the proposal of the bridegroom via comic and text messaging, which the bride read while he was right there with her.

"Once they reached the water, Alex took out his wallet, opened it, and took out a comic strip he had clipped. "I've been meaning to show this to you," he said, handing it to Jamie.

It was about a couple who had met online. They were exchanging wedding vows, using their e-mail addresses in place of names. "I got a text message right after I read it," Jamie said. "It was Alex texting, 'Will you marry me?' and when I turned around, he was down on one knee."

Second, now Google Earth technology now being used the help aid workers and others in Haiti shows the technology is way ahead of the users.

But when the users catch on to it, it can be a tremendous force for good.

Your blog is making me aware of social changes-- some bizarre and some wonderful-- changing ways in which people and societies can relate .... March 3, 2010

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Re #65 (Ritual's Cosmic Roots), Mary said: It stuck me funny to read the end of this session since I related strongly to the ideas here about ritual... and you sounded so tentative and unfinished.

My struggle to 're-ritualize" my personal life is strong right now, dissatisfactory & chaotic. This post helped me to view the 'pieces' of that discontent in their connection to the cosmos as the 'why' in attempting to find value to that struggle. So find encouragement to explore this beyond your perceived limits, Sam, -- you never know who is cosmicly connected to your exact message. Breathe in, breathe out joined with all our relations. March 20, 2010

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Re #64 (Ritual's Biological Roots), Arlene from Islamabad said: It’s exciting and wonderful to realize that our spirit doesn’t separate us from our animal relatives, and also that religious ritual, our own participation in the cosmic process, has its roots in their behavior.

It’s such a new thought, so exciting and welcome, that it’s almost hard to believe. But the proof is there. This post is a gift; thanks very much. March 21, 2010

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Re #64 (Ritual's Biological Roots), Mary Coelho said: I find this understanding that rituals could help plug us into and align us with the ongoing cosmic process, including its ongoing creative source, to be profoundly hopeful. Such rituals would be great celebrations that would indeed create community. And they would help us know that all our actions and words in daily life could be aligned in the same manner. It makes me want to join in rituals of this nature. I hope such rituals are being developed. The only ones I know are the cosmic walk and some of Joanna Macy's exercises. March 21, 2010

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Re #65 (Ritual's Cosmic Roots), Kathleen said: Sam, no need to feel this blog was unsatisfactory. It was, in fact, very enlightening. I found the idea that a basic aspect of the New Cosmology being TRUST in the evolutionary process is empowering. It helps those who feel stifled by the institutional churches to embrace what the cosmic energies of the universe are sending our way. It is beautiful stuff.

Re. Mary C.'s comment: I'm thinking, Mary, of devising my own personal rituals to use when there is no gathering of other people. 
How awesome to think the whole process is moving always toward the unity of
all creation. I wish Chardin was still living to see how true his words
(prophecies) re. that oneness are being accepted more and more. Michael Dowd points out how we are actually related to the stars inasmuch as the
minerals and elements that are in the atoms of our bodies were forged in the
furnace of dying stars -- the only place in the universe where that can be done. So, they are truly our ancestors! Now that's something to think about!

There is always the rest of nature to join in with and celebrate. It could be fun finding ways to use earth, air, fire, and water in our own unique rituals. March 27, 201

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Re #65 (Ritual's Cosmic Roots), Arlene from Islamabad said: Sam, The roots of ritual go back a long way! I wondered how ritual can have roots in the non-living universe, and the answer you’ve given us is in the ‘stuff’’ used for the ritual.

You said, “In the perspectives of the new scientific cosmology, the word "God" just doesn't mean what it used to in the old static worldview-- any more than the word "human" does.” I know that God isn’t what we thought he/she/it was before the new cosmology; god is mystery, so we cannot ask the question What IS God in the new cosmology? Later you refer to “the dynamic source of the creative process.” Also part of the mystery, I think. I am mentioning this now because someone close to me wants to know where God is in this blog, and I am looking for answers for her. She also sent in a comment which didn’t ‘take’, that your explanation of the Myer-Briggs (I think it was) test was the best, clearest she has ever read.

You said, “Ritual is the age-old means we humans have for consciously plugging ourselves into the on-going cosmic process-- for aligning ourselves with it.” ‘Consciously’ is a key word here for me. Again I feel like I’m in the wrong ballpark, but how can I know, feel more about what is happening,.. how I am plugging into, aligning myself with the ongoing-cosmic process, that I am a co-creator participating in the evolutionary process?

I think being solitary in my on and off religious practice is a problem for me, Sam. I wish I had a community.

You said, “These are heavy thoughts. Helpful, I hope.” Yes, yes, yes. Very helpful and also comforting to one who lives where there is so much violence. I can help heal the suffering.

And about reaching the limits of your ability, they are surely the limits of anyone’s ability to express the ‘more’ in words. I believe that you know something that doesn’t have words. March 27, 2010

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In a note for Arlene's friend who asks (in her comment on #65) about understanding "God" in the context of the new cosmology, 

Sam said: By far the best presentation I know is by Michael Dowd in his book Thank God for Evolution. He says the new cosmology "offers a refreshingly intimate, scientifically compelling, and theologically inspiring vision of God that can provide common ground for skeptics and religious believers." And as such, "will come to be cherished, first and foremost for enriching the depth and breadth of our experience of God."

Do see his chapter entitled "What Do We Mean by the Word 'God'?" where he asks, "If 'God' is not a rightful and proper name for 'the One and Only Creative Reality' that transcends and includes all other creative realities, then what is?" March 28, 2010

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Re #57 (College 50th-Anniversary Report), Jerry said: Sam 
it is 830 on a monday morning and i just read your blogspot on your 50th college reunion. very enjoyable. March 29, 2010

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Re #65 (Ritual's Cosmic Roots), Allen said: Sam-- You wrote: "Of all the 65 posts I've written, this one feels the most unsatisfactory. Not the whole thing; just the ending. I feel that I haven't said enough-- or that what I did say wasn't said well enough. I think 
I've reached the limits of my ability."

Au contraire, let me assure you that this blog throughout constitutes one of
your most profound and stimulating statements, bringing many themes
together. You seem to be saying that ritual is one way, through community, that the cosmos repeatedly, constantly, reminds itself of its evolutionary task to become more consciousness of itself, of its interconnectedness, and furthers its own development. One explicit implication would be that individual "spirituality," in part, consists of recognizing and cooperating
(or as you say, "aligning") with these dynamics. 

Inasmuch as it accomplishes or inspires this awareness of striving and struggling "in behalf of all and for all" (Liturgy of John Chrysostom), ritual's contribution is potent indeed. And the movement toward community certainly corresponds to Hindu mythologies of creation in which the Universal Source first disperses itself in related diversity, in "spirit-bearing matter," and then gradually "re-collects" its related selves.

Your analysis of the deficiencies of patriarchal perspectives and fears of the "other," of the feminine, of matter, of cooperation, seems most accurate, as does your insightful conclusion that they are "the basis of the static worldview's religious dualism." And your discussion of "trust in the evolutionary process itself" especially resonated with me because I have often said that my creed has become simply "Trust life."

Bravo! Please continue doing your significant part to further the great
work. May your personal paschal journey be fulfilling. March 31, 2010

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In response to Allen's comments on #64, Kathleen said: Allen, thank you for your summary of Hindu mythologies. It was beautifully stated for someone, like me, who knows nothing about Hinduism. Makes me want to look further into it. We seem to be getting to some very basic spiritual concepts that we all agree with. April 4, 2010

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Re #21 (Struggling with Words), Gloria said: Hi Sam, In reading about your loss for words in #21, i recall the first time i heard my zen teacher say "we are all one." It took a long time for that to sink in. As i read your blog that kept going thru my mind.... in religious terms "we are the Body of Christ" or The Communion of Saints"....pick one . They all mean the same thing. That's when i realized even the church is evolving... i would appreciate any comments you might have." April 5, 2010

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1 comment:

Sam said...

While trying to eliminate numerous spam comments, I inadvertently deleted all comments at the END of the posts up until #90. BUT... they are still preserved in the collections of comments found in posts #32, #67 and #83.

One set of comments, however-- for posts #84 to #89-- has been completely lost. If you happen to have copied any of them, I'd much appreciate your sending a copy to me so I can restore them. Thanks.