Friday, August 31, 2007

We are what we love

Love this from the Thomas Merton Book of Hours--

"We are what we love. If we love God, in whose image we were created, we discover ourselves in God and we cannot help being happy: we have already achieved something of the fullness of being for which we were destined in our creation."

That's a lot of talking...

I'm trying to work one full day each week on a lecture I'm scheduled to give in October. Not easy to carve out the time, but yesterday I actually blocked out certain days on my calendar. Doing that helped me realize that I don't have any time to waste if I want to do a good job.

I'll be speaking for a total of 200 minutes, 4 sessions of 50 minutes each.
(Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I've ever been asked to speak for 200 minutes straight like that... in my normal life it would take me, what, probably several DAYS to use up 200 minutes talking. I am definitely not blessed with the gift of gab. I wish I were, but for me, words do not often flow easily.)

When I accepted the invitation to do this lecture it sounded easy enough to put together something on my dissertation. What was I thinking? It's not easy at all. My memory is so bad, I'm having to re-read a lot of the back-up material I used. And then I have to ask myself, what will people really be interested in hearing? The title is "Authenticity: The Gift and Task of Selfhood." Folks probably find authenticity an interesting topic overall, and it is a theological lecture series, so I don't have to "simplify" anything, but I do have to make it easy to follow and give some attention to exactly which aspects of my material to include. I spent eight hours on it yesterday and got about halfway done with a draft of the first session.

200 minutes.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Security

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. --Helen Keller

Per Juan Cole...

During the last year or so my husband decided to educate himself on Islam. He began by reading every book recommended by the respected scholar, Juan Cole. It is a long list. Now I have an in-house 'expert' on Islam. Earlier this week, D mentioned the possibility of what Juan Cole is now reporting on his blog.

Cole is just reporting rumors, but the fact that he gives them enough credence to include in his blog makes me ... nervous. Digusted. Almost ill.

This is from Juan Cole's Informed Comment:
____________________________________
Thursday, August 30, 2007, Cheney & Iran: Here We Go Again?

Barnett Rubin relays a message from a well-connected friend in Washington on the Cheney Administration's plans to roll out a military confrontation with Iran in September. He writes at the Global Affairs blog:" My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:

They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."

Cole: there has been some recent similar reporting. For instance, just on Tuesday Raw Story covered a paper by two British academics arguing that the US has the capability and perhaps the intention of launching an aerial assault on Iran's enrichment facilities. Earlier, McClatchy reported on Aug. 9 that Cheney has been urging bombing of Iranian trails to Iraq. This position struck me as eerily reminiscent of Nixon-Kissinger's treatment of Cambodia (which is what really caused the Khmer Rouge horrors, not, as Bush said the other day, US withdrawal from Vietnam; we dropped enormous amounts of ordnance on that country and severely disrupted it). Also at Raw Story on Aug. 10. And Gareth Porter on Aug. 16 responding to the McClatchy article. So, maybe something is up. If you want to see what I think of a war with Iran, see this golden oldie. Read Rubin's whole piece.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Reassurance in the midst of ebb and flow

I find the ebb and flow involved in the spiritual life to be quite a comfort. I could feel the flow for several weeks recently. When the ebb began to set in, it took a few days to realize what was happening. That's not unusual; it's a common pattern for me. But each time the realization dawns, I feel such relief. Ah, the flow will return. Have patience. Listen. Stay awake.

Reassurance that God (whatever I really mean by that word) will return. Never left. Only hidden somehow.

D and I had another grace-filled conversation tonight at dinner. He mentioned that lovely hymn, I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry.* So meaningful to think that we are not alone in the midst of all the seasons of our lives. In a way, it's the same thing. Have patience. Listen. Stay awake.

Reassurance that things change, yet God (what do I really mean by that word?) remains.

Summer's ended. We gear down here at home and at church, and now are called to gear up in other and new directions for the Fall. I seek new eyes. I seek a heart that stays open, remembering that there are many futures, after all.

I seek reassurance as well. Indeed, I pray for it. In this ebb, the feeling of reassurance may elude me, but now in the "middle ages" of my life, as the hymn says, I have enough experience of this yet utterly mysterious "God," to rely on faith to sustain me.

May it be so.

*_________________________
"I was there to hear your borning cry, I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized, to see your life unfold.

"I was there when you were but a child, with a faith to suit you well;
In a blaze of light you wandered off to find where demons dwell."

"When you heard the wonder of the Word, I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living Lord, to whom you now belong."

"If you find someone to share your time, and you join your hearts as one,
I'll be there to make your verses rhyme from dusk 'till rising sun."

"In the middle ages of your life, not too old, no longer young,
I'll be there to guide you through the night, complete what I've begun."

"When the evening gently closes in, and you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been with just one more surprise."

"I was there to hear your borning cry, I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized, to see your life unfold."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Movies...We love movies


Movies. I LOVE movies. So does my husband. We saw a movie together on our second date and when we married we combined our considerable collections of movies and now have ...oh, I'm embarrassed to say how many. D and I both often come home from a trip to the store for milk and bread with a DVD in hand. Really, neither of us smoke, drink, gamble or came into this marriage with any debt, but when it comes to movies, well...

Something Hot Cup Lutheran mentioned made me remember my second date with D. Yes, we saw a movie. Well, before I get to that, let me tell you about our first -- not date, the first time we met. The first time we met was at lunch. When people ask how we met, D says we had mutual friends, which is perfectly accurate. Turns out we knew several people in common and lived not even five miles from each other. More accurately, though, we met through match.com. I was in a dating flurry back then (for me, anyway!), and I'd always arrange to meet these guys for lunch at a restaurant I knew. Well, D walked in and I recognized him immediately from his picture. I knew he was good looking, but in real life he was even better. I willed my little heart to slow down and we had a nice talk. We had so much in common that I was glad he remembered--finally, as we were walking to our cars--to mention getting together again. A movie, maybe? That would be great, I said.

Well, it turned out that it was a lean summer for movies. Our best option was Legally Blonde Two with Reese Witherspoon. I'd seen the first installment at my sister's years before and thought it was cute. Of course it was deadly saccharin, not the kind of movie that provides any conversation topics for the coffee-time afterwards. (But as I was quick to learn, with D you don't need help with conversation topics. He's one of these people who's so well read that you can generally throw out one word and he can speak intelligently for a long time.) Anyway, Legally Blonde was the kind of movie we'd both rather rent for a dollar and watch with the kids.

As we've grown in our relationship I've noticed that our movie-watching has changed a bit. Let's see. In the beginning, when love was young and sweet, D sat in my living room and actually watched The Hours with me. After her son committed suicide, Julianne Moore is sitting at the kitchen table with Meryl Streep, and I'm always stunned by that oh-so-subtle look in Julianne Moore's eyes as she feels once again the profound pain at the marrow of life. We're watching the movie, and I see that look, and tears fill my eyes. My heart is barely beating. The movie ends. D says, "Well that's a downer. What's for dinner?"

D adores the Marx Brothers.
I cannot abide the Marx brothers. They are simply not funny.
Newsflash: All the Marx Brothers' movies are CLASSIC comedy. I didn't know that, I say. Oh yes, D tells me--for the umpteenth time. Their comedy is where comedy began! D and all three of my stepchildren know all the Marx Bro. movies by heart, and I am regularly entertained at the dinner table by Marx Bros gags, which, guess what, I do NOT find funny--(except when I do, which, admittedly, sometimes, when performed by my family, they are).

I could go on. Luckily, our tastes in movies converge in some areas, too.


P.S.....D said it was OK to blog about our first and second dates. As long as I made him look good. So I did. (It wasn't that hard.)
I'm not so sure he'd say it was OK for me to reveal the number of DVDs we have stacked up in our living room....which he alphabetized the other day. What a guy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The politics of fear

I don't know whether I'll end up voting for Obama, but his campaign certainly is, in my opinion, speaking truth unlike other candidates. I LOVE what she says here. We've been fed a steady diet of FEAR now on the national scene for six or seven years, and I am so undone by it. I find that Obama's political rhetoric offers hope.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another opportunity to be with someone who is dying

Tonight I had another opportunity to be with someone who is dying.

Every Wednesday at 6:15 we have Taize-style Evening Prayer at my church. Tonight, just before we started, a parishioner came up to me and said she had a friend, an older woman, who has been put on hospice. The friend had a church, but wasn't comfortable with the ministers there...would I come and pray with her? Of course I agreed, and we decided that tonight, after Evening Prayer, would be best.

I followed my parishioner to her friend's house and we arrived about 7:30 pm. The friend, Sally, is dying of cancer. My parishioner introduced me and said I was there to pray for her. I shook her hand, came around to the side of the bed, and ask if she felt able to talk a minute before we prayed. She said she did. I wondered if she could tell me a little bit about herself. She told me she was "happy person." She shared various details of her long life. Said she'd been a Christian most of her life and member of another local church in our denomination for 30 years.

"Before I pray with you, Sally" I said, "I want to give you an opportunity to share any concerns or fears or issues that you might want to talk about with me." Somewhat surprisingly, she immediately said that she was afraid to die. There followed a long and difficult conversation about the fear of death.

It was difficult for many reasons. One, because I had just met her. Two, because it was not easy to hear her--her voice was barely a whisper. And three, sometimes what she said didn't seem to make sense. But the gist of it seemed to be that she simply didn't feel ready to die, and she didn't want God to let her die. She was afraid of the unknown and freely admitted that.

I wasn't sure where to go, what to say, so I let some silence reign for a while. Praying. I thought how likely it would be that I'd feel the same as she.

I asked her about times in her life when she had faced big unknowns and whether she'd been able to trust God then. She said yes, God had come through for her then. Perhaps if she began to think about trust.

She kept asking us to not pray for her to die. She seemed to think that with the hospice people there, everyone was willing her to die. I admitted to her that we, the people in the room, couldn't be sure that this was her time to die. Even the hospice folks, toward whom (it became clear) she bore some resentment, couldn't be absolutely sure that this was her time to die. We're human and we can't see the future. Only God knows. "But Sally," I said, "holding on to the present only because you're afraid probably isn't the best thing either."

Her cousin reassured her. And my parishioner. We spoke of different things.

I spoke of what I knew about fear. How it's no match for perfect love. How she's surrounded by people who love her, how she can choose to let that love fill her, instead of the fear. How she can use her imagination to see herself filled with that love. When I spoke of her will to choose to trust God, she seemed to pay attention more. "I can choose," she said. "Yes, you can choose to trust God. You can choose to love. Both can defeat fear."

She asked me to pray for her, so my prayer was all about love defeating fear. About God's will for her being the happiness that she had spoken of when I first met her. About choosing to trust in God's love for her. About a spirit of calm and peace and joy filling the room, the house, and her body. Things like that.

Oh, I'm hoping it helped her some.
Dear God, please help this sweet lady feel your love. Calm her fears. May the angels of grace sing of courage in her ears and may her heart take flight toward you and your love! May she remember that she is your beloved daughter...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Inevitability of Change

Change is inevitable. That's one of the major tenets of the postmodern pastoral counseling methods I became familiar with in my Ph.D. program. People come in for counseling saying "I'm depressed," or "I'm anxious," or "I'm an alcoholic," or "my relationship is so dysfunctional." Diagnosing themselves like that or using that problem-soaked language, while it can help in emphasizing the seriousness of a problem, can also lock people into a way of thinking about themselves that is not helpful. Human beings are always more than the labels they place upon themselves. And God is always at work doing a new thing. I like to think of that as God's job--24/7/365, with no burnout possible, always hard at work changing our grief into joy and our fear into courage. Yes, change is inevitable. It's a matter both of God at work and our virtual encasement in temporality. As a narrative counselor I try not to label people or use problem-soaked language.

Yet I don't discount the seriousness of problems that people have. In fact, I often felt that the postmodern methods I was taught would have to be used in conjunction with more of the modern methodologies that I had experienced as a client in therapy myself through the years. That's proven to be the case so far. I use a combination of both methodologies. But the postmodern tenet that change is inevitable is so worth keeping at the forefront. People get better all the time without the help of any counseling or therapy at all. Our own agency is key.

And outside the counseling paradigm, change is inevitable is worth remembering, too--when we hit a little roadblock in our plans, in the way we've laid out how the future will be. Suddenly, poof! it's all gone and the wind goes straight out of our sails. Many times, all we have to do is wait a while...The Spirit is just blowing in a different direction. Wait a while. All will be well again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Faith Story V -- Seminary, Surrounded by God-Reminders

In my previous Faith Story post, I wrote about how I was finally able to settle, in my mind, the issue of the divinity of Jesus. The rest of my time in seminary was spent in various other ways deepening my faith. I look back at those years (Jan. 1995--May 1998) in amazement at how God just kept at me, in so many ways--changing me, drawing forth the courage in me, transforming me, helping me see more and more clearly the person God wanted me to become.

Seminary was a time of intellectual challenge. As I said in a previous post, I was learning a new language. Theology and theological ethics were totally unknown to me, so I took most of my electives in those areas. Just as important, perhaps, I knew that I needed to move beyond my "white-bread suburban world," so I was deliberate in my choice of internships.

From my previous Faith Story posts, you know that I was coming from a very conservative, restrictive religious background. So when it came time for my internship in a church in my denomination, I set my sights on the only church in my area that was open and affirming. On my very first Sunday at this church, I visited a Sunday School class where the members were sharing their spiritual autobiographies. A man was saying how he knew he was gay when he was eight years old. His story of being excluded by the church when his sexual orientation became known was heartwrenching. He talked about how much it meant to him to be at this church where he felt truly welcomed. I knew I was in a place where the spirit of Christ was known and practiced, not just given lip service.

My CPE internship at the county hospital was the same kind of experience. I went after the county hospital, not a hospital in a suburban area. It was a summer internship--50 to 60 exhausting/exhilarating hours a week. White-bread suburban world it was NOT. Oh, my goodness, I learned SO much. Racial, cultural, and I was the only woman in my group, so gender, too. And my learning, once again, was that beneath the facades, past the skin color, the language and cultural/gender differences, people are remarkably the same. Differences count and are never to be discounted, but all people are children of God, and all people want to be respected and loved and heard and seen. Claiming my voice; being truly present and representing God; standing toe to toe with arrogant doctors; remaining truly alive as people die all around me it seemed in the ER and elsewhere in the hospital; putting aside my own ego needs in order to truly listen to the other---it was during my internship at this county hospital that I learned all this in a powerful and very intense way.

I kept putting off taking the preaching class, until I had dinner one night with Michael, the minister from my home church who became my mentor (the one who STUNNED me by admitting that he, too, had doubts at times, and therefore freed me to have real faith). He asked me how seminary was going and I admitted my fear about taking the preaching class, and he said something in a teasing tone about "never getting to hear the people who really have something to say because they're too afraid to say it." Well, that galvanized me into action, and, of course, I ended up loving the preaching class.

Finally, I wrote previously about a pastoral care class in which I processed my mother's careless words to me as she lay on her deathbed. Looking back, that's probably the moment that served the most to convince me to stay on for the Ph.D., for that's the moment when I experienced for myself the vast potential of pastoral care/counseling for transformation and growth.

When I entered seminary in January 1995, both parents had died, I was single and had left my cushy job. But that is when I began a life of coming to myself that continues to this day. I still feel the fear at times, still experience downturns in which the Old Katherine takes hold and allows life to diminish. But then eventually I come to myself and begin again to listen to God, begin again to allow my life to flourish. Seminary was three years of such flourishing, surrounded almost constantly by reminders of God.

Finally, a day off!

Finally, a day off! Whew. Senior minister is still at home sick, but he says he's better and will be there Sunday to preach. Thank goodness. Not sure I could find the energy ... Notes from the last two weeks:
  • Beautiful Genuine Drummer Girl has returned to City to the South for the school year. She had to leave early for band camp. D and I are still talking about how we miss her. Lovely Passionate Feminist's last day at her summer job is tomorrow; she moves back to her dorm at the end of next week. Young Man with Integrity has found a job. Although it's sort of tentative at this point, he starts training next week and we're all sure he'll make the cut. Big changes around this household!
  • When senior minister gets back next week and we get some things going again around the office I'm going to schedule some vacation time. I still have two full weeks left.
  • I got a good hair cut and colored my hair last week--no more gray. I look 10 years younger! Well, 5 at least.
  • The freakishly cool rainy summer around here has definitely come to a close. It's been 98 all week; suppose to reach 101 tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A point of her own

Lovely Passionate Feminist called into the Diane Rehm show yesterday morning and got on the air! 19 years old. She listened to the scholar's point about terrorism and wanted to challenge it a bit with a question of her own, so she did. She's amazing.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Paying attention to paradise this morning

For all of us who are preaching this morning, and for all of us who are not:

With my hair almost on end and the eyes of the soul wide open I am present,
without knowing it at all, in this unspeakable Paradise, and I behold this secret,
this wide open secret which is there for everyone, free, and no one pays any attention.
O paradise of simplicity, self-awareness--and self-forgetfulness--liberty, peace.

This closing prayer from Thomas Merton A Book of Hours made me smile this morning.

May I, at least, pay attention. :-)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Trusting God to Write a Sermon

Such a hectic week! I took a couple of days vacation and intended to take more except our senior minister is sick--first a cold, then an upper respiratory thing, now so complicated by vertigo that he called me Thursday and said he can't sit up at his computer to write a sermon. I agreed to preach on Sunday. A bit later I thought, well, perhaps we can ask someone else---I'm coming home and collapsing from exhaustion, and I know I should rest more. But then I read the lectionary, and Colossians 3: 1-11 intrigued me.

I had a few things of my own to attend to (our first Friday concert series), which meant I couldn't start writing immediately. By yesterday I was really stressing out. The Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours helped, although I still had an upset stomach and was short with my husband.

With only one day left, my inclination is to skip any quiet time and go straight to the sermon writing, but I resisted that inclination this morning. And I'm glad I did. This morning's kyrie from the Thomas Merton Book of Hours is this:

This is what it means to seek God perfectly:
To have a will that is always ready
to fold back within itself
and draw all the powers of the soul
down from its deepest center,
to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God.
Poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point
of my dependence on God,
to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly
suffer or do or be,
and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect
love and blind faith and pure trust in God,
to do God's will.

So instead of writing this sermon strictly on my own today, relying on past experiences of God (and often being surprised when God shows up in the middle of the writing!) let me begin now by finding that quiet center within me, where I am poised and tranquil, where I can abandon my neediness and illusions and simply wait for the coming of God. Perfect love. Blind faith. Pure trust. To do God's will. May it be so this day.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Center of our Being (a psalm by Thomas Merton)

When I came across this psalm this morning from "Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours," tears filled my eyes.

In the center of our being is a point of nothingness
which is untouched by sin and by illusion,

a point of pure truth,
a point or spark which belongs entirely to God,
which is never at our disposal,
from which God disposes of our lives,
which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind
or the brutalities of our own will.

This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty
is the pure glory of God in us.

It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven.
It is in everybody, and if we could see it
we would see these billions of points of light
coming together in the face and blaze of a sun
that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.

I have no program for this seeing.
It is only given.

But the gate of heaven is everywhere.

Reading this, I was reminded that no matter the circumstances of our lives, at the center of who we are, the divine is shining forth. Untouched by sin. Untouched by illusion. Mysterious, behind the gossamer veil, yet authentically who we are and are meant to be.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

God is in the midst of the city

Diane is posting about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It's in her community. We hold her and everyone effected by that tragedy in prayer..... Here is Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the moutains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter,
God utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us,
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

So be it...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Faith Story IV -- Divinity of Jesus

The next step in my faith story came in seminary when I confronted my difficulty with the divinity of Jesus.

I took an elective course in Christology, with Dr. G, an extraordinary teacher of theology and philosophy. He was one of those teachers who was willing to stay with the subject until he sensed the students understood it. Invited questions. Asked us whether we understood. He was educated at Yale, and I think was quite a bit more conservative theologically than I, yet hearing my struggle he was the one who recommended that I read John Cobb's Christ in a Pluralistic Age for the Christology class.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that I could remember practically NO details of how Cobb convinced me of Jesus' divinity--so typical of me. My memory has never been good, and at 51 it's getting scary bad. So I searched my files this morning and found my paper, written in the Fall of 1995. I'm going to retype several of the relevant paragraphs of this paper here. I should know this! Sheesh!

The paper actually compares the christology of Cobb and John Hick and discusses the transformations of religions as they encounter one another. I'll start with the ending:

Near the end I say that "when our tradition is bypassed or relegated to a place less important than celebrating pluralism (which is Hick's position) then we have no anchor. We have nothing to counter Feuerbach's criticism that human religious experience is only misunderstood self-awareness. Our tradition tells us that God is revealed in Jesus Christ, an assertion with which John Cobb emphatically agrees. If we do not keep that tradition squarely before us, countering the notion of metaphor-only with Jesus as exemplar or inspiration (helpful as those may be), then we, as Christians, risk foundering in nihilism.

"Cobb provides a way of countering Feuerbach by explaining how salvation/transformation could take place in reality, outside of and separate from ourselves. In addition to grounding salvation in a view of reality that places great importance on relationality and community, process theology also tells us that the 'I' that determines our reality and who we are is influenced both from our own past and from outside ourselves, from the Logos, or God."

Just re-reading only this much, I can see how important not falling victim to self-deception has always been to me. Reading Feuerbach--and I only read about his claims--struck fear in my heart--yikes, I thought, maybe we're only fooling ourselves! So, from the very beginning of my intellectual career, I was looking for inner and outer corroboration.

OK, now I take it from the top:

"Cobb writes in the introduction to Christ in a Pluralistic Age that 'in the chapters that follow, the incarnation of the Logos in Jesus is affirmed literally and seriously, as by traditional theology...But this distinctive structure of Jesus' existence is recognized as one of the many structures of existence that have appeared in human history. The supernaturalist and exclusivist implications that the tradition drew from its correct starting point are rejected.' (27)

"By 'structures of existence' Cobb is saying that we are oriented toward the future and toward becoming. In the old Darwinian/Cartesian mode of existence and thinking, we are conditioned primarily by our past, but in the postmodern worldview we began to see things quite differently. As we experience life, we are continually confronted by a myriad of possibilities as to behavior, attitude, thoughts, etc. We can choose simply to rearrange different elements (nothing really new), or we can choose to allow different elements to create new possibilities. The more open we are to the new, the easier it is for all these various aspects of ourselves to be what Cobb calls creatively transformed. And as we choose the good and are transformed, there is created around us a sphere of existence, or a field of force, that emanates outward and effects its surroundings."

I'll skip some here. Cobb says that Christ is the "principle of creative transformation which always calls forth the better, the more beautiful, than the given. This evoking of something better and more beautiful is a mysterious power and it cannot be explained by the action of the world environment." (71)

"The 'mysterious power' is a lure, drawing us toward the good. It is a reality, a structure of existence, that the Christian tradition has called Logos. Cobb says the Logos is in all of us; it is always there in some fashion. However, our attitudes, beliefs, behavior, etc. can effectively close down any influence from the Logos. 'Structures of existence are correlated with different roles of the Logos.' (138)

"Cobb maintains that in Jesus the Logos constituted Jesus' very selfhood. We know from historial accounts of Jesus that he spoke and acted with a divine authority that was distinctive. We know that the words of Jesus are transformative for us today. We know that Jesus' historical reality has generated a 'field of force' that has continued through the centuries in the memories of our ancestors so that today the historical reality of the man Jesus of Nazareth exerts a certain influence and power on us who know his story and believe his words. Although the Logos is present everywhere and to some extent in all of us, Cobb maintains that Jesus' incarnation of the Logos was distinctive, and that this explains the sense of divine authority about him."

"Cobb says that who we are, the 'I' that determines our reality, is 'usually constituted by continuity with the 'I' of preceding moments.' (139) When we are open to the Logos as creative transformation, we experience the lure toward the good as coming to us from outside ourselves. We may experience it s basically positive, or to the degree that we are stuck in the past and unwilling to open ourselves up to creative possibilities, we may exerience it as threatening and basically negative. (139) Whether negative or positive, this is the structure of existence most of us experience."

"But this is not the only possible structure of existence. It is possible that the Logos could share in constituting the 'I,' or who we are. If this occurred, the usual tension between our human behavior, attitudes, thoughts, etc. and the lure toward the good calling to us from outside ourselves would not occur. As Cobb puts it, the usual tension between our human 'aim and the ideal possibility of self-actualization that is the Logos would not occur.' (140)

"Cobb believes that Jesus lived this structures of existence. He incarnated the Logos so that each moment was open to the possibility of creative transformation. Of particular note is how Cobb explains the force of Jesus' incarnation of the Logos on us today. In most of our experiences, various elements come together and are simply rearranged, thus intensity of the experience is dulled. But...

"there are times when we feel peculiarly alive, when the rich potentialities for experience that pour in upon us are synthesized into new forms that allow each to make their full contribution. These moments exercise an influence upon their future that is greatly disproportionate to their temporal endurance or frequency. We can dimly imagine what it might be for us to be continuously alive in this full sense, in each moment growing beyond our past through its inclusion in a richer whole that includes others as well." (145)

"Jesus' selfhood as the Logos was life experienced in this way, says Cobb, and the field of force that it produced was of a 'truly unusual magnitude sustained and extended through repeated acts of remembrance. (145)

"Cobb says we have no way of knowing whether others have ever lived this particular structure of existence. For Guautama Siddhartha perhaps the structure was not exactly the same, but no less powerful. In any case, the 'distinctiveness of Jesus can be spoken of in terms of Christ. Christ is the incarnate Logos...The distinctive structure of Jesus' existence was characterized by personal identity with the immanent Logos. Hence it is a matter of literal truth to affirm the identity of Jesus with Christ." (142)

One aside here regarding the church and hope:

"The church is especially important because the church is the place where the memory of Jesus Christ is kept alive and effective. Actually naming Jesus Christ, and holding an awareness of serving Jesus Christ, empowers creative transformation in a special way. (54) Not that the church does it right, not that it hasn't made horrible mistakes, says Cobb, but because it is the place where Christ is the center, the church at least has the potential to lessen the fragmentation of life. It is a community that holds before us the field of force which Jesus generated and which is continually renewed as we read and study his life and teachings. The church is intimately connected with hope."