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Peter, Paul and Women – Another look at the Early Church

Peter and Paul by El Greco via Wikipedia

Among Christians, St. Peter is often compared to St. Paul.

Peter is seen as the rule man. Paul, the innovator. Together, they are usually cited as the two most important early Christians after Jesus Christ, himself.

Women in Early Christianity

Feminists say the primacy of Peter and Paul is a male take on early Christianity. A male take in a male world—in New Testament times and, to some degree, now.

Women, in fact, performed essential work among the early Christians. Food preparation, laundry and other domestic chores were not accomplished through miracles. And there’s no New Testament record of manna falling from heaven. No, women usually took up these necessary duties.

Scholars also realize that women played key inspirational, pastoral and organizational roles within the early Church.¹

Read More

 Christianity is Wild (leeduigon.com)

 Serve God diligently and obey the law (vanguardngr.com)

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Was Thomas Merton a great mystic?

Was Thomas Merton really a great mystic, as indicated above?

name lost in internet. Seems to be Mystic Marr...

“Seems to be Mystic Marriage of Christ and the Church” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I think of great Catholic mystics people like St. Faustina Kowalska come to mind. She was so busy suffering for others and having daily visions of Christ that she barely had time to write out her Diary.

Can bookish scholars/writers like Merton be mystics?

Maybe.

But I don’t think they can be great mystics. They might have an inkling of what the great mystics talk about.

Also, how do we know what a great mystic is? Need they be church approved and funded? Could there be other mystics who go unnoticed? Could the knowledge of these “wildflower” mystics, as I call them, surpass what the Church recognizes as a mystic or a saint?

I don’t know.

Ronald E. Powaski has written about the Trappi...

Ronald E. Powaski has written about the Trappist monk, peace activist, and writer, Thomas Merton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But my gut tells me that Merton, who was keen on study, talk and world travel, was not a great mystic. He might have been a great Catholic public figure. But that’s a totally different story.

I know everyone is different and it’s not a competition when it comes to serving God. But it seems there’s a sort of childish Catholic ‘cult’ mentality out there that I sometimes question.

Do some people need to believe in semi-mythical accounts for inspiration? Do they artificially elevate certain figures who really don’t deserve it? Are some religious people borderline fanatics?

Myself, I much prefer trying to get at the truth of things rather than following an overzealous, unthinking crowd.

 Five suspects arrested for allegedly shooting Reverend Father (sundiatapost.com)

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 Bishop Zubik Wants Dreamers To Have A Chance: ‘God Is Always There For The Underdog’ (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)

 Britain has more non-believers than ever before as Church of England Christians make up lowest-ever share (telegraph.co.uk)

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 Jacob Rees-Mogg: ‘I oppose same-sex marriage, but I’d go to a gay wedding’ (pinknews.co.uk)

 Pope Francis flies to Colombia as the nation savours prospects for a peaceful future (euronews.com)


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If I Become More Spiritual Will I Lose Ambition?

Image via Tumblr

By Raf Adams

Many people are concerned they will lose ambition if they become more spiritual. Or they would be concerned that they will lose their passion and drive to succeed in life and career. Becoming more spiritual however gives a different driving factor to your life. A driving factor that is related to purpose and meaning. One of the biggest challenges people have is to find their purpose and to find meaning at work and the reason is because you and I in school were never educated to find it.

If you are not driven spiritually, most likely you are driven by things such as career development, your future job title, money, power, something external that drives you. This usually leads to higher level of stress and some negative emotions daily. People are more easily upset or frustrated if they don’t get what they want. If this is the case that means your ambition is driven by your mind. The more separated you are between your heart and mind, the more you will suffer. If your mind, your beliefs or thoughts don’t get what they want they will object, resist or get frustrated. I remember a 35 year old lady who missed a promotion and couldn’t deal with the loss. Everyone would be disappointed to some extend but if after one year the frustration and anger is still there, the emotions are not serving you. Your ambition is working against you.

The Song of Los is the third in a series of illuminated books painted by Blake and his wife, collectively known as the Continental Prophecies – Wikipedia

On the other hand when people are becoming more spiritual (spiritual doesn’t mean, becoming more religious or becoming a monk) that means they live a life and have ambition that comes from within. A life and career that is driven by meaning and purpose, driven by internal motivation. According to the Buddhist philosophy your life is a journey towards realizing yourself. That life is a journey. A plant doesn’t blossom after giving water one time, it takes weeks, months and sometimes even years to make them grow and blossom. And this means the same for you, if you want to live a life on purpose, you have to shift your ambition and motivators from external to internal. This can take years to discover but people who are driven from within and driven by purpose are more likely to feel more peaceful, happy and content with them themselves and how they relate to others. They can and still will be successful in their career but they will have more passion for work and be sustainable in the long term.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/if-i-become-more-spiritual-will-i-lose-ambition-6786034.html

About the Author

Raf Adams is the Author of ”The Suited Monk” (available at amazon in Kindle and Hardcover), Professional Speaker, Entrepreneur, Certified Executive Coach. I help people in the field of life purpose, happiness, spirituality and self-mastery. I lived in Europe for 27 years and 7 years in Asia including China and Hong Kong. Connect with me at http://www.facebook.com/TheSuitedMonk, Twitter RafAd02 and sign up at http://www.suitedmonk.com for more articles and updates. If you enjoyed reading the article, please like and share with your friends!

Note – Since this article was first published, there have been some changes to articlesbase.com. The original links have been left intact. 


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Apples and Oranges: The Comparison Game

Noah and Sons Making Wine via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

“Why can’t you be like other kids who behave perfectly?” is a refrain I often hear parents complaining to their children. Yes, there were and are certainly moments when I wish my children were as “perfect” as other kids, but those moments are rare. I am more than happy for my kids to be individuals, albeit imperfect.

People do not do well when they are compared to other people. The damage increases when we begin to compare ourselves to others. “Why do other people have it so much easier than I?” “Why are they successful when I am not?” are not productive questions.

It becomes even worse when we compare ourselves to others in order to measure our spiritual success: “She said to Elijah, ‘what is there between me and you. O man of God, that you have come to me to call attention to my sins and to cause my son to die!” (Kings I 17:18) The Ralbag explains that she felt that Elijah’s presence in her home, with his impeccable standards of piety and Godliness, caused God to take note of her sins. When God compared her to her neighbors, she was considered righteous. However, compared to Elijah, she was a sinner.

The woman believed that God only judged her in comparison to the people around her, not as she was as an individual. How many of us could stand up to such comparisons?

And yet, the Sages understand that God did compare Noah to others: “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations.” (Genesis 6:9) Some Sages maintain that the stress on ‘HIS’ generations is intended as praise: Noah was righteous even in his corrupt environment. How much more righteous he would have been if he had the companionship of Abraham!

According to others, the verse is critical of Noah. He was considered righteous only when compared to his generation. Had he lived in Abraham’s time, Noah would not have stood out as a righteous person. (Rashi)

That sure sounds like the comparison approach to me!

I suggest that the verse is not describing how God judged Noah, but rather how Noah set his sights on achieving his status as a righteous man. Some Sages read the story and understand Noah as someone who strove to be righteous only in comparison with his generation. He did not strive to achieve objective righteousness. He was satisfied with being more righteous than those around him. It was Noah who played the comparison game, and limited himself by so doing.

Other Sages read the story and picture Noah as someone who strove for true Righteousness. He did not play the comparison game. He set his sights on achieving the highest level of Tzidkut. He did not measure himself against his generation but against the highest levels of righteousness, the levels, we know, that were achieved by Abraham.

Rashi seems to prefer the former approach and understands the verse as limiting Noah’s praises. He comments on the next phrase, “Noah walked with God,” and says, Noah needed to walk with God because he could not maintain his standards without someone holding him up. Whereas the verse says of Abraham, “Walk before Me,” Abraham was able to walk on his own.

Harry Chapin closes his song “Greyhound” with, “It’s got to be the going not the getting there that’s good.” It seems to me that Noah was focused on ‘getting there’, he wanted to walk with God. Abraham, on the other hand, was focused on the ‘going’, the journey of his life. He knew that ultimately he would walk with God. He wanted to make sure that the ‘going’, the journey was good and productive.

Abraham was focused on the journey. His goal expanded and grew as he extended his trip and developed himself. Abrahams ‘getting there’ constantly changed as he grew as a human being and servant of God. His ‘there’ was not defined until the end of his life.

Noah was only interested in the ‘getting there’. He needed to define his ‘there’ where and when he was. Such a person can only set his sights by comparing himself with others. That was the only way that Noah could define his ‘there’.

We, the children of Abraham, follow Halacha – we are walkers and see life as a journey. We do not compare ourselves to anyone or anything other than our highest aspirations, which constantly expand and rise as we continue our journey in life.

About the Author:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comApples and Oranges: The Comparison Game

Note – Since this article was first published, there have been some changes to articlesbase.com. The original links have been left intact. 

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Panentheism – Nope… it’s not a spelling mistake…

Over at Earthpages.ca I’ve been doing some heavy duty revising. It’s my way of being a scholar and journalist at the same time. If only I got paid for it!

Oh well, better to try to do the right thing than to peddle products in the name of God. So many ‘squeaky clean’ Christians do that and, frankly, it turns me off big time.

For me, washing the inside of the cup is far more important than washing the outside (Matthew 23:26). Keeping both sides clean is best. But given a choice, the inside is what counts most.

What does this mean?

Usually when I hear Catholic homilies about this teaching they seem to fall short. Catholicism is great but, let’s face it, there’s a lot of worldliness too.

Some people gloss over it. Others repress it. But it’s there. I guess that’s why I’m not a priest or a monk. I would have liked to have been. But it’s just too much polishing up the outside while ignoring the inside.

Familiar patterns may be necessary. But they can also be used as a crutch to prevent real change. Inner change. Reel off the printed prayers, go to confession, give the ‘offering,’ and you get to heaven!

Hmm. I’m not convinced.

As any priest or preacher worth their salt will emphasize, what matters most is internal change. We have to dig deep into our own faults and not dismiss them as “weakness” but, rather, work toward eradicating them. Not easy. And it takes time. But anything else is just whitewash.

But I digress. My intent here is to introduce another entry about different ways people conceptualize God. Panentheism is not a spelling mistake. It’s just another variety in the endless chain of trying to make sense of something far bigger than ourselves.

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Grappling with God

Over at Earthpages.ca I’m revising a list of terms that describe God differently.

So many people are instantly turned off by the “G” word. But unlike Stephen Colbert’s representation (ha ha), he’s not necessarily an old white man with grey beard!

Image via RawStory.com

The above tweet points to the first in a series of nuanced definitions that will appear over the next little while.


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Sacrifice, Service and “The Holy Helper”

Today’s tweeted story got me thinking about sacrifice and service.

So many people find themselves in situations where they feel called to make sacrifices. If this truly is a call from God, then it’s a beautiful thing that usually bears fruit in unexpected ways.

But there might be another type of person who plays the role of the holy person when really, they’re not that holy.

A while ago I wrote that I hadn’t been to Mass over the frantic Easter season, and that I might never go again. Well, that didn’t last very long. And I’m glad it didn’t. Yesterday I visited one of my favorite downtown Cathedrals and saw a person who, in my opinion, is fairly spiritual but also playing the role of “The Holy Helper.”

The Holy Helper brags about being a saint and how people, even strangers, ask for her prayers. But she seems to have a dark side. An unresolved dark side.

Some months ago at another parish The Holy Helper began swearing obscenities at an Asian lady seated in front of me. The Asian lady was calm but also a bit startled. She turned her gaze toward me as if to ask, what the heck is going on here?

I’ve known The Holy Helper for over a decade and have watched her become progressively strange. After cursing the Asian lady the HH began talking to me as if nothing had happened. I couldn’t endorse her behavior by ignoring it, and gently suggested that swearing at others in public is not a good thing.

Then I tried to tell her that I went through a challenging phase in my own spiritual development. I never swore at people in public, but was trying to help by sharing my own story.

Before I could get my words out, The Holy Helper became angry and indignant. She knew it all and I didn’t understand. I suggested she seek professional help. Moments later she started swearing at me. “You are a F***** Loser!” she yelled.

I was shocked and somewhat traumatized afterward. Fortunately another person gently ushered her out of the Church.

Yesterday the Holy Helper was back at the Cathedral. It’s sort of frightening when I see her. She hasn’t apologized so I don’t know if she’ll start swearing again. Maybe she’s gone even further over the edge and will assault me physically.

A sign that designates no swearing in a city.

A sign that designates no swearing in a city – Wikipedia

I doubt it but am not sure.

Keeping my phone set to “video” gave me some confidence. Afterward I wondered what I would do if I captured her on camera swearing at me or someone else.

Would I report her or just let it go again?

I feel that if someone is roaming around verbally abusing people, they should not be allowed to persist. They need help. And if they’re not going to get it themselves then some kind of intervention might be in order.

Why do I tell this story?

Well, partly because I’m somewhat annoyed. When I go to church I don’t want to have to deal with borderline personalities. I just want to pray and feel close to God.

I also feel that The Holy Helper is a great example of someone identifying with the role of being a sacrificial saint without giving due attention to her own issues. Hence, a lingering shadow of resentment builds up. A shadow that comes out in abusive ways.

Anyone could all fall into this kind of mindset if they are not honest with themselves. We’ve all heard stories of nuns slapping even burning children in their care, priests molesting kids, and so on.

Repression is a nasty thing.

On the other hand, sacrifice can be beautiful but only when in line with God’s will. Everything else is probably based on some kind of psychological compensation. Compensation means we play up real or imagined personality traits that make us feel superior because underneath, we feel inferior.

That’s not true spirituality. And if left unchecked, a subconscious sense of inferiority can unexpectedly flip into its opposite.

That’s when the innocent have to run for cover.