Albert Nolan's Jesus Today

A couple months ago I read Albert Nolan's book Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2006).

Nolan is a Dominican priest from South Africa, which very much informs his world view, in a positive way, from my experience. His first book, Jesus Before Christianity, is apparently relatively widely read.

I have finally had a chance to type up some of the passages that spoke to my condition, and reproduce a few of them here. The book starts with a review of the current situation in the world, the "signs of the times."
P. 7: In our present circumstances of uncertainty and insecurity, spirituality could be seen as yet another form of escape. While this may be true in some cases, it seems to me that by and large the new search for spirituality, the deep hunger for spirituality, is genuine and sincere. It is one of the signs of our times.
     The sign, however, is not the number of people who have found a satisfactory form of spirituality to live by. Some have done so, but the sign is rather the widespread hunger for spirituality, the search for spirituality, the felt need for spirituality. One could argue that all human beings need, and have always needed, spirituality. What is happening today is that many more people are becoming acutely aware of their need for spirituality.
Nolan then reviews what he sees as the core of Jesus's spirituality.
Page 135: Trusting God, as Jesus did, does not mean clinging to God; it means letting go of everything so as to surrender ourselves and our lives to God. There is a difference between attachment and surrender. In the end we must become detached from God, too. We must let go of God in order to jump into the embrace of a loving Father whom we can trust implicitly. We don’t need to hold on tightly, because we will be held—like a child in the arms of its parents.
     There are people who cling to God. They make God into a crutch... Clinging, even clinging to God, is the work of a frightened ego. Surrender and trust come from the depths of our true self.
p. 146: For many of us the process of unlearning or unknowing our previous images of God might include a stage of atheism or at least a period of grappling with a de-personalized God. But as our search continues, and especially if we are learning from Jesus, we will come to experience God in personal terms. This will of course be very different from the childish images of a personal God some of us grew up with.
Part III of the book is titled, "Personal Transformation Today." Nolan's goal is to outline a practical spirituality for today. The chapter titles indicate the elements of this: In Silence and Solitude; Getting to Know Oneself; With a Grateful Heart; Like a Little Child; and Letting Go.

Finally, Nolan concludes with Part IV: Jesus and the Experience of Onenes: one with God with ourselves, with other human beings, and with the universe.
p. 191: We are God’s handiwork, a small but unique part of God’s great ongoing work of art. But we are also invited to participate in the process by becoming co-artists and co-creators of the future.
     We do this by allowing God to work in and through us. When we are radically free or on the way to radical freedom, divine energy can flow through us unhindered. This divine energy, which is also called the Holy Spirit, infinitely powerful, creative, and healing. We see it at work in the prophets, the mystics, and the saints, but above all in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ spirit....
     God’s Work, like God’s Wisdom, is revolutionary. It turns the world upside down. We participate by adding our voices to the many prophetic voices that are speaking out boldly in our day and age. There are countless numbers of people around the world who are doing God’s Work. The challenge we face is to join them, if we have not already done so.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who's interested in what could be likened to an "emergent" or "convergent" view of Jesus, from a religious in the Catholic church.


Stuck in US with the bailout blues again

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a piece by David Sirota, "Political establishment trashed consumer protections - and look what we got." They ended with the following links, which I helpfully reproduce here:(About that last one, as my Ten Year Old might say, "Well, duh!")

Here's what Sirota said:
"Please, forgive me for saying it. I know it's a tad annoying, but it has to be said to America's ruling class in this humble column space. Because if it's not said here, then you can bet it won't be said anywhere else, and it needs to be said somewhere on behalf of the millions of citizens who were right.

"We told you so."


Firstday School Lesson: The Meeting Community

Advices and Queries for 12th Month, Pacific Yearly Meeting: The Meeting Community

1. Song: Pat Humphries, "Swimming to the Other Side"
This was an improvisation by the other grownups when I had some extra preparation for my lesson when we walked in. The students at the Friends School have been learning this, so several of the participants in the class already knew it. Whew!

2. Circle/Silence

3. Introductions and Icebreaker
The person who is speaking will get the Talking Feather. (This is like a Talking Stick. It signifies that the holder is the person who is entitled to talk. It gets passed from person to person around the circle.) Say your name, where you were born, and the name of a family member other than parents, siblings, or children. (We had three adults in the room, all of whom were parents, so that last item was relevant.)

4. Pedagogy: Community
a. Teacher describes roots of the word = "com-" with + "unity" as one. The Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, is one type of community.

b. What are some of the communities you are part of? Stand if the following apply to you:
  • Are a member of a family.
  • Ever been a member of a team.
  • Ever been part of a musical or dance group.
  • Part of humanity.
  • Part of the mammals.
  • Part of the earth. Solar system. Milky Way. Universe.
c. Read two passages from Catherine Whitmire's Practicing Peace: A Devotional Walk through the Quaker Tradition: p. 76, Tom Mullen, "Oh God, help us not to cry over spilt milk"; p. 83, Deborah Fisch (quoting a Friend from SF about redwood trees)
Point: One of the places we find God and the Spirit of God is in community – a group of people together

5. Light and Livelies: These are fun group exercises conducted during Alternatives to Violence Project workshops. We did about three: the rain is coming down; "I love you honey, but I just can't smile"; and vampire frogger.

This was very good for the boy energy in the room; we had one girl and six boys (three pairs of brothers, in fact). The girl had fun, too, though!

6. Affirmation: Sing first verse and chorus of "Simple Gifts" (partly because one child asked for it!) Closing silent worship. Thanks for being here, and help me move the table back to the center of the room and distribute the chairs around it.

Update 12/15: added tags.