Oregonian by birth, Celtic Quaker by the grace of God

Saturday, December 31, 2011


"If they ever take away our radio, suspend our newspaper, silence us, put to death all of us priests-bishop included, and you are left alone-a people without priests-then each of you will have to be God's microphone. Each of you will have to be a messenger, a prophet. The church will always live as long as one baptized person is left alive."

Oscar Romero, quoted in Messengers to the Kingdom by Jon Sobrino S.J.

I begin to understand by Romero scared the bejeesus out of some of the Vatican Curia in the three years he was archbishop of San Salvador. And I wonder how closely Morris West, author of the Clowns of God, followed the persecution of the church in Central America. Because he echoes that message in the novel. When the time comes, the little people, the lay people will have to carry on the work and the sacraments of the church whether they are ordained or not. Imagine how well that went over with old men who had spent their lives climbing the ladders of power.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


"Nor are the tidings of great joy announced in the crowded inn. In the massed crowd there are always new tiding of joy and disaster. Where each new announcement is the greatest of announcements. Where every day’s disaster is beyond compare, every day’s danger demands the ultimate sacrifice, all news and all judgment is reduced to zero. News becomes merely a new noise in the mind, briefly replacing the noise that went before it and yielding to the noise that comes after it, so that eventually everything blends into the same monotonous and meaningless rumor. News? There is so much news that there is no room left for the true tidings, the “good News,” the Great Joy." Thomas Merton written for the Advent season in 1967

I can't imagine what Merton would make of our 24/7 news cycle and "reality" programming.


This was written by Thomas Merton, a Cistercian monk, social critic and prolific author, as a preface to his collection of essays in Faith and Violence. He wrote it for the Advent season of 1967. His last as it happens, before his death in Thailand in 1968. Merton was writing at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and the beginnings of the opposition to the Viet Nam war. Now we’re faced with the one percent vs the ninety nine percent, occupy Wall Street, the war on terrorism; doesn’t seem that much has changed in the forty odd years since Merton wrote this essay. “The Hassidic rabbi Baal She Tov, once told the following story. Two men were traveling through a forest. One was drunk and the other was sober. As they went, they were attacked by robbers, beaten, robbed of all they had including their clothing. When they emerged, people asked them if they got through the woods without trouble. The drunken man said: “Everything was fine;; nothing went wrong; we had no trouble at all.” They said: “How does it happen that you are naked and covered with blood?” He did not have an answer. The sober man said: “Do not believe him he is drunk. It was a disaster. Robbers beat us without mercy and took everything we had. Be warned by what happened to us, and look out for yourselves.” For some “faithful”-and for some unbelievers too-“faith” seems to be a kind of drunkenness, an anesthetic, that keeps you from realizing and believing that anything can every go wrong. Such faith can be immersed in a world of violence and make no objection: the violence is perfectly all right. It is quite normal-unless of course it happens to be exercised by Negroes. Then it must be immediately put down instantly be superior force. The drunkenness of this kind of faith-whether in a religious message of in a political ideology-enables us to go to life without seeing our own violence is a disaster and that overwhelming force by which we seek to assert ourselves and our own self interest may well be our ruin. Is faith a narcotic dream in a world of heavily armed robbers, or is it an awakening? Is faith a convenient nightmare in which we are attacked and obliged to destroy our attackers? What if we awaken to discover that we are the robbers, and our destruction comes from the root of hate in ourselves?” Abbey of Gethsemane Advent 1967 I read this for the first time several years ago. Rereading this tied to my own searching it really shook me this time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Dabhar is Hebrew, often translated as the creative word of God. If you take the first few verses of the book of John it gets very interesting. In the beginning was the creative word of God and the creative word of God was with God and the creative word of God was God. And the creative word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1: 1,14. In a world that relies almost exclusively on the creative written word; we forget the at the very beginning God spoke and there was light and all of Creation.