Thought(s) for the Week

One translation of the Buddhist term for compassion is "resonating concern." We say, "You touched a chord in me." A cello is bowed, and a string on an instrument across the room thrums. And not just across the room. The profoundly illogical phenomenon in quantum physics known as nonlocality implies that it could be across the galaxy. It has been shown that when light particles are shot from the same source in opposite directions, each tiny photon is instantaneously affected by what happens to its twin, even if the distance that separates them is light years. This interconnection, called quantum entanglement, has startling implications. Says a recent article in New Scientist: "When two electrons are entangled, it is impossible even in principle to describe one without the other. They have no independent existence."
--Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness, by Marc Ian Barasch

. . . Truth is not the highest value for us, because, in Saint Paul's phrase, "our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect." Which is why the final revelation of Jesus is not about knowing but about loving. This, too, places him firmly in the tradition of Israel, which has always given primacy to right action. "Beloved," the author of the First Epistle of John wrote, "let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love." This statement of a biblical faith in the ultimate meaning of existence as love is a classic affirmation of what one might call the pluralistic principle: Respect for the radically other begins with God's respect for the world, which is radically other from God. In other words, God is the first pluralist.

Religious pluralism begins with this acknowledgement of the univeral impossibility of direct knowledge of God. The immediate consequence of this universal ignorance is that we should regard each other respectfully and lovingly.
--Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, by James Carroll


Mark Congdon said...

Carroll's observations about religious pluralism strike me as a bit odd, considering that the same Saint Paul that he quotes spent such a great amount of time specifically warning his readers against religious pluralism, telling us that God was to some degree knowable, and that we had a responsibility to know him correctly.

Mr. Gobley said...

Mark: i left out part of Carroll's quote that indicates his view that the Church is distanced from its own early wisdom: "The tragedy, and the sin, and what must forever warn us off cheap talk of love, is that all too soon, and all too easily, the followers of Jesus were content to read [the Gospel of John's admonition to "not be like Cain"] and identify Cain with Jews... "

This is part of his larger point that the Church must reconsider and reapproach its own foundational texts, as part of a larger embrace of more democratic leadership and operation, and as part of a sweeping and comprehensive embrace of diversity.

Mark Congdon said...

Well, the book of John is pretty anti-pluralistic, too. That is where Jesus is recorded as saying "No one comes to the Father except by me". For a start. :)

Of course, if Carroll desires, he can pick and choose what he believes is reliable in the historical record of Jesus' teachings, and what is fabricated. He has that right. But, his determination appears to be based on his ideology and worldview. Which, of course, must originate from somewhere. In which case, he'd be better off referencing the source of his ideology and worldview, rather than his preferred biblical selections, as support for his positions.

Just a thought. :)

Mr. Gobley said...

My dearest Mark:

As an advocate of Church reform, Mr. Carroll will perforce look at old teachings in a new way.

Besides, he is not alone. We all pick and choose our teachings and perspectives, don't we?;)

Mark Congdon said...

Certainly. :)

I also think a book like the Bible deserves to be read for what it says, not for what people want it to say. Mr. Carroll can disagree with it. He can't, however, change what it says to say what he might prefer for it to say.

Even by trying to ignore the parts he doesn't like. :)


Mr. Gobley said...


You sound like an expert on what the Bible says.

I am honored by your presence.

Mark Congdon said...

Heavens, no! I am no expert, and my presence deserves no honor.

However, it doesn't take an expert to know the simple fact that the Bible does not teach religious pluralism. It is one of the most basic, explicit, and self-evident teachings in the Bible. Every church through history that has held the Bible as its holy book has understood that. My statements show no special knowledge... only a basic familiarity with the core teachings of the book, and an understanding of how it has been read and interpreted by the actual experts throughout history.


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