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Deep Ecumenism

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Wisdom Tradition

Deep Ecumenism
Friday, January 9, 2015

Although I am clearly a Catholic, I would hope that my brothers and sisters from other denominations and faiths would also find much to guide and inspire them in what we will try to say this year. The ecumenical character and future of religion is becoming rather obvious. Either religion moves beyond its tribal past or it has no chance of “saving the world”! The “emerging church” is gathering the scriptural, contemplative, scholarly, and justice-oriented wisdom from every part of the Body of Christ. It is really the religious side of globalization. [1]

Matthew Fox, surely a prophetic teacher, describes the importance and value of deep ecumenism in his book One River, Many Wells. He writes: “From Hinduism we hear: ‘Many are the paths of humans, but they all in the end come to Me.’ … In the Bhagavad Gita, God says: ‘I am the thread that runs through the pearls, as in a necklace.’

“Rumi, the Sufi mystic from the Moslem tradition, grounds the likeness found in every mystical tradition to the depth of the experience of the Divine one touches in a particular tradition. Love is the key.

For those in love,
Moslem, Christian, and Jew do not exist….
Why listen to those who see it another way? —
if they’re not in love—their eyes do not exist.

“From the Buddhist tradition, Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of the centrality of going deep if we are to do inter-faith work when he says: ‘Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others’ traditions.’ Yet, to get to the point of seeing the beauty and value in others’ traditions, one must look and listen deeply into one’s own. One must practice some path along the journey that leads to depth. One must enter the well of mystical experience” (One River, Many Wells, pp. 16, 18, 22).

And so this year we draw deeply from the mystical, Wisdom well, from the Christian tradition—which is my own—and from many other faiths too. Next week we will look more closely at the Wisdom way of knowing, that is not only intellectual but full hearted and embodied.

Gateway to Silence:
Wisdom pervades and penetrates all things.

[1] Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality, p. 4

Image Credit: Stringing Pearls by Vanessa Guerin
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