The Body of God — Center for Action and Contemplation

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The Body of God

Science: Week 2

The Body of God
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In the fourth century, St. Augustine said that “the church consists in the state of communion of the whole world.” Wherever we are connected, in right relationship—you might say “in love”—there is the Christ, the Body of God, and there is the church, the temple, and the mosque. But Christians sadly whittled that Great Mystery down into something small, exclusive, and manageable. The church became a Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant private club, and not necessarily formed by people who were “in communion” with anything else, usually not with the natural world, with non-Christians, or even with other Christians outside their own denomination. It became a very tiny salvation, hardly worthy of the name. God was not magnanimous or victorious at all, despite our many songs repeating again and again “How great is our God” and “Our God reigns.” [1] The operative word in these songs is “our” and not really “God.”

In a letter to a man who had lost his young son to polio, Albert Einstein writes, “A human being is part of the whole called by us ‘the universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the resta kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.” [2]

Our very suffering now, our condensed presence on this common nest that we have largely fouled, may soon be the one thing that we finally share in common. It might well be the one thing that will bring us together politically and religiously. The earth and its life systems, on which we all entirely depend, might soon become the very thing that will convert us to a simple lifestyle, to necessary community, and to an inherent and universal sense of reverence for the Holy. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. There are no Jewish, Christian, or Muslim versions of these universal elements. This earth itself is indeed the very Body of God. [3] In fact, it is the only one we know of! Creation is the “first Bible,” which is asserted by the Bible itself (Romans 1:19-20, Wisdom 13:1-9, Job 12:7-10).

Gateway to Silence:
Co-creating wholeness

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Creation as the Body of God,” Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, ed. (The Golden Sufi Center: 2013), 239.

[2] Albert Einstein in a letter to Robert S. Marcus (1950).

[3] Rohr, Spiritual Ecology, 239-240.

Image Credit: Hildegard von Bingen, “The Universe” (detail), Scivias Codex, c. 1165.
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