"Without any understanding of man's deep-seated urge to self-transcend, of his very reluctance to take the hard, ascending way, and his search for some bogus liberation either below or to one side of his personality, we cannot hope to make sense of our own particular period of history or indeed of history in general, of life as it was lived in the past and as it is lived today. For this reason I propose to discuss some of the more common Grace-substitutes, into which and by means of which men and women have tried to escape from the tormenting consciousness of being merely themselves. .... human beings have felt the radical inadequacy of their personal existence, the misery of being their insulated selves and not something else, something wider, something in Wordsworthian phrase, 'far more deeply interfused'." (Aldous
Huxley, "Appendix" from The Devils of Loudun, Penguin Books, 1971, 313f.)

Reflections 2016

The Magic of Real Human Conversation

Maria Popova

JUrsula k leguin

Ursula K. Le Guin
Every act of communication is an act of tremendous courage in which we give ourselves over to two parallel possibilities: the possibility of planting into another mind a seed sprouted in ours and watching it blossom into a breathtaking flower of mutual understanding; and the possibility of being wholly misunderstood, reduced to a withering weed. Candor and clarity go a long way in fertilizing the soil, but in the end there is always a degree of unpredictability in the climate of communication — even the warmest intention can be met with frost. Yet something impels ... Read more ... See also related artice on The Paradox of Communication.

A Christmas Carol: Secular Redemption?

Tom Ryan SM

JA Christmas Carol

Those amongst us of a ‘certain age’ will remember Alistair Cooke’s weekly Letter from America. On March 2004, aged 95, a month before his death, Cooke announced his retirement from the Letter on the advice of his doctors. After 58 years, his weekly reflections had been the longest-running speech radio show in the world. In his twelve- minute talk, he brought not only insight and whimsy but also an effortless spontaneity that concealed his craft. In many ways, he was a model for anyone preparing a talk or a homily.

Read more ...

Video: The beauty of what we'll never know

JPico Iyer

Almost 30 years ago, Pico Iyer took a trip to Japan, fell in love with the country and moved there. A keen observer of the human spirit, Iyer professes that he now feels he knows far less about Japan — or, indeed, about anything — than he thought he knew three decades ago. In this lyrical meditation on wisdom, Iyer expands on this curious insight about knowledge gained with age: that the more we know, the more we see how little we know. See video ...

Biblical models for leadership

JLeadership

The votes for the leadership of the Labour Party in the UK and the presidency of the USA are both imminent, and so we can expect plenty of discussion about authority and governance over the coming weeks on both sides of the Atlantic. But what does good leadership look like, be it political, ecclesial or otherwise? Nicholas King SJ looks for answers to this question in the bible.

Wherever you look these days, politics seems to have mislaid its comfortable predictabilities. Read more ...

A Reflection on Jesus’s Leadership

JJesus Statue

What qualities do we look for in a good leader? How can we become better leaders ourselves? Thinking Faith invited Thomas Shufflebotham SJ to guide us in a prayerful reflection on just three of the innumerable qualities of Jesus that any good Christian leader should seek to emulate.

It is striking that in the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius attaches virtually no adjectives to Jesus. Read more ...

Daniel Berrigan SJ: Going back to the poetry

JDaniel Berrigan

American Jesuit Daniel Berrigan died on 30 April 2016. As well as being an influential anti-war activist, he was a celebrated poet, and Emily Holman has relished having the opportunity to ponder Berrigan’s words in recent months and reflect on ‘the closeness of poetry and life’ that he communicated so creatively. In his poems we journey into and through darkness, are challenged by encounters and, above all, are guided by the hand of God. Read more ...

Reflections on Iraq War ignore ethical questions

JBlair and Bush

Donald Trump's obiter dicta on war and the military role of the US in the world have sparked much comment. And as does almost all discussion of military matters, the conversation has moved quickly to the Iraq War.

The recent Chilcot report on British participation in that war elicited embarrassing responses by British and Australian leaders and apologists of the time. Specious justifications were accompanied by a failure to take responsibility for the consequences of the invasion. Read more ...

Prisoners of their own stories

JPrimo Levi

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of The Ancient Mariner deals in its own metaphoric way with obsession and guilt, with the kind of trauma that simply demands attention and goes on demanding it even when it seems the occasion is long past and its ripples and ramifications should have succumbed to the mitigating processes of time. The Ancient Mariner is haunted by his story and doomed to repeat it. So when he waylays the Wedding Guest outside the church, 'He holds him with his glittering eye/The Wedding-Guest stood still/And listens like a three years' child:/The Mariner hath his will.' Read more ...

Amoris Laetitia an Act of Magisterium

JCardinal Schonborn

Having a conversation with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, means creating a space for a reflection that demands tranquility and attentiveness, writes Fr Antonio Spadaro at La Civilta Cattolica.  The lucidity of his reflection always goes hand in hand with a spiritual depth. In this sense, he corresponds to the charism of the Order of Preachers, which is well summed up in Aquinas' motto, contemplata aliis tradere, "to hand on to others the things that have been contemplated." Read more ...

‘Between Politics and Apocalypse’

René Girard’s Reading of Global Crisis

JEvo

‘Politics can no longer save us,’ according to René Girard, the French Catholic theologian who died on 4 November 2015. What did he mean? In a paper delivered two days after Girard’s death, Michael Kirwan SJ explored Girard’s ‘apocalyptic’ vision of a world in crisis and a planet in danger of becoming a ‘scapegoat’. In such a framework, how does the refugee become ‘the central figure of our political history’? Read more ...

Becoming Stillness - Richard Rohr

JRichard Rohr

Another gem by Richard Rohr. An introduction given in Norwich Cathedral, UK. Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also the author of numerous books, including Everything Belongs, Adam’s Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi. See YouTube video.

Interview with journalist and author Nathan Schneider

JNathan Schneider

“On Being” host Krista Tippett and author and activist Nathan Schneider discuss social justice and the role of religion in social justice movements during the Interfaith Lecture on Friday, August 8, 2014 in the Hall of Philosophy. See YouTube video.

The Art of Making Connections: Philosophy between vision and common sense

JPhilosophy

Christian faith is made ‘not just philosophically cogent but intensely relevant and reasonable’ in two recent books which exemplify the craft of the philosopher. Michael Barnes SJ celebrates Fiona Ellis’ God, Value and Nature and Rupert Shortt’s God is No Thing.  Read more ...

God is three and God is one

JTrinity

On Sunday (22 May), we observe the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The Trinity can be a ‘dauntingly abstract concept ‘, says John Moffatt SJ, but it is important for us to use words and images, as far as we can, to explore the truth that it represents: ‘the single origin of all things is in essence relationship’. Read more ...

Amoris Laetitia – a view from the female bridge

JWomen Silhouettes

The ‘nuanced pastoral approach’ of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘On Love in the Family’ has been widely welcomed, writes Gemma Simmonds CJ as she surveys the common ground that the document opens up between seemingly divergent positions. What does Amoris Laetitia contribute to the conversation between secular feminists and the Catholic Church, and how can this dialogue develop? Read more ...

New Canadian and US laws revive euthanasia debate

JMoral Dilemma Ahead

On 9 June 2016, California will complete the west coast coverage of laws in the USA permitting physician assisted suicide for any mentally competent adult who is suffering 'an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed' and which will 'within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within six months'. Read more ...

Craig Larkin: Religion makes too many afraid of God

JCraig Larkin

Craig Larkin died disappointed that religion left people fearing God. He made the comments in the introduction to his new book, An Inner Music, launched posthumously last evening in Wellington. “After living all my life as a professional Christian, my single and greatest disappointment with religion is that it has succeeded in making too many people afraid of God." Read more ...

Instructions For Not Losing the Way in the Labyrinth of “Amoris Lætitia”

JLabyrinth

Intentionally written in a vague form, the post-synodal exhortation allows two opposite ways out. A Dominican theologian indicates the right one here. As in a little catechism, for the use of priests and faithful. One month after the publication of the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Lætitia” it is ever more evident that in interpreting and applying it there is growing “uncertainty and confusion. Read more ...

Reflections on the Feast of the Ascension

JAscension

The Feast of the Ascension strikes many Christians as the poor relative of the two rather bigger celebrations which top and tail the long and joyful season of Eastertide: Easter itself, and Pentecost. But Damian Howard SJ ascribes to this feast the utmost significance. What are we to make of the story of Jesus being taken up into a cloud, an episode that not only sounds like mythology but also violates our modern sense of space? Read more ...

Cheque book solution on asylum is unconstitutional

JDetention Centres

A bench of five justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court in Papua New Guinea, has unanimously ruled that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is unconstitutional. The successful applicant in the case was Belden Norman Namah, the PNG Leader of the Opposition. Unlike the Australian Constitution, the PNG Constitution contains a list of basic human rights including section 42 which deals with 'liberty of the person'. Read more ...