Moving Forward on RLL

I have been struggling lately with how I will approach my study of the Red Letters on this site. One of the primary causes for putting it into a four-year hiatus was that I was just tired of lamenting how so many versions of Christianity strayed, sometimes very severely, from the path of Jesus’ words and teachings. Starting it up again I seemed to be heading down that same route and that is not where I wanted to go. It is time for CHANGE.

Yes, there are around 40,000 different versions of Christianity, but focusing on that fact is not very productive in my mind. So, I have decided to take a different path going forward at least for the time being. Instead of lamenting what Jesus’ church has become, I will focus on what I think are some the best examples of those who live by his teachings. For me, the first example of that is the Jesuits in the Roman Catholic Church. This series might widen to include the Franciscan order because right now I don’t understand the significant difference between the two.

What instigated this new direction was Pope Francis. When I study his words and particularly his actions I began to see how closely my spiritual beliefs aligned with his. He is the first Jesuit Pope and that has brought out some strong opposition especially among some here in the US. I just read in Sojourners Magazine (March 2019) issue how US right-wing billionaires are attempting a takeover of the US Catholic Church primarily because of Pope Francis’ emphasis on Jesus’ words. They believe he is just too hostile to our version of capitalism and that is very threatening to them.

For this series, I will be posting about what I am learning about the Jesuit order and their teachings.

The second prong of my new approach for this site is to look at those who have serious concerns about religion in general.

When I spent a couple of decades in an Evangelical church I was strenuously told to just believe on faith what they told me to believe. Don’t ask questions. Of course, questioning everything is a core part of my nature so there were several conflicts over the years. The last one resulted in the clergyman telling me I was no longer welcomed. They just couldn’t handle my questions, so as not to pollute the other members with doubt I was told to I need to leave.

I think that the words of Jesus can stand up to any questions brought up about them. So, as well as studying Jesuits, I will also be looking at the philosophy of religion. It will be an interesting series I think.

I hope anyone who comes by here in the next few months might want to learn along with me. I will be open to your thoughts as long as they conform to my “Code of Conduct” as shown in the header above.

Where we will be heading at the completion of this series, I have no idea. I suspect what we find in this series will naturally grow into something else. But who knows?

A Quakerish Pope?

Pope FrancisWorth reading is a recent interview with Pope Francis conducted by Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica.  Scalfari, an atheist, had written to request an interview, and was floored when the Pope himself called to schedule a time.

The whole interview is worth reading and pondering. I was especially struck by one interchange in which Pope Francis says something very akin to something George Fox said.   Said Pope Francis,

“From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us. In the letter I wrote to you, you will remember I said that our species will end but the light of God will not end and at that point it will invade all souls and it will all be in everyone.\”

Scalfari then asks whether this isn’t more an image of immanence than of transcendence. And Pope Francis responds:

“Transcendence remains because that light, all in everything, transcends the universe and the species it inhabits at that stage.”

For comparison, here is George Fox, in Chapter One of his Journal:

“I saw, also, that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that also I saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings.”

SOURCE:  A Quakerish Pope?.

As this source article says the pope’s words about the light of God being within us is very Quakerish. It is also very much aligned with scientific discovery (as opposed to creationism). I have high hopes that this pope will continue where John Paul left off and put the Catholic church into a 21st century timeframe.  I can only then pray that the evangelicals will someday follow suit.