Category Archives: Philosophy/Theology

Brave

via Daily Prompt: Brave

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Roman Catholic (Franciscan) priest Maximillian Kolbe, born in Poland in 1894, and following taking his final vows in 1918, was ordained a priest, and in the 1930s he served in both China, and then Japan where he helped establish a Franciscan monastry. He returned to Poland in 1936. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and occupied it. Kolbe refused to sign papers that would have granted him immunity as he was of German origin. He was, as were many Polish people, arrested. He was later released and allowed to return to work at the monastery where he managed large numbers of refugees, hiding and helping relocate many Jewish people, and writing anti-nazi propaganda. Eventually he came to the attention of the Gestapo and was arrested and imprisoned, eventually ending up in Auschwitz. He was regularly beaten and treated appalingly by the camp guards. In this he was no different to many inmates of Auschwitz. Where I think Kolbe defines what it is to be brave is where he one day stood in another person’s shoes.

At some point there was an escape from the camp, and the commandant ordered reprisals from among the prisoners. Ten were to be chosen at random. One young man cried out that he had a wife and children. Kolbe asked to stand in his place, and the commandant accepted his offer. The commandant ordered that the ten prisoners be starved to death in a cell, and as eye witnesses testified later, Kolbe was the last to die, and with dignity and calm.

I don’t know how you stand in the place of death for another, but Kolbe did. I have stood inside his cell at Auschwitz, an eerie place, and felt that a light had shone briefly here, that one person had been a beacon of hope for humanity in the midst of evil. For me Kolbe personifies what it is to be brave. He was powerless, yet he used his gift of life powerfully.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Loyalty

via Daily Prompt: Loyal

I support several local coffee shops and businesses, all of which provide a loyalty card, like, buy nine and get one free. Works well for me as well as for them. I guess I’m loyal for tenth cup, or the tenth treatment, or the tenth product, whatever it is, I’m going the distance. In this I’m simply buying loyalty. My loyalty is predicated on that tenth gain. So what does that say about being loyal? Not much! I’m only as loyal as the promise of the tenth free item or coffee. I’m depending on their honesty, if you like, their loyalty to me. It can’t be one way. And loyalty is only ever between parties, often two, but sometimes more, but never just oneself.

Trouble is, loyalty sounds like the standard behavour of the family dog, a sort of committed fondness come what may, unthinking, based only on the simple gains or loving care in a platonic sort of way. But I seek more. I demand integrity. Loyalty seems more surface, more about transaction. Integrity goes to your very core, it doesn’t seek fidelity because there might be something in the relationship, integrity is about being true to who you really are rather than wearing a mask, or being surface, or being in it for the gain, the promise of the tenth thing free. I like my tenth cofee free, but from you I need more than bait, I need you and all of you.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Believe

via Daily Prompt: Believe

Socrates comes to mind, naturally, when he says: “I am wiser than anyone else because I know I don’t know.” Belief is a strong, determined word. In the hilarious movie ‘Dogma’ (1999) the character Rufus, the thirteenth apostle (played by Chris Rock), asks “Do you believe, or do you have an idea?” The film was a criticism of the institution of the Church, which tends to foster sound doctrine, black and white beliefs, and in some corners of the Church, fanaticism (albeit, fundamentalism).

The issue of religious belief is always objectivity trying to defeat and ridicule subjectivity.

It might be that faith is a better word, but even that is a loaded word. But as author Ann Lamott says: “Faith begins with experience, and our faith is our reaction to that experience. Science begins with intuition and not logic.” And she also adds: “You have to experience something before you can know something.” And, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” and so, back to Socrates.

I prefer to speak carefully of the experience of soul work, the contemplative life, and my experiences of Other. Do I believe? Well, I don’t disbelieve, but I prefer to say, I have an experience, which is something more than an idea.

 

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The Journey

I’ve been pondering this quote for some time.

“To take shape a journey must have fixed bearings, as a basket has ribs and a book its themes. The clearest way to understand … our journey … is to look at a single woven basket’s basic design … First, two splits or reeds are centered, like the cardinal points of a compass. Then, two more splits of equal size and length are added. These are the ribs of teh basket. Weaving begins at the center … over … under … over … under … until it is finished. From the simplest basket to the most complex … this principle is the same. The ribs must be centered and held in balance. In a sense, they are the fixed bearings that guide the rythm of weaving.” (from: Marilou Awiakta Seiu, ‘Seeking the Corn Mothers Wisdom”)

And therefore, the bearings that guide our journey. In short, we need to have a guiding principle, we need a frame, a community, a place in the world. And we need to be held by that community, held by those principles. When we have these things in our lives, when we are held, when we are centered,  we weave a journey that is rich, under, over, under, over, until we are finished.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Glorious

via Daily Prompt: Glorious

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I think, no, I feel sunsets are glorious. I can be moved by the colour, the moment, the changing sky, the movement of colour, the shadows, light and dark, So much going on, I often feel like I’m breathless as I watch in awe. The birdsong changes, and so does my sense of body and life. And in that moment I feel my place, not small in a negative sense, but small as in not sole or singular, rather, feeling a part of the internetwork of nature, an awareness returns of the primitive and lost sense of relationship with brother sun, sister moon and mother earth. I am, because we are! I am not the controller but the receiver of this wonderful gift. Glorious in every way.

Paul

pvcann.com

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Educate the World

via Daily Prompt: Educate

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I really like the sentiment of the poster (which I found on the net some time back, but which had no credit), it doesn’t matter your race or beliefs, we are one human race. Sadly the poster alone won’t educate the world. When I engage with learning I prefer hands on, to be shown then to have a go. It works well through group work where we learn from each other, through relationships, and through experience. The way to educate the world towards positive and mutual acceptance of difference yet oneness is the same, to engage in relationships that break down suspicion, difference, or any false binary that intrudes on relationships. If we learn from each other, if we build relationships with each other, if we experience the other, then we can make it.

Paul

pvcann.com

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Critical

via Daily Prompt: Critical

So many possible angles on this. What is critical? Trump vs North Korea? Turnbull vs his own political party (even himself)? Or, have you thought about restorative justice, now that’s a critical issue? Or, are you responding to climate change with solid critical thinking (dividing the truth, reasoning)?

But from a contemplative point of view, critical, or critical thinking (or processing), is deductive vs inductive thinking (or processing). Inductive reasoning involves inquiry, exploration, trial and error. Whereas deductive reasoning involves establishing a truth and supporting it. Inductive reasoning has helped us to grow and explore in every field of learning, whereas deductive learning has kept us corralled in a particular moment of learning.

Inductive learning helps us to think and respond critically to ideas, processes, facts, learning, discovery, emotions, and feelings. In theology and politics (and other fields of learning too) deductive learning is usually associated with closed thinking, even fundamentalism(s). Whereas inductive learning is exponential, it keeps on keeping on, because it recognises our potential to never fully know, but to be always engaged with learning new aspects of a truth or an experience. Inductive learning is not about black or white, right or wrong, who’s in or who’s out, it is about how do we move forward with each revelation, and how do I integrate that learning and contribute to it too? Deductive learning has its place, but its more about what we agree to be set truths and paths to learning, and of which there are few.

I’m for trial and error, its more forgiving, more fun, and opens up a myriad of possibilities every time. but it really depends on how you look at life, are you open to new ideas and paths at each turn, or do you yearn for set ideas and paths? The great thinkers of each generation have been inductive thinkers and teachers.

pvcann.com

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