“What Christianity requires now, especially in view of developments in science, is not “no God,” as scientific naturalists propose, but a “new God,” as Teilhard provocatively announces”
— From Teilhard to Omega: Co-creating an Unfinished Universe by Ilia Delio, OSF
Up until now I’ve been trying to reconcile what Teilhard and Ilia have written with the old cosmology. But today the scales fell from my eyes. God is evolving and so is the universe. It makes perfect sense. The Garden of Eden never existed or not as the idyllic we have made it. I’ve known for some time that the Bible is full of wisdom stories. I’ve heard fundamentalists exclaim that the word of God is inerrant and that the Bible is to be taken literally. But after reading Leviticus one soon realizes that no one in their right mind would dream of observing some of what is written there. The dietary laws may have made perfect sense when they were written but not anymore.
The treatment of women is just plain backward and fundamentalists today perpetuate such practices because they are looking backward and trying to put new wine in old wineskins. We live in an evolving world where the role of women and men are changing. Religion and in my own case Roman Catholicism is too rigid. It must be redefined or it will become a minor sect. Priests must be allowed to marry. Women must be ordained. I am reminded frequently of Karl Rahner’s quote, “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic or nothing at all.”
What does this new God look like? How are we called to live?
“Teilhard prophetically anticipated that human evolution would not take place without sideways forces of resistance and devolution, but he also saw that we would reach a decisive point of choosing either to evolve or to annihilate. We can destroy this world and ourselves in the process. We have the power to do so both in the form of weapons of mass destruction and the weapons of anger and hate.”
— A Hunger for Wholeness: Soul, Space, and Transcendence by Ilia Delio, OSF
The coronavirus maybe the agent of a new order. We can see the older order driven by fear, so called free market capitalism, xenophobia and ignorance flailing madly about trying to preserve the status quo in which the ultra-rich have benefitted. Covid-19 is deadly and only those who heed the directives to shelter in place are going to avoid its ravages. Maybe even those of us who are wearing masks, physically distancing, washing our hands religiously are still in danger.
I don’t think we are ever going back to the “way it was.” This pandemic is a prophetic moment and a warning. What happens in our community can have a global impact. We can chose to evolve or annihilate. The established order wants to maintain what was but that will never be and they are fighting tooth and nail to hold on. There is a new order emerging and who knows exactly how it will manifest. We are evolving. How will that order manifest?
“He did not hold to original sin by a single couple and instead opted for the notion of the primacy of Christ formed by the Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus. Scotus held that God’s love could not be undermined by a defect in creation such as original sin. Rather, from all eternity, God willed a creature to grace and glory so that whether or not sin ever entered into creation, Christ would have come. God is love and Christ is first in God’s intention to love; the whole creation is structured on the incarnation.”
— A Hunger for Wholeness, A: Soul, Space, and Transcendence by Delio, Ilia, OSF https://a.co/imHKkhr
I’m enjoying another book by Ilia Delio and the quote which was about Teilhard de Chardin, succinctly explains something I heard Fr. Lou McCormick, OFM say in a homily nearly twenty years ago. I remember sitting in the chapel at Mt. Irenaeus at the time I heard it. It just made sense. The idea that God would create a universe with an intentional flaw that would require the death of his son to redeem never made any sense as an adult. Many years later I learned that the doctrine of original sin was a creation of St. Augustine. How many times have you heard well meaning religious folks tell you that you were damned if you didn’t accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. I remember a discussion with a local pastor about that topic. I said to the guy, “What about the apostles? What about the unborn?” The chap made an exception for the unborn and infants and that’s when I knew that the doctrine was flawed.
Most of my adult life I’ve thought that the reason for the incarnation was to show us how to live. Love your neighbor. Do good to those who harm you. Take care of the poor and the rest of the gospel message should be the real focus. Reducing Jesus to merely a sacrificial atonement for sin is a disservice to his earthly ministry. The Sermon on the Mount, The Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31-46 are the most meaningful for me and always have been.
I’ve read a number of Ilia Delio’s books and this is great. It’s more from the heart than any of her previous books. She had a remarkable transformation in her life and beliefs and she does a great job of telling that story. I found this book easy to read and difficult to put down. She gave me insights into my own journey of the soul that I had not found elsewhere. She is a prophetic voice for our time. This book belongs with the classics like Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain.
I’ve been reading Sister Ilia Delio’s Memoir, Birth of a Dancing Star, the last few days and in looking at her community blog for Omega Center I came upon this article called, The Pandemic Mirror. It’s an invitation to think differently about our lives and especially in light of the Corona virus. I encourage you to read this essay and to give some thought to living in the moment. As she says, “eternity dwells in every breath.”
I came across this delightful discussion of Ilia Delio and Matthew Fox on the need for spirituality. I suppose I like it because it’s a lively discussion by two of my favorite authors. I had never heard of Matthew Fox until a few years ago when a local youth minister told me. I mentioned the conversation I had with the minister to one of my Allegany Franciscan friends who wholeheartedly endorsed my reading of Matthew Fox’s book, Original Blessing. In the book he debunks the concept of original sin. I had thought for many years that original sin made no sense at all. But it wasn’t until I read Matthew’s book that I had a chance to learn that it was essentially the invention of St. Augustine. Jews don’t believe in original sin and so the historic Jesus would not have either. I found this conversation today on Ilia Delio’s website. It’s delightful.
This essay by Sister Ilio Delio, OSF resonates for me. We have entered a new age that has been thrust upon us. The cry of various religious leaders to forego social distancing to meet as we once did invites a further spread of the pandemic. Last night my cousin asked if I had received communion while attending a celebration of the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper which was broadcast on YouTube Live. Ilia invites us to envision an Internet Easter.
“I think internet religion may be a sign of a new religious consciousness on the horizon. It is not the same as the old religion; it can lack the warmth of the smells and bells and friendly neighbors squeezing their way into the pew. And yet, online I can attend different liturgies around the world, I can explore different religious traditions, I can hear prayers and participate in rituals I would never otherwise venture to discover. ” — Ilia Delio
Without the dynamic energy of transcendence by which consciousness rises and relationships deepen, religion grows old and weary; it becomes rote, a mechanistic repetition of old ideas. To function out of an old cosmology with old ideas of matter and form, to think that God does not do new things, is to make an idol out of Jesus and to ignore the power of the Spirit.”
— Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness by Ilia Delio
Ilia Delio is my favorite modern theologian. She’s helped me to look at the deeper meanings of life and to better understand the writing of Teilhard de Chardin. Many people see God or the creator as immutable but that’s not my belief. As the universe continues to grow and unfold then the cosmos and the energy that surrounds us continues to grow and change too. What keeps everything in place? The creation story that is in the Book of Genesis is more allegory than reality. It was the best that an ancient mind could fathom. Now we know so much more about the cosmos.
Does the creative energy of the universe which we might call God not continue to grow and expand? I asked a Jewish friend of mine how he viewed the Bible. I wanted to know if he interpreted everything literally. He assured me that he didn’t but saw the stories as wisdom stories that needed to be interpreted in light of our present day.
God as he reveals himself to me through my experience is not the limiting God that some religious people seem to think. I believe that there are certain universal principles which govern the universe. Among them is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The golden rule applies in all cases in my experience. On the other hand the creative force of the universe is open to all people regardless of where they find themselves in the world. There is not one way of seeing God. There are many ways of seeing God. The disparate religious faiths are fingers pointing to the moon.
The universe is not an either/or proposition. It is nuanced and we’ve only scratched the surface. As St. Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
Yoga was such a relief today. I’m not sure why but lately Yoga has been getting better for me. I mean that I’m getting more out of it. Maybe I’ve given up trying to do it right and just going with the flow. Today started off very good too! Up early and rested and a bowl of oatmeal with honey and rice milk. I’m blogging too and I’ve been reading “Franciscan Prayer” by Ilia Delio, OSF. This is the third book I’ve read in the past couple months by the same author. I recommend her to anyone interested in prayer and the Franciscan intellectual tradition.