One of the things that has struck me about this shift is that my interest is flowing increasingly towards a new contemplation of Christianity and the bible. Naturally, this takes shape quite differently to the way most contemplative christians work with that tradition because I am religiously rooted in espiritismo and santeria - and practising hoodoo of course. As you probably know by now the bible and its symbols are imbedded to varying degrees in all these traditions and as they become changed by the globalisation process, many westerners will eviscerate them in a futile attempt to delete its presence.
St JoanTheir objection seems often based on an outdated, crude and cartoonish understanding of Christianity and its symbols. My method has been to find ways of potentizing the christian elements meaningfully for myself - without necessarily buying into Christianity's exoteric salvific doctrines, or the orthodox theology based on eternal damnation and reward.
I have been listening to Father Thomas Keating, for instance, and considering the role of contemplative prayer within the context of my own ATR practice. I have been looking at the bible from new angles, taking the advice of the famous Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, and seeing if there is a way of reading this text called the bible radically free of the doctrinal interpretations prescribed to us. Though not christian per se, I have always resonated with Spinoza's rational pantheism, and as odd as it may seem to some I think it integrates perfectly with spiritism and androcentric traditions - perhaps because of his emphasis on God as Nature. Though, admittedly, his rejection of the miraculous is tough to shoehorn in there! Of course that classic The Cloud of Unknowing has been a huge influence too. I have been reading Joan of Arc's story, and other visionary saints and just feeling the cool breeze of grace in all these beautiful stories.
I found this fascinating interview with Protestant theologian Walter Brueggemann:
What I love about this interview is his discussion of the bible as a poetic text. What a smart man. He ends with this incredible Psalm which sounds even better in the King James version:
Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.
Praise ye Dragons indeed...